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Two Switches!

6 Jan

Two Switches!

~a Swamystery Blog


Every being that’s alive has two switches within ~ the self-start and the self-destruct

The beings with supposedly lesser senses, i.e. all the beings other than humans,  naturally know how to access and use the self-start switch, as and when required, since they are aware of its necessity for their very existence.

They are certainly aware of the actions they need to take, on a day-to-day basis, such as fetching food, finding a reasonably safe place to rest and avoid skirmishes with beings that aren’t known to be kind to them (Homo Sapiens feature at the top of their ‘unkind list,’ unsurprisingly). Despite the dangers lurking in every corner (including but obviously not limited to being hit by a speeding vehicle driven or ridden madly by a human, who is always in a hurry, for no particular reason or worse – getting shot or maimed by them), threatening their survival, such beings seem to live a content life, quite joyfully, and then leave peacefully, when their time’s up.

Human beings who simply can’t stop boasting about their extra – ahem, sixth – sense, apparently don’t know how to use that unique faculty wisely, to access the self-start switch to live joyfully and seek liberation. Instead, they are easily seduced beyond redemption by the self-destruct switch (may be it’s in shiny red colour that’s simply irresistible, a la the one baby Groot tries to press repeatedly, simply driving Rocket mad), considering how tragically hilarious their survival has turned out to be.

Two Switches! ~a Swamystery blog

We compete for every damn thing, day in and day out, yet we forgot how fun and enjoyable competition can be. Why should all competitors be bitter rivals, always trying to cut each other’s throat, at the earliest available opportunity, is something race horse would never be able to comprehend.

We are obsessively focused on pleasing fellow humans by being nice to them, believing how others perceive us is the most important thing for our survival. But the ever-rising flame of desire to please others that continues to devour any semblance of kindness left in us, like the raging Australian bushfire, is something even the billions of animals affected by that fire won’t understand.

We imagine information as knowledge and consider ourselves to be wise, with ready access to the trove of information, thanks to big G (no, not that hard-to-find heavenly G, i.e. Godji, but the easy-to-access internet G, aka Googleji). Pretty much any other species that’s cursed to cross our paths will most certainly shake their heads, shrug and scramble away in a tearing hurry, when they discover first-hand our educated stupidity.

We keep acquiring things during the entire, albeit brief, lifetime – including different versions of things we may already have. A broken bucket or utensil certainly needs to be replaced. But why are people so crazy to keep replacing a cellphone or tv or car that’s still working fine is something that would confound even the Creator!

We have concluded that ours is the only inhabitable planet in the entire vast, still expanding, universe (despite the known fact that we don’t even have the means to check out the notional periphery of our own galaxy – which happens to be just one among possibly billions) and anointed ourselves as the smartest species in existence. Whenever we actually manage to do interstellar travel and reach another inhabitable planet in a galaxy far far away, and explain to beings like Leia, Luke or Rey that we had to come there because we practically destroyed the only tiny planet we ever inhabited, they will be well within their galactic rights to annihilate us – the aliens – then and there, in order to preserve their own existence.

Yeah, we actually turned out to be a despicable species, despite the fact that we happen to be only one of the millions of species inhabiting this single tiny planet in some nondescript corner of one galaxy. We are a threat to not only our own existence, but also to those other millions of species that are content with what they have got on this planet and don’t nurture purposeless daydreams about finding another green planet a few million nautical miles away, because they haven’t really done anything stupid to destroy their home. And they certainly don’t deserve to perish along with this planet, because of a single species’ immeasurable and incomprehensible self-destructive nature.

Here’s a question that’s worth pondering ~ “When was the last time you actually read the contents of the printed material that are stuffed within the package of any thingamajig you’ve ever bought?” The answer from six-sigma of human population that has bought something or other in their lifetime that comes packaged will be “Never!” Go on and ask yourself that question and ask everyone you know the same. The answer will invariably be the same.

All of those unread printed material require trees to be cut, to make the paper on which they are printed. Now take a moment and think how many billions of tress we would’ve cut so far, for this utterly useless stupidity. The cartons in which that product was packaged and the labels too consume trees. So are all the wooden furniture that we cherish possessing for generations and the copious amounts of wood used in all kinds of construction. And toothpicks, chopsticks, matchsticks, notebooks, nonsensical fiction, newspapers, magazines… The list of things that use murdered trees as their source is seemingly endless.

And that’s just the tip of the titanic iceberg of our wanton destruction of the precious natural resources that we obviously didn’t create, but chose to use anyway, without a break, from time immemorial. Oh yeah, we are a despicable species… we don’t need a PhD in any science to figure that out

You’re supposed to observe 2 minutes of silence, repenting for the inexcusable sin of cutting billions of trees so far, even though you may not have done so personally

There’s some hope for redemption though, even in this bleak scenario, which of course is self-created by the shenanigans of the beings with a sixth-sense. Saving the planet and restoring it to its original glorious state is clearly beyond our ability, but limiting our flagrant robbery of the natural resources this planet is endowed with is certainly within our ability.

If we can start with something as simple as not cutting any more trees, for any kind of needs, then the planet is quite capable of self-restoration. In fact, as consumers, we should force all manufacturers who create any goods for our consumption to take a pledge to offer all product information – manuals, installation guide, warranty and safety information, etc. – only digitally, from this year onwards. That would be a worthy start to preserve the green cover that’s so critical for the sustenance of life in this planet.

There are obviously other things all of us can do… Not buying new gadgets to replace those that are still functional would be on the top of the list (YouTube reviewers be damned). If your cell phone still does all the things that you ‘need’ (not ‘want’) it to do, then you actually don’t need another one with the latest and greatest processor. Same goes for your headphones, speakers, tv, motorcycle, car, shoes, watches, clothing, etc. It’s as simple as that.

Practice this restraint, i.e. not buying something new that you may want but don’t really need, at least for a few months. Then suddenly you’ll realise that you’ve a substantial amount of money in your savings bank account. And real money is always useful, isn’t it – irrespective of whether you’re someone stuck in the survival plane of existence or seeker on the spiritual path.

Now that you’re less needy, and hence not so greedy, you may also realise that you’re a little bit more gentler and kinder than before. This happens when you stop chasing things to acquire for yourself all the time and instead start observing life that’s vibrantly happening all around you. This is when you start to unknowingly expand the boundary of your kindness by doing simpler things such as feeding a stray or two, offering clean drinking water for birds, simply listening to fellow human beings without any prejudiced judgement, volunteering at some place – orphanage, old-age home, ashrams doing worthy charitable activities for human well being, schools for people with limited physical abilities, animal shelters, and so on – where kinder hearts, minds and limbs are always required, and useful. The trickle of kindness will eventually turn into a pond of compassion that you never realised was always within you, waiting for meaningful expression.

Along this journey of self-discovery, which could turn out to be life-altering for some, you may also discover the long suppressed desire to know the Truth – about the Creator, creation, existence, et al. For many humans, this desire would’ve been suppressed for many lifetimes, due to the nature of their karma (accumulated actions of the past and the present). When this desire to know becomes a seemingly unquenchable thirst, and you start to silently scream for some kind of guidance, a Guru (Realised Master) will appear to guide you, towards self-realisation, aka enlightenment or knowing the Truth as an intimate direct experience. S/he will not only show the path towards realisation but also Mukti, i.e. the ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle. That, in a nutshell, is the purpose of being born as a human being. Not showing off the umpteenth iteration of a particular model of uber-expensive cellphone, every time a new model is launched!

Since many of us lack the innate wisdom to choose the self-start switch within and end up choosing the self-destruct switch instead, inadvertently or otherwise, the Guru performs the role of the kick-start (remember those things in your first motorcycle, which was most probably a humble functional model), to restart the engine (our life energy, which is the source of our existence) and steer us along the right path (towards the destination of mukti). Receiving the guidance of a Guru (Realised Master) in any given lifetime itself is a blessing. With Grace (of Guru and the Creator, who are in essence one and the same), may the purpose of your birth as a human being be realised in this lifetime itself. Shambho! 

Be joyful & spread the cheer…
~Swamy | ‘@PrakashSwamy

P.S: I could’ve published this post on New Year’s eve, making it a worthy New Year Resolution for a few readers (only a handful read such posts regularly anyway.. heh.. heh..) and garnered a bunch of likes and even a few comments. But, with my Guru’s Grace, I’ve realised that the purpose of my writing is to simply share ideas, insights and inputs, without getting attached to the outcome of publishing. In essence, he has taught me how to transform karma (action) into Karma Yoga (purposeful action performed with total involvement, while remaining absolutely detached from the outcomes). Shri GurubyO Namaha.

Swamusings ~ On A Different Note!

17 Nov

Swamusings ~ On A Different Note!

