Conversations on Living

People and Choices


“Is there any logic to the kind of people we attract?” I asked my friend Raghav.

“These people could just remain acquaintances; some become friends and a few closer as lovers,” I continued.

Raghav runs a technology startup but also moonlights as a teacher of Vedanta and other spiritual texts. Please read my earlier post about him here.

“Yes, you chose them,” he replied and smiled.

“Well I know that but some people just appear out of nowhere, you click like magic, some stay for life but some leave earlier much against your wishes,” I asked unsatisfied with his simple answer.

“Alright, let me explain it this way,” he began.

“All of us seek experiences in life, for the sake of understanding let us label them as happiness, pleasure, contentment, adventure, etc. That’s given, we all have motivations, and we cannot reject them or escape them. When we seek an experience, we are always presented with choices. For example, if you would like to be entertained, you may have to choose between playing a video game and watching a movie. You make a decision. Some choices might give you instant gratification while some might be slow but the happiness maybe sustained for longer periods.”

“Every decision pushes you to seek either the same or new experiences. And every motivation presents either the same choices or more refined ones. So if you like playing martial arts video games you might like to try more gory ones. If you liked reading a Sidney Sheldon you might like to try Jane Austen next time.”

“I want to clarify that lets us not confuse here with morals, dharma and other judgements. You make choices based on what appeals to you at that moment. No choice is inherently good or bad, better or worse,” he said emphatically.

“Every time you select the choice that does not give you instant gratification, you will slowly realise that the subsequent choices that present before you are getting subtler and more refined.”

“You are making the decisions but the types of choices appear very mysteriously.”

“While all this is happening you will become sensitive and aware of a certain kind of people around you. The more you go subtle with your choices you attract people with similar sensitivity.

“Am I making sense?” he asked.

I nodded my head slowly still assimilating all that he had just said.

“Like your choices, the people whom you meet will be various kinds. As you go subtler with the life’s experiences you will make deeper connections with people like you. These people always existed, but you have discovered them only now,” he concluded.

I was reminded of this quote by Rumi

“What you seek is seeking you.”

In medias res

Turn up and do!

“Was there like one specific incident that triggered you to give up everything and dedicate your life for spirituality and service?” I was curious.

“No. It was always at the back of my mind till it became impossible to ignore it anymore,” he replied in his usual measured style.

Raghav like most software engineers left for the US UK, worked for Microsoft, Citibank, GE and joined LSE for an MBA. He has a fair round face with perfect teeth that accentuated his happy smile. Contemplations on the ‘whys’ of his existence continued till he became very frustrated. He quit LSE mid way and joined Vedanta Life Institute in Mumbai. He spent six years studying scriptures of all faiths but fiercely questioned every dogma and ritual.

He now conducts classes for interested seekers and runs a small technology consulting firm for livelihood.

“The speed of your life has changed significantly, how do you stay motivated?” I inquired.

“My life is simple. I just ‘turn up’ for the day and ‘do’ what I have to do. There is magic when you give up control. Like you have surrendered to the act; action for action sake is the best form of action,” and looked straight into my eyes and gave a quiet smile.

He recognized my confused expression and clarified, “just like the bird that sings because it has a song, turn up and do because it has to be done, without fear or judgement.”

“Hmm,” I sighed.

Turn up and do!