Aug 20

Is Life a Game?

It can be!

What does a really nice game have?

It has quests to do which make you better at whatever it is you are doing.

It has the monsters that stop you from completing your quests.

It has Power-ups that help you combat the monsters.

It has allies. They help you battle your monsters and you in turn, will help them to fight off their monsters.

A quest needs to be challenging otherwise it’s just a grind. The monsters need to be tough otherwise they are just yard trash. The power ups need to really help otherwise they are a waste of time. And your allies need to care for you and you for them otherwise the monsters win.

No quest should be impossible. No monster unbeatable. There is always a way, always a weakness. You have to look for it with your allies. Strategize, then strike! A defeat teaches you new things, or at least how not to do things, and a victory after many defeats is really sweet.

And this whole process is such fun! So much fun, that in a game you go out looking for trouble.

Adventure

So… What do you want in your life? What’s your quest?

Who are the monsters? What’s stopping you?

What makes you stronger in your challenge to defeat the monsters? What is your power up?

Who are your friends? Who are the people who will stand by you and fight with you?

If life could be a game, you would be actively looking for challenges!

Getting my drift?

Gurudev always says, “Life is a game.”

Take Him seriously. Gamify Life!!

Jai Gurudeva!

Love

Bawa

PS Jane Mcgonigal is the inspiration behind this article. Read her book and watch her videos. They are brilliant!

Jul 31

Patterns of the Mind

Have you ever noticed how things keep changing and still manage to remain the same?

You may be in a situation that you don’t like. And somehow you manage to escape it. You breathe a huge sigh of relief because thankfully, now you don’t need to deal with that set of people or circumstances any more… But that sigh of relief can quickly turn into a cry of anguish because you suddenly find yourself in almost the same mess just a little later, magnified many times.

Almost as if it’s the same story, with different people playing the same parts.

The truth is, that it actually is!

You cannot really escape. There are certain things you need to deal with while you are on this planet and unless you do, and manage to diffuse the situation, it will simply keep coming back to you in ever more complicated incarnations.

You need to know that if there is a problem that you are facing right now, there is also a solution lurking around somewhere. You may need to work smart or hard or both to get to it. Once the solution is found and implemented, you will be confronted with a new challenge, quite different from the previous one. Life seems to work that way.

How do you know that you have resolved a pattern? You will feel a tremendous sense of peace and well being, a terrific sense of freedom dawns, a euphoric feeling that you have cleared a huge obstacle that will never bother you again. Very much like how the folks of the rebel alliance must have felt when the Death Star was destroyed (Star Wars)!

Freedom

The next time you are in a sticky situation, stop struggling to get out. Be right there, accept it as it is, and with a calm, joyful mind seek resolution to it.

If you just cannot handle it, surrender and pray for movement. In fact maybe that’s what you do right at the start. Pray that correct intuition will come to you at the opportune time.

Have faith that you will know what to do and when to do it.

Have faith that any pattern that you may be stuck in will eventually unravel.

Have faith that you are being taken care of and dearly loved.

Have faith that this is just a game and if you wish, you can thoroughly enjoy it!

Sadhana, Seva and Satsang, as usual, are the keys to be able to forge through any tough time…

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa

 

Jul 24

Chirag Chirag!

Meet Chirag Aggarwal. B.A. in English. When he actually managed to get that degree, whatever little faith I had in the Indian Education system kind of evaporated. He had trouble spelling trouble.

His grammar was atrocious, but he was blissfully ignorant of that, because of course he didn’t know what atrocious was.

He was really astounded to find out that there was a z in Czechoslovakia, and utterly taken aback when he learnt that there was a p in psychology.

He didn’t know the difference between a simile and a metaphor…

We had terrific fun at his expense (and still do)! Abhi and Gowri have recorded videos of Chirag spelling stuff and you can hear hoots of laughter in the background, as he would blunder about.