Most music aficionados stick to known types of music. Their daily commute, long drives out of town and private listening hours (if any) pretty much overflow with the same kind of music, if not the same performers too.

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Some are open to listening to different kinds of music. They explore and discover the odd gems, but still predominantly listen to the familiar ones.
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Few actually explore various genres of music and expand their sound scape, continuously…

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As a typical born-and-brought-up Madrasi (all South Indian people – from 4 vastly different states and a UT – are madrasis to the rest of India 🤣, all of which the madrasis simply refer to as North India, irrespective of whether it’s located in the east, north or west 🙄), Swamy’s terra firma in music is carnatic, naturally – both vocal & instrumental. But because of his slightly pronounced inclination towards instrumental music (thanks to legends such as Kunnakkudi, Kadri, Umayalpuram, etc.) 🎺🎻, simply due to his lack of multilingual skills (to comprehend the meaning of hymns, songs, bhajans) he also warmed up easily to western (yep, the videshi west) instrumental music as well (Kenny G, Yanni, Miles Davis, Joshua Bell, the Orchestras, Lindsey Sterling, etc.). 🎼🎹🎧
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Surprisingly, despite choosing to remain in his motherland after spending only a few years outside (unlike many of his pals who chose to settle down on the supposedly ‘developed’ side of the world 🤦‍♀️), his exposure to Hindustani music remained limited to the occasional sitar, santoor or flute album, mostly accompanied by Zakhir Hussein on the Tabla 😂. And then there’s Hariharan’s ghazals, of course (Hariharan is not only well known in the southern movie industry, but he himself happens to be a Madrasi, just like Shankar Mahadevan).

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All that changed, with his exploration – albeit a cautious one – into the hi-res audio space. While looking for hi-res / lossless audio to test his audio gadgets, Swamy ended up discovering quite a lot of musicians, from both sides of the world.

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Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

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Here are a few (ex)samples…
Swamy has never heard about Lorde, until listening to and getting instantly enchanted by her voice, on a song included in an audiophile music playlist, on YouTube (of all places)! She’s like Adele, yet different.
Madrasana was familiar territory but with a twist – a performer on his/her own, sans accompaniments, in a well organised setup. And this channel creator / patron is a former hotshot executive in the IT services industry, where Swamy too spent his entire career span.
And then there’s Darbar, which is the perfect gateway for someone like Swamy to explore the vast (and obviously enchanting) Hindustani music terrain. Filled with fantastic single tracks by a plethora of astoundingly talented performers (many of whom Swamy hasn’t even heard of until now), it’s a channel worth a watch, ummm… Listen (both, actually)!

Swamusings ~ Being a Vet is a Sure Bet to…

16 Nov

Swamusings ~ Being a Vet is a Sure Bet to…

Went to our friendly neighbourhood Vel’s Pet Hospital today for Maggy’s check-up 🐶 (Maggy alias Maragavalli is our beloved younger 4-legged daughter). We were the first and while we (Sr 🤓 + Jr 😎) waited for the Doc to arrive, we kept ourselves busy with our respective phones (you obviously know who holds a spanking new one and who makes do with a 2-year old model, which still functions fine btw 🤪), while stroking Maggy once in a while to keep her cool (pretty much all the dogs – except the massive breeds, perhaps – switch to ultra-alert mode when they are in the hospital and their entire behaviour changes drastically 🥶), a brand new red Kia Seltos 🚘 arrived and got parked in front of the hospital.
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Hmmm, must be a wealthy pet parent with a boxer or labrador or german shepherd… I thought 🤔. Surprise.. surprise.. it was the Doc himself. He must’ve upgraded from his sedan to this popular SUV from Hyundai’s sister co Kia recently! 🤙🏼
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By the time the Doc came, the dog (and thereby the pet parents as well) population has already quadrupled (from 1 to 4, heh.. heh.. 😂) in the hospital. Returning from a house-call (remember those days – the Doctor mama days 👨🏻‍🔬), he immediately got busy with his patients – a German Spitz (Maggy, of course), a Boxer (massive one but merely 5 years old – very friendly too, despite his imposing appearance + presence – one bite from that massive jaw and our arm will come off clean 👀), a baby Labrador (busy as ever – checking out both the people around and the Big Bro Boxer seated next to him), a polka-dot Mongrel (all of 3 months, brought in for vaccination, remaining very shy and vary of everyone) and a very hairy toy breed (forgot to ask the owner – may be a Shi-Tzu or something like that), all being brought in by passionate, caring (and needless to say very concerned) pet parents, for routine check-ups or treating some ailment. And this was just the beginning of a weekend day! 🤘
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The population of pet parents (and hence pets) seems to be skyrocketing nowadays. With a significant populace embracing everything western wholeheartedly, pet parents who visit pet hospitals and vet clinics to get their doted upon pets checked regularly has seen a steady increase as well. Add to this the increasing number of compassionate humans who bring even strays for vaccination or treating injuries caused by accidents on the roadside.
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Being a vet used to be a niche job in the medical field once upon a time. Not anymore, apparently. The fact that our long-term (almost a decade now) Vet Dr. Manivel has just bought a Kia is just an indication of how well they are doing now.👌 He has shifted his hospital to a larger space nearby, added plenty of food items and accessories for the pets (which invariably sell like hotcakes) and even started a Pet Shelter in the first floor recently. A grooming center and day-care may not be that far off. And this is at Pallikkaranai, which certainly isn’t Adyar, Mylapore, T.Nagar or Anna Nagar. Not even Velachery, for that matter. So one can only imagine how Vets in those residential locales (and OMR, ECR, etc.) must be doing. Looks like even the Corporation has sniffed an opportunity (pun very intended 🤣) to earn some tax revenue by getting the pets registered formally (compliance isn’t that great, but expected to pick up pace soon)!
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Anyway, the reason I’ve brought this up is that Veterinary Medicine is a very viable career option that can rake in not only the moolah but also significant amount of fame (கைராசி டாக்டர்). And it’s obviously a lot more fun to interact with a variety of animals (and their pet parents, inevitably), who hardly complain, compare or critique. Unlike successful physicians and surgeons, a Vet may actually be able to have a reasonably good personal life too. So, those in the family, friends circle and acquaintance space, with career aspirations in the medical field, may kindly take note (in addition to the other fast-growth sector of sports medicine ⛹🏻‍♂🏌🏻‍♂🏃🏻‍♀). Looks like Being a Vet is a Sure Bet for success, wealth and fame. And the competition will be much less compared to the NEET ravaged student crowd, at least for the time being!
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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

22 Oct

Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

One of (many, needless to say.. heh.. heh.. 😂) Swamy’s interests is music, of pretty much all kinds. Classical music (of the Bharat kind) & instrumental music (of the global kind) have always been a big draw, though an occasional new ARR movie composition or vocals such as Adele too are listened to with equal joy.🎧

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Despite all that, Swamy hasn’t ventured into audiophile territory for a long time, even when he was earning a reasonable amount of pay, primarily due to the cost (of listening equipment) and secondarily due to lack of awareness. Lately though, some (sizable, considering the limited financial inflow of an early retiree, but certainly not outrageous 👀) investment went into personal hi-res audio equipment.

Swamy’s entry-level audiophile equipment – all sourced through Amazon India, mostly during the innumerable number of sale events they keep hosting – consists of hi-res certified 1More Triple Driver earphones, the மூர்த்தி சிறிது கீர்த்தி பெரிது kind of KZ ES4 earphones, the uber popular AudioTechnica M50x headphones and a hi-res audio music player + DAC – the FiiO M3K. And of course, there’s the punching-way-above-its-size Signature Acoustics Phoenix Hi-res Bluetooth audio transmitter/receiver (yep, I’m fully aware of the jargon dropping here 🤷🏻‍♀🤪). Oh yeah, couple of Bose speakers are in the mix as well, though one of them is constantly on strike (one of those rare CD players) a la public sector bank employees and the other one suffers from the typical portable speaker limitations (how about one from Marshall sir – umm, frankly, the endless Amazon sales keep tempting me for a while)!

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Equipment aside, the sad fact about hi-res audio is its availability & affordability, especially in MeraBharatMahan! 😳🤐 Tidal is a well-known streaming source but both availability & cost will be like those forbidden fruit company iThings. Also it may not have much of desi music selections. Locally available services such as Amazon Prime Music, Jio Saavn, Ghaana, et al don’t overtly specify the quality of audio, so one can never be sure.

