How suffering works – an analogy, and pointers to the way out

How suffering works – an analogy, and pointers to the way out

Before proceeding, read the student’s disclaimer here.

This post is a technocrat’s attempt to elucidate how suffering works, by way of examples. It also attempts to connect some dots between Einstein’s insights, and the mechanics of the nature’s law, using an analogical model that I propose here. The model also suggests a method to continually keep coming out of suffering using real-world experiences. Let’s begin!

I’ve appreciated and wondered about this famous quote for a long time –

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”.

Albert Einstein

The thing with the mind

Very soon down the path of exploration of the inner reality, we start to notice what a helpless little yelp the mind actually is. It is severely limited in its resourcefulness, and when stuck in a rut, it cannot do anything more than looping in painful little circles forever. Not only that, in doing so, it saps all the energy away from the faculty that could have pulled us out of the situation – awareness.

After this realization, Einstein’s quote above started making a lot of sense. The mind, at its given maturity level, gets engaged in a problem. And the more it tries to solve it, the more it messes it up. Factually, the problem is not the problem. The problem might not even be there. The mind’s standpoint is the problem. If only the mind could move beyond its present level, to the the next orbit of intelligence, the current formidable problem will start looking like a no-brainer!

The mind is a thinking tool. And it uses the memory as the database to base its thinking on. It works great till the situation’s variables are within its limits, but when it gets overwhelmed, it gets direly stuck, clueless about the actual way out, but headstrong nonetheless. In its obsessive blindness, the harder it acts, the more suffering it creates for us.

In-fact, it creates a very real physical pain. A further fact; much of the pain, and even sicknesses that we get, are created by the mind. Is it sounding too theoretical? Its not. You can rather easily see this for yourself. I’d even dare say it is one of the first basic facts we see on the path of Dhamma.

As a result of realizing this fact, half our problems go away, just like that! It happens because we clearly see how we are making ourselves sick. Actually, physically, sick. And how our mind actually loves holding on to pain and anger. Sounds absurd, but we actually do that. And its not very hard to discover. We see this happening because our awareness, our faculty to notice events gets stronger, and we are looking at the right places and in the right way. The mind keeps getting in the way, but once we get the hang of it, we see the facts staring at us right in the face, like the elephant that we never noticed so far!

Coming back to the mind. Another analogy that comes to mind (!) is, it is like a computer. Powerful, capable, and phenomenal, but an idiot of a machine. As long as things go good, its fine. But we always need a human to handle the sense part. If we take away the human, and an error occurs outside of the programmed intelligence of the system, the computer will start putting out garbage results, and most likely start creating damage, without the slightest cognizance of the reality. It won’t ever realize its mistake all by itself.

Analogically, we need awareness to put the intelligence and knowledge of the mind to good use.

Back to where we started:

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”.

So how exactly do we get to this “next level” of thinking that Einstein suggests?

The law-of-nature cone

Here’s a proposed model. To quantify these “levels” of the mind per Einstein, Let’s visualize them as concentric rings. These rings represent orbits of mind. Smaller orbits are lower levels of thinking. The levels which keep us poor or continuously in suffering. Or when we can’t solve our problems ourselves. Einstein suggests our mind to move to a bigger orbit, where it can solve its problems created by itself when it was in the smaller orbit.

Orbits of mind: smaller = more suffering

So, in the image above, our mind is in the green orbit, and is stuck in a problem. It now needs a way to move outwards towards blue orbits to solve its current problem. However, we cannot do this, and for just reason. We can’t ‘think’ our way to higher thinking, because, as Einstein said, we can’t solve our problems from the same level of thinking. There has to be another way.

So we do what scientists do. We add one more variable on a third dimension to our circle analogy. We plot experiences along this axis. When we visualize looking into this cone thing from the top, we still see the circle from the earlier picture. So far so good!

The law-of-nature cone

The spectrum of experiences lie along the height of this cone. Lower end is about created experiences, and the higher side is about naturally occurring experiences. It is hard to go to higher thinking via thinking from a lower level of mind. Thinking is in the mental space. But experiences are in the physical space! If we learn to move up the experiences axis, we will automatically move outwards on the mental scale.

