What Is Dharma?

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What is right and what is wrong? What are the key principles & morals we should live by? Is there an underlying order to our lives which can serve as a common guide to all of us?

Mahabharata is a good source to study such questions due to its rich & varied characters, situations & dilemmas.

When the myths and supernatural aspects of the epic saga are stripped out, and the story is spun in a believable fashion full of human foibles, as in ‘Parva’ by S.L.Bhyrappa, it is a compelling narrative we can relate to in our day-to-day lives.

The wide variety of questions dealt with in Mahabharata expands the mind. Why should we respect elders? Is pre-marital sex fine? What about adultery, polyandry and polygyny? Should one always say the truth? Can we eat meat? Can we fight, kill, pillage & plunder? Can we cheat? What acts are sinful? Are all humans same or some better than others? What is God? How to reconcile conflicting views of various religions, rituals, habits, customs & cultures? What are our duties & rights? Whats the best way to live? How much can one consume? Should we protect the environment? How should one die? How should we treat our friends? How to resolve conflicts within family? What is a meaningful life? Should I accumulate wealth or live as a recluse? …..

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Perhaps there is no common dharma, acceptable to all. Morals and principles are constantly in flux, both across time and cultures. What was acceptable 10, 100 or 1000 years back is not acceptable now. What is acceptable in India is not acceptable in the US. What is allowed in Islam is not allowed in Buddhism. Communism, capitalism, dictatorship, democracy, etc. have their own fervent believers and practitioners. Further, moralistic fads come & go, with short-lived successes & failures.

What can one do? Should one stay confused or just dismiss thoughts about dharma & morals? Is it easier to follow the fads and fashions of the day & local culture?

Perhaps it is helpful to fashion one’s own personal dharma. A set of morals & principles drawn from various sources, cultures & histories which may have to be tweaked or even changed radically, as one ages & gathers experiences. Such a personal dharma or set of beliefs may or may not be similar to that held by spouse, children, neighbors, countrymen, colleagues & friends. We have to constantly gather superior ideas, beliefs, morals & principles, tailor and incorporate them into our personal dharma. We have to be resolute about living by our personal dharma, while at the same time being ruthless to discard aspects which turn out to be inferior or meaningless. It requires extreme boldness to live by such an inner scorecard, not being influenced or confused by what’s happening around us. We also need to be ready to face consequences of practicing a personal dharma, some aspects of which could be considered bohemian.

There seems to be no simple way to answer the question ‘What is Dharma?’.

Everybody, and everything, can be right or wrong, depending on one’s point of view.

Parva by S.L.Bhyrappa

 

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Robin Hoods or Robber Barons?

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Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are seen as the high priests of modern corporate philanthropy. They are folks who made (or are making) all their wealth by being successful capitalists. Now they want to give it all away, distributing their wealth to a wide range of causes in a business-like fashion, tracking outcomes, improving lives and inspiring other philanthropists.

But, are they worthy of our adulation?

The scientific & industrial revolutions spawned capitalists like Gates & Buffett who lured billions of gleeful consumers. The runaway consumption economy has made our world more unequal, poor, diseased and less hospitable & peaceful. Both Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway have significantly contributed to this state of affairs, directly or indirectly.

Microsoft supplies business software to thousands of consumer goods companies, advertising agencies, weapons manufacturers etc., thereby indirectly supporting rampant consumption, arms race etc. Microsoft & Bill Gates have made all their billions by indirectly contributing to most of the ills facing us today. By deploying his wealth to fight the ills he has caused, can Bill Gates absolve himself?  If he is really serious about improving our lives and the world, should he not shut down Microsoft, or at least be more discriminative of the customers & prospects he engages with?

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Berkshire thrives on consumption, directly and indirectly, through its 100+ businesses. It produces, markets & transports hundreds of consumer and industrial categories of goods. When we celebrate Warren Buffett’s unbeaten track record of 19% compounded return over 52 years, we also need to pause and think how much plundering of natural resources & rampant consumption has contributed to Berkshire’s billions. By giving away all his wealth, can Warren Buffett absolve himself? If he is really serious about improving our lives and the world, should he not shut down those businesses which have made (or still making) our world a less hospitable place?

Corporate philanthropists play on two key arguments. We don’t know of any other system better than capitalism. And modern science, technology & innovations will solve all our problems sooner or later.

