Life Lessons I learned from Khushwant Singh

There are few people who have lived Life on their own terms, who have been brutally honest about themselves, as they have been of others, and who will live on through their Life’s message. Khushwant Singh was one of them.

I know there are far too many obits, tributes and memoirs out there celebrating the grand ‘ol man of India – his Life and his times. One more from me may hardly seem to matter and it may even appear to be an overkill. But let me share what I have learned from him.
Khushwant Singh
Picture Courtesy: Internet
26 years back, my wife and I met Khushwant Singh. My wife lived in New Delhi at that time and we were to marry the following year. I was visiting her on a vacation. We had some time to kill one afternoon. We looked up the phone directory (well, there was once a time we all depended on that big, fat book!) and called Khushwant Singh’s home. He answered the phone himself. I introduced myself as a journalist from ‘The Indian Express’, Madras, and I asked if I could interview him for our weekend magazine. He gave me an appointment the next day. So my wife and I landed up at his Sujan Singh Park residence. He answered the door himself, was very cordial and offered us ‘chai’(it was around 4 pm in the afternoon, so Scotch was out of the question I guess). Although he may not have been expecting someone with me, he was extremely nice to my wife. When he heard that we were engaged to be married he said, “Companionship is very important in Life. Be happy with each other’s presence and be there for each other.”He must have been 73 or so. And I was just getting to be 21. That advice, unsolicited though it was, has stayed with me, and with my wife, all these years, and has served us both very, very well. That’s the first Life lesson I learned from Khushwant Singh – and wasn’t I blessed to have learned it live, directly from him?
It was a good interview he gave me – he spoke about writing, shared his own views on the writer’s block and about journalism in India. He was very down-to-earth, dressed in home clothes with an unkempt turban on his head. Honestly, I was too overawed to be in his home, in front of him, that none of what he said really mattered to me then. I was keen on staying on for as long as we could because I wanted bragging rights that we spent so much time at Khushwant Singh’s home. So I kept on asking him questions. He soon got bored. But he did not hide his feelings or drop hints suggesting that we must now leave. He simply came to the point. “I am afraid you are taking more than the hour I had set aside for this interview. You have to excuse me. You will have to leave now,” he said in the most honest way anyone can say such a thing to visitors without sounding rude. We quickly apologized, packed up and left. That was the second lesson I learned from him – Be direct, in-the-face and truthful about whatever you feel. He surely lived his Life that way, but for young 20-something me, it was a big learning. I did not put this learning into practice effectively until about a decade ago. But ever since I have started being in-the-face and speaking my mind to people, I have been a lot more at peace with myself.
My interview with him appeared in The Indian Express’ Weekend section in Madras in a few weeks after our meeting. I sent him a clipping of the piece with a note thanking him and apologizing for our poor etiquette that afternoon. I didn’t expect him to reply. But he did. He thanked me for the clipping. He said that he enjoyed meeting me and my wife. He wished us both a wonderful married Life. It was a simple, short note. But there was a warmth and blessing in it. That was the third lesson I learned from Khushwant Singh – Take time to respond to whoever reaches out to you, no matter who they are. I treasure this lesson and live it every single day of my Life. I was not surprised, therefore, this morning when I read his son Rahul Singh’s tribute “My father Khushwant” in The Times of India where he says, “Above all, he was a great communicator. As the Kipling poem goes, my father could walk with the kings and yet had the common touch.”
Much fanfare has been made about how Khushwant Singh wanted his epitaph to read: Here lies one who spared neither man nor God; Waste not your tears on him, he was a sod; Writing nasty things he regarded as great fun; Thank the Lord he is dead, this son of a gun.” But typical to the man, not too many people have known (even I would not have known had it not been for former India cricket captain Bishen Singh Bedi’s passing mention in his piece in The Hinduthis morning) that as per his will, Khushwant Singh’s eyes were donated before he was cremated yesterday. Through this compassionate wish of his, I learned yet another significant lesson from Khushwant Singh, albeit through his passing – Always, be useful!
What a way to live and what a way to go. If we can imbibe the spirit of his Life’s message, we will all live happier – and peaceful – lives!  

Be soul-bound to live in bliss

What you assume is permanent will wither away. What you never thought existed or never took seriously will live on.

