Just because I taught communication courses and teach others to listen deeply, I used to think that I am very good listener. There were a few occasionswhen we wife or son or daughter caught me doing something else because I thought I knew what they were saying. They never let me live it down and now I pay extra attention to what they say. Still when I am impatient, I try to complete their sentences and get into trouble whenever I do that. Autopilot listening is really easy. Deep and in the moment listening is always a choice that I have to make every single time -- but it is worth it!
Feeling of love and compassion filled my heard as I read this poem three times in a row. As it started reverberating in my heart, I noticed a smile on face. Usually, I am a serious person and almost intense in my silent reflection. Now though, there is a lightness in my heart and instead of feeling helpless that I cannot do anything, there is acceptance and a sense of gratitude. A sense of inevitability -- not emerging out of fear and desperation but emerging out of surrender and letting go of the control I never had. No more words. Silence and deep appreciation. Thank you Lynn.
Just the right message for me as I struggle with these exact issues -- cognition and relaxation. To use a funny but easily relatable story, let me talk about my passion (and obsession) for anything that I take up. Photography, check. Table Tennis, Check, Tennis, Check. Indian philosophy, check. Whatever I take up, I put 200% into it.
Recently I started table tennis after 30 years of not playing it. Of course, top of the line table, ball machine, membership in a couple of clubs and weekly coaching -- all are essential, right? for laughing out loud, I am trying to find something to entertain and relax me during my retirement. But more attention I paid to TT, less I made progress. In fact, I got worse. Physically I ended up with Tennis elbow (can you imagine getting tennis elbow hitting a less than 10 gms plastic ball?).
The more I willed, less I progressed. The more I thought and strategized, more I got dejected. Only recently, I am learning to just feel and let go and hope one day I relax into it.
I love the response that JK gave. Life has no purpose. Because it is. It has no beginning and no ending and it including you, me and everything that we love and hate. What it means to me is that when I am full of life, when I am just being in the moment, when I am fully present, there is no purpose, no time or no goal. Only life is present and there is no I or individual consciousness. When I am thinking, planning and mourning, then I have a purpose to make myself whole by doing, feeling and embracing the polarity that I am running away from.
Think about it, just like life has no purpose, death has no purpose either. But we try to find meaning and give meaning to death.
My father passed away last year. His life is fulfilled and death took him away. By mourning, by being upset that he died only makes me unable to participate in life. I am not engaged with life everytime I live in the memories of my father or when I am upset.
When I serve others, when I celebrate other's success as my own, when I laugh and share with others, then I dont need any purpose to my life. Life is service and life is presence and life is joy. They just are.
Last week, one of my favorite aunts passed away -- unexpectedly, while visiting her son in Rochester. She is not even 65 -- woke up with chest pain and by noon, she was gone! I heard and first collapsed with pain and then it became easier to see that she is no longer in one place at one time. She is with all of us who love her and appreciated her love. She is no longer physically present -- i have some regrets that i have postponed my phone calls too long and many others. But I am happy for her -- she did not have to suffer in bed for long and she left happy!
reflecting on her life and death, made me understand more about holding lightly!
How can we wake up? By being in the present moment and being aware of both acceptance and rejection, fear and courage, love and hate in us. Once we wake up, staying up is an entirely different matter all together! If that is the case, did I really wake up in the first place or am I just dreaming?
I loved the statement that said that we cultivate soil not the flowers -- how true! It is all about cultivating and nurturing the soil and seed without quite knowing what comes out of the ground! It is a great metaphor for developing leaders and developing organizations!
I remember a scene in Peaceful Warrior movie where the hero asks the teacher to help him be in the present moment -- and do it quickly because he needs to go to class soon. The teacher nods and throws the student into a nearby creek. The student was caught unaware and comes out screaming and shivering with cold asking whether he has gone crazy. The teacher asks quietly -- what were you thinking when you were falling into the creek -- the answer was nothing. I could not think. Then the question was whether the student was worried about the future or thinking about the past --- the answer again was no. Then the teacher says that -- you were present to what is happening. your mind was out of the way. your language for that experience was --- aaahhhh.
