Rivers teach you the art of flowing with Life

Flow like a river and you will live fully!
A river never protests. It just flows. It doesn’t stagnate. Even a crevice in a rock is a blessing for it to find its own, new way. A river starts small, humbly. It takes its transformation occasionally to leaping rapids and big waterfalls in its stride even as it embraces long periods of gentle, quiet flowing. At times, it waits for hollows to fill before resuming to flow. A river never stops flowing. Most importantly, a river doesn’t flow past the same place twice.
Your Life is pretty much the same. You never live any moment twice. And there are huge falls and peaceful periods in your Life too. And sometimes you may be stuck in Life’s hollow phases and you have to wait, with faith and patience, for the time and tide to change. But the critical difference between the river and you is that you resist the way things happen to you, in your Life. Anything you resist will become a burden, will persist. And that’s the tragedy of our stories. Instead of resistance, if we can have acceptance, and just flow with Life, whichever way it takes us or shows us, we will live in peace. And bliss. 
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Our true work is the journey of Life, of moving on, and never clinging

The easiest way to let go is to never equate events, actions and people to money.
Money is important. No doubt. But you don’t necessarily need to have money to live intelligently! When you lose your job, fear grips you. Why? Not because you are incompetent and worthless. But because you are worried about the lack of a revenue source in the present moment and perhaps in the immediate future! The more you cling on to that job, which you already have lost, the more difficulty you will have moving on and moving forward. It could be a job, a position, a lover, a title, a piece of land….whatever you have lost…..the same principle applies. Why do you need a position in society? So that your stature can attract career and professional/business opportunities. Why? So that you can earn more money. Now, what if this position is taken away? You can still earn money through some other means. But you want to cling on to what is already lost because you are thinking scarcity __ of what isn’t, instead of thinking abundance, of what is possible with a fresh start! Money and all the conditioning related to money, from the time you are born, has led you to hide behind money’s façade of security. Money can surely buy you things. But it can’t buy you inner peace or love or a Life.
So, if you are agonizing over letting go of something (or even everything), because all you want is to live in peace, in love and be blissful, then stop thinking about money. Your decision to let go will then be easier to make. When you let go, you are free, unfettered and are ready to go where you want and where nobody ever has!
In ‘Illusions: The Adventures of A Reluctant Messiah’ American author Richard Bach (who also wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull) shares a story: “Once there lived in a village creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river. The current of the river swept silently over them all – young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self. Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks at the river bottom, for clinging was their way of Life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth. But one creature said at last, ‘I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.’ The other creatures laughed and said, ‘Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you shall die quicker than you will of boredom!’ But the creature heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks. Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more. And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, ‘See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!’ And the one carried in the current said, ‘I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.’ But they cried in unison more, ‘Savior!’ all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a Savior.”
Our current is this Life. It is constantly offering to take us to where we have never gone before. But we are not willing to let go; we are clinging on our deeply conditioned sense of ‘financial’ security. It is because we cling on to money or sources of money, that we find our lives listless, monotonous and boring. This is why we are unhappy. The truth is that only when we let go and move on will we see newer horizons. Remember too that our true work is the journey of Life, of moving on, of living, and not of clinging on to what we perceive as ‘safe and secure’ pastures!

Experience freedom from what possesses you

Superstition and premonition always lead to fear and worry. Or just the opposite may happen too.
These are signs of a weak person, one that is not self-aware. The ones with courage are the ones that know themselves. And if you know yourself, why do you need to lean on a crutch __ a talisman, a fear, a ring or a number? Almost all of us have a good luck charm, a lucky number, and believe in something, often absurd, that we have been conditioned to. Nobody wants to have anything to do with the number 13 for instance. Or we prefer our favorite colors or numbers. There’s a view some people hold that if you bang into a piece of furniture when you are leaving to get something important accomplished, you must treat that as an early warning sign of something terrible that’s on its way. People that champion a scientific temperament will reason against this, intensely. And which is why those who want to believe in superstitions and premonitions will resist the scientific arguments, however reasonable they may be. But here’s a simpler take. If everything is an event in this lifetime, a mere data point, including your birth and your impending death, and since the soul is imperishable, eternal, then what consequence does a furniture that comes in the way or a cat crossing your path or a mere number have?

