These are a Few of my Favorite Things #45: Daria-Misanthropy & Introversion

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January 6, 2017. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Angela Carter on your history in a book

Just as there is creative writing, there is something called creative reading…reading is not a passive thing…

1001 Children's Books

angela carter quote

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August 24, 2013. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: #34 (Right Here, Right Now: A Short Film by Anand Gandhi)

Pondering over the imponderables like the meaning of life, Karma, etc is one of my favorite things. As is the nature of such enquiry I get no definite answers but these exercises help me shape my personal ethics n value system.

Karma is the basic law of cause & effect: As we sow, so we reap. Intuitively we all know that Karma seems to be a basic law operating all our actions but at times I wonder, is it so really? n if it indeed does, then how exactly? The thing about karma is that it is sometimes hard to discern it’s effect because Karma weaves a complicated Web. It’s not a simple case like we get wet in the rain n we catch flu the next day.

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Right here, Right Now, a short film by Anand Gandhi (Who is currently making huge waves with his Magnum Opus, ‘The Ship of Theseus’) explores this complex web of Karma rather brilliantly. A good story can convey obscure ideas more powerfully than anything else. An ounce  of story is worth tons of theory.

A young man in his haste to go some place takes two actions – he screams at his mother for making him late, and he lovingly appreciates his brother’s painting. By doing so, he strikes off two cycles – one of frustration and sorrow and the other of love and joy. His mother vents out her anger on her maidservant. His brother gifts the painting to his girl friend. Thus begins the cycles of sorrow and joy, forming a Domino stairway, leading to an unknown doorway. After shaking hands with 15 other characters and traveling through 17 locations, in just two shots, both the cycles meet at the end in an attempt to give a logical understanding to the seemingly absurd human life. It’s a humorous look at the bizarreness of the cosmic accident, otherwise known as life.

 

July 30, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Meaning of Life, Movies, Must Watch Movies, My Favorite Things, My Values, Philosophy, Reflections/Musings, Short-Story, Uncategorized, You tube. Leave a comment.

Quitting the Rat Race #10: Finding Joy in Chopping Wood & Carrying Water!

There is a Zen saying, “Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.” What’s the difference? The tasks are the same & yet different, ‘cos of a change in how we view them!!

Before enlightenment (in our context while we are still running the Rat Race; Quitting the Rat Race is nothing short of Enlightenment!!!) chopping wood & carrying water seem boring & mundane. We resent doing that…we do it grudgingly while our mind craves for excitement. We’d rather be living a high life, seeking thrills & excitement, planning our next purchase, next promotion, & impressing people with our shiny possessions. There is a huge Gap between reality & expectation & our mind is under constant stress.

After Enlightenment we start appreciating the beauty of mundane stuff. We perform the task of chopping wood & carrying water with Zen like ease & peace, basking in the sun & appreciating the miracle of existence & nature. Every breath is filled with peace & Joy. Profound Spiritual Joy can be found in everyday activities. The Chop Wood Carry Water attitude can be applied in the context of our everyday chores & help us realize that there is joy  in doing the laundry, cleaning, paying bills, bathing, cooking, and doing what many people sadly think is boring everyday needs. 

In this day and age where people rush here and there and express a sense of loss, because they feel they need to always be doing something noticable, I think this attitude would be a great healing tool, in teaching people that doing the “chores” of life, can in fact be a relaxing and growth enhancing activity.

This also reflects the attitude of rejoicing the way things are rather than always wanting for something else to happen. Usually our attitude is something like “If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.”~Abraham Lincoln. We just crave for the things that we don’t have instead of enjoying what has indeed been given to us. 

”The Master sees things as they are,Without trying to control them.He lets them go their own way, And resides at the center of the circle. He/She understands that the Universe is forever out of control, And that trying to dominate eventsGoes against the current of the Tao. Be content with what you have; Rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, The whole world belongs to you.” ~Tao Te Ching.

This is the only meditation I know. 
While I eat, I eat. 
While I walk, I walk. 
And while I feel sleepy, I sleep. 
Whatsoever happens, happens. 
I never interfere.

