Vedanta and Me: The Two people inside ‘You’

In recent times there has been an increasing discussion around two people inside each one of us. They are namely – the rational self and the emotional self.

These two people sit inside every one of us. I am not sure if you have a choice to have them or not. Nature ensures every one of us has both of them. In some people, one of them is more pronounced than the other. This is the reason why you come across people who are more rational or some who are truly emotional.

One must spend time with themselves to understand how each of these two people operate within you. Knowing is the first step to using them wisely for your development and happiness. Align your activities with the one (emotional / rational) that is more pronounced within you.

A metaphor that is used to describe these two people is comparing the emotional self within, to an elephant and the rational self within to the mahout (rider). You can reflect on this interesting thought. It will tell you why, when you don’t manage your emotional self within, you end up going through emotional swings – when the mahout (riding the elephant) loses control over the elephant, there is little that can be done.

Vedanta Philosophy clearly highlights the importance of honing the intellect so that the emotions are always within limits. Read other posts under ‘Vedanta and Me‘ section to know more about this philosophy.

Whatever the implications and how each one of us wants to  handle them, acknowledging that there are these two characters sitting inside each one of us is the first step to any development.

Happy Thinking!!

Vedantic Wednesday: Regrets in Life

This is not a question that is discussed when you are under 60! While passing reference is made to ‘regrets’, they don’t bother us till we are old and over.

I came across an article that seemed a reminder to what we (probably) should miss doing when we are young so that we don’t regret over it when we get old. Link: https://www.fastcompany.com/3062962/6-things-you-may-be-doing-that-youll-seriously-regret-in-10-years

While the article says ‘6 things you don’t want regret’, there could be many more that are important to you. But even in other lists that I can come across, I find some of the above six repeatedly appearing. May be its important for you to consider the above six.

Many times when people get old, they wonder why they spent their life going behind achievements only!

Be ambitious, but have a life too. Think and take a call.

Vedantic Wednesday: Ingratitude is sin

Almost everything that we possess today is given to us by someone else. It is rather strange that we find fault with the people who helped us get here.

I recently heard a young management graduate complain about the company where he gained all the relationships he builds on today. While I concur on many things he said, I wondered how he could speak against someone who opened up a world for him. A world that he thinks will take him places.

The above person is not an exception. During the course of the past year I must have seen at least a dozen such examples directly. While their rational seems right, their behaviour opportune, I wonder if life is best lived this way. It is these brilliant minds that age fast, become sick, and eventually achieve stunted growth. Could ingratitude be a factor?

The positive side is that ‘Gratitude’ seems to make life even better. What is ‘Gratitude’? At its very essence, it is a sense of ‘Saying Thank You’. Thats all!! So simple, isn’t it? But not as easy as you think. Saying ‘Thank You’ is not lip service, it is a heartfelt service. It makes you feel so good. It relaxes. It energises. It calms. I am also thinking it could possibly detox.

Looking at how we live life, I have come to believe that ‘Ingratitude is sin’. It is probably the fastest way to stress oneself out.

Think. Reflect. If it makes sense, become grateful. Else Move on with the next thing.

Happiness!

Vedantic Wednesday: Is this ‘maya’?

I have been looking for a new arrival book in the library for a week now. A search on the electronic catalogue says ‘available’ but I have not been able to locate it. When I asked the library professional manning the front desk, she said ‘it is at this (identified) location’. Both of us search to no avail. She does some search and figures out that it is a new arrival (cannot be issued out) and hence will be in the new arrival section. She dashes off with a sense of accomplishment only to return disappointed. After all this, she could only say that ‘Someone must have taken it to read. We will have to wait until they put it back’.

Something that says ‘available’ but remains ‘unavailable’ reminded me of the subtle message that philosophy attempts to teach. While this may not be the ideal example for teaching the concept of ‘maya’ – why not use every opportunity to remind ourselves of the elusiveness of this world?

So, is this ‘maya’?

Some humour, some truth! That’s life.

Think.

Vedantic Wednesday: Ego

When ‘ego’ lifts its’ ugly head, human beings (man/woman) display certain strange signs:

  • Develop anger at the drop of a hat
  • Not able to accept ‘no’ for an answer
  • Cannot accept an alternate view on anything
  • Become unreasonable
  • Become vengeful
  • Become happy at another’s unhappiness
  • No concept of forgiveness

While noticing these are signs of ego at work, it also has implications on oneself:

  • Become irritable
  • Reduced focus / concentration
  • Internally restless / disturbed
  • Increased stress levels
  • Lack of sleep
  • Erratic moods

And all of these (and more) lead to more of the former list. The cycle repeats itself and eventually becomes a downward spiral leading to a loss of one’s ‘self’. The fall to a state of unhappiness and disturbed living is inevitable. These are beautifully described in Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita as the ‘Ladder of Fall’.

