The dangerous habit of refuting truth

Since long I wanted to share my thoughts on the dangerous habit of refuting truth but was never enough inspired to pour out everything in words. Tonight, I am all set to write about it but before even digging into the subject, there is an important question that we must ask: what is truth?

Truth means different things to different people. For example, I stand on my balcony at 06:30 a.m. in the morning and find that the sky is blue. Someone standing on his balcony at 05:25 p.m. might find the sky filled with yellowish colours and someone walking on the street at 10:30 p.m. might find the sky completely dark. But the truth is that the sky itself has no colour. So, what is truth? At different time, in different place and as seen by different persons, truth has different meanings. But in fact, truth is universal. We are blind to the universal truth because we are blinded by the worldly pleasures and we are misguided by our ego.

To most human beings, truth is found in their religious books and this is something I strongly, logically and scientifically deny. Truth is above religions and above holy books. It has nothing to do with man-made gods. It has nothing to do with our temples, churches and mosques. It is free, infinite and one. As we might all have our own version of truth, I will still need to take you through the subject of this post: the dangerous habit of refuting truth. Hence, in order for us all to be on the same page, we will make an assumption of what is true.

Let us all agree that this is a universal truth: stealing is wrong.

Let us take an example in line with the above. On the main door of a supermarket, it is written in bold ‘If someone is caught stealing, he will have to pay a sum twice the amount of the stolen product’. One day, Mr. X walks in the supermarket knowing that stealing is wrong and having read the memo affixed on the main door. If despite this, he steals a box of Ferrero Rocher and is caught while stealing. Then, when he is brought to the manager at the reception desk, he refuses to pay and said this as an excuse: ‘I was stealing the chocolate because my uncle is dying and his last wish is to eat the branded Ferrero Rocher chocolate.’

What would you do? Fall into the emotional trap or ask the person to pay twice the amount of the chocolate or call the police if he refuses? The decision is yours but there is a moral that cuts across all that I have written about. First of all, if stealing is wrong and it is an accepted universal truth, then everything else fails in the eyes of this truth. Truth is truth. How can we negotiate in the face of truth? Where do we get the power to do this? Why do we seek to prove right what is wrong?

We do all this because we are absorbed in this material life and this material life blinds us with temporary pleasures. Just like we are able to bargain about everything in this material world, we think that universal truth is negotiable too and can be remoulded. We cannot force an entire system (truth) to adapt to the motivated desires or views of someone. People have to adapt to system; system cannot adapt to one or two persons. We form this dangerous habit of negotiating with universal truth by looking at what others are doing, because we are trapped in worldly pleasures and because God or Science has never come to tell us ‘Don’t do this because this is wrong’. We look for reminders. When we read some verses from a holy book, then we change from evil to saint overnight but after some days, the illusions and pleasures of this world drag us again into its darkness. For how long will we continue to be so weak? For how long we will be victim of this dangerous habit of refuting what is true? For how long will we seek to prove wrong what is right, just to satisfy our desires? For how long will we blind ourselves to the universal truth?

I have said it all and now, it’s your time to meditate upon it.

 

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How to stop listening to gossips?

Gossips are everywhere. Be it at work or at home, they have invaded every area of our lives. I however do not place the blame entirely on gossipers. Those who listen to gossips or nod their head to the gossiper while not paying much attention to the content, or even smile at the gossiper while he or she is gossiping, are all part of the game. I don’t believe in striking the right balance in this case. It is straightforward and clear-cut. It is either you listen to the gossiper or you don’t. If you listen, nod your head or even smile, then you are already encouraging the gossip to flow but if you remain firm and choose not to be a carrier of the gossip, then you must know be strong enough to say no when gossipers walk to you.

While many people don’t have the strength or the heart to hurt people by saying no, which I do not condone because duties are above emotions, then here’s another way to approach it. Below is the Socrates’ Triple Filter Test to gossips.

Whenever someone walks to you with something to gossip about, ask him or her these three questions:

  1. Truth – Is it true or false? 
  2. Goodness – Is it good or bad?
  3. Usefulness – Is it beneficial to you or not? 

If it fails at the first level of truth itself, then why should the person be telling you something which is false or which he or she has not verified? If the person is unsure about the truth of the content, then you can easily request the person not to continue. If it is true, and then it moves to the second level and fails there, that is if it is bad, then why should you listen to something bad that happened to others? You can again tell the person not to continue. Lastly if it proceeds through the first and second level, and reaches the third level, then if it is not beneficial to you, then again what will be the use of hearing? Using these three levels, you can easily block a gossip from flowing to you.

