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Way of Budo (33)

Some hard lessons of life

Written by Friday, 12 July 2013 09:47


Instead of coddling your children, teach them to deal with life early on, says Sensei Avinash Subramanyam


How to deal with kids throwing tantrums?


First, realise that to have progeny is just a natural function. There’s nothing about your child that warrants special love. That is selfish. If you truly love, you will feel love for all— other children, pups, the needy, even tables and chairs. You might not want a mosquito to fly around you because it bothers you, but you won’t hate anything. Learn to treat your child like a neighbour’s child.


Then, if your kid is throwing a tantrum ignore him; don’t ever look that side. Watch TV or engage yourself with other work. If you ignore, they will slowly learn to accept whatever you give. They will also learn that only asking nicely will work. Once you give them what they want, the problem begins. They have to know you mean ‘no’ when you say ‘no.’


I feel pain when my child is undergoing pain, for instance, because of bullying by older children. How do I deal with this?


It is an emotional matter but be practical. It’s like if your child goes to war, you should expect him to die. You then become grateful if he comes back live. If your child goes to school, be prepared for him to be bullied and manipulated. Train the child early on to deal with life.


Is it all right to reward good behaviour in a child?


Giving rewards is not good in the long run, and spiritually too, because that teaches children only to expect and take. You should teach them instead to give. In fact, if your child has a chocolate, you should tell him to give it to a poor child rather than eat it. Also if you reward them for work they do—wash the car, clean the garden—that is business. Children should help because of love for the family and household.


My child wants more (toys, eatables) than what my husband or I had when we were children. Are today’s children different?


Children are not different. We lead a more material life today and children are brought up in this environment. Children today are smarter than we were but how we direct that intelligence is important. They can be taught to give to charity or be selfish.


I am in Class 4 and have become class-leader. How should I control my class?


Become better than others so that they respect you. Help others. Be kind and polite.


We know what is right (for example, throw paper in the dustbin, follow traffic rules) but we don’t act accordingly. Why?


As a culture, we haven’t known luxury like the Americans or Japanese. Most people have enough to just fend for themselves. In such circumstances, the ability to think beyond oneself is difficult. Those who are well off don’t think beyond themselves. There are of course a genuine few—doctors, teachers etc who give their lives for society. Others talk big because they want to feel big. Some of us may feed dogs or feed the poor. But how many do we feed? How often do we feed? When we feed we feel great about ourselves. But how small we actually are! Look at dogs, they only need a bowl of rice and some affection; but our needs are endless. If we were all bigger than ourselves, there would be no poverty.


How do I keep calm in emotional situations so that I can take the right decision?


Write down in a notebook ‘I’ll be calm in emotional situations.’ Read it every time you face such a situation and practice being calm every time. Being aware of the situation is the first step. Say, I’m fighting with X and X is shouting at me. If I know X is shouting at me rather than only hear him shout, it’s different. If your brother has met with an accident and you are aware, you will not panic; you will think of what to do next. You will ask, “Is he conscious? Is he bleeding? Is he speaking coherently? You will call an ambulance; go to the hospital. See the situation for what it is and do what you have to do. Understand that nothing in life is more important than love and happiness.


In an earlier column you said, “Do not fear the uncertainties of life; just live life.” How to overcome fear?


There is no easy method or technique. The only way of overcoming fear of uncertainty is to accept death. And that can only come through spiritual awakening. The first lesson in Budo or the ‘warrior’s way’ is to accept that you are dead; every day henceforth then becomes a boon. To develop this attitude, you have to learn the spiritual art of detachment.


Does life have a specific purpose? If it does, how does one know what it is?


The purpose of every human being is to make the universe a better place for all. Now we are rectifying mistakes; we talk about global warming, etc. Trees, rivers, everything in nature gives life and maintains balance. You should also work to keep nature and the universe alive, not destroy it. This is the only true purpose; the rest is unimportant.


Transcribed by Radhika P Send your questions to Sensei at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Nasty colleague, lousy boss?

Written by Friday, 05 July 2013 08:43

aSensei Avinash Subramanyam helps you navigate the treacherous waters of the corporate world


I work in a corporate firm under a manager who is useless at his job. He harasses juniors and retains his position only because he is close to the management. How do we deal with him?