This is amazing. Think about it. Your money, your car, this body, your work, your position, your power, your iPhone__all these are transient. Over time, they will wear away, they will become useless. Of what use is all the money in the world if it can’t fix an artery that bursts in you? Of what use is your power if you can’t bring happiness into your child’s Life? Yet we subconsciously take all these things for granted, as permanent. If you are reading this, it is almost certain that you don’t even think of a minute of your Life when you are likely to be without your computer or tablet or mobile. You assume that all your Life your eyesight will be stable and your fingers will be able to work the keys. Yet the soul, that which you don’t connect with on a daily basis, indulgent as you __ and I __ are with things that tantalize your senses, never withers away. It lives on. Your soul is the gateway to experience your oneness with creation. You do briefly connect with your soul when you stand on the beach or in a quiet garden and look at the horizon, or look up at the sky and see a full moon or hear the evening birds. Or when you think of someone you love and feel her presence in you, with you. In that nanosecond you experience a soul connection.

This, the soul, is the only constant, the only real, indestructible, immortal part of you. This is the only part of you that is capable of bringing you to experience inner joy, that is capable of drenching you in bliss. Recognize that all Life__and all money and all that money can buy__is impermanent. So, be more soul-bound. You can stay connected with your soul if you are humble and are eternally grateful for whatever you have. To know this and to live with this “awareness” is to live intelligently!

Suffering comes from arguing with reality

Whatever happens in Life, you can’t escape it. You have to face it, you have to accept it. It’s when you try to fight it or wish it away that you suffer.
As the MH 370 episode drags on inconclusively, befuddling the whole world and over 30 countries searching for the missing plane, I watched a news report on BBC last night that said that the relatives of some passengers on board the flight were “extremely distressed” and were threatening to go on a hunger strike. They demanded better “quality” of information and wanted more frequent updates. A Malaysian Airlines official, trying to calm down the agitated family members, told them: “We know as much as the world does at this stage. What do we do?” It may seem that the official was downright rude, cold and bureaucratic. But I guess he was also being brutally honest. Well, from whatever information is now available, Malaysian Defence radar officials did not report a blip on their screens that fateful night as the plane flew over the Malacca Strait because it is believed they slept while on duty. They weren’t supposed to be asleep – but apparently they were. What do you do now? Malaysia could have shown agility with the investigations – but they took a whole week to realize the seriousness of what they are dealing with. And even now there are reports that they continue to stonewall offers from the USA for help with the search and investigations. What do you do when a government does not appear to be serious enough? What do you do when 30 countries can’t find a plane? While we can empathize with the pain and the agony of the families of the passengers, the truth is that their resisting the reality – that the whole world doesn’t know where MH 370 is – is of no use. Apart from causing them suffering, their agitation is not going to help them in any manner.
                                                                                                                                                      
Closer home, I witness the agony of an 80+-year-old couple. Both their sons live with them but don’t care for them. The mother has just been through a surgery. But neither of her sons is available to nurse her. Both the men, in their late 40s~early 50s, are “depressed” with their own lives and so are not in the “frame of mind” to look after their aged parents. Forget caring for parents. At a basic, human level, if you are living with someone who needs post-operative care, won’t you volunteer to help, to support, to care? Who can educate grown-up men on compassion and being human? The poor mother though grieves and pines for affection from her sons. But what’s the point in her grieving? She’s only causing herself to suffer. The more she pines for what is not likely to happen, the more miserable she will feel.
What causes our suffering often is our desire to see perfection around us. We expect people to understand. We crave for their attention and appreciation. But people have their own priorities, their own views, their own ways of doing things and leading their lives. Many around us are even steeped in shallow thinking – they simply don’t get it! They don’t know what empathy is or what being human means. Expecting to see perfection, where mediocrity abounds, is futile. Such an expectation will make you suffer endlessly. A simpler, more peaceful way to deal with Life is to be prepared for anything. A plane can go missing and no one in the world can find it even after 12 days! A father, who’s rated as one of the country’s most intelligent minds, can molest his daughter’s best friend. Sons can choose to not care for their mother because they are depressed. A mother can call her son a “cheat” when there’s no evidence of such misdemeanor. Parents can lose their only child because the driver of the car he was in was drunk! Well, as disturbing as all this sounds, there’s no doubt that absolutely anything can happen in Life!
Even so, if you care to pause and look around, Life is beautiful despite all these upheavals. But when you are caught in a bind and are dealing with an unforeseen challenge, you don’t notice Life’s beauty and magic. The only way then to respond to Life, when something that you don’t want happens to you, is by not resisting it. Don’t wish that it didn’t happen. Simply accept what is. And begin to work with that reality. As long as you don’t argue with reality, you will never suffer!

