The Game called Fate

All beings necessarily experience the result of Karma. All good deeds and bad deeds have their results. This forms Fate.

fate

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Rich or Poor?

The Fate that favours wealth will raise industriousness and smartness in that being. On the other hand, a fate that causes one to lose wealth and resources will develop laziness and clumsiness in us. We can see that it is not just the end result that is decided by fate. Even the attitude and processes we undertake in life is a result of fate. Everything that we are interested in and excites us is decided by fate. Our interests and attitudes eventually decides our future. So, if you are interested in watching people fight and find excitement in quarrels, do not blame fate when your loved ones blame you for being “not caring.”

Consider a very learned man who has learned Physical Sciences, Social Sciences and Spiritual Sciences very well. We all look up at such a being as a very wise one. However, if fate is not favourable, even the wise one will not be able to apply the right knowledge at the right time. All the wisdom happens to stay in memory as content alone. Take our own example. We may be students of scriptures and of wise beings. Still, during our times of confusion and challenges, we may not apply insights delivered to us properly. This might be due to our wisdom being immature. However, the maturity of our wisdom is also decided by Fate.

How did you fall from Grace?

How often have we seen powerful men falling from their respectful positions due to immoral behaviour. We have also witnessed entire nations which preach love and brotherhood taking up arms and engaging in Civil wars. For instance, Syria is a nation of rich culture filled with poetry and love songs. It is a tragedy to see the mass exodus from such a beautiful culture. Could that also be a game of fate?

It may so happen that someone with no knowledge and insights may become super rich, while a true jnani is struggling to have a full plate of meals. Our society is filled with such instances. Fate can transform good deeds of a person into evil and bad deeds into good ones. We might have experienced instances where we acted for good and the action turned out quite evil. We could have been blamed and held responsible for a series of blunders, in spite of great intentions. At times, actions performed to harm others may actually end up saving lives also. In History, we read intentions after the results are seen. Look at the World Wars for instance. Or consider UN Peacekeeping Missions. Do the intentions and results always match?

No matter how talented you are or which family you were born into, an unfavourable fate will not help you maintain wealth. On the other hand, good fate can help you retain as much wealth as you want, no matter how much you splurge. We have seen graduates from the best business schools with top credentials struggling to meet ends. Logically, they are just a call away from plush jobs. Still, the dots do not connect. Or look at lawyers with the sharpest of minds struggling to find cases. A mature perspective on fate will help appreciate these phenomena better.

Can’t lay my Hands on it

At times, we buy material goods for our pleasure and well being. But, we may not be able to enjoy them. In my personal experience, I have a car and a sports bicycle. But, I take the bus or hitch a ride with friends. Some unexplainable factor stops me from using my car or bike effectively. I may blame the health level of vehicles, or maintenance required from really taking out the rides. It may as well just be a game of Fate. We all have experience of having bought a great video game, which gathered dust due to lack of time (or fate). We may also have a great gift that landed our hands, but just did not find usage. Was it fate or was it something else?

Question of Attitude

We can see that we do not have much control over our fate. We do not have control over what happens around us. But, we do have total control over our attitude. Come good times or bad, we can maintain a positive attitude about life. Fate becomes a great teacher, rather than a tough task master. Imagine the worst that can happen to you. Will you lose your home? End up on the streets? Get arrested for life? Die? A mature attitude about life and the opportunities that life brings, Fate is a game that we play.

Dharma of Speaking in an Assembly

Tirukkural talks in depth about the value of speaking and the manner of speaking in a King’s court. In the present world, we may not always walk into a King’s court. But, we do come across many instances of Assemblies. These Assemblies may look like Offices, Clubs, Gatherings, Classrooms and such. Such gatherings have a Dharma of their own and a quality of people who attend. The first step of any person who walks into a crowd is to realise the behaviour of that crowd. Is it a knowledgeable crowd or one who is not interested in knowledge at all? Before uttering the first word, gauge the level of the crowd.

