Category Archives: Mind

The joy of nothingness

As a small child, I used to enjoy watching the rain drops fall from the roof top in to the collecting water, make small bubbles that burst with a small ‘pop’, making concentric circles that travel outward to collide with countless others before disappearing in to the water. By then, several new drops arrive and the process goes on and on without an interruption.

As I simply watch this for a while, something strange used to happen. There was a strange feeling of peace and joy and there was nothing but the continuous birth and death of water bubbles, countless circles and the distinct ‘pop’ sound.

There used to be several small black ants that are caught up the sudden downpour, frantically swimming away to safety. The ant was definitely not enjoying this as I did. That thought made me feel different to be watching the whole thing as is, not affected by it. Strangely, watching these rain drops used to bring a sense of detachment in me; that I did not really bother to rescue the ants.

There was something serene and divine about this. If there was someone above who was watching over us, the humans, running around stressed, fighting, cheating, trying to find happiness, chasing fulfillment… wouldn’t he also have the same sense of detachment that I had?

After a very long time, I was in my hometown last month sitting in the verandah and watching the falling raindrops. At first it brought back the strong memories from my childhood and soon I lost myself again in it. Quite some time should have passed, when it occurred to me that it must have been very long that I indulged in something so trivial and useless; thanks to the industry that I am part of and the fast world that I live in.

The serenity was there, the peace was there and I was lost.

It was a message on impermanence from the heavens. It was pure perception – me, the bubbles- nothing more, nothing less

It was zen

Rain drops

Rain drops

I remembered this today as I watched this TED video the_world_s_most_boring_television_and_why_it_s_hilariously_addictive. This is about the world’s most boring television show and the concept of slow TV. This talk was delivered by Norwegian television producer Thomas Hellum who is behind some of famous ‘boring’ programs aired by the NRK Television. They did shows around very trivial things such as a live telecast of a 7hr train journey (three cameras –one at the front and one each at each side – There was no story, no commentary, just whatever the camera saw and heard), an18 hr fishing expedition and a 5.5day ferry voyage. The Norwegian president appears in the video stating that he has been glued to his chair for 5.5 days (btw, he is 82).Thomas Hellum says that they are planning to live telecast many such trivial things such as knitting, cooking etc etc.

There is something very beautiful about this. They are showing things as is and you see something as is, real time, with nothing to expect, nothing to logically process. If you can overcome the initial barrier of judgment and rejection, something wonderful happens. You begin to thoroughly enjoy and at some point all the noise in the head begins to settle down.

And every great religion has told you how nice it feels when that damn noise stops.

This is like a new age zen and I believe increasingly there is an absolute need for people to fully engage in something that is trivial, of no use as such, logically unconvincing…This might probably be the next booming industry, a technology powered zen at a very large scale.

This will be the new religion and spirituality of the world.

afterthought: I watched the film PK over the weekend. If you compare to all the great ‘alien’ films, this alien was terrible. The alien here looks like any of us, talked Bhojpuri Hindi, ate Samosa’s, feel jealous when he learns that heroine was in love with someone else..The film is one of the biggest hits in the history of Bollywood, I think primarily because there is not much of logic in there. Once the great burden to ‘understand’ is not there, there is real enjoyment.

Behind a dream

I had a strange dream last night. There was this girl in the dream who was possessed and I was there to exorcise the spirit. The dream was set in a kind of somewhat unfamiliar environment – there was a building with many houses in a row and we were doing this in one of the rooms on the first floor. I remember having done the exorcism (with some reluctance); but cannot recollect anything post that as the dream ended somewhere there.

A friend of mine had rung me up in the evening – he had wanted me to talk to his 7th standard daughter, who seemed to have become uninterested in anything. I advised him to take her to a child psychologist – but he pressed me to have a conversation with her first. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this – at the same time I could not refuse his request.

Reflecting on the dream, it was evident that this incident was what lead to it.

But what I could not figure out was the part with exorcism- where did that come from?. As I was pondering about it during my drive back home in the evening, the whole thing dawned on me and I couldn’t but be amused at what’s going deep inside the mind.

This is what had happened behind this dream:

In the evening, I had watched some part of a film called ‘Resident Evil- Part 2 apocalypse’ on the television for about half an hour while I was on the treadmill. I saw the part where the character Alice escapes from the ‘Hive’ and is caught again and to the point where ‘Operation Alice is activated’. I didn’t quite get the whole story, but sort of figured out that Alice was being programmed to be evil – something like that. Alice’s daughter appears in multiple scenes and there was this scene where she asks Alice if she would be alright again.

