What others do, seriously, does not make your Life tick!

You can’t control what someone else does. The day you stop agonizing over other people’s actions, you will experience inner peace.

Sometimes people may choose to consistently, continuously, systematically misunderstand, misinterpret and not relate to you. When these relationships are with people that you are close to or with immediate family, the situation gets confounded and it becomes very difficult to accept the reality. Our biggest grief is not that we are being misunderstood. We feel betrayed because the people misunderstanding us are close to us, those whom we imagined as our own. Relax. You are not alone. It happens to all of us at some time or the other in our lives. It has happened and continues to happen to me too! I can relate to your sense of anguish if you are in or have been in a similar situation.

tumblr_static_prettySimply, there are two contexts for a misunderstanding to arise. One kind is when it is truly a situation of an understanding that has been missed, that has been overlooked for whatever reason – imagination, suspicion, poor communication or whatever. This category of misunderstanding can be addressed and clarified through an honest conversation – a coffee or beer can surely help resolve this issue. But the second kind, when someone doesn’t want to understand you, rarely gets resolved. And if you are grieving, wishing, pining that such people understand you than misunderstand you, then please don’t waste your time anymore. The truth is such people are not true to you. Because true friends, true family, will believe despite evidence to the contrary. It is the flippant lot that will insist on misunderstanding no matter what evidence you place, in your favor, before them! So, why waste your time and emotions on them?

This lifetime is too precious to be squandered on other people’s choices. How someone looks at you or treats you is their problem. You be focused on who you are and how you want to feel. If you want to experience inner peace – and protect it – then stop stressing and sweating over how other people are behaving. What others do, seriously, does not make your Life tick!  

Abandon your tentativeness, embrace Life’s uncertainties

Don’t be tentative about Life. Take the deep dive and live fully with the faith that Life will take care of you!

A manager with a large MNC met us the other day. He said he was indulging in too much negative thinking and worried incessantly about his employment contract which was due to expire next year. “I know what I am doing is stupid. But I simply don’t know how stop being anxious and worried,” he confessed.

d8cf3130ede65c1635ab4987c638fdfaThis gentleman’s predicament can be anybody’s out there. Many, many, many people are living in fear, worrying about the unborn future. And to live this way is sacrilege. We are squandering the opportunity called this lifetime if we are not living our lives fully. We must understand that the whole idea of Life is uncertainty. And our response to Life has to be to display amazement at the way each moment unfolds. Whatever happens, choose to be amazed by each moment! Life is not to be lived in fear and anxiety nor is it to be lived with prayer and hope. It must be lived with complete faith that if you have been created, if you are breathing, and therefore are alive, Life will take care of you!

The reason why you don’t necessarily believe in the view that Life will take care of you is that you have been conditioned to control your Life. The education you have comes in the way of your letting go. You think since you are educated, and you earn an income, you must know the answers to all that is inscrutable about your Life. Or you believe that you must be solving all your problems yourself. The truth, however, is that you were never in control. Life has always been in charge of you. So, when you come certain points in your Life, when you don’t know what will happen, when you don’t know how to handle a particular situation, you feel fearful and anxious. Instead of being steeped in worry, this is the time to trust Life, this is the time to be amazed with whatever is happening and to let go!

So, abandon your tentativeness, overcome your fears and embrace Life’s uncertainties with amazement! Watch then, how Life takes you to where you belong!!



The way to live through a crisis is to engage with the NOW

When you don’t know what to do, allow Life to take over!

Often Life will push you to the edge of a precipice. You will not know what to do. Fear then is a natural response. But the way to overcome fear is not to avoid it. But to feel it and face it.

6718175297_43bf1f40e5_zWhat is fear telling you? It reminds you how horrifying the situation is. And it tricks you to respond to such a situation intellectually. But the very fact that you are on the edge, at Life’s mercy, is a sign that your intellect has not worked. Because, had it worked, you wouldn’t be this way, in this place, at this moