Our Tulsi Plant An Update

I had written here about planting our Tulsi Plant.  After several repeated efforts to keep it alive, it has not survived.

We’ve tried keeping it at different locations, observing various ritualistic rules, changing the soil mixture but to no avail. I had thought that getting the Tulsi plant right would be the first step towards building a home garden in our balcony but the plans are suspended for now as we try and figure out how to plant and grow the Tulsi.

Desire

There are moments when I wonder if I had done such and such a thing at such and such a time, how my life would have changed. I realize the importance of doing that thing at that time but never actually do it. That is what makes me average. People who know what to do and then who have the gumption to actually do it are the people who are successful.

Where does the gumption to do it come from?

It comes from previous successes.

How does one go about building the gumption?

It comes from small victories.

Where do these small victories come from?

From taking the first step.

What motivates one to take the first step?

Having the desire to achieve the first step.

The world is full of suffering,

The suffering has a cause

The cause of suffering is desire.

Mumbai. January 8, 2016.

Magic

Human beings associate magic with things they do not understand. It is for a category of things that are not so spectacular so as to be associated with God.

We logically conclude as above based on very limited understanding and with techniques that have not matured enough yet to give us a complete picture.

But, one by one, we understand things that are magical. Hence, the category of magic is for me, a vision of the things we need to understand and the things we need to create.

Empathy

In our fast driven world, one of the spaces that needs the slow movement and quickly, is the services industry. There is need for fast and efficient service in the services industry but these need to be limited to work that can be done by robots rather than human beings.

Human beings are slow by default. Only a rare few can deliver the quick service that has become an expectation today. This becomes even rarer when there are no support systems in place to provide the speed in service even when the service provider sometimes wants to.

My post today is only to urge you, the customer, to show a little more patience and a little more empathy. The person providing you the service is also a human being and bound to have feelings, have his own issues and also trying to make a living.

If you are not getting a service at the speed that you demand, try to understand why. It will take you only a few more moments of your precious time and will lead to a much better understanding of the service that you sometime take for granted. You only realize the value of the service rendered once it is gone.

Lower your expectations. Show a little more empathy.

Mumbai. January 6, 2016.

Disease

I always wanted to be sick. Not for the physical discomfort or for the incredible pain but because those close to you took care of you. You could lay in bed most of the day, with someone attending to you – putting you to bed, giving you food to eat at bed and someone always checking on you. Everyone loves being taken care of. Don’t wait for a disease to take care of someone you love.

Mumbai. January 5, 2016

Hindu

It was only right before marriage when I sought to write down what my essential beliefs would be. I saw marriage as introducing chaos into my world, one which I embraced and enjoyed. Before the introduction of this chaos, I wanted to reduce my involvement in other things and prioritize them when I could not totally remove them.

One of the things that I had the most difficult time was to select what would be the set of beliefs that I would follow. I am a Hindu by birth but I have the choice of what set of beliefs I would take in and what I would keep out in the multitude of beliefs.

I read through books on Christianity, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism and Islam and chose Hinduism to be the broad umbrella in which I’d like to continue to stay. Like all teenagers, I’ve been through atheism as well.

After choosing the broadest stream that there is, in religious beliefs, there were still many more options left to choose from. Even within Hinduism there are a range of practices and beliefs. There are organisations and traditions. This too left with me far too much diversity and only increased the chaos.

After a study of the books, I looked at how many of the people I know practiced the religion on a day-to-day basis to help me get a little more handle on things. I noticed how my grandfather practiced Hinduism. He would light the lamp at the small altar in his house and pray. He would visit temples but would stay away from elaborate ritualism but still supported the festival in the temple close to his house. He had an interest in astrology but did not let it guide him. He was content with this and had a remarkably simple practice of the religion with little interest in its theology.

After a lot of thinking, I adopted this practice as well. I would pray every day at the altar at my house and visit the temple one day a week. I’ve had an interest in some philosophy and rather than take in too many differing views have restricted myself to reading stuff mostly  from the Chinmaya Mission and to talks on Buddhism on the Against the Stream podcast to satiate my philosophical appetite.

