Practical Vedanta

Practical Vedanta sessions got initiated by Nirmala Lavu, Mallika Kalle and Prasad Kaipa in Feb. 2001. We were having regular conversations on practical application of spiritual principles and decided that we would like to share those ideas in a dialogue format with a larger group of people. Vedanta is the name for spiritual literature of the Hindu tradition and it begins at the end of ritualistic texts named Vedas. Even though we call our group Practical Vedanta group, our dialogues touch upon wisdom, stories, principles from Sufi, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Jainism, Sikhism and Islam in addition to Hindu tradition. We focus on the spirituality aspect and not the religious aspects.

Every Thursday, a small group (10-15) members get together to dialogue on what is going on with us at work, in the society and in the families and bring Vedanta and spiritual aspects to give us perspective and tools. The focus is practice and not the theory. Each of us generally take a tool or a practice based on the dialogue and reflect on it during the week. Participants are encouraged to share their reflections, questions and practice results as comments and add to the summary of that week�s session. A summary of each week's session is posted in this page. For reminders and updates, please join the yahoo groups set up for this event.

January 07, 2005

Igniting Genius and Harvesting Creativity

It took almost a week for me to become clear about my new year resolutions. This year is going to be about igniting genius and harvesting creativity. Just as somebody said, charity begins at home, I am going to focus on harvesting my own creativity. That means completing some of the writing projects that have been on my plate for a long time. It is also a year for appreciation, acknowledgment and love. I am interested finding what works, what touches moves and inspires rather than what does not work and what gets in the way. Considering that I am...

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January 14, 2005

Love and Mindfulness

From this week onwards, the summary of the session will be given under four headings: 1) Stories, Quotes etc 2) Insights 3) Questions 4) Dilemmas. This is to move a little closer to find which parts of a dialogue directly helps bridging the gap between theory and practice that we all suffer from. Hope we not only achieve more clarity in our thoughts but also get sufficiently motivated and equipped to act out of that clarity. General Theme: Love, Mindfulness Stories, Quotes... "Faith is a withholding of conclusion, so you allow what is to arise." --Adyashanti Arvind shared a beautiful...

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January 18, 2005

New Science of Happiness

Time magazine put out a special mind-body issue on the new science of happiness. It is dated January 17, 2005. You might want to get a copy of it and see the set of articles that they have put together. They are thought provoking. How you may ask and here are my reflections. Some of you might be familiar with the positive psychology movement that Dr. Martin Seligman has been driving forward for the past few years. He wrote a book on learned optimism a while ago and was quoted extensively by Daniel Goleman in his emotional intelligence books. In...

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January 21, 2005

Mindfulness, Identity, Conflict

The general theme of this week's dialogue was how to get into and stay mindful in spite of conflicts, indifference or boredom. Stories, Quotes etc: - To realize how mechanical you are, become aware of your feet. - There is no such thing as time-management. Time does not exist as an entity for us to manage. There is only self-management. - In the context of attending a job interview, once my friend told me what to do if I get tensed: He said, "Watch yourself getting tensed, watch your heart rate increasing... and tease and laugh at yourself as you...

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February 03, 2005

Awareness, Following one's heart.

Stories, Quotes ... I and a friend were talking about how to be peaceful. While parting, he asked me to try something: He said, speak in a lower voice than you usually do, reduce your pace and speak more slowly and take pauses in between thoughts See what happens. Ever since, whenever I could do that I am noticing something significant - I am becoming more aware of what I say, I listen much better. ... Hearing someone speak without pausing is like listening to ten songs in a row without any break between any two songs. Everything becomes a...

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February 18, 2005


This week was unique. We did not do the usual check-ins, finding a collective theme and exploring it. Prasad offered the Dhakshinamurthy Ashtakam and got spontaneously inspired to talk about it for the rest of the session. We went with the flow� and what a flow it was! I remember an ad for Porche that read, �We do not make a new car until our engineers start giggling like children.� Whatever comes from spontaneity and joy is worth making� hence with Prasad talking spontaneously and the rest of us listening, we made the session worthy and joyful. Some highlights from...

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March 01, 2005

Entering a Task

This week's session focused on what makes us do a task well - whether it is teaching, learning or solving a problem. ... I attended the traffic school today for eight hours. In the very beginning, the instructor said, �I know what all of you are thinking. You are thinking that you will just sit here throughout the lecture for eight hours, get over with it, get the certificate and walk out.� So instead of lecturing us, he went around the class asking each person to tell his or her name, occupation and describe the violation they did that brought...