In anyone’s Life, two aspects are absolutely not dispensable:  birth and death. Now birth is without choice and death is unavoidable. What else is important when these two dimensions of your Life are inscrutable? The people who champion superstition and acknowledge premonition are those who want to live in fear and misery. And because they feel lonely, they want to drag you with them to provide them company! Try letting go of what clutches you in its stranglehold. Experience freedom from what possesses you. Enjoy being liberated. It’s a beautiful world out there. And a stumble here, a fall there, a number here and a cat there, can make no difference to you, if you choose to feel the air in your lungs and the wind on your face; being present in this, the only certain, happening, available, magnificent, miraculous moment of your Life!

To find inner peace, peace is “the” way

Peace arrives when you stop resisting, stop fighting and stop struggling with Life.
Each of us is fighting something or the other. All the time. Someone fights for health. Someone else for wealth. There’s someone fighting for dignity. And someone for identity. Someone out there fights for companionship. Another soldiers on for acceptance. Yet a factor that’s common to all constituencies is that everyone, despite their individual fights, wants peace. You look around. Ask around. And you will find that almost everyone wants just peace. And they will all talk about inner peace __  bliss, joy, plain, good ol’ happiness.
But you can’t pursue peace when you are struggling with Life, fighting its every dimension. You cannot be angry with your situation in Life and expect to find peace in it at the same time. Peace will come, when you suspend all hostility in your mind, and through that act, make your immediate circle of influence peaceful. Peace has a price to be paid for, and that is to be accepting of a situation or a person or an outcome. Many people wonder what is the way to peace. And the simplest answer to their query is what Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh champions: “Peace is the way!”
But by ceasing to fight, are you embracing inaction? And isn’t inaction equal to committing hara-kiri? Let me clarify: ceasing to fight is not inaction. It means acceptance. You can be accepting of a situation, be peaceful, and yet work towards changing it. They are not mutually exclusive. On the other hand, they are complementary. The other day, at a coffee shop, I noticed a young couple argue with each other at another table. The lady was agitated. Often gesticulating wildly, raising her voice just so much that others around could hear and perceive that she was upset with the gentleman. The man, on the other hand, was stoic. He was calm and in control of himself, even if he was not in control of the situation. At the end of their discussions and arguments, I felt nothing had been resolved. Things were where they were when they came in. But the lady stomped out in a huff, and I believe she must have been continuing to fight the situation, or the man, in her mind. The man was calm, perhaps not happy either with the way the meeting ended, and made a slow, peaceful exit. He may also have felt that things could have been better, but for sure, he wasn’t feeling worse. He was peaceful. He wasn’t fighting. Yet he was not abstaining from action. Coming to the meeting, making an attempt, while staying calm, was indeed action.

We too can embrace this way of living. Simply, don’t start with asking ‘WHY?’ of Life at each of its twists and turns. Exclaim instead, ‘Interesting, so, we have a situation…!’, and mobilize your action to resolving it. Even a fight for a nation’s independence can be a peaceful__and successful__one. Gandhi proved it and so did 300 million of his followers, fellow Indians, back then. The same principle applies here. End all violent thinking __ about anyone or anything __ and approach each problem or situation with complete focus and total equanimity. Remember: to find peace, inner peace, peace is the way! 

