Gāyatrī Mantra

The Gāyatrī Mantra is a highly revered mantra, based on a Vedic Sanskrit verse from a hymn of the Rigveda (3.62.10), attributed to the rishi Viśvāmitra. The mantra is named for its vedic gāyatrī metre. As the verse invokes the deva Savitr, it is also called Sāvitrī. Its recitation is traditionally preceded by oṃ and the formula bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ, known as the mahāvyāhṛti (“great utterance”).

The Gayatri Mantra is repeated and cited very widely in vedic literature, and praised in several well-known classical Hindu texts such as Manusmṛti, Harivamsa, and the Bhagavad Gita. The mantra is an important part of the upanayanam ceremony for young males in Hinduism, and has long been recited by Brahmin males as part of their daily rituals. Modern Hindu reform movements spread the practice of the mantra to include women and all castes and its use is now very widespread.

Gayatri Mantra

Om Bhur Bhuvah Svaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat


Om: Para Brahman
Bhur: The Physical plane
Bhuvah: The Astral plane
Svaha: The Celestial plane
Tat: Ultimate Reality
Savitur: The Source of All
Varenyam: Fit to be worshiped
Bhargo: The Spiritual effulgence
Devasya: Divine Reality
Dhimahi: We meditate
Dhiyo: Intellect
Yo: Which
Nah: Our
Prachodayat: Enlighten

General Translation

We meditate upon the spiritual effulgence of that adorable supreme divine reality
Who is the source of the physical, the astral and the heavenly spheres of existence.
May that supreme divine being enlighten our intellect, so that we may realise the supreme truth.

When Less is More

Make more time for doing the things you love by simplifying your life.
By Helena Echlin


Judy Davis never buys anything new if she can help it. A 58-year-old freelance marketing consultant who lives in Red Bluff, California, she favors thrift store clothing and secondhand furniture. Instead of buying gifts, she gives plants from her garden or bags she has sewn from cut-up vintage gowns. Judy is part of a Bay Area group called the Compact. The Compacters have vowed not to buy anything new for a year except bare essentials: food, medicine, cleaning products, and underwear (although not, of course, lingerie from Paris). Although few people take frugality quite as seriously as the Compacters do, more and more of us are voluntarily cutting back on buying and consumption. Many individuals choosing this lifestyle happen to be yogis. The seminal work of yoga philosophy, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, frowns on materialism, and some yogis find that their asana practice alone helps them be happier with less.

The pursuit of the simple life is nothing new, of course. From Quakers to Transcendentalists, America has always had its share of those who associate simplicity with spiritual growth. Back-to-the-land hippies of the ’60s and ’70s found simplicity appealing for more secular reasons, such as ecological sustainability. But those who practice pared-down living today are not necessarily spiritual ascetics or off-the-grid granola types. Most are ordinary people modifying their everyday behavior-trying to be conscious about what they eat, drive, and buy.

In the past 15 years, “voluntary simplicity,” as it is called, has gained thousands of converts. Many books on the subject have been published, such as Janet Luhrs’s The Simple Living Guide, Cecile Andrews’s Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life, and Linda Breen Pierce’s Choosing Simplicity: Real People Finding Peace and Fulfillment in a Complex World. Dozens of websites have sprung up, and nonprofits like Seeds of Simplicity and Simple Living America champion the cause. When the Compacters publicized their manifesto in January 2006, their Yahoo group swelled from about 50 in February to 1,225 in July, with members across America.

Most spiritual traditions encourage simple living, and yoga is no exception. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali laid out the yamas (moral restraints) and niyamas (observances), a set of 10 principles that are crucial to one’s progress along the yogic path. One of the yamas is aparigraha, often translated as “greedlessness.” But it means more than just taking only what you need, explains David Frawley, founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies and author of Yoga and the Sacred Fire. Aparigraha also means “not having a lot of unnecessary things around yourself and not hankering after what other people have,” Frawley says. In other words, aparigraha also means keeping only what you need and wanting only what you need.

Aparigraha leads naturally to one of the niyamas: santosha, or “contentment,” being satisfied with the resources at hand and not desiring more. Ultimately, Frawley says, “Yoga is about transcending the desire for external things, which is the cause of suffering, and finding peace and happiness within.”

