Talk at VIF Bootcamp: Part 2 Packed with life experiences and anecdotes, Shri. Adinarayanan talks about Culture and Civilization from a personal point of view.

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How do we be friends with our own emotions?

That is a very very important thing. For now, what has happened is, most of us, suffer ourselves. We suffer ourselves because our emotions are obviously in a state of imbalance. Health, just as it needs to be in a state of balance, emotion as well needs to be in a state of balance, but it seems to be like an idea. We constantly encounter…for example, someone says something, let us say, someone calls us an…you drive out and in peak traffic, someone calls you an idiot, that’s it, your emotions go for a toss. You know, it goes haywire, and many a time it happens. In India, you cannot avoid it. Nobody will call you, “Kanne, maniye…” (terms of endearment) Nobody will address you in such pleasant terms. The way to handle emotions, if I can be crisp and also practical, one thing is to do with our expectation. If we always expect ourselves to be in a state of emotionally “Ah!” happy, pleasant is the word, we always want that to be pleasant, will it be so? That idea itself will cause you unpleasantness! The very idea that you hold on to, emotional pleasantness, will cause you unpleasantness. Because that will restrict you in so many ways. You try to avoid relationships because that might cause unpleasantness. You put yourself into a shell, that will itself cause unpleasantness. So the very idea that you need to be always emotionally pleasant causes unpleasantness, the reverse reaction. For example, you tell yourselves, “I should not be angry.” Plain and simple. “From now on, I am not going to be angry.” And you encounter someone. They speak very pleasingly to you, in pleasing words, in pleasing swear words, and “I am not going to be angry”, you tell yourselves. “I am not going to be angry” “I am not going to be angry“ (in a slightly angry tone) “I am NOT going to be angry” (in an even angrier tone) And it bursts forth! That is not the way to deal with emotions. There are other ways to deal with emotions. So when you get this right, one is expectation. The very expectation causes an issue. That does not mean you should not have regulated emotions, you need to regulate your emotions. The second aspect is, how you deal with it practically.

A simple logic is, you would see that, you breathe in deeply, your emotions stabilise. Most of us tend to use only shallow breathing. That tends to cause tremendous stress. Shallow breathing causes stress, if you didn’t know this. If you deep breathe, you will see, your emotions will automatically be balanced.

Because what are emotions? These are glandular secretions. Those glandular secretions need to be harmonized. Appropriate secretions at appropriate times. Then you feel emotionally balanced. If it goes haywire, you will feel imbalanced. And hence, understanding the technology behind it, you use the right tools, for example, breathing, you will see, you will be balanced. It is not about your choice. You are doing the right thing for it. That becomes critical. So one is expectation, another is the right tools to be balanced.


So can you give a framework, particularly for taking decisions with respect to career. Can you guide us on that?

Career is always…when you have a clear line of thought where this is good, that is bad, it becomes straightforward. Now when does decision-making become complex? Because this looks good, that looks good, this also looks good, now how do I choose? So everything is…when your options open up, or your number of choices open up, that is when decision-making becomes problematic, right? But actually no. Actually if you realise that your choices are opened up, it will not be a path to suffering, Most of us suffer through the decision-making process. When you need to get into a college – this college, that college, this college? It becomes very complex to handle. But if you look at the underlying logic, underlying process of how it works, let us say, you wish to buy a bike, motor bike. Till then, if you have observed carefully, till then, you would not have observed closely all the different varieties of bikes. Have you observed this process? Only because of this becoming a priority, you start observing bikes for the first time, and you start looking at more and more details and you start evaluating, and then you start collecting opinions. Hundreds of opinions.

Each person that you talk to gives different opinions. This is all a process. If you look at it as a process, it is not a problem. But if you look at it as decision making, every opinion cannot lead you to a decision. This is a process of collecting opinions. This is not yet decision. You have not yet reached the decision point.

So this is the manas processing. The buddhi need not be applied at that point in time. It comes at a later stage. First, it is data processing, you clean the data, depending on the weights that you associate with opinions passed, who matters, how much, what knowledge do they have in their field, and then what is most important to you, for your practical life. Is mileage more important to you or is low maintenance more important to you? You evaluate the possibilities, and then you come to a decision point. If you jump to premature decision points, you’re in for shocks, because then it will change. One opinion looks convincing, you have decided, then the next opinion seems convincing, and you’re rocked from your decision. And that becomes problematic. Otherwise it is not a problem. This is the process with which we decide. We don’t decide until the decision point. Till then, acquire more data points. Data processing is very very critical. That is the whole data analytics. When you reach the decision point, decide and run so hard forward that you don’t have time to regret it. I have never regretted the decision of coming back from the US, because by the time I landed here, I had started running. Already looking at the future, possibilities, working towards it, actionating on it, and hence, you are not looking back and feeling “Are yaar! Che! US mein hota tho kithna accha hotha!” Not even a single flicker of thought has crossed my mind. So that is actionating on your decision. So decide when there is a decision point. Till then don’t decide. Once decided, actionate on it so that, you don’t need to relook your decision. When you need to relook, that is again a decision point. There appropriate analysis applies.