Both the arguments are inherently weak. We cannot perpetuate capitalism and its ills just because we don’t know an alternative. Why can’t responsible corporate philanthropists, having made their wealth through capitalism, shut down their businesses partially or completely? Why can’t they spend their money to fight for better regulation, discouraging wasteful consumption etc.? While modern science & technology are indeed solving many problems, isn’t our present system creating more problems than solutions?

As high priests, Gates & Buffett should rethink how they make & spend their billions

 

Meditations On My Ego

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My ego says I am right. But I have been wrong many times.

My ego says nobody else can tell me what to do, say or think. But I always learn something from others.

My ego says I am entitled to this & that. But that leads me to reckless behavior.

My ego says my group, my community…are the best. But I haven’t seen the world.

My ego says I can never fail. But I have failed many times.

My ego says I  can be selfish. But that makes me greedy and unhappy.

My ego says I am beautiful. But that makes me vain.

My ego says I am powerful. But I have failed many times.

My ego says I am knowledgeable. But I don’t know everything.

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My ego says I am perfect. But I am imperfect in many ways.

My ego says I am strong. But I have many weaknesses.

My ego says I can change the world. But I am a small speck in time & space.

My ego says I have time. But I can die in an accident tomorrow.

My ego says everybody loves & respects me. But I don’t know what they really think.

My ego says my family needs me. But I know they can do without me.

My ego says I can influence my future. But I can only control my thought & actions, not my future.

My ego says I am trustworthy. But I regret many of my actions & thoughts.

My ego says I am honest. But I lie many times to myself & others.

My ego says I deserve a better life. But so do others.

My ego says…

My ego says…

My ego won’t go away. Keep it in check.

 

Contemplations on Death

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The father dies. The family mourns. Memories flood back. Friends gather. Tears are shed. His character, qualities, actions & times are remembered. His frailties are glossed over. He’s given a fond farewell. Mourning continues for a while. He slowly fades away. He becomes an occasional thought. He’s forgotten.

The leader dies. The town mourns. Eulogies pour in. Fans, followers, admirers & friends gather. Opponents & critics are generous in their praise. Her life & times are recounted. Emotions run high. Public grief overflows. She is given a fond farewell. Mourning continues for a while. She slowly fades away. She becomes an occasional thought. She’s forgotten.

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Everybody dies. Accept it.

Contemplate death before it happens.

Contemplate your own death.

Every death is a lesson on how to live well.

The eminent and not-so eminent dead are good teachers.

Avoid their mistakes. Adopt their strengths.

Respect the dead. But remember they don’t run or ruin lives.

Praise the living. They will soon die.

The dead instruct. They have faced all situations.

Nothing is new. History repeats. Life repeats.

Learners do well, for themselves, and for others.

Death improves life.

Celebrate life. Live well. Die well.

Ruminations of An Old Man

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Most octogenarians are shunned, wasted or both. Charlie Munger, among the few exceptions, has a cult following. He is intelligent, wise, & candid. The fact that he has become extraordinarily wealthy by developing his own shrewd investing philosophy lends additional aura, respect & attention. He is a man of few words and shuns publicity.

So, on the rare occasion when he speaks, its time to sit tight & lap it up.

A few gems from his commencement speech at USC Law School in 2007, on ideas & attitudes that worked well for him.

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…the idea that the safest way to try and get what you want, is to try and deserve what you wantIt’s such a simple idea, it’s the golden rule so to speak.

…there is no love that’s so right as admiration based love, and that love should include the instructive dead.

wisdom acquisition is a moral duty, it’s not something you do just to advance in life.

I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines, they go to bed every night a little wiser than when they got up and boy does that help particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.

…you can progress only when you learn the method of learning.

if you take Warren Buffett and watched him with a time clock, I would say half of all the time he spends is sitting on his ass and reading. And a big chunk of the rest of the time is spent talking one on one either on the telephone or personally with highly gifted people whom he trusts and who trust him.

I noted since the really big ideas carry 95% of the freight, it wasn’t at all hard for me to pick up all the big ideas in all the big disciplines and make them a standard part of my mental routines.

Once you have the ideas of course they are no good if you don’t practice. You don’t practice you lose it.

So I went through life constantly practicing this model of (multi-)disciplinary approach. Well I can’t tell you what that’s done for me, it’s made life more fun, it’s made me more constructive, it’s made me more helpful to others, it’s made me enormously rich, you name it, that attitude really helps.

