How to build character..

We must understand this fundamental principle that our thoughts do not have a life of their own. On an average about a 60000 thoughts cross our mind each day. Obviously, there are all kind of thoughts – good, bad, pure, impure, intelligent, silly and so on. They come randomly from nowhere and we have little control over them. 

It’s only when we dwell upon a thought, kind of chase it, catch it and hold on to it does it become a desire. And when we desire something for a long time we are compelled to take action on it. This is how our mind works. It is like a standard operating procedure between the mind and the body. 

Once we take action it’s pretty much the manifestation of our thoughts. No one can read our mind but everyone can see our actions. We are therefore, judged by the quality of our actions and not the color of our thoughts. That’s why it’s said that actions speak louder than words. Because while words convey our intent our actions depict our character.

Now if we loop back we will know why it’s so important to have purity in our thoughts. If all thoughts are pure, the mind will have no choice but to pick from them only and our actions will do good for us and for others. 

As a corollary it’s important to reduce the number of thoughts too. Because if the mind has to choose from a lesser number of thoughts it will be more clear. With only a handful of mindful thoughts absolute clarity will emerge and we can say that the person has become स्थितप्रज्ञ (Stithprajna).

This is the way to build great character. There is no other way..

Phool rahi sarson sakal ban..

The story goes that Nizamuddin Auliya, who was unmarried himself, was deeply attached to his sister’s son, Khwaja Nuh. But the child died young and Nizamuddin was devastated by the loss. Amir Khusro couldn’t bear to see his master so afflicted and brought low, and tried desperately to make him smile again.
One day walking outside Nizamuddin’s house near the Khwaja’s khanqah at Chilla, Amir Khusro saw a group of village women walk by, dressed in bright yellow clothes and carrying mustard flowers and singing and clapping with guileless abandon. They were celebrating spring, they explained to the puzzled Amir Khusro, and were on their way to the Kalkaji temple where they would delight their goddess with song and dance. Enchanted by the story, Amir Khusro dressed up in a yellow sari, bedecked himself with mustard flowers, and appeared before Nizamuddin Auliya singing lusty songs in praise of spring. The saint saw his favourite disciple in the yellow sari and was startled out of his torpor. He smiled, and ever since, Basant Panchami has been celebrated thus at the Dargah of Nizamuddin.
Perhaps, the song Khusrau sang to his master that day was : फूल रही सरसों सकल बन (phool rahi sarson sakal ban)

Here’s a wonderful rendition by Warsi Brothers of Hyderabad who claim to be the descendants of the same tradition of Qawwals which Khusrau started some 800 years ago..

To create or to consume? That is the question..

“Stop going for the easy buck and start producing something with your life. Create, instead of living off the buying and selling of others.”

Says Carl Fox in the movie Wall Street, to his son Bud urging him to do something worthwhile with his life. He advises Bud that there is a deeper meaning to life than simply running after things and money. I had a similar conversation with my young guy a few days back which I think went a few levels deeper.

Since the summer vacations have started I have been watching my son Anant move from one screen to the other – playing video games, watching you tube videos and generally surfing the net or e com websites. The only time he is not looking at a screen is when he goes for his football and swimming. Well, it’s pretty normal for a twelve year old. Isn’t it ?

For sure it is and that’s where lies the problem. And I am not going to talk about the usual it’s unhealthy to watch TV crap. Let me take you through our conversation :

Anant, you created your you tube channel few months back. Right ?

Ya I did. So ?

How many videos have you posted on it so far ?


Why ?

Why means ? I didn’t make any videos so how can I post them ? What are you trying to say man?

Yesterday you asked me to order the latest version of FIFA from Amazon. Do you think someone was working on that since a few months or may be a year. Also, do you watch the same you tube videos over and over again ?

Of course, someone would be working on the new version Dad! And why would I watch the same videos? The channels I have subscribed to keep posting new videos. In fact all you tubers must do at least one new post every week.

Great. You know when you created your channel you had made me subscribe to it.But unfortunately you haven’t posted a single video till now.

Anant was fiddling with his I pad till now. He kept it on the table and started looking at me. I had his attention.

