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Saturday, August 20, 2016


Sometimes the most rational thing to do is to do what you feel. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Learnings From Krishnamurti Awareness Workshop

Last month, I was in Victoria, BC, to attend a workshop on Awareness based on teachings of my favorite philosopher, Krishnamurti (K). The workshop was held at the Krishnamurti Education Center of Canada. It is a beautiful and calm place, perfect for introspection. Following are my random notes from the workshop:

1. What drives our actions? The general understanding is that thought drives action. Hence, we try to control our thoughts with meditation. The idea is that if you control your thoughts then you will control your actions and if you control your actions then you will be happy. Everybody is looking for happiness and the cause for happiness or unhappiness is thought. However, K says that what you think is result of the state of your mind. And, the state of mind is influenced by one's unconscious. So what one thinks is caused by one's unconscious and thought becomes the effect and not the cause of one’s actions.  

2. The Mind, which always wants to satisfy senses, overindulges in pleasures. Why is it that animals don't overeat? They listen to their bodies. Humans listen to their mind more than they listen to their bodies.

3. Social conditioning influences how you satisfy your senses. Some societies prefer beer and others prefer wine. Some like frog legs and others like lentils.

4. The morning is the best time to get in touch with your unconscious because during sleep the unconscious is active and the conscious is resting. In the morning, a conscious mind is not fully active and that is an opportunity to tap into the unconsciousness. During the day, conscious takes control over unconscious.

5. Consciousness is what we are aware of i.e. it has content (e.g. thought and knowledge). Pure consciousness is without knowledge. K says that you  need this pure state of consciousness to see things as they really are.  

6. K's meditation is to observe thoughts. See how the mind transitions from one thought to another. The observation should occur without knowledge and interpretation. This observation slows down the conscious mind and gives the ability to tap the unconscious.

[My question was how does the mind observe itself i.e. there is no separation between the observer and the observee. Apparently, that is when you find The Truth or God when the observer and the observee are one]

7. To understand self, one has to let the mind be in the raw form i.e. no conditioning.

8. Exercise: To slow down the mind, lie down and exhale deeply. Don't worry about inhaling, it will happen automatically. After ten minutes of deep exhales, observe your thoughts.

9. Awareness is consciousness without interpretation i.e. pure consciousness.

10. At physiological and psychological levels all humans are the same. Different conditioning makes us different and creates social or imagined boundaries among humans.

11. "Life is changing." This statement is a conclusion that most people have drawn. Any conclusion about life is dangerous because it obstructs observation. Don't form the conclusion. People tend to start repeating the conclusion and stop discovery.

12. Exercise: Sit at a quiet and comfortable place and write down any questions that come to your mind for half an hour. Don't think about the questions, just keep on writing whatever is coming to your mind. With this exercise, the mind gets cleaned because it has to face itself and you get deeper into your unconscious.

13. At the end of an intense physical or mental activity there is a moment of silence in the mind.

14. When the body is relaxed, it is easier to observe the mind.

15. Meditation is choiceless awareness or thoughtless awareness. With meditation, the mind is aware at the moment.

16. Meditation is not trying to still the mind or seek concentration or focus. When you focus on something, your mind is in conflict because it fights with things you don't want to focus on. A mind in conflict can never be calm.

17. Conscious mind either suppresses or indulges.

18. Meditation is not something you do. Even trying to be aware is not meditation. Just being aware is meditation and not becoming aware.

19. Love = The Truth = Beauty = God

20. Who I am is a product of my thought. The thinker tries to change the thought that created it. How does thought change thought?

[I did not quite get this. Of course, thought can change thought. A person who is product of a society and can change society, etc.]

21. Exercise: No mind meditation. Speak gibberish for an hour. Get louder as time passes by. The idea is to let the unconscious come out because language comes from the conscious mind and when you speak a language the conscious mind is active. Basically, make random sounds without thinking anything. After an hour, lie down and observe the mind.

22. There are always conflicts in our consciousness.

23. Chanting calms the mind and the body because of the vibrations it creates.

24. Most of us are intellectually trained. Society wants only the intellectual output and not the total output that includes emotion and body.

25. Why a part of me, the intellect, has become supreme? It dictates everything - morality, virtue, daily life, etc. Why is the intellect so important in our life?

26. We live in the past or the future and never in the present.

27. The intellect is an isolating process. It creates the idea of I. We start thinking in terms of my this and my that. It creates a separation between me and everyone else.

28. I know nothing but the past. There is security in the past because it is certain. The dissatisfaction of the past is the hope for the future. The intellect creates the security in the past and hope in the future. That is why it dominates everything including emotions.