The desire for external wealth causes unhappiness on both a practical level and a spiritual one. In order to afford things, you have to work long hours, leaving you less time for what truly sustains you, whether that’s yoga and meditation, a hobby, or time with your kids. An expensive lifestyle also limits your choice of career, forcing you to take a high-paying job that may not be fulfilling. It’s hard to transcend the desire for external things when we see hundreds of ads implying that happiness lies in a new iPod, laptop, or car. But despite those commercial messages, acquisition doesn’t equal happiness. Many yogis find that if they transcend their material cravings, they can lead more satisfying, albeit more modest, lives.

Les Leventhal was once trapped in the joyless cycle of overwork and overconsumption. He held an investment banking job, toiling long hours with lots of travel, which kept him away from his partner and friends. But his lavish salary allowed him to buy vacations in Hawaii, dinners in trendy restaurants, expensive jackets, and pair after pair of Kenneth Cole shoes. In the past, Leventhal had kicked drug and alcohol addictions, but now he realized he’d simply replaced them with a new addiction: shopping. Yet the high he got from retail therapy never lasted. “Each time I bought something, I expected to feel better, but the emptiness inside was still there. Then I’d buy something else. ”

As Leventhal’s experience shows, materialism can be a form of self-violence, cutting you off from what makes you happy. It thus violates the yama of ahimsa, or nonviolence, as well as aparigraha. Materialism also hurts others, since overconsumption leads to taking an unfair share of the world’s resources, exploiting developing nations for cheap labor, and destroying the environment. Darren Main, a yoga teacher and the author of Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic, says, “We understand the obvious part of ahimsa—not killing…But we need to look at more subtle stuff. Driving a gas-guzzling car drives the U.S. to war—but because this is a step removed, we tend to be unconscious of it.”

Leventhal’s unhappiness drove him to quit his job last year. Reflecting on what truly satisfied him, he realized that every time he left a yoga class, he was filled with lightness and happiness. “I got a rush from yoga, exactly the rush I was looking to get from drugs and alcohol but never quite could,” he says. Pursuing teacher training meant radically scaling back. Leventhal stopped shopping for clothes and very rarely eats out. He donated most of his Kenneth Cole shoes to charity, and these days he wears clogs, flip-flops, or tennis shoes. The sacrifice has been worth it because he’s gained time to immerse himself in interests he loves.

Many of us fail to make the connection between everyday shopping and what members of the Compact call “the negative global impact of U.S. consumer culture.” Darcy Lyon, a 36-year-old yoga teacher in Berkeley, California, leads a simple life (although she’s not a Compacter). She bicycles or takes public transport, wears the same clothes for years, and takes her own bags to the grocery store. She decided to cut down on her consumption six years ago after trekking along Nepal’s Annapurna circuit. Tourists had the option to bring a water filter and purify their own water, but instead many bought water en route, using 50 to 70 bottles each. “I saw piles of hundreds of thousands of plastic water bottles that visiting Westerners had discarded, ” Lyon recalls. “The piles are just left there, since the Nepalis have no means to recycle them.” The destructiveness of this lifestyle was vividly driven home.

Focus on the Positive

Most people on a spiritual path eventually recognize that happiness can’t be bought. To find the peace we truly seek, it’s necessary to stop mindlessly acquiring possessions—and embrace simplicity. How, exactly, do you do that? The first step is to figure out why you want to simplify. Bruce Elkin, the author of Simplicity and Success and a life coach who helps clients simplify, distinguishes between “reactive” and “purposeful” simplicity. “If you clean out clutter to declutter, it’s a temporary fix,” he says. “But if you clean out the clutter to make a meditation space or a reading area, then you have a clear purpose. The clutter doesn’t return.

Andrews compares simplifying to dieting. Self-denial will backfire. “Don’t say to yourself, ‘I’m not going to have this or that.’ Instead of focusing on what you’re denying yourself, focus on what’s really healthy or, in this case, on whatever gives you true satisfaction. ”

Leventhal is focused on what he has gained: time to volunteer for community service and time with his partner and dogs. Davis doesn’t miss shopping either. She’s too busy concentrating on her essentials: “writing, reading, dreaming, socializing, music, dance, sunshine, exercise, cooking.” She also makes movies in her spare time. And Lyon doesn ‘t pine for a nice car or fashionable clothes, because her modest lifestyle allows her to pursue her passions: teaching yoga and working toward an M.A. in psychology.
Allow Yourself Luxuries

Those who embrace voluntary simplicity sometimes take it to extremes. Some members of the Compact, for example, restrict their consumption so much that they make their own deodorant from baking soda and water. Some even refuse to buy toilet paper; in an email exchange on the Compact’s Yahoo group, one member advises using squares cut from cotton T-shirts and laundering them weekly.