Are you going to scold me for this now ?

Why should I scold you and all? I just want you to think that unless something is created it cannot be consumed. And it takes a hell lot of discipline and effort which perhaps you don’t have. As such I will unsubscribe your channel today.

Dad you can’t do that ! I will surely post something soon. I have just one subscriber.

But I can bet you won’t be able to. Because your attitude and your mindset is that of a consumer, not a creator. You have this constant urge that your senses be fed by content that’s created by others. Even the money by which you buy stuff is not yours, it’s been paid by money. I have “earned” it not you.

Dad why are you trying to show me down?

I am just showing my darling. You are the one who is feeling down. Think about it.

After giving this gyan to Anant I went out for my walk. The idea of consume vs. create kept haunting me. It dawned to me that actually our world is divided into two kind of people – the consumers and the creators. While the consumers are everywhere, the creators are few, very few. A simple way to look at it is to divide all our activities through the day and classify them as consume or create. You will be amazed, even aghast that more than 90% of what we do falls under consumption. No wonder there are so few Steve Jobs, Jack Ma’s, Mirza Ghalib’s, Einstien’s and Van Gogh’s.

But then a question comes aren’t all of us also creating as part of our jobs? This question was asked by a friend when we were having our customary weekend drink at the local bar. At the outset it does look like a valid argument only till the time you dissect it a little further. So I asked my friend – what do you at your office ? He said I do this, I do that, I handle this and I handle that and so on.

To help define “creation” for both of us., I asked him a question  I said “Tell me one thing are you really creating something or just doing your tasks? He smiled and said : I know where this is going.

No no I am serious. Anything that you do is a task if you are replaceable and if you did not create the system of which the task is a part. In a sense you become a consumer, not the creator. Let me add to it so that we have more clarity. What happens to the task if you leave the company ? Someone else would do it..Right ?

If we extend the logic this way then no one is a creator. Tomorrow if our founder and CEO dies the company will still run. It won’t just close down.

Well it may actually close down depending upon how much influence she has in driving things forward, in imagining a new future, in selling that love for creation to the teams. Apple struggled quite a bit after Steve Jobs. And we are still talking about organizations. What about individuals ? Can anyone else give Beethoven’s 5th other than Beethoven? Can anyone write short stories ever like Munshi Premchand ? Can anyone else give Calculas or theory of relativity to the world except Newton and Einstein ?

So what is the way out for ordinary folks like us ?

We had a few drinks by now and I could sense that my friend was really feeling miserable about himself – which was great.

“I have figured out a mantra” I said

And what is that ?

To consume less.

C’mon why are we suddenly moving away from the topic? What is the connection?

There is a big connection. In fact consumption and creation are like the Ying and the Yang. The only difference is that while Ying and Yang complement each other, consumption and creation are inversely proportional.

My friend took a drag from his cigarette and said – Go on. This is getting interesting.

See the less we consume the content others have created, the more time we will have on our hands. The more time we have the more opportunity there will be to create, to think something different, to try something new.

Are you saying that we should stop watching TV, going to the malls, reading books, have drinks like we are having now. Life will be screwed boss !!

I am not saying that at all. All I am proposing is a balance between create and consume with a consciousness that net net we have to be creators, not consumers. Extend that to all aspects of your life and you will need less food, you will buy fewer clothes, you will watch fewer movies, you will need less money, you will have more time. You will be free..

Today morning when I woke up Anant was once again playing FIFA in the living room with few of his friends.

The moment he saw me he said : Dad, you know what. I have been thinking about what you said yesterday and I have arrived at a conclusion.

Baby, it doesn’t look like that. You are still playing the same video game with the bunch of monkeys !!

Actually after a lot of thinking I concluded that if everyone starts creating then who will consume ? And by the way you just insulted my guests.

Ya guests. Switch off the TV and all of you judt vanish from here. Else, I will “create” patterns on your ears which will remind you of “consumption” for next few days.

As the band dispersed I picked up the laptop and started writing this post. I have vowed to myself to be a net net creator going forward 😊😊