The mind holds the key to your physical fitness

When you are anchored in inner peace, your body functions the best.
Swami Parthasarathy
Photo Courtesy: Mid-Day/Internet
This morning’s The New Indian Express (TNIE) carries a story of Swami Parthasarathy playing cricket. Parthasarathy, now 88, was once a businessman and is now a corporate guru who teaches managers to live intelligently! He lectures frequently on the Bhagavad Gita and runs Vedanta World, a learning academy in Malavli, near Pune. Sharing the key to his fitness, he told TNIE: “When you don’t worry about the past and don’t get anxious over the future, you stay fit.”
This is such a simple, beautiful, perspective. Yet this philosophy eludes most of us. Because we have come to somehow believe that our lives are complex and so only a complex solution can help rid us of our problems. Resultantly, we keep waiting for a perfect future, where there will be no problems and we can live happily ever after. The truth, however, is that there is and can never be a perfect future – you can never have a Life that is free from problems. All you can and must do is to live your present perfectly. What prevents this from happening is the mind. It draws you into grief, anger and guilt over the past and into anxiety and worry over the future. So, you are never present in the now. The now is perfect. It is what it is, the way it is. But you are not here. You are brooding or you are worrying. So you are besieged with lifestyle-related ailments – diabetes, hypertension, stress, cholesterol and such. What is a lifestyle ailment? Anything that is an outcome of the Life you lead. So, if you can train your mind not to worry and if your Life can be a continuous celebration of a series of present moments, your body will be fit and you can enjoy the pleasures of a good, productive Life.
I don’t say this from a philosophical perspective alone. I have been there – so I know what it means to be trapped in an unhealthy lifestyle situation. And I have experienced the power of transforming my Life by changing the way I think. I once had a tobacco habit and was obese. And I am both diabetic and hypertensive. When I understood the role the mind played in my physical condition I worked on training my mind. Over time, I have learned to rein in my mind and now know how to stay focused on the present. I have since shed my excess weight and have been able to keep my key physical markers under check. I did this through the practice of daily silence periods – mouna. So, I know that you too can do this. Your method may be different depending on what works for you. But I want to reiterate that it is both possible to train the mind and, therefore, stay fit. It doesn’t matter what industry you work in or the hours you keep. You just need to be willing to be the change that you want to see in you!
Inner peace is not elusive. It is not complicated. If you stop imposing conditions on the way your Life must be, and instead accept it for what it is, you will start living, than merely existing. When you live fully, in the present moment, you will experience inner peace and you will see the magic and beauty of a healthier, happier Life!

Nobody’s always unkind, scheming and vengeful

Sometimes people will fix you. Not because they hate you but because they are very insecure deep within themselves.
Your normal reaction is to explode. To hit back. To beat your chest and shout from rooftops that you have been fixed, that injustice has been done unto you. You will want retribution; and you will want it now! But the truth is that, more often than not, you will not get redressal immediately. Because even if the offender, the detractor, the conspirator, realizes that what she or he has done is wrong, your combative stance does not allow a resolution. The animosity will only increase, the situation will only get confounded.
Ideally, the best response to such a situation is to not fight at all and walk away. A Buddhist teacher has said that a snake is poisonous only if you walked towards it. So avoid the person and the conflict if possible. Remain detached from the actions of the other party. But often times you cannot be so lucky as to stay away. The situation may demand a response, an action and involvement by you. If you must respond, do so with complete awareness. Know that the person has done what she or he has done because she feels that by causing you pain, her or his own pain will get mitigated and erased. Know that such a thinking represents a confused mind. Know that your role is that of a teacher at this time and not as a victim. Because if you respond as a victim, you will continue to be agitated. But if you responds as a teacher, you will be patient and will present a teachable point of view, a learning which will help the other party. Initially she or he may not accept your perspective and may continue to stonewall you. But eventually, with your kindness and concerted effort, she or he will see reason.
This approach is important for an issue, any issue, to be resolved. You must allow room for the other party to feel secure, realize the mistake and redeem herself or himself. By all means resent the act, present your case with facts, prove your innocence, but don’t resent the individual. People do nasty things to others__and that includes you__because they feel that something worse is due to befall them. If you react in equal fashion, it is forever going to be a no-win situation – leaving you emotionally drained and charred. Do you want that? Well if you don’t and want to live in peace, then make an effort to build harmony.
Of course, if you have tried to resolve such a situation with someone and have failed, the simplest option is to stay away to retain your inner peace. Remember this: nobody is always unkind, scheming and vengeful. Surely, you don’t want to be that way. People are or appear to be so because of their own situations. A little bit of understanding, a wee bit of kindness, a teachable perspective can touch their lives, making a huge difference to them, and leaving you in absolute peace!