Celebrate Helplessness!


Be ecstatic when you feel helplessness. You may not always find solutions to what you are confronted with, but you will find peace. 
The normal human tendency is to grieve over being helpless. You are watching someone close to you die. Maybe a disease. Maybe an addiction. You have tried everything. Medicine. Counseling. Yet the person is dying __ and you feel powerless. Helpless. Or you know someone is taking a wrong decision. Like a sibling or a child or a friend entering into a relationship __ business or personal. Again you have tried making that person see sense. You have advised caution and have held a mirror. But no, the person in question, is intent on committing hara-kiri. What do you? You end up wringing your hands in despair.
Sometimes, your own situation may be one of helplessness. What do you do when each time you try to pick up and wind up the threads of your Life, they are snatched away, knotted up and thrown asunder? I have a personal situation, a relationship, which to most human beings is sacred, but to me it just doesn’t exist. And I have a business situation which, despite my best efforts, refuses to correct itself. There have been times when I have fought with both situations. And grieved endlessly. Until, after years of battling, of agonizing, I realized that your helplessness is a stark reminder that you are not in control. That your game is being played by Life all along. And that you are merely to allow yourself to be played with!
When this realization dawns, it is an awakening moment. It is an intensely private moment of discovery. You can call it enlightenment. Here you are, with all your education and upbringing, imagining that you are in control. You grieve therefore because this situation you are faced with refuses to listen to you. When you try, cry, lament, kick around, fail, try again, kick again, scream, agonize, suffer, give up, and come back to try again__somewhere in your nth attempt to regain control of your Life, you see the writing on the wall. And it reads: “Smile. Relax. Life’s in charge!”  
Allowing yourself to be played with by Life does not mean inaction and resignation. It means acceptance and humble submission. It is to do what you think you can, and what you must, without grieving.
Helplessness is actually a great feeling. It celebrates the dropping of the ego. Why do you feel helpless? Because you are unable to control some things about your Life. And the desire to control, to stay on top, is your ego at work. Nothing else. Helplessness leads also to understanding the true nature of your Self and to peace. Take hurricane Sandy or the March 2011 Japanese earthquake. Despite mankind’s greatest discoveries and scientific advancements, what were we humans able to do against nature’s will? We were helpless. We were mere spectators to events that were happening to us, around us, about us. In a way, helplessness always begins with sorrow. With grief. But if you are aware and awake, your grief will be replaced soon with acceptance and peace. Because Life is such __ transient, impermanent. So, why grieve?
Instead enjoy the cosmic process of teaching you to surrender. There is great joy in this surrender. Because initially you will resist. Then you will realize the futility of such resistance. And then when you finally give in, you accept, you humbly submit, you will exult! Because you will feel great inner peace. It’s beautiful. You have to experience it to believe it!  
So, take any situation in your Life that you are dealing with currently. And celebrate your helplessness. Choose a time when you are alone. Stand at your balcony, on the beach, in the middle of a busy street, or sprawl on your carpet as if no one was watching, and in your intensely private moment, in your personal space, let go and tell Life, “Come take me!”. Cry if you must. Scream if it want to. Just rejoice over your helplessness. Feel a new peace embracing you. Not only will you feel better, you will want more of it!
This then is your true prayerful state. Because prayer is not what you recite. Prayer is what you feel when you are one with the Universe. When you accept your helplessness, your egolessness, even momentarily, you will be blissful!
Advertisements

Motivation is an Inside Job!


