Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Wisdom of "Dirty Feet": Enjoying the Clay-Puddles of Life

In my recent trip to a beautiful hill-station Yelagiri (Tamil Nadu); I learnt a life lesson - "The Wisdom of Dirty Feet".

Yelagiri is around 170km from Bangalore. A small hill station with a lot of greenery and beautiful landscapes. The frequent bursts of heavy rains lasting less than an hour further enhanced our hill-station experience (especially when you are sitting in a warm room with tall glass windows, sipping hot tea or coffee and having a nice chat with friends). 

The resort had planned a guided hiking to a vista point that provides a 180 degree view of the valley below. The mud-trail was quite wet and slippery because of the rain. Our guide, an elder gentleman, was merrily walking with a smile on his face. His feet were dirty as he was walking without the shoes. I was thinking probably he didn't make much money to afford a pair of shoes. I was walking behind the guide - finding it hard to avoid the muddy puddles on the narrow jungle trail. I didn't want the clay to permanently stain my shoes. Trying to find suitable dry place to put my feet was making the track stressful. I was contemplating abandoning the hike. My guide observed my struggle. With his gestures he suggested that I should take-off my shoes. Walking in the jungle without my shoes ? My reaction was - No Way ! But then I thought all the locals are walking bare-feet let me give native wisdom a try. With some hesitation I decided to take off my shoes. As I started walking the wisdom of Dirty Feet dawned on me. The clay-puddles / mires that I was avoiding before, I was enjoying walking through them now. The clay was soft and walking on it bare-feet was a nice feeling. This is probably the longest outdoor bare-feet walk I have ever done. Once we reached the vista-point the view was stunning. I would have missed the view and the joy of walking if the guide had not inspired me to get my feet dirty. 

Reflecting on this experience I realized that many times what we are avoiding can be the source of joy or a solution to our problems; and what we are protecting or holding onto can be the reason behind unhappiness. In the journey of life, when the events start bothering us - may be we can evaluate if we are resisting something out of our habitual comfort? Are there shoes that we can take-off and enjoy the clay-puddles in the journey of life ?         

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Lesson in Ego-less-ness: A Beautiful Experience of the divine within....

A Lesson in Ego-less-ness: A Beautiful Experience of the divine within....
One can call it a simple coincidence yet I consider it a divine intervention that on the "Guru Purnima Day" I was invited to speak on "Innovative Teaching Methodologies"at a National Seminar for Technical Teachers (Engineering Professor) at Belagavi (Karnataka).
My topic was based on inspirations drawn from the Ancient Wisdom of Gurukul system. In the first half, I was sharing Top 7 Traits of a Perfect 10 teacher (established based on my research during my academic engagements). As I was presenting my research findings, conducting some experiential activities and blending everything with my thoughts on teaching; I paused and asked if anyone had any question. A senior professor, much more experienced than me raised his hand. He wanted to come to the stage and say a few words. I was happy to have a water break after my first 60 minute session as he went close to the mike to speak and then choked...
I offered him water, and he said no. Then with a gentle smile he said, "I am not crying; I am just in deep state of emotions. Mr. Arun's words have touched me very deep inside, he has connected with my soul". And what he did next gave everyone a lesson in humility and exemplified that if you know how to listen you will find teacher in everything - He turned towards me and as he was telling that I have touched his heart and and soul and invoked new thoughts in him; he said on this Guru Purnima, he wanted to touch my feet....
I didn't know how to react or respond... yet the divine within me knew that he is not doing it to my physical body but to the divine spark he at that time saw in me. Speechless, emotionless, thoughtless - I also bent and touched his feet... The divine in me had inspired him to stand in front of 200 of his colleagues (three forth of them much younger than him) and do something that brought me to a total state of Ego-less-ness.... I could only utter - "Idum-na-mum"....
We both hugged each other and felt connected for life...
Such experiences and such people make this world a better place to live; and this life worth living.....
My salutation to all my Gurus on this Guru Purnima.... It is because of all of them - I am what I am.... Their wisdom and virtues live in me... Keep showering your blessings !!!

Monday, July 6, 2015

The disappearing Art of Greeting Each Other

There are many significant transitions in the world, some good and some bad. Yet the most awkward transition I find is that of the modern generation striving to be independent and trying hard to eliminate interdependence. One of the causalities of this transition has been the Art of Greeting Each Other. 

Just walk down to any play-area where kids of all ages are playing. They may be from well educated families and going to the best of the schools. Yet, a very small percentage of these kids will bother to acknowledge folks / elders around them. They will start conversing with you; but they will make no attempt to say"Hello"or "Good Evening"or our brand in the world "Namaskar". In our times, this was considered the most uncivilized behavior a kid can show (i.e. disrespect towards the divinity in all of us). Those of us born before 90s still have an automatic response to meeting elders - our hands will fold or we will bent immediately to touch their feet. In most cases, that resulted in a joyful blessing in return. And I wonder why the kids these days are not inspired to Greet Each Other and get blessings of elders? 

Is it a hip thing? Is there a renewed logic behind the change that I am unaware as my hair turn gray ? Why parents are not feeling bad about it and inspiring their kids by sharing the value of getting blessings / positive vibes of others? I am sure the same kids (large majority these days) are not even greeting their parents in the morning. What will be their respect index for the same parents when the parents age ? 