But voluntary simplicity doesn’t require you to make a fetish of frugality. In fact, if you take that attitude, you set yourself up for a relapse. Instead, the keyword is moderation. You can have toilet paper (thankfully). You can even go shopping. Living simply means selecting what luxuries truly matter to you, rather than giving up frills altogether. “For example,” Luhrs says, “I like clothes. Looking my best makes me feel good. But I try to shop like the French. I buy fewer things that I really, really love. ”

The list of “essential luxuries” is different for each individual. Lyon splurges on massages, flowers, and dry-cleaning her precious cashmere sweaters. Leventhal cut back on treating friends to dinner but plans to buy a hybrid car. Main treasures his iPod. But he has given up vacations abroad and having a place of his own (he shares a rented apartment). Main says that simplicity is a little more complicated than it was in Patanjali’s time: “Yoga was developed for people living very simple lives. Most people practicing yoga today are not drawn to or willing to live that lifestyle.” Instead, people must decide how far they are willing to go what they can give up and what they truly want.

Practice Conscious Buying

Train yourself to reflect before you buy something. Why do you want it? Do you really need it, or are you trying to escape negative emotions? Yoga can help you do without retail therapy, Main says: “The word asana means ‘sit’ … Yoga teaches us to sit with uncomfortable physical sensations, to breathe and relax into them. So when a negative emotion arises, instead of trying to bury it under a new pair of shoes or an iPod or whatever, let it bubble to the surface, look at it, and let it go.” Davis says her yoga practice of 14 years helps her stick to the Compact. “Yoga makes you deal with what’s really going on inside, instead of medicating it through shopping.”

Luhrs says she loves clothes but not as much as she loves the freedom of being debt free. In order to avoid running up credit card bills, she asks herself five questions before buying anything: “Do I have the cash to pay for it? Do I have room in my closet for this outfit? Do I want another outfit? Do I want to care for more clothes? Will I really wear this item a lot? ” You can run through a similar checklist of questions whenever you’re considering buying something new. If it’s an item for the home, Luhrs suggests, “Ask yourself if your eyes need one more thing to look at, or would they rather rest in open space?”

Of course, after reflection, you may decide that you genuinely need something. Before you buy it new, consider alternatives. Can you mend yours? Can you borrow it? Can you buy it used? The obvious places to look for secondhand stuff are thrift stores, garage sales, and secondhand furniture stores. But you can also try craigslist or Freecycle, a network of local groups whose members give each other unwanted items. In San Francisco, Compacters use Building REsources for salvaged architectural material like windows and doorknobs, and SCRAP (Scroungers’ Center for Reusable Art Parts) for low-cost fabric and art supplies. You may be able to find similar resources in your area.
Be Creative

Simplicity requires creativity. Some Compacters make their own nontoxic household cleaning products from baking soda and vinegar. And a homemade gift or card is often more meaningful than one that is store bought. Lyon has found a creative way to spread Christmas cheer without putting herself out of pocket. Each year, she sells simple candles to her friends for them to give as gifts. There’s nothing special about the candles, except that each one has a label explaining that for every candle she sells, Lyon gives a homeless person a gift-wrapped sweater or pair of gloves she strives to knit herself.

And Davis says living simply has taught her to be creative with junk. For example, when she saw an almost-new wheelchair poking out from a Dumpster, she rescued it and turned it into a wheeled dolly for her cameraman to perch on while shooting one of her movies.
Get Support and Stick with It

Living simply is not easy. Elkin says the pressure to conform is the biggest cause of relapse. It can be embarrassing to have a smaller house than your peers or drive an old banger or wear secondhand clothes. When your friends invite you to dinner, it can be hard to insist on preparing food at home instead. Leventhal says that initially, when friends invited him to expensive restaurants, he felt shame at having to say, “I can ‘t afford it.”

