Be Open to Oneness

by | Jan 1, 2020

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Year 2020 is bringing with it a feeling of déjà vu. In the 1990s, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was writing a book on how India could become a developed country and how long it would take. We estimated a time frame of about 25 years. When I took him to L. V. Prasad Eye Institute for an ophthalmic examination, while testing his eyes, Dr. Taraprasad Das shared with Dr Kalam ‘20/20’ as the term used to describe perfect sight. “If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance,” he said. And sitting there, Dr Kalam decided to name his book India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium. The book became a bestseller and today, when 2020 has finally arrived, I am reminded of this great visionary.

What I learned under the tutelage of Dr Kalam is that waiting for conditions around you to change is a futile exercise, a real waste of life. The challenge is not to change the outer conditions, but the inner conditions; not the society, but the community; not even the community, but family; and in the family, your own self, your day to day experience. This is where everything begins. Dr Kalam was very fond of a saying of Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 BCE) and made it very popular through his speeches. 

If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. 
If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. 
If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nations. 
When there is order in the nations, there will be peace in the world.

If you are paying attention to the God essence, living, ticking inside you, you will be able to make sense of all that is happening around you. Nothing is random, unnecessary and irrelevant. Every single experience, especially the unpleasant ones are there to be experienced and done away with. Running away from them, avoiding them, and reacting to them are wrong choices. We must respond to whatever life brings before us, every moment. It starts with sunrise – everyone must be out of bed before the sun appears on the horizon and welcome the source of all life on our planet. Procrastination is the original sin; all the muck gets build up around that. As you humbly attend to what a day brings, you grow and evolve every day. 

I see cognitive surplus as the biggest problem mankind is facing today. In the name of information, garbage has been littered everywhere, defiling even the purest and youngest minds. Through electronic media, people are being turned into desire machines – hungry ghosts, to use a Buddhist term. Unsatiated desires are making people angry. Angry people resort to violence – both inwardly as depression and self-inflicting addictions and outwardly as rage. Violence creates suffering – both for the doer and the victim. Modern society has accepted violence: films are glorifying gory fights and killings, sports involving violence like boxing and wrestling have become popular. Stored already in the unconscious mind, violence, then gets expressed at the most insignificant stimuli and trivial provocation.  

So, what could be the 20/20 vision of your life? See yourself as a fragment of the Supreme Consciousness that runs this universe. Your thoughts are the way to operate upon this consciousness, to tap into the energy of the cosmos and bring it into your life. Everything is on the move, changing every moment, especially your inner being. With every breath, with every heartbeat, your life is extended. With every thought, you are creating your future and, in that manner, assuming responsibility and liability for your decisions. 

Also, let me share with you the 20/20 vision of God. God is not out there, but inside us. We are all living in God. We are all guided every moment of our lives. Our problem is our insensitivity towards receiving the guidance. The distractions, a little too many off late, due to Internet-driven mobile phones among other things, shield us from this guidance. The purpose of life is to experience life, to respond to it openly as it presents itself, and put our best efforts into making it meaningful not only for ourselves, but also for the whole of mankind. 

I consider the 47th Shloka of the 2nd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita as the ultimate code of life.

कर्मण्ये वाधिकारस्ते, माफलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफल हेतुर्भू, माते सङ्गोऽस्त्व कर्मणि।।

There are four operative statements embedded here: (1) Attend to what life presents before you, perform; (2) Don’t worry about results, they depend on something beyond your comprehension most of the time; (3) Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities; and (4) Inaction is not an option. 

Your health is first and foremost. Eat healthy food, get enough exercise, think good thoughts and keep your body and mind clean. Feel and express your emotions; never repress them – cry, laugh, jump, shout, sing, dance, whatever, do not hold back. Attend to your duties, towards your own self, your family members, colleagues, and all those people, even strangers, who cross your path in life. Never worry about results, gains and losses. What is yours can never be withheld by any power on earth; what is not yours, even if you do get it somehow, will be lost. Oneness is not a characteristic of life. Life is the characteristic of Oneness.

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29 Comments

  1. Prof Tiwari, thank you very much for the reflection on the fundamentals that each of us must live if our lives are to be lived to the full as was intended by The Creator. That Prof APJ Abdul Kalam lived what he taught is an understatement, he exceeded what is known about him, a minute spent with him reflecting what India had in potential was proverbial, his books talk about this and more.

