Being Mindful

When one is mindful, the whole journey of life from birth to death suddenly becomes very exciting and meaningful.

Ever since this year started, I have been hearing about a lot of deaths both on personal and professional fronts. Some of them were close to me and some I knew very well at one point in my life. What stuck me like a jolt was the swiftness at which they left the world-some even without a chance to say a proper goodbye.

When such things happen around you naturally we tend to question our perspective on life and death. Many times one feels that we are nothing but mere dices rolled in a cosmic game played by invisible forces.

One way of experiencing such power is through the art of mindfulness. Though not consistently yet I am a big fan of this art. It is a simple form of meditation. Imagine yourself doing one of the most boring tasks in the universe- ironing one’s clothes. As you spread your clothes over the ironing table and rinsing it with water and applying heat to straighten the wrinkles, feel each steps slowly as they happen. Picture yourself enjoying the task. At the end marvel at the well pressed cloth and feel good at restoring the cloth to its original beauty.

This is simple mindfulness. In a fast paced world, it is important to slow down and enjoy these miniscule tasks to the content of one’s heart. With practise as you extend mindfulness across your life, you can feel the power of our creators. One that is slow, steady, comforting, relaxing and yet powerful.

When one is mindful, the whole journey of life from birth to death suddenly becomes very exciting and meaningful. Just as a new journey begins with a birth, another ceases with death. But the universe keeps on expanding and times go on ceaselessly.

Ways of Life

Just as a star that gives out light till the day it burns out to be a black hole and then begin to absorb the light, the journey of life just like light swings between a dual nature of masculine and feminine.

They say we are all different.
They are right yet they may be also wrong.

Our nature is rich in its variety. Let us take the example of the food that we consume each day for our sustenance. Depending on the place where we live, we end up consuming a wide variety of food. Not one human race can claim that their cuisine is superior to the other. Through the different languages we speak or the different religious beliefs that we follow or the different professions that we follow, we may be different yet we are connected in many ways than we would like to believe. Our fates swing like a roller coaster between the masculine and feminine forms of life.

I read the entire works of the famous Indian author Amish Tripathy this year. His semi fictionalised take on Shiv and Ram takes the tales of the giants of Hinduism to a whole different level. Hidden in Amish’s books are his great hypothesis on the great masculine and the feminine versions of life. Though explained in the context of Devas and Asuras, Suryavanshis and Chandravanshis I believe his perspective on both these ways of life have a greater impact of our life as we know it. They exist ingeniously through the various stages of our life. Just as we are nothing but mere cosmic dust, we also follow one of the basic rules of the cosmos- the duality nature. What is this duality nature? In the context of light, another cosmic form that we are exposed to daily it is as follows- light can exist both as a particle or wave. If one understands the Heisenberg’s principle, it exists in both forms simultaneously though one cannot be certain which exists when.

What is this masculine and feminine versions of life? The masculine version is simply the macho version where strict laws are created and enforced. You live life according to pre-set rules, systems and processes. There is no space for error, you follow this pattern throughout your life-incessantly. The masculine version follows order. For example, if you look at your life once you are established, it is very difficult to change status quo and any change to an established pattern is generally frowned upon. You wake up when it is day and you sleep when it is night. Everything follows a set pattern with no or little space for error. If you look today at the giants of the world, they follow this pattern. They simply do not change and follow a rigid approach and pattern. This system of order and discipline provides great benefits and is generally favored. But there is also a bad side to this orderly masculine nature-intolerance for a different way of life or even an opinion. The masculine order abhors anarchy and mayhem.

On the other hand, the feminine way of life abhors order or even for that matter discipline. It is free, creative and do not generally like to be under a system or even a pattern. The feminine side is established on the bedrock of freedom and innovation. Creativity is a way of life. There are no set patterns and you do not wake up just because it is day neither do you sleep just because it is night. Life is unfastened and unattached. As the second law of thermodynamics literally signifies that the universe is expanding- change in entropy is always greater than zero, the feminine side is abound with waywardness and anarchy.

The human life simply follows the duality seen in nature in establishing itself around these two ways of life. Whether you know it or not, there are times in your life where you follow the masculine way of life: for e.g., the professional development that commences with you beginning to read and write till you make important decisions that involve millions of dollars and sometimes even the lives of many people around you. Or for that matter making critical decisions in one’s life. One simply cannot be wayward in these stages and most people follow the masculine way of life. But the feminine side also creeps up when one is forced to have creative streaks in cooking, travelling to even learning how to woo a girl!

From the Heisenberg’s principle, it is not clear which state (i.e., masculine or feminine exists among humans). For example, your boss can be really serious about meeting deadlines and chastise you for being disorderly or being imperfect at one time to shaking a leg with you later that day in the pub with no discernment to any system or order. Life consistently swings between the masculine and feminine ways of life.

Concluding, life is a journey traversing between creation to death. Like a star that gives out light till the day it burns out to be a black hole and then begin to absorb the light, the journey of life just like light swings between a dual nature of masculine and feminine. There are no absolutes in this cosmic journey, only the switch between the dual ways of the cosmos.

Oil prices. Why can’t you rise?