The other choice is to be ultra patient and rip all the original audio CDs (remember those – like any true-blue music lover, Swamy too has plenty of originals!) at higher bit rates and create one’s own collection, which will obviously take a lot of time, considering the tremendous amount of manual intervention required and the not-so-fast speed of the USB connection to the external CD drive (many of the new laptops have entirely eliminated internal CD drives, a la the fast vanishing 3.5mm audio jack on modern smartphones). Let’s take a breather here… 😵

 

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So, Swamy was obviously delighted, when he came across a notable hi-res collection of well known (‘heard’ would be more apt) musicians such as AR Rehman, Ilayaraja & such, while looking for hi-res audio files to test the new USB DAC, the FiiO K3, connected to the Obage OE-2425 stereo speakers & of course the head/earphones, on… wait for it… YouTube! 😌🎼🎧

Here’s the channel that does something audio enthusiasts on this side of the world only dream about – a sizable hi-res collection of popular Indian music (no carnatic music yet… ah, man 🙄😖). There may be others, but this is a good place to begin the hi-res journey. Try it – preferably with a good quality head/earphone or pair of speakers & you’ll know what is being elucidated here.😌🤙

The Mastering Project – Hi-Res Indian Music

HiRes Audio Channel YouTubeC

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Oh btw, Swamy is practically an illiterate, when it comes to the nuances of music (despite much of the Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns being musical, by flow).🙏But when has that ever stopped an enthusiast from exploration anyway! 🎧😌🤘

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Swamy listening on 1More Triple Driver earphones

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

உயிர்மெய் (தமிழ் பதிவுகள்) | SwamyQuote | Swamystery | QuorAnswers by Swamy | Quoraவிடை by ஸ்வாமி | BeenThere, SeenThat  

NhAdha Brahmam ~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

12 Oct

NhAdha Brahmam

~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

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Over a decade ago, I’ve left Jr in a tournament hall (he’s a professional Chess player at international level) somewhere in Mangaluru and walked a few kilometres in blazing sun, with the help of the directions on the phone (it’s probably a Nokia – well before it’s android days) to reach an ancient ShivA temple, that’s located on a rocky hillside. The darshan was wonderful and I’ve returned in time for lunch with Jr (sensibly took an autorickshaw this time). The place I’ve visited is Kadri, which has been made world famous by a son of the soil, who gave the darshan of NhAdha Brahmam to even untrained musical lovers such as this writer, whenever he played a classical song on the western wind instrument known as Saxophone. Instrumental music is naturally formed a significant portion of Swamy’s music collection, in cassettes (do ya know what they are Gen X/Y/Zers) and CDs (used to spend a fortune at the annual music sale at Shankara Hall once upon a time, just like the hundreds of books purchased during the annual Chennai Book Fair, year after year), which now await digitization, quietly lying down under the bed (oh don’t worry, they’re pretty safe), though even that effort seems pointless in this digital age, when there are apps aplenty to play any kind of music anyone fancies, in the phone itself!
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The bassy nhAdham emanating out of the instrument was simply out of the world and can easily bring tears of joy flowing from the rasikA’s eyes. Just like RAjarathinam PiLLai, SrinivA, MAli, BAlachander, Kunnakkudi, UmayALpuram & Valayappatti are simply known by the name of the respective instruments they played with absolute mastery, the name Gopalnath is synonymous with Saxophone. The identity of Master (Maestro!) musicians like him is inseparable from the instrument they play. In other words, they’ve attained union with not the instrument, but the music that flows through it / them.

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Their worship of NhAdha Brahmam, i.e. the Divine in the form of sound, is the music we are blessed to listen to. If done with awareness, perhaps the rasikAs too will be blessed with the darshan of the divine, in the formless form of NhAdha Brahmam. And thanks to my maternal grandfather Shri Rengasami Iyer, I was fortunate to listen to Shri Kadri Gopalnath live once, at the NhAradha GAna SabhA, at a much younger age – accompanying him, which will remain etched in the memory (along with the vocal music performance by another legend, Shri KJ Yesudas), forever.

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Legends aren’t born as legends. But they certainly become aware of their real talent (an inherent gift, unlike skill that’s learnt, which comes into play in a given lifetime, based on one’s prArabdha karmA), work diligently to hone it and attain mastery over it, over a period of time. Whether they know it or not, playing music is their sadhana (spiritual practice) and daily offering to the divine. RasikAs – knowledgeable or otherwise – become a part of that offering, by simply being present, with nary a distraction (kinda hard in the present days with the constant notification wink of the omnipresent smartphone), during such performances. In an(y) unexpected moment, the darshan of the Creator can happen, even if it’s just a glimpse, like a momentary lifting of the veil, making that time worthwhile, eventful, purposeful and joyful. And true legends such as Shri Kadri Gopalnath are the chosen instruments of the divine, to offer the rest of us a glimpse of the boundless Grace! Shambho.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Rectal Analysis of Respect!

19 Nov

Rectal Analysis of Respect!

Rectal Analysis or examination is a particularly painful form of invasive medical examination. For many who undergo that, it’s also shameful, considering the fact one has to bare his/her bottom to a third person in a brightly lit public space! Don’t worry, this post isn’t meant to educate you on the process and outcome of the Rectal Analysis itself, but to use that as a metaphor for critical analysis of ‘Respect.’

In retrospect, this post could’ve been titled “Regression Analysis of Respect” or “Reciprocal Analysis of Respect,” both of which would’ve induced some curiosity but you’ll (hopefully!) understand why the title is what it is, by the time you finish reading the post in its entirety, i.e. from the crown of the head to the toenail, including the rectum, naturally 😀

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Human existence is filled with disappointments, in any given lifetime. Disappointment arises out of expectations not being met. Though this is the norm in the ultra-competitive success-obsessed society of present day, humans, who happen to be believers of miracles, continue to expect their expectations being met by fellow humans. Being respected – by others – is one such expectation.

Respect, though just a superficial expression that may not reveal the true emotions or feelings, remains one of the great expectations of the funny species known as the Homo Sapiens.                                                   ~Swamy

People in power, such as ministers of a(ny) government or officials who are on the higher rungs of bureaucracy naturally expect to be respected by everyone. Though much of what they say or do isn’t that honourable anymore, they get annoyed if they are not addressed as ‘honourable’ xyz. Such annoyance may result in a reprimand or even punishment (‘digital age’… what’s that!), which at times could completely ruin the rest of someone’s existence.

Politicians with bloated egos expect to be respected even when they are out of the orbit of power. Celebrities, who totally believe that their whole existence is such as blessing for humanity that they must be adored by one and all, too expect respect from even an anonymous troll. Teachers, preachers, coaches, bosses, elders, kids… the list of those who expect respect could easily be all of them or at least 80% of them (well, any writer worth his salt must use the 80-20% rule one way or another, if his/her writing needs to be respected.. ha.. ha..).

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Respect needs to be commanded, not demanded. But no one other than this writer seems to even think so! So anyone (which is basically everyone in the above para and anyone else like them, which will most probably include you as well) who demands respect is anyway bound to be disappointed because even when people actually respect them, it only seems so but not really so.

People are smart enough to put on the right facade for the right moron, because in the plane of survival, no one trusts their real personality for achieving desirable outcomes anymore. So when you are overjoyed by the 314 people who assembled for your some-nonsensical-recognition event, profusely congratulating you on your great achievement with broad smiles plastered on their face, they’re really there because either they don’t have a choice to not be there or they know full well they can save a tidy sum that day by gorging on the free food and beverages. It doesn’t cost them anything other than a silly smile and even sillier message to pump some more gas into your already bloated ego balloon.

The Mahatma was respected by the common people because he never demanded it, from anyone, despite his phenomenal, peerless achievement – of gaining freedom from a powerful foreign invader, without actually waging a war (through non-violent protest). Pretty much all his peers and those who followed them, despite the fact that many of them too have toiled hard for the same worthy cause, aren’t celebrated as much as he was and still is, simply because everyone of their actions was weighed against those of the father-of-the-nation and simply couldn’t match or exceed that exceptional benchmark.

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It took several decades for someone like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to emerge, in a different continent and country, and Mandela, who can be considered his true successor,  was humble enough to acknowledge the Gandhi connect and inspiration for his own struggle and eventual success in attaining freedom from oppression. Today’s politicians don’t stand a chance to earn the respect of even people of their own analog generation and can forget even dreaming about any such expectation from the present digital generation. What they unfailingly get from their acolytes and the sycophants surrounding them isn’t really respect but a pre-recorded (and well practised) act of respect that’s just repeated as many times as it needs to be, to ensure their own sustenance.

Still, even a nondescript member of a family or clan or organisation continues to expect respect from others, and feel hurt when they don’t get that from (m)any. This happens due to skewed notion of the act of respect itself, which is mostly learned through observation over years of one’s physical, psychological and social growth. An example or two would help comprehend this not-so-complex phenomenon.

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A family typically comprises of husband, wife, child(ren), parents/elders and siblings/younger members. There are a set of expectations that are almost etched on stone in the intricate social grouping known as family, as follows.