The wonderful part about him was that he would join us in the laughter. He never complained or felt bad that we would tease him about his English or would laugh at him. He would keep coming back for more… and while we laughed, he learned. He would rarely get a spelling wrong more than once. When he learned something, he would immediately use that in a few sentences, (often in alarmingly wrong ways) and make that word his very own.

His is an interesting story. He came to Bombay from Amritsar because he wanted to dance. He was one of the best dancers in Punjab, saw no future for himself over there and came to Bombay to make it big here in dancing.

He was still in the second year of his bachelor’s degree when he got to Bombay. While studying he took up his passion for dance and started learning as much as he could from as many people who cared to teach him. Soon, he was teaching dance himself in an obscure studio in some God forsaken suburb. But it was a beginning.

Just dancing please - No spellings!

Just dancing please – No spellings!

He would visit ashram frequently and stay with us and each time he came, there would be some fresh thing he had learned. Some new upgrade to his already phenomenal talent. He watched me play the piano and asked me to teach him some stuff. I did. The next time he came back to ashram, he was playing what I had taught him brilliantly. I taught him more and pretty soon, he didn’t need me. He was learning things naturally and organically by trusting his ear. I still would love for him to be trained by a good piano teacher. It would take his playing to another level. He already has a very nice touch and feel for the music.

Then came singing. He learned a bit from here and there, practiced like a maniac and became quite good.

Good enough that he now performs in Rael Padamsee’s Broadway and Beyond. Good enough that he has been dancing in Grease. He has already performed in most of Bombay’s classiest auditoriums including St. Andrew’s and N.C.P.A.

He continues to learn more  and has slowly but surely, continues to become more graceful every day.

Besides being a great learner, Chirag has that unmistakable flair for teaching. He can teach one on one and he can hold a crowd of a few thousand. His classes are exuberant and full of vitality. He quickly gauges how much you can do and somehow manages to make you do much more than you thought you could.

Pretty soon, he saved enough money to get himself a second hand car, and managed to afford the rent to live in a little apartment in Sion. Till date, he has taught more than 10,000 students, choreographed and danced in many shows and ad promos and sung and danced in a plethora of stage productions in Bombay.

He is a meditator and does Sudarshan Kriya regularly. He spends a lot of time with people who smoke, do drugs, drink and eat non veg food. Even so, he has managed to remain completely clean. That takes terrific belief in yourself and truckloads of self-confidence. Chirag is going places for sure!

Chirag is finishing off a few more dance classes for our MBA students at Sri Sri University as part of their induction celebrations. We believe that not only should they be good managers and great human beings, they need to know how to shake a leg as well!

Soon, he will be back in Bombay to dance and sing and teach as only he can… Check out his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dancewithchirag for more details about him.

You should definitely learn dancing from him… just don’t ask him to spell pirouette :)

Jai Gurudeva!

Love

Bawa

PS He thinks quite highly about his cooking skills as well. His cooking is just marginally worse than his spelling … You have been warned!

Jun 30

Meeting Him at Bombay Airport

The first time Gurudev came to Bombay more than two decades ago; Sangeeta and I went to receive Him from the airport. We got caught in a bit of traffic, and He was already out, waiting for us. He waved and smiled when He saw us and said why did the two of you have to come all the way… I could have hopped into a cab and come home.

The next two times He came, it was more or less the same… all of us who went to the airport, would fit into one car. Then, there were 50 odd people and a cavalcade of 7-8 cars and the year after that more than 200 people  at the airport were there to receive Him and see Him off… Enough to alarm the airport police.

Now there are a few thousand.

And a familiar scene plays out every time He comes…

There is a humungous number of people there. All smiling and shining in anticipation of meeting Him. Someone shrieks, everyone shouts. False alarm. The airport police are having a nightmare. They don’t know whether to join in the madness and the celebration or maintain their aloofness.

And then you catch a glimpse of white, a sudden sighting of orange and the crowd roars… JAI GURUDEV!!!

