Monday, February 25, 2008

Karma and Daily Life

'Karma' has become a very popular word. For those who don't know what Karma is - it is the Hindu concept/belief that your good and bad deeds have an effect on your fate in the present birth or a later birth. This concept kind of goes well along with the concept of the 'exchange of energies' in Reiki (a healing method) - you need to return any good deeds done to you by others.

I have come to the belief that this concept is probably based on some of the core principles of universe itself. These core principles are evident in modern science. In modern science you would notice how energy would always get translated one form to another but never gets dissolved - a rock falling from a height expends potential energy and the same rock acquires kinetic energy in return - resulting in net delta of zero energy change within an universe. In a spiritual sense, I see the concept of Karma is in the same lines too - you do a bad deed (equivalent to expending bad energy) and it comes back to you to effect your fate (equivalent to the bad energy getting acquired by things that effect your own fate in return - resulting in net delta of zero karmic energy change within an universe).

I lot of people believe in this concept of 'Karma' due to reasons apart from those of mine. But, I have noticed that this belief by a lot of people is only limited to casual charity. Rarely have I seen people expand the scope of their belief into their daily life. This probably is because a lot of people seem to believe that Karma is only about 'large' bad deeds or good deeds and not about 'small ones'. Very rarely would a lot of people have a second thought on the 'small ones' - when they trouble their neighbors with high volume music or when they kill a chicken for its meat or when they give a bad time to a co-worker at office or when they deliver unworthy service to their customers. But, can the concept of Karma really be limited to 'large' deeds. Universe does have a principle that a lot of small things can add up to a large thing. So, why can't small deeds not add up a large karma? If they do, shouldn't we all take sometime to ponder if we are doing any of those small bad deeds?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Interpreting 'Vaastu' - the Science of Space Healing

Vaastu is a 'space healing science' - it is the 'science' to correct or heal the 'unhealthy' houses, offices or other living spaces. Living spaces too, like a human being, may not be in 'good health. A human (or any living creature for that matter) is considered to be unhealthy if he/she is unable to perform his functions properly. On the same lines, a living space can be considered as not in 'good health' if it is unable to function properly.

What are the functions of a living space? It's functions are to protect and shelter the inhabitants. In a holistic sense, the function to protect or shelter includes more than only protection from weather. When we explore the holistic sense for a living space's functions, we can realise the narrow sense in which we had been looking at our houses and offices.

Many centuries ago, some people in India had realised this. They observed the various 'symptoms' of some living space's 'ill-health' and tried to associate them with some elements of the construction of the living spaces. After many lifetimes of refining this emperical research knowledge, they founded a science. This was called 'Vaastu' - the science of building living spaces.

Unfortunately, the knowledge of this science was limited to a few number of people back then. There were limited copies of the subject published in those days. All this led to a gradual demise of the science from popular attention. Still it was followed in some places in India especially for construction of Temples. The advent of modern life and the competitive pressures of it has led us again to realise the need of a science such as Vaastu. This led to rediscovery and the gradual return to popular attention of this science.

However, has this science and it's rules been properly interpreted after rediscovery? (Indian literature has enough grammatical depth to allow multiple intepretations) This could be a matter of debate. Many researchers and consultants have various interpretations for what has been recorded about the science. How should the rules be correctly interpreted? There has been a lot of grammatical debate in this area. Why not test the various interpretations of rules in the science against real examples? If by interpreting the rule in a certain way we are able to connect clearly the cause and effect, this interpretation might as well be the correct one. This helps in scientific rediscovery rather than mere debate on grammatical interpretations. That is why finding a good Vaastu consultant with at least empirical research experience is important.

PS 1: Another point to note is that though Vaastu is a science, it does not explain all the happenings within a living space. This is because Vaastu is a science about the effect of the living space on people. There are many other things that effect an inhabitant like his Karma and Destiny. In other words, Vaastu only helps in protecting the inhabitants from unhappy events entering in but not from what they bring in themselves upon them!

PS 2: Interestingly, in many cases during our research, my mother and I have found that the Vaastu of a house matches the evident attitudes and lifestyle of its inhabitants. This led us to infer a possible relation between Karma and Vaastu. May be if you do good Karma, you end in a good Vaastu house or may be if you are in a good Vaastu house, it facilitates you doing good Karma. Whatever be the case, a good Vaastu house is always desirable. Especially in a competitive world where even a little bit of advantage goes a long way.

Note: This was one of my first writings. I had intended this to be part of a book on Vaastu.

Totally Owned Enterprise

Large Enterprises and Small Enterprises, each have their own advantages and dis-advantages.

One of the remarkable characteristics that I noticed about smaller enterprises is the amount of dedication you see in the employees of the enterprise. Probably because a lot of these smaller enterprises, starting from the small mom-and-pop stores, are usually manned by family or friends who more often than not know the family. This I feel creates a sense of ownership, a greater sense of commitment. Contrast this with a Large Enterprise. Enterprises with thousands of employees. How many employees of such enterprises feel this commitment? How many would be motivated enough to go to great lengths to explore innovations and to correct inefficiencies?