  • Parents / Elders must be respected by all, simply because they’ve been there and done that, i.e. their existence in this lifetime is longer than anyone else in the family, which automatically qualifies them for respect from everyone else. They naturally take offence when they’re not spoken to or bowed down to by everyone else.
  • Husband / Wife expect to be respected by children and siblings/younger members of the family, because they have taken over the responsibility of taking care of them, which makes them 2nd in the respect hierarchy 
  • Spouses expect respect from each other, because both of them contribute towards sustenance of the family significantly but neither of them are respected by either those above or below
  • Children / younger members of the family expect to be respected for their knowledge / exposure of the new world they belong to, which they know that the elders are clueless about and the parents aren’t conversant with.

So, in a reasonably smaller social group of family, everyone expects respect unconditionally but most are willing to offer respect only conditionally. Since the situation gets far more convoluted in larger social groups such as organisations, residential societies, religious organisations, charitable associations, etc, let’s limit the focus to the family and try to unravel this mysterious thing known as respect, which seems to have besotted every single member.

All relationships are transactional. If there’s a relationship between persons A and B, then very existence of the relationship is defined by the type of transactions that happen between them, irrespective of whether those transactions are regular / continuous or occasional. Human transactions are typically actions that are observed through the five senses (visual, auditory, olfactory, vocal/taste and touch) and comprehended with the sixth (intellect). While the first five senses are physical in nature, i.e. associated with the body, the sixth is psychological, i.e. associated with the mind.

SQ1

So when a family member expresses his/her opinion on a matter to anyone in the family, the physical senses convey their emotion through words (vocal), facial expressions or bodily movements (visual) and possibly physical action (touch) as well. The observer who is the receiving end utilises visual, auditory and touch to receive the expression. Both parties utilise their intellect (however limited it is) to craft the expression and comprehend it. This results in a reaction and/or response. This dramedy goes on and on, day in and day out, helping sustain the relationship, however thin (or strong) the strands that hold it together are.

The medium used by humans to communicate expression or convey an emotion is based on noise. One either speaks or writes to another using a language that’s common between them. For example, I’m writing this blog post to express my perspective on the pointless nature of respect. I could also speak about this and share it in the form of an audio or video clip. So, communication, in some form or another, is the standard template to convey expressions. As long as everyone adheres to this template, everything seems to be going fine. 

The challenge arises in the absence of noise, i.e. when someone chooses to be silent and not express anything. Without reciprocation of noise, the originator of noise doesn’t know what to do. Let’s say you accuse your spouse of forgetting your well-deserved (according to you, obviously) birthday gift. If s/he completely ignores the accusation and remains silent, you’re not only confused (because there’s no rebuttal or apology, which you were expecting) but also annoyed. Even if you know for a fact that your spouse is not a fan of celebrating the past and doesn’t celebrate his/her birthday either.

The simple fact that your expectation wasn’t met results in disappointment. And you’re left frustrated, because you feel that you’re not respected by your spouse anymore. Whereas in your spouse’s radar this may not even register as a blip, since s/he is known to be indifferent about celebrations of any kind of day. So it’s quite possible that s/he isn’t even aware that the mischievous monster known as respect is at play.

sq-loudspeaker

This perennial problem continues to haunt families because of the following unresolved equations, which appear to be seamlessly connected, but in reality aren’t.

Relationship = Communication + Re/action

Present = Past + Future

Respect = Relationship + Present

All of them are incorrect as they’re based on assumptions.

When you ass-u-me something about me, you’re essentially making an ass of you and me.

And that itself is a very good reason for a rectal analysis (of respect, of course – I haven’t forgotten the title, yet).

Relationship between two distinct entities develop over a period of time, based on understanding and trust, both being mutual. For a husband and wife, the duration could be just a few weeks (pre or post marriage) or the entire lifespan (post wedding).

Marriage is an opportunity for two individuals to clearly understand that the religiously authorised and socially approved union doesn’t mean they’re not one unified person with singular stream of thoughts and actions but still two distinct personalities that agree to exist together for the well-being of themselves and everyone associated with them. 

It’ll obviously take a while for this understanding to dawn upon a newly wed pair of individuals, during which they’ll have to consciously invest time to understand – and, needless to say, appreciate and accept – their individual characteristics, behavioural traits, expressions, beliefs, mode of communication, preferences, perspectives, idiosyncrasies, etc. Such understanding will help build trust, between the two. Understanding and Trust together will enable the couple to act as one – to please the society which still absolutely believes that marriage is a holy union and continues to propagate that idea, though between them they know better and know which facade to put on, when, where and to whom.

So, Relationship = Understanding + Trust. Which means, one can have wonderful relationships with others even in the complete absence of communication or re/action. That’s why a Guru-Sishya relationship is far stronger than that of spouses.

Thoughts are rooted in the past, while Dreams (which too are thoughts, btw) are seeded in the future.

But Reality happens only in the present. By pondering about the long gone past and wondering about the yet-to-happen future, humans completely miss the possibilities of the present. Since Present becomes Past in Future, one actually misses out on living during the lifetime by not being focused on the present. Past is only a reference and its practical value is either limited or none. Future is only a probability as humans are incapable of time travel – especially ahead in time. Present is the only real possibility. But how do humans act in the present?

Family2While arguing about something with family members (which is happening in the present), one always remembers to amply quote similar incidences and others’ reactions in the past and predict a repeat in the future. This not only showcases how the arguer is rooted to the past and speculates about future, but also limits the listener / observer (those who are at the receiving end) to the past and future. With both parties entirely missing the present, can anything worthwhile be the outcome of such arguments.

So, Present = – Past – Future (mathematically, minus minus = plus). Which means, focus on the situation at hand, in the present, seeking options and solutions, from anyone who is present, instead of lamenting about past and postulating about future, thereby diminishing your presence.

Aha, that has eventually brought us to the final equation on Respect. And it’s inevitable Rectal Analysis!

Though the rectal analysis is performed externally on (or through) the rectum, it’s typical purpose is to identify the problem that’s internal. Like a prostate or appendix condition, for example. So, the rectal analysis of respect isn’t necessarily about respect itself, but things that are associated with it, but may not be clearly perceivable – especially using the 6 senses.

Relationship has nothing to do with respect. Respect can be there between any two beings – human or not. When one looks at how most birds wake up and retire on time, exactly at dawn and dusk (there are exceptions, of course), day after day, one can’t help but respect their discipline. One doesn’t know if they contemplate the outcome of not retiring at dusk on any given day or for that matter, sleeping for an extra hour after dawn. Nature has many such strictly adhered to cycles, including but not limited to sun and moon rise, tides, monsoon, migration of birds, collection of food by ants organised in neat rows, baby animals instinctively recognising their mothers and sticking to them, et al. But the forever busy humans perennially immersed in petty survival tasks don’t have time to observe and respect the order and resonance in nature, despite it’s complexity, diversity, intricacy and sheer expanse.

swamyray70_matterOn a cosmic scale, even a planet like Earth – the only one where the hilarious species of Homo Sapiens exists, along with possibly millions of other species – is like an imperceptible nondescript speck of dust. On such a tiny planet, in a particular continent, in one of the countries, in a state within the country, in a town or city, along some winding road or lane, within a residential area, inside a single dwelling unit, a few human beings exist. These individuals are identified collectively as a family. It is these puny beings in existence that expect respect from one another. Without having a clue about how the sun or pigeon or even the plant in the balcony swaying gently in the evening breeze wouldn’t even shrug if they cease to exist this day. Or the next. In other words, no other being on this cosmos either expects or offers respect, as if it’s a mandatory requirement to exist.

In case you still expect that funny thing called respect, from anyone, for anything you’ve done or doing or going to do, do ponder the following for a few moments.

  • When was the last time you’ve volunteered to help a stranger? 
  • What if you have chosen not to help him/her/it (the stranger could’ve been a tail-wagging friendly neighbourhood stray puppy)? Wouldn’t there be no one else to offer help?
  • What was your motivation to help – need, ability, capacity, kindness, compassion, anger, resentment or something else?
  • What was the expectation from that action – earning respect from someone (the recipient or an observer who has seen it or a friend or family member with whom you shared it) or to simply feeling good / happy?
  • What was your assessment of the situation – an opportunity (to offer help) or a random incident (when you ended up offering help)?
  • Would the physical appearance / condition of the being/person (a profusely bleeding accident victim vs a handicapped person or a dog with skin rashes vs a joyful puppy) influence your decision to help in any way?
  • What makes you think you’re the one who chose to and offered help? Have you ever wondered if you were simply destined to be there in that place at that exact moment?
  • What would’ve been your action, had you known up front that no one will respond or react to your action? Would it be the same or different?
  • What will you do if a similar situation arises, in the future, had your action in the past not been recognised or applauded by (m)any?
  • What would be a more appropriate feeling about the situation & action – a sense of gratitude (for the opportunity and ability to help another being) or that of pride (“I helped someone in need”)?