All attention is on the door, which slides open and Gurudev walks out to a tumultuous welcome. He smiles at someone, waves at another, hugs a third… The crowd converges (or tries to) to that one focal point…

It is really amazing how the embodiment of Sattwa can create such Rajas!

People reach over people’s heads, some try to crawl in between others legs – Anything to get closer to Him.

He is calm, seemingly oblivious to the chaos around Him as He gracefully navigates to His waiting car. He gets in, the car speeds off.

There are basically two types of people who will be the survivors in the aftermath of this sattwa explosion – The first who are jubilant. Faces glowing, smiles so big they could eat a banana sideways. They exclaim, maine Guruji ko dekha!! I saw Guruji!! They go home and sleep the blessed sleep of the innocent and the wonderfilled.

The others, they have a long face. They whisper and move furtively. They are upset. Guruji ne mujhe nahi dekha. Guruji didn’t look at me.

For the exact same situation – Guruji walks out of the airport. People scream in love. He nods, gestures, smiles and gets into a car and drives off. The whole episode is less than 5 minutes. Isn’t it amazing how one person is filled with a glow and another with despair?!

These people live in two different dimensions. They are light years apart. It becomes quite evident who is doing their Sadhana, Seva and Satsang and who is not!

Being with Gurudev is always a privilege, never a right. Remember that and you too will glow!

Jai Gurudeva!

Love

bawa

 

Jun 11

Aghori

Aghori… That word has such a connotation. Brings up images of graveyards, naked people bodies smeared with ash, black magic, atrocious sex, voodoo …

Aghori actually means the absolute opposite of all this. Ghor means frightening, terrifying – Aghor means beautiful, pleasant, delightful. Aghori is one who takes life as a wonder filled, beautiful journey. Who is unshaken by anything life can throw at him and moves along in sublime bliss.

 path in forest

This meaning has been mangled beyond recognition and the so called aghoris have no idea what they are practicing and are far removed from spirituality or enlightenment of any sort.

Animal sacrifice is part of these misguided people’s rituals. How can any God be happy if you destroy something that He Himself has created?! Would an artist bless you and appreciate you if you tore up his painting or destroyed a magnificent sculpture he has created?! To satisfy their own urge to eat meat, people make up these interpretations.

Balidan means sacrifice. Who can sacrifice? One who has Bal or strength. Great strength. The greatest sacrifice is to kill one’s own ego. That can happen only through love and surrender. To kill the animalistic tendencies whiten oneself and offer those to the Divine. Not to kill innocent animals and defile the altars.

The true aghori is one who has subjugated the beast within himself. One who is full of love and compassion. Who is surrendered to the Divine. Who is steeped in Knowledge and whose face shines with the light of inner peace. Who moves through life rejoicing in the Glory of the One, knowing there is actually no difference between the Creator, the Creation and Himself.

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa

May 31

Confused about what to do after Engineering?

I got this mail today.

I am completing my Engineering degree. I have 3 options.

1. I prepare for GATE and get into some IIT for an M.Tech and later a Ph.D

2. I have got admission in the good governance program of Sri Sri University. Should I pursue that?

3. Prepare for CAT and try for an MBA next year.

Which should I do?

Confusion

My answer:

Choose option 1 if you want to go further in an academic career. You want academics to be your life, pursue 1. Do focus a lot on developing communication skills. It is very sad to see someone who really knows his subject not able to teach it and kindle passion for it in his students because of poor communication skills.

Choose option 2 if politics is your calling. You want to become a politician, an aide to a politician or want to work in or run a whistle blower NGO, then choose 2. It may even open doors for you in social entrepreneurship.

If a job or a business is what you want to do, then choose option 3. By the way, you can do an MBA from Sri Sri University this year itself. If you have not yet given CAT or some other management entrance exam, you can give the GMAT anytime. SSU simply requires a decent score. Your admissions will depend on how you fare in the Personal Interview and Written Ability Test. 

SSU Students

Personal recommendation? 

An MBA will help regardless of what you choose to do later. If you are still confused, come for the MBA at Sri Sri University. Check out the website www.srisriuniversity.edu.in 

At the very least apply and get an admission so that this option is open for you. Click here to apply!