Now in the dream I connected these two together. And what was the connecting link ? – The child, that was common between the incident and the dream.

And why these two specific incidents – because both of them were sort of incomplete. In the case of my friend’s daughter I was in a dilemma whether to do it or not and in the case of the film, I did not understand the story.

Imagine something like this – everyday while you are asleep, all the unresolved / incomplete things precipitate in to the unconscious mind (who obviously do not like anything unresolved) and it tries to make sense of them.

If that’s what dreams are made of, then what’s it that this world is made of?

Naughty Children Meditation

Compulsive thinkers have a tough time meditating. Better you are at thinking, harder it is to let go off it.

I have had this problem ever since I started meditating. What typically happens is something like this: I sit down to meditate and watch my thoughts. There are thoughts running and as I watch them, I come across that brief interval between them. For a moment, it looks like I am getting it. Wrong. Unobserved, there is this voice at the back of my head that says ‘It’s working, the gap is there’. Then there is another part of the mind that’s watching this and he says ‘Not yet, that’s a thought there’. Now there is another part that is analyzing the whole situation and says something like this – this isn’t working for you.

Then I remember something I read about meditation in a book and a part of my mind commenting that it’s not all that correct. Then I realize that I am again caught up in thinking. I let go off thinking again and again get back to being the ‘watcher’. And the struggle goes on and on, with some success after few iterations.

They say during meditation, you have to be like a gatekeeper. Watching every thought that comes in. But I realized that my mind was something like a house with several doors and windows. While I am watching the front door, there were thoughts entering through the backdoor and windows. They just needed that split second where my attention was elsewhere. While these sessions did help me get some insight in to the working of the mind, it has always been a challenge to be free of thoughts.

In olden days, people had not-so-much complicated minds as we do and it would have been easier for them to watch the mind as a single entity. But people like us whose primary occupation is thinking, have much more complex minds with several distinct faculties. Most of our lives are made of thinking and it’s hard to drop it – it’s like dying.

Over a period of time, I could see that these thoughts were not just random, but had some specific purposes behind them. For example, some thoughts were about planning, somewhere concerned about making sense of something happening in life, somewhere concerned about some dreams in the future etc. So it was like there were some little entities in the mind with certain purpose/objectives and they were responsible for specific thought patterns. They together made up the mind.

So if I were to really watch my mind, I should be watching each of these entities first and when each of them becomes quiet, I would be a step closer to a silent mind.

But how do we do this? I devised this meditation technique – Naughty Children Meditation- which is an improvised version of existing technique of watching the thought stream.

The first challenge was to identify all those little entities. I listed them down and gave them unique names so that I could identify them easily. Here is the list with names and some descriptions for you to easy understand

Thinker – One who keeps thinking, random thoughts, who keeps the thinking process going

Commenter – One who makes those subtle commentaries in the head as you carry on with your daily chores (e.g.’I am cutting this pasting it here..)

Planner – One who plans the next activities (e.g. ‘Oh, I have to send a mail to my manager’)

Reactor– One who reacts to situations, people (e.g. How can he behave like that)

Watcher– One who is watching what is happening in the mind (e.g. My mind is very clouded)

Analyzer – One who is analyzing what is going on in the mind, in a life situation and in your whole life (e.g. if the situation continues like this, I will be stuck in this job)

Rememberer – One who remembers events, people, traces of memory, something you forgot to do etc. (e.g. remembering a conversation with a friend this morning)

Dreamer – One who dreams about the future, situations (e.g. riding a Porsche or becoming famous)

Worrier– One who is worrying about things, situations either at the moment or in the future (e.g. what to do with my irresponsible son?)

Wanter – One who wants things or thinking of desires, things to be achieved, pleasures etc. (e.g. beautiful house, I want to live in such a one or I need to have a coffee now)

Whiner – One who is complaining about situations, people (e.g. why is that I am held responsible every time)

Competitor – One who is competing with others, comparing, wanting to be better than others (e.g. he thinks he knows everything, let me show him)

Sensor– One who senses or feels (e.g. he is being aggressive)

Fearer – One who is afraid, fearful thoughts, anxieties (e.g. what happens if he shouts at me)

The Bear – This is an odd one in the lot. This is that entity that tightens your body when unobserved.

The first thing to do is to familiarize with each of these entities. Each of them have a specific purpose and all the thoughts that arise can be traced to one of these. (It’s likely that you may want to add your own entities in to the list – like Regretter – One who regrets some actions in the past.

