It is best to be in a constant “let go” mode

When something gets taken away from you, let it go. If it’s a person who chooses to leave you, let that person go too. When you let go, and don’t cling on, you will not suffer.
I was neither a good giver. Nor was I able to detach myself from things and people and opinions. But, over time, I have learnt how important it is to simply let go. I have been a voracious reader all my Life. And had been collecting books. My collection spanned management-related books and those that dwelt on spirituality. I was meticulous with my collection. Each book was wrapped in plastic (to serve as enhanced protection) and neatly indexed. I had over 550 titles – a great collection of management and spirituality books built up over 20 years. Just 550 books in 20 years? – The number actually shows how discerning I am as a reader and how unique my collection was! And then, a day came when we had to close down our office. Our home did not have enough space for me to move these books to. I had to make a choice. Either I took the books with me and let them use up precious living space at home or I just gave them all away to someone (I know) who runs a training company in Bangalore. I chose to let go and give away the books. I called this person up and he readily agreed to accept all the books. He was setting up a library in his new office and this was a timely gift. All the books went into several cartons. When the consignment left my office, I felt heavy in my heart. It was as if a part of me was getting taken away. The person who received my gift of books called me a “magnanimous” giver. I am not sure I am that, but I could make out that I had learnt to be less attached with things through that action. 10 years ago, I would not have been able to do this. But now I believe I have developed a higher level of detachment from people, things and opinions.
Being detached does not mean you don’t care. It doesn’t mean you must not love or desire someone or something. It means you must transcend that love, that desire – which creates your attachment. It means that you must “see” the truth about Life that no one really owns anything, no one really controls anyone. When you are attached to something or someone, you are all along fearful of losing that something or that person. Fear debilitates. Instead if you simply, deeply, loved that something or someone and accepted that while your love is pure and you enjoyed (the act of) loving, you also know that you can’t always have that someone or something. If it is a person, the person will eventually be separated from you – most certainly by death, some day. If it is a thing – like a car or a gadget or even money – know that all things, including money, are impermanent too. Things will break down and have to be discarded. Money will too someday become either inconsequential or unavailable in your Life. So, being detached, really means understanding Life for what it is. And using your understanding of Life to accept it for what it is.
You suffer whenever you are attached, and often refuse to let go, of people, memories, opinions and things. The more you let go, the more you be in a constant let go mode, the more you will be at peace with yourself. In a let go, there’s just inner peace – and no suffering ever!

When you trust Life, you will not suffer!

Trust Life. Know that, even in your darkest hours, you will be taken care of.
Sometimes Life will bring you to a point where everything will seem so hopeless. You may be plunged into an abyss and will be staring into the darkness. You may even wonder if your Life will ever be normal again – free from all the suffering that you are having to go through!This is when you must learn to trust Life. When nothing else seems possible, know that if your trust in Life is intact, then everything’s possible!
Here’s a Zen story to illustrate this. A warrior had just got married and was returning home with his bride. They were crossing a lake in a boat when suddenly a great storm arose. The woman was very afraid because it seemed almost hopeless – the boat was small and the storm was a mighty one. It seemed certain that their small boat would capsize any moment and because of the way the lake’s water was being churned it looked like they both would drown in it. But the warrior sat silently, calm and quiet, as if nothing was happening.

The woman was trembling and she said, “Are you not afraid? This may be the last moment of our Life! I don’t think we can make it to the shore in this kind of weather. Only some miracle can save us, otherwise death is certain. Are you not afraid? Are you mad or something? Are you a stone or something?” 

The warrior laughed and pulled out his sword from its sheath. The woman was puzzled – what was he is doing? Then he brought the naked sword close to the woman’s neck – so close that it was almost touching her neck. 

He asked his wife, “Are you afraid?” 

She replied calmly, “Why should I be afraid? If the sword is in your hands, why should I be afraid? I know you love me.”

The warrior put the sword back and said, “This is my answer too. I trust Life. The storm at this time, when we are crossing this lake, is Life’s way of testing us. My Life, your Life, everything around us, including this storm, is created by Life. So, why worry? Whatever is going to happen is going to be good. If we survive, great. If we don’t, great again – because we were given, gifted, this Life without our asking for it. So what if it is taken without us being asked?”

