Tag Archives: Swamy

Swamusings ~ Pensioner Swamy!

6 Sep

Swamusings ~ Pensioner Swamy! 🤔👴🏻🙃

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Nearly five years (well, it’s a month shy of 4.5 years, to be precise) after his planned retirement👣, Swamy is now officially a pensioner, joining the league of his father, f-i-l & their ilk 👴🏻👵🏼, many of whom are still very much around, most certainly drawing a much better monthly pension (அரசாங்கம் வாழ்க). 🤣

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On this normal occasion (what, you were expecting some hyped up adjective like ‘momentous’ there, eh! 🙄), Swamy would like to express his sincere gratitude to his long term financial consultant Mr.E.Lakshminarayanan, for enabling the planned retirement to actually happen, and continuing to ensure Swamy stays retired, as desired. 💐🙏
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Needless to say, gratitude is also owed to Swamily 👪, who took his (earlier than) planned retirement, at a tender age of 45, in their stride, and for letting him do whatever he does 📚✍😌 (ahem, that would be ‘Read-Write-Meditate in mugglespeak), even though they aren’t quite sure as to what he does 🤷🏻‍♀, or if he does anything at all! 🤔😂🤘

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Anyway, here’s a piece of practical advise, for those of you who still nurture the dream of retirement, sometime in this lifetime…
☝If you don’t have a financial adviser/consultant yet, find one right away. Alternatively, you may simply call / text / WhatsApp Lakshminarayanan @ +918754468343 (don’t worry, he doesn’t pay any commission to me, at all).
✌️If you don’t have any of these among your existing financial products, viz. term insurance, health insurance and pension plan, start all three right away. Of course, all of them will fetch you some income tax deduction as well.
🖖 If you have not ventured into the markets yet (no sir/ma’ am, not the vegetable/fruit market that you frequent, but the equity market 🤦‍♀️), you shall forever remain unsure of your peaceful retirement. So get started right away with investment in mutual funds (the safer way for those who aren’t confident enough to directly invest in stocks), ideally through the SIP (systematic investment plan) route.
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You may have a well-paying job today and probably aren’t bothered much about your (and your family’s) future, which is the case with many professionals – including Swamy’s former colleagues. But there simply is no guarantee about a safer future, considering how outdated one can become so quickly, in terms of knowledge and skills, and how loyalty is a big sad joke, when it comes to organisations reciprocating that towards their employees. It’s imperative that you actively plan today, for a secure tomorrow, irrespective of however great yesterday was.

Just so you know, Swamy did all of the aforementioned investments (and then some), only during the later stages of his corporate career, starting from 2003/04, shortly after his decisive return from overseas. During the earlier stages of his budding career in the booming (at that time) IT services industry, he was routinely chided by his well-wisher boss (who eventually became his – only – mentor) about not investing a portion of his earnings, keeping the future in mind. Heeding to such sound advise then would have probably helped Swamy become financially safer much earlier in this lifetime, but one (hopefully) learns from experience and does necessary course corrections. As a matter of fact, a few SIPs are still continuing, long after Swamy has actually retired from his reasonably successful corporate career.

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Swamy isn’t rich by any stretch of imagination, and that was never his objective any way. But he is a content being, who isn’t unduly worried about the market fluctuations derailing his planned retirement, which is secure and stable, until this point in time. Of course, it helps that the indulgences of Swamily are very few and far between, which results in negligible discretionary expenses. But that doesn’t mean they live like misers. 4K TV, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and YouTube videos streaming via ACT Broadband, Airtel and Jio mobile subscriptions, occasional sweets & savouries from the likes of ‘The Grand Sweets & Snacks,’ automobiles with 2 and 4 wheels (with associated running & maintenance costs), a pet daughter (who is pushing 80s), donations to charity, frequent travel for Jr’s sports pursuit, feeding strays and birds, regular celebrations of festivals, seasonal online sale binges (mostly the gadget kind), unexpected (but rare, thankfully) medical expenses… all these and more are very much there at SwamyHome as well!

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A content way of living, with occasional indulgences but almost no impulsive expenses, simply helps stretch the safety net of one’s financial kitty, without having to start censoring the basic necessities for a decent urban standard of living. And that’s exactly what Swamily has been doing, from well before Swamy’s retirement. It certainly helps that all of us – the human beings in the family, that is – also happen to be meditators, following the guidance of our Guru, though only Swamy remains the serious seeker treading the spiritual path.

