What Do You Do?

A friendly exchange between a dentist friend who came back into my life yesterday after twenty years and me. He was away in the Middle East all these years.

Friend: So, what do you do nowadays?

I: Meditate.

Friend: Be serious.

I: Ok, I am a cruciverbalist.

Friend: What is that?

I: Please ask Google.

Friend: Be serious.

I: I solve crossword puzzles.

Friend: Meditating and solving crossword puzzles is not doing something. Those things just take a couple of hours every day.

I: What are you doing nowadays?

Friend: I have opened my clinic and established my practice.

I: So, how many hours do you actually attend to teeth?

Friend: May be two three hours every day.

I: So, you can be a dentist with three hours of what you do and I cannot be a cruciverbalist or a meditator when I spend three hours on the former and an hour and a half on the latter everyday?

Friend: Okay, let us change the subject.


This is one of my all time favourite quotes and when someone sent this image to me on WhatsApp, I immediately wanted to share it with my readers.  It is innocuous to begin with till one starts to reflect on it.  And then, bang, it hits one like a thunderbolt that this is a very profound and true statement.

Another great writer went a step further and came up with some more profundities – “Like every man, I am my own worst enemy but, unlike most men I know too that I am my own saviour.” ~ Henry Miller.

Let me share a story of a man who I know well. He is a very wealthy self made man in his seventies with extensive properties in and around Pune. His world and conversation revolves around his wealth and how much he benefits from it as well as how much he suffers from it. He is suspicious of every one and therefore is lonely and bitter but unlike Henry Miller does not understand that he has to be his own saviour. He has become a hypochondriac as, at least in my opinion, he has nothing better to do. He comes to me often to let off steam because I give him a patient hearing and have no interest in his wealth. When I point out to him that he is lonely because he is unable to stop showing off and be considerate but, he is unwilling to accept that as a character flaw. He continues to be miserable and all his wealth goes to finance his constant consultations with medical practitioners of all specialities.

On the other hand, there is another friend who is far from wealthy but a great human being unfortunately prone to panic attacks and depression. We became good friends a few of months ago after we became closer to each other than we were before due to a series of unintended developments. I shared with him my experience of overcoming depression through consultation with a psychiatrist and suggested that he too does that. He took my suggestion, and today accepts his failings with his relationships, has made amends and is better off for doing just that. He now understands that he is his own saviour.

In my own case, my exposure to Vipassana meditation 35 years ago enabled me to look into the mirror to see the reality of myself and find ways of overcoming my weaknesses. Having kept up regular practice, I have been able to handle life’s vicissitudes with some equanimity. To anyone who asks me for guidance, my first recommendation is to learn to meditate using any technique and inevitably, those who do, benefit and learn how to manage their own enemies. I strongly believe that meditation IS learning to love oneself by handling the enemy within.


“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”
~ Dalai Lama XIV

When I had suggested this topic for the weekly LBC blog posts, I had no idea about what I will write on it. As late as yesterday, I had no clue as to how to go about writing the post on time. This morning however, when I sat down for my daily session of meditation, the idea of writing about inner peace came as though it was a command and ideas on what to write also crystalised.

In Sanskrit peace invocations one always concludes by saying “Om! Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.” The reason that the word Shanti, meaning peace is said three times is to invoke peace of mind during sufferings arising out of Adhidaivika (of divine origin), Adhibhautika (originated in the physical, material beings), and Adhyatmika (created by ourselves).

The word “daivika” means “of divine origin”. Adhidaivika refers to the suffering due to divine causes, causes that we have no control over. These include natural disasters like floods, tornados, tsunamis, earthquakes, plagues, fires and the like.

The word ‘bhautika’ is derived from ‘bhuta’ which means all “things”. It can be any entity, living or non-living. For example, even a stone can be termed a bhuta. So Adhibhautika refers to suffering caused by other things. These are classified as – other humans, domestic animals, wild animals, reptiles, insects, mosquitoes, bugs, cockroaches etc. For example, suffering can be caused by someone physically hitting you or hurting you through verbal abuse. Similarly, suffering can be caused by a snake or a scorpion bite, you may have sleepless nights due to mosquito bites, you could be attacked by a domestic or a wild animal etc.

The word ‘atmika’ means ‘self-generated’. Adhyatmika suffering is the most damaging and long-lasting as we inflict it on ourselves. This could be physical, mental, or emotional.  We cause physical suffering on ourselves by, for example, overeating, not taking care of our health etc. Most other suffering is mental. We suffer when we carry negative emotions – anger, hatred, jealousy, greed etc.

In the Indian ways of life, one remarkable feature was the way the average Indian was expected to face trials and tribulations of life with equanimity and peace of mind. Unfortunately, we have become quite materialistic in our life styles here over the past few generations and so this ideal of a life of inner peace despite adverse conditions is also rare to find except in those who follow some kind of a spiritual life which will include regular meditation and study of the scriptures.

