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Talk at VIF Bootcamp: Part 2

How do we be friends with our own emotions?

That is a very very impor­tant thing. For now, what has hap­pened is, most of us, suf­fer our­selves. We suf­fer our­selves because our emo­tions are obvi­ous­ly in a state of imbal­ance. Health, just as it needs to be in a state of bal­ance, emo­tion as well needs to be in a state of bal­ance, but it seems to be like an idea. We con­stant­ly encounter…for exam­ple, some­one says some­thing, let us say, some­one calls us an…you dri­ve out and in peak traf­fic, some­one calls you an idiot, that’s it, your emo­tions go for a toss. You know, it goes hay­wire, and many a time it hap­pens. In India, you can­not avoid it. Nobody will call you, “Kanne, maniye…” (terms of endear­ment) Nobody will address you in such pleas­ant terms. The way to han­dle emo­tions, if I can be crisp and also prac­ti­cal, one thing is to do with our expec­ta­tion. If we always expect our­selves to be in a state of emo­tion­al­ly “Ah!” hap­py, pleas­ant is the word, we always want that to be pleas­ant, will it be so? That idea itself will cause you unpleas­ant­ness! The very idea that you hold on to, emo­tion­al pleas­ant­ness, will cause you unpleas­ant­ness. Because that will restrict you in so many ways. You try to avoid rela­tion­ships because that might cause unpleas­ant­ness. You put your­self into a shell, that will itself cause unpleas­ant­ness. So the very idea that you need to be always emo­tion­al­ly pleas­ant caus­es unpleas­ant­ness, the reverse reac­tion. For exam­ple, you tell your­selves, “I should not be angry.” Plain and sim­ple. “From now on, I am not going to be angry.” And you encounter some­one. They speak very pleas­ing­ly to you, in pleas­ing words, in pleas­ing swear words, and “I am not going to be angry”, you tell your­selves. “I am not going to be angry” “I am not going to be angry“ (in a slight­ly angry tone) “I am NOT going to be angry” (in an even angri­er tone) And it bursts forth! That is not the way to deal with emo­tions. There are oth­er ways to deal with emo­tions. So when you get this right, one is expec­ta­tion. The very expec­ta­tion caus­es an issue. That does not mean you should not have reg­u­lat­ed emo­tions, you need to reg­u­late your emo­tions. The sec­ond aspect is, how you deal with it prac­ti­cal­ly.

A simple logic is, you would see that, you breathe in deeply, your emotions stabilise. Most of us tend to use only shallow breathing. That tends to cause tremendous stress. Shallow breathing causes stress, if you didn't know this. If you deep breathe, you will see, your emotions will automatically be balanced.

Because what are emo­tions? These are glan­du­lar secre­tions. Those glan­du­lar secre­tions need to be har­mo­nized. Appro­pri­ate secre­tions at appro­pri­ate times. Then you feel emo­tion­al­ly bal­anced. If it goes hay­wire, you will feel imbal­anced. And hence, under­stand­ing the tech­nol­o­gy behind it, you use the right tools, for exam­ple, breath­ing, you will see, you will be bal­anced. It is not about your choice. You are doing the right thing for it. That becomes crit­i­cal. So one is expec­ta­tion, anoth­er is the right tools to be bal­anced.

So can you give a framework, particularly for taking decisions with respect to career. Can you guide us on that?

Career is always…when you have a clear line of thought where this is good, that is bad, it becomes straight­for­ward. Now when does deci­sion-mak­ing become com­plex? Because this looks good, that looks good, this also looks good, now how do I choose? So every­thing is…when your options open up, or your num­ber of choic­es open up, that is when deci­sion-mak­ing becomes prob­lem­at­ic, right? But actu­al­ly no. Actu­al­ly if you realise that your choic­es are opened up, it will not be a path to suf­fer­ing, Most of us suf­fer through the deci­sion-mak­ing process. When you need to get into a col­lege – this col­lege, that col­lege, this col­lege? It becomes very com­plex to han­dle. But if you look at the under­ly­ing log­ic, under­ly­ing process of how it works, let us say, you wish to buy a bike, motor bike. Till then, if you have observed care­ful­ly, till then, you would not have observed close­ly all the dif­fer­ent vari­eties of bikes. Have you observed this process? Only because of this becom­ing a pri­or­i­ty, you start observ­ing bikes for the first time, and you start look­ing at more and more details and you start eval­u­at­ing, and then you start col­lect­ing opin­ions. Hun­dreds of opin­ions.