Motivation is really an inside job! Every once in a while you will feel destroyed and completely worthless. That’s when you must draw from your inner reservoir of happiness and reenergize yourself.
Feel happy? When you are sad, down and out? How is that possible, you may well wonder?
Well, take, for instance, the most horrifying, saddest moment of your Life thus far and ask yourself how could you ever have made the situation any better by brooding over it? You cannot get rid of sadness, suffering and agony with more sadness, more suffering and more agony. You cannot rid yourself of any feeling that debilitates you by being sad that it (the feeling) exists. You can only change your current realities by connecting with your inner joy, by being happy.
In any tough situation, obviously one that you dislike, a good starting point is to ask how you are feeling. Replace that feeling with a sense of acceptance over how things are. If you are having a break up and are grieving over it, accept that it is over and done with. If you are having a health challenge, begin by accepting the prognosis. If you have lost heavily in business, accept that you goofed up, that the money is gone! Of course, the situations you choose to accept may have never been what you want them to be. Yet there is no denying that they are the way they are! It is only when you accept Life for what it is, will happiness flower inside you. Until then happiness will seem elusive. It may even seem bizarre. That till you accept a situation, you have poor self-esteem, feel self-pity, brood and feel intensely low. And the moment you accept, you feel peaceful, are flooded with a new, positive energy and are willing to give Life one more chance!
That’s really how you motivate yourself in tough times. External reference points can only be inspirations. But for something to happen to you, it must first happen from within you!  
Zig Ziglar
One of the greatest champions of re-energizing oneself Zig Ziglar, died a few hours ago in Texas, USA. He was 86. All his Life he exhorted people to accept, to appreciate and to find opportunities by being happy with what they have. He often told a story about a woman in Alabama who he said was bitter about her job and angry with her co-workers. He advised her to write down whatever positives she could think of — the solid paycheck, the benefits, the vacation time — and then stare into the mirror and say how much she loved her job. Six weeks later, he said, he ran into her again. “I’m doing wonderfully well,” she told him with a bright smile, adding, “You cannot believe how much those people down there have changed.” Ziglar would also always remind us that ‘failure is an event and never a person’. The import being simply that we may fail with many things and many times in our Life but each time we can bounce back by being happy with ourselves!
Being happy does not mean that sadness will not strike you. It may well when things don’t go per your own plan. But it will not affect you anymore. Being happy is the ability to celebrate what you have, despite your circumstances, rather than agonize over what you don’t have. When you choose to be happy, you, naturally, will be more alive, more motivated to live a fuller, meaningful Life!
So, the antidote to failure, to unmet expectations, is to motivate ourselves to believe, to try again and keep doing this__as long as we must__till we get the results that we want!

Worship Your Divinity!



Recognize how sacred you are and worship your divinity.
There’s so much focus on an external God that we humans have all but conceded that we are mere pawns in this game called Life! While it is important to follow our individual faith and respect the traditions in which we have been raised, it is equally crucial for us not to feel unworthy.  
Just consider you upbringing. You have been told that God is all powerful. That God hates sinners. And that you must keep doing good to stay blessed. So, all along, the reference point is something external. And when things go wrong, as they often do, you believe that your solutions too has to come from an outside source! As you grow up you do get a whiff of wisdom and realize that it is perhaps possible that the energy that powers the Universe, that keeps you alive, is inside of you. And that energy is possibly the God that everyone refers to and is looking for. Yet years of conditioning cannot possibly be dismissed by few moments of epiphany.
Also consider the experiences when you have possibly encountered people who, while appearing to be incapable of divinity (at least as perceived by us), are able to provide phenomenal insights to intelligent living. Your logical, re-doubting mind often wonders if such people have an axe to grind or are charlatans! Fundamentally, while we humans crave that the Gods we worship, in temples and churches and mosques and gurudwaras, open their eyes and grant us our wishes, we have a serious problem believing and trusting when God, finally, speaks, especially in human form!
Seek Within and You shall find
During some specially trying times, a few years ago, my wife and I went to meet a Siddha yogi. We were referred to him by a close friend. When we reached his place, on the outskirts of Chennai, we were quite startled to find him dressed in a lungi and vest, standing outside on the street and smoking a beedi. He politely requested us to go inside and be seated. He took his own time finishing his smoke and later joined us. As soon as he sat down in front of us, he said, “Is your problem your debt?” We were dumbfounded. Startled. Shocked. We had not spoken to him about anything. Nor had we introduced ourselves. And here he was, putting his finger on exactly the same issue that confronted us, our enormous debt and our struggling business! How was that possible, we wondered? But the yogi had no intention to allow us time to marvel at his abilities. He continued quickly, even as I mumbled saying yes, “Sir, your problem is not your debt. Your problem is how you are dealing with your debt. You are hating your debt. So, it bothers you. Instead love your debt. It has come into your Life to teach you something. Learn you lessons. And be sure that when you learn them your debt will go away just the way it came into your Life. All our problems in Life can be solved ONLY when we look within and find our OWN answers.” With that our meeting ended.
We found his answer too simplistic. I remember telling my wife as I got into our car that the man is either too naïve or is a charlatan! Now, when I look back I realize how stupid, fickle and uncharitable I had been. Because the yogi had not called us, we went to him. He did not ask for money. He did not prescribe a tantric ritual or a series of prayers. All he said was look within and advised us to learn our lessons while loving the problem that had invited itself over in our Life! Over the years I have found only his approach working for us. Our problems remain where they are. Even so, our ability to deal with them have grown phenomenally because we have learned to love them and continue to learn from them. The yogi has also become a close personal friend who has taught us another important perspective to Life: “Worship the divinity within you. Face Life. All your solutions, to problems that confound you, are within. Seek within and you shall find them”!
In our case, it was our debt. Your story and your problem situation may be different. But whatever the problem may be, I am sure, this awakening perspective will certainly apply to you too.
It really is as simple as it sounds. Life is not complicated. We make it so by failing to recognize our own divinity!  