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Early or Planned Retirement is no black magic. It’s a possibility for anyone stuck in the survival plane of existence, provided there’s a focused financial plan, which gets implemented diligently, over a period of time, preferably with the guidance of a professional.

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If you aren’t even planning to retire at some point in time, in this lifetime, then when will you start doing what needs to be done to realise the real purpose of your life, as a human being… So, please Stop dreaming & just Start doing… Now!

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂
~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 ~ Part 2/3

24 Jul

A Root Cause Analysis of – an Aspect of – Life! – Part 2/3

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You may read Part 1 of “A Root Cause Analysis of an Aspect of Life!” here…

https://prakashswamy.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/a-root-cause-analysis-of-life-1-3/

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I still procrastinate. How to overcome this? Is there any guidance for this?

Procrastinate, by definition means, “delay or postpone action; put off doing something.” So the questioner implies the delay in translating thoughts (remember, there’s no good or bad) into purposeful action. And the source of thoughts, as surmised from the question itself, is teachings from many Gurus, which are essentially experiential wisdom, shared by them for the benefit of seekers.

Let’s take one such wisdom – from Swamy’s Master Sadhguru – to understand the situation better.

With every breath, we are one step closer to the grave. Now is the time to explore a dimension beyond body and mind.” ~Sadhguru

SG1Sadhguru is a Realised Master with millions of followers across the globe. So drops of wisdom such as this quote have a significant impact – at least at thought level, if not in action – on many of his followers. Swamy’s comprehension of this phenomenal quote is…

Every moment that is not spent on pursuit of truth (on the spiritual path) is a wasted opportunity, in the brief lifetime of a human being. So, this very moment is the right time to start your sadhana, to attain self-realisation (and liberation, eventually).

Someone else may comprehend it differently. Irrespective of how it is comprehended, this pristine pearl of spiritual wisdom will immediately trigger some thoughts in the reader’s mind, which will inevitably gain acceleration and travel faster than the speed of light (sorry Einstein, the mind doesn’t give two hoots about physics rules), in all kinds of directions, triggering more and more thoughts in turn. Within a few moments, one would’ve simply forgotten both the trigger and the original thought. As a result, this will become one of those billions of lost thoughts, that never get translated into purposeful action.

img_0729.jpgSo, it’s amply clear that “I procrastinate” isn’t the result of any Guru’s ‘good thoughts,’ but caused by the nature of the mind itself. The mind simply goes about its bus(y)iness of generating wave after wave of thoughts, some of which may’ve been triggered by the sayings of a Guru. By trying to follow the perennial flow of thoughts, the reader / seeker simply loses track of even those thoughts that have the potential to translate into purposeful action. This results in the person feeling remorseful for not doing anything about them.

What’s the way out of the muddy remorse pit? To initiate action, of course.

What should a follower of Sadhguru do, upon reading the aforementioned quote? To start the sadhana (spiritual practice) right away.

IMG_20160131_100258How to go about it? The marathon runners* are useful as an example for this. They are typically part of a group or team, members of which run together regularly. It keeps them focused on the activity (long distance running) by inducing discipline through a common schedule and location. Similarly, a seeker could join a group of diligent practitioners, who perform their sadhana regularly. The key is to make it a habit, just like brushing one’s teeth in the morning; taking shower / bath; reading ToI while sipping a piping hot cuppa filter kaapi (coffee) and so on, without being reminded by someone on a daily basis. Over time, one may actually start feeling remorseful for not doing the sadhana daily, instead of not starting it at all.

Social media groups can also helpful in sustaining the sadhana, as many of the spiritual groups share posts on not only the Master’s teachings (blogs, videos, programs…) but also group events for practitioners such as sathsang, which help in staying connected with the Master and his/her teachings and also receive practice corrections from the qualified practitioners.

Maskmovie4Though humans are prone to procrastination, they don’t resort to it when it comes to instant gratification. Tasks related to survival always happen on time – sometimes even ahead of time – because they gratify one’s immediate needs and wants. Eating – at least – thrice a day; ordering stuff or paying bills online; sharing opinion on events and people; cribbing about the inhuman boss; offering unsought advice for, well, anything; complaining about service quality… things like these happen on a daily basis, without any kind of reminder from anyone.

