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The 10 Very Best Zen Stories-written by Myrko Thum in Inspiration

The 10 Very Best Zen Stories

written by Myrko Thum in Inspiration —  

Many teachings from Zen-Buddhism are told in short and delightful zen stories. They are usually designed to develop the mind and to free it from distortions and so to connect with our spirit.

Some of them are really inspiring and enlightening. It is helpful to the mind to think about them and feel the deeper meaning. Even if it is not possible to grasp them fully, the beauty and simplicity of the message usually gets through to us one way or the other.

The following 10 Zen stories are a selection of the ones I found most inspiring and really worth to ponder about. Some may be instantly understood, some others need to be thought through and recognized in oneself.

They are about the following topics: life in the present moment, different perspectives, attachment, resistance, judgment, delusion, beliefs and thought as mental concepts but not truth and unconditional love. Please feel free to post your interpretation or other stories into the comments.

After reading the first, follow it’s advice to read all the others. 🙂


1. A Cup of Tea

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

2. The Burden

Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the road sides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk accross because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to a her lifted her and left her on the other side of the road, and continued his way to the monastery.

In the evening the younger monk came to the elder monk and said, “Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman ?”

The elder monk answered “yes, brother”.

Then the younger monk asks again, “but then Sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside ?”

The elder monk smiled at him and told him ” I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her.”

3. Finding a Piece of the Truth

One day Mara, the Evil One, was travelling through the villages of India with his attendants. he saw a man doing walking meditation whose face was lit up on wonder. The man had just discovered something on the ground in front of him. Mara’s attendant asked what that was and Mara replied, “A piece of truth.”

“Doesn’t this bother you when someone finds a piece of truth, O Evil One?” his attendant asked. “No,” Mara replied. “Right after this, they usually make a belief out of it.”

4. The Other Side

One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river”?

The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, “My son, you are on the other side”.

5. Is That So?

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life.

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

This made her parents very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parents went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say.

When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a pariah by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. “Is that so?” Hakuin said calmly as he accepted the child.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.

The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again.

Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”

6. Maybe

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

7. Cliffhanger

One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice.

As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine.

Suddenly, he noticed on the vine a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious!

8. The Blind Men and the Elephant

Several citizens ran into a hot argument about God and different religions, and each one could not agree to a common answer. So they came to the Lord Buddha to find out what exactly God looks like.

The Buddha asked his disciples to get a large magnificent elephant and four blind men. He then brought the four blind to the elephant and told them to find out what the elephant would “look” like.

The first blind men touched the elephant leg and reported that it “looked” like a pillar. The second blind man touched the elephant tummy and said that an elephant was a wall. The third blind man touched the elephant ear and said that it was a piece of cloth. The fourth blind man hold on to the tail and described the elephant as a piece of rope. And all of them ran into a hot argument about the “appearance” of an elephant.

The Buddha asked the citizens: “Each blind man had touched the elephant but each of them gives a different description of the animal. Which answer is right?”

9. Right and Wrong

When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.

Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.

When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. “You are wise brothers,” he told them. “You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave.”

A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.

10. Nothing Exists

Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.

Desiring to show his attainment, he said: “The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received.”

Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.

“If nothing exists,” inquired Dokuon, “where did this anger come from?”

Bonus 11. Teaching the Ultimate

In early times in Japan, bamboo-and-paper lanterns were used with candles inside. A blind man, visiting a friend one night, was offered a lantern to carry home with him.

“I do not need a lantern,” he said. “Darkness or light is all the same to me.”

“I know you do not need a lantern to find your way,” his friend replied, “but if you don’t have one, someone else may run into you. So you must take it.”

The blind man started off with the lantern and before he had walked very far someone ran squarely into him. “Look out where you are going!” he exclaimed to the stranger. “Can’t you see this lantern?”

“Your candle has burned out, brother,” replied the stranger.