Angry? Put your “Awareness” to work

Anger is an expression of energy being wasted in you. When you are angry at someone or something, some part of you, within you, burns first before that energy is expressed on a target. You can’t avoid anger altogether – but the key is to be aware whenever you get angry!  
Understanding, and being aware of, anger is important to live intelligently. Anger and desire have a connection. You want something or you want someone to do something or even when you “want” someone to love you or respect you, and you don’t succeed, you immediately get angry. Your deep, intense feeling of depravation is expressed as energy that gets beamed on whatever or whoever came between you and what you desired. That’s why you intensely dislike whatever or whoever came in the way. This intensity is nothing but anger. It starts first by burning within you and then soon gets expressed on whoever or whatever came in your way. This happens only when you want something or someone very badly. When you are awfully serious about Life. But what if you were less serious, in fact a little playful, like in a game? What if you told yourself that you will try your best and that sometimes in Life, you win some, you lose some, what if you were accepting of the vagaries of Life? Will you feel so much intensity within yourself? Will you be so rabid about not getting what you wanted? Of course not. This is the balance, this is the tolerance that comes from understanding Life, from being accepting, by being playful. This is what being aware really means. Awareness cannot stop you from getting angry. But it serves as an early warning or an alarm system that goes off as soon as anger rises in you.
A question that may come up is how can you achieve anything in Life without being serious about it? Indeed, focus and being serious are critical to any ambition being fulfilled, to any dream coming true. So the suggestion here is not to dissuade you from being either focused or serious. What I am saying is that you can’t always get what you want in Life. When you don’t get it, when you fail in your efforts, don’t let your failure consume you. Don’t be so serious with yourself and Life that your frustration and anger destroys you. Temper your ambitions with a deep understanding of Life. When you don’t get what you want, you would normally expend energy by being angry with yourself or with whoever prevented you from getting what you wanted or with Life. If you invest that energy instead on learning from your failure, you will get better at whatever you are trying to do. That’s what awareness can help you do – become a better player. When you play better the next time, the chances of your winning, of getting what you want are that much higher!
Remember: you can neither repress desire. Nor can you control anger. You can only learn to be aware of both. When you live with awareness though, a certain peaceful quality, a tolerance arises in you. Your awareness alone is capable of drowning every wave of anger that rises in you every time your wants are not met. Interestingly, it is this same awareness that can guide you to getting whatever you want from Life!

