You have nothing to lose – ever!

I recently saw someone wearing a T-shirt with a line that read: “When will we ever have nothing to lose?”The import of that line appeared to be that there’s so much at stake, most of the time for everyone, that there won’t ever be a time when someone will ever have nothing to lose!
I have a different perspective to offer. From the time we are born to the time we will die, none of us has anything to lose. Or, simply, all of us have nothing to lose, in any case! Because you came with nothing and you will go with nothing. Whatever you have got has been given here – in this lifetime. So, even if whatever you have got now – your assets, cash, family, lover, your reputation, whatever – is taken away from you, you don’t have to sweat over it. Because you will never be able to take them away with you when you die!
So, my answer to the question on the T-shirt is: You have nothing to lose – ever!

The Japanese martial art form of Karate, now also a major sport, has a deep, spiritual relevance to what we are discussing. The word Karate comes from a root that really means empty-hand. Gichin Funakoshi, founder of the Shotokan style of Karate, is widely credited with introducing and popularizing the discipline on the islands of Japan. Funakoshi changed the way the art form was called, from Karate-jutsuto Karate-do with the do suffix implying that it is a path to self-knowledge and not just a study of a technique of fighting. Karate soon came to mean “the way of the empty hand”. In Karate-Do Kyohan, Funakoshi quoted from the Heart Sutra, which is prominent in Shinghon Buddhism: “Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form itself.” Funakoshi interpreted the kara of Karate-do to mean: “To purge, empty, oneself of evil and selfish thoughts”. He championed that if a Karate practitioner could understand that “empty-handed I come, empty-handed I will go and empty-handed I am here – ready for combat”, then the practitioner has nothing to lose! Funakoshi says one can become a great warrior with this understanding. Then no one can defeat such a warrior, no one can rob him or her – because he or she is empty and has nothing to lose!
When you have nothing to lose, it logically means that you really have everything to gain. The essence of intelligent living is to understand, to appreciate and to live by the thinking that there’s really “nothing to lose” in Life! When you are willing to live fully, with no fear of losing anything – because there is nothing to lose really – then all you will do is to gain, to attain – happiness, inner peace, fulfilment and bliss!

Living in a “not-knowing-what-will-happen” mode

The very uncertainty that we fear can make Life magical and beautiful.
When I reconnected with a friend recently, after several months, I asked him how his work was. He replied that he was feeling very insecure in his current job. “A new CEO has taken over and he’s driving a lot of change in our organization. He’s demanding that every member of the team must contribute to either the top-line or the bottom-line. I am in a Sales support function. The new CEO feels all Support functions must go. So, I believe I will be laid off. There’s so much uncertainty. I live and work in fear daily – not knowing when I will be given a pink slip and asked to leave,” said my friend. At close to 50 years of age, my friend feels his chances of getting another well-paying job are low. Around this time of their lives, employees, like my friend, have a lot of limitations in pursuing career options. Their children are often in final years of school or college, or their parents are old and need support – so not many are ready, even if they are willing, to immediately move to a new city to enhance their employment prospects!
While I can relate to my friend’s anxiety – having gone through similar experiences myself – I am not quite sure that fearing uncertainty is necessarily the appropriate response.

Why are we running scared of uncertainty when the very nature of Life is impermanent, fragile, uncertain? In fact, there’s a certainty about death – if you are alive, you will die for sure some day. But just because you are born – and alive – does not mean you will go on living. There’s no certainty about Life! From the time you came out of your mother’s womb your entire Life has been a journey through the uncertain. It’s your upbringing, your education and your reference to economic parameters that makes you believe that you are secure and can be certain about the way your Life will pan out. Because you have been raised in a protected environment by your parents and family, because you have been progressing through your academic career in a linear fashion – moving from class to class in a predictable manner – because you got employed soon after you graduated from college, for all these reasons and more, you have come to believe that Life’s happening the way you envisioned it for yourself. You have almost concluded that Life is a straight line! That’s when Life socks you with a pink slip or with a heart attack or a break-up or a death! That’s when you wake up, shocked and dazed, and begin to “fear an uncertain future”.
When you live out of fear, resisting the uncertainty that surrounds you, you will not grow. You may grow older. But you will not grow up. Because fear debilitates. It limits. Every aspect of Life is uncertain, unsafe, dangerous – there are so many diseases you can contract and die or your house can be burgled and you can be murdered or you may meet with an accident on the road or your plane may crash mid-air or someone could hack your bank account and siphon off all your hard-earned money…Anything can happen if you actually consider what all can go wrong with your Life. But if you start letting the fear of uncertainty rule you, you can be sure to have ruined your Life.
There’s hope though! You can let go of all your fear and embrace uncertainty. Since uncertainty is the essence of Life, when you embrace it, you are actually uniting with the Universal Energy. That Energy empowers you and gives you the true sense of security – which no insurance scheme, no amount of money and no amount of physical protection ever can. Then a pink slip will not torment you. Then not-knowing-what-will-happen will be part of the game, of the adventure called Life. Uncertainty can be scary. But if you drop the fear, the same uncertainty becomes beautiful. This is the magical quality of Life. To experience this magic you must learn to live in the moment, soaking in whatever the moment has to offer, in a “not-knowing-what-will-happen” mode!