An alternate education

Dec 5, 2013 09:31 PM , By C.S. ANURADHA, DR V. SRIDHAR

Augmented reality is making its foray into the education sector
and bringing about changes for the better.
Soon, your 6-year old child may well be holding your smartphone
or tablet over a Robin Hood book to experience in vivid details,
how the savior fights against offenders in the Darbha valley area
of Chhattisgarh to save innocent men and women. Yes.. It is the
pet project on The Extended Book and Robin Hood by Dr. Dave
Miller, UNESCO Chair in New Media Forms of the Book,
University of Bedfordshire that will be Augmented Reality (AR)
based and will be collaboratively written by authors around the
world to bring out an Indianized version of Robin Hood.
With the developments of Google Glass and other related
products, decade old Augmented Reality (AR) technology is
moving from labs to mainstream adoption.
AR enables superimposition of digital content on real environment
thus providing contextualized information to users. In simple
words, AR merges the physical and digital worlds in order to
make the real world more interactive to the user.
While Virtual Reality is a complete digital representation of the
real world, AR is an add-on to the real world. This remarkably
enhances the human-information interface and allows very
interesting applications to be developed.
When deployed in outdoor environment, virtual information
overlays enable a wide range of applications ranging from tourist
guides and pedestrian navigation to urban gaming.
It is estimated that developer investment in AR applications will
be about US$670 million this year, and is expected to exceed US
$2.5 billion in 2018, as AR becomes an everyday part of mobile
Mobile continues to be the preferred device for AR application
and is expected that more than 2.5 billion mobile AR applications
will get installed by 2017.
In this article, we explore how AR can be used to enhance
learning and education.
Applied in Education
According to Professor Xiangyu Wang, an internationally
recognized expert in AR who is with the faculty of Curtin
University, Australia, AR offers an innovative learning experience
by merging digital learning material over the physical space, thus
providing “situated learning”.
AR broadens the scope of physical learning environment to
“outside the classroom” and enables “individualised” learning.
Each learner can control her own learning, manipulating digital
information and objects as per the need to enhance
understanding. AR can also interleave theoretical and practical
learning. For example, when you and your son are in the park,
your son can point the AR browser in your Smartphone to a
seasaw in a park to learn concepts such cantilever, and centre of
balance in a natural setting!
In subjects such as biology, chemistry and even physics where it
is difficult for learners to imagine complex models and
experiments, AR can enhance learning in a real environment.
Though AR based learning is being explored more in mathematics
and sciences, AR Gaming applications can be used to teach
complex business and economics concepts such as Game
Theory, negotiations and strategy.
For example, a learner can be trained on complex tasks such as
laparoscopic surgery, heavy equipment operation and risky tasks
such as firefighting with augmented objects and content.
Risks of failure in AR is minimal as compared to practical real
object based training – that is, a heavy fall while demonstrating
firefighting as happened in some cases in India, can be avoided
using AR based training programs. Researchers have found that
the learning curve is steep with AR based training (i.e. shorter
time to understand) and that performance post training is also
higher, compared to conventional training. Researchers have
found that books and tool kits such as AR-Dehaes that contains
hundreds of 3D models allows learner to visualize and perform
spatial engineering tasks with industrial elements with ease.
AR Books
Though most of the text book publishers bundle relevant CDs,
content in them are rarely accessed due to complexities such as
finding a computer to load and search through the content for
relevant information. AR can enable the dreary books to become
“live”. By pointing the AR browser (in Tablets or mobiles) to an
AR enhanced chapter, students can access all relevant information
in various formats (i.e. video and images, articles, talks) pertaining
to that chapter in real-time and on the go.
For example, a student who is trying hard to make out the textual
description of wind currents and their effect on climatic conditions
will be able to point the smartphone to the AR enabled chapter in
his text book to access a video that shows the storm system in
vivid detail, thus enabling her to better understand the concepts.
Publishers such as Harper Collins have started releasing AR
enhanced books. Niche publishers such as have
started publishing AR enhanced children books.
Relevance for India
Though the impact of Right to Education on school education
system in India improved Pupil-Teacher Ratio from 42:1 to 32:1,
it still thrice that in developed countries. With the RTE mandate,
children from lower income groups do have a chance to mingle
with children of high income groups in the same school and have
access to the same educational material. These less privileged
children however may not have access to computer and digital
resources at home. However most of such families today own
mobiles, thanks to domestic manufacturing, stiff competition and
related lower prices. Mobile AR provides students access to key
digital information right from their homes without the need for any
other device to supplement their text books.
Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt in the recently released
edited book by McKinsey & Co on ‘Reimagining India’ remarked,
“Parents who believe their children are not getting proper
instruction in local schools will be able to use mobile phones or
tablets to help fulfil their kid’s educational needs”. The
possibilities with mobile AR are only limited by imagination.
The only caveat is without good broadband connectivity for
downloading content, that is conspicuously absent in India,
mobile AR can be a frustrating experience. Hope that with more
spectrum to be auctioned soon and spectrum trading being
allowed, the mobile operators in the country will wake up and
enable the huge possibilities of AR to be realised.
(The authors work at at Sasken Communication Technologies.
Views are personal.)

