Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gaining respect the right way

All of us when we go up in the official ladder to higher positions of responsibility wish to gain respect from all in the work place. We also like people to respect us not by the positions we hold but by virtue of our own personality and personal traits. Respect is always earned by our actions while obedience is enforced. It is not uncommon to see workers and subordinate officials bow in deference to a boorish and arrogant superior. This is more out of fear for the harm he can do than genuine regard for the individual.
There are a few basic principles to gain respect from employees.
Do not try to be popular: When tough decisions are to be taken, the path of least resistance is always a chosen route and a busy boulevard. Bosses are afraid to hurt the sentiments of a large number of people and would like to be known as humane. But it is good to remember decisions are to be taken on the merits of the case for the good of the company and the long term interests of the employees. Cheap popularity and wise decisions are not always compatible.
Be strict in enforcing discipline: Good discipline should be consistent, without fear or favour and always with prior warning of the penalty for wrong doing. It should be fair and commensurate with the violation. The penalty should be given immediately after the violation and can be identified directly to the misconduct. It should be impartial with no blue eyed boys getting away Scot free. A boss who follows these principles would command greater respect than one who is erratic and selective in dispensing punishments.
Be a role model : Never put yourself in compromising situations in all things you do. Be they in dealing with office stationary, being punctual, dealing with lady staff, businesslike meetings, and efficiency in work, relations with peers or bosses and the polite language employed. Remember you are being watched all the time by your employees. They keep learning from you. There are no separate yardsticks to judge people.
Avoid favours from subordinates: We often come across managers sending employees to do personal errands on their behalf during duty hours. Unconsciously this puts them in obligation to them. A quid pro quo is expected and some leniency or favour demanded. The other employees tend to know the happenings. This brings down the boss from their esteem. As a rule do not employ subordinates for personal work. It is also good to avoid socializing with them like playing cards or drinking beer with subordinates after office hours. But bosses should invariably attend employees’ weddings or commiserating with them at their homes on their bereavements. The boss should be seen as a mentor and well wisher

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Life That Matters

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days. All the things we collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Our wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what we owned or what we were owed.

Our grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear. So, too, our hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

It won't matter where we came from, or on what side of the tracks we lived, at the end.

It won't matter whether we were beautiful or brilliant.

Even our gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of our days be measured? What will matter is not what we bought, but what we built; not what we got, but what we gave.

What will matter is not our success, but our significance. What will matter is not what we learned, but what we taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate our example.

What will matter is not our competence, but our character. What will matter is not how many people we knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when we are gone.

What will matter is not our memories, but the memories that will live in those who loved us.

What will matter is how long we will be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

Choose to live a life that matters.

"We are, or become, those things which we repeatedly do.

Therefore, Excellence can become not just an event, but a habit ".

Albert Einstein.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Rules For Being Human

Author Unknown

1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.

2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.

3. There are no mistakes,a only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error; experimentation. The failed experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately “work.”

4. A lesson is repeated until learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, then you can go on to the next lesson.

5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

6. There is no better place than here. Where your there has become a here, you simple will contain another there that will again look better than here.

7. Others are mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.

8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

9. The answers lie inside you. The answers to life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.

10. You will forget this.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Whole World Stinks

I read this passage somewhere (author not known) and wish to share with you all for the message it contains
" Wise men and philosophers throughout the ages have disagreed on many things, but many are in unanimous agreement on one point: "We become what we think about." Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "A man is what he thinks about all day long." The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius put it this way: "A man's life is what his thoughts make of it." In the Bible we find: "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."
One Sunday afternoon, a cranky grandfather was visiting his family. As he lay down to take a nap, his grandson decided to have a little fun by putting Limburger cheese on Grandfather's mustache. Soon, grandpa awoke with a snort and charged out of the bedroom saying, "This room stinks." Through the house he went, finding every room smelling the same. Desperately he made his way outside only to find that "the whole world stinks!"
So it is when we fill our minds with negativism. Everything we experience and everybody we encounter will carry the scent we hold in our mind."

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.
Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity,
Reduce selfishness,
Have few desires

Friday, July 10, 2009

Life is a long lesson in humility

Humility is a hall mark of great men. It is only the upstarts that suffer from ego and inflated opinion of themselves. The greater the position one climbs, humbler one generally becomes. The really great men rarely need the crutches of instant recognition and adulation. Pride is what most men display unwilling to accept what they really are and suffering illusions of what they really are not. I read that if men were clothed in humility, most would be scantily clad. Very few realize that we are in this world for a short period doing what is ordained and instead of taking pleasure at what is done, we attach importance to who did the work. We expect everyone to praise us and our work failing which we nurse bitterness. There is a craving for adulation and recognition in whatever we do. All the anger and frustration would not arise if we are not victims of self pity or self importance.
I have read that the great physicist and mathematician Einstein was embarrassed by the attention and admiration received by him very deservedly at that. He was humility personified when he wrote “There are plenty of the well-endowed, thank God. It strikes me as unfair, and even in bad taste, to select a few of them for boundless admiration, attributing superhuman powers of mind and character to them. This has been my fate, and the contrast between the popular estimate of my powers and achievements and the reality is simply grotesque.” Contrast this with our own tin-pot politicians and bureaucrats who believe genuinely that all the good that is happening in our country is because of them and keep harping on it.. There is no need to prove ourselves to others. Bragging with pride only diminishes the positive feelings others may have for us. Our work or accomplishments would speak for themselves better.
How many of us respond patiently to ordinary men and women who either on the roads or offices asks us some questions? We are always in tearing hurry. Humility is genuine concern for others. Humility means being a better listener, being more patient with others, being helpful to utter strangers when help is sought for and letting others have their glory. Humility is in doing great and small acts of kindness without letting others know. Humility is in making peace with other’s imperfections and being more tolerant.
Humility is like underwear,essential, but indecent if it shows

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ignoring misery

Miseries abound in life. The intensity of the misery and the pain it causes are a function of the mind. It is how we look at it. On a hot and sultry day when the power goes, the well placed man feels miserable when the fan or the air conditioner stops working. To the poor in the hut with no electric connection, the absence of power is no hardship. Miseries are the products of the mind. As we have seen the same situation produces different reactions to different people at different places. The eyes are just a device to see things. It is the mind that really sees and interprets. If the mind is clean, cleared of cobwebs of illusion, we tend to see things differently. What we considered at the night before we went to sleep as a great misery defying easy solution appears as manageable when we get up in the morning afresh. There is no change in the external situation. It is only a refreshed mind that looks at the problem in a different light.
Sri Ramana Maharishi says” the mind turned outwards on to the world becomes the ‘ego’ which is the small “self”, that is prey to innumerable wants and worries. Miseries and mortifications are the lot of such a lot. The same mind behaves or reacts differently in different men depending upon how it is conditioned. The mind turned inwards and in full view of the Self, it is oblivious to everything external to it. Miseries do not exist by themselves but what the mind makes or bargains for. They exist when allowed and disappear when ignored..Misery is relative to a person just as death in the family affects different individuals differently. When one daughter breaks down under sorrow, another one remains calm and composed. In sum miseries are the products of the mind. If you own them, they appear real. If you disown them they vanish.
A misery is not to be measured from the nature of the evil, but from the temper of the sufferer

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Should religion divide?

