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Who Moved My Cheese vs. The Gita

I wrote this text circa January 2003, when I had read the book - "Who Moved My Cheese". The text compared the Gita to the principles set in the book.



I recently read a book – ‘Who moved my cheese?’ by Dr. John Spencer. It is basically a story of 4 characters -2 mice and 2 ‘little-people’. All four are fond of cheese. Once they discover a large store of cheese but after some time the store exhausts. The mice driven by living instinct move in search of new cheese while ‘little-people’ , unable to accept change were reluctant to move from the old cheese store. Finally one of them moves out in search of cheese and finds a new store of cheese and in the process of finding new cheese he discloses some rules which are Golden rules for managers to deal with change.

What startled to me was the close the resemblance these rules have with the message of the Gita. I present here a brief description of those rules and there equivalent verses from the Gita.

1. Having Cheese makes you happy. The more important your cheese is to you the more you want to hold on to it.
This statement describes the quintessential Human being who always attaches emotion longing and belonging to the people and things (entities) rather than to work. Arjun represents this quintessential human in the Gita, when he say’s:
Kim no rajyen govind kim bhogairjeevanam va|
Yeshamarthe kankshitam no rajyan bhogaha sukhami cha||
Ta imevasthita yuddhe pranamastyaktva dhanami cha|
Etaana hantumichaami gnatoapi madusudhana||
This shlok means - O Govind, What the benefit does state, joy or to life giveth us because those for whom we want all the above stand here in the battlefield. If my teachers, elders and youngsters are adamant to give their lives for the state; why would I like to kill them even if they must kill me?

2. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
The reason why we resist change is that we are afraid that the change won’t work or changing with the change may lead to failure. This fear of failure is what keeps us from changing and working (i.e. doing And karma). Lord Krishna gives a call to all Human beings in form of his call to Arjun:
Kshudram hridayadaurbalam tyaktva uttishtha param tapah|
Which means - move beyond the lowly fear of extinction, stand up for the fight. Taken figuratively this call is for all humans to quit the fear of failure and be prepared for a fight - A fight with existing conditions for change.

3. Smell the cheese often so you know when it is going to get old.
This statement tells us the imperative nature of change. It is well said by someone - the only constant in the world is change. The Gita also says so by –
Vasansi jirnani yatha vihaya nanvami grihyani naroparani|
Thatha sharirani vihaya jirnanyani sanyate navani dehi||
The atma keep on changing its body like a person who throws away old clothes and puts on new ones. Change is imperative and so one must keep a close watch on change, so as to catch up with it as soon as it occurs.

4. The quicker you let go off he old cheese the sooner you can enjoy the new one.
This rule tells us to shed our bonds with the old and move forward towards the new. The Gita puts this thus –
Matraparhastu kaunteya sheetoshnasukhdukhdaha|
Aagamapayinoa ntyastanstitikshasva bharat||
Joy and sorrow are like summer and winter. They come and go. O Bharatvanshi, emotions result from your worldly senses and one must learn to ignore or bear them.

In other words the Gita tells us not to stick to old things and learn to change according to the conditions like our body, which adapts to different seasons.

5. It is not the cheese but the feeling of freedom; when you move beyond your fear that makes you feel good.
The Gita says –
Karmanye va adikar aste ma faleshu kadaachana|
It is ‘karma’, or doing of work (i.e. Moving beyond the fear of failure) that you are entitled to not its fruit. If every human embraces the fact that the fruit is not his territory, then there is no fear of failure. If no fruit is desired then how does one define failure? It is only the effort that we can put in which matters. Since putting sincere effort is in our hands, we will always be successful by doing so. Your failure is when you don’t put your fullest efforts.
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