Look at the larger picture. You’re not in the army where you can’t take leave or resign. Your company is just one in a million and you always have the option of switching jobs. Also know that your situation is not unique; this is the story in many other companies. Accept the nature of corporate life and find ways of dealing with it. Either make friends with your manager or develop a thick skin! See if you can change departments. Or share the big picture with your boss. Tell him sweetly he’s just another employee: why waste time getting worked up? Hint that you know he must be harassing others too. If you have friends in the HR department, let them know your problem. Try and resolve it at a personal level; if that doesn’t work, go official. If you really want to live pure and free, hand your company a letter saying you accept your manager’s resignation as your boss!


How do I deal with a colleague who is always trying to put me down?


Tell him both of you are merely small fish in a big pool. So why compete and put you down? It helps neither, or even the company, to grow. If he’s jealous about your project, then ask him to talk to the manager and take over. If your colleague is rude and uncouth, take it up with your boss.


How do I deal with juniors who don’t perform?


How can I ensure project delivery without being harsh on juniors or doing more than my share? A team always comprises people with varied capacities and you need to find harmony with all. It is best that you don’t shout and abuse— negativity will only affect you and your soul. It reduces the happiness in your life. If there are deliverables, tell your juniors about the consequences: if they don’t deliver, you will have to report to your boss. If a junior is not good but you can’t ask him to leave, encourage rather than scold him. The more you criticise, the worse he will get. Praise his good qualities; then strongly point out his weaknesses. Get the best out of him. At least something will get done and you won’t suffer from hypertension. Don’t find fault with everything. Patiently help people improve. Understand each one’s ability and be aware you can only do so much.


In situations of conflict at work is it best to assert my opinion or should I let it go?


Sometimes one works, sometimes the other. How do I know when to adopt which stance? You should first avoid getting into the conflict, except for the success of a project. Only when you are sure the other’s opinion is bad for the company should you make your point. But be 100 per cent certain your opinion is for the welfare of the company or an employee. If it is to satisfy your ego, don’t venture to give your opinion. It should never be, “I know better.” Always see if the other person is right.


My ultimate goal is to have ‘inner peace’. How do I know which path is right for me—martial art, yoga?


If you want inner peace through training, you need to have a good body, and a calm mind. Your muscles shouldn’t get cramps when you sit to meditate. You need to train on various fronts to get fit enough to find inner peace. Any form—yoga, kalari, Chinese martial arts—is okay but see what you like and what suits you. How to find what works? Your mind, body, spirit and soul should feel comfortable on all fronts—philosophy, teacher, art form. It’s like going to different restaurants and finding out which you like the best in terms of ambience, taste, health.


Can martial arts be taught to kids? Yes, to learn to love and protect; never for combat. It should be taught to help bring about focus, concentration and balance in life. It is to learn the instinct to fight in case of an emergency later in life.


Budo seems difficult to follow. How do I practise it?


For me it is simple; ‘normal’ life is complex.


What attributes should a person possess to understand and live budo?


Extraordinary love and extraordinary faith. Be completely non-judgmental of your teacher. You must love the person teaching you budo. You should implicitly trust because it might not be in your reasoning to understand it fully. Only extraordinary faith gets you extraordinary results.


Transcribed by Radhika P Send your questions to Sensei at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Written by Friday, 28 June 2013 10:49


POSITIVE FOCUS (In pic) World champion sprinter Usain Bolt. People who accomplish impossible feats avoid negative thought


The first in a series where Sensei Avinash Subramanyam answers questions on life, relationships and more


I am a partner in a company owned by my best friend but there is nothing stated in writing. Lately, I have been feeling insecure: what if he betrays me. What should I do?


In true friendship, you don’t sign agreements. Signing implies there’s doubt and that is not true friendship. If your friend wants to keep the company for himself, you should happily give it away. If a true friend, you will not doubt your friend’s intentions. If you think the relationship is dependent on receivables then don’t say you’re in partnership with a ‘best friend’; call him a ‘colleague’ or a ‘business friend’. If you doubt the intentions of your friend, you will definitely face the consequences because your negative energy will destroy the friendship. I’m saying this keeping in mind that you are best friends and knowing fully well that I’m talking about friendship in a way that may sound idealistic. But this is the truth.


How to nurture friendship and love, given that so many things can vary between two people: education, strength, looks, charisma?