This is a remarkable perspective on trusting Life. If we can internalize this, then we can face and live through any storm in Life.
Life cannot be lived with logical reasoning all the time. Many a time situations will arise when you will realize that nothing’s in your control. You can cry foul, you can beat your chest, you can say that Life is unfair, you can say that there is no God and that all your faith in a higher energy was in vain – you can say whatever you want, but the Life that you are facing at that moment cannot be changed or escaped. That reality has to be faced and lived through. In such situations, the only quality that can help you be at peace within is trust. When you trust Life, irrespective of what’s happening, you can see it through or you can perish with it. Anything’s possible. But at least you will be at peace with yourself and, importantly, you will not be suffering!

Forgiveness is an evolutionary process

While forgiveness is the ‘right’ thing to do, everyone struggles with it. You can avoid the struggle by considering the value forgiving someone brings you – it frees you from all the suffering.
I read a recent interview that author Chetan Bhagat gave ‘Bombay Times’. He talks about the turbulent relationship he has had with his father to Priya Gupta: “I felt he was not fair to my mother. Maybe, it was a result of his own inner frustrations, but he would not give her freedom and I had to write ‘2 States’ a) to understand where my father was coming from and b) to forgive him. It was difficult for me to forgive him, but ‘2 States’ helped me forgive my father. He lives in Delhi and I rarely meet him. I last met him at a family function two years back. Even if (I have) not forgiven (him) completely, there is no anger in me today and at least I have reached a stage of indifference. I am still working on it.” I can relate to what Bhagat is experiencing. I have been through exactly the same feelings in a few of my close relationships – forgiving is indeed difficult. But when you do forgive someone, it sets you – and them –  free!
What we need to understand about forgiveness is that it is not necessarily something that can always happen in a nanosecond. In most cases, it happens over time and through “waves of awareness”. The need for forgiveness arises primarily when you have been wronged or you feel you have been wronged. Since the issue begins with who’s right and who’s wrong it really is about gamesmanship between two, often unrelenting, egos. Then there’s enormous hurt to deal with – you keep wondering why you have been treated this way by the other person. Your asking why only makes the situation worse. Whatever has happened has happened; someone’s hurt you. Asking why, and seeking remedy or an apology or even an explanation – none of which is normally forthcoming – causes all your suffering. To really forgive someone you must cross all these barriers. You can do that only when you are “aware” that Life is too short to carry the burden of anger, hurt and grief. You, of course, know this truth about Life, but when you are hurt, you are simply not conscious about it. This awareness takes time evolving. But you can make a beginning by understanding that forgiving someone does not mean condoning their actions, behaviors or mistakes. It really means that you recognize and accept that they are human too and are therefore prone to making mistakes. Next, when you forgive, forgive unconditionally. Don’t sit in judgment of whether someone deserves to be forgiven or not. What is important is that you need to forgive for youto stop suffering, for yourhurt to heal. Third, when, despite your forgiving, you find that someone is not sorry, don’t agonize. That’s their problem. Remember that when you have an expectation over someone else’s behavior, you will be the one to suffer when your expectation is not met. So, why invite agony? Finally, forgiveness does not mean you will be comfortable in the person’s presence or when you think about that person. This is particularly relevant to remember in close relationships where you cannot avoid interactions completely. What forgiveness does is it takes away the sting, it draws out your anger and, as Bhagat explains, it helps you to stay unmoved and indifferent.  
I have learnt from Life that every instance that involves someone hurting me has only led me to grow wiser and stronger. Until I learnt to forgive I would be bitter from such experiences. I now realize that while some episodes cannot be forgotten, forgiving is best in everyone’s interest. It have found that it makes me feel lighter and stay positive.
Today, as any other, is a good day to forgive anyone who’s hurt you or even yourself for what you may have done. Think of forgiveness as an evolutionary process. And go through it. Taste the freedom it brings you. It’s bliss.

Where does love go?

