Different roads to self-improvement

October 10, 2011 at 10:11 am | Posted in Blogroll, Out of my mind, Self Improvement | 3 Comments

Last week I was having a chat with couple of colleagues at work where we were discussing about effectiveness of self-improvement programs. The net outcome of our discussion was it is generally entertaining to attend them and we feel quite enthusiastic but soon the impact is lost once we get back to our daily routine.

Later when I was thinking about this in the overall perspective of self-improvement, I could recall a few broad approaches that I encountered in my life and what is ultimately working for me now. I also recalled the famous speech Steve Jobs had delivered in June 2005 at the Stanford University, which had some pointers. I would like to share my experiences with a hope that I will hear from you what works for you.

In early childhood I heard a lot about duty, sacrifice & self-denial as a way to self-improvement. Avoid this and avoid that so that you will become virtuous and pure. Probably most of it comes from Indian culture and our religious background. Though I could not put it in so many words, it did not make sense to shun life’s experiences and its beauty. I somehow was not convinced and gave up after a few attempts.

As I grew older, I was exposed to another approach. I saw lot of persons attending discourses, having a Guru, reading scriptures, attending self-improvement programs and the rest with very little visible improvement in their behavior. Almost all of these had an external focus and a driving agent. Whatever change occurred, was due to their obedience and unquestioning acceptance of what somebody else said. Sometimes it seemed to make a positive difference, mostly not. This again, didn’t make much sense to me.

Then in late seventies I read some books by J. Krishnamurti and was impressed by his non-conformist attitude. He refused to be anybody’s Guru. Dr. Annie Besant and others from Theosophical Society formed a world-wide organization called the Order of the Star in the East and the young Krishnamurti was made its head. After some time, Krishnamurti who was uncomfortable being somebody else’s Guru, renounced the role that he was expected to play and dissolved the Order with its huge following. Then he travelled throughout the world and talked of the things that concern all of us in our everyday lives. I read his books and attended one of his live talks at Mumbai. His teachings put you in the driving seat. You are expected to take charge of your life. The essence of his teachings is austerity or as he calls it “be transperantly genuine”.

In my 6th Dec 2010 blog, I had posed a question “Who am I? i or I?” and put forth a hypothesis that we have two levels of identification. First represented by “i” is inward looking, bound to our assumptions & beliefs, our emotions and our insecurities. It is always on the defensive and trying to protect itself. The other is represented by “I”, which is connected to others, open and more confident and able to draw on immense potential of connectedness. As we shift our attention from “i” to “I”, it is able to take charge, look at “i” with loving care and guide it in the right direction. All actions are taken by “i”, “I” only provides the inner voice and direction. As we depend more & more on its guidance, our dependence on external anchors starts diminishing. This is not just self-improvement but actually self-transformation. In last few years, I have come to depend more and more on this approach though I still find myself far behind my wife who is intuitively so well connected to those she interacts with.

Going back to Steve Job’s speech, all the three stories he narrated from his life had this common thread. He relied on what he loved most in life to guide him and took each day as if it was the last. He took his own decisions. I think all these helped him get out of his “i” and let “I” take charge of his life.

As I said above, I have shared these with the hope of knowing how you see it and which road to self-improvement works for you.




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  1. A very good blog to introspect.I agree with this author that any Self Development programe has a Halo effect after few weeks.That is why the Follow-up groups are formed and you can practice what has been Learnt.Let it be Yoga,Meditation,Personality Development,Art of Living,SSY,and so on.
    These follow up group become close knit communities and do not allow the other members to Drift away from the rational course.
    I found that the Groups formed by Art of Living,SSY and Landmark Education to bring out my inner” i in synchronization with outer ” I “.
    Thanks for the interaction made possible.

  2. I just had an opportunity to put this lesson into practice. Feeling manipulated by someone playing the guilt game infuriates me! We all do it, I suppose. Good practice to stop doing it and to stop letting people do it to me. I scored for myself this morning. By saying no, as gently as possible whilst remaining firm. Thanks for this – good timing!

    • Thanks for your comment and good to know my readers find it useful. You may like to look at other posts on my blog as you might find something interesting and useful. You may also like to share about my blog with people known to you. I wish more people could benefit from what I write.
      Prabhakar Karve

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