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Work life balance

Call of the Vedas

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Me, my work, my life. Off balance. What is wrong?   

Today, my work and life are not in balance. I spend long hours at work to eke out a pay check, to fulfill career ambition or just to make more money. Then I spend considerable time in commuting to and from work. I return home physically and mentally exhausted. I microwave the frozen left overs from the fridge, nibble on the meal as I check my iPhone for emails, text messages and missed calls. Work place conflicts, project dead-lines, job security fears – all these weigh in my mind as  I mechanically play with my three year old son for a few minutes, then move over, open up my laptop and immerse myself in work to meet project dead-lines, to please my boss or just to hang on to the job I have. After a short, inadequate and fitful sleep, I wake up…

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ashokbhatia

In our lives, you played the role of a dynamic and bustling airport,
From which we soared in life´s azure skies, enjoying our flights of high import;
Some took to exploring various corners of our Mother Earth,
Of diplomats, businessmen and bankers amongst us there is no dearth.

May 2014 049

Some flew literally high while others specialized in foretelling weather,
Some rose to positions of eminence in industries as diverse as IT and leather;
The allure of entrepreneurship and private sector careers proved irresistible to some,
Many found academics, social entrepreneurship and public services less worrisome.

May 2014 038

Probability theories taught us to manage uncertainty at life´s myriad stations,
Laws of motion led us to motivate people and have positive interpersonal relations;
Differential calculus taught us to analyze situations without tears,
Integral exhorted us to take an overall strategic view in all spheres.

0002 (86)

Structure of elementary particles made us discover forces of spirituality in…

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Ode to a shiner..

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Here is a limerick by Ms. Sukanya Lakshmi Narayan, an ardent fan of P G Wodehouse. It is based on a true incident, which she has beautifully captured in a typical Wodehousian manner. A fitting tribute, indeed.

PGWodehouse

Our friend, a thorough and jolly gentleman
On Wodehousian principles his life ran,
Raised by overbearing aunts and grandmas
A La Dahlias and Agathas
Even though nary a one was a gentleman.

The devoted son sent his mother
To the park with the nurse and chauffeur
The nurse got drunk
The chauffeur did the bunk
And the nurse socked the master a shiner.

The sinister saga didn’t end there
There was more mystery and dare
To cut a long story short
The master decided to take a shot
And investigate the matter threadbare.

The hunt began for the missing driver
Anyone and everyone was promised a fiver
He was finally found
After much…

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In quite a few escapades of Bertie Wooster and his bosom pals, we come across headmistresses and headmasters who remind us of our own days at school. Many of us might not have ever won a prize for Scripture Knowledge, but the mere mention of a brightly authoritative gaze touches the darker realms of our individual scholastic experiences. Invariably, it is not only about the stern look and the stiff upper lip. It is also about our dread of public speaking – and of juicy canes in the soft spots.

The tyranny of these strict disciplinarians does not remain confined to childhood days alone. It often pops up years later when their understudies have grown into adulthood. Even a chance encounter leaves Bertie shaking like an aspen and fearing yet another admonition at the hands of the lion-tamers.

The Female Lion-tamer

Take the case of Miss Mapleton in Jeeves and…

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In its concluding chapter, Bhagavad Gita goes on to extol the virtue of surrender to a higher power. It does not specifically state that it is useful only when a CEO is facing a monumental challenge in her career or life. However, it is my belief that an attitude laced with liberal doses of surrender, duly backed by the personality attributes listed in the previous chapter, becomes the most crucial enabling factor which facilitates successful handling of such challenges.

तमेव शरणं गच्छ सर्वभावेन भारत |
तत्प्रसादात्परां शान्तिं स्थानं प्राप्स्यसि शाश्वतम् || 18.62||

Surrender exclusively unto Him with your whole being, O Bharat. By His grace, you will attain perfect peace and the eternal abode.

Much like a Senior Vice President who gets promoted as a CEO after the seniors notice a potential in her to shoulder a higher responsibility, coupled with a match between the value system of the incumbent and that of the business, and a deep sense of loyalty (read surrender) to the organization, Lord Krishna also stipulates the condition under which His grace would help a person to attain perfect peace – exclusive surrender. A conscious realization that it is not one’s own efforts alone which get success in life, and that it is one’s destiny also which plays a crucial role, helps one to surrender in such a manner. 

There are no free lunches in life, as the wise men say!

Challenges and evolution

Each of the demeaning experiences faced by yours truly and shared in the previous part led to some inner growth. A public rebuke made me learn the value of sensing dangerous turbulence on the flight path in advance, and punching the eject button in the cockpit before things spun out of control. Likewise, the kidnapping incident taught me the importance of having some acquaintance with the law and order and regulatory agencies in the country. As an additional perk, each incident revealed the true friends and foes of those around me at the time. An enriching string of experiences, one would say in retrospect.

When a pink slip gets dished out, one finds an opportunity of reassessing one’s strengths and weaknesses and act on them. A fall from grace eventually ends up increasing the depth of one’s inner reservoirs of patience, equipoise and fortitude.

