Abhay Shivgounda Patil

About what matters.

Archive for October 2016

If you don’t see beauty, you are not seeing

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jinanNow, that’s a very intense version of the common adage – beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Isn’t it? That was K B Jinan, the activist, designer and disruptive educationist. (Here is a link to one talk by him.)

We routinely come across quotes and anecdotes that dazzle us when we read them. Most of them are nothing more than glorified cliches that wither away soon. But some stir you and get etched in your mind. Here are a few such that I heard from K B Jinan at the Mindfulness Conference (October 7-9, 2016), organized by Just Being. They are not platitudes. They appear ironic and counter intuitive and open our eyes to some stark reality that was not apparent earlier. (We marvel, how did we not think of it!) Beware, they are not to be taken too literally – some are really outrageous. So, sit back, relax, read and enjoy.

Language corrupts, and how! Let’s see. Where is Delhi? Up north, right? And where is Kerala? Down south. Good. So if we drop a ball in Delhi, will it roll down to Kerala?

Children don’t need toys. It is an affront to their intelligence to give them miniaturized reality. Don’t give them a kid chair, let them sit on a normal chair and watch what they do with it!

Every generation has to reinvent. Period. Think why the nature has not stopped giving birth to zero year olds. (Otherwise it would have preferred to give birth to 90 year olds!)

Spirituality is the last ploy of the mind. (Milarepa)

In our quest of knowledge, we have stopped being human beings – we have turned into human knowings.

Reasoning is about what we know. What about the unknown then? Reasoning short-circuits comprehension.

Jinan came down heavily on the language and the words. He confided that there came a point when he stopped reading and started experiencing. That rewired his cognitive abilities. Interestingly, the young guru Nithya Shanti, who was in the audience, shared a Sanskrit adage that said the following.

When a teacher teaches, he throws words at the disciple – and then pulls back the words and lets the meaning stay with the student.

I am tempted to end this note with the line that Nithya Shanti makes his audience say after him every time he dispenses some gyan-byte, so here we go.

How wonderful!

(Do check out my earlier blog about the session by Geshe Dorji Damdul.)


Written by Abhay Shivgounda Patil

October 10, 2016 at 6:16 am

Geshe Dorji Damdul on Mindfulness

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domdulToday, at the Mindfulness conference organized by Just Being, I had the opportunity to hear Venerable Geshe Dorji Damdul, Director of the Tibet House(New Delhi) and the official translator of His Holiness The Dalai Lama. He shunned esoteric philosophy and kept it simple, profoundly simple. At every stage he urged listeners to question what he was saying, and accept it only if they felt convinced. Here are a few things that stayed with me.

He quoted the 8th century Buddhist monk Shantideva to explain how, to address misery, one has to look inward, and not outward. When the earth is covered with thorns, and you wish to walk over it – will you think of covering all of it with leather? No. You just cover your two tiny feet and walk over the thorns.

Ignorance and self-centered attitude – these two attributes create a facade of guarding you, but end up destroying you. He narrated a story to explain how anger made one opt for a choice that one would not have made under the free will. It is a deceptively simple story – read carefully.

Recently in Delhi, when a bus barely brushed a motorcycle – and scratched it – the youth riding the bike thrashed the bus driver to death in a fit of anger. Imagine that, somehow, the boy was told ahead of time that his bike was to suffer a few scratches due to negligence of a bus driver. Let us say, then he was given two options when that were to happen – (1) reprimand the bus driver, tell him to be careful, and fix the bike for a thousand rupees, or (2) get angry, show strength, beat the driver to death and go to prison. Can there be any doubt about what option he would have chosen? Didn’t the facade of strength and courage created by his anger made him choose the course that he would not have chosen of his free will?

A counselor in the audience asked – should one advise mindfulness to a person who is in an extremely agitated state? Geshe countered – when you have a garment covered with mud, would you use detergent on it right away? Won’t you first rinse it in plain water a multiple times and only when it is free of mud would you not use detergent to remove the stains?

Interestingly, Geshe’s views on “expressing anger” were counter intuitive, and identical to what the Management Guru Adam Grant says in his recent best seller Originals. (Do check out my blog about Originals.) When you vent your anger, in the short term, it creates an illusion that it is helping you calm down. But it feeds the anger. It is a widely perpetuated myth that the anger may simmer inside you, and explode, if you don’t express it. In fact, expressing anger is harmful. It is a bait – don’t fall for it!

There was a lot more to his speech – but let me stop here. Do share your comments. Add your take-away if you were there!


Written by Abhay Shivgounda Patil

October 7, 2016 at 9:20 pm