The protection of the cage

The rabbit looks out of its cage and sees the storm brewing outside. It sees now the sensing, caring and protecting nature of the cage. Some day, when the storm is gone, the cage will disappear and the world will be open again.

The intelligence of the universe seems to transcend time itself and so does its protective nature. But the protection comes with one condition, trust and faith. And these must also transcend time and space.

The value of what is given away

We all like to be seen as people who are giving in nature. We even give away a lot of things. But what happens after? Once you have given to someone, do you expect something back? Why? This means you attach a value to the thing you have given away and want a return in equal value. This is not true giving. If you are really giving something, the value of that thing that you give away should be zero to you. In reality giving something away is like devaluing the thing for yourself.

However what you give may have value to the receiver, in fact it may have great value. Or it may have no value whatsoever to the other person too. But since you attach no value to it any longer, this should not matter.

What you are giving is not the value, what you give is the opportunity for the other person to find value in the thing that is given. It is just that, an opportunity. It is a possibility, not an obligation that the other person has to take or even be interested in.

What then do you get in return? Should you never expect anything in return for what you did? Well, If you are truly giving to someone, you should expect something for yourself, but you should not expect this from the other person. You should get back happiness from the feeling of giving and freedom from the thing that is given. This only comes from yourself. So when you give others, you should return these to yourself.

If giving away has not given you back these things, then it is only a loan you have lent and what you get from yourself in return is attachment and worries.

True giving is only possible if you are already happy before you do so and so anything you get in return is redundant.

The Key

After training many years in martial arts a certain sense of belonging and connection has grown in me with the art, its practitioners and its source, the Japanese hombu dojo. So it was with a heavy heart that I looked at the last two weeks when, having not been able to get a visa, I was forced to stay back home while the rest of my buyu left for Japan.

I went through many phases in my perception of things. At first there was a bit of disappointment, closer to the date of travel there was a sense of disconnection from the whole group. There was energy all around and I was drained, not part of it, left behind in the journey. All the built up expectations from the trip and the times I was looking forward to training in Japan were coming to a standstill.

After the group left, there was a sense of stillness for a while. I actually focused on the work that needed to be done and things that needed to be closed, knowing that some other time would be mine in Japan. Then I started seeing the pictures and conversations of the experiences of my group in Japan. I found myself desperately trying to live the trip through their communications. At the same time, I did not want to come across as being sad to the people in the group and so refrained from posting anything unless it was really necessary.

It eventually broke something and disappointment and calmness all disappeared into despair. Every word they wrote and every picture they put up was a reminder of what I was missing, of what I had screwed up on. I started thinking about what went wrong. Anger and rage overcame me with no target or source. I was just angry. Then It all turned back at me and I thought “This is my fault. I missed something. I did not plan properly. I lost my kamae”. Things were starting to fall apart in my head. Out of sheer sadness that was coming over me, I left the chat group where Japan conversations were happening.

One person noticed and called immediately. What he said made sense but not a difference at that time. I was too far gone to listen to reason. But after the call, things subsided. I was thinking clearly a little bit. I made up my mind to go on with other things that I could do here. Also not getting any more updates from Japan crowd on a minute-by-minute basis helped.

I caught up with some other buyu who were here and we went to a movie. I don’t know exactly when but sometime that evening, things cleared up in my head. I stopped thinking about what was happening in Japan as part of my world. It was something that was happening in a different universe where my buyu were. I was looking at it from the outside. It had nothing to make me sad about. It was THEIR training.

That’s when It became clear to me that the key was not in Japan, it was in training, be it Japan or anywhere else in the world. I had to continue training no matter what. Japan was but a point in the Journey. I would still miss it but It would not affect me beyond that.

I remembered Soke saying in his unarmed fighting techniques book, I think it was in the kukishin school section that he was teaching through radio waves (denpa) and not through physical senses. It had to be picked up by feeling the waves. As he was creating these waves through training in Japan, to pick it up anywhere, the right device would also be training. We just have to tune into the right channels to see things come to life.

As such Soke TV has many different channels and some of the popular international ones telecast regularly in India (When they visit us :):):) ).

The Caged Rabbit

The caged rabbit looks out and asks itself “Maybe I should have asked for keys instead of carrots”.

It is a dilemma. What you need vs What you long for. Food vs Freedom.

Life vs Life. There is no answer that can bring his despair to an end…

The universe looks at him, impassive, unfazed, almost indifferent. Too small a speck in the universe to matter to the universe?

Or is there a deeper reasoning that exists. Something in the larger context of time that rabbit does not see, cannot see and is not aware of. Something that only the universe can fathom in its infiniteness.