Hello…is it you who you are looking for?

Understand yourself. That’s more important than having others understand you. Believe in yourself. That’s more productive than insisting that others believe you.

But as humans we do just the opposite. We crave for being understood by others and lament the lack of faith others have in us. What use is anyone else’s understanding if you don’t know, don’t realize, don’t accept that you are special. That you are capable. That you have been created to enjoy this Lifetime and not suffer it? It is from awareness of your true Self that you will be introduced to the God within. Most of us just refuse to consider the argument that the energy that powers us, that keeps us alive, is the God who we so desperately seek.
Kabir, the 15th Century weaver-poet, has explained this so remarkably:

Moko Kahan Dhundhere Bande Mein To Tere Paas Mein
Na Teerath Mein, Na Moorat Mein Na Ekant Niwas Mein Na Mandir Mein,
Na Masjid Mein Na Kabe Kailas Mein
Mein To Tere Paas Mein Bande Mein To Tere Paas Mein
Na Mein Jap Mein, Na Mein Tap Mein Na Mein Barat Upaas Mein
Na Mein Kiriya Karm Mein Rehta Nahin Jog Sanyas Mein
Nahin Pran Mein Nahin Pind Mein Na Brahmand Akas Mein Na Mein Prakuti Prawar Gufa Mein
Nahin Swasan Ki Swans Mein Khoji Hoye Turat Mil Jaoon Ik Pal Ki Talas Mein
Kahet Kabir Suno Bhai Sadho Mein To Hun Viswas Mein
Translated it means:
Where do you search me? I am with you
Not in pilgrimage, nor in icons, Neither in solitude
Not in temples, nor in mosques Neither in Kaba nor in Kailash
I am with you O man, I am with you
Not in prayers, nor in meditation, Neither in fasting Nor in yogic exercises,
Neither in renunciation Neither in the vital force nor in the body,
Not even in the ethereal space Neither in the womb of Nature,
Nor in the breath of the breath
Seek earnestly and discover, In but a moment of search
Says Kabir, Listen with care, Where your faith is, I am there.
When you awaken to the spirit of Kabir’s message, you will, with due respect to Lionel Richie, discover within you the one you are looking for!