This is how the meditation can be done

Imagine that each of these entities are like little naughty children in a class room. They are sitting in front of you (visualize), and you are simply watching them. They are so naughty that they will talk the moment your attention is not on them. But if you catch them, they remain silent. At the same time, they are small little children and if they are caught, you are not going to punish them. You are going to simply laugh (or chuckle or smile) when you catch them talking.

So this is what you do. Sit in your favorite meditation posture and imagine that you are watching these little naughty children, who are sitting in front of you. Now when a thought comes, identify the naughty entity behind it (compare it with children taking). For e.g. if the thought is regarding something that you need to do, then it comes from the planner. Notice it (look at him) and laugh (or smile). The next thought, say is a commentary about what just happened in the mind. You know it is from the Commenter. Just watch him and laugh and leave.

Just keep doing this. When you look at them, they become quite.

You might also sense some tightness in the body – this is the work of The Bear. Just watch him and smile and he will let go off his grip.

Very soon, a these naughty children will become quite while your attention is placed on who is ‘talking’.

Then something profound happens, the whole mind stops or vanishes and you transcend the mind, so to say.

Meditation is supposed to be effortless, while there is some effort involved here. But that effort is only meant to overcome the initial difficulty that you face. You are watching the mind not as a single entity, but as different entities that does different things. This helps because then the thoughts cannot enter through the backdoor, unnoticed. Once a these entities are silent, the whole mind is silent and then onwards it is effortless.

Remember, playfulness is the key here. Visualizing these entities as little naughty children is extremely important; it’s like a game that you are paying with them. And you do not react, you smile at their naughtiness. Laughter or Chuckle or Smile creates that little gap that you need not to get caught up in the thinking, but to be able to watch it.

One problem that you might find is to identify these entities precisely. Do not worry about it, start with a few that you can figure out. Read through the list carefully again and you should get it. It does not really matter if you make a mistake, the whole objective of meditation is to transcend the mind and it does not matter what the content of the thoughts are and where they come from. Let this not deter you from making an attempt.

Initially you will need to do some sitting practice. Once you get a hang of it, you will catch those little ones in your daily lives. When you get angry at someone in traffic you will know that the ‘Reactor’ is talking and that awareness is enough to silence him and that smile is enough to transcend it.

Try it for yourselves. God bless.

Concepts

What you see in the picture is a dust cover of a book lying on the floor of my living room.

IMG769

It’s such a trivial thing to attach any importance to. Even I did not, until this evening, which was the third day that it had been lying there. It caught my attention when I returned from work. The irritation I felt lasted only a brief moment and gave way to amusement as the complexity of what lead to it unfolded in my mind.

I should give you a bit of background first. My wife, my 10-year-old daughter and I live in this apartment. A very clear division of responsibilities exist in our house, which has evolved over a period of time. My wife takes care of all matters at home (though with lot of complaining). I take care of my office work and things outside of home. My daughter lives in her own world of books, games and TV, never crossing her self-drawn boundaries.

My daughter and I are extremely unorganised. We love to scatter things around and literally litter the house. My wife loves to keep the house neat and tidy and we now take it for granted that it is her responsibility to put things in order. This works most of the time, except on few occasions where she feels she has had enough.

My daughter and I are voracious readers. I keep buying books for both us and the result is an overflowing library at home. My wife thinks I am wasting money buying books and keeps gives me a nasty look whenever I do.

Now back to the dust cover lying on the floor. It had been removed from a book and kept in the book shelf.  It must have fallen down (most probably) when my daughter was taking a book out of the shelf. She must have never bothered to put it back, for she considered it was mother’s job to put things in order. My wife must have had enough of this and decided to leave it where it was (books belong to father and daughter and they better learn to take care of it). I come home in the evening and notice the dust cover lying on the floor, but do nothing about it (who ever let it fall should put it back).

No questions asked, no words spoken. All of us went about with our regular affairs; except that none seems to take notice of the dust cover lying on the floor. The next morning I left to office and my daughter to her school. When I return in the evening, the cover was lying there still. Our maid servant was on leave for a few days and I assumed that the house wasn’t vacuumed or mopped.

Another night passed with the dust cover still lying there. I think each of us now where expecting someone else to lose their patience and do something about it.

On the third day I returned home to find the dust cover still lying there and I also saw that it was deliberately left there (the floor was vacuumed and mopped !).

It was when the whole drama dawned on me and I couldn’t help being amused at the complexity of it. I picked up the dust cover and put it back in to the book shelf.

Everything around us, whether important or trivial, in order or out-of-order, on time or delayed, isn’t there or there without a reason. They have complex human egos with hundreds of concepts, playing elaborate games behind the scene.