Oil Pulling – Wonderful Therapy !

Oil Pulling – Wonderful Therapy !

Oil Pulling – Wonderful Therapy !

‘Oil pulling’ is a simple and very effective exercise and alternate therapy for various Health disorders, discovered by Dr.Med Karash of Soviet Russia. It is a very simple , easy and non expensive effective way of cure for many diseases. Even dreadful disorders like Cancer to Cardiac diseases were cured through this therapy.

This ‘Oil Pulling’ therapy was introduced in South India by Lt.Col. Thummala. Keteswara Rao garu of Bangalore.

‘Oil Pulling Therapy’:

First of all wash your mouth with fresh water. Then take 10 ml or one teaspoon of any refined vegetable oil, eg. Sun flower oil, or pea nut oil or sesame oil and keep in the mouth. Don’t swallow, just gargle the the oil for about 10 to 15 mts. Keeping your mouth closed, so that the viscous oily structure changes in to thin, froth water with whitish colour. Then spit off the white, frothy material. Then wash off your mouth 4-5 times with fresh water and then brush your teeth to get rid off harmful virus and Bacteria from your mouth.

The best time for oil pulling is ‘morning’ that to before break fast. It should be done with empty stomach only. It can be done 2-3 times per day for quick and effective results. Don’t be afraid even if the oil is swallowed by mistake !

Any body ie. Ladies or gents and even pregnant ladies can do this oil pulling with out any doubt. It can also be done during menses time with out any side effects.

How ‘Oil Pulling’ Works :

‘Oil pulling’ – removes harmful virus and Bacteria present in between teeth and in the mouth. By spitting out side the thin, watery, white, frothy fluid the Bacteria and virus are destroyed.

This ‘Oil pulling’ gives gentle ‘ massage’ to the facial muscles and gives uniform blood circulation which automatically melts the excess fat present in the facial muscles.

• Oil pulling removes ‘Acne’ problem, pimples and Black heads on the face and gives natural luster and glow to the face !
• It improves ‘eye sight’ and helps in removal of dark circles around the eyes.
• It also cures ‘mouth ulcers’ if any.
• It cures respiratory troubles by improving the blood circulation in the lungs.
• It also helps in the removal of black ugly spots, blemishes on the skin and face.
• Oil Pulling also cures cold and cough of temporary and chronic nature and even Asthama and oesonofelia etc.
• It is observed some natural hair growth on the scalp and removal of dandruff even.
• It removes excess fat deposited in the blood vessels and helps in loosing weight also !
• It cures all types of Head aches even like Migraine.
So adopt regularly Oil Pulling, Yoga, Pranayama and some other Micro Yogic Exercises and relaxation techniques for effective desired results !

May god bless you !

Posted by R.K.Rao

Emotional intelligence through the Bhagavad-Gita

International Journal of Research Studies in Psychology
2012 June, Volume 1 Number 2, 73-80
© The Authors
Emotional intelligence through the Bhagavad-Gita

Gayathri, N.
VIT University, Tamilnadu, India (
Meenakshi, K.
VIT University, Tamilnadu, India (

“Yam hi na vyathayanthyethe purusham purusharshabha
Samadhukha sukham dheeram somruthathvaya kalpathe” [In Sanskrit]

This analytic sloka from the Bhagavad-Gita (Chapter II, Verse 15) sums up the entire concept
of Emotional Intelligence (EI).

It says: a person who is calm and remains unperturbed by
either pain or pleasure is the one who attains immortality.

The theory of EI which has been
popularized by Goleman can be traced down to David Wechsler, who, as early as in 1940 said
that intelligence does not denote just the cognitive abilities of a person but the non-cognitive
abilities as well.

