New Book


I haven’t posted here in awhile but I’m going to restart it… I have a new book out; you can read about it on my other blog page or read reviews on the amazon page: Easy Logic; Tibetan Wisdom for Happiness and Success

The Logic blog will cover subjects more directly pertaining to logic, but my next book (planned) is a business book, so I’ll be taking ideas from here and adding to them; look for it hopefully in the next sixth months.

So please post any questions or comments on what you’d like to see on this blog going forward.



From Spirit, Southwest Airline’s in-flight magazine (Sept. 2011):

Spirit Lexicon
Entry No. 883

\’nan-ver-sa-shen\ noun [From Middle English non, not; and Latin conversatio, to associate with] 1. A verbal exchange between two or more people that is pointless, one-sided, or without logic. 2. The opposite of productive discourse. USAGE: While many nonversations transpire at locales like elevators and bus stops and are of the awkward, looks-like-it’s-going-to-rain variety, they also occur during business meetings, in which participants do not listen to one another and thus no conclusions are drawn.

EXAMPLE: “We hope to make progress on the Davis account, but the meeting dissolved into one big nonversation and nothing was accomplished.”

I read this on a plane a few months ago, and thought it might be a good topic for a blog, because idle speech is one of the karmic seed correlations I make sure I bring up in my DCI Wisdom for Daily Life groups.

The reason I always cover it is because this karmic seed, as innocuous as it sounds—what’s wrong with wasting a little time gossiping?—can have a powerful effect on your personal and business life.

People don’t respect what you say, people don’t listen to you when you ask them to do something, you find that sometimes you lack self-confidence, and/or you find yourself unable to take a well-deserved rest or enjoy a vacation? Do any of these problems sound familiar? If so, you might want to look at the seeds you are planting by wasting time with meaningless speech.

I have a problem: I went to The Ohio State University, which has an over 100 million dollar sports department. Most of the revenue they earn comes from one source: Ohio State football. It’s a religion there. Seriously. Everyone is involved somehow in the football program—I realized very quickly as a freshman to root for Ohio State in football games, because if we lost everyone would go home for the weekend, but if we won… everyone stayed and the parties were out of control.

Anyway, I digress… the point is I still have an interest in Ohio State football. So I have to be careful—not everyone is as interested in Ohio State football as I am. So what? So, if I bother other people by talking about football, I notice a few things start to happen… the first is that I feel like I have no free time. Now sure, we have a lot to do—Geshe Michael keeps us pretty busy—but he seems relaxed and able to enjoy his free time (what there is of it). Why can’t I?

Maybe it’s the football thing… also, I notice that people aren’t listening to me anymore. I go to a meeting (Geshe Michael has lots of them) and make suggestions—and I can’t get in a word edgewise. Maybe I need to look at the football thing again.

For you, maybe it’s not football—maybe you like to read about movie stars. What is Brad Pitt doing? Oh my God! Did you hear about Angelia Jolie?

Or maybe it’s politics or the news… there’s an easy way to check whether watching the news is helping you or not. After you watch a news program, does it motivate you to do something? Do you go out and help somebody afterwards? If not, then maybe you’re wasting your time. And if you bring up what you saw on the news with your family, friends, and/or co-workers… maybe you’ll feel too busy and pressured to notice that no one’s listening to you.


Trying something new, Part Two

[Note: this is part two of a two-part series, so if you haven’t already, read part one.]

So we all know what really causes things. The analogy Geshe Michael often uses is taking aspirin. Does taking aspirin work? Sometimes. Which means what? Aspirin is not the real cause of getting rid of your headache, or it would work all the time. What is? Taking care of others. Give someone else an aspirin and then when the seeds are there aspirin will work for you.

But… the question comes: if giving aspirin is the cause for my headache to go away, then I don’t need to take aspirin, right?