Created and Natural experiences

Normally we want to live in the “created experiences” space. Watching a movie, eating great food, seeking stuff that makes us feel good, and everything that we want to keep experiencing in general. All our life we keep trying to “create the experiences” that we like.

But, for a fact, even if we don’t create experiences, we will still get them. However, they will most probably be the ones we don’t like. Examples of these abound the moment we sit in meditation. Or when we try to do any wholesome act beyond our level of spiritual development. Like sitting down to study, or complete a must-do task. Restlessness, pain, itches, food cravings, TV, and the like.

We can visualize it as the mind wanting to fall back to the created experiences, in the sketch above. It is effectively trapped inside its craving of created experiences. Naturally, if it lives in a space of experiences that it has created for itself, it cannot solve problems beyond a certain level because it is living in a simulated reality.

Now, the deal is, the level of mind is directly related to how far up we are in the “natural experiences” zone. The more we neutrally experience nature as it actually happens, the larger the mental orbit becomes. And we enter into a positive spiral of spiritual growth.

How can we move up the law-of-nature cone?

By exercising and strengthening our right faculties. Awareness and concentration, to be specific. And not wanting to change the experiences. Instead, trying to understand them for what they really are. This results in the mind moving up in the zone of natural experiences, and as a by-product, outwards to higher levels of thinking. And it gets smarter, as Einstein tells us. So we naturally start seeing the process of our suffering, and simply start choosing not to suffer anymore.

This is exactly what we practice when we sit down and meditate. The Buddha taught us systematic practices of mindfulness (sati) and concentration (samatha), the exercises to strengthen awareness and alertness leading to wisdom. (See Chapter 13, page 82 here in this book)

Gradually, the awareness starts noticing when the mind is blindly reacting to natural experiences, and the resultant suffering that is caused. Next up, the mind starts getting these glimpses, which appear as “Aha moments“. The facts now enter the conscious mind’s space, and it performs its orbit-shift maneuver, as Einstein always wanted!

Hope that was useful! Thanks for reading 🙂 You might also like the other posts from this series:

Few steps closer!

Few steps closer!

Hello gentlefolk! Happy to share that things with the 3D megaprinter are progressing for good 🙂 (this post is in continuation to this post. Feel free to catch up while we wait.)

First for some interesting updates. Friends and colleagues in the industry have decided to call it the Baahubali 😀 (translation in sense – the powerful one; the larger-than-life one. Literally, “one with powerful arms”)

Thanks for your love and encouragement. A shout out from everyone here at Aha (and the mystery owner of the Baahubali)! On with the updates now:

The first Z arm gets assembled

The Z-pillar, ready to receive parts
The Z-motion block comes home!

This motion block above has taken up three days more than planned. The gunmetal bushes were machined in a partner workshop. And they took a wrong reference for its internal diameter, and it ended up about 0.5mm smaller. So, sixteen parts had to be re-machined before this day could come. Not as bad as having to do the entire parts, so okay.

Mounting the casted parts and the machined plates

Miscellaneous parts getting assembled. You can see a HIWIN ball screw, almost sixteen feet long 🙂 We waited four months only for this guy to reach us.

The z pillar sitting happy and assembled

There is a goof-up story with the gear-box and coupling too, somehow the CAD drawing of the gearbox was different than the actual part. And, feels bad to confess, but we didn’t catch this fact in the part acceptance stage. So, when the gearboxes actually arrived, they didn’t fit the rest of anything. We had to get the couplings reordered, and redo some parts. Things are back on track now.

We are still maturing as a process-oriented company. It’s longer and way more important than I initially realized. The perpetual tussle where our enthusiastic part wants to keep taking new challenges, and prudent part wants to freeze things so stuff can mature. Can we get the best of both worlds!? We need mature processes AND continuous product innovation.

The electronics has started breathing

The panels are almost done getting wired up, and undergoing testing now!

The machine has three panels – the main kiosk, the drivers panel and the heaters panel.