The Inspiring Family Tendulkar

A loving, understanding and compassionate family is the greatest wealth anyone can have.
The Family Tendulkar (minus Savita): Clockwise from Top Left:
Ajit, Nitin, Ramesh, Sachin and Rajni
As Sachin Tendulkar bid an emotional adieu to his cricketing career yesterday, what struck me most was how his family had backed him all these past 29 (including his pre-international playing days) years. Sachin graciously acknowledged their role too in his farewell speech. Sachin’s father Ramesh Tendulkar married twice. From his first wife, Ramesh had three children – Nitin, Savita and Ajit. Sachin was born to Rajni, Ramesh’s second wife, and he is the couple’s only child. While Ramesh’s role in raising and inspiring Sachin, to be the champion that he eventually turned out to be, is well-known, I really admire how well his two half-brothers and his half-sister have nurtured him. Often in India, members of families where one parent has remarried, end up growing distant, if not always estranged. But Ramesh managed to keep the flock together. And his first three children have set a glorious example in the manner in which they helped their step-mother Rajni raise their precocious and precious half-brother. Sachin did talk eloquently yesterday about how Nitin has quietly contributed to his career and how Savita gifted him his first cricket bat. He also spoke about how Ajit, all through Sachin’s cricketing career, has stood by him – right from taking his prodigal brother to coach Ramakant Achrekar for the first time in 1984 to discussing Sachin’s dismissal at 74, in-depth, in his final, 200th, Test at the Wankhede. Yet whether it was his half-siblings, or his wife Anjali or his late father or his mother Rajni, the Tendulkar family has stayed out of the limelight – preferring to do only what came to them naturally and what they were best at: which is, to totally back Sachin! That attitude is inspiring and speaks volumes about the family’s value systems – humility, mutual respect and togetherness.
I come from a fractured family that continues to confound me. My siblings and I live in the same city but fail to even speak with each other. We have always found, over the years, reasons and issues to remain divided and distant. With the passage of time, I realize, we don’t even perhaps relate to each other. Surely, I too have contributed to this situation in the past and have since apologized to my family for my actions. But mistrust and the urge to interpret__than understand__each other are so rampant amongst us that any effort we have made in the past to come together has always failed. To compound matters, when my wife, children and I encountered a Life-changing, near-death crisis, a bankruptcy, some years ago, my family felt we were “faking” the crisis. They had helped us financially and when we could not repay the money we owed them, we were not trusted for our word. The crisis did not hit me as hard as my family not trusting me did. But for my wife, who supported me, helping me anchor emotionally and brave that painful phase of my Life, I would have crumbled.
From my experience, I have discovered that love, understanding and compassion are the bonding glue in any family. These traits blossom and thrive only when the family thinks as one unit – like a cohesive, understanding team – and not as diverse individuals who are merely connected with each other by blood and birth (which is what defines a family!). Merely being related to each other does not a family make. Respect for each other’s opinions, actions and decisions, trust and companionship are critical for making a family come alive and stay together. Families cannot be built by possessing or controlling each other. They evolve only when space and time are given to its members – to experience Life in their own ways, to go out into the world, to try, to make mistakes, to fail and to still feel “welcome” at home. Members in a family cannot be separate from each other and expect the relationships in the family to grow stronger. It is simply not possible for separateness and bonding to co-exist! A family will stand up for its name only when each of its members stands up for each other. When people stop saying “I told you so” and instead say, irrespective of what has happened, “How can we make things better”.
Sachin is blessed to have been born into a family where they value and respect each other. The Family Tendulkar is surely an inspiration for all of us. We may not quite be able to raise another Sachin in our families without some cosmic benevolence perhaps, but we sure can create an environment in our families, on our own, where we trust, cherish and celebrate each other!

A lesson in detachment from a certain Mr.Brij

Nothing is yours. Nothing is mine. We own nothing. You get onlywhat you deserve. And if you don’t get what you believe you deserve, well, that’s the way it was meant to be!
Last evening we were at a music concert. It was free seating for all classes in the audience. However, by paying an extra price you could reserve vantage seats in the hall. As we settled down into our seats that were available randomly, we noticed that the two seats immediately in front of us were labelled “Mr.Brij”. There was a couple seated in them, who, we presumed, were “Mrs. and Mr.Brij”. Soon the hall filled up. We were two minutes away from the start of the show, when two gentlemen walked up the aisle, to the seats labelled “Mr.Brij”.
One of them told the lady, who was seated closest to the aisle: “M’am, I think there’s been a mistake. You both are in our seats!”
The lady replied rather brusquely: “Perhaps we are. But we are going nowhere!”
The man was startled. Obviously, you don’t expect someone who is sitting in a seat you have reserved to be brazen about it. He politely requested the lady and her husband to get up. When they did not respond, the man went looking for one of the volunteers ushering in people. He came back with someone who seemed to be in a position of authority in the auditorium. The organizer-volunteer too appealed to the couple to get up and be seated elsewhere – among the free seats. But the couple were unrelenting.
As we watched this spectacle, dumbfounded as we were by the couple’s obstinate behavior, announcements were heard asking the audience to be seated quickly to enable the concert to begin.
The man, ostensibly the real Mr.Brij, pleaded one more time: “M’am, my name is up here on the seats. These seats are mine.”
The lady, continuing to be curt, replied nonchalantly: “We are not getting up!”
The announcer backstage had begun to introduce the artistes now. Mr.Brij and his friend looked at the couple disbelievingly. Helplessly. Then Mr.Brij leaned over and told them: “Enjoy the show with my compliments.” There was no sarcasm. No anger. Just a plain, calm wish. He then urged his friend to walk with him. My eyes followed them as they found seats that were vacant at the far end of the auditorium. From where they were seated now, the stage would not be as well visible as it would have been, had they got the seats they had reserved. It was a significant compromise Mr.Brij had made. I am not sure he made that compromise because etiquette demanded that he did not hold up the show. From the way the couple who were squatting in his seats were behaving, had Mr.Brij been persistent and insistent, the organizers would have had to forcibly evict them. This would have surely held up the start of the concert. Or perhaps, Mr.Brij is an evolved and mature human being. Who prefers not to cling on to his position and who practices detachment.
Whoever he is, Mr.Brij made me think. Would you or I have let go what – especially what is morally, ethically, legitimately – is ours? Would we have been able to practice detachment in this, or any similar, situation?
The lesson that Mr.Brij’s attitude teaches us is simple. Don’t let your possessions__and positions__ruin your inner peace.
The more we cling on to material assets – a premium reserved seat is certainly one of them – and/or to opinions, the more we will have to battle the world to keep our possessions secure. The world is full of people who, like that unreasonable couple in the auditorium, will encroach into your Life or will drag you into petty squabbles. They will provoke you with their brazenness. Each time you respond to their silly designs or each time you fight them to correct them or demand your due, you will squander your inner peace. Being detached in such situations is an intelligent response. Because attachments always bring misery. Being detached is the one sure way to experience joy!
However, detachment does not mean giving up your right or not standing up for justice. It only means that you should not let what has caused you to fight, and the fight itself, to ruin your peace of mind. Always evaluate each situation when you feel outraged by such devious behavior__like that of the couple in the auditorium__by asking yourself whether your clinging on to your position will affect your inner peace. If it will, and it surely will, simply let go. It’s simply not worth it. If you, on the other hand, feel it won’t and it will benefit all parties concerned, by all means fight for what is right and what is just!

