Stories 51: The Container And The Contents

There were riots in the streets some years ago after a guard at Guantanamo Bay was accused of taking a holy book and flushing it down the toilet.

The next day, I took a call from a local journalist who told me he was writing an article about the outrage by asking leaders of all the major religions in Australia the same question he was about to ask me.

“What would you do, Ajahn Brahm, if someone took a Buddhist holy book and flushed it down your toilet?”

Without hesitation I answered, “Sir, if someone took a Buddhist holy book and flushed it down my toilet, the first thing I would do is to call a plumber!”

When the journalist finished laughing, he confided that that was the first sensible answer he had received.

Then I went further.

I explained that someone may blow up many statues of the Buddha, burn down Buddhist temples, or kill Buddhist monks and nuns; they may destroy all this, but I will never allow them to destroy Buddhism. You may flush a holy book down the toilet, but I will never let you flush forgiveness, peace, and compassion down the toilet.

The book is not the religion. Nor is the statue, the building, or the priest. These are only the “containers.”

What does the book teach us? What does the statue represent? What qualities are the priests supposed to embody? These are the “contents.”

When we recognize the difference between the container and the contents, then we will preserve the contents even when the container is being destroyed.

We can print more books, build more temples and statues, and even train more monks and nuns, but when we lose our love and respect for others and ourselves and replace it with violence, then the whole religion has gone down the toilet.

  • Ajahn Brahm in Don’t Worry, Be Grumpy

Simple Thoughts On Success

An aspiration has a ladder that will help you climb towards it; a dream is beautiful but always out of reach.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, complex and more violent. It takes genius and courage to move in the opposite direction.

What did you love doing as a young child? When did you last do it? Go and give it a try right now!

When was the last time you stopped and just enjoyed some of the sensory world around you? When did you last take time to look into the night sky?

Business success: Have an idea for a service/product better than what exists. Gather the right people. Create a trusted relaxing environment. Make more money coming in than going out.

Make a list of what you can do, what you love doing, and then do it.

Take more risks; it’s child’s play.

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

We have to keep our curiosity alive.

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.

He wasn’t curious about things that would make him successful. He was successful because he was so curious.

Research is what I am doing when I don’t know what I am doing.

It is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of enquiry. For this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.

Don’t be intimidated by others’ views of what you should find interesting. Trust your instincts and see where your interest takes you.

Remember that it is okay not to know something or to admit that you don’t understand.

Be open-minded; curious people are always keen to challenge their own thinking and experiences.

Don’t take things for granted; be childlike and never stop asking why or how things work.

Reintroduce the word why into your regular vocabulary and not just when something goes wrong. Question something everyday. Curiosity should be a habit.

Make sure you spend time with other people who are hungry to learn and question.

Remember that there doesn’t always have to be a right answer.

Finally, enjoy life. It sounds simple and even a little obvious but I wonder if some of us spend too long just trying to survive it.

To find yourself, think for yourself.

When you were younger did you have dreams? Did they become aspirations? Did you fulfill them?

Big “buts” are definitely bad for your health, but where did they come from and how did they grow so big?

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.

A professional is a solver of problems.

Success is to be measured not so much by the position one has reached in life as by the obstacles he has overcome.

The ability to see issues and problems objectively is a tough skill to master. It is so easy to take things personally and project those issues on to others, sometime, even inanimate objects.

The ability to manage ourselves and to demonstrate that ability to others is vital if we are to fulfill our potential to succeed.

What happened to your dreams and aspirations? Revisit them.

Monitor how and when you use the word but?

Look at the gaps and spaces in your urban environment; they are beautiful.

Don’t project problems on to others? Try to take control, don’t allow yourself to feel like a victim.

Celebrate a problem solved; it’s the pathway to self-management.

You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.

You have to really understand what you want.

Focus and belief are hugely connected; passion and a sense of purpose are vital to find if you are to find the self-discipline to stay the course.