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, said Prospero in Tempest. But I am sure our lives are made up of such concepts that we are not even aware of.

A lesson on creativity

Every day morning, I drive my daughter to the bus stop where she boards her school bus. This short drive and the subsequent wait at the bus stop is something I love because mostly what gets done or discussed does not make any sense (as far as adults are concerned).It is alwys amusing how simple these little children’s life is, yet so fulfilling.
This morning, I noticed in the car that she was holding a tube of glue in her hand. I suggested that she put it inside her bag; for she might spill it on her dress. “No dad, I will hold it”, she refused.
A while later, as we stood waiting for the bus, I make another attempt to persuade her to put the tube inside her bag. She refused again and then I decided not to push it further. Probably she wanted to show it off to her friends, I thought (which, I realized immediately may not true, because it was after all a tube of glue).

Girl holding a glue stick in her hand

Girl holding a glue stick in her hand


The bus was late today and as we stood waiting for the bus, I noticed that my daughter was holding the glue tube in her right hand like a mike and was silently singing. She was so involved in the act that I am sure she was singing somewhere on a grand stage to a very large audience.
Perhaps she wanted to play with it, I thought.

A while later when I looked at her, she had stopped singing and was holding the tube horizontal right in front of her right eye, like a binocular and looking around through it.

Something went shattering in me. What was a simple tube of glue that did not matter, had to be kept inside the bag because it might spill, as far as I was concerned was NOT a tube of glue at all for her. It was a mike that took her to some imaginary stage somewhere, it was a binocular (probably she was imagining her to be in army or so). And I am sure by the time she reached her school today; the glue tube would have assumed many other forms.

Here was I, the intelligent and rational, who is familiar with several techniques for creativity and Innovation and who is proud that he has understood the fundamental mechanism behind creative thinking. And here was this little girl, with all innocence, had the least idea about any of these concepts was simply creative.

The difference was striking. For her the world was not what it was, it was what she wanted it to be.
And this small difference explains why all the techiques for creative thinking simply does not work.

Shiv Linga and Black Hole

Manesa, my friend today sent me some photographs from her visit to ‘Koti lingeswara temple‘, about 100 KM south of Bangalore. The literal meaning of the name”Koti lingeswara’ is the ‘lord of 1 crore shiva lingas’ and the temple boasts of the largest Sivalinga (108 feet) in Asia.
Shiva Linga
Shiva lingas are worshipped as representations of Lord Shiva and considered very sacred by the Hindus. The literal meaning of ‘linga’ is ‘phallus’, which has lead to some scholars attributing a sexual meaning to it and even referring to the Hindu civilization as ‘phallus worshippers’.
Like most Indians, I too had no idea what a Shiva lingam actually meant. In yoga, Siva (the masculine energy)is the epitome of consciouness and when the feminine energy (called the Kundalini) which resides at the base of the Spine rises and merges with Shiva, one transcends Time and Space. This is what is termed as Samadhi in yoga, a state of nothingness that every yogi tries to achieve.

Few months back, I was reading the masterpiece ‘A brief History of Time’ by Stephen Hawking. The chapter 6 gives a brief account of blackholes and even horizons. In simple terms, when a blackhole is formed, it does not even let light go out until a point where the light begins to bend. And here is the representation from the book.
Black_Hole
A blackhole represents the ‘void’ or ‘nothingness’ in Space. As I read this, I could not help wondering; if the human mind where to reach a state of ‘void’ (the state of Samadhi when one is merged with the higher consciousness or in simple words there exists nothing in the mind), how would the mind look like.

And the answer would be that it would look like a Shiva Linga.

There must be other explanations behind the shape of Shiva Linga. But I am inclined to believe that the ancient sages of India had experienced the state of ‘void’ and used the linga to represent it, and as there is no difference between what is inside and outside, the same representation holds good for blackholes too.

Bhhrrr……

I was in a meeting at my office yesterday. The mood of the discussions was somewhat tense as one of the teams involved was resisting a proposal the other was making. And there were also the usual undercurrents of perceptions playing. It came to a point where I thought the discussion was heading towards an abrupt end.The senior manager of one of the teams opened his mouth to make what seemed a final statement. There was a brief period of silence where we were all literally looking in to his mouth.

Before he could start, the pin drop silence was broken by a sharp ‘gluuup…’ sound.

A girl who was in the meeting had had a hiccup.

It was very odd; it was totally out of place in the midst of such an intense discussion. What added to the oddness was that the girl was very pretty.The helpless girl looked around with an expressionless face, while I could see that everyone what trying hard to pretend as if nothing had happened and conceal their smiles.