More than being in love, be love. Then you will never stop loving!
Someone wrote to me wondering, “Why do people, who fall in love and get married, fall out with each other?”  Good question. This happens all the time. Many factors contribute to a marriage or a relationship breaking up. But principal among them is the fact that the couple have lost the ability to love; not just each other – but to be loving themselves.
Let’s understand love and loving in the context of relationships.
When two people come together professing love for each other, all they are saying at first is that they love the way each other is, they love the experience and they love the circumstances that have brought them together. They soon start exploring each other – physically that is. People often talk of a great chemistry between young couples – that’s nothing but an expression of their sexual energy. Then they start experiencing the non-physical side of each other. It is this constant exploration that keeps them engaged in each other and together.
Then what goes wrong over time? First, when their exploration goes beyond the physical, they realize that they don’t like certain things about each other. “He smokes way too much and I hate his breath.” “She talks a lot and shops like a maniac.” Next, the way they experience each other has become predictable, boring. The thrill of meeting her at a coffee place or texting sweet nothings is no longer there. She knows he’s busy chasing deadlines and he knows she’s tearing her hair between her work and looking after the baby. Both know that they will be exhausted when they meet – even having sex then becomes a mechanical exercise, merely to meet a biological need. So, what’s there to experience anew? And finally the circumstances that brought them together have changed – people meeting and dating each other when single is a dramatically and diametrically different context when compared to them living together. Whether in or out of a wedlock, living together is a lot of work – the dishes have to be done, the meals have to be cooked, the beds have to be made, the floor has to be mopped, bills have to be paid. So, when circumstances change, the way people look at – and experience – each other changes.
There lies the crux of the problem. Love, the way it is understood and practised in relationships today, is flawed. Whereas love is really about being compassionate for another person, no matter what the circumstance is, love today, sadly, has become an expression of selfishness and ego. Over time and through living together, when you find qualities in your partner that you can no longer tolerate or accept, you are basically telling yourself that you love yourself more. Which is why you find your companion’s tobacco habit or tendency to flirt or workaholic nature unacceptable. Which is why even sex has become boring. Which is why you cannot accept your partner in the new, changed circumstances. Consider the conversations that couples have after a few years of living together: “You no longer care for me.” “Do you know how much I do for you?” “You just don’t have the time for me or for the children.” “You are drinking way too much and I don’t like it.” “Is there someone else in your Life that’s taken you away from me?” All the reasoning is focused on how you are being treated by your companion. It’s your view. It is self-centered and does not immediately invite a mutual perspective. I believe the key lies in dropping your ego, your desires and your selfishness. Stop looking at what you like or what you want. A better way would be to simply observe your Life with your companion. And ask yourself what you both can do together – about whatever needs addressing. Magically, you will find the romance blooming again – irrespective of age, physical condition and circumstance.
I have learnt that it is more important to be love, and to be loving, than being “in” love. When you are “in” love, you can be “out” of it too. But when you are love – you are loving. Period. I learnt this from my wife. We too came together, 27 years ago, through a confluence of liking each other, enjoying the experience of being with each other and the carefreeness that our circumstances then allowed us. But soon things changed. I developed a ruinous habit of chewing tobacco, I became obsessed with my work and decisions I took with our business caused it to blow up and landed our family in abject penury. But my wife’s love for me has remained unchanged. When I understood why she continued to be loving – despite my excesses and the circumstances that we found ourselves in – I gained great insight. She is selfless and sees the entire journey as something that always involved the two of us. She never saw my destructive habit or my Work-Life imbalance or my poor and costly decisions as her problem. She saw it as ours. This is what I mean when I say you have to go beyond yourself – and drop your ego – if you want to be love and be loving! When you are loving, and not just in love, you are relating to the other person. You are not simply imposing conditions or demanding they be met. Instead your relating helps you make the exploration – that began when you first came together – an ongoing process, now in a new set of circumstances. And it keeps the experience of being with each other, for each other, engaging. Remember: Living and loving always happen only in the present continuous!
Of course, when you have tried hard, selflessly, to make your relationship work, and you have discovered that it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, the best thing to do is to let go! Do it very calmly. Just let go. An important aspect of being loving and selfless is to give the other person, no matter how you have been treated, all the freedom and compassion. A divorce or separation turns messy because you ask, “What’s in it for me?”. Instead ask, “What can I give him or her that can make his or her Life better?” Being loving means giving the situation, the context, the relationship and the person all that you possibly can – physically, materially, financially and spiritually.
So, don’t ask where’s all the love gone? Just be loving. In your loving, and being love, you can make Life beautiful – for you, for your companion and for your precious family!

