BPW – The Left Hand Column Exercise

From Left: Nilesh, Mukesh, Karishma, Bharat, Amee

This mini workshop was dedicated to the left hand column exercise. This exercise was designed by Peter Senge and Chris Argyris to help individuals uncover the assumptions behind their communication so as the make their communication more effective.

It is quite obvious that while communication between people happens through verbal and non verbal means, there is a whole iceberg below that which is visible. This iceberg is the thoughts, assumptions and beliefs that drive the external manifestation of the communication.

The left hand column is a great exercise to sensitize people to this hidden aspect of our daily communication.

 

 

BPW – The Journey to NOW

BPW The Journey to NOW
From Left: Pratik, Kunal, Saurabh, Nidhi, Nilesh, Urmi, Amee, Karishma & Bharat

From morning till night, we are driven by the terror of the clock. The various deadlines at work keep us under stress. We are unable to live freely because one or other time pressure makes us do things. But we never investigate the real nature of time and whether it really exists.

We take it for granted that time exists and we live in time. But on closer examination, we discover a very counter-intuitive and liberating insight about time and our relationship to it.

What time is it now? – this should be our starting point as we discover that time is different at different places on the earth right now. By doing a few thought experiments, we come to the realization that time is merely an agreement between all of us to adhere to a certain way of measurement of our activities.

And when we deeply see and grasp the truth of this matter, we are free to either agree or disagree to deadlines that come our way or negotiate them. A man who has mastered time, defines his own terms on this matter and is truly free of time.

 

BPW – What Makes You Tick?

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From Left to Right: Dhrupit, Shravan, Sonali, Urvi, Pratik, Shaily, Bharat, Kunal, Saurabh

What makes a clock tick? Its battery. The energy from the battery runs the machinery of gears which makes the hands of the clock tick.

What makes a tree tick? What makes it work? Roots, soil, water, air, sunlight, and photosynthesis in the leaves which creates the energy

What makes a car tick? the engine, tyres, driver and the whole mechanism of transmission, not to forget the fuel.

What Makes a Fountain Tick?

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While we only consider a few links in the chain of connected energy flows that make a thing work, the example of a fountain is illustrative. A fountain needs water, hydraulics, a network of pipes and a supporting software program. It also needs electricity which flows continuously through the wires which reach all the way through the grid to the power generation facility. We know that electricity cannot be stored and therefore it has to be continuously produced to meet the demand. Assuming a hydroelectric power station, we need water to flow through the turbines, and in turn rivers to flow and if you keep going this way, we need the whole weather and climate to work in order for our fountain to work.

It is not just the fountain which is dancing but the whole world which is dancing

What Makes You Tick?

So one must inquire what makes oneself tick. What makes energy flow through you?

Are You Aware of Your Assumptions?

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In life we are making assumptions of all kinds all the time. We assume that the milkman will come on time, the product you bought online will turn out to be good, the traffic will be as usual on the way to the office, and the spouse’s mood will be normal in the evening. And because on most days, these things turn out to be according to what we assumed, we tend to take these assumptions for granted.

So when, the next time we are caught in an unexpected traffic jam, we either curse ourselves or wonder how the city life is deteriorating. Next time when the maid does not come on time, we pick up an argument. Next time your boss overlooks your report, you become uneasy and start to worry about your impression.

Assumptions in themselves are not a problem. We need to make assumptions to keep our life running. If we had to live our life without any assumptions, then we would be living in a constant state of panic and fear, not trusting anyone around us.

The mistake we make is that we are not aware that we are making assumptions.

When you sit in a cab, you make an assumption that the driver will take you to the destination you told him. It is possible that the driver will take you somewhere else. The possibility, however small, does exist. And when that happens, you panic, you begin to shout, become angry and later start to wonder why it happens to you only.

There is another assumption at work here – your assumption that the world moves according to how you think it is supposed to work. The truth is that the world moves in mysterious ways and despite all the patterns and laws we have superimposed on reality to make it more predictable, we encounter situations where our assumptions turn out to be false.