I have found the same thing again and again. When I am in the moment, there is no language for it. Only after the moment passes, I can think about it, compare it or explain it. but in the moment, there was only experience -- 'I' was not present.
I am a talkative guy. When i listen to something deep or interesting, it stirs some memories, insights and then I talk. There were a few situations, where, i just listened and did not know what to respond and how to respond as well. Interestingly, that is when I was told i gave best advice!
The key to deal with our own fears, uncontrollable desires or greed is turning them around. A mother might be afraid of dogs all her life but when she sees her daughter going closer to a dog, she will get over her fear instantly. Love triumphs fear. Similarly, desire gets reframed when we give instead of consume. How many of us remember the feeling of getting something we always wanted vs. giving some gift that brought a big smile and a bear hug from others?
Inner GPS are Guilt, Pride and Shame and those are social control mechanisms. Religion, moral traditions help us to stay within societal norms through GPS and they are connected with our greed, violence and hatred.
What I found in my life and that of others is to reframe GPS to mean something meaningful for us -- genorosity or gratitude instead of guilt; passion or purpose instead of pride; and service instead of shame... You see where I am going -- create your own meaning for GPS -- then you have more energy and interest in connecting and uniting with others!
A friend of mine lamented: "why do I do what I do? why do I want to help others? people say that I genuinely want to help but do I really? I thought about it a lot because the instinct to help comes very quickly and naturally. But when I reflect, that desire doesn't last when people are not around. On reflection, I realized that I like to help because I want their approval. I also realized that it does not matter who they are, I want their approval. Then it came to me that even they know that I want their approval and they take advantage me and use me as well. Having this self awareness does not help by itself. Because knowing does not give deeper understanding. Until I understand myself and appreciate the games my ego plays, action of right kind does not emerge from just awareness..."
Now I keep keep asking myself -- it it not just my friend that has approval need, I fall into the same trap except that I did not have that awareness till he mentioned. Unfortunately, right action does not emerge out of other people's insights! i I have to wait for my own awareness to emerge!
Most of my life, i have experienced serendipidy -- I prefer to call seeming randomness this way. i do plan many different things meticulously -- only to see them fall apart and something else magically come alive and take me in a random direction. it always worked out.
in 1980, I had an accident in my laboratory while i was doing my ph.d. and that added 18 months to my graduation. It also meant, the opportunity to work with a double Noble Laureate was gone and after waiting for other opportunities for several months, I decided to accept a job in an Indian company and moved to a remote place in Assam. 20 minutes after I left for the train station, a telegram came from US offering me a position in Salt Lake City. The kind postman who also delivered the telegram, knew what telegram meant and put that in the mail. After 24 days, the telegram reaches me in Assam and I am in US for a post-doc position in a random place.
Then again in 1982, I applied for 172 jobs and because of recession, I could not get even one. I had conflicts with my professor and was ready to return to India. In a random party, i come across another person who recommended me to meet his colleague and before I knew, I had a job offer in my back yard that led me to change my India plans again and stay back.
Samething with Apple job, same thing with quitting that job and on and on...
I call that Randomness that rules our lives -- magic, Grace or God!
I love this piece because it resonates where I see myself -- right in the middle of two paradigms, two worldviews -- neither of them wrong nor right. Neither is fully present nor absent. It is the past that informs me and the future that inspires me. How do i move gently into the future of my choice and honor the past of my tradition...
What worked in a past still has a place in the future -- though not in the exact same way. What is being created and invented is happening on the ground of the past.
In this middle space -- in this gap between the past and the future -- that present exists.
in this time, in this present moment - in the now -- all of the future and all of the past come together and celebrate. And we get to live in that present now and for ever...
everytime, I opened my heart, I learned -- sometimes first by getting hurt but many times by becoming surprised and finding out something I had no idea. Whenver I thought I knew, in other words, depended on my brain instead of my heart, I was safe but disappointed -- nothing happened, no magic, no surprise, no fun.
I chose to love and never regretted. Loving means choosing to stay open and vulnerable for me...