There’s a joke Christians tell, about a guy stranded on the top of his house during a flood. A rowboat comes by, and they ask him to get in. He says, “No, I’m praying to God; he will save me.” Then a motorboat comes by, and they ask him to get in. He says, “No, I’m praying to God; he will save me.” Then a helicopter comes by, and they offer to save him, and he sticks to his guns: “No, I’m praying to God; he will save me.”

Then he drowns.

At the pearly gates, he complains bitterly to St. Peter: “I said my prayers, why didn’t God save me?” And St. Peter calmly replies, “He sent a rowboat, a motorboat, and a helicopter; what else do you want?”

In other words, for now, you have to take the aspirin.

Why? Because you have the seeds for the aspirin to work. If you had the seeds to not need an aspirin, you wouldn’t need it. But if you have the seeds for an aspirin to work, but don’t take it, what will happen?

Okay, so what does this have to do with business? (Fyi, in logic, we call this “parallel reasoning.”) In the same way, if you have the seeds to make money teaching martial arts you will. But if not, maybe you have the seeds to be successful helping children, or the elderly, or doing private teaching. So check them out and see if they work for you.

What else do you want?

Random Quote:
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
–John C. Maxwell


Trying something new, Part One

[This post got a little long, so I decided to split it into two parts; I post the second half in a few days.]

I had someone who attended one of your DCI seminars write me an email; he wanted to know if he should continue to pursue the jobs he was currently doing (which although enjoyable, paid little) or go get a “real job”—one that would pay better and help him support his family.

As many of you many know, this is a classic “diamond deal”—our philosophy says that it’s possible to enjoy your job and make money at it as well.

He was already doing the main advice Geshe Michael gives to people who want to make more money—start your own charity. What this means is, save up some money, then give it yourself to someone who needs it. This has two benefits (at least) over regular giving, in terms of seed management: one, as you save up the money you are thinking about what you’re going to do with it. That thinking—planning out your act of giving—is the raw stuff seeds are made of. The ancient books on planting seeds says that the most powerful part of our seed planting activities is the mental part; what you do with your mind. So thinking, planning, considering how you will give the money is a great seed building activity.

Two: if you do something yourself, you can see the benefits, which makes the seed more powerful. It’s too easy to write a check to Red Cross. Not that you shouldn’t send money to the Red Cross, but writing a check only takes a minute and then you forgot about it (see reason one). Instead, find—look for—someone who needs money, then take the money yourself and see what it can do. (Incidentally, I think this is why charities that show you the result of your giving are generally more successful—we all want to see the good we are doing.)

But like said, V– (let’s call him 🙂 was already doing that to seemingly no avail. What else is there to do?

He told me that one of his jobs was teaching martial arts. I can relate; I considered trying to be a professional martial artist when I was younger (I just read Chuck Liddel’s book Iceman, in which he describes his career as a professional martial artist—it initially included working as a bartender to make ends meet), but was advised against it by one of my teachers. (I think he saw some on his friends who were professional teachers, and how they had to compromise their art to make money as something to avoid.) But anyway, the point is, unless you’re famous it’s a difficult way to make a living, trying to teach martial arts.

But here’s the advice I gave him, which I thought I would share here:

For example, have you thought of offering free martial arts classes for children? If you teach people who don’t have money, but still need help, this plants really good seeds. Also, just between you and me, the only martial arts schools in the US that make money make their money primarily teaching children. (Some gyms do okay too, if you’re more interested in pursuing that.)

Anyway, do your book, work hard on your fund, and make sure to use the money to help the most people you can. Then just be open to thinking about trying something new.

So my basic advice is this: if you’re doing your seed planting, but don’t see any results coming back right away, think about expanding your thinking a bit–that is, try to see if there’s something you haven’t thought of. (And, for the record, out-of-the-box thinking requires what seed?)