Bokuju

October 15, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Happiness, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Uncategorized, Wisdom. 4 comments.

Yogi Berra: An Unlikely Philosopher

Photograph taken by Googie Man

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Yogi Berra was one of the great base ball players, hitter and catcher, he also spent years as a successful team manager. He is more famous for his malaproprisms ( in fact his statements are a genre in it’s known & have been labeled Yogisms), but there is usually an element of  philosophical truth within them. But philosophical or not they just make me crack up every time I read them. (Taking a little break from the wisdom of Epictetus, we all could use a little laughter now & then)~If you don’t know where you’re going, chances are you will end up somewhere else.

~I really didn’t say everything I said.

~It’s deja-vu all over again.

~You should always go to other people’s funerals. Otherwise they won’t come to yours. 

~The only reason I need these gloves is ’cause of my hands.

~If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.

~If I didn’t wake up, I’d still be sleeping.

~I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early. 

~If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.

~It’s never happened in the World Series history – and it hasn’t happened since.

~It’s not too far, it just seems like it is.

~If you don’t set goals, you can’t regret not reaching them. (Yup this is my personal philosophy too, no goals, no work, no guilt)

~Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.

~You mean now? (When asked for the time.)

~We have a good time together, even when we’re not together. 

~The future ain’t what it used to be.

~If you come to a fork in the road, take it.

~Pair up in threes.

~Don’t get me right, I’m just asking.

~We made too many wrong mistakes. 

~When told by a queen visiting New York on a particularly humid day that he appeared “quite cool,” Yogi innocently responded “Thanks; you don’t look so hot yourself.”

~We’re lost, but we’re making great time! 

~I knew exactly where it was, I just couldn’t find it.

~If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.

~You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.

~You better cut the pizza in four pieces. I’m not hungry enough to eat eight.

~I usually take a two hour nap, from one to four.

~Steve McQueen looks good in this movie. He must have made it before he died.

~It gets late early out there. (Referring to the sun conditions in left field at the stadium.) ( I know what he’s talking about, it used to get late early in North-east)

~You can observe a lot just by watching.

~No, you didn’t wake me up. I had to get up to answer the phone anyway. 

~I really liked it. Even the music was good. (When asked if he liked the opera one evening.) 

~Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel. 

~Shut up and talk. 

~You can’t think & hit at the same time. (A focused approach! Zen like concentration & single Tasking)

~Once, Yogi’s wife Carmen asked, “Yogi, you are from St. Louis, we live in New Jersey, and you played ball in New York. If you go before I do, where would you like me to have you buried?” To this, Yogi replied, “Surprise me.”

September 15, 2011. Tags: , . Humor, Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Finding Happiness the Epictetus Way #5

Epictetus, (Artist's Impression), 1st/2nd cent...

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EpictetusStoic philosophy is not concerned with the usual complicated subject matter of philosophy, such as Ontology & Physics but it concerns itself with ways to make life easier & happier for an average person. Perhaps that is the reson for it’s appeal even today.

Today’s Maxim:

If you want to improve, reject such reasonings as these: “If I neglect my affairs, I’ll have no income; if I don’t correct my servant, he will be bad.” For it is better to die with hunger, exempt from grief and fear, than to live in affluence with perturbation; and it is better your servant should be bad, than you unhappy.

Begin therefore from little things. Is a little oil spilt? A little wine stolen? Say to yourself, “This is the price paid for apathy, for tranquility, and nothing is to be had for nothing.” When you call your servant, it is possible that he may not come; or, if he does, he may not do what you want. But he is by no means of such importance that it should be in his power to give you any disturbance.

My commentary:

Worrying is the most futile of our mind’s activities, because it achieves nothing. There’s a very apt poster which says that there are only two times you should not worry: When you can do something about the problem & when you can’t do anything about a problem.

“I vow to let go of all worries and anxiety in order to be light and free.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

Worry never robs tomorrow of it’s sorrow. It only saps today of it’s joy.” –Leo Buscaglia

“Practice being content, your world will become worry free.” (Still Thoughts-Jing Si Aphorism)

Mark Twain said it well when he quipped: “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

if there’s something you can do about the situation, why worry. If there’s nothing you can do about it, why worry!”