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Clarity of Speech

The Being who realises the value of words should speak only after thinking very well. Completely realise who is in the crowd first. Speak with good clarity of words and purity of grammar. One of the most important dharma of education is to instill the practice of expressing oneself clearly. Jnanis never speak words without meaning. They do engage in small talk. But, small talk is never extended just for the sake of mouthing words. We experience small talk to such an extent today that it is painful to bear the sheer waste of time and energy.

Respect the Assembly

The one who speaks without knowing the court does not understand the dharma of speaking. They do not have any insights whatsoever. People who speak without understanding the Assembly will face insult. The court does not gain anything as well. Such people are ignorant about the world as well. It is unfortunate that we come across people who enter the highest of Assemblies like Political Parliaments who fail to respect such Assemblies. In the olden times, no one would have dared to speak a wrong word in front of the King.

In front of knowledgeable beings, show your insights. However, Tirukkural says it is best to act unintelligent in front of people who lack insights themselves. Some beings are just not fit to receive any true knowledge. We can see teachers and preachers trying to speak to people who are too violent or worldly about detachment and such principles. But, such words of quality falls like grain on rocks. Such grains will not sprout. It is sad, but true.

When faced with jnanis, it is best not to speak before they speak. Do not speak between their words as well. It takes a lot of good karma to reach a jnani first of all. When we come across the good fortune where the jnani communicates with us, respect that and relish that with silence.

Recognising a Jnani

Only a jnani can recognise another jnani. The words of a being who realises the truth will be appreciated only a jnani. Talking to an Assembly of jnanis and those who aspires to reach jnana is like watering a plant that is growing on its own. There is a lot of good that can come out of that exercise. But. talking to a crowd of fools about high values is like watering a rocky barren land. You may only waste that water without reaping those benefits. The discrimination to recognise a jnani and a fool is vital for those who wishes to grow.

It is best to speak only to those who share your values or are much above you. Else, shame and insult will be the only result.

Dharma of Ahimsa in Everyday Life

Tirukkural says it is our Dharma not to hurt other living beings. Through hurting some other living being, we attain Adharma. From very olden times, we have engaged in hurting animals and people for selfish reasons out of ignorance. This is a very Adharmic activity. Even the thought of hurting another human or life form through word, action or thought is wrong. One who desires to gain jnana and insights should ideally shun Himsa of all forms. We have great examples like Mahatma Gandhi who was so inspired by Ahimsa that it became such integral part of Indian Life.

gandhiji

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Ahimsa: Highest Form of Dharma

Scriptures claim the highest form of Dharma is Ahimsa. The next highest form of Dharma is Truthful Living. An outlook of Ahimsa always bring in Good results. Such a thought pattern elevates our life. Practically it is difficult to not hurt any other life form. We kill millions of beings when we walk or when we breathe. But, a conscious attempt to reduce the impact of our “Himsa Footprint” by choosing to be Vegetarian and refusing to wear Leather has Karmic Merit.

It is permitted to speak lies to sustain Dharma. Even Yudhistira spoke a lie in the Dharma War of Mahabharata. But, there are no excuses for Ahimsa, according to Tirukkural. We could debate around the Dharma of a Soldier here. Is killing at the warfront Himsa or Dharma? This question is addressed with a lot of depth in Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna had the same question in Kurukshetra. This question produced the highest work of philosophy in India.

Completing Life Purpose

One who practices Ahimsa gets the opportunity to live their complete lifetime. There are chances that death may interfere with our normal life span and not allow us to complete our allotted lifetime. Accidents and Diseases cut normal lifespans short. A personal policy of Ahimsa is a license to complete our lifespan. Thus, we get our opportunity to finish our Dharmic Duty on the planet. This directly points to Human Life Purpose.