Gossips are negative energies. You must not allow them at any cost into your life. I used to allow people to tell me whatever they wished to but then came a time in my life where I decided to filter out all the negative energies including gossips. Socrates’ three-filter test has been of great help, though now I am able to refuse something in the most frank and straightforward manner. I recommend Socrates’ three filter test to those who find it difficult to prevent gossips from flowing in their lives.

The Three-Pictures Tour of Jama Masjid

Built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, the Jama Masjid (Masjid-i Jahān-Numā), situated in the heart of Delhi, is one of the largest mosques in India.

It is not the first time that I am writing about Jama Masjid and the reason behind is the spiritual call one can feel when entering the grand and serene Jama Masjid. In 2015, I visited this mosque for the first time but I felt the longing to be there again. In March 2018, I visited the mosque again. Beside the spiritual fulfilment that one can feel at this place, there is a lot more than can please the heart.

When I arrived at the Jama Masjid, I found this little boy outside. He was lost in his thoughts and seemed to be sad. I have no idea what was the reason behind and I did not ask him either. I walked to him and tried to paint his lost smile again on his face.

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Through this post, I will share three striking and meaningful pictures that I captured through my lens outside, in the compound of and inside the Jama Mosque. It’s a three-picture tour. I will not write much as description to the pictures. I will rather trigger your thoughts by adding one line as description to each picture.

Picture 1: Outside the mosque

Food for thought: God is inside or outside?

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Picture 2: In the mosque’s compound

Food for thought: The first religion is that of love. It is God-made. All other religions are man-made.

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Picture 3: Inside the mosque

Food for thought: If we seek, we find.

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I hope the above pictures make you think wider. As for me, I didn’t leave after these three pictures. I took countless pictures, indulged in several conversations with different people about life, spirituality and India. I allowed the soulful adhan to sink into me and felt the power of the place.

Dharamshala – The Godly City

Planning a trip is often a tedious task. It requires the traveller to dig deep into the purpose of the voyage and those who choose glamor over meaning often surrender to the normal tourism. I initially opted for different cities within India but at the end, after pondering much over the purpose of my voyage, I chose to spend almost three weeks in the Himachal Pradesh. My thinking was simple: quality of discovery versus quantity in terms of places. I hold no glory in boasting around and stating the number of places I have been to. I feel more accomplished when I take time to understand one place as it is. As a result, I packed everything and left for Himachal Pradesh where I spent approximately three meaningful weeks. Himachal Pradesh is commonly known as Dev Bhoomi (देव-भूमि), the Land of the Gods, in Hinduism.

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If I have to write about the three weeks, one blog post will not be enough. In this post, I will focus on one interesting discovery that transpired during my visit to Dharamshala, a hillside city nestling in the forests and home to the Dalai Lama and exiled Tibetans. Before visiting Dharamshala, I had no idea why northern India was filled with Buddhists but during my trip, I visited an important Tibetan museum where everything became clearer to me. I then understood how Buddhism spread through northern India and why the Indian government opened its doors to the exiled Buddhists. The pictures of war broke my heart and moved me to tears in front of everyone in the Tibetan museum.

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The photos in the museum were not accompanied with long paragraphs but contained below or next to them few lines. The reason is simple: the pictures were strong enough to speak for themselves.

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When I walked down the streets of Dharamshala, the Buddhist culture was evident and I was loving it. The calm monks were walking with their japamala, string of prayer beads, in their hands along the narrow market roads. The thousands of japamala were so beautifully displayed for sale. The boasting monasteries, endless and snow-capped mountain ranges, small cafes and the cows standing in the middle of some roads; all weaved together to paint the picture of a slow-paced and magnificent Dharamshala in my eyes.

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I think I was very fortunate to have had the privilege of having tea with some monks while indulging in a profound spiritual conversation with them. They were simple, very positive and humble to me. I wish we could all display these qualities in our daily lives.

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But my thirst of spirituality did not end where the monks bid good-bye to me. I travelled for hours in Dharamshala, from temples to monasteries, in search of a deeper understanding. One thing that I also realised in Dharamshala was the fact that on making new friends, it is not an obligation to keep in touch. Our deeds determine the course of our life and our purpose of life directs our deeds. The formula is simple. When we are all visitors or pilgrims, why should we feel the need to stay connected or to establish a new relationship, which is that of friendship. I think we run too much after long-term relationships and fail to appreciate the meaning of a moment. From then, whoever I met on the day, I made the moments meaningful and sought not to stay connected after that. Life goes on. We all move on. Relationships are for the weak, so that they can cling on them and seek support through their storms. Strong are those who understand the fact that, whether we name it or not, we are all connected and we all share a divine connection with each other. If we are all part and parcel of the Supreme, then obviously we are all connected too.