A Break-Up is not a bad thing to happen

When you are in a relationship, you face the prospect of a break-up all the time. Just as you face death, as long as you are alive! So smile and face whatever’s there, don’t just suffer being anxious and insecure.
A young friend is going through a break-up. It’s a difficult time for him and nobody really is able to make him feel better. Honestly, there are no right ways or wrong ways of dealing with such a situation. Although today’s generation is far more open and willing to share their stories on facebook, parents and family still find it difficult to counsel young adult children on this matter. Perhaps understanding how and why break-ups happen can be useful.
Surely, break-ups are very painful. You sometimes feel you haven’t been treated fairly or that you were never allowed to share what you feel or that you were used. Whatever may be the trigger, a break-up basically signifies a difficulty to relate, to communicate, to express, to appreciate and to understand. But why grieve over this? Just imagine: for years you grow up with a different set of people and then suddenly you develop this ‘liking’ and then this ‘unputdownable longing’ for this ‘new’ person in your Life. You possibly know this person for a few weeks or months or even a year or two – but that doesn’t match the number of years you know someone in your family who you get along famously with or the time you have known your BFF! Any knowing, any relating, takes time to evolve into a seamless understanding, a companionship. And all evolution involves upheavals. There will be fights, showdowns, sulking, anger, sometimes even feelings of jealousy, that will pepper the period of evolution. But before this evolution takes place, if you place enormous pressure on the relationship, there will be break-ups. That’s precisely how and why break-ups occur.
So, the foremost point to know and remember is that a break-up is not a bad thing to happen. If it happens, deal with it by facing it. Because it was always on the cards – from the very moment you got involved!  And if it has not happened, it is still on the cards. It may never happen either. And if it doesn’t, great! But when it happens, a break-up helps a couple review where each of them is coming from and where each of them wants to go. Now, if the destination is the same and they both feel the same way about the journey and being together on it, they may still make up and reunite. Making up often is a cleansing process – it allows for candor to help build a stronger bond. But despite all the efforts they make, if they don’t feel the same way, it’s best they just go their own ways. Why agonize over and endure each other?
I watched this movie Shudh Desi Romance (2013, Maneesh Sharma, Sushant Rajput, Parineeti Chopra, Vaani Kapoor) recently. I believe the movie’s story (and its honest presentation) encapsulates the essence of “companionship” versus “falling in love” and of “bonding” versus “being tied in a relationship”. True love is far more spiritual and pure than what happens between two people at a physical level. Always, all attraction is physical in the beginning. But, over time, a companionship blossoms. There’s an unstated, inexplicable sense of trust, willingness to share and being there for each other that develops. Sometimes, it happens in a matter of weeks. Sometimes, it takes months or even years. And sometimes the companionship never happens even though the physical attraction may still exist and be strong. Life’s journey though, over the years, as you grow older and physically weaker, is best travelled with a companion than with just a bedfellow. If you really want a great companionship with someone, then go beyond the physical qualities that draw you to that someone – seek to, over time, find out if you both relate to, enjoy and celebrate each other. If you don’t it’s perfectly fine – you don’t have to necessarily be this great Jodi No.1! Maybe your partner then is someone else, waiting for you elsewhere?
Life is beautiful. Don’t let it be ruined tending to or grieving over broken relationships where there’s no scope for revival. There’s nothing wrong if, through some pain, you gain insight on what works for you and what does not. Be grateful that you now know what’s best for you. Go wherever Life takes you. Maybe that’s where you will find your true companion…

Don’t try to control your Life – you simply can’t!

Wanting to control Life is like trying to hold on to water in your fist. However hard you try, the water will always slip away…leaving your hand wet, but empty!
I met a friend yesterday who said he was perhaps facing a mid-Life crisis. He had started off on his own some years back. Then, when that venture didn’t do well, he took up employment again. He had changed a few jobs in the last five years, he wasn’t earning enough money, his kids were growing up and he was clearly insecure about his future. He lamented, “I have this feeling that I am being led. I am no longer in control of my career and Life. I don’t think I will be able to put my kids through college at this rate.”
I explained to him that there never is a thing called a mid-Life crisis. “You feel crisis-ridden because there’s a turmoil within you. Your wants are in conflict with your reality,” I said. My friend wants a more challenging and well-paying job. He wants to save money for his kids’ higher education. And the reality is that he is having a mediocre job, that pays him just so much that he can make ends meet. Which means the reality is that he is unable to save any money. His insecurity, his gripped-by-crisis-like feeling comes from his wants. His reality is perfect as it is. His wants are what are disturbing him. I said that the only way he could change his reality was to work on it instead of worrying about it.
This is so true for each of us in our own Life situations. Our upbringing and education make us believe that we are in control of our lives. To a large extent it just appears to be so. You study hard, you graduate, you get an employment, you start earning and saving. When this pattern of progression is uninterrupted, it soon becomes predictable and also makes you believe that you have caused and controlled your Life and career. But ask those who have seen a series of interruptions early on in their lives and they will tell you a different story. Someone’s been dyslexic or someone’s been orphaned or someone’s had an accident leading to a disruption in academics or someone’s just not found a job despite good grades! Ask these folks and they will tell you that nothing is really in our control – that we are merely being led by Life. So, there’s really no crisis and definitely no such thing as early-Life or mid-Life or late-Life crisis. There’s just Life happening in its own unique way for you – all the while. Whatever’s happening is your current reality. Period. As long as you are focused on that reality and acting from that point of view, you will be fine. The moment desire steps in, the moment you start wanting the reality to be different or starting thinking of a future reality, misery will set it. You could feel anything – from anxiety to suffering – and all of them will be debilitating. 
This does not mean inaction at all. I am not advising my friend to live with his mediocre, low-paying job forever. All I am telling him is this – please look for a better opportunity, but don’t pine for it. Keep trying, but stop lamenting. Keep the focus on what you must do, just don’t concentrate on what you don’t have. Accept the Life that you have rather than trying to control it.
Life has been going on, is going on and will go on not because of you but in spite of you! This is the truth. When you awaken to and understand this reality, you too will learn to be peaceful and to go with the flow of Life!

