How To Catch A Monkey

MonkeyA popular parable talks about how in ancient times people used to catch monkeys. The trick was not to catch the monkeys by chasing them but by allowing the monkeys to catch themselves. What they did was to cut a small hole in a coconut, just large enough for a monkey to put its hand in. Next they would tie the coconut to a tree and fill it with nuts and sweet treats.

The monkey would smell the treat, squeeze its hands into the coconut and grab the treat. Unfortunately the hole was not large enough for the monkey to pull out with his fist clenched. Of course the monkey could easily release itself from the trap by letting go of the treat and pulling its hand out but it simply cannot bring itself to do so.

We may smile at the foolishness of the monkey and clearly see how its inability to let go leads to its downfall. But does this not apply to us too?

We hold on to things and ideas for too long and many times we are trapped, simply unable to let go. The universe is deep, loving, and joyful. Every day the universe invites us to its joyful dance but we find ourselves stuck in our very quaint notions of reality. While the joyful dance of deeper reality continues we miss the opportunity to participate by remaining in the traps of our own making.

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Father’s Ashes

VaseA guy goes to a girl’s house for the first time, and she shows him into the living room.

She excuses herself to go to the kitchen to make them a few drinks, and as he’s standing there alone, he notices a cute little vase on the mantel. He picks it up, and as he’s looking at it, she walks back in.

He asks, “What’s this?”

She says, “Oh, my father’s ashes are in there.”

He goes, “Oooh. Uh. Er. I didn’t know. I uh . . .”

She says, “Yeah, he’s too lazy to go to the kitchen to get an ashtray.”

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Was Steve Jobs A Yogi?

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

After just one semester in college Steve Jobs dropped out. He believed that the education he was getting was not worth spending his parents entire savings on. He continued to live on campus for another 18 months, sleeping on the floor in his friend’s room, and dropping in classes that took his fancy. He collected and sold coke bottles to get money and ate free meals served at the local Hare Krishna temple on Sundays. One class that he dropped into was to prove crucial for the future. This was a class on Calligraphy and gave him insight into typefaces and fonts.

He was profoundly impacted by the counter culture movement of the 60s and he saved up money to go to India. His objective was to gain spiritual insights and enlightenment. He sought to meet the Guru of Ramdass (Richard Alpert), Neem Karoli Baba. However the guru just passed away before they could meet. After some misadventures in the Himalayas and Tibet he returned back to the US.

Steve was disillusioned with the poverty he encountered in India and found it hard to reconcile this with the high spiritual ideals of the country. He had a burning desire to help the masses but he gained insight during his trip that the way out of poverty was not through socialism or spirituality but through technology and capitalism. He later said, “Thomas Edison did a lot more to improve the world than Karl Marx or Neem Karoli Baba.” He agreed with Gandhi’s maxim that “Poverty was the worst kind of violence.” There is a saying in India that goes, “You cannot sing the praises of the Lord on an empty stomach.” And without the love of the Lord in one’s heart, humans cause immense damage to one another and the environment. There is no nobleness in poverty: only heartbreak, humiliation, and misery.

Steve Jobs now understood that the best way for him to transform society and help the masses was by creating value. He would turn into an entrepreneur and a businessman. But his deep and inner motivation was always a deeper love for humanity and a desire to help. This is the essence of Karma Yoga. To understand Apple and Steve Jobs you have to understand that this was not about technology, or simplicity, or design, or beauty. It is about access. In its very essence its driven by a desire to make technology accessible to the masses and this came from a deeper sense of love and a desire to transform society for the better. Like all of us Steve was a complex human being and like most yogic journeys Steve’s journey was neither linear nor simple. But his interest in an yogic life can be inferred from the fact that one of his most prized possession was the “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Yogananda that he read multiple times.

Through his efforts spanning 3 decades, Steve Jobs created millions of jobs and created immense wealth and prosperity that spread far and wide. The innovations that he and his company created, and other imitated, made technology accessible to Billions of people. This did more to empower and democratize society than what he or anybody else could have ever achieved through philanthropic activities. If this is not the result of a deeper yogic movement within then what is?

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Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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Other Worlds To Sing In

Picture of Singing Bird
When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember well the polished old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it. Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person–her name was “Information, Please” and there was nothing she did not know. “Information, Please” could supply anybody’s number and the correct time.

My first personal experience with this genie-in the-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible but there didn’t seem to be any reason in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. “Information, Please,” I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.

A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear, “Information.”

“I hurt my finger,” I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience. Continue reading

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Infertility, Stress, and Yoga

Stork Delivering Baby

Once we reached our third anniversary, my husband and I decided to start trying to conceive. We wanted to start our family while we were still relatively young. But we had no idea what kind of journey we were about to embark on. Six months off birth control, without using any protection, and still no baby in sight. We were getting frustrated. I had been healthy all my life and every female member of my family was able to get pregnant without even trying. Why was I having so many problems? We decided to head to the fertility doctor to make sure that neither one of us had any serious issues that would prevent pregnancy. Everything checked out just fine and we were back at square one.

I began doing research, tons and tons of reading on any and all topics related to fertility. After a while my eyes seemed to open, a light bulb turned on. I realized that stress was likely the cause of my inability to conceive. All the stress I was putting on myself and my husband to make a baby, in addition to all the normal stresses of my job and life in general, it was just too much for my body to bear. It was a difficult idea to come to terms with, but once I got over myself and threw a little pity party, I was ready to do everything in my power to get rid of this unnecessary stress.

My research on stress reduction techniques lead me to explore yoga more in depth. I had participated in various yoga classes through my gym throughout my young adult life, but was never very serious about it and quit as soon as life became too “busy”. But every article and personal account I read further confirmed in my mind that I needed to start doing yoga regularly. So I began my search for the perfect yoga studio. I contacted numerous instructors in my city and nearby towns, and I was able to narrow down my options. Continue reading

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