It is great to protect another life at the expense of our own lives. There are many great souls who have thrown themselves to death in order to save another life. Such Risk Takers of the highest kind are well rewarded by Karma. No sacrifice is greater than protecting another life by risking our own lives. Healthcare practitioners who work in Epidemic hit areas to do Selfless Service are great examples. Contributions by several doctors and nurses that served at Ebola hit areas are fresh in our memory.

Sharing is Caring

Our ancestors always shared their meals with other living beings. There are many families who spare a part of their meals for birds, squirrels, dogs and other animals that visit their garden. Such practices bring great good will to the giver. All lives are similar. All living beings have their right to food and respect. This helps to address our selfishness as well. Scriptures advise to leave little food outside our plates for ants and bugs. But, today we want “pest free homes” with such intensity that we cannot bear to see spiders, lizards, ants and birds around us. What right do we have to completely take their space for our selfish needs? Sharing our space and resources with fellow life forms is part of our Dharma. Ahimsa works in great scope.

Killing as Livelihood

Some unfortunate people have to gain their livelihood through killing. Look at butchers and Pest Control workers for instance. Scriptures warn such professions have heavy Dharmic debt. Often such professions are ancestral in nature. Taking life of those beings that cannot defend themselves has its effects in the form of Karma. Such Karma may return in future births as well. Tirukkural claims people who engage in such professions may find it difficult to break the cycle of Karma.

It is not just the butcher who takes in the Negative Karma. The person who buys meat from the butcher is also equally responsible for the Karma. Without buyers, butchers will not continue their business. This is a matter of choice. On human rights grounds and freedom to pursue any form of livelihood, such jobs may be justified. But, the Karmic debts cannot be ignored.

Many religious practices encourage animal sacrifices. These sacrifices are done to gain heavenly pleasures. Such Bali may provide short term gains. But, there are Karmic effects for Animal sacrifices. Vedic Sacrifices do not focus on animal sacrifices.

Ahimsa is an integral part of Indian way of life. No wonder Ahimsa has a great hold on India even today.

Healthy Secrets to Right Eating

Each one of us have unique capacity for food and work. The identification of right balance between our food intake and work output is necessary for healthy body and mind. Too much food or too little food can create worries. Also, too much effort or too little effort in line with the food intake may also create sickness. Tirukkural talks about the balance between food and work as follows.

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Capacity of Digestion

Ancient Indian Scriptures say there is a fire within us (“Jatara Agni”) that digests food that we have. This fire can be experienced in the form of body heat. Some of us have a higher digestive capacity than others. Also, depending upon our age, the quality of digestion also varies. A person in late Teens and early Twenties have a higher capacity and better digestive power compared to another in their Fifties. So, the same meal acts in different ways in different people. The awareness about our digestive capacity is key in maintaining good health.

Certain food material is easier to digest than others. It is common knowledge that non vegetarian food requires a lot of work to digest. Also, fruits and vegetables rich in fibre is used for easier elimination. Each food substance recommended by Shastras have a responsibility to undertake. Our forefathers ate meat and fish as well. But, it was never in the same frequency and quantity as we have today. Material riches made us indulge more in action packed meals. But, that has not resulted in a healthier generation.

After a full meal, it is recommended to not eat anything till complete digestion of that meal. Our ancestors were not in favour of the culture of snacking on small bites. It can be seen in the health standards of our Grandparents and our peers today. Diabetes, Blood Pressure issues, Joint Pain, Lower Back Troubles and related illnesses are creeping in right during our Twenties. An observation of lifestyle and food habits would reveal the reason for these problems in our lives.

Meal Schedules

Many of us do not have right schedules for eating. We do not have fixed schedules today due to comfortable and flexible work hours. There are people who sleep during the day and work nights, claiming it is more productive then and a lot relaxed as well. However, our ancestors worked with the day. They woke up before the rising sun and stopped work at sunset. Nature works in certain patterns. Human beings followed the natural patterns once. Development and progress destroyed these patterns of centuries.

