Monthly Archives: June 2019

Is It The Right Knife?

During my first Vipassana Service, I served in the kitchen. And we usually cook for like about 70-90 people – breakfast, lunch for these many people. And it means everything we do is in huge quantities like potatoes – 4 Kgs, cucumber – 2 Kgs. One of the tasks that I was assigned to was cutting tomatoes – Kilos of them. I admit that I was a novice at cooking and had a hard time cutting tomatoes because the knife would just slide by as opposed to make a clean cut. One of my fellow servers saw me struggling with tomatotes and came over with a serrated knife and cutting tomatoes has been a source of joy since then.

Have you ever tried to slice ginger? If so, then you probably know that if you are having a hard time slicing it then it probably means you just have to flip it to the other side. Yes, one side of ginger is more amenable to being cut than the other.

What does all this mean? That things do not have to be hard – if they are then that means you are doing it the hard way, not necessarily that it is hard.

This technique is not restricted only to cutting vegetables or in the kitchen – this is true even for life. When we are doing something for the first time, it is hard because we are figuring out which knife to use for which vegetables – which side to turn the ginger on to ensure that the knife slices smoothly. When I became a people leader – it was hard because I was learning, and as I keep at it, I realized that I have a toolkit and now I use the tool needed for that situation.

People might tell you how to be a great leader, you can read all the books you want, but nothing can replace the hands-on experience. Sometimes people who write the books are so well experienced in their craft that they do not think that mentioning that using a ‘serrated’ knife is the key because for them it is the only way to cut tomatoes. We build our toolkit – the one that works for us, not the one that made the author successful. It does not mean that you have nothing to learn from the books – of course, you do, but just reading books is not going to cut it.

If something is hard, then it is a good thing because it means you will eventually learn how to make it easy or you will learn something new. Giving up is not the option – a lot of people say nowadays I have so many emails in my inbox that I cannot read all emails – Excuses!!! If you cannot manage your inbox, then how are you managing your life. You haven’t figured out how to manage your inbox the easy way, and you have given up and accepted that it is hard – that is a sad situation.

Which knife are you looking for?

To Give Up Or Not.

At lunch, I was telling my family about an amazon prime video I had watched. It’s called ‘Spotlight’ and is based on real events depicting the Boston Globe newspaper’s journey in exposing the child abuse by priests. It led to a lively discussion around institutions, power, giving up and from there, the topic led to Anthony De Mello – who was an Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist. He has written lots of excellent books (Recommend Awareness if you are interested). Adam mentioned that in one of Anthony’s clips he says (I am paraphrasing) – ‘When he would talk to priests – all they would want to talk about is sex – because that’s what they have given up. And when he would talk to sex workers or prostitutes, all they wanted to talk about was God and spirituality.’

Moral of the story – you are obsessed with what you give up. Because when you give up something, you are so focused on giving it up that it is almost an obsession. For your mind – it does not make a distinction between whether you are giving it up or not – all it knows that a particular topic is on your mind a lot. For example, you decide to give up dairy – and you keep googling various kinds of non-diary desserts, articles on benefits of giving up dairy. All your mind knows is that you think about dairy non-stop which from its perspectives it’s true.

Why is it that when you give up something, you are obsessed with it? If you give up something before you are ready to give it up, then there is no point. How do you know you are prepared to give up something? You are not looking to replace it with something – you are not doing something in its stead that’s when you know you are ready to give it up, but at that point, you are not giving it up because you do not have it.

I know it sounds confusing – Prof.Rao from Creativity and Personal Mastery says, ‘You cannot give up desire – desire has to give you up.’ That is the essence. But we are all humans, and we have to start somewhere. Why is it important to know the difference – so that we can accept and absorb something fully before giving it up. How can we give something up if we are not done with it – and be done with something means knowing it fully, we have explored it fully.

We cannot solve a problem by thinking the same thing – it’s the same with giving up – there has to be something different about the way we think about it and in order to do that sometimes you have to immerse yourself in it fully as opposed to fighting it even before you know what it is. Everything in life is there for us to learn – if we have not learned the lesson how much ever you try to give it up – it won’t work. But the minute you learned from your experience – it will disappear.

What are you trying to give up without having grasped it fully?
Leaving with a poem from the famous saint poet – Kabir

Kabir’s poem
“When I gave up the tying of ribbons, still I tied my garment
about me:
When I gave up tying my garment, still I covered my body in its
So when I give up passion, I see that anger remains;
And when I renounce anger, greed is still with me still;
And when greed is vanquished, pride and vainglory remain;
When the mind is detached and casts Maya away,still it clings to
the latter.
Kabir says, ‘Listen to me, dear Sadhu! the true path is rarely found.””
― Kabir, Songs of Kabir

Where Will It Lead Us To?

This blog is a little bit different from my other blogs in the sense that it is a collection of various bits of information about Japan that I find fascinating. For a while, I have been fascinated by Japan. Not only because our Shiba-Inu pup is from Japan but because of the demographics in Japan.

Some interesting facts about Japan
43% of 18-34-year-olds say they have never had sex.
64% of 18-34-year-olds say they are not in a relationship
In 2018 there were 921,000 births and 1.37m deaths, with government efforts failing to encourage families to have more children.

So Japan is one country where people are dying faster than babies are being born. And on top of it, young people in Japan do not show an inclination towards having babies – I wonder where it will lead it.

I am sure you are wondering why young in Japan are moving towards sexless orientation. I think that it is because housing is tiny and expensive. In Japanese culture, – Men are breadwinners. It is a stigma not to have a full-time job. Full-Time jobs are exhausting – many companies violate labour laws. With these factors, it is hard for men to find a job that can help them form a family.