You may remember the A.A. Milne stories of Winnie-the-Pooh and Pooh’s friend Piglet. Piglet was an inveterate worrier: “Supposing that…?” “What if…?” “Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?” We are told that, after careful thought, Piglet was comforted by Pooh’s reply of “Supposing it didn’t?”  I can’t resist mentioning another favourite reference from the same books, this time from Eeyore: “It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily. “So it is.” “And freezing.” “Is it?” “Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.” (http://www.legalsecretaryjournal.com )

There’s a Buddhist/Zen story that illustrates how Human mind is accustomed to seeing only the bad situation instead of focusing on the good that is there:

There was once an old lady who worried all the time. Her elder daughter was married to an umbrella merchant while the younger daughter was the wife of a noodle vendor. On sunny days, she worried, “Oh no! The weather is so nice and sunny. No one is going to buy any umbrellas. What will happen if the shop has to be closed?” These worries made her sad. She just could not help but cry. When it rained, she would cry for the younger daughter. She thought, “Oh no! My younger daughter is married to a noodle vendor. You cannot dry noodles without the sun. Now there will be no noodles to sell. What should we do?” As a result, the old lady lived in sorrow everyday. Whether sunny or rainy, she grieved for one of her daughters. Her neighbors could not console her and jokingly called her “the crying lady.”

One day, she met a monk. He was very curious as to why she was always crying. She explained the problem to him. The monk smiled kindly and said, “Madam! You need not worry. I will show you a way to happiness, and you will need to grieve no more.”

The crying lady was very excited. She immediately asked the monk to show her what to do. The master replied, “It is very simple. You just need to change your perspective. On sunny days, do not think of your elder daughter not being able to sell umbrellas but the younger daughter being able to dry her noodles. With such good strong sunlight, she must be able to make plenty of noodles and her business must be very good. When it rains, think about the umbrella store of the elder daughter. With the rain, everyone must be buying umbrellas. She will sell a lot of umbrellas and her store will prosper.”

The old lady saw the light. She followed the monk’s instruction. After a while, she did not cry anymore; instead, she was smiling every day. From that day on she was known as “the smiling lady.”

Ajan Brahm says ‘The possibilities for the future are infinite. When we focus on the unfortunate possibilities, that’s called worry. When we remember the other possibilities, which are usually more likely, that’s called freedom from worry.’

There’s this cute song by Bob Marley ‘Don’t worry About a thing’ & Connie Talbot’s rendition :

 

September 12, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Buddhism, Greek Philosophers, Happiness, Inspiration, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Parables, Teaching Stories, Uncategorized, Wisdom. 4 comments.

A 100% Perfect Love Story:On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning by Haruki Murakami

Japanese writer Haruki Murakami

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‘On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful morning’ is one of my most favorite short stories by one of my most favorite authors, Haruki Murakami. The story tells us that we don’t fall in love with people who are beautiful as in being Ms or Mr Universe but with people who are beautiful to Us (there’s a quote which goes like this: Do I love her because she is beautiful or is she beautiful because I love her??)…they might not be 100% perfect (Beautifully Imperfect) but they are 100% perfect for us anyways. Sometimes we cross paths with them but things don’t go further because maybe we don’t muster the courage to express our feelings & the moments pass us by forever or mabe  we have to let them go because perhaps the timing is not right…but there are lucky few who meet their 100% perfect partners & have their own happily ever after…some people wait for a 100% perfect person to arrive in their life but they fail to appreciate the simple truth that there is no such thing as perfection in life only what is good (/perfect) for us.  As this joke goes:

A friend asked a gentleman how it is that he never married? Replied the gentleman, ” Well, i guess I just never met the right woman … I guess I’ve been looking for the perfect girl.”
“Oh, come on now,” said the friend, ” Surely you have met at least one girl that you wanted to marry.”
“Yes, there was one girl… once. I guess she was the one perfect girl.. the only perfect girl I really ever met. She was just the right everything … I really mean that she was the perfect girl for me.”
“Well, why didn’t you marry her,” asked the friend. “She was looking for the perfect man” he said.