As I progressed in my travelled, I visited the Sahaja Yoga Ashram where I took a meditation class. Nothing could have been more refreshing at that time. The ashram was far from the civilisation. It was surrounded by forests and hills. It was so quiet and the members of the ashram welcomed me with an open heart. They encouraged me to take the meditation class and I have no regrets for having experienced the Sahaja Yoga.

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As it was getting colder and the evening was drawing to an end to welcome the night, we had to rush to the hotel but I could not stop by this lake to pause with a wide smile. That smile is enough to tell you that Dharamshala was magic.

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Before ending, I would like my readers to know that this post does no justice to Dharamshala because there are so many things to write about that majestic part of India. I have however attempted to bring to you, in the most simple manner, some moments and thoughts from my visit to Dharamshala.

Thank you readers

As we step into 2019, I am taking some time to thank all my readers from the bottom of my heart. I truly appreciate those who take the time to read and send me their feedback after every post. You can’t imagine how precious this is to me.

I hope you will continue to be loyal readers this year too. Thank you again.

Starting 2019

Good morning readers,

On this first day of 2019, I ask you not to treat this day as different from other days. As for me, I woke up early and spent the first half of the day in prayers and meditation. The other half of the day will now be spent in reflections. I also plan to shoot a small video which I might or might not upload.

I am loving also the fact that it is raining. The best thing that goes with this weather is of course coffee.

I am keeping this blog post very brief. I wish you all a blessed 2019.

Please write to me if you would like me to express my views on a particular topic.

 

Ending 2018

It is still unclear to my mind what do people really celebrate as one year ends and another begins. We celebrate man-made time? We celebrate the fact that we are wasting a lifetime without putting it to good use? We celebrate the fact that we have written down a set of more materialistic resolutions that we wish to accomplish? We celebrate the fact that our bodies are growing older by one year? What do we celebrate really?

I know many might disagree with me on this but I find no reason why we should indulge in celebration as one year ends and another starts. I would rather use this time of transition to reflect on my life’s purpose, to strengthen my relationship with God and to strive harder to become better in all sense. I am not perfect. I make mistakes too but one thing is for sure: I learn from each and every mistake. I truly do. So new year is a moment for me to have some meaningful ‘me-time’ and to connect to my innermost being.

What I strongly condemn also during new year is the lighting of firecrackers. First, we do not have a strong reason to celebrate anything. Secondly, we light up firecrackers and hurt animals with the noise. Sometimes, I even fail to understand the human race. Are we really humans? Because most animals have better hearts than most humans. I ask the general population not to engage in any form of celebration during new year, but rather indulge in all forms of reflection and meditation.

I hope this post will be some good food for thought.

Happy new year folks !

Thoughts on Religion, Scriptures and Spirit

As 2018 is on the verge of drawing to an end, I am writing perhaps the last post for this year.

Though at the tender age of 18 my curiosity pushed me to read some religious scriptures, including the Bible, Bhagavad Gita and the Quran, I must admit it was not sitting well with my conception of truth. As I classified myself as a Hindu, I was not able to open my heart and mind completely to understand and accept what other religions were preaching. Until I was a Hindu, I had a preference always for Hinduism but in my late thirties, when I finally decided not to represent or form part of any religions, I found myself with a wider mind and heart. I went through the depth of the main scriptures. During my days in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I was living alone in one big house for 1.5 years and had a lot of time. I used to go to church, attend Brahma Kumaris classes and dedicate most of my time in scriptural reading. Thankfully, I had a lot of friends who were willing to guide me where I needed clarity. I learned, learned and learned

I gradually found myself turning into a different person: calmer, better, detached and more forgiving. It was a real journey of becoming and I am sure I still have a long way to go. I am and will always be a student of life. But the main realisation and changes I made in my life so far is: practicing of purity in all senses of the word, give as much as I can to the people of this world, abandon all religions while respecting their teachings and scriptures, watch the drama of life from far, try as much as possible to be disengaged and different, and last but not the least, accept life as it is without challenging anything.

When I stated that I have abandoned all religions, I mean by this that I do not officially represent or form part of any religion but I can still be found in churches, mosques and temples. Quitting the rituals is something and respecting the wisdom of each religion is something else. I have quite the rituals but the wisdom is cherished. What has deeply marked me and has greatly influenced my life are the 18 chapters of the Bhagavad Gita. I have read its diverse interpretations by different influential writers and have been on a spiritual tour in March 2018 to better understand the Bhagavad Gita and the history around it. It was an eye-opening tour.