I am deeply touched by Jerry's words. It is reverence that shows up this passage and I could enter his world and experience the Ohs that he did.
it got me thinking. generosity is a state of consciousness. Samething with reverence. It is an attitude and I have a choice to be reverant. I cannot be on autopilot and reverant.
When am I reverant and what contexts bring reverance in my attitude? Mystery definitely makes me curious and when I stop trying to figure it out and honor the mystery, reverence shows up.
Recently, I was with a professor Fred Luthans on the plane. He is a legend in the management field. His demeanor was very simple, down to earth and curious. We had a great conversation and I learned so much in that two hour flight and am everyday practicing and reflection on that learning. When we left each other, I was deeply touched by his generocity of spirit and presence. Even when I think of him, I experience reverance.
It is easy for us to experience guilt, pride and shame (GPS given by societal norms) but it is worthwhile to consciously develop Generocity (instead of guilt), passion (instead of pride) and attitude of Service (instead of shame). It looks to me that Jerry Winstorm succeeded in transforming his own GPS meeting three souls who are rich in their genorocity and through his writing, inspiring us and strengthening our hearts. Thank you Jerry!
three different ways of looking at the sentence and they mean different things to me. When 'i' is nothing and the meaning associated with who I am is also nothing, it can truly be freeing sensation. Interestingly, I felt that when I am nothing, I am everything as well. By letting go of limited 'i' unlimited 'i' begins to operate and instead of I being in control, I act and observe with no attachment.
For a long time, I played tennis -- 25+ years. There are times I feel that I am stuck -- hit a wall and don't see any progress. The more I play, more I try to improve, even more frustration i experienced. And some times, I just let go of my experience, expectations and the whole stand as a tennis player and just observe while acting. That is when I played my best tennis.
It is not just tennis but also in Carroms. Not just in games but also in class room. Not just in teaching, but also in learning. When expectations, guilt, pride, shame and the identification is let go, I become nothing but beginners mind kicks in and some other door seems to open.
have you tried to consciously let go of your identity and become nothing?
experience your freedom again and again is related to a concept called 'Anusandhanam' in Vedanta. For example, the Maha Vakya in Upanishads called 'Ayamatma Brahma' is said to be one such sentence that allows you to stay free. Anusandhanam means -- staying joined or connected. it is not just sufficient that we become aware of our true nature but we have to stay connected to it for us to be liberated from the self-doubts and ego struggles.
Think of a small baby. As long as it knows that mother is around, baby happily plays without hanging onto the mother in the same room. the baby is aware that the mother will be there if she needs her. But she keeps looking at her mother once in a while and gets reassured and then engages with her play. The moment the baby notices that the mother is not in the room, she starts crying and will stop as soon as the mother is seen again. This is 'anusandhana Bandham' between mother and the child.
Same is true for us. we are like little children who is unable to stay aware of the fact that we not our body, our mind, our emotions and our ego. When we are aware of our freedom and deeper connection to the larger consciousness, we experience freedom and choice. Meditation is one of the effective ways to stay connected with our deeper self.
Andrew Cohen wrote it much simply and I chose to help you understand it with my complex language. Kapitz! :-)
Five senses are our connectors to the outside world and yes, the dominant species in the world -- currently business organizations will try to take advantage of those connections. They want to make money and some times we welcome their personalization or customization to offer what we need. These are unconscious set of drives that dictate our autopilot behaviors. They are easy to manipulate.
The key to choosing is not just awareness but attention to that awareness. When we pay attention to what triggers our energy, what drives help us move towards happiness, peace or satisfaction, then we might be able to create appropriate alarms that help us pay attention when it happens. it takes time and practice to become aware and pay attention but it is definitely worth it.
For example, I am in San Antonio in a management conference. We have a big exhibition with so many book publishers offering attractive discounts on their books. In addition, on the last day of the conference, many of these publishers give away their books for almost nothing and knowing that, I keep track of books that I want to buy. The ones I must have, buy them right away but others I pay attention and on the last day I normally get a box full of them for 60-80%. It is reverse of what Diane is mentioning above. Businesses use our drives to drive us where they want us to and when we pay attention, we can do the same.
It is knowing that you have freedom to choose that allows one to not become a victim.
