I wonder what He Meditates on.

The Loud Silence.
In utter stillness
sits a man,
diminutive
still and frozen
under the black
monsoon sky,
meditating.

I wonder what
He Meditates upon?

The mind, the first
to fall in the trap,
disappears – under
the sea of nothingness.
It wakes up
for a moment
only to be
drowned deeper and deeper.

The heart follows next.
parched, thirsty and dry
waiting for weeks,
it soaks in
the flood of
joy and love;
only to be set ablaze
like an inferno
that just can’t be
put off!

Drowning the mind
setting the heart afire;
He walks away,
telling us that the remedy is
in Meditation!
Yet, He won’t tell us,
What is it that
He Meditates on….?

Creating Space for People, Events and Things

It was a jam packed hall last night in Los Angeles, where Guruji was giving a talk, and in the middle of the talk, he stopped and saw that couple of folks were standing at the back. He asked the audience to raise their hands if they had open seats next to them and then asked those seated to move a seat so that those standing can be accommodated and then he said spontaneously:

This is what life is all about. Keep shifting your position. Don’t be stuck somewhere….make room, make space. It is all about creating space. Create space for events, for people and for things to happen as and when they unfold. Every event, every person you come across in your life is contributing to your life in some unimaginable way.

Rest of the talk and transcript is here

Don’t look into those eyes

Guruji, Chicago 2014

Guruji, Chicago 2014 ; Waiting to give the photographer the due credit!

If you want to
play safe;
If you want to
maintain
the status-quo;
If you are
afraid of
adventures;

don’t look into those eyes

Continue reading

He made us all Neelakanta’s

Just back after a advanced meditation program with Guruji (Sri Sri RaviShankar) and this poem came up spontaneously today evening.

Rudra Puja with Guruji - 6th Jan 2014 at VM

Rudra Puja with Guruji – 6th Jan 2014 at VM

A thousand and hundred questions;

A gazillion doubts and a

hundred more fears and a

billion more regrets;

Desires as many as stars in the sky.

All mixed together in colors that are dark;

Come out on the surface and express themselves

in a myriad ways –

from

–          aloofness to discontent

–          anger to rancor

–          fearfulness to anxiety

–          disenchantment to boredom

gnawing from within as the

fears, regrets, doubts and wants mix

themselves into a dangerous concoction.

 

All Inflammable’s carry a danger signboard

but there isn’t  one for the mind carrying

this dangerous mix.

Ready to explode

at a moment’ notice

on an unsuspecting victim.

 

Where’ the Undo button and where’ the

CTRL-Z shortcut?

 

At time like this,

the Wise One calls out.

Come spend a few days with me;

And let me show you the path

to handle your own mind and emotions

 

The concoction of poison you

have brewed of relentless thoughts

can be drunk and you can become

The Neelkanta!

 

Holding hands gently

The Wise One leads

pointing you to 4 roads

named

–          Sadhana

–          Seva

–          Silence and

–          Satsang

Traverse, this path

recursively

And you will lose

All that you have

gathered

and when you have

become hollow and empty

you would have arrived

at the Destination.

 

You know not what the

destination is, but give in to the faith

and start the journey

with a bit of trepidation.

 

“Welcome Home” say’s the Reception

At the Ashram!

The guy at check in says sorry it’s either

A dorm this time or three-sharing.

The body had enough of dorms

And the mind says it is ok to pamper oneself!!

 

The road of Sadhana leads to Yagnashala

As one goes through the rigorous SuryaNamaskars

And gentle Padma-Sadhana’s you catch the eye

Of the stray dog who breaks his lazy siesta

With Adho-Mukha-Svanasana

Wow! What majesty and what grace!

 

Thousands of kilo’s of vegetables all to be chopped;

arranged neatly in colorful baskets;

with tens of folks at it almost the whole day

is lined up on the road to Seva.

The mind cribs at the task at hand

but gives in and disappears into the background

as one immerses into it. Something that

was unpleasant to begin with was now

something to be looked forward to everyday.

 

The most enchanting and scenic path was

The Road of Silence.

The deep and relaxing meditations and yet

the longing to hear the melodious chants

Of Asangoham, Asangoham stirring some

unplayed chords deep within.

 

The Silence, so satiating,

yet so short.

 

As the silence enveloped,

the meditations became deeper.

The play of mind became clearer;

The past comes rushing in

bringing with it memories;

pleasant and unpleasant.

 

The future not to be outdone comes

With its own set of demons.

Watching them, Intermingle, they take

You on a ride you wanted to get rid

of in the first place.

 

Muddying the tranquil lake,

Emotions in all hues come up.

And you watch for

there isn’t anything else to do.

 

And the reverie is broken

As the Wise One takes

you deeper and deeper

into the Ocean of Meditation

making you hollow and empty.

 

And without your notice, the mind becomes still

As if time stood still for a thousand years;

Beyond there, is a door – yet unopened.

I know not, what lies beyond.

