#NotesToSelf 1.0

Some generic, some specific lessons learnt. Some fully internalized, some work in progress.

  • Seek truth through experience, not imitation.
  • Seek wisdom. Do not seek validation, reward and recognition.
  • Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. – Darwin
  • “What is the Meaning of Life?” is not the question you should ask. The proper question is “What does it mean to you?”
  • Reading is over rated. Understanding/implementing/accepting/rejecting/questioning is under rated.
  • Learn to find the gap between price and value. There in lies your value add.
  • Accept/appreciate/understand role of luck in life.
  • Process  >  Outcome. Follow your process, outcome will follow.
  • Character is what you do when no one is watching your actions.
  • Treat others the way you want them to treat you.
  • Play the long game.
  • Know what you don’t know.
  • Learn to say NO.
  • Learn to think different and better.
  • Strive for – “Freedom to” instead of “Freedom from”.
  • Money ≠ Happiness. Money > Freedom > Pursuit of Happiness
  • Persist with good ideas, give them time. 
  • Avoid envy and revenge. Let go.
  • Check your emotions and reactions. Strive to be rational and avoid hubris.
  • Read, reflect, love, seek truth and ignore the society. – Naval R

I can think, I can wait, I can fast.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is one of my all time favorite book. It’s a beautiful journey of self discovery narrated in the backdrop of ancient Indian civilization. It makes its way through religious, spiritual, nomadic and also life full of greed, gluttony and lust. It’s a journey of self discovery through own experience, going through what life has to offer, through ebbs and flows of inherent human emotions, seeking and finding ones own meaning and reality rather than by reading theory and following teachings of sages and spiritual gurus.

There is no single way/path to the enlightenment or a way of life. One needs to fight his/her own battle and endure the pain, make own mistakes, learn own lessons, find own meaning and find own peace and happiness.

I want to talk about a particular conversation in the book between merchant and Siddhartha which has one profound meaning. Thanks to Tim Ferriss’s book, Tools of Titan and Naval Ravikant, I came to know about this and what it can also mean when you broaden the context.

MERCHANT: “… If you are without possessions, how can you give?”

SIDDHARTHA: “Everyone gives what he has. The soldier gives strength, the merchant goods, the teacher instruction, the farmer rice, the fisherman fish.”

MERCHANT: “Very well, and what can you give? What have you learned that you can give?”

SIDDHARTHA: “I can think, I can wait, I can fast.”

MERCHANT: “Is that all?”

SIDDHARTHA: “I think that is all.”

When you think about this statement, “I can think, I can wait, I can fast.” and break it down into three sentences, you have one profound life philosophy.

I can think – Having ability to think and analyze situations before taking decision. Thinking is an art which not many people possess. If you can think effectively, you are already in the elite club.

I can wait – Avoiding instant gratification and playing long game puts you ahead of the crowd.

I can fast – High tolerance for pain and ability to endure difficulties longer than others also puts you ahead in the game. What better time than covid lockdown to test this.

Being a long time student of the financial market I can understand that all these are essential traints of being successful. Not just in investing but in life.

This is a short but profound book which talks about what is important in life. What is the meaning of pain and pleasure. When you let go of searching, you start finding. There are moments in the book where you just close the book after reading something profound and start ruminating. It was only after 2nd or 3rd reading that I started to realize the greatness of this masterpiece. It is certainly one of my regular books to go to every year.

Here are few other gems from the book.

I am continuing my travels, not to seek other, better teachings, for I know there are none, but to depart from all teachings and all teachers and to reach my goal by myself or to die.

It’s not my place to judge another person’s life. Only for myself, for myslef alone, I must decide, I must choose, I must refuse. Salvation from the self is what we Samanas search for.

Most people, Kamala, are like a falling leaf, which is blown and turned around through the air, as it wavers, and tumbles to the ground. But others, a few, are like stars, they go on a fixed course, no wind reaches them, in themselves they have their law and their course.

Was it not a comedy, a strange and stupid matter, this repetition, this running around in a fateful circle.