The manager paused for a moment to give her a menacing look, before he resumed making his point. The meeting continued and soon I noticed something interesting. The mood had now changed, the tension somewhat eased and the discussion was taking a constructive turn.
I couldn’t help wondering how such a seemingly trivial thing as a hiccup when correctly (or incorrectly to be more precise) placed, could have such an impact on the situation.
This reminded me of a wonderful story that I had read long back. This story was written by a great writer of my language Vaikom Muhammad Basheer. (He was an eccentric, Sufi, traveler, wrestler and a cook apart from being a writer) Most of his writings were based on his personal experience and were characterized by their simplicity and truthfulness.

This short little story was titled ‘Bhhrrr…’.

There was this house that Basheer used to frequent as a child. He was quite at home there and had all the freedom. But there was a problem. There was an extremely pretty girl (slightly elder to him) in that house whom Basheer admired and adored. And Basheer froze whenever he was in front of here. He was speechless. He could freely interact with everyone else except this girl.
Basheer used to sit in front of her, admiring her. She maintained an air of dignity and would also not engage in any conversation with him.
This went on for a long time, until one day the following incident took place. As usual Basheer was sitting silently in front of the girl admiring her and she refusing even to acknowledge his presence. Then all of a sudden she let a fart out. Both of them froze for a moment, completely blown by what just happened. Then Basheer broke in to a violent fit of laughter. It took him a moment to come back to his senses and face the girl with an apologizing look.
Then something unexpected took place. The girl smiled and soon broke in to a laughter; which Basheer immediately joined.
All the tension between them broke on that day and Basheer could interact with her normally from then on.

Though somewhat unacceptable to our cultured minds, it’s these simple statements of truth that makes some writings outstanding. A natural expression of this kind, when comes unexpected, could do more wonders than ‘Seven Habits”, “Emotional intelligence’ , ‘Getting things done, ‘Leadership 101’ all combined.

Four Practices for Highly Sensitive Personalities

Highly Sensitive Personalities (HSPs) are people with a very delicate and sensitive nervous system, who are overwhelmed and affected by the world around them. These people need lot of time alone for unwinding, has trouble handling stress and conflicts, are prone to negativity stress and depression and get severely affected by harsh, negative environments. At the same time, HSPs are generally very creative, intuitive and often psychic.
The world is increasing becoming more stressful and demanding, making it more and more difficult for HSPs to live a happy life. I lost a friend of mine recently because he could not put up with a harsh work environment.
Being a sensitive person myself, I have spent lot of time looking for techniques and processes that helps me safe guard myself from all the stress and negativity around. From my personal experience, I have handpicked four simple techniques that would help an HSP from being overwhelmed in this world.
I have written this small eBook detailing the practices, sincerely hoping that all those sensitive souls out there would benefit from it. I earnestly request you all to please forward this to those sensitive people you know, your own networks and anyone who would find this useful. May be that would help someone transform his life.
Four Practices for Highly Sensitive Personalities
I remember a story.
A man walking along a deserted beach at sunset, saw a young boy in the distance. The young boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the sea.
He was continuously doing this.
As the man approached closer, he saw that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and one at a time throwing them back into the water.
The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied, “I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. “But”, said the man, “You can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can’t possibly make a difference.”
The boy looked down, frowning for a moment; then bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. He replied,
“I made a huge difference to that one!”

Pappus Flower Meditation

Pappus is a tropical plant that disperses its seeds with the help of wind. The seeds have fine hairy structures around them that help them drift in the wind and are contained in pods till they are ready. Once the seeds are mature, the pods burst open exposing the seeds to the wind. The wind then carries these seeds to far off places. Watching Pappus flowers drift gently in the air and chasing them has been a n activity that I loved as a child. There was some gentleness to the whole affair and the pappus flowers probably reminded my young mind of ‘freedom’.
IMG489
Here is a short video on that shows the pods opening and the flowers being gently carried away by the wind. I recommend you take a look at this, so that you understand the context of this post.

I was on my way back to Bangalore last Sunday. As the bus was passing through the Bandipur wildlife sanctuary, we pulled up the window shutters in anticipation of sighting wild animals. A strong current of air was gushing in through the open window and hitting me all over the face.

Some time passed like this, me just watching out of the window and the constant gush of air against my face. But that was not all. All of a sudden I became aware of my thinking and I realized that I was actually caught up in very deep unconscious thinking. For some time I simply watched the thought stream; there were thoughts coming in one after another.

So now here I was sitting by the window, the wind and thoughts popping out from somewhere deep within. I thought – what if the wind just blows away the thoughts as they surface?