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March 17, 2005

Innovation and Vedanta:

Taittiriya Upanishad talked about the Creation process: First came Aakaash (Space) – No shape, infinite possibilities. In infinite space, there is no movement. Then came Vayu (Air) – The flow of air is the flow of life. It has two sensory characteristics - Sound & Touch Then came Agni (Fire) – It is connected with Buddhi (intelligence). It gives the vision – the ability to see. Then came Aapa (Water) – Along with air, it sustains life. It enables taste. Then came Prithvi (Earth) – It provides the grounding, the stability. It creates smell. These are called the pancha...

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Innovation and Vedanta: Q &A

These are some questions Mahesh had raised and were answered by Prasad: What is the connection of Innovation and Vedanta? Is creativity congruent with Vedantic philosophy and teachings? Innovation is considered to be part of growth, management and development according to Hindu Scriptures if I interpret it rightly. There are two kinds of knowledge that Upanishads talk about – Para Vidya and Apara Vidya. While Para Vidya is about self realization, Apara Vidya is about excelling in the external world and innovation could very well be part of Apara Vidya. Creativity by itself is considered to be a lower world...

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March 21, 2005

Pain, Awareness, Gunas and Creativity

When some people are angry or depressed or have pain, they have demonstrated creativity. There are great writers and artists who have struggled with depression, pain and suffering in their own lives, and channeled their emotions in a way to bring creativity in their work. Emotions, negative and positive, put a person in touch with one�s body and breathing, which helps the person to be aware of himself or herself. It is said in Vedanta that strong emotions are vibrations of prana and dealing with emotions is the most effective in Pranamaya kosha. The stronger the emotion, for some people,...

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March 25, 2005

Following Passion, Controlling emotion

One thing that is special about this session is the number of people � 15. We used to have large crowds 20-30 attending and over time, we found that larger the crowd, lower the quality of conversation because of airtime and reflection issues. I found this session to work reasonably well even though we had to manage the flow of conversation so that no one person dominates it. I appreciate the support of the community. Two key questions came up in this week�s session: 1.What would you do if you had 10 million dollars -- Would you continue to do...

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April 01, 2005

A matter of Choice.

On the surface, it looked like what we were talking about last week and this week were about innovation, controlling emotion, finding one�s passion and commitment. Throughout the dialogues, regardless of what was at focus at any point, everyone seemed to be asking the same question: what is the first step I can take (to innovate, to control emotion etc) and how can I take it. For a while, this looked like a very practical question to ask. I thought we are at least not intellectually engaged but do want to find some actionable answers. Yet, we were going in...

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April 03, 2005

May peace be with you.

Today, I am grieving the pope. I did not think that I�d feel sad about the loss of Pope John Paul II but I am sad that he is not there anymore. I felt sad about Sankaracharya being arrested but felt that somehow, he might come out unscathed by the scandal and in my fantasy, everything would be set right. On the other hand, losing John Paul, makes me feel like I lost my own grand father. A kind, loving and stern grand father of mine. My daughter wondered why I am so affected. We are Hindus and not connected...

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April 11, 2005


Perhaps because of less number of people this week, something I always look for in a dialogue happened: We spontaneously saw a truth by being a mirror to each other. We asked ourselves why is it that sometimes we get bored or disinterested while being engaged in some work. We went through the regular reasoning � lack of newness, frustration due to the difficulty of a challenge, the size of the reward (why should I work so much to get so little) etc. We discussed ways in which one could become aware of the reason that induces boredom or disinterest...

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April 25, 2005

Are You taking up Space or Creating Space?

In the check-in Prasad mentioned about the conversation with the Sufi master Kabir Helminski. One thing that stuck in his mind was the statement about human beings coming from space. After check in, the dialogue started with a question: Wherever we are, most of us occupy space. Do we ever consciously create space? (There were other reflections on motivation, innovation, effort vs. results and we will include reflections on them as we go forward.) By space, we are here referring to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual spaces. Immediately two more questions came up: What is the importance of space and...

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May 04, 2005

Flowing without Knowing

During the check in, several words like transition, change, pain, letting go, loss of identity were heard. Because many of these were mentioned in the context of work, Jags wondered whether we focus so much on work and somehow ignore the underlying current � relationships. That led to a good discussion on Silicon Valley life style. You are your job in the valley (perhaps it is the same everywhere). In the valley, many people draw their energy from work and evolve with what they do. Some of the participants said that their sense of self developed over time with what...

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May 11, 2005

Don't worry, Be happy

A Zen master once said, �Sometimes you smile because you are happy, sometimes you are happy because you smile.� While it is difficult to be happy any time we want, it certainly is within our capacity to smile at any time and hence be happy :) Now, that seems to be a childish solution� or is it? Sreekanth said that often, the anticipation of a result gives more happiness than the result itself. Once we get the result, there is a sense of, �Hmm, now what?� He gave the example of a separated husband who used to visit his son...

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May 17, 2005

If not here, where? If not now, when?

*********************************** I am good at what I am doing, It�s fun at times, rest it�s boring. It�s ok, it is not hell, Hey, it even pays well. Yet in my heart I know, I want to do something else. �Coz this work ain�t me, I am someone else. *********************************** Well, that captures our feeling during last Thursday�s session. There are different approaches to find a solution for this situation. The most familiar one goes like this: Make enough money � to get enough free time � to explore enough avenues � to find the right endeavor that feeds the...

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June 08, 2005

Expanding Boundary and Identity by Letting It Go

This week�s session started with a provoking quote of Osho by Manju: "To not live dangerously is to not live at all." Prasad defined danger as that which lies outside the boundaries we create around ourselves. He said that what lies within the boundaries we create becomes our identity. And hence, whatever lies outside the boundary seem like a threat to our identity, that is, danger. So how do we go beyond our boundaries and expand our identity? From an Indian spiritual perspective, Prasad introduced three words to explore the answer: Yantra, Tantra and Mantra. Yantra literally means "support" and...

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June 15, 2005

Thoughtless Mindfulness

The session started with two Shanti Mantras: The first one is for contemplating the wholeness of existence: Oum purnamadah purnamidam purnat purnamudachyate purnasya purnamadaya purnamevavashishyate Oum shanti shanti shanti hi Translation*: purnam-adah � That is complete. Here, �that� could refer to everything that is not part of one�s perceived identity. purnam-idam � This is complete. Here, �this� could refer to everything that is part of one�s perceived identitiy. purnat-purnam-udachyate � From one complete entity, another complete entity is born. The first entity refers to �that� and the second entity refers to �this�. purnasya purnamadaya � When a complete entity is...

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June 21, 2005

Me & Not Me, Now & Not Now

This week�s check-in was quite colorful. Majnu talked about Rishikesa and Gudakesa. Rishikesa is Lord Krishna, the master of all senses and Gudakesa is Arjuna, the conqueror of sleep and ignorance. Sruti Indiresan, the 5 year old who won the Most Philosophical Kindergartner in America title with the essay she composed for the third Kids Philosophy Slam was mentioned. Several thousand students across the country in kindergarten through 12th grade submitted essays on which is more important in their lives: truth or beauty. "I feel happy when I am telling the truth," Shruti wrote in her essay. "I become beautiful...

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June 27, 2005

8 step purification

1. Passing by the water cooler, I notice that the can is empty Time to fill up... 2. Off I go to the water store, Place the can and open the tap, And let the can fill. 3. A quick thought comes up - I need a splash protector. 4. The storeman finds one, And tries it on without success. Ahh, this can is old, he says It's also getting dirty Wanna buy a new one? 5. It's not much, and I say ok. I buy the new can and hear, The water overflowing from my old can. 6. Hey!...

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June 30, 2005

Women, Unlimited

This week�s session was quite unexpected (not that we know what to expect every week :) One of the regular attendee, Srikanth came back from a vacation-turned-engagement � he got engaged to a girl in the typical �arranged marriage� style. I was teasing him and making fun of how the �girl seeing� ritual would have been. Something got triggered in Manju and she made some serious points about how we look at traditions and especially women�s role in it. I have been a fierce enabler (in action) of women�s rights and sentiments for a long time. But I had chosen...

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July 05, 2005

Svabhava and Svadharma, Thoughts and Thinking

This week�s session started with inquiring into the meaning of Dharma. Many definitions came up: Dharma is derived from the root Dhr - to hold. It is that which holds an entity together. That is, Dharma is that which gives integrity to an entity and holds the core identity, form and function of that entity. Dharma is also defined as righteousness and duty. To do one�s dharma is to be righteous, to do one�s dharma is to do one�s duty. At this point, we wondered whether Dharma, in the context of a person, is the nature of that person. While...