The main kiosk
The heater panel
The drivers panel

We’ve been using Panasonic servos before, but none so large!

Here’s a small clip rotating the four Z motors:

First rotation of the four Z motors in tandem

Until next time!

More posts under this series:

Turning forty: first updates

Turning forty: first updates

Here’s this post’s background.

Two weeks are over since the innings started. So, first off, this is how the day sheet is looking:

The days colour sheet, at the end of two weeks

It isn’t textbook perfection, but I’m reasonably happy about it. Infact, it is the best streak I’ve ever had in my life so far, as far as meditating for two hours daily is concerned!

The green ticks are a motivation for sure. I have broken mould to earn it more than a few times over the last couple weeks.

About not yelling at people and stuff, there is definitely a relative peace inside, so I hope it might be reflecting. I’ve been yelling too, but well. Actually I’m not qualified to answer this question myself. Maybe better things will manifest over time if things are going right. Let’s just hold on.

The next milestone is at the six weeks mark. Will keep posted.

Notes on experiencing the reality

Notes on experiencing the reality

Read this for the background.

“Don’t think. See.”

– Bhante Gunaratna.

It is impossible to think our way through disentangling the mind. Seeing. Seeing is necessary, and sufficient. Indeed, it’s absurd we’re not seeing already. How ironic we get hung up in the sterile mental processes, and not see and understand from the facts that exist right here.

We are working to realize something, not superimpose any intellectual crap. It doesn’t matter how holy the source of the crap is. I wasn’t able to get this fact for several years during the inner explorations. So, while meditating, when faced with an intense pain, I would put all energy in diverting the attention anywhere else; in trying to tune it out of experience! Or to slather ‘impermanence’ sweet-shit over the top, jaws clenched. Save yourself the time. When the intense sensation comes, get straight INTO it! Your body won’t explode. You will live to tell the tale. It can’t harm you. How exactly to do that? The best instructions I ever found are given by Bhante G, in the chapter on “Dealing with Problems”, section on “Physical Pain”. Page 60 in this book here.

We are working to retrain ourselves out of the unwholesome habit patterns of the subconscious mind, which is our real bondage, and not to have some wonderful next-level experience. The experiences are the tools, and not results by themselves. Any experience is as good as any other experience, for what its worth. The present moment’s experience is the truth. So we notice it very carefully, and follow through, let it be. With an intent to realize how it works, its texture, its cycles, and its interconnection with other events in the reality landscape. The subconscious automatically changes for the good once we actually notice the facts.

Other posts in this series:

Title picture Courtesy: Mattia Faloretti and Dhammacakka remixed in the GIMP

My ‘start here’

My ‘start here’

Hi! Great to have you here! Here’s the context on the ‘inner space’ posts that you’ll find here on this blog.

A student’s disclaimer

I’m a (very curious) student of this deep, vast and exciting realm of the inner reality.

The intention of writing stuff down is to keep a public-personal blog, and to document the journey, exploration, notes and resources. I also hope to connect with people of the same wavelength.

Assuming there is progress, a side-thought is, these notes will be useful later as memoirs. Normally it happens that when we reach an advanced level of anything, some points become too trivial and obvious, and hence get lost. But they are important nonetheless. So the best idea is to document as I go, when the points are still novel, and not having to sit down and trying to recall a twenty years old experience.

It’s on the Internet. It must be true.

Author Unknown

This is exactly how seriously I suggest you to take my writings on meditation. Zilch is how I qualify as a speaker on this topic. What I share is 100% true from my perception, but qualified in the given time, at my given level of present experience, from the vantage of my point-of-view, unconsciously modulated by my specific surroundings and stimuli till date. You know what I mean.

It is more of a peer-to-peer talk. I’m hoping this stuff will be useful. I’m just posting what has been terrifically useful to me, and what useful stuff (imo) comes to the mind from time to time.

Background

The content will make direct sense if you’ve been exploring meditation yourself, more particularly in any of the traditions originating from the Buddha’s teachings. I’ve been primarily working with Goenka Ji’s method, keeping the exploratory approach in place. More on the first blog below.