Don’t resist Life! Embrace it, for what it is!!


When grave things happen to you in Life allow them to. Don’t resist them. Just deal with them.
There’s a big difference between dealing with Life and resisting Life. Resistance always brings grief along with it. Because what happened to was always ordained to. And what is to happen will. This has been my key learning from Life: that Life’s Master Plan has no flaws. So, resistance to any situation is stupidity.
I know it will be frightfully difficult to “allow things to happen to you and merely deal with them”. Because it is intrinsic human nature to question, to demand justice, to want to control a situation that is happening without your wanting it or allowing it to happen. But recognize the futility in resistance by looking at all your Life’s upsets, crises and tragedies, up until so far. Despite your kicking around, didn’t those things, events, situations just happen to you? Your resistance only brought you agony. Untold misery and suffering too, depending on the gravity of your own situation. Instead ask yourself if it would not have been different if you had dealt with the situation __ calmly, purposefully?
Dealing with Life doesn’t mean inaction. Acceptance doesn’t mean sitting back and doing nothing. In this context, dealing with Life means doing what you must, to the best of your ability without being  agitated, desperate or sorrowful. Channelize your distaste for your situation to trying to change it with focus, purpose and astute action. Know also fully well that some situations in Life may not be changeable after all!
Conceptually, you may be in agreement with this approach. But should you try it, you may come back and report that it’s still a struggle. And that struggle, my dear friend, will come because of another innate human trait that will surface, which is our tendency to cling on to the past. Most often our progress, our moving on, is affected because we still have one foot in the past and we refuse to extricate ourselves from that which is over. The past is dead. In Tamizh, the past is referred to as the ‘erantha kalam’ __ which means ‘time that is dead’! The past is gone. And is over with. The more you dwell in it, the more removed you will be from the opportunity to live freely.
Sonali with Lara Dutta-Bhupathi and Amitabh Bachchan
Let me share with you Sonali Mukherjee’s story. In 2003, when she was just 18, Sonali, who lives in Dhanbad, in the north Indian state of Jharkhand, turned down a marriage proposal from a certain Tapas Mitra. A month-and-a-half after she spurned his offer, Mitra, aided and abetted by two of his friends, attacked Sonali and poured acid on her face, disfiguring her gruesomely, permanently. Now, 26, Sonali has gone through 22 surgeries to graft skin and restore, to whatever limited extent possible, her face. She has lost her eyesight in the incident and is due for nine more restorative surgeries. Her family has spent their entire resources on her treatment. And they live in abject penury while her assailants roam scot free, having been granted bail by a higher court (after a lower court sentenced them to nine years imprisonment). Sonali’s complaint/appeal in the higher court is pending trial. Those who understand India will know that this trial could take several more years to complete. Just consider the poor girl’s plight: she has lost her identity, justice is being both delayed and denied to her and all this, for no fault of hers! On Sunday’s Kaun Banega Crorepati show (Indian version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’), the host, the Indian super star, Amitabh Bachchan asked Sonali, who won Rs.25 Lakh (about USD 50,000) prize money that evening, what was her thinking on the incident and towards her assailants. Stoic and with deep conviction, Sonali replied: “I don’t want to look back. I just want to focus on what I can do now. I will continue to seek justice from the courts. But importantly, I want to be available to other victims of violence and abuse and help them on their lives’ journeys.”
That’s really how you deal with Life. Stay stoic. Stay resolute.
Contrast your own situations with Sonali’s. What she has lost can’t even be recovered. Some of our stories may be similar too. Sonali then is an inspiration. She teaches us the value in accepting, and moving on, with conviction and calm. Some other stories may not be as gruesome. What is lost, for instance money or property, may still be, over time, be regained. In such situations, Sonali’s story should remind us of our blessings. Either way let us remember we don’t have a right to grieve. Because grief and bliss cannot co-exist.