When challenges arise, a like-minded community can offer support, Davis says: “It helps that I can go online every day and read emails and share ideas on how to save money and help the environment. ” Andrews recommends starting a “simplicity circle,” whose members can share ideas. She launched the first one in Seattle; now they exist across the country.

Living moderately often requires extra time and energy. Lyon says, “I get tired bicycling home from teaching class at 9 at night and then making my own food from scratch. “But, she says, the effort is worth it. In addition to the obvious benefits, like having time for what matters to her, living moderately gives her something else: “The more I simplify and do my practice, the more I find strength and certainty within.”

The good news is that voluntary simplicity grows easier over time. Leventhal no longer feels the impulse to shop for shoes. As you do more of what matters to you, you will gain a deep satisfaction that renders buying and consumption less interesting. Luhrs says that with the clutter and distraction cleared away, she has a deeper appreciation for the pleasures that remain. “I taste my food more. I inhale the scent of lilac or I luxuriate in the way a shower feels. That gives my life depth, so I don’t have to fill myself up with overconsumption or buying entertainment. “Saying no to the things you don’t need—practicing aparigraha—means that you recognize the abundance at hand. Paradoxically, once you truly embrace simplicity, you end up with richness.

Helena Echlin is the author of Gone, a novel published in 2002 by Secker (Random House). She recently completed a second novel, Pink Pill.


Cyber Eyes

Prevent computer vision syndrome with these seven simple eye-saving tips.
By Anna Soref
Yoga Journal

You’ve been sitting in front of your computer for two hours trying to ignore your stinging, dry eyes and get through your work. You can’t quit now….If only your eyes would stop burning.

Tired eyes and blurry vision are but two symptoms of what is now recognized as a broader problem called computer vision syndrome, or CVS. As computer use continues to rise, so do cases of CVS. A recent study showed that nearly 90 percent of employees who work with computers for more than three hours a day suffer from some form of eye trouble.

CVS has a host of causes, from improper lighting, screen glare, and an ill-adapted workspace, to poor posture and glasses or contact lenses with incorrect prescriptions, according to Kent M. Daum, O.D., Ph.D., of the School of Optometry of the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Infrequent blinking is another culprit. We blink to keep the eyes lubricated, explains Daum. When staring at a computer screen, we blink less, so the eyes become dry. And the more we concentrate, the less we blink, so casually surfing the Web may be easier on the eyes than focused work, he says. Also, deficiencies of vitamin A may cause severe eye dryness, so be sure to get enough.

While CVS has not yet been shown to damage vision, there is no need to put up with its uncomfortable symptoms. Proper workspace ergonomics, frequent breaks from the computer, and eye drops are easy solutions that work. (When choosing eye drops, stay away from those containing phenylephrine or other whitening agents that can worsen symptoms over time.)

Dimming the lights in the workspace can also reduce eye fatigue. “The eye adjusts to the relatively dim computer screen. If you have a brightly lit office, whenever you look away from the screen, your eyes have to adjust to that brighter light, which can lead to eye fatigue,” Daum explains.

In addition, Judith Lasater, Ph.D., author of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times (Rodmell, 1995), recommends adjusting the computer so that the eyes rest at the level just below the tips of the ears; this will put the head in a more relaxed, comfortable position. She also says to pull your shoulder blades down, “like tucking in a shirt,” for a long back and open chest.To release overall tension (which she feels contributes to eye distress), Lasater suggests a version of Savasana (Corpse Pose) tailored for the eyes. Lie down in Savasana with a stack of several books lying nearby on the floor by the top of your head. Place either a five-pound bag of rice or some sandbags halfway on the books and halfway on your forehead. Relax for 15 minutes. This will help the muscles in the head to loosen and relax.

How to be useful in wartime: practical patriotism

How to be useful in wartime: practical patriotism
The Times, 1914

We are receiving a constant stream of letters containing suggestions for personal conduct or useful action in the national emergency. We publish a selection below.

They vary, no doubt, in value. But they all reflect the intense interest and desire to help which animates the whole population, and they will, we hope, encourage the spirit of duty, unselfishness, restraint, and consideration for others which it behoves us all to cherish to the utmost.

