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Ego is illusion

“Ego” is not something that you got because you did something well or because you became rich or beautiful or anything else. When you started kicking in your mother’s womb, the ego was born. The very first mistake of getting identified with your physical body means the ego was born. It is a defense mechanism. You got identified with this little body. This little organism has to survive in this vast existence, of which you have no perception to even know where it begins and where it ends. Just to survive, you have to project yourself like a big man. So the ego is born. It is a false reality you created just for the sake of survival.

So what is ego? It is like your shadow. The moment you have a physical body, you have a shadow. The shadow itself is neither good nor bad. If the sun is up there, you have a little shadow. If the sun is down there, you have a mile-long shadow. Whichever way the outside situation demands, that is the kind of shadow you have. That is also the kind of ego you should have.

To handle different kinds of situations in our lives, we need different kinds of identities. If you are fluid about it, if you can change from one to another gracefully, then you can play your role to the hilt and still have no problem with it. But right now, the problem is, you get so identified with it, you start believing you are that. Once you believe “I am the shadow,” what would you do? You would naturally crawl upon the earth. If you crawl upon the earth, how will life be? If we carpet the floor, you will crawl in comfort, not in joy. Suppose stones and rocks and thorns came? Then you will cry. That is how your life is going on right now. If the outside situation is carpeted, you will crawl in comfort. If little thorns come, you will cry because you are crawling upon the earth.

Right now, your whole experience of life is limited to the physical. Everything that you know through your five sense perceptions is physical. The physical has no purpose of its own; it is there only as a peel to the fruit. The peel means something only as a protective layer to the fruit. This body is important because there is something else inside. You have never experienced that something else. If that something else goes away tomorrow morning, nobody would want to touch this body, which would have become a corpse. So today, when it is there, we have to take care of it.

If we do not transcend the limitations of the physical, if we do not transcend the limited existence of the physical, then life will only be a struggle. If situations go well, you are very confident. If situations do not go well, you are diffident. And you always know, whatever situations are going well, any moment, things can go wrong. It is not even a question of going wrong. Life can just take any course any moment. Things can happen in a way that you do not like, any moment.

If everything in the world is going dead wrong for you, and you can still go through this life untouched, peacefully and joyfully within yourself, then you know life the way it is. Otherwise you are just a slave of the physical.

Today, there is too much unnecessary talk going on in the world about destroying the ego. This has been picked up from the scriptures. Whenever your personality turns ugly, you call it ego. This is just one more way of passing the buck. When your personality turns ugly, you must just see it as you. If you see “I am ugly,” you will want to do something about it. You would not want to be that way anymore.

But we have evolved so many strategies just to avoid this possibility. At a certain moment, whether you are beautiful or ugly, it is you, isn’t it? Keep it that way. Don’t create things which are not there – your ego, your soul, or something else. The moment you create things like “What is beautiful is my soul, what is ugly is my ego,” no transformation will be possible. If you see: “Whatever nonsense I am, that which is beautiful and that which is ugly in me are both me,” then, what is ugly will naturally start changing – you will have to transform, you can’t help it.

Today in the world, we need to bring about simple sense – life sense. Right now, people only have ego sense, they have no life sense. They are ego-sensitive, not life-sensitive. When you are like this, you only see yourself as life, no one else is life. You can trample upon anything and anyone. But if you are life-sensitive, everything is life in your experience, so you naturally behave very sensibly with every other life around you. The ego will no longer be a problem if you become life-sensitive.

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What is true love?

Everyone wants to love and be loved.  But, ideally, what does that mean?  Why do so many relationships crash and burn or at best, partners ride a bumpy road together?  The desire to be approved of, win people over or be with someone deemed special is ingrained in most societies.  We are raised to believe that it is essential to be loved and be in love, but rarely are we sure how to accomplish this.

Love is a major topic of literature, especially in poems and movies.  Love is also captured in many a song such as the Beatles 1967 hit: “All you need is love… Love is all you need.”  Countless scenarios abound in these tales, including heartbreak, intense longing, as well as both fulfillment and sorrow.  We often set up ideals, many similar to those portrayed in the various media produced by our cultures, and when these expectations are not met, confusion and frustration follow.

