Archive for February, 2012

Mind over Matter. Inner Beauty over Outer Beauty.

February 28, 2012

I just thought its high time I wrote about the difference between inner and outer beauty, as I’ve been having a headache since yesterday night. This is for all those fashionistas. I’m not looking down on anyone, but I’m just sad and concerned.

Why is the modern world so obsessed with looks, fashion, and everything related with external beauty? Why hasn’t the humankind realized that the answers to everything in life lies within, not outside. Yet people are obsessed with materialistic, plastic, fake, artificial culture. Is the world a better and happier place, because of all these lies and pretensions? No. Has modern science solved all the problems of world and brought world peace? No. So, why do people keep following it blindly and drown themselves more and more in materialistic culture? Why do people goto great length to get plastic surgery and risk their life, all to just look good? Disfigured people from accidents getting prosthesis is understandable. Why should we let others decide whether we are beautiful or not? Who are they to judge us? Don’t let others decide who you are.

Why are people so obsessed with image? And why do we goto great length to build the image? An image is not everything. An image is just the reflection of you. Its superficial. It’s not real u. So, we can change it anytime. But people gets trapped in their own image, and they let the image dictate their actions, and don’t do what they really want to do. They become trapped in their own mind. People do all sorts of things, like charities, so that their image is maintained. Of course, there are genuine people out there, but they are numbered. Corporations do charity for their image ie for public relations purpose, and gov’t do all of those, plus they do it primarily to get votes. Chinese gov’t goto the most extreme level. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, for national anthem, they replaced a small avg looking girl but better singer with a prettier girl but avg vocal, just to show everything in china was perfect and beautiful. That was bizarre. Truth can hurt, but why can’t people have the courage to face the truth? Why do they keep running away from truth and take comfort in their image? We should be able to do what we want. We should be in control of our lives, not the others or our image.

We should do good not ‘cos we are supposed to do it or ‘cos our image requires us to do it. We should do good simply because we want to. We shouldn’t politicize it or make it complicated. We shouldn’t fake it. Sincerity has to be there. Self interest shouldn’t be involved. Listen to your heart and just be yourself. Our intention has to be pure, genuine and unconditional. We should not expect anything in return, not even thank you or any reward, as that will ruin the whole purpose of doing good. One has to believe in himself/herself and just keep doing the right thing.

His holiness has given countless lectures, emphasizing inner beauty over outer beauty. So why do people, especially tibetans, still don’t get it? Do they just listen from one ear and take it out from other? Were they dozing or busy texting while he was talking? People seriously need a healthy dose of his holiness advice and apply them.

Remember, its always mind over matter. Mental(long lasting) happiness over physical (materialistic and fleeting) happiness. Same thing with beauty. Inner beauty over outer beauty. Outer beauty, like cosmetics, plastic surgery, is only skin deep. Underneath, we are all same with ugly looking body parts, nerves, blood etc. But inner beauty, like compassion, kindness, generosity is much deeper, even infinite. Its pure and beautiful. Outer beauty is superficial.

Outer beauty is not the foundation to a healthy relationship, inner beauty is. Outer beauty is important, but only to a certain extent. Its not be all, end all. Outer beauty doesn’t determine the longevity of a relationship, inner beauty does. I too like pretty girls, but physical beauty plays only a small part in the early stages of relationship, after that and till the end, it all comes down to character or the personality. Of course, the ideal situation would be to have both. But no guy will want to stay forever with beautiful but neurotic girl. Men will use the girl and then ditch them after their lust is fulfilled. Modern world is ruled with self-interest.

External beauty only creates lust, which is temporary, and the success of relationship can’t be sustained on lust alone. Hence, it is equally important for everybody to focus more on inner beauty. When your inner beauty is strong, you no longer feel insecure, So, you don’t have to depend or cling on others to feel good. Instead, you will be able to spread happiness to others, who are still struggling with their insecurities. You’ll bond well with people, and have a healthier friendship with people. You are also likely to meet a better partner who can understand you better. In short, everything will be better and long lasting.