This idea was again put forward by Howard Gardner in 1983 when he
brought forth the multiple intelligence theory and said that intrapersonal and interpersonal
skills are as important as the traditional concept of intelligence which focused on the
cognitive skills alone. In 1990, Mayer and Salovey introduced the concept of Emotional
Intelligence as a distinct form of intelligence which can be measured and evaluated. This
paper analyses the possibility of developing the theory of EI into a more comprehensive one.
It compares and contrasts the theory of EI against the concept of emotions as discussed in the
Bhagavad-Gita and explores the possibilities of finding specific methods through which a
person’s emotional competencies can be enhanced by incorporating the ideals of Sri Krishna
as discussed in the Bhagavad-Gita.
Keywords: emotions; human mind; emotional intelligence; Bhagavad-Gita
Gayathri, N. & Meenakshi, K.
74 Consortia Academia Publishing
Emotional intelligence through the Bhagavad-Gita
1. Introduction
The human mind is the most fascinating thing which has intrigued and mesmerized philosophers and
scientists alike. The power of human mind cannot be fathomed. It is this ‘mind’ which makes a human being
unique and different from other creations. The Indian philosophy deals extensively on the power of human mind.
In fact, it can be said that the oriental philosophy is primarily concerned about a person’s well being by
controlling his mind. It emphasizes that it is the mind that defines a person. In the ‘Ramayana’ (one of the Indian
epics), when Hanuman (Lord Rama’s messenger in search of his wife Sita) searches for Sita in Ravana’s (the
demon king who abducted Rama’s wife, Sita) palace, he scourges the entire city not leaving even an inch
uninspected. This search takes him to the inner chambers of Ravana and is compelled to look for Sita among the
various cohorts of Ravana. As Hanuman searches Lanka (Ravana’s city) in the night, he is forced to look at
women sleeping in various postures and some even scantily dressed. He asks himself whether he was doing the
right thing because he was a sworn Brahmachari (a celibate), but quickly upbraids himself on his misgivings as
he clarifies to himself that it is the mentality which decides whether a man is of good character or not. He had
not been tempted or affected in the least looking at those women. This detachment ensures that he remains pure
and chaste without any blemish on his vow of Brahmacharya. It is the thought that counts and not the action.
mano matram jagat, mano kalpitam jagat” [In Sanskrit] – “the world is as the mind sees and
feels it; the world is as the mind thinks of it’ (as quoted by T. N. Sethumadhavan, 2010).
A man’s destiny is shaped by his thoughts and not by mere actions. A man is still considered pure even when
he does certain unacceptable actions only per force, (on the demands of the situation or having a larger interest in
mind) but with his mind detached. Like the one described above, there are innumerable instances in the Indian
epics and the puranas which uphold this view and the eastern philosophy sees this doctrine of controlling one’s
mind as a way of living and not as some abstract philosophical thought. It believes and imbibes the responsibility
that every man is accountable for each and every act and thought of his. This accountability brings caution and
enables him to restrain himself from thinking or acting in haste. The mind has the potential of shaping a man’s
destiny. The five senses of a man are capable of enmeshing him in the mire of emotional upheavals. The mind
which is superior to the senses, if controlled and focused, helps a man attain peace from within. The recent
theory of ‘Emotional Intelligence’ which has gained popularity also wakes up to the importance of understanding
and controlling one’s emotions as the defining factor of one’s success or failure in life. The advocates of
emotional intelligence (EI) claim that it is a person’s capacity to understand his own emotions and those of
others and the use of this knowledge to the best of his interests that helps him climb the ladder of success.
While the Indian philosophy as well as EI calls attention to the power of emotions, they both differ in certain
basic aspects. The EI focuses on a man’s success from the materialistic point of view – an emotionally intelligent
person becomes a successful manager, becomes adept in handling relationships etc. – whereas, the Indian texts
have a more holistic approach. They see the mind as an instrument which has the potential to lead a man to
eternal happiness or to perpetual suffering. It isn’t something that begins and ends with this life on earth, but that
which paves way for many more such births and thus, if a man does not control his senses, he falls into the abyss
of birth and rebirth, trapped in this mortal world for an eternity. The Indian philosophy thus takes both life and