Why does religion divide? Etymologically, religion derived from the Latin word ‘religio’, means ‘bind’; that is that which binds all is religion. Sadly in practice religion divides, rather used by vested interests to divide people on the basis of religion, denomination and subdivisions, setting man against man and instigating wars and strifes.If we consider religion as love, tolerance and respect for other faiths and beliefs, we can see the mockery to which the word religion has been reduced where one brother fights against another. God expects us to love, be kind and practice forgiveness among other values in life. He has never said that there is only one right way to honour, praise and worship Him. Why is it that the fanatics in every religion believe that their religion alone is the one and only way to follow? Trying to force something upon people of other faiths will do nothing except drive them away from your fold. Instead the focus should be on right leading making people come to your faith wanting to know more.
The bottom line is that there is no place for intolerance in world today allowing religion to divide instead of unites. Religion should not be used to harm others. The leaders should not use religion for narrow political ends. Instead they should spread the message that God is one and not separate for each religion, that God is universal in concept with all mankind His children and that love, kindness,tolerance,compassion and charity should inform all our actions. All paths of different religions ultimately lead to God and that religion is not a badge to be worn but is a way of good life with principles of high values common to all religions. The following verse should serve as our motto.
The world is my country
All mankind my brethren
To do good is my religion
I believe in one God and no more

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What are your three best wishes?

Dream lofty for dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil. James Allen

had asked a good friend of mine what her three best wishes would be if an angel were to ask her. She could not readily answer and I think she bought time by telling that let the angel ask me first. Most of us do not have a clear wish list. We haven’t prioritised them even if we had one. If you had missed your bus, you may wish that another one should come soon. I am not talking about such petty wishes. We are not often in a position to spell out what we want in our lives. We haven’t thought about them. Perhaps it would be nice to write down our ten wishes and then scan them to prioritise them. Like a child we should not ask for a jar full of candies. We must seek the best. Many of the wishes we had noted would be deleted on a second look and some new ones instead may find place.
Our first talk should be to know what we want from our life. There should be a purpose in it. Otherwise, we are like a rudderless ship moving in unchartered seas. I read success in anything, even in life,’ isn’t the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.’
“All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim; have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.’ There is no limitation to your big dreams.You can fix big goals, and achieve what you want to. Success in life means different things for different people. Some may want to be stinking rich, some may want a beautiful wife, children and a happy home, some may wish to serve society as a service to God while some may wish to move higher in their spiritual path. The sad part is most of the people have no specific goals and move along in their lives accepting things as they come. They have no vision or a chartered route.
But by and large, one’s success is settled by having a goal or two. It is not enough to have mere goals. The success is dependent on your potential, determination and hard work. The goals should be realistic keeping in mind the potential, ability and training needed to realise. One cannot hope to reach the moon without equipping oneself as an astronaut and developing the skills there for. But the sine qua non for success is your strong belief in your vision. It must permeate in your whole body, thinking and attitude with the dream virtually taking over you. The goal must always be a compelling vision and not a wishful desire.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Avoid accepting others' problems

I read an article by M.R.Kopmeyer that a man in a lunatic asylum was found pushing the wheelbarrow turned upside down. When asked for the reason for doing so, he quipped “I am no crack to allow others to put their rubbish in my wheelbarrow” This doesn’t seem to be the answer from an insane man. It looks a very intelligent and well thought out response.If only we care to look around including ourselves, we would find we are all moving around with our wheelbarrows open for others to dump their problems and worries on us. It is a human tendency to pass on the problems and jobs that have to be met or done by them to others. As long as there are willing persons to hear them out, the problems are invariably and gladly pushed by others.
It is a natural tendency for us to feel important if someone seeks our willing ears to listen to their woes. We may be aware that we are not in a position to solve every problem of others and yet out of politeness and social courtesy or due to ego, we get involved. We have trouble in saying NO because we do not wish to disappoint someone or trying to be nice. If we do this, we would find ourselves over stressed or failing in our promises. We must learn to be firm and say “No, thanks I have no solution to this problem of yours” There is no need to enter into lengthy explanations. Never say “I will try or let me see”. This refusal can be done without rudeness.
There may be genuine cases where we would wish to reach out.If you wish to help out, think about the time and energy required. There is no point in promising what is doubtful or cannot be accomplished. Be selective in helping out depending upon the merits of the case. If you say yes every time you are asked to help out, people may take you for granted and burden you with their work. There is no need to feel guilty in refusing as you have your responsibilities and goals to take care of.
Our strategy should be to keep the wheel barrow upside down and choose what and whose contents it would carry to keep it manageable.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Loving life is lovely life

A friend of mine never misses an opportunity to remind me that we should always come to the succor of needy, especially children, if we are in a position to spare the time and money. I saw recently the phrase ‘loving life is lovely life’ while reading an article. It says if we had clear and lofty goals and if we choose to be a Good Samaritan extending a helping hand to those who need; our lives would surely be lovely. The choice before us is whether we wish to have a life of ease and comfort centred in self with no care for others less fortunate or to lead a life of love and compassion. With the former style you would never be found fault with as most of the people lead such purposeless lives but you would have missed a life of service or usefulness. Our goal should be to love to serve and live to serve. That alone would please the God. One cannot love God if he cannot love other men or forms of life created by Him. Selfless service alone can be considered as love of God in action.
Life is the most precious and invaluable gift to man by God. How he spends or utilizes it is the test given to him. Human life is a rare opportunity not given to all forms of lives. Should he not therefore make wise choices and lasting investment in it? Much of life is lost in childhood, sleep, career, meeting the physical needs and so on. Thus most of our life is spent on self. What is left is but a fragment of the total life lived, ‘how long or short permit to Heaven’. How one leads this small part of life is finally that matters and the true litmus test whether life has been lived well. This is perhaps the only time available that can be considered his own that can be spared to serve others. If one wishes to waste his life living a humdrum existence of no use to others like low forms of lives, it is his choice. But wise people who are alive to the larger scheme of life and its purpose would not misuse their lives but appropriate every moment that can be spared towards service and welfare of others., the poor, deprived and the less fortunate amongst God’s children. It is not easy to become whole time saints like a Mother Teresa or Vinobha or Swami Vivekananda. But it must be said of us that we had led a ‘life of trust fully discharged of opportunity well utilized and of gifts well accounted for and a life well invested. It is now up to you what you wish to make of your life-use it or misuse it; serve your petty self or serve others. Life is yours and you have to decide for yourself.’

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave. What will matter is not your success, but your significance. What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught. What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example. What will matter is not your competence, but your character. What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone. What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you. What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what. Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice. Choose to live a life that matters.”