    You have paused a very pertinent question worth of paying attention to not only in this year but every single day in our lives, as it is what is done on a daily basis that leads to a week, a month and an annual long list of activities making habits then character. what could be the 20/20 vision of your life? Is more than a rhetoric, before each breath that we take a quest for a response presents itself. While it is very easy to adopt a pattern of lifestyle to impress onlookers and oneself, life is more than a routine, its the meaning to that routine, that leads to personal changes, family and eventually community/society/nations. As you correctly said: “Never worry about results, gains and losses. What is yours can never be withheld by any power on earth; what is not yours, even if you do get it somehow, will be lost”
    The Holy Bible in Proverbs 22:6 says: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. KJV, such training needs to rooted in a life of the trainer, may we live so that when we are privileged to train our children, the experience be one that will be an extension of who we are!
    Happy New Year Sir

  2. I had the unique opportunity to work with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam during the IGMDP days for the various Missile programs. Man of principles, values and ethics, above all a great soul and great human being. He encouraged the young generation to take a leading role in various activities related to the program. He was a visionary, who looked forward to the long term security and development of the country . He is really a beacon for the young generations and the path followed by him in achieving the various goals and milestones will be cherished for all time to come.

  3. Dr Kalam Sir, himself a visionary had a dream about a Great India and gave the right Vision. As we say “Charity begins at home” we don’t need to wait for others to change and do things. If we all individually change for the better, collectively we can produce a better community Mostly we believe that wha one person can do ? But one person and one person at a time can make a big difference
    It is very appropriate words of wisdom by you sir, at the beginning of the year 2020, Let us work in the right direction without worrying about the result and leave the same to God almighty.
    Let us all pray for good Health of Arunji so that he continues to motivate and guide us

  4. Prof Tiwari has once again in his characteristic style stated the actual problem that we all our facing today, which is cognitive surplus. Today, everyone has an opinion on everything and are stuck with their versions based on the superfluous information available across all platforms. The patience to check for the authenticity or the need to understand has become secondary because sensationalizing is the new found effective way of grabbing attention. The concept of taking people together in doing work is becoming increasingly difficult as individuality in everything is growing out of proportion. The title of this blog which says “be open to oneness” is to ensure that there is a guard for the levels of individuality that need to be maintained especially when you need to work together for a larger cause. I was privileged to work under our former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and was amazed with the knack he had in bringing people together from different disciplines and make them work together for the larger interest of the Society/country. The need of the hour more so today is to bring cohesiveness amongst people and work in a selfless manner with the faith that God is always watching and taking care of you.

  5. Dear Mr Tiwari.. Enjoyed the blog. The fitting finale came in “Oneness is not a characteristic of life. Life is the characteristic of Oneness”. Fitting tribute to Kalamji’s exemplary life, vision and mission. Could not be better said. Thanks for sharing. Warm Regards, Bhamathi.

  6. Respected Sir, thank you for a wonderful post in the new year, 2020. I am a blessed man to meet Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam Sir thrice just because of you and I got inspired and became his follower since 2009. He was a visionary Leader, Teacher and Scientist. The vision 2020 was one of the great thought by Dr. Kalam sir to the nation.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with Dr Kalam Sir as a Professor at University of Hyderabad inside the classroom and outside interactions as well.

    “Waiting for conditions around you to change is a futile exercise, a real waste of life. The challenge is not to change the outer conditions, but the inner conditions…” what a line to get motivation Sir…

    I still remember your words in first class (2008) in University of Hyderabad about Vision in the life. You and your teachings about Dr. Kalam Sir has inspired me a lot and I am very happy to share with you that they made me a Assistant Professor in University of Hail, Saudi Arabia today.

    Keep posting. Wish you a happy new year, 2020. Thank you once again Sir!

  7. Arunji, Excellent elaboration of Dr. Kalam’s 20/20 vision. The starting point is re-visiting inner self with a different lens. Responding to life every moment as it brings ( thoughtfully and appropriately) instead of reacting to it (without thinking inappropriately). I spent 30% of my time with Governments of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Telangana and 40% in teaching, learning and people development, as advised by Dr. Kalam on 10th Jan 2011 when I left EMRI.

  8. An inclusive and sustainable culture of oneness will help us move towards a peaceful future. On a personal front, recognizing the present, connecting to it, being open to it and filling the void with love happens with a lot of grace. However, to what extent individuals’ everyday lives in today’s society are characterized by this idea of oneness also depends on a country’s national policies, inclusive and social protection ones. Every family play a role in the delivery of India 2020 or 2030 as stakeholders in the implementation of agendas and also as beneficiaries of growth and development. So a broad solitary plan which can build a just and equitable society and in turn help society respect human dignity, regardless of race, religion and ethnicity will make ‘oneness’ a reality.
    Dr Kalam envisaged India 2020 because he believed in the inherent goodness of all people. To live out this noble soul’s dream is not just a responsibility but a duty to encourage providence.

