Tag Archives: Thinking

Do we choose the good or the bad?

The results of the assembly elections in the state of Karnataka (the state in India where I live) was announced today. The ruling party was voted out of power and a party that was not in power for more than a decade emerged victorious with an absolute majority. This is very typical in India. Any party that comes to power gets embroiled in corruption, scams, scandals and in-party power struggles and by the time of next elections people are fed up and look for a change. While it seems as if people chose a party to win, the truth is the reverse. People choose that a party should not win.

Last week, I met a friend of mine. Both of us had gotten out of our cars and were walking towards the lift. He told me that he was planning to change his car and asked me how my car was. I told him that it was good and it was the power (128 BHP is pretty high for Indian standards) that I really liked. He had not made up his mind as to which car to buy. So we had a short discussion around the topic while we were in the elevator.

‘Why don’t you look at Renault Duster’, I said. Renault has recently launched this SUV that was doing pretty well in the market.
‘Duster does not have the third row seats’, he told me.’So it is not really worth the money’
‘Ertiga (from Suzuki) is selling well’, I observed.
‘I am not happy with Ertiga’ he said ‘the third row is cramped and the interior is very plasticky’
‘You can have a look at Honda Amaze’, I said. Amaze is the first diesel car from Honda recently launched in India.
‘The engine is quite noisy’. he told me.
It was time for me to step out of the elevator and we had to end the conversation. I told him that there would be many more new models in the market by the time he decides to buy and wished him good luck in finding a good one.

As I was walking to my apartment, I was thinking about this conversation. I was really amazed by the fact that his choice was not really based on what is good, but rather what is bad.

It makes perfect sense logically. In a given set of choices, it we go on eliminating the ones based on bad qualities, we would ideally end up with the best. But then the problem is most of the good and bad are in fact pure perceptions that we carry in our head.

This process of elimination works in every aspect of our lives in India, from choosing a government to choosing a life partner.

While it might seem that we all tend to choose the best things in life, it could be far from truth. Our minds are actually choosing the bad ones to avoid.

Or is it that we do not know what we really want?

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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!”

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.

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’.

Playing with Gods

We in India are pretty friendly with gods. Not only that we have countless to choose from according to one’s own tastes, the relationship is pretty much personal and informal. We not only worship them but also demand things, accuse, avoid and even bribe them. Most of our gods are not those serious looking types, but are quite humane in many ways, playing pranks. Gods play a very important role in the everyday life on any Indian- you can’t find a vehicle in India without a god’s photo or idol on the dashboard (If you ever wondered why there aren’t as many accidents in this chaotic traffic!)

But then we also try to fool around with gods. Not in a big way (we are also afraid of them) but more as a matter of convenience (and gods do understand that!). Here are two examples I came across:

1. We had planned a trip to Rameshwaram (this is famous Shiva temple located at the southern most point of India) sometime last year. Everything was planned; but then we came to know that back at my hometown a cousin of mine was expecting a baby anytime. According to our belief system, if a child is born in the family, one is not allowed to visit a temple or perform any religious rites for few days ( as a matter of fact 10 days if the child is male and 3 days for females).

We were slightly worried if the trip will have to be cancelled. There was every chance that the child would be born and we will have to call of the trip.

Then my wife gave me a great idea. She asked me to request my cousin’s family not to inform us if the child was born before we left. She observed that there was no sin if we visit the temple unaware. Of course I didn’t do it and as for our luck, we made the trip without any problems.

2. A friend of mine who had been to Hajj (the pilgrim to Holy Mecca) started growing his beard. When I met him few days back, I curiously asked him about the significance of this and he explained to me that once you perform the pilgrim to Mecca, you are supposed to let your beard grow. But there is a rule; it’s expected to be grown till your chest (you should be able to hold it in your fist).

I met this guy again today (that was the trigger for this post). I was amused to see that he had trimmed his beard. I asked him if he decided to go against the rules laid down in the scriptures.