Monday, June 29, 2009

Leaning towards risk

In our lives we are constantly confronted with situations where the future outcome is not clear. We would weigh the pros and cons but still remain undecided or opt for the safe path that is always less attractive. In life we are to take risks constantly, we cross the road hoping that vehicle users would follow the rule of road, we take our food in restaurants hoping the food is made hygienically, take our medicines trusting they are not fake and submit ourselves to treatment believing the doctors know their job well. Even marrying a person is a risky gamble until everything turns out to be fine. In business risks are taken day in and day out based on conjectures of the market, supplies and margin. One cannot play safe for the waves to subside till we take a sea bath. It never happens. Risk free road is the busiest boulevard but no successful men are found there.
We must remember that all risks are not the same. There are some risks that are just dumb, foolish and chancy like buying a lottery ticket, placing a bet on a horse or playing roulette in a casino to win a sweep stakes. But many risks are reasonable risks which one has to take perforce, intelligent risks, where the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. In the evaluation where all factors have been taken into account, it would be foolish to let go an idea where the positive outcome is more than negative fallout. If the damage by failure is minimal or manageable, the risk should be taken and an opportunity to make good should not be lost by excessive caution. Take the simple example of a young lover wanting to propose to his girl friend but afraid of possible .rejection. If he fails to take the risk of proposing to her and face whatever her response is, he would surely miss the girl forever. While we should give a wide berth to reckless dumb risks, we should not fail to avail intelligent risks. Otherwise our lives would be ordinary with no glamour or success.
There are a couple of things to bear in mind. Taking a long term view of the decision and the likely positive outcomes and not being guided by a few cases of failure we often hear about.Sucess may not be immediate but one should work putting in maximum efforts and hoping the intelligent risk taken will pay out well at the end. Success is not for cowards. Those who refuse to lean towards risks by bending with each storm of life may never get hurt but their character to be daring would be irreparably be hurt. There is a proverb ‘Everybody pushes a falling fence’. You can never command respect. We can distinguish the leader amongst men just by looking at a pack of animals cowering under danger. Suddenly one animal steps forward and moves towards the danger. This halts the other terrified many. So is amongst men.The leader takes an intelligent risk.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

United we stand

It is not in the strength of numbers that power rests. We have seen this countless number of times.. Women who are almost half the population have not got their rightful and proportional share in all spheres, be they, in legislature, workplaces or higher educational institutions. They have the power to wrest their rightful due and yet they have failed to get. It is because they are not united as a gender or a group to compel the political class through their power of ballots. It is the same everywhere. Where the groups of people are not united against a common oppressor, their causes remain ignored. The people are not united against the government in getting rid of corruption, maladministration, misgovernance and such like grievances. The political classes are aware of this disunity amongst the people and exploit it. The consumers are not united against the auto drivers fleecing them by unreasonable demands. The parents and students are exploited by educational institutions for the same reason. People are yet to realize that in union their strength lies. As in the story of four cows and lion, divided we fall. There should be a realization amongst people of this simple truth.
I read a story of one dignitary visiting a lunatic asylum housing more than hundred violent and dangerous insane men. There were only a handful of guards to contro them with nothing in hand except a baton.Suprised the dignitary asked how come the guards are not afraid of lunatics joining and pouncing on them. The head of the asylum calmly replied, “No, the lunatics never unite.”This is the message for us. We should consider ourselves as lunatics when we do not unite for a common cause. The trade unions are aware of the strength of unity. Sadly nowhere else we witness such a unity. This is true not only as people and groups in society. It is applicable to nations also. Combined their might is adequate to cow down the bullying of a strong or super power. United the nations can work for a better world. The message is loud and clear-it is in unity that strength lies and that lunatics never unite.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Forgetting insults

We are often irked almost daily at home or in work place by some annoying remark or hurting insult. We dwell on the incident endlessly like a dog with a bone making ourselves more miserable. We become irritable and in turn pass on this mood to others. Eventually in a few days we tend to forget the incident as other events in our life crowd in wiping out the memory. New thoughts or new hurts take over. The question is how when we eventually forget every incident or remember them faintly in reduced intensity, why we cannot forget right away when the incident occurred? Why carry the unhappy thought for long only to be forgotten anyway. God in His infinite compassion has made us forget the unpleasant and painful thoughts, sorrows and suffering as otherwise life would be a living hell. So why wait for the mental self defense to work eventually to forget and why not get rid of the thought immediately.

Look at the benefits. We are spared of the unpleasantness of dwelling on it and harbouring vengeful thoughts. Our mind becomes clear and purer. It is often better not to see an insult than to avenge it. Once we forget we resist the temptation to respond angrily by word or deed and present to the victimizer a cool indifference. Our mind is also free to take on newer thoughts and activities, often pleasant and engaging. We are also freed from the consequences of tension on our health both physical and mental. It is sometimes good to develop a thick hide as a defense mechanism. Let us not wait for the natural mental process to obliterate unpleasant thoughts but forget them now. It takes some effort but it is worthwhile.
It is not he who gives abuse that affronts, but the view that we take of it as insulting; so that when one provokes you it is your own opinion which is provoking. Epictetus

Friday, June 12, 2009

Magical talisman

We are little aware that all of us have one magical talisman that can attract people towards us. We rarely use it effectively unaware of its power to build successful relationships. It is an unfailing device that has miraculous power. If you use it with your children they would listen to you better, study well and obtain better grades. Employed with colleagues and bosses, their cooperation and support would be assured. If you wield it in your home, your wife and friends, everyone would flock around you thinking you to be a very nice person. You will spread cheer and happiness all around and making you also a positive looking person. What is that luck charm available with us? It is nothing but Praise. Everyone has a craving to be appreciated. It is this need that is met by praise.
We come across people who encourage us with their praise and when we are done with them we feel built up. We also meet others who are torn down whom we should cheer up . One of the ways we build people up is to praise them. There is power in praising people! Something begins to happen in them, in you too and in your relationship when you praise someone. Let us not praise just for the sake of it. Let us find out some positive traits in them to praise. If we start looking for it, you would surely find. Let us not be dishonest. If others have done something wrong, let us point it out but when they do something right, praise it unfailingly! It is scientifically proved that children praised for their performance and intelligence do well and that children criticized fare poorly. It is praise that makes the difference. So too with employees for better output.”The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”When we begin to praise, the benefits are manifold-strengthens relationships, fosters loyalty, and creates happier and satisfied people.

We are all motivated by a keen desire for praise, and the better a man is, the more he is inspired by glory”

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Live many lives

I have a young friend who did his IIT and MS and made his pile in US by starting an IT company. After about two decades when he had earned enough, he quit and took to reading astronomy. He acquired a doctorate in his early forties and is now in the academic line guiding students. It is not just a change in profession as many do in their career from one company to another. It is a conscious decision to live a new and totally different life .There are many who do that if they are in a position to do so. I have read in a book by Kopmeyer that Dr Schweitzer lived four different lives As a Doctor of Philosophy, he authored many books. He later earned a Doctorate in Theology to become a curate in a church to lead a different life. Not content with this experience in life also, he pursued his interest in music and became a renowned concert organist. The urge to serve the poor and depressed goaded him to become a physician and surgeon. He served the sick in the hostile jungles of tropical Africa by building a hospital.
We all live life only once and rarely change the vocation. We spend our life doing nothing to distinguish ourselves with success. It is good to change our life bringing greatest good to the largest number by not confining ourselves to one humdrum life without any benefit to others. It is conceded that not all can afford to do this in these difficult times. This should not preclude those who are successful in life in the early stages to seek a new life. I have known many after their long career take to study of law, learn Homeopathy or other branches of medicine, start affordable schools, do research in their religion, and join social service organizations/NGOs giving their heart and soul into their new lives. We have the option to lead more than one life that can bring joy and happiness not only to us but to other needy people. One need not lead a life of dreariness and mediocrity. We don’t have to be stuck up with the present.Some preparation early in life will facilitate our leading more than one life.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Creating personal goodwill

