Friday, February 18, 2011

Blind spots

Know about blind spots?

Yes, same blind spots that we encounter while driving.

If we don't look over our shoulders while changing lanes, it's possible that we will miss a car or bike which is in our blind spot.

Have you been impacted by one?

Simple technique is to look over in addition to relying on mirrors before changing lanes.

You can also get those tiny mirrors which you glue to one corner of your side mirrors to get better view of the blind spots.

But, nothing is safer than really turning your head to make absolutely sure.

Sometimes motorbikes miss all that and accidents can be fatal.

Anyway, why all this? Coming to the point now.

Do you think we have blind spots in our personalities as well?

Do you think you know everything about yourself?

I doubt. I believe we all know about ourselves the way we would like to know about ourselves.

Some people know themselves much more accurately than others.

Like everything else we see the life (which includes us) the way we would like to see and NOT really the way it is.

So, we have blind spots in our personalities too.

God took care of that.

He continues to give us equivalent of those tiny mirrors that help us see blind spots clearly.

What are they?

So called DIFFICULT people in our lives.

They are there to help us see our own blind spots.

I recently finished reading an excellent book - Path to the soul by Dr. Ashok Bedi.

Got this insight from that book.

When I thought about this and looked back, it made perfect sense.

Difficult people come into our lives to show us what we need to change. Sometimes they create such situations that things become so painful that we have no other way than changing ourselves or situations. That's exactly God's plan.

Since we do not seem to understand God's plan in any easy way, He has to make it little hard for in our lives and make us suffer a bit. He uses so-called-difficult people to help us uncover our own blind spots.

So, let's look at so-called-difficult-people as helpers rather than people to avoid. Of course we can avoid them. But, if we do not see what's in the blind spot, it will only get worse.

Many times I have seen those so-called-difficult-people vanish as soon as we recognize our blind spots and take care of the situation. That's what they were meant to accomplish. Their job is over.

Either you stop seeing them as difficult people or you change the situation such a way that point of they being there does not arise at all. Example - If you change jobs to avoid toxic work place, then you changed the situation.

In any case, it made absolute sense to me.

Dr. Bedi advises us look at such people as our own reflection with some things that we are not able to see ourselves. Like our back which we can not see ourselves.

Learn what those people are trying to teach. Make necessary changes and move on. After that they won't be there or they won't bother you.

Can you put up with difficult people and endure the pain?

I think it depends how smart you are and how much is your pain tolerance.

I see that sometimes it has to become so much painful for people to change. That's how we humans are. We do not look at pain and pleasure the same way. People won Nobel prize applying this principle and started a new field called behavioral finance. People rather do everything to avoid pain but are not willing exert even 10% of that effort to go after what is good for them.

As GK Chesterton said - God's divine hammer has to fall on us and cause some discomfort before we change.

Excellent book by Dr. Bedi. Rare book that combines wisdom of eastern spirituality with modern psychiatry.


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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Ajahn Brahm

Recently read a refreshing book by a buddhist monk - Ajahn Brahm.

He is originally from Britain. He trained as a theoretical physicist. Then the calling came and he went to become a buddhist monk.

He is a full-time monk who belongs to very demanding Teravada tradition of Buddhism.

He trained in the forest monasteries of Thailand under Ajahn Chan - revered master.

His book is titled - Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?: Inspiring Stories for Welcoming Life's Difficulties.

This is a fantastic book.

Full of witty small stories and essays.

You will be laughing or smiling all the time while you are reading this book.

That's when the master Ajahn Brahm keeps throwing in the pills of wisdom into you.

Very refreshing.

Many of his discourses are available on youtube.

They are really very interesting. Watch them when you get time.

I am looking forward to read his other books and watch other videos.


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Disappointed with somebody?

Read on.

A young man had just married a beautiful girl.

His father-in-law asked him why he married his daughter.

As usual, the young man went on and on......she is so cool. She is so beautiful. I can never find anyone better than her. Usual hype of heady first days of romance.

Experienced and wise father-in-law said - you know young man, after a couple of years, you will start finding flaws in her. Just remember that those flaws are there today too. You are not just able to see them. Always keep in mind that if not for those flaws she would have married someone so much better than you.

That's it.

This is not only true in marital but all sort of relationships.

Your family disappointed you? Yes. Sure, they have flaws. If they did not, they would have had better kids than you.

Your boss pissed you off. Sure. If not, he would have hired a better candidate than you.

Your subordinate under performed. Sure. If not for his flaws, he would have joined a better place at better salary.

It's all in the expectations.

Have no expectations and everything will be just fine.

Easy to preach. Hard to practice. Yes, you bet!


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Thorn, Torch, Pole

Using a thorn to remove a thorn - this is a very famous metaphor often used in the teachings of Indian spirituality.

Suppose you are walking in a forest. A thorn gets into your foot. You do not have any surgical instruments like needles or forceps etc. to remove the thorn.

What can be done?

Find another similar thorn. Use it to remove the thorn in your foot. After that, discard both thorns.

