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The power of Silence!

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The world around us is so full of noise. Sometimes we keep hearing noises inside our heads even though everything is quiet outside. Add to this all the everyday noise. We have become quite immune because we keep hearing it continuously that somehow it has become a part of our life. Let’s just make a list, the fan whirring, the air conditioner humming especially when it is due for a service check, the washing machine swooshing, the microwave setting off the timer alongside the oven- my god we should be the noisiest planet in the whole universe. Now as if this were not enough, we see children and young adults, plugging in to their earphones and either listening to music, making a call or watching a television show.

With so much noise, all we can expect is only cacophony not the least symphony and absolutely no chance of harmony at all in our life. Our ancient lifestyle called for deep periods of introspection and long stretches of silence. If we are continuously engaged in such chatter, we cannot listen to our inner thoughts. It is important to spend some time where we shut down all external noises and just silence our thoughts and sit still. This is called reflective meditation. In the stillness of the mind, we can get insights to many of life’s problems. But the most important thing in today’s world we are so hooked to so many things that tearing away from them is going to be quite a difficult task. I think we need to keep our mobiles away, disconnect with the outer world and most importantly take our mind away from them. No point trying to sit still while the mind is thinking of the whatsapp messages received just then.

Maunvrat is a form of practice that is quite common in many households. Elders observe this as a fast and don’t talk to anyone. Quite a difficult task, I must say. Gandhiji used to follow this practice and would communicate by writing if there was anything urgent to convey. There are so many great saints in our culture who have observed silence as a way of life. Bhagawan Sri Ramana Maharishi, the great Saint of Thiruvannamalai is supposed to have given profound messages to his devotees – all in silence. Arthur Osborne who has written the Sage’s biography describes the Maharishi’s habitual silence which communicated more than speech and his intuitive grasp of a questioner’s mind and his simple answers to the most complex questions. All these attracted many Westerners and Indians to his feet. But how do Gurus use silence to influence their disciples. Sri Aurobindo has explained this well in his book Record of Yoga where he talks of Prakamya and Vyapti.

By Prakamya we have perception of another’s feelings; by Vyapti these feelings are felt striking on our own consciousness or ours are thrown into another.   It is possible by vyapti to communicate anything we have in our systems – thought, feeling, power, etc – to another and if he is able to seize and hold it, he can make it his own & use it.  The teacher & the guru habitually use this power of vyapti which is far more effective than speech and writing.   Every thought, feeling, sensation or other movement of consciousness in us creates a wave or current which carries it out into the world-consciousness around and there it enters in any adhara (support) which is able and allowed to receive it.

Perhaps that is the meaning of the adage Mounam Vyaakyaanam -the Guru preaches through silence as seen in the Dakshinamoorthi picture who is sitting under a tree and giving profound lessons to his disciples through the language of silence.

Sometimes our environment can also help us in achieving the stillness of the mind. There is a great connection between us human beings and trees. In our ancient books, there is a lot of reference to men seeking enlightenment by sitting under trees. The Peepul, the banyan- all these are very significant trees that we come across in books. Great masters have gathered their pupils and given discourses under trees. The Buddha is supposed to have become enlightened under a tree. Maybe the vast expanses, the green foliage the positive vibrations flowing out of the trees all these are factors that help in achieving calmness of the mind. Nature has that unique healing power. Every time I see a sunrise on the beach, go trekking on the mountains or dip my feet in the cool waters of a river, I feel a strange pleasure and I know I am not alone. Just that we have forgotten to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. I strongly feel that Kenya has such serene beauty of nature which can actually give us a lot of opportunities to become one with god. I can feel the difference between advanced countries and Africa in case of spirituality.

If we are able to tune inwards due to the power of silence, then we can feel a bout of energy surging through us. We feel refreshed and also ready to take on the world with a fresh perspective.

 

Consumerism

Consumerism 

 The more I travel the more I know that people have started becoming shopaholic. We buy more than we actually need. Many economies of the world are crumbling down due to overconsumption of products. Have you ever thought that we have moved from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market? Sellers want to sell their products no matter what. They would go to any length to create a demand for their products so that they can sell. Increase in online shopping has given an ease and convenience to the consumer who can access anything at the click of a button. Relatively small town consumers too have access to products now with online services and cash on delivery facilities; all these have created a large consumption. While traveling I found that most of historic monuments have got turned into shopping malls. The culture of any country has been lost. There is no difference left from one country to another.

Let’s see the following data and information I gathered while researching the concept of consumerism. It just opened my eyes as to how difficult it is to control our desire to shop.
Buying is a habit – a bad habit

The Americans are compulsive shoppers. A country with a USD 600 billion trade deficit – about 5% of their GDP – is basically importing more junk than it can pay for. And the US has done this for decades. This means that the US government has printed US Dollar bills – which it gives to the Chinese and other exporting countries – and gets plastic toys, furniture, and clothes in return. Once in a while the Chinese send the Americans counterfeit parts for their billion dollar defence programme!