Will that something matter? The cage exists in the here and now and so does the rabbit. Does the future and what it holds have any value today? Is today’s despair going to matter tomorrow? Should it then be taken into account when you decide at all?

Looking for deeper meaning during good times can be quite joyful. But when times are down, the search itself seems meaningless and wasteful.

No choice really, but to keep going on…

Organization and Structure

People often consider themselves well organized or highly structured.  They believe in this so strongly that they stand by their way of working without respite and fight for it.  However a very common side-effect of this is that their work load increases drastically in maintaining this way of work.  Now hold on… how does being organized and structured increase workload?  Shouldn’t it reduce your workload?

Well it seems the paradox arises due to the simple mis-representation of structure as organization.  Why would they be different?  They seem to be indicating the same thing.  What is the difference?  A simple example might help.  Let’s say we bring in some structure to our office in the way things are kept.  Sounds simple enough.  There should be a place for everything and everything should have a place.  Straight forward?  Ok if you say “paper should always be kept on this table” and “pens should always be kept on that table”, that is structure and organization right?  Well it is definitely structure.  How about “the pens should be kept next to the papers always”?  Makes more sense right?  Logically when you need to write you would look for the two together.  But wait, we did not say where the two should go, this table or that table?  Well this is more organized in terms of being rational and logical but less structured in terms of being a hard and fast rule.

You will find that people who are more organized are saving time and people who are more structured may spend some extra time maintaining the structure.  This is not to say that people who are structured are doing something wrong at all times.  Just that the point of organization is to bring a logical and intuitive way of looking at things so that extra thought or time is not needed by people to find what they need.  So things can seem in a disarray but it should be logically possible to find what you are looking for in the most naturally intuitive manner.

Look around.  You will see people who are very efficient with their work but impose no serious boundaries or rules on how their tasks and things are laid out.  They are flexible to an extent and when things get a little close to being chaotic, they can quickly jump in re organize everything the way they should be.  However in daily routines, they may not do this re organization so frequently and hence save on the time.

On the other hand, you will also see people who always “organize” things in a certain way and do this every time something changes even a little bit.  Not one hair out of place, not one paper corner peeping out of its stack is their motto.  While it does add to the aesthetic and clean look of their desk, it adds no real value to their daily routines. On the other hand it can become a little cumbersome to others who work with them but are not driven by this outlook.

So then how do you make things more efficient?  Well a few simple pointers should help.

First and foremost is to understand that structure always adds overheads, regardless of organization.  Why?  Because by definition structure is a fixed way of working which means effort will be required to keep enforce this and also effort will be required to slacken it when situation demands.  So the best structure is no structure.  Impose structure only as a last resort and not by default.  Many things will be working fine without a structure, do not change them.

Many people resort to structure for aesthetics.  This is good if that bit of aesthetics is going to actually affect your business i.e., it is client/partner facing.  In most cases it is just a personal preference and if you look at it objectively may not be necessary.  Mind though that it is not just office space we are talking about here.  That may have a higher need for aesthetics from a business point of view.  However aesthetics when it comes to making documents which are only internally used for temporary collaboration for example may not be worth the time.  Do not generalize this and decide on a case to case basis.  There have been instances where people have attached precedence to aesthetics in the office so much more than required that the office has turned into good looking space with major utility issues or where people are not comfortable in their spaces.  For an office space, the first and foremost rule is comfort for the people working and facilities for their work.  Grumpy or stressed people in a great looking office is not projecting a great image of your organization.  An decent good-looking space with happy people on the other hand says a lot about your organizational culture and this is what people will invest their time in.

Next thing people get heavily involved in is process structure.  They have a certain way of doing things which needs to be followed by everyone who is collaborating together.  This is good thing.  Here again keep in mind that aesthetics is the last thing to have an impact on process.  A process is purely existing to provide efficiency and it has to be effective more than it has to be elegant.  As an example, a slightly technical one, it is nice to have people work on a document that is on Dropbox as we feel that it lets you edit documents on your own commuter, a rather elegant solution, but this is not the most efficient as Dropbox is designed for sharing and not collaborating.  A service like google drive or office 365 on the other hand is designed for collaboration where multiple people can work on a document together at the same time, although the need to open a browser and navigate to the document may seem inelegant.  Still  this approach is way more efficient.  So know what is the objective of the process and structure it accordingly.  If it is sharing, you use Dropbox (people can see the info on their own computer but are not expected to edit it).  If it is collaboration use Google Drive.  Use what is best suited for the essential work and not what looks best on the surface.