Knowledge can be conveyed, but not wisdom.

Let me say no more. Words do no justice to the hidden meaning. Everything immediately becomes slightly different when it is expressed in words, a little bit distorted, a little foolish…It is perfectly fine with me that what for one man is precious wisdom for another sounds like foolery.

Gentleness is stronger than severity, water is stronger than rock, love is stronger than force.

Opinions mean nothing; they may be beautiful or ugly, clever or foolish, anyone can embrace or reject them.

I felt knowledge and the unity of the world circulate in me like my own blood.

a person is never entirely holy or entirely sinful.

Nothing was, nothing will be, everything has reality and presence.

Seeking truth

What is right, wrong, good and bad ? What is dharma and adharma ? Is knowing the answer to these questions enough for a man to act accordingly ?

There is more to ethics beyond just knowing what is right, wrong, good, bad, dharma and adharma. Why don’t people act in accordance with their knowledge of ethics and right and wrong ?

I remember listening to podcast of Vedanta Talks where there is mention of conversation between Krishna and Duryodhan. Duryodhan tells Krishna “Dont teach me what is right and wrong as I know it, but I just don’t feel like doing it. There’s a force within me who makes me do what I am doing.”

In real life setting, ethics and moral judgements are in the shades of grey rather than black and white. To understand actions of people it would be wise to understand what drives people. Their wants, desires, fears, idea of sorrow and happiness, social milieu in which they live.

Difference between knowing what to do and doing what we do is the journey everyone can not make. A lot many people falter on the way. This explains why people feel the need to lie, why people feel jealous and envy is second nature to many. Why people kill in the name of religion and nations go to war. This is the reason why a person can give a decent lecture on morals and values when it comes to others but fail to live by the same logic.

The idea is to narrow down this gap between knowing and doing with each passing day. तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।

You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your desire is, so is your will…
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

2nd May 2020

इंसान हु मै कहता है वो !!

इंसान हु मै कहता है वो,
रोटी नहीं घर में, फिर भी मज़हब पे लड़ता है वो

गले में तावीज़, हाथ में धागा, जेब में चालीसा रखता है वो,
फिर भी आज़ाद खुद को समजता है वो

ज़मीन पे सरहद, दिलों में नफरत रखता है वो,
कुदरत की देन पे, ये तेरा ये मेरा करता है वो

खुद बनायीं लकीरों में हयात के मानी तलाशता है वो,
ला-हासिल इस मक़सद पे भटकता है वो

तसव्वुर के खुदा को पूजता है वो, दीन धरम पे लड़ता जगडता,
इंसान ही को काफिर कहता है वो

बग़ैर ईमान कोई, जन्नत की हसरत रखता है वो,
इंसान हु मै कहता है वो


Seeking Wisdom

Almost a year since I attended Vipasana at Igatpuri. 10 days that could change life.

One year of solitude and catching up with all the reading. One year of new hobbies, initiatives and ideas, one year of meeting new people.

One year of traveling, wandering, exploring places and experiencing hidden realities of life. One year of life outside the comfort zone. One year of hits and misses, stumbling and getting up again to face the next day !!

And at the end of it all, I realize, all those who wander are not lost !!

18th October 2014

Gospel song with a restless spirit !!

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for !

And the quest continues as you seek !! You seek love, meaning, serendipity, knowledge, happiness. And as they say, no matter what you get, what you achieve, there is always something left to be done. And that’s life.

“You broke the bonds and you
Loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
Of my shame
You know I believed it”

There are so many wonderful things to be learn from this gospel song. The song is full of so many ambiguities and contradictions just the way life is. Even though U2 had written and composed this as a spiritual song trying to explore the religious angle, it has extremely personal appeal for the listener, specially the way in which they relate to this song. And like many of their songs, this is more than a song.

These are some of the best version of the “Gospel song with a restless spirit”, as Bono calls it. I am posting here some of my favorite versions.

Live in Paris

From the album Rattle and Hum.

U2 with Gospel Choir

Bono with another legend, Bruce Springsteen

Live in Washington DC