If you can’t change someone, don’t grieve and suffer

If you can’t convince someone to change, accept the person for who he or she is, and do whatever you can best do in the circumstances. Important: Don’t complain, don’t grieve, don’t suffer!
My 59-year-old friend lost his alcoholic brother, who was three years younger to him, a couple of days ago. It was a traumatic end to a Life that had been consumed by the habit. Over the past month every organ in his body had failed and he had been held up by Life support systems. This brought an end to a 40-year-old saga in my friend’s Life. After the death of their parents, my friend had raised his brother, struggling hard to put him through school. But the lad did not take to academics. Instead he fell among wayward company and took to drinking and gambling. As the years passed, the brother’s habit and behavior caused my friend innumerable problems. Their family was forced to leave the neighborhood they lived in because of the younger fellow’s incessant drunken brawls. My friend, who is a very reputed photographer in Indian media circles, had to close down his studio because his brother would land up there at all times demanding money for his drink in front of clients – much to my friend’s embarrassment! Efforts were made several times by my friend to put his brother through de-addiction programs – but each attempt, while consuming precious cash, failed miserably. Over the last five years, the alcoholic brother’s hospitalization and associated medical costs led my friend to hawk every financial asset he had created painstakingly through his career. Family and friends had been advising my friend to legally separate from his brother and leave him to his fate. But my friend always explained it away saying: “I don’t want to flinch from my duty as a brother and as a human being. I know it is pointless to expect my brother to turn a new leaf or even be cured of his various bodily ailments. But I want to be able to care and tend to him.” All through the 22-odd years that I have known my friend, I have never heard him complain of his brother. Nor have I seen him grieve or suffer. He simply went about looking after his brother – dutifully, diligently. “When I saw his dead body in the hospital, I wept. Not because I couldn’t save him or transform him. But because he was no longer there for me to care for him,” said my friend, when I called to condole his brother’s passing away.
People may have their own views of how such a pointless, futile situation could have been handled differently. But, all the same, the learning from my friend’s experience is simple – yet profound. Which is to accept people for who they are, to do our best and to not complain or grieve or suffer.
People are people. They will do what pleases them or what they think is right. Each Life comes with a pre-ordained cosmic design. Until that design plays out completely that Life will go on. Sometimes, the best of advice from the most experienced people will not be heeded. In those times reason will cease to apply. People will drive themselves – and others – crazy, appearing to be on a suicidal mission. You will feel helpless when you are unable to wean them away from their self-destructive tendencies. Normally, in such situations, people in my friend’s shoes will tend to become bitter. They will complain. They will feel miserable about their helplessness. Or they may get agitated with the whole situation. Or even depressed. This applies not only to people but to Life situations as well. My friend’s attitude teaches us to simply flow with Life. Peacefully. Because what has to happen will happen. The only choice we have is to accept Life for what it is and to go on doing whatever we think is the best in any given situation!

