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.

Just do it!

Hello!

It is been a while since we caught up here and I do apologize for missing in action last week. In a bit, you’ll see why. I must say it has been an intense week for my partner and I. During the entire saga that has been unfolding in the last week, we kind of got lost in the events. I hope you all have been good and faring well.

So I guess you all remember when a couple of weeks back we ( my partner and I) took a trip and I shared how blissful the experience was? Well in case you missed it, here is part 1 & 2. Please do read it up so you can appreciate where this post is coming from and how far we’ve come. When we got back “home” and we saw how much stress we were dealing with and how much we had “acclimatized” to it, we knew we had to do better. In life, there are those who complain about everything and how life has been so unfair to them and there are those who make a change and steer their life where they want it to go. I like to think I am among the latter. If a situation is not helping me grow in ways that I’ll like I try to do something about it. Hence in that light, my partner and I decided we needed to take a leap and be in an atmosphere that gave us more peace and tranquility.

As we all know in order to take such a step; a life-changing decision, we had to make some plans prior. I don’t want to sit here and lie to those of you who may be considering to make some life-changing decisions, that I just made the jump with no plan whatsoever. That’ll be misleading and most of all untrue. To be honest, no matter how small the plan is, we should endeavor to make one before we make any major change in life. The reason is obvious, and if not, I can say planning helps us avoid some undesirable situations. Due to the fact that we live in an era where people don’t “open their doors” to strangers, one has to make some arrangement as regards accommodation before you set out to a new place. The farther the place from your place of origin, the more detailed your plan should be. This was our first area of concern. One might say; well before you secure accommodation you should have the means to pay for it, so let’s backtrack a bit.

Money! Have lots of it! haha lol, I’m kidding. At least have a decent amount of it to help you when you make a major move like relocating to a different place. Even if you have family there, still save some money before going. Times are tough and people have their own issues too, this way you can support yourself without causing too much strain on your family. If you don’t have a family where you are moving to, then save a little more than normal. In the process of trying to share with you all some useful tips, I think I strayed off some of the events that unfolded in the last week for us. After all our planning( I’ll share some more info later on), we decided to make the drive! Now we have two cars( yes we do! we live in a city and moving around with one was tough, however, we see that now we may not really need two as things seem different where we are, we’ll see though), and since it is a long drive we felt it would be better if we both drove one car instead of driving two separate cars. If we both shared the drive time it would tell less on us and we could at least support one another as we drove, whereas in two separate cars that’ll be tough.

So we solved one problem; the distance and fatigue from driving but we created another. How to get the second car to where we were? We looked at all the options we could think of. Tow it? Well, since it was loaded with stuff and we were going uphill we didn’t want to put too much load on our already loaded SUV (which by the way wasn’t accelerating with as much ease when it isn’t loaded). The second option was to get a dolly tow. The dolly rentals however required us to return the rented dolly back to where it was rented. That wouldn’t work for us since we won’t be returning. The third option was to get an open truck carrier to transport it. This is where it all got interesting. If you have never transported your car across states before and may do so in the future, please take some notes, it may come in handy. First and foremost, I did a google search for car transporters to get a quote and be rest assured I got calls and emails from about twenty transporters, each one claiming to be the only “legit and reliable” company out there.

After about 8 calls, I could repeat almost verbatim what they all said. It went like this ” Sir, we are offering you the best quote and we’ll get your car from door to door safely. The quote includes insurance and everything and there are no hidden charges. There are companies out there who will provide you with a quote and they charge you something different when they deliver your car because they know you don’t have an option. Also, beware of those who give you low quotes and don’t show up to pick up your car. If you permit us we can start looking for a driver for your car now. However, once we do, you should tell all those who call you that you are already taken care off.” This is just a summary of the sermon they give you. In the long run, I went through so many ordeals with these transporters and some didn’t show up and I had to find other transporters.

Finally, I did find a transporter and it got my car to me in about 4 days …, there is more to share and I can’t exhaust all of it here, so please tune in next week as I continue to share our current transition.

Please read, share and follow for more.

 

 

Challenge yourself!

Hi!

It’s good to be here again this week. Last week had it’s up’s and downs like any other week and I grateful I was able to make the best of it. I hope you all had an amazing weekend. I am not one to talk much about my personal life here on my blog; reason being I try not to stray too far away from things I feel can help others in my discussion, however, I feel that every once in a while I can allow my readers into my world just so that we can connect more.