Mumbai. January 4, 2016.

 

Geography

Geography is a subject that I was deeply interested in during the first decade of my life. I got engrossed in it and aced in it in Class V and just as simply left it to pursue my interest in Astronomy.

Geography literally translates as “drawing of this world”. Representing the world around us on paper – in maps seems to have been the end result of a process. Studying the world around us, looking at the types of soil, the kind of physical features around us, looking at representing human settlements and representing them so that they may be used to understand topography, identify good places to build human settlements and also as a way of going from one place to another.

Applying this data, various maps were made – maps of topographies, political and physical maps, maps for soil etc. This data is now available via proprietary media like Google Maps and Survey of India and is also being crowd-collected again through initiatives such as OpenStreetMap.

I’ve always wondered of what use would it be in our daily life and how rarely we use this data to understand the world around us. We only mug Geography in school in order to obtain certain grades but don’t understand how to use it in our day-to-day life to understand the world around us.

As in all cases, there is hope. There are groups of people around the world who are collecting data about their surroundings by setting up personal weather stations and by mapping roads, buildings and places of public interest. This data is being re-collected again by the public because it is currently closed behind private and government silos. But, as in all other things we learned in school, its application to make better decisions in our life or even simple day-to-day things seems a little far away.

Mumbai. January 3, 2016.

Romance

Owing to lack of ideas to write about or just too many ideas, I asked my wife for suggestions for what I could write here today. She first suggested that I write about her. Since other fora exist for such intimate expressions, I digressed. The second suggestion she came up with was Romance.

I tried to keep away from writing about it but it seems she teased me into writing this blog post.

In my youth, my “romances” were imaginary one sided romances which involved me dreaming about girls I would love to have had a relationship with. These never left my mind and hence the girls thus involved had no idea about my interest in them.

As I grew up I moved aside girls and made way for space. These occupied my mind and my mental bandwidth so much that I didn’t have time for relationships. It would be false to say that I did not look at girls at all in this time but I appreciated honest and intelligent conversations with them rather than anything else.

In my college days, a single minded ambition for space took hold of me and was the only love I had in my life. I pursued this with an ambition that still amazes me but  these eventually led nowhere. Perhaps like other college romances?

Today, after an arranged marriage, my only romance is with my wife who complains that I am not a romantic at all. Yes, I confess to her, I have not had the time to learn of these things as I pursued other interests and perhaps she could teach me how to be a little more romantic?

Mumbai. January 2, 2016.

 

Nibbana

Happy New Year. One more year to get out of the cycle of life and death – to attain nibbana. In my college days, following the spiritual path had an attraction for me. I had even considered monasteries which I could join to follow this attraction.

I considered the Buddhist monastery in Bhutan. I dropped the idea because it would be too cold. Then I considered one of the Divine Life Society in the foothills of the Himalayas at Rishikesh. I dropped that idea too thinking there would be too many wild animals and I had no intention of going close to even a domestic animal let alone wild ones. I considered the Isha Yoga Center in Coimbatore but dropped that too fearing the constant pestering of relatives, begging for me to return to the materialistic world and because I did not want to see my parents in tears whilst I meditated and sought the answers to the various complexities of life. I finally settled for the Chinmaya Mission’s Sandeepany Sadhanalay in Powai, Mumbai.

I went there on a very hot day, bunking college. I met a man in orange robes at the gates of the Mission. Looking at me, he asked what I wanted. I said I wanted to become a monk. He looked me up and down and asked me to return on Dusshera day to be initiated as a monk.

I had a clear three months before the day. I prepared for engineering exams that would begin in the next week or two and finishing last minute submissions. As I was filing a journal for submission, it struck me that I would enjoy the worldly life more than one of the renunciate. I could ponder the questions of life even whilst I had my materialistic joy in between, when these questions would bore me. At that moment, I laughed and have never since considered becoming a monk myself. I do not think it is for me. It would bore me. I’d probably be done in a couple of years and I would still be left with a life to live. And that would annoy me.

Mumbai. January 1, 2016