death into thought. For the Indian philosophers, life and death complement each other and the one loses its
meaning without the other. For them life on this earth is a preparation for the life after death. They believe in the
theory of ‘Karma’ – every thought and action of a person has its repercussions. A man’s ‘Karma’ binds him to
this world of suffering and an enlightened man strives to escape this web of ‘Karma’ by controlling his thoughts
and actions and focusing them on the Supreme Being. This approach gives a different dimension to the
understanding of the importance and control of mind for the Indian philosophers and thus distinguishes them
Emotional intelligence through the Bhagavad-Gita
International Journal of Research Studies in Psychology 75
from the advocates of the theory of emotional intelligence. An analysis and comparison of the Indian
philosophical approach to that of EI is sure to pave way for a better understanding on the power of emotions and
the way to control them.
There are innumerable texts, in fact a gamut of literature – the Upanishads, the epics, the Vedas – which
discuss in detail the nature of human mind and the significance of controlling it. As it is impossible to bring in all
these texts, the Bhagavad-Gita (also referred to as the ‘Gita’) which is considered the fifth Veda, the essence of
all the Upanishads, is taken for the study. The ‘Gita’ is considered to be the milk of all Upanishads and Krishna
is the cowherd who milked it for Arjuna.
Sarvopanishadho gavo dhogdha gopalanandanah
Partho vatsah sudhirbhoktha dhugdham githamrutham mahath [In Sanskrit]
(Bhagavad-Gita – Dhyanasloka 4)
As far as ‘Emotional Intelligence’ is concerned, the three major models proposed by Mayer and Salovey, Reuven
Bar-On and Goleman, are taken for the study.
2. The theory of Emotional Intelligence
Though the field of emotional intelligence is a fairly new one – the word ‘emotional intelligence’ itself was
coined first and used in literary writing by Peter Salovey and John Mayer in 1990 (Cherniss, 2000). The concept
has caught on like wild fire as it explains and provides evidence on how people with a good IQ sometimes fail
and those who were school dropouts and considered stupid go on to become the most successful ones in their
fields (Goleman, 1996). Thus, the world has woken up to the fact that intellectual and cognitive abilities alone do
not help a person, but it is his emotional intelligence – an ability to understand and control his emotions and that
of others for the best possible results – that makes him a complete man and takes him on the path of success.
John Mayer, Peter Salovey, David Caruso, David Goleman, Reuven Bar-On – some of the forerunners in the
research on emotional intelligence list out various characteristics which decide a person’s emotional intelligence.
While Mayer and Salovey (1990) take EI as a purely cognitive ability, – EI can be intellectually understood,
measured and developed in a person – Goleman and Reuven Bar-On view it as a personality trait. While Mayer
and Salovey’s four branch model of EI lays emphasis on emotional perception, emotional assimilation,
understanding and management (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2004), Reuven Bar-On (2002) agrees on the
qualities of emotional self awareness, self-actualization, interpersonal relationship, reality testing, stress
tolerance, optimism, happiness, etc. as those that decide the emotional intelligence of a person. Goleman (1998)
on the other hand points out to emotional self awareness, self control, empathy, problem solving, conflict
management, leadership, etc. as the characteristics of an emotionally intelligent person. All these models have
been identified by their respective advocates for certain specific purposes. The mixed ability model proposed by
Reuven Bar-On emphasizes on how the personality traits influence a person’s general well being and Goleman’s
model focuses on workplace success (Stys & Brown, 2004).
Mayer and Salovey’s four branch model understands emotional intelligence as a cognitive ability and
presents the four levels through which a person becomes emotionally intelligent. The first step is emotional
perception – an ability to be self-aware of emotions and to express them accurately. When a person is aware of
the emotions he is experiencing, he moves on to the next level – emotional assimilation – to distinguish between
the different emotions he is undergoing and also identify those emotions that affect his thought process. This
understanding leads him to – emotional understanding – an ability to understand complex emotions and also to
recognize the transition from one emotion to another. By then he becomes adept in dealing with his emotions and
thus is able to manage his emotions – to connect or disconnect from any emotion at any given situation. This
gives him complete control over his impulses and thus is able to think, analyze and behave rationally in any
Gayathri, N. & Meenakshi, K.