But for sure, what emanates from there

is Peace, Joy, Love and Grace.

 

As a cloth dipped in color acquires its color

The mind suddenly catches onto

Unbridled Peace and Joy

That comes out in spontaneous

outpouring in the Satsang

the exuberance, the enthusiasm

the dance of gay abandon

catches you unaware.

This is the road of Satsang –

Intoxicatingly beautiful.

 

Hundreds turn up on the path

With their bundle of wants:

Some are happy with a glimpse;

some want a meeting;

Some a conversation;

some a look, a smile, and

some are happy with a

wave of hand from the Wise One and

He doesn’t disappoint.

 

As the chants of Rudram fill the VM

the early morning sun rushes in;

in a joyful dance to catch

The Lord of Universe

in deep meditation;

With its desire fulfilled,

it bursts out joyfully

in the sky

having seen the One – formless in a form –

Meditating on Himself!

 

The hundreds of others

meditating with

The Wise One

Become One with Him

for a few minutes;

Only to be woken up

by a distant but

Melodious ring of

the small temple bell

signaling the

end of the chanting.

 

The Wise One, Awake

Smiles

and the

bliss and joy

permeates the whole atmosphere.

The mind which was so restless,

edgy and impatient

suddenly seems to be dyed in

new colors – of tranquility and stillness.

Gone was the restlessness

the doubts and the questions.

The regrets and desires

had vanished into thin air.

 

The Wise One had kept his promise

As He walked away from the Puja

Waving at us all;

He had made us all Neelakanta’s.

Freeing us from the poison;

of our own making.

Every day can be a Guru Poornima

Image

Via [The official blog of Sri Sri RaviShankar] a beautiful talk on Guru Poornima by Guruji.

Life and Guru are inseparable. When you throw light on life, and when the wisdom is there, honor the wisdom. Wisdom is the Guru tatva, Guru principle. So, within you the Guru Principle is there, wisdom is there. In each and every one there is wisdom. Throw light on that.In life wisdom dawns; wisdom has come; honor wisdom. When we stop honoring wisdom that is when darkness takes over, that is when the full moon is not there, no moon is there. Moon is the mind and when it is brimming, full of wisdom, that is Guru Poornima. So everyday could be Guru Poornima in your life when you honor what life has taught you.

Head over to the blog and read the rest of the talk.

Two things that Guruji talks every year about Guru Poornima is about Gratitude and Reflection.  Now, is a good time to pause, reflect and be grateful for the presence of Guruji in our lives and how the presence has changed our lives.

The Art of Living website has a beautiful theme called “I am Grateful” on its website. If you feel like go ahead and share your reflections out there.

Posts on Guru Poornima from previous years are here.

Field Notes from CCS Conference – ArunKumar talks about Service Orientation and Servant Leadership

Just back from the Corporate Culture and Spirituality Conference held at the Art of Living Ashram. Two days of brilliant conversations, questions, talks and ideas. While I will come back with more details, I would like to share one of the best talks we heard at the conference by N.T. Arunkumar of UBS. Talking on the topic of Inspiration and Implementation, this is what Arun had to say (verbatim transcript of his talk, sent to me by someone from AOL team)

 

Guru-brahma Guru-vishnu Guru devo maheshwaraha

Guru sakshat para-brahma tasmai sri sadgurave namah

That is my inspiration. And I think that is the inspiration for everybody. And if you have your Guru’s grace, I think all the complexities, dilemmas kind of cut across the clutter and you can find the simple truths and explanations. We spoke about three things: inspiration, implementation, motivation and sustainability.

As Joseph Campbell said, “Everything starts with a story.” So I’ll tell you a very small story that changed the course of…of how I view spirituality, from looking at it as an esoteric practice that was reserved for a few, to a very practical day-to-day living that can be learned at work. So way back, about 15 years back, I used to work for a multinational called PepsiCo and I had the honor of hosting the current CEO Indra Nooyi and the then CEO Roger Enrico. We were visiting a remote part of India where we were doing experimental marketing. As you know, when we entertain senior management, we want to impress them with power points, dressing up the whole place. For some reason, these two people knew that this was going to be the case and as soon as they got out of the aircraft, they kind of singled me out because I was the only, I was the youngest General Manager in the management team at the time and I was not a sales guy. They sat with me in a truck, with a truck salesman who knew no English and here was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company who knew nothing about this place called Trichurapalli. And he just said, “Drive through the market.” And during that one hour of drive, I was interpreting Roger’s instructions to the driver and the driver’s explanation back to Roger.

I learned the concept of servant-leadership. When he was dropping off the soft drinks in a shop, the man who was CEO of a Fortune 500 company actually taught him how to place the bottles in the right way that doesn’t inconvenience the shop-keeper or the customer. He actually wiped the fridge and told them how to maintain equipment. And all this without knowing the language at all. To me that demonstrated the hands-on leadership style and the kind of bonding that the truck driver earning a few hundred rupees a week developed and got inspiration from a global leader. No amount of power point, no amount of strategic conversation would have delivered the impact at the marketplace that was delivered. That was a turning point to me in terms of leadership style. So according to me, sustainable inspiration from a leadership perspective comes from being a servant-leader, being able to get down and talk the language of the bottom-most person who impacts your work.