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July 13, 2005

Garam masala for the soul

This week, a number of valuable and disparate thoughts came up in the dialogue. I am presenting them as such without forcing a theme: � Can we live without wanting more than what we need, and at the same time not endure less than what we need? � Leadership is about thinking for yourself, others and the common goal � all at the same time. � If you recognize someone as a leader it means you too have the same leadership qualities (whether you are aware of it or not). This is to say that every person already has within...

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July 19, 2005

B � A � L � A � N � C - E

Srini said that he just won a significant contract and was struggling to handle the excitement. He had to repeat to himself �samatvam, samatvam, samatvam� (equanimity). Seema asked what would happen to the joy of excitement if one tries to control it. Shouldn�t we let ourselves experience the spontaneous surge of joy? I mentioned that psychologists talk about a behavior called �delayed reward�, which is �forgoing a more immediate, less preferred outcome so as to attain a more preferred outcome at a future time� Anyone who practices delayed reward exhibits greater self-control - says an article in the Journal of...

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August 10, 2005

Man proposes, re-proposes, re-re-proposes. God yawns.

The check-ins touched upon various points� I shared an insight I had during the 10 day vipassana course I took recently. I found out (experientially) that mindfulness (the art of being in the moment) is very difficult to achieve by reminding oneself to be mindful or even requesting others to remind us every time we display lack of awareness. Such reminders create frustration and anger more than they help refocus the mind. Instead, I found that practicing meditation (that requires one to equanimously observe bodily sensations and thoughts without reacting to them) could create a habit of mindfulness so that...

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August 16, 2005


The check-ins: Vijay said that historically, men have displayed strong left brain characteristics and women, right brain (left being intellectual and right being emotional). When it comes to behavioral changes, often it is men who are asked (usually by women) to choose between being right and being happy. Since men and women don�t seem to have difficulty in understanding that being wrong and being sad go together, perhaps it is time to see that being right and being happy go together too? But often, for the sake of being right, men argue and create unhappiness. And for the sake of...

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August 24, 2005

TACO for thought

Note: I am not attributing some statements to any name because I misplaced the notepad in which I took notes. Guess I took it home and kept it somewhere. So I am writing from memory. Pardon me if I missed or wrongly associated names to anyone�s inputs. While a single theme did not emerge, there were quite a few powerful streams of thoughts this week: The words we speak, though we intend to mean it in a certain way, have different effects on different people. On the other hand, we tend to interpret what someone else says based on our...

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August 31, 2005

The 'more equals' reflect

The session started with Soujanya saying that she gets absent minded sometimes. Sreekanth said that in order to not forget something, he made it a habit to do the least obvious thing first. For example, he said he puts the sugar first in the cup before he adds water and coffee and he packs the laptop battery charger first before he packs the laptop. Vijay said he does similar things. I remember that once Viral was asked to deliver a suitcase to Berkeley that another friend forgot in his house. After mindfully driving to Berkeley, Viral discovers that he forgot...

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September 07, 2005

Do Nothing

The session started with Jay sharing his experience of learning and practicing Yoga. It all started with a neck pain. Upon a friend�s recommendation, he went to get a massage therapy for three weeks. At the end of the therapy, the masseur asked him whether he�d like to try doing yoga, which was happening in the next room. Jay wondered why he had not paid any attention to the yoga class in the next room the entire period he was taking massage therapy. He took a class and absolutely loved it. There was no looking back. He then attended 3...

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September 14, 2005

Opening Vs Openness

Prasad started the session with Ganesha Pancharatnam (a prayer to Lord Ganesha). After the session, I looked up the English translation of the prayer and felt that it does not capture the devotional quality of the prayer. I then remembered what Prasad once said about prayers. He said that the content of the prayer is not as important as the state of the mind, or even better, the state of being with which the prayer is done. Yet, I couldn�t help but feel that there is something in the poetry and choice of words that helps the devotee slip into...

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September 20, 2005

Real-time Learning and Artha

Some interesting thoughts during the check-in: Kaksha quoted: They know enough those who know how to learn. Prasad talked about three types of Mantras: Invoke specific deities or aspects of the Absolute (Saguna Mantras) Abstract mantras to declare the meditator�s identification with the Absolute (Nirguna Mantras) Seed mantras, which are aspects of OM and derive directly from the fifty primeval sounds (Bija Mantras) More on Mantra�s here: Manju talked about her reluctance in getting rid of building material (like doors) that are actually good individually but do not fit with the remodeling that she is doing. This indicates that...

