How to learn from the best in the world for free?

The best thing I saw on internet about online learning is,
“Knowledge is FREE, But you have to PAY attention to get it”.

Your attention is the most precious asset. Not the money you have now.

The things and people you PAY attention today, will define your outcome in future. Yet attention is what most people don’t have. We are constantly distracted by our phones and our emotions. Me no different. I struggled with online learning when I started. Yet I worked at it. I learned data science, artificial intelligence, wealth management, coaching and many other soft skills from the best in the world.

I learnt it through Coursera and Linkedin learning.
You can see my certificates in my Linkedin profile. If you see a certificate, that means I have paid for that course in Coursera or I was on Linkedin learning subscription for that month.

Certificate tagging in Linkedin gave me the motivation to complete the courses. Now that I am used to PAY attention, I am going on to coursera and get tonnes of knowledge daily for FREE. Yes, I am no longer driven by adding certificates to my Linkedin profile.
I just go to Coursera, pick a course and audit it.
In audit mode, I get all the access to course content -all the videos and notes.
What I don’t get are – quizes and the certificates. I am fine with it now.
Loads of respect for Andrew Ng, Founder of Coursera for not blocking people in hunger for knowledge, but cannot afford the course fee. Andrew, you are a hero of mine. Big fan !

So,
1) Go to www.coursera.org
2) Create an account
3) Pick a course, chose Audit mode
4) Make a habit of learning daily.

Again, “Knowledge is FREE, But you have to PAY attention to get it”.

A lesson I learned the hard way.

There are times, I get angry with a person or irritated by a process. The anger and frustration consumes my entire thought process.

I would try to do metta meditation or read a spiritual book. When that does not work, I would switch to entertainment ( netflix/ youtube) to wash it away. I wish it was that easy. Distraction works for a while, but then those sneaky thorny feelings finds its way back to my heart.

I did the above process, over and over, with out any peaceful results.

I learned a lesson the hard way. I realized I am trying to control the bad feeling. Also I realized I am trying to control it by sitting.

Then I stood up and started walking. Walking meditation helps if it is a small irritation. But if it is mega, I will just walk from the place I am, where ever that is. I will try to walk closer to nature if it is closer by, or will just walk through busy streets.

My body activates hormones I do not know names of, sweat starts pouring and I can see people from many walks of life who gives me perspective. Slowly my thought process slows down, my body is in active positive stage, and so are my thoughts.

The more I did this, the more I was able to let go of bad thoughts in quick time.

Advise on shares

Like everything else in life, share market in any country follows the nature.
It’s just like our ECG test. There are ups and downs. That is the way of nature. If we have a flat ECG curve, we are dead.


Likewise stock market goes up and down. Up and down. All the time.
There are plenty of advise on internet, from brokers and from your friends and relatives.
Go to investing.com and follow the patterns of the price of a company share. See the ups and downs. See why they went up and down in the past.


So very basic sane thing to do – is to buy shares when they are down, and sell when they are up.
Pretty simple right? In theory it is.
In practice, most of us get in to panic mode and do the opposite.

Like every advise, do not take mine just like that.

Go to investing.com and see for yourself.

“something went wrong, Reload”

This is what got prompted when I tried to open a Google sheet. This sheet was so precious to me. Very important data was in that document. The issue was with this file only. All other files were working fine. That got me anxious. Did I lose my data here ?

Then there was ” send an error report” link.
I clicked. They asked me to send them a screenshot, which I did with a twisted mind.
Then I checked back in 30 minutes. Still not loading.

Everything is safe and sound in the cloud, is what we hear. Big tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon have data centers in multiple countries and no one can tell where my data is. And my data will be in triplicate or more in different servers to provide reliability in the event of something happens in one of their data centers.

These kind of hiccups happen. Nothing is ever permanent, even in well planned cloud architectures. Yet, Cloud is the best thing we have in these times of trouble.

I checked after 3 hours. Everything was back to normal.

Questions to ask in the blackout.

Like COVID19 did, yesterday’s islandwide electricity blackout should give our decision makers the space to reflect on our energy production. Different action is what is needed. Old ways of doing things will result in same outcomes.

The new Government is looking ways to reduce funds flowing outwards by strengthening domestic production.
Why can’t we stop funds outflow from energy production? ( *cough* fossil fuel).

Let’s frame the questions in a different light. This is for decision makers.

What if, we could adopt what India did with solar? Achieving more than 50% of energy from renewables. They have policy issues but they are trying hard.

What if, we can look up to the case studies of the top 10 countries in the climatescope rankings ?
(Chile, India, jordan, Brazil, Rwanda, Philipines, China, Mexico, Peru, Thailand)

All big issues give decision makers two options.
1) Bring excuses and play whataboutism, until customers forget the issue.
2) Bring new ideas and execute them like if their lives depends on it.

I pray they chose the second.

4G broadband is a Luxury.

Living in Piliyandala, I have taken 4G broadband for granted. This is the internet I received today in Anuradhapura. An eye blinding speed of 0.04 Mbps download and 0.11 Mbps upload.