But when it comes to one’s own inner well-being, it can always wait, till whenever! No amount of advise can change this, as the change has to be specific action(s) initiated by the individual. A Guru can only show the path and offer guidance for traversing it, based on his/her own experience. It’s entirely up to the seeker to follow that guidance and proceed / progress with the travel. After all, it’s for one’s own salvation and not the Guru’s (who is already self-realised, anyway). So the solution simply is Nike, ahem, “Just Do It.”

Guru_Swamy3

If a farmer wants a bounty from his farm, s/he has to tend to the crop regularly, diligently.

If a student has to score high and secure a seat for higher education in a premier institute or gain employment with a prominent employer, s/he must study regularly, diligently.

If an investor plans to gain wealth from the financial market, s/he has to invest regularly, diligently.

If an actor or writer aims at being on top of the trade, s/he must act in blockbusters or write bestselling books, regularly, diligently.

If an organisation wants to be on the forefront of the industry, it must continue to train its employees on the cutting-edge technology and relevant processes, regularly, diligently.

So, for a seeker, there is no other option but to put the Guru’s teachings into practice. That too right away. Now. And sustain the practices, till the purpose is realised!

Mull these musings for a few days and look forward to Part 3/3, i.e. the concluding part!

*Two of Swamy’s younger brothers and a sister-in-law are professional Marathon runners. Swamily also participates in the annual Chennai Marathon, to support the Isha Vidhya rural education initiative.

Be 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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GangA Nhadhi DheerEy ~ Step 0

19 Jul

GangA Nhadhi DheerEy ~ Step 0

In the mountain abode of the Lord of Gods!

At 4.44 pm on 8th July 2017, the tower of the temple came into Swamy’s view. It was exactly as seen in the countless photos that pop up from a Google search for that exalted place. The 16 km uphill trek that took a little over 7 hours was about to conclude. But unlike in KailAsh, the floodgates held strong. Until an hour or so! 

When Swamy inched his way to the ancient temple that millions dream of going to, but only a few thousands actually manage to do every year, most only once in a lifetime, and had darshan of the Lord, the floodgates blasted open… washing away the wrongs – known & unknown – committed over several births, including this one. They weren’t tears of toil or torment, but those of pure joy. 

Through teary eyes, Swamy drank to his heart’s content, the magnificently decorated Swayambhu form of Lord KEdArnAth, the Lord of the Gods, MahAdEvA, glittering in beautiful alankAram, that’s more like his brother-in-law’s. It reminded Swamy about Lord AruNAchalA at ThiruvaNNAmalai, literally in the other corner of this culturally rich, complex nation called BhArat.

The wavering mind that usually wanders all around, simply seemed to stand still. The legs that were begging for rest, after the slow & steady uphill trek for over 7 hours, weren’t complaining anymore. Every acquired thing that was considered something in this lifetime, suddenly appeared insignificant. The mantrA that was being chanted inward almost non-stop till then too has chosen to remain silent. Nothing else seemed to matter anymore – other than just being in the presence of Lord KEdhAr, encompassed by his absolute stillness… immersed in his boundless Grace… 

The darshans of Adi Guru will continue to happen, all through the next day, Guru PUrNimA, a very significant day of the year for spiritual seekers. Some of the darshans were so intimate that Swamy, along with the fellow yAtris, would perform abhishEkam and arpaNam to the Lord inside the sanctum sanctorum, which is unimaginable in his state, where the Lord & DEvi can only be worshipped from a significant distance, especially in popular temples. One has to pay a hefty fee to get a closer darshan of the divine. Getting inside the Garbhagriham is entirely out of question. But in KEdhAr, the most benevolent Lord would let anyone – irrespective of caste, creed, status, wealth, fame, et al – to not only see him up close, but also to touch his Swayambhu form and offer worship directly. 

Two incredible happenings, within the short duration of a couple of days, would change Swamy’s perception of ancient consecrated spaces, forever. Experientially, of course, not philosophically. His inner experience at KEdArnAth, one of the holiest spaces of worship for the followers, believers & devotees of Lord ShivA, would incredulously repeat at BhadhrinAth, one of the holiest spaces of worship for followers, believers & devotees of Lord VishNu, in exactly the same way. 

The experience would quite literally show Swamy that 

அரியும் அரனும் ஒண்ணு, அதை

அறியாதவர் வாயில மண்ணு!”

“Hari (Lord VishNu) & HarA (Lord ShivA) are one & the same. 