We are all aware of goodwill in the business and corporate word. It is an important asset to a company reflecting the increase in its value beyond its material assets. It cannot be bought initially but has to be created. This good will is the outcome of company’s performance in relation to its stake holders, mainly its customers. When a business is sold, the goodwill it has increases its sale value substantially. Business houses ensure that they do nothing to lose their goodwill. Individuals also likewise have to acquire goodwill if they are to be respected, trusted and succeed in life. Personal goodwill cannot be bought but has to be created by the individual by the way he lives and conducts himself with reference to others. It is the individual’s reputation and trustworthiness.
The foremost thing in acquiring personal goodwill is to perform what we promise in all our dealings with others. Our word, speech and action should always be in conformity with the understanding we create in others. If there is a variance between what we say and do, one can be sure that goodwill gets deeply eroded. Most people wish to be treated important, admired and appreciated. When we say or do anything we should test our speech and actions against the touchstone whether our speech and action generate goodwill or ill will.If it is the latter we must ensure that we guard against it even though such action or speech may be temporarily expedient. Whatever we say or do should give a feeling of importance or satisfaction or appreciation to others, at times even beyond their expectations. If something more than what they expect or agreed upon is given, the benefit is much more. Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overhelm the and creates your personal goodwill. This alone will build and improve your personal relationships.
However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?” Buddha

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Plant the ‘lucky feeling’

Even today when I am comfortably placed in life, when I find a one rupee coin on the road, a sense of happiness envelops me. I consider myself lucky that day and expect the luck to run throughout the day. I may even be impelled to buy a Bhutan lottery ticket at that moment. It is not the value of the money found. You cannot get anything for a rupee these days. Even beggars do not consider much of a rupee. It is the feeling that we are lucky and things have changed brighter for us that leaves us happy. If you start thinking that luck has turned your way and that things you desire will happen, psychologists tell us that we are sure to get what we want. It is the mental attitude that makes things happens. The lucky feeling makes us expect the things we desire to happen and what we expect to get, we generally get.
People feeling lucky have a certain state of mind that helps them in various situations. Luck could influence some people unconsciously make better choices than others. I have also read from a book The luck factor by Wiseman that certain tests done, to see how satisfied individuals are with their family life, personal life, and health, have revealed a marked difference between "lucky" people and the rest. The "Lucky people are far more satisfied with all areas of their lives than other people, The feelings of satisfaction are more the mental reaction to situations than actual situation obtaining. It is how they interpret the situations. People who think of themselves as lucky tend to interpret their lives positively; they expect good things to happen so when things are actually happening their attention focuses on the positive aspects.”
To spread this lucky feeling, I left a ten rupee note without the knowledge of my granddaughter in the book she was reading. When she found the tenner, she was wondering who could have placed the money in her book. When she could not determine who placed it, she attributed it to her luck. The smile in her face and the lucky attitude encouraged in her mind by this discovery made me plant small denomination notes in children’s books, toys or things they handle frequently. It would be a good idea to plant such lucks at unexpected places to people who are less privileged than us. It need not be money. It could be a meal ticket, an old shirt, an used sari,a pair of Hawaii chappal to someone without sandals or even a free haircut.. It could be anything but should make them feel lucky. Try it out.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Life'splan and water melon

You must have read the story of how a very big Japanese grocery store solved the problem of handling spherical watermelons that could not be stacked one over the other and occupied huge space involving higher rental cost and increased transportation expenses. Though the solution defied them initially, they solved it by placing the water melon when it was growing in a square box..The fruit took the shape of the box thus bringing significant cost reduction in storing and handling.
This set me thinking till I read a book comparing our life’s plan to watermelon. We saw that the watermelon that could grow bigger was restricted to the size of a square box that was convenient to handle.. The walls of the box would not allow it to grow big. It is the same principle that operates with our plans for life also says the author. “Our plans shape- and limit-,our lives just as the box limited the watermelon. We can never be bigger than our plans.” The moral is not to make small plans. There should be no restriction on our plans/goals in life. If we limit the plan, we would get a life of the size of watermelon in the square box. Let our plans be unconfined or bounded. Let it enlarge to its fullest shape to enrich our lives. Let not our abilities suffer due to the small sized plan. There is no harm in the plan being big to test our capabilities to the full.

When Mahatma Gandhi led the freedom struggle against the mighty British rulers in a non violent manner, he had nothing else to show to his millions of followers and motivate them except by the loftiness of his goal-total independence. The immensity of the problem or goal did not deter him. When he undertook the Dandi yatra with nothing but barefooted army of people, it was the bigness of his goal and the promised freedom that inspired his followers. His faith in the legitimacy of his plan enabled him to show a clear path to his followers. He was not agreeable to cut his goal to a smaller size. Any leader in any walk of life should have a clear plan or goal that is big to enthuse his people.A leader with a petty goal cannot remain a leader for long. For one to succeed he must have a worthy goal and a big plan to achieve the goal, a plan that is not constricted by restrictions. This applies to our individual lives too. Let our life plan be big like an unbounded water melon for it to grow to its full potential.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Difficult to break free from fear of death

He was a retired man financially sound. He had lived his life full. He had educated his children and married off his daughters. It was then he had this serious ailment. The doctor diagnosed it as cancer in an advanced stage.”How many months of life would you give me?” queried the man. The doctor gave him at best 6 months. He smiled to the surprise of his doctor and said “I am better off than King Parikshit who was given just seven days to die due to snake bite. He was a king and had many important affairs of state to settle. I have no pending work and can organize my exit peacefully though my wife and children may not take kindly to this development. I can now retire to a temple town and spend my last ays in peace and quiet prayer”
How many of us can face the end with such serenity and calm composure? More so when the individual is middle aged with wife and young children to take care of, with no financial security and with the prospect of leaving the entire burden on the young shoulders of wife. If only we go to the hospitals and stand outside the intensive care units, we would realize the agony of a staring death and the misery it beings in its wake. The doctors are human and they do to their best what they can possibly do. It was easy for evolved souls like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa or Ramana Maharishi to entrust their lot to almighty and suffer pain silently till their final departure..
How does an ordinary individual face the horror of death? It is fairly easy to talk about the inevitability of death and the immortality of soul to a man in his twilight years approaching the final moment. The fear of death in the case of younger people is not merely the fear of the unknown, the fear of treading into endless darkness or of a frightening hell. The horror emanates from the fear of losing the near and dear when the man’s duty towards the family and society is unfinished and when the knowledge that he would only be leaving misery behind both financial and mental. The burden of mounting medical expenses, the expenses towards unfinished education,marriages,for day to day living are all scary even to a normal person and what to speak of a dying man. To philosophize to such a person that life is but a blip in the timeless eternity would be rank foolishness. To talk of karma theory may satisfy the talker but would not make sense to the affected.
How does one break free from fear of death in such cases? Not all the teachings of Gita or of our religion can do little to minimize the pain and fear as is the knowledge that his immediate family would be taken care of well, their security assured and their future held in safe hands. This assurance alone would numb the pain in the ruffled mind to some extent and bring peace. He would then be prepared to die at least free from his major worry of leaving his family without adequate cover though the prospect of final separation would still be hurting. It is for the kith and kin to provide this mental solace. Nothing else is of any avail. But in today’s world where the families are tending to be small and self centred and even the living parents are considered a burden, the prospect is grim..