To stop taking reality for granted, we need to develop awareness of our assumptions, even when they seem to be serving the purpose.

Reality is not following our assumptions but it is the way it is.

If we observe reality keenly and accept whatever it presents to us, we will be in a better position to navigate through life.

Whenever you are in a situation which makes you suffer, try to discover what assumptions you made about something or someone and instead of blaming the situation or another person, realize that it was merely your assumption.

Alternatively, ask, clarify, investigate and inquire about the cause of the situation. This will help you to update your assumptions. For instance, if you notice that your spouse is in a bad mood, ask what is the problem instead of reacting to the mood. You might think this is difficult to do but who knows it might be another assumption you are nurturing.

The ability to become aware of our own assumptions is a skill that can be developed with some practice. You will realize that your experience of life moves several notches up when you are more aware of what assumptions you are making about your life and are able to realize them as assumptions and not laws of nature. You will then be able to learn every moment and enjoy life every moment.

Krishnamurti Workshop: Living Without Fear

“If one has observed, this problem of fear has existed from time immemorial. It has existed with man. And man has lived with it, both consciously or hidden deep down, its roots very, very deep. And either we have escaped from it through logic, through analysis, through any form of entertainment that helps us to avoid coming directly into contact with it and holding it, or we have suppressed it. Right? We do this. Or we neglect it. We say, ‘What, we have lived with fear for million years, so what does it matter now?’ And one knows the consequences of fear: physical shrinkage, a tendency to be hypocritical, resistance, an avoidance of the fact that one is really afraid. So if one really profoundly wants to be free from that reaction called fear, one has to go to the very root of it. There is biological fears: the body, the organism which must protect itself, and the fear of disease, old age, death, and the fears of past memories. So fear is again a common ground upon which all human beings stand. So, either we deal with it superficially or enquire into it very, very deeply.”

– J. Krishnamurti

I once again had the opportunity of participating in a workshop organized by the Krishnamurti Education Trust, facilitated by Kishoreji. As usual it was a wonderful experience to be with people who are seekers in their personal lives and who bring the deepest questions to the table for discussion. The topic for the day was “Living without Fear – understanding the nature and structure of fear”

The workshop is a weekend affair. People come on a Friday night or Saturday morning and spend two days. There is a basic facility for staying with tasty simple vegetarian food. The day is not demanding. There is time for discussing together which is mostly structured around participants raising questions and Kishoreji giving some answers. And a video of Krishnamurti, relevant to the topic is played.

I reached in the morning around 10.30 and joined the people already having a lively discussion around the breakfast table. The topic was on after life and whether something survives after death. Kishoreji was of the opinion that something does survive after death and you may call it energy or whatever. He gave an example of someone dying in an abnormal situation like in an accident or in battle. In that situation, the residual energy stays in that location and keeps performing the same action again and again till it dissipates.

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Another gentleman asked why is it that only some people are attracted to seek for the truth while others are not. Kishoreji pointed out the theory of resonance. Just like a tuning fork resonates to the frequency of vibration, we as people who are fundamentally vibrations or carriers of vibrations, resonate with certain things and do not resonate with certain things.

Something in my mind connected the above two things and it seemed to me that the reason why certain locations are more prone to violence, take for example the Kashmir region or the region of Delhi where millions of people died and thousands of women were raped over the centuries of plunder and wars that took place in that area, is that the energies of those happenings and their vibrations still resonate even today and when people whose frequencies match with those violent vibrations end up performing acts of killing and rape.

Come to think of it, there is no place on the earth where violence would not have happened. So we are all prone to emotional disturbances that make us do things, which later we wonder why we did them. It could be the reason that some resonating frequencies make us do those things.