29. When we like something, we want to repeat that experience and want to have permanence in the experience. E.g I had a glass of wine I like. I must have it again. Or, I have a car for the last ten years so I must have it forever.

30. We live in the center created by the intellect. It is a self-perpetuating center. And, it is all about me. How do we break from this center?

31. Can we live in harmony among emotion, body, and intellect? The idea of harmony is not somewhere in the future. It is harmony now. With harmony, there is no conflict among body, emotion, and intellect (reason). You live as a whole.

32. If you make an effort then the intellect is driving it. With awareness, there is no directive or effort.

33. When you look at things through the intellect there is justification, condemnation, etc. When you look at things in harmony, there is no judgement, condemnation, etc.

34. Control has become important in our lives. We want the body, emotion, and intellect to follow certain direction. Don't resist. Just be aware. It is the awareness that can create harmony.

35. Harmonious life is possible by observing with attention. What you are observing is not important.

36. Joy is different than pleasure. Joy is in the present and is beyond senses and pleasure is sensual and wants to be repeated.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Self Awareness

Don't try to figure out others. Understand yourself and everything will make sense. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Life And Equations

The most interesting things in life cannot be reduced to equations. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

The point

What is the point of the point? 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Commitments are tested when better options become available. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Need And Expectations

When the need is high, the expectations are higher. 

Progress II

What is progress?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Loss is more memorable than gain. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Human Senses And Economics

I wonder how life would be like if the law of diminishing marginal utility applied to our five senses.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Smartphone And Life

I bought a smartphone to gain control over my life. The smartphone turned out to be so smart that it has gained control over me. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015


A writer can make you see things that images can not. 

Ideas And Society

I am spinning in my orbit while circling in someone else's orbit. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Our health, wealth, and happiness greatly depends on our ability to control our mouths. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015


Confusion causes conflict. 


"When experience becomes a remembrance, that remembrance destroys creative understanding." - Krishnamurti

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Even fiction that does not fit into our worldview, bothers us. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Education and Practice

Subjects are taught in generalities. Learned in universalities. Hence, not practiced contextually. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Reality And Illusions

When reality becomes too difficult, we create illusions to cope with it. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

50th Year of Wisdom from Buffett and Munger

On May 2nd, 2015, I was in Omaha to participate in my annual ritual of attending the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting. I like Warren Buffett and I absolutely adore Charlie Munger. Both are my heroes. They are full of wisdom and have shaped my thinking.

40,000 people standing in line to get into a shareholder meeting! 

Following are highlights from the meeting:

Human Behavior

1. For some reason, no-haggling business breaks down after a while. People say that they don’t like to negotiate but they like getting a deal especially on big-ticket items.

2. “If people were not often wrong, we would not be so rich.” – Munger

3. There is no formula for buying businesses. Do business with people you trust.

4. When ego is involved people tend to do things that they are not supposed to do.

5. Jack Ringwalt, former CEO of National Indemnity, used to yell at his subordinate every time he brought the news of claims to be paid. The subordinate did not like to be yelled yet. So, the subordinate just stopped informing Jack about the claims. That resulted in a lot of damage to the company. The lesson of the story is to understand hidden incentives for people.

6. “Nothing is more important than behaving well in life.” – Munger

7. You can only fool people for a while. When you are old, you get the reputation you deserve.

8. Praise by name. Criticize by category.

9. Philanthropy should not come at the expense of your lifestyle.

10. Chains of habits are too light to be left and too heavy to be broken.

11. “Rationality is a moral duty.’” – Munger


Skill and a few lucky events is why Buffett is successful.

There was trifecta of lucky strokes that Buffett attributes to his success:

1. When Buffett was young, he wanted to understand the insurance business. He started calling on executives at insurance companies and Lorimar Davidson, CEO of GEICO at the time, gave Buffett four hours of his time. This gave Buffett deep insights into the insurance business.

2. The quirky nature of Jack Ringwalt that made him sell National Indemnity in a few minutes. Buffett knew that if he did not buy the business on the spot, Jack would change his mind.

3. Ajit Jain came to Berkshire and started the reinsurance business

Insurance is something Buffett understood and enjoyed.

The best thing you can do is to be open to ideas as they come along.

Home Mortgages

1. There are three parties involved in any new home purchase:

i) Homebuilder
ii) Mortgage originator
iii) Home buyer

2. Generally, the mortgage originator sells the loans to some other party. Hence, the mortgage originator does not have the incentive to ensure that the loan will be collected.

