What day is Mother’s Day?

by Rajeev Kurapati

motherly loveOne Sunday each year, we recognize the value of motherhood and these incredible individuals. Whether or not THE mother’s day is merely a silly commercial exercise or a true testament of dedication is not worth discussing, but one fact that can’t be argued – any excuse to express gratitude is a good one. Perhaps, with nothing more than the pure reverence to our mothers that occupies our mental space, everyday is a proverbial mother’s day.

Most roles in life are finite – responsibilities with an end point, something to be ultimately achieved. In this game of life, we are always on a quest to win – earn that top spot, to be tangibly rewarded in one way or another. One type of game, though, requires only the most compassionate, selfless individuals as there is no prize to be won nor a time when the role can be turned off. This infinite game offers only a journey, thus the player’s intention must be to never stop giving. A mom is always playing the infinite game – loving without expectation, unconditionally, instinctively. These women motivate us always, inspiring us to be better, to do better. This mother’s day, be more than amused by your mother’s charm. Recognize the journey she has committed to, all of the time and effort she has willingly dedicated to your wellbeing alone. Remind yourself of this infinite game and reward your mother with the admiration she deserves – with an infinite mother’s day.

A mom is always playing the infinite game – loving without expectation, unconditionally, instinctively

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The Art Of Going Beyond Your Mind

by Rajeev Kurapati

When we embark on a journey of self-improvement or personality development, what we are actually doing is cultivating our ego-selves – with the ultimate goal to meet social and biological necessities.

We strive all of our lives to better ourselves emotionally, intellectually, and psychologically in order to deal with society, our desires, and our urges – all by disciplining our minds. Most of the time, we confuse self-development programs with the actual process of knowing our true self: that center within us which is the ground of all our experiences.

Only by watching your true-self shine within will you be able to appreciate your mind and body as bearers of life, not sufferers of circumstances.

Attempting to find our real self through popular self-improvement exercises is futile, because the ground upon which the mind projects itself isn’t located within this content of our minds we attempt to accumulate.

Don’t get trapped in some of these so-called spiritual practices that do nothing but appease our mind-created ego-selves.

It’s only our ever-changing minds and our social constructs that need to be organized and regulated.

The true self needs no improvement because the real you knows neither future nor past.

You – the real self, that center within you, the true definition of who you are – exists only in the present. The ego-self needs the aid of memory to categorize experiences and to act accordingly. The real self is your very being. Accumulation of knowledge about the real self does nothing but add more and more content to your mental space, a mere knowledge warehouse that’s tied together by the thread of memory and offers no sense of enlightenment.

The 13th-century Muslim poet and theologian Rumi expresses this distinction between the ego-self and the real self in the poem “Two Kinds of Intelligence”:

There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired,
as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from what the teacher says,
as well as from the new sciences.

With such intelligence you rise in the world.
You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence in retaining
information. You stroll with this intelligence
in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more
marks on your preserving tablets.

There is another kind of tablet, one
already completed and preserved inside you.
A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness
in the center of the chest. This other intelligence
does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid,
and it doesn’t move from outside to inside
through conduits of plumbing-learning.
This second knowing is a fountainhead from within you, moving out.

To go beyond our minds and access this second knowing is to realize our limitations, distractions of desire, and consequences of fear.

A cell in our body may recognize that it is a part of a greater whole, but it may never be able to define all that is beyond it simply because of its limited perceptive capacity. Likewise, all that makes up the universal consciousness that we are a part of will always lie just outside of our capacity to define it. “To define is to limit,” Oscar Wilde explains.

Ancient seers of the East called this universal consciousness the param-atman, and Judeo-Christian traditions called it the Universal Spirit. When Lord Krishna said, “I am the way, Jesus; I am the light, Allah; I am the one,” he wasn’t referring to himself in the limited way that his body was squeezed into the span of a lifetime. He was speaking of the essence in which all of existence is immersed, an intangible dimension where all beings communicate, a realm without limits – the Unbound Intelligence.

Once you recognize this, humility instinctually sets in – you will feel the desire to express your reverence using all means available. When prophets, sages, and seers recognized this Unbound Intelligence, their reverence of this essence evolved into prayers, songs, and spiritual stories.

When these expressions were transcribed into written form, they became scriptures and treatises – the holy testaments that we sincerely subscribe to and idealize today. The pathway to happiness laid out by all of these admired individuals and spiritual gurus all lead to the same direction – within.