I always obeyed the drift of my nature and if other people didn’t like it I didn’t need to be adored by everybody.

…when I talk about this multidisciplinary attitude I’m really following a very key idea of the greatest lawyer of antiquity, Marcus Tullius Cicero. Cicero is famous for saying, “a man who doesn’t know what happened before he was born goes through life like a child”. That is a very correct idea of Cicero’s. And he’s right to ridicule somebody so foolish as not to know what happened before he was born.But if you generalize Cicero as I think one should, there are all these other things that you should know in addition to history and those other things are the big ideas in all the other disciplines. And it doesn’t help you just to know them enough just so you can *unclear* them back on an exam and get an A. You have to learn these things in such a way that they’re in a mental latticework in your head and you automatically use them for the rest of your life.

If you do that I solemnly promise you that one day you’ll be walking down the street and look to your right and left and think, “my heavenly days! I’m now one of the few most competent people of my whole age forward. If you don’t do it, many of the brightest of you will live in the middle ranks or in the shallows.

The way complex adaptive systems work and the way mental constructs work; problems frequently get easier and I would even say usually are easier to solve if you turn around in reverse. In other words if you want to help India, the question you should ask is not “how can I help India?”, you think “what’s doing the worst damage in India? What would automatically do the worst damage and how do I avoid it?” You’d think they are logically the same thing, they’re not. Those of you who have mastered algebra know that inversion frequently will solve problems which nothing else will solve. And in life, unless you’re more gifted than Einstein, inversion will help you solve problems that you can’t solve in other ways.

…to use a little inversion now, what will really fail in life? What do you want to avoid? Such an easy answer – sloth and unreliability. If you’re unreliable it doesn’t matter what your virtues are, you’re going to crater immediately. So doing what you have faithfully engaged to do should be an automatic part of your conduct. You want to avoid sloth and unreliability.

Another thing I think should be avoided is extremely intense ideology because it cabbages up one’s mind. …if you’re young it’s easy to drift in to loyalties and when you announce that you’re a loyal member and you start shouting the orthodox ideology out what you’re doing is pounding it in, pounding it in and you’re gradually ruining your mind so you want to be very careful with this ideology. It’s a big danger.

I have what I call an iron prescription that helps me keep sane when I naturally drift toward preferring one ideology over another. And that is I say “I’m not entitled to have an opinion on this subject unless I can state the arguments against my position better than the people do who are supporting it. I think only when I reach that stage am I qualified to speak.”

Another thing of course that does one in is the self serving bias to which we are all subject. You think that your little me is entitled to do what it wants to do…

Generally speaking, envy, resentment, revenge and self pity are disastrous modes of thought, self-pity gets pretty close to paranoia, and paranoia is one of the very hardest things to reverse, you do not want to drift into self-pity.

…a self serving bias, you want to get out of yourself, thinking that what’s good for you is good for the wider civilization and rationalizing all these ridiculous conclusions based on the subconscious tendency to serve one’s self. It’s a terribly inaccurate way to think and of course you want to drive that out of yourself because you want to be wise not foolish.

You also have to allow for the self-serving bias of everybody else, because most people are not gonna remove it all that successfully, the only condition being what it is. If you don’t allow for self serving bias in your conduct, again you’re a fool.

You don’t want to be in a perverse incentive system that’s causing you to behave more and more foolishly or worse and worse. Incentives are too powerful a controller of human cognition and human behavior 

Perverse associations, also to be avoided. You particularly want to avoid working directly under somebody you really don’t admire and don’t want to be like. It’s very dangerous we are all subject to control to some extent our authority figures strictly authority figures that are rewarding us. And that requires some talent, the way I solved that is I figured out the people I did admire and I maneuvered cleverly without criticizing anybody so I was working entirely under people I admired.

Darwin paid special attention to disconfirming evidence particularly to disconfirm something he believed and loved. Well objectivity maintenance routines are totally required in life if you’re going to be a correct thinker. And they were talking about Darwin’s attitude, special attention to the disconfirming evidence, and also to checklist routines. Checklist routines avoid a lot of errors. You should have all this elementary wisdom and then you should go through and have a checklist in order to use it. There is no other procedure that will work as well.

I realized very early that non-egality would work better in the parts of the world I wanted to inhabit. I think the game of life in many respects is getting a lot of practice into the hands of the people that have the most aptitude to learn and the most tendency to be learning machines. And if you want the very highest reaches of human civilization that’s where you have to go.