The situation need not be a public space and the recipient of help need not be a stranger. This situation prevails in every single residence, workplace and public space, where humans are omnipresent. Put yourself in the position of both the helper and the helped, in different environments, and observe your action (or the lack of it). The pondering of such possibilties can be cathartic and painful – not too different from a rectal analysis.

swamyray112a_knowIrrespective of whether one toils hard at something or not, one performs actions expecting a specific outcome. Hard working employees expect a reward – award, promotion or pay rise. Homemakers expect an occasional appreciation – words, gestures or gifts. Students expect a pass mark, rank and placement. Pets expect rubs and treats. Entrepreneurs expect growth and publicity. Business owners expect profits, quarter after quarter. Investors expect perennial growth of wealth. Celebrities expect worship from delirious followers. People in power expect respect from everyone. Essentially, everyone expects something out of everything and everyone else.

Respect is one such expectation. It isn’t really an outcome, but either a silly expression (saluting a higher ranking official) or a giggle-inducing gesture (an assembly of people rising for another person’s arrival) or downright ridiculous action (prostrating in front of a politician). Such acts may offer momentary pleasure or a fleeting moment of happiness to the recipient of respect. But it’s an addictive drug. The more and more one perceives it, the more and more one desires it. Irony is, nobody cares about those who offer respect anyway, because that’s what they’re expected to do.

DisappointmentCWhere there’s an expectation, there’s bound to be disappointment. Always. When one doesn’t get the expected respect, one gets annoyed, disappointed, frustrated and dejected. Such negative emotions will result in a reaction – spontaneous or delayed, which will invariably be destructive in nature. The alternative is not to have any expectation associated with any action, though actions are aimed at outcomes.

That’s obviously easier said than done. But considering that it has been communicated in a powerful environment by someone who is worshipped by millions (as God, no less) even today delivering maximum impact, that too many a millennia ago, it’s certainly worth considering.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन । मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भुर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥

You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.

~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter II, Verse 47

Yep, this powerful message about futility of having expectations has been communicated by none other than Lord Krishna himself, in the seminal treatise known as the Bhagavad Gita. It was his message to Arjuna (to whom he was friend, philosopher and guide until then, and God now, i.e. while delivering the Gita) who was worried about the outcome of the monstrous war of Mahabharata, which had become inevitable. Pretty much everyone facing him (and the Pandava army) were his relatives – both elder and younger, or acquaintances – including teachers. Krishna enabled Arjuna to focus on the action, which was his prescribed duty, by clarifying that neither was he the cause of action (waging war) nor was the outcome (victory) his entitlement. To reaffirm his words, he has also offered his Viswaroopa darshan to Arjuna, thereby making him aware that he – the Lord – is the be all and end all of all, including Arjuna himself.

BhagavadGita3In the present time, life resembles war and existence crawls onward, waging one battle a day. Neither are we Arjuna, willing to listen to someone even at the brink of war, nor are we Krishna, willing to offer clarity of insight, to empower someone with the right capability and enable appropriate action.

We’re simply one of those nondescript soldiers wielding a sword & spear (tools), expected to defeat an unknown opponent (ability/skills), hoping the shield will protect them (knowledge), so they can return in one piece to their family that’s worried sick. Or perhaps we’re one of the captains, expected to take a bunch of foot and mounted soldiers, to their almost inevitable death, for a cause that neither they nor we can even comprehend. The Bhagavad Gita is still around, of course, if at all anyone cares to understand it’s true meaning so one can lead a purposeful life and ultimately realise the Truth.

Irrespective of which battlefront we’re in, at any point in time, in the grand game of Life, whether we play or observe is a choice that’s entirely left to us. Many would love to play but aren’t equipped or lack the ability. To P.L.A.Y needs a lot of painstaking effort and to attain mastery takes a long time. Since humans are impatient, most choose to simply observe. But their observation is so superficial that they don’t feel connected to the game in a significant way. A few choose to officiate, because they love pointing out the mistakes or accomplishments of others. Even fewer choose to lend a helping hand to the players, and even the observers. They go unnoticed, but aren’t bothered about it. It’s those who choose to lend a helping hand to anyone in need, with nary a care about “what’s in it for me?,” are in reality the real players. But even they may not be aware of it.

SGQ1

A lifetime is a collection of precious moments, each pregnant with immense possibilities, awaiting the potential for purposeful action.                ~Swamy

And action can happen only in the present. Purpose driven action needs absolute involvement, from everyone who is part of the action. Involvement implies focus remaining on the action and nothing else. This is known as Sthithapragna, or single-mindedness aka one-pointed or singular focus. Sthithapragna is not possible if the focus gets diverted towards outcome as well, even if the diversion is only for a few fleeting moments. Sthithapragna is possible only when the performer (of action) is rooted in the present. It gets diluted when one looks at, or even thinks about, the past or future. Such dilution of focus makes the outcome a probability, not possibility.

sq-usefulWhichever is your playspace – home, workplace, charity, public arena, or the vast boundless space itself – as long as you remain focused on the action, which happens in the present, the desired outcome will always be a distinct possibility. But as soon as your attention gets diverted by expectations about both the action and outcome, you’ve already strayed into the past and/or future, thereby losing grip on the present. 

If you mop the floor of the house or prepare lunch for the family daily, your focus should be only on the action – preparation, execution and completion. Instead, if you expect appreciation from a family member for the spotless floor or the delicious sambar, you’re setting up yourself for disappointment.

It’s no different at workplace. A weekly report, project presentation or minutes-of-meeting may appear pointless to you, but is essential for business sustenance and growth. So focus on the action and give it your best shot. And then move on to the next action. The moment you expect an appreciation or reward for your action, you’ve set yourself up for disappointment.

If you happen to be a writer (like yours truly), then your focus should only be on writing something (like this hard-hitting post on Rectal Analysis – of you-know-what, heh.. heh..) and not on how many likes or comments this post may get from potential readers (zero, in all probability).

The rectum is an essential organ of the body. Without it, the fecal matter can’t be released from the body, which could lead to acute medical conditions that may even turn fatal. The ass (or arse, if you’re a proud practitioner of supposedly true English – of the British kind) itself is neither proud of its critical function in keeping the ass-owner alive nor feels repugnant about being the permanent outlet for excreta. It simply focuses on the action, as soon as it’s seated on the toilet, time after time, day after day. The ass is always focused on the action, remaining rooted in the present. It isn’t bothered about today’s shitting being a better or bitter experience compared to yesterday or improving the quality of shit by 0.01%, for the rest of the lifetime of the body it’s a part of. It’s actually the asshole to whom the ass belongs to that’s the cause of all such nonsense. 

That, dear reader, is the “Rectal Analysis of Respect!” 

Oh btw, the title that caught your imagination (and pushed you to read this far – to the very last line of the post) is known as Clickbait, in web or social lingo 😉 And no, the writer didn’t have outcome (of making you read the entire post) in mind while writing this blog. But you did it anyway, didn’t ya! So, why don’t you also be kind enough to like, comment and share this post with your social acquaintances (now that’s not an expectation, but a simple request, so it really doesn’t matter if you do or don’t). 

149c5-ad3c94c2-334c-499b-8d29-69ee802d7645Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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A Root Cause Analysis of Life – 1/3

13 Jul

A Root Cause Analysis of – an Aspect of – Life! – Part 1/3

Disclaimer: This 3-parts post isn’t a root cause analysis of Life itself, but just one aspect of it, i.e. inability to translate thoughts into action. Oh btw, unlike in the past^, this time all 3 parts will certainly get published in quick succession, as the post is more-ore-less completed already, but being shared in three parts just to help readers comprehend and – hopefully – contemplate!

An acquaintance of Swamy, who happens to be a meditator, recently reflected thus…
I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts. I still procrastinate. How to overcome this? Is there any guidance for this? Due to this character I have lost more but still I do the same…🤔

This is the natural state of existence, for most humans – seeker or not. Survival is just a series of one insurmountable challenge after another for most, and they invariably end looking up to others (typically those who are successful and popular) for whatever they could get – guidance, advise, counsel, quote, motivational speech, experience sharing, training, books, etc. – to get better, be successful, overcome difficulties, etc. The situation isn’t that different on the spiritual path either, where there are so many choices for a seeker to completely go bonkers.

Sheep13While there is no specific answer or solution to this conundrum, one of the many possible options is succinctly captured by the emoji that the questioner used, at the end of the question, to indicate the thinking or pondering that’s going on. That so-called sixth sense is the only additional tool at the disposal of the Homo Sapiens, which unfortunately isn’t utilised effectively by them to liberate themselves from the BAUHumbug mundane existence. Unlike humans, who for whatever strange reason consider themselves as a superior species despite their incorrigible destructive nature, the remaining species on this tiny planet are quite content with their simple existence, as their lives remain uncomplicated by unnecessary thinking.