Saying all this, I am a changed person but I recognise the fact that I have a lot to learn from life too. I am learning each and every day.

Last but not the least, through this same post, I would like to express my views on psychic connections. To me, psychic connections are spiritual connections between souls. When souls vibrate on same energy field and seek each other, the psychic connection is established. For example, you can be driving in the morning and think of something or someone or God, and during the day that same thing, person or form of God manifests itself or himself. I strongly believe that people can communicate at this level too. It is happening. We tend to think that to communicate or to feel, we must be together at once place but this is not always true. How do we then communicate to God and how God communicate to us? These are divine connections too that science fails to explain. In this journey of life, our bodies have names, identity, relationships, social status and so forth but our spirits are limitless and remain undefined by the laws of the land. Our spirits come from the Para Brahman (Highest Energy). Then how can the laws of the land decide how spirits must feel. This is food for thought for people who think everything ends with bodies and their identities in the process of growing older.

Be different and disengaged

We are in 2018 and this is the time, where every living being is preoccupied with building and maintaining, and in this process, the clock of life ticks away.

If we split the lifetime of an ordinary human being on a plane of time, the following cannot be said to be untrue:

  • From the age of 5 to 12, children are curious and out of this curiosity, they seek to understand this world. They have no major responsibilities. They are free in the real sense of the word. However, they accept as truth whatever they see or hear; especially from those whom they have great respect for and see as their idols. The unfortunate fact is that those idols are not always exemplary in the right sense.
  • From the age of 13 to 18, the teens are so engrossed in their studies. Competition has invaded every area of their life. Out of societal pressure, starting from home, they are work hard to outcompete others. So, at this tender age, they are unfortunately pushed to oppose others in order to win. Isn’t it greed that is being instilled in them from home?
  • From 19 to 28, these young adults are either pushed into marriages or some of them jump into it. Some have no idea of what marriage entails. Many don’t even understand the significance of marriage – whether it should be pursued or not.
  • By 30, it seems all those married couples are expected to have their own child. Some people do not even know why they are doing what they are doing. They are scared of opposing the common system. They see life on a plane of time and believe that 30 is the age to at least have their first child. They believe that the outcome of marriage is child-bearing.
  • From 31 to 55, everything becomes routine and life goes on. It’s a phase of excess responsibilities, stress and people are deeply engaged in the material life. Greed, anger and lust invade the life of almost every ordinary human being. This is irrefutable. If you are reading this and you believe you are free from greed, then attempt these questions: (i) Why do you wish to work harder?, (ii) What’s your plan in the next five years?, (iii) Do you have any business plan?, or (iv) Can you give away all your prized possessions at this very instant to an orphanage and become homeless?. Be honest and you shall find the answers. The same applies for lust and anger.
  • From 56 onwards, the display of hypocrisy begins. This is the phase that most people believes that time has to be given to God. They spend their entire life running after temporary pleasures and possessions, and on their late fifties, they believe it’s time now for the sacred pilgrimage leading to God.

Pause for a moment and evaluate your life. What’s happening in your life? Compare your life with the facts explained above. Though what I have shared may not be 100% accurate when it comes to the ages, but the trend is 100% accurate. This is the unfortunate truth.

I am glad that few years ago, I have decided not to live this ordinary life. Applying the ex post facto logic in my life, that is the law is not retroactive, I have started my true journey since the day I understood the bigger purpose of my life. I used to have a faint understanding of the different scriptures, of the different religions, but now, everything has changed. I have progressed much when it comes to the mastery of scriptures. By saying this, I am not saying that the Truth is in the scriptures; it emanates from them to a large extent but it doesn’t come in its entirety from them.

I refuse to settle to the pleasures of this material life. I refuse to build and to maintain. I choose to live. I refuse to be engaged in sense gratification and choose to look beyond this current dimension of matter. It’s not easy to live a different life among common people. It’s easy to be frustrated when the wings of your spiritual endeavours and efforts are cut off every single minute by people who pretend to know God, but who doesn’t. These days, most people are good speakers but weak doers. They pretend to know everything but their hearts are enslaved by emotions, pleasures and possessions. These people are called mityachar, that is hypocrites.

So, what you must do if you wish to live up to your purpose of life, despite the negative forces of this common world? What must you do if you wish to be extraordinary among ordinary people? What must you do if you wish to be different?

I don’t seek to fight the negative. I seek to be different and disengaged (karma-sanyasi) in material life.

Here are what I do.