Never confuse issues with people

Fight issues – never fight people. That way issues get discussed, resolved or stay in disagreement – but relationships never disintegrate!
There’s an interesting issue out there that’s being handled in a very mature manner by all parties involved. I’ll share it the way I have understood it so that everyone can benefit from the learning the episode offers. Joe D’Cruz is a feted Tamil writer whose first novel ‘Aazhi Soozh Ulagu’ (Ocean Ringed World, 2005) was signed up by Navayana Publishing for being translated in English. The English translation was done by V.Geetha, a noted feminist and transalator, and was due for release in late 2014. Sometime earlier this month Joe D’Cruz announced his support of Narendra Modi’s candidacy for the Indian Prime Minister’s post. Navayana, led by publisher S.Anand, and Geetha did not find D’Cruz’s personal support of Modi in conformance with their own ideologies and so they withdrew their offer to publish the English translation of his work. On the face of it, this may appear to be yet another of those many battles that the publishing world is fraught with. But this one is different because all three parties – D’Cruz, Anand and Geetha – have articulated clearly – and transparently – what their stand on the “issue” is. D’Cruz, on his part, demonstrated great honesty by telling Anand of his decision to support Modi. Anand is crystal clear in his view on why Navayana will not have anything to do with D’Cruz, the writer, anymore: “It is both appalling and disturbing that D’Cruz, who captured the rich and unique history of the seafaring community of Tamil Nadu in an epic tale spanning three generations (in ‘Aazhi Soozh Ulagu’), should call a fascist like Modi a ‘dynamic visionary’. Initially, I did not believe this till Joe told me over the phone that this was indeed his stand and that his decision was personal. However, there cannot be a place for such an author in a political publishing house like Navayana.” Geetha too is blunt: “He is entitled to his political opinion, but I don’t want to be associated with anyone or anything linked to Modi. Modi in my opinion is not only a political disaster, but downright evil. We can’t forget Gujarat 2002—no one must be allowed to, either. I still stand by his novel, which I think is a fantastic saga of fisher Life, and I am sorry Joe has decided to trade his considerable gifts as a novelist for a politics that is fascist and dangerous. I have therefore decided to withdraw my translation.” 
Let’s leave the political reasoning out of this. If we just look at the maturity of each stand, the learning is unputdownable. D’Cruz does not want to compromise his personal choice of ‘Modi for PM’ for the sake of literary success, Anand does not want to dilute his publishing house’s ideology and Geetha doesn’t wish to forgive Modi – and so doesn’t wish to associate with anyone who’s pro-Modi. Even so, neither Anand nor Geetha, questions or attacks D’Cruz’s literary genius or his impeccable credentials as an author. And that’s the way it must be.
Many a time, we tend to confuse issues with people. When we disagree with someone’s opinion, we end up making the disagreement personal. The stands people take often end up starting a mud-slinging match. To the extent that the issue is often forgotten and a bitter, personality clash is what remains. There’s great value, whenever a disagreement surfaces, in defining what the issue or the source of disagreement is. Only then can the issue be resolved meaningfully. People, however, tend to push the issue aside and sulk. Because sulking is more convenient. But sulking causes an emotional imbalance and, at times, is even a burden. You try to be nice to someone with whom you have a difference of opinion only because you don’t want to hurt that person. But do you realize that you are hurting yourself in the bargain? So, don’t sulk – instead, simply say whatever you are feeling about the issue on hand.
Inner peace really means being in sync with whatever you love. It could be about what you love doing or love wearing or reading or eating. In fact, inner peace is also impacted by how you are feeling. Don’t let anyone or anything disturb your inner peace. And one way to protect it is to speak your mind, clearly, honestly, with whoever you have a disagreement with. While disagreeing take extreme care not to attack the person and instead address only the issue on the table. Be wary of being provoked and drawn into a personal slugfest. As long as you keep the focus on the issue – you can be assured of two things. You will be at peace with yourself. And you will not be the cause of the relationship having broken down!