Perhaps this Gentleman has not yet realized the wisdom : ‘ Don’t love the one who is beautiful to the world; Love the one who makes your world Beautiful’

Okay enough said…this enthralling story begins with magical words:

‘One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo’s fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl. Tell you the truth, she’s not that good-looking. She doesn’t stand out in any way. Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn’t young, either – must be near thirty, not even close to a “girl,” properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She’s the 100% perfect girl for me. The moment I see her, there’s a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert. ‘

 

You can read the story here:

http://www.mat.upm.es/~jcm/murakami-perfect.html

or better still watch it right here:


 

I Hope you enjoy this beautiful story as much as I do 🙂

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April 10, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Book Review, Books, Hmm..., Meaning of Life, Reading, Reflections/Musings, Uncategorized. 3 comments.

My Thought on Things things that Make Me Think!!!

#1 Money: I value money for what it is, A Medium of Exchange & the stuff with which we buy things that make our life comfortable but I’ve seen many a lives ruined by money, not only as in having loads of money will increase the probability of theft/robbery/your kin being kidnapped etc, but also people ruining their lives worrying over money matters (even when none of those scary incidents happen actually) (not that it is money’s fault but then money seems to do this to most folks). I mean people having sufficient money losing sleep over some money lost in stock market for example is actually hilarious if we think about it.  (I wouldn’t worry about money matters till the time I’ve enough for food n shelter, rest of the stuff is negotiable i.e. I’ll indulge in them if I have money n let go if funds are lacking). Money beyond a certain level is more of a tension rather than joy. Then one has to spend substantial time n thoughts over preserving n increasing it & I personally consider it time wasted. I’d rather spend all that time doing something that enriches my soul like reading/ writing; enjoying the finer things rather than thinking over money matters. I believe in earning a decent amount n then using it all to buy things that please one. Saving for imaginary future emergencies doesn’t quite make sense in my scheme of things. & slogging too hard to make wads of money n then blowing it all to buy luxuries to show off to others is also foolish in my books. Moreover the happiness that some people claim to get from things that money can buy is fleeting & not so fulfilling, ‘cos real happiness comes from within n not generated by external things or circumstances.


Most people seem to have forgotten the fact that money is just a means to an end & started worshiping money for its own sake & rather than spending it find more pleasure in hoarding more n more of it.Several researches have conclusively proved that Lottery winners return to their previous level of happiness after five years. But this hasn’t stopped many from the pursuit of more n more money. As someone jokingly remarked “All I need is a chance to prove that money doesn’t buy happiness.”!!!

A Research carried at Princeton University reveals In looking toward the future, women who concentrated much of their thinking on financial matters were much less likely to be happy with their lives. And, contrary to expectations, many of those with such worries had plenty of money by conventional standards, she said, suggesting that there is more at play in obtaining peace of mind than simply having cash. Conversely, those who didn’t fixate on finances like retirement savings, tuition for college or simply making ends meet, reported being the happiest of the group. (somehow I knew all this instinctively & though I’m from Finance background & been teaching Finance for ages I just hate wasting my time on thinking about money…I’ve always spent what I’ve earned on books, music, Net, clothes, Travel, Gadgets & saved only an itsy bitsy amount…somehow worrying over future is not a part of my DNA…I have no aspirations for what I want to buy 5/10 years later…things will work out the way they are meant to.)

Some quotes that reflect my views on money are:

To be clever enough to get all that money, one must be stupid enough to want it. G.K. Chesterton

~Possessions Possess.