  9. “LIFE IS THE CHARACTERISTIC OF ONENESS” this line sums up everything. When we talk about everything like super power, development, economic power especially in the context of “2020” we are forgetting one major aspect which is foremost important “integrity”. As it’s old saying that this world will change only by our action and not by our opinion. In past few years the main change that I found in our India is in the area of “cleanliness”. “Swachh bharat” a concept a idea which has potential to make our life more disciplined. And according to me this will be the best ever program started by government. When we talk about “India 2020” especially from Kalam sir prespective the best part was he himself followed everything and sets an example how we have to contribute for 2020 vision. How we can make our India great. We have to accept our flaws, then have to work on that and yes just by changing ourselves in a better way we can contribute too. Also thanks for reminding the thoughts of Kalam sir in front of us especially our “Yound India”. A true saint, a great leader and most important a good human. We all were privileged that person like him belongs to our Country and it’s our duty to give more than our hundred percent in making India a superpower but with Integrity and honesty.

  10. Very nice and thought provoking article by Prof. Tiwari. As always there is a ‘Tadka’ of spirituality. Dr. Kalam’s sour would be watching down in dismay on the direction and state of our economy in 2020. Whatever we see is just propped up. The system is hollow from within. Dr. Kalam talked of eradicating poverty. Even after 70 years of independence we are nowhere near achieving that goal. Political parties come and go, each in competition with the last one to stoop lower in mis governance. May the departed soul of Dr. Kalam guide us!

  11. It is true Prof Tiwari Jee that procrastination and cognitive surplus are misleading the current generation and it is high time to look within. Tulsidas jee also said “Karm Pradhan Vishwa Rachi Rakha” that we were taught in childhood days, but tend to forget with the passage of time. Let us begin the year with this reminder of yours and ask a question how and what best we can give to nation.

  12. Beautifully written blog Sir. I have been fortunate to meet him during his Hyderabad visits as part of Telemedicine team. Last one month, we are seeing very chaotic public space. His quote is most relevant than ever today: “If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nations” What is happening in the public space is exhaust of unhappy homes and angry individuals. Thank you for bringing Dr Kalam to the surface of our conscienceness by this wonderful article.

  13. An excellent post Prof. Tiwari as we enter a New Year and one reflects on their life journey and thinks of New Year resolutions. With great thanks to you, I was fortunate to have met Dr. Kalam in both Hyderabad, India and Pasadena, CA (USA). As many others, I admired his selfless approach to life and commitment to the betterment of India as you described so well in Wings of Fire. He truly has inspired me to rethink my actions and values in life. You’ve been much more fortunate than me in having the privilege of working with Dr. Kalam for many years. It’s no surprise you have such wisdom and many characteristics that Dr. Kalam had. Thank you for providing a reminder of what’s important in life and how to approach it, as we all make New Year resolutions in this increasingly complex world we live in.

  14. Sir, First of all please accept my 2020 greetings. This is very rightly said that every change should start with ‘YOU’. To make our nation better everyone must take responsibility to look it better. Then only anyone has right to ask the system.

    To achieve something one must set the time bound target. It was great vision of our former president Dr. Kalam to set some target for 2020. It’s up to us to evaluate what have achieved when we are entering in 2020. And set new target which is yet to be reached and make our great nation a developed country. Thanks sir.

  15. Respected Dr Arun Tiwari ji, Vision 2020 was the road map viewed, designed and laid by the greatest visionary late Dr Abdul Kalam ji, unfortunately the greatest person may not physically be there amongst us but his thoughts, guidance and inspiration is still in the hearts of crores of Indians… you are one of the very few who travelled along with him and even we are blessed to get acquainted to the great visionary… thanks for posting a very apt post in the beginning of 2020…

  16. Best wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year for all… and for those who follow Dr Kalam…”it should be fulfilling year too”. It is the passion to do what is assigned, do what is right which helps the community as a whole. In short the shloka quoted from The Bhagavad Gita ‘Karmanye ….” is not only apt for Dr Kalam but for all of us who have worked with him, mentored and tutored by him. With prayers to the almighty that He blesses all of us ” Sarve jana sukhinaa.. …..”