Anyway, moving ahead, we began our first session on discussing fear and Kishoreji spoke about the experiment in which mice were treated with something that put their fear center to sleep and the result was that the mice roamed around cats freely without showing any fear. I later researched on the topic and found the following

Kobayakawa developed the fearless mice by shutting down receptors in their olfactory bulb – the area of the brain that processes information about smells – which would normally induce panic as soon as they get so much as a whiff of a cat. Source

So is fear just located in a center in our brain and can we become fearless just by switching off that center? Obviously not. The mice which became fearless were easy prey to the cat. So fear is some sort of intelligence that protect us from harm. However what Krishnamurti points out repeatedly is the psychological fear that we carry around with us which is the fear that we live without. Psychological fear prevents our full functioning and limits our actions.

Then post lunch we saw a video from the Krishnamurti archives where he spoke of the various causes that lead to psychological fears. Any movement away from what is causes fear; any comparison with an ideal or with others causes fears, time – past and future thinking leads to fear; and the deep insight that the pursuit of pleasure is always accompanied by fear – these were some of the themes that he spoke of.

A key observation is that fear cannot be simply dealt with by using the power of will. You cannot simply decide to be not afraid of something. The only way to deal with it is to not name it but to be with the observation and not analyze the experience. When there is no observer, no analyzer, then there is observation and watching without any center and where there is no center, fear cannot exercise its debilitating power.

Kishoreji added a couple of more points that were relevant in the discussion following the video. He said that when you are aware of the right thing to do and you do not do it, then there is fear. Also, when you are aware of the true nature of things and people as they are, there is no cause of fear.

As I see it, a certain situation prompts a certain reaction in us, expressed in the form of thoughts, emotions and instincts. If we name it as fear, then we do not experience it fully. Because then then naming of that as fear becomes another stimulus that further causes ingrained springs to get activated. However, if we allow the experience to happen and pass, we simply move on and surprisingly, we do not feel afraid in the situation. We simply act and do what we are supposed to do.

Does Rain Have A Brain?

It is rainy season. It rains, sometimes continuously for days and sometimes intermittently through the day. The news channels are busy reporting the havoc caused by incessant rains in different parts of the country where normal life is seriously disrupted.

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Is the rain doing it on purpose? Does it have a brain so to say? Does it decide where to rain and how much to rain? Does it see from high above the clouds, as it surveys the landscape, and then does it decide on its target audience or target city and then with great precision, commences its attack on unsuspecting people, vehicles, animals, roads and buildings and only stops when it is satisfied that the planned damage has been accomplished?

It seems childish to credit rain with this kind of intentional activity but every now and then we do speak or hear others speak of the rain in this manner. For example, it happens to many of us that we start from home to go to our place of work and we note that it is not raining when we start. But as soon as we are on the road, it rains heavily as if the rain wants to get at us, especially me. And this thought is reinforced by the observation that the rain stops as soon as you reach your destination. Even if you are the most rational person, you might want to credit the rain with a devious brain when you see it doing this the third time in a row.

So does the rain really have a brain that is somehow tracking you and all other millions of people across the country, calculating all the permutations and combinations about how much to rain and on whom to rain; which roads to convert to potholes and which cars to drown? Obviously not. We all know that the rain is a function of the elements of the ecosystem. The hotter the summer, the stronger the rains – because the sun would have evaporated a lot of water from the water bodies and now all of that cannot remain in the clouds so it comes down. Where the rain hits is a function of the wind systems around the world and the tree cover on the land. So without going into the mathematics of the climate and weather systems, it would suffice to say that these are pure elements at work and rain does not care whether it is raining on bare land or on people or on cities or on forests.

Rains simply happen because that’s the way it is. It could not be any other way on that day at that time. If you are frustrated or angry because you got wet, it is not the rain’s fault. And in the same vein, it is not your fault either. Your brain reacts to the rain depending on your mind’s ecosystem – where the wind of your thoughts is blowing when it rains, how much the summer of being lost in activities of daily life evaporated your energy, and how much forest cover you have of your own self-awareness.

