Negotiation and Peace

Hi!

I hope you all are doing well. This week I’ll be sharing something very simple yet profound; something I feel at one point in time in our lives we’ve all had to deal with. However, before we get into it, please remember to stay hydrated lol. The heatwave has been intense of late. Drink lots and lots of water.

Today’s topic is on negotiation. Many people see the word negotiation from different perspectives. A salesman might see it from the perspective of profit, a lawyer from the perspective of saving a client, a Father from the perspective of passing across life lessons, etc. Irrespective of how we see the art of negotiation, we all would agree that any negotiation that doesn’t result in a win-win scenario isn’t truly a negotiation perse. In some cases, during a negotiation, one party may decide to be the “bigger person” and forgo some of their rights and privileges just for peace to reign. They see that trying to achieve a true win-win isn’t feasible because the other party is intransigent.

It is not every day that we run into such people of bigger hearts, who value relationships and their peace of mind more than pettiness. The majority tends to lean towards the mentality of “it’s my way or no way”. A brief example of someone giving up their right in a negotiation in order to save something of greater value for themselves. Once while traveling across some country borders, my Dad and I ran into some very difficult Border patrol guy. There were some fees required to stamp our passport but for some reason (which I feel was just to rip us off), this agent had refused to comply with the standard rates and demanded more money. My dad had shown his old passport to justify that he was a frequent traveler and that his new passport was not an indication of first time traveling.

The border agent was adamant even though the facts were right before his eyes. We had two options that we could control; one was to pay him the extra fee and be on our way, and the other was to stay put and refuse to pay until a superior officer came and hopefully allowed us to pass through. We had things to do while this border agent was at his office and had all the time to waste ours. My dad paid and we left. I was furious and asked him why he complied, I was a teenager when this happened. My sense of “life” was very limited as compared to now. My father looked at me said, “whenever you are dealing with someone who has nothing to lose in a situation that you have a lot to lose, just learn to be flexible”.

We were the travelers, with a vehicle waiting on us on the other side of the border, we didn’t have much time to waste. The border agent had nothing to lose. To be honest I have been in situations in my life where I have had to sacrifice a lot of things because I can see the bigger picture which the other party couldn’t. I have against my “natural course of action” had to swallow a lose-win situation because I knew that in the long run, I had a lot more at stake and my peace of mind was important.

There is another story that has been making rounds on the internet for a while and I should share it to show the power of negotiation when the real objective is to find peace.

A father left 17 Camels as an asset for his three Sons. When the Father passed away, his sons opened up the will. The will of the Father stated that the eldest son should get half of 17 Camels, the middle Son should be given 1/3rd of 17 Camels, youngest Son should be given 1/9th of the 17 Camels, as it is not possible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, the sons started to fight with each other.

So, they decided to go to a wise man.

The wise man listened patiently about the Will. The wise man, after giving this thought, brought one camel of his own and added the same to 17. That increased the total to 18 camels. Now, he started reading the deceased father’s will.

Half of 18 = 9. So he gave 9 camels to the eldest son.
1/3rd of 18 = 6. So he gave 6 camels to the middle son

1/9th of 18 = 2. So he gave 2 camels to the youngest son.
Now add this up: 9 + 6 + 2 = 17 & This leaves 1 camel, which the wise man took back.

MORAL: The attitude of negotiation and problem solving is to find the 18th camel i.e. the common ground. Once a person is able to find the common ground, the issue is resolved. It is difficult at times. However, to reach a solution, the first step is to believe that there is a solution. If we think that there is no solution, we won’t be able to reach any!

One major reason why people cannot reach common ground is that everyone is busy trying to see how they can get as much as possible for themselves. In one of Eli Broad‘s book, he shows us how he negotiates for deals which may seem unreasonable. His approach is to try as much as possible to let the other party see the value his negotiation will bring them. In theory, I can cite may more authors who have given a decent way to make this happen, but in practice, our false ego won’t let us achieve this.

Some of you reading might say but there are times when we face a party who is so inconsiderate that it is almost impossible to find common ground. As true as this might sound, it is almost futile to try to force someone to accept our stance. It is a waste of time and eventually, it only breeds bad feelings and resentment.

As we all try to truly understand the deeper tenets of finding common ground in negotiation, I hope we take a minute to pause and reflect on what the bigger picture is we are trying to achieve. (I never said it was easy 🙂 )

Till next week, read, share and follow for more.

Thoughts in motion

Hello readers,

I hope you all had a great week. It’s been a week since I last wrote and I know a good deal of you must have missed my blog. I do apologize to those who came but found no content to read. Last week came with its own set of lessons and all I can say is I am grateful.

My partner and I had a road trip right after a festival of chariot and even though we have done the same route many times before, this time the challenges were different. I  have learnt so much in the last week that I feel obliged to share it with all of you. To be honest, sometimes we may be in a very trying situation with a lot of learning opportunities but if we fail to immerse ourselves into the experience given, we will not be able to fully grasp the message being conveyed.

In the face of disappointment, we are quick to judge, blame, and even give up. This is what I refer to as the “reactionary attitude”. Something goes bad, we act accordingly. There is no time for reflection, or time for us to evaluate the situation and then come up with a strategy. Over the weekend I can remember being in a situation whereby my partner and I had some not so good feedback and in the moment because I was carried away by her disposition to the situation, I also lost track of mine. My thinking ability had temporarily shut down and I was at the mercy of my subconscious memory. I was going through the physical motions of moving but my mind and heart were not in proper unison.