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Reinterpret religion through women’s eyes

Our religion has all evolved over a long period in a social framework predominantly controlled by men. All our scriptures have been written by rishis and sages who were men. These have a strong undertone of patriarchal ideologies. Women no doubt hold a central but yet an ambiguous role in Hindu religion. According to the Laws of Manu, women are essential to the dharma of men and find fulfillment in this subsidiary role. Women’s role is defined in relation to men upon whom they should remain dependent as a daughter to father, as a wife, to husband and as a mother to her son. Religion was used as an effective tool to oppress women and keep them subservient to men. There was no attempt to reinterpret the religion thro a women’s perspective. The place of women is still seen through the prism of religion framed by men. Religion is still controlled by men and the dharma is what is interpreted by them. Women are prevented in the name of religion certain duties that men are allowed.
Luckily with the advent of British rule and the emergence of social reformers some significant changes have been witnessed. Since the middle of nineteenth century reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra vidya Sagar, Dayanand Saraswati have created an awareness and climate for vesting women their rightful place in society. They were instrumental in bringing about legal changes in several areas like widow remarriage, women’s education, abolition of sati, share of property to women the second half of Nineteenth century. The national movement brought women to the centre stage. Mahatma Gandhi’s call to women to participate in the national movement enabled them come out of the four walls of their home and work for the nation’s cause as equal partners with men. The shining examples of Sarojini Naidu, Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay gave fillip to women join in large numbers breaking the barriers of caste and gender. Polygamy is illegal and divorce laws are easier.
But the basic question still remains unanswered that religion is an exclusive preserve of men and the incalculable harm it can do to women when most of the laws have been in the past enacted by men and interpreted in relation to archaic Manu dharma and some such outdated practices. Change in regressive laws is still slow. The progress in restoring women their legitimate rights is definitely there and significant but still it is in halting pace.. Feminist scholars should take in depth research and study of the religion and demonstrate wherever the laws are loaded against women The importance of such an endeavour in a pluralistic society as we have with men occupying positions of power is obvious. Such study should bring out the legal reforms needed for giving the women their rightful place in society and home. It should not be out of gratis from men. Look at the dithering on women’s representation in legislature. The resistance to accord equal place to women will be high and women should show their power through ballot to achieve what they want.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Developing detachment is difficult

It was Marcus Aurelius who wrote hundreds of years ago in his Meditations that “We ought to consider not only that our life is daily wasting away and a smaller part of it is left, but another thing must also be taken into the account, that if a man should live longer it is quite uncertain whether the understanding will still continue sufficient for the comprehension of things, and retain the power of contemplation which strives to acquire the knowledge of the Divine and the human.: He pleads that “We must make haste then, not only because we are nearer to death , but also because the conception of things and understanding of them cease first.’
Our own Bhartruhari in his Vairagya Satakam urges that “ Life is changing like a big wave, beauty of youth abides for a few days; earthly possessions are as transient as thought; the whole series of our enjoyments are like occasional flashes of autumnal lightning; the embrace round the neck given by our beloved ones lingers only for a while. To cross the ocean of the world, attach your mind to Brahman (God).”.
Easily said, well nigh difficult to follow. Still if one must slowly progress towards his spiritual journey, some amount of detachment should be cultivated. A man may live in the world but should strive to discharge all the duties of his order and stage of life with detachment. He may be a grihastha living with family and children. But that need not preclude him from practising perfect mental detachment or doing his spiritual Sadhana. This can be achieved by doing everything as duties enjoined on him and doing them as offerings to God. It may appear strange to be detached doing mundane things at home or in office. This can be acquired by doing the job sincerely without a longing for the outcome. In other words not getting passionate about the results of what we do. In fact, he will be better than a sadhu living in far off mountainous caves as he has to face unlike the sadhu the innumerable temptations of life.
It may look impractical but is possible gradually to develop inner mental detachment from pleasure if we are not carried away by the pleasant experiences of the world by clinging to them. If we adopt the attitude of a silent witness and keep practising, such an experience may help in our ascent in spiritual ladder. Eventually we will have mental poise and an unruffled state needed for such a journey. There is no other short cut for liberation from this cycle of births and deaths.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Being happy at little things

When I opened my eyes from my sleep one fine morning at 5am, I found my eight year old grandson sitting by my side holding my hand and smiling at me. I was surprised and asked him when he got up and what he was doing. He said, “fifteen minutes back, grandpa and just watching you sleep peacefully. I do that almost daily.” I smiled back at him and that whole day I felt very happy. He added he found it nice holding my hand and waiting for me to wake up. The innocent gesture of a pleasant smile from the little lad lightened my heart. The little smile in that early morning determined the rest of my day of 23 hours and 59 minutes with me basking in the knowledge of my being loved by someone. Whenever I left for office, my wife invariably stood at the balcony and ready to wave her hand at me when I turned the corner of the road. She put off all her work to be there on all days and I invariably turned to see her standing. There was nothing great as we were together all the time I was at home .But yet this small act of hers made me happy as I looked forward to a gruelling day ahead at the office. A Hi or Ram Ram to another jogger as I jogged along in the park cost me nothing but earned tremendous good will. A hello to the paper boy or a small coin to a beggar woman on the way side are small things for us but go to boost the spirit of others..These are petty things that we should do but do not remember to do.
I have found that others extend the same gestures to me like when I am standing in the queue for paying my bill. Someone much younger in age offers to pay mine along with his while I sit in the chair. Such acts give happiness to the giver as well as the receiver. Caring for small things that concern others takes us nearer God. Happiness is a state of mind. It is not in the external things like riches, comforts and material possessions..It lies in your being satisfied with what you have and sharing with others what you can.. Little things actually make us happy like the cool breeze as you stand at the balcony, chirping of the birds at the window sill as you rise in the morning, a multi coloured sky in the evening, the relentless waves beating the rocks, the joy in the urchins playing on the road, or a happy child with a rattler in hand. Happiness can be found everywhere if we deign to see and also lies in making others smile. There are innumerable little things in life for us to be happy about, if only we care to look for them. Try it out on your wife by expressing your delight at the dinner she served. Look at the broad grin on her face and the affection she shows thereafter. We should develop certain amount of selfless nature to appreciate the good things in others. It comes by habit.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Are we capable of waiting?