Just 6 kilometers in to the main road (not a byroad) towards Mihintale, 4G broadband is almost non existent from my ISP.

I checked mobile 4G speed. 2.6 Mbps and 1.85 Mbps. It was better. But still a not ok speed.

I wondered what would have happened to me, if I lived at that location in Anuradhapura during COVID19 lockdown.

Frustrated, I checked with the place I stayed and they were gracious enough to provide their ( a different ISP) broadband for me.

Just like proper highways enable people to trade outside their communities, with proper broadband people will be able to grab new global opportunities.
COVID19 forced all of us to embrace all things digital. The way we work, learn, and build businesses have changed with in a month. There was nothing else we could do. We were pushed. We adapted. That possibility was hanging right infront of our eyes even before COVID19, but we did not bother.

That internet meme captured us so well. ( Was it your  CEO who made the push for digital in your company? No, it was COVID19 😊)

But without 4G broadband, rural Sri Lanka will be sidelined once again. People are now ready to buy. ISPs and TRCSL need to increase quality coverage.

The choice.

World around me is changed by action I take, one at a time, not by the number of opinions I have.

World inside me is changed by the choices I make.

Whether I want to be happy now, is a choice I can make. It does not require any authorization or approval from any one. No one need to appreciate me to be happy.

But on the flip side, if I define my happiness by the approvals, accolades and likes, I consciously make a choice to be unhappy. If I pursue them, my unconscious mind also become a spoiled kid.

The choice is up to us, every single minute.

Anyone can meditate.

I am no expert in meditation. What I am going to write here is based on my practice. I am sharing what worked and did not with the humble wish that someone ( you) might be able to improve meditation practice.

I have read many books on meditation, spent time with many monks and teachers, used meditation apps ( Calm, Headspace) and experimented with different ways to make meditation a joy. Meditation apps are recommended by many. But it did not help me. I think the main reason was the way the app rewards time logged in. Meditation is suppose to be a process of letting go, but with the app I was trying to achieve something, by doing more. Well it is opposite of what meditation should be, doing less and less. 🙂

I am sharing with you the guided meditation video by Ajahn Brahm that helped me find the joy in meditation.

If you listen ( with ear phones) to this video with your eyes closed on a comfortable seat, you will get immediate benefits. I did about 20 times, always with this video on my earphones, until I was capable of doing it on my own.

On days I have trouble fall sleeping, I meditate with this video on my earphones, and with in 15 minutes all the troubles in the world move away, giving me space to a peaceful sleep.

I hope you try it too.

If you want to find more videos like this, go to youtube, search “ajahn brahm guided meditation”

3 things that helped me in this week.

  • I went on a 48 hour social media vacation thanks to www.appblock.app on mobile and www.selfcontrolapp.com on laptop. I do this often and the outcome is a very contended peaceful Isura. It’s like hitting reset button of my mind.
  • Podcasts are an interesting way to digest information. Avoided reading articles from mobile and started listening to select podcasts during my daily walk. It has been a welcome addition to my knowledge extraction, especially on AI. I also found out NOT all walks need a podcast through my earphones. I can just walk, if I need more peace.
  • Meditation, at anytime of the day is fine. I do it more often now. All the information turbulence needs a time to settle down.

It seems the world is on fire.

Image result for put out a fire

In the first week of 2020, social media feeds and news were fueled by Australian bush fires, US gunning down of a senior leader of Iran, and the aircraft crash that cost 4 Air force personnel in Sri Lanka. All with vivid images of fire.

The feeds and news were fanning down on the flames of fear, anxiety, hopelessness, despair and an anger for …

I don’t know I felt angry for many things, for things which are out of my control.

I guess this is what happens when you spend more time in social media and consume regular news. I want the things to be better when I check in next time. After like an hour ? 🙂

No these things don’t get better that easy. This is pain in manifestation. And there is almost nothing I can do.

It reminded me of Sri Lankan war days, tsunami and Easter bombings. When they were upon us, it seemed the world was falling apart, there will be no hope. And then survivors found the ways to tolerate, pick up the pieces and move on. We go through the same thing when we lose a family member. And then it’s time for us to move on. Pain is the only constant in our lives. It lurks underneath until it manifests it self. All we can do is manage the pain. Everybody in the world is feeling the pain each day. Yet the only pain we can relate well is our pain. Our pain is generated, nurtured and recycled in our minds. It’s not out there.

Here is a selfish thing I do. Whenever I am overwhelmed with pain from the world, I close down the screens, go out and take a walk through the busy roads.

There I see a different world: people rushing around to get their daily groceries, merchants calling out for customers, City cleaners cleaning our messes, beggars, police officers, buses, honks. This street chaos I hate, in an instant becomes a spectacle I adore. The world is so much more. There’s happiness, there’s pain and sometimes with none of them.

Ajahn Brahm says ” When you see a cancer patient, do not look at the place where her cancer is at, look for rest of places cancer is not.  When there’s a dengue epidemic, look at people who’s not affected. When there is war, look at places where there is no war. When you are angry look at people who are not angry.

He goes on ” We create our pain in our minds.  To take care of others, first you need to take care of your mind”.