All the very best!

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa

May 31

Games I have Enjoyed

I throughly enjoy city building games, word games and role playing games. I don’t like games that require twitch responses and first person shooters. Ok, now that I have said that, you know what my biases are. And you know if you want to continue reading :)

Nintendo Games

The nintendo hand helds were the first few games that I played… I still remember my first Nintendo game called Parachute, followed by octopus and then the 2 screen wonders that were Donkey Kong and Donkey kong 2. Many, many happy hours of my childhood went in playing these games. My mom (like all moms) had the utterly frustrating habit of calling me to have food, make my bed, do my homework… exactly when I was going to be breaking my high score and setting a new record. Put that game away and get into bed!!!

Prince_of_Persia_2

Prince of Persia and Prince of Persia 2 were the first games that I played on a computer… In fact whatever technology geekiness I have, I would attribute to this game. I learned to assemble PCs and tinker with the hardware just so I could play this game on a faster computer with better graphics. This was when Windows was just making an appearance and everyone who was anyone was using good old DOS.

Warcraft III

Then came this amazing game called Warcraft: Orcs v/s Humans. You could play as human or orc! They both had their stories and their points of view… Then came Warcraft 2, where the battle for Azeroth was taken to the sea and in the air. And then Warcraft 3, which introduced a new race called night elves, was in 3D and had the option of multi player online skirmishes!!

HarrogathArt

As far as mindless RPG hack and slash was concerned nothing beat Diablo and Diablo 2.

These were the games I played thru college… There was also the Age of Empires and Sid Mier’s Civilization series which were beautifully crafted games, making me say to myself just one more game, one more turn, one more level before I sleep, until sudden brightness in the room made me realise that the sun had risen! :)

EQ

The first ever Multi Player Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) I played was Everquest. It was a fantastic game, made for hard core gamers. Dying at high levels in the game could mean loss of money and experience costing a week of playing! I smile when I think back at those days, when I actually felt fear entering a new dungeon. There were encounters in that game which would take a group of players over 7-8 hours to complete!

When I had short hair, I would get splitting headaches if my hair grew even a little long. I would go to have my hair cut like others went to see a doctor. I was already teaching Art of Living then, and I would feel some fraud saying if you did the Kriya, you would have great health. Because I did the Kriya and used to have those terrible headaches if my hair grew longer… So I decided, that I would let my hair grow, and see what would happen. I did Kriya and I used to play EQ when my head would ache to take the attention away from the headache… and it worked! After some time, as my system grew used to the longer hair, the head stopped paining and I could play EQ just to have fun! :)

The only other MMORPG I really enjoyed after EQ and which I still play is World of Warcraft. The good people at Blizzard took Azeroth and made it online where millions of players could play with each other and interact with each other… Since it was launched in 2004, more than 11 million people have played WoW collectively for close to 50 billion hours or approximately 6 million years which is how long humans took to evolve as a species! :)

WoW

Since 2004, WoW has been made MUCH easier, so more casual gamers can enjoy it as well … something that I don’t quite agree with, but it still manages to hold it’s own and is a fabulous game.

I am still waiting for the perfect MMORPG … hopefully someone makes it in my lifetime! :) … Come to think about it, Life itself is quite an MMORPG, just that the penalty for death is a little too strict. You die, you have to do potty training all over again!

