Increasing self-awareness

Do I know the context around me, the neighborhood and the neighbors, the friends and family, now and over the many decades of my life? The answer is that I hardly know things and people around me. I barely know my own full reactions to most of the situations I found myself in. I have a few pet theories of who I am, and who were responsible for guiding me. These are super simplifications that do not help come up with productive and promising ideas for the future. I think it is important now to know all or more around me.

What does it mean to know a person? How does one define a person? By their accomplishments or their goals, by their friends, or by how they carry themselves? We can seek out and learn about their interests. And accept whatever they are, positive or negative. It can take a long time to know people.

What does it mean to know a neighborhood or a situation? The neighborhood is about its support for life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Safety. Limited regulations. Liveliness of activity. Plenty of wealth around. The situation would depend upon its difficulty and its impact on oneself, and how much one can do about it.

I think it is important to retain a sense of personal agency about oneself and the situations one finds oneself in. It is helpful to stop obsessing about one’s own interests and goals and accomplishments. The world is deeply interconnected and there is hardly anything one can accomplish without support from and alignment with the context around oneself.

 

ABCDs of Life

ABCDs of Life

  1. Absolute. We are Absolute or Pure Beings. Eham Brahma Asmi. I.e. I am Brahma, the Totality. I am unbounded, infinite, and therefore invincible. I am the transcendent: bigger than the biggest and smaller than the smallest. There are no walls or limits. We are without any defining qualities.
  2. Bliss. The nature of life is bliss. Sat-chit-Anand or absolute-consciousness-bliss. Bliss is the highest level of life energy. Bliss is the only thing that matters. The taste of even a drop of bliss can transform our life. Bliss naturally creates world peace.
  3. Creative: We naturally feel the urge to create when we feel free. Forms and structures effortlessly arise and dissolve when we transcend. Expressing our inner creations is a great source of joy. A lot of the world that we live in is created by ourselves.
  4. Data-driven: We are naturally curious about the nature of the relative. We want to understand and enjoy the totality of creation. With fine quality of perception, we invent and use tools to gather and integrate data, with which we in-form our thinking and patterns.

Absolute and Bliss are internal and unmanifest. Creativity and Data are focused on the external and relative. The inner Absolute Blissful Being is more powerful than the external reality. The inner qualities of awareness and blissfulness should be developed to guide creativity and learning. Meditation is the best way to experience the finest levels of bliss and creativity in life!

Browsing for ABCD,  I found some lovely organizations and descriptions.

  • Any Body Can Dance
  • Art Building Children’s Dreams
  • Assuring Better Child Development
  • Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development
  • Access to Baby and Child Dentistry
  • Ashley Brown Cake Design
  • And finally … American Born Cute Desi!

Have a blissful Day!

 

 

Travel adventure – going overseas without wallet

This is a travel adventure of going overseas without one’s wallet and still coming out whole.

A few days ago, in December 2017, I traveled from Delhi to Seoul in South Korea. I was an invited speaker on Data Analytics at an international conference. I got dropped me off at the Delhi International airport, went through the immigration and security counters, and sat down near the flight’s departure gate. A little bored, I look around and saw my favorite snack counter close to my gate. I walked over to the store and found my favorite snacks. When I tried to pay for it, I discovered that I did not have my wallet with me. I rummaged through my pockets and then my bags but could not find it. I became a little worried that I had lost or dropped it somewhere.

A sweet and beautiful young Indian lady, from Los Angeles, was shopping in the same snack store. She heard me saying to the shopkeeper that I had lost my wallet, and was very sympathetic. She asked me how much money I needed. I said that at the very least I needed $15 for a one-way ride to the hotel in Seoul. With great effort, she managed to scrounge $15 cash from the various pockets inside her handbag. Very cheerfully she gave the money to me. God bless her. I took her phone number and will try to return the money, even though she said not to bother.

I then frantically tried to reach out to my parents in Delhi by phone. They looked around and quickly found my wallet on my bed. I was a little relieved. I realized that I was trying to remove some of the unneeded cards and cash from the wallet, and in the process I forgot to pick up the wallet. I had checked that I had the passport before I left, but did not check the wallet. My father, a retired UN diplomat, was worried how I will manage without the wallet. But I told him it will be an adventure. We both laughed, and he was relieved.  Now the correct story was that I had ‘forgotten my wallet at home’. I texted my daughter in the US to be ready to wire me money in Seoul just in case. I also texted a friend who was coming to the same conference that I may need his help.

In the plane, I tried to meditate and keep calm. I lost all fear, and became determined to find someone who would be willing to help. I was a little concerned about the currency conversion process at the airport that I may fall just a little short of the Korean currency needed to get to the airport. I looked around for who could help.