76 Consortia Academia Publishing
situation. The entire process is purely an intellectual procedure. Emotions are understood and controlled through
intellectual prowess.
In contrast, Reuven Bar-On and Goleman propose the mixed ability models which include certain
personality traits as well. Bar-On’s (2002) model of emotional intelligence relates to the potential for
performance and success, rather than performance or success itself, and is considered process-oriented rather
than outcome-oriented. It strives to identify in a person the latent capability of being emotionally intelligent. His
model outlines five components – intrapersonal, interpersonal, adaptability, stress management, and general
mood components (Bar-On, 2002). They are similar to Mayer and salovey’s model on emotional self awareness,
self control, self expression, and empathy, but along with these aspects, Bar-On includes reality testing, – the
ability to assess the relation between the emotionally experienced and the actual nature of an object – stress
tolerance, and the strength to stay happy and optimistic in the face of adversity. Goleman’s model deviates
slightly as he includes organizational awareness, leadership and teamwork and collaboration along with self
awareness, self control and empathy, as his focus is on workplace success. Thus, all these three models agree on
the importance of understanding the emotions in one’s own self and others, then managing and controlling them.
One major drawback is that these models strive to identify whether a person is emotionally intelligent or not,
but does not give any specific guidelines as to how the person can actually enhance his emotional intelligence.
By making the person realize his shortcomings, they believe, he will be able to work towards resolving them as
well. They do harp on the importance of consciously identifying their emotions and with that knowledge have a
better control over their emotional impulses, but the question remains whether it is actually effective. The models
rely to a great extent on self report where the subject assesses himself on his emotional well being. How far can
they be reliable is a question that cannot be answered convincingly (Petrides, 2011). It is an irrefutable truth that
the researchers after the initial study of emotions and their disruptive nature have branched out into identifying
the emotionally competent people through the various models. The theory as such has not been revised or
improved upon. More research should be diverted into ascertaining the nature of emotions and the human mind
that is fountain head of these emotions. The means of controlling the mind and a foolproof way to check
impulsive emotions should be given more prominence. To put it in a nutshell we can say that the theory of
emotional intelligence is still in its evolving stage from whence it has to go a long way in identifying the causes
of emotional instability in people and giving reliable solutions for the problem.
3. Emotional Intelligence as in Bhagavad-Gita
The Bhagavad-Gita on the other hand, stands tall as an authority in not only identifying the nature of
emotions but also in showing a way to come out of the darkness of emotional instability. It is in the form of a
dialogue between the emotionally disturbed (Arjuna) and the universal master (Krishna) and remains an
irrefutable answer to many a modern day man’s dilemma or confusion. The background is the Kurukshetra war
where the first cousins stand against each other when Arjuna, the warrior non-pareil loses his nerve and refuses
to fight. His mind is a cauldron of emotions gripped with the moral dilemma of to do or not to do. At the same
time, an insight into Arjuna’s character reveals to us that he is not a person who is easily perturbed. He has in the
past exhibited exemplary restraint and discipline even at the most challenging times. When Draupadi becomes
the wife of all the five brothers in spite of being won by him in the swayamvar, he does not falter or give in to
any kind of emotion. He perfectly understands his mother Kunti’s decision as the motive behind it was politically
strengthening themselves against the Kauravas – Panchala was a powerful kingdom – and also the fact that Kunti
did not want any dissention among the brothers because of Draupadi.
Even now when his mind is in conflict whether he should fight the war or not, he is able to intellectually
analyze and understand his situation. He is in an emotional upheaval but, that does not deter him from assessing
himself accurately. Arjuna, is able to define his problem in clear terms, but, supplicates to Krishna for help. He
says –
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karpanyadosopahatasvabhavah prcchami tvam dharmasammudhacetah
Yacchreyah syanniscitam bruhi tanme sisyate’ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam [In Sanskrit]
With my nature overpowered by weak commiseration, with a mind in confusion about duty, I supplicate Thee. Say
