Marcus Aurelius: Meditations

“Our inward power, when it obeys nature, reacts to events by accommodating itself to what it faces—to what is possible. It needs no specific material. It pursues its own aims as circumstances allow; it turns obstacles into fuel. As a fire overwhelms what would have quenched a lamp. What’s thrown on top of the conflagration is absorbed, consumed by it—and makes it burn still higher.”

The Prophet By Gibran Khalil Gibran

I don’t know why it took so long for this book to come to me, recently heard of this masterpiece on life and living by Gibran Kahlil Gibran on a couple of podcasts and went to look for it on Google. Luckily, this book is available for free reading on the Internet Archive, this gem of a book was in plain sight but never crossed my radar, how sad. I believe it’s one of the finest books that I have read and very simple yet ridiculously profound.

More people should read this book, however young or old you are, doesn’t matter. I hope that by mentioning it here, the book gets on the radar of at least one other person in this world, if not, that’s cool too!

When Love beckons to you, follow him even though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings unfold, you yield to him

Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you

And when he speaks to you believe him

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses the tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,

So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth

He threshes you to make you naked

He sifts you to free you from your husks

He grinds you to whiteness

He kneads you until you are pliant

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.”

Khalil Ghibran

Source: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.536146/page/n15/mode/2up

Ray Dalio’s 5 Steps to Getting What You Want Out Of Life

Have clear goals.

Identify and don’t tolerate problems that stand in the way of your achieving your goals.

Accurately diagnose the problems to get at their root causes.

Design plans that will get you around them.

Do what’s necessary to push these designs through to results.

What do you think? No-brainer?

What does having clear goals mean? I have a goal to get six-pack abs, but is that a clear goal? No. It’s a goal without a time box. If it were “I have a goal to get six-pack abs by Dec 31, 2020 6PM”, that would be a clear goal. Having a goal is not enough, what if you have the clear goal in mind but you don’t stop eating cupcakes and drinking soda every day. What if you don’t start doing the right workouts, take the right nutrition. Having clear goals is not going to automatically get you the six-pack abs, so then what else needs to happen?

Identify the problems. Solving problems is not limited to math class. Once you have set a clear goal, identify the problem(s) that stand in the way of achieving the goal. It’s the diet and the workout routines. that are not aligned with the six-pack goal.

Once the problems are identified, understand what exactly is causing these problems. Are you clear on which foods to eat and which to avoid? Are you clear on how much quantity to eat? Are you clear on what nutrition to take? Are you clear on which exercises to do to strengthen the core? Are you clear on how long or how many reps to do? Are you aware of which workouts are not recommended? Diagnose and get to the nitty gritty of the identified problems.

Once the problems are well understood, design a plan to get around them. May be it is the late night craving for an ice cream or skipping the hard workout routine. Design a plan to work around late night snacking. Keep healthy snacks at hand in case the craving kicks in. Avoid buying cakes, ice creams and other sugary snacks. Cut it at the source, once it is in the pantry it is harder to resist. Keep it away from sight, out of sight out mind can help. Skipped a training day, get back on track immediately. Don’t expect six-packs abs by walking 5 miles every day. If you want six-pack abs, you need to follow the recommended routines very strictly.

If you are not seeing the results, go back to Step 1 and rinse and repeat until you get the results. Don’t give up, don’t get distracted, don’t imagine progress, don’t be tempted, keep the focus or give up and go home, it’s better than pretending.

This Place Is A Dream, Only A Sleeper Considers It Real

“Humankind is being led along an evolving course, through this migration of intelligences, and though we seem to be sleeping, there is an inner wakefulness that directs the dream”

The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

Rumi reminds us that the world is an illusion, unfortunately when we are in the dream, we perceive whatever is happening to be real.

When we wake up from a bad dream and realize that it was just a dream, we feel better that everything is fine. Do we feel the same when the dream was good? Let’s say, you were talking with your beloved mother whom you have lost many years ago, and you were having a great time and then you were woken up by the loud sounds of this so called reality, you would call the reality a bad dream and you’d rather go back to sleep to continue the dream.