Spend more time being proactive than reacting to the challenges in your life.

You have to keep moving forwards and risk changing even when you have succeeded strongly.

Focused people are organized and disciplined, do not get distracted easily and have realistic and tangible expectations.

Commit to doing something. Process rather than outcome. Dwell in the present, not the past or the future. Block out all distractions.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Simple does not mean easy.

You must have the clarity of belief, a passion for what you want to do. You must be prepared to sacrifice time, effort and often ego. You must make sure that you find the right people who can help you.

Procrastination does not happen if you own your ambition.

Be prepared to learn and to be challenged.

If you hear a voice within you that says that you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

The way we communicate with others and with ourselves determines the quality of our lives.

Arrogance is to judge one’s self-worth by comparison with others.

Have the courage to step out of your comfort zone.

Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.

Be confident that what you want to say is really of value and as long as you are honest and authentic, people will listen.

Don’t feel you have to fill silence, sometimes pausing for thought can be important.

Try to be yourself, don’t over think how others want or expect you to be. Protecting your personal integrity won’t always lead to people liking you but it should lead to them respecting and remembering you: for the right reasons.

Try to illustrate what you have to say by telling a story; nothing fancy and often from somewhere in your own experience.

Be prepared to be challenged, see it as an opportunity to convince or to learn.

Be authentic; if you don’t believe it, don’t say it.

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.

Be transparent; be truthful even when it is difficult and look for similar people around you.

Just because you fail once does not mean you are going to fail at everything.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is courage to continue that counts.

A third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.

Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.

The real desire to achieve and to be successful is a state of mind not target; it is a lifestyle with no single measurable outcome.

That’s the trouble with the world. Too many people grow up.

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?

notes from the book: Simple Thinking by Richard Gerver

A Simple Method Of Acceptance

A lot of discontent and unhappiness we often experience is because we do not accept what is happening right now and we want something else to happen. Although we intellectually know that there is suffering in the world, that things happen  –  death, disease, old age to everything that exists, we cannot accept it when it happens to something we connect with. Can we do something about it when that happens?

Let me try.

Step 1

  • Become aware of your thoughts.
  • Become aware of your feelings.
  • Verbalise or write them down.

Step 2

  • Become aware of the moment. This means sensing in the moment – becoming aware of what you are seeing, hearing, feeling, touching, smelling in that moment.

Step 3

  • Think positively about the situation in a conscious way.

Step 4

  • Let go of any resistance. Mentally accept it as it is.

Let us say you develop a cold. You become aware of the feeling of miserableness that you are feeling and the thought that this day is going to be uncomfortable. Then you focus on the actual sensation of blockedness or the runny nose, feeling the sensations. Look around and see that you can still see. Feel where your body touches the ground. Be aware of any smell in your nose and taste in your mouth and sounds that you can hear. Think positively about the situation- yes, colds do happen often and it goes away after some time. Why should I make it a bad day because of that. It has come and it will go away. Just let go of yourself in the present moment and accept the cold fully. See how you feel now.

As Epictetus said:

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.
When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it.

The “Simple Magic Formula” Indian Stocks For 2017

I had previous written regarding an investment strategy of investing in simple magic formula stocks.

You can find the simple magic formula stocks for 2016 here.

The returns of this strategy  are:

  • July 2015-Dec 2015: -3.50%( CNX 500= -3.78%)
  • 2016: -4.03% ( CNX 500=3.39%)

This is not a great return for the strategy but there are some caveats. It is a short duration to assess the return. Secondly, we are investing in all stocks with a ROA >25 and a P/E>5 in the CNX 500, while the actual strategy buys 3-4 stocks with low P/E from the top 25 or top 50 stocks every 3-4 months and holds it for a year. Whether this is important or not, I do not know. If we look at the returns of the 20 stocks with the lowest P/E, the returns are better, around -1.73%.