Each person that you talk to gives different opinions. This is all a process. If you look at it as a process, it is not a problem. But if you look at it as decision making, every opinion cannot lead you to a decision. This is a process of collecting opinions. This is not yet decision. You have not yet reached the decision point.

So this is the man­as pro­cess­ing. The bud­dhi need not be applied at that point in time. It comes at a lat­er stage. First, it is data pro­cess­ing, you clean the data, depend­ing on the weights that you asso­ciate with opin­ions passed, who mat­ters, how much, what knowl­edge do they have in their field, and then what is most impor­tant to you, for your prac­ti­cal life. Is mileage more impor­tant to you or is low main­te­nance more impor­tant to you? You eval­u­ate the pos­si­bil­i­ties, and then you come to a deci­sion point. If you jump to pre­ma­ture deci­sion points, you’re in for shocks, because then it will change. One opin­ion looks con­vinc­ing, you have decid­ed, then the next opin­ion seems con­vinc­ing, and you’re rocked from your deci­sion. And that becomes prob­lem­at­ic. Oth­er­wise it is not a prob­lem. This is the process with which we decide. We don’t decide until the deci­sion point. Till then, acquire more data points. Data pro­cess­ing is very very crit­i­cal. That is the whole data ana­lyt­ics. When you reach the deci­sion point, decide and run so hard for­ward that you don’t have time to regret it. I have nev­er regret­ted the deci­sion of com­ing back from the US, because by the time I land­ed here, I had start­ed run­ning. Already look­ing at the future, pos­si­bil­i­ties, work­ing towards it, action­at­ing on it, and hence, you are not look­ing back and feel­ing “Are yaar! Che! US mein hota tho kith­na accha hotha!” Not even a sin­gle flick­er of thought has crossed my mind. So that is action­at­ing on your deci­sion. So decide when there is a deci­sion point. Till then don’t decide. Once decid­ed, action­ate on it so that, you don’t need to relook your deci­sion. When you need to relook, that is again a deci­sion point. There appro­pri­ate analy­sis applies.

How do you define success and where do you draw the line?

I would say, why do you draw a line? I nev­er draw a line. Suc­cess is def­i­nite­ly sweet. All of us wish to suc­ceed in what­ev­er we do. For exam­ple, I sit like this. Isn’t this the suc­cess of the efforts that I have put in in the past? I remem­ber a time when I could not sit like that, you know. I would sit in pad­masana and it would ache painful­ly “Ah!” my pelvic region would be all painful. Over a peri­od of time, I decid­ed this was impor­tant to me. Impor­tant to me, oth­ers might con­sid­er it,”What is the use of sit­ting like this?” But it was impor­tant to me, it was a pri­or­i­ty for me, and hence, I took a path, a course, which led me to being suc­cess­ful in some­thing even as sim­ple as sit­ting like this. So suc­cess, you don’t need to draw a line. All of us wish to suc­ceed, in what­ev­er we take up.

But what matters to you, that you decide. That need not be decided by society for you. If it is decided by parents for you, it is okay, but you accept it. If not, you set your path, your definition of what your priority is. Then you will see that, you wish to be successful. You better be successful because success matters.

Your suc­cess mat­ters not just to you, but to every­body around you. You will see, my being suc­cess­ful, does it impact you or not? It very much impacts every sin­gle per­son I meet. My being suc­cess­ful in tapasya, my being suc­cess­ful in med­i­ta­tion, my being suc­cess­ful in yoga, my being suc­cess­ful in com­put­er sci­ence, my being suc­cess­ful mat­ters not just to me, but to every­body around me. But what mat­ters to you, you bet­ter be suc­cess­ful in it. You use the right means to approach it, be suc­cess­ful and don’t draw a line. Why should I draw a line? Why should you draw a line?