Friendship and love are the two most valuable forms of human relationships. I imagine you are talking about nurturing a particular friendship or love rather than love for humankind or all beings? Whether in love or friendship, there’s a point when you think, “this is my friend”. At this time take a decision that whatever happens you will not break the friendship or love, or reduce its intensity. It’s only natural that over time you will have disagreements and disputes. Make the friendship or love independent of all likes and dislikes. It’s like the unconditional love that a parent gives to a child; it is never judgmental. When in love, always keep in mind why you fell in love. Love for the joy of love, let nothing else matter.


I used to look up to this person as my guide. But I don’t feel that way any longer. What should I do? How do I tell him?


Unless a mentor is capable of understanding the universe, he or she gives advice based on opinion. If you find such advice unsuitable to your life now, don’t take it. A mentor is one who gives advice when asked for. He must be accepted by you. He shouldn’t expect to be a mentor for life. You don’t have to feel bad or guilty. Why should you even explain? Don’t give more value to the situation than it deserves.


Life is uncertain. How do I overcome the fear of what is to come?


Do what you have to do in life. Don’t think about uncertainties. Uncertainties exist only when you think about them. If you want to participate in the Olympics, you can’t worry: ‘What if my competitor is strong?’, ‘What if I get a catch?’. You’d rather not enter the competition. Don’t worry about what danger will befall you. Don’t underestimate the power of thought: a negative thought can cause things to happen. Only think positive.


I was very close to this friend. But lately she talks ill of me to others; she provokes me. I’m very upset. How to deal with this?


Understand that your friend is behaving differently because either she now sees you differently or she has changed because of some reason. But why let it affect you? Why is her opinion important to who you are? Reduce the importance of others’ opinion on you. Reduce the importance of yourself. I once had a friend who thought highly of my martial art abilities. Later, when he no longer felt the same affection, he repeatedly tried to provoke me, saying my martial arts was bad. Instead of reacting, I agreed. He stopped the provocation after some time. I told myself: Let him say what he wants, I won’t let it bother me. After all, he’s destroying his life, and not mine, with his negativity. Important: Don’t waste time on others’ negativity; ignore it. Avoid contact with such people. Every bit of negativity eats away at your happiness like a parasite.


How to choose the right clothes and shoes?


Whether shoes or clothes, understand what suits you best. Never buy into a brand, a brand should become you. Buy what suits your temperament and purpose. Choose a balance of colour, appeal and purpose. A shoe should mould your feet well. You know it’s good if you don’t feel like removing it. You shouldn’t know you’re wearing it at all. Ensure that the lace fits tightly. It should suit any situation—if it’s a sports shoe, you should also be able to wear it to a formal meeting if the need suddenly arises. Most important: you should be able to walk the path of life well. Follow a similar attitude when you buy clothes. Don’t go just by fashion and what is in vogue. Today, the forks of some type of trousers fall around the knees. Imagine a situation where you need to defend yourself: you can’t even lift your leg to kick. Don’t wear clothes that stand out; character should be subtle. Do not overdress; be simple but effective.

The many-layered ego

Written by Friday, 21 June 2013 05:59


When you peel away the layers of your ego, you don’t risk losing yourself; instead, you become aware of the universe—and your own true self—with clarity, says Sensei Avinash Subramanyam

A guide to the married life

Written by Saturday, 18 May 2013 08:56


True compatibility is not based on one or the other trait, but a deep physical and mental synergy, says Sensei Avinash Subramanyam

Atrue marriage or live-in relationship is a combination of physical synergy, empathy, chemical balance and auras. It also calls for a union of the senses of look, smell, taste, and touch. Unfortunately, few people even seem to consider this. Mostly, people marry because of their need to please their families. Sometimes, it’s just the hormones, or casual meetings that develop into friendship and culminate in marriage.


I have realised through experience that such marriages don’t work because a single factor like looks, intellect or sexual compatibility is not enough to fulfil a relationship. A man falls in love with a beautiful girl, but their ways of life might not match. She might be selfish and materialistic. A man with fine intellect could have bad breath. While picking up clothes, we go not just by looks but also by texture. A dish on the menu might have a nice name, and look good, but taste awful. That’s why the Chinese masters said a complete dish is one that draws you by its look, smell and taste, and the crockery it’s served in. Not that two people should like the very same things—that can get boring—but synergy should happen at a deeper level.


Common problems


Here are some common problems with marriage: the man and the woman lead independent lives and marriage is just one of the many things in their scheme of things, perhaps an arrangement for sex or security. But how many actually find sexual fulfilment in marriage? For a man, satisfaction is easy. But for a woman, it works differently. How many couples have the patience to understand the sensitivities of their bodies?