The worst thing is – most of the people who fall into this spiral are people who have read the Bhagavad Gita. Life is full of irony. It is no surprise that sages and saints constantly repeat that the goal of spiritual evolution is to drop the ‘ego’.

I don’t know the ‘ego’ but I know it shows itself all the time. I saw one manifest even today. The problem is not in seeing it in the other – all of us can. The real chance to evolve and become eternally peaceful is in becoming aware of it within oneself. It is the only way to everlasting peace and happiness.

Happy Thinking and Happy Becoming!

Vedantic Wednesday: Giving and Taking

Though from my school days, giving has always been a part of me; it is more of a habit. It had been ingrained into us that there are people less fortunate than us and it is our duty to give. Though it seems true and a good starting point to start sharing what we have – it is not the end. ‘Giving’ as a form of sharing to those more unfortunate than us, means we see differences between us and them. This difference over time becomes complexes for both parties. While  this does not seem too obvious, they remain in the heart of both parties, only to erupt at future situations in life. Some feeling good about their good deeds, others feeling bad as receivers! Does this not make ‘giving’ simply a ritual?

With all due respects to ‘Giving’ as a wonderful practice, I think the opportunity to practice giving by choice without feeling that the other person is less fortunate, creates a huge difference. This choice makes all the difference. It teaches us one big lesson. While through the process we keep hearing from all that the act was holy, one thing that everyone missed telling us was that greatness of the receiver.

How could we have given had it not been for the other person to receive it? How often have you happily asked and received something? If you haven’t done it, try it. It is really difficult, especially if you are one (of the majorities) who has been grown up saying you are fortunate!

Taking is a much higher exercise than that of giving. Taking seems to be more holy than giving. Hence I took the effort to tell this person who received it, a wholehearted ‘thanks’. The reason was – he gave me the opportunity to serve him. But not all can help by taking, especially without the feeling of being less fortunate. It takes a great personality, a highly evolved soul to do that. If we are truly lucky we can experience ‘Giving’ this way. It lifts us and makes us blessed.

The next time you give, try to give without this feeling of superiority. It can change you.

Think about it!

Vedanta and Me: Celebrating What: Life or Events?

I had a moment to celebrate this week, but as my tendency to stay quiet took the better of me, I told my dear friend not to celebrate. I told her that the very wishes and her happiness itself meant a lot to me. She was quite put off by my response. I had to explain my reasoning. But it rests on some serious philosophy, which can bring some peace to life.

It is often quoted in the scriptures that life should be a celebration. But sadly this is either totally missed or totally misunderstood. Lets look at both these lapses.

Celebrating is not Life: There are many people who don’t enjoy things in life. There are even schools of belief that life must not be enjoyed. Many belonging to this realm treat enjoyment as sin. They even put down any form of comforts in life. They spend their lives taking on pain and suffering. They believe that life is nothing but pain and suffering.

Celebrating Life means enjoyment: There is another group that does the opposite. They simply want to celebrate everything. All they need is a chance, not even a reason, to celebrate. While this looks close to an evolved stance, it actually only mimics it. Celebration does not mean making noise or going to parties. Inevitably we find that the people who do all this are also the ones who go through depression and loneliness. Much of the lifestyle problems are experienced by those who belong to the upper echelons of society. Hence this also seems wrong.

Then what’s the real understanding? Let us understand that there is a huge difference between celebrating life and celebrating events. This is what makes the difference. Think about it. If we celebrate events, then we are bound to see some events that we may not like so much and hence we have to court suffering too. But if we remain away disconnected from events in the first place, then chances are high that we can remain away from both joy and suffering. But once you hear this, you feel that a life like that is all boring. Sadly this is untrue. There is a way of celebrating life everyday. What is that? Celebrating that you are alive today! Celebrating that you were given the chance to see, hear, eat and receive help! Celebrating the chance to serve someone! Celebrating the chance to see success equally as courting failure!

Celebrating Life is more important that Celebrating Events. It can lead you out of this short term joys and short term sorrows. Life is to be celebrated and this is where a philosophy like Vedanta comes in and helps. It asserts that Life is to be celebrated, but this is all about celebrating the chance to attain freedom, liberation. It is not about those petty distractions (joys and sorrows) in life.

Think about it!