I flatter myself that I lead a spiritual life and by and large, live a life of inner peace and joy. I have not however  yet reached the stage that the Dalai Lama has reached. Ido slip every now and then and get agitated. I am however making steady progress and hopefully will reach that stage before I call it a day.

I have suggested the topic for this week’s LBC Friday post. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin and Shackman.


“A poor idea well written is more likely to be accepted than a good idea poorly written.”
~ Isaac Asimov.

As I start writing this post, it occurs to me that it is the latter that will be applicable in my case.

A friend of Indian origin who lives overseas has a younger brother who suffers from dementia. He is lucid at times and not most of the time. He has been admitted to a home where other persons with dementia are boarded and looked after by a panel of psychiatrists and trained personnel. The brother’s immediate family has abandoned him and the only person in touch with him is his daughter from an earlier marriage, also living overseas. Whenever she talks to him she promises to come and take him away with her. This has been going for quite some time.

I was requested by my friend to visit the brother and find out how he is which I gladly did a few days ago. Before I could go to the home, we had to get an appointment and so the staff had told the brother that someone was coming to see him. When I landed up in his room, he was most disappointed because he had imagined that his daughter was coming to take him away. He had packed all his stuff and got ready to go and it was heart breaking for me to disappoint him. Imagination played havoc with him!

I spend about seventy five minutes every morning sitting in our veranda with my morning tea and japa. The mind being what it is, it often strays and goes off into tangents and while the mental chanting keeps mechanically going on, the mind usually goes off into a different realm altogether and I have to bring it back to the present with some effort.

This is normal as my teachers have repeatedly informed me and regular practice will eventually bring it under control which will be of benefit for both the japa exercise and meditation. Imagination playing spoilsport with me too!

I would like to close this post with a very powerful short film The Egg to demonstrate what human imagination can do with such a medium. Do please spend the 12 odd minutes that it will take to watch it till the end. You will like the message.

In the new year, an old LBC blogger will be rejoining us and I welcome Maria the gaelikaa to the group. This week’s topic for the LBC blog post has been suggested by me. You can see to the other three views at Maria, Pravin and Shackman at their respective blogs.


“Birds are like people,” he said, holding a biscuit to Hana’s face. “This bird is here because it’s a good place. There’s food and there’s safety.

“When a bird doesn’t like a situation, it protects itself and stays away. No matter where you are in the world, if you see a bird in a place, it’s a good place, a safe place, a place that sustains life.”

~ Lin Chi-sheng.

I wake up at 4.45 am every morning and bring in various sounds in my neighbourhood that I have grown used to over the last 23 years.  The first sound is the ten bell signal that the boarding school from across the road rings to awaken the boarders when they are in residence.  The bell rings even when the school is closed for vacations like it is just now for the summer holidays.  This always intrigued me till I found out that the signal is for those few boys who stay on even during vacations because they either have to take special lessons during vacations or because their parents are overseas and the boys are allowed to join them only once a year.  The bells also awaken the kitchen for the school.

Around 5.00 am I sit for my hour long meditation and from around 5.15 am the birds start to wake up and for about half an hour there is a cacophony of various birds like bulbuls, mynahs, crows, bharadwajs and pigeons throughout the year and in the various seasons, other birds like the babblers and cranes too.  I have got used to the sound of the birds and it does not disturb me in the least during my meditation.

We have a small garden in the front of our home where too birds come to feed on insects and bird seed that we strew there.  We get sparrows, pigeons, mynahs and bulbuls beside fly catchers in the season.  We have also had the occasional eagle landing to pick up something dropped either by it or some other bird.

Our home incidentally is just about a kilometer away from a bird sanctuary located on the bank of our local river the Mulamutha.

So, since we get so many birds, I suppose that our neighbourhood is  a good place, a safe place, a place that sustains life.” as suggested by Lin Chi-sheng.

Favourite Things.

Judith, in her blog post Favourite Things, ends up with this statement. “My list can go on and on but what about your favourite things?”

In my comment there, I said that I would attempt a similar post and here I go.

Right on top of the list will be my son Ranjan. No need to elaborate is there?

My morning meditation. I meditate between 5 and 6 am when it is quiet and still and it is very conducive to meditate. If I don’t meditate, I feel out of sorts the whole day.

My morning cup of tea.

My morning newspapers followed by a session of solving crossword puzzles.

My reading.

My blogging and visiting and commenting other blogs.


To wind up, although there are a number of other favourite things in my repertoire, I will do injustice, if I don’t make a special mention of my friend from Pennsylvania Mayo. He is truly one of a kind.