It’s all about money, honey! Or, is it?

Of course, Money is important.

That is how most perspectives that explore the importance of money in our personal and spiritual growth start off. The tone is apologetic, often a bit guilty. The writers seem to be battling an inner incongruence between their soul’s desire for growth and expression and the harsh reality of insurance premiums and EMIs. It is a painful recognition of the role money plays in our day to day existence versus the heart which knows it matters not at all.

The reality says “I am judged, assessed, measured, accepted, respected, often even loved on the basis of the amounts of money I have.” The heart says “Money doesn’t matter – it is the self that does. There are plenty of unhappy rich people around.”

It is important to explore the role money plays in our lives and make peace with it for once and for all. I hope this article will help you do that.

Of course, money is important.

It is very important to notice where, how and why money is important. I believe money is an enabler in the external world. The key word here is “enabler”. Money is an enabler. It enables us to do things we would otherwise not be able to do. Like “walking” for instance. Walking enables us to get from one place to another. Or “swimming”. Swimming enables us to stay afloat while in water. Money similarly enables us to do things we would not be able to do without it. It enables us to travel to meet our near and dear ones. It enables us to avail of medical facilities to cure our body when we are sick. It enables us to buy nutrition and education. It is a resource.

It is important to distinguish money as an external enabler. It allows us to do things in the external world. Our internal world is different. It is made up of our beliefs, values, attitudes, thoughts etc. Our internal world has absolutely nothing to do with money and this awareness is crucial. Our internal world is the essence of who we are. It is the ever changing, dynamic landscape of our “self” which is shifting, evolving and growing every moment of our lives.

It is when we mix up the role of money and start using it to cater to our internal world that it pollutes and corrupts us. It is when we try and substitute the amount of money we have for being generous or kind or courageous or loving or honest that we have literally “mixed up” priorities.

Self awareness, I-witnessing, Self observation, self discipline, self exploration are the currency of the internal world. Not money. You cannot buy these no matter how much money you have.

The role of ego is using this external enabler to fulfill our soul’s needs is undeniable. Ego – a healthy tool that facilitates the illusion of separation of “me” from everything else can prove to be the single biggest obstacle in our personal quest for growth. The ego, which sees money as an extension of itself – easily confuses money as a substitute for developing personal traits and qualities.

So, let us earn money, spend money, give away money, have fun with money. Let us celebrate money and be grateful for it. Just as we should hop and jump for the gift of walking and be grateful for it.

Let us be kind, generous, courageous, loving, grateful, good, soulful, happy inside – whether we have the kind of money we want or not.

What rules is not bits of paper with pictures of noble deceased on them.
What rules is how you choose to express yourself – everyday.

Am I being the best version of what I can be?
That, my friends – is the question!

I like money, but I would choose self-expression (or self manifestation) over money any day.

Like a film director said in an interview “I make money to make movies, I don’t make movies to make money”

That, I believe is self expression.

Organizations – Wonderland?

Something to think about…

Organizations are artificial structures which provide you a fantastic opportunity to associate with people you would never, ever associate with under normal situations. Organizations provide us with an unparalleled opportunity to grow, to become more, to express the best part of ourselves in a setting which claims to be about tasks, goals, targets, missions and all that… but is really about who you choose to be with respect to all of these and the people around you.

Probably if not for organizations, our experience would be severely limited in terms of the number and the kind of people we would associate ourselves with.

If you think about it, every single day – surrounded by a milieu of people whom you don’t know, probably are not like and probably do not like – it’s literally a rabbit hole down there waiting to be explored by you.

Time Management in the Moment

The field of time management has been explored like never before in the past 60 years.

We have graduated from talking about better planners and increased efficiency to living our purpose and being effective.

We have evolved from talking about doing a lot of things in a day to doing a few things that really matter in the day. (The urgent vs. important principle)

All of these ideas are important and deserve some serious thought.

However, one of the key observations anyone with a slightly evolved consciousness would make is

“Life is always lived in just one moment”

That single unit of time in which you read this article and slide into the next moment is where life is – that is the only place you will ever live.

Every single moment – literally zillions of possibilities exist in front of us. Every single moment we choose one of these possibilities and make up our life as we go along.