Another scenario had presented where I needed to exercise tranquility and remove myself from whatever was happening. I had being able to control my emotions and not act on impulse and the end results was great. It goes without saying that to whom much is given much is expected. Anytime we fall short in a situation we need to ask ourselves; are we utilizing all the resources we have in order to win this war over matter and the mind. It seems to me that we are in a constant tussle between matter and spirit. At some point we are in tune with our energies and spirit is in control, and at other times we allow our base tendencies to take over.

The struggle is real as a common phrase goes. We have to daily make choices that all add up into weekly choices, monthly choices, yearly choices and lifetime choices. We are a sum and substance of all the choices we have made over time in our lives. Whether we agree to this fact or not, it is a bitter pill to swallow. How do we convince someone going through a difficult time that they are in that situation due to choices they have made. The truth is we don’t. A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion and as such most people learn by repeated and failed experience. There is the popular phrase “experience is the best teacher”. I used to quote that a lot as a teenager and once my Dad said to me “not in every case. In some cases only fools learn by experience. A first class human being (or intelligent person) learns by hearing from authorities on a subject matter or by the experience of others.”

I have always reflected on his phrase. There are some things I have been through a couple times and I ask myself; am I being a first class human in this situation or a third class human being. (This is someone who even though he has lived an experience still doesn’t learn and repeats the same mistake). There are other times when I have an experience once and I vow to myself never again to relive it. In effect what am I saying; life does get to us most of the time. The other part when we think we are outsmarting life, it is just a break. I don’t want to sound pessimistic or come off as one dealing with issues, I just wanted to share these random thoughts that were circulating in my head.

Another good analogy for life and its distractions is; travelling on the highway. When we travel interstate, we pass many exits. Each exit has its own attraction; food, gas, hotel, etc. However we do not get off at every exit. We keep driving until we need to either rest, refuel or eat. We won’t be able to arrive at our destination if we took every exit we saw. In fact we would never begin the journey if we took the very first exit that we saw. This will take us totally off track and if somehow or the other we got back on track and took another exit again, we would be off track again. In essence what I am trying to say is, it is always handy to have focus and direction in life. This becomes like a compass for us.

There will be times when we might need to pull over from the journey of life to take a quick break but we wont be off track. We still have the goal and our GPS will be our values. They will point us in the direction we feel is most important to us. Just like the regular GPS, it is just a guide to get us to our destination. Our values will always be our GPS, if someone is morally bankrupt or deficient then we can compare that to a GPS that is not up to date. If we hold others to our own values, we will be compared to someone who wants other drivers to follow his own GPS. Everyone has their own journey, we may journey together for a while but never entirely together.

After all said and done, we want to be able to look back and be grateful for the gift of life, the gift of good health, and the gift of basic amenities that we take for granted. To those who wake up everyday with the zeal of a hunting Lion, I say all the best and see you all at work on Monday.

Till next week do follow for more. Read, like and share with others.

Emptiness

Hi
It’s a pleasure to be able to share with you all today. I hope you all are faring well. Last weekend was doubly special as I was able to visit my long seen friends, participate in a festival and also dedicate a post to my Father for Father’s day.
This week I was at sea as to what to share with you all and I so decided why not talk a bit about internal vacuums or feelings of emptiness.
At some point in time or another, we all might have had the feeling of emptiness or just a vacuum that we can’t seem to fill up. The reason why people feel this way can be very different depending on the person, upbringing, family, friends, social and spiritual circle, etc. This feeling of emptiness or vacuum can very well degenerate into depression and sometimes suicide. So what can we do to stop these thoughts and feeling in their tracks before we go downhill? Is there an immediate trigger for these feelings? Is it occasional for some and frequent for others? What is the best way to address this at the core? All these and more is what I am hoping to share today.
Yesterday I was reading a book by Ayn Rand and one of the characters in her book Atlas Shrugged; Mr. Rearden, a successful industrialist, a businessman is depicted experiencing this same feeling of emptiness. I am about one-fourth through the book so whatever I am sharing now is my immediate perception of what this character is going through as I read.
Mr. Rearden is a very busy industrialist in the Iron business, owns a furnace where he smelts the iron and he even invents a special type of iron alloy.
His wife and family criticize him for being too absorbed in his work but enjoy the privileges that his fortune offers. His brother is lazy and doesn’t want to take responsibility for his actions and his wife isn’t the best to have intellectual conversations with.
He is described as arrogant and demanding but his line of business isn’t for the meek. He gets into a relationship with a very intelligent lady by the name Dagny and she becomes his mistress. In one of the excerpts he mentions on the way to dinner with her that for once in his life, his wealth seemed to have some meaning, because he was with her.
Now for those of you who might have read the book, I know your interpretations may very well differ from mine and I respect that however, this is what I sort of deduced. Mr. Rearden has made so much money in his life and one could say he felt empty because he didn’t pay attention to his family life. This could very well be the case and to this, I say balance is the keyword. What is the point of accumulating so much money for your family if you are never there with them to enjoy it?
This is not the case of Mr. Rearden because he makes a statement to his mistress on a dinner night, stating how rich people come to classy places to find fulfillment and fun instead of being that themselves. So he gets the point that whatever you are trying to fill up your internal emptiness with has to also come from within.
Even though his relationship with his mistress is highly sexual, they both seem to connect more on a mental level than just physically. She picks his brain in a good way and he admires the fact that she doesn’t need him but allows herself to express that so that they both share a mutual feeling of being needed.
This post is not to support having a mistress in any way but to shed some light on the extent to which people go to find solace. We all need to connect deeply with something or we will connect with just about anything. If we are not rooted or grounded then we are prone to sway more. When the heart is devoid of love it seeks replacements, and people find this in many strange places. Some find that fill in their work and become so engrossed that nothing else exists, some find it in drinking and end up as alcoholics, some find it in a mistress and have to deal with the headaches and so on. The idea though is to find something that fills us and takes care of the vacuum so that we never have to seek an artificial fill again.
Some people take to spirituality in order to better understand themselves and connect to something deeper than the physical.
Until and unless we have a higher taste it is difficult to give up a lower taste. Similarly until and unless we connect with something that is whole in itself we will always be lacking because everything else is dependent on another thing. Thus we are caught in a circle of dependency that we cannot escape from.
We all must connect to something or someone deeper than the physical. The question is to what or whom? I’ll like to get some feedback as to how you all deal with feelings of void or emptiness and what is your preferred method of connecting to a deeper place.
Till next week read, share and follow for more.

