Just finished a day long session on Ishavasya Upanishad. Wasn’t sure whether to write on it or not. But on a friend’s insistence, here’s some thoughts after the session.

Upanishad means, to sit near the Master.

It’s one of the ancient concepts of our Guru-shishya parampara which is unique to the Eastern culture. Very different from the western student-teacher model that I grew up in my school. Which then transitioned into the lecturing professor-student model. But then, it has to be different.

Teaching in the school or college is at its core a way to transmit contents of your mind –  your understanding, your thoughts, facts from memory, to the student’s mind. It is a subtle process, to transmit information or understanding. At its simplest level(information transfer) it is merely a transfer of what is stored in language, using language, so that the listener can store the same in their mind. In the more complex form(understanding transfer), language is used to transmit something that is even subtler than the contents of the language – an understanding of something, which exists above and beyond the exact words being used. Take for example Newton’s laws. Just merely stating the laws isn’t sufficient to convey an entire understanding of the material. It needs to be expanded upon by someone who carries an understanding of what they imply. It can be done in person, via books, via online videos….for here language is the sole transmission factor.

But there one more level beyond this. The above are both methods of conveying aspects of the mind. The third level is of the consciousness. 

Now we’ve met people who’re just bursting with joy or enthusiasm. And on the other side are people who’re very low or sad. Their very energy, their body, their eyes, their voice…everything radiates what level their consciousness is at. We all know people just talking to them, or hanging out with them, cheers you up. Makes you upbeat. What happens there is a transmission of consciousness. In the presence of their consciousness, your consciousness gets lifted to their level. And this is a very elementary level that we’re talking of. 

There is another level where someone’s consciousness is touching the highest levels possible. Let’s call it God-consciousness. 

For them to share this with you…it cannot be done via words only. And yet words are the only tool one has. Then what else could possibly be required? 


Their presence speaks. Their presence creates the stillness of mind in you, which is required for the words to be able to act as the most efficient carrier and clear the space….for what? For even more of the presence to seep through. 

Convoluted? Isn’t it? 🙂

Which is why it’s such an experiential thing. It’s like telling someone of how amazing the Himalayan mountains feel…the person will be like, “yeah, I’ve seen tall sky scrapers, maybe the mountains are even taller. Big deal.” But they discount the sheer presence of the mountains.

And this is where Upanishad comes in. 

Sitting close to Masters. Taking in their presence even as one partakes of the words…what gets transmitted is their consciousness. You leave with a sense of oneness with the entire universe. You leave scintillating and sparkling inside, completely amazed at how the same words you’ve heard thousands of times before could have this effect on you. Then realising that it wasn’t just what was said…but who said it. Take away the Master, and the words lose their potency. Take away the closeness to someone for whom Divinity isn’t a word but a living experience…and there is no experience which changes you from deep within…all within a few hours. 

That’s Upanishad.

The Pitfalls of Knowledge


There are two kinds of Knowledge in this world.

One is information and concept based. It is a way to either know things(facts) about something. Or ways of describing a phenomenon in words – how it unfolds, the dynamics of it.

The second is sacred Knowledge.
Knowledge that goes beyond happenings and events. Knowledge to do with our very Being. Knowledge of the consciousness. Of the Self.

Here facts are useless. What physical descriptions can you use for something subtle?
Here experience is the only guide. Words can also help only to the extent of pointing what has been experienced – encapsulate some aspect of a conscious experience. But how can you catch a flowing river in a glass? Whatever you catch will be a sample and will miss the entire thing. Yet, it is helpful in the beginning. To take someone thirsty closer to the river. Give glimpses.

But true service in this would only be to encourage the person to take a dip in river and immerse themselves in it – to experience it for themselves. Words will only give concepts and ideas in the mind, which cannot quench the thirst. And there exists the danger that after forming the concepts, one can start imagining that they “know” and getting stuck in the knowing never venture to take the journey themselves.

Maybe that is why the language of the Masters is so cryptic. They have to give a pointer…a direction…always being cautious to not hurt the journey of seeker in any way by giving him the false idea that if they know the words, they know the Self.

So subtle is this path. So many are the pitfalls. And yet the journey is enjoyable like no other.

Don’t wait…

Dive in!

Dharma … universal or cultural

I was listening to Gurudev’s talk snippets on Chapter 1 of Gita.
In it he mentions the shloka,

Dharmakshetre Kurukshetre Samavetayuyutsavaha |

Maamakaah paandavaashchaiva kimakurvata sanjaya ||1||

Gurudev goes on to say that this is Dharamshetra. A place of Dharma. Of divine law.

Made me think about what is Dharma.
Is it an internal law to creation and to human existence. If it is internal, how does it relate to the external human created laws. “Law of the land” Vs “Law of Existence”.