3. Clayton homes, a Berkshire company, sells pre-manufactured homes and provides loans for people to buy these houses. It does not sell these loans to a third party. So, it acts both as homebuilder and mortgage originator. The home buyer wants to pay back the loan and Clayton homes wants to collect the loan. Hence, the incentives are aligned in this case. It is an unusual arrangement in the financial industry that is putting a lot of people in homes that they would not be able to afford otherwise.

4. The average cost of a Clayton home is $69,500. The default rate of Clayton homes loans is just 3%.

Company Culture

1. The culture at Berkshire is unique. 97% of shareholders vote that they do not want a dividend. The directors have to buy shares at market price.

2. Culture is everything at Berkshire. The culture they have built is self-reinforcing so it will last even when Buffett and Munger are gone.

3. Culture comes from the top.

4. Culture has to be followed up in communication and action

5. It is really hard to change an existing culture.

6. “If Charlie and I were to go to an existing culture, we could not have changed the culture in ten years.” – Buffett

7. Your behavior towards others has to be the same as when the positions are reversed.

8. Continuous learning by Munger and Buffett shaped Berkshire culture.

9. Henry Singleton, Founder of Teledyne, had a system of clever incentives that went too far and brought down Teladyne

10. During panic, the leader has to say something that is believed. For example, during the 2008 financial crises, people believed what Henry Paulson, US Secretary of Treasury during the 2008 Financial crisis, was saying and that stopped the run on money. The same thing happened when the crisis hit Europe. People believed Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank.

11. There is no sense in running a fat operation. Buffett defended Berkshire partnership with 3G Capital.

12. Cost savings with synergies don’t work.

The audience for wisdom


1. “I am 25% Coke.” – Buffett

2. ”If I lived my whole life eating broccoli and brussell sprouts, I probably wouldn’t live as long.” – Buffett

3. Buffett does not see people who shop at Whole Foods any happier than he is.

4. Sugar makes Munger very happy. “Eating sugar prevents pre-mature softening of the arteries” – Munger

5. You have to do things that make you happy. That is the secret to long life.

Car Dealerships

1. There are no advantages of scale in the car dealership business. It is a very local business.

2. There are 17,000 car dealerships in the US. With the purchase of Van Tuyl, Berkshire owns the best 85.

3. Wells Fargo is the biggest lender for car loans.

Macroeconomics and Stock Market

1. Last year, US profits were 10.5% of US GDP. Traditionally, that number has been around 4-6%. This shows that US corporations are performing well.

2. At 0% interest current stock prices are not expensive but if the interest rate goes up significantly then the current stock prices are expensive. It all comes down to opportunity cost. There aren’t many places to put your money right now.

3. “We have never done a deal based on macroeconomics” – Buffett

4. “Any company that has an economist has one employee too many” – Buffett

5. “ We are swimming all the time and [we] let the tide take care of itself” – Munger

6. The current federal policy is like spreading money from the helicopter. It has to lead to inflation. Both Buffett and Munger are surprised that inflation has not kicked in yet.

7. “The idea that Dodd-Frank has removed risk from high-finance is nonsense” – Munger

8. For an organization to be classified as SIFI (Systematically Important Financial Institution) otherwise known as “too big to fail”, 85% of its revenue has to come from financial activities. Berkshire is far from that.

9. 1973-74 was the cheapest time to buy stocks. The stocks at that time were cheaper than in 2008-09.

Law Firms in the US

“It is a pie eating contest. If you win, you get to eat more pie.” – Munger


1. A brand has to keep the promise it makes to its customers. When you acquire a brand, protect it and enhance it with time.

2. A brand is a wonderful thing to own during inflation


1. Investment principles do not stop at national borders.

2. Investing is easy game if you can control your emotions

3. “China would be better off copying Berkshire than copying Silicon Valley” – Munger

4. Nobody makes a lot of money the next day by buying a farm. Investing is similar to buying a farm.

5. Buffett is both an operator and an investor. Being an operator makes him a better investor and being an investor makes him a better operator.

6. If you have some free time, check out

7. The best businesses are the once that you buy once and do not require capital outlays.

8. It was Hyperinflation and the Great Depression in Weimar Germany that brought Hitler to the world.

9. “Just don’t be a perfect idiot.” – Munger

1o. Munger’s grandfather used to say, “your main duty is to become as rational as possible.”