So, if you want to be in peace, in bliss, give up resisting Life, give up grieving and embrace Life for what it is, the way it is. Loving ‘what is’ is intelligent living!

Life Really Is A Mind Game


Life really is a mind game. And you need to be on top of the game to live your Life fully!
The human mind is an amazing, to use a Gen Y term, App! It can do more things than even your iPhone or the fastest supercomputer on the planet ever can! The key is to use it effectively, efficiently and point it to whatever you want out of your Life.  
Examine each of your feelings. Worry, guilt, anger, jealousy, sorrow, pain, suffering __ all of them are born out of your mind. Have you ever asked yourself why do these feelings arise? Let’s take a case. You lose your job. And are out of money. You need to pay your bills. You are fearful as a new month dawns. Is the month fearful? Is the bill fearful? Is non-payment of bills fearful? Or is it that your mind tells you that a scary future awaits you? Indeed it your mind that induces feelings in you. What if someone told you__and proved to you__that non-payment of bills is moksha or nirvana or salvation or bliss?   
According to the Buddha, the mind is full of drunken monkeys who are always jumping around, aimlessly, boisterously, mischievously, cantankerously. They are noisy and there is an incessant chatter that they cause. The drunken monkeys are Buddha’s metaphor for the 60,000 thoughts that arise in your mind daily. Research has proven that the average human mind throws up 60,000 thoughts daily. And these thoughts are random. They sometimes have no relation to what you are doing. For instance, while driving to work, you may see a lady in a red dress. And that lady could remind you of a girl from your college that you once had a crush on. And soon the thoughts could move to how difficult you found Economics back then. That thought could lead you to how you cheated in exams. And then you start wondering how hypocritical it is to be counseling your adolescent child on integrity. Then you think about the lack of transparency in public Life. You think of the state of your country. And then your mind complains about how bad the roads are and how messy the traffic has become. One red dress took you, in a few seconds, on a trip that spanned several decades and various issues! 
That’s really how powerful your mind is. The Buddha also taught that it is imminently possible to tame the mind monkeys. He said don’t resist them, don’t control them, because what you resist, persists. Instead tame them. And that means give them something meaningful to play with. On a spiritual plane, giving the monkeys awareness of your true Self is a beautiful way to tame them. When your mind knows who you really are__that you are simply the energy that powers the Universe__the mind will quit playing stupid, senseless games. You will begin to see everything__EVERYTHING__as petty, transient, fleeting and inconsequential. Success, failure, sorrow and joy, will mean the same to you. On a more practical plane, taming the monkeys means giving them a higher cause, a Purpose and a Vision, to play with. Which is, when the monkeys know why they do what they do, they will do it with involvement, with passion and with diligence. Then there will be no jumping around. There will be a certain aesthetic quality to your thinking, bringing a beauty, a sense of Purpose to everything that you do! 
On Sunday, Aadya Kaktikar wrote, in The Times of India’s Crest Edition, a piece on Odissi exponent Guru Mayadhar Raut. In the article, reviewing Raut’s biography ‘Odissi Yatra’, Kaktikar asks the Guru how he has such a phenomenal memory at his ripe age of 83. And Raut replies: ‘Ye man ki ekagrata se hota hai. Ye man ek rai ki pudiya jaise hai. Yadi bikhar gaya to use phir saath lana assambhav hai’. Meaning, “This is possible due to the focus of the mind. The mind is like a bag of mustard seeds. Once the seeds scatter it is impossible to gather them again.”
Mindfulness: This is so simple and yet so profound!

That’s at the same time so simple and yet so profound. For all of us who have not tamed our mind monkeys, our thoughts are like those mustard seeds__they are all over the place. Which is why we worry, fear, are anxious, sometimes jealous, often angry and are quickly filled with suffering at the slightest hint of pain! Which is also why we don’t see the beauty, magic and miracle of Life, in everyday occurrences. 