People think When you talk about love, it has to be unconditional. There is really no such thing as conditional love and unconditional love. It is just that there are conditions and there is love. The moment there is a condition, it just amounts to a transaction. Maybe a convenient transaction, maybe a good arrangement – maybe many people made excellent arrangements in life – but that will not fulfill you; that will not transport you to another dimension. It is just convenient.

When you say “love,” it need not necessarily be convenient; most of the time it is not. It takes life. Love is not a great thing to do, because it eats you up. If you have to be in love, you should not be. You as a person must be willing to fall, only then it can happen. If your personality is kept strong in the process, it is just a convenient situation, that’s all. We need to recognize what is a transaction and what is truly a love affair. A love affair need not be with any particular person; you could be having a great love affair, not with anybody in particular, but with life.

What you do, what you do not do, is according to circumstances around you. Our actions are as the external situation demands. What you do outside of yourself is always subject to many conditions. But love is an inner state – how you are within yourself can definitely be unconditional.

Make love your quality

If you are life, it is very natural to love. Every human being is capable of love but unfortunately, many have crippled themselves with all kinds of belief systems, opinions, philosophies, ideologies – everything except life.

Love is not imported from heaven

People either profess to love God or believe God loves them. The assumption is that love is a quality that needs to be imported from Heaven. But does anyone really know whether God loves or not? We bow down to whoever created this grand creation – a creation that boggles the mind. We bow down to the creator, but you don’t know whether he is love or joy or peace.

Love is a human emotion

Human beings are capable of love when they are willing. Unfortunately, we want to export everything that is beautiful in our life to heaven and live wantonly on this planet. Love, joy, blissfulness – these are human possibilities.

A simple process

Love is not something to do with someone else. Love is never between two people. It is what happens within you, and what happens within you need not be enslaved to someone else. For 15 to 20 minutes daily, go sit with something that means nothing to you – maybe a tree, or a pebble, or a worm or an insect. After some time, you will find you can look upon it with as much love as you do your wife or husband or your mother or your child. Maybe the worm does not know this. That doesn’t matter. If you can look at everything lovingly, the whole world becomes beautiful in your experience. You realize love is not something that you do; love is the way you are.

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Leadership – Managing A Large Team

A large group of people is not a team it is a chaos. Chaos is not a choice. The choice that you have made is to reap out of the existing chaos. If you choose to make something chaotic, that will be stupid. It will go somewhere else.

Something looks chaotic not necessarily because it is chaotic but simply because you have a linear mind and something does not fit into your straight line, so you think it is out of order.

For a gardener’s mind, a jungle will look chaotic. But no, there is a very deep order there. That is why a forest will live for millions of years and a garden will not last for a month without maintenance. People are thinking of something as chaos because they have an external view of things. They do not have an internal, integrated view of that. If you understand the ecosystem – today, slowly human beings are beginning to understand – we understand that is the greatest order because that is the only thing which has lived for millions of years.

A snake will not move in a straight line. This does not mean its mobility is not good. Just travel without using your limbs and see. Without limbs, the snake has found a way and he is very effective. He finds his own way of life, he chooses his terrain accordingly and he manages.

So this is about different types of lives, different types of people, different types of terrains, different types of activities – to reap the best out of it, you have to harness that, rather than beating everyone into one type of system, because in that, you may produce some level of efficiency, but you will destroy people and situations. Essentially, you will destroy the existing ecology and try to create something new.

For example, in ancient times to build anything, people have never bought a bulldozer and leveled any land. Whichever way the terrain is, they design accordingly and build on that. Nowadays if people want to build fifty houses, they just level out fifty acres completely. This is the worst thing you can do. You have no sense of how much life you are disturbing.

You think order means it must be in a particular way. No, there is a different kind of order, and if you do not allow that within the human mind, within the human consciouness and in the actions that we perform, then we become straight lines. Maybe somebody else appreciates us, but we are miserable doing what we are doing simply because we are straitjacketed all the time about how we should be and how we should do.