…an intense interest of the subject is indispensable if you are really going to excel. I could force myself to be fairly good in a lot of things, but I couldn’t be really good in anything where I didn’t have an intense interest, so to some extent you’re going to have to follow me. If at all feasible you want to drift into doing something in which you really have a natural interest.

…have a lot of assiduity. I like that word because it means sit down in your ass until you do it.

…life will have terrible blows, horrible blows, unfair blows, doesn’t matter. And some people recover and others don’t. And there I think the attitude of Epictetus is the best. He thought that every mischance in life was an opportunity to behave well, every mischance in life was an opportunity to learn something and your duty was not to be submerged in self-pity but to utilize the terrible blow in a constructive fashion. That is a very good idea.

All my life I’ve gone through life anticipating trouble and here I am well along on my 84th year and like Epictetus I’ve had a favored life. It didn’t make me unhappy to anticipate trouble all the time and be ready to perform adequately if trouble came. It didn’t hurt me at all. In fact it helped me

In your own life what you want is a seamless web of deserved trust.


 

Charlie Munger Speech – Video

Poor Charlie’s Almanack

 

We Have Free Will, Bulls Don’t

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That was a comment made by a Judge of the Indian Supreme Court in a recent hearing, to support a previous judgement banning Jallikattu (bull fight).

Do we really have Free Will?

That has remained an unresolved question for centuries. We like to believe we are different from other animals & plants, the important difference being we are conscious beings with the ability to think & act independently. We think we have the ability to choose between different courses of action or thought or, in other words, we have free will.

A little introspection tells us we have no clear idea how we get the thoughts we get, or why we do what we do. We may say we chose to think about this or that, and chose to do this or that, that we have freedom of choice. But how did those different choices come about? Did the choices appear due to random luck or were caused by something we or somebody else thought or did before? If it was random luck, then we have no free will. If the choices were the result of something we did or thought before, then we are back to square one – why did we do or think that before? If the choices were caused by somebody else’s thoughts or acts, that again implies we have no free will.

Free will seems to be an illusion.

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If free will is an illusion, then who or what drives our thoughts & actions? Are we mindless robots controlled by a superior being?

Most of what we do & think are slowly being taken over by modern machines, AI, & robots. As these machines gain more intelligence over the next few centuries, will they also start questioning their own free will, as we are doing now?

Are we living in an illusory world with illusory free will?

If we, our world, free will & reality as we know it are just controlled simulations in somebody else’s mind or machine, should we really worry about what we do or think?

Is somebody is playing a game with us? Are we unwitting actors in somebody’s reality show?

Should we stop to think about this? Does it help?

Can we understand it at all?

Bulls don’t have free will

Free Will by Sam Harris

Are you living in a computer simulation?

 

Whither Hinduism?

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One’s religion is nothing but the dharma practiced by one’s forefathers. 

In our sanatana dharma….there is a weaving together of rites, the good conduct and discipline arising out of them, devotion to Isvara and finally knowledge of the Self.

– Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi

 

One can practice Hinduism in a few ways – follow its philosophy, pursue devotion or perform rituals. Or one can concoct a personal & convenient mix of all three paths, a widely followed custom over the ages. However, all these three ways have withered drastically in recent times. The key philosophies of Hinduism are largely unknown today. The pursuit of devotion exists, but is largely questionable. The meaning & purpose of rituals are fast getting lost in the mists of time.

Is Hinduism thriving, dying, changing or transforming?

  1. Hindu philosophy

Some like to argue that Hinduism is not a religion, but a way of life. They look at it as a bundle of wise thoughts & ideas (aka philosophy) handed down over the ages. If we contemplate over and practice even a few of these ideas, our lives would be enriched – so say the few who have bought into the philosophical history & richness of Hinduism, a fast dwindling minority today. Undoubtedly, Hinduism is rich in wisdom. The Bhagavad Gita alone is replete with wise ideas which can be readily incorporated into our daily lives. But Hindu philosophy has few takers today. It is considered archaic or obscure. Most Hindus don’t bother to study it. The few individuals, groups & institutions spreading the practical wisdom of Hindu philosophy are perhaps fighting a losing battle. Ardent practitioners of Hindu philosophical thought may just thrive on the fringes.