No, he explained. The rules were very clear- you are not supposed to shave, you have to let your beard grow and there was a maximum length to which it could grow. But there is no mention about how short it can be. So my friend trimmed his beard very short. This definitely looked much better in a corporate environment, but the crux is that he actually found a way out without going against the rules.

Gods also love fun!

Identifying with thoughts

People say, identifying with your thoughts is the problem. But what does that really mean? When I think, it’s not that there is thought out there that’s different from me. I am that thought.

Here is a beautiful story (by Osho from From Unconsciousness to Consciousness, Talk #19) that I came across that illustrate what this means beautifully. He talks on what it means to be to a ‘watcher’ than to be identified with thoughts

A man who has gone out of his town comes back and finds that his house is on fire. It was one of the most beautiful houses in the town, and the man loved the house. Many people were ready to give double price for the house, but he had never agreed for any price, and now it is just burning before his eyes. And thousands of people have gathered, but nothing can be done.

The fire has spread so far that even if you try to put it out, nothing will be saved. So he becomes very sad. His son comes running, and whispers something in his ear: “Don’t be worried. I sold it yesterday, and at a very good price  three times…. The offer was so good I could not wait for you. Forgive me.”

But the father said, “Good, if you have sold it for three times more than the original price of the house.” Then the father is also a watcher, with other watchers. Just a moment before he was not a watcher, he was identified. It is the same house, the same fire, everything is the same , but now he is not concerned. He is enjoying it just as everybody else is enjoying.

Then the second son comes running, and he says to the father, “What are you doing? You are smiling and the house is on fire?”
The father said, “Don’t you know, your brother has sold it.”
He said, “He had talked about selling it, but nothing has been settled yet, and the man is not going to purchase it now.” Again, everything changes. Tears which had disappeared, have come back to the father’s eyes, his smile is no more there, his heart is beating fast. But the watcher is gone. He is again identified.

And then the third son comes, and he says, “That man is a man of his word. I have just come from him. He said, ‘It doesn’t matter whether the house is burned or not, it is mine. And I am going to pay the price that I have settled for. Neither you knew, nor I knew that the house would catch on fire.'” Again the father is a watcher. The identity is no more there. Actually nothing is changing; just the idea that “I am the owner, I am identified somehow with the house,” makes the whole difference. The next moment he feels, “I am not identified. Somebody else has purchased it, I have nothing to do with it; let the house burn.”

Knowing and Happiness

I was standing on the balcony in the 11th floor of my office building. It wasn’t raining yet there, but I could see the rain advancing towards us from far off (see the red arrow in the picture). I estimated the rain to reach us  in about of 10 minutes. In a moment my mind was busy with several thoughts.

Rains are never welcome in Bangalore as it makes the ever chaotic traffic more messy. I was debating whether to leave quickly before the rain arrives. But then I had something to finish; would it be good idea to do it tomorrow?  Or should I wait till the rain is over? What happens if the rain is going to last long?

My attention was then drawn to some loud cheer from below. There were people playing football in a ground (see the red circle in the picture). They couldn’t see the rain coming and were completely involved in the game.

Rain

Rain

I was disturbed, because from that height I could see the rain coming and I was already planning what to do. But the footballers, who had no idea that it was coming, were least affected.

The rain arrived shortly and the footballers did what is needed to do when it rains – took shelter. And I was back to my desk and back to my work. I had to wait because I had work to finish and all that planning was of no use to me.

It’s generally believed that strategic thinking, higher perspectives, ability to perceive risks in advance etc are very important qualities that make us successful and need to be cultivated. But seldom we realize that they simply take away the fun from the present moment. We are definitely capable of doing what is needed in any situation. Knowing things in advance only feeds the stupid planning mind. 

No wonder CJ Jung was extremely jealous when he met those native american tribes. They were extremely happy, though they had nothing in their possession.