  17. Sir, what a great feeling to read your blog with Dr Kalam in the new year! I have been fortunate to receive him in Surat and spending time with him. He made me at ease the moment he arrived as if he knew me forever. This is the true sign of a saint.

    Sir, for me you have been Dr Kalam. I am taking you line “Procrastination is the original sin; all the muck gets build up around that. As you humbly attend to what a day brings, you grow and evolve every day” as my New Year 2020 resolve and seek your blessings.

  18. Uncle, it was you who gave me this beautiful opportunity to meet Dr. Kalam at 10, Rajaji Marg . He discussed my research area – Network Virtualization in such a simple yet enlightening manner. The memory of him and his words will forever stay and will be cherished. Having said that, I am blessed to have met you in this birth as my guiding mentor, my angel, my God father .. and I can go on and on. This blog adds to all the wonderful things you taught me about life till date. Thank you, genuinely, for posting this in the fresh new year and making us all feel immensely positive.

  19. Sir Namaskar. New Year wishes to you for a healthy and happy new year 2020. Your blog was indeed heart warming and touching. I read it several times. You have rightly mentioned the story behind the 2020 title. Sad, no one speaks about Dr Kalam and his vision for the year 2020 now. All are busy pleasing other “visionaries”.

  20. Dear Sir Pranam , May the coming year fill your life with happiness, good health and prosperity and bring a fresh bout of excellence to your life. Wish you a very Happy New Year 2020. Thanks for an excellent/thoughtful article. Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was a true legend and I always cherish the memories of seeing him from close at DRDL. Your article provide saar of Dr. Kalam’s life. In our Yuga, he is Lord Krishna to us who provided Geeta Gyan from time to time. He was firm believer of – “If you want to shine like a sun. First burn like a sun”. Everyone should have the vision-20/20 of Dr.A.P.J Abdul Kalam in his/her life which will take India to new greater height. Dr. Kalam had three visions for India. “My FIRST VISION is that of FREEDOM; MY SECOND VISION for India is DEVELOPMENT.. I have a THIRD VISION. India must stand up to the world. Only strength respects strength.”
    Thank you Sir and God Bless…

  21. I have been very fortunate to meet Dr Kalam during his several visits to Care Foundation. He treated all with love, care and respect. He asked me a simple question, “Buddy, what’s happening?” and I could not answer. And later I realize that we really don’t know what is happening. We are selling our lives for money doing ordinary work without ever asking ourselves why God has created us for. I am taking your statement in the blog, “The purpose of life is to experience life, to respond to it openly as it presents itself, and put our best efforts into making it meaningful not only for ourselves, but also for the whole of mankind.” As my new year resolve. Thank you Sir for waking us up.

  22. Respected Sir, seeing Dr Kalam radiating happiness was the best thing to start the new year. I fondly remember his meeting with NRDC people and receiving his personal blessings. He has been a living example of a Rishi of Ancient India. Your advice, “Your health is first and foremost. Eat healthy food, get enough exercise, think good thoughts and keep your body and mind clean,” is the most important message in modern times. Mind can only be clean by internalizing the Gita Shloka you very aptly quoted. Till this feeling of “I am doing it” and “Why should I do it?” remain the axel of our vehicle, we are not going anywhere on the road of life. We can feel Dr Kalam in you and it is such a wonderful feeling , Your blessings and your motivational words are of utmost important to me on this New Years day.’

  23. Sir, I fondly remember meeting Dr Kalam at 10, Rajaji Marg with you many times. His simple loving kind way of talking was indeed Godly. He will ask questions that would touch heart. I feel the Gita Shloka is truly the code for life. You rightly highlighted all four commands: “(1) Attend to what life presents before you, perform; (2) Don’t worry about results, they depend on something beyond your comprehension most of the time; (3) Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities; and (4) Inaction is not an option.” Even those who know the shloka ignores (3) and (4). There is a strong tendency of “I am doing it” everywhere and most of the people don’t even work anything beyond earning their livelihood and spending it all on enjoyment. Helping others, even parents and needy family members, has become out of date. Thank you Sir for telling us what is so very important to know.

  24. Sir, I can’t find any proverbs more inspiring and motivating than this blog of yours. This blog amply provides thought for a brighter start of new year.