  1. Stay firm and believe in the principles of your life
  2. Do not justify to people who do not share your spiritual views
  3. Do not disclose everything to people who are not at the same level of energy as you are
  4. Do not surrender to greed, lust and anger. Greed and lust can easily be eradicated through sincere efforts, but anger might persist in a world where everyone challenge your soul-purifying efforts. It will fade too gradually with perseverance and faith.
  5. Have like-minded friends but don’t trust them. In fact, don’t trust anyone on earth except God. Respect everyone but trust no one.
  6. Put duties first and emotions last. Relationships and responsibilities might mislead you to make decisions based on emotions. Resist and say NO to emotions. Let your spirit be guided by the sense of duties.
  7. Do what is good for your heart, mind and spirit but remain within the boundaries of ethics, truth and principles.
  8. Keep away everything that pushes you into sense gratification. I think the sacred Quran has very precious knowledge and guidelines on how to accomplish this.
  9. Be forgiving, peaceful and loving
  10. Live in the present always. Worry not about the future. Don’t make long term plans. Don’t live for the fruits of your deeds. Live for your deeds.

I hope this knowledge that I have shared with you, will in some way or another be helpful to you. Take some time to think about it all.

A day in my life as an HR Manager

From the moment I opened the door of my office to the moment I sit in my car for another 45 minutes’ drive from work to home, I feel like I am standing in the battlefield (karmabhoomi) like the confused but humble Arjuna opening his mind and heart to receive the sacred knowledge from Lord Krishna, in pursuit of his duties (dharma) and actions (karma). I too can be compared to Arjuna, the seeker, and though my Lord has no specific name, I know He comes into my life and guide me in the performance of my duties. As a Human Resources Manager, I have to be a fine strategist, a wise jurist, an attentive listener, a confident coach, an inspiring speaker and a true business partner. These are roles that one has to perform simultaneously in order for a Human Resources Manager to leverage his value proposition for the company.

Every day is different in my life as a Human Resources (HR) Manager. Every day, there’s a new story: from an injury at work to an unexpected case of violence at work. I am consulted by everyone: from the General Manager to the Helper in our factory. I spend half of my day in meetings. Too many things happen in the life of an HR Manager, or at least in my life.

Let’s start from the beginning. When I normally reach office, one of the first things that I need on my table is my black coffee with very little sugar. Without the smell and taste of coffee, I cannot be productive. I know perhaps it’s just a mindset but that’s fine; I love this mindset. I need my coffee to kick-start my day. I usually don’t have coffee at home. I wake up early, drive to work and grab my coffee. Then, I would plug in my laptop and make sure I am ready to start another productive day.

“Knock ! Knock ! Knock !” and it begins. An employee has to see me for something that he or she would like just to see me, and not any other members of my department. When I listen to them, I take note where required. Even though I am overwhelmed with other tasks, I never show to the employee that he or she could have spoken to my assistants and officers in this regard. I make sure I give him or her the attention and respected required. At that point in time, I am rather a coach. I listen, advise and inspire.

At 09:30 a.m., in my current job, our coordination meeting starts where all managers come together to discuss the priorities of the day. It’s an interesting platform for me to communicate about upcoming HR projects, policies and procedures and matters of concern to the managers. On many occasions, I come up with presentations to help the managers understand something. I normally make sure as many colours and visuals as I can to educate the managers on sensitive topics, for example what does the law says on harassment at work. I conducted a series of presentations over the past five months, including risk assessment as per the OSHA 2005, interpretation of some clauses of the Employment Rights Act, communication at work (I used an analogy of the spring season in Calcutta versus the market of Calcutta to demonstrate how messages flow from management team to front-line employees, and how these messages get distorted due to noise in the environment and reach the targeted audience in another form), and so forth. HR Managers are not managers sitting behind a desk. We are people managers. We have to defend both the interest of the employees and that of the employer, taking into consideration the legal imperatives around this relationship of trust between employee and employee.

At any point in time, the General Manager can ask any information, guidance or advice, and as an HR Manager, I have to step into my role as an HR Business Partner, to provide the service (s) required. I cannot say something which I am not confident about. This is why, I am in an ever-learning mode. I plan to start a fourth degree soon, after completing some certified trainings which I am undertaking.

In the afternoon, I sometimes visit our dormitories to make sure we are up to the standards and we are enforcing harmonious living among our foreigner employees. On other busier days, I have to attend the Industrial Court or governmental authorities. On calmer days, I would rather be behind my computer desk trying to work on some management reports.

But truly, I use what the Gita as my tool to perform my duties. I put emotions aside, and perform my duties. The Gita has helped me largely in my role as an HR Manager and it will continue to help me throughout my lifetime.

That was a glimpse of my life as an HR Manager. I know it’s a disorderly narration but there’s nothing planned here. I just wrote, in simplest words possible, what came to my mind.