decidedly what is good for me. I am Thy disciple. Instruct me who have taken refuge in Thee.” (as translated by
Swami Swarupananda, 1996). (Bhagavad-Gita, Ch. II, Sloka 7)
Arjuna knows that he is torn between his loyalty to his brothers, his love and respect for his grandsire
(Bhishma) and Guru (Drona), and his responsibility towards his kinsmen. Thus, it is not that Arjuna is unaware
of his condition. This streak of his character questions the theory of EI which believes that when a person is able
to analyze and understand his emotional state, he has better control over himself and will be able to take the right
decision. He is emotionally intelligent in the sense that he is able to identify the emotions overpowering him –
Karpanyadosopahatasvabhavah (with my nature overpowered by weak commiseration). Then, what stops him
from choosing the right course of action? Does mere knowledge or intelligence of a person’s emotional
situation give him the power of control? Later also, while discussing the nature of emotions, Arjuna asks Krishna
about the person who is emotionally stable – the ‘sthithapragnya’. It has to be well noted that it is Arjuna who
first speaks about a sthithapragnya, and not Krishna.
Sthitaprajnasya ka bhasa samadhisthaya kesava
Sthitadhih kim prabhaseta kimasita vrajeta kim [In Sanskrit]
What, O Kesava, is the description of a man of steady wisdom, merged in Samadhi? How (on the other hand)
does the man of steady wisdom speak, how sit, how walk? (Swami Swarupananda, 1996).
(Bhagavad-Gita, Ch. II, Sloka 54)
This throws light on Arjuna’s knowledge about people who are of steady emotions, unperturbed by the
dualisms of pleasure or pain, good or evil, loss or gain. Thus, we see that Arjuna is not only perfectly aware of
his own emotional state, but is also aware of that state of mind which promises peace and wisdom. According to
the theorists of EI, this awareness should have empowered him against the instabilities of human mind which is
wrought by confusion in trying situations. Then why does Arjuna take refuge in Krishna to enlighten and guide
him towards the right direction. Why doesn’t his emotional intelligence give him emotional stability? Even the
best among men stand helpless against the onslaught of the senses – indriyani pramathini haranti prasabham
manah – the turbulent senses snatch away the mind of even a wise man. So what is the remedy? How can a
person become emotionally stable (Sthithapragnya)? While treating a problem it becomes essential that the cause
is ascertained first. Krishna does the same. What are the reasons for any man’s emotional upheaval or turmoil?
Attachment and lust or desire, he says, is the underlying cause of all disruptive emotions.
Dhyayato visayanpumsah sangatesupajayate
Sangatsanjayate kamah kamatkrodho’bhijayate [In Sanskrit]
Thinking of objects, attachment to them is formed in a man. From attachment longing, and from longing anger
krodhadbhavati sammohah sammohatsmrtivibhtamah
smrtibhramsadbuddhinaso buddhinasatpranasyati [In Sanskrit]
From anger comes delusion, and from delusion loss of memory. From loss of memory comes the ruin of
discrimination, and from the ruin of discrimination, he perishes. (Swami Swarupananda, 1996).
(Bhagavad-Gita, Ch. II, Sloka 62, 63)
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In just two slokas Krishna captures the tendency of the human mind to be led astray by desire and
attachment. Attachment is the root of all misery, says the ‘Gita’. Attachment leads to desire; desire when not
fulfilled leads to anger; anger to delusion; delusion to indiscriminate action which in turn leads a man to his ruin.
Attachment is the web that ensnares a person in this materialistic world. This world is nothing but an illusion or
‘Maya’ which blinds a person and prevents him from realizing the Supreme Being. A person who has realized
this eternal truth severs his attachment with this ‘unreal’ world – ‘unreal’ because, nothing in this world is
permanent. It is constantly changing. If this world is unreal, then what is ‘real’? The ‘Atman’ or the soul which is
the embodiment of the Supreme Being is the ‘real’, the unchanging and the permanent. A sthithapragnya has the
knowledge that distinguishes between the ‘real’ (the permanent; the Atman or the soul) and the ‘unreal’ (the
impermanent). He has firmly anchored himself in the realization of this immovable, unchangeable, indestructible
‘self’ or the ‘Atman’. This enables him to detach himself from this ‘unreal’ world and steer his thoughts towards
the ‘real’, the Atman. But, when this concept of ‘real’ and the ‘unreal’, remains elusive to even great intellectuals,
where does the common man stand? How does he protect himself from attachment, lust and desire that shrouds
his mind and prevents him from clear thinking and right decision at the right time? The greatness of the
Bhagavad-Gita lies in the fact that it addresses the problem from the point of view of a layman, an intellectual as