The pleasure we derive from material world is only temporary and fleeting. Its same with drugs. So, instead of craving fleeting happiness, why not desire eternal happiness? The world has enough problems, so we should find solutions to it, not become one more problem on the planet. so, lets not add ourselves to misery. Rather, focus on reducing it, as told by Sadhguru, the Indian Guru. We can root out self interest from the world by cultivating inner beauty.

Focusing on your inner development is most important. We’ve to live our own lives. No one else is going to live our life for us. Same thing with Tibet. We’ve to fight our own cause. No one else is going to fight for us. They will only support. Our life should be an asset, not a liability. People won’t always be there to support us, as they will have their own things to do.

There are many factors vital to a healthy relationship, which have mostly to do with the characteristics of persons, such as trust, honesty, sincerity, etc. These qualities help in forging a deep bond, not lust. Of course, things don’t change overnight, but people should try and persevere. No harm in putting a genuine effort. Nothing is impossible. I’m still a work in progress, but I’ll continue to strive for inner development.

I’ve now got this habit of posting youtube video to back my point. I found this exact video that I was looking for. This is His Holiness Dalai lama speaking at “We Day” at Vancouver 2009 organized by Free the Children organization. Among other things, he talks about inner beauty. So, enjoy and learn.

Retailer's Way of Boycott China.

February 21, 2012

When I read the Phayul article dated Feb 12, 2012, “Tibetans in pain, not knowing what do,” I felt sad, as I feel that I do know what I want to do. So, I decided to write down this article in the hope that my ideas will give some inspirations to those who seems helpless regarding situations in Tibet, and do not know what to do. But I clearly took long time to respond to it.

There are many things that I want to do and they are all on the pile of pending list. Similarly, I’ve my own ideas about ways to fight our cause. But the problem with me has been that I’ve too many ideas and little action. Actually, I set my ideas on priority basis and go through them slowly and steady. And sometimes, more urgent ideas crop up in between, which puts back other ideas. I thought I will follow on my Tibet related ideas much later in life, after sorting out all the complexities of my life. Simply put, I want to be better prepared before taking on this cause and I don’t think that I’m ready yet.

But it seems, that this cause can’t wait as the situation in Tibet is becoming more and more urgent each year and I can’t ignore or overlook the plight of Tibetans anymore, who keeps on suffering under the iron rule of a brutal Chinese Communist Gov’t. Hence, I decided that while I may not be in a position to pursue the Tibetan cause, maybe I can spread my ideas so that others can find cues from it and pursue them. Of course, it depends on whether people find my ideas worthy of implementing or not. I was also hesitant to give out my ideas as they are mine and I didn’t want others to steal it. But the urgency of Tibetan issue has made all these small things irrelevant as the issue is not about one person, but the whole nation. The whole nation is at stake. So, I decided to let go of my personal aspirations as I don’t think my ideas can wait. If someone can do it earlier, then so be it, for the sake of helping the cause. Also, as I learn more and more about the world with time, I feel my ideas becomes more realistic.

Anyway, enough on me and my aspirations. I’ll get straight to point. At the moment I’ve only one idea, and it is related to boycott China stuffs. The only difference is that I want to provide a retail outlet for the responsible consumers who are really serious about boycotting Chinese goods. Experience has proven that its not easy to boycott chinese goods as they are just about everywhere. China has become the global manufacturer of most of the world goods. So, the customers gets discouraged by the lack of choices. However, there is a way if the retailer can provide customers a place to go to where enough non-Chinese goods are available.

This retail idea is very important as it strives to put a dent in China’s economy. Today, the world thinks only in terms of trade, economy, profits and self interest. It’s all about economy, market and gains and today China is the fast growing superpower both economically and militarily. Their cheap goods are everywhere. They are nuclear power, darn it. So, if there is a way to fight China, then it’s got to be through market competition. And this idea is totally non-violent.

Even though we’ve truth on our side, our position is still that of a victim, which makes us weak. All we do is plead to international gov’t to intervene in Tibetan cause on our behalf. There is no place for the weak in today’s world. No one listens to weak. We do have sympathizers, but they will remain just that. We’ve to empower ourselves, so that the world will take notice of us. We have to force the change, and not wait or hope for change to happen (in China), like passive bystanders.

