Monday, June 29, 2009

How to bring harmony within oneself

To bring harmony in one's life a person has to allow ‘change’. But change itself is preceded by a drive within 'to' change. There are only two drivers to change: one is fear and the other is love.

Most of us change only when we are 'scared enough' into it otherwise preferring to stay within our comfort zones.

People have experienced this fear most at 'crisis points in their lives' where they had to take the step they had been avoiding for so long.

Now Love can also motivate one to change and does so most in the case of a child. A child is curious about things he comes across: a new room, a new toy, the first beard, the ability to hold things, the ability to crawl; he explores them all. The child does not resist change he welcomes it and grows by it.

Unfortunately as an adult a person starts to think he has achieved a lot and therefore starts to ‘rent out’ what he ‘already has’ rather than grow. He rents out things he has acquired such as knowledge, skills, etc.

Now change is inevitable in our fast paced world and everybody will have to face it so it is important to accept it and really approach it as a child does and not with fear and panic.

For example if a person took on the ‘responsibility’ to make the world a better place in some specific way, 'interest' and 'curiosity' will teach him whatever he needs to know to achieve his ambition.

Interestingly one of the secrets of reality is: the greater the responsibility one takes the more he will be enabled by the world around him.

A very helpful and calming tool that has been developed for a person resisting change is meditation. A technique that I learnt of recently is: take a pencil and a paper and put a dot for each thought that comes to your mind. Keep doing this for all thoughts; good ones and bad ones. Eventually all thoughts will ‘pass through’ and one will experience clarity. The same can be done with ‘feelings’ by allowing 'all' feelings good or bad to pass through.

If a person has a dream to make the world better in some particular way, divine grace to bless him as he focuses on the immediate steps and meditation to keep him calm ‘change and harmony’ should not remain elusive.

Interestingly if a person starts to ‘welcome change’ he will notice a shift in his relationship with the 'outside' world. It will shift from ‘getting from the world’ to ‘giving to the world’ where 'taking responsibility' is a way of giving.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to live in the present using the compass within

To understand how significant the 'present moment' is, it is important to understand the concept of “time”.

My understanding: Time is a limited resource and it must be 'economized' to gain maximum utility just like we use money as a limited resource and try to get the most of out it.

Now the best use of our time has to be time spent in bringing 'harmony' in our lives. This we can do by addressing an issue that has been bothering us for a while such as 'getting a better job' or 'contacting somebody we haven't in a while', etc.

Clearly it should not be too difficult to figure out what these things are because we simply need to focus on what is bothering us.

It is however important to remember that nobody can take on the 'totality of reality' i.e no body can predict the future. Since we don't even know if we will be alive five minutes from now it is best to commit to the 'issue at hand' and resign the outcome and our fate to God. Doing so should make you powerful enough to address 'any' issue.

Once you are clear as to what it is that is going to bring greatest harmony you need to define it in the form of a task and complete it as a task.

Doing this task has to be the “perfect action” because it was the best 'choice' we could have made and we made this choice using our 'conscience'. In fact our 'conscience' is our compass in this life.

I therefore feel that the 'fastest approach' to success in any form: wealth, power, success, tranquility, or nearness to God has to be: being in the moment, listening to our conscience and executing the action like a task.

Often being in the moment might feel like a struggle: the part of a war movie where the enemy is right behind, the person has been running, exhausted he falls to the ground and his friend tears at him: “Move Soldier!”, sound to me much like our prophet speaking to us in the battle field of “Jihad e Akbar”/"Battle with the self".

If you are in the moment and if you stop worrying about the past and the future one of the biggest gifts you will receive is your 'rationalizing' will reduce drastically!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Why we might not give our job a 100%

Current times have provided us with a lot of choice. The effect that this choice has on us is the following:

1. Paralysis: There is so much to work out.
2. Opportunity Cost: Whatever we choose gives us a certain satisfaction. However, choice reduces this satisfaction by the amount of opportunity cost we have to contend with. [The more things you are not doing the more unsatisfied you are by letting go of those choices]
3. Expectation: Since you have now zeroed in on this particular choice, you expect a lot from it
4. Blame: When you don’t get what you expected you blame yourself.
[These points are from "TED Talks"]

This applies very much in the case of ‘finding a job’ as well.

Even if for one moment we were to assume it is impossible for us to find the ‘ideal job’ i.e. the job that is a ‘talent fit’ for us, one would still have to decide between the large number of possible jobs he ‘likes’.

In the end two things will happen:
1. You will either expect a lot from your job; or
2. You will not take your job seriously because you will have the feeling that the good job is just ‘around the corner’

Maybe one should just reduce his/her expectations from their job?

Friday, June 12, 2009

The duality within us

I have discovered the duality within me and identify it clearly as the “Adult” and the “Child”.