Also, most men seem afraid of rejection, and they spend most of their time on animation or with their phones, hence the fascination with Manga. They have a relationship with their phones. There are counsellors in Japan who teach young men how to approach women. Women seem to prefer their independence. One woman says that her desire to have food and sleep wins over sex.

Japan has a rental service for lonely people. In Japan, an agency supplies role-playing family members to people struggling with loneliness and isolation. Sometimes it’s to maintain face at social events. Sometimes it’s to provide company and companionship to those who find themselves alone.

If this trend continues, then, Japan would truly become sexless and would take us into the Sci-Fi world where babies are born in factories in a controlled environment. Men and Women never touch each other and live with machines for companionship.

What’s happening in Japan is not isolated to Japan. Think of your childhood and think of children growing up now. I was never inside the house – I was always outside playing with other kids or just being outside. Nowadays, kids are on the digital highway. They have online friends. Earlier my parents used to drop into friends place – neighbours would drop into our home unannounced. Now, it takes weeks to schedule a coffee with someone.

In Europe, streets were built so that people can hang out and showcase their singing/dancing and other talents – the community was so integral that it was built into the infrastructure. Now, we live vicariously through Netflix, Facebook, Instagram.

We are progressing so rapidly in the technological domain that it is taking precedence over all other aspects of a society that needs nurturing for a fully functioning community. Honestly, do we need another version of iPhone or Samsung – I doubt if we are using our current phones to their fullest extent. What we need is more hugs, physical touches – human connection.

How will you connect with humanity today?

There Is Enough Room.

Have you ever wondered at the sheer variety in nature? It is unbelievable, even in one tree, no leaf is the same. I am sure there are many other species of animals and trees in existence that we are unaware of. Nature is at peace with it – the tree does not wish it could get rid of the poison ivy or that one annoying leaf which a dog ate. I am sure shrub does not think about shedding that branch which has become the favourite pee spot of all dogs in the neighbourhood.

Since my role as a people manager, I am trying to come to the same understanding as mother nature. There is a reason and space for all of us to exist. For the longest time ever I kept thinking that if everybody was like me then life would be so much easier – I have come to realize that it would be really dull and not a peaceful place to live in. Then I thought if only I had a high performing team life would be so much easier – I have come to realize that there would not be much opportunity for self-growth. At the end of the day everybody has a place and a reason to exist everywhere. Once I made peace with this, my life became a lot easier. There are still times when I want to change what exists to what I would like it to be but that is a fruitless exercise in itself. But I always try. Human Beings never learn.

If you ever watched a period piece in any country – it is the same storyline. Power struggle, minorities are trying to find their rights and the powerful trying to suppress them. And if you ever watched a sci-fi, the same storyline, humans trying to find their place with the aliens or humans fighting with other humans on a different planet. We never learn – Netflix shows are a prime example of that fact. Even the storylines we make revolve around the same theme – finding our place by taking somebody else’s position or trying to replace somebody. Because we do not know any other storyline, and these storylines will repeat unless we annihilate ourselves (which by the way we are close to) or we learn a different storyline that there is a place for everybody – there is no need to find it or replace somebody else for our situation. There is a reason why we all exist. If we do not accept what it is, then we will never learn.

It does not matter who we are, what language we speak, how we dress, or where we live. What matters is what I do and how I do it – it is the intention that counts. If we were all blind will we still be guided by our misplaced biases – the world will be a different place because we wouldn’t change our behaviour because of what we see. We don’t have to go blind to see the change.

Is there a place for everybody in your day to day life?

Don’t Take It Personally

How many times in your life have you heard – ‘Don’t take it too personally.’ Have you ever wondered what it means?

From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English to take something personally is to get upset by the things other people say or do because you think that their remarks or behaviour are directed at you in particular. For example, Don’t take it personally; she’s rude to everyone.

The common belief here is that it is something that is caused by other people. I beg to disagree. Don’t believe me – let’s try the following example.

Let’s say you are walking down the street and almost every other person on the road comes up to you and says, ‘You are limping.’ What would you do? You will disregard and probably say something like, ‘What’s got into everybody? They are all crazy.’

Now, Let’s say you are walking down the street and every other person on the road comes up to you says, ‘You are not a good employer or an employee, or a good husband or some variant of this.’ What would you do?
The chances are that most of would be wondering something like, ‘How did they know?’ or ‘I knew it I shouldn’t have done that thing or this thing?’

Moral of the story is that we take it personally only if we believe there is a grain of truth to it – if not, we think it is a stupid thought. So, only we are responsible for making things personal. Others act as a trigger for what we already know is true inside of us.

Instead of getting upset or annoyed the best course of action is to express gratitude to the other party for helping you know yourself better and work towards coming to peace with it. This is easier said than done because, in these type of scenarios, we are our own worst enemy. We tell ourselves the same thing over and over again. But, when somebody else tells us the same thing we get offended. We have forgotten that we are not that voice or inner mind chatter. We let it guide us wherever it takes. We should separate ourselves from the voice – listen to it and make a logical call on whether it is something I need to work on or is the voice just spouting utter nonsense. We have lost ourselves so much that we believe that the inner voice is who we are. And let’s admit it the voice has very little work except to keep commenting on everything true or false. That’s its reason for existence, and we have done a great job of making it our practice to go along with the voice. No wonder we are so tired all the time.

Imagine following a monkey on a tree – if you followed the monkey everywhere instead of focusing on your destination you would never get to your destination but yet you would feel like you have done a lot of work and chances are you will be exhausted.

Are you at peace with what the truth inside of you?