So, by opening this store, I’ll merely be giving consumers the alternative to Chinese goods. While the products may not be as cheap as Chinese goods, the main point here is giving the choice to the buyers. For e.g, consumers do buy more expensive but environment friendly products if they can afford it and has some justification to it. The eco-friendly products do bring down costs in the long run for the consumers as they are usually very efficient and long lasting. Also, this is not to force people to buy Non-Chinese goods or single out customers who does not, to portray them as being insensitive. We’ve to respect customers whatever they decide. My job is only to provide them a choice, especially to those conscious buyers to whom the origin of goods really matters, for e.g, in the case of Blood Diamonds. And I believe that fundamentally, people are good.

I got this retail idea about a year or two ago while shopping in a mall with a cousin of mine, who was very picky about the origin of products, whether they were made in China or not, and at that moment, I saw the untapped market in his choice as consumers. I had also heard of a story on internet about one Amercian couple who decided to boycott Chinese goods for a year and had hard time keeping the resolution. Even for Tibetans, it is very difficult to boycott Chinese goods due to their limited income and unavailability of cheap non-Chinese goods. I myself am not so picky when buying stuffs as I buy what I like. I don’t look at where its made. Also, the idea of looking for non-Chinese goods would be too stressful and time consuming.

While, we may not be able to have all the goods, not made in China, we’ll have as much as we can and for the rest, consumers can buy Chinese. Besides China, most of the garments come from South Asia and Southeast Asia. Same for the shoes. China is only one among the hundreds of countries, so we can have products from all of those countries. We can also encourage other nations, mainly poor, to build same goods that china produces, and guarantee them a market for their products.

In the age of globalization, its difficult to track down the exact origin of goods as different components come from different countries. Still, we should try our best and if there are minimal components from China, then thats fine as stressing too much on minute details isn’t good either. We should always look at things from majority and minority angle. Strive for a balanced approach.

Although, the boycott of Chinese goods will definitely affect the Chinese economy, and this is what we intend for, this is in no way directed against the common Chinese people. Our target is the repressive, autocratic Chinese gov’t. So, in essence, we are not the problems of Chinese people, the Chinese communist gov’t is. If the Chinese people can overthrow their gov’t, then we’ll remove the boycott. Also, this boycott is not just against China, but against all the repressive regime in the world. We’ll boycott against all the countries with a dictatorship and a repressive regime.

Again, a reminder to all the grievances by the China, affected retailers and people. This is not just a boycott, but a movement, a movement for justice, for human rights.

So, this non-Chinese retail is one of the many ideas I wanted to do. This retail business can be done by any individual or an organization who want to generate some income or funds towards self sufficiency and at the same time, dismantle the Chinese economy. This is like killing two birds with one stone. However, a word of request to those interested. Whatever idea I propose has to be done in good faith for the overall benefit of mankind and not for personal gains. My idea of business is, business with ethics.

Capitalism has corrupted the way of doing business. Business was meant to be a service to people, as not all people can go far away to trade their goods. So, there was some form of morality or ethics attached to business, to help the people and society to achieve basic needs and once that is met, prosperity could be brought in. But today, business is all about self interest. Companies do not produce goods that will benefit the society. They produce what is profitable for them, and that also an all out profit. There are numerous examples to prove it. For e.g, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, weapons. None of these activities benefit people, yet companies keep producing it as there is money to be made. It’s all about money. Also, there are kids products that are marketed at children not the parents, and we can’t expect children to make an informed decision when buying goods, as their brains are not fully developed yet. The companies rely on the ability of children to nag parents to buy goods. Hence, they target kids. This is a classic case of human intelligence being used for totally wrong and immoral purpose, when we could have used it the other way around for the upliftment of humankind.

So, today, business has become all about maximum profit and the mad rush for unchecked growth, which is their top priority, not the people. In US, the corporations succeeded in amending the constitution as them be defined as an entity or a person. So, as a civilized entity in a modern world, why can’t they learn to be content with what they have. One needs to improve, but not at all cost, and certainly not at the costs of millions of deaths. Like the various brutal Communist gov’t of past century, the corporations have also been responsible for the death of hundred of millions in the poor countries, with the only difference being that consequences of corporate activities tends to be subtle. In the name of free trade to improve the lives of poor people, they instead grabbed or controlled all the resources for their own greed and leaving others to die or fend for themselves without any protection in poor countries. this is called Neo-colonialism. Children still die of starvation everyday in famine affected parts of Africa. Such news are really heart breaking. As a result, rich gets richer and poor gets poorer. IMF and World Bank are equally responsible as they are the puppets of corporations. No policy that results in the deaths or impoverishment of people is a right policy. The “profit before people” mentality must change to “people before profit”. People should always come first, especially the poor.