  • First and foremost, keep your heads. Be calm. Go about your ordinary business quietly and soberly. Do not indulge in excitement or foolish demonstrations.
  • Secondly, think of others more than you are wont to do. Think of your duty to your neighbour. Think of the common weal.
  • Try to contribute your share by doing your duty in your own place and your own sphere. Be abstemious and economical. Avoid waste.
  • Do not store goods and create an artificial scarcity to the hurt of others. Remember that it is an act of mean and selfish cowardice.
  • Do not hoard gold. Let it circulate. Try to make things easier, not more difficult.
  • Remember those who are worse off than yourself. Pay punctually what you owe, especially to your poorest creditors, such as washerwomen and charwomen.
  • If you are an employer think of your employed. Give them work and wages as long as you can, and work short time rather than close down.
  • If you are employed remember the difficulties of your employer. Instead of dwelling on your own privations think of the infinitely worse state of those who live at the seat of war and are not only thrown out of work but deprived of all they possess.
  • Do what you can to cheer and encourage our soldiers. Gladly help any organization for their comfort and welfare. Explain to the young and the ignorant what war is, and why we have been forced to wage it.
  • Avatar

    In Hinduism, Avatar or Avatāra (Devanagari अवतार, Sanskrit for “descent” [viz., from heaven to earth]) refers to a deliberate descent of a deity from heaven to earth, and is mostly translated into English as “incarnation”, but more accurately as “appearance” or “manifestation”.

    The term is most often associated with Vishnu, though it has also come to be associated with other deities. Varying lists of avatars of Vishnu appear in Hindu scriptures, including the ten (Daśāvatāra) of the Garuda Purana and the twenty-two avatars in the Bhagavata Purana, though the latter adds that the incarnations of Vishnu are innumerable. The avatars of Vishnu are a primary component of Vaishnavism. An early reference to avatar, and to avatar doctrine, is in the Bhagavad Gita.

    In a 2007 interview with Time magazine, director James Cameron was asked about the meaning of the term “Avatar“, to which he replied, “It’s an incarnation of one of the Hindu gods taking a flesh form.” On the specific reason for the choice of blue as the Avatar’s skin color, Cameron said “I just like blue. It’s a good color … plus, there’s a connection to the Hindu deities, which I like conceptually.

    Ng Teng Fong (1928 – 2010)

    The king of Orchard Road
    Legendary property tycoon was Singapore’s richest man


    MR SIMON Cheong remembers the day he was discussing the vagaries of the property market with real estate tycoon Ng Teng Fong a couple of decades ago.

    ‘I was a young banker then, and we were sitting in his office debating supply and demand. Mr Ng then said to me, ‘You sit there arguing with me but just look at my showroom. It is packed,” recalled the chief executive of property developer SC Global.

    ‘As a young banker, I was analysing things to death but he cut out all the jargon. He could see through noise and spot trends, true hallmarks of a real entrepreneur.’

    Mr Cheong, 51, who is president of the Real Estate Developers Association of Singapore (Redas), added: ‘In land tender, he was a world leader. As a property player, he was world class. By any standard, he was clearly an icon.’

    Indeed, Mr Ng – who died yesterday aged 82 after suffering a brain haemorrhage late last month – was one of the most astute property men Singapore has seen.

    Ranked by Forbes for the last three years as the country’s richest man, with an estimated fortune of US$8 billion (S$11.3 billion), he founded Far East Organization, Singapore’s largest private property developer.

    Survived by his wife, two sons and six daughters, Mr Ng did not have much formal education, and was comfortable speaking mainly Hokkien and Mandarin.

    That did not stop him from being nicknamed the King of Orchard Road, for his properties that sprouted one after the other in the shopping strip from the 1970s.

    The oldest, Far East Shopping Centre, was followed by Lucky Plaza, Far East Plaza, Pacific Plaza. The newest, Orchard Central, opened just last year.

    His hotels included the Orchard Parade Hotel as well as the Fullerton Hotel, which turned the old General Post Office into a grand new landmark on the Singapore River.

    With subsidiary Sino Group, Mr Ng also became the largest overseas Chinese investor in the Hong Kong property market.

    In all, his property empire spanned more than 1,000 hotels, malls and condominiums here and in Hong Kong.