When it rains, you see adults taking cover while children coming out to play and dance. Simply a difference in the ecosystems of your mind.

Rains are an invitation to experience the senses – the smell of the earth, the feel of the water on your body, the sight of the clouds, intermittent sun and the occasional rainbow, the musical sound of the raindrops falling on the ground or even on the tin shed nearby and the taste of the hot tea or hot pakodas during the rains – everything about the rainy season is deeply sensual.

The rainy season stimulates the senses like no other season, if you care to pay attention and not get caught in news reports and thoughts about how the rain is scheming to upset your plans.

Rains are nature’s way of asking you to stop and observe the beauty of creation, the impermanence of everything around us that is continuously ending something and creating something new from that – the greenery with all the flowers that come up after rains, the crops that grow from rains and supply us with food and the rivers that nourish the land until the next rainy season – the power of nature.

So while I have argued from the point that rains do not have brains, I still am crediting nature with an intention in the above paragraph. That’s the way the mind works. Can’t help it!

 

 

 

Sankuji and the Two Villages

The story of Sankuji was told by my 8 year old daughter Aanya

An old man by the name Sankuji lived in a villiage. He was a skillful artist. He used to create beautiful drawings, paintings and artwork. He was a very creative person and that made him very famous not only in his own village but also in nearby villages.

It so happened that the heads of two nearby villages developed jealousy for Sankuji. People from other villages used to go to Sankuji’s village to see his paintings and they felt that their own villages were not famous because of Sankuji. So they hatched a plan to end the popularity of Sankuji.

The heads of the two villages went to Sankuji’s house in the night with several of their strongmen and knocked on the door. Sankuji was asleep but the repeated knocking woke him up. As he opened the door, the men pounced on him and tied him up. Then they took him to a barn and locked him there and went away. They also put some soldiers to guard the barn to prevent Sankuji from escaping.

In the morning, Sankuji found that he had 4 chocolates with him in his pocket and as he took 2 chocolates out, the guards saw them and quickly snatched it away from him. Sankuji saw that the soldiers liked the chocolates so after some time, he spoke to them asking if they wanted more.

The soldiers said yes but Sankuji put the condition that if they will let me go, then he will give them the chocolates. The soldiers were greedy and really liked the chocolates so they allowed Sankuji to come out of the barn. Sankuji gave them the two remaining chocolates and went home.

The next day, he called the head of his village and the heads of the two villages and said, “If you want to be famous, then show your skills, show your art and show your creation but do not end the work of others.” After hearing this, the heads of the two villages said sorry and apologized to Sankuji and went back.

Moral of the story – Never be jealous.

Who are you: The Big Picture

This workshop was a short introduction to how energies are transformed in the cosmos to create various living beings and how food undergoes a process to generate energy. The workshop was conducted in Ahmedabad for the regular participants of the Big Picture workshop series.

Detachment (2011)

Director – Tony Kaye

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In the film, the character of Adrien Brody, Henry says

I realized something. I’m a non-person, Sarah. You shouldn’t be here, I’m not here. You may see me, but I’m hollow.

The film shows the degradation of the American education system where children have no respect for anything and teachers are at their wits end. Henry arrives at this school as a substitute school teacher and is able to bring an unruly class under control. He is a person who does not show any emotions and is completely detached to everything and everyone. At the same time, he is also shown expressing his love and concern for his ailing grandfather. He brings home a street prostitute, heals her physical and emotional wounds and yet refuses to accept her advances. One of this students becomes infatuated with him and starts to click his pictures in secret. Then there is a co-teacher with also whom Henry gets close. He In all these relationships, Henry tries to remain detached. He even arranges for the orphanage to take away the prostitute.

Henry teaches his students to cultivate their own consciousness against what his calls the ubiquitous assimilation of everything around us.

I liked this film because I could identify quite closely with the character of Henry, a person struggling between detachment and involvement with the world.