Avoid the temptation to become overly distracted with chasing external means to peace and contentment. Your true-self, the self within, holds all of the answers to all of your questions and desires. Look within.

“The Distant Drummer”, poet, mystic and philosopher Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī ~ by Mahmoud Farshchian

“The Distant Drummer”, poet, mystic and philosopher Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī ~ by Mahmoud Farshchian

Traditional Afghan folk dance, Attan, by Yar Mohammad Taraky

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” – Rumi.  Traditional Afghan folk dance, Attan, by Yar Mohammad Taraky

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Clock vs Flow: Which Do You Live By?

by Rajeev Kurapati

For some of us, our life is governed by clock time – the hour on our watch methodically governs the beginning and end of our activities. The rest of us tend to allow the moment to dictate its duration, ignoring the distraction of the ticking clock. For these folks, events begin and when, by mutual consensus between the interactions of people, they decide the time is right to move along.

Dissonance arises as we teeter between the poles of clock time and natural time. Some events lend themselves to the strict governance of the clock, while others ebb and flow more organically. Knowledge of this time perspective can put us back in the driver’s seat – determining what motive works best and when. Confining ourselves to one mindset benefits no one. Considering hunger: Allowing time to dictate when we eat and ignoring our body interrupts nature and results in over or under eating.

Clock abiders tend to be less flexible in scheduling – focusing on one activity at a time, which may be beneficial, but not often realistic. With the pressure of deadlines, these individuals succumb to multitasking to a point of losing their ability to focus, act rationally or worse, think creatively. Clock watchers allow their schedule to drive them instead of the other way around, becoming a victim to monotony. Those married to efficiency develop habitual routines, living in a rigid discipline awaiting life’s next important event. Time spent idle is time wasted for clock abiders, while those who float through time think differently.

Natural time individuals, on the other hand, give far less importance to strict timelines, being characterized as “strong involvement” people. They emphasize the completion of human transactions rather than keeping schedules. Two people from Tandag (a small coastal town in Philippines) deep in conversation, for example, will typically choose to arrive late for their next appointment rather than cut into the flow of their discussion.

Clock time and natural time people don’t often see eye-to-eye. Work-place relationships are hindered by these polar opposites as are marriages, and friendships. Like-minded philosophies gel better as they don’t have the conflicting expectations getting in the way. Acknowledging this dynamic introduces an understanding and acceptance that can better connections, as well as routines.

Appreciating these opposite relationships is only step one. Mere conceptual understanding is not enough. Try living with the other mindset every now and then to truly understand the thought patterns of the other side to fully value the other perspective.

The best path to choose is based on not letting the chiming clock control your life, but to use it effectively, for it is our human invention. After all, philosophy of time becomes the philosophy of life.

A version of this post was published in Millennial Magazine.
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Why Being Present Is So Difficult (And What You Can Do About It)

by Rajeev Kurapati
Meditation by Nik Helbig

“Meditation” by Nik Helbig

Before we try to answer that question, it’s necessary to understand the intrinsic nature of the mind.

The basic nature of the mind is to dwell in the past or to worry about the future. Our uneasiness about what’s to come is actually our strategy to prepare for the future – our mind’s ingenious way of ensuring that we’re equipped to survive. Without such readiness, the mind can’t prepare the body to thrive.

So how does this future-oriented mind know exactly what to prepare for the seemingly unknown? The mind relies on one thing to predict what’s to come: the past. Ruminating over the accumulated contents of the mind, including both acquired skills and inherent tendencies passed on by prior generations, we use mental shortcuts, allowing the past to shape the future.

Our mind is constantly toggling between these two opposing tendencies. First, we fear the inevitable end brought by the “who-knows-when” tomorrow. Tomorrow is risky, frightening, and in some way, represents one step closer to the end – from something to nothing. The result of such preoccupation is helplessness, contempt, and fear.

And then, on the other hand, there’s the comfort in the possibility of hereafter, something just as powerful that lies beyond today – hope. Hope that tomorrow will be better. As our mind teeters between the fear about the imminent and the hope for the future, dissonance sets in. Our mind performs this dance between the polarities, constantly trying to find a natural resting place.

 The question remains: What is the role of the “present” for our mind?

Being in the present, known as “mindfulness,” is the mental state of being engaged in the now without emotionally reacting to our thoughts. For most of us, though, it is nearly impossible to stay in this state for any real length of time.