Precisely at that moment the Pappus flower came up in my mind; I saw the pods opening and the flowers are gently let out in to the wind.

I closed my eyes and imagined that the wind was actually rushing over my mind and was carrying away my thoughts as and when they appear. This was easy to imagine because of the strong gush of wind against my face (now against my mind). I let go off all thoughts one by one and any new thought came up, it was immediately carried away by the wind..

..…till the point there was nothing left. There was only the wind. Not even ‘me’

The purpose of every meditation is to transcend the mind and that happens when the mind is still. There are hundreds of techniques, practiced by several spiritual traditions all over the world that help one to go beyond thinking. I have personally practiced several of them and have had mixed results. I think the problem many times is that the ‘real’ feel is missing. The only reason why letting wind carry away my thoughts worked was because the feeling of the wind was very real. Then it was easy to just let go.

So we have a new meditation – I will call it Pappus Flower Meditation.

Back in Bangalore I tried to do this again. I tried to imagine that there was a strong gush of wind agaist my face and my thoughts were blown away. That didn’t work. To keep that feeling, probably I had to exert some effort that made the letting go difficult. For this to work, the feeling of the wind has to be very real. I then used a table fan to simulate the gush of wind and that worked perfectly well.

So here is the recoomednation for you to practice this at home
Sit in any meditative posture with eyes closed, facing a table fan. The fan must be running at good speed for the wind to hit your face with some force. Imagine the wind gushing over your mind and blowing away your thoughts (you can use the Pappus symbol if that helps. Imagine your mind like a pappus plant with the thoughts like the flowers gently coming out of the pods). Don’t get caught up in thoughts, just let them be gently carried away by the wind.
Just be witness to this whole thing. No strain, no force. The wind is blowing so strong that it naturally blows away your thoughts; there is no effort from your side required. Just let go.

Then, once the whole clutter clears, you will simply be there as the watcher!
have fun!

Deep seated problems

I was to attend a Conference in Mumbai last week along with a colleague of mine. We were to catch a morning flight to Mumbai and decided to share the same taxi to the Airport. To confirm the plans, I rung her up the previous evening and told her that the taxi would pick me up at 6.00 AM and she should be ready by 6.15AM.
I was somewhat surprised when she asked me if we shouldn’t be leaving earlier than that( We had a 8.30 flight and the Airport was approximately 1 – 1.5 hrs. of drive from where we were. Considering all this, I had booked the taxi at 6.00AM which would give us some buffer in case the Bangalore traffic throws up some surprises). I told her that we would be there well in time and asked her why she felt we should leave earlier.
‘I want to check in my bag’ she told me
That was ridiculous. We would be in Mumbai for just two days, and in no way I could imagine that someone would carry a bag that couldn’t go in as cabin baggage. When I asked why she was carrying so much stuff just for two days, she clarified that it was because she wanted to carry some perfume in the bag. That sounded a good enough reason, as liquids more than 100ml wasn’t allowed in the cabin baggage. Not wanting to change the plans, I suggested that she either carry a small bottle or buy one after we land in Mumbai; in case she was very particular.
She agreed to this, though I couldn’t help feeling somewhat puzzled at this strange (at least for me) conversation.
So we were there at the Airport the next morning and were about to board the flight. While at the queue, she requested a help from me. Once we were inside, she wanted me to help her put her bag in the overhead lockers (She was very short and couldn’t reach the lockers herself). I was happy to help, but then another problem arose. As per our allotted seats, she had to use the front door and I had to use the rear door. While I was about to leave her towards the rear door, she quickly handed over to me her bag and told me that she would collect it when we reach Mumbai.
So here I was carrying two bags plus my laptop bag, trying not to look like a porter. I was a bit annoyed. While I was happy to be of any help, this was going beyond the limits. Any co-passenger would have helped her put the baggage in the lockers or she could have asked the air hostesses to help her.
That moment everything connected together in a flash. I understood the whole problem. As I had told, my colleague was very short and apparently was very conscious about it. I realized that that was the reason why she wanted to check in the baggage in the first place; to avoid being uncomfortable while trying to stove it in the overhead locker. That was also the reason for her almost impolite behavior of handling it over to me.
I have come across several such instances where people (including myself) act in strange ways to cover up such deep complexes and fears and also to fulfill deep desires. I remember when I had purchased my first car in 2004; my father was the proudest man on earth. He grew up in poverty and had to toil hard his entire life to make a living. I am sure a Car would have been beyond his dreams. We drove to the market in my car. The weather was very hot and I wanted to turn the a/c on. But my father suggested that we roll the windows down to get some fresh air. Soon I understood what was in his mind – he wanted everyone to see him travelling in his own car. I saw him beaming and smiling at friends and acquaintances throughout.
These deep desires, fears and complexes create our lives and influence the way we think, react and make decisions. And most of the time we don’t get to set them right because we constantly justify our behavior and put in all our efforts to ensure that they aren’t threatened.
Note: I am just setting up my website ( http://sajeevvk.com/) which exclusively will contain my thoughts on mind and its working. I welcome you there and would be grateful for any feedback and comments.