You need a torch in the dark.When there is light, torch is of no use.

Pole vault is a very interesting sport.

The pole vaulter has to let go of the pole to clear the bar. The pole is there to just give the needed force to propel him. Once he get the needed boost, he has to let go of the pole.

Thorn, Torch and Pole are similar to the tools that we can use to acquire spiritual knowledge.

Once we get the necessary knowledge, we get rid of them.

They do not serve any purpose after that.

In fact, keeping tools longs after they have served their purpose can become detrimental to your spiritual aspirations.

Dry intellectuals are those who can not give up boring aspects of arcane philosophy even after it has outlived its purpose.

So use books, teachers, masters to the extent needed just like you use a thorn or a torch or a pole to meet your immediate purpose.

There after it is you, your determination, effort and the divine grace.

Remember to grow up and give up toys. Sometimes the toys that we discover on the spiritual journey can be so alluring that you do not feel like giving them up. That's a danger. What you won't give up voluntarily will be forcefully taken away from you for your own good. That will be painful and result in suffering. Why go through that? Give up and lighten yourself.


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Inner voice

Melodious music playing inside a room.

There are also several people in the room busy talking and doing things.

Typical party.

Can you hear the music and enjoy it in such an environment?

Probably not.

The music is lost in the cacophony of the noise from people, their talk, laughter etc.

This is also happening with inner voice.

It is always talking. Its words are full of wisdom. We just do not seem to hear it all.

In order to listen to inner voice, we have to create proper ambience.

People talk about going on diet to help maintain good body.

Good diet means eating only things that are good for us in temperate quantities.

How about mental diet?

Have you thought about it?

We are constantly consuming through our senses - eye, ears, touch, taste, smell.

In order to start hearing inner voice, we have to start a mental diet.

Allow only those stimuli that is good for you and then you will start hearing the inner voice.

When we expose ourselves indiscriminately to external stimuli, we never allow our mind to slow down.

For a period that works for you, tell yourself that you are not going to watch TV, read news papers, see movies, browse Internet, no phone calls, no texting, no or very limited talking with others.

It's hard. At first you may be able to do it only for few hours or few minutes at the most.

However you will be able to gradually increase this time of retreat from hours to days.

It's extremely hard to go on this kind of mental diet. But, it's the only way to start.

No wonder Buddhist monks go through this kind of retreat. Their retreats are 3-4 years in length. We do not need to go that far.

Benefits will be visible immediately. As you reduce the external stimuli you take in, your body and mind start slowing down, they get much needed rest and recuperate against all the abuses from poor physical and  mental diet. Nervous system relaxes and re energizes.

If you can do this kind of a retreat at least one weekend a month, you will get maximum benefits. You can also go away for a week to some secluded place and do similar thing. Familiar surroundings of home make it difficult. So get out to some nice resort or retreat places.

During the retreat time, it is absolutely fine to read motivating spiritual books, listen to devotional music or soft music.

After you reward yourself with such retreats, become really aware of how you take in external stimuli. Many times our senses are in overdrive without we knowing about it  Become consciously aware about your surroundings.

Take in sensory stimuli. But, take them in deliberately.

If you want to watch TV, watch it for a small amount time with full attention. Do not eat or drink or do something else while watching TV.

Do not listen to mindless radio while driving. This is because when you listen to radio, program shifts from topic to topic or to advertisement or something. It breaks up attention and not good to your safe driving also. Best is not to listen to anything. If you can not, listen to audio book or mellow music.

Do not browse net indiscriminately. Get on the net with purpose. Get off as soon as you are done.

If you are a news junkie, check for news only few times a day. Same with e-mails, text messages, phone messages etc.

Bottom line is to become the master of our time and attention and not let the world jerk us around with its constantly changing priorities.

Once you slow down using all these and additional techniques, there comes that serene quietness in your life and that's when you start hearing your inner voice. This may take years and years but journey itself is rewarding.

Mind that is fast is sick.

Mind that is slow is sound.

Mind that is still is divine.

----by Meher Baba.


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Friday, February 04, 2011

From EGO to GOD

"They are forever free who break away from the ego cage of I, Me and Mine. To be united with the Lord of love. This is the supreme state. Attain to this and move from death to immortality."

This is one of the stanzas from 2nd chapter of Bhagvadgita.

I, Me, Mine - three legs on which EGO rests. Reduce focus on I, Me and Mine and you automatically reduce self-will. As you reduce self-will, you feel lighter and better overall.

EGO - When 'E' from 'EGO' 'GO'es and D (as in Devotion) comes in and you get GOD.


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LTBM - Laughter The Best Medicine

Laughter The Best Medicine.

Is it?

Or is laughter the best way to take the medicine?

What is the most needed medicine?


It is only when we  open our mouths while heartily laughing God can throw in a pill of wisdom.

If we are always smug faced and do not laugh at all, then the pill can not get in to us.

No wonder laughing relaxes you and helps you forget worries.

Just laugh!


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