As gaming companies realised that many, many people like to play games, they started creating easier and easier games. So more and more people with short attention spans could play (and they could make money). This is casual gaming and it is at it’s peak now. The iPad is the epitome of casual gaming…

A quick list of games on iPad that almost anyone will enjoy:

Hay Day (I keep coming back to play this game)

W.E.L.D.E.R (a fabulous word/puzzle game)

Royal Revolt 1 and 2 (Tower defence games done really well)

Rise of Berk (City building from How to Train your Dragon)

Clumsy Ninja (Just a super cute game)

Plants v/s Zombies 1 and 2 (absolutely brilliant tower defence games)

Anthill (Super simplified Age of Empires with ants)

Banana Kong (endless Runner with high cuteness factor)

My Singing Monsters (Very well done monster collection game)

Draw Something (Unleashes your creativity in drawing)

Where is my Water? (The original was fantastic, then they screwed it up)

Collision Effect (Superb Puzzler)

Falling Stars (time pass music creator)

Infinity Blade 1, 2 and 3 (Superb graphics, nice gameplay, but cannot really advance to higher levels without cheats – Gowrishankar is God at this game)

And finally…

Hearthstone, a card fighting game based on characters from World of Warcraft … One of the absolutely best games on iPad now, even Dinesh who is as interested in gaming as I am in politics plays this one!!

There are many other games that I played, some of them utterly forgettable, others were nice for a bit and others that I may have enjoyed but just don’t remember their names :)

And then there is Board Gaming … but that’s a story for another time…

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa

PS Special mention for 2 more games – Jardinains which is a break out brick type clone and Torchlight which unfortunately ran only on Windows not on a Mac and was a much brighter, cuter looking clone of Diablo.

 

Apr 30

Watermelon and Feta Cheese Salad

We had gone to Bidisha’s house for lunch when we were in Calcutta. We had this salad there and it was so utterly scrumptious that we invited ourselves for lunch again the next day, just to have it again! :)

A nice big watermelon, cut into medium bite sized chunks

Half a ripe and sweet pineapple,  peeled and cut into bite sized chunks

1 medium head of broccoli, steamed, dunked into cold water to allow it to remain green and cut into medium florets

7-8 sticks of asparagus, steamed and cut into 2 inch sticks

1 yellow and 1 red bell pepper, roasted or baked till slightly charred and cut into bite sized chunks

Handful of snowpeas steamed

10-15 cherry tomatoes

It tastes and looks WAY better than this photo! :)

It tastes and looks WAY better than this photo! :)

Prepare all of the above and chill for a few hours. Put everything in a big salad bowl. Add a packet of crumbled Feta cheese, a few tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil, some leaves of fresh basil and salt to taste (Feta is usually quite salty, so I didn’t need any salt in my salad). Serve cold immediately with some hot toasted and buttered multi grain bread. You may sprinkle some pine nuts on it just before serving to add a slight crunch.

The dressing tends to become watery if it sits in the fridge for a little while, so really prepare this and serve right away.

BTW, this is the first time in my life I have loved watermelon! :)

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa

Apr 10

Spiritual People in Politics?!

Spirituality is anything that enhances the spirit! Hence spirituality encompasses the sciences, commerce and arts, technology and development, health, law, culture, sports, entertainment… infact everything, including politics. Just as there is politics in spirituality, why can’t there be spirituality in politics? Politics is about taking care of the welfare and the wellbeing of people. Spirituality is politics in action; it is about caring and sharing, improving people’s standard of life and the standard of living.

India is the largest democracy in the World. Democracy is by the people, of the people and for the people. Our spiritual Gurus are the people of this country, the citizens of free India. To exhort that they should not talk about politics is undemocratic and amounts to violating the fundamental human right of freedom of speech, bestowed on each of its citizens without any bias, by the constitution of India.

Indian Tri Colour

Spiritual knowledge and spiritual practices are the essence of India. Then how is it that so many bad things are happening and the whole society and the times get tagged as bad? Do we have a dearth of good, well meaning people in this country? NO. It’s because we, the good people are not loud enough or united enough to make a difference. The sorry state that India is in is not so much because of the small number of bad people’s wrongdoings but because of the silence, the inaction and the disempowered attitude of the vast majority of good people!

By the way, Spiritual people are (also) the ones with values. If you want to silence them further or force them to stay away from social affairs, you are in effect, simply confirming your status as a person or party involved in wrongdoings. A truly pro-nation party will actively encourage spiritual people to take lead and use their influence to wake up the masses towards participatory democracy by voting and thereafter ensuring good governance post-elections.