When Kunti seeks challenges as a boon!

In one of the post-war episodes narrated in the Srimad Bhagavatam, when Krishna is about to depart for his kingdom of Dwarka, Uttara, the bereaved wife of Abhimanyu and the daughter-in-law of Arjuna, comes running to seek His protection for the son in her womb who has been killed by a mighty weapon unleashed by Ashwatthama. Krishna then brings the child back to life, at which time Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas and an aunt of Krishna, prays thus:

विषान्महाग्नेः पुरुषाददर्शनाद्  असत्सभाया वनवासकृच्छ्रतः ।
मृधे मृधेऽनेकमहारथास्त्रतो  द्रौण्यस्त्रतश्चास्म हरेऽभिरक्षिताः ॥ 1.8.24

My dear Krishna, you have protected us from a poisoned cake, from a great fire, from cannibals, from the vicious assembly, from sufferings during our exile in the forest and from the battle where great generals fought. And now You have saved us from the weapon of Asshwatthama.

विपदः सन्तु ताः शश्वत् तत्र तत्र जगद्‍गुरो ।
भवतो दर्शनं यत्स्याद् अपुनर्भवदर्शनम् ॥ 1.8.25

I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer repeated births and deaths.

Apprehending that she and her children would subsequently be missing being in touch with someone of the stature of Krishna, Kunti seeks a blessing from Him – that her family is always surrounded by some trouble or the other. The Lord is obviously surprised and bemused at someone seeking a negative blessing!

Of Challenges, Deprivation and Humiliation

Shri Ram Chandra Maharaj, affectionately referred to as Lalaji Maharaj by his followers the world over, was the original Master of the spiritual organization which is spear-heading the practice of Heartfulness Meditation globally these days. He has stated in one of his messages that there are three factors in one’s life which lead to spiritual evolution: Illat (Challenges), Quillat (Deprivation) and Zillat (Deprivation).

What is really implied here is that one needs to learn to accept challenges – major or minor – in the spirit of ‘illat’, ‘quillat’ and ‘zillat’. In other words, to have a little less money than necessary; to have a little less than good health; and to always have critics around one. Those who are on the path to an inward growth would do well to receive such brickbats and rocks as fragrant bouquets which life bestows on one.

The real examples quoted earlier in this context aptly justify this sobering thought.

Negatives support us better!

Swami Vivekananda, in his notes on Karma-Yoga, has the following to say:

‘Good and evil have an equal share in moulding character, and in some instances misery is a greater teacher than happiness. In studying the great characters the world has produced, I dare say, in the vast majority of cases it would be found that it was misery that taught more than happiness, it was poverty that taught more than wealth, it was blows that brought out their inner fire more than praise.’

Perhaps, if Mahatma Gandhi had not been kicked out of a train for traveling first class at Pietermaritzburg in 1893 in South Africa, the history of Indian continent might have been quite different!

The argument here is not that one should willingly court challenges and negativity in life. It is merely to state a basic truth in life – that challenges have an upside too.

The rhinoceroses of challenges

Challenges come in all sizes, hues and degrees of seriousness. Each challenge faced by one in life eventually results in speeding up one’s progress on the tricky path of evolution. One gains maturity and experience. One learns to be grateful when one is feeling unduly elated, and graceful when feeling totally down. One learns to be more careful and patient.

Challenges are blessings which bring about changes which uplift and enrich one. Our Guardian Angels would never desert us. Instead, they plan their furloughs in such a way that while they are having a rollicking time on a distant planet, one gets precisely the kind of challenges which enable us to become more humane, more pragmatic and more professional in our dealings with people and with situations.

One’s fight with mighty challenges in career and life could be decisively won by using the firepower of the tools in one’s arsenal – A relentless drive to keep upgrading one’s knowledge base and skill-sets, and to have faith in a higher power. An attitude of surrender enables one to march on in life, with one’s chin up, a smile adorning one’s visage, and a steely resolve to make the approaching rhinoceroses-like challenges to wilt and retreat into their own comfort zones.

(Sources:

The Spider’s Web, Vol. 3, Chapter “Attitude”, by Shri P Rajagopalachari;

Karma Yoga: The Yoga of Action, Chapter “Karma In Its Effect on Character”, Swami Vivekananda, ISBN 81-85301-89-1

Illustrations courtesy www)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/when-life-hurls-big-rocks-at-one)

 

Towards SQ

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SQIt would not be wrong to say that in today’s world, a relentless pursuit of wealth and material belongings has left a deep scar on our souls. Many of us are twiddling our thumbs trying to figure out either how to de-stress ourselves or how to keep fighting those depressive blues. There is a nagging emptiness within and the mind boggles as to why and how it has come about. Most of us have no clue as to what could be done about it.

Redefining ‘Success’ and ‘Happiness’

One way out of this dilemma is to perhaps redefine our concepts of ‘success’ and ‘happiness’. What do these terms really mean? When we dig deeper, we might find that these two are not really dependent on external factors. There is an inner connection somewhere.