Right now, you could close this window and start working on a project that really matters to you but you have not had the courage to start, you could write a letter to your mother, you could browse irrelevant sites, you could get up and scream a profanity, you could quit your job, you could go for a run…. The possibilities are endless.

And the only thing that prevents them from coming true – is that you don’t choose them.
But right now, couldn’t you choose to express yourself in any which way you want?

How can we ever be bored or stuck or be in a ‘rut’ if this is true?

The answer to that is complicated, but based on two pillars.

  1. Conditioning
  2. Fear

1. We believe certain things about ourselves. Generalizations we assume to be true. And then we feel we have to live by those generalizations. We literally, belief by belief, thread by thread create a structure that imprisons us in it. We trap ourselves into a corner and create the illusion that we do not have choice.

Choice is the ultimate and the only weapon we have to create any reality we desire.

You can choose a different belief, a different action, a different thought, a different idea, a different word, a different emotion, a different system, a different way.

What happens sometimes is – we make a bad choice and then we suffer. But instead of choosing again and choosing differently, we believe that we are the choice we have made. We use the consequences of that choice to define ourselves and then use this self-definition to create a limited reality – with limited experience, limited joy, limited fulfillment, limited satisfaction, limited happiness.

Most of the times, we choose unconsciously – we repeat patterns of past choices (often bad choices) even though they have not served us in the past.

The first step then is to become conscious of what you are choosing. Awareness is the first step to change. An evolved consciousness is a result of accurate witnessing or observing.

If you do not like what you are creating in an area of you life – choose again, choose wisely, choose differently.

Let me repeat that.

If you do not like what you are creating in an area of your life – choose again, choose wisely, choose differently.

If you want to create a result in your life, your new choices must be aligned with it.

Choosing wisely, choosing differently, choosing again in the moment is what the urgent/important theory is all about.

2. I talked about Fear. The question you might be asking right now is “How do I choose wisely?” or “How do I know which is the right choice?”
A choice born out of Fear is the choice that will limit your experience. A choice born out of love is the higher choice. If we must err, let us err on the side of love.

An enhanced awareness will let you answer this question “In this moment, am I expressing myself through fear or through love?”

A choice born out of Love will always be the higher choice.

Time Management, from a spiritual perspective boils down to two To-Dos

  1. Don’t like what you are manifesting? Choose differently, choose wisely. Choose a different emotion, a different action, a different word, a different state of being, a different belief. It is impossible to live without choosing – just choose what serves your highest vision of yourself.
  2. How do we know we are making the higher choice? Choose Love over Fear.

Summary

  1. Choose consciously
  2. Choose Love

Role Playing

When I walk into a restaurant or a coffee-shop – I assume the role of a customer.
And the person serving me assumes the role of a waiter.

I play my role – some characterisics of which are to expect , demand some things, even if they mean inconveniencing the other human who plays the role of a waiter.

The waiter plays his role – some characteristics of which are to fulfill my desires, even if it means inconveniencing himself.

Busy playing our roles, both of us fail to notice the inherent humanity glowing within the other.

If I am a boss, and you are my subordinate. We are not two human beings sharing humanity.
If I am a father, and you are my child, here is the rulebook for that. Please fit in. We are not two human beings growing together.
If I am an expert, and you are not – I cannot say “I don’t know” because that is not acceptable to the game we are playing.

If we stop acting our roles out and start acting human, how will our experience change.

Conversations R Us!!

Conversations are reflections of who we are being in that moment.

Think about it, how does a deep, honest, intense, touching, passionate, incredible conversation leave you feeling – energized, recharged…. Your personal energy increased and the world a little bit brighter than it was earlier, isn’t it?

And how does a shallow, superficial, pretentious conversation leave you feeling… drained out, tired?

In a conversation when we express the deepest and the best parts of ourselves (invariably, the deepest part of us is usually the best part of us), we express or manifest our true selves.

In fact, life is expression, isn’t it?

In fact, we cannot not express.

Right now, as you read these words, infinite potentialities and possibilities exist within you. The very next moment, what you think, decide, do or say is an expression of one of these infinite potentialities.

When we express a potentiality or a possibility, we bring a latent or a hidden part of ourselves into existence. As we bring it into existence, we experience it and it becomes, our experience.