Pause, Listen, Share! Let’s make the world a better place!!!

Each of our stories is so fascinating. If only we pause to listen to them the world will be so much more a better place to be in.
Yesterday I was moderating a Panel Discussion on building Safer Cities at a Business Conclave. One of the speakers I met there is a fine Britisher named Dr.Andrew Hawkins, a senior management team member at Microsoft. Dr.Hawkins has an amazing, almost incredible, story. His great grandfather was lost in the high seas when his ship wrecked while he was on a voyage through the Indian Ocean. But he miraculously swam ashore, landing at an Indian beach. A group of Indian fishermen cared for him for several months, helped him regain his health and he eventually found his way back to Britain. Dr.Hawkins was very emotional when he said: “I am here, able to speak to all of you, only because a few kind Indians, in a coastal village here, many, many years ago took care of my great grandfather!” Dr.Hawkins finds it so overwhelming that, over three generations later, he should be in the same country that helped his great grandfather rebuild his Life. He plans to come back to India on a sabbatical to locate and reconnect with the families of those fishermen that tended for his forefather and express his family’s gratitude to them.
Hearing Dr.Hawkins’ story reminded me of a beautiful expression, a truth, that I had read some years ago. We are all not human beings going through temporary spiritual experiences, we are all spiritual beings going through temporary human experiences. All the strife and disharmony in the world exists because we don’t notice the divinity in each other. We go around seeking God in temples, churches, mosques and gurudwaras, but we fail to see the God within. You and I are alive because of a Life energy that powers us, that thrives in us. And it is the same. The slum dweller in Dharavi in Mumbai, the President in the White House, the hungry child in South Sudan, the Maori aboriginals of New Zealand and each of the seven billion people on the planet – each of us, has the same energy source. What more evidence do we need of the divinity in us? That makes all of us equal and connected. You inhale what I exhale. And I inhale what you exhale. There can’t be a more evident connect, a more deeper bond between us humans.
Yet, however much social media may have transformed the world by shrinking distances, we continue to be divided by race, religion and nationalities. The distances between us are actually no longer just physical. We are distant because we have stopped being human. We are just not available for each other. We are no longer making an effort to reach out, to understand, to appreciate and celebrate each other. We are lost in our own myopic worlds and are consumed by our challenges. We don’t realize that if share, if we listen, we can learn a lot more and feel a lot, lot more happier and secure. The Dalai Lama, someone who I admire greatly for his simplicity and wisdom, has said this so beautifully, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

Here’s hoping you and I make more time for each other and for pausing to share and learn from our stories. That’s the only way we can, together, make this world more caring and leave it better than we found it!
namaste! – The God in me bows to the God in you!  

No point regretting the Life you’ve had. Rejoice with what’s left of it!

There’s no point in regretting not doing anything in Life. It is never too late if you can go live the Life that you really want to!
Here’s an unsolicited tip to make your weekend qualitative: ask yourself what are your regrets in Life and get down to working on changing the way you live! You can call it your Bucket List or treat it as a Wake-Up Call – whatever, but simply don’t spend your time regretting the Life you have led so far. Rejoice with what is left of it!  
Bronnie Ware: Nurse, Author, Songwriter
There’s some unputdownable evidence supporting this thinking that comes from a former nurse, Bronnie Ware, from Australia, who has spent several years in palliative care, looking after the dying, in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded the thoughts of her dying patients in her blog www.inspirationandchai.comand later put out a book, compiling her observations, called ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying’. Ware found that most people, while dying, felt one or more of these regrets strongly and grieved over them until they made “peace with themselves”.
Regret # 1: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a Life true to myself, not the Life others expected of me.”
                                         