Always empower your children with the truth

One of the key responsibilities we have as parents is to be honest and speak the truth with our children.
There may often be the urge to hide the truth from children imagining that they may not comprehend or they may not be able to handle the real world. So, whether there is a relationship issue between parents or there is some difficult or unique Life situation that the parents are handling, with regard to either the children or the family, it is best to share whatever is going on with the kids. Honestly. Transparently. Of course, you can always package the truth in a creative yet simple manner in which the children will understand it better.
All of us know that children are very perceptive, intelligent and curious. Yet we are reluctant to share what we have learnt from Life with our children. Really, the adult view that children will not understand is a myth. They know almost everything about everything. Often times, they know better than the parents! An integral part of parenting is to have open conversations even on “seemingly difficult or taboo” subjects like sex or a biological process like menstruation or divorce. Children have no notion of right or wrong. And none of what is socially taboo is really wrong. So, by not discussing with them or telling them what we know when they ask us, we are encouraging them to either conform to mindless social norms or to think of those subjects as wrong! Which is unfair. For if sex were something wrong to indulge in then children wouldn’t be born in the first place. Or how can a biological process, which is as an aspect of creation, be wrong? It is like saying facial hair in men is wrong – even if you don’t like it, can you do anything about the way a male is biologically engineered? Is going for a divorce really wrong? It is only an affirmation of incompatibility between two people – which really is a great step towards their own happiness and inner peace. It’s another matter that most parents can’t handle incompatibility issues maturely and make the divorce process messy – particularly for their children.

Don’t philosophize the truth with your children. Tell it the way it is. Children are phenomenally intuitive. They grasp the truth. And internalize it quickly. My own experience with parenting has been full of interesting moments of truth and learning opportunities.
I remember when our son was about three years old, we attended the weddings of a few of our friends – all of which took place in the same year. And naturally, in the following year, some of these women got pregnant. We attended their baby shower events with our son in tow. Around then, my wife and I were also expecting our second one. One evening our son demanded to know from my wife: “Mom, how do people have babies?” My wife replied matter-of-factly: “When they get married!” There was a long silence for several minutes. It appeared to us that our son had forgotten both the question and the answer. He seemed to be immersed in playing with his collection of Hot Wheels miniature cars. Suddenly he looked up and shot his next question: “But dad and you never got married, so how did you have me? And now you are having another baby?” Startled, my wife and I looked at each other and smiled. Obviously, since our son was not at our wedding, he didn’t think of us as married at that time! I explained: “Babies are born when a man and a woman come together. Most of the times they are married when they come together. Just as your mom and I. You will learn how this works when you grow older. It’s pretty simple actually!” That’s it! Our son did not have another question. And we have never discussed it again!
Children are also always watching their parents – and imitating them. The first heroes and icons for a child are her or his parents. As a young CEO, I was wantonly aggressive in my 30s. I used swearwords all the time. My son was barely eight when I caught him swearing. The computer, on which he was playing a video game,  was hanging. “F#%$!”, he swore. I happened to be in the room. I looked at him and told him in a stern tone: “No! That’s not a word you must use son!”. He shot back: “But you use it all the time!” I remember being caught defenseless. I quickly apologized to him and promised him that I would not use it again. My assurance didn’t matter to him, I suppose, for he asked: “What does f#%$ mean, dad?” I concealed my shock and replied with a straight face: “It’s a word that people use to swear. It means the act of sex that a man and woman have. Again, I am sorry for using it. It’s not a word that people should use. Definitely not children. And you will understand this word and what sex means when you grow up. I won’t use the word again. It will be nice if you also don’t use it!” From that day on, I curbed my urge to swear – eventually I have given up swearing totally! I guess my son may be swearing at times, like most people do in a subconscious sort of way these days – but I am also sure he will remember this conversation from an educational perspective, of what he learned from me, just as the way I remember teaching him!
Surely, discussing the truth – in any context – is always uncomfortable. Yet, whenever we have had to discuss difficult situations or issues with my son and my daughter, through their teens and into adulthood now, my wife and I have always told them the truth. If we know better than them we share what we know. If we don’t know something, we admit we don’t know. Simple. At the end of every conversation, we pause and ask them if they have questions. If they don’t we invite them to come forward to ask them whenever they have one. We have found this approach very productive; evidence being that their adolescent years have been very enriching – full of learning, sharing and camaraderie – for all of us!
The initial growing up years of children, from childhood to adulthood, are both precocious and precious. It is important that parents hold their hands and walk them through this phase. What they learn through this time stays with them forever. Irrespective of the circumstances in which you have to be a parent to them and irrespective of the environment they have to grow up in, if you can help your children know and face the reality of their lives, of this world, you will have given them the best education that they can possibly receive. One reason why many of us like to avoid telling it as it is to children is because our parents never told us so. But that’s not a great excuse. The world we live in is not the same world in which we were raised. What our parents did__or did not do__was from their worldly view. Surely we don’t necessarily hold the same view. So, we can be progressive, a lot more liberal and certainly direct and upfront. Not that our children will not learn without us. They eventually will. But there’s greater joy in educating our children and empowering them with the truth than watching them struggle, stumble, fall and learn!