Because the present is given to us, our mind perceives it as something not worth dwelling in – it’s not worth thinking about the present because it’s simply guaranteed.

However, there’s a certain advantage to this: Stepping away from the now allows our mind the opportunity to be creative, to dream, to innovate. All creative genius is the result of this temporary transmigration of the mind from the present. So, it does serve us a real value to step away from the moment. Consider the lifestyle of Zen monks: Monks tend to dedicate their mental focus in the now, and, while they showcase a remarkable dedication to tradition, they tend not to be adaptive to innovation.

Constantly avoiding the present, the mind poses a question: Why worry about that which is already decided for it? It naturally migrates to the past and becomes prescient toward the future. Often, this tendency gets out of control, and we begin to see dangers that are not actually there, leading to unnecessary anxiety about the events that may not even happen.

How do we solve this dilemma of the ever-frenzied mind? Humans have the exceptional capacity to watch our minds as an outsider. John Adams observed, “A man who knows himself can step outside of himself and watch his own reaction like an outsider.” But, most people achieve such clarity for only fleeting moments, dismissing such experiences as a mere illusions or mental wanderings.

Enlightened scientists, sages, and prophets over ages have emphasized the necessity of mindfulness. This act of watching our mind as an observer is what makes humans unique, the only way to counter the cognitive dissonance that sets in resultant of dwelling in the polarities of the past and future. Step outside of your mind and watch it like a witness. You will see all the mischief by your mind and be able to once and for all, be truly present in the moment.

A version of this story was published in MindBodyGreen.com
Zen artwork by Cameron Gray

Zen artwork by Cameron Gray

 
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7 Business Insights to Build an Astute Life Plan

by Rajeev Kurapati

The life cycle of a business involves evolution, maintenance, and dissolution or merger. Life is no different. To build anything worthy of deeming “successful,” a well thought-out, insightful plan is a must-have. Perhaps no other blueprint for success tops the in-depth presentation of a business plan. When devising a strategy for a fruitful business, we take the time to analyze the reality of a market, spell out how our business will fit in and excel within that space, determine how we will fund our aspirations, decide who will be a part of the journey, and how we will scale once we’ve met our initial goals.

Like a business plan, we need to analyze the reality of our circumstances and determine how our strengths and weaknesses can survive within the limited resources at our disposal. In life, we must figure out how we’ll finance our most basic needs; and, once those are met, fund our greatest aspirations. We must decide who will be on our team to help us be our best selves, to survive and to thrive, decide who will be a part of the journey, and how we will scale once we’ve met our initial goals. And, once we’ve conquered our goals, we continue to rediscover ourselves, even if it means finding happiness in new ways.

Such astute planning in business is exactly the sort of exercise we should be doing when devising our course of actions in life. Here are seven insights to get your life on track to build a meaningful and purposeful life.

1. Set specific, achievable milestones.

And remember, your milestones may influence or affect others, so set those goals wisely. Reward yourself for achievements, but don’t berate yourself for your failures. With each failure comes the opportunity for a much-needed learning lesson.

2. Have a portfolio of your relationships.

Know the worth of your own relationships and how indispensable they are. Base your life on how many acquaintances, friends, and loved ones you make along the way.

3. Prepare for dissolution/merger.

Leave a legacy – whether it is through your children or successes. Your children will immortalize your existence. Keep this in mind when raising your beloved.

4. Save a portion of your profits to service hobbies.

All work and no play will serve no one. Be sure to treat time for adventure and leisure as a priority and be certain you can finance such happenings. Use your vacation time, even if to do nothing other than to relax. Reward your hard work with fun and relaxation.

5. Make people a priority.

Just like any innovation requires a nurturing atmosphere, your presence should inspire others, bringing out the best in those around you. Be confident enough to encourage those around you to thrive, and trust they will do the same. A healthy team can conquer far more than you ever will alone.

6. Prepare for the unexpected.

While your life cycle is quite predictable, the day-to-day surprises can seem overwhelming. The key is to remain adaptable – hope for the best while preparing for the worst. Life will throw you curve balls, be prepared and ready to conquer it all.

7. Make a difference.

Remember, all that you have earned, you will eventually return back to the Earth in one way or another. Just like a business that is built to serve others, know that your life’s purpose is to make the world at large run smoothly. Whether through taxes, charity, or your job, your life (and businesses alike) serves a much greater purpose than to be completely self-serving. Get out there and make a difference!

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