In my previous blogs, A travelers notepad 1&2, I did express some thoughts concerning where my partner and I currently live and the discomfort of having to be in a high consumer based metropolitan city. We have been deliberating on it and we are seriously looking at the options we have and how we can live in a place where we have less of the “city chaos”. As things unfold I’ll definitely keep you all in the loop. Nonetheless, there are other areas of life that we still have to pay attention to regardless of where we live at the moment. There are some of us who are self-motivated and are used to constantly setting new heights to reach and striving to achieve them as best as we can. There are others who need help with motivation and direction and once you point them in the right direction they can manage to get there. Then there are those who are not self-motivated, who refuse to be motivated, who resent being advice and no matter how much you try to point them in the right direction they always go back to their status quo.

I have seen all three and I try as much as I can to be the first to the best of my ability. So while studying these three categories of people there are definitely a lot of factors that come into play as to why they act the way they do. One of these factors is the comfort zone. The comfort zone has destroyed many people faster than pain, wars, adversity, poverty, etc has ever done. The comfort zone is where many people get to in various stages and aspects of their lives and they just feel that they are now entitled to whatever they want or they feel there is not much to do from there. In some cases of successful people who reach stardom in their respective endeavors and then relax in that comfort zone, we can at least take a second to applaud the fact that they actually did reach a commendable height however because they were too result-focused rather than being process-guided they rested too soon on their oars.

The second case is most undesirable. When people reach that plateau in their lives and refuse to climb the next hill or Mountain, then they submit themselves to the wolves of the comfort zone, who come quickly to devour them. Many of you might be already familiar with how the comfort zone can affect goals and aspirations hence I won’t linger much on that aspect, instead I would like us to see how the comfort zone can affect one’s character.  Recently while reading a book on Mindset Psychology by Carol S Dweck Ph.D., she mentions an interesting point about “praising kids” versus praising their efforts. She explains (I am paraphrasing), that when we praise a kid rather than the process that they undertook, we risk putting them in the fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset. This is where I want to draw a correlation. Comfort zones are synonymous with fixed status and calculated risk or progress is synonymous with growth.

In my life, I have taken quite a good number of risks and each time I look back, regardless of how the outcome was I feel it was a great learning experience and above all, it took me out of my comfort zone. So I can say when it comes to challenging myself to step out of my physical comfort zone to achieve a goal, I have some experience. Tough as they may have been I somehow or the other was able to go through them. The next stage of my life is where I am currently learning how to apply the same principle to character, emotion, and psychology. In order to achieve something that you never had, one must be ready and willing to do something he has never done. Just as I have been able to achieve physical things that I didn’t have before by doing things I had never done, I am daily learning now in the phase of my life how to achieve certain subtle emotional and psychological growth by doing things I have never done.

When I wanted to get my  Black belt as a Karate Instructor (I was Eighteen years old at the time), I read a lot of books by many Karate grandmasters and in one of those books I think my Matsutastu Oyama (founder of Kyokushinkai Karate), it was mentioned that the biggest opponent we will face in our lives is ourselves. Back then as an Eighteen-year-old, I understood it theoretically and differently. Then my understanding was a little limited to the martial art and I understood it as follows: that in order for me to get better I had to practice often and that practice was essential to me becoming a good fighter and martial artist. Yes, at the time this was true and is true because al I had my mind and focus on was in using the martial art I had learned in the most physical way; competitions. My dad then told me; “if you do not learn to apply these principles of Karate to your life then you may be a good fighter and win medals and certificates (which I did get), but you won’t be able to really fight the real battles of life.

It was at that moment I knew I had to do better. I began to try to go deeper than just the physicals and till this day I can say maybe only now I am beginning to fully grasp the real meaning of one of the principles of Karate; “Karate is NOT practiced only in the Dojo” It is a life long pursuit. So today as I share with you all these insights I do so more from the perspective of one who is challenging himself and trying to grow from that experience while being vulnerable enough to share it with the world at large. I pray this helps someone take on the big step.

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

A traveler’s notepad II – Part 2

Dear readers,

Welcome to a new week of exciting blogs! I hope you all had an amazing weekend. Last week I shared the first part of this blog, and in case you missed it, please check it out here. I must say I am grateful for the response it got. Today I’ll try to conclude by sharing the remaining part of the journey and my reflections as well. Sit back and let’s cruise again.