How are the two to be reconciled?
What is Dharma? What all are the laws in it? How best to structure human laws to be in sync with it?

I don’t have these answers right now. But I do want to continue thinking about it. Figuring it out. Mainly because it is so relevant to the situation today. Today, mankind has created a society that is unsustainable. Ecologically – species are dying.
Environmentally – Climate is changing
Financially – debt is unsustainable, which is threatening political systems and peace of the world.
Psychologically – majority of population is depressed or highly stressed.

Our structures have gone completely out of whack.
Is there a hidden symmetry, a hidden harmony which can help here?
Gurudev says that it is the divine connection only which can bring this harmony.
How do we take this most subtle of things and translate it in concrete ways of living?

Open to your ideas and suggestions!

The experiences with drugs


This is the story of a guy who loved the good things in life. Hated drugs. Then feel deep into them. Got lost. And found his back way out again.

This is my story.

Photo by Alfaz Sayed on Unsplash

They say one must never say never. That life has a weird way of making you do the things you never thought you’d do. Drugs and me were like that.

I was fortunate to be an early achiever in life. Growing up in remote Army cantts, there was little to distract my interest in wanting to learn. Slowly that grew into a good academic record the highlight of which was topping CBSE boards all India in class Xth. Like any other excelling science student, medical and engineering were the options I was told I had. Being good at studies, and taking two attempts at it, I managed to land in IIT Kanpur.

I tell you all this to share what kind of a person I was – The quintessential nerd. Books were my love, staying inside my own head my favourite passtime. So it was easy to judge anyone else who was not like me. Especially people who did things which seemed like a waste of time, namely, drugs. I remember one day screaming off at my girlfriend for even being around people who did drugs (no, she never did them).

Fast forward to 6 years after having passed out of college.

I’d grown faster than I’d thought. A big manager in a big multinational company. Very successful, and on path to even bigger success and growth, I was living the the king sized life. But I was miserable inside. The stress of the job, the anxiety of not knowing where I was going with my life, my self imposed expectations and sense of disconnectedness with my work, all were combining in intricate ways to make me very unhappy indeed. I would lose my temper at the smallest of things.

One night I was hanging out with my college friends drinking and listening to music as usual. Till one of them got out a joint out that got passed around. That’s when I had my first smoke of weed.

What an instant relief it was! My mind felt light and so relaxed. I was floating on clouds.

Reluctant at first, then more interested to explore the experiences it brought to my mind, I slowly started doing weed more regularly. The experiences were bizarre. Sometimes painful, often joyful, and sometimes just a trippy combination of the mind seeing patterns and knowledge in my life events. My brain would start racing through thoughts and imaginations when high.

But most of all it provided a break from my normal life and its pressures. From its monotony and its demands.

It didn’t take too long for the downsides to show though.
From slurring of words while the drug worked itself out through my system, to lapses in memory, to often finding out that acting on the ‘insights’ of my high brain didn’t seem to work out that well, and instead started getting me into trouble. My energy also started being more erratic. I would go into bouts of excessively energised modes when high, followed by up to a week of very demotivated personality unless I was smoking up again.

And yet how could I let go of the one thing which was giving me the hours of relief and joy in otherwise increasingly feeling more disconnected life?

Then happened one of those accidents of fate that end up changing one’s life. My company organised an Art of Living course for its employees.

My first thought after doing the Sudarshan Kriya was , “man! I’m high”. But it wasn’t the same high I’d felt on drugs. It felt more ‘cleaner’, purer, and it didn’t leave a downer. I didn’t feel excited or carried away by my own thoughts like I did when high on weed. I just felt happy. And calm. And centered.

But bad habits have a habit of being hard to get rid off.

Even though I’d found a much healthier way of feeling happier, energised and more engaged with life, I couldn’t let go of my weed habit instantly. I had to observe those same negative side-effects grow much worse before I realised that they weren’t worth spoiling my life over. Specially when a much healthier and better way existed to bring joy and genuine lasting happiness into my own life.

Took me about 6 months after doing the first Art of Living course to fully get rid of it. And having been there and now being here, I know I’m telling the truth when I say that this place is way better than that place. More stable, more enjoyable, and more promising of a better future for me and my family. For all that drugs gave me, they took away much more. Not at first though. But slowly they’d started eating away at all that made me, me. They’d slowly made me dependent on them for my ‘high’ in life. And THAT is a power I never want any substance to have over me again.


Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash


It’s a word that I was told when I asked my friend, on what should I write on. “Just”, was her response.


To just write.

It’s profound. Like all of life’s profound truths. It’s simplicity, it’s succinctness, it’s tiny size, belies what lies within it.


Why don’t we just write?

Why don’t we just talk?

Why don’t we just do things on the spur of moment?