When i read this passage, in the beginning I felt that it was too dark and lingering on the negatives too long and too much.
But as i reflected on the later parts, I began to feel that the author actually built up the drama and negativity to create "stress" and then helped us to release it through beautiful images that resonate in the hearts of the readers.
As John eloquently put it, gradually, I am returning to myself, having learned a new respect for John and the joy that dwells far within negative stress.
When we choose death as an ally as Duane suggests, fear disappears. Sadness stops bothering us as much as usually does. We begin to accept things as they are and enjoy the process of living more than ever.
Everything happens through cycles -- seasons, waves, sunrise and sunset, sleep -- you name it, it has a cyclical nature. Why is that life cannot have the same cyclical nature. We are born, we live and then we die to be born again -- right? it feels much simpler once we have death as an ally.
I really connect with the statement "the secret of love is that it is a gift, and that it can be made to grow only by giving it away."
It is not only that love chooses me, i feel it has always chosen me except that I have to unlearn everything that is in the way to experience the choice. When I choose to intellectualize, when I focus on looking good, when I react instead of stepping back -- then it is difficult for me to feel the love.
I recently had an experience to go to a healing poetry session with my wife and in two days, I ended up writing more poetry than I did my entire life. When I was experiencing emotion, expression burst out of me. Then I wanted to write poems so that I can be a poet -- it has been a month and not a single poem is written!
Same thing with love. As I present? Am I aware? Am I willing? Am I accepting what love offers? if the answer is yes, yes, yes -- then you are in love!
Long time ago, I heard a story from Swami Ranganathananda of Ramakrishna Mission about a mother who went camping with her young children. She woke up early in the morning and noticing that kids are still asleep, she went for a quick walk towards the river and was enjoying the early morning beauty. Just then, she noticed a bear near her and started moving away slowly and running once it was out of sight. Then she remembered that the bear is between her and her children in the tent. Suddenly, her fear of the bear got replaced with love and concern for her children. Instead of running away to safety, she begin to think of ways of distracting the bear so that it will come away from the tent even though it might put her life in danger. The message I got from that story was that when love enters, it can replace all the negative emotions in one swoop and create magic in people's lives.
I tested it out again and again in my life. When I am angry, upset, afraid, i think of things that I love and am attracted to. The energy shifts, face and my body relaxes, anxiety disappears and smile shows up on my face. It is just amazing to see it happen instead of thinking about how it happens.
Liking is like thinking about love. Going for what hurts is where one really feels love!
This passage resonates with me at multiple levels. The idea of vision to be balanced by execution is a critical message for entrepreneur in me. The idea of Rajasik energy driving us towards one side of the pendulum and Tamasik to the other while the satvik wisdom being in the middle is the image that I think of because it connects the Buddhist thought with Hindu thought. Above all, I am exploring where my vision has taken me and where my routine has not caught up -- because that has been the zone of disappointment in my life. Wherever vision has not caught up with routine is the zone of frustration or boredom.
When i work professionally, I find that helping executives to think of both sides -- vision and execution is not easy. Some people don't connect and value one part of the equation or the other. If they don't have somebody else who is complimentary and is willing to stand up for their point of view, the organization suffers.
It is amazing that wisdom of the ancients has so many implications in 21st century but not many people make the connection!
I feel the key word is "flow" more than money. Money by itself does not do anything -- except when it is exchanged for something that we value or others value. In other words, value of money is experienced only when there is flow of money.
Lack of money, as many of us know, drives people to get it. But once you have sufficient amount - that amount varies from person to person -- it does not motivate us or drive us. Money demotivates us more than motivates us -- do you agree?
Interestingly, in Indian mythology, Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. She is considered to be "chanchala lakshmi' -- which means she is fickle and flows quickly from one person to another. In addition, money is only one form of wealth. Land, resources, health, relationships, power are all considered to be elements of wealth. Prosperity -- does money and wealth allow us to prosper? If not, it is not desirable, according to Hindu mythology.
I agree with Korten -- when money operates as our servant, we feel prosperous and when it is our master, then we feel grief, greed, anger and lust.