Fathers Day

Hi!

It’s great sharing with you all yet another blog this week. I had an amazing weekend participating in a festival about four hours away from my state. The drive was smooth and just catching up old friends and acquaintances in my former place of work was really great. It was nothing my love and positive energy. Personally, I feel like I needed to have this weekend off after a long week of work. It is good to always take some time off to rejuvenate and refocus our body, mind, and soul.

Yesterday Sunday 16th was Fathers day; at least here in the States, and I couldn’t share my thoughts on my Father because it wasn’t the day to post my blog. Thus I am sharing this today. The last time I wrote about my Mum, I was seriously trying not to talk about my Father. It is usually difficult for me to speak about one without referencing the other. They both have contributed to the Man I have become and I am immensely grateful to them. Today the spotlight is on my Father and I shall try in some way to talk about his many qualities. I feel like to describe my Father in a one-page dissertation is to discredit his numerous qualities, nevertheless, try I must.

My father is a visionary, resourceful, dynamic, intelligent, a goal getter, and an amazing teacher. These are but a few words that come to my mind first hand. Now if I may try to describe his qualities I can say that if there is one particular quality that I cannot but overlook is that he is growth oriented. My Dad will always challenge himself to be better and bigger than he was. To him, “good” is mediocre, better is “good” and being the best is okay. Anytime I felt I had done or achieved something “far out” he was always there to ask me “but what about the next step”? Why be second best? Why be small? Go big or don’t go? Now I know some of my readers might feel but isn’t this like over-endeavoring? The interesting part is my Dad will never push anyone he wasn’t responsible for or anyone who wasn’t under his tutelage.

He had a slogan, “If you live with me, people should be able to tell just by your actions, that you got some sort of training from me”. I have carried this like a chain around my neck, so much so that people are subtly “scared” of things I achieve because I remind them day in day out of my Father. I recount on numerous incidences when someone would offend me and we had to present the issue to my Father, he never took sides with me even when I was clearly in the right. One day I asked him “why do you always chastise me even when these people are the ones in the wrong”. His response was ” You are my son and will always be with me however if I chastise these people who I am training they can leave and this is not good”.

His philosophy was I was always the one who needed to work on myself and anyone else who I had an issue with was right. As tough as this was and still is, it has only made me better because I am constantly being pushed to be better. Today we have the opposite because Parents feel they have to “protect” their kids by telling them that everyone else is wrong and they are right. Growing up as a kid, and having the kind of discipline I got I had made sure that from elementary school all the way to graduating from the University not once did my Dad or Mum have to visit my school because of a misdemeanor. My Dad will always say “remember the son of whom you are”. So I would rather be a rascal at home and deal with the consequences than be one outside and bring shame to my Parents.

My Father has taught me a lot of things from spirituality to morality, self-esteem to public speaking (I feel and people who have heard him speak will agree that he is an orator), and even Chess. Yes, he taught me how to play Chess, even though I always win him at it. I have a saying that if I write and you read it, it is difficult not to be convinced, my Dad is the opposite. He’ll say “all I have to do is talk and I can convince anyone”. I have seen my Dad do things and achieve feats that even multi-millionaires cannot achieve with all their wealth. His strategy is; think it, feel it, will it, materialize it. If he can imagine it in his mind, he can make it happen. Till this day I feel like if there is anything I’ll like to “inherit” from him, it will be his brain. If I can add my Dad’s brain to mine and my Mum’s I’ll be a demigod. People reading this might feel this is some far out exaggeration but those who know them personally will definitely agree that my parent’s brain put together is a force to reckon with.

Now one may wonder but my father is human and must have some faults. Yes, he does, if he didn’t he’ll be God and he is not. However, he is one person who teaches not just from his strengths but from his weakness. My Dad has said to me on numerous occasions; you are just like me when I was your age. Don’t make the same mistakes I made. Avoid this, do this better and don’t repeat this! So even his weakness were strong learning curves for me. I remember once while in Asia, I was speaking with someone and during the discussion, I had quoted my Father so much without being aware and the person I was talking to couldn’t help but notice and said: ” your father has really impacted you”!

To be honest I feel trying to write about him is an injustice because there is so much I am going to miss out and I won’t be able to really show you his worth. I know there is so much more I need to learn in this lifetime and I pray that he is blessed with good health and long life so I can learn more. I shall close this dissertation about him with a few words of wisdom from him. These are more like sutras, or proverbs or idioms. You can write an entire book from each one.