~A man is rich in proportion to the things he can afford to live without. Thoreau

~A good mind possesses a kingdom: a great fortune is a great slavery. ~seneca

~Money doesn’t always bring happiness. People with $10 million are no happier than people with $9 million

It’s Official Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness

#2 Ageing: In a world that is obsessed with youth, I seem to be an odd person out: I’m actually looking forward to grow old. (I not only read ‘Harmony’: a magazine for elderly but find it very interesting too!!) I like myself more now at 35 than I did at 16. I know myself more, I’m surer of my own thoughts n feelings…I just loooooooooooove being older n mature n smarter. I don’t understand the attitude of people feeling very proud ‘cos they are young; my sis in law often brags she’s 10 yrs younger than me as if that is some achievement or badge of honor n what’s with so many women who are supposed to lie about their ages to seem younger than they are, WTF?? Some quotes on ageing that reflect my attitude:

A person’s age is something impressive, it sums up his/her life:  maturity reached slowly and against many obstacles, illnesses cured, griefs and despairs overcome, and unconscious risks taken; maturity formed through so many desires, hopes, regrets, forgotten things, loves.  A person’s age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories.  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Youth is a disease from which we all recover.  ~Dorothy Fulheim

#3 Death: While I’m not looking forward to death like I’m looking forward to growing old, I’m quite okay with death n dying (I’m not really afraid of dying as many are). I accept it as a part of the natural process of life on this planet. In fact death is what makes life worth living & exhilarating. I don’t understand people who want to live forever. The ultimate mystery of death makes life thrilling. Life is exciting because we have finite time here. I believe in rebirth/reincarnation, so I don’t view death as an end but only a transition/transformation.

#4 Karwa Chauth: is an annual ritual where married women Fast (don’t eat food one whole day) for the long life of their Husbands. It is celebrated with gusto n pride in North India. In my not so humble opinion nothing could be more stupid. There are two reasons for my assertion. Number one the concept itself is illogical. There is no cause n effect relationship here. How could one person not eating prolong the life of another?? If women truly believe that fasting one day in a year can increase lives of husbands then probably they should fast for a week or so to make their husbands live forever!!!

Second & more important reason is that this ritual subjugates & demeans women’s status in the society. Women touch the feet of husbands & eat food late night after seeing the moon n touching husband’s feet!!! For all this they get a gift from the hubby!!! Some women claim that now this is an egalitarian festival ‘cos some hubbies fast for their wives too, but I guess that’s doubly stupid ‘cos two stupid things done together don’t make it a right thing.

The whole thing is stupid, ridiculous, shocking & demeaning for women. But they seem very smug n happy about it. A well adjusted slave is the greatest enemy if freedom.

 

November 17, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Happiness, Hmm..., I-Me-Myself, Meaning of Life, MEMEME, My lifestyle, My Values, Personal, Quotations, Simplicity, Uncategorized, Wisdom. 6 comments.

On Not Judging Others or Trying To Fix Their Lives

A smiley by Pumbaa, drawn using a text editor.

Image via Wikipedia

I have always embarked on a journey of self development…right from building a positive self-esteem (after wallowing in self pity for years together) to controlling my temper, to having a high joy-to-stuff ratio (not being too materialistic), developing my own individuality, finding courage & happiness after divorce, having a joyful relationship in my second marriage. But one thing remains. My need to Judge others n feel my choices n lifestyle n behavior are superior to others (though at the level of my mind I know this is absolutely wrong to do so, I can’t help indulging in it). I mean I’m not a gossip or a loudmouth, but the fact remains that I judge people in my head n I know this is not good for me. I don’t offer unsolicited advice (okay I do in case of my near ones) but in my mind I always go like…

They are too materialist

They are too stingy

They should chill out more

They are too frivolous

They should be more systematic in their routine

They should do this

They don’t have Style

They are too conventional

They should be doing this

They shouldn’t be doing this

 

I want to stop it. This need to judge n offer advice is especially true in context of my family n super especially in case of my mom. I feel she doesn’t spend enough money on herself, despite earning a decent salary. She’s acting miserly without any reason. On many occasions I’ve cajoled, coaxed, reprimanded her to make her life a little bit more comfy…to spend money on herself…but everything falls on her deaf ears. Perhaps it is not she but me who needs to learn the lesson. I must learn to mind my own business n not dispense unsolicited advice however well meaning they might be. Offering others advice has many pitfalls for me:

~ When I judge others n try to correct their behavior I’m spending time ‘outside my own business.’ * I might as well be using this time n energy to resolve my issues, in bettering my own life n decisions.