So I made it through the fog zone and made a few gas stops ( four to be precise). My partner and I came up with a refueling strategy; whenever we hit half tank we would take the next gas exit to refill. This way we tried to save ourselves the trouble of being on “E(mpty)” and not having a gas station close by. The high way had a good number of gas exits at pretty good intervals still we had a plan and we stuck with it. The scenario played to our advantage however if it was otherwise we would have still been fine. After about 5hours and 45mins of driving it was time to switch places. She had gotten some rest and we had made a few stops, gotten something to drink in between, bathroom breaks, stretches etc.

Reflection: No matter how equipped we may be for an endeavor be it material or spiritual, we have to learn how to pause, reflect, and then proceed. Nowadays even corporate organizations are telling high-level managers to take meditation classes to help them deal with stress. Likewise just as we had to refill the tank with gas, our body also needed to refill with stretches, water and bathroom breaks. The same thing applies to other endeavors, especially spirituality. If we get “lost” in the routine we may become mechanical and the beauty of spirituality is the spontaneity and bliss therein. 

When she got behind the wheels, I felt relieved that I had been able to do my part of the task we had set out to do. I took the time to do my mantra meditation as I wasn’t able to do so while driving and also to eat. (I find it hard to eat and drive and I get sleepy on a full stomach). She is good with speed so I knew she would do good on the time, I tried my best to help her stay up by having conversations deep enough to keep the brain active but not too engrossing to distract her attention. We played lots of music in between and that helped too. This is where it gets interesting. Two hours to our destination we noticed there were only three cars on the road; us and two others. The air was different, the land was green, there were lots of cows grazing as we drove by, we felt this sudden drop in tension and you can say some sort of zen or Shanti(peace). We knew we were far away from the city we live in.

Living in a fast-paced city and one of the highest consumer cities in the states, you don’t know what happens inside your body, mind, and soul until you step out into a more relaxed environment and you suddenly see that the fast pace and traffic jams are killing us in a slow-motion manner.

Reflection: Modern society has come a long way especially with science and technology, however in an attempt to move forward quickly into the “space age or era” it has dropped off many things which could help us when we get there. Fast food, fast cars, fast relationships, fast everything and we wonder why we are dying fast too. Take a look at the longest living animals on this planet, the Tortoise for example that can live up to 120 years, it is one of the slowest moving animals (0.30mph). A horse moves way faster than a tortoise at 55mph (running) but lives 25-30 years. We can always take a note from nature. This is not to say we should literally become sluggish however if we slow our “fast life society down” just a bit, maybe we might see many things that slip by us. 

We spent the last hour of the drive just comparing our home state with where we were as she drove. We began to see how much stress we were under and not even aware of it, the cool breeze blowing from the windows and sunroof of the car seems to ease away the stress of having driven so long. We got to our destination and we were happy to bond with family and friends. We spent the next few days, soaking in as much peace, love, clean air, good food, positive association and nature as we could. Our return trip commenced at the same time 5am, same preparations (enough sleep the night before etc). This time I actually felt well rested before we set out and I took the first leg as usual. At this point, I think it is safe to draw a correlation between my lack of proper rest on our initial trip, to stress hidden in my body and with two to three days of a change in the environment I could rest better.

Reflection: Recently I was watching a video on Instagram by a famous actress and she said I paraphrase ” if you sit in sh*t for too long, you won’t notice the smell anymore”. Similarly, some of us are so “used to stress” that we have adjusted and it seems fine until we actually take a break. This principle holds the same weight for most things in life too; be it a toxic relationship, bad business, unfulfilling job, etc. If you sit in it too long, you won’t notice how detrimental it is to you anymore. So take a leap of faith and JUMP.

On our return trip, I did half the drive and she did the other half. In fact, about three hours out of state we were already stuck in traffic and our ETA gained an additional 40 minutes. We both looked at each other and it all just made sense. The glaring difference when we were two hours to our destination were we felt peace and tranquility and now three hours away from home and we could see the stress build up. The traffic was so bad on the highway that one of the commercial truck drivers, actually parked and came out took a walk down, got back into his truck and we were all still at a standpoint. At this point, I said to her “the irony is we should be happy that we are returning home but the stress is so much that we can’t even feel that sentiment”. We both laughed at the absurdity of what was happening.  The remaining part of our return trip was an eye-opener to the level of stress we were subjected to, just by living where we are now and the beauty of the getaway we just had kept replaying in our minds.

We both agreed we had to do something about it.