  25. Sir, Once again I am telling Thanks to you for such a meaningful article. This article gives me immense possibilities to confront the aftermath of life. I don’t know where I am going and what I am doing. On reading your teachings I made little bit strength to look forward. I know I have so many responsibilities to perform because of the birth of mine in the vast world. I don’t know I could perform it well. One thing I know that I am doing my best to perform well. I born as a child of a High School teacher who showed me the selfless duty of social service. He wiped out so much tears as he could that is why I am enjoying all the privileges today. Now again I am fortunate enough having your association otherwise I will be indulge some other activities. So I am thankful to you on such like stories and article which have value in the present day context. Your teachings give immense wisdom to the young esters to pay attention to their respective duties. I think great leaders like you and APJ lead nation to reap prosperity. Thank you. God bless!

  26. Dear Sir, Thank you for sharing the excellent article on the New year beginning. I always followed your teachings in real life. Sitting here in Sydney, Australia, I can feel the power of righteousness in achieving your dream.

    Every Indian should have the vision-20/20 of Dr.A.P.J Abdul Kalam in his/her life.
    Please keep writing for the sole guidance of the suffering humanity.

    We are blessed to have you as a mentor in our life. Wish you very happy, healthy and prosperous new year 2020. Warm Regards!

  27. Harry Belafonte said it best: “House built on a weak foundation will not stand.” The foundation is the family, as you and Dr. Kalam have pointed out. Keeping our family strong will keep us strong. That needs to be our priority.

  28. One Beautiful article…simply loved the lines…”We are all living in God. We are all guided every moment of our lives.” The Upanishads declare “Aksharaat sambhavitam Vishwam”…the entire Creation is contained within God. This makes every thing, every Being, every particle, every atom Divine. Every thing, every event is guided by Divine Will. Bhagwan Swaminarayan states in the Vachnamrut the way to experience divinity is to have Divya bhaav…to SEE the Divine everywhere and in everyone.

    Bhagwan Swaminarayan further states…just look at how everything works with precision in the entire Creation…how a tree grows out of small seed…how a human body with all its organs develops within the womb…how the planets are suspended in space and how each planetary motion has its own rhythm and orbit,…there are miracles all around, if we just PAUSE to appreciate what God has given us and keeps giving us each day, each moment. And to appreciate that, to understand that, one has to take the refuge of an enlightened Guru.

    All those great masters, who have made significant contribution to mankind have all been disciples of great masters, serving them with full Faith and Devotion. The writings of Pythagoras influenced the thoughts of Plato and Aristotle. Similarly, within your writings, we experience two masters…Arun Tiwari and the Guru, he served…APJ Abdul Kalam, who through his own life example showed how you can live like a Saint while still attending your day to day duties. And this was possible for him because he was in commune with that Oneness…with the Divine within.

    Dr. Wayne Dyer in his book “Wisdom of the Ages” says, “The mind is like a pond. On the surface you see all the disturbances, yet the surface is only a fraction of the pond. It is in the depth below the surface, where there is stillness, that you will come to know the true essence of the pond, as well as your own mind. By going below the surface, you come to the spaces between your thoughts where you are able to enter the gap.The gap is total emptiness or silence, and it is indivisible. Perhaps it is the essence of God, that which cannot be divided from the oneness.”

    The Guru…the Great Masters…they all live that Essence in every moment….Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj…Param Pujya Mahant Swami Maharaj….their very life epitomises this…that’s why they can maintain an equanimity in every situation….the state that Bhagwan Shri Krishna tells Arjuna to achieve in the Gita…the state of Stithprajna…this can only be achieved by living that Essence every moment, and this is what we have to learn from them.

    Thanks a million Sir ji for such a wonderful article…such a Blessing to be reading this on the first day of a new year. Jai Swaminarayan!!!

  29. Pranam sir and Namaskaram

    Thank you for the beautiful article sir. 2020 Sir in India is the year of Dr kalam sir .. everywhere I go Kalam sir is being invoked

    It was very nice to read your experiences with Kalam sir. From your words and also from Kalam sirs words quoted , one can understand the divinity that lies in simplicity . Such great examples we have to emulate sir . We are most fortunate

    How is this level of simplicity possible is a question I ask myself sir?

    Krishna s perfect verse has been elucidated in the most efficient manner sir and in that verse one can very well say, the kernel of the Gita is contained.

    The four operative statements mentioned by you are practical guides and sureshot success hacks on both the material and spiritual paths

    Sir I recollected a quote that I had read about the Buddha and which offered me great solace during troubled times a decade ago when I was yet to find my teacher “when you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head and laugh at the sky”

    The last paragraph where you give some important behavioral tips to us is the perfect manual for the modern spiritual life which seeks to do away with the rigid and dry interpretation of spirituality.

    Attend to your duties …even to strangers is the true spirit of vasudhaiva kutumbakam sir

    Thank you and pranam sir

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