(it’s funny how we always know how others should lead their lives but have no clue how to sort out our own mess)

~People don’t like others interfering in their life however well meaning the other might be (I have nothing but my mother’s welfare in heart…we often want to protect our loved ones from difficulties but we must realize everyone comes on this planet to learn their lessons & everyone must fulfill their karma). Everyone has their own ideas of what’s right, what’s wrong & what’s best for them n what gives them happiness. To have someone criticize it all the times is certainly irritating & not really welcome. I mean even I would not like it if someone told me I need to make major changes to my life in order to make me happy.

~When we are judging others n trying to solve their problems, it’s an additional burden on our shoulders…the one we are not even supposed to carry.

~ Trying to change others (even for their own good) is futile anyways. The only person I can change is me. So why spend precious energy on lost causes??

~When we Judge others we are like the man who is counting Other People’s cows–Buddha used to tell the story of a man who lived outside a village…every morning he used to count the cows belonging to others as they went to graze in the jungle & every evening he used to count them back..& he used to worry…100 went to the jungle in the morning, only 98 have come back…what happened to the other 2?? Were they lost??  Eaten by a lion?? etc…we may laugh at this man but all of us are like this only when we are trying to worry about others’ problems & solve them!!!!

~ Before Judging  others let us ask ourselves, are we perfect ourselves??

~Usually the urge to sort other peoples’ lives n problem is a symptom of our denial of our own problems…perhaps a subconscious way of evading our own issues…our unwillingness to face the fact that something might be lacking in our behavior patterns n our lives

In short judging other n offering advices to fix others’ life is not good for our own mental health n not good for our relationships. I hereby make a resolve to stop doing it by n by, however much I’m tempted I won’t try to fix them but spend that energy in furthering my own self n development. “Let my own improvement take so much of my time that I don’t have time to judge others”. AMEN

* As Byron Katie puts it : I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours and God’s. (For me, the word God means “reality.” Reality is God, because it rules. Anything that’s out of my control, your control and everyone else’s control — I call that God’s business.)

Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our own business. When I think, You need to get a job, I want you to be happy, you should be on time, you need to take better care of yourself, I am in your business. When I’m worried about earthquakes, floods, war, or when I will die, I am in God’s business. If I am mentally in your business or in God’s business, the effect is separation. I noticed this early in 1986. When I mentally went into my mother’s business, for example, with a thought like, My mother should understand me, I immediately experienced a feeling of loneliness. And I realized that every time in my life that I had felt hurt or lonely, I had been in someone else’s business.

If you are living your life and I am mentally living your life, who is here living mine? We’re both over there. Being mentally in your business keeps me from being present in my own. I am separate from myself, wondering why my life doesn’t work. To think that I know what’s best for anyone else is to be out of my business. Even in the name of love, it is pure arrogance, and the result is tension, anxiety, and fear. Do I know what’s right for myself? That is my only business. Let me work with that before I try to solve your problems for you.

If you understand the three kinds of business enough to stay in your own business, it could free your life in a way that you can’t even imagine. The next time you’re feeling stress or discomfort, ask yourself whose business you’re in mentally, and you may burst out laughing! That question can bring you back to yourself. And you may come to see that you’ve never really been present, that you’ve been mentally living in other people’s business all your life. Just to notice that you’re in someone else’s business can bring you back to your own wonderful self. And if you practice it for a while, you may come to see that you don’t have any business either and that your life runs perfectly well on its own.

November 14, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Buddhism in Bite Size Lessons: Lesson #15: The Five Remembrances

The Buddha’s Five Remembrances (Thich Nhat Hanh’s version)

I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

Image Via: http://kaalchakra-graphics.blogspot.com/

November 12, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

A collection of online resources for book lover: Part I: Read & download free books #1( legal sources only)

Free ebooks: where to read free ebooks (legal sources only) online:

http://manybooks.net/ The USP of this site is that books are available for download in many formats like pdf, Mslit (this is my favorite book reading format), text, etc. Moreover the books can be read online without downloading—I like this feature because I don’t like to clutter my computer with too many downloads. Excerpt for each book as well as reader review (if any) are available on the book page. The collection on this site is very extensive with lots of genres n authors.