Why don’t we Just be?

No. But we want each activity to serve a purpose. We want each conversation to lead to something permanent. We want to do things which are meaningful. We want to live lives that are meaningful, in some grand, cosmically relevant way.

What could possibly be wrong with that?

What could possibly be better than that?

Except perhaps, Just this – It doesn’t work.

I tried it. I tried it with everything I had. I have friends who’re trying it. Successful high flying friends. Doesn’t seem to be working for anyone.

I’m not saying that they’re all lost, or miserable. But barely any seem deeply happy. Barely any see capable of living in deep awe of the miracle that is life….every single moment of their life. Most put all the value, all the meaning in some combination of circumstances/events that makes sense to them, and go about spending all of their living moments in making sure that these moments can be brought to existence. But to throw away millions of equally precious moments in order to appreciate a handful? What sort of intelligence is that?

All that effort, all that time, all that energy that gets spent trying to bring their ‘dreams’ alive, wouldn’t a better use of that energy be in trying to learn how to be alive now. Wherever you are. Whatever is happening around you. To just be. Fully there, breathing deeply these ephemeral moments which are always fleeting by. To catch a true glimpse of That, which is one of the subtlest, most toughest things to do. Instead we feel like after we reach our dream situation/goal, that’s when we’ll start living these moments. But in the victory of success our defeat is already destined. In reaching the goal while putting off living, we’ve already trained the mind to be always looking forward and not at now. When that moment does arrive, we’re incapable of looking at the Now and enjoy the Now, and breathe the Now, and live it. We arrive exactly where we are Now. After a long long journey, we reach nowhere.

So why not instead just start it Now?

Why not instead just live it Now?

Why not just learn to be…..Now.

Just be.

Just live.

Just breathe.

Just do what life demands to be done.

Just be happy, irrespective. Because the greatest achievement of our lives can’t even match the miracle of just being alive.


Deep Dive

Photo by Chris Osmond on Unsplash

Experienced something Divine today – myself.

Even to try and put this experience into words, feels like trying to squeeze the majestic heights of the Himalayas into Twitter hashtags.

And yet this impossible venture is worth doing. How else will we inspire anyone to make the arduous journey up the treacherous paths to see those snowy peaks silently offering their wispy prayers?

I used to often wonder why so much emphasis on the question, “Who are you?” Are all the possible answers to this question not very obvious in themselves? From every assumed identity, going till our very consciousness itself?

What I realised today is that the value of the question lies not in the words it inspires. What are words? Merely symbols with a specific meaning. And unless you know the meaning, the symbol is meaningless. So unless I know the meaning of the answer that is going to arise in me on asking “Who am I”, what’s the point of asking it?

What I didn’t understand is that sometimes the process is the answer. Who I am, is who I am. There is nothing to answer in it. And yet, everything to discover.

“What is Kanchenjunga?” Knowing the answer to that in words is nothing. Seeing it standing majestically in front of your very eyes….now that will tell you something. But to reach there is a journey. And the journey itself is part of the answer. Kanchenjunga would not be Kanchenjunga if it was standing in front of Churchgate Station.

What we are. Who we are. Is an already existing truth.

Asking the question, is merely to attempt travelling through the mist surrounding the truth. To direct our energy towards piercing the mist. Towards searching. Towards looking. And the looking is the point. For your own inner mountain lies waiting. Waiting to be discovered in its overflowing grandeur.

Go find

Getting out of my way

Just finished my fifth Happiness course of Art of Living.

It’s a three days, 10 hours total duration course…but even in such a short span, it’s a wonder how much change it always manages to bring within me.

This time was my first time volunteering for the course as well. Even though I wasn’t able to contribute as much I’d wanted to, just the fact that I wasn’t just a participant, made me much more conscious this time of how everything might be feeling like for a new participant. As I paid attention to each step, it was easy to see each the small errors, the small things which maybe could have been done better. There was the conscious awareness of how the smallest of things might put someone off and distract their mind away from this amazing journey.

Yet, none of it did.

At the end of the course, there were the same joyous faces everywhere around that I’ve gotten used to seeing in Art of Living courses. Somehow the depths that Sudarshan Kriya takes one into doesn’t care about the thousands of small details that could have been done better. Perhaps it isn’t about the outer details at all. Maybe the outer details are just the window dressing to help one be at as much ease as is possible, but the meat is what lies within. And what lies within is so wondrous, so all embracing…that it turns us all into lotus leaves – with droplets of all the mundane details of life that we keep obsessing over endlessly…all sliding off our minds effortlessly.


How does this relate to getting out of my way?
Just the same as obsessing about the thousands of details needed to be put aside to witness the miracle of life in front of me.

Perhaps my life too isn’t too different from a simple course.