Those who don’t realise that (Truth) will simply persish (to be born again)!” 

… next in GangA Nhadhi DheerEy … 

“Step 1 ~ DEvi delays Swamy’s yAtrA!”

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy 

🙏👣😌🙌🌻

GangA Nhadhi DheerEy” is a step-by-step retelling (well, almost) of Swamy’s absolutely enchanting ChAr DhAm yAtrA experience, which happened with his Upa Guru SOhamAnandAji’s able guidance, in July 2017, along with a small group of fellow seekers.

Copy New Year!

31 Dec

The senseless noisy silly celebrations of yet another new year has started all over the planet. Millions will get drunk mindlessly, shake their body shamelessly to non-stop cacophony, shovel plates of atrociously priced food into their bowels & keep on wishing many more millions pointlessly.

Tomorrow morning the Sun will rise without a reminder, just like it did today & billions of days before, to keep Life going on this planet. Flowers will bloom; trees will sway & offer shade; birds will chirp & flap their wings; ants will crawl in a disciplined line to gather food; strays will roam the streets looking for food; cows will wait patiently near medians for speeding idiots to race past them; ceaseless waves of the ocean will continue to kiss the shore; prayers will be offered at temples, churches, mosques, gurudwaras & other places of worship; RaGa’s earthquake will not bother to disturb the Richter scale; neighbour will double the chance of you getting stricken with cancer by blowing second hand smoke from his balcony nonchalantly; over half of the Divided States of America will pray for armageddon to happen before Jan 20; AIADMK white brigade will pride themselves on being herded by a brand new mini amma; Stalin will continue to wait for his nanogenarian father to hand over the DMK baton; Akhilesh Yadav will continue to marvel at his incredulous father’s irrational attachment to his uncle; selective secularists will continue to wait for the next opportunity to pounce on NaMo worshippers, while sipping their wine or chai in british era clubs; black money hoarders will offer expensive gifts to bankers to convert their stash beyond the legal deadline that has already passed; Google will have another enchanting doodle; ACT fibernet will continue to be dead, almost a month after Vardah; TV channels will continuously broadcast death, despair & destruction 24×7; none of the Hollywood copycats & wannabes here will make a single decent movie that a global audience can watch & cheer, yet our movie makers who think too highly of their limited skills will wonder why they still couldn’t get an Oscar; all sports other than cricket will continue to starve for sponsorship; gyms & slimming clubs will gleefully sign annual contracts, knowing fully we’ll they don’t have to sweat it out after a few days; rich spoilt brats will drive their ultra-expensive imported cars in drunken stupor & kill a few platform dwellers, and walk away unscathed; Urjit Patel will conjure up his umpteenth DeMo rule, to amend the one announced yesterday; NaMo will wake up at 4am, do yOgA & head for another day at work to make this once-great nation great again; invariably all the hotels – especially the ones with a bar, Ola, Uber & the like will relish their most profitable day of the year, and will eagerly await the next such silly celebration day.  

You’ll wake up either a bad hangover or aching hips & knees or upset stomach or all of them & yell at someone for the misery you’ve created yourself. And signal the glorious start of yet another year of your wretched existence, which isn’t going to be any different from the previous one. 

Yet, you’ll expect everyone to wish you a “Very happy, healthy,… blah.. blah.. blah.. New Year” on all the social media apps & over phone, if not in person, and will respond to only those who wish you & make a note of those who don’t, adding that wrath to your already dump yard like karmA pile.

Bejan Dharuvala, Peter Vidal, Vamanan Namboodiri, AMR & Shelvee will assure you that at least 50% of your new year will be wonderful, which is exactly what they predicted for every new year, for everyone who cares to read their prediction. 

Swamy will once again re share his previous blogs like “Wish you Will” on this topic to remind you of the utter pointlessness of this abject stupidity & not respond to anyone’s wishes, which will continue to pour unabated from all & sundry anyway. Of course, not many will bother to read those blogs, again. 

As far as Swamy is concerned, there are only two days worth even thinking about – the day the Sun fails to show up in the morning & the one when it forgets to leave in the evening. In case of the former, we’ll all perish by freezing in a new ice age & in the latter we’ll probably burn & still perish.