As a civilization, we have been continously driven to find better ways to make a large group of individuals work together - public stock companies, conglomerates, matrix structures, etc are products of this drive. I think the time has come for us to think about the next level of innovation in these lines - innovation that would not just help get more people work together but would help them work with a sense of ownership. I would like to call this innovation as the 'Totally Owned Enterprise'. But, the how do you build this 'Totally Owned Enterprise' is still a question. I sense that there is no global answer to this. For some industries it might suit to build a KPI structure from top to down and link employee pays with that. For some industries it might suit to let the enterprise itself work as an ecosystem of individual companies or entities. I guess there is more to explore in this area.

Retail - The Last Mile

When I chose to build a career around the Retail industry, a lot of my friends asked me - why retailing? Banking and Financial Services seemed to be a better bet. There was so much consulting work happening around it. That was 5 years back. The world hasn't changed much since then. Banking and Financial Services still consume a lot of consulting, especially IT consulting. But, the key attraction of the Retail industry for me, still remains - its the last mile!

'The last mile' has been fascinating me since my B-school days. We had sifted through a lot of case studies during schooling and one thing was more apparant than anything else - the end-consumer was supreme. The companies that cared for their customers' business always fared better than others. Customers were kings, but the customer's customer - the end consumer - was and is supreme. And the entities closer to 'the supreme' had power in the value network. The closest entities to 'the supreme' are the 'last mile' - a term I borrow from the ICT (Internet, Cable and Telecom) industry - I apply this term to the physical goods flow rather than byte flow as in ICT industry. (The co-play of these two 'last miles' is also very interesting!)

The power of the 'the last mile' translates into better growth. Growth creates momentum that in turn adds momentum to all the constituents of the last mile - the careers of employees and consultants included. The momentum also creates a sense of 'things can be done'. This means a fertile ground for creativity and innovation. All these are exciting, hence 'the last mile' is exciting. What better 'last mile' than Retail, 'the last mile' of physical goods flow - the predominant pre-occupation of a vast majority of people in the world! Hence my decision of Retail vs Banking

Request: Do let me know if I am missing any point in this argument.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Populist Politics and It's Reasons

Every now and then, I keep hearing news about politicians indulging in populist politics in India. This concerns me. This seems to be an increasing trend. It's like democracy can be a detterent to a nation's long-term growth.

But, can the politicians be the only people to blame? They are to consider the mandate of the 'voters'. Can they help it if the voters are typically near-sighted? But, what is putting the far-sight citizens away from voting? I would assume that a vast bulk of these far-sighted citizens would be graduates or post-graduates. Most of these citizens could be persuing more rewarding careers / business. Could it be the long queues at polling stations and the cumbersome formalities that the 'far-sighted' ones cannot afford to spend time in, that is keeping them away from voting? Isn't that a serious neglect of citizens rights that there are such long wait times and formalities? Election Commision of India does choose the number of polling booths to operate and the formalities for voter registration. They take pride in greater turn-outs. But, what if 100% of near-sighted turn out and only 0% of far-sighted turn-out. Was the Indian Consitution flawed in allowing Election Commision excercise discretion in deciding the number of polling booths? On closer inspection, the Indian Constitution does provide a means for citizens to close loop-holes like these - its called the Public Interest Litigation (PIL). Wonder why there cannot be funds financed by 'Corporate Social Responsibility' (CSR) initiatives that take up issues like this through PIL? Systems Thinking can be applied to further discover key triggers for positive change. After all, spending Rs. X for charity through CSR is less beneficial than influencing Rs 1000 * X for welfare through Governmnet spend. It makes good corporate presentation meterial too.

Note: Do let me know if I missed something in making this argument. Apologies if I offended someone.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mercy and Meat

I have somehow not liked eating meat since childhood. I felt it ugly to kill a cute animal for only one meal. We certainly had more taster and healthy food in the world. As I grew up, I seemed to have influenced my whole family to turn to 'vegetarianism'. During my teens, I started exploring my dislike for meat and for non-vegetarian food in general. I am starting to discover spiritual implications of this.

Though I know only a little about religions apart from my own, from my readings and from my discussions with the people I met, I realize that 'Mercy', 'Kindness' and 'Charity' seem to be virtues encouraged by all religions. However, it seems so odd that so many people put a 'scope' around these virtues. Not many let the scope of 'Mercy' to include their own food! Makes me wonder if there is a sense of 'duality' in intrepreting what a virtue is (and hence my blog is titled 'adwaita', non-duality).

As funny as it might sound, I felt that some of the foods that most of us take for granted are, for lack of a better word, merci-less. May be if all of us can spare a little thought on why an animal has to make the ultimate sacrifice to feed us, may be if we could explore tastier recipes in vegetables - may be we would make our world 'truely' merciful.

Note: My apologies if anyone has got offended. Do let me know if my english concerned you or someone you know.