Our bodies signal the time to have a meal with hunger. Right quantity of food had at the right time results in developing hunger. Often, it is necessary to have certain exercise regimes to fuel this hunger as well. A person who keeps a good schedule and has right amount of food is in tune with hunger cycles of the body. This is how nature works in us. Animals do not eat when they are not hungry. They stop eating once the right amount has been taken as well. They never overeat. Except for pet animals, we never see obese beings in nature. They know what is right for them. Somehow, human beings have lost that connection temporarily. We feel these connections will come back with time.

The Enemy called Taste

Greatest beings of all times are those who have transcended their senses. The twenty first century so far has been a period of indulging too much in senses. We like to indulge in sights, sounds and tastes like humanity has never indulged before. Experiential marketing, where people pay to experience things in larger than life proportions is yielding great dividends. Having food for taste is important for businesses to succeed, and health to suffer.

Indian Meals that is rich with sweets, masala, spices and other ingredients have a science of quantity. There is a fixed proportion of tastes and substances required. There are also certain rules about combinations of these ingredients as well. Olden people knew these combinations and quantities. But, we seem to forget these rules of right eating and blindly follow taste. The most selling dishes in any restaurant is the tastiest one rather than the healthiest one. For enhancing tastes, even chemicals and harmful substances are used that results in serious illnesses.

How aware are you about the right food habits?

Why Compassion and Mercy are Powerful Concepts

Tirukkural mentions Compassion and Mercy very highly. The display of compassion and mercy is a sign of power and strength. The most powerful Kings of the past have been addressed as “The Merciful” and “The Compassionate” even when they had the power to take lives of those against them without any concern. We can see many mentions of mercy in religions like Islam and Christianity, where people who live with us are taught to be treated with compassion and concern. Compassion and Mercy are qualities that have been discussed for thousands of years of Human History.

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Action, Words and Thoughts

Mercy is non violence that is expressed through Actions, Words and Thoughts. We may act merciful even though we may speak ill of people behind close doors. This is not mercy. Even the thoughts of violence and hurt that arise within us towards another being shows discompassion. Only a very refined being of subtle nature can be truly compassionate. A fair weather compassion wherein we wish others good when things are in favour and show a darker side otherwise can be easily caught by wise ones.

Those who are merciful do not go through severe difficulties. The Karmic cycle which returns actions done to others back to ourselves will reap compassion that we sow in others. A man who acts merciful even in the most difficult circumstances will experience peace and joy in life. This is the rule of Karma. Anger and envy that arise within us when things do not work in our favour will bounce back in our life. The words that we expressed to others will come back to us to one day. If we expect compassion from the world, it is desirable to exhibit compassion ourselves first.

Compassion of the Powerful

The display of power and anger to beings who are below us in position and stature is easy. There are places where anger is good. Even scriptures recommend punishment in cases where it is deserved. Such measures require anger in the right measures. Even Rama had to bring up a lot of anger while fighting the Demons, as this anger fueled his power and strength. But, anger as our second nature is condemned.

Those who constantly resort to anger to people below them will be powerless before those who are more powerful than them. We see this in line of hierarchy and bureaucracy. Unfortunately, India has a culture of rebuke and shaming of those less powerful than us in line of duty. This was seen in Caste culture and now in corporate offices. This shows a break in the line of compassion. It is common to scold those who are below us. This is not power. This is rather misusing the situation that fate placed us in.

“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war” 

  • Haile Selassie I (Popularilised by Bob Marley in Song “War”)

Only a truly insightful being can be compassionate at all levels. One who realises the value of Dharma can exercise mercy. Otherwise it is a mere show which can break under pressure. Dharma is that which needs to be continued and preserved. A culture of compassion is truly deserving to be continued for generations.  The compassionate and merciful do not experience fear of consequences. They experience peace and blissfulness in life. Nothing is greater than a blissful life, as all attempts of material pursuit like money, position, relationships, possessions and so on are done with the aim of reaching bliss.