Something very elaborate, say a long well-planned vacation, might not yield the emotional high that we expected…

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Kind of moody the guv’nor had been for some days. Not at all his usual bright self. I had put it down to reaction from a slight attack of influenza which he’d been having: and, of course, I took no notice, just performing my duties as usual, until this evening which I’m talking about, when I brought him his whisky and siphon as was customary and he burst out at me.

“Oh, dash it, Jeeves!” he said, sort of overwrought. “I wish at least you’d put it on another table for a change.”

“Sir?” I said.

“Every night, hang it all,” proceeded the guv’nor, “you come in at exactly the same old time with the same old tray and put it on the same dashed old table. I’m fed up, I tell you. It’s the bally monotony of it that makes it all seem so frightfully bally.”

I confess that his words filled me with a certain apprehension. I had heard gentlemen in whose employment I’ve been talk in very much the same way before, and it had almost invariably meant that they were contemplating matrimony. It disturbed me, therefore, I’m free to admit, when Mr. Wooster spoke in this fashion. I had no desire to sever a connection so pleasant in every respect as his and mine had been, and my experience is that when the wife comes in at the front door the valet of bachelor days goes out at the back.

“It’s not your fault, of course,” went on the guv’nor, calming down a trifle. “I’m not blaming you. But, by Jove, I mean, you must acknowledge, I mean to say—I’ve been thinking pretty deeply these last few days, Jeeves, and I’ve come to the conclusion mine is an empty life. I’m lonely, Jeeves.”

“You have a great many friends, sir,” I pointed out.

“What’s the good of friends?”

“Emerson says a friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature, sir.”

“Well, you can tell Emerson from me next time you see him that he’s an ass.”

“Very good, sir.”

“What I want—Jeeves, have you seen that play called I-forget-its-dashed-name?”

“No, sir.”

“It’s on at the What-d’you-call-it. I went last night. The hero’s a chap who’s buzzing along, you know, quite merry and bright, and suddenly a kid turns up and says she’s his daughter. Left over from act one, you know—absolutely the first he’d heard of it. Well, of course, there’s a bit of a fuss and they say to him: ‘What-ho?’ and he says: ‘Well, what about it?’ and they say: ‘Well, what about it?’ and he says: ‘Oh, all right, then, if that’s the way you feel!’ and he takes the kid and goes off with her out into the world together, you know. Well, what I’m driving at, Jeeves, is that I envied that chappie. Most awfully jolly little girl, you know, clinging to him trustingly and what not. Something to look after, if you know what I mean. Jeeves, I wish I had a daughter. I wonder what the procedure is?”

“Marriage is, I believe, considered the preliminary step, sir.”

“No, I mean about adopting a kid. You can adopt kids, you know, Jeeves. I’ve seen it in the papers, often. ‘So-and-so, adopted daughter of Tiddleypush.’ It can be done all right. But what I want to know is how you start about it.”

“The process, I should imagine, would be highly complicated and laborious, sir. It would cut into your spare time.”

This seemed to check him for a while. Then he brightened up.

“Well, I’ll tell you what I could do, then. My sister will be back from India next week with her three little girls. I’ll give up this flat and take a house and have them all to live with me. By Jove, Jeeves, I think that’s rather a scheme, what? Prattle of childish voices, eh? Little feet pattering hither and thither, yes!”

I concealed my perturbation. The scheme the guv’nor was toying with meant the finish of our cosy bachelor establishment if it came off: and no doubt some men in my place would at this juncture have voiced their disapproval and probably got the sack for it, the guv’nor being in what you might call an edgey mood. I avoided this tracasserie.

“If you will pardon my saying so, sir,” I suggested, tactfully, “I think you are not quite yourself after your influenza. If I might express the opinion, what you require is a few days by the sea. Brighton is very handy, sir.”

“Are you suggesting that I’m talking through my hat?”

“By no means, sir. I merely advocate a short stay at Brighton as a physical recuperative.”

The guv’nor thought it over.

“Well, I’m not sure you’re not right. I am feeling more or less of an onion. You might shove a few things in a suit-case and drive me down in the car to-morrow.”

“Very good, sir.”

“And when we get back I’ll be in the pink and ready to tackle this pattering feet wheeze.”

“Exactly, sir.”

Well, it was a respite, and I welcomed it. But I began to see that a crisis had arisen which would require adroit handling. Rarely had I observed the guv’nor more set on a thing. Indeed, I could recall no such exhibition of determination on his part since the time when he had insisted, against my obvious disapproval, on wearing purple socks. However, I had coped successfully with that outbreak, and I was by no means un-sanguine that I should eventually be able to bring the present affair to a happy issue. Employers are like horses. They want managing. Some of us have the knack of managing them, some haven’t. I, I am happy to say, have no cause for complaint.

(Source: Bertie Changes His Mind – the only story in the Wodehouse canon which is narrated by Jeeves)

(Illustration courtesy Suvarna Sanyal)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/07/05/the-gallery-of-rogue-kids-in-plumsville)