Two years ago, the savings rate of American households had turned negative. Their annual income was not enough to match their consumption. Not only were they busy buying Chinese goods, they were busy buying homes to put all those goods in and now they had a mortgage debt to repay. With jobs shipped offshore unemployment is north of 9%. Furthermore, salaries in the US have not increased over the past decade – with the exception of salaries of the financial sector and the lawyers, amongst others.

If you have visited a typical American home, the first impression that you will get is: Wow! These guys don’t need to buy anything for the next few lives! Yet, the mall is where you need to be – or maybe the online version of it. The in-flight magazines in US planes are full of junk that you never need, but feel that you should buy. The US consumer breaks the myth espoused by advertising gurus who believe that “advertising does not create a want, it merely fulfils a need”. No sensible person would need most of the products advertised in the in-flight magazines, yet the promotions create that “want”.

The first day of shopping is traditionally the day after Thanksgiving, which is always observed on the last Thursday of every November. To make it easier for the ever-consuming Americans to consume, many stores began their “Black Friday” on Thursday itself. People stood in queues and camped in tents for hours to be able to buy more. “Black Friday” allows you to buy limited products at some pretty good discounted prices for a limited time. (As an aside, we have our own version of “Black Friday” in India except that business groups get to buy national assets like coal, gas, iron ore, spectrum and assorted paraphernalia at discounted prices on a daily basis! The astute Indian buyers don’t stand in queues and pitch in tents, though. The well-connected Indian buyer just makes the right phone calls and gets it done.)

Drink rationally, invest rationally

The point is that the solution to an out of control drunkard is not taking him to the bar again and serving drinks on sale. The Americans need to save. They need to pay down their debt. A recent report by the Federal Reserve states that US household debt is USD 11.7 trillion – it declined some 0.5% over the past 3 months. But delinquent payments – people who are paying late or cannot fully pay their debt – have increased and nearly USD 1.2 trillion of loans would be in this category. The good news is that people are buying fewer homes – and renting more. Disillusioned by the myth that home prices can only increase and by the difficulty of getting mortgage loans due to subdued salary levels, the US consumer is renting.

But this is only the beginning of a long, secular trend in the US: there is a need to repair their personal – and national – balance sheets. The US – and European – consumer is dead for all practical purposes and cannot be relied upon as an engine for economic growth for the next 3 years. That music died in 2008. The drunken consumer has already been in a rehab clinic for the past 2 years with muted bursts of activity.

US, Europe, and Japan are in trouble. China has its own economic issues and bubbles to deal with. India has its challenges. The markets will continue to jump around in all directions based on silly news and new silliness. Don’t let these daily, wild gyrations scare you – or enthuse you. And don’t forget to understand your own needs and your ability to take buy and repay for it.

What I think! on a funny note!

Being a person of intensive thinking; I felt that it is very important to understand the important aspects of life more deeply. So thought of penning them down with a twist. Pragmatic though funny!

  • The Internet – The most powerful driver of global change
  • Movies – A mirror to our innermost fantasies
  • Books – A magic carpet that whisks your mind away to new lands
  • Religion – Has the potential to both cripple and uplift the society
  • Meditation – A healing balm for the soul
  • Ayurveda / Herbal Medicine – The only practical route to good health
  • Men – Vulnerable beings who are perennial slaves to desire
  • Women – God’s only beautiful creation
  • Having fun – Work hard, but party harder
  • Procrastination – Robs you of life’s most precious commodity: time
  • Politics – the cruelest game the human brain can ever play
  • Relationship- the only hope for emotions to survive
  • Love – God’s best emotion ever created
  • Heart- always pumps for all the wrong reasons
  • Spouse – a free punching bag to cool your temper
  • Spouse – a reason to come back home
  • Spouse – an ultimate reason to live
  • Spouse- an ever-lasting reason to smile
  • Sky- the ultimate limit
  • Sky- the best way to define father for its sheltering nature
  • Mother – the ultimate definition of given
  • Mother- a symbol of sacrifice and care
  • Father- the best guard
  • Father- our identity on this plan
  • Friends – the biggest time-pass
  • Friends – true savior in case they are genuine
  • Friends – a handbook of experiences

India! my country ! my people!

kondahwal-falls-BHIMASHANKAR

I am proud to be an Indian even though it is not fashionable to claim to be one in modern world and especially on a foreign shore. It is definitely not acceptable in the world of elites and tycoons of NRI fraternity. I still want to defy the world when it comes to the power of this soil, love of people, food from the Indian kitchen, depth of relationships, respect for our parents, love for spouses, respect for customs and last but not the least- our search for God in anything and everything.

I have a strong desire to explore every part of India and find out what makes us different from the rest of the world. Hence I consciously plan my trip to a new location every time I go to India ( I get those jinks in my feet to move and the travel bug bites me) I head straight to India! I have extensively travelled within Eastern states like Gujarat, Maharashra, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and part of Karnataka, Punjab, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It is not still not even 40% of India.

Let me share my experiences of the places I have visited and how each time, I was elevated by the mystic power of the people and places.

Indian methods of managing business!