Either way, there won’t be a planet anymore that inhabits a species that gloats so much about its extra sense over all other beings & still manage to screw up the only planet they’ve got to exist. As if their miraculously continuing existence itself, even for one more day, isn’t a celebration, they’ll hilariously – and very noisily – continue to celebrate some silly day or anniversary, pretty much every other day of the year. Every year. 

Celebrate like automatons trapped in The Matrix, without pausing to ponder even for a moment, if they’ve actually changed anything within themselves, in all these years, each of which offered at least 365 brand new days to ignite some change & appreciate the magnificence of creation all around in myriad forms, sizes & hues. And take at least a few baby steps to know the purpose of Life.

Celebrate yet another Noisy, Egocentric, Weary, Yappy, Eco-unfriendly, Arrogant, Ridiculous Copy New Year. BAUHumbug!

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy 

B’I’nary ‘i’nsight!

31 Dec

The single letter word I pretty much summarises why humans are such a screwed up species.

Always written in capitals, anywhere in a sentence, it symbolises the every rising ego, by standing tall, like a sore thumb.

That’s why, it’s so hard to contemplate the simplest – and needless to say very elegant and exceptionally eloquent – essential question thay may lead one to eternal wisdom, offered by the Sage of AruNAchalA BhagavAn RamaNa Maharishi, “Who am I?”

It’s so hard to get past one’s simple name, when one asks the question him/erself isn’t it!

Equally intriguing is it’s nondescript non-capital form “i”, which can come to the rescue of the increasingly frustrated ones who struggle to get over its towering capital big brother. Since the much humbler “i” is probably the solution to all the misery caused by the ignorant arrogance of it’s irritable big brother, let’s look at it in a bit more detail.

Unlike the adamant tall “I”, the humbler “i” is actually made of two parts, which may even be considered as the two states of binary “1” & “0”, which has been interpreted in a million different ways in different cultures such as “Shakthi” & “ShivA”, “Yang” & “Yin”, “On” & “Off”, “Ecstasy” & “Stillness”, “PrAkrithi” & “PurushA”, “Individual Self” & “Supreme Self”, “Pashu” & “Pathi”, “Everything” & “Nothing”, “AgnAna” & “GnAna”, “Thing” & “No-Thing”, “PingalA” & “IdA”, “Thought” & “Silence”, “AvidhyA” & “VidhyA”, “Intellect” & “Intelligence”, “MAyA” & “Reality”, “Manifest” & “Unmanifest”, “Oneness” & “Allness”, “Exclusion” & “Inclusion”, “Incomplete” & “Complete”, “Partial” & “Whole”, “Knowledge” & “Knowing”, “Darkness” & “Light”, and so on and on and on.

Going from the never ending quest of being the “1” in everything one does for mere survival, to the state of acceptance that all that one does is utterly pointless unless one realises the true purpose of Life, i.e. becoming the “0”, is the journey called Life. Since realising this Truth is the purpose – not a Goal, which is what hilarious humans are driven to, in anything & everything – the emphasis in Spirituality is always on the journey and not the destination, because there isn’t any.

And the possibility for that realisation opens up only when the head full if “I”, i.e. the “0” on top of the “1” is chopped off and rolls away, so that this “1” being realises that it isn’t an individual being at all – despite all the name, fame, religion, caste, social status, wealth, power, etc.  but just another being in the vast myriad creation, all of which is a part of the whole of “0”.

Time to pick up the gnAna axe and swing your way up above the mighty looking ignorant “I” mountain, with the newly gained Binary “i”nsight as your climbing guide, and proceed towards the self-realisation summit, eh! 

~@PrakashSwamy

STOP to Start!

19 Sep

Swamy got a request to motivate students in a college recently. Swamy being what he is, a little bit of preliminary excavation happened, to understand the situation (not problem or challenge – always) better. What was supposed to be an hour or two long lecture on motivation (which, at least in Swamy’s view, is a sheer waste of time and energy on everyone’s part because motivating someone is near the top of the BAUHumbug list), may eventually blossom into a long-term intervention that will help the students get equipped to face the survival war zone called corporate career. But this post isn’t about that (though you’re welcome to avail Swamy’s Human Potential DISCovery + NURTURE offerings, for yourself or your organisation or institution). 

This kind of pointless flurry of activities happen all around us – especially so in the corporate training or learning & development space. 

80% of the training that’s offered to employees of corporates will remain ineffective because they don’t STOP before they start. 

Blinking..? Read on to know the Ws!