If we habitually express a part of ourselves again and again – it becomes a pattern of experience in our lives and we start ‘believing’ that we are ‘it’.

But, at that point – every other potentiality and possibility also exists – latent, hidden, unexpressed.

If you want to assess the quality of your experience and the quality of your life – take a closer look at the quality of your conversations.

Conversation is a tool we use everyday, regularly to express ourselves.

The quality of your conversations would probably reveal a great deal about what you are bringing forth from the world of infinite possible expressions called – you!!

To improve the quality of your experience, improve the quality of your conversations.

If your conversations are happy, intense, passionate, happy, contended, joyful, cheerful and ‘soul’ful… then so are you!

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Brain, Mind and Me

For more than a decade now, I have been fascinated by the human mind. And the more I have understood, the more baffled I have become.

Simple things – seemingly simple things like perception, decisions, awareness, emotions are such complex events and happen at so many levels (chemical, electrical, macroscopic- physiological, environmental, metaphysical, spiritual…) that with every passing moment, my awe and respect for the web of complexity in which we live has only increased.

While scientists have made some useful connections in terms of details, we are still struggling with some very basic questions –
“What is consciousness?”
“Who is the observer?”

Recently I have been reading a book called “How do brains make up their minds?” by Walter J. Freeman. In spite of the deceptively simple title, the book is a difficult read, but I am persisting and the result has been a rare insight into the workings of the brain (not the mind!).

Learning about the brain is fascinating, because unlike in the case of mind (which is intangible), in the case of brain – you actually have something to work with. The physical mass of gooey matter between our ears we call the brain. The neurons, the hypothalamus, the neuropeptides and the neural network are some of the labels we have given to an absolutely unexplainable miracle happening inside our heads all the time.

Every emotion has a chemical associated with it (called a peptide) and every time you choose to experience an emotion, the chemicals are produced in your hypothalamus. These chemicals are then released into the bloodstream. So, the happiness-chemical or the sadness-chemical literally explodes into your entire body through the blood-stream and finds its way to different cells. It then docks on a cell and then changes the very nature of the cell, sometimes even the nucleus.

We literally, with chemicals – poison ourselves with anger.
We literally, with chemicals – fill ourselves with fulfillment.

Fascinating, isn’t it?

How does this fit in with making real, measurable changes in our lives?

This is a good place to share another distinction I have made. In learning about the brain and creating real change in life (which is what I am committed to).

It is very interesting, it can give you amazing insights – but it is no more necessary to create changes in real life than it is to understand the intricate workings of the internal combustion engine to drive a car or even know how exactly a microprocessor works to use the computer more effectively.

Of course it would help, but it is not necessary.

While studying hardware is good for a deeper understanding and quenching our thirst for knowledge, it is surely more important to know your operating system and how it works.

Which is why for someone like me, who hopes to create effective results in life – better relationships, fulfillment, satisfaction and passion – study of the brain must remain secondary to the study of the mind.

If only it were not so damn fascinating!!

A better world

I do not believe in a perfect world.
I do not believe in a world without death, disease, anger or tragedy.

I do believe in a better world.

I have often felt my anger against ‘how things are’ versus ‘how things should be’.
I am sure you have too.
Anger against obvious injustices.
Men and women losing loved ones because of man-made reasons for one.
Anger against profit-motives overriding humanitarian concerns.

I have recently realized, anger against injustice is like war for peace.
It’s an anomaly. It’s useless. It’s pointless.

A more spiritual and a much more practical perspective to adopt would be to just start doing things that I would do if the world were just what I expected it to be.
If I want the world to be kind, let me jus believe it is and respond.
If I want people to be humane and selfless, let me just believe it is and respond so.

Somehow, this belief seems to have made a difference in my experience of life.

The questions is – what do I do when you witness proof to the opposite, which I surely will.

The answer – nothing. Just forget it and move on. Just tell myself, that this was an anomaly, an aberration – not reality and move on.

But then what is the truth. What is the world really like?
The truth is – nobody knows!!
Nobody knows whether people are good or bad or cruel or kind. There is surely no empirical proof and the subjectivity of the matter can be debated for eons to come.