Even a police man will know this

The phrase ‘even a police man will know this’ is used often to ridicule someone’s ignorance on some trivial matters or if they are slow to grasp something. For some historic reasons that I am not aware of, policemen are considered somewhat slow in their head.

But I think it’s time to give this a second thought.. Here is a very creative poster on road safety from Bangalore.

Ganesha in Traffic poster Bangalore

Ganesha in Traffic poster Bnagalore

If you don’t quite get it, you may want to read the story on How did Lord Ganesha get elephant’s head? here.

Cricket

Over lunch today, I was a mute spectator to a very intense discussion between my colleagues. The topic obviously was cricket.Cricket is like a second religion in India and there are on a handful of people (me being one) who has no clue about it.

The interesting thing about cricket is that the whole joy seems to come from discussing about it – speculating, commenting, arguing, analyzing matches, expressing anger/frustration, exchanging scroes, checking updates etc. Many of these enthusiasts do not watch any matches (except when there is a match when India is playing ofcourse) and most of them do not play cricket at all.

This is confusing to me. When someone loves a game, I am naturally inclined to believe that he would love to play it. But that not being the vase mostly, why so much enthusiasm about cricket?

I think the reason is this. Cricket is what most Indians use to strike a conversation and you could simply initiate a conversation with a stranger by asking the latest score. This is the most common topic of discussion in any gatherings. Any one who cannot discuss cricket is simply left out. I think it is the fear of being left out is what drives people to be crazy of cricket than the love for it.

Few weeks back, I walked in to the living room in my apartment to find this group of children huddled up together on the sofa. A young cousin of mine had come to visit us and had brought his portable Play Station with him. He was playing a T20 tournament in that and the enthusistic children from our apartment, including my daughter, flocked around him to be part of it.

Cricket

The children were cheering different players. My daughter was shouting ‘Sachin…, Sachin…’. There are also some arguments (minor though) on whether Sachin was better or Dhoni was better. As far as I know, none of these children had any clue about cricket (I am dead sure of my daughter). But each of them had to be part of the group and not left out. So they were sort of faking with the minimum stuff they could gather. And it was OK for them, they were just learning the trick. And for an outside it just looked like a great group of enthusiasts.

I am sure, this lesson about ‘being left out’ is going to remain in their hearts for their life and when they grow up, they are going to feeding on any news about cricket just to be able to be part of the discussions.

Putting numbers, targets and rules around the games was definitely a brilliant concept; it makes you indulge for longer times chewing on them. Otherwise the pleasure would have been there only while you ingulged in it. Prolonging pleasures beyong indulgance has been a great achivement for humanity as a whole. Because it has taken the pleasure from the body to the mind.

Indulging is fine, but feeding on it outside of it is what creates the problem. I think this definitely has influenced the psyche of the nation negatively. It is this mind set that creates the perpetual longing for indulgance. I am sure if a study is conducted, the sexual offenses in India would be much lesser during the cricketing season than rest of the year.

Mind and uncertainty

Over lunch today, my friend Dileep narrated to me an interesting incident.
Yesterday, he had been to a Cake Exhibition in Bangalore with his family. While he was standing in the queue for purchasing tickets, a board that said ‘Tender exact change’ caught his attention. The ticket was priced at 49 Rupees. He had two 1000 Rupee notes and one 500 Rupee note in his purse. He needed to buy 4 tickets, which would cost him 4X49 = 196 rupees. He would naturally would have given the 500 Rupee note for purchasing the tickets, which meant he had to get 304 Rupees back.

The board made irritated a bit when he thought of the 4 rupees. Was it something logical to expect everyone to carry exact change? Wasn’t the authorities responsible to keep enough change with them? Then he wondered whether they would give him the 4 rupees back or round the amount to 200 rupees. That would be very likely, but quite unfair. What was he supposed to do? Demand four rupees back? Will he look silly making a scene for just 4 rupees? He should make it clear that it was an issue of professional dealings and nothing to do with that insignificant amount…..