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October 04, 2005

Dynamic Branding, Infinite Games and Non-Attachment

Last Thursday�s session was like a walk inside a flower garden. So many different flowers, yet all of them share the characteristic of a flower. It felt as if the flowers are constantly blooming in our Thursday garden and we are the bees drinking the nectar and aiding the pollination. I was volunteered by two others to start the check-in. Since I am going through a branding exercise at work, I have been thinking about possibility of dynamic branding. The usual branding process is to give an entity a unique persona that best expresses the essence of that entity. The...

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October 11, 2005


Attendees: Prasad, Srikanth, Vijay, Manju, Dinesh, Srini, Vipin Manju started the session with a prayer to goddess Saraswati composed by Suresh Kumar (father of a friend, Mayank) � see postscript below. Srini wondered what he would ask God if he could ask him for ten things. Srikanth suggested asking for enduring happiness. Dinesh wondered if simple or �passive� happiness would really make one happy/satisfied in the long run. What about learning which often required effort, and even pain? Wouldn�t learning lead to new/richer forms of happiness? Manju gave an example of how the departure of her nanny/cook had made her...

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October 26, 2005

Communication, Script

Srini started the check-in: Once of his friends is a left-brained, logical person who was facing relationship issues with team members at work and with family and friends. Srini asked his friend to try telling himself, �May be another perspective is possible� whenever he had some problem. His friend took the suggestion and is already seeing the difference it is making to his relationship. Also, Srini said that he has quit smoking! Whenever someone announces to others that he has quit smoking, I think it also becomes the responsibility of the others to encourage and support the person who quit...

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I don't know

Vijay started the session by saying that he continues to be surprised by the number of choices he has to make in remodeling his house. He said that at the surface level, it looks like there are only x number of choices to make. But the closer one gets to the details, the choices to be made just multiplies. He then said that one of the things he took away from an Ayurveda workshop he attended was the quote by Michael Kreuzer, �Don�t hurry, don�t worry, stay busy, be happy�. While this looks like simple statement, it actually is a...

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November 02, 2005


Jay started the session by saying that a few months back in one of these sessions he decided to restart his yoga practice. Ever since, he has been doing yoga everyday, sometimes twice. When asked how did he get that discipline, he said, �It�s easy when you commit.� He said he does not look at commitment with a �disciplinary� attitude but as a stance that is actually a joy to live with. �I am committed, I am joyful � I see no difference�, he said. This triggered something I had been thinking for a while. I wondered whether consciously committing...

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November 10, 2005

The Power of Intention

Attendees: Prasad, Soujanya, Manju, Vijay, Jay, Manisha, Biswas, Vinoda. Notes by Vijay. Soujanya started the check-in by talking about her imminent move to New Jersey. She was concerned whether she could find the social environment (and friends) that she had found here. She would also miss the Thursday evening sessions. Prasad responded that if she had the right intention, she would be able to create a similar social environment in NJ (find similar friends, etc.). She could also create a group similar to the Thursday group here. How could Prasad be so sure that Soujanya would be able to find...

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December 19, 2005

Positive Engagement

Attendees: Prasad, Jags, Kamla, Manju, Vijay, Dinesh, Manisha, Vinoda. Session highlights by Vijay. As this was possibly the last meeting of the year 2005 (because Prasad and Ragu would be traveling during next 2-3 weeks), the meeting started with some notes of thanks from Prasad and others. Prasad was thankful that he had a lot of grace in his life. If he ever encountered a closed door, he simply turned around and found that the whole world was wide open to him. Prasad likened himself to a flute: he is neither the player nor the sound, but simply a medium...

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December 23, 2005

The law of protection

The check-ins started with Manju. She said that she liked the phrase Dharmo Raskshati Rakshitaha � which means Dharma protects people who protect Dharma. Prasad said that Dharma is like a container that holds everything. When you keep the container clean and protect the container from impurities, then it protects you from diseases when you drink from it. It is a mutuality principle expressed as Dharma (natural law) and if you follow the law, the law protects you - is another way of framing it. We could also say that Dharma is like a boat in which we sail. If...

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December 29, 2005

Happy New Year!

New Year is the time of reflection on new beginnings. Winter Solstice, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza all represent the opportunity to reflect and invite the new year. From Dec. 21st, the shortest day, progressively we will have more light or the period of en-lightenment begins. Many people look at New Year as the opportunity to reaffirm, re-vow and resolve what they want to get done during the year. It rarely works. How many of us remember 2005 resolutions? To me, the focus is on where I am coming from and what I am truly committed to. The attitude and perspective...