Reflection: At the end of the day, we all are responsible for our happiness, and peace of mind. We make choices daily that either promote these or jeopardize them. Let us begin to choose wisely. In the same vein, this material world is a place of birth, disease, old age death, and our original home is with the Supreme Being (or God, for those who follow a particular faith). The goal is to be in a place where we are not limited by time, place, circumstance or our own bodies and the bliss is unlimited. 

For those of you who tuned in to read the conclusion of our trip and reflections, I am most grateful. Your continuous support means a lot to me. The dream is to be able to share more blogs and reflections like this to many more people on a larger scale and reach more people. I know deep down that there are many people who need to connect on a deeper level and I will be more than glad to help facilitate that. Feel free to leave your comments about this blog and share your realizations too.

I really look forward to sharing more with you next week. Till then do read, share and follow for more. If you are worried about missing my publications, then please subscribe to my blog so that you get a notification whenever I publish a post.

 

A Traveller’s notepad II – part 1

Dear readers,

It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all again today yet another interesting blog. First and foremost I’ll like to apologize for sending in my blog late today, I had a long weekend; tiring but very fulfilling. My partner and I took a long 11-hour drive to go celebrate my spiritual mentor’s birthday. During this long trip, we both did half the drive both ways and as usual, I tried to do some reflection when I was behind the wheels.

I must say I got back barely 3 hours ago, my body is still sore and fatigue is definitely wearing me down, however, I feel I do owe all my readers the responsibility of sending in a blog every week, besides I really want to share how my trip was. In the past I had also shared a travel experience with my realization, please do check it out.

That been said let us delve into my reflections. On our trip out of town, the night before we had done most of our packing and we tried as much as possible to get some good night rest. I must say I woke up feeling as if I wasn’t properly rested but I knew I would have to figure out how to make my body work. We packed all our stuff in the car and we set out, I had volunteered to start the trip for two reasons; I am a morning person so I knew I was at my peek in the morning no matter what and second so that she could get some more rest as I drove, pending when she had to take over. The first 30 minutes was somewhat scattered; we had to get gas, get to the ATM, and it was raining. I got a little cranky but as soon as I got on the high way, things began to settle in. At first, I couldn’t see because it was barely twilight, and the rain wasn’t helping either.

In the first two hours, I was battling sleep. I know at this point some of you might be like “if you felt so tired why drive at all?” I must say I do understand the importance of getting a good night rest before setting out on a long distance journey (and to be fair to myself I did get some sleep, but my body wasn’t rested for some reason). Hence, the sleep was more of a mental thing than an actual need to sleep. I had a gallon of grape juice; sour and cold. Exactly what I needed to keep myself awake. ( I don’t take coffee due to its caffeine content, which is what most people use to stay awake for long drives). Strategically positioning it on the armrest, I took intermittent sips whenever I felt my eyes failing me. This game went on for about an hour or two. After a while, I noticed it wasn’t as efficient as it was when I first started drinking, plus my bowels were full and I needed to stop for a bathroom break. At that moment, out of spontaneity, I sprayed some citrus on my face in the hope that it would keep me up. Lo and behold! it worked.

Reflection: Sometimes in life when we want to undertake an endeavor that is important be it material or spiritual, we may feel like we are not fully equipped. Just as I felt when I woke up even after sleeping the entire night. Nonetheless, we must forge ahead regardless, because as long as there is will, there is always a way. The rain, and stops to fill up our gas tank, the poor visibility, and cranky mood are all like the setback and hurdles we are bound to face in that endeavor. They will surely show up. The sour grape juice that helped me stay awake due to the fact that it was cold and had citrus, is a good example of having a contingency plan for setbacks. These plans should be set up in such a way that they take into consideration the situation and our weakness. 

My weakness at the time was overcoming sleep and the situation at hand required a solution that could help. It is also worthy to note that whenever we set out to do something worthwhile there will be a thousand and one reasons why we shouldn’t do it. However, our “why” must be greater than the situation, if not we won’t be able to forge ahead. We all have to find out what our “why” (reason) is, and then use that as a catalyst in trying times. 

Three hours into the trip I found my self-driving through South Carolina and the fog made visibility almost impossible. the speed limit on the high way was 30mph and most drivers had the caution lights on. I was flabbergasted. How could such a warm state have this much fog? Anyways that was not my problem now, I had to go through it. After about 30 minutes of impaired visibility and driving really slow, we came out of the fog zone and things looked bright again. I picked up some speed and tried to cover for the time lost. Four hours in and I began to tell myself I guess I can make it after all. I only had to put in another hour and 45 minutes before handing over to my partner.