Does the fact that you were having an enjoyable dream make it any less of a dream? I guess it’s still a dream after all, whether it is a good one or a bad one!

Adi Sankaracharya’s Brahmajnanavali Mala verse 20 states that this world is an illusion and Brahman is the Truth.

“Brahma Sathyam Jaganmithya”

“ब्रह्म सत्यं जगन्मिथ्या जीवो ब्रह्मैव नापरः ।
अनेन वेद्यं सच्छास्त्रमिति वेदान्तडिण्डिमः ॥ २०॥”

source: https://sanskritdocuments.org/doc_z_misc_shankara/brahmajna.html

Rumi says that we are all being led through an evolving course. Who is leading us, where is the course heading, how long is this course, is there a destination or is the course a looping one? If we finish where we started, is there a point in starting at all?

Inspiration Exists But It Has To Find Us Working

This quote is attributed to Pablo Picasso. I find it true that inspiration comes to those who work. Then why is it hard to do the work. If you haven’t read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, you must. It explains the reason why we are not working, it’s called the Resistance. Resistance keeps us from doing the work of our lives. Resistance comes in many shapes, sizes and forms and its only goal is to stop us from doing the work.

Do The Work by Steve Pressfield

How can we escape the resistance and do the work. I believe starting the work is half the battle but the other half is being disciplined to continue the work started all the way to the finish line. It requires not only discipline but conviction, dedication to the work started and a strong belief that it amounts to something in the long distant future.

Easy Peezy ha? Well what are you waiting for, get to work!

If You Are Going To Try, Go All The Way

Quote by Charles Bukowski: “If you're going to try, go all the way ...

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”

“I wanted what everyone wants. To be me, full-time”

Phil Knight writes in his memoir Shoe Dog that he wanted to be himself full-time, not that he didn’t like his PriceWaterHouse job “but it just wasn’t me” he writes.

Do you want to be yourself full-time and not have to pretend to be someone else, if you are working for somebody you must be someone else most of the day and only at nights and weekends you get to experience your true self but even that gets harder if you are spending that time worrying about why your work is not play, why you are not tap dancing to work, what brought you here and how can you get out of that box?

If you are pretending to be someone you are not with your own family, then you are toast anyway, no point trying to fix your work life, first go and figure out personal life issues. You cannot produce your best work.

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken (Oscar Wilde)” is easy to quote and should be even easier to practice, fire is always fire, it doesn’t pretend to be water, why do we humans struggle?

Swadharme Nidhanam Shreyaha Para Dharmo Bhayavahaha”

Gita 3-35

श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुण: परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात् |
स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेय: परधर्मो भयावह: || 35||

śhreyān swa-dharmo viguṇaḥ para-dharmāt sv-anuṣhṭhitāt
swa-dharme nidhanaṁ śhreyaḥ para-dharmo bhayāvahaḥ

It is far better to perform one’s natural prescribed duty, though tinged with faults, than to perform another’s prescribed duty, though perfectly. In fact, it is preferable to die in the discharge of one’s duty, than to follow the path of another, which is fraught with danger.

source: https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/chapter/3/verse/35

If Gifs Can Teach Us…

Look at me, don’t get distracted. Why are you so distracted? Mindfulness yada yada is all about this one simple thing, don’t fall to the myth of multi-tasking. Be fully present and immersed in that book, that article, that blog post, that song, that artwork, that movie, that pastry, doesn’t matter how trivial or how important!

Wherever you are, be there.

Jim Rohn

Iki (to live) gai (reason)

Ikigai, a Japanese concept which means a reason for being, literally translated to “reason to live”. What’s your reason to live? What is your reason to wake up in the morning?

At first, I didn’t see the connection between Ikigai and starting small, one of the pillars of Ikigai. To live a life of purpose, one need not imagine a grand vision of being the best or biggest or the fastest at something but it’s important to start small but with a purpose behind it and continuously improving it over months and years.