But in the Indian context we get only around 40 stocks from the CNX 500 and even if we include the whole Indian stock market, we get only around 120 stocks. I have chosen the CNX 500 because there may be liquidity and operator manipulation in the other stocks but this may not be true.

The simple magic formula stocks for 2017 are as follows, arranged from lower to higher P/E are as follows:

Name Price P/E
Bombay Burmah 515.3 9.54
Sonata Software 193.4 10.91
Vinati Organics 588.5 11.01
Infosys 1,010.60 12.8
Avanti Feeds 490.05 13.83
Pidilite Inds. 589.8 14.55
Vakrangee 273.7 15.38
eClerx Services 1,400.00 15.67
Hexaware Tech. 207.1 15.84
Greaves Cotton 122.05 16.37
Interglobe Aviat 821.45 16.46
Indo Count Inds. 163.65 17.14
MRF 48,905.65 17.18
Hero Motocorp 3,043.65 17.28
Triveni Turbine 118.85 17.61
Kajaria Ceramics 465.6 18.55
Sun TV Network 492.4 18.98
Divi’s Lab. 783.7 19.01
Alembic Pharma 595.1 19.19
Bajaj Auto 2,632.20 19.27
P & G Hygiene 7,084.05 21.09
Bajaj Corp 371.45 22.03
VST Inds. 2,405.20 22.39
Mindtree 521.65 22.61
Oracle Fin.Serv. 3,125.80 24.03
TCS 2,365.55 26.36
Kansai Nerolac 319.25 27.24
Gulf Oil Lubric. 648.7 27.37
Castrol India 380.65 28.53
Amara Raja Batt. 870.3 29.05
Kitex Garments 406.45 29.43
Credit Analysis 1,305.35 29.51
8K Miles 646.15 29.62
TVS Srichakra 3,203.25 33.88
Ajanta Pharma 1,782.80 34.03
Symphony 1,151.80 36.21
Colgate-Palm. 904.6 40.18
Marico 260.45 40.35
Hind. Unilever 826.35 41.49
Britannia Inds. 2,886.30 41.72
Eicher Motors 21,803.05 41.77
Mayur Uniquote 339.9 42.95
Asian Paints 891.05 43.17
ITC 241.65 48.38
Tata Elxsi 1,405.20 48.93
CRISIL 2,203.00 49.84
Page Industries 13,650.80 50.25
Dr Lal Pathlabs 1,070.95 50.53
Torrent Pharma. 1,317.15 56.28
Blue Dart Exp. 4,385.45 58

We shall continue to track the returns of this strategy here.

Dogs Of The S&P CNX Nifty: 2016 Update

You can read about my previous post here: Dogs of the Nifty 2015 Update.

The returns of the strategy for 2016 are as follows:

Dogs of the Nifty: 23.52
Small Dogs of the Nifty: 45.50%
S&P CNX 50: 4.17%

The strategy  had a strong beating in 2015 and at the end of 2015 had not outperformed the Nifty over the previous 3-5 years. However it has trashed the indices this year (2016). This just shows how unpredictable the markets are and the importance of being married to a strategy for life.

You can see some return statistics in this spreadsheet.

The Dogs of the Nifty and the Small Dogs of the Nifty for 2017 are as follows: See this spreadsheet of how we arrived at the selections:

Dogs of the Nifty 2017

Company Price Dividend Yield
Coal India 300 9.13
BPCL 635.5 4.89
ONGC 191.35 4.44
ITC 241.65 3.53
Tech Mahindra 488.9 2.46
Infosys 1,010.60 2.4
Hero Motocorp 3,043.65 2.37
Bajaj Auto 2,632.20 2.09
Tata Steel 391.25 2.05
NTPC 164.75 2.03

Small Dogs Of The Nifty 2017

Company  Price Dividend Yield
NTPC 164.75 2.03
ONGC 191.35 4.44
ITC 241.65 3.53
Coal India 300 9.13
Tata Steel 391.25 2.05

We will continue to track the returns of this strategy over time.