The Best Quotes from Rumi’s Little Book of Life

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Rumi has a way with words. His love for all things divine and spiritual is like a medicinal balm for a tired soul. I am always swept away by his verbal dexterity and his nonchalant aura. He has the power to induce both transcendence and melancholy in a single frame and you are left craving for more by the end of each couplet.

There is a neat little book available for Amazon Prime subscribers for free called “Rumi’s Little Book of Life.” It is a quick read filled with wisdom, dreamy poetry, and wonder. An enchanting journey that takes you through Rumi’s ruminations on life (see what I did there?).

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book.

Why do you seek water when you are the stream?

Indulging our pride, we run after every fleeting image.

How odd that being so unimportant we cultivate such grand illusions.

The intellect is luminous and seeks justice so why does the dark ego prevail over it? Because the ego is at home in the body while the intellect is only a visitor, the ego-dog at his own door is like a lion.

Embrace sorrowful thoughts for they sweep the house of your heart clean, scatter the withered leaves, and pull out the twisted roots, preparing the ground for the new shoots of joy. What sorrow takes away from the heart it replaces with something better. Without the fury of thunder and lightning the plants will be scorched by the sun. Be grateful for all you receive, good and bad alike, for it may be a gift from the treasury of Spirit that will bring the fulfilment of your most secret desire.

You carry a basket full of bread, yet you beg for crumbs from door to door. You are up to your knees in water, yet you beg for a drink from everyone you see. Why are you so blind and stubborn? Beg at the door of your heart instead.

My heart whispered, “Do not be so concerned, in the midst of people I am like a gold coin hidden in the dust, but even gold cannot find buyers unless it is brought out from the depths of the mine into the light.”

The night is blind to the glory of dawn man is blind to the glory of the lover. He who complains of burning is not a lover for the lover’s heart is constantly on fire.

Of the rain at night no one is aware for every soul is asleep. Yet the freshness of the rose garden in the morning is evidence of the rain that no one saw.

Many pass their lives deprived of love unaware that their heart is dark and narrow where the sun never penetrates. A grave is better than such a heart.

The body is like a pot with the lid on. Lift the lid to see if it is filled with the Water of Life or the poison of death. Focus on the contents and you will become a master focus on the pot and you will be misguided. Your eyes only see the body while the spiritual eye perceives the soul.

My heart twisted with passion in the fire of your words. Now I see what I saw as fire was only ice what I saw as water, only a mirage and our story, an old forgotten dream.

There are hundreds of religious books yet they are all one chapter, there are a hundred different holy places yet only one altar. All roads lead to the one House from one seed a thousand ears of corn emerge. There are many kinds of food and drink with one purpose only, to feed. The eyes of hunger are greedy, when satiated with one kind of food all others become repulsive to your heart. I dissolved as a grain of salt in your Sea of Serenity. Nothing remained, no faith, no certainty, no doubt. In my heart a star was born and inside all worlds dissolved.

An Ode to 2021

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2021 may have been another COVID-19 dominated year, but I am thankful for a few lessons and realizations.

Here’s to learning a lot more in 2022.

Signing off. Happy Holidays. See you next year! 🙂

An Ode to People Who Are Not CEOs

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Another day, another Indian CEO. This time the star is from Twitter.

Though I take pride in the fact that an Indian is receiving global fame and accolades, I have not yet tweeted or reposted the news anywhere. It is not because I am salty. It is not because I am a spoilsport. It is not due to envy.

It might be because it all feels a bit… unfair?

Parag Agrawal is from IIT Bombay. He must have reached where he is with much hard work. But hard work alone isn’t the key to success. Is hard work of much use without intellect, without a “beautiful” mind that can come up with path-breaking solutions? You can do all the hard work you like, but if you aren’t smart enough, you are not going to reach the top.

And the truth is – not all of us are blessed with the same level of intellect. It might not even be naturally possible.

“It is thought that around 50 to 80 percent of the variation in general intelligence between people is down to genetics.”

New Scientist

The people who are naturally smart will obviously thrive.

No matter how hard others with lesser intellectual capabilities work, they might never be able to achieve the level of success earned by someone with a higher IQ.