In the IT services industry, in which Swamy too had spent pretty much his entire phase of over two decades of survival, there is a popular process known as the “Root Cause Analysis,” to figure out what is causing a particular problem, with the objective of resolving the issue, by applying a temporary fix first (in order to ensure business continuity) and eventually a permanent fix (for preventing recurrence of the problem) as well. There are obviously many tools to perform this analysis (Ishikawa or Fishbone, 5-Why, etc)  but all of them are aimed at the same aforementioned purpose – analysing, understanding and resolving an(y) issue that impacts business continuity.

614px-Cause_and_effect_diagram_for_defect_XXX.svg

Image courtesy: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishikawa_diagram

Unfortunately, just like any other myopic perspectives of humans, about anything in life, this root cause analysis process too is focused only on the challenge at hand. Hardly a handful of people who are conversant with the process and the tools, ever use it to gain a larger perspective – at either the business level or at the industry / domain level. That’s why there are so many specialists who keep efficiently utilising the process at a rudimentary level, repeatedly, and very few (if any!) generalists who can effectively use the process to identify, analyse, contemplate, comprehend and craft solutions for real life situations, of which business / work is only a minuscule part.

Anyway, for the sake of the questioner, let’s keep the rant against the incorrigible human nature aside and focus on the situation at hand, by breaking down the reflection / long question into smaller parts, so that each of the components can be analysed to comprehend the whole.

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart

Why do humans read / hear / view what others have said?
To know what the others are supposed to have already known, would be the obvious answer. After all, humans are self-certified experts in taking the easy way out, for practically doing anything in a lifetime!

A Guru – an authentic one who has attained self-realisation, not one of those self-proclaimed character artists – shares his/her experience of Truth (about creator, creation, existence, et al) and offers ways or methods to seekers who strive to attain the same experience. In ancient times, it used to be done in person (ashrams were created primarily for this purpose) but in the perennially busy times that we are present in, it’s being done with the help of all available modes of communication – books, podcasts, videos, blogs, programs…

GuruPurnima1

Guru PUrNima, a day of reverence to all the Realised Masters who have chosen to show the path to realisation to fellow humans, is celebrated worldwide on 27-July-2018.

Unlike the ‘information is power’ survival where even those without any practical experience can be quite successful with acquired knowledge, spirituality is all about knowing, i.e. the actual inner experience of the seeker.

When a seeker accesses the experiential knowing shared by a Guru, it should be for the purpose of attaining the experience and not merely to know about the experience. So, seeking is not about the activity of reading / hearing / viewing the knowledge shared, but about putting it to use, in terms of actions (commonly known as sadhana), with the objective of attaining the same experience as one’s Guru.

In that context, it’s wonderful that the questioner has mentioned “nothing is hitting the heart.” Irrespective of whether it’s expressed with awareness or not, the questioner is actually pointing out how a Master’s teachings can be really effective. The heart referred here is not the blood pump that keeps the physical form ticking, but the spiritual heart known as the Hridhayam. It’s the seat of the divine aka soul. It’s where the creator is present, within each and every piece of the magnificent creation.

When a Guru’s teachings are put to practice, whatever experience happens is always internal. For example, hundreds of books talk about the primal energy of Kundalini and how to raise the dormant coiled serpent from the MUlaadhaara chakra at the base of the spine towards Sahasraara chakra on the top of the skull. To read any of them would naturally be exciting and the reader will exclaim “whoa, I didn’t know such a phenomenal power is hidden within myself.” But after reading the book, one either moves on to another book (must use Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription effectively!), may be share a review on GoodReads (which about 3 followers may read on social media platforms and 1 compulsive liker may actually “like”) and then get back to one’s BAUHumbug* existence.

The serpent simply can’t be risen by reading books and needs to be practised under the watchful guidance of a qualified teacher. And those who have actually experienced the rise of Kundalini within themselves, will hardly ever share that experience as a “how-to” guide for aam janata, since the experience could be vastly different for someone else, depending on many parameters, and is potentially dangerous to the person who tries it as DOI experiment.

So, “nothing is hitting the heart” does not mean one being vexed at not having a heart attack, but feeling disappointed at not experiencing something inward. That’s actually a very good feeling to have – especially for a seeker, since the journey along the spiritual path is always about self-realisation, i.e. the realisation of Truth that happens within oneself, as an intimate – and intense, needless to say – direct experience, within oneself.

Unfortunately, the questioner isn’t going to let us remain elated with this revelation for long and instantly deflates us by extending his reflection thus…

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts.

Now, the second part of this reflection highlights some serious misunderstanding of the practical side of spirituality, which is putting the ancient methods and processes (shared by Gurus, of course) into actual practice, in real life situations. After all, Yoga, the ancient science of Life, isn’t just an austere practice to be done in isolation but is a way of living that needs to be applied in day-to-day living, by the practitioners. That’s why there is so much emphasis on sadhana (practice or performance of a spiritual process) in spirituality. In fact, nationwide missions like SkillIndia should take a cue from yoga, for the practical application part, in order to be really effective.

Inner voice cries hoarse: “digression… digression…”

fb_img_1531370637666Thoughts can potentially lead to actions, but not necessarily always. If one tries to translate each and every thought into action, simply surviving in this world itself would become harder than scaling Mt. Everest without oxygen, and sherpas. Thoughts simply keep flowing by themselves, like the waves of the ocean. Over time, one not only loses count of their number, but one also learns that it’s practically impossible to do something with each wave. There are waves that one can let kiss one’s bare feet and then there are those one could surf. Perhaps there are even some that may trigger enchanting poetry. The rest can only be observed. And they never cease to flow.

The questioner smartly chooses to follow only “good thoughts.” Hmmm… but how does one determine a thought is good or bad? It’s still just a thought anyway. Unless it is translated into an action, with a defined purpose, aimed at a specific outcome, it’s impossible to determine the value of any thought. Only when the outcome is experienced, its usefulness can be ascertained, based on the social situation that one is part of. Something that is useful / beneficial for an individual or society, in a harmless way, is deemed good. The opposite of that is branded as bad.

But good and bad are just classifications based on the subjective intellect of an individual or collective. They are mere perspectives and will vary from person to person, just like any other perspective. For terrorists, mass murder is just a means to an end, which makes them believe killing others is good. For the rest, murder is obviously bad and mass murderers are unadulterated evil, personified. While those who are murdered gladly excuse themselves from the pointless debates on their murder, the rest of the populace is always ready and willing to debate the good vs bad of murders and murderers to death, literally (on the multitude of channels that guarantee the proverbial “15 seconds of fame” for anyone who is willing to flex his/her vocal chords to express one’s opinion about anything, relevant or not).

img_0719.jpgIn reality there is no such thing as a ‘good thought’ or a ‘bad thought.’ Thoughts are, well, just thoughts. Everyone has got a boatload of them and some even admire themselves as being “Thought Leaders,” in practically every aspect of living. Irrespective of whether one fancies oneself as a leader or not, one can only translate one’s own thoughts into actions. And thoughts that translate into action are either useful or not. Neither can all useful things be deemed good (e.g. guns) nor can any useless thing be classified bad (e.g. floppy disk).

A Guru has no interest in either regulating someone’s thoughts or making someone follow his/her (the Guru’s) thoughts. And s/he doesn’t really care about the goodness of her/his thoughts, for a real Guru is fully aware of the utter futility of trying to interrupt or control the natural flow of thoughts. A Guru will actually be keen on enabling a seeker to understand that futility, experientially, by offering one or more sadhana (spiritual practice). So, it is obviously left to the individual – seeker or not – to observe one’s own thoughts and identify those that really need to be translated into action and act accordingly. The rest will mind their own business, within the mind itself!

Let’s look at that first sentence one last time, so we can move on to the rest of the question (parts 2 and 3 are waiting to be shared, impatiently)!

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts.

Here’s the summary of insights that may help you, dear reader, to ignore most of the thoughts triggered while / after reading this and act upon only those that are valuable / useful.

  • Listening to what a Guru (Realised Master) shares is wonderful, because it is experiential wisdom
  • Knowing that a Guru’s teachings are meant for the spiritual heart and not the silly mind is great and will help the seeker focus inward
  • Thoughts simply flow by themselves, like the waves of the ocean, and they are neither good nor bad. They can be triggered by listening to a Guru as well
  • It’s practically not possible to follow all the thoughts that arise in the mind, which will only make anyone who attempts that go insane
  • One can pick and choose the thoughts and translate them into purposeful action for a specific outcome. The often over-hyped sixth-sense is meant for this purpose
  • A Guru is fully aware of the futility of following (any)one’s thoughts and hence will only encourage seekers to effectively utilise some of the thoughts for purposeful action, and enable them with practices (sadhana) for that purpose

You may take a well-deserved tea/coffee/juice break now. But just don’t start another series of waves, ummm… thoughts, by debating this with your break companion(s). Simply enjoy the beverage instead!

