Live and Work Successfully and Blissfully in 21st century

Here is a 15 minute opening speech, as the chief guest at a management conference in Dehradun in India. Building on the colorful theme of Holi festival just gone by, and the onset of a popular cricket season just coming up, I paint a big picture for life and work in 6 colorful charts, like six balls in a cricket over.

The key messages are:

1. Know thyself, as a specific person, and as the most unbounded being.

2. Human beings have complementary sets of needs at the global, interpersonal and the spiritual levels.

3. We need six capabilities of confidence, compassion, creativity, collaboration, courage, and consciousness to flourish in 21st century

4. Do the actions using SEAMS model – Straight, Strong, Enough, Adequate, in the Moment, and Wholeness on the move.

5. The life must be balanced with peace in the world and peace within

6. Finally in the last chart, I exhort the audience to paint life colorfully on the biggest canvas. Live life not just for yourself, but for the civilization and the universe.

Comments are welcome!

Fall Like A Feather

I met an elderly gentleman, Alan, who is an awakened soul. He told me that not too long ago he slipped on black ice, and fell like a feather. His whole body fell down on concrete, but he was not hurt at all. He fell flat softly in a way that all the parts of his body touched the ground together. Only the phone in his hand suffered a minor scratch. That seems like a miracle.  

On the other hand, an elderly close relative of mine, recently fell and broke his hip. It took him more than an year to recover from the surgery. Similarly, a good friend of mine, who is much younger than me, slipped on black ice a few years ago, and hurt the back of his head. He was taken to hospital in time to stop the bleeding from the back of his head. He is doing fine.

Is there an art to falling? That sounds like a silly question. However, I hear some wise people advising that falling is a given, and the important thing is whether one will dust up and get up and going again. Do some people perhaps fall at the wrong angle, or do they try to protect himself while falling? Do they panic while falling? It is hard to tell, unless one is present on the scene. Falling happens in a flash, in a split second with the full force of gravity.

I ask myself again, is there an art to falling? AARP says that the ‘world is full of banana peels’. So, avoiding a fall is a primary goal. However, they advise a few things on how to ‘fall safely’. Stay bent, protect your head, land on the meat, and keep falling. “Spread the impact across a larger part of your body; don’t concentrate impact on one area,” it says. The more you roll with the fall, the safer you will be. Their tips for preparation are: Be here now, get your eyesight checked (remember, … banana peels), and boost your balance with appropriate exercises.

So, yes, I think that there is a way to fall softly like a feather. The way is to be mindful and roll with the fall. Accept it. Let it be. Resisting a natural fall can be more dangerous than simply falling. Accept falls. I have fallen many times in life. Most times, till about a decade ago, the falls in life and career felt like personal failures and were devastating to mind and body. But in the last decade I can hardly remember a fall. A fall is a fall if we pay attention to it, and try to prevent it. The trick to falling like a feather is to become soft and light as a flower.

Live lightly!

Capabilities we must develop in 21st century business schools

The world in changing exponentially. We are all students now, and forever. Perhaps the most important meta-skill is to learn how and what to learn. Business schools need to develop the capabilities of the heart that will make the students ready for productive and fulfilling work in the 21st century. They need to prepare students for creating the likes of Uber and such companies that work in an era of abundance, which is very different from the earlier era of persistent material shortages.  The young as well as more mature business student need to be able to feel and articulate their deep sense of purpose, and to be able to flourish through a non-ending stream of transformations.

The required capabilities are Confidence, Creativity, Collaboration, and Courage.

  • Confidence means being able to holistically know oneself, the desires and expertise, well enough to stand for one’s words, decisions, and actions. Confidence has been the most important thing to work well, even in the last century, though technical knowledge has also become progressively important.
  • Creativity means thinking outside the box, beyond what has been done in the past. It also means helping others find novel solutions to the problems they face, and helping people grow. One needs to be open to continuous learning and admitting errors of mis-perceptions or ignorance,
  • Collaboration means teamwork, asking for help, not being focused much on course grades and comparative markers, and keeping one’s ego in check. One needs to take complete ownership of the work or the project, along with the team.
  • Courage is an attribute of the soul, and means the ability to function despite adversity and fear. It includes resilience, grit, determination, and the practice of discipline in the face or uncertainty and ambiguity. It means taking ownership of one’s life and purpose through thick and thin.