Instead of harnessing everything to its best the way it is, you want to turn everything the way you think it should be. This is essentially because you think too much of yourself. You think you are better than the natural forces that are working, which have shaped everything the way it has been shaped.

So chaos is not a choice. There is always a certain order, which is not logically correct. The order of the jungle is not logically correct, but it is the best order because it has lasted longer than anything else. Everyone is talking about building sustainable businesses. If you want a sustainable business, you must take to the order of the jungle.

Today, in India, we use the phrase  “jungle raj” (Referring to the Hindi word – rule) because people believe a jungle means disorder. I am using the word “jungle” as a very superior order. It is a highly sophisticated order where you do not see any straight lines, but still everything is in place. Everything is in such a way that it can function like this for a million years and still last. That is definitely a superior order, isn’t it?

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How to deal with criticism?

Once you are active in the world, people will throw all kinds of things at you. What life throws at you is determined by so many forces, but what you make out of it is one hundred percent up to you. Human beings have risen above the most impossible situations. Think of someone like Nelson Mandela. What he had been put through would have broken most people. From that, he came out as a gentle power, a kind of power that arises from not being identified with anything.

Even high-ranking law enforcement officers have told me, “To all great beings, this has happened. You know what Rama and Krishna went through. You will anyway go beyond that.” I said, “I didn’t talk to the law enforcement to tell me about what Rama, Krishna, or Jesus went through. Do you want that to be the precedent?” Unfortunately, well-intentioned people are wrapped up in their philosophies. Ill-intentioned people are action-oriented. This is what we need to change in the country – well-intentioned people must become action-oriented. Ill-intentioned people, we must wrap them up in their own negativity.

If we want the nation to move forward, all of us must do what works. There is too much activism, too little activity in this country. As a hangover from the pre-independence era, we are still honoring people who stop the nation from functioning. Non-cooperation may have been an appropriate way during the freedom struggle against our occupiers. But what sense does it make to lock down our own nation today? Bringing a nation to a halt is one kind of talent. Making a nation happen is a different kind of talent. If at any time, someone organized disruption in this country, there should be no chance for them to become a leader. These are elements who invest in other people’s problems. This must go. There is work to be done in the country.

If we can get people who hold key positions to change their mindsets, many things will change in the country. This includes bureaucratic leaders, business leaders, social leaders, and leaders in other areas. We have already touched about half of these people. They are making a quiet change, wherever they are. India has changed a lot in the last twelve years. This evolution happens quietly. If individuals make a fundamental change in the way they perceive, understand, and experience life, society will change. Let’s say you are interacting with a minimum of ten people every day. Whenever you meet someone, you can either leave a positive impact on them or a negative one, or you can just let them pass by.

Every time you have someone in front of you, you must see how to positively impact them. If you can make them smile a little more, you made a positive impact. This is the least you can do. Whether you know the person or not, whether it is a stranger or someone from an enemy country, can you genuinely smile at them? I’m not talking about forcing a smile. If you keep smiling every day without joy in your heart, it will kill you. If there is joy in your heart, you will naturally have a smile on your face. If you think what you are doing is important, the first thing is to work upon yourself. Why don’t you take stock of your life every month? Have you been a little better human being this month than you were last month? Have you become a little more joyful?

Criticism will anyway come. If you listen to praise, if you enjoy accolades, inevitably you will suffer criticism. If you want to have deep insights into life, no one’s opinion about you should mean anything to you. About work and activity, you can listen to other people’s opinions. About who you are and what you are committed to, you should not attach value to anyone’s opinion. To get to this place takes a certain amount of inner work. Most people are a product of other people’s opinions. If people keep telling you how good and wonderful you are, you will be floating on cloud nine. If people tell you otherwise, you will crash – cloud-burst.