Regret # 2: “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
Regret # 3: “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
Regret # 4: “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
Regret # 5: “I wish I had let myself be happier.”
It’s possible that you may connect with some of these sentiments yourself. But chances are business-as-usual, the bane of Life, will take over and force you to continue living a sub-optimal Life. People normally grow a lot when they are faced with their own death. You will have noticed this in your own family too. So, one sure way to get started, to live the Life you want, and to stay committed on the path, is to imagine that you have only this weekend or say this month or whatever limited time to live. What changes will you then make to your Life? What would you stop doing immediately? And what would you start doing? When your list is ready, go over it one more time. Be driven by a sense of urgency to live fully – so don’t look at things practically or realistically and don’t operate being limited by the constraints that surround you. Simply go after Life – as if death awaits you in the next moment, at the end of the day! If that really is the case, what are the things you will do? Just go do them. Day after day after day. You will then find that you will be a lot more happier with a lot less – less work to do, less money to make and less stress to handle!
I remember reading somewhere that “One day, as you are dying, your entire Life will play in front of your eyes. Make sure the flashback’s worth watching.” Bronnie Ware’s observations and her Top Five Regrets summary are something that I can deeply relate to. Up until when I was 37, which was some time ago, I lived Life in an unintelligent, imprudent way. I would have had those same regrets back then. But through some difficult, but conscious choices, that Life forced me to make, I have learnt that being happy with the Life you have is the biggest opportunity in front of each of us. We all have to go one day. But if you have been happy living, chances are, you will be happier dying – for there will be fewer, or even no, regrets with the Life you have lived!

“Life is a Taste!” – Simply taste what is!!!

Deal with hope judiciously. It’s good to have it but don’t cling on to it. Just let it be. And you simply be too.  
Picture Courtesy: Internet/Twitter
This morning’s papers carried stories of how Chandrika Sharma’s family in Chennai is coping with the lack of information or even a clue of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 that went missing over the weekend. Sharma was on that flight, going to Ulan Bator in Mongolia, via Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, to attend a conference. Her husband K.S.Narendran and daughter Meghna shared their sense of despair, amidst diminishing hope, with the media yesterday. ‘The New Indian Express’journalist, out of some really-hard-to-fathom, cold logic, asked Narendran if he still “nursed a small amount of hope that his wife is alive”. ‘TNIE’ reports that Narendran, in response to the question, “glanced away, turned his wrist around and smiled wryly”. And the story concludes with this rather poignant line: “Whatever else dies, hope never will, he (Narendran) seemed to say.”
The situation that the father-daughter duo find themselves in is indeed difficult to even imagine. But often times Life will bring you to the edge of such a precipice. When even to hope will be a hopeless thing to do. Yet hope is all you will have in such moments. Understanding how to deal with and handle hope then can be immensely helpful.
What must be understood first is that hope is always about a future which is yet to arrive. And Life is always happening only in the present moment. In the now. So, anything which is not real or true, which is not from the present, has the potential to cause agony and suffering. Not only because the thing or event that you hope for has not happened yet, but because you will agonize wondering whether it will happen at all or not.
Osho, the Master, in one of his discourses, has talked of a signage that some of his followers had put up at Rajneeshpuram, his ashram at Oregon in the United States. The signage, quoting a significant line from Dante Alighieri’s (1265~1321, the Florentine poet) ‘The Divine Comedy’, read: “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here”. Osho urged his followers to abandon hope too, abandon seeking the unborn future, drop the dead past, and start living in the present moment rejoicing in the small things of Life. He famously said: “Meaning is a mind thing. Life is a Taste!” What he meant was this: all of us, based on our own individual Life experiences, try to make meaning out of everything that happens to us – why is something happening to me, why should it happen now, what will I do with this Life in the future, where does this leave me, how will I cope, will I survive…and, on and on, the questions seeking meaning keep arising in you and in me. Osho says it’s futile to ask these questions. He says Life is a taste. He asks, in his inimitable, thought-provoking, unputdownable way: “Do you ever think what meaning taste has? Eating spaghetti, do you ask what meaning the taste has? Having a beautiful shower, feeling the freshness of it, have you ever asked what the meaning of freshness is? Looking at the sunset with so many colors spread all over the horizon, have you asked what meaning the sunset has?”
My inference is that when we try to reason and seek meaning from Life’s events, we will never be successful. Hope, in a way, is about reasoning and seeking to create meaning out of a Life situation. This does not mean that you must not have hope. Or that you must not want to be hopeful. Just don’t cling on to it. Anything that you cling on to, hold on to, will cause your suffering. Instead, just be.  
So, if you are in situations like the one that Narendran and Meghna find themselves in, when even hoping seems futile and yet you can’t abandon hope, remember Osho’s advice: “Life is a Taste!” Simply taste what is. And go on to the next moment, the next tasting session! Don’t try to search for Life’s meaning. Don’t yearn for an unborn future. Life’s a unique experience that is born and dies, anew, each moment. Live in and for the moment. You will never suffer then because nothing else will matter.
PS: My heart goes out to Narendran and Meghna, and to all families of those who are missing in the MH 370 episode. I pray that Life shows them all the light and the way…

A Life Lesson from Darin Zanyar – Be what you wanna be…!

