Tag Archives: Ishikawa

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.

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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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What’s Your EMM?

27 Aug

My better-half is the real better half of the two halves in many ways. Her energy is boundless, focus is laser sharp, follow-up is fervent, multi-tasking is mindboggling, kindness is unconditional and complete selflessness is spellbinding. When Jr. makes it to the podium as World Champion (he’s a Chess pro) some day, I wouldn’t think twice before pointing the press & media her way as all credit will have to be rightfully hers. I would’ve been somebody in this society, if I had even 1/3rd of her traits. Yet, for all her great qualities, there’s one thing that never failed to perplex me.

There are times when she sits almost still in front of the TV when some stupid (it’s not called Idiot box for nothing) program is running, with a blissful smile on her face. She’s not one of those home makers whose lives are entwined with the whining stories (if there’s any) of never-ending soaps. She doesn’t watch sports irrespective of whether it is the IPL or Olympics (she might if they ever broadcast a Chess championship, which might happen when either they rename the sport as Cricket or the Sun rises in the west)! She isn’t a big movie fan either. We never have to fight for the remote as I’ve a separate home theatre setup (natural for a Hollywood movie & all things HD buff like me), but this one was a real Sherlock case for me & I decided to unravel the mystery (without either the hat or Mr.Watson by my side, of course).

The programs that she watched (or appeared to watch to be accurate) weren’t the same, but fell under 3 categories.

  • Talk (more Shout) shows where family members shamelessly wash dirty linen in the studio – with a generous helping by the host (usually in an ill-fitting suit, with untucked shirt) who usually adds a generous amount of fuel to the fire by pushing them to throw more dirt on each other. These shows are typically concluded by a few self-proclaimed experts (according to the host) who liberally advise all present in studio with their wiser-than-thou views, which may offend not only the mud-slinger participants but also the viewers.
  • Dancing or Singing competitions that torment kids & grownups alike, usually with out-of-circulation starlets or masters with horrendous sense of dress or style as judges. Someone – usually the host / ess – will always howl ‘oooh’ whenever the judges speak. And the dancers – invariably wearing garish make-up and plastic smile – will pretend to wait with bated breath for the expert verdict, delivered using language that’ll drive purists to Seppuku.
  • Comedy scenes from movies, where the comedians really try way too hard to make the viewers laugh. The daily comics in the newspapers do it effortlessly. May be none of these comedians read any comics! Or watched the classics with effervescent Chaplin or evergreen Tom & Jerry. It’s not about the faces or noises, stupid!

Now that the investigator in me has dug up so much vital information, the engineer took over and got down to the task of analyzing the hard facts in front of me and tried putting together the pieces of the puzzle. It was as futile as me trying to solve the Rubic’s cube, which I could at least dismantle and put back together. Ishikawa San and Monsieur De Bono were further taunting me with their wonderful tools to decipher this complex scenario. I also pondered about 5-Why, before deciding to give it a rest, as I have no intention to contest for Clooney’s greypularity, as other than being humans on the wrong side of 40 with, well, grey hair, we don’t have much in common anyway!

The Eureka moment happened on a weekend afternoon (oh, don’t have any wild imagination as there’s no bathtub in my home). It was just another day in paradise (my home, naturally) and I was drying clothes. This is a chore I willingly take upon (a minuscule one compared to the household chores my better-half handles on a daily basis) and do meticulously. After about 15 minutes into drying clothes, it suddenly dawned upon me (despite being a cloudy day) that I was almost thoughtless during that time. My mind was blank. Empty, actually. I ran like a mad man to my woman and asked her if that’s how she felt when watching TV. More like, looking through the idiot box. She just smiled and nodded!

So, there it is. The ‘Empty Mind Moment’ or EMM in Millennialspeak. A still moment that empties pointless thoughts. A clear moment that cleans the clutter in our minds. A draining moment that sucks away the cobwebs that clog our mind. A bare moment that dares us to think different. One that defocuses all deliberations and refreshes the brain to refocus on what’s necessary and important. Every one of us have our EMMs. The idiot box switches on the EMM for my lady love. Drying clothes flutter and awaken my EMM. You too must have one, obviously. So, What’s your EMM?

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