I gave similar advice to someone recently who wanted to start a yoga studio: don’t try to compete with the other studios in town; look for a market that’s being ignored—have you thought about trying to teach classes that are kid- or elderly-friendly? I recently helped teach a yoga class where one of the students was blind; she can do yoga just fine. (It made me think I should try to find out how I can teach more classes for visually-impaired students.) Have you thought about trying to help them?

What about private classes or offering to travel to the customer for classes? I know some people that do pretty well offering yoga classes that way, why not martial arts? How will you find them? There’s a seed for that too. (Have you heard of Facebook? Just kidding… can you guess?)

End of Part One…



So I learned a new buzz word flipping through an issue of Fastcompany (“Riot Police; Why can’t anyone tame the social stream and just give us the good stuff?” Fastcompany, Sept 2011):

Every minute of every day, the more than half-billion members of Facebook collectively create almost 1 million photos, wall posts, status updates, and other bits of ephemera… Then there’s Youtube, which recently announced that it receives more than 48 hours of video per minute. If you watched video every minute of your life, you’d get through 10 days of Youtube uploads.

That explains why discovery is the word du jour in tech.

The article then goes on to explain different efforts by Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, etc to filter out things we aren’t interested in and “give us the good stuff.”

But then he hit the interesting point to me: why isn’t it working?

And that’s why the discovery engine remains a mythical beast. Today’s personalization tools are build on several faulty premises. There’s still too much presuming that we want a steady diet of what we just consumed. Just because you clicked on one post of Sarah Palin reinterpreting history doesn’t mean you want to hear all she has to say.

Another is that we’re interested in everything our friends are. (I like my friends despite their inexplicable devotion to Mad Men.)

He goes on to give two more reasons why personalization algorithms don’t give us the good stuff, but by this point I was already thinking: what’s the cause for this to work?

It’s a good idea: in our busy, modern, connected lives, how do we save time wading through an endless sea of data to find things that are useful to us? Because providing access to that stream of information is worth something.

I like the observation that these engines are built on faulty premises; I don’t like everything my friends like and just because I watch one video of people offering free hugs doesn’t mean I want to watch more.

So what to do?

Obviously, if I’m writing this article then the answer has to do something with seeds… if I boil it down, what do I want? What all good business people have always wanted: to find people to connect to and offer them something valuable.

So there you go, I think. If you want to connect with people, what do you have to do? Work hard to bring people together; don’t split people apart. So what if Jim at work makes loud noises when he’s eating; you don’t need to point that out to your friends (hoping that they will agree with you; yes, Jim is bad from his own slde).

Then, as a business person, I should look at what I’m doing. Am I offering the best value possible? Can I value-add to what I’m trying to sell, all the while making sure that that is what my customer really wants?

(Of course, it helps to have the right motivation while you’re doing this as well, and understand how it all really works!)

So, if I’m Youtube, what do I do? (Youtube’s–perhaps over-exuberant–goal is to get average viewing time up from 15 minutes a day to several hours.) Encourage my employees to work together (with each other, and also with customers, suppliers, etc) planting the seed to be able to connect people.

And I’m also thinking, a lot of the popularity of Youtube has centered around the “funny video.” Short, often goofy and slightly vacuous videos of people dancing, or making mistakes, or performing badly. That’s fine; people need to laugh, blow off steam. But maybe there’s some way to also add value? Maybe mixed in with the videos of people falling, or singing badly, or not realizing their webcam is turned on you could intersperse videos from Sal Khan’s free online university? Let them waste a little bit of time, but then offer them something meaningful.

That might keep them interested.


Expanding our Belief system

Nili posted a nice comment to one of my previous articles (“How to Stop Earthquakes“), and it got me to thinking…

Have you seen this youtube clip by CK Lewis? If not, you should definitely watch it: very funny and also–as good comedy can be–very insightful.

Why don’t we appreciate the huge advances our civilization has made in the past few decades? I’ve been reading about microprocessors lately; you can buy a Arduino microprocessor for $35 that has the same computing power as what NASA used to put astronauts on the moon.