Can you tell us more about the guru parampara?

Okay, see that is in my expe­ri­ence I can tell you, that in this life­time, see for exam­ple, gen­er­al­ly it is con­sid­ered the moth­er is con­sid­ered very impor­tant. Moth­er and father. Very good, very impor­tant. But if you get the per­spec­tive, my moth­er and father are linked to me in this birth as mom and dad. But if I look fur­ther, you’ll see my guru has always linked up for so many life­times, okay? So that’s the thread hold­ing togeth­er. It is like moth­er, for this life­time is a moth­er. You can­not negate it. There is no rea­son­ing about it. It is sim­ply there. And it is very very impor­tant. All of us have moth­ers. All of us have fathers. But a guru extends beyond one’s, this phys­i­cal frame­work that you call as a life­time, it extends beyond that. So there are detailed tech­ni­cal aspects to it, we shall not go into. So that is where the guru parampara becomes very very impor­tant. They hold you in their embrace through life­times, they guide you. And that becomes very very crit­i­cal. That is the guru shishya parampara that has exist­ed from ancient times. It is a very nor­mal thing, but if you are not ori­ent­ed in that fash­ion, it might seem strange log­ic – “What is he talk­ing about?” And that is also very valid. I am talk­ing about my expe­ri­ence. If you feel it is strange log­ic, that is also okay. That is not a prob­lem. But def­i­nite­ly, this civ­i­liza­tion owes it to the guru shishya parampara. Ear­li­er it was con­sid­ered father-son and so on. And then it grows much beyond that. So that is how it is held through. That is the guru shishya parampara. It is not auto­mat­ic. It is not ran­dom.

Who is your favourite character from the Mahabharata and why?

You know, I know who I was, but yeah…favourite character?..umm. My favourite char­ac­ter is Yud­hishthi­ra. He is an awe­some guy. Why? Because, if you look at him, he was extreme­ly knowl­edge­able, excep­tion­al­ly knowl­edge­able, and dhar­ma is such a thing, that it is not rule-based. It is like aes­thet­ics.

If you have cultivated your aesthetics, you need to cultivate, work on it. It is beautifully said that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. It is exactly that. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. If you have cultivated your aesthetics, you need to cultivate, work on it. It is beautifully said that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. It is exactly that. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.And you need to cul­ti­vate it. In Tamil we say, rasanai, you need to rasichu rusichu vazhanum. That means rasichu rusichu vazharathu.….. is that okay? (Laugh­ter) So that, liv­ing a taste­ful life, liv­ing an artis­tic life, most of us have become mechan­i­cal, and that shows. Every action is mechan­i­cal, every day is mechan­i­cal, it is rou­tine. There is no life behind it we say. And that is very valid. It is because of the lack of artis­tic rasanai – appre­ci­a­tion of beau­ty. Even our edu­ca­tion­al process you see, ear­li­er used to be music, dance, art, every­thing used to be there. Now, it is physics, chem­istry, math­e­mat­ics, biol­o­gy. It seems mechan­i­cal and it does not devel­op your taste. That feel is not devel­oped. That feel becomes very very crit­i­cal. That Yud­hishthi­ra dis­played in good mea­sure and the only per­son to appre­ci­ate that was Krish­na. Nobody else could under­stand Yud­hishthi­ra. Because he was so high­ly artis­tic, that see even for exam­ple, devel­op­ing a char­ac­ter is an artis­tic capa­bil­i­ty. You will see, oth­er­wise what is the use of truth, you tell me? What is the use of truth, what is the use of hon­esty, what is the use of sin­cer­i­ty? If some­one does some­thing to you, what is the use of cul­ti­vat­ing patience? Now, our rea­son­ing can­not even imag­ine what is the use? What is the fun? “Eh! Just give it back” Daam! Doom! We are in that mode. But if you devel­op that artis­tic capa­bil­i­ty, then you will see that real­ly it awe­some. So Yud­hishthi­ra was a peak man­i­fes­ta­tion of that.

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