Chanakya, the celebrated author of Arthashastra, had said.
Sukhasya mulam dharmaha
Dharmasya mulam arthaha
Arthasya mulam raajyam
Raajyasya mulam indriya nigraham ||

The basis of societal happiness (translated as Human Development Index (HDI) in today’s politically correct terminology) is values. Values flourish when economy flourishes. The basis of strong and stable economy is good governance, which in turn depends on the moral fiber of the king or the leader… And to have checks and balances on the moral fiber and fortitude of the leader (on their greed, individual egos, personal desires conflicting with national good etc), we had the spiritual gurus. To say spiritual leaders should shut up, politically amounts to saying no to checks and balances and pave the way for uncontrolled corruption, crime and communalism, short sighted policies and laws, hindrance in quick judgments… leading eventually to the degradation of the socio, political, economic, cultural and moral structure of the nation, as we see transpiring today.

There has been a special law of the land, the tradition and culture of the most ancient civilization in the world. Here, the kings have always had spiritual gurus as their advisors. Sage Vasishta and Valmiki as Gurus of Lord Rama, Chanakya for Chandragupta Maurya, Swami Samarth Ramdas for Shivaji etc. Because the Gurus were wise and learned in the ways of the world, they understood the minds and hearts of individuals and the masses, they knew the laws of Laxmi or wealth, they were up-to-date on education, health, science, statecraft, military and defence, foreign affairs… Their guidance, free from any motive of personal gains, has been invaluable to the Kings that ruled Bharatvarsha since time immemorial.

The spiritual people, as long as they are adhering to the spiritual code of conduct and not indulging in divisive messages on the basis of religion, caste or language (as some religious leaders and many politicians practice), should participate in the affairs of the nations more intimately and proactively.

So, in conclusion, how do religion, politics and spirituality fare in the social landscape of India? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had once said, “Religious people are supposed to pray and politicians are supposed to take responsibility. I (the spiritual people) pray and take responsibility!”

love

Dinesh

Mar 28

Funny Maths!

Have been reading a book called The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets. Turns out that many of the writers of Simpsons were mathematicians and they managed to sneak enough maths into the sitcom to fill up a university degree course! They have been secretly educating (or trying very hard to) TV audiences for years thru their use of some fairly advanced maths in the serial.

This book is written by Simon Singh and kept me entertained for almost a week, and now I can’t stop telling maths jokes and some crazy facts!

Here are a few:

Q. What did the number 0 say to the number 8?

A. Nice Belt!

After the floods, Noah tells all the animals to go forth and multiply and when he came to check after a few months all the animals had indeed multiplied except for a pair of snakes…

He asked them what the problem was, and they had a request. They told Noah to cut a few trees for them. Noah did that. When he came back to check on them a few weeks later, there were many, many baby snakes… He asked them how come they needed trees chopped to multiply.

They grinned sheepishly (if snakes can do that… use your imagination here) and replied, we are adders, we need logs to multiply!!

 

An infinite number of mathematicians walked into a bar. The first one told the bar tender he wanted 1/2 a glass of beer. The next asked for 1/4th glass of beer, the next for 1/8th glass and so on… The bar tender looked at all of them, poured out one glass of beer and gave it to them saying quite sternly – Know your Limits!!

beer-05

Jesus once remarked, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like 2x2+5×-6

Thomas asked Peter, “What’s He talking about?!”

Peter replied, “Don’t worry, it’s just one of His parabolas!!!”

 

Q. What’s a Polar bear?

A. A rectangular bear after a coordinate transformation.

An amazing fact: 1000000000000066600000000000001 is a prime number – It is called Belphegor’s Prime, after one of the princes of hell. It is 1 followed by 13 zeroes, followed by 666 (the Devil’s number), followed by 13 zeroes, followed by 1. Possibly the unluckiest number on the planet! :)

Will leave all the others for you to discover… read the book!

Jai Gurudeva!

love

bawa

 

 

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