Learning to be happy despite your circumstances

To be happy simply love whatever comes your way in Life  – even if you don’t want it!
A disciple asked his Master: “Master, how can you love what you don’t want but what you still get in Life?”
The Master replied: “Your very Life has been given to you without your asking, without your wanting it. Haven’t you been born and aren’t you alive despite that? The very same way you have to accept and love whatever comes to you, whatever you get.”
It sure is possible to love what you want in Life. But how can you love what you don’t want? You may wonder: How can you love death? How can you love a grave illness? How can you love betrayal in a relationship or a financial loss? How can you love sorrow, fear and anxiety?
To want or love what you get in Life, you have to understand Life deeply. The meaning of Life is simple – it’s just not in your control! You have been created without your knowledge. Without your asking to be born. Your creation has been a magical event. But you have not known it. You have been created as an embodiment of the Universal Energy. But you hardly see yourself as a part of the cosmos. That’s because the labels of your name, your religion, your education, your economic strata in society, your profession, your income, and many more such labels, have been stuck on you. These labels are the cause of all your desires. Each of your wants is a consequence of your having to live up to the reputation of the label that dominates your Life at a particular time or moment. For example, in reality, you don’t need many of the things that you buy and possess in Life – like a swanky car, a large apartment in a premium neighborhood, expensive jewellery, a club membership and such. But you have them around or desire them because you have a social standing to maintain. Society has packaged you in such a manner that you are acceptable to them. Who you truly are has been buried deep below several layers of those labels or masks. Beneath all of them is the non-wanting, non-desirous, accepting you. When you peel off these layers and get to the real you, you will realize that Life’s best lived by loving what comes, by accepting whatever is given and by flowing with whatever happens.
Wanting your Life to be one way or the other is what causes unhappiness. The truth is that you never caused your Life. And you can never control it. When you internalize this truth, you will discover that it changes the way you look at Life – from wanting Life to be different to loving what is! You will then find the way to live fully, to be happy despite your circumstances!

Surrender to Life to see how beautiful it really is

When you can’t do anything about a situation you find yourself in, in Life, simply surrender.
You have probably heard this before. But possibly you have struggled with both the concept and act of surrender. Surrender means to completely give yourself up to Life, to be in a let go! This really is your native state. As an infant, you surrendered yourself to Life. When you were born, you didn’t know your parents. You didn’t know if they will provide for you or not. You did not know where to look for warmth, succour and nourishment. You did not crave for either attention or love. Yet you got everything you needed without even asking for it – or knowing how to ask for it. And that’s because you were worry-free and unwittingly – through your under-developed sense of being – were at Life’s mercy.
To be sure, Life hasn’t changed. You – and I – have. If you let go, and surrender to Life, it will still provide for you and give you all that you need without exception. The reason you find it hard to let go is because your education and intellect come into play. You have come to believe that you must solve all the situations that Life throws at you. So you keep battling with and fighting Life. The harder you fight, the tougher it gets. Because what you resist, will persist! Simple! You must realize that there are only two kinds of problem situations in Life. Those that you can solve and those that, inspite of howmuchever hard you try, you simply cannot solve. For those situations or problems that you can solve, you don’t need to worry. While logically you don’t need to worry about situations that you can’t solve either, your mind will force you to, precisely, worry about them. So, instead of letting go and surrendering to the situation, you will keep fighting it imagining that you are trying to solve it! This is how you create suffering and invite misery into your Life!