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December 30, 2005


In January 2005, we started the with a few individuals gathering to reflect on what issues affect our lives and look at it from a spiritual perspective. Over the months, there have been a few significant shifts: Participants: individuals became couples and couples became entire families. The last session we had four families, about 20 people from age 6 to age 70! Consistency: As we progressed from January, a core group of people was present for almost all of the sessions throughout the year. It has created a new space of consciousness that is palpable, it is as if we...

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January 09, 2006


The first session of the New Year started off with questions from Manju, Jags, Dinesh and Kamala on relationship: Among married couple, many women seem to have a natural emotional dependence on men. Men don�t know how to deal with it and women blame it on their nature. What can couples do to cope with it? Everyone creates an image about oneself and others and most relationships are relationships between images. Are we constantly manipulating with images in our relationships? How can we invite people into a conversation or to participate in any activity in order to build a community?...

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Dangerous Idea: Knowledge is not the basis of Wisdom

The Edge magazine's question for 2006 is: What is your dangerous idea? It says: The history of science is replete with discoveries that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous in their time; the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are the most obvious. What is your dangerous idea? An idea you think about (not necessarily one you originated) that is dangerous not because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true? Read the dangerous ideas of leading thinkers here. Here is my dagerous idea: Knowledge is not the basis of Wisdom I borrowed this idea from my...

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January 19, 2006


Attendees: Prasad, Kamla, Srikanth, Manju, Vijay, Dinesh, Deepak, Nirmala, Senthil. Session highlights by Vijay The session started off with a question from Srikanth: "Why do I have self-doubt in a situation even though I have successfully handled a similar situation before?" Dinesh talked about a workshop he attended called "Mindset Mastery." It explores the impact of our mindset on everything we do. Manju asked how, as a speaker, she should handle a person in the audience who appears to be more knowledgeable about the subject, and is trying to fluster her. The common topic that emerged from these check-ins was...

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January 23, 2006

Exploring purpose

Number of participants: 18. Age range 8 � 74. As usual, we started off with a few minutes of silence, which lead to a few quotes on silence: Manju shared a quote that talks about �speaking only if it will improve upon silence�. I found many interesting articles later when I googled the phrase �improve upon silence�. I quoted John O�Reilly, �Silence is the language God speaks and everything else is a bad translation.� Prasad read a beautiful poem on silence from the book Circle of Love by Debashish Chatterjee. �Silence is the language of the spiritual seeker�, said another...

Posted by Ragu at 04:10 PM | Comments (32)

January 31, 2006


Manju opened the session with the quote, �Life cannot give happiness for selfish acts, but cannot help give happiness for selfless acts� There seems to be something fundamentally flawed about acting for and acting on behalf of (what we think and feel as) our self � a self that we usually define too narrowly without consideration to all that we are dependent and inter-dependent on. If to be selfish is to serve a narrowly defined self, then could �selfless� be service to a larger Self so large that the narrow self submerges into it and becomes selfless? In that case,...

Posted by Ragu at 04:17 PM | Comments (50)

February 08, 2006

Work for passion or passion for work?

Srinivas started the session by sharing his thoughts on FISH, the book he had read recently. He recognized that his energy level at work is really not good and wondered what it would take to have the energy of the people who work at the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle featured in the book. The organization culture he is used to seemed to tell him that if you are having fun, you are really not working because work and fun don�t go together. He said that a small rebel culture should be present in every organization that challenges the...

Posted by Ragu at 12:19 PM | Comments (39)

February 09, 2006

On Silence

Silence is the womb of all that is spoken and heard. Silence is the flow of the river of intelligence Words like the banks are mere inturruptions to the flow. Through words, One become many, In silence, many return to the One. In silence creation happens: The master in us has created a house called the universe Through words we knock the door of this house. In silence, the chest of treasure is flung open Speak but do not stand in the way of the music of silence. Your words are useless with this music. The original voice of life...

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March 08, 2006

Mastering Identity

Dinesh opened the session by wondering that if each of the six billion people in the world has a unique view of the world, then there are six billion truths. None of them is entirely right and none of them is entirely wrong. The ultimate truth must encompass all the truths. So every time he is with other people, he said that he tries to expand his mental container to accommodate everyone�s truth even if his own is very different from theirs. While holding everyone�s truths, he said that sometimes there is a resonance among everyone and that is a...