well as the one who seeks enlightenment. The doctor who diagnoses the problem prescribes the medicine as well.
For the common man, Krishna advises the path of ‘karma yoga’ – the path of detached action.
karmanyevadhikaraste ma phalesu kadachana
ma karmaphalaheturbhuma te sango’stvakarmani [In Sanskrit]
Thy right is to work only; but never to the fruits thereof. Be thou not the producer of the fruits of (thy) actions;
neither let thy attachment be towards inaction. (Bhagavad-Gita, Ch. II, Sloka 47)
yuktah karmaphalam tyaktva santimapnoti naisthikam
ayuktah kamakarena phale sakto nibadhyate [In Sanskrit]
The well-poised, forsaking the fruit of action, attains peace, born of steadfastness; the unbalanced one, led by
desire, is bound by being attached to the fruit (of action). (Swami Swarupananda, 1996).
(Bhagavad-Gita, Ch. V, Sloka 12)
The way to emotional stability is to remain unattached to the fruits of action. It must be noted that Krishna
does not denounce action or asks one to renounce everything in life. He keeps reiterating that action is always
better than inaction – karma jyayo hyakarmanah. One must follow and fulfill his ‘swadharma’, his obligatory
duties. When he does that without expecting anything in return, he becomes a ‘karma yogi’ which is the first step
towards becoming a ‘sthithapragnya’ – the emotionally stable person. It is the duty of a person says ‘Gita’, to act
according to his dharma. Upholding this dharma of his without getting attached to the fruits of his action is the
best way to tackle any conflicting situation. One should not claim the fruits of his actions because the moment he
does that, he is bound. This bondage will cloud his sense of right and wrong and thus lead him to misery. Thus,
negating or ignoring the fruits of one’s actions, one should focus on one’s duty alone. When a person firmly
anchors himself to this principle he is not swayed by any confusion or dilemma. His mind is clear; his judgment
is not muddled; he takes the right decisions; he succeeds in life.
But how does one choose between conflicting obligations like the one Arjuna faces – whether to forego his
duty as a Kshatriya, to fight or go ahead and kill his own kith and kin for attaining the kingdom. What should be
the guiding factor in such situations? Actions which result in societal well being – Lokasangrahamevapi
sampasyankartumarhasi – is the answer. That which denounces selfishness and results in the well being of the
society at large is the best choice. Krishna advises Arjuna to fight the war not on the selfish grounds of attaining
the kingdom but as an obligatory duty. It was not Arjuna who sought the war. Having challenged, he cannot,
should not step back and refuse to fight. Further it is also his duty as a Kshatriya to fight adharma, the evil forces
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International Journal of Research Studies in Psychology 79
and protect mankind. It is for these selfless reasons that Arjuna must fight whatever be the result. He may win or
lose, but, fight he must. This selflessness and detachment will free him from bondage and render him guiltless of
killing his kith and kin. When this detachment to the fruits of his action is practiced by a person, his mind
becomes free from worries and confusion. When the mind is free and uncluttered, it is able to think clearly and
clarity of thought is the hallmark of any successful person. Thus, Krishna advises Arjuna,
Sukhaduhkhe same krtva labhalabhau jayajayau
tato yuddhaya yujyasva naivam papamavapsyasi [In Sanskrit]
Having made pain and pleasure, gain and loss, conquest and defeat, the same, engage thou then in battle. So
shalt thou incur no sin. (Swami Swarupananda, 1996) (Bhagavad-Gita, Ch. II, Sloka 38)
Thus, we see that Krishna not only diagnoses the root cause of all emotional disturbances, but also gives
solution to control them and guides one in taking the right decisions while facing difficult, challenging
4. Conclusion
If we, as a body of science and practice, suppress critical comments, surround ourselves with insiders, and
fail to ask the tough questions, we may have a happier field, but a less effective one” (Caruso, 2003). For any
field to flourish, positive criticism and an influx of fresh, newer ideas are indispensable. When the above insights
from the eastern philosophy are incorporated into the theory of emotional intelligence, it becomes more complete
in thought. The lessons of Krishna to Arjuna on the battlefield transcend religions, cultures, and beliefs and are
not bound by time or age. This time tested, immortal song of the divine has been a beacon light of hope and
guidance to many a lost soul and will continue to be so. When both the theory of EI and the Bhagavad-Gita
complement each other, they are sure to show the way for the modern man lost in the mire of confusion, conflict
and moral dilemmas.
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