^There are a few multi-part blog posts that Swamy has started but yet to complete. Some on purpose and some for no reason. Or, may be it’s just procrastination! ha.. ha..

*BAUHumbug = “Business As Usual Humbug”, a term in Swamyctionary (which itself is another term coined by Swamy, supposed to mean ‘Swamy’s dictionary,’ i.e. collection of words coined by Swamy) that’s often used by him to depict the pretentious superficial survival focused existence of the species to which he too unfortunately belongs to!

… rest of the post will be shared in parts 2 & 3, as soon as at least 1 person cares to read this part and attempts to reflect upon it (thank goodness, that gives Swamy sufficient time to procrastinate :D)!

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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Obstacles on the Path ~ 1 of n!

3 May
A pal (surprise… there are still a few left 🤓 and, no they aren’t the faceless friends – of the Facebook kind) recently asked this question to Swamy…
When your loved ones in the family misunderstand and the saga continues what do we do? Say a beloved son thinks father as enemy… wife thinks the husband as pshycho and there are people who dont understand you… how to react? While you know you are ok… and they are in dofferent plane

!

Every seeker faces this dilemma, irrespective of whether they’re a serious seeker on the spiritual path, striving for mukti (ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death cycle) or a survivalist who is testing the waters of the spiritual ocean, before taking the plunge (which might even take a few lifetimes). Presuming the questioner is a seeker at some level, let’s look at the situation. 👣

The confusion and/or conflict arises when either side sees the other side (person) only from their perspective. Incidentally, this is what most humans do – look at everything (and everyone) from their perspective only and expect others to behave, act, perform according to their expectations.
In the child’s or spouse’s perspective, the seeker is still their version of the person and expected to fit into the template of a father or husband, just like the millions of householders out there.
Expectations like this, however silly they may appear to be for a seeker, are the glue holding the social fabric together. So, if the seeker is to at least meet their expectations (known as MA in the annual performance appraisal process of Swamy’s last employer – read about that challenge in The Bucket List here – highly recommended by cardiologists), one must wear the facades of the template father and husband, as long as one remains an active member of the social setup that one is part of – family, community, religion, etc.
Seeker or not, one’s family, relatives & friends always get jittery, when they see even a slight variation in the socially accepted template for an ideal father or spouse or friend or even colleague, for that matter. So, the onus is on the individual to balance one’s religious / spiritual pursuits and the expectations of those who are dependent on or connected to one.
Until one reaches a stage where the facade wearing role (father, son, husband, manager, etc) can be eliminated, without disturbing the balance of the householder’s expectations and seeker’s necessities, playing the assigned role(s) in this dramedy is inevitable. But instead of looking at this role play as a punishment and suffer through it, one can learn to simply enjoy playing the role, because it has a template after all. Simply sticking to a standard template, with a little bit of inoffensive variations that reflect one’s personality (another social trap), is all it takes to sail through conflict-free (or at least limited conflict) social survival.
Also, since this is a BAUHumbug routine, which will repeat every single day of existence, it is important not to ‘react’ to such situations and instead respond. This is an essential behavioral trait a seeker must cultivate and nurture, so that the pursuit of Truth doesn’t come to a grinding halt but continues, even when one is still within the social trap.
In order to not react but respond to situations, one must learn to not ride on the back of the trotting mind all the time. The mind is the fuel that keeps the ego fire burning. Ego is the foundation of one’s individual identity. So, if one goes by whichever path the mind chooses to (it can and will trot along a million different directions, in random) traverse, one must at least be aware that any path chosen by the mind is to protect the individual identity. In other words, mind focuses solely on self-preservation.
Interestingly (or intriguingly) that’s exactly what’s happening in the other person(s) as well. So, when one’s child, spouse, friend, colleague or partner expects one to be in a certain way (remember ‘role play‘), they do so simply because it is essential for their own self-preservation.
If everyone involved in any situation is a seeker, who has treaded the spiritual path for a while and thereby is aware of this mind game (pun intended), then all of them will simply respond to the situation, with purposeful action focused on a meaningful outcome, not bothering about how the action or outcome will impact their identity / ego. But neither is everyone a seeker nor or they all guided by a Guru’s (Realised Master) Grace. So, it is essential for the seeker, at the least, to be fully aware of this, to ensure the response from their side effectively douses the reaction fire from others, in any situation.
When the seeker remains a pleasant being, at all times, only responding with appropriate (and necessary, needless to emphasise) action, in any situation, those who are connected to the seeker will start observing the change, eventually. They will also see that the seeker remains not only unperturbed by their shenanigans, however hilarious or horrendous they may be, but also doesn’t hold any malice towards them at all. Observing this behaviour over a period of time and realising that this is no facade, has the potential to change even those around the seeker. But then again, the seeker isn’t supposed to have any such expectations about others anyway!
If the seeker is firm on the pursuit of Truth, then with Grace, one will naturally attain that balance (of social expectations vs spiritual aspirations), until one is free to pursue one’s journey, without all the bondages. 🙌

Be Joyful 😌 & Spread the Cheer 🌻

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Life Math!

23 Mar

Math is fun only for a select few, historically. Even for the great BhArathi, the MahAkavi, it was “கணக்கு, பிணக்கு, ஆமணக்கு,” something that was not just a struggle but even bitter. So, it isn’t that hard to imagine how Math is for lesser mortals. If it’s that complex a subject in the academic syllabus, then how complicated it should be in Life? Is it any wonder the species that never tires of boasting about it’s extra 6th sense, keeps on failing to score even the bare minimum pass score in “Life Math!”

1+1 is never equal to 1.
That’s why lovers who marry, even after several years of being in love, are shocked to find they are still 2 distinct individuals and can’t merge into 1 being, as they’ve imagined. Nor can business or any kind of partners. When neither is willing to let go of one’s distinct sense of identity, the individual will remain as 1 and 1+1 will always be 2.

1/2 + 1/2 = 1

Lord ShivA, aka the One (he’s Mahadeva, i.e. God of Gods, after all) knew this (obviously) and was prudent to merge his spouse (kind of hard to say who is the better half among the PurushA & Prakriti) into himself and become ArdhanhAreeswarA (part ShivA & part Shakthi), when it comes to walking the talk, i.e. offering an experiential learning opportunity on how the Life Math is done (he happens to be DakshiNAmUrthy, the Adi Guru, as well), but the Homo Sapiens aren’t capable learners, apparently.

But even if we take a few lifetimes to elevate ourselves to contemplate & comprehend the Adiyogi’s teachings, t

here are a couple of ways the life math can be made to work

, in this lifetime itself.

1×1 = 1.

But for this math to work in life, both the 1s have to collaborate & work together to create the force multiplier effect. Unfortunately, the individual 1s mostly stop with the force and keep multiplying it.

This works well, at least for a while, in business partnerships, since partners usually bring different skill sets and capabilities to the table. Remember the 2 Steves who created the fruit company (ahem, that would be Apple).

1/1 is also =1.

But for this equation to happen in life, either of the two 1s should be willing to go down, i.e. let go of their individual identity or ego. Every husband & wife knows – by experience, obviously – that’s just a fantasy or fantastic dream.

This is how a Guru-sishyA relationship works though. Neither does a real Guru (Realised Master) show of his Allness, ever, disseminating all that s/he knows to any sincere seeker, nor does the disciple mind getting chiselled pertinently, until s/he loses any sense of individual identity left.

1+0 is always equal to one.
The 1 is the individual, with many an identity, including but not limited to, name, education, status, title, religion, region, etc. S/he imagines being unique & distinct. That’s the mind trap, but it’s a very attractive & deceptive trap, in which the individual is willing to remain, for lifetimes.

Tonnes of Karma keeps piling up and the repetitive birth-death cycle goes on and on…

The 0 is the divine that’s within the individual, not a digit without any value, but one that’s absolute. That’s exactly why the 0 added after any numeral increases its value manifold.

That 0 waits patiently for the 1 to first realise it & then merge with it or dissolve into it. When that happens, when the realisation dawns upon the individual self, when the creation realises the magnificent presence of the creator glowing silently within the creation, every single being in existence – not just the individual, then the 1 becomes the 0. That’s also when, 1 and 0, which were 2 before, transform into 1, i.e. The One!