  • Do not add to the irrationality of a situation by acting irrationally.
  • Most things in this world won’t make sense under proper scrutiny, don’t waste your time trying to prove it.
  • Remember the Son of whom you are.
  • If you don’t know where you are going, at least remember where you are coming from.
  • Don’t pray for your enemies to die, pray for them to have good health and long life to see what you have become.
  • Live within your means.
  • For the part that you like, you must accept the whole.

I can go on and on, however, in order to keep this within a readable length I’ll take a pause here. Till next week, read, share and follow my blog for more.

 

 

Mothers 2

Hello!

Happy belated Mother’s day! Yesterday was Mother’s day (at least in the States), and I know some countries celebrate a week after the US, nevertheless, one thing is certain we all love and adore our Mothers. Last year I wrote a blog about Mothers and those of you who are interested can read it here. The approach was semi-reflective and semi-philosophical. Today I want to do something totally different.

The role of a Mother in our lives, in the society, in spirituality, and as a person, in general, cannot be overemphasized.  Most of us are who we are today because of our Mothers. This is the person we will spend most of our early lives with and in fact she is the first person we meet and know when we come into this world. When I close my eyes and I think of my Mother, I see many people forged into one person. A warrior, an expert Chef, an orator, a master planner, an Economist, a Doctor, a Designer, an event planner, a regional secretary, a leader, a superhero, and I can go on and on. This is only a partial list and I hope to update it as time goes on. lol

There have been times in my life when I have hit “dead ends” and literarily no “light at the end of the tunnel” and I knew that if only I can see her at the end of the tunnel, that was all the light I needed. Externally I am a tough guy, rugged and focused. I owe much of this to my Parents for sure, however since I am writing in honor of Mothers today, I hope my Dad doesn’t get jealous as I mention that I got a lot of survival instinct from Mum. My Dad has taught me how to survive in a different way and on Fathers day I hope I can do justice to explaining that. Today we have many people who want to become Mothers but who have very little clue what it truly means to become one. Yes, I may never know what it means to be a Mother because I am in a Male body, but I know one thing for sure, a Mother is like the Sun, when you see it you know it. You also don’t have to see the Sun in order to confirm it is daybreak. You just know!

When I am lost and confused I pray, think and try to focus more on the things I need to do. When I am confused and need direction with things in my life, I turn to my Father for light. His light may be too bright to see and sometimes “heavy” to carry but I know it is what I need to do. In the past as a much younger adult, I’ll break my head about how to make this work, because I wasn’t using all the help at my disposition. Then I figured out a way to help myself; my Mum. She had a way to help me see the light with shades on. So for example, if the lesson I had to learn in life was to lift twenty bricks and walk for 2 hours. My Dad will supply this information but Mum had a way of making me do it. She’ll say you have to lift these bricks for sure, there is no way around it, however, try to see how you can lift it with minimal fatigue.

There have been times when I have dropped some of “my bricks” in life and it all looked dark, but as I mentioned earlier I knew that once I could speak with my Mum (and Dad of course), I could most certainly figure it out. It’s either I have to make new bricks( Dad’s approach) or gather all the broken bricks and use them as fillers for my foundation (Mum’s approach). I hear a lot of people say they have Intelligent parents and I admire their expression. In my case when I say my parents are intelligent, trust me it is not a way of being nice or kind to them, it is not a way of being polite, it is not a way of making them look good, but just plain and simple TRUTH. They are so intelligent that there is no way to BS them in any way form or fashion, they see right through it. This is one of the many factors that has helped me in life.

I know that no matter how hard I may try to BS myself, they will see right through it and tell me as it is. Today I see many Parents trying to be “friends” with their kids and it is all good. My Parents are probably the only people I can call real friends in my life because they see me as I am, know me for who I was, is and will be and they never “sugar-coat” anything to please me. In today’s words they may be called “hard, old-school, tough, etc”, but they know they are my parents FIRST and then my friends. That line has never been blurred. I apologize that I should be talking about just my Mother today but it is so difficult to speak about one without mentioning the other. If there is any one thing I want to really achieve in life, it is to make them proud and happy and say “yes that is my Son”. Nothing else really matters.

If I succeed in becoming a great Son to them, then automatically I will be a great Father to my own kids, I’ll be a great husband to my wife, I’ll be a great leader in my workplace and I’ll be a great devotee of God. One factor to rule them all. ( I coined that from Lord of the rings by the way lol). I cannot really understand the sacrifices my Mother may have made for me, and I may never truly understand her own journey in life that shaped her into the Woman that she is, but I do understand that her presence in my life has shaped me into who I am today. I must admit that I do not always “get it” when my parents guide me but I can promise you that I always do my best to make sure I don’t fall too far off track. There is a phrase that people use to express the rarity and efficiency of things; “they don’t make them like this anymore”. I can say that phrase has never been truer in the case of my Mum (and Parents).

-“Yo! (as my mum fondly calls me), remember the son of who you are!”
– “If you don’t know where you are going, at least remember where you came from”
– “You are free to act as you wish and follow your mind but be ready to bear the consequence of your actions”.
– “As you lay your bed so you lie on it”
– “It is a done deal”
– “Hope and Focus”

These are some of the many sutras(proverbs/adages) that she says to me. The beauty of these one line sentences is that I can literally write an essay on each one. They are deep and packed with immense wisdom. Even my Father will sometimes tease her saying “Hima! can’t you speak without all these proverbs”. Mum is deep and once my Dad told me something and I can never forget this. He said; “You know there are times when I am in a tight situation and I need advice and your mum has never failed with a good one. She is very good at it”. Now knowing my Dad to be the person who leads and gives advice to people, it just made me really appreciate my Mum more.