In an arranged marriage, couple’s needs rarely blend. One of them expects the other to adapt and compromise— you eat my kind of food, you adapt to my family. Take a silly example like eating out at a restaurant— one will ask the other to share the dish because ‘Why waste?’


Not that love marriages are any better. During courtship you notice shortcomings but compromise. Only when you are married do you realise that the compromise is for life. As long as you know you can quit, you stay. But, the moment you know you can’t quit, you find it difficult to stay. That is a strange paradox.


How to find compatibility


Real compatibility can be achieved in three ways:


One, you become a mirror to the other person. You reflect the other’s likes and dislikes


. Two, you mutually love each other’s ways. Three, you find out and finetune the energies of two people. In budo, you can discern this from spiritual insight. A practical method for others is for the two concerned individuals to honestly share their likes and dislikes. See if they like to do the same things. It’s worth the time to out before you commit to a relationship.


Is total synergy of the body and mind between two people possible? No. You should be fine that the other person drinks, but not a bottle; that he smokes, but not a packet; that she parties, but not all week. You should like the other’s way of life at least 10 per cent each in its different facets. The only thing that is a no-no is an intimate relationship with other men and women. Make it clear that you are married and not available. Don’t let friendships destroy your marriage. Don’t indulge in verbal or physical intimacy outside of marriage if you want marriage to work.


Practise towards achieving synergy. Allow yourself to like everything the other does. Never once ask the other to do what you want, except if it is good for the other in budo or on a spiritual path. Let the other try the path for a while. Never impose; only suggest. If one is a Hindu and the other a Christian, don’t insist the children should belong to one of the two religions. Saying let one be Hindu and the other a Christian is also not a good arrangement. Marriage is not a business deal.


What must you avoid to nurture your relationship? It is, more often than not, a person’s speech and action that causes problems.


Unseen negative force


Never repel a gesture of love—a hug, kiss, handshake, ruffle of hair, smile. If a husband says “Hi, darling” and the wife reacts in a cold manner, he can get put off. If she does it often enough, he might never be able to say “Hi, darling” again. If the woman turns her face away every time her husband tries to kiss her, his body will soon resist wanting to kiss her. It’s like you can’t go near a dog that has snarled at you. Another example: I feed strays in my neighbourhood. Sometimes they bark and fight in the middle of the night in front of my door. This could wake up the neighbours. So I stop their fight by throwing water at them. These days, as soon as I open the door, they stop barking and run away.


It’s possible that a wife is upset because the husband said the food she had cooked did not taste good. If the man then extends his hand in apology, it’s ok not to accept the apology, but she shouldn’t repel the hand. Be aware of what you say and how you react. Fights separate the mind and the body from each other. Say you were hurt and he was in the wrong, don’t be vicious. Don’t be cold with your eyes. Show pain, but don’t show harshness.


Never use information told to you in trust against your spouse. If your spouse has told you about an affair before marriage, don’t misuse it when things turn sour. Say, a man breaks his wife’s favourite mug. He is initially scared to tell her but later accepts his mistake. At a later stage, when something is found broken, she shouldn’t say, “Must be your doing.” This is a threshold you should not cross in any close relationship. Information told by a friend on trust should not be revealed even if you turn enemies.


Next Week: Why you should never take your spouse for granted Way of Budo 33 True compatibility is not based on one or the other trait, but a deep physical and mental synergy, says Sensei Avinash Subramanyam A guide to the married life


Transcribed by Radhika P You can write to Sensei at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

So what is true beauty?

Written by Thursday, 16 May 2013 09:17

So what is true beauty?

So what is true beauty?

It is purity of spirit and soul, not just prettiness. Only inner beauty is for real, but outer beauty can be a means to acquiring inner beauty, says

Sensei Avinash Subramanyam

The blues can wreck precious relationships, ruin careers, and cause spiritual pain. But they can be tamed and overcome, says Sensei Avinash Subramanyam


Written by Friday, 26 April 2013 10:51

New technology fuels distraction. It can be more harmful than most people realise, says Sensei Avinash Subramanyam


Written by Monday, 22 April 2013 11:38

Choose your entertainment wisely, for it can create anxiety and hamper freedom, says Sensei Avinash Subramanyam


Written by Sunday, 14 April 2013 07:11


Do not underestimate the power of your thoughts and actions to alter what is charted out for you, says Sensei Avinash Subramanyam

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