Of ‘Vishu’, a bartender and a lesson in “not wanting”

Learn to not want anything – and you will just live happily ever after!
There’s a lot of festivity in the air. Many parts of India are celebrating a New Year – Tamilians are celebrating Puthu Varsha Pirappu, Malayalis are celebrating Vishu, Assamese are celebrating Rongali Bihu – and in Punjab they are celebrating the harvest festival, Baisakhi. My favorite is Vishu. For it reminds us, first thing in the morning, how abundant our lives are. The fruits, vegetables, grains, the lamps, the mirror in which you see your own reflection and that of the assortment of nature’s bounty – all of these are a way to celebrate abundance and be grateful for what we have. Vishu meant a lot to me as a child because I would get Vishu Kani Nettam (a small amount of money that elders give people younger than them) from a lot of people and each year I would make a princely fortune on this day. Over the years Vishu continues to inspire me. It invokes in me a great sense of gratitude for all the abundance in my Life – despite anything material remaining with us in the past few years – and, importantly, it has taught me the power of “not wanting”.  
Not having something and not wanting something are not the same. Not having something is reality. Wanting something that you don’t have is desire. And desire always fights reality. When you fight or resist or argue with reality you suffer. If you examine your feelings carefully you will realize that all your suffering is over wanting what you don’t have. If you don’t have a job that you like, that’s reality. There’s no suffering there. Suffering sets in when you start pining for a better job – something you don’t have right now! Similarly, you don’t have a car. That’s reality. Again the lack of a car does not cause any suffering. You suffer when you start wishing that you have a car – which is when you fight your “no-car reality”! The key to get rid of suffering is to drop all desire, to stop the wanting.
Vishu, in a way, while helping you celebrate abundance, teaches you how to stop wanting. The very fact that you can see such a beautiful display of fruits, vegetables, flowers, grains, first thing in the morning, that very moment is a blessing. It means you have eyes and can see! It means you have a home. You have someone – a mother, sister, father, brother, grandparents – someone to set up this display for you. Isn’t that a sign of abundance? There are many, many people out there in the world who don’t have these blessings – eyesight, a home, a family! A bartender in Hartford, Connecticut (USA), reminded me of the value of this blessing some years ago. It was Vishu in India. And I was alone in my hotel room. (Owing to the time difference, it was Vishu eve in that part of the world, but about the same time when Vishu Kaniwould be seen by Malayalis back home.) I decided to go down to the bar. A couple of drinks down the line, I discovered that the Indian bartender serving me that evening was from Kerala. I pulled out a US $ 10.00 note and gave the young chap his Vishu Kani Nettam. He was in tears. He insisted that I move with him to the rear area in the bar so that he could touch my feet and take my blessings. I obliged. And gave him a hug too. He said, “As long as I was at home in Kerala, I never valued all this. Now, miles away, at the other end of the world, I realize how much all this means – thanks for your blessings! I will always cherish them.”
Your Life – just as mine – is filled with abundance. We, however, miss Life’s beauty and magic, and all the abundance there is, because we are lost running our rat races, and we are busy wanting all the time! When we realize, like that young bartender, that there is so much we have that we don’t value, that we don’t recognize, that we don’t celebrate, then we will drop all the wanting. When there is no want, there just is – only happiness!

Postpone Worry, Not Happiness!

I have read somewhere something so simple, yet so profound – “Every minute that we spend worrying, we miss out on living!”
On Christmas eve, a man named John boarded a plane and settled down in his seat in the front row of economy class. He looked morose and beaten. He was going home for Christmas, just as almost every other passenger on the plane was. After the doors were closed, the captain emerged from the cockpit wearing a Santa cap. He picked up the public address microphone in the front of the aircraft and said that since the airline was celebrating its 25th anniversary, everyone on board will receive a coupon that will entitle them to two free return tickets to Las Vegas and back – from wherever they lived in the US, as long as their city was serviced by the airline. Every passenger on board cheered in delight. People clapped. A couple of them in the front jumped up and hugged the captain. But John was listless. He was not excited. He was looking the same – distraught, disturbed and forlorn. A slightly older man, Greg, sat next to him. Greg didn’t know John from before but was amused that his co-passenger was not happy with the airline’s surprise offer!
Greg asked John: “Did you hear that – two free return tickets to Vegas? Are you not excited?”  
John replied: “I did hear that. But I have so much on my mind. I am unable to celebrate this offer.”