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2. Hindu devotion

Devotion has thrived, but its modern flavors and customs are questionable. Do devout Hindus pray out of fear or love or to curry favor or for display or to belong or to just pass time or…? It has been a mix of these and many other reasons, for ages. Devotion & prayers perhaps started out with fear & love for ancestors and blossomed into almost pure love for the Gods for some of our ancestors. However, over time, the nature of devotion has changed (some may say decayed). Today, many Hindus offer prayers either out of fear or to seek something. They fear the wrath of the Gods & dead ancestors. They seek material wealth or happiness or moksha or something else. Devotion & prayers are largely ‘give & take’ transactions today, much in sync with the modern business-driven world. Pure devotion is based on pure faith. That kind of devotion is largely dead.

3. Hindu rituals

Traditional rituals are disappearing at an alarming pace. Their original meaning & purpose are largely forgotten. Modern Hindus, brought up on a diet of science and exposed to the larger world, question old rituals. And very few of these questions are being answered convincingly, perhaps because there are very few knowledgeable Hindu scholars around. Rituals at the time of birth, marriage, death etc. have become largely perfunctory. Many perform rituals out of fear or to satisfy others. Social celebrations during weddings & birth have become more important & perhaps more satisfactory than rituals. A keen observer may realize some of these rituals & rites do have meaning & purpose. They enforce discipline and help us think about life & our purpose. However, rituals change with time, and are influenced by people, cultures, customs & traditions. They get distorted easily and their original shape, purpose & meaning can quickly get lost if we don’t have dedicated guardians. Specialist brahmin priests, who were the original guardians of these rituals, are a vanishing breed today. The original Hindu rituals will soon be lost.

…a religion will decline and decay if its spokesmen, however eloquent they are in expounding its concepts, are found to be guilty of lapses in character and conduct. 

– Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi

 

Do we have high-calibre spokesmen for Hinduism today?

We cannot dismiss the original purpose, meaning & logic of Hindu philosophy, devotion & rituals as meaningless & old-fashioned, without studying them. But the modern Hindu does not have the time or inclination to study Hinduism. Some turn to self-styled spokesmen (aka gurus), who may or may not be worthy of being followed.

Traditional (or original) Hinduism is dying. New-age Hinduism, as being practiced today, may not be a good replacement.

We could point out that Hinduism has evolved well in the past and trust it will do so in the future. Successful evolution requires good catalysts. Adi Shankara was one. We may need another.

 

Why Gates & Buffett Are Wrong

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The growing breed of capitalist philanthropists, many of them inspired by the likes of Bill Gates & Warren Buffett, seek to change, transform & improve the world and our lives.

Their thinking & approach is to run very fast for a long time, on their chosen philanthropic paths, to get to somewhere else which is a better world than now.

Modern Red Queens (aka intellectuals) point out we are in a fast sort of world, and it takes all the running we can do, to keep in the same place, and If we want to get somewhere else (a better world than now), we must run at least twice as fast as that. We thus witness the accelerating pace of business, technology, R&D, innovation, wealth generation & philanthropic activities.

But what if the bucket is leaking faster than the pace at which it being filled up? And what if the leakage accelerates, even as we attempt to fill the bucket faster?

In other words, what if the world & our lives are deteriorating faster than the pace of development & philanthropy?

Gates & Buffett, their fans, admirers & followers, are optimists. They believe the leaky bucket can be filled up, sooner or later. Few others believe the bucket is leaking faster & faster, and unless we put in more efforts to plug the leakage rather than filling the bucket, there isn’t much hope. Either hypothesis is yet to be proven conclusively.

The bucket is our world. We are filling it up with science, ideas, developments, & innovations. The capitalist philanthropists see the leakage and are attempting to plug it. Their philanthropic activities treat the symptoms, ignoring the cause. If Bill Gates wipes out Polio or TB, there are many other diseases in queue. If capitalists like Vinod Khosla solve the energy & transportation problems, there are many other problems in queue.

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Meantime, the root cause – human greed – is largely ignored and growing unchecked. It’s quite clear human greed & consumption has gained pace in the last few centuries, especially after the industrial revolution. More development, technology & innovation has fueled human greed even further. The bucket is leaking faster. We are filling the bucket faster. Will it help?

Our developmental & philanthropic activities need to curtail greed.

Else, sooner or later, the bucket may collapse.

Gates & Buffett, despite their best intentions, may fail.

 

 

 

The Difficulty Of Being Detached

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Detachment is a core thought in Hinduism, Buddhism and philosophies like Stoicism.

