Khalil Gibran’s “On Work”

A student of mine shared a poem with me early this morning. I started my day with a smile for two reasons: (a) a student thought to share it with her teacher (blessed); and (b) what i read was plain truth.

The below extract is from that poem. It is one of the many philosophical prose / poems of Khalil Gibran. Among the many famous works of Gibran, I am particularly a fan of “The Prophet” for it gives answers to many of our daily (so called) struggles. From the very interesting  piece titled “On Work”, I found myself reading the below passage over and over again. It captures in poetic form what many philosophers struggle to communicate. I couldn’t help but share it! Is that the power of Gibran has “on work”?

Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

This is only a small part of the poem / prose “On Work”. If you are inspired buy a copy of Gibran’s work and immerse yourself in the truths of life.

But remember “Work is love made visible”


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: 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.


Vedantic Wednesday: Why we can’t be true?

During the course of facilitating workshops for entrepreneurial leaders I have found companies stop short of delving deep into discovering values! The result is poorly identified shallow values. When values don’t mean so much to us, how can we be true to them? Hence this results in value breaches almost every day. Another big reason why this happens is because we are so worried about immediate responses. To ensure that we gain business in the short term we compromise on our deeply held beliefs. This is critical to reflect on considering the fact that the most important outcome of this is – agitations within the entrepreneur or leadership team.

Think about it!

Why is it so difficult for entrepreneurs to define their beliefs? It is because of a shallow purpose. Many times entrepreneurs are not entrepreneurial. They are not sure of what they want. This leads them to be kicked around like a football by all who pay. This will result in short lived, stunted and unsatisfied lives. Being entrepreneurial means not searching for success, but for living what one truly believes in. This requires every individual to figure out what they truly want to do with their lives. Once you decide and figure out what you want in life, write it down somewhere. Read it every time you feel confused over a decision point. If the opportunity is not in line with what you have always wanted to achieve don’t do it. This makes taking decisions in life easy. More importantly there is now at least a reference point to which you can be true.

Vedantic Wednesday: Feeling BIG by Making Others feel SMALL

The world seems to understand the concept of relativity. It is one of the finest fundamentals to recognize the magic of life and living. But a big part of this understanding which distinguishes our level of maturity depends on where we place our reference point. Where is your fixed point, with reference to which you are moving?

Most of the time when we engage in conversations we find everyone wants to speak! There are hardly any listeners. Even more startling is that all of this talking has nothing other than how one is better than most others. Almost without exception most of us will respond with a bigger act of achievement as soon as we hear one in a group. I have found most people can’t stand listening quietly without speaking about their achievements.

It is becoming extremely difficult for anyone today to let go of an opportunity to feel bigger than most others around, if not everyone else. We go to great lengths to make sure this happens. If we are not able to do this in absolute (which is the case in most average human beings in society), then we try to establish this feeling by putting others down. By putting down institutions and people around us we make ourselves look big. This need to feel good and bigger at any cost is the source of most agitations that we experience. The recognition of this fact and questions thereof initiates us into spiritual advancement. But sadly even in spirituality we find there is tremendous competition to prove who is more spiritual than the other! There doesn’t seem to be any end to this madness, at least in the way we understand relativity.

There is a substratum on which the movement is happening, but that cannot be in the world. Now that’s plain logic. The truth is that all changes happen on something that is unchanging, but it takes effort and courage to go beyond our comfort zones and delve deeper to find it out. If we do our life will be full of peace and happiness. But why are we not even making the attempt? It is because of this misguided thought that we can feel peace and happiness once we achieve and live up to our dreams. If we possess and experience, peace and happiness is a given. Bigger, Better, Richer seems to be the mantra and today happier is also getting added to that list. Some people even showcase this in a relative sense and this entices the ignorant.

Truth is fairly obvious. We ignore it just to align with the larger herd of society. The woman (men included), who doesn’t fall prey to this illusion, evolves. Is that not the reason why every prophet in some way was a revolutionary figure?

Don’t put down others in conversations, it is actually hurting us in the long term and making us agitated. Every time you hear even a small achievement, simply acknowledge and encourage. If you feel the urge to showcase your greater achievement, just remain silent. It is fine if the world does not hear it just now. The best part of this is the resulting peace within us.

Try it!

Vedantic Wednesday: Nature of Likes and Dislikes

One child says she loves chocolates. The other immediately responds saying she hates them. Why these opposing feelings towards the same object, in this case, a chocolate? Where do these children learn what to like and what to hate? Who taught them these?

Adults teach and children learn. Adults act and children learn deeper and faster. Yes, that’s the truth. Every time a child sees their well wishers do something, it makes an impression on their minds. They learn that this is right or wrong and this creates a deep impression on their minds, which almost never changes. The problem is not in learning that a particular object is good or bad, and should be liked or hated. The problem turns into the bigger learning that we must learn to sort things into two compartments – that which we like and those that we hate. As children grow up, you can see these impressions taking enormous forms even while in school. It is not uncommon for us to hear children say, they like someone and they hate someone; someone is on their friend list and there are a few on the enemy list! Can you imagine small primary school children talking about enemies?

This grows and becomes a permanent feature in almost every adult. They all (including all of us) have likes and dislikes. We have them with foods, clothes, music, books, and more importantly people. This division is simply a figment of imagination. Just like the chocolate in the case of the children we discussed in the beginning, the goodness / badness are both not in the object (chocolate) in their case. Similarly as we grow up, this lack of understanding makes us feel that our likes and dislikes are always in the objects and beings around us. Hence we get affected by the nature and actions of the objects and beings that we come in contact with. Either we are happy that they align to our worldviews and like them or we are unhappy that they are not the way we want them to be, and hence dislike them. This constant stream of likes and dislikes makes us happy and sad alternately. We are not even aware that it is our misunderstanding which is actually causing this constant change in our state of mind. If we even get a doubt, we can reach out to philosophy to help us understand how to start walking out of our problem. If we do, our life becomes more peaceful. Vedanta is one such school of philosophy that explains this ignorance.

Vedantic Wednesday: Seeking attention in life, at what cost?

In today’s world we see a lot of people putting down others to feel big. During one of the recent felicitation functions of associates, I found a person trying hard to gain attention and he achieved it only by putting down a few people. This made me remember how we fight to gain attention at any cost. We don’t realize even upon seeing it number of times that we are not going to be remembered here for what we have achieved! Surprised? Ask yourself who are the people you remember from about five centuries back? Probably no one!!

Still we all fight to gain attention! To gain this attention we also go a very long way in finding something that is simply interesting, even if it means we are making another person / institution uncomfortable (if not embarrassed). This experience of listening to a young middle aged man lose control over his speech on stage reminded me the importance of living life in absolute. It seems like we cannot live life if there are no people around! I am not even for a minute suggesting that we should learn to live alone – but on the contrary I am exploring the possibility of finding something in life that we can simply do, irrespective of acknowledgement. Sounds difficult, but most of the people who seemed to have lived a full life, seemed to have lived simply for the sake of some action – not even for any results, let alone, acknowledgment.

Why are we seeking attention in life? And at what cost are we seeking it?

Think about it!