http://www.getfreeebooks.com/ : has a huge list of categories for books including self help & techie books (e.g. tutorials on GIMP & Photoshop, photography, web designing, etc. Interface is very user friendly & books are also described on the main page itself in the reverse chronological order.

http://www.readprint.com/ : has Absolutely FREE online books; Thousands of novels, poems, stories; Easy to read books online. On the home page you are presented with a list of top authors & top books. On clicking a particular author you get a list of books available, a brief biography & memorable quotes.

http://www.readbookonline.net/ :   ‘This site contains about one thousand books from hundreds of authors. The collection of these books are in the following categories: fictions/novels, short stories, poems, essays, plays. Many of these books are works of American Literature, English Literature, and Irish Literature from well-known authors such as William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander Pope, Arthur Conan Doyle,Jane Austen… and more authors’ works will be added to the online collection. In addition to the subject pages, they have 3 special pages  ~Available Greatest Novels of The 20th Century  ~Available Works from Nobel Prize Winners & ~Available Pulitzer Prize Winning Books

http://www.booksshouldbefree.com/ : very interesting selection of free audio books. The books themselves are from librivox but it’s the interface & presentation that makes this site appealing proposition. The books are divided into several genres: Adventure, Romance, Science Fiction, philosophy etc. I found the philosophy section particularly appealing with many books that I’ve wanted to read for a long long time: The consolation of philosophy by Boethius, The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, Studies in pessimism by Shopenhaeur, etc. On selecting a particular book we are presented with a short description as well as an audio preview which is useful to get an idea of what the book is all about before downloading. The book page also contains links to full texts on Gutenberg n info page on wikepedia. The books can be downloaded in mp3 format as well as itunes download. Another useful feature is that we are presented with a menu of similar books which leads to expanding reading horizons. I discovered a delightful book ‘The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo.

May 12, 2010. Tags: , . Books, Reading, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Buddhism in Bite Size Lessons: Lesson #9

How to Become a Buddhist

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
You, for whatever reason, may be interested in Buddhism, joining the community or integrating the Buddha’s great teachings. Whatever your reasons, this article will teach you the basics of what you need to know to become a Buddhist. Siddhartha taught that all suffering derives from some sort of desire, whether it be your own or that of those around you. Think about that. How true is that statement? Very true, indeed. How many times has someone wanted a new car or to win the lottery and this doesn’t happen? They are sad. What if someone does get the car or wins the lottery? They’ll get sick of them, want more of what’s out there and inevitably suffer more. For years philosophers and social scientists have pondered how to achieve world peace, and all the while a Nepalese man named Siddhartha Gautama had discovered the solution nearly 2600 years ago. The fact is most people are unable to accept this ultimate truth and believe that as long as they have faith in a deity, attend regular assemblies with a congregation, and pretend to follow certain values, that somehow everything will “be all right.”
But you are different because you have chosen to come here, and to read these words. You are ready for change. You may be ready for Buddhism.

Steps

  1. Read about Siddhartha Gautama the “exalted one”, the father of Buddhism.
  2. Learn about the Buddha’s teachings which include (but are not limited to) the 4 noble truths and the eightfold path.
  3. Practice [Buddhist meditation] in order to free your mind from worry and focus on the present to achieve inner peace.
  4. The Buddha taught that as we all go through the life cycle, we will meet with some inconvenience, not always satisfactory and there may be suffering. It depends on how we deal with the situation. The word “dukkha”, has many meanings from suffering to dissatisfaction to inconvenience and so on.
  5. Understand and research the concepts of rebirth and Karma.
  6. Understand “dukkha” and Buddhist definitions of the many sufferings.
  7. Determine which of the many paths of Buddhism you would like to pursue, whether it be Zen Buddhism, Theravada (a very traditional form), or Mahayana. However simple, personal and non-ritual Buddhism is the best way to practice in the West; following a certain traditional path isn’t a requirement for enlightenment.
  8. Practice the Buddha’s teachings in your everyday life.
  9. Participate within your local Buddhist community. Helping others helps you as well.
  10. The Four Noble Truths are:
  11. Life means suffering.
  12. The origin of suffering is attachment.
  13. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
  14. The path to the cessation of suffering.
  15. The Eightfold Path is broken down into three sub-topics:
  16. Wisdom
  17. Right View
  18. Right Intention
  19. Ethical Conduct
  20. Right Speech
  21. Right Action
  22. Right Livelihood
  23. Mental Development
  24. Right Effort
  25. Right Mindfulness
  26. Right Concentration