A young Korean man sitting right behind my seat. I asked him if he could convert for me $15 worth of Korean currency to pay for one-way bus ride from the airport to the city. He talked nicely with me but found it ‘unusual’ how one forgets one’s wallet at home. He said he will think about it. I also asked the Korean flight attendants for help. They said that none of them had any Korean currency, and could not help.

I wanted to ask another Indian person. I had seen an Indian family with little kids in the departure lounge right behind me. I looked for them in the plane. I saw a family sitting close to my seat. It was a different young man. He looked pretty blissful sitting there with eyes kinda closed. I approached him. He said he lived in Seattle, and had worked with Microsoft till very recently. I told him about my situation. He agreed to lend me $15. But then he said his wallet was in his bag up in the storage, and he will give me later. I came back to him with a copy of my Big Data book which had some brief description of me as an author. Finally, when we landed in Seoul, he gave me $15.

Now I was confident that I will be able to make the trip without any hassle. I had enough money to reach the city. I had friends at the conference. Hotel bill was prepaid. I did not need any additional money, as I did not need to buy anything. I had carried some home-made vegetarian food from home. I returned to Delhi from the conference safely two days later. I contacted them both my benefactors so I can return the monies. I can’t thank them enough.

I believe there are no ‘accidents’. It all happens for a reason. We don’t know how many dots get connected for some event to happen. Somehow I developed the confidence to manage an international trip without carrying my wallet. Anything is possible!!

Lessons: check your documents and wallet before you leave for a trip. Do good to others, so nature will provide support back. Both the US-based Indians whom I approached, helped; that warms my heart!!

 

 

Bliss is me

Bliss is me

 

Bliss is my current state

From Bliss I come

Into Bliss I am going

Bliss is the source and the destination

Bliss is all there is

In Bliss all distinctions arise

In Bliss all distinctions merge

Bliss is the alpha and omega and everything in-between

Bliss is #1 and #2 and #3 and all the way

Bliss is here there everywhere

Bliss is inside and outside

Bliss is with everyone

Bliss is everyone’s fundamental right

What gets in the way of Bliss

As Bliss is all there is, Bliss gets in the way of Bliss

How so?

Lower forms of Bliss … pleasure and happiness get in the way

How to remove the obstacles

The obstacles too too must be Bliss as Bliss is all there is

By being aware that we are Bliss here and now, and we do not need to traverse any path to get to it. The obstacles will reveal themselves to be a gross form of bliss that our senses and mind are able to perceive. Mind and body develop preferences for certain grossified bliss forms based on how often and close they appear to them. The game of more, more, more is unending like a dog chasing the tail. Higher bliss and knowledge can pull one out of that chase and catapult to an awareness of infinite bliss within. Then all is within and without.

We have everything; we are everything. That is the nature of Bliss. That is us.

 

 

Technology and Spirituality Coexist

In the last couple of weeks, I had long fulfilling conversations on spirituality and Moksha with two young people in their 20s. Both are Computer Science students, with one doing a bachelor’s degree and the other doing a master’s degree.  One is a male and another is a female. One is a student on my own university campus and the other is on another university where I had recently visited to give a technology seminar based on my Data Analytics book. Both students happened to be from Hindu backgrounds, but neither is from India.

Both said that they were deeply spiritual people, and they were always concerned about how might technology and spirituality co-exist. I said I was a living example, and they felt reassured. Of course, there are many other IT people who have even become full-time spiritual people. I also said that spirituality is all encompassing, and it includes everything including technology, management, society, and all other fields. In fact, spiritual technologies can accelerate the path to moksha.

Both also said their conversations with their classmates and friends were not too fulfilling since others could not communicate with the others at the level that they found fulfilling. One described the conversations as being more about questions and answers about manifested things, and it was difficult to describe to their friends their deep spiritual experiences that had changed their view of the world. The charm they found in their inner journey was very enjoyable, but not necessarily describable. The other student was curious whether spirituality could help technological solved problems more creatively.

I wished them great progress in their spiritual journey. Enlightenment is very easy to achieve if one innocently wished for it, but does not obsessively try hard to find it in the world outside. It will come when one is ready.  This is the same message I gave my two friends in the summer when they said that don’t give me this Bliss s**t.

 

Conversations With God: Bernie Sanders

A really enlightening but imaginary conversation.

Bernie.jpg

God: Welcome to God’s house. What do you want?

Bernie: Please make me the democratic candidate for President.

God: That is a good idea. But why do you want to become President?