The second one is, I think, the concept of paropakara, or service. So what does a servant-leader do in order to sustain..you talk about sustenance. A servant-leader sustains the concept of paropakara or service-orientation by making sure that people have an environment where they can give. You know, all of us are happy when we give, not when we get. We all get so much in the outside world. You know, if you look at all our titles, look at all our positions, why do we come here? And when we come here…you know I had the greatest blessing of my life yesterday for a few minutes when I had the darshan of Guruji very close. My mind went blank. I had a thousand questions and a hundred things to ask of him but I couldn’t ask anything. The only thing that I could think of is, “Guruji, what can I do?”. I think true happiness comes from creating an environment where everybody feels like asking this question, “What can I do? What can I give?” And I find it bit funny that we’ve all come to give a lecture here from our business world when the answers are to be found here.

Look at Art of Living. I have only been associated with it for one and a half days today but look at the global brand that’s been created, not because of any brand positioning or marketing, not because of any complex strategies. Look at the multinational, the global nature. We talk about global business. Can any business or any institution be more global than Art of Living? 150 countries, 300 million people. How was it attained? And how is it that such an organization with no commercial strategy, no investor calls quarter- to-quarter, has attained a global impact. Because first time I heard Guruji speak yesterday, if anybody else had talked to me about balance between passion and dispassion, intelligence and intuition, I would have kind of said, “Yeah, right!” But for the first time yesterday I got the best leadership lesson of my life because it was truth, simplified and delivered by someone, a leader who was talking about it having realized it himself. And I think that’s the second part of making it sustainable.

And the last part…I’m going to be provocative here…the last part is, I think, reintroduce the concept of gender-bias in organizations. Don’t get me wrong, let me explain. I think we have a very wrong gender bias today. In the industry where I come from, investment banking, there’s a running joke that if Lehman- brothers was Lehman-sisters, the crisis would not have happened. Yeah?

Look at Lord Brahma’s creation. Look at the universe. Three key cabinet portfolios – defense, education, and finance – handled by three women – Durga, Saraswati, Lakshmi. Yeah? And look at what we have in the corporate world. We don’t have enough women leaders. If we have more women, if we have the gender-bias towards women, I think we’ll be a better, much better, place to work in, much better place to sustain, implementation of service-orientation. Those three are my personal experience, and my personal views.

Having said that, my, I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to and I hope to, but my deepest and loving salutations to Guruji for having opened not just my eyes and mind, but my heart. To a conference like this, and to be able to relate to all this, you know, multiple complex theories of management, leadership, spirituality that I was struggling to integrate into a very simple fabric that as he said, “You got to cut, and you got to stitch, and they go together.” I think that’s what it is. Finally, my prayers that what is the goal of implementation of all this, I think, Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos which sold out to Amazon, wrote in his book, a great book that “ultimately we want people to be happy. Happy employees form the best of companies, the most sustainable of companies.” And I think that’s the goal whether in spirituality or in business. And that, I think, is the confluence, to be happy and with that I conclude my prayers, “Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu”. Thank you. 

It now seems….

I had never written a poem in life before, and this came up as an urge and I just typed it out as it came….no idea how this happened.

Just like the incredible pain

flips over to joy in an instant in the

“Meditation in Motion” process;

 

Same way the pain and the heartbreak

Suddenly turned into joy and peace

For no apparent reason;

 

It now seems that the

pain of longing

is more joyful than

the playful pulling of cheeks;

 

It now seems that the

the ache of the heartbreak

is now more joyful

When He deliberately walks by

without giving me that look

I have been craving for,

for ages;

 

It now seems that the

feeling of utter foolishness

when running behind Him

is now more palatable when

He chooses to completely

ignore me;

 

It now seems that the

torment and the anguish we

underwent when He chose

not to visit our house

despite being

in the neighborhood

has turned to

deep acceptance with

no regrets;

 

It now seems that

the Presence has become

that much more exponential

as I churned through

the countless doubts

in my mind;

 

and

 

the joy in longing and waiting is

much more than:

– having my cheeks pulled – would love it;

– getting that special look – I would still yearn for it;

– having Him in our house – that would be a dream fulfilled

– or getting that phone call out of the blue – haven’t yet got it;

 

but I wouldn’t want to trade

it for the unmistakable Presence

and Grace

that engulfs me

when I remember Him

for that I am so grateful!

 

That joy, longing

and Gratitude

transcends to something

Inexpressible, when that

gentle fragrance

of Sandalwood

arising out of nowhere,

drifts in,

and I recognize

that it is at this precise moment

the Divine too has His aches and

longings.