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March 23, 2006

What's hard on your ego?

Jitendra started the session with a Prayer to Ganesha: Vakra Tunda Maha Kaya Koti Surya Sama Prabha Nirvighnam Kurame Deva Sarva Karyeshu Sarvada Translation: O�Lord with a curved Trunk and Mighty body and whose luster equals a crore of suns, I pray to thee, remove the obstacles from all the actions I perform. After translating the prayer, Jitentra shared a new view on Ganesha that he had heard from someone: generally lord Ganesha is worshipped for removing obstacles from one�s path. But sometimes he also puts obstacles in the path in order to protect us from a bigger obstacle that...

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March 30, 2006

Wise Advice

The session started with Sreekanth sharing that his experience at work these days are like Groundhog Days (referring to the movie in which the hero relives the same day over and over). Perhaps the initiative to change from within (so that every day and even every moment is fresh) needs some external stimulus for the change to get started. In my experience, when there are changes to the objects around me (even if they are small), I tend to come to the present. For example, once in a month, when I change the month of the calendar, there is another...

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April 12, 2006

The quality of goals

The session started with a quote from the book, The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle: �If you think your can�t, why think?� Sreekanth followed it up with another quote: �If you make people think that they are thinking, they love you; if you make them really think, they hate you.� Vijay asked how much of the talks that we indulge in (related to human change) are really useful. He said that when a person is exposed to a few ideas related to personal change, he might be able to try them. But if he is exposed to a large number...

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April 20, 2006

Personal Leadership at Work

Session Highlights by Vijay. Prasad reminded everyone that this was an auspicious time of the year according to several faiths--New Year in South India, Easter, and Passover. Jay started the check-in with an interesting quote: "The way out is the way through." One of the participants shared his frustration of dealing with the federal tax bureaucracy. The clerk refused to accept the old version of his tax ID form even though it looked the same as the new version. Another participant talked about her annual performance review, where she was ranked in the top few percent of the group, yet...

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April 26, 2006

Infinity and Triple Purity

Initial quotes and prayers: I quoted a question from the book Deep and Simple by Bo Lozoff: What is it that turns us into a being that quietly and modestly evokes the best in others? Prasad stated four Mahavakyas from the Upanishads: Prajnanam Brahma - "Consciousness is Brahman" Tat Tvam Asi - "Thou art That" Aham Brahmasmi - "I am Brahman" Ayam Atma Brahma - "This Self (Atman) is Brahman" Following this, all the participants shared what is in their mind as part of their check-in: Anita started the check-in. She said that she is going through an exciting phase...

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May 03, 2006

Light, Love and Life

Notes by Vijay, elaborated by Prasad. ----------------------------------------- Kamala Mami started the session with a beautiful invocation by Annie Besant: O hidden life, vibrant in every atom; O hidden light, shining in every creature; O hidden love, embracing all in Oneness; May each, who feels himself as one with Thee, Know he is also one with every other. Manisha checked-in with a parable about egg, carrot, and coffee. When faced with adversity (i.e., boiling water), egg becomes hard, carrot become soft, but coffee mixes with the water and imparts its own unique aroma to the mixture. Jags wondered about the relationship...

Posted by Ragu at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2006

The misleading GPS

The session started with three quotes: �Time makes more converts than reason� � Thomas Paine Even our anger can be held with a heart of kindness � Buddha Six months of drudgery in the lab can save you one hour in the library � Yash Jay started the check in. He said that he went to a hockey game for the first time and felt exhilarated. He said that the rush he felt stayed with him for a couple of days. He then made an observation: He could not spot an African American in the teams or in the audience...

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May 17, 2006

Praying with a Sankalpa

Notes by Vijay. Prasad started the meeting with the well-known chant: "Gurur Brahma, gurur Vishnu, gurur devo Maheswarah Gurur sakshat parambrahmah, tasmai sri gurave namah" Translation: The Guru is none other than the creator, Lord Brahma; he verily is Lord Vishnu, the preserver, and he is truly Maheshwara, the destroyer. He is the supreme Brahman himself. To such a Guru I offer my salutations. Today people often use the word 'guru' to refer to a competent teacher or a person who is very knowledgeable in a particular field. But Prasad explained that, traditionally, a guru is a very special and...