Greg prodded on: “Is something worrying you? Do you want to talk about it?”
John replied: “Something? Everything’s worrying me – My wife’s been sick with cancer for over 2 years. She’s not getting any better. My job is lousy but I have to keep it because I need the money to pay for her treatment and to support my son’s tuition as he goes to college in a few months. Our home needs renovation but I haven’t enough savings to be able to do that. Isn’t all this enough to put a good man down?”
Greg put his hand on John’s hand, which was on the armrest, squeezed it and said: “Let me tell you a story….A man and a married woman are making love when her husband comes home unexpectedly. The poor man has no choice – the husband can come in any moment – so, naked as he is, he jumps out of the bedroom window. Outside it is cold and raining, and a group of joggers are running by. Having nothing better to do, he joins in. After a while a man running next to him asks, “Hey, do you always run naked?” “Yes,” says the man as he keeps jogging along. “And do you always wear a condom when you run?” asked the other man. “No,” he answers, “only when it is raining.””
John burst out laughing. He laughed so loudly and for several minutes, non-stop, that the flight’s crew, who were readying the plane for take-off, were alarmed. They rushed to John to check if everything was okay with him. They couldn’t believe that the most sullen passenger on board, who didn’t even get excited when the Captain announced that freebie, was laughing so hard. Was he mad, they wondered? John couldn’t even answer their queries. He was in splits. He held his stomach and laughed as Greg smiled mischievously beside him. After almost 20 minutes, John calmed down and thanked Greg for making him laugh.
John said: “You know Sir! I haven’t had a laugh in months now. Thank you!”
Greg asked John a question in reply: “When you were hearing my story and then laughing, in that time, did your worries trouble you? I mean did you care to worry?”  
John replied emphatically: “Of course not! How could I worry? Your story was so hilarious. I couldn’t think of anything else but of the man running naked with a condom on and justifying his action with a straight face!”
Greg said: “My dear friend. This is how you postpone worrying. Your worries cannot solve any of your problems. Your worrying about your wife’s cancer cannot cure it. Your worrying about your son’s tuition cannot help you pay it. Your worrying about renovating your home cannot make it look better than it is now. When you are steeped in worry, you are missing Life!”
There’s a great lesson in the conversation between Greg and John. Which is – worrying serves no purpose. If worrying about our problems can help us solve them, none of us will be having any problems. Because most of us are worrying all the time – aren’t we?! Worrying takes us away from living, from happiness. The biggest price we pay by worrying about the Life we want or don’t have, is that we lose the opportunity to be happy with the Life we have. Instead, if we focused on whatever is with us, on whatever is happening, and stopped worrying, we will live better, happier and healthier lives!

There are no full stops in Life!