I again got sidetracked. I could have gone on and on about the evils of corporations, but not here. Maybe next time in a separate blog. What I propose here is a set of my ideal policies which i would like to be followed, but others are free to operate whichever they want.

1. My ideal policy is people before profit, especially poor. That will be the motto.

2. The pricing would be kept to a minimum with a minimum or marginal profit, which should be enough to cover the costs and to run the company and make some profit for future savings or investment, just like the households do. There is absolutely no place for maximum profit here. The law of supply and demand must not apply here. Even if the demands are high, prices must still be kept low. There is no place for greed here.

3. I also don’t like the practice of not including taxes in the price, which I find very deceiving. So, that needs to change. We don’t need to wait for changes from gov’t. The world is full of deceptions. Fine prints being the most notorious one. There must be no fine prints also. Everything should be in bold and big letters.

4. All the goods procured or supplied has to be done through fair trade regulations.

5. There shouldn’t be a huge salary gap between the workers and the executives. In the event of cost cutting, it must start from the top, not the buttom ‘cos reducing one zero has bigger impact on low income worker than on top executives with higher earnings (from the movie 3 Idiots). If they refuse, fire them as there should be no place for selfish leaders in an ethical company, not even in the world.

6. Also, when hiring people, preferences should be given to older people, as they face the most employment shortages. I don’t need to worry about young workers as the greedy corporations look favourably towards them. Leaving things on merit has a Darwinian notion to which I don’t agree. Human word is civilized and a moral place, not a jungle.

7. There shouldn’t be much expenses on advertisement, which isn’t my cup of tea. If needed, it should be kept to minimum. I actually prefer word of mouth as it is more trustworthy and less deceitful to customers. The outreach of word of mouth is slow and gradual, but will only keep on increasing. Plus, the exposure from news article, if there are any, will be more than enough. The happy customers means happy business. There are many companies who make bogus or fake claims in the ad, so consumers are wary. Also, I want people to come to us, rather than us reaching them.

8. The whole aspect of business must run in eco-friendly way with minimum or zero carbon footprint if possible. And also efficiency in the workplace. Wastage is sin, including carbon.

9. Workers have the right to form union, but I believe that if they are treated well, then there is no need. Still, the option must be given as a way of checks and balances, which might be helpful in bringing the company back to the ground, in case the company loses its way, with the passage of time.

10. I’ve hesitations about making the company public as you lose control over it, and the company caters to the interest of shareholders. If all shareholders were warmhearted, then there is no problem. But there is no guarantee. But I’ll leave it open for people to decide. But there should a clause in the contract to buy back the company if it diverts from its policy.

11. There must be complete transparency in all the dealings and record keeping, down to a penny. Transparency builds trust, which is very important in a company consumer relations and in the world. There will be absolutely no hidden practices, nor any hidden cost be imposed on consumers. There is too much secrecy in this word, which only make things more suspicious and complicated. In this regard, I’m not worried about Chinese spies as there is nothing to hide and everything is open and transparent. This company shouldn’t work like Chinese communist gov’t, rather the opposite. Truth should be our god, as told by Mahatma Gandhi. Satyamev Jayate.

I may have more inputs to write down in the future. But whatever shortcomings there may be in my ideas, they are not be exploited, like the corporations do by searching for loophole in the laws, for their own gain. This whole retail idea has to be done in a good faith, and if there are any flaws, then please point it out to improve the idea. I’m willing to be a consultant or a board member for those interested in other areas which I haven’t or forgot to cover. I’ll also claim no royalty on my ideas. I also discourage anyone from patenting it. This idea should be free and open to all so that whole world can pursue it. I’m no economist, so I don’t know everything in detail about the economy or business. Regarding business plan or capital for investments, people should know how to do it. I don’t need to write about it nor do I know much. I can give suggestions to those interested.