Wealth and Compassion

Effort and good fate can bring a poor man wealth. But, without compassion you will never fulfill your life purpose. Mere pursuit of wealth will catch you in a cycle of Life and Death which results mostly in misery. Wealth always bring in comparison as there is always someone who is wealthier and more prosperous than you. Wealth is a race that never ends. Compassion, on the other hand can help you realise your life potential as your thoughts become subtle enough to realise the fine truth.

Compassion is a higher form of wealth than mere material wealth. Material wealth can be amassed through Adharmic ways as well. Means that hurt the society and human good will may also bring in wealth. Compassion is a quality that takes time to develop. Mercy is not born in a day or two. Constant practice and vigil over the mind develops the quality of true compassion.

How far have you come in the ways of compassion?

 

Signs and Marks of Stupidity

The Ancient Tamil Text, Tirukkural talks about various signs of stupidity. The best way to avoid ill qualities and bad fate is to know the characteristics of these things very closely. So, it may be good to be aware of a few things about stupidity as well.

Ignorant

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Ignorance brings Stupidity

Accepting the bad and rejecting the good is a sure sign of stupidity. This occurs due to ignorance about details of what is in offer for us. Often we are presented with choices in life with a balance of gains and losses. Our choice for the attractive short term gains at the expense of long term benefits leave us beaten, defeated, at debt and in huge losses. Still, the awareness about quality of our minds that lead us to the wrong choices do not always arise within us. Isn’t this stupidity? We may clear intelligence tests of the highest difficulty levels. But, life may show us how stupid we really are.

The highest form of stupidity is desiring for things that we do not deserve. With the onset of democracy, anyone can rise to the highest posts of power. But, people who view power as an extension of their money do so without deserving the post very well. In India, we have had countless situations where landlords and businessmen chased power and politics, but with very bad results. Allegations of corruption, bad governance, misreading public opinion, nepotism and several such ill effects are common across country. Again, we also see people who are not aware of a field or a company suddenly taking up leadership posts due to family ties struggling with execution of work. This is due to taking up things that they do not deserve to hold.

Signs of Stupidity

  1. Shamelessness
  2. Inattention/ Carelessness
  3. Lack of Love and Empathy
  4. Laziness/ Inaction

Tirukkural clearly states the above four signs of stupidity. Self Respect is a very great quality. Still, a sense of shame in indulging in Adharmic activities like stealing, corruption and adultery is vital for glory. Shame does not always come from fear of the consequences, but the insight about right vision and right action. An insightful man will not commit adultery even if there is no chance of being caught in action at a later time.

Ancient India was known for precision and high attention to detail. Study the architecture, literature or art forms born out of India to appreciate this detail orientation. However, the same attention to detail is not completely present in our psyche today. Our technology and products are not the highest quality in the world. Our literature today has lot of holes that can be filled. Sadly enough, it is a sign of stupidity.

Love is the biggest component of life success. An athlete is in love with her/ his sport. A writer is in love with words. A mother is in love with her child. A teacher is in love in art of pedagogy. When something is done without love and empathy, it starts to show in the results. It is love that encourages an artist to spend hundreds of hours in perfecting that brush stroke or a footballer to master a particular move. Without love, such “sadhana” is impossible. So, it is love that leads a person to her/ his life purpose and shall we dare say that not finding your life purpose is stupidity?

Even with insights and knowledge, not performing karma or actions is stupidity. It is not rare to find a complainer who is quick to point out shortcomings of others, but not ready to look at herself/ himself. They can find trouble at home, at work, at school, at the system and the world at large. But, are there steps taken to understand what is lacking in self? This is a sign of stupidity.

