Life lessons from the modern monk
Gaur Gopal Das

On 26th October, the AFAA (the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations) hosted Gaur Gopal Das, the electrical engineer turned bhikshu, in other words monk, on Zoom. The motivational speaker who has spoken before the leaders of a number of blue chip companies, and has around 5.8 million Facebook followers and 1.9 million Instagram followers, shared his ideas of the world in times that can’t exactly be called pretty. The topic for the morning meet was ‘Life and Business in Stressful Times’ and Gopal Das was asked questions by attendees who wanted an understanding of how to respond to life and work in the midst of a situation that refuses to budge. A pandemic that has thrown many of us off gear.

Gopal Das himself admitted to the pandemic and its rules having had a positive effect on his life. Making it slower, and allowing him to rebuild his relationships. For others perhaps, the ‘new normal’ hasn’t always left us feeling as positive, and those who attended the 1 hour session wanted his take on the pandemic and more.

The talk was part of the AFAA’s ‘Inspiration Series’, and Gopal Das spoke about life’s Constants and its Variables. Gopal Das referred to the Constants as those aspects or features of our lives that couldn’t change – at least for the moment. He spoke about the Variables as being those elements of our lives that could be changed. That people can saw away at and change. Gopal Das spoke about identifying these Constants and these Variables, accepting what could not be altered, and moving towards hopeful situations. Where maybe, that ray of light can enter.

For example, he joked, you may not be able to change your (adult) height, but your weight, you can. Hence Gopal Das referred to looking for hope in the beautiful variables. A farmer who feels dejected in the absence of a monsoon, must not give up. His tilling, ploughing, and sowing of seeds continues, until the monsoon comes and all is well again. In doing that, we must be “future ready” said Gopal Das.

Which means, the pandemic nudges us to be future ready, and do what is in our power today for a tomorrow that will bear the fruit. Gopal Das spoke about his idea of human nature, which he said was “in the default mode” of “forgetting our many blessings.” He hinted at ungratefulness, saying that we must try not to be that kind of person all the time.

The spiritual enlightener also mentioned the need to adapt with times, and not hold on to old patterns that will not work for you in the future anymore. He also urged people to spend time with other people who boosted their energy and didn’t sap it with their presence. These he said were good steps to take to be ‘future ready’. In the end, he referred to the devilish presence of “fake news”, adding that one can choose how one consumes the world of social media.

“Intelligent people carefully choose the content they want to consume. You don’t have to take in everything that comes your way. It’s not forced on you. It’s like how we choose not to eat food that’s toxic for our bodies. In the same way, a diet for the mind is important too.”

Added Das, “It is important to be politically updated and socially sensitive. But instead today we are socially reckless and politically absorbed. (Something quite different). There is only one truth. However, the media and others have so many takes on it, that those different flavours and takes become the truth instead,” sighed the orange-robed monk.

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