There are number of occasions where we are compelled to wait. Be it at the bus stand or railway station waiting for the bus or train, waiting for someone who has promised to meet us at an appointed time, for the paper delivery boy to supply the day’s paper at day break or waiting for our spouse to get ready to go out with us, we need to wait for a few minutes or even longer. We become restless, fidgety and we start biting nails or walking up and down endlessly or buying a Pepsi to drink to keep engaged, looking at the watch every second minute. None of these can hasten the thing we are waiting for to materialize. It happens on its own. We are unable to sit at one place and calmly wait. We would have seen our mobile a dozen times for messages that are not there. We are all the time trying to keep our mind busy. This restlessness is contagious. It catches others too by your body language.
Can waiting be the only thing that we can be doing without making it tedious by such restlessness? When we say we are waiting, we are not actually waiting but expressing our tension in a variety of ways. As someone said we are constantly fleeing from waiting and are not capable of waiting. Instead of allowing the external distractions like the clock, mobile, Pepsi to disturb you for keeping your mind busy, would it not be good to calm the mind and be involved in the mere act of waiting, pure waiting free from discontentment and anger. I would not say eternally but for a reasonable time.Certain amount of patience and tolerance towards others would not be amiss. If we know the local train is scheduled to arrive at 6-15pm, stay quiet till 6-14pm engaging your mind on worthwhile thoughts instead of on mobile, watch or at the time–board. It is difficult but worth trying to make it a habit.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The tussle between the two ‘I’s

We have two ‘I’s in us. One belongs to the body and the other is related to the soul. Both the ‘I’s have adequate proof of their existence. The spiritual ‘I’ claims that it is immortal and therefore enjoys a higher status. There is no death for it whereas it said “the bodily ‘I’ is ephemeral in nature and would die. It taunted the bodily ‘I’ saying that moment the spiritual ‘I’ leaves the body, the bodily ‘I’ dies instantly and none would come near it. The bodily ‘I’ undaunted replied that the other cannot exist without the bodily ‘I’ and that none can recognize it without the bodily ‘I’ .It added that the soul cannot act without the help of body and mind and that it cannot concentrate ,meditate or go into Samadhi on its own. But it conceded its mortal nature and the power of the spiritual ‘I’ to elevate it. It also accepted that spiritual ‘I’ can adopt other bodily ‘I’ while the latter cannot do so. It finally agreed that it is in its best interest to follow the instructions of the spiritual ‘I’ and act accordingly eventually forgetting its own separate identity as ‘I’

It must be borne in mind that spiritual ‘I’ belongs to God and in reality the only one ‘I’ that should remain. There are among us good and bad urges. There is a twin personality in us the base and the noble each of which is recognized by the urges it manifest. That ‘I’ which kindles greed, jealousy, lust, vengeance, anger and carnal instincts is bodily ‘I’ The spiritual I brings out the lofty qualities of inner spirit like love, kindness, compassion, contentment, peace, charity, sacrifice, forgiveness and other angelic qualities. The characteristics of soul are natural and are there always. Violence is committed while non-violence is natural, deceipt and fraud are committed while simplicity and innocence are natural, a lie is told and is spoken while truth prevails when you don’t speak. The attributes of soul are natural characteristics but in actual practice we distance ourselves from these good qualities. We are ultimately that by which and to the extent one of the ‘I’s dominates. If the spiritual ‘I’ influences our actions and thinking, the superior qualities in us manifest themselves. It is not a question of spiritual ‘I’ dominating but it is the bodily ‘I’ submitting itself to the dictates of spiritual ‘I’ and merging itself with it gradually. It is only by determined effort and persuasion of the mind that the smaller ‘I’ can identify itself with spiritual ‘I’ .Once this sublimation of the two ‘I’ s takes place, the spiritual soul merges with Supreme Consciousness or God

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

‘Why me’ syndrome

In life afflictions of serious ailments, bereavements and loss of property are all common occurrences happening to every family. None is exempt. Yet when a person is visited with terminal disease, the question that crops up immediately in one’s mind is why me of all the people. Strangely this ‘why me ‘syndrome doesn’t manifest when one is happy, rich and healthy with all good things showered. When one wins a lottery of huge stakes or chosen for state honours, no questions are asked why he/she was chosen to receive the blessing. We always feel we do not deserve bad things we suffer while we accept good things without any doubt about our deserving them.
The point that I wish to make is that when we accept good things without any qualms, we should accept disagreeable things as well without demur. We should not curse God that He has unjustly inflicted pain when we never questioned His judgment when bounties were showered. We should accept His judgment always and under all circumstances. Again if we go deeper and accept the Law of karma, the good and bad we get are all the result of our own actions with God nowhere in the picture. True faith in God and in His goodness will enable us lead our lives virtuously without collecting additional baggage of misdeeds to be liquidated later. Trusting Him fully and entrusting oneself to His care would help face defeats and disappointments with equanimity and accept success and riches with humility. Leaving everything to Him but doing our duty to the best of our ability is the way to go. Life and things belong to Him and what He does with it is not something to be judged with our limited knowledge.. With this realization, there would be no place for ‘why me’ question.

My Intent is to have faith in God, even through the hardest testing

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Breaking the bad habits

Habits can be good or bad. They can be beneficial or harmful. “A man’s fortune has its form given to it by his habits.” We would be a success in life if we are able to cultivate the good habits of learning and work, good health, public behavior, discipline and method in our work, eating ways and what not. Life would be happy. If we are victims of bad habits, it can be a heavy burden and a hurdle to succeed in life. The problem with bad habits is that it is very difficult to break them once formed. There are some bad habits like finger nail biting, picking noses, blinking of the eyes, smoking, insomnia, stammering that may need to be tackled at the sub conscious level with the help of a professional psychologist.
Most habits can be broken by the individual with some effort. Most of the small habits can be stopped with determination. It is the mental will power. The feeling of comfort or enjoyment in pursuing the habit should be replaced by a revulsion and disgust. There is no open sesame or a quick fix except hard work. If only one looks at the reason why we indulge in it and the benefit you get by escaping from some problem, it may be easier to shed it. The tension in the office may make you irritable by habit to family members like wife and children. By letting of your anger, you feel a bit relaxed and calm. It could be to watch TV undisturbed that this irritability helps in keeping away the family members. One has to make a choice between irritability to family and the hurt it causes vis a vis the pleasure of watching TV. Which one you value more would enable you to discard the bad habit. . To effect a change in habits, one needs to bring the action back into the realm of consciousness and regain the ability to make right choices.
The old habits were formed to fulfill a need like releasing the tension of the office or desire to watch TV undisturbed. If we wish to break them, you need some alternative needs in place. “A nail is driven out by another nail, habit is overcome by habit.” That is why we see people who have quit smoking taking to snuff or chewing tobacco. If we choose a better alternative like going for a walk with spouse or playing with children board games or reading a book, the pain of breaking the old habit would not be felt. The thought that bad habits are annoying to others and often retard your progress, popularity and acceptability would steel your determination to get rid of them.. Let the bad habits be replaced by good habits It is good to take one habit at a time and immediately instead of many. It was Mark Twain who said “A habit cannot be tossed out of the window. It must be coaxed down the stairs, a step at a time.” It is a challenge that calls for determination and effort.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Courtesy costs nothing but gains everything