I am trying to keep this short and sweet but as you can see, my parents greatly influenced me. My success comes from God, my parents and my spiritual mentor, and my setbacks are totally mine. Life is whatever I make of it and that much they make me realize every day. I love you mum and I pray that God in his infinite mercy bless, guide and protect you. May he grant you long life plus the satisfaction to see me reach positive heights that we cannot even imagine.

Have a great week folks! Till next week, read, share and follow for more.

What is there to be grateful for?

Dear readers,

I hope you all are faring well. It’s been quite a weekend for me as I spent it with family and friends. I had a long trip and drive and as usual, during times like this, I seize the opportunity to reflect and ponder on those things that actually carry deeper meanings to what we do. Thanksgiving day is a day family members come together for reunions and festivity. It is also a period where people take the time to be grateful for everything they have, most especially loved ones. Living in times like ours I feel it is easy to lose sight of things that actually matter and get distracted by those things that don’t. 

It is with this in mind that I decided to write something about being grateful, so I decided to run through a list of things that we should all most probably be grateful for. In as much as I cannot compel people to be grateful, I can at least make positive suggestions about those things which we neglect on a daily basis. Without much ado, please here is my “short list”. 1. If you have a body that is complete and not “handicapped” in any form or fashion, you have something wonderful to be grateful for. There are many people out there who will never know the simple yet profound pleasures of life like sight, smell, sound or being able to move about at will without help. We take these things for granted as if we have a “right” to it.

2. If you don’t have to spend your days in a hospital bed and your health is good, you also have something wonderful to be grateful for. In your spare time take a trip to the emergency ward and see how many people are barely surviving and have to live their lives anchored to one machine or another, not to mention the constant pain and discomfort. This lifestyle usually costs them a lot of money, as if the pain were not enough. So the next time you feel like life is being unfair to you because you can’t get an i-phone, remember that there are people who will trade places with you in a heartbeat if all they had as an issue was a mobile device. 

3. If you sleep every night with a roof over your head and wake up under one, please know that you are more than fortunate and have a lot more to be grateful for. Every night there are millions of people the world over in both “advanced and developing nations” who sleep under the weather and have rocks for pillows and the wind as blankets. We may be worried about the color of our houses or how we want bigger ones, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. However, just before you begin to pull your hair about the size of your house just take a minute and be grateful for the fact that you at least have one. 

4. If you have at least two square meal every day without having to beg for it or even worry about how it will come, you are not only fortunate in fact statistics says you are considered well of. If you can afford three square meals every day, then you are most fortunate. World hunger and starvation is a crisis that is constantly ravaging the lives of millions of people globally. People wake up every day with little or no clue as to where their food or meal is going to come from. They repeat their night like that and this goes into weeks and there is no telling how long till the next meal. Not only should we show gratitude for having food on our tables but we should also be conscious not to waste what we have. My Dad will always say ” to waste is to want”.

5. If you have people who refer to you as a family or share a family relationship with you, be certain that you are fortunate. Life is tough enough when we have difficulties or problems etc. However, one factor that makes life livable or bearable is having people around who see us as a family or treat us with such feeling. The loving exchange that is present in a family is what makes it such a strong unit in society. In fact, a society is but a macrocosm of the family unit. I can go on and on about things we should be grateful and trust me they are free, simple and easily available to us yet we ignore them daily. 

As free and simple as they are, they cost many people an entire lifetime to get them. Last but not least is the gift of life which we all have every day. Every morning we wake up as if of our own power and arrangement and go through the motions of the day with little or no gratitude for the amazing feat of sleeping for hours and waking up without issues. If we know how precious the gift of life is, then every other thing becomes relative in comparison. I hope this helps some of us to reflect and delve deeper to see the things that really matter in life. till next week, do read, share and follow for more. 