The newspapers or TV Channels, if you choose them to be a mirror of our world are I believe, inaccurate.
They do not report reality, they just report what is newsworthy.
And more often than not, what is newsworthy is violence, tragedy and death – because they are abnormal.
Newspapers or TV Channels do not and can not report millions of people falling in love this very moment. They cannot report millions being selfless and kind and helping others. They cannot possibly be witness to the mind-battles millions fight and win by making a higher choice.

Since, no objective reality exists – the world will be whatever we choose it to be.
I choose a better world.
And remember Gandhi.

He said – “Be the change you wish to see in the world”

Here, Right Now…What am I up to?

Taking on from the last post – that was a very good question.

What are you up to?

There are layers to this seemingly simple question. The deeper we go, the more clarity we have.

Taken in first person, this translates into an immensely useful question that we can ask ourselves when debating choices, making decisions or reacting/ responding. Asking myself this questions often makes it clear what the higher, the better, the healthier choice is.

What am I up to?

Your four year old daughter spills a glass of milk on the floor.
You look at her and shout in anger.
What are you up to?

You are walking by on the road.
An old beggar raises a shriveled hand for loose change.
You smirk as you give him some coins.
What are you up to?

You just heard from friend A that friend B has been fired.
You immediately call up friend B.
Is it only concern or curiosity as well?
What are you up to?

We behave, we react the way we do because of thousands of reasons, many of which are not always clear even to us. We could be enacting our life dramas or fulfilling a pressing psychological need. We might want attention, love, a listener, a punching-bag etc..

Asking myself “What am I up to?” often shows me that the reason why I am doing something is not the real reason at all.

The most significant lies are the ones we tell ourselves.

Asking myself “What am I up to right now?” has helped me be more genuine, more in touch with myself and has helped me in making the higher choice.

What are you up to?

Me, Myself and Traffic!

I think we reveal quite a bit of our real selves when we are in traffic.

Traffic provides us with a unique scenario. A zillion people together in the same physical space trying to attain their own individual objectives.

Our encounter with other human beings while in traffic is wonderfully innocent. We do not have a history together, no baggage. There are no expectations for a future. The relationship we share with a stranger in traffic is devoid of any possible WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) factor.

Traffic provides an opportunity for interaction with others where nothing is at stake, there is nothing to lose and nothing to gain.

In such a unique situation, what are we up to? The answer I believe will reveal quite a bit about our ‘real’ selves. What part of our ‘self’ do we express when faced with this unique advantage-less situation?

Here is a never-before opportunity to be generous, kind, forgiving, happy, grateful.

Do we take it?

Traffic can be such a wonderful teacher about who we choose to be and which part of us we choose to bring forth.

This evening, while going back home… Check that rearview mirror and notice the teeming mass of humanity you are a part of.

What are you up to?

Terrorism and Loveism!!


In the age and time that I have lived – Terrorism is an important world issue.

I was born in 1979, so I missed most of the Cold War action. That was good, because it ultimately turned out to be nothing. A damp squib. I vaguely remember seeing the Berlin Wall fall and the break up of Soviet Union.

But as I grew up, what most definitely changed the world forever happened just a few years back. 9/11 – the digits chillingly the same that Americans dial to get help from Police when in distress.

Since then, Terrorism became an important issue. Probably, the important issue. Whether I will live to see the day a girl would decide to go out with me depends entirely upon whether my country is sending some troops to Iraq. It seems, in the cold war you could blame everything – from a rude neighbor to the weather – on Russia (or U.S depending upon where you were). After Russia decidedly stopped being a threat – there was a godforsaken peaceful vacuum in which the world existed.

Now, things are better. We have Al-Queda. We have an enemy, we have somebody to fight with. And that is great!

If we don’t know who we are against, if we do not know who is our enemy – we don’t know who we are!! Not having an enemy might lead to such wasteful things as introspection and worrying about unimportant issues like environment or poverty or even…. Shudder shudder… hunger-deaths.

We don’t have to worry about those things anymore. We have terrorism. Yippee!! We have to worry about smoking them out of their holes and shooting them down and waging war and counting dead bodies and preparing for bomb-blasts and hostage negotiations.

The world is normal again!

Thank you Osama uncle.

Terrorism – Terror-ism. Philosophy of Fear.