Bernie: The country is up for sale. All politicians are corrupt. They are busy filling their own pockets. We have to save the country. We have to give hope to the people.

God: That too is a good idea. But do you really want to become President? It is a tough job.

Bernie: I have been a mayor. I can run the country too.

God: Ok. How will you run the country? The entire political establishment is against you.

Bernie: This is a political revolution. It will throw up new leaders. The Constitution does not give any political establishment the right to power forever.

God: Logically you are right. But your revolution will create a lot of uncertainty. Who knows what will happen. Even we Gods see a danger in this.  People may even refuse to follow us.

Bernie: People power is absolute. Anything is possible.

God: What if robots take advantage of this power vacuum? They can snatch power from the people!

Bernie: Right now, there is little chance of that happening. But you are right. Anything is possible.

God: Will have to think some more. Meanwhile ask for something for you personally.

Bernie: I have heard these days you are easily giving away long life to people. I am already 73 years old. Give me 30-40 more years, so I can take this revolution pretty far.

God: So shall it be.

 

 

On Running a Marathon

I ran a marathon race 10 years ago in Austin, TX. My motivation was simply to become a more outdoors person. An athlete friend suggested we run a marathon, and so we did.

2006_poster_593

It was an exhilarating 6-month journey. I signed up for the Austin Distance Challenge, a series of seven increasingly longer races (5k, 5M, 10K, 10M, half-marathon, 20M) culminating in the marathon (26.2miles). I selected the best local marathon coaching company, and got a fantastic coach. Over this period, I made new running friends, became a more outdoors person, improved my health and stamina, and accumulated medals and running shirts, among other things. And, of course, successfully finished the marathon. I also learned a couple of lessons.

Anil marathon 010

  1. A good marathon is a completed marathon. I took longer than most people to complete the race, but I finished it successfully. I got my medal and jacket and kudos. Out coach told us that 98% of those who show up at the starting line, end up reaching the finish line. That was a great comfort, and a strong motivator to get up early in the morning, be excited about it, and get to the starting line. I had running buddies from my coaching group also running the race. We had physically traversed the race’s course the previous day using the coach’s script to ensure the mind does not get bored or anxious. Also, the 6 months of preparation … with long runs (or competitive races) every weekend, and a 2-hour exercise drill every Wednesday, gave us stamina and confidence. We had also been careful to stay free of running injuries to be ready for the marathon. That brings up my second lesson.

Anil marathon 005

  1. Keep it fun and injury-free. When we are preparing for the marathon, we are stretching the body to great extremes. It becomes easy to overdo and injure oneself. Many people injure their IT-band (the side of the leg from hip to the foot), knees, muscles pulls, and so on. So, run at your natural pace, with just a little bit of stretch, and make that your target pace. Do not chase the other younger and more athletic guys, the seasoned runners. Running at a natural pace uses your red-colored short-fiber leg muscles. These muscles keep up an efficient supply of oxygen and disposition of toxins (lactic acid) to keep themselves fresh and energized. Running from those muscles makes you will feel you can run all day. Do not try to sprint during long runs or the marathon … especially during those seductive downhill stretches. Sprinting utilizes the white long-fiber muscles of the thighs. These super-flexible muscles give you superb speed, but not much range. You will very soon hit a ‘wall’ when your legs freeze, and will have to abandon the marathon right there.

P.S. There were some minor lessons. Such as about investing in the right running shoes, that are one size bigger than normal to allow your feet some wiggle room. And to stay hydrated and keep the energy level high with yummy quick-release high-energy snacks bars/gels.  And of course, always listen to the coach, so you can escape a lot of grief down the road!

Moksha (Liberation) and Beyond

I had the good fortune of visiting the Brahmistan of India a few weeks ago. It is located at the geographical center of the country of India, a two hour drive from the city of Jabalpur. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s movement owns a large tract of land, where a beautiful and blissful residential and Transcendental Meditation facility has been established. A large number of Vedic Pandits meditate together at this location to spread peace around India, and indeed the world. The Pandits also do Vedic chanting here. In particular, everyday they do a Rudra Abhishekam, homage to Lord Shiva every day.  The chanting in this particular location is special, with 1331 (being 11 x 11 x 11) highly trained Maharishi Vedic pandits chanting together. Thus it is called Ati Rudra Abhishekam, (Ati means Extremely Large). It was Maharishi’s dream project, and it got fulfilled a few years after he passed on.

