Posts Tagged ‘excellence’

For more than 10 years now, I have been trying to get some understanding on a few deep topics like meaning and purpose of life, happiness and success. They have been haunting me for long now. I almost had my bets on the true purpose of life as “To exhaust it all (whatever lies within) to create the best you can!”
Then recently I read something on Buddhism and The Noble Truths leading into concept of control over feelings and got introduced to one very interesting concept. Fusion of Buddhism philosophy with Theory of Natural Selection. We (human beings and other living organisms) are wired to do things so as to improve our chances of survival. The origin of our feelings could be attributed to Natural Selection: ‘Fear’ when we feel threatened, ‘Love’ coz we ultimately want to pass on the genes to next generation and hence to improve our chances of survival, etc. We have evolved so much over last thousands of years that these feelings now come natural to us. That could be one of the reason we seek out material and worldly success – to prove our superiority over billions of other people > to be one of the promising candidate to pass on our genes and our legacy.
Assuming that all this is true and say Theory of Natural Selection is a Universal Principle. That means Universe is constantly trying to improve and evolve towards a better and more efficient form. Human life being one very small component of this ever evolving multi-verse. If this is true, purpose of any thing (living, non-living, micro-organisms or humans) should be to become more and more efficient and for us (human beings) it might boil down to improve chances of survival through any possible means – passing on the best genes, programming human genes, improving life span, exploring the outer space and settle humans in parallel worlds, etc.
All this is possible only if we acknowledge our desires/feelings and feed them – desire to do more, desire to achieve, desire to prove ourselves, etc. Till this point it still makes a some sense. Now the tricky part. With such desires come all kind of feelings – pain, disappointment, etc. And so the saints say that to be really happy we need to break away from these feelings through discipline, cessation, mindfulness, etc.
So, building further on above thoughts, two possible ways of living life could be:
1) To closely listen and feed your feelings – so as to do the best you can to improve chances of survival – do big things and make a dent. This is aligned completely to supposedly Universal Principle – Theory of Natural Selection.
2) To control your feelings, be mindful, be happy and break out of this whole cycle. No desire, no sadness, no disappointments. But I think it would be super hard to work against a Universal Principle. That’s why only few can actually follow this path.
Something inside me tells me that there is a third path as well:
3) Life of Excellence: Discover what lies within and use all your talents & resources to create whatever best you can. Think fine artists, sportsmen, etc.
I am torn as one part of me wants to be a super achiever and another part of me wants a reclusive life somewhere in a countryside.
At this point, I am not sure what the truth is. I have got a hunch that it lies somewhere in between the three triads, but have no clue how to triangulate them to find the only truth.
Any help (suggestions on books, people, articles, etc.) to push me towards The way of Life is more than welcome.
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“Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time.” – Pablo Picasso

‘One should do (work) what he really loves to do’
This we have heard very often… but the thing is that we love so many things. So, how to be sure of what we actually love and what we would actually love to do?

I have read many pointers on arriving at the answer. Just sharing few of them.
1) What things would you do if you have billions of dollars?
2) What things would you do if you know that you wouldn’t fail?
3) Listen to your heart. (This one is a bit ambiguous)

Now, I have been through these pointers couple of times and they are helpful. I would like to add a few practical ones to the list to add the confusion 😉

4) What takes you to the flow state (‘Flow’ psychology – where a person gets intensely immersed into the work at hand and loses the sense of space and time. People can work for long hours in this state)
5) What are the things you would love to learn more and more about. Things that you want to learn all by yourself and keep improving. In such things you are very positively involved out of your own interest. In such things you take all the feedback and comments sportingly and want to improve with every given opportunity.

Last two must be doing rounds but I somehow couldn’t find them when I needed. And I feel that they are really important and practical pointers. At least I found my affirmations using them.

Find out that one thing and strive for excellence! Success ensues!

This is part-II of the series ‘The Quest’. First part can be accessed here (Part I)

In earlier post I tried to show the complex side of ‘The Quest’ – Search of the meaning, in this post I am making a humble attempt to see the simpler side (though through a bit complex explanation).

At the grassroot, it is somewhat apparent that the ultimate aim (as stated in religious scriptures, Vedanta, philosophy, etc.) is the state of bliss! Absolute happiness!

If you refuse to believe what you have not seen and experienced yourself, you should dwelve into your past experiences and see what has brought you a good amount of happiness if not absolute bliss. And how can you identify such experiences than other infinite experiences you have had – It’s by observing emotions. Such moments evoke extreme emotions within. You would still remember them vividly, no matter when they actually happened.

If I were to list some such experiences (purely personal view based on my personal experiences):
1. Extreme performances by others in sports, arts, music, work, etc. – Kind of things that touch your heart within, where it is apparent that nothing better could have been achieved and when personal excellence and divinity manifests in person through his act.
2. Perfection at work – when you have performed to best of your capabilities and are convinced that it’s the best that you have achieved. When output is beyond any compromise.
3. Acts of humanity and selfless service – When you get touched by sincere concerns of people around. When you see people helping others selflessly. When you see/read in Schindler’s list that ‘He who saves a single life, saves the entire world’.
4. Acts and examples of grit, determination – When you set a clear goal and failures after failures you still continue to pursue that and eventually you achieve it.
5. Sudden relief of prolonged stress – Mostly happens when you have lot at stake and when you want something from deep within (passion) like positive examination result where you have prepared for years, successful surgery in case of complicated medical condition
6. When you enter into the ‘flow’ psychological state – When you are absolutely absorbed in activity at hand and loose sense of time and space like playing video games, painting, arts, etc. (Wiki: Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity)

Well, I can list few more but don’t think it’s needed any more, as I can now clearly see the pattern emerging.

Is it so that the things that really matters (to reach that blissful state) are – humanity (pts 3 and 5 above) and personal excellence (pts 1,2,4, 5 and 6)

A. Serve humanity – selflessly – do good to others – save a life – save the world – till there is even a single being hungry in your premises, your whole religion is to feed him (Adapted from Swami Vivekananda) – Vedanta
B. Personal excellence/perfection – Achieve your highest potential – be the best you can – squeeze out all good within – be productive – don’t stop – don’t give in – don’t submit – use all your forces – be ONE with your work – to attain this you need to be loving what you are doing – so listen to your heart – give your best without any expectation – Karma yoga – Philosophy – Vedanta

Cannot we see it all emerging (and converging)? – Everything leads us towards the same pattern, doesn’t matter how we attempt to understand/explain this – bottom-up or top-down; choose what suits you best. ‘The Truth’ emerges from one source ‘the heart’ and converges into another one ‘the perfection’, ‘Perfection’ which can also be called manifestation of the Truth.

[On a side note: The aim and nature of whole existence is to move towards absolute perfection, as we can see in evolution of species, cultures, etc. (ref: ‘The powers of the mind’, Complete works of Swami Vivekananda on Wiki, a must read).]

So true, you can reach perfection only/mostly in things where you have got a lot of interest i.e. where your heart lies. In hindsight this looks so obvious.

It’s complicated yet so simple! Isn’t it!?

‘Listen to your heart!’

Keep It Simple Stupid! (KISS)