Does knowing this help? Probably not. But acting on it and finding ways to make money flow -- give because you don't have any control on what you receive -- will certainly help. Any takers?
Last weekend, I went to Henry Cowell Park in Felton. As I walked among the redwoods, I was asking myself the question, how old is the ground on which I am walking? What does the ground say to me if it has a voice? My daughter mentioned that some of the mature trees are over 2000 years old. But knowing the redwood trees, the root system allows for more trees to grow out of the same roots and what if the roots are 10000 or 15,000 years old. What would be the story of the roots and how different would it be from the story of the trees? Then, a volunteer who was walking with us mentioned that the roots are shallow and spread across the land to support the trees because the trees are some times over 200 feet tall. That means, the ground on which I am walking has roots not too far down, They have seen the birth and death of Christ, seen the wars, seen the peace, may be have seen the dinosaurs. If only we could listen to the stories they tell, what would we do differently? So the ground looks at roots as young. Roots look at 2000 year old trees as young trees. They look at us and what would they say?
How proud, how knowledgeable I think I am. Where will my knowledge fit in the ecosystem of the redwood forest? What questions do I not even know to ask?
So all my answers are so temporary -- short term, shallow answers. But the questions -- if I could only hold onto the questions -- then maybe I can enjoy the kind of answers I had at different times of my life...
You are right, Rainier -- it is not the answers that matter -- the questions do. Do I know the right questions to ask? That is a good question to reflect on...
Tennis has been my exercise for a long time. I make time for it whenever I can and have played for over 20 years. I love it so much that I work really hard at it and try to learn and improve every which way I can. But the fact remains that I have not improved very much despite all my efforts. Coaching, just rallying and trying to relax -- none of them make a difference and every third day, I think of giving up because it becomes very frustrating.
Paradoxically, when I let go and allow the game to be what it is and stop trying to improve it, enjoy it for its own sake, something shifts. My game is at a higher level and balls fly and it does not take any effort. But when I "try" to relax, it only becomes worse. it is like allowing life to occur instead of giving a direction and intentionality to it. When I just experience it without any agenda, it moves beautifully in the direction of my deeper intent without any effort.
Of course, I appreciate it, understand this and when I consciously make it into a formula, it goes away.
Of course the rhythm of the game is like the rhythm of life as it is said in the movie Legend of Bagger Vance.
When I first heard that every cell in my body gets replaced in approximately 7 years, I was excited. That means, my allergies don't linger if I don't get exposed to allergens for 7 years. Similarly, I will be able to be a different person without my bad habits, patterns and dysfunctionalities -- so I thought.
But as the title of this message says, new atoms do the same dance. it is not the atoms that make a difference, but the pattern in which those atoms organize. That is my individuality, my addictions, my gifts, blessings and that is who I am. I am a pattern -- like DNA is a pattern of four base pairs. Elements are the same but how we are organized is what makes us all different -- not just human beings, animals, plants -- entire universe.
In a Hindu scripture, there is a prayer called Narayana Suktam. It talks about how we have a primordial spark in each of us. And that spark represents universal life and that universal life is divine -- it is Narayana Himself. In addition, it is the entire universe that is in our heart -- in the size of a rice grain. This passage reminds me of it.
So I have you in me and you have me in you. Not only that, I have all the past -- good and bad -- Hitler, Gandhi, Rama, Ravana, Kali, Lakshmi -- everything is in me. Not in the "me" that I think I am but in the me that is potential. When i am optimistic I tap into something. When I am pessimistic, I tap into something completely opposite. I am creating what is happening to me all the time in partnership with the universe. I pick and choose how I experience. Including the "i" I relate to and that is what is individualistic.
Can I choose to serve instead of wanting more? Can I love instead of hate? I can and when I do, the pattern changes.
So what pattern are you going to choose today? How are you manifesting this world?