Indian methods of managing business!

Being management graduate, I was always familiar with the theories of various aspects of management, but always wondered if they are actually making sense in our professional life or it is just one of the theories & curriculum developed by so-called management gurus to impart knowledge to the world and make money out of it.

Trust me; ever since I have started my business again, I realized that for being a successful entrepreneur our own traditional methods have a lot to teach. We don’t need to go to any management school to learn the basic principle of establishing any business, serving clients, creating wealth, developing goodwill and enjoying long-term fruits of business.

I have observed that the new management mantra for the control of the company is management team centric and we looked down upon family controlled businesses. It is perceived as if the family owned companies wouldn’t take care of the interest of the people. But in real world, most of the successful companies have been started and run by family lineage and managed also very well.

I just thought to pen down the differences between a hired CEO and the owner of the company.

CEO

  • He will always have pressure to make the company profitable, many times at the cost of people’s interest and at times company’s long term interest to prove his caliber
  • He will be more interested in fulfilling short-term goals compare to long-term interest of the company as this will prove his success but not necessarily company’s success
  • He lacks the long-term vision of the company and hence it is likely that he overlooks many points
  • He enjoys all the respects and positions of the owner of the company but still may lack the commitments and attachment to make the company successful at the cost of his life
  • He knows that even the company is not going through a good patch, he will get paid for that time hence the sense of responsibility towards the funds of money is less
  • He will not be reluctant in spend the funds of the money  and will not control cost

Owner

  • He has the same amount of pressure to make company profitable like CEO but he will take an extra mile to make it happen as it is going to be his success fully
  • He has a long-term and a complete vision of the company hence he knows ways to take it forward
  • He fulfills short-term as well as long-term goals of the company without compromising with the quality and returns
  • His commitments and attachment towards company is much stronger than the CEO
  • He would forget his own share of the company if there is any problems with the company
  • The cost of the company will always be controlled by the owner

These are the basic things I have observed and I will continue writing more about what I find good in both the ways of managing business.

Women entrepreneurs

Women Entrepreneurs

Women have since time immemorial been entrepreneurs in their own right. The dictionary meaning of the word entrepreneur is someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced. A bored housewife who sets up a small day care centre in her own home or a hard working housewife who decides to supplement the household income by preparing pickles and papads and selling them within her circle are both leveraging their talents and setting up an enterprise. While one decides to build an enterprise by offering her services as a baby sitter, the other builds a small enterprise around the specific products she is comfortable preparing and selling. This, dear listeners, is the seed of entrepreneurship that lies deep within every woman.
We have to now understand that world over the traditional set up is changing in the modern era. The social fabric of society is undergoing a transformation, in terms of increased educational status of women and varied aspirations for better living. Media is bringing in images from all over the world into people’s homes. This is necessitating a change in the life style of women both in urban as well as in rural areas.
Today’s woman is educated, well aware of the opportunities around her and bides her time to reinvent herself when the time is ripe. While some may do it to make both ends meet, there are others who want to make use of their skills and talents and also spend time usefully. Thus we have well to do wives of actors like Sharukh Khan and Akshay Kumar who are entrepreneurs in their own right working as interior designers and manufacturer of perfumed candles. The internet is full of inspiring tales of women, whether they are from small towns or large cities, women who have made a success of their passion.
The birth of the internet and online platform is a boon to women who need not travel from their homes or look out to rent space for their ventures. Cake bakers, card makers, clothes designers are all having it good now as they have tasted success. Marketing, in the days gone by, was the work of men as it involved mobility and confidence in dealing with an unfamiliar world. But the advent of social media like facebook and online marketing has greatly helped in letting the world know about your creation.

What do women need to make a success of their skills? First, identify the skills that you are confident or comfortable with. Speak to your loved ones about your plans. Taking immediate family members like husband, parents and children into confidence will help women to steer ahead boldly and creatively. You can even take some time to polish a skill to equip yourself better before plunging headlong into enterprise. Fear of failure is one single factor that prevents women from taking the plunge. It is better to have tried than not to have at all. Everything is a learning experience and has to be viewed in this context only. The learning will prove invaluable to avoid mistakes in future.

But what happens when women do not have the support of a solid family. Fear not, as we can always bank on likeminded friends to take an idea forward. The Grameen bank set up in many parts of rural India is a perfect example for this kind of an enterprise. With the availability of micro financing schemes, women have formed self help groups to set up small enterprises to lead a life of dignity and self sufficiency without depending on their wayward, drunk husbands. Enterprises set up by women succeed because of their hard work, ability to multi task and self motivation. For women in lower rungs much depends on the success of their enterprise like quality upbringing of their children and a break from the monotonous life of subservience. This is an example worth emulating in Kenyan society as well.

Women need skill training, vocational education and entrepreneurship development if they have to compete and become the best. This need not be the job of government alone. Other interested stakeholders can also shoulder this responsibility. Women entrepreneurs have changed the dynamics in society and economy is thriving and improving and many academicians are focusing on this emerging phenomenon which is going to only increase in the coming years.