In no time his mind was caught up these thoughts going back and forth. The uncertainity was unbearable. Once at the ticket counter, he gave the 500 Rupee note and purchased 4 tickets. Unable to hold back any more, he asked the lady at the counter –‘Aren’t you going to give me the change’. ‘Yes’ she said and gave him four rupees back.

What a relief, the uncertainty that had gripped the mind for few long minutes suddenly ended.

It was only the today morning, when he checked his purse, did he realize that he had forgotten to collect the remaining 300 rupees at the counter yesterday. He was so caught up with the 4 rupees that everything else did not seem to matter.

Not that it was a goody story (at least for him), but I liked it immensely for the deep meaning. This is a snapshot of what keeps happening in our lives. The mind does not like uncertainity.The objective of all that thinking, planning, aggression, action and logic is to make life as certain as possible in the future. Therefore even the slightest uncertainity poses a threat that the mind need to fight with all its might. It pushes everything to the background and takes possession of thinking, however trivial the uncertainity is. No wonder we never hear the birds sing, feel the breeze, sees the sun splashing the evening sky with magnificient colours. They are all not important; will the next meeting, next task, next investment go as anticipated. That all that matters.

The famous philospoher Jiddu Krishnamurthy was asked, just before his death, what was the secret of his happiness. While the audience waited with a bated breath to hear that great secret from Jiddu, he simply said ‘ I don’t mind what happens’.

Boredom and creatiivty

I decided to pick a coffee during a meeting today. Since the office boy wasn’t there, I had to pick the coffee my self from the vending machine.

When I went to the coffee vending machine, something on the wall caught my attention. There were these beautiful flower designs and on a closer look, I realised that they were made of paper cups.

These were quite attractive and as I later figured out they were the handwork of the ‘office boy’ who manages the vending machine. This guy’s only job is to serve coffee/snacks at regular intervals whenever there is a meeting (and they don’t happen everyday). So he has lots of free time at his disposal. But, at the same time he is expected to be around the vending machine always.

I think that’s where these creative designs come from.

So most likely, boredom alone doesn’t lead to creativity, but it should be a combination of boredom and inability to escape from it.

I didn’t meet the guy though, but this is a tribute to that unknown designer

The Law of Attraction

Over the lunch I was listening to the story of my friend caught and ‘fined’ by the traffic police.

This was not the first time that my friend was caught by the traffic police; I have listened in the past too to several such stories. In one case he was actually fined in another state; the reason – the size of the letters on the number plate of his car was not as per the specification.

It would be appropriate at this point to also mention about how the traffic police operate in India. Ideally one would expect that you violate a rule and the police catch you. But it’s actually the other way round. They catch you and then try to find a reason to slap a fine. And commuters are not actually caught for violating the traffic rules (in India rules are more of a matter of convenience) but for not carrying the relevant documents.

But then, a large number of drivers in India do not carry proper documents with them; at times by mistake and at times deliberately. This has, over a period of time led to two things: Firstly, police have figured out a way to identify who is having documents or not, just by scanning the commuters’ faces. Secondly, the people have figured out how to ‘sense’ the presence of ‘traffic police’ on the way; if there is ‘police checking’ ahead, the traffic takes a specific pattern that people have learnt to sense. 

Back to the story. Typically, this is how the traffic police conducts their operation. Two policemen step on to the road and scans the drivers by looking at their faces. They stop the suspects who need to then go to the team (normally the head of the team) who stands by the parked vehicle.

But my friend actually travels with all the necessary documents. But then if he was being stopped by traffic police so often, it does mean that by looking at him the traffic police gets a feeling that he does not have the documents.  

I told my friend that there must be something in his ‘face language’ that’s giving him away. But that actually seemed a remote possibility, because he had all his documents with him. But then where is the problem?

 After some discussions and reflections, we found where the problem is (possibly). Some years back, my friend was driving a motor bike in the city. His salary wasn’t great, so it so happened that the insurance of the bike was not renewed and the pollution test not done. This remained so for several years. During that period, he had so much fear for the traffic police and had to be constantly on the lookout for them. In his own words – whenever he would see a while shirt, a panic alarm would go off.

 Years went by and he moved to better paying jobs and now is driving a car. But the fear for policemen was deeply rooted in his unconscious mind. This fear is what the traffic police men were looking for when they scan the drivers and that explains why he was being caught so often.

 How true is the law of attraction! It’s the fear of something that attracts it – fear of danger brings danger, fear of insecurity makes one insecure, fear of  suffering makes one suffer… It’s negative spiral that reinforces itself. Here the fear actually attracts danger and the danger in turn creates more fear.