Also, before you ask, I’m not planning this on pious ends. Neither do babajis and holy gurus attract me as a concept. It is meant to be 100% fact-based. An exploration based on truth; unbiased and scientific. The babaji perception, if it exists, is just unfortunate, and meant to be kept away from this space.

Chronology / index

Something’s taking shape!

Something’s taking shape!

Hello friends! Your buddies at Aha3D are strong-footedly pulling together something worthwhile!

Background

Click here to read the feels

Traditionally, engineers don’t get to speak much on what they do (except for on their resumes!); we exist someone like the “tandoori roti” flatbread maker guy working away in the basement of a restaurant, who does a fundamentally important work but somehow nobody knows them 😅

To address this, back then I started writing whatever we were doing into a blog. You can find those pages here. We were young and faltering, but were happy doing it. And happy to share our journey complete with all their good and gray shades. We had nothing to lose, and it was a joyous thing to do!

All through, we kept meeting angels as humans (a post dedicated to them sometime soon) who trusted our young team and kept giving us next challenges. However somewhere along the way, I got tangled up in stuff, and went reticent, and the sharing stopped.

Looking back, I realize it didn’t have to be that way, and there is no reason I can’t start sharing again!

Maybe I stopped sharing because when doing such an effort, we face a lot of challenges and failures. As the brand builds, people start respecting the same, and a new entrepreneur subconsciously starts trying to always “look good”. In reality though, most of the time we are committing failures, blunders and bloopers.

Also, as a matter of fact, you are perpetually cash-starved. And the fact that the “looking good” is directly related to sales doesn’t help matters.

Inadvertently, it leads one against the spirit of creation.

Aha exists to create, share and inspire Aha! Moments on the earth 🙂

In the same spirit, right now we are getting to do this terrifically interesting thing that we have started calling the “MegaPrinter”. Through this post, and others coming up, come walk with us on this journey – the making of the Megaprinter, complete with the joys of small successes, the failures, and the grand blow-ups, and onwards to glory forever 😀

The MegaPrinter

exploded view

This pic above shows the fundamental components of a 3D printer with 10 x 10 x 10 cubic feet build volume, which is in the making right here at Aha! Vaibhav first called it the Megaprinter in his ppt, and we have ended up unofficially calling it the same 🙂

We are working whole-heartedly to make it with such maturity and quality that it becomes a matter of pride for its owner, and for all who identify with the effort. (A special note of thanks to Mr. Amit, who placed the order of this machine with us, and gave our team this fantastic opportunity. We intend to introduce him and his company to you in due time). There is also a lot to do together with you, our 3D industry peers 🙂 More in next posts, very soon!

Making of the Megaprinter

Officially, it is going to be called the Aha star. (The Aha star series is the customizable build volume 3D printers we make, from 1 cubic meter upwards).

The build volume! The build volume!

A full, sheer, huge 1000 cubic feet of build volume 🙂

This is the table frame of the upcoming guy. (locate it in the exploded view rendering above!)

The build table, primer coating done!

And these are the casted blocks of the Z motion parts. (the 3D printed pattern is printed on our in-house 1M, and the final, cast iron part). You can appreciate the size of print and casted part with Ayushman’s reference, in the pics below:

3D printed pattern, made on the Aha Star 1M in PLA

The sand casted block from the pattern. Each one of these weighs approx 120kgs 🙂

Ayushman with the 3D printed pattern (L), and casted blocks (R, R, R).

And here is the pic of Aha star 1M machine, which printed the pattern above, and many more for the Megaprinter!

Michelle, Co-founder of Gizmo 3D Printers, sitting inside the Aha Star 1M!
Michelle Du Toit, co-founder of Gizmo 3D Printers, sitting inside the Aha Star 1M.
Courtesy: Michelle’s fb post

These are the Z pillars of the upcoming machine:

A Z-pillar lying on the right, another one being pulled out of packaging by aha folk

And the bushes, casted out of gunmetal and machined to exaction:

the bushes

The channels which will make the skeleton are also getting their paint; we want to ensure that the surfaces which will be inaccessible after assembly get nice, even, durable coating of the paint.

and the skeletal channels getting their colour

The toolhead

Needless to say, this machine will not be running off filament spools.