A friend of mine, Lama Marut, describes them as “technical siddhis.” For example, Buddhism states that it’s possible to be omniscient. You. Omniscient. Do you think it’s possible? If not, I have two words for you: “Google it.”

Ah, but you say, that’s not a true siddhi, a true power, because you need a device to use it. Two more words for you. So what.

Can a person born 20, 30, 40 years ago even have imagined that today we would have the technological means to provide the entire world, free of charge, more information than you can digest on any possible subject?

And is that an accident?

We say that the world is changing, in many amazingly magnificent ways. Ways un-dreamed of by people born on this planet even a generation ago.

What does that have to do with business you say? (“I thought this was a business blog!”)

Everything. It has everything to do with business. Check the list of the wealthiest people in the world: of the top 5 wealthiest people in the world, 2 of them got there by making money in fields that didn’t exist 40 years ago (Bill Gates and Larry Ellison). (And a third, Carlos Slim–the Mexican telecommunications magnate–his field doesn’t go back much further.)

When Geshe Michael teaches that anything is possible, all you have to do is plant the seeds–do you believe him? Why not? At least Bill Gates and Larry Ellison do.

PS I read a lot of science fiction nowadays, for several reasons, but one reason is that yesterday’s science fiction is today’s science fact. If you’re interested, read up on how we’re making progress in developing the first bionic eye.


A New Skill Set

I’ve been talking a lot with some friends about how we could improve DCI; what we could do to better get across the ideas that Geshe Michael is trying to teach–how to use seeds and the concept of emptiness to improve your world.

And I keep coming back to this story: a friend of mine, who runs a successful company in the Ukraine asked me about a problem he was having–he found out one of his employees was stealing from him, so he fired him. Then he got a call from a manager in another company, who said he was thinking about hiring his old employee. So the question is, what to do? Does he tell the truth, and thus prevent his old employee from getting a job, or does he not say anything (thus not disparaging him) but perhaps let his employee get hired into another company he can steal from?

So the first thing I pointed out was how firing his employee didn’t solve his problem. This is the main point of the Diamond Cutter trainings: if you don’t plant the seeds for what you want, it doesn’t matter what you do, nothing will work. So he fired his employee, and now he just has a new set of problems: he has to hire and train a new one (expensive) and now he has to decide whether to recommend the thief or not.

You see if he had done seed management, what should he have done? Looked at how he was cheating or misleading someone else, and stop it. And be totally scrupulous in his business dealings (actually, in all money matters). Then what might have happened? Having planted the seeds to see honest employees, the situation would have resolved itself–either the employee would have stopped stealing or perhaps found another job on his own, moved to another country, retired, etc.

He said, “Okay, okay, I understand that. But what do I do now?”

Okay, good question. It’s a problem: do I tell the truth, thus planting a seed for telling the truth, but also planting a seed for splitting people–the very opposite of what I want to do as a manager–or do I say nothing–thus planting a seed for lying and also one for not protecting others?

This, as many of you know, is a classic diamond deal. So the solution to any diamond deal is to look for in Tibetan what they call a pung sumba–a third option. I don’t want the yellow diamond or the diamond with a black spot–I want a flawless diamond for a good price.

So here what I told him was, in the state I grew up in (I think the laws are different from state to state) you’re not allowed to give an ex-employee a bad review to another potential employer. If you do, the would-be employee can sue you. So what I said was, you don’t want the bad seed of lying, but you also don’t want the bad seed of disparaging someone else. So don’t do either: tell the other manager that he did work for you, and you let him go, but you would prefer not to say why.

So then hopefully the manager will ask the employee himself–and if you’ve been truthful, he will tell the true. And if you’re in the habit of forgiving others, the new manager will give him a second chance. But either way, you’re in good shape–you haven’t lied, and you haven’t tried to split other people apart.

So… how do we teach this methodology to others?