How do you define success and where do you draw the line?

I would say, why do you draw a line? I never draw a line. Success is definitely sweet. All of us wish to succeed in whatever we do. For example, I sit like this. Isn’t this the success of the efforts that I have put in in the past? I remember a time when I could not sit like that, you know. I would sit in padmasana and it would ache painfully “Ah!” my pelvic region would be all painful. Over a period of time, I decided this was important to me. Important to me, others might consider it,”What is the use of sitting like this?” But it was important to me, it was a priority for me, and hence, I took a path, a course, which led me to being successful in something even as simple as sitting like this. So success, you don’t need to draw a line. All of us wish to succeed, in whatever we take up.

But what matters to you, that you decide. That need not be decided by society for you. If it is decided by parents for you, it is okay, but you accept it. If not, you set your path, your definition of what your priority is. Then you will see that, you wish to be successful. You better be successful because success matters.

Your success matters not just to you, but to everybody around you. You will see, my being successful, does it impact you or not? It very much impacts every single person I meet. My being successful in tapasya, my being successful in meditation, my being successful in yoga, my being successful in computer science, my being successful matters not just to me, but to everybody around me. But what matters to you, you better be successful in it. You use the right means to approach it, be successful and don’t draw a line. Why should I draw a line? Why should you draw a line?


Can you tell us more about the guru parampara?

Okay, see that is in my experience I can tell you, that in this lifetime, see for example, generally it is considered the mother is considered very important. Mother and father. Very good, very important. But if you get the perspective, my mother and father are linked to me in this birth as mom and dad. But if I look further, you’ll see my guru has always linked up for so many lifetimes, okay? So that’s the thread holding together. It is like mother, for this lifetime is a mother. You cannot negate it. There is no reasoning about it. It is simply there. And it is very very important. All of us have mothers. All of us have fathers. But a guru extends beyond one’s, this physical framework that you call as a lifetime, it extends beyond that. So there are detailed technical aspects to it, we shall not go into. So that is where the guru parampara becomes very very important. They hold you in their embrace through lifetimes, they guide you. And that becomes very very critical. That is the guru shishya parampara that has existed from ancient times. It is a very normal thing, but if you are not oriented in that fashion, it might seem strange logic – “What is he talking about?” And that is also very valid. I am talking about my experience. If you feel it is strange logic, that is also okay. That is not a problem. But definitely, this civilization owes it to the guru shishya parampara. Earlier it was considered father-son and so on. And then it grows much beyond that. So that is how it is held through. That is the guru shishya parampara. It is not automatic. It is not random.


Who is your favourite character from the Mahabharata and why?

You know, I know who I was, but yeah…favourite character?..umm. My favourite character is Yudhishthira. He is an awesome guy. Why? Because, if you look at him, he was extremely knowledgeable, exceptionally knowledgeable, and dharma is such a thing, that it is not rule-based. It is like aesthetics.

If you have cultivated your aesthetics, you need to cultivate, work on it. It is beautifully said that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. It is exactly that. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. If you have cultivated your aesthetics, you need to cultivate, work on it. It is beautifully said that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. It is exactly that. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

And you need to cultivate it. In Tamil we say, rasanai, you need to rasichu rusichu vazhanum. That means rasichu rusichu vazharathu…… is that okay? (Laughter) So that, living a tasteful life, living an artistic life, most of us have become mechanical, and that shows. Every action is mechanical, every day is mechanical, it is routine. There is no life behind it we say. And that is very valid. It is because of the lack of artistic rasanai – appreciation of beauty. Even our educational process you see, earlier used to be music, dance, art, everything used to be there. Now, it is physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology. It seems mechanical and it does not develop your taste. That feel is not developed. That feel becomes very very critical. That Yudhishthira displayed in good measure and the only person to appreciate that was Krishna. Nobody else could understand Yudhishthira. Because he was so highly artistic, that see even for example, developing a character is an artistic capability. You will see, otherwise what is the use of truth, you tell me? What is the use of truth, what is the use of honesty, what is the use of sincerity? If someone does something to you, what is the use of cultivating patience? Now, our reasoning cannot even imagine what is the use? What is the fun? “Eh! Just give it back” Daam! Doom! We are in that mode. But if you develop that artistic capability, then you will see that really it awesome. So Yudhishthira was a peak manifestation of that.

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