For the pellet extruder, we are starting with the nozzle diameter of 2mm. Let’s see where we end up!

Pellets is the only way to go when we are trying to print something this large. For a sampling, when we (will!) print a 10 ft tall lord Ganesha statue at 10% infill, it will weigh approx 600 kg! Even with pellets, the raw material cost becomes more than the price of a reasonably-good 3D printer!

The build platform

Heated. And why not.

Infact, twenty-five independently heated tiles, each capable of reaching 120 degrees C. Each one shall be independently levelled. Some geeky gymnastics underway in this topic. More soon.

The bed itself can consume as much as 25 Kilowatts of power.

Accuracy and related stats

Minimum layer height: 0.3mm.

Maximum layer height: 80% of the nozzle diameter. 1.6mm that is, to begin with. Will keep you posted. Ideally we want to achieve the maximum flow rate (coming next) at this layer height.

Positional accuracy: +/- 100 microns over the entire build volume.

Again, these are the figures we’ve designed and are manufacturing for. Precision assembly underway. Important information: Real world is a bitch. We will get there, will keep sharing the updates all throughout journey. But expect to see things not going the way they should 😀

Ah. And there’s servos everywhere. I think that is expected anyway.

The flowrate

Well. 10kg per hour. So wants the heart. Also, so say the calculations. Anyway, the moment of truth is not far! Basically, the suspense is, will we get there right away, or murphy’s law will kick in action at the right time.

Creating National milestones together!

This space will be populated with links to soon upcoming posts, about ways to co-create.

Do watch this space!

And please let your love, comments and feedback come. Looking forward! And will keep you posted!

Why the name Aha?!

Why the name Aha?!

I get this asked often enough: “What’s the story behind the name Aha 3D?”. Some people think it is an abbreviation of something, and several understand it in varying shades of the right idea. So after seven years and numerous times of winging and fielding it extempore, here’s writing stuff down for the records, clarity, and future reference 🙂

Pinning down the meaning of Aha

Here’s an attempt to capture my understanding of Aha, and why I named the company after it.

Starting with the customary dictionary meaning;

aha
US /ɑˈhɑ, əˈhɑ/
used to express pleasure at suddenly understanding or learning the truth about something.

– the Cambridge English Dictionary

Indeed, Aha is not even a word in the traditional meaning of the term. It is more of an unword. An exclamation. A noise. An attempt to convey something beyond words. Aha is an expression of what you experience, when you get something for the first time, from precognition to cognition. When a new concept ‘snaps in place’ in your experience, and you suddenly make sense of it!

Wiktionary notes it as “an exclamation of understanding, realization, invention, or recognition.”
Expressed concisely, but in different terms.

Aha moments signify flashes of progress in our consciousness, a process of continuous discovery which, imo, is the purpose of human life. It is the soft-focussed event with mindfulness as backbone, which happens before words happen. And before the new knowledge becomes a commodity for the mind.

Aha signifies the transition from what we don’t know to what we now know, or from what we don’t know what we don’t know to what we now know what we don’t know.

Trying to explain the last para pictorially, say if we express all the knowledge in this universe, and slice out what we know (green), what we know that we don’t know (red), and the remaining of it, we can make it into this pie chart:

The circle of all the knowledge in this world

In this, ‘Aha!’ happens when our green or red zone expands.

Interesting things about Aha

Aha means the same in all the languages and cultures of the world. You can’t go wrong with Aha, unlike with some other words. I won’t put examples here, but you know what I mean 😉 …when things go entirely south from what the creator wanted to express!

Before I started the company, and before I figured out that it will be about 3D printers in such a big way, I knew that the company will be a platform to do ‘Aha!’ stuff. So, the name ‘Aha’ was frozen well in time 🙂

A few lines about Aha 3D

Aha3D exists for the sheer joy of creating, sharing and inspiring the ‘Aha!’ moments.

