Friday, December 30, 2016

New Year Resolutions and Plans can Wait!

(Image from

Well, that is not to say we should not be making them. It is only that they can wait – if only for just a few hours. It makes better sense to end the year with gratitude to others, before moving on to other things.

Watch this video I created.

Gratitude fills our heart and soul, other than being only fair that we thank people who have been part of our lives for the past year. Each person would have had a different impact on this – but with all of them we have experienced more of life which has better equipped us to face tomorrow. When we express gratitude selflessly, we expand our souls – becoming bigger than we were before. Similarly, it is important we receive gratitude with humility and grace. At the end of it, we have two people who have learnt to look up and see beyond themselves.

I take this opportunity to thank all of you who have been around – either in person or virtually. You have enriched my life in many ways, more than you might think.

Thank You All! There is a lot to look forward to next year! Best wishes for the New Year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

You know what - I am Right!

(Image from

Many of us disagree with the other over many matters. It does not take too long to form an opinion on where we stand. Quite often, once we have decided on our stand on the matter, we cannot wait for the other person to stop talking so that we may interject with our opinion. Many times, when the discussion at hand is not fact based but rather based on judgement, we find ourselves at opposite sides of the discussion. And the urge to declare our opinion superior is irresistible with a “You know what – I am right!” to finish with. 

Social media has magnified the effect several times. Just recently I was witness to one person posting a comment. What followed was a vehement objection echoing the thought “You know what – I am right!” (and not quite as polite as this!). Some of his buddies next jumped into the fray and the thought now moved to “He is right!” and very quickly morphed into “We are right!”. The speed at which this happens on social media can be overwhelming and also concerning. 

Wisdom tells us that we need to create space between a thought and our response – we need to respond with maturity rather than react recklessly. Mindfulness practice can be invaluable in this. The practice of consciously examining our thoughts and choosing our response in terms of fairness and best intent for both parties is something when cultivated is invaluable. 

I have personally felt that all major disagreements, relationship breakups and even conflicts all start with one person not adequately examining this one thought - “You know what. I am right!”. This person either acts alone or the thought travels (again un-examined) forward to others and morphs into more dangerous forms.

Achieving true balance in how we respond can take time – weeks, months or even years. We are after all, attempting to unlearn a bad habit formed since very long. The great Indian sage Ramana Maharishi had advocated a practice of rigorous self enquiry in understanding our true self. We can apply a similar technique by examining this one thought “You know what, I am right!”. If applied intensely it can traverse further thoughts and the underlying basis for why we feel this way. It is then a conscious choice on how we wish to respond.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Reminder from a Sparrow

My wife called me excitedly and I went quickly, to find her pointing her finger out of the kitchen glass door. There was a sparrow pecking away at some boiled rice. She then told me that the sparrow had perched itself outside our kitchen chirping. As she looked out, she felt it was calling out to her. Thinking just maybe it is hungry, she placed some boiled rice at the edge of the railing. The sparrow pecked away in haste and that was the scene I watched. While the scene had it's touch of sadness, it was also beautiful. It was delightful to watch as the sparrow ate the rice.

I thought it was worth taking a picture or a video of the scene and grabbed my phone. As I lifted my hand, though close to 5 feet away, the sparrow looked up and seemed nervous. I abandoned the attempt and lowered my hands. We just continued to watch. After a few minutes, the sparrow hopped a few steps and flew off. 

This is probably an every day event with nothing extraordinary. And yet, when we immersed ourselves in it, it seemed to fill our souls. Mindful moments have that effect. 

We, humans, have distanced ourselves greatly from nature and other life forms. When I was in school, we kids used to play a game called “Name – Place – Animal – Thing”. A starting letter used to be chosen and we had to find words in all these categories. While only a game, it is I think, a reflection of how we think. There is us – names, and there are places – quite useful to us, then there are animals (birds, reptiles are included) and finally things. Evolution has made us a powerful life form, and we deal with nature & other life forms from the aspect of power and control. If only we recognised the oneness of the universe and used harmony and understanding as the interaction principle, rather than power, the universe would be better off and consequently we too. I suppose we have such attitude issues with other humans many times as well.

It is unclear what the precise impact of global warming will be, but hopefully it can prompt us to introspect and re-align out attitude and approach to nature and other life forms.

We demand a lot from a universe which has very simply offered itself to us in it's entirety. We must learn. And today, it was a sparrow which was the messenger.

(Image from As I wrote I did not click a picture of the sparrow we watched).