Thursday, August 25, 2011

Skip YOUR meal for a STRANGER, once a week

60+ year old Anna Hazare skipped all meals in a week for the nation's health.
Can't you skip one a week for your own health?

Donate your meal to someone you don't know, once a week.
Feel fulfilled, though not fully filled.

Do the following, once a week:
  • (You or your spouse) Cook at home as if you are going to eat.
  • Find someone you don't know who needs food.
    • Pick from a nearby temple, public facility, or traffic intersection.
  • Invite him/her and serve the food yourself. Alternatively, pack and hand over the food yourself.
  • While fasting, drink water regularly, and a fruit juice just once. No solids.
Please leave a comment here, every time you have done this.  Don't donate money or yesterday's food!

  • Physical: Fasting once a week cleanses the body of toxins. Recommended for good health.
  • Physical: Great weight-loss program. The middle-classes are eating more than they need.
  • Vital: Redirects praanic energy normally spent in digestion for better use; keeps you sharper & energetic
  • Moral: Anna daanam (Food donation) to a needy person is the best of all charities.
  • Emotional: Daanam becomes tapo yajna (sacrifice) only when you feel the pinch of it. 
  • Emotional: You will feel fulfilled instead of just filled.
  • Social: Practice of brotherhood. Expands your circle of "mine" to include others. Earns goodwill and influence in community.
  • Social: Alleviates the organized begging mafia problem rampant in cities today.
  • Spiritual: Helps practice mastery over lower impulses - Yama, niyama.
  • Spiritual: Daridra Narayana seva, for those who believe in such things.

Monday, August 22, 2011

How to make India's Anti-corruption movement succeed?

What are the deeper psychological forces at work behind the ongoing anti-corruption movement in India vs. the anti-establishment movement in Egypt and the middle east? What is their difference? What will be the consequence in each case? Which is a better approach?

To help understand such issues, here is an article by Sri Aurobindo that explained similar forces at work during India's independence movement.

The Aryan Ideal and the Three Gunas

Here are some excerpts. First, the example of the French revolution:
Rajas cannot endure long if it goes along its own path without any control; ennui follows, Tamas appears, as the sky instead of becoming clear is overcast and becomes devoid of the movement of air after a storm.
This was the fate of France after the revolution. There was in that revolution a frightful manifestation of Rajas and at the end of it a resurgence of Tamas to some extent, then another revolution, followed by tiredness, loss of force and more degradation - this is the history of France during the last century. Whenever there arose in the heart of France a sattwic inspiration born of the ideal of liberty, equality and fraternity, Rajas tried to fulfil its own tendencies after gradually becoming predominant and turning itself into a demoniac mode opposed to Sattwa. Consequently, as a result of a reappearance of Tamas, France, having lost its former force, is in a sad and desparate but uncertain state...."
In contrast, see what happened in India straddling the 19th and 20th centuries during its Independence movement:

The only means of avoiding such a result is to engage powerful Rajas in the service of Sattwa. If the sattwic temperament is roused and becomes the guide of Rajas, then there will be no danger of re-emergence of Tamas, and uncontrolled force, being disciplined and controlled, can do the country and the world a great deal of good according to high ideals. The means to rouse Sattwa is the spiritual temperament - to renounce selfish interests and deploy all one's energies for the good of others - to make the whole of life a great and pure sacrifice by surrendering oneself to the Divine.
It is said in the Gita that Sattwa and Rajas together suppress Tamas; Sattwa alone cannot conquer Tamas. This is the reason why God has in modern times spread the force of Rajas all over the [Indian] land after rousing the religious spirit and the Sattwa inherent in us. Great souls and religious leaders like Ramamohan Roy have ushered in a new age by reawakening Sattwa. In the nineteenth century there was not the same awakening in politics and society as in religion. The reason was that the field was not ready. That is why there was no harvest though plenty of seeds were sown. In this also can be seen how kind to and pleased with India God had been. An awakening caused only by Rajas cannot be enduring or completely beneficial. It is necessary to rouse the spiritual force to some extent in the mind and heart of the nation. It is because of this that the current of Rajas was arrested so long. The manifestation of the force of Rajas since 1905 is full of Sattwic disposition.
We can only nourish that Sattwic temperament by spreading the religious spirit.
And here is Sri Aurobindo's perspective on what we should focus on, going forward:
The ease with which brotherliness, self-knowledge and love of God possess the Indian mind and express themselves in action is not possible in the case of any other nation. What is necessary is the renunciation of Tamas, the control of Rajas and the manifestation of Sattwa. This is what is being prepared for India in accordance with God's secret purpose.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Issues faced by a mid-level corporate professional

Minutes of an interview with a mid-level corporate professional in the management ladder:
The objective of this discussion was to peer into the life of a typical senior manager in the modern corporate world, his/her attitude and its effect on quality of life. Subsequently, the intent was to identify ways to help him/her achieve a higher level of all-round fulfilment and accomplishment.

Why are people so attached to corporate careers?
power, ability to influence people

Corporate life is the only opportunity to influence people and be successful nowadays.
create & drive decisions, contribute to their bosses' goals.
360' goals. Impact at all levels.

What's making people spend so many hours at office?
There's a place where somebody listens to me, which is not possible at home.
Corporations are full of patients. Companies are spending millions of dollars to get alignment.
India has so much youth to become professionals in coming years, has so much need for counseling.

I want to make choices. I want to stay wherever I am and spend good amount of time on personal needs

How to have a balanced life while accomplishing more than what is being done today?
Create a lunch forum (toastmasters) for senior managers - a forum for them to come and vent out.what's in their minds without fear of repercussions.