Perhaps all the time spent worrying about getting those details right, only wastes energy and takes away from the bigger truth of the sheer fact of my existence in this world. Of the sheer miracle of this thing called life that I’m immersed in.

What does it really matter if I didn’t wake up at the exact time I’d set my alarm for. What does it really matter if forgot to return that one phone call on my to-do list. What does it really matter if my goals, my path isn’t clear in front of my very eyes…all those are incidental to the bigger fact of life passing me by every second, every moment. Aren’t these all just window dressings to this grand experience of being conscious in a universe plush with energy in all forms and shapes? Are they really worth losing the smile off my face for even a second? Aren’t they supposed to matter (in my faulty thinking) as means to getting that smile on there in the first place? And if the smile is already there, should the imperfect icing be any reason to not enjoy the cake?

I’m already making my way through life. Whether there is a path or no path. Whether the path is as I’d imagined it or not. I’ve intentionally chosen to walk a path that’s not structured the way a job is, or any one of life’s standard paths are. But I know I’m stumbling. I know I’m failing to meet up to the simple goals of physical fitness, of dedication to my spiritual practices, of attention to my food, that I’ve set for myself. I’m struggling in the basics,….yet, yet, I’m more peaceful than I’ve ever been. This contrast confounds me. This isn’t anything that my previously conditioned brain is ready to accept. The physical constraints are still there – I still need to find a way to earn my living, I need to find a way to get organised in some way that allows me to work towards my bigger visions. Yet I’m struggling. And in the struggle there is no problem, because I’m peaceful deep inside. But the problem is in my mind trying to see all this and then wanting to turn into a whip that I can crack on myself – for that’s the only way I’ve known in the past to straighten myself up whenever I faltered. Isn’t that what we’re all trained for by everyone we trust – right from our teachers, to our parents, to our bosses? To crack the whip on us when we stray from the paths laid down for us, and to feel good about ourselves when we walk the path and get acknowledged for it? I guess a bit of that still lives inside of me. Even though at a bigger level I have accepted that I’m not a farm animal meant to be treated like that, those old habits are still comfortable to retreat into whenever fear makes it’s appearance and doubt show their face.

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 3.50.45 PM.jpgBut I’ve walked those circular paths.
I’ve been that farm animal. I’ve paid my dues.

How do I then move forward from here? Into designing the kind of life that I know is waiting for me, that I know is accepting of me.

By getting out of my own way. That’s the only answer that’s making sense right now. To stop being my own enemy.

Not just in listening to those doubts as if they have any substance, but also in being able to stay connected to that part of my Self that doesn’t care for all this. I am going to fall on my face a few times…so I just can’t care too much for it. That’s the price to pay for leaning to walk a new walk.Yet it is always only that fear of falling short that stops me from trying, or holds me back from giving it my 100%. What a silly complication this is? And yet just how many lives are spent in just trying to conquer this? I know I’ve spent at least a year in getting control of it this time. This is just me getting in my own way. This is just me not letting me be me. I always do this, but at least thankfully with my spiritual practices I’m fully aware that it’s only me who’s responsible here and not anyone else. So the solution also has to be just mine. But what? To stay committed, is that it? To not worry about how many times I fall as long as I’m willing and ready to get up and try again? To be patient with myself as I learn to walk this walk?

But what other alternative is there either? Self-whipping works in the short term, but in the long term it’s just giving up my spontaneity for the whip given to me by whatever my current understanding is. It’s just training myself to stay a farm animal who splits his psyche up into the part that disciples and the part that needs to be disciplined. To be broken up, never to become whole. That’s a solution that I’ve tried and am discarding.

Any other alternative? I think not.

It just has to be my better, my bigger Self, that has to be given control, over my lesser, my faulty, my despairing, my fearful, my doubtful, my escapist, my pleasure seeking self. It has to be about letting that higher Self guide and operate, and let the other self stay out of the way…till this becomes an action as natural as breathing itself. This is what faith is about. This is what commitment is about. A commitment to falling on your face till you make it!


And the cocoon breaks…

A phase of my life ended y’day.

This current phase of inner transformation, where only the inside was my main focus. Where I had retreated deep into myself, cut myself off from the entire world. Made my home, my cave. It all ended y’day.

And I feel nothing.

I feel like yes, this was coming. This was bound to happen. I’ve grown all that my cocoon could help me. I’ve grown enough strength in my wings to be able to break my way out of my cocoon and spread them and see how they’ve turned out to be. I feel ready to enter the world again. There’s neither any trepidation, nor any exuberant joy. Just a calm sense of ‘what needs to happen is happening’.

So what’s happened is that my friend’s business plan has gotten accepted for funding. And in this business plan he’s offering me partnership. So now the break that I was taking from life, ends. And a new journey begins.