How many of us have the patience and courtesy to stop for a second and tell the time when asked for .We keep moving along and mumble the time without caring whether the other got it. Do we wait when asked for directions and give clearly or just keep walking telling nothing or just batha nai or I don’t know. How many of us are willing to stand up and offer our seats in a metro to an old man or pregnant woman where we are required to travel for 45 minutes to reach our destination. Do we bend and help in gathering the papers dropped unless the person who dropped is a young lady? Do we agree to give our lower berths to an upper berth to an old man? There are many such instances where courtesy can be extended and where people can be helpful. We do not even use ‘please’, ‘thanks’ or ‘excuse me’ as much as is necessary to people placed lower than us.
Courtesy is the essence of life. We spend nothing except a kind word or a few moments but gain everything. People do not announce who they are when making phone calls or express regret when they have made a wrong call. Some turn rude if you have made a wrong call. Lack of courtesy reflects poor upbringing. Are we polite in replying letters /mails when we get enquiries about something we are not dealing or conversant with? Do we go the extra mail giving useful information? Do we go out of our way to show customers they did us a favor by coming to us? There are scores of such instances where courtesy can be shown. It casts reciprocal obligations on us.We have to show respect and gratitude to those who are civil and polite to us. Then only it becomes contagious spreading cheer all around.
This trait is best seen in those who have had good upbringing. It is important that we raise our children in this manner by personal example and practice even in the household. The parent’s influence is the strongest in this regard. Courtesy is amplified by this story I read somewhere.When Einstein was holding a party to some well known people, he saw a young boy sitting alone bored and neglected by others. He went near the boy and asked him whether he liked music. When the boy evinced interest, Einstein took him to the first floor and entertained him with music on the piano. He forgot his guests and spent his time in regaling the boy. This is the height of courtesy where even the feelings of a youngster are observed. What would have been the impact on the boy for this generous gesture? Courtesy costs us no money but gives joy both to the giver and receiver. More so in crowded places, in rush hour, in competitive situations a smile and thank you will make the world a happier place to live in.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The hardship of virtuous living

When I was a young boy, I had always felt that to be a good student entailed hardship. It was no fun. You will have to be punctual, attend school all the days without playing truant, do homework without fail, be attentive in class without chatting with other mates, score good marks and be obedient. It was fun for others who had no desire to be a good student-they did what pleased them, chatting while classes are on, playing all the time without doing home work copying during tests and making fun of teachers behind their backs. To be good entailed suffering it seemed to the young mind.
Like wise to be virtuous, we are to suffer in life. While people who are not driven by the desire to be virtuous adopt various means, fair and foul, to enjoy life. They lie, deceive, and perform less than what they promise, they are corrupt, are self centred without consideration for others and so on. Life to them seems a bed of roses, all luxury, convenience and comfort. The virtuous often lead a humdrum life , mostly in want and pass through life amidst misery. Despite this our elders constantly preached to us when we were children that we must lead a virtuous and straight life no matter the hardship it may cause. We were told stories of Raja Harischndra who underwent great hardship to stick to his principle of truth or Prahladha to pursue the path of devotion. Even the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata extolled the virtues of their heroes and decried the faults in others..We were told that sinners were punished by God in this or subsequent births and virtue was rewarded likewise later.The punishment or reward did not always visit immediately in this life itself. We were told an account was maintained for future dispensation of justice..Even the sages and saints underwent severe pain by renunciation of all comforts and led a secluded life often in hostile conditions.Virtuos life is always accompanied by pain we were told for the ultimate distant reward of a life in heaven while sinful life though gave immediate pleasures was always followed by long periods in hell. The distant incentive of a place in Swarg does not appeal to most of us as much as the alluring immediate pleasures in this life with only a threat of suffering in hell.
In his article Mr.S.H Venkataramani has argued notwithstanding the “divine dispensation of justice or not, virtue is its own happy and fulfilling reward, and vice carries within itself the seeds of its own punishment. He adds that “The way out of suffering inherent in sin is to make ourselves fully and deeply attentive to the nature of what we imagine, in our delusion, to be the stimulus for our happiness. We will then perceive the real cost of our selfish striving for sensual pleasure, and the inevitable but futile craving to perpetuate it when it is fundamentally transient”.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tact-a tool for happiness

Not infrequently we come across well meaning people irritating others during their interactions. They do it unwittingly and often suffer as a result. They are always misunderstood and ignored. They say the wrong things at a wrong time to wrong people. They are not smart enough to know when to speak, what, where and how. They may be highly educated, specialized in some field or attained a name in some area like a writer, sportsman, a musician and similar such vocations. Despite all these they may be tactless. Without that special quality they do not reach high and far. People with lesser attainments but with greater tact succeed in life than those capable without adequate tact. In this highly competitive world when everyone is trying to get a space for himself be it a marketing man looking for new customers, an hospital seeking patients, a lawyer wanting clients or performing artists wanting an audience, it only those with tact that thrive. Subject to all things being equal, people prefer those who are friendly, courteous and cooperative. There are some who take pride in being outspoken and blunt and tell hurting things even if they were true. They think it is a virtue and not aware that it is a serious drawback. One need not lie but it is always a good policy to tell the unpleasant truth in an agreeable way if at all one must or remain silent. What is needed is abundant commonsense and consideration for others.
Tact is a great virtue. It enables people to extricate themselves from tricky situations. It makes life easy for them and they generally succeed. Tact is being sensitive to delicate situations. As some one said. “Tact is a combination of good temper, ready wit, quickness of perception and ability to take the exigency of the situation instantly. It is never offensive but is a balm allaying suspicion, and soothing. It is appreciative. It is plausible without being dishonest, apparently consults the welfare of the second party and does not manifest any selfishness. It is never antagonistic, never opposes and never strokes the hair the wrong way, and never irritates.” The test of tact lies in our ability to put all types of people at ease by interesting ourselves in others and striking a receptive chord.
"Tact is one of the first mental virtues, the absence of which is often fatal to the best of talents; it supplies the place of many talents"