The logic & benefits of being emotionally, materially, & psychologically detached are compelling and have been thoroughly debated over the ages. While it is not easy, a student seriously practicing detachment will realize the fruits, sooner or later.

However, the path of detachment can be filled with pitfalls which have to be navigated skillfully. Two common pitfalls are

  1. Being surrounded by family, friends & others who don’t appreciate or understand detachment. For the fully detached person, unreasonable reactions & extreme opinions of others may not matter. But the practicing student goes through a disturbing period before he graduates. Family members & friends may criticize. Relationships can get strained. Social circle may shrink. The student may suddenly find himself lonely or alone.
  2. Losing joy or cheerfulness. The student practicing detachment may not be exactly sad or gloomy, but she might find herself less joyful or cheerful. Family & friends may point out she is not enjoying life & herself as before. She is not openly expressing joy and happiness as often as before. Is she ill? Is she scared? Is she losing the ability to feel & express joy? Are being cheerful & detached incompatible? One may have progressed on being detached emotionally, materially & psychologically, but does it mean one also has to distance oneself from a vibrant & joyful life?

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Reading & observing masters of detachment shows they are cheerful beings too. They laugh & smile readily. They lead vibrant & active lives. They are fully engaged in their chosen paths, full of joy & cheer, but also steady in practicing detachment. Just think of Buddha, Krishna, Socrates, Seneca & Gandhi. They travelled & taught to a big following, were cunning & waged wars, mocked & forced people to think better, were deeply engaged in society & politics, mobilized mass support to fight for freedom. They chose not to shun society and take refuge in the hills (though that’s another common path with its own pros & cons). They had flaws. They were masters & accomplished practitioners of detachment. Yet they were actively engaged in life, joyous & cheerful. How did they do it? How did they manage to be detached and yet be cheerful?

The questions answer themselves after a little thought. The masters chose to actively engage in their paths. They knew they must remain detached in their personal & inner lives. But they also knew they must engage actively with family, friends & society, if they were to leave the world a little better than what they found it to be. When one chooses to engage actively with the external world, its contradictory (& futile) to remain aloof & sombre. Why not be cheerful & spread joy?

Be detached, be cheerful. Its contagious.

 

 

 

 

On Aging & Death

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Should we think about how we would like to age & die, when we are still young & active?

It’s not good if our body ages faster, but the mind is strong & active. Our body cannot do what the mind wants. We may want to read, exercise, be independent etc., but we cannot do much if the body has aged faster than the mind. Imagine a 70-year-old man, frail & ill, but with an alert & conscious mind, possibly bed-ridden, & frustrated. Pitiable state.

It is also not good if our mind ages faster, but the body is strong & active. Our body, though robust, becomes a useless shell. All the bodily physical activities we do don’t matter. If the mind is not alert & engaged, a strong body is of no use. Imagine a physically strong 50-year-old woman in a coma or some other form of disease which dulls the mind. Pitiable state.

Many of us are caught in between, where the mind & the body do not age together or in sync.

The mind & body, if cultivated well, can age the way we want them to, even though we may not have full control over them and the events that buffet us over our lifetimes.

How can we do that?  What are the best ideas & practices? Can we learn from others who have been (at least partly) successful in aging their bodies & minds beautifully?

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Yes, of course. When we pause to think about it, many of us may intuitively know what we need to do. Adhering to a potpourri of good diet, exercise, thoughts & actions is the simple recipe. Each of these – diet, exercise, thoughts & actions – have been actively studied over the ages. We could start by studying the master practitioners in each of these disciplines and learn progressively as we age.

Mortality and death can be more difficult to contemplate, compared to aging. Many of us are scared to die. It’s an unknown void. Despite our scientific, religious & philosophical beliefs, the inevitability of death and the uncertainty of what happens after death may scare us. The thought of our own death becomes more complicated and fearful when our body & mind have not aged beautifully.

If we have cultivated our body & mind well, put them through a disciplined mix of diet, exercise, thoughts & actions throughout our lives, we should be able to manage our death well. History is replete with examples of great masters who have faced & managed their deaths admirably, in many different ways. How Socrates or Seneca thought about & faced their deaths may be very different from how Jesus, Buddha or Gandhi did so. And there are many other masters from all walks of life to learn from. Death may become just another milestone in life to be managed well.

The frenetic pace of our lives can make our aging & death painful and traumatic.

We should pause & ponder.