The “child” within me has the following character:
1. Wants to work hard but wants somebody to tell it what to do
2. Wants to love but wants somebody else to love back
3. Does not want to face aggressive people and tough situations and always wants to maintain the good side with people
4. Wants to be with girls but is shy to go to them
5. Wants everybody to be happy
6. Wants to cry when he is sad and wants somebody to console him [preferably that girl]

The “adult” within me has the following character – in one word a “mentor”:
1. Has seen the world and can guide the child telling him what “home work” to do
2. Knows who to [emotionally] protect the child from and tells the child who he can trust
3. Has been in tough/awkward situations often and is not fazed by it. He knows he has to face it and chooses between fight and flight very conveniently.
4. Knows how to approach girls perhaps bringing it down to a game. [My “adult” side lacks experience severely overwhelmed by the “child”]
5. Knows that in the real world there is a lot of misery and injustice that one can do nothing about and tries to put the child at ease by 'explaining' this to him. He also tells the child that one day the child maybe able to do something about it.
6. Is tough. Doesn't cry. Thinks it’s childish! But consoles the child.

If the adult was to play its part when needed and the child its part there would be perfect harmony.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Work De-mystified

I have been giving some serious thought to the idea of the ideal job. People have said: “Do what you love and it will never feel like work”.

There are two things I concluded from this:
1. I have to find something I love
2.Something we don't like to do is work and when we're forced to do it, it’s Hard Work

Now “love” as I best understand it is what the ‘parwana’ [firefly?] feels for the brilliant flame. It circles it and eventually [I think] dives into it.

If that’s what ‘love’ is, I clearly don’t love anything!

However, there are things I ‘like’ doing. In fact there are a lot of things I like doing. If I were to start listing them it would probably stretch from ‘flying a kite’ to ‘going on a journey on a ship’.

So from where I stand, it seems to me the approach to that ideal job is really to: “make a list, prioritize and go for what gives you most utility’.

And this utility is in whatever form that works for you [fun, money, respect, etc]

Work then is just this – a new definition: “Time is a limited resource, the economics of it would suggest we utilize it for those tasks from our ‘list’ that give us most utility. Whatever we choose to do is work”.

And that’s it. Since I don’t ‘love’ anything this is the only route to work.

This probably is work broken down to its barest form!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Chasing after power

Allama Iqbal said: “Power is more divine than truth. God is power. Be ye, then, like your father who is in heaven.”

Which power is he talking about?

I think he is talking about the power over our self.

Why is power over our self 'divine'?

A rule says: “If you change the rules on what controls you. You change the rules on what you can control.”

As Darwin said: “The fittest of the species is not the strongest, nor the most intelligent but the one that is most adaptive to change”

So how do you change the rules that control you i.e. how do you gain this divine power?

1. You do this by identifying what it is that you "Love doing".
2. Don’t accept any excuses you offer to yourself as to why its not possible.
3. Gain clarity on what steps you need to take and go forth.

Decide on one thing e.g. getting up early in the morning and Go for it!

You can go step by step in identifying more difficult things [that you love] or go for a really big thing/goal [that you would love to do]. The tougher the goal the more fun it will be achieving it!

So basically I think the more things you "Love" the more "Control" you will have over your self and so the more "Powerful" you will become.

Removing the contradiction between "Love and Self-Negation"

It has always seemed to me that there are two ways to grow:
1. Growth by self negation
2. Growth through Love

I have always thought that these methods are mutually exclusive.

Let me give you the following example to explain this better:

Waking up early in the morning close to sunrise to go for a walk is always something I thought I ‘loved doing’.

In order to wake up in the morning the first method [self-negation] would suggest I get up in the morning however tough it is.

To do the same somehow through a message of love should mean an ‘argument’ of some sort that would ‘win my heart’, a ‘secret lore so to say’. This method should incite such an emotion in me that I would not need to ‘negate myself’.

The two methods clearly seem to diverge and here I try to reconcile the two:

If I love to wake up in the morning I will not wait for an ‘argument’ to convince me, for an argument that always seems elusive. If I love it I will ‘just do it’, I will not care ‘even if an argument exists’!

This I think is how love works as opposed to cognition, how the heart works as opposed to the mind. The heart uses the mind to get its work done, simply as a tool!

In so doing if I really love something I will ‘negate’ myself wherever required to get it.

The degree to which a ‘parwana’ is intoxicated with the brilliance of the flame is such that it will burn in it.

What then would it be like to be in ‘love with reality’? I clearly do not know!

What would it be like to be in ‘love with God’, I have an idea. [It seems to have something to do with one’s understanding of reality]

I have picked up from the Quran that if you hide something from yourself you set yourself up for failure, if you try to better it you set yourself up to be successful.

If you can't get something done, if you are pursuing somebody in a half-hearted way, admit it to yourself! You probably don't love her even if you fool yourself into thinking that you do!

Those things that you love, those people that you love, pursue them with whatever you have got!

And if you are pursing something or someone but you now realize you don't love them do some 'honest introspection' to find out what the hurdle is [you should not hide the reason from yourself and you don't need to share it with anybody else].