The way to develop these skills is through group exercises, projects, travels, celebrations, paid internships, and the like. These are not communicated through words, even though we are using words here to communicate these ideas. These exercises should be graded in an appreciative manner, with rich positive, timely feedback from a nurturing teacher / mentor.  

These capabilities may however be underdeveloped during the earlier years of schooling. The grade schools work on a process model, leaving little room for digressions and diversions to account for different ways of learning and different life goals. Just like schools have different course streams for science or commerce or arts students, and just as there are special education systems for the learning impaired, so also there should be different ways of teaching students of different kinds.  As Einstein said, teaching a monkey to swim, and a fish to climb trees would not be productive or fulfilling. The race to get admissions into desirable and prestigious colleges is intense and can have major impact on the quality of future life. Admission into the top colleges like Harvard can be very beneficial in many ways. However, the rat race to prepare for that single objective may rob all sense of joy in the formative years of the students.

Development of consciousness through regular practice of contemplation and reflection, such as Transcendental meditation, may help prepare the heart for developing these capabilities throughout life.

A Philosophy of Data: Flourishing all around.

Advice for an advanced student: Ask yourself good questions. Are they flourishing now? Are you flourishing now? What do they want and need? What do you want and need? Who are they? Who or what are you? Are they being creative? Are you? Are they having good feelings right now? Are you? Do they love what they do? Do you?

Ask more good questions. What is this world? Where did it come from? Where will it go? What is space-time? Where did it come from? Where is it going? What is quantum thinking? What is quantum reality?

Ask some mathematical questions. What is possibility? What is probability? What are numbers? Where are there numbers? Does God need numbers? Do you? Is God infinity? Are you infinity? What is infinity? We have an abundance of numbers. Do you like numbers? Do the numbers like you? Are you friendly with numbers? Numbers are not distributed uniformly. Except when we think of uniform distribution. What are the kinds of distributions of numbers? Mathematicians created new distributions. Binomial. Poisson. Exponential. Etc. They also created and identified relationships between numbers.

Numbers are data. Is data all about numbers? Are images and sounds all about numbers? Are primordial sounds zero? Are primordial images blank? Can we experience those primordials? Numbers are things and their reflections, and their patterns and models. People come and go, but numbers are forever.

Primordial numbers are 1 and zero: On or off, there or not-there. This is where dualistic reality begins. Numbers help tell the story of the world. Can we live without numbers? Are numbers a resource? Is education all about acquiring numbers? Numbers are language. Just like we have other languages, of other kinds of symbols. Language is culture, or the core of it.

What does it mean to acquire the language of numbers? The decimal language is derived from the number of fingers in the two hands together. Binary number language is simpler, and is based on presence and absence as the two values. Like flow of current, or not. Quantum computing is creating a new language of having multiple values simultaneously, potentially. We call this super-position, coming from positions of numbers on a line. By the way, the number line is primordial geometry. A line is a number or length. A line can be infinite. Or it can be segmented, into numbers of all locations. The distance of a number from zero becomes the line’s size.

Numbers have been integrated into sound languages such as Sanskrit and English. A description is not possible without numbers. Even colors are numbers on a scale of vibrations. Sounds are different vibrations.

So, what is the relationship between vibrations, sounds and numbers? That is something to ponder about. Take 1 day. Write 100 words. Post your comments!

Who are we: A perennial question

Who are we?

That is a perennial question asked by all philosophers and seekers of life. The question can be best answered at two different levels.

Who are we - two levels.png

At one level we are all Pure Being, the unbounded absolute infinite Consciousness that pervades the universe. At another level, we are all discrete and unique beings, differentiated by mind, body, ability, DNA, ethnicity, and so on.

  • At the first level we are pure unbounded existence while the second level we are doing and thinking machines or entities clothed in our physical bodily existence.
  • At the first level we see ourselves as living in bliss consciousness, while at the second level we seek happiness in exchanges of mental and physical products with other entities.
  • At the first level we are eternal spirit – unborn and undying. At the second level we are born and then we die. At this level, we can become afraid of death. So we worry about many things, become greedy, and save resources to better guard against death.
  • To live at the first level, we transcend our mind and senses using any of many techniques such as meditation. Living at the second level seems simple and easy, as we can access our mind and body through the use of our ordinary senses and supporting instruments.
  • At the second level we are all separate and each defined individually by our ego- consciousness, while at the first level we are all one together as nature and defined by our eco-consciousness.