Living in society, you cannot shake off criticism just like that. Becoming insensitive is not the answer – it is only avoidance. If you want a true answer, you need to work upon yourself. An inner dimension has to evolve that does not depend upon what is happening around you. If who you are is clearly established within yourself, then it won’t matter what people say. Some people say you are great, some people say you are horrible; some people say what you are doing is fantastic, some people say it’s no good – it’s okay. I don’t have time to look in the rearview mirror – my eyes are always on the road. In the rearview mirror, someone may be gesticulating angrily, someone may be praising you – it doesn’t matter.

This is not the time to enjoy successes or suffer failures. This is the time to put everything we have into creating the best possible results. That’s all human life is about – to strive for what truly matters. What happens or doesn’t happen is subject to various factors. But if you do not strive for what you truly care for, it is a wasted life. Before the drama starts, it is already a tragedy. So many issues arise just because people are not doing what they care for. If you are striving to create what you really care for, neither praise nor criticism will matter. If you can deal with situations without being affected by them, if the situations don’t decide who you are but you decide how the situations should be – that’s what I call success. That’s what I think you should strive for in life.

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Confusion is better than hasty conclusions

When I watch people in public places, it always amazes me to see how everyone is walking around, seemingly dead sure about everything. This reminds me of an incident that happened on my last flight to Delhi on the way back from the United States. From San Francisco to Europe, there were some hydraulic issues with the airplane, and it took off an hour and a half late. The last two nights before flying out, I had barely slept. After I had gone through all the news magazines and stuff, I decided to sleep. As someone who appreciates machines, and even more as an aviator, I am always sensitive to the sound of engines. I was fast asleep. Then suddenly, I felt the usual roar of the engine was not there. I sat up. The engine on the other side was roaring; on my side, it was silent. I opened the window and looked – the engine was spinning like a turbo fan.

I immediately called the hostess. She came, and I said, “The engine is out – why didn’t you tell us?” She said, “Ahh, I’ll call the captain,” and she went away. Then the captain came, and in a thick German accent, he said, “no problem.” I asked again, “The engine is out – why didn’t you tell us?” “No-no, no problem. We will have a safe landing. We are just a little slow, that’s all.” I said, “At what speed are we travelling?” “Oh, we are just doing about two hundred twenty knots.” This aircraft is supposed to do nearly five hundred knots.

I asked, “How late will we be?” He said, “Maybe about four hours, but no problem.” I said, “‘No problem’ – all right.” I took off my blazer and wore a t-shirt, just in case I had to swim in the Atlantic. I had not eaten anything. I asked the hostess to bring all the chocolates she had and ate up everything. I reckoned that if the plane touches down, I have enough rest, the right kind of clothing, enough energy, some chance, and I went to sleep. I thought the airplane might yaw into the airport. But about a little over four hours later, the pilot made a perfect landing. I thought that’s skillful.

Most people on an aircraft are not really aware that they are forty thousand feet above the ground in a tin can. When they think about the airplane, it is in terms of “It didn’t take off yet; it didn’t land yet. It’s five minutes late. My phone is not working.” They don’t really know a bloody tin can is flying in the sky with three hundred people. If out of thousands of things that are there in the aircraft, one small thing doesn’t work, all these three hundred people could evaporate, including yourself. Every time you get on an airplane, you should know that. Something should tingle within you, and you should enjoy it.

Once, when I got onto a small plane somewhere in India, someone told me, “It’s monsoon time. There is going to be a lot of turbulence. You must wear the seat belt.” I said, “Don’t worry – I enjoy the turbulence.” “Hehehe,” he laughed. I said, “Why are you laughing?” He said, “I also enjoy it.” You living without being conscious of what you are getting into gives you a certain bliss. Ignorance is bliss. But the best thing about life is to know all those things and to still do it. There is a different kind of joy to it.

People are trying to create a false sense of certainty in their lives by telling themselves or each other fanciful stories. You can call them what we want – sometimes scriptures, sometimes religion, sometimes a love affair. You are telling each other fanciful stories to somehow get through life. But when life knocks you on your head, suddenly these things fall apart, and you are confused and fearful. Fear, because you have come down to reality. It’s a blessing to come down to reality. If you have been going the wrong way and suddenly you realize you are confused, it is a good thing.