Anything a being – including silly humans – does in Life will be done better, if that being or the organization that the being is part of learns to STOP before they Start, well, anything in Life.

“S”trategy – What are you doing / going to do. To get to where you want to be. By when. 

Most people confuse Strategy with Why or How, but it is essentially the big What.

What do I / we want to be 10 years from now?

What will be the growth in our market cap 5 years from now?

What will our customers need 3 years from now?

What changes I / we must make to raise the bar of output / outcome by x% an year from now?

Consultants (yep, those suited, booted folks speaking jargolingo non-stop for hours to make you believe that your well-run business is doomed if you don’t adopt some vague cutting edge model with the tailored framework they’ll offer specifically to you for a pro fee of $300 / hour – oh, that’s a conservative estimate 😨) will vehemently raise their hands and voice that the last one isn’t strategy. Who gives a damn anyway, for it’s their business to survive on such hazy minutae .

In essense, if you don’t know what you want to be that’ll get you where you want to be in a certain amount of time – in future, obviously – whatever you’re about to start (or already doing) is going to sputter someway along like an automobile that ran out of fuel on a deserted road where your fancy mobile costing a bomb couldn’t find VoLTE signal to call for help!

Pic: The starting line-up for the 10km run, Chennai Marathon 2015 – Mrs & Jr Swamy are seen alongside the head of Isha Vidhya – a rural education initiative by Isha Foundation, to support which thousands of Isha Yoga meditators participate in the annual event. 

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“T”acticsHow are you going to do what you want to do to get where you want to be, by whenever (years or months or weeks or days or hours…).

Leaders (genuine ISI certified or generic ISO certified) spend tremendous amounts of time, effort & energy in Strategy, instead of Tactics, which is neither smart nor wise.

Contrary to popular belief, this is what leaders need to focus on and invest their energy, thoughts and action in, not the former one (though that’s important – to begin with), nor the latter (which we’ll get to know shortly anyway, won’t we). In fact, those who get immersed in the latter aren’t leaders at all, because they inadvertently cause more harm to realising their own vision. 

How will we become the No.2 player in our chosen space? (leave the No.1 to those who love high BP & excessive cholestrol & be joyful

How will we differentiate our product / service from the umpteen pretenders?

How can we navigate around the known roadblocks to get to where we want to go?

In a nutshell, this is the pacing of the marathon (Swamy’s long-distance runner bro & s-i-l will be delighted ;), without which, your chances of finishing the marathon (far more important than winning – ask any Olympian, if in doubt) are as slim as those models on the ramp with ridiculous waists that can’t hold that barely there clothing!

Pic: Swamy Jr Akash PC Iyer setting the pace in a segment of the 10km run, in the Chennai Marathon 2015. This was his first Marathon. 

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Operations – Ops is the Oops part of whatever you want to do, to get to wherever you want to be, by whenever.  

This is the breakdown of your S, i.e. What, based on the T, i.e. How, into actionable bits and pieces that can be comprehended, owned and acted upon by individuals and/or teams. Usually misunderstood as the plan, since Managers love to have as many plans as they can (isn’t that why they’re aka Damagers :O).

The crux of Oops, ahem, Ops is action, not the plan. 

In the IT services space (just as an example – other spaces aren’t that different), customers got so pissed off by the quantum of planning, which is grossly disproportionate to the quantum of action, they embraced a new model called Agile, almost en masse’ a few years ago. Reason is, Agile is all action – daily and hourly. Accountable action. That’s what Ops should be, not reviewing based on a plan what didn’t happen and why, a week or month or half-an-year later. But Agile is just an example. Ops is action. Period.

Pic: A sea of runners in action, in support of Isha Vidhya, at the Chennai Marathon 2015.

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, what the heck is the P then? Before that, let’s do a quick rewind to see if you’re ready to STO-P!

S(trategy) – What do you want to do / be, by when. S is envisioning (& articulating – for the benefit of believers / followers / doers to comprehend) the entire marathon, not just the start or stop.

  • Top-10 best-selling book in 3 years 
  • Medal at world championships 
  • 50% market share 
  • 100% placement for students

<fill your S here>

T(actics) – How do you go about where you want to be. T is comprehending (& detailing – for the rest of non-suit types to know) how to compete & complete the marathon.

  • Define the reader demography for the Top-10 bestselling book.
  • Will the style be third-person storytelling or first-person narration of events and facts. 
  • Ebooks or paperback or both. 
  • First of a trilogy or stand-alone. 