At Aha3D, our agenda is to figure out stuff so ‘no idea should ever die in the mind’.

At Aha3D, we are not ‘electronics’, or ‘mechanical’, or ‘computer science’, or whatever else engineers. We are just ‘Engineers’. Nature doesn’t put those boundaries. We neither. The task at hand defines what needs to be learnt to do it. We don’t fixate on tools. We do what it takes to get the job done.

At Aha3D, we work for the love of dreaming, creation, learning and putting together knowledge and engineering effort to bring an idea to life.

(Some lexicon courtesy: Mindfulness in plain english, The Landmark Forum, and other sources too mixed up to name)

Title picture courtesy: https://www.theyeshivaworld.com

Diwali times at Aha!

Diwali times at Aha!

Diwali is BIG here in north India, Aha’s homezone 🙂 We wait all year for this season, and enjoy it heartily like the grandest family festival and get-together it is. It also brings back fond memories of childhood, with all the crackers, lights and never-ending fun times with gully-friends!

The Diwali team!

Preparations

On the pre-diwali day at Aha, the Diwali mood started setting in almost right after lunch time. Ritu and Deshna got themselves busy with Rangoli and stuff (Deshna is my 10yo Daughter who decided to pitch in for the day; somehow both of them identify quite closely with each other… so one, or maybe both of them is not their age! ) –

The basic Rangoli transformed onward to quite an elaborate affair, as you will shortly appreciate.

Getting the diyas ready, Rakesh doling out the instructions while Mahesh looks on
…and Ayushman does his thing with installing the diyas.

Below is an interesting, albeit out-of-sequence picture: we got to buy thirteen silver coins, which was a neat coincidence with Dhan-teras. (For the uninitiated, lord Rama returned to his hometown Ayodhya on the fifteenth day of winning the legendary battle, and the whole town celebrated what was the first Diwali ever. Each of the intermediate days is significant for something. And the thirteenth day is when everyone focusses on money!)… and yes, the number thirteen is not a negative affair here, like it is in the West. Quite the contrary, infact. So people buy new things, buy or gift each-other durables, and worship money in general. This day is called dhan-teras (my attempt to translate: the thirteenth day when we mean money). So the big deal. Anyway here’s a pic (the lady is Kaushal, my s.o., and also who handles admin stuff and 3D printing services at Aha3d):

the thirteen silver coins for the thirteenth day!

The spiritual part

Soon thereon, the ladies took to doing what they do best:

with all the ensemble!

Meanwhile, I also got swept away with unnecessary ideas, and decided to play the keyboard for everybody to assist with the worship, and began practicing…

me with my notes on the keyboard

…it however turned out to be a failed experiment. Nobody would pace themselves with the music, and just rolled on with rote lyrics and without any sense of tempo or percussion whatsoever like its nobody’s business. It will need group practice before the next time, which I fully intend to get done. Anyway, onwards to the customary Hindu stuff before the event:

And after the pooja, we officially declared the start of Diwali!

And the Celebrations!

It was time to share Diwali gifts with teammates who were there on the day, and with those who weren’t, by gifting stuff to their picture on the wall 😀

…followed by the close of the day, and start of the Vacations with sparklers, firecrackers, and the largest “sootli bombs” that we could find!!!

This is where we be 🙂

Looking forward to returning to our beloved work and workplace, after the vacations! Heartiest Diwali wishes to you and your loved ones from the Aha family!

Turning Forty: notes from a regular human being

Turning Forty: notes from a regular human being

For returning readers: Updates here.

Hi gentlefolk. I’m Aakash. The founder of this effort called Aha3D. Life has treated me swell so far, and I merrily turned 40 last week. This means that, if (IF!) all goes well, I’m on the halfway mark of my present life.

This is quite a milestone, and I have been working on how to start the next innings. Turns out, most succinctly, I intend to be the person who my loved ones deserve.

Image Courtesy and Copyright: www.decorarconarte.com

Being the person my loved ones deserve

Here’s defining the goal, with examples. This list captures the intent, and not the precise objectives in their entirety.