During this fog zone, some things came in handy. I wanted to turn on my headlight but my partner spoke to the contrary, stating that it made visibility worse as it caused glares. I took heed of her advice and turned on the caution signal and drove slowly.

Reflection: In our various quests especially a spiritual quest there will come a time when we may lack a sense of direction as things become “foggy”. It may be fogginess caused by lack of clarity of scriptures, or lack of proper understanding of practices, or a drop in faith etc. We can survive if we take shelter of someone who knows the way; usually a spiritual mentor. The spiritual mentor can show us the way because he has seen the truth and he opens our darken eyes with the torchlight of knowledge. The caution lights to me were the words of advice or “caution” we get from a spiritual mentor who shows us how to navigate our foggy path. 

I have broken this journey into two parts (hopefully) so that it is not too lengthy. Till next week, do read, share and follow for more. Watch out for the continuation. If you are worried about missing it, then please subscribe to my blog so that you get a notification whenever I publish a post.

A traveler’s notepad

Dear esteemed readers,

I am glad to share with you all once again yet another exciting topic today. I hope you all are faring well.

Last week I had quite an intense week and I was again on the move, traveling and as usual I took some time out to jot down some notes. This time unlike my experience while waiting for a connecting flight, I was actually discussing with the driver and since it was a private hired vehicle it was just the two of us and we had some time to look into various aspects of life. In this blog I have extrapolated the ideas we spoke about into the realms of spirituality, I hope you find a thing or two.

We spoke a lot about the complexity of the human nature and how we can take a deeper insight as to why people act the way they do, and during the discussion something struck me. Here I am speaking with a man who drives people for a living and his job is to take you to wherever you need to go; safe and sound. He is not obliged to have a discussion with you, however if you start one with him like I did and it is engaging enough he was sure to participate. (Sometimes in our spiritual quest we may cross paths with people who have just a relationship of duty with us, yet if we step outside and beyond the boundaries of just duty we can discover things we never thought we would. If we for some reason fail to create relative bonds which are of deep values then we continue to exist on a superficial level).

The driver then went on to reveal a little more about himself and his personal life, telling me how his job kept him on the road for most days of the week and how he had to deal with a lot of “distractions” that came with being on the constant move. He mentioned how once he had engaged in a bitter argument with his wife and he just left and was away for two weeks. I was shocked and asked him what her reaction was. He looked at me and said “well you know”. I asked how long they had been married and he said 8 years plus. ( During the course of our training years as neophytes on the path of spirituality, there are times when the practitioner may find himself falling short of the required qualities and there are times when it seems like he is sure to lose because of the constant setbacks; but that is where the spiritual mentor comes in. He always lends a hand and as such never allows the disciple to completely fall off track, if there is at least the sincerity to continue.)

After a long talk about family life we then began to talk about what motivates or inspires people to do the things they do, and to what extent people go just to achieve their motives. We both saw that beyond the face value attached to people it is rather difficult most times to actually understand what people were thinking or what they really had in mind. It is for a fact that when we interact with people all we have as our barometer is their words. He gave an example saying “for instance when I pick clients up they tell me to get them to a destination at a particular time for reasons such as meetings, conferences etc. I do my best to get them there, now if they really attend meetings or conferences after I drop them off, I have no idea”. (In the course of our spiritual endeavor we will definitely encounter different types of people, those who are on the path strictly for pure spiritual inquiry and those who use the path as a means to achieving their various hidden agendas. Now only time filters out the grain from the chaffs. The question is are we true to ourselves when we take up spirituality or do we just tread the path to fulfill our hidden desires?)

During the course of our discussions he also mentioned how many people destroy valuable social ties and network due to greed, lust, over endeavoring and poor judgment. Even though he claimed not be particularly spiritual his words were simple and honest. He cited examples of people who didn’t appreciate what nature had provided for them and felt there was some green grass on the other side of the fence.  (The endeavoring spiritualist must be sure and careful to guide himself against things that pose as obstacles on his path of spirituality. He must be true to his vows just as he is true to his life, to flip vows around like they were nothing but mere words was as dangerous as playing with the fangs of a serpent, pretending they were mere toys. Once the spiritualist makes a vow to his mentor, even if he later finds out that his mentor is not as “perfect” as he thought, he had the duty of following that vow through.)

