Meaning / Purpose / Happiness.

This Mark Twain quote was shared by a friend on facebook and led me to muse over it and the result is this post.

In Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search For Meaning, Frankl often quotes Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.” The “why” is what he calls the meaning of one’s life, which according to Frankl is the patient’s will to strive, succeed, and to live.

Man can also find meaning by suffering. When one is faced with suffering, and there is nothing he can do to change his predicament, the only remaining option is for him to change his perspective, to change the way in which he views the situation. An example that Frankl gives is of a story of a grieving widower who had lost his wife. The man came to Frankl to ask for advice. Frankl asked the man, “What would have happened…if you had died first and your wife would have had to survive without you?” Through this question, the suffering the man was enduring gained a new purpose, he was mourning, but his wife would not have to mourn him.

This story of the widower helped me overcome my own grief of losing my wife and friend of 48 years, but understanding that the relationship was because I was happy in it and the grief was in losing that state of happiness, came about by my study of Vedanta about which I shall elaborate a little later.

I had posted a video post of the Dalai Lama and in commenting on it, Monk had given me a link to one of her old posts that is very interesting on the subject of finding meaning.  She had written it before I started visiting her blog and so was not aware of that post.  Having read it, I was inspired to include the link here for reference, as the subject matter is the same as that of this post.

My regular readers will remember that I am a student of Vedanta. For a Vedantin, ie one who is a follower of the Vedanta system of philosophy, the purpose of one’s life is to find Moksha (Liberation) which is to get released from the cycle of births and deaths. A student of the system, tries to achieve jivan mukti, which is to find the liberation in this life itself. What this implies is that he finds and abides in the happy himself during this life itself. So, the purpose of finding out why he was born is to recognise that he was born to become a jivan mukta.

If all that sounds very mumbo jumbo, simply stated, it is to reach that inner space which is naturally a happy state, but which has been overwritten by other impressions which need to be discarded. The process of discarding those impressions and abiding in the released state is the purpose of, at least, my life.

If you are interested in probing further about your own purpose / meaning, you can try the twenty minute formula that Cheerful Monk shares in her post a link to which I have given above.

Posted in Books / Reading, People, Philosophy, Self Improvement | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

How Old Do You Behave?

A friend suggested on facebook that I answer a quiz to find out how old I behave and I did.

This is the result that I got.

You Act Like You Are 98
You try to keep your movements to a minimum, doing just what is absolutely necessary, in order to be as healthy as you can be. You’ve been through a lot in life, so much so that hardly anything surprises you anymore. For you, family is the be-all and end-all. You feel blessed beyond belief to share time with your loved ones – and you know that love is the most important thing there is.”

Others around me do not agree that I act like I am 98, nor do I think that I do. I think that I act my age and within my physical limitations. I however agree with the rest of the analysis.

If you are interested in attempting the quiz, you can do so here.

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Time is the biggest joke that our Creator has played on us. Just about every philosopher and scientist has had something or the other to say about it yet it is an aspect of our lives that is the biggest enigma in them.

Let us just take one example of the joke. The nearest star that we can see from our earth is the Alpha Centauri which is about 4.37 light years away from us. In other words, when we see the star now, the light that enables us to see it left it 4.37 light years ago. For all we know it could be dead! But for us it is real this moment!

Let us take another example from my favourite Management Guru, C Northcote Parkinson. “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Thus, an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and despatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis. An hour will be spent in finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half-an-hour in a search for the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and twenty minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the pillar-box in the next street. The total effort which would occupy a busy man for three minutes all told may in this fashion leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety and toil.

Just to impress on my readers how Indians view time, let me refer them to this Wikipedia entry.

There was a time when I did not have enough time to do all the things that I wanted every day. Now, I have so much time on hand that I have to keep finding things to do to fill it. I do that fairly efficiently but there are many who cannot and go through very frustrating times every day.

In the South of India there is an adage which is often used to explain what happens when someone has enough time on hand without anything to fill it. It goes like this – A barber without a customer will catch hold of a cat and shave it.”

I was recently called by the wife of a friend for some help. Let us call her UM. My friend is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and she is the full time caregiver for him. Her car needed to be attended to and she sought my help to get a mechanic to take it away, do what needed to be done and brought back. They live about 15 kms away from where I live and I did not know any mechanic in that part of the town. I called another friend who lives in that part of the town who recommended a very good mechanic and just to cross check I called another friend, let us call the latter ML, who also recommended the same fellow. I duly made all the arrangements and the car was taken away by the mechanic.

In the meanwhile ML called the mechanic to find out whose car had to be repaired and when he found that it was UM’s car, he immediately called her as he also knew her and her husband. A fact that I had no knowledge of. ML scolded UM and berated her for not having sought his help and instead, having gone to me. That poor lady called me up and related the story. As soon as she had disconnected, I got another call from ML who berated me for not having told him that the mechanic was to help UM! Since then, he has also been regularly calling both the mechanic and UM to keep track of the progress being made in repairing the car. UM is not amused as she clearly indicated that she had called me because she did not want to call ML precisely for his over eagerness to get involved.