I shall endeavour to not yell at my daughter when she doesn’t get a math concept, no matter how easy I think it is. Or not zone out when wifey or parents are trying to talk to me, and end up making them feel ignored.

I shall endeavour to care for, nurture, and genuinely love the people who have trusted their interests with me. I shall ensure all possible growth, financial, professional and emotional, for them.

I shall endeavour to not get agitated when the customer gets messed up due to the fault of one of my people. I shall handle my people as caringly as the customer, and make things right.

I shall endeavour to really know what people are trying to tell me.

I shall endeavour to not get swept away on the mind’s face value judgement of people when some work doesn’t go as planned.

The intention of this post is mainly to document the framework, resources and steps with achieving the goal. The intended audience is future me, and like minded people with similar explorations.

Yes, I realize that it is looking almost like a “thou shalt” pile of cliches. But this text is going to be important. Damage gets done when I’m not the best version of me. Worst of all, it is a waste of my potential, and everyone else’s who come in regular contact with me. I even intend to circulate this piece around.

Anyway, my time is here.

I’ve had phases of hard work, laxity, brilliance, sloth, leadership, anxiety, achievements, and bouts of depression. I’ve binge watched videos like the craziest idiot on earth, and I’ve sprinted through a month’s worth of work in one week flat.

Living on the extremes.

The last forty years have been fun. Gave a lot of perspective. Everyone supported me for lot of experimentation. I owe it now.

The mind is not specifically “kicked up” to achieve all this; there is no performance or time pressure. It just feels ready. And the idea is to follow the following all the way till death.

Luckily, in the last innings, I’ve done a handful of deeply significant experiments in the inner domain. I’ve experienced scintillating clarity of mind. Indeed, thanks to these, I precisely know the steps to achieve the foregoing list of “I shall”s. And beyond, I’m sure.

The path to the goals

Keeping the fundamentals in place

The Buddha’s teachings is what worked for me. (will share the story separately). I’ve surprised myself with human (my?) capabilities when I’ve seriously tried to understand and apply Vipassana/Mindfulness in life. I primarily worked in Goenka ji’s tradition (www.dhamma.org), received loving help from Prof. P. L. Dhar, Late Mr. Ashok Talwar, and my own uncle Mr Rameshwar Sharma, all of whom are/have been senior teachers in Goenka ji’s tradition. I’ve been liberally helped by Bhante Henepola Gunaratna via “Mindfulness in Plain English”, which, I dare say is the one book to take with you to a deserted island, and Eckhart Tolle, via his unbelievable book “The Power of Now”. All of this has been an exploration, no magic sauce, but there is enough guidance, resources and people available to help one along the way.

When I have practised regularly, I’ve been able to discover my own blind spots, and have improved beyond myself for the better. Of course, all the benefits evaporate a short while after I give up on the regularity of practice. So, the fundamental thing: meditation, twice daily, one hour each. All other things come as a natural by-product of understanding and applying Dhamma in practice. (Dhamma = dharma. See https://www.vridhamma.org/What-is-Dhamma)

Actively guarding my own interests

This means that I’m not going to seek gratification at certain levels;

  • Like gluttony. Or eating for the sake of taste.
  • Like sex and stuff. Or anything that fans that shade of mental activity.
  • Like instant gratifications. Being a mind-bait content consumer available via various channels.

It does not mean I’m abstaining or anything. Or don’t intend to enjoy regular life. Just that I’m not actively seeking this stuff now. Basically, helping with physical and mental conditions to let the mind touch the next plane.

Planning my time

I’m going to pick up at least one unconventional activity for the day, and mean to do it. Like writing this post. Which I’d never do in my past life. Basically doing one “important but not urgent” task.

Some useful notes:

  • I’m using Google Keep for my to-do list
  • I’m making the to-do list before I start the day, and after meditation
  • If I can’t complete an item as planned, I prioritize it higher and complete it the next day. I don’t take more items till I complete the ones I’ve taken up.
  • I try not to do anything outside the keep list, unless all of them are ticked for the day

Accounting of time and progress

Hands down, the best article I’ve come across so far regarding life management is Tim Urban’s article on time, your life in weeks.