When it was about an hour to my destination I needed to make a call and we stopped at a mini mart so I could top up my mobile credit and I wanted a specific amount on the recharge but the attendant didn’t have the exact figure. To be more specific, let’s say I wanted a top up of $2, but the attendant had only recharge vouchers of $1. So I asked her to give me two $1 vouchers as it still added up to the same thing. The driver and I laughed at the incidence and I was surprised why the attendant didn’t suggest this to me and thus make a sale instead of saying they didn’t have. The driver then told me some people usually won’t take it unless it was exactly $2. (In spirituality many people come looking for various things, many don’t even know what they are looking for; some find it and can’t even use it. However often times we don’t always get the things we seek as we think they should be, nature gives us as we deserve and as we need to have in order to learn and grow better.)

I will allow you all contemplate on these nice exchanges I had with the driver, and I hope you all learn a thing a two. Till next week, read, internalize and follow.

 

 

 

 

Time zones: Don’t compare with others

Hello and welcome to another exciting read…
Different countries around the world have different time zones and this shows in the time it takes from sunrise to sunset. Travelers moving from one place to another know very well that if they are in transit, there is no need to change their time piece or clocks if you wish, because despite the fact that the time is different their sojourn there is very short. Moreso, a traveler in a different country doesn’t worry about the difference his home time has as regards his new place, why? Because he has to function in his new environment and hence trying to function based on past time is of no use.
If we carefully extrapolate these ideas to real life and try to see things from a metaphysical perspective we can deduce a lot from these idea. Often times in life we set our lives clock based on so many time zones. These time zones include, parent time zone, friends time zone, peer time zone, society time zone, just to mention a few, however a few people, and I mean a very few people can snap out of these time zones and set their clocks according to their place, circumstance and space.
From a very early stage in our lives, we have our clocks set for us by parents and initially this is very good and usually needed. However if we do not reset this clock and keep trying to work our lives according to the clocks of our parents we begin to live their lives instead of ours. This can be seen in many choices people make just because parents insist that they should. There is a short story of a young man who spent seven years pursuing a medical degree, and on his graduation day he handed over his degrees to his parents and said ” This is the degree you wanted me to get, now am off to study Arts”. Not many people are able to actually snap out, and not many areas in life have straight forward paths like this example, hence setting our life clocks according to our time zone helps. Another interesting time zone many people set their life clocks to is the friend time zone. “Oh my friend is doing this, thus I must do it. My friend has this, I must get it, and so on and so forth.” This is a very common example and I’m pretty sure many people can relate this. Without much ado on these examples, the real question is why can’t people just set their clocks according to their own time zones?
The answer even though somewhat simple is quite branched, and the reason is because many people have identity issues. As gaudiya vaisnavas the first thing we learn is “we are not this body”. We are spirit souls who are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. If we understand this on the surface level, we take a step forward and begin to make a lot of choices, from food to life style etc. When we understand it a little deeper we take another step forward to understanding our live’s mission and purpose and if we take a step forward we can actually get to the final point where we identify what our original identity is. However for the purpose of this blog we shall reference the second level which is beyond the physical, metaphysical we might say but not totally in the spiritual realm.
When we understand who we are as spiritual beings we understand that we are from a higher realm than the current one we are experiencing and thus when we make choices and “set our life clocks” we do so knowing fully well that we are setting our clocks according to our original home time. Now some people call this home Heaven, some call it Paradise, some call it Goloka Vrndavan, irrespective of the name ,the point is our life clocks should be set to a more eternal time. Someone who knows his identity as being an eternal citizen of such a spiritual realm can not set his or her clock according to the clocks of people on this planet, whomever they might be.
Every spiritual mentor who is bonafide will advise his students to learn every tenet of the spiritual path but ultimately acquire enough knowledge and wisdom to walk the path in their own lane, in other words set their own clocks. Now at this point, conservatives might say if we all set our clocks differently there will be chaos, etc. Truth be told, the clock of one’s life can not be set according to anything of a lower value, their will always be frustration. Real satisfaction will come only from setting this life clock according to higher spiritual values as they apply to YOU.
The ancient and the oldest scriptures known to man, the Vedas of which the Bhagavad gita is a part, clearly states that its better for one to do one’s work with fault than to do another’s perfectly.
There is only one YOU on this planet, with a specific mission and task to achieve and the moment you set your life clock according to some other values or people that are not eternal, your mission is aborted until you reset. Imagine how many missions have been terminated just because of life time zone settings.
Till the next blog, have a blissful day ahead. If this blog inspires you please feel free to share the link with family and friends. Save a life mission today.