Imagine the comedy! ML obviously has so much time on hand to make all these totally useless telephone calls just to talk to someone! He has so much time on his hand that he has been doing the equivalent of shaving a cat!

On the other hand, when I tried to get an appointment with a surgeon for consultation, I was told that the earliest I could get an appointment was a week hence. A man who obviously does not have enough time for all his patients to consult on one day!

I had suggested this topic for the weekly LBC blog posts. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin and Shackman.

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Memory Trigger 13. Breakfast Food.

I was introduced to Dal Pakwaan in 1990 at a place called Ulhasnagar which has a fascinating story of giving refuge to refugees and becoming a town buzzing with small scale and cottage industries making the local populace a hard working and prosperous lot. I visited the place at the invitation of a delightful family to help them with their marketing efforts and have since been very involved with them and their clientele.

I stayed at a hotel there for a couple of nights visiting a number of the Agent’s customers during the two days and on the second morning the agent took me to have dal pakwaan at a famous local eatery where we were joined by a number of his friends and some members of his family as well. On many subsequent visits to Ulhasnagar, I always made it a point to have at least one breakfast in the same restaurant.

In Pune, the dish is not easily available and we have to go to a suburb, Pimpri to get them. I often get someone to bring them from there or have gone there on a few occasions to have this delicious and filling dish.

My memory of this dish has been triggered by this BBC article on a Real Estate tycoon, who belongs to the Sindhi community which brought this dish to India from Pakistan.

Posted in Food, Friendship, India | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Best Leave Letter Of The Year.

Posted in Humor | 14 Comments

The Dalai Lama’s Guide To Happiness.

I just can’t help loving this man. Please do spend just over eight minutes watching and listening to this very well made video.

Posted in Friendship, Humor, People, Philosophy, Religion, Spiritualism | Tagged | 12 Comments


Tomorrow is Sunday. The day on which, without fail, my Godson ND will call me in the morning to check if I am still alive and kicking. My readers will recollect ND from my post Memory Trigger 7, The Runaway.

Last Sunday, during the usual weekly phone conversation, ND suggested that I see a movie called Samsara and offered to send me his copy of a DVD of the film. The context was how human beings can be vulnerable to temptation as on one of his teasing moods he had suggested that I look for a girl friend to give me company for the rest of my life. On my being unresponsive, he suggested that I see this movie.

A little background about ND other than what you would have already gathered from the link. He is a spiritual seeker and a follower of the late Osho. He is a Vipassana meditator too.

On investigating Samsara the movie, I discovered that it was all about a Tibetan monk and I was intrigued. I found a full length offering on Youtube and saw it earlier this evening.

It is a remarkable movie, which has won many international awards; very sensitively made and if you are as intrigued as I was, it is worth spending the two hours and twenty minutes before a computer seeing it. You can of course have as many breaks as you want as I took as well. I had not heard about the director Pan Nalin and am very glad to have been able to see his, this spectacular work.

You will get to see spectacular scenery of the Ladakh area of our Himalayas and some monasteries there. You will also see some excellent acting and direction apart from the photography.

I wish you happy viewing if you have not already seen it.

Posted in Family, Meditation, Relationships, Spiritualism | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Do Dreams Create Reality?

Young Pravin with one foot into spiritualism and the rest of his body firmly in materialism, has suggested the topic for this week’s LBC Friday post. I hope that I don’t disappoint him with my take on the subject.

I personally have no experience of any of my dreams becoming realities. I don’t remember most of my dreams anyway.

I shall leave my readers with this link to a very interesting article on the subject and the following two quotations to deal with the subject as I don’t think that I can do justice to it by being original.

“Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.”

~ Zhuangzi, The Butterfly as Companion: Meditations on the First Three Chapters of the Chuang-Tzu.

“It’s at night, when perhaps we should be dreaming, that the mind is most clear, that we are most able to hold all our life in the palm of our skull. I don’t know if anyone has ever pointed out that great attraction of insomnia before, but it is so; the night seems to release a little more of our vast backward inheritance of instincts and feelings; as with the dawn, a little honey is allowed to ooze between the lips of the sandwich, a little of the stuff of dreams to drip into the waking mind. I wish I believed, as J. B. Priestley did, that consciousness continues after disembodiment or death, not forever, but for a long while. Three score years and ten is such a stingy ration of time, when there is so much time around. Perhaps that’s why some of us are insomniacs; night is so precious that it would be pusillanimous to sleep all through it! A bad night is not always a bad thing.”

~ Brian W Aldiss.

You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin and Shackman.


Posted in Blogging, Buddhism, Humor, Spiritualism, Writing | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Effectiveness 2.

Please re-read my post Effectiveness to refresh your memory before reading the following two links.

The first one that caught my attention was this news item.

I couldn’t believe my eyes and so probed further and found out another older story.

I wonder what Peter Drucker would have said about this man’s effectiveness in achieving his ambition!

Posted in Blogging, Family, Humor, Pakistan | Tagged , , | 17 Comments