Be what you want to be. Do what you want to do. You will make mistakes along the way. You will fall. But be sure, you’ll rise again. That’s what Life’s really all about!
It is that time of the year when most parents are all keyed up about what academic program their young (almost adult) children must pursue. With amazing consistency, most choices are made basis the “earning potential” that careers promise. Very few parents actually let their children choose what comes to them naturally and what they can do best. Sometimes, children don’t know what they are good at. Or don’t know what they want to do. Which is also totally fine. Life, despite all its unpredictability, still offers a lot of time for people to decide what they want to do and then actually allows them the time to go do it too! To agonize over the (perceived) “indecisiveness” of a teenager, in my humble opinion, is neither appropriate nor is it sensible!
My experience as a young adult who had to fight for doing what I wanted to do and as a parent who has allowed his two children to do whatever gives them joy has taught me some simple lessons.
1.   However much you plan, Life has a way of taking you to where you must arrive. And that destination may not have even been on your radar or in your wildest dreams!
2.     There’s nothing called a zero-defect career or even a perfect career. Everyone makes mistakes. S@#T Happens!
3.     Having money and job security doesn’t necessarily mean you will have fun doing what you do and enjoy Life!
So, the best way to approach your career is to ask yourself:
                                                          i.    What am I extremely good at?
                                                         ii.    What do I love doing? What comes naturally to me?
                                                        iii.    How can I create value and make a difference, doing what I (will) do, every single day?
Even as you answer those questions honestly and then choose to follow your dream, be open to the surprises that Life may throw up. It may be a breakthrough or it may be an unprecedented challenge. Go wherever Life’s taking you and go with whatever comes you way. There’s only one thing you can really control in your Life. And that is, getting better, every single day, at doing what you love doing! In the last scene of the iconic movie 3 Idiots (2009, Rajkumar Hirani), the narrator’s voice over quotes “Baba” Ranchhoddas (Aamir Khan) as saying: “Kabil Bano, Kabil. Kamyiabi Phir Jhak Marke Tumhare Piche Ayegi”. It means: “Strive to become capable or skilled (actually the best) in whatever you do. Success will then come, chasing after you.” The movie’s message is inspiring. Unfortunately, too few parents have internalized it. And fewer still have had the courage to let their children do what they want to do.
What inhibits parents is a sense of insecurity, a “what if” fear, an overzealousness to protect their children. Naturally, if you are a parent who has overcome challenges to be where you are today (in fact, who hasn’t been through tough times?), you don’t want your children to face the same situations and hardships. So, you begin with advising career choices but soon start directing and managing your kids’ careers. Children, on the other hand, respond in two ways. Either they rebel – like the way I did or they just do what the parents advise them to do, out of “respect” for them.
Parents and children both must understand one thing – that each Life is unique. There is no template to Life. Each of us is entitled to our share of experiments, adventures, mistakes and genius. The best way to live then is to live loving what we do. Then everything, in the end, always falls in place!
I was very impressed listening to a song by the young Swedish pop singer Darin Zanyar. The lyrics went somewhat like this ~
“Doctor, Actor, Lawyer or a Singer,
Why not President, be a dreamer,
You can be just the one you wanna be…
You never know what Life could bring,
‘Cause nothing lasts forever…”
Darin’s all of 26 and to imagine he sang this simple yet meaningful song (‘Darin’, 2005) when he was barely 17! That’s what’s really possible when parents don’t rein in their kids’ latent talent!
If you are a parent reading this, you may want to drop your inhibitions and insecurities. Go listen to your children, understand what they are deeply passionate about and then trust them to go follow their dreams. If you are a young adult reading this, know that it’s cool to be yourself. So, go be that person you want to be! The world needs people like you – who are alive, happening and happy!