I also don’t think I’m proposing a radical idea as this was perfectly done by Mahatma Gandhi in his struggle against the 300 yr old British rule in India. I’m just trying to fight injustice and there can’t be any compromise or appeasement against injustice. An injustice is an injustice, which needs to be dealt with or opposed in all it’s severity, with a firm and assertive stance, just like in dealing with child’s tantrums. There is no point beating around the bush, so there is no place for middle path or diplomacy here, which I find is a passive, weaker and complacent stance. God, I hate diplomacy, not all but generally. Why can’t everything be simple and straightforward? I hate complicated stuffs as I already have enough stress in my life. Non violence doesn’t have to be diplomatic, nor were the actions of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

I do things differently. I don’t have much hope for our cause from regular protests. There is nothing wrong with it but I honestly don’t see much benefits. It mainly brings awareness, but that alone doesn’t work. Even in Facebook, we share lots of Tibet related news, but nothing happens. People read the news, feel sad for a while and then move on to next one. I still goto protests as a part of my duty as a patriot and also to make up the numbers ‘cos on some days, there are few protesters, which doesn’t look good. Also, all we usually do is urge the international gov’t to pressure China into dialogue, and the international gov’t do the same thing by urging the Chinese gov’t to resume dialogue, which I suspect is done mainly to pacify the demands and look good in the eyes of people. I find this whole “urge thing” tantamount to begging, which essentially means please do this or that. I see helplessness in it. Others are not going to fight our cause, we are. They are there to support us, not lead our cause. Leading our cause is not their business. So, we’ve to help ourselves. We should be the masters of our own destiny.

Therefore, we need bold, proactive solutions. We need steps that has a much bigger impact on China than the protests. Even the media gets bored from our protests ‘cos its the same thing every year while they seek sensational news to boost their ratings. I’ve a cynical way of looking at things, but I think it’s more realistic. My way of doing things are simple and straight forward with no hidden agenda. I don’t like the conventional way of doing things, like lobbying, protests, petitions, etc. Majority of the world’s population is already doing that. So there are enough people there. I look for ideas that will be most effective, not at what’s the conventional solutions for the problems. Some might see this as boasting, but I just wanted others to know how I function.

A friend of mine pointed out some good observations through their comments. Hence, I want to make everything clear here. There are many stores like Gap and Old Navy, that sell goods from different countries, not just China. But the problem is that they are not a specialized anti-China store nor are they morally driven store. They are just a corporation who think profit wise, and this is my opinion, not a fact. So, the customers would have to check the labels on their own to determine the origin. Some labels are misleading too, which says they are from other countries but are actually from China. So, what I’m talking about is a store that is both mainstream and specialized at non Chinese goods. It will be a like Walmart, a “One Stop shop” for all non Chinese goods, but a good quality ones compared to cheap, inferior and toxic(lead) laden goods. This specialized store will make it easy for customers, who won’t have to goto various stores, nor do buyers have to laboriously check the label ‘cos all goods be will be anti China.

I’m also not talking about only clothes, but about all kinds of goods, like Walmart. Also, filtering out the origin of different parts or components will be very difficult, but the retailers will have to do the hard part, so that they can make things easier for buyers. Convenience is what all the companies seek for customers, or they risk losing.

I hope to start from a small business, and then see where it goes. A small business might not make much difference to the current second largest economy in the world, but we will try. As Michael Jordan famously said, “I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying.” Lot of people hold back on their dreams due to fears, but there is no harm in trying.

This idea of a retail company with ethics is my way of making positive change in the world. I think this idea could be a nice way of making a living, which can bring a peace of mind to the owners as well as bring change to the world. This business would be a real service to people and the world in the truest sense. I would love to see the Non-Chinese retail spread all over the globe, provided it maintains its integrity. After all, this retail company too is an entity, but a responsible and warm hearted one. I’ve other ideas also but they are related with world, not China, as China is just one part of a huge global problems and I might post them someday. Free Tibet. Free world.

Tenzin Tsering.

ttronan@hotmail.com.