Brahmistan 2016 group

My daughter and I went to the Brahmistan knowing that Ati Rudra Abhishekam is a highly transformative event. Just listening to and witnessing this live chanting can have a powerful and liberating effect on oneself. We were taken to the huge meditation hall and we were seated comfortably on sofas. All the pandits, young and old, sat  on the floor, while a few pandits sat on stage doing the actions of bathing the shivlingas with milk.(see picture)

AtiRudraAbhishek

The chanting began with an hour-long obligatory oblations to many gods as well as donors. Then began the real Rudra Abhishekam chanting by the almost 1500 pandits present in the room. It was a very deeply resonant experience for me. In just a couple of minutes, my head grew heavy and woozy-doozy, and my eyes naturally closed. I was neither awake nor sleepy, and began to have amazing perceptual experiences. I ‘saw’ a giant crane, like the ones used in constructing tall buildings, pick me up by my head from the well of a tall building, and place me on the side of the building.  I felt liberated from the confines of my physical body. This is the state or the feeling of ‘moksha’.

I had never had such a vision before. Such visions are rare but powerful indicators of a quantum leap into higher wisdom, say my learned friends with whom I have shared this experience. Where do we go from here though? How do we use our liberation and higher states of consciousness for the maximum good? Do we evaporate into air like camphor, and spread like a fragrance that is always there everywhere? Do we become like a sun and emit powerful light in all directions at all times?

This leads into my Billion Buddha Project … to ensure that at least a billion people wake up to their true divine infinite powerful creative nature and live a naturally and effortlessly happy life. Enlightening others to this reality is the theme of the rest of my life.

 

Age and Happiness

I did data analytics for a long-term project on family businesses, while at Case Western Reserve University a little over 2 decades ago. Using survey data from hundreds of respondents across dozens of companies over several years, we tried to analyze predictors of success at family firms. The astonishing finding was that the biggest finding was not about usual factors like ‘Succession Planning’ and ‘Clear Strategy’ etc. The biggest amazement was that across almost all dependent variables, the age of the respondent showed the greatest impact. We found what I used to call a bucket curve. For respondents under the age of 30 and below, their perceptions of their company was good. Similarly, for respondents of age 50 and over, their perceptions of their company was good. In the middle age, the respondents’ perceptions were not too good, across all variables. No other independent variables, like gender and education level and years of experience and even whether the respondent-employee was also a member of the owning family, made any difference. The AGE variable ran away with the whole variance, and thus the whole story.
We went to the retired dean of the school of business to express our excitement, amazement as well as trepidation at such a result. This old wise man looked at the results, asked some questions, and said that it all makes sense. The younger employees are glad for what the company has given them. The older people are looking back with pride at what they have achieved. It is the folks in the middle who are nervous and frustrated  as they have half their career behind them and want/expect the company to give them more opportunities to do better.
The paper was sent for publication on the strength of this finding. It got published at Family Business Review, the top journal in the field, in 1997.  Twelve years later I accidentally discovered that this paper had been included in the authoritative Handbook of Family Business all these years (there are less than 30 papers in that handbook). This paper was significant for just this insight, that age changes perceptions like nothing else. At our age, we are mostly happy as we have accomplished a lot!

On Moksha (Liberation)

Moksha is the ultimate thing. It is liberation from the biggest falsehood – that we are this body or the mind. Moksha is the liberation of the soul from the confines of the mind and body. We say that we have a mind, and we have a body. We are the master of our mind and body. We should devote our time living in touch with our true self, which is the soul, or whatever other name it may be called by.

Moksha brings freedom from the afflictions of the mind and body. The body is frail; it can be broken; it can get diseased. The mind is fickle and flighty; it can get anxious or fearful or angry; it can get depressed. The body is a great tool while it works; it houses us and allows us to engage in the relative world of other souls and the material things. The mind is an even more powerful tool while it works; it helps us grasp things unmanifest and subtle, through the power of thinking. The mind allows to plan, act and be happy. To be liberated does not mean discarding the body or the mind; it means not to be confined or defined by them.

A person who has achieved Moksha experiences total and eternal bliss. Such a person is not moved or agitated by anything in the relative world. Such a person is able to ‘see’ the soul in every other person and can connect with them. Such a person can communicate with their mere presence, without using any words or even raising a finger.

Moksha is achieved by (a) a deep desire for it, and (b) the right way to transcend the relative world of mind and body. I believe that everyone fundamentally desires moksha, as no one wants to suffer pain and misery. However, the strength and the depth of desire can be different for different people. I do not believe we can will a desire, i.e. the mind cannot create a desire. Desires are what they are, and they exert the most powerful force upon us. The right way to fulfill the desire of Moksha is the way of meditation. All meditations are not the same. I believe that transcendental techniques such as TM (from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) and Vipassana (from Buddha through Mr. Goenka) are two such techniques, though there could be many more of them.