Tips

  • Buddhism is a philosophy that can easily co-exist with your current (or childhood) religious teachings. You do not have to choose to drop your previous teachings.
  • Don’t try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better person.
  • Find a teacher or experienced practitioner to give you advice.
  • The basis behind precepts or moral discipline in Buddhism is ‘doing no harm’ so this is a recommended first step.
  • Accept with your heart and mind to achieve supreme knowledge (Samma-Sambodhi.) All humans are capable of achieving Buddhahood in this life, as the Buddha repeatedly stated, though many are not motivated or dedicated enough to attain the supreme goal.
  • Be kind to all you meet, for they are your equal.
  • Practice meditation on a regular, if not daily, basis.
  • Some schools of Buddhism recommend to practice vegetarianism, in respect for animals.
  • Try to abstain from intoxicants (alcohol, drugs). One must truly overcome suffering, not avoid it.
  • If you are Agnostic, consider learning about Buddhist practices. The practice of meditation is a strong mental tool, and the teachings encourage only kindness.
  • Buddhism does not have a written doctrine that can be used in fundamentalist arguments.
  • One must accept change – all things are transient. learning and meditating on this can help not to get too attached to any thing, as it will all change.
  • Humility is essential. You are no different from any other living thing. Work with yourself to be less self important.
  • This will help stop clinging onto things, be it material or conceptual. Don’t pursue enlightenment, stop the leaning of your mind.
  • See the whole.

Things You’ll Need

  • Only real requisite: Your mind
  • Patience and perseverance
  • Experienced teachers and friends with your same goal will be of great help
  • Dharma, the lessons of Buddha, will also be of great help
  • One of the best books on Buddhism I’ve read is: The Buddha in Your Mirror, (ISBN-10: 0967469783 or ISBN-13: 978-0967469782)

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Become a Buddhist. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

March 3, 2010. Tags: , . Buddha, Buddhism, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Chicken Soup for an Idler’s Soul #1: The Mexican Fisherman, My Hero, My Alter Ego!!!

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long,” answered the Mexican.

“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs…I have a full life.”

The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!

“You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.

“Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?”

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends!”


December 4, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Celebrating the Slack

We here at Ritusthoughtcatcher have kickstarted the celebration of the slack a few days ago (see the current reading list)….here I officially declare the Anthem for slackers

The Art of Doing Nothing–Naonem

I’ve looked at all the options

None are feasible to me

I’ve done a hundred workshops

But as strange as it may seem

Nothing seems right for me
For many different reasons
Looks like I should stick to
What I do brilliantly
Where my real talent lies and cannot be denied
Is in the art of doing nothing I tell you I do just fine
Where I can never get bored, where I have limited flaws
Is in the art of doing nothing I’m a professional bugger all
I wanted to be a pilot but I’m seven feet tall
I could have been a basketball champion
But I can’t control a ball
I would have worn a tie, worked in some company
But I couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery

It’s of use to no one
It doesn’t earn much doe
But I don’t do any damage
I’m nobody’s foe
It’s an honest profession, I don’t cheat or lie
I’m not polluting, rolling in it, manipulating people’s minds
Some say you need a goal to make life worthwhile
But what about a movie and a bottle of wine

Listen to this Awesome Fabulous n Inspiring song here:

http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/91938


July 29, 2009. Tags: , , . Music, My lifestyle, Slacker-Sutras, Slacking, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Vivaldi-Four Seasons

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July 24, 2009. Music, Uncategorized, You tube. Leave a comment.

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