Mother/Father God

Dear readers,
I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another blog this week. As at the time of my current writing, it is Radhastami; a special festival celebrated by Gaudiya Vaishnava’s that marks the appearance day of the feminine aspect of God. This naturally ushers us into a topic I’ll to share with you all today; the concept of God’s gender.
We live in a world that is Male dominated and there is no doubt that this is reflected in many areas of our lives, whether in a subtle form or in an outright manner. There is also no gainsaying that over time this is changing and with the rise of many feminist groups, many “masculine status quo’s”is being questioned, especially if they do not serve a positive result. Many religions across the world teach us about Divinity, the Godhead, etc. However, in the many different descriptions from the major world religions such as Christianity and Islam at least, we hardly find God or the Supreme person being described in a feminine light or perspective not to even mention as a feminine person. The beauty of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is that it probably the only faith that has a philosophy where God is depicted in both his Male and Female energy, both equal in quality. In fact, the Vedic philosophy makes us understand that we cannot access the Masculine form of the Lord without the blessings of His feminine side.
Let’s back up a little before we get into the technicalities of this concept. The first question many people ask is “How can God be feminine?” or “How can God be both?”. The answer is simple; if there is something that God cannot be, then how is He God? If there is something impossible for God to do or become then where is the idea of Him being all-powerful? So, clearly, we have placed certain restrictions on what God can and cannot do because we are limited living entities who try to understand something that is unlimited. First and foremost, we need to understand that everything emanates from God and as such, he is the complete perfect and even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains a complete balance. We also need to understand that the material world is but a perverted reflection of the spiritual world, as such there is nothing here that is foreign to the spiritual world. In the material world, we have Lust, which is nothing but the perverted reflection of Love. Similarly, just as we have the male and female gender here, we also have the same in the spiritual world, because they both emanate from God. In the material world, whenever a Man wants to experience some loving relationship he seeks out a Woman to fulfill this sentiment. Thus, he is dependent on someone or something to fulfill his needs. This is one of the differences between the living entity and the Supreme Lord.
God doesn’t need anyone or anything to satisfy himself, because he is self-sufficient. Everything emanates from Him and as such, there is nothing outside of Him. Furthermore, when the Lord wants to engage in certain pastimes that require him to show his feminine side, he himself manifests a feminine form; that is no other than his own internal energy. This energy is responsible for giving pleasure to the Lord. The Supreme Lord is said to have 3 energies; internal, marginal and external. The living entities are part of the marginal energy because we have the ability or tendency to either be influenced by higher energy or lower energy. The external energy of the Lord oversees the material world that we currently live in. Thus, each energy of the Lord has specific functions and they all work to serve the Lord. The internal energy of the Lord takes on a Feminine form which is none different from the Lord himself and even more compassionate than his Masculine form. In the Vedas, this form or aspect of the Lord is described in details and as such, I am only trying to give pointers here. For one to get the full audience or mercy of God in his masculine form, one has to obtain the favor or mercy of his feminine form, which shows us how important this aspect of him is.
The feminine aspect of God is not something that is new or just “created” to serve the ideology of feminism, rather it is part of a very sound philosophical tradition dating back to the oldest scriptures known to Man; the Vedas. In the Vedas, we have a very detailed description of many aspects of life; from the science of self-realization to the soul, creation, the material world, the spiritual world, innumerable universes, Demigods, Humans, Demons, Life after Death, Heaven and Hell, just to mention a few. The Shrimad Bhagavatam which is but a book of one part of the Vedas (The Vedas is divided into four parts), contains about 18,000 verses. This is to show you the wealth of information present in this scripture. There is no doubt that, if God wants to reveal himself to us then he would do so in a very elaborate manner so as to enable us to get a glimpse of his unlimited attributes. Today, we have some people who have also begun to embrace the idea of Mother-Father God, because they have gone through some logical conclusions (Jnana yoga) and seen that there has to be the other side of divinity. The good news is, we don’t have to speculate what this feminine aspect of God is, what she looks like, or what she does. The Vedas have already answered all these questions for us, we just have to make ourselves available to read and receive it.
The Supreme Lord expands himself in multiple forms according to time, place, circumstance or pastime. There are no rules as to how or why he assumes a form, and he does so at his own discretion. To place a limit on how the Lord can look, act or manifest is but a display of insufficient knowledge of infinite matters. Till next week, read, share and follow for more.

Father’s Day

Dear readers

It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another interesting blog today. I hope you all are faring well and having the best of summer time.

In the US and UK, yesterday was Father’s Day, I am not sure if it was in other parts of the world, nonetheless I’ll like to say Happy Father’s Day to all fathers out there and all potential fathers too. My post today is dedicated to my Father. Of course, it would be impossible to describe his qualities in one post but I shall try to do justice to it. I learnt a lot from my Father growing up and till today, I am still learning from him. There is no doubt that as an adult I may very well have a difference in opinion from him, and there are times when I feel that maybe my way is the best, still I admire his insights. There are a couple of words I’ll like to use to describe him, however please note that these are just but a few of his qualities.

Visionary: I marvel at his foresight and ability to see way beyond the present situation at hand in many circumstances. Most especially as one who served as a pioneer in an International society, it is pertinent to have people who know how to lead, can lead and can motivate people to work towards a goal. The ability to show people what is possible even when the circumstances at the now may not be very favorable.

Pioneering/Entrepreneurial: Not once, not twice, I have seen my father go to places where he had no connection, whatsoever, knew no one, and yet built what we can call an empire in record time. Not many people can do this. Sometimes I imagine what would have been the outcome if he had directed all this talent into pure profit. However, he is more of a selfless visionary, whose sole desire is to see others grow, not caring much about himself. Not only can he create new things, he also can sustain existing projects and make them into successful enterprises. One of his many projects is the Food relief initiative he has running now for close to 14 years in Africa. This initiative distributes food to the needy 6 days a week, serving at least 400-500 plates of freshly prepared Vegetarian/Vegan meal.

Determination: Back in the early 90’s my Dad went to a foreign country far away from home trying to salvage the situation of a failed project. He took a huge Bank loan to help purchase the building for a Temple at the time when the Interest rate in that country was the highest in the world. Even his spiritual Mentor was shocked at his guts. Not only did he repay every single dime plus interest in time, he also made that project an outstanding example for others in the region. His skill and qualities would later give him recognition with the President of the country. (I have decided not to mention the name of the country for safety reasons).

Public Speaker/ Excellent Writer: If anyone knows me personally and feel that I have some skill in public speaking and if you appreciate my writing either through my blogs or my book, then you can be relieved to know that I probably got some of these skills from my Dad. Of course, over the years, I have also put in practice and time to sharpen whatever skill I have in public speaking, and I still do to this very day. My Dad can talk himself out of any situation and when he writes, he can convince anyone. In my younger years, I can remember talking myself out of some very sticky situations and all the while just trying to use my dad’s wits to dazzle those whom I spoke with. When we both sit to discuss philosophy, I can bet you it is a display of wits at its finest. In fact, we could very well have a reality show of us doing this.

