Friday, December 31, 2010

Speak with Conviction

As 2010 winds to a close, we thought we'd end on this poem by Taylor Mali entitled, "Speak with Conviction." One of the tougher aspects about presenting in sabha requires that we establish credibility for ourselves and for the audience. It's hard to talk about doing tilak chandlo when we ourselves don't do it or to talk about not eating out when we ourselves have Papa John's Pizza on speed dial.

However, one of the subtle aspects of credibility we may often forget is our tone. Our reservations about speaking about something we have not yet fully accepted can translate out to what we are saying in sabha which can of course bring down the message - Swamishri's message - that we wish to impart upon our audience.

So let's take a listen to Mali's poem, and resolve to speak with conviction and not confusion in the year to come.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Try your hand at simple.

Chappaiya stories for shishus is an interesting idea in distilling a complex story and making it palatable to shishus. The first S in Made to Stick SUCCES model is Simple and that is exactly what this sites strives to do. Now you can try your hand at making a Simple story - and in the process helping out some shishu with a new bedtime story. Really a win - win situation. Hit up the link and get simple.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Everyone likes classical Indian music - they just don't know it yet.

In a recent post we linked a talk from Ben Zanders wherein he used all the best practices of giving a talk to prove that everyone loves (western) classical music - they just do not know it. In the talk below Dhanashree Pandit-Rai uses all the same techniques to do a complimentary talk to prove that everyone loves Indian classical music - they just do not know it. This talk is exceptional. She has a simple message, she starts with something unexpected, she uses credible and concrete examples, and while not chock full of stories - they stories are sprinkled in for good measure. The music itself conveys emotion. She hit all the Made to Stick principles.

Let's look at Resonate! We will be talking more about this book (as we read and understand it). However since the Ben Zanders example was tied to the ideas in Resonate! we can see that this talk also gives us the comparisons that Duarte explains is essential in a great talk. She uses the contrast of western and Indian classical music to take us on a journey. Leaving us on a high note (no pun intended) that opens the door to the appreciation of classical Indian music.

There are many ways to use these ideas in sabha. For example, we could use some of her ideas to create an amazing kirtan translation/kirtan based katha. Have a listen it is truly worth it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pragat (Upasana)

NOTE: While there are no pictures on the post, we do have a slideshow to accompany this post; prepare & practice accordingly!

As the year winds to an end with the last sabha of 2010 right around the corner, let's take some time to make the most of this special moment by test driving a BMW M6 convertible!

With the 500-horsepower engine, this car is better suited for the racetrack than any old city road. In fact, 4.8 seconds is all that takes to rev this beastly vehicle up to 60 miles/hour; that's about how long it takes for us blink 10 times!

The sleek interior is fully coveted with smooth and premium leather, and the incredible Logic-7 surround sound system makes any melody flow seamlessly enough to lift away any anxiety or stress that we may be carrying around on our shoulders.

So let's do it - why not rev this baby up?

Oh wait, it's only a picture. Test drive fail.

It's that disappointment that warrants an actual BMW M6 convertible. After all, the descriptive and flowery language sounded awesome, but only the actual car would have satisfied this craving.

Religion proves to be no different. Those who seek something higher or beyond them ascribe to a system of religion be it Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or even our religion of Hinduism, and it is in Hinduism that the principle of pragat resolves that search.

We may easily be led to think that pragat means that which is visible as in the murtis (in Hinduism) or statues in paintings of saints or religious icons in other religions, but pragat means much more.

The pragat form of God enables us not only to see him but to understand Him. 

For the M6, seeing and hearing the descriptions helped us visualize and imagine the car itself, but we gain no understanding of its handling or performance until we actually get behind the wheel. Blinking ten times is not going to help us figure out how hard/soft to press down on the acceleration while we're cruising in the M6; in fact, it may win us an ambulance ride to the ER.

For God, it means much more than to just being able to see Him. We must understand His nature, His personality, His philosophy if we are too attain Him in His abode. In essence, how would He act in facing the problems and pressures we face today in this society? Hence, Shriji Maharaj narrates His life to Muktanand Swami when he came seeking peace.

Thus, Hinduism places an emphasis on a guru or a spiritual teacher - one who has the credibility to interpret the scriptures in light of modern problems. A guru must have examples in his own life to share with his followers that resonate with the religion and its teachings which is why we have our guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His 90 years on this Earth are replete with prasang after prasang and experience after experience in which he demonstrated his depth and understanding of the Hindu faith.

Though Shriji Maharaj may have reverted back to His abode, He lives on through the life of our guru. That's why we have a M(aharaj)-series of models as well, for each of our gurus have led a life through which Shriji Maharaj Himself could be experienced. Swamishri today is the M6 - the sixth one in line - and the shining example to the principle of pragat.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lost in Translation

This weeks kishore/kishori sabha focuses on bhakti. The presentation suggest a great way to start and grab everyone's attention. We have said in the past starting with "Webster's define xxxx as yyyy" as in the definition of bhakti is devotion, usually is not a great way to go. It is not unexpected, it is not sticky. The presentation emphasizes that to translate bhakti as devotion does not really do it justice. So how can we expand this idea to do something unexpected. Here are a few ideas.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign.
Show some funny or interesting signs that have had a translation problem. Move from there fairly quickly to the problem of translations in general and then specifically to bhakti.

Urban Translation
Translate a popular song into proper English. Does the song still convey the same message? Move fairly quickly to the idea of translating bhakti.

Even though it is difficult many people are trying to translate. TED Talks have a crowd sourced translation method. The iPhone even has an augmented reality app. Would this app get the translation of bhakti correct?
Unexpected gets people's attention. We need to follow with some credible and concrete examples in the form of story to keep that attention.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You are the presentation

A presentation - be it for work, mandir, or school - is a reflection of yourself. The following slide deck earned second place at 2010 SlideShare competition. There several interesting ideas and helpful hints. A few thoughts that captured our attention:
  • If your presentation sucks (their words not ours) so do you.
  • To make a great one hour presentation takes thirty hours of prep.
  • Getting rid of a header or logo from every page. This made sense to us, the first splash page is fine, but the rest of the slides the logo simply takes valuable real estate without adding any more information.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What every four year old should know.

Interesting ideas here. This echoes one of the central themes we have discovered. Sticky requires practice and time - not money, resources, or raw talent (although those things never hurt).