The key to intelligent living is to go with the flow of Life – savoring your successes and learning from what you fail at!
On a recent episode of the popular TV show, “Koffee with Karan”, celebrity Bollywood director Karan Johar had the two sensational young stars Parineeti Chopra and Alia Bhatt as his guests. The show’s format includes other stars giving Karan’s guests either feedback or compliments through video recordings. On this episode, Alia’s father, the famous Bollywood director, the venerable Mahesh Bhatt, had recorded a message for Alia. His advice for Alia, who’s just a couple of films old in the industry, was this: “…Remember that in this world we will be penalized when we fail and we will be applauded when we succeed. Take them both in your stride. Keep going…because in such journeys, there’s nothing like a full stop…!” Papa Bhatt was helping his daughter understand the vagaries of the movie business since she is new to it, she’s young and inexperienced. But all that he said is true for Life itself.
Most of the time, a lot of us struggle with Life because we fear failure. Even before we make efforts, we have developed an attachment to the results. We expect and want every effort of ours to succeed. While theoretically every effort, when made with dedication and precision, can be successful, in reality this is just not possible. Besides, success and failure are labels that society has created. At a deeply spiritual level, there’s only effort – there is no success or failure! This the essence of the message of the Bhagavad Gita – focus on ensuring that your motive is pure and the means are right, don’t worry about the results or the outcomes.
I took a long time to understand this truth about Life and struggled with accepting it initially. I could never comprehend why sincere effort, driven with sound integrity of purpose, should fail. For the first few years of our bankruptcy, I felt humiliated with the label of “failed entrepreneur” that society pinned on me. Every time I appeared in court, to face charges pressed by irate creditors, I would be addressed as the “accused” by the officials and the judge. It hurt very badly. I was devastated when my family called me a “cheat”. My grief was unbearable. It was my effort to get rid of my grief that led me to realize that I was allowing these social definitions (of me) to affect me. Yes, I had made mistakes in our business which had caused our challenging situation. But this was not the end-of-the-road for me, I reasoned to myself. I redefined my Life’s context – I told myself that we had to hang in there, face Life, work harder than ever before, and climb out of the situation that my family and I were in. To be able to do this diligently is what success now meant to me. Indeed, we haven’t managed to even begin turning around our financial fortunes. But we have developed this ability to keep ploughing on. This has happened because my wife and I have been able to get over the fear of failure. I believe when you are not afraid of failing in Life, you will be successful in facing Life, even if material success – as defined by society – takes a long time to arrive!
In Life, you win some, you lose some. Neither is success permanent. Nor is failure. Really, there are no full stops in Life. You simply have to keep on going – no matter what!

Drink from the Cup of Life, one sip at a time!

Learn to be aware of what you are doing. It is through awareness that you become peaceful.
There are two ways of doing anything. You can do something mechanically. Or you can do it mindfully, with total involvement, with awareness. Try building awareness into your Life with simple things. Don’t eat, for instance, without being aware of what you are eating. We normally just eat – thinking of something else or we are checking our phones or we are swapping channels on TV or we are flipping through a book. We are eating alright, but we are not mindful of our eating. It is a listless, mechanical, to-do item on our checklist – you can’t avoid eating, so you eat! The way to eat with awareness is to eat with gratitude – for those several thousands of people, some of them nameless and faceless, who have toiled to make your meal arrive at your table – and to eat relishing every morsel. Enjoying food is a very spiritual experience. When you eat like this, mindfully, you train your mind to be in the present and not wander away. This is the way you can build awareness in everything – while walking, while drinking your tea or even  beer, while bathing, while gardening….in fact, while doing anything!
Now, be sure, the mind will protest when you order it to be present in the moment, to be mindful and aware. The mind doesn’t like to be in the now. Because when you are immersed in the moment, the mind cannot worry or grieve. And the human mind loves worrying and grieving! Think about this. When you relish each sip of your green tea – or any of your favorite beverage – in that moment of relishing, you will not be worrying about the future or be remorseful about the past. In that moment, there’s only the green tea, there’s only freshness, there’s pure, unadulterated joy! You will have the same experience if you were to take a cold bottle of water on a hot summer afternoon and drink from it. For those few moments that you quench your thirst, nothing will really matter. But this is where the mind will play dirty. It will draw you into the future – filling you with anxiety over something that is yet to happen. Or it will drag you into the past and make you feel guilty or sad about what has happened. So, for instance, how can you enjoy your meal or relish your green tea when someone’s dying in hospital (anxiety over a future event) or when you have had a massive argument with your companion (grief and guilt over the past)? Your mind will tell you that what’s more important than being in the now, is feeling anxious and/or feeling remorseful. And you will capitulate. This is what has been happening to you, to me, all this while. This is also why we don’t experience inner peace. But if you learn to tell your mind to back off, to allow you to experience the now, your mind will heed you. Surprisingly, with little or no protest. The mind though aggressive is very obedient. With consistent effort it can be trained. When you reach that state when you can learn to be fully aware and mindful, of whatever you are doing, you are actually free from the clutches of your mind. Then you are neither brooding nor imagining worst-case, yet-to-happen, scenarios. Then you are the peace that you seek!
Mindfulness is about being aware of whatever you are doing, by immersing yourself totally in that activity, consciously. It is through awareness that you can drink from the cup of Life, one sip at a time, one moment at a time.