What I was touched by is the sincere effort that Gandhiji made throughout his life to be a servant leader -- to be self less in service. When I look back and think about where I have been sincere and persistent, self less interest does not come to the top. It is more about getting approval, looking good and gaining self esteem. I worked on them for a very long time -- over 30 years and then something shifted in me. I realized that only way I can gain those things is to give to others what I really want. Finding ways to make others feel good around me, helping people to find their self confidence and self worth and getting people to discover their own genius struck me as ways to be in the world. Then the next struggle has been how to live in that shifted consciousness and not go back to my own needs. In this journey, I am realizing that fully being other centered might never happen, but if I can remember to touch people, move them to discover who they are and inspire them to go after their dreams and believe that they are bigger than who they think they are -- even once a week -- consistently -- then I would consider my life sincere and purposeful.
Wherever I go, there I am -- this statement pretty much reflects the test for meditation for me. It is as if my doing and being are reflections of each other and whenever I become aware of my being, doing shifts and vice versa. For example, i was on tennis court today and found myself playing just the way that reflects how I am playing in my real life. HOw I move on the court, how I receive serve from the other, how I serve, how I hit the ball back and forth, how I get angry or how I feel happy -- everything reflected what I have been doing with my life off the tennis court. How I initiate, how I respond, my moods, emotions, thoughts, awareness, observation, attention, action and reflection are showing up again and again on the tennis court, in my walks, in my talks, in how I deal with email messages and finally and most importantly, how I deal with others in my life. It is all one and the same drama, same energy, same ego, same intensity and so on.
My being is continually being reflected in my doing and vice versa. But my thinking and feeling are flowing together in alignment with my being/doing, I have integrity and everything is effortless and there is magic, grace in life. When there is misalignment, there is blindness, deafness and am completely unaware of what is going on and life becomes endless loop of suffering.
Have you noticed it? When you are eqanimous, non-attached but engaged with life fully and fearlessly, magic happens all around you and inside you. When you are not, magic stops and ego suffers.
What if life is actually a meditation in process and when we stop meditating, when we suffer, we show up and life disappears?
some parts of the poem resonated more than others for me. It is easier to be kind when have everything and share some of it with kindness. But when I have nothing and seek something myself, to be kind to others and give half of it or all of it, that is transformational. Interestingly though, I found poor give away bigger percentage of their wealth and are more kind to others who need what they need.
Recently, i have been experiencing a lot of kindness and compassion from others. It feels like when I am ready to receive, my heart opens to seeing others who are kind. Most of my life it was all about my kindness but recent experience makes me believe that I was so blind and self centered and did not have a clue what kindness really meant. I had conceptual and intellectual understanding but till I became empty and open to learning, listening and receiving Grace, what I had did not amount to much...
I was touched by the quality of listening that Needleman and Lobsang brought forth to Eve's question. Considering that Eve is his daughter, Needleman's ability to be open to her the way, he describes makes me long to be the kind of father he is. Then Lobsang's attention and willingness to be with Eve and engage her with his own response -- not to answer it so that the question goes away, but to answer it in a way that there is more curiosity, certain confidence that one is on the right path and overall sense of appreciation for him to have listened to Eve that way -- all of them are beautifully described.
I am asking myself: When have I listened to like what is described -- like what awakes the sleeping or hidden part of one self? When did I feel like I was listened to in a way that I was totally honored and respected and at the end of that conversation, I really came alive...
I have been reflecting on being judicious vs. being judgmental for past two weeks consciously. I found that my ego, past memories, attachment to certain interpretation that I like are the things that make me judgmental. If I can hold my judgment instead of passing it and observe myself, it was easier to be judicious. Just yesterday, I was listening to a new CD that my friend Sangeetha gave. It has a set of bhajans. The way the singers pronounce Siva or Sankara as Shiva or Shankara was a bit harsh to my ears. I grew up differentiating si as in sitar; si (with an accent) as in Sani and shi as in she. Recently, I found Siva and Sankara are pronounced as Shiva -- (she-va) and I was very judgmental and could not hear that song but got caught up in the sounds. When I realized that it is getting in my way, I relaxed into accepting that different people pronounce names differently but God is beyond all names and forms anyway. That allowed me to listen to Bhajans and by the end of that CD, I was really into it and have heard that CD 3 times in past 24 hours already. I suppose, I need to be judicious in listening to music -- bhava, raga, tala not just words to enjoy music!