😇

AUM PUrNam-adah PUrNam-idam PUrNAt-PUrNam-udachyate
PUrNasya PUrNam-AdhAya PUrNam-Eva-avashissyate
AUM ShAntih ShAntih ShAntih

PUrNam-idam PUrNAt-PUrNam-udachyate
PUrNasya PUrNam-AdhAya PUrNam-Eva-avashissyate
AUM ShAntih ShAntih ShAntih

PUrNasya PUrNam-AdhAya PUrNam-Eva-avashissyate
AUM ShAntih ShAntih ShAntih

😇

AUM That (divine / creator / real Self) is complete / whole; This (individual / creation / non-real self) self is complete / whole; Everything (in existence) manifests from that which is complete / whole (all of creation are manifest forms of the unmanifest divine or NhirguNa Parabrahmam).
(even) When (this – individual) whole is taken from (that – divine) whole, that which remains is (still) whole (omnipresent divine that is infinite & all pervading in nature).
AUM peace.. peace.. peace..

Be Joyful 😌& Spread the Cheer 🌻

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

What’s the Point!

13 May
No NhAladiyAr or Avvai KuRaL interpretations… 
No SwamyQuotes… 
… 
No New – in the past 4 days…
Not No More… Certainly not yet..!
Heh.. Heh.. Heh… 
… 

Anyway, despite no new – agmark original – content from Swamy,

the sky didn’t fall… 
  • the sun still promptly came up on east, shining at dawn… 
  • the birds still chirped merrily and flew around merrily… 
  • the strays keep finding many a hiding place in the concrete & steel jungle of compassionless humans to beat the boiling summer heat… 
  • the juicy news loving Indians somehow don’t seem to be bothered about the second coming of the loudest news anchor of them all, with his own channel now… 
  • the rain still doesn’t seem to be convinced that NammaChennai makkaL are worthy of at least a drizzle (when a downpour is the dire need)… 
  • the Americans – more than half of them, at least – still can’t believe their most unpopular President of all time (who they elected democratically only a few months ago) is running the nation like an arrogant game show host, making the unofficial, self-declared big brother of the world aka US of A, the butt of jokes, day after day… 
  • the other crazy despot ruling the rogue nation bordering the other big brother of the world hasn’t yet pressed that dreaded button, to ignite judgement day
  • the sad state of Tamilnadu that has lost its leader a few months ago and somehow trundles along miraculously as a headless body, is yet to wake up to the reality that there is practically no one around to fill her haloed position…

… wait a minute… this post itself is kinda like one of Swamy’s Nano blogs.. So, is he already back to what he does well – Write! That too, after a hiatus of just four days! Ha.. Ha..

1474812545607.jpgSo, since the post has anyway started flowing, why not explore this thought stream a little bit more and expand this to a Micro blog (don’t worry, this won’t be a Macro blong).

The reason why Swamy started writing this post is a truly humbling one. Despite having thousands of followers – all Social Media platforms combined, that is (he isn’t a celebrity after all – & he’ll never choose to be one, knowing how much he abhors BAUHumbug Template Living by the human herd), not one of them – yep, not even a single follower – seems to be perturbed about the absence of any posts from Swamy, in the past four days. Whoa! 
While a complete lack of response or reaction of any kind should be expected in this superfast paced world with a gazillion distractions, it had a telling effect on the person who continues to craft his ideas, thoughts, perspectives in the form of social media posts.
By asking himself “What’s the Point!” and contemplating the many possible intellectual explanations (ah, that bloody busy free mind is in action again) – in silence, if course – Swamy was had an awakening – that “he doesn’t matter!
img_0719.jpgWhile Swamy’s hymns, blogs, quotes, photos, comments, reflections, reviews, reminiscences, quips, jokes, clarifications, pointed answers & pertinent questions may resonate with a few fellow humans and may even matter to a few more, they might as well be from anyone else. Some random X, Y or Z, on social media!
Humans need information as much as they need oxygen.
Just as air – polluted or not – is everywhere, providing the necessary oxygen for people to breathe, content too is everywhere, providing the information – necessary or not – for people to consume.
Without information – useful or not – the mind can’t be active, since it needs information to keep churning thoughts.
If the mind isn’t active, there’s no individual identity.
Without the “i”dentity, there’s no existence. For anyone! 
As long as a creator (crafter) offers content (output),  in any form that a human being is familiar with (books, speech, art, music, etc), s/he will have fans / followers who will – passively, in all likelihood – await the next output from her/im. But,
In a world where quantity overwhelmingly outmaneuvers quality in pretty much everything, it really doesn’t matter who offers the content.
There’ll always be someone else. In fact, a lot more than one – for any type of content. 

That awakening really jolted Swamy out of his “I craft original content” stupor!

Because, it doesn’t really matter. At least not in the present reality – however much unreal it is. To anyone – friend, follower, fan or some nondescript human who stumbled across the original content, because big G (oh no, not the Creator G, but the Searcher G) led him/er to it. As soon as he stops crafting content, his fans / followers will always find some other source – who may or may not even craft any original content at all.
So, “What’s the Point?,” in creating anything, if it doesn’t matter at all!
Fact is – as hard it is to swallow, as any hard fact – only Content rules. And will continue to. Content creators just come and go. 
Lord KrishNA came & went. BhagawadgitA lives on. 
Gautama, the Buddha, came & went. DhammA, his path to nirvAnA, lives on.
ThiruValluvar came & went. ThirukkuraL lives on. 
Poets of the three Thamizh Sangam era came & went. The Sangam poetry collections like PadhiNenkeezhkaNakku live on. 
NhAyanmArs & AzhvArs came & went. Thirumurais & Dhivya Prabhandham live on. 
VAlmiki & Kambar came & went. Their RAmAyaN(am) live on. 
Adi ShankarA came & went. His bhAshyams, slOkAs, Stotrams & six paths of worship live on, as are the mutts, JyOthirlingA & Shakthi peetams he has created. 
AruNagirinhAdhar came & went. Thiruppugazh, VEl & Mayil viruttham live on. 
MahAkavi BhArathi came & went. His poetry & prose live on. 
ArutprakAsa RAmalinga VaLLaLAr came and went. Thousands of ThiruvAsagam hymns live on.
PAmban SwAmigaL came & went. His KumArasthavam & many other mantrA like hymns live on. 
img_1379.jpgParamahamsa YOgAnandA came & went. His “Autobiography of a YOgi” and the KriyA yOgA path he taught live on. 
Swami SivAnandA came & went. Hundreds of his books, offering amazing insights into the magnificent spiritual culture of BhArat live on. 
Bhagavan RamaNa Maharishi came & went. His “Who am I” self-enquiry and “AksharamaNamalai” and “ULLadhu nhARpadhu” live on.
KAnchi ParamAchAryA came & went. His “Deivaththin Kural” & many unrecorded, deeply insightful discourses live on.
Swami RAmA came and went. His path-breaking teachings, demonstrations and books – including the phenomenal “Living With The Himalayan Masters,” – that opened up the mystical world of Indian spirituality to the materialistic western world live on.
Osho came & went. Hundreds of his enchanting books – including “The Book of Secrets,” which expounds Lord ShivA’s teaching to DEvi Shakthi on the 112 ways to self-realization, and the myriad techniques he taught for self-realization live on.
Agastya muni, Pathanjali, AvvaiyAr, Aristotle, Plato, Rumi, KALidAsA, Kabir, Nietzsche, Whitman, Vivekananda, Tagore, ThyAgarAjA, KannadAsan, ChinmayAnandA, Watts… countless siddhars, saints, poets, realisd beings and masters came and went. The content they left behind, lives on.
img_0660.jpgThe list of great content creators – of past & present (including Swamy’s Master Sadhguru) – is pretty long, varied & impressive. And only their content – spoken, written, sung, performed, taught, transmitted – will live on. May be, forever. This has happened without fail, from time immemorial and will undoubtedly continue to happen, until there’s no time left (oh yeah, we’re a truly stupid species, endowed with one extra sense than other beings, that are very capable of crafting the total destruction of the only planet we inhabit in this incredibly vast, still expanding, universe). 
Humbled by this rude but real awakening, Swamy assured himself that he will continue to craft – and share – agmark original content. Of different kinds. As long as he can. Knowing full well that it’s his content that will live on. Not Swamy himself, who – the person(ality) known as @PrakashSwamy – will be consigned to the flames at some funeral place, when he must ease out of the mortal form, in which he remains trapped, in this lifetime. And that’s the only point of creating anything. For any creator. Perhaps, including “The Creator” of all creation that was, is & will be there!
adiyogi41s.jpgThank you Lord, for letting me realise that “I” don’t matter. Thanks to the awakening I had, the brand Swamy rests lightly on my shoulders now, with a lot lighter head than before! And with your boundless Grace guiding me for the rest of my existence, may valuable content continue to flow through me, if I’m worthy of being your instrument. PraNAm _/\_ 

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

img_20161225_080543.jpgYou’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including 200+ #DhinamOruPadhigam hymns), leave a comment and share it with your social circles.

You’re also welcome to stay connected to Swamy (@PrakashSwamy) on Social Media.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy 
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