Let’s say you are walking in the jungle, and you know the way. But then you realize you don’t really know where you are going. You don’t know which is east, west, north, or south. When you are confused, the first thing is to stop and look. Pay attention to every little detail. Maybe somewhere, there is an indication which way to go. See how the sunlight is falling, or, if it is night, read the stars; look for a landmark, or at least watch which way the elephant dung goes. It may not take you to a city but at least to the water. If you are confused, don’t get into a tizzy and run all over the place.

The whole world is going through struggle and confusion, but how many will take a step in the right direction? Confusion is better than idiotic conclusions. Be glad that at least you are confused, rather than being a fanatic who is sure that he or she will go to heaven. When you are confused, you are fearful because you realize you were living with a foolish certainty, without knowing. When you suddenly realize you don’t know a thing about life, fear arises. You not knowing anything about life is not a new phenomenon. It is just that your silly conclusions collapsed for some reason – either life did it to you, or maybe I did.

If instead of going all the way wrong, halfway down your life you get confused, is it not a good thing? Otherwise, you will look bewildered when you are dying – that’s a bad way to die. Unfortunately, eighty percent of the people die looking bewildered. They never realized this was going to happen to them. The sooner you get confused, the better. Confusion means none of your conclusions are holding up. When you are thoroughly confused, all your faculties will be sharpened – you will see and hear much better.

It is like you are walking in the jungle with headphones on. Even if a tiger roared, you did not know it. Suddenly you realize you don’t know where you are going. You pulled off the headphones. Now you are thoroughly confused and a little fearful. Once you get used to the confusion, you will see it’s a good thing. And you will also see you are not alone. Most people have to go through this process of confusion and struggle in life, unfortunately. Isn’t there some other way? There is. Otherwise, why would I be here? But, after three lifetimes, I have become wise. This is my final round. The possibility is open, but I don’t believe everyone will jump by themselves. Something has to push them.

If you have realized that you are confused, don’t make further investments in the wrong direction. Stop, wait, look. Try to figure it out. When you are confused, your intelligence is alert and active and constantly looking. That’s how you should be. You just have to learn to do it joyfully. Clarity is a consequence of handling your confusion consciously.

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Knowledge or Ignorance, which is a bliss?

What you call knowledge is a certain accumulated information. Whether you want to cook your meal, manufacture a car, produce a great computer or build a building, this accumulated knowledge is important.

What you call as a cook book or an engineering book or a medical book is simply accumulated knowledge. If you do not make use of the accumulated knowledge, then you will have to reinvent the wheel every day. Only a fool will invent things which have been invented a thousand years ago. A wise man will use what has been invented in the past and produce something else for tomorrow.

One day a young student from a university went to a football match with a bottle of soda and popcorn in his hand. An old man was sitting there. He went and settled down next to the man, looked at him and said, “You old people, your generation, I don’t know how you lived. You guys really knew nothing. See, our generation, we have grown up with computers. We have nano-technology. We have spacecraft. Today we can communicate at lightning speed to anywhere in the world. You guys really lived a primitive life. So definitely you people cannot understand our ultra-modern generation of people. You are primitive because you did not have any of these things when you were growing up.” The old man heard all this and, particularly loudly so that everyone hears, he said, “Yes, my son, when we were growing up we did not have all these things. So we invented them. Now, young shit head, what are you doing for the next generation?”

What has been known and invented long ago, you accumulate that knowledge so that you do not have to reinvent the wheel every day. You do not have to end up like a fool who is doing the same things over and over again. So, is knowledge useful or not useful? You decide.

When I say knowledge about life, we are talking about this life which is you. You cannot accumulate knowledge about this life because, from accumulated knowledge, if you come to a conclusion about life it will become prejudiced knowledge. It will not allow you to experience anything.

Once you have knowledge about something, you cannot experience it fresh. It is already a prejudiced conclusion. When it comes to doing something physical or material, you need knowledge, but to conduct life you do not need knowledge you need clarity.