The Intelligent Stupid

Today, we have a huge crowd of well learned, well read group of people who are ready to advise others in anything under the sun. But how much do they practice what they say? In the ancient times, they used to read the Shastras and interpret it without following it much themselves. Imagine someone teaching meditation, who cannot stay still for even a minute. Today, we can see people who speak of money management with large debts and those who train couples to manage their relationships struggling with their fourth marriage. These are clear signs of stupidity. Are we also part of this group of stupid people?  

Lessons on Laziness and Forgetfulness by Tirukkural

It is time to look beyond our weaknesses of forgetfulness and laziness to evolve into great leaders. The Ancient Tamil text, Tirukkural devotes one entire chapter towards the need to transcend forgetfulness.

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The Tamil Text, Tirukkural contains clear messages about forgetfulness and laziness that arises from it. Often, forgetfulness is considered as part of our nature. With the availability of technology that can remind us about our tasks, the need to remember is often seen as a secondary skill. However, Masters like Tiruvalluvar who composed Tirukkural has mentioned quite strongly about the virtue of alertness and skill to remember things very strongly.

Dangers of Pleasure

Pleasure is a very dangerous concept for a leader. Too much indulgence and chasing of pleasure can lead us to forgetfulness. With the arrival of money, resources and charming people, we could lose focus on our vision and goals. This is commonly seen among businessmen, politicians, entertainers and so on. We have examples of many “one hit wonders” who delivered great results in the beginning and then moved into oblivion due to pleasure and indulgence that followed initial success. Teen stars in Hollywood and Pop Music who could not work out their potential due to drug abuse, alcoholism and sex indulgences after early breakthroughs stare at us in this context.

Tough responsibilities require a tough mind. A person weakened by indulging too much under pressure will not be capable of taking tough decisions. Consider an entrepreneur who needs to fire an employee, a vendor or a customer. In order to keep a jovial relationship with people around her/ him, an entrepreneur may refuse to take tough decisions. This is also seen in certain political parties as well. A good name among stakeholders may give us pleasure. But, if the stakeholders start to hurt our means, it is necessary to break their ties. How can a mind filled with thoughts of pleasure be able to take tough decisions?

When we forget Duties

A lazy being starts to forget her/ his duties with time. Management Wisdom and the ancient Shastras speak of performing the right duty at the right time without delaying it too much due to being unaware. Even though we have highly capable and well trained Civil Servant in India, it is disheartening to see our Public Goods like Roads, Sanitation, Health Facilities, Government Schools and other facilities in a very sorry state of affairs. In spite of a well developed bureaucratic set up, the incapability to execute the right action at the right time often results in failure. Government failures are very visible to citizens. But, what about personal failures and Private business failures? Many setbacks can often be traced back to an indifference towards the sense of duty due to forgetfulness and laziness.

The ability to look into the future and take necessary action is critical for a leader’s success. One who cannot foretell consequences due to laziness is doomed for failure and disgrace. This can be seen in case of good discipline. Look at Defence forces across the world. The constant focus on training and fitness enable them to be battle ready at any instance. However, such a mindset is absent among many of us who like to take things a lot lightly. It is not wonder that only a very aware person is capable of making plans and then sticking to the plans made. A question of forgetfulness at this juncture will be quite negative. Can you be precise about your future today?

The Best kind of Leader

A leader who is aware of everyone with her/ him and everything that happens around is the best leader. Such a leader is not prone to laziness and forgetfulness. Consider a Politician or a Business Leader who is suddenly called on by the media. Comments such as “I really don’t remember that person” or “I am not aware of that situation” can result in huge negative consequences. Again, someone who has risen to such positions cannot stay there with a mind that is prone to laziness and forgetfulness as well. A country which is huge like India or a business that is spread around globally with tens of thousands of employees will have a lot of minute details. How will a leader be aware of all those details? And what would happen if the details are neglected?

The best lessons before us are the failures of people before us. We have a rich history of events and people from across the centuries. We also have living histories being discussed in media and forgotten by the press as well. Did laziness and forgetfulness play a part in their failures? Think about it.