Intelligence: This is one quality that I’ll say he has on both sides of the spectrum. Some people are book wise but not life smart, and others are life smart but not book savvy. He is comfortably both. He encouraged me to get my Bachelors and Master’s Degree, but he also made me realize that life was a school of its own and in that school, degrees didn’t really count. As a teenager, he will tell me “If you can convince me with enough reasons why you want to do something, trust me I’ll let you do it. However, if you can’t then sorry it is not happening.” So, imagine a 16-year-old boy trying to outdo his Father at the battle of wits whenever he wanted to do something he knew he might not get permission for. No doubt, many times I’ll lose but it helped me sharpen my intellect a lot, so much so that in front of my peers, I was an intellectual force to reckon with.

My dad was so much of an intellectual that he used to tell me when I was a teenager, “I need to keep my brain active all the time”. This was his reply whenever I told him to rest after working so hard. Then his Asian friend taught him Chess, and from that day on, my Dad found another intellectual leisure for his brain. I can proudly say, he taught me how to play Chess and watching us play against one another is a spectacle to behold.

Hard Working: Despite his very intellectual nature, my dad is never afraid to get his hands dirty to get a job done. He believes in putting in the work, to make things work. In fact, people can call me anything but Lazy. Lazy is one description my Dad and I will never be given. He walks his talk and I try to do same. If we say something, be rest assured that we can do it.

No – Nonsense: When it was time to play, my Dad was a good team player, but when it was time for business, he meant it. To this day, I come off as a bit too serious for people of my age bracket and even older folks notice that my demeanor is way beyond my age. This is not a show or something to claim I am too good, but qualities I got from my dad. In other words, I have learnt from him that one should try as much as possible to reduce time for bullsh*t. If it doesn’t add value to my life, to other people’s lives, or at least create some positive impact then you won’t see us there.

Some of you might be “woow” your father must be a “Demigod”, well even though he doesn’t see himself like that I must say he just like any Man, has his short comings. Now the beauty of his short comings is that; I see what I must do to NOT get those too. Thus, even in his short comings, he is still teaching me a lot. Happy Father’s Day Pa, I am still trying to figure out this thing called life, I am not where I want to be ultimately however I have come a long way, and you have helped.

Till next week, do read, share and follow for more.

Happiness; It is here not there!

Dear readers,

I hope you are faring well. It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all today yet another blog. I had some interesting experience two weeks, after I had posted my weekly blog a day late. Surprisingly the following week I noticed it had quite a lot of views as compared to some of my other blogs. So jokingly I said to myself, “You know, maybe late is sometimes good”. Lol

Anyways, this week I’ll like to share with you all something I guess we all crave in one way or form, and that is Happiness. First, what is Happiness? It is a state of being Happy. What does it mean to be happy? Well the Dictionary doesn’t really help, because it defines happiness again as a state of pleasure or contentment. We can go on and on trying to find the meaning of these words, but we will end in an endless circle of new words, all in the search of the meaning of happiness.

How many of you have seen the Movie “The pursuit of HappYness”. (Yes, Happiness is spelt that way in the title). In a nut shell it is a movie about a single Father who has to go through a lot of difficulty including having no place to sleep, while trying to juggle finding a job and being a father to his son. Well at the end of the movie, things fall into place. The movie though very emotional teaches a lot of things. Today I am not here to talk about the movie but about the concept of Happiness and life generally. From a metaphysical perspective or a spiritual understanding, happiness is more than just being happy. What we define as happiness in the material world is but the absence of sorrow. In other words, happiness and distress are but different sides of the same coin.

When one is absent then the other is present. Happiness from a deeper point of view will be the absence of those things which cause us real misery. These things are Birth, Disease, old age and finally death. We all know how painful the process of giving birth can be for mothers, and even from the early stages of conception to the end, mothers have to put up with a lot of discomfort. No one likes to fall ill and as such diseases are also a source of misery. Old age comes with its highlights and also its constraints. There are a lot of things we can no longer do as we grow old, because our bodies no longer have the vigor it had when we were younger. Yet despite these changes, sometimes you hear people say “I am happy” and the next minute “I am not happy”.  The ancient scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita explain to us that the temporary appearance of happiness and distress are like the manifestation of winter and summer or heat and cold, both are temporary and as such one must learn to tolerate these dualities.

That we tolerate these dualities doesn’t mean they don’t exist, as some pseudo-spiritual groups like to teach, however it does mean we know it is there but we detach ourselves from the experience that comes with it. One may wonder, I still haven’t given a clear definition of what Happiness is? Happiness is that which gives lasting contentment to the real self. When we engage in activities that give satisfaction to the soul, only then can we experience real happiness. My Father always use to tell me “Son, happiness is not in a place, person or country. It is inside of you. If you are not happy with yourself, even if you go to the Moon, you will still not be happy”. I’ll jokingly reply him saying “but at least the moon is a place where there are demigods and the environment surely is different and as such I will be happy there”. To this his reply was “If you haven’t found happiness within yourself, you will definitely carry whatever misery is inside of you to the Moon planet too”.

In brief what he meant was that happiness is not in the next car we are dreaming of buying, it is not in the house we want to buy, or the beautiful spouse we hope to marry someday etc. Happiness is not in any of these things and it will never be. If we tie our happiness to any of these things we see, feel or experience, we are definitely bound to suffer misery sooner or later. This is because none of these material items are made to give eternal happiness. Our new car gives us “happiness” as long as it doesn’t develop a fault, as soon as it does, the happiness becomes worry and expenses.