In every phase of our life, appreciation and accolades are for those who are intellectually skilled.

Teachers applaud children who learn the fastest.

Colleges hold tests to admit the smartest.

Companies recruit people who can answer the quickest.

Professional networking sites celebrate those who rise the swiftest.

How often have we seen star students struggle with a math problem, receive terrible grades, not able to understand concepts? They have it easy intellectually compared to others who are not as gifted. Combine brains with hard work – you have got a lethal combo. The CEO material.

Where does that leave the weak? All through life, they might get reprimanded, insulted, mocked for being “below average.” By teachers, colleagues, friends, family. They might never get appreciation. They might never feel valued.

The ones who try so hard to learn tough theories but even after several tries might not master them.

The ones who hope their hard work would compensate for their lack of groundbreaking ideas, innovations, and solutions, in every phase of life. Only to realize, it is not enough.

Here’s to you for trying. And for surviving in this world that only acknowledges and appreciates the rank holders, the quick thinkers, and the naturally gifted.

Here’s to you—the ones who are not CEOs.

An Ode to Leaving Work On Time

Worked Hard. No Friends, Money or Assets.
From Workchronicles on Instagram

I have always left work on time.

Or, I have tried my best to. When there’s a genuine emergency, there is no option but to stay back.

Even at my first job, when a senior demanded I stay overtime to complete *his* work, I refused. I knew if he actually sat down to do his work, he wouldn’t require any help. He kept complaining about his age (he was in his 40s) and how he could not take too much burden at work anymore. This unreasonable emotional blackmail did not work either. The 40s is the new 30s or 20s or whatever you choose it to be. It is all in the mind. If you feel you are ageing and you cannot do much, then damn right, you cannot.

The end story is that I got what I wanted – not to work overtime.

I have to say I was privileged when I first started working. I was not in dire need of money. I had a support system. If I were desperate, I would have compromised more and said yes to a lot of work I did not want to do. Work was not a priority in my 20s. I was preoccupied with living my life, having fun, getting my heart broken, and spending all my money without saving a bit.

Many people compromise at work because they do not have a support system at home to fall back on. Maybe they are the sole earning member; maybe they are in a lot of debt. When the responsibilities pile on, which they will as you age, so does the burden of compromising. You tend to become more afraid of losing your job, and you play it safer and become more diplomatic.

I see many employees working overtime mainly to please their bosses. They take that first step – to work overtime. Their bosses never asked for it. I realized that once you start working overtime, there’s no going back. Your coworkers (and boss) would keep expecting you to put in those extra hours. “You have done it before, so why not now?

Once you establish a boundary that you are available to work only during your scheduled hours, things become simpler. Everyone will stop nagging you to stay back. Your body will also nag you to leave work on time. Some stay back out of habit. They are used to working overtime, and it has become a part of their life now.

What makes us work harder than required might also be due to imposter syndrome. That feeling that you are not good enough and you need to try extra hard to safeguard your job. Some do this by working extra hours. But when the work you produce within your work hours is of good quality, working extra is really not required. Try to focus and give your work your full attention during work hours. This should be more than enough. 

You might have to deal with people asking, “Leaving already?” when you exit on time. Pay them no heed. It’s your work-life balance that is at stake. If you feel working after hours is the only way to live, by all means, work overtime. If you wish to have a life outside of work, make it a point always to leave work on time! The ones who are spending too much time at office are creating the wrong standard for the rest who wish to maintain a work-life balance. Some (like my senior I mentioned at the start of this post) do not know proper time management. Or they are plain lazy. They spend hours chatting away with coworkers and then suddenly realize they have a lot of work to do at 4 PM. The rest who spend their working hours productively get reprimanded for leaving office on time—office politics at its best.

I am not as privileged as before. I need to work to earn my bread and butter. I do not have a robust support system, yet I cannot get myself to be at the office post my work hours. I have many interests – my job is only a part of it. To deprive myself of all other interests for the sake of my career is plain sacrilege.

To maintain sanity, pursuing your hobbies and interests is a must. Why wait till retirement to do what you like?