Monday, April 20, 2009

We are just tenants,not owners

Do we ever confuse the house we are living in on a rental basis as our own and invest money on it adding facilities and beautifying it beyond what is necessary for our day to day living? We are aware that once the period specified in the lease, that has a clause of no renewal, is over we must vacate it. We keep in mind our temporary occupancy in the house and do not bestow much attention on it beyond the essential for keeping it clean and habitable. If we remember likewise that we are mere tenants in the impermanent body, we will get a new perspective on the meaning and the purpose of life. The whole problem arises due to our confusing that ‘I’ am the body and the mind. In actual fact, we are neither. We are mere tenants. The body is just a house on lease to be vacated on the appointed day that cannot be deferred even by a second. With such impermanence on our retaining the body, would it not be foolish to spend time and money in acquiring things to satisfy it lifelong? Remember the house one lives in crumbles immediately the lease is over just as the body starts to stink with a disgusting odour. It is so unbearable it is burnt or buried immediately. Does it make sense to pamper this impermanent body and its cravings and spend our precious life in pursuit of them?
If only we are able to detach ourselves from the transient body and have a look at our lives and those around us, we would realize the utter foolishness of our lopsided priorities in pursuit of material happiness and wealth. A mere realization that we can take nothing of our material possessions with us would expose the futility of acquiring wealth except for service to fellow beings. We would then realize that this body given us is to be used as an instrument of service to serve ourselves in the real way and others. The body that we are living in is to be paid only that much attention to keep it healthy, strong and clean for serving the society. There is no need for decking it with avoidable fineries, costly apparels and exotic scents. The body is meant to facilitate one’s moral and spiritual advancement and as an useful tool to serve others.’Paropakartham idham sareeram’ is an adage always to be kept in mind. Swami Vivekananda said that “They alone live who serve; the rest are more dead than living.” Let us bear in mind that we, the souls, are mere dwellers of the body and that mind is our servant and that we are neither. Without the soul the body dies. Body and mind are two servants. The body keeps always asking for satisfaction of its physical needs while the capricious mind would take us away from our goal by undesirable thoughts and eventually ruin our lives. Both these servants are to be kept under strict control and the mind under tight leash if we are not to waste our lives.. As wise people, we must employ the body and mind for the nobler pursuits of realizing ourselves and for service to the needy and hapless..

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Standing on one's own legs

It is a natural tendency in all of us is to give a head start to our children. The idea being that they should not pass through the difficult time we had to as youngsters. But what we call as a start or help actually pulls them back. I know of parents carrying the school bags of children, doing their home work, and attending to the various things they ought to do by themselves. As a result the child starts looking to mom, dad or sister for assistance and starts leaning on others for something or the other. The urge to be self reliant and independent and to do things by him/her is lost. The mother tries to make his school project better by doing herself. But allow the child to do his own work and see the immense joy and satisfaction he derives in his face when he completes it. The outcome of child’s work may not be as good as mom would have done. But the child would have derived a great sense of accomplishment and built self confidence in his ability and self respect in his independence. The greatest service to the child by a parent would be to train the child to be independent as far as possible and to trust his own powers. If the youngsters are prevented from being self reliant, they would turn out to be weaklings and failures later in life.
How many of the youngsters are independent and ready to face life on their own? Take for instance getting a seat in educational institution or a job. They lean on their money power, on friends and people in high authority or on their own social status. How many are willing to walk alone without crutches? Can you blame them if we allow them to lean on us right from young age? As Emerson put it “He who sits on the cushion of advantage goes to sleep.” I know many youngsters fondly and sincerely hoping for some lucky break without any serious attempt on their part to stand on their own legs. It is only those who divest themselves of all props and learn to work their way up who finally succeed. One cannot learn swimming in shallow waters. It is only in adversity that man’s abilities are truly tested. By jumping into deep waters (of course with guide around) where one has to swim or drown, one learns faster. So in life too when they are compelled to fend by themselves or live by their own wits, they will surely be a success. To quote Orison Swett Marden ”We do impossible things in life simply because we have to.Self reliance has the best substitute for friends, influence, capital,a pedigree, or assistance. It has mastered more obstacles, overcome more difficulties, carried through more enterprises perfected more inventions than any other human quality. The man who can stand alone, who is not afraid of difficulties who does not hesitate before obstacles, the man who believes in his own inherent power to do things-he is the man who will win.”

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pay attention to personal appearance

Does a good appearance give an edge over others in all human transactions? Not all are endowed with beautiful features, good complexion or handsome physique. These are god given advantages. But appearance by way of cleanliness of body and comeliness of dress are within ones control. How many of us pay full attention to these two aspects of our personalities? I believe the outward appearance is a reflection of the inner self. An unclean man with an unshaven face, unkempt hair and dirty clothes on him cannot be expected to be orderly and methodical in his affairs. We can never relate efficiency, high ideals and clean work with a person who has poor standard of personal cleanliness of body and dress. He is bound to be slovenly in his approach in all matters. Many a people have lost in the race for positions in career due to smelly dress, unshaven faces with bristles, careless teeth, poor mouth hygiene, undressed hair, soiled hands, and undesirable habits of nose picking. The one tip for youngsters who wish to succeed in life is best contained in the quote “The apparel oft proclaims the man” To put in lighter vein when the ocean was churned for taking out the Amrita(nectar), the well clad Vishnu got Mahalakshmi, while the ash smeared Shiva got only poison Aaalakala.
It is not necessary that one should be dressed in expensive or rich clothes. One can be simple and yet elegant. Subject to all other things being equal, whom would you select for a position between two candidates, a neatly clad smart looking guy with good personal appearance or a slovenly chap who is careless in his appearance? True like a rough unpolished diamond getting passed over for a well polished glistening glass, capable persons may get a short shrift and an inferior person passing the muster. Apart from this the consciousness that one is clean and dressed well befitting the position gives self confidence and poise. I give a quotation that impressed me very much. “One cannot but feel that God is a lover of appropriate dress. He has put robes of beauty and glory upon all His works. Every flower is dressed in richness; every field blushes beneath a mantle of beauty; every star is veiled in brightness; every bird is clothed in the habiliments of the most exquisite taste. And surely He is pleased when we provide a beautiful setting for the greatest of His handiworks

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Is love self centred?

Can there be a love without expectation in all human relationships? Is there an element of quid pro quo governing these? When you confer love on someone, is there something that you expect in return? Is the love of a parent for the children unconditional or with expectation of a reciprocal love from the children? I believe that there is an unstated expectation of a return of love immediately and certainly when they grow old. People may not concede but there is hardly any love without some consideration. Even the love of a husband for his wife is tinged with self interest. His love for her is in expectation of his happiness that her company gives. Even the caress, hug or a kiss is more for the happiness to self than a demonstration of love towards the other. Deny the opportunity of a physical touch, stop giving what he wants and behave in a manner different from his expectations, the love would gradually fade and may possibly move elsewhere. It may be crude to say in most cases that all love is self based and is in direct proportion to the happiness derived.This applies to both sides. I read somewhere that it is like rearing poultry. The feeding of the birds, the care taken to prevent them falling from disease are all motivated by the eggs they are likely give or as chicken for eating at the table. The poor birds may be thinking that the master loves them while he is in actual fact self centred. Can we find men and women who love each other for their own sake even if one of them has nothing but inadequacies like in accomplishments, looks, conversational skills, even though good natured?.How long would such marriages last in the present day times? Some may last more out of sense of duty or societal compulsions than motivated purely by love.
The same is true where the old parents have nothing to give by way of help physically or monetarily. The children in most cases drive them away. How do we explain the phenomenon of burgeoning poor and old age homes? Some keep them out of a sense of duty or fear of what others may think of them but treat them miserably without a tinge of affection. In such cases, there is the absence of love. This is not to deny that there are grateful children who take care of the old parents out of a sense gratitude for all they have done. The burden of this article is to express the view that love for others is mostly self-centred for the happiness derived by self –which could be simple companionship as in friends,physical intimacy as in married couples,material benefits as from spouses, parents and siblings, physical help and support from others .Take away this happiness, the love may not be of same intensity. Even love towards God is in anticipation of grant of wishes through prayers and has a trace of awe and fear than unalloyed love
I would expect readers to post their views freely on this controversial post