So when we talked about dropping the knowledge, we were talking about life, not about various disciplines of life. To do medicine, to do engineering, to do music, to do this and that, you need knowledge because you have to make use of the past experience of life not just of yours, but of a million other people or a million generations which have lived on the planet. If you do not use that, then everything has to be lived fresh, everything has to be taken fresh. At the same time, if you allow this knowledge to encroach upon your clarity of perception, then you will not see anything the way it is. The old knowledge will constantly superimpose itself. Nothing new will ever happen to you.

To have knowledge and not be identified with it, not allow it to encroach upon your clarity of vision, is very vital. To see things the way they are right now, you must be free of knowledge. To know what was in the past you need knowledge. So knowledge is in your memory. If there is clarity; a clear distinction between what is your memory and what is the scalpel of your intellect, then there is no problem. If your memory is sticking all over your intellect, then this knife will lose its sharpness, and it cannot cut through anything. It is in that context that I said knowledge has to be dropped.

Intellect is like a knife: the sharper it is, the more easily it cuts through anything. If a lot of things are sticking to it, would it be sharp? Can it cut through anything? So if you know how to keep the past in the past and be aware of what is there right now, then knowledge is not a problem. But if you have no clarity, you only exist because of what you have accumulated in the past, you become an accumulation. Then knowledge is a burden.

When it comes to living life right now, you cannot have knowledge about it because it is life. You have to perceive it; you have to know it now. Buddha knew it, Krishna knew it, someone else knew it what they knew does not matter. You cannot experience it through him. You can use his experience, but you cannot use his perception. You have to perceive. There is no other way. In this context do not burden yourself with knowledge.

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How to handle yourself when someone lets you down?

The problem is wrong assumptions. You are making assumptions about others, about yourself, and about creation. You got a little too romantic and thought the relationship happens by itself. Relationships need to be managed. The question is, are you a good manager or not? Still, however good a manager you are, things can happen. About someone letting you down…You may have unrealistic expectations about people. I know the question is coming from a certain experience, and I am not trying to belittle the pain. I know what it means to you as an individual. But at the same time, you need to understand that you came alone into this world, and you will go alone. You entered the relationship because you needed it.

No matter how much drama you create around it and what assumptions you make about the relationship, it is about trying to fulfill your needs. Whatever relationships you have formed in your life, you have done so to fulfill your needs, be they physical, psychological, emotional, financial, social, or whatever else. If you keep that in mind, you will approach your relationships with a certain humility. If you get carried away by your own thoughts and emotions, you forget about the fundamentals of the relationship, and you forget to manage it well. That is when things can go wrong.

If you are disillusioned with something or someone, it means you come to reality. This may sound cruel, but this is how life is. All people that we hold dear will go, or we will go. Even if you hold hands and die together, you will still go separately. These are your emotions. When you form a relationship with someone, it is an agreement between the two of you to help each other experience some sweetness of emotion.

As you mature, you need to learn to keep your thoughts and emotions sweet by your own nature. If your thoughts and emotions are pleasant, you can share them with other people. But if, without the other person, your thoughts and emotions get bitter and unpleasant, if someone has to offer life support every day, they will get tired. If others constantly have to keep you happy and loving, it is a burden on them, and they may run away at some point. When they escape, you think it is betrayal. Again, these are all your emotions. In the larger context of existence, you are just a piece of life.

You are making deals and relationships with people for various purposes. This not only applies to the relationship between husband and wife, but also relationships with business partners, friends, children, parents, and so on. Always remember you have entered the relationship to fulfill your needs. They may have entered the relationship for their needs, but that is not your business. Your business is to understand that they are valuable to your life.

They are adding value to who you are. When you are aware of that, you will manage the relationship in one way. If you think you are of great value to someone, you will manage the relationship in another way, which may not allow it to last long. Or you may be doing all the right things and still it may go wrong. Whichever way it is, it is your business to make yourself into a pleasant and wonderful piece of life. With or without someone, please make it happen.