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Life’s calling unraveled

Through three careers in three decades

Little had I realised that the chance encounter with Ma Krishnanandgiri at 12,000 feet in a cave in the Himalayas, would continue to have a momentous impact on my life, even 20 years after the event. Taking a break from my intense career grind with a coveted company, my life partner, Arti and I were on a trek. I was a banker in my early 30’s, seeking life-security like most of my colleagues at that stage of career. I had a classic post-independence, middle-class Indian upbringing. I had made it out of a top management school along with a prized professional degree, to land in my career.

Arti and I had a common interest in spiritual philosophers and ‘seeking’ out secrets of life. One such attempt was learning Reiki, from where I started sensing that I could ‘attract things into life’. But my rational and scientific educational background could not accept that. On meeting ‘Ma’ (spiritual mother to everyone) and getting to know her, I put this troubling poser to her. She said what I was experiencing was, in fact, true. That is how we create our world. I refused to believe her. To a person, who had learnt to be competitive and ‘achieve’ in a ‘pre-existing given’ world, this was too much to accept.

“If you are truly open-minded and logical, why would you throw away what you experience, when it doesn’t fit a hypothesis that you have been conditioned to accept since childhood?” she threw me a gauntlet. Now, she had got me. In her own life, she had renounced even the basic security of an ashram, to go and live in a cave in the Himalayas. She had done this to ‘test’ faith.

Inspired by her spartan solitary living to ‘test’ faith, the immediate impact was that I decided to begin a life of self-awareness, by at least bringing mindfulness and meditation into my consuming corporate-career-centred existence. The approach of experimenting with life, albeit with my standard of security and comforts, took me to accept a career challenge of launcing a life insurance business for the first time in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Life insurance is considered culturally unacceptable in an Islamic country. But I saw it materialize, and that encouraged me to take the next step in validating the possibility. I then shed the umbrella of a corporate brand, and gave up the golden gravy of the corporate world.

I took the dive into entrepreneurship, during the dotcom bust in 2001, and found myself realising what it is to be on a bumpy roller-coaster of a career; meagre take-homes, investing your nest-egg without any assurance, highs and lows of results, being eaten up by big fish, stolen ideas and ip, and so on. My first start-up was a failure. Another one started well, but got gobbled up by the 2008-09 crises. One venture has made it to the size of $100m. But this wasn’t my final calling fulfilled.

I realised that my journey was like trekking up and down the mountains in the Himalayas. It is a seemingly never-ending trek. You experience a stunning scenery as you reach a high point, but the dreaded drudgery of the climb up from the lows can be gruelling. The downward spirals are vicious. During those times, everything in the world appears to be conspiring to put you down. What stood me in great stead, were my ‘mindful’ practices like meditation, music, yoga and mantras, which would help me get back to my optimistic outlook and positivity. It was all about bringing back your balance, sustaining the inspiration to persist and staying engaged for the pursuit.

The other insight that was a defining moment for me was when I realised how frequently I was reponsible in bringing about my own downturns because of my shadows or the inability to read situations right. I understood the significance of Ma’s cue in her assertion that ‘we create our world’, whether the outcome is positive or negative, we have a large role to play in it.

Now, this sixth sense opened my eyes wide. I realised what a gaping hole we have in our perception of the world. How many of us see the consequences of our actions, as originating from our own selves? How many of us realise that our actions are coloured by our own unconscious? Such an insight may seem too scary to bear its burden, but unless there is an influence of self-awareness in our thoughts and actions, our inherited leaning will lead us to unempowered and oblivious lives, that lack understanding and meaning.

The urgency of this predicament has provided the stimulus for me to make the leap to my current calling in ConsciousLeap. I firmly believe that it is imperative to wake ourselves from our unconscious selves and lead more conscious and self-aware lives. I decided to become a pointer and a trigger to arouse others out of their predisposed condition, in an inspirational format. To give articualtion to this vision, I have written and published a fiction novel Jasmine Builds On Shifting Sands, produced the Make You Happen workshop series, and I publish regular content. The journey of my current calling has begun and I look ever forward. 

I implore you to take the leap as well. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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