The new spouse we are dreaming of, gives us happiness until we get into an argument and see that we have differences that are difficult to reconcile. Suddenly we begin to question what happened to the “butterflies we felt in our stomach”. If all these things could guarantee happiness, wealthy people would be the happiest people on Earth, sadly the narrative is different. While wealth and material opulence can give some level of comfort, which is definitely desirable, it doesn’t give real happiness that lasts. Another puzzling factor about material happiness is that, the more we strive to achieve it, the quicker it slips from our grips. Thus we are caught in a rat race trying to catch or hold on to happiness and happiness constantly trying to elude us.

When regular folks here spiritual practitioners speak like this, they begin to think; “How can people be so negative that they don’t even wish themselves happiness?” As if to say that merely wishing ourselves happiness was a guarantee to get it. We definitely do believe in happiness, however we seek happiness that truly lasts. In that light, we do not bother ourselves with those temporary absence of sorrow that many confuse for “happiness”. The happiness that we seek as spiritualists is that which brings eternal happiness to all living beings, and nothing else but reconnecting with the absolute can give this in full.

Till next week, do read, share and follow for more.

Voice of a sojourning soul

Dear readers,

It is a pleasure to share with you all once again this week, yet another interesting topic. Last week we looked at a very crucial topic; the ideal and real situations in this material world. This week we shall deliberate on rather go through a prayer that I call the “voice of a sojourning soul”.

The following prayer is a humble cry from the soul seeking to find solace in the Supreme Lord. It is made in a mixed mood of desperation, eagerness to meet and feeling of unworthiness. Hopefully I can collect them into a series later on. I hope it helps someone connect on a deeper level.

Dear Lord, It is I your eternal servant trying to make contact after so long. I know you have not forgotten me for a moment, however I have barely kept in touch. Please forgive me for this long silence and forgetfulness. There are times I have selfishly made contact because I had some difficulties or something to ask you, and there are times I made contact because it was a special day, however I hardly remember when I made contact because I was deeply motivated by your pastimes and activities. In all please do not forget the voice of this sojourning soul.

Dear all attractive Lord, It is I your eternal servant trying to make contact after so long. I have promised to give you my entire life when I was trapped in the womb, instead I have spent about one third of it now doing my own thing. I have taken vows to think of you and no one but you, to have you as my Lord birth after birth however I have made the things of this material world my master. I have neglected the ultimate life line you have given which is your holy name and I have taken shelter or other names. In all please do not forget the voice of this sojourning soul.

Dear Lord who is the life of the sacred river Yamuna, It is I your eternal servant trying to make contact after so long. I have been given this wonderful name by my spiritual Guide who is your eternal associate, in order to help me always remember who I am, instead I have falsely identified with the false notion of been initiated into a bonafide line of spiritual practitioners. I have ignored the mood of the name he has given me and instead have been searching elsewhere for your reflection. I have abandoned the river Yamuna and now take pleasure in swimming in the river of material sense gratification. In all please do not forget the voice of this sojourning soul.

Dear Lord who reciprocates to all his devotees in their respective moods, it is I your eternal servant trying to make contact after so long. Even though you are accessible in whatever way and manner I intend to reach you, yet somehow or the other I have been deluded by the identification with my body that I cannot seem to reach you in a mood that is most befitting and pleasurable to you. Yet every day I long and hope that with time and by the mercy of my spiritual guide I can gradually come to the platform whereby I can serve you in my best capacity and mood. In all please do not forget the voice of this sojourning soul.

Dear Lord whose complexion resembles that of a dark cloud before rain, it is I your eternal servant trying to make contact after so long. Just as a dark cloud pours down a heavy amount of rain and cools the earth below it, your name and pastimes offer us all the coolness and spiritual water we need to be free from the thirst after material life. Yet somehow or the other I have chosen to rather plunge myself deep into the water of family life, thinking myself to be a husband, father and householder. Instead of preparing the souls you have entrusted in my care I have taken the liberty to act as if I were you my Lord. In that folly, I see myself as you and try to imitate you. In all please do not forget the voice of this sojourning soul.

Dear Lord who attracts the heart of cupid himself, it is I your eternal servant trying to make contact after so long. To love you means to do all that gives you pleasure and anything other than that is lust. I have been posing lust as love for you, knowing fully well that pure love for you and gratification of my senses are poles apart. I know that in order to get real satisfaction I should satisfy your senses, not because you need it but because it is good for me. Nevertheless, I don’t do anything for your pleasure and my greatest satisfaction comes from my own sensed been pleased. In all please do not forget the voice of this sojourning soul.

Dear Lord who is the master of all mystics, it is I your eternal servant trying to make contact after so long. In every aspect of nature you show me your numerous mystic opulence, you show how you pervade all that be and there is. You show how unlimited you are by supporting innumerable stars and planets, by the systematic rising and setting of the sun. Instead of surrendering unto you totally I am still fascinated by the little “broken glass” mysticism the path of devotional service has to offer. I have performed very arduous austerities and still do, all with the hope of subduing the body and becoming a great mystic, but of what use is my siddhis in the face of death, who trembles at the mention of your name. In all please do not forget the voice of this sojourning soul.

Dear Lord whose complexion is golden, it is I your eternal servant trying to make contact after so long. You have come to this planet on several occasions either directly or through your messengers or your incarnations. Each time you came the message was the same; develop love for you. Somehow or the other, I have not taken full shelter of these messages, thinking I have so much time left. However with each passing day I can see that this is one of the biggest lies I have told myself. Seeing how much time I have spent away from your loving service I beg that you kindly reinstate me in your service. In all please do not forget the voice of this sojourning soul.

I hope this prayer helps you all connect with the Lord deeply. Till next week do read, internalize and follow for more.