Intelligent living is not about applying your intellect to Life. It is about being intelligent enough to know that you must let go when you can’t help or solve a situation! All ancient scriptures talk of the concept of surrender. In Hinduism it is called saranagati. It basically means being in a let-go! But because the wisdom of the scriptures are often expressed through religion, which currently is practised very divisively and needlessly ritualistically, it ends up alienating even those people who may be willing to give the concept a chance.
The path of surrender involves letting go of your ego. It is the state when you realize that the “I”  in you can’t solve a problem or crisis! You are then willing to go with the flow of Life. Even then your Life’s problems may not get solved immediately. But, importantly, you are not fighting them anymore. And when you are not fighting, when you are not resisting, you are peaceful. This is when you will find that Life is beautiful, despite the circumstances you are placed in or faced with. This is when you will know what living really means!

Soldier on – even if you are beaten and are all alone!

No matter who’s with you, for you, you often have to face Life, and fight its challenges, alone!
On the Kaun Banega Crorepati show last evening, host Amitabh Bachchan shared his personal learning from Life. While at Sherwood College, a residential school in Nainital, in the 1950s, Bachchan said he had to learn boxing. He explained how boxing taught him a lot and prepared him to face Life’s challenges. He said: “Inside the boxing ring you are alone with your opponent. Yes, there are a lot of people around you, but they are all outside the ring. Many of them will be cheering for you, many will be cheering for the opponent too. Many will advise you or have an opinion about you. But no one can play the game for you. Fight you must, and you will have to fight alone. So it is, as I have discovered, in Life too. Life’s challenges have to be faced. And at all times you have to remember, irrespective of who claims to support you or is with you, you are still alone in your fight!”
I found Bachchan’s analogy very powerful and relevant. The word “fight” here is not to be viewed in a negative sense. On a spiritual plane, what I have learned is that there’s no point in fighting or resisting anything. It only causes suffering. But here, in this context, fight really means the act of facing Life. Of staying on, doggedly, despite the circumstances and ploughing on. Sometimes, you will get the feeling that you are up against a wall. That you are not making any progress. At those times you will feel defeated and will not be able to make sense of what you must do. People around you will call you a fool. People will encourage you to give up. At all such times, if you believe in yourself, and have integrity of purpose, you must remember that not turning back and running away from your Life situation is “progress” in a very unique way!  In refusing to budge you are actually moving – perhaps not forward in a physical sense, but definitely inward and upward in a spiritual sense. These will be lonely moments, and hours, and days, and weeks, and months, and years….but you must keep at it, if you believe in whatever you are following!
During these long years of the bankruptcy that my family and I have been grappling with, I have experienced this feeling several times. I can visualize myself as that boxer in the ring, taking blow after blow, unable to roll with the punches at times or even deliver a few at other times. But I refuse to capitulate or give up. I can’t say exactly why I refuse to give up. There may be multiple reasons. I believe a lot in myself and the work we do. My wife and soulmate too shares that belief – so that definitely helps. And so do my two children. But even then, sometimes, you cannot escape that feeling of being alone – up against a formidable Life situation! I for sure do feel guilty at times for taking the decisions I have taken in the past that have led to what we are having to face now. That’s when the feeling of being alone is at its peak. Everytime I feel this way though, I quickly direct my attention to count the blessings in my Life and celebrate the companionship of my wife and children. It always pulls me out from the depths of darkness and hopelessness.
I do recognize that many people in Life may not even have the blessing I have – of a loving, compassionate, understanding and believing family. And they may find themselves alone – beaten by Life! For all of you out there who, like me (and my family), are left numbed by Life’s challenges, here are a few lines to perk you up this Monday morning from Bachchan’s father, the venerable poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan (1907~2003):
Asaflta ek chunauti hai, ise sweekar karo,

Kya kami reh gayi, dekho aur sudhar karo.

Jab tak na safal ho, neend chain ko tyago tum,

Sangharsh ka maidan chhodkar mat bhago tum.

It means:
Failure is a challenge – accept it
Look for what you need to change/improve about yourself/the situation
Until you succeed (in your endeavor) forget about rest and sleep – be at it relentlessly
Don’t run away from the challenge
So there may well be times when you may be alone in Life. Accept it. And Life may well be unreasonable. Face it. Only when you soldier on – can you get to what you dream of and go where no one else has ever gone before!