Change your Manic Monday today to Mindful Monday! Point your mind in the direction of your true Self and on your Vision for yourself. Let nothing distract you.  
Remember as long as your thoughts, your mustard seeds are gathered and your mind monkeys stay tamed, you will be alive to the magic of each moment. It is the sum of all these awakened moments that will make up the rest of your Life! To make them memorable or keep them manic, of course, is your personal choice!

Detachment is neither impractical nor impossible!


To stay detached is neither impractical nor impossible. 
You have heard of detachment before. You have been advised to stay detached too. Chances are you may have tried it and failed. Even the Bhagavad Gita’s profound teaching __ “Do your Duty while staying Detached from the Outcome”__ often times, while sounding beautiful, seems so, so difficult to internalize and implement. 
Well, it really is not so. 
 
Here’s a ‘Detachment for Dummies’ perspective. You may want to consider it.
First, just give up trying to evaluate every opportunity in Life on the basis of money. Making money is not a bad idea. But recognize that money can only buy things. It can make Life comfortable. But it can’t ever make Life meaningful. 
Second, simplify Life. Give away anything that you have not used in six months except your passport and important documentation! 
Third, every day, forgive three people who come into your life who will not matter three weeks from now. 
Fourth, every now and then, forgive yourself for the poor decisions you took, the sad choices you made and for any of your irreverent and irresponsible actions. 
Finally, understand the impermanency of Life and money. Our biggest tragedy is we love things and use people. We love (and stay attached to) things that money can buy and use people (to make that money)! Flip that paradigm: love people and use things. And when you love people know that they too will be gone, someday, because Life is such __ impermanent! 
Detachment for Dummies
 Really, intelligent living is about doing what you can do best and staying calm, accepting whatever comes your way. Because try as hard as you may, you really can’t stop the course that Life takes. All of our frustration comes because we want to control Life. Nothing can be more absurd. More stupid. It is like trying to squeeze water in your palm! When we can’t control our own lives, how can we control the lives of others in our circle of influence? Yet, we expect people to behave in a manner that we desire, we expect Life to give us what we want and at those times, when neither happens, we bury ourselves in self-vested, ruinous emotions.
Countering this tendency is what detachment is all about. Detachment is not a difficult word nor is it impossible to practice. It simply means:
1. Exercise your right to righteous action and don’t crave for or worry about the outcomes.
2. Own the outcome of whatever you think and do, but don’t get burdened by it.
3. Love people. Forgive people. Let them go when they must!
This way, you may win some, lose some, but you will always be blissful, ever be detached and never be miserable!

Choose Happiness over Security!


Between being happy and being secure, choose being happy. Because security is fake and guarantees nothing except consoling you that you are safe, despite the fact that you are not. 
You are as safe as you are in this moment.Your security transcends each moment. Because you will never be able to tell, ever, what will happen to you, of you, in the next moment. 
You, like many, will be rushing  to work at a job that you loathe, yet you cling on to it because of a fake sense of security your pay check guarantees you. You think you are secure if you have money, if you have a social standing, if you have a well-heeled job and if you have a house to call your own. 
Security comes from the quantum of how much you possess. Happiness comes from being content with whatever you possess. 
The problem with seeking too much security is that what you try to possess will eventually end up possessing you. If you have a million dollars in the bank and have lost your job, invariably every thought of yours will concern you depleting the bank balance with every delay that your job search encounters. Clearly, the bank balance is possessing you now. On the other hand, if you want to be happy, all you need to do is to consider yourself lucky that you have a bank balance to live off this ignominious time while you search for a job in this horrible economy. It is also really foolish on our part that we should feel insecure. Because from the time you were born, you have lived each moment without knowing what will happen in the next. Which means you are an expert at dealing with the unknown, with insecurity. 
Yet, you fear it all the time? 
We are experts at dealing with the unknown!
Life is a bungee jump into the unknown in each new moment. And all of us have been doing it effectively, efficiently all these years of our lives. So, a sense of security is a wasted sentiment. You don’t need it to live. You can live with insecurity, as you always have been living. Happiness however is crucial to live Life fully! If you have felt an emptiness, an incompleteness in you, it is not because you are insecure, but because you are not happy! 
Happiness is an opportunity that each moment is pregnant with. To be happy, you have to make a choice of letting go of the need to be secure. You will then be blessed with happiness!