Posted by Ragu at 11:06 AM | Comments (9)

June 07, 2006

Choosing less choice

Prasad started the session with a Shanti Mantra: Om poornamadah poornamidam Poornaat poornamudachyate Poornasya poornamaadaya Poornamevaavashishyate For translation, see one of our past sessions. Prasad checked in by saying that he has been spending time focusing on effortless action and learning to pay more attention to what comes naturally and effortlessly but his past, conditioned patterns keep growing like weeds. �How do I keep my commitment to myself to be effortless instead of continually striving and going after things to learn, to master and to compete?� � is the question that Prasad seems to be interested in. Nirmala said that...

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June 14, 2006

Clear and Present Observation

I checked-in the session by paraphrasing a quote from The book of books by Osho: Knowledge is objective and is about the external world. Wisdom is subjective and is the knowledge of the knower. Prasad said that a repeated experience he has been having brought to his attention the difference between being knowledgeable vs. being wise. He said that he had to deal with four incidences of minor car accidents that did some damage to his cars in a period of 6 months. In each incident, he said he took a decision in a way that would be favorable and...

Posted by Ragu at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2006

Making Choices and Sacrifices

Seema started the session with a beautiful bhajan. I checked in with a reflection I have had for some time now: I said that when I observe my actions, it is becoming clear that I am constantly evaluating every person and every task to check whether the person and/or the task is worth the effort. I take it to be natural that the external condition is responsible to a large extent for my level of commitment, enthusiasm etc. And hence, I am at my best only when the external condition is highly favorable. Once I am in this mode of...

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July 14, 2006

Me Guru, You Teacher

Jay checked in and said that he recently enjoyed two outings: One was a trip to Point Reyes with a friend for over 40 years, the second was with Prasad to Seattle where Prasad did a workshop for a client. He said he is expecting a third outing with an artist friend shortly. He said these outings are a nice break from everyday life and they make him be in the present without any worries about the future. A new experience seems to help us be in the present. Sreekanth said that he completed 10 years of his career as...

Posted by Ragu at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2006

Living a perfect and detached song

Lauren started the session with a quote: �To the extent one knows god, one becomes god.� Srini started the check-in. He said that he is discovering that meditation or silence slows down time for him. He said that when many things are going on, being silent for a few minutes makes a big difference to how he proceeds with his tasks. He said that what he does after the silence, while it seems to be slow, actually gets done on time. I shared a quote by Einstein: "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems...

Posted by Ragu at 04:49 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2006

Love beyond "I"

Deepak started the session with a quote from Dr. V: �Intelligence and capability are not enough. There should be the joy of doing something beautiful.� Seema quoted Dalai Lama: Be selfish. Be generous. Manju checked in and asked what motivates ego to take over and thereby block love in a relationship? Prasad said that the highest form of love is larger than the self. It engulfs the lover and the loved and evaporates individual ego. He said that in Buddhist tradition, there are four ways of relating to others: Maitri, Karuna, Mudita and Upeksha. In the article, Four ways of...

Posted by Ragu at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2006

Practicing Success

Srini started the session and said that he has started doing a two hour practice every day that includes exercise, meditation and reflection. He said he has been able to follow this without any break for a week and was hoping to continue it. He said he also started asking his kids to spend some time every day going over how they spent the day. This exercise he said has resulted in the kids cutting down on TV time by themselves and they look forward to the reflection time! Prasad appreciated Srini�s commitment to his two-hour practice added a caution:...

Posted by Ragu at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2006

Confidence Without Courage

After the check-ins, the theme that emerged was the question, �Do we often have confidence but lack courage?� This question emerged due to the stories shared by five participants that seemed to indicate that often we tend to act out of confidence but lack courage, which, if present, would have changed the action. Deepak said that he stated correcting Manvi�s grammar and the more he did it, he said the more faults he was finding in her language. While he had a reason to suddenly start correcting her (as she is applying for her medical residency) he said that he...

Posted by Ragu at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2007

How to Wrap and Unwrap Gifts: Exploring the Spirit of Gift Exchange

(move your mouse above the image to see slideshow speed control)...

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January 18, 2007

Simplicity, Change and Karma: All about action and results

Session Highlights by Vijay --------------------------- We were 7 people today and began the session with a meditation. During check in, Manikantan asked about the law of karma (i.e., every action has a consequence/effect): Is there a way to predict when the effect will occur? Prasad elaborated on the concept of karma. As long as you feel that you are the one who is doing what you are doing or enjoying what is happening to you, you do accumulate its effects. In other words, your actions and your attachment to your role determines your karma. By dropping attachment, by playing your...

Posted by Ragu at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)