Small Indian companies - spend big bucks for top management, but hire lots of less expensive, not so efficient workers - Pyramid with a large base.
Deliver with an inefficient team - has a boss who runs multiple things. Lots of money involved.

Counselling for such managers should involve a prescription with three components
- do a, b, c for your own self
- do this to people who report to you.
- do this to your upper management.

How to get recharged and how to manage this world
Senior leadership seminars and courses do a wonderful job. With just 15 survey questions - can read you in and out.

Need a survey sheet for starters.

Mid professional in India - is the target
Typical Roles played - parent, husband, loans, educator, tension in office, commutes long-distance, frustrated by traffic, babysit many juniors for small things, expectations from extended family is more on him.

too much focus on intellectual parity as a basis of social connections.
who are the people with whom you're passionately connected? Feel pained when they are in trouble?
Where you want to spend your time when you have no other tensions.
When do you feel contented?

Example profile:
Simha raasi: I need to tell people that they should "do". Only then I feel contented.
The day I am organized and set ground rules for how things are done, I feel good.
The day I feel cheated, I go to the other extreme.
The day people irritate me - does lot of posturing, I feel depressed and pissed off.
How often do you feel exalted or irritated. I connect with people - remote teams.
You should feel free to express your opinions freely in front of me.
When I address people,  I build trust with whomever I work.
How do you manage to come out of frustration? Philosophy, vent-it-out, take your "self" out of this crap.
intellectual honesty saves from BP etc. Being truthful - no hidden agenda.
No "stampede on somebody to go up".
Create empathy in others towards oneself. Unselfish attitude towards people.
Build emotional relationships at work. Delegation - empower people?
Give insightful feedback to juniors/others. Only then will they take it. Otherwise >/dev/null.

I follow 7-habits of highly effective people. Excellent course!
The four combinations of important vs. urgent
what do you want the world to talk about you on the last day? Use that to prioritize your actions today.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Know what you miss by ignoring Spirituality

Here is an article where Sri Aurobindo explains what Spiritual outlook and practice do to a person internally.
The Strength of Stillness

There are two great forces in the universe, silence and speech. Silence prepares, speech creates. Silence acts, speech gives the impulse to action. Silence compels, speech persuades. The immense and inscrutable processes of the world all perfect themselves within, in a deep and august silence, covered by a noisy and misleading surface of sound ...
The greatest exertions are made with the breath held in; the faster the breathing, the more the dissipation of energy. He who in action can cease from breathing,--naturally, spontaneously,--is the master of Prana, the energy that acts and creates throughout the universe.
In this calm, right knowledge comes. The thoughts of men are a tangle of truth and falsehood, satyam and anritam. True perception is marred and clouded by false perception, true judgment lamed by false judgment, true imagination distorted by false imagination, true memory deceived by false memory. The activity of the mind must cease, the chitta be purified, a silence fall upon the restlessness of Prakriti, then in that calm, in that voiceless stillness illumination comes upon the mind, error begins to fall away and, so long as desire does not stir again, clarity establishes itself in the higher stratum of the consciousness compelling peace and joy in the lower. Right knowledge becomes the infallible source of right action. Yogah karmasu kaushalam.

What is true Yoga? Is it Divorced from Life?

Here is a great article by Sri Aurobindo spurning the popular belief that Spirituality is divorced from Practical day-to-day life.

Here is an excerpt:

Yoga is communion with God for knowledge, for love or for work. The Yogin puts himself into direct relation with that which is omniscient and omnipotent within man and without him. He is in tune with the infinite, he becomes a channel for the strength of God to pour itself out upon the world whether through calm benevolence or active beneficence. 
When a man rises by putting from him the slough of self and lives for others and in the joys and sorrows of others; 
- when he works perfectly and with love and zeal, but casts away the anxiety for results and is neither eager for victory nor afraid of defeat; 
- when he devotes all his works to God and lays every thought, word and deed as an offering on the divine altar; 
- when he gets rid of fear and hatred, repulsion and disgust and attachment, and works like the forces of Nature, unhasting, unresting, inevitably, perfectly
- when he rises above the thought that he is the body or the heart or the mind or the sum of these and finds his own and true self; 
- when he becomes aware of his immortality and the unreality of death; 
- when he experiences the advent of knowledge and feels himself passive and the divine force working unresisted through his mind, his speech, his senses and all his organs; 
- when having thus abandoned whatever he is, does or has to the Lord of all, the Lover and Helper of mankind, he dwells permanently in Him and becomes incapable of grief, disquiet or false excitement, - 
That is Yoga. 
Pranayam and Asanas, concentration, worship, ceremonies, religious practice are not themselves Yoga but only a means towards Yoga. Nor is Yoga a difficult or dangerous path, it is safe and easy to all who take refuge with the Inner Guide and Teacher. All men are potentially capable of it, for there is no man who has not strength or faith or love developed or latent in his nature, and any one of these is a sufficient staff for the Yogin. All cannot, indeed, reach in a single life the highest in this path, but all can go forward; and in proportion as a man advances he gets peace, strength and joy. And even a little of this dharma delivers man or nation out of great fear. 
It is an error, we repeat, to think that spirituality is a thing divorced from life.

Started a new Practical Spirituality Group in May 2011

The previous group that I started in September 2010 was in a corporate office, and had to be stopped as I left that company.

However, a new group has started meeting in Kaggadasapura, Bangalore, every wednesday from 8 to 9.30pm.
This group has started recording the sessions and uploading the audio to Google Docs.