This is a primary distinction in life. Ignorance of this basic piece of knowledge of who we are is a source of many challenges in living life properly. How we see ourselves depends upon our state of consciousness. From an ego consciousness, we appear to be this body and mind and others, just as others too have their own body and mind, and we interact with them to exchange materials ideas and so on. However, we all have a higher self. Not knowing it is the first and biggest fallacy. There are techniques to learn about the higher self just as there are techniques to learn the bodily and mental self. Our trained and disciplined mind is the biggest instruments for learning about the higher self. What we pay attention to grows in our consciousness.

However, this distinction may be of little interest to the poor who do not get even two pieces of bread every day. Meeting their basic physical needs becomes their primary challenge in life, and they do not have the time or energy to transcend. Similarly, this knowledge may be of little interest to the super rich for whom material abundance and physical pleasures have become intoxicating, and who do not believe in the transcendent. This knowledge is perhaps most useful for the middle-of-the-roader , the seeker of a blissful life, free from pain and miseries.  If interested, one can learn more at tm.org.

“Don’t give me this bliss s**t”

A good friend recently said,”do not give me this bliss s**t”. It is all a mind game, he said. Another good friend said, “you say you live in bliss, but I don’t see you so.” Both of these people are longtime friends from India, intellectuals with PhD degrees, who are comfortably settled in the US.

To the first friend, I said that there are over 700 scientific published studies that show the benefits of meditation, and that one can enjoy good health, happiness and bliss. That did not convince him. So, I spoke from personal experience, and how my moksha experience led me to write my book ‘Moksha’. That did not convince him. Come to our town and if you do not feel peace in your heart, I will pay you a substantial sum of money. That got him going. In essence, he said that Moksha is a very big thing, and it cannot be achieved by a simple process. He said he had been meditating off and on, and he did not get any benefit. His mom meditated all life and did not reach anywhere near there. I said it also depends upon the strength of desire, and one cannot will the desire. He said that desire alone cannot produce anything. So, I felt best to let go of the argument, and let him take his own time to be ready.

To the second friend, I said that bliss is an intensely subjective experience, and there is no way another person can experience it. One just have to believe it or feel it. Also, that bliss experience can come and go, depending upon continued practice of meditation. I also said that I was given the Maharishi award recently for bringing bliss to the community. I could see that he did not believe my story on Moksha and therefore had not bothered to read my book even though he had it.

Moksha book cover

I feel that most people are completely conditioned to no-pain-no-gain theory. If bliss is that good, it must take a lot of time and expertise and effort, they argue. However, bliss is an effortless accomplishment. Bliss is our true nature. One does not need a complicated process to achieve it. However, one does need a strong desire for it, which would overshadow other worldly desires. I feel that not everyone has the desire to escape the stresses of modern life, and reach out for  their god-given gift of bliss. The book is an attempt to inspire that desire in others.

 

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.

 

 

Transformation of Self-Identity: Imagination and Transcendence

Identity (of the self) is a fundamental concept that one develops about oneself that evolves over time. A fixed identity composed of name, relationships, and belongings keeps one locked in small self.

How can one proactively evolve or transform one’s identity? First step would be to locate and unfreeze the current identity. Research has shown that there is a part in the brain that is responsible for one’s memory and identity. That part is hippocampus (seahorse-shaped) in the middle of the brain. To transform one’s identity is to change the flexibility of that part of the brain.

Yagyas such as AtiRudraAbhishekam when done properly are a great way for self-transformation. Ashwamdetha yagyas are another way to achieve that. Coming from the Vedic tradition, the Ashvamedha is a ritual used by great Indian kings to expand their imperial sovereignty. A stallion would be released to wander for a period of one year. Whatever area the horse would cover in a year, unless challenged, would belong to the king. Then the horse is sacrificed.

There are two ways to explain the change in identity: Imagination and Transcendence.