    Elder son Robert is in charge of his Hong Kong operations, while younger son Philip oversees Singapore.

    In the mid 1990s, the late tycoon moved in to buy Yeo Hiap Seng, a household name for soft drinks and canned food, when the founding Yeo family became mired in factional squabbles.

    Yeo Hiap Seng deputy chairman S. Chandra Das said Mr Ng belonged ‘to the pioneer group of Singapore businessmen who didn’t become rich overnight’.

    ‘He became a tycoon because of his foresight and vision,’ he said.

    Mr Ng was born in a small village in Putian, in China’s Fujian province. The eldest of 11 children, he came to Singapore with his family when he was six. He had little formal education, and at an early age was helping at his father’s soya sauce factory and even worked as a bicycle repairman for a while.

    Although the family hoped that he would take over the business, the young Ng dreamt of building and selling houses.

    By 1962, he had saved enough money to develop a small housing estate behind Serangoon Gardens – 72 single-storey terrace houses which he sold at $20,000 apiece.

    He never looked back.

    Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has held him up as a role model for entrepreneurs.

    ‘Ng Teng Fong never went to university (but) I think he has a pretty powerful computer up there when figures are concerned,’ said Mr Lee in 1996.

    GK Goh Holdings chairman Goh Geok Khim remembers Mr Ng as someone ‘who spent a lot of time just looking at properties in Singapore’.

    ‘He lived, breathed and dreamt property. Architects who expected to go for dinner after showing him plans…ha ha…no such thing. He would go over everything with them with a fine tooth comb,’ he said.

    Tycoon Kwek Leng Beng, executive chairman of the Hong Leong Group, said he used to be active with Mr Ng in Redas in the 1980s.

    ‘He was a man who worked extremely hard, day and night,’ he said in a statement. ‘We used to study the property market together at his office while we were dealing with property matters.

    ‘More often than not, we would find that we were still deep in discussion long after the official Redas meetings were over and everyone else had left.’

    In fact, Mr Ng was so passionate about his business that he not only worked 18 hours a day, but also reportedly would take a penlight along when he went to the occasional movie with his wife so that he could do his planning and calculations in the dark.

    Fellow hotel and property developer Ong Beng Seng said that although Mr Ng lacked formal education, he made up for it with business acumen and gut feel.

    ‘He was a legend in property and real estate development and left behind a great legacy.’

    Mr Cheong agreed. ‘He went into the Hong Kong property market in a big way in the 1970s when even Hong Kong players dared not.

    ‘They thought he was crazy. Today, just look at what he owns in Tsim Sha Tsui,’ he said referring to Sino Group’s string of properties in one of Hong Kong’s busiest tourist belts.

    Mr Ng was a tycoon who guarded his privacy jealously, and never liked to have his picture taken. As he told The Straits Times in 1981: ‘I’m an ordinary working man. And I often take my $2 mee from the Newton hawker centre after work.

    ‘If my picture appears in the papers, people will know who I am. I am rich and someone may kidnap me.

    ‘If someone kidnaps me and I’m killed, all my companies will collapse. And what will happen to my family? I have my worries.’

    He had a penchant for racehorses and Rolls-Royces, but he rarely granted interviews. When he did speak to reporters, he delivered piquant quotes.

    In a 1996 interview with Apple Daily, the Hong Kong Chinese-language newspaper, he was asked to explain his unerring property picks.

    His response: ‘If you want to be in the property business, it is not possible to invest in every region.

    ‘You open the map. If you can’t see the place (because it’s too small) but only the name, that’s the place to invest in…Singapore and Hong Kong are the best examples.’

    On an earlier occasion, in 1984, he said he was not a risk-taker, but ‘a long-term entrepreneur’.

    He said he did not believe in developing projects only when the property market was buoyant and laying off people when it was down.

    ‘It is like saying Singapore Airlines will fly to Hong Kong only when the weather is good, and won’t fly when the weather is bad,’ he said.

    His son Philip gave an insight into his father in a speech at the Global Leadership Congress two years ago.

    ‘My father is a mentor, but a tough one. As you know the term, tough love,’ he said.

    ‘When I was younger, he’d always tell me, ‘I have to tell you, even if it hurts because only I can tell you. When you’re at the position you’re in, everybody’s going to say nice things to you.”