In short, these are all the weeks I’ve got before I turn 60:

Weeks till I get 60 years old

Now, I’ve printed this page out and pasted on my little room’s wall. I shall colour each week’s box as Green, Amber or Red. (here, green = good and red = bad, in case you are from China)

To decide the week’s colour, I’ve got a day colour paper pasted alongside, which has week details like so:

The day details recorder

The day titles might change over time, as goals change. But the colour concept shall remain. When all days of the week are green, the week is green. The idea is to get the weeks sheet all green! I will keep you posted 🙂

With this framework in place, here’s how my fortieth Birthday went.

Virat Nagar

To my utterly-mind-boggling surprise, which I came to know only a few days before my 40th, the Emperor Ashoka learned Vipassana from a teacher called Upagupta, and practised for a long time right here in Rajasthan! Ninety kilometers away from where I live, to be precise!

Boy am I proud to be born in India!

The place’s name is Virat Nagar. You find the place where Ashoka meditated:

The pagoda where Ashoka meditated

Well, for my 40th, I went to this place with my uncle, and had a great start of my this phase of life, by meditating on this blessed land 🙂

Virat Nagar also has a Rock edict from Ashoka’s reign. It was a goose-bumpy realization how humans at that time did their best to immortalize dhamma teachings, with whatever methods they had at their disposal. Just for us!

The edict doesn’t has anything visible per se, (not that we’d understand anyway!), but well, there it is! Standing in testimony to the hard work and good intents of the yonder generation.

We spent some time running some errands Tauji had in mind, and returned home by 5pm.
Incidentally, it was the Karva Chauth on the same day, and I felt I’m finally doing a worthwhile effort for all that wifey’s been doing for me!

It ended with the customary cake and claps, to a day spent worthwhile, and with seed of a beautiful future I eagerly look forward to be living 🙂

Other posts in this family:

3D printing case study for CV Junction surgery

3D printing case study for CV Junction surgery

Doctors need all the information as they can get beforehand to make any surgical procedure successful. And when it comes to neurosurgery, when the stakes are in terms of life and death, the information becomes all the more vital.

Traditionally, prior to operation, the neurosurgeon receives the DICOM data from MRI scan of the patient, and studies the same extensively on the computer screen. The ability to rotate and study it from all angles in software is of great assistance to the surgeon.

However, virtual model has its own limitations. Among others, the Doctor has to imagine or visualize the actual area, which is a difficult task to do.

It results in planning as well as execution being done in the operation theater itself. An implication is abnormally long and tiring operation procedure for such cases, but a bigger implication is – CVJ anomaly cases traditionally only have 30% chances of success!

“It is because of the disease, the patient had a problem in turning his neck, weakness and insensitivity in the limbs. He was diagnosed with CVJ anomaly in February. Operation is the only solution for the problem.”

Dr. Rashim Kataria

After due discussions with the Aha team, it was understood that 3D printing will be exceptionally useful in preoperative testing of a patient’s CV junction. 

Aha 3D made a 3D printed model of the patient’s MRI scan of the CV Junction with the use of ProtoCentre 999 3D printer. The team of doctors practiced surgery on the model of CV  junction prior to the actual operation. It helped them isolate planning from execution, and realize beforehand what to expect during the operation. Instead of requiring to visualize the anomaly on a computer screen, 3D printing helped doctor hold the model in their own hands and perform mock procedures on the same. It allowed them to know about the nerves and other anatomy of the head and neck junction. When they conducted the surgery, they already had in mind the exact location of nerves and CV junction, which was to be operated.

Prior to using 3D printing for pre-operative planning of CV Junction Anomaly, only 30% of all operations ended up being successful.

Dr. Rashim Kataria, Dept of Neurosurgery
     3D print of patient’s Craniovertebral Junction

The first surgery was conducted on a 23-year-old patient, Pradhan Jangid. He was suffering from Craniovertebral junction (CVJ anomaly).

Checkout our other case studies: https://aha3d.in/?p=1608

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