Ashwamedha yagyas lets the king’s horse roam freely to as far as it can. Similarly, if the mind is free to imagine itself in the most expansive terms, it could be the broadening or expansion of identity. All of that territory becomes the mind’s. That is the way to understand it from an object-referral method.

Ashwamedha yagyas is also seen as the sacrificing the horse. Sacrificing the specificity-oriented mind to give way to a wholeness-oriented self, is the self-referral way of explaining self-transformation. That identity of specificity has to be erased and identity of wholeness has to settle in.

Transcendence is the forgetting of specificity and stepping into wholeness.  Transcendental Meditation is an effective and proven method for self-transcendence. While both are complementary concepts, Self-transformation through transcendence may be more desirable than self-expansion through imagination.

 

Clash and convergence of paradigms

There are multiple paradigms of knowledge of reality. How can everyone be right?

The answer is that there is a dilemma in the waking state of consciousness. One can continue discussing from different points of view and be correct in some vital way, without being able to refute the other points of view. Only when one transcends the waking state that some unified realities become available and acceptable. From the transcendent level of consciousness one can experience the connectedness of the entire universe. Eventually one can potentially experience the Vedantic non-dual reality of ‘tat tvam asi’, or ‘Aham Brahmasmi’. From the waking state of consciousness these look like absurd words. Even reading the Vedas from a waking state of consciousness is meaningless, and brings no power. Vedas have to be experienced from a state of transcendental consciousness. After all the Vedas were cognized by the seers from that state of consciousness.

Another question often asked if body is hardware, and mind is software, what is soul?

The answer is: the soul would be like the natural laws of electromagnetism and computation and information theory. There are three fundamental gods: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Lord Shiva represents form, or space, and thus the body. Lord Vishnu represents energy, or function, and thus the mind. Lord Brahma represents logic, the knowledge that binds form and function in the service of a purpose. This trinity together make up the entire universe. Consciousness is that which is aware of itself. Thus it is the knower, the known, and the process of knowing (the subject, object, and the verb, all in one). Thus the soul is the knower, the mind would be the process of knowing, and the body will be the known.

 

Feel whole, feel blissful

Feel whole, feel blissful

Freedom of choice is key to joy and bliss. Loss of wholeness is the primary affliction. Choices made from a lack of wholeness can be wrong, leading to pain and suffering. However, that pain leads to self-correction in choice-making, bringing back towards balance and wholeness. One should return to the whole Self, and operate from there, i.e. “Yogastha Kuru Karmani.” (Bhagvad Gita, 2:40). One should be making fulfilling choices. These choices are all recorded at the level of consciousness. One can even overcome past karma by being wider and broader, and more wholesome.

Even the most evolved and enlightened person can occasionally ‘fall’ into specificity, and lose the wholeness. The feeling of ‘I am’ is that destructive specificity. Balance must be re-established at every moment. It is good to be energetic, powerful and growing. But it is good only when one maintains contact with wholeness. When that wholeness is lost, then that person becomes like a cancer cell. Healthy communication between human cells can inspire the development of healthier bodies, and healthier societies.

One should maintain a correct perspective for the experience of any objective reality. The perception and joy can be vastly different depending upon one’s state of consciousness. What we call ‘real’ is the three-fold dynamic interaction of the properties of the observer, the observed, and the process of observation. If the observer changes himself, there will be a different outcome in terms of experience. Even the experience of seeing a simple thing, such as an apple, in front of us can evoke a different structure of experience depending upon one’s state of consciousness. New connections in the nervous system and new patterns of consciousness emerge from new experiences, and they transform us.

Knowledge from the other fields can lead to progress in one’s field, and in one’s quality of choice-making. Nature’s intelligence is distributed across what we called ‘disciplines’. It is all one, and therefore applicable to all the fields, to some extent or the other. Instead of studying just one discipline, one should study the laws of nature, and operate from that level of wholeness. The Vedas embody that wholeness of knowledge, which can also be found in the body and mind.

The general principles of wholeness-based choice-making are applicable at any level and time. What is true at the individual level can also be true for the development of consciousness of countries and societies. Balanced development will lead to the evolution of societies in the right direction, towards greater happiness and prosperity.  It can take decades or even centuries for society to evolve to perfection. Ram Raj is the culmination of the evolution of societies into a perfect system of governance.