The Two Birds

There were two birds. One sitting on a lower branch and another sitting on a higher branch. The branch was not that high, the lower bird could still decipher the expressions on higher bird’s face clearly. The eyes of the higher bird appeared like a puddle of water. Not the one which appears in rainy season. This one had no ripples. The lower bird could see the bottom of the puddle but it had still no idea about the depth. Maybe there is some light and fog illusion, it wondered. But still it could not help staring. For a moment, it locked its gaze and gets mesmerized.

It attributed this tranquility to immense peace and joy. It started dreaming- “How nice it would be to drop all worries. This must be the very definition of happiness. To be quite, so quiet, peaceful and serene. All its friends talk about food, shelter, taking care of eggs blah blah. No one sits quietly for a second. But not this bird. This one seemed totally content with it’s state of being. This kind of peace is certainly underrated. How long will it take me to hop up a couple of branches? It does not look too much effort. Sure I can do it and I will do it, who will stop me?”

And then suddenly its mother calls for food. 🙂

सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज |
अहं त्वां सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुच: || १८.६६ ||

Translation: Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.

The above shloka originated from the Bhagavad Gita, the song of Lord, a collection of 700 verses that motivated billions through ages. Some say you can find answer to every life’s problem in this book. To others, this verse along with its counterparts are archetypes of Krishna’s arrogance. One of the seminal works in explaining the essence of Gita is “Bhagvad Gita As It Is” which gives detailed commentaries by Swami Prabhupada. Anyone who reads this treatise may picture Krishna as pompous and boastful who not only desecrates all other religions but also points out he is the only one who can help get rid of all “sins”. This is eerily similar to one of the core principles of Christianity.

When Swami Vivekananda was asked about “Who is an atheist” during one of his speeches in London, 1896, he said:

 

The old religions said that he was an atheist who did not believe in God. The new religion says that he is the atheist who does not believe in himself.

Now someone not familiar with the Vedanta’s idea of non-dualism will instantly point out the difference in philosophy of the old and new religion. However if you see this from Vivekananda’s perspective, he regards God and self as same. Not metaphorically but literally! So talking about old and new religion is just superficially chronologizing the definition of atheist in different ways.

This idea of non-dualism beautifully explains the conundrum the lower bird faces. It keeps on wondering who is this higher bird when in reality it is looking at its own image as “higher” bird. There is only one bird but lower bird’s ignorance gets in the way. This ignorance makes it see someone apart from itself sitting on a higher branch.

Let us interpret the shloka in this context. Someone who views Krishna as a so called “Supreme Personality of Godhead” and different from himself, is essentially either ignorant about non-dualism or disregards the idea altogether. This ignorance makes him see Krishna as arrogant. However, Krishna is just directing Arjuna to believe in “himself”. “Himself” refers to Arjuna, not because Krishna resides inside Arjuna, but because they are one and the same, two sides of the same coin, two birds sitting on the same tree!

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R-Markdown to WordPress

Recently and perhaps too late, I discovered 3 very useful functions that can serve as a bridge from R-markdown and Shiny framework to publish directly to webpages, particularly to wordpress blog posts. Here are my findings:
  1. render_site(): This function allows to quickly generate websites from analysis reports. In it’s most basic implementation, it needs atleast two files, “_site.yml” and “index.Rmd”. The first file describes the menu structure of the website and the second file gives the title and can be used as an introductory page. Refer to this webpage for more details.
  2. knit2wp(): This function from “knitr” package allows to publish posts to a wordpress blog page directly from RStudio. Here is a sample R code with brief explanation on how to do this.
  3. library(RWordPress)
    library(markdown)
    library(knitr)
    library(XMLRPC)
    options(WordPressLogin = c(userID = 'password'), WordPressURL = 'https://your_blog_URL/xmlrpc.php')
    knit2wp('index.Rmd', title = 'XYZ',action="newPost")
    

    Steps:

    • Install all required packages
    • Replace “userID” and “password” by WordPress username and password
    • Insert your blog URL. For example mine is www.amalag.com
    • Replace “index.Rmd” with the name of markdown file you want to publish
    • Caveat: Blog’s SSL certificate must not be expired! If it is expired, it is necessary to renew it from your blog’s host.
  4. iframe: This is a great way in html to embed Shiny apps already hosted on some other server. I use PSU server to host apps but you can always go with shinyapps.io. Here is the sample code to embed apps:
< iframe style="border: none; width: 900px; height: 500px;" src="shiny_app_url" width="300" height="150"></iframe>

Thanks for reading this post. If it was useful to you in any way, please leave a comment.

PS: this page was posted using knit2wp()

Four Purposes of Life: Reflections

As always, I love reading Dan Millman. This time I was going through the book called “Four Purposes of Life: Finding meaning and direction in a changing world”. According to Dan, the four purposes of life are:

  1. Learning life’s lessons
  2. Finding your career and calling
  3. Discovering your life path
  4. Attending to this arising moment

The first purpose reminds us our eternal student-nature, always learning until we stop breathing. We learn from our parents and our well-wishers; we learn from people who teaches us important lessons in life; we learn from Mother Nature, we learn from each and every moment we spend in life. Of course, some are positive and all pleasant, while some are not as pleasing. The important thing is our attitude towards the events we encounter in life. They say, “Life is not what happens to us, but how we choose to respond to the situations.” This is an immensely powerful statement, or advice if you wish. So, let’s pledge to rise to our alertness today, and welcome the teachings that life offers to us. As Dan says, “Smarten Up. Grow Up. Wake Up.”

The second purpose is immensely important specially in this world of aimless pursuits – pursuits for everything but HaPpYnEsS – figuring out our careers and inner callings. Of course, it is not easy to hear our inner voice, not to mention about following that. Since career occupies a lion’s share of our life’s time being our bread-earner, its selection also calls for utmost care. By this I don’t mean in any means that we need to be “perfect” in our choice. The final choice may appear after repeated trials and errors, after multiple episodes of resorting to different routes. All I mean is that as long as we do not “settle” with something that’s not “real us”, as long as we are enthusiastically alive in our pursuit of discovering our inner voice, we are very much “in the game”. All we need is the right curious attitude . Remember Purpose #1? 🙂 For Purpose #2 Dan mentions, “Choose Satisfying Work. Earn a Good Living. Provide a useful service.”

Purpose #3 adds on to the previous two. Once we have figured about out inner calling and found a compatible career for our living by staying always receptive to our student-self, now is the time to fine-tune our path. The more we understand it better, the more we add cherries to our cake. We need to know that what we are capable of is not defined by our limitations of today. If you need more affirmation on this statement (and many many more like such), you are most welcome to watch Brendon Burchard videos. We need to have faith on the infinite capabilities of our higher potentials. Dan says, “Understand Your Hidden Calling. Follow Your Higher Potential.”

Finally, regarding Purpose #4, Dan mentions, “Pay close attention. Make each moment count.” Here comes the magical tip for how to proceed towards all these. The answer is simple, again following Dan’s concepts of a “Peaceful Warrior”:

“What time is it? NOW.

Where are you? HERE.

What are you? THIS MOMENT.”

If we just think carefully, all our worries, concerns, miseries, etc. are either regrets / reprimands of our past, or our anxieties about the uncertainties of the future. We are never present at the present moment. But amazingly, every “now” is fresh, brand new, and full of potentials. Imagine ourselves for a second constituted with all these freshness! How do you feel? 🙂

My beloved people, life is a blessing! We are blessed, each one of us, to have this life to live. Let’s celebrate this precious opportunity to our fullest capabilities, with free spirits and open heart! I am in, are you?

Much love all,

Debmalya.