I started saying "Namaskaar"to at least to kids around me; and some of them are now responding with a shy "Hello"or "Good Morning". Why am I making it a big deal out of Namaste ? Because the essence of spirituality is to believe that we all are equal and we should love all as all of us have the same spark of divinity. The very first point of invoking that feeling of equality is Greeting Each Other with love and respect. 

A kid says "Namaste" - I bow to / respect the divinity in you....and a grown up or elder has to respond with "Namaste - "I too bow to / respect the divinity in you". The humility of greeting is the power that makes other willingly treat us as equal. This is the foundation of universal love and world peace. Hope you can inspire a few around you (or get inspired yourself) to say a heartfelt "Namaste or Namaskar" when you meet the next human being :) 

Namaste - I wish you a Joyful Day !


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

USA or Motherland India - The Debate Continues....

I just came back from Boston with a lot of pleasant memories. Met with some great Indian friends settled there. They have done well. We feel in awe to hear a rags to riches story and I met many this time who have lived it after moving to the US.
One debate continues... Those who settled in the US having strong view on why India is bad to live; and people like me who have come back (surrendering my green card) from the US having strong views on why I enjoy life in India more than the opulent / comfortable life of the US. I had thought of not engaging myself in this debate but when I heard only negatives being talked about India, I was not able to resist sharing the goodness of India that people are not able to / willing to see. May be, both sides want to justify their decisions by having some strong feelings about the alternative they have rejected. In the core of their hearts, they might be wanting to come back to their motherland; and may be I feel I should have stayed back.
After a lot of introspection on my return flight, I felt that those who have stayed back should focus on the reasons that inspires them to stay in the US leaving their families and legacy behind; and we who have returned should focus on what India offers that no other country can. There is no need to find faults in the other side of the fence to justify which side we have chosen.
What do you think ?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Will reading Gita / Bible / Quoran Benefit You ?

Joy Mantra of the day (mental note from some discourse I had heard):
A man goes to a master and asks "Would reading Gita (or Bible or Quran) help me with my life's problems and make me happy? "
The master gave a beautiful reply, "Gita / Bible / Quran" for sure has science of how to be happy in them. Now it depends on you if you are ready to benefit from reading those books? "
For me the learning was that we should not just ignore Ancient Wisdom that has survived test of time; nor we should just accept it blindly. We need to deploy CBI and then decide if we are in a position to benefit from the wisdom.
P.S.: CBI stands for Curious Bold Inquiry. Curious - with the intent to expand our horizon not to just criticize; Bold - be receptive to the outcome / learning however different it is from our existing views; and Inquiry - is a systematic investigation or search for knowledge.
Have a Joyful Day !!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Let us make Deepawali 2014 - A Deepawali with a Purpose !!!

Deepawali comes and goes away... The day is one of the most celebrated festivals in India. Even the rest of the world is aware of Deepawali's meaning: Festival of LIght. Deepawali is to bring to life Indian philosophy of - "Tamaso-ma, Jyotir-gamaya" - From the Darkness to the Light i.e. from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge so that we can live a life of peace, prosperity and joy. But let us reflect how we are celebrating Deepawali, and are we truly living its spirit ?

Deepawali comes and goes. We leave Mother Earth and Bharat Mata suffocated with the poisonous smoke of Chinese Crackers. The pollution is not only in the air; the residual chemicals, resulting paper garbage and the loud sound also pollute earth, water and ether.... The culture of gambling, which often goes along well with drinking even pollutes inner environment.

See what we have done to a festival that started with the purpose of celebrating victory of good over evil. We started celebrating it with the evils polluting all elements of the Mother Nature and ourselves.

Let us make Deepawali 2014 a different one. Let us revive the true spirit of Deepawali. We still have more than two weeks to plan - How can we make this Deepawali a different one? How can we eliminate the elements of darkness from the spirit of this festival and bring light to its own spirit.

Here are some ideas to kick start the thoughts -

- Can I light a lamp of happiness in a home where there are no resources to light even a oil-lamp ?
- Can I decorate my home with just the traditional earthen lamps ?
- How can I eliminate dangerously polluting Fire Crackers from the celebration without dampening the spirit of celebration ?
- How can I once again make it a festival to get new friends and meet new people by sharing the joy / sweets with others - Not just as a formality; but as a way of building new bridges (or to repair the old ones) ?

* More importantly, how to first apply "From Darkness to Light" - the Theme of Deepawali - to its own spirit; and make Deepawali 2014 a different one !

I am sure with your creativity you can add many ideas to this thought... You are very welcome...

Share your ideas / plans; and after Deepawali; do share how well you executed your plans of Celebrating Deepawali 2014 - A Deepawali with a Purpose !!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Living in NOW

While diving for pearls of Ancient Wisdom, I found a poem expressing inspirational feelings of Sun Dial:

The shadow that my finger casts
Divides the future from the past
Behind its never returning line's course
The vanished hour, is no longer yours.
In front of it lies the unknown hour,
In darkness and beyond your power.
One hour alone is in your hands,
The NOW on which the shadow stands.

The poem also brings back memory of a couplet written by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpai ji:
Kal-Kal karte Aaj haath se nikle saare
Bhoot-Bhavishyat ki chinta mein; Vartmaan ki baazi haare !!!

(Living in yesterday and tomorrow; the Todays are slipping out of your hands
Worrying about the future and the past; you are are losing the battle of the PRESENT)  

Live you life to the fullest in NOW !!! Who knows "Kal Ho Na Ho :) "