<detail your T here>

O(perations) – What are all the things that need to be done by when to get to where you want to be to be whatever you want to be. Oops, that’s how detailed Ops has to be, but not necessarily that confusing. 😀

  • What is the daily fitness routine? Each for how long? At what time?
  • What’s the change in daily diet? How many times to eat? What? When?
  • Which are the tournaments / competitions that are useful for progress? How to register? What’s the fee? Where will the registration fee come from? Who’ll do the travel & accommodation booking?
  • When do the reviews of progress happen? What will be reviewed? How to get instant feedback on changes to be made to the routine?

<list down your O here>

Pic: Wow, we’ve done it. Swamily, all 3 of them (their 2 charming 4-legged daughters couldn’t register to run along) have completed the 10km run in the Chennai Marathon 2015. Swamy & Mrs can’t run, due to major surgery in their left legs, so they walked the distance. Jr ran & walked the distance, for the first time in this lifetime. 
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You’re ready for P, only after filling the <your> segments of STO. No kidding! ✋

All right, you’ve now got the (aha, finally, something truly valuable, in this lifetime) Strategy, Tactics & Operations of something you want to accomplish. Is it time to start? Not so fast, dear reader.🙋

Do you know Why you want to do whatever you want to do to be wherever you want to be?

P is the Why. Big Why, i.e. Purpose.

Without clarity of Purpose, however fantastic your vision is, whatever level of insight your detailing has, whichever depth of detail your action plan has.. won’t still get you to wherever you want to be by when you want. 

Gandhi had clarity of Purpose. He got India freedom from the brits, once and for all.

Bolt had clarity of Purpose. He will remain a living legend, the greatest sprinter ever, for a long time.

Sadhguru had clarity of Purpose. His creation – the only Dhyanalinga on this planet – will sow the seed of liberation in all seekers who set foot in his space, for a very long time.

Pic: Swamily’s Purpose for participating in the Chennai Marathon – raise awareness about & support Isha Vidhya. 

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What’s your Purpose! Why do you want to do whatever you want to do?

That’s the P of STOP. The last but the most important piece of the puzzle. 

That’s Why you need to focus on the P first.👍

<fill your P here>.

That’s how you STOP before you Start – the Life Marathon!

Note: Isha Vidhya is an official Charity partner of the Chennai Marathon in 2016. Swamily will be participating to support Isha Vidhya, naturally. You too can!

Be joyful & spread the cheer 😃

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

Serve-ice!

12 Sep

Been forced to do some infrastructure (plumbing + associated civil) work in a residential property, due to the the quality (or the lack of) materials used by the builder a long time ago. One by one, the same activity is being taken up in each of the 400+ apartments in the residential community. Such activities are painful in two ways – cost & time. While the inevitable expense is obviously unplanned, the time taken – at least a week or two – throws day-to-day living, especially for those who live in these apartments, into a tizzy (in 2 bedroom houses, 1 of them would be rendered useless, for example).

While the core activity of breaking the walls, removing the old GI pipes (which are corroded & blocked with calcium deposited from salty ground water), replacing them with PVC pipes, plastering the broken walls & fixing tiles, and replacing any other devices / appliances that are broken or about to break / fail (like taps, commodes, etc), is being done by the maintenance crew in the community itself, we consciously chose to use our own service providers for a few associated fixes. The difference between the two is significant.

The former – service provider within the residential community – offers the service as a package (not based on tasks or time but as a fixed price deal – Rs.xxxxx per bathroom & so on). Property owners don’t have much of a choice, including the replacement tiles fixed by them, which could be quite jarring – especially if you’ve spent a substantial time, effort & amount in hand-picking tiles / designs when the property was constructed. This is no different from a multitude of service providers, whose focus is to sell what they have – products, services, etc – that may meet the imminent needs but not necessarily offer what the customer really wants. These are akin to use-and-throw items that we typically use at the time of an imminent need but may not recall or recommend when a similar or different need arises in future.

The latter are the people with specific skills (carpentry, painting, civil or electrical work, et al) who offer their skills for any kind of need and just charge for the quantum of specialised service offered. These are artisans (not run-of-the-mill fixers) who you seek out time and again and usually offer their service for a generation or two in several families. These are people we trust, consult, discuss ideas with, accept recommendations & let them go about their work knowing fully well they know better about what needs to be done and how. These are the specialists one doesn’t hesitate to recommend to others as well.