Another meeting. Lot of hopes prior to the meeting that the suppressed oil prices would rise. Nothing happened. Then they forecasted the prices would go down. Again nothing happened. What is actually going on? No sane expert in this world can seem to understand what is actually happening. Some speculate that it is the Saudi defence minister who is pulling the strings. Others speculate that Iran doesn’t want to cut production. As the blame game continues, jobs are being shedded across the globe. One of the reasons is the rampant and senseless cost cutting, which again is a direct consequence of this downward spiral of oil commodity prices in the industry. When will this end. Will oil be ever valuable again?

I believe that the lever for oil prices is in the hands of the two of the largest economies of the world- China and India. The slowdown in the Chinese economy coupled with a long term and astute strategy by the Indian government not to reduce the fuel prices thereby controlling a drastic and senseless development bubble which China witnessed in the early 2000s, eventually resulted in the stubborn low oil prices. The Indian government has been ever insistent on using sustainable forms of energy while stockpiling both domestically and internationally record volumes of oil reserves at these low prices. This strategy is well thought of and would help in preventing a China like economic bubble that only benefits the rich and would increase the ever widening class divide. The production glut has not helped in reducing the prices too.

The oil price might increase with the next Chinese development cycle and might hover around $60-70/barrel. It all depends on how the Chinese supreme leader manages to enforce anti-corruption while figuring out how to deal with the Panama papers leak which explicitly featured everyone related to him.

There is a radical shift happening in Saudi Arabia. The old order is slowly being phased out in favor a new order led by a ruthless young Prince who is hell bent on reducing the reliance of oil in his kingdom. Moves like creating the world’s largest fund or the wealthiest company from the privatisation of Aramco are aimed at weaning the pampered populace away from oil wealth. Already home to large reserves of uranium and gold, the Saudi prince  knows well that radical steps are needed else the kingdom would soon be redundant in the coming decades having seen a complete failure of the Wahhabist ideology.

USA with a clear knowledge of its shale oil reserves and production capabilities has wilfully pitted Iran into the mix so that oil prices remain suppressed forever. This would help in neutralising Russia. With a never ending Syrian war which started because Qatar wanted to sell it’s gas to Europe and the only way such a pipeline would exist is if it went through Syria. Russia being the single largest supplier of gas to Europe not wanting to lose its major customer with whom it enjoys an ages old love-hate relationship ensured that the repressive regime of Assad remained in Syria thereby ensuring a brutal civil war and a never ending refugee crisis that has engulfed the Western civilization to its worst moral and existential crisis- which it has never seen since the Second World War.

The scariest part of all this is that no one has a clue what is going on. All the players in the fray have been preparing for this moment for a long time and hence some serious sacrifices has to be made before some normalcy returns- if it ever returns!

Ever doubted the power of oil. It simply drives the age we live in! Being in this industry for a decade, I remember this quote by Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo everyday:

Ten years from now, twenty years from now, you will see: oil will bring us ruin… Oil is the Devil’s excrement

Vastness

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A few weeks back we had a hike in one of the trails of the Grand Canyon. It was a 3hr hike and we were able to traverse the spectacular and captivating south rim. As one walks and see the majestic splendour of one of nature’s most articulate creation-it is the vastness of the canyon that made me spellbound.

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One has to truly go there and be mesmerized by the grandness (as my wife exclaims excitedly) of such a geographical formation to really understand the spirit of our great planet. When we traverse through the trails and witness rocks as old 1000s of million year (one of the oldest rock was the Rama schist at 1755 million years)  we can arrive at one conclusion-we are nothing but a speck of cosmic matter in the travails of time.

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Book of Life

It was a tough week. People I knew or didn’t know were falling around like a House of Cards. Either in the news, or in the professional-personal lives, there were instances of voices permanently silenced. It is indeed ironic to see all this happen in the week when we commemorated the death of our Lord. Death as always can silence, leave a void and mark the end of a chapter. But it doesn’t  mean that the book has ended. Life simply goes on with new characters and newer circumstances. It is important to make the best out of the life and the time we have here. Because every chapter has an end…every book has a story.

Spring Forward

Spring is here. It is a time of rejuvenation. A time to start all over again. I read somewhere that life is a manifestation of the four seasons: summer i.e., one of happiness, success, joy and enjoyment; fall, one of failures which translates to the life lessons that one is forced to learn; winter, one of desolate, loneliness and hopelessness; and finally spring, one of starting all over again and working hard for the fun times promised by summer. There are intricate balances between these seasons of life. Spring is the best among the four because who can let go of the opportunity to start all over again and make a statement in life?

Dearth of ideas

Indiana Jones movie has been announced. Any day now the young Han Solo will be announced. Star Wars is taking a page out of Apple’s book by being in the news for all the strange reasons. There is movie featuring Batman and Superman just around the corner. What am I saying- there is a dearth of new ideas in the mainstream media. Just because Disney is doing universes, every film studio is attempting the same with no logical reason whatsoever and all the movies look exactly the same. The same old characters are being rehashed continuously with the same stories told differently. Except for television, it appears that Hollywood will never learn. There was a major financial crash that almost wiped out the industry in the late 90s. It was on the ashes of that crash that Pixar came with some very novel ideas and became successful. At this rate, I think those days may be soon here.