11. Secret to Buffett’s success in investing:

i) Great teacher (Benjamin Graham)
ii) Exceptional focus
iii) Emotional stability
iv) Enjoyed investing

US – China Relations

1. “Nothing is more important for future of the world than a good relationship between the US and China” – Munger

2. Munger is a big fan of Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore. He fixed Singapore and now his philosophy is fixing China. Corruption is being eradicated in China following the Lee Kuan Yew model and that will do a lot of good in China. Lee Kuan Yew's death this year was big loss to the world.

US Taxes

1. For any change to happen, 281 House of Representatives and 51 Senators have to vote for it. Buffett is seeing progress in D.C. and thinks that it is not entirely impossible to have a new corporate tax code within a year.

2. The current US corporate tax rate is 35%. It used to be 52% and businesses did fine.

3. Munger is very unhappy about California’s 13.5% Long Term Capital Gain Tax which is not deductible at the Federal level. This is driving a lot of rich people outside of California. Florida has a better tax policy.


1. Adam Smith and Jon Maynard Keynes influenced Buffett's thinking. Another book he recommends everyone to read is “Where are the Customers’ Yachts?” by Fred Schwed.

2. Adam Smith taught Buffett about specialization. Focus on the tasks you are good at and give the rest to others to do.


1. The engineering talent in Germany is admirable.

2. Berkshire will make at least one more deal in Germany in the next five years.

Reinsurance Business

1. Most reinsurance businesses don’t know what they are doing. The best days of this business are behind it.

2. A lot of investors are in the reinsurance business because the pension funds like it.

3. “[Berkshire is successful in the reinsurance business because] We are not seeking a robust narrative.” – Munger


1. “The only way I could get people to like me was by getting rich and being generous” – Munger

2. The best way to become likable is to make a list of three to four characteristics that you like in people you like. Adopt these characteristics. And, make a list of three to four characteristics that you dislike in people you don’t like. Get rid of those characteristics.

3. Don’t take credit for things that you did not do.

4. “There is no Forbes 400 in the graveyard” – Buffett

European Union (EU)

1. It was a noble idea but the system that has emerged is unwise.

2. “They have countries in there [European Union] that should not be there” – Munger

3. “You don’t form a business partnership with your thriftless drunkard brother-in-law [Greece]” – Munger

4. “[The European Union is] Investment bank aided fraud.” – Munger

5. Early on, Germany and France broke the EU rules and nobody did anything.

6. Buffett has a different opinion than Munger on the EU. There are flaws with the current structure. However, instead of abandoning it, Europe should fix it. The US Constitution had to be amended a few times.

Share Buybacks

1. Activist Investors are making companies buy back stock when the companies are overvalued. It makes no sense.

2. Buying back is a pretty simple decision. If the company’s market value is less than its intrinsic value then you buyback stock. If it is not then you don’t.

3. Berkshire buys back its shares when the market value goes down to 120% of its book value. Buffett thinks that the intrinsic value of Berkshire is more than 120% of its book value.

Income inequality

1. Between 1930 and 2015, GDP per capita has risen six times. However, the cost of living has risen much more. There are many causes for income inequality and Buffett will write about the subject soon.

2. Raising minimum wage drastically will create a lot of unemployment.

3. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a good idea. However, it has a lot of fraud in it. It should be reformed and expanded.

Education System

1. The costs will continue to rise until something drastic happens.

2. There is no real reason for costs to be so high except people are willing to pay for it.

3. During the Great Recession, Universities had to lay off a lot staff and that turned out to be better. Same thing needs to happen again.

4. It is ridiculous to think that a college education is worth “x” because that’s the amount you can make over people who do not go to college. You have to look at multiple variables.

I had to win a lottery to ask a question

Understanding Business Operations

“How do you figure out the operational metrics of a business in a new industry?” was my question to Buffett and Munger. Their Response:

1. Seek Wisdom.

2. Have right values and find right people.

3. Buffett and Munger were lucky because they grew up in the right families. They had people to admire in their families. That helps a lot.

4. In the early days, they were constrained by capital. To buy something, often they had to sell something else. They did not really know how to evaluate a business. All they knew was that they needed a feel for the future of the business. They made a lot of mistakes like getting into the department store business and the green stamp business.

5. “It's harder to learn faster than when you get your nose whacked by a bad experience.” – Munger

6. Both Munger and Buffett made a lot of mistakes but had fun along the way.

7. They looked for highly likely decent returns versus less likely great returns.


1. What is the secret of successful marriage? It is not the looks, the money, the intelligence, or anything else. The secret to marriage is low expectations.

2. Instead of trying to change your partner, change yourself. It is much easier.

See my notes from the last year's meeting here. 

Join me next year! 
The article was originally published on on May 7th, 2015.