One must bargain hard with the former as they’re happy to fleece you, because you’re just one of their many customers. And keep an eye on the progress (& damages, which are collateral). These are providers who serve-ice customers.

Once must pay a bit more than demanded for the latter as they’re keen to satisfy you, because you’re just their only customer, when they work for you. You also save time as there’s no need to oversee what they do. These are solution providers who truly serve customers!

¬@PrakashSwamy

3 MGRs!

10 Sep

MGR (M G Ramachandran aka Puratchi Thalaivar) is a revered matinee idol & political leader in TamizhnAdu. And a BhArat RatnA as well. This post isn’t about that near mythical mass leader, who many pretenders still try to emulate & miserably fail. 

MGR #1 – Minimum Guarantee Return

This MGR #1 is the #1 reason why mediocre movies are made – especially in kollywood – still. 

Someone with spare change spends X crore (obviously, undeclared / non-declarable income) to fund a movie. That crap movie makes Y crores in theatres. If Y is greater than X, even by a minuscule margin, then that’s MGR #1. The same thing happens in education, media, fashion, healthcare, etc. 

While this MGR certainly makes a number of humans involved with making crap happy (it keeps the survival wheel in motion for thousands, obviously), he, err.. it also guarantees a steady stream of more such never-ending crap.

Humans (ahem, that includes you, presumably) who play it safe all life, whose aspirations are limited to settling down comfortably, who don’t dare to go beyond the bar set at the lowest possible height, who routinely (& religiously) follow instructions from others are all MGR #1 devotees. That’s a significant chunk of human species. Bummer. 

MGR #2 – Minimum Gestation Return

A lot of people want more money. And fame. And a lot more. 

Pretty much all of them want all of thay now (living in the present, yaar). 

No 99% perspiration 1% inspiration model for these folks in a tearing hurry.

If they work, they expect a promotion or rise in an year; to be a damager, umm.. manager in 2; to buy a home by year 5 (car was already bought in year 3) & get admitted at Apollo hospital for a surgery (they’ll spoil you with choices) within 10. Well, they don’t wish for the last one, but will get it anyway!

Those who think they can write, want to be a bestselling author with their first ebook. Those who yak endlessly, imagine being sought after like Clinton or Obama for paid speeches. Those who code, want to be Zuckerberg with their first app. Those who invest in the market want to be Buffet or Jhunjhunwala in a month. 

The problem with this type is they aren’t willing to accept the hard fact that anything useful & valuable & respectable takes time. A significantly long time.

Universe took billions of years. Earth became habitable over millions. Humans evolved over several hundred thousands. Animals took a few thousand years to know not to trust humans & stay far away. Kamal, Rajini, Annie, Sly, Statham, Jackie all took a few decades to become near immortal movie stars. Musicians toiled for years to craft their chart busters. 

But no sir/ma’am, MGR #2 types want their rice in the bowl at the flick of a switch, without it getting pressure cooked. And they just won’t accept the fact that isn’t going to happen. Ever. BAUHumbug! 

MGR #3 Mastery Guided Return 

If you want magnificent returns from something.. anything.. that isn’t going to happen with mediocrity, but only with Mastery.

Mediocrity produces crap. Repeatedly. 

Mastery results in outcomes. Steadily. 

Mediocrity doesn’t take effort or time but makes a lot of noise. That’s why honkers (what.. you haven’t read yesterday’s Nano Blog  “Hornestly Honking.. Err.. Speaking” yet!) are mediocre (& needless to say, cowardly). 

Mastery takes time to blossom & needs tremendous amount of effort. And grit. And faith.

F1 drivers don’t honk. They’ve put themselves thru years of driving practice. So are eminent artists, actors, architects, writers, sportspersons, poets, sages, Gurus… 

Malcolm Gladwell (one of those rare humans endowed with Mastery of both Thinking & Communicating, like Seth Godin) says Mastery in anything takes at least 10,000 hours. Yep, that’s 10 * 10 * 10 * 10 hours!

You better get started today, if you seek MGR #3. In fact, that’s probably what the real MGR (& other icons like him) actually did. That’s why there’s only one Bolt or Einstein or Marley or Bharathi or Buddha. Those with absolute Mastery in their chosen space are so few, amidst the billions of humans in existence! 

~@PrakashSwamy

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