Interesting.

I wonder if there was another way to fight terrorists.

Is there something called Loveism. Well, the red underline under the word on my word-processor says there isn’t.

But imagine if there was.

Loveism – Love-ism. Philosophy of Love.

Love is the opposite of Fear. Isn’t it natural that we should fight fear with love? Fighting fear with fear could result in overall – well…… more fear!
Oh, you are a terrorist?
Know what, I am a Loveist!!

Here are some imaginary headlines from newspapers not yet published.

Loveists strike in the heart of New York! Police reach in time to be kissed.

Unknown Loveists sprinkle flowers and rosewater over Iraq.

Loveist head – Cupid Bin Bush warns: All those who believe in fear are our next target.

Loveism is a threat to the Weapons Industry – stocks plummet.

Here is a small news item:

Loveists attack London, Afghanistan, Iraq

By our international Reporter,
September 11, 2xxx

In a worldwide attack of chilling accuracy, Loveists today struck three corners of the world – London, Kabul and Baghdad at 8 A.M GMT.

London
Londoners were in for a shock as the Loveists forcibly stopped an underground train and distributed, again, forcibly – footstep counters (small digital devices which count the number of footsteps you take everyday!) and conducted small training programs on how to stay healthy. They segregated the smokers and shot water pistols at them. The stunned smokers were then presented with toy-lungs and asked to care for them. The hunt is on for the Loveists, but as always – they have left no traces. Later on a statement was posted at an unofficial site on internet which said a new group ‘Random acts of Extreme Kindnesses” has taken responsibility for the act.

Baghdad
A group of rebel U.S marines sent a chill down the spine of the entire world by revealing their real identities as agents of “Love Group for Middle East”. They shocked the Iraqis by reciting verses from the Koran over loudspeakers in the city. They had been practicing for months, reports say. They proceeded to the now-famous Abu Gharib prison and made a public apology on behalf of mankind to those who had suffered there. The matter has shaken the U.S army to the core and head in command was sacked the same evening. The U.S marines have been arrested for the heinous act and will be face a court martial.

Afghanistan
At about the same time – a group of about 100 loveists appeared out of nowhere – and in a precisely executed operation erected a plywood school building with a well stocked library and built a huge water tank for a small town near Kabul, all within eight hours. Eyewitnesses say, the authorities were kept at bay by a parade of strippers, who in eight hours of a sleazy dance show – managed to take their veils off and also exposed their elbows. The Mayor of the town was then kidnapped and tickled till he approved of both the constructions as legal.

World Reaction
The love attacks have brought the world community together in expressing their condemnation and disgust. President Gregor Bush of U.S.A in a white house release today said “The Loveists pose a threat to the world as we know it. They stand against the concepts of profit, power and believe only in spreading harmony and love in the hearts of our voters. We will not tolerate this. We will smoke them out of their holes and kill them. For without fear, there is no power”. He was supported by the British PM, Mr. Tony Blare. Indian PM, Mr. Manmohan Sing said that the Loveists were looking for a resolution of the Indo-Pak hostilities without any extended negotiations over hundreds of years. This, he said, went against the very idea of two countries making peace. The Loveists, he said – would never succeed in their loving schemes.
Stop Press
The French however, have extended their full support to the Loveism movement and has been declared a Loveist country.

Ha ha…
Ha ha ha …
Ha ha ha ha….

Very funny, you say?

Romantic but not realistic, you say.

Exaggerated? Yes.
Romantic? Very much.
Realistic? Totally.

How do we know? When was the last time we responded to terror with love? When was the last time we felt fear and said “I forgive”. As a race, when was the last time we did it?

And if we have never done it, how do we know what consequences will it bring?

If U.S, instead of vying for the oil of Iraq, provided water and food to Iraq and Afghanistan and marketed its contributions well enough – are there any chances that some of the hardcore militants would soften? If I am giving you water, will you kill me? Well, maybe after you read my book, no matter what I do, you will kill me – but I mean seriously. If we made a genuine, from the heart effort to help those who hate us – would hatred give way to shock… to guilt…. To tolerance… to understanding…. To appreciation… to love.

Maybe not.

But then,

Maybe.

Is it worth a shot?