15 June 2013


(This was my fourth Toastmasters speech)
(Tostmasters Speech 4; 569 words; 7 minutes.)

Rene Descartes——17th century French mathematician and philosopher, now known as Father of Modern Philosophy——asked an important question to himself: How can I prove my existence? It is possible that it was a Friday evening, and he was in a downtown bar, Or maybe he was on the wrong side of forties, when men tend to ask such questions. Nevertheless, he came up with an important axiom: Cogito ergo sum. In english: I think, therefore I am. Somebody is asking the question——How can I prove my existence? That somebody must exist, to ask such a question. Hence I exist.

Earlier he had rejected the validity of senses by  Wax theory. Wax has certain color and texture. But when you bring it near to a flame, wax changes its properties; hence, our senses deceive. Only a thinking mind can tell us what is right and what is wrong.

Thus Descartes identified ‘I’ with mind. And, this has been carried on for centuries now. We say a person is intelligent, solves crossword puzzles, solves Rubik's cubes, IQ over 150 etc. We identify people with mind.

Now, Eckhart Tolle——spiritual leader, New York times best selling writer of The Power of Now and A New Earth——says, Descartes was wrong. We are not our mind. Mind is just a tool. Like a hand or an eye. If you don’t use it properly, it’ll use you.

Compulsive thinking
Human beings are compulsive thinkers. As I give this speech your mind is somewhere else——Mortgage, bills, children, appraisals, health etc. Also, mind has this ability to dig out past incidents and blow them up, out of proportion. Mind plays past events again and again.

How could she say I look fat?

That was probably an off-hand remark. But our mind digs it out, adds emotions, and repeats it again and again.

This activity exhausts us.

The solution: disassociation with the mind. Observe the mind chatter. You thought about mortgage right after you woke up in the morning. Now you are thinking again at lunch. Observe that. Gradually mind chatter reduces.

Another solution is to live in the PRESENT.

Babies live in the present. They don’t know the concept of time: Past and Future. So are the animals——Dogs and Cats. They live in the present. They are just happy to see US, when we return from work.  Only adult human beings are tangled in Time.

We worry about the past that can not be changed. We have an illusion that things would become better in future. But only thing we can do is live NOW.

Creativity needs the presence. You cannot think about mortgage and write a poem. That’s why you feel relaxed, when you indulge in an activity that needs complete presence. Because the mind is not thinking.

Right NOW you don’t have any problems. Of course you need to take care of mortgage, bills, children. But right NOW as I speak we don’t have any problems. If a tornado to hit this building, we’ll take appropriate action. Run to a safe area. Call 911. Our mind is capable of doing the right thing.

So compulsive thinking is not necessary. By not thinking, you are relaxing the mind. You are creating a distance between 2 thoughts. At first you’ll find short periods of silence. When you practice this, gradually the distance increases. You become AWARE. When you are 100% AWARE, you become enlightened.

Thank you.

The untethered soul

The untethered soul [4.5/5]
By Michael A. Singer
Ramana Maharshi asked the question: who am I? When you think about it, it is very difficult to answer that question. You are not your name——letters arranged in a particular fashion. You are not the image in the mirror. Ten years ago the image was different. Every cell in the body is replaced in 7 years. You are physically different now, since 7 years ago.
Ramana Maharshi finally gives a cryptic answer: the one who asks the question——‘Who am I?’——I am that person.
Yeeeeeks. Little tricky. Michael A. singer has written a 200 page book to answer this question.
Since childhood, we come across a lot of experiences. We cling to them and develop convictions.
You go to church every Sunday. You like Kishor Kumar songs. You love to drive fast. A pretty girl ditched you during your college days. You love baby-laughs. You jog everyday.
These experiences make you. Some stay with you as positive energy. Some negative.
When we face new situations, you compare them with your convictions and judge them.
When you meet a person who likes contemporary songs, you become uncomfortable, since they don’t share your likings. When you meet an agnostic, you are uncomfortable. You don’t understand people who don’t exercise. When people cut you in the traffic, you get edgy. You think women who wear short dresses are of loose character.
You judge everyone with your past experiences. What happens when you don’t store past experiences? You become a window. You don’t store any energies. The experiences pass through you like the white lines on the road. When a new situation confronts you, you don’t have anything to compare with, you face them with the enthusiasm of a child. You don’t judge anyone. You become more peaceful.
It is a great book. I highly recommend this book.

The most important thing

Following is my second speech at the Toastmasters.
[4/11/2013 (500 words, 5:50 minutes)]

In 2010, Spanish movie, The Secret in Their Eyes, won The Best Foreign Film at the Academy awards. In this movie 2 detectives desperately look for a murderer, without much success, because he changes his location frequently. At one point they get hold of, few of his letters--all of them have one thing in common: soccer. In all his letters at one point or another he mentions soccer.

It occurs to one of the detectives, that no matter how hard you try to hide your identity, you cannot really run away from your passions. They wait for him at the next soccer event, and finally catch him.

Every one of us is passionate about something. If you don’t have any passions, you should find one. Find the one thing that disturbs you most. Child abuse, War, abortion, Unhealthy Food, Expensive Medical and Education.

If you were in charge, what changes you would make?

My passion is writing.

Someone asked Stephen King, well known writer, how to know when one is ready to start writing? King says, new writers should Read-a-Lot. Read, Read, and Read. And, One day, you’ll come across a book, you read a few pages, and you say to yourself, this book sucks, I can do better. Then you are ready to start writing.

Find out if you can do anything better?

Once you have found your calling, How to ensure success in your chosen field?

Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times best selling writer of, Outliers & The Tipping Point, has a formula. Gladwell says if you invest 10,000 hours in any activity, you’ll become number 1 in that field. That is little over 2 hours per day for 10 years. That’s a lot of time. Even if you don’t become number one, you’ll be one of the top key players.

The more and more you invest time in your passion, The number of people who have invested similar amount of times narrows down. That increase your chances of success.

when you do something passionately, it shows.  e.g.
Apple products. Google etc
Jonas Salk was a virologist in the early 50s. He noticed many children are becoming victims of Polio. He joins the fight to eradicate Polio. Soon he realizes, the more they delay to find a vaccine, the more children will become victims.  So finding a vaccine becomes the number one thing in his life. He worked for 7 years. In the last 2 and half years he worked 16 hours a day , 7 days a week. When the vaccine was ready of test on human beings, 1.8m American children participated in his test. One of the biggest in medical history. The test was a success. After the test, he had an opportunity to become rich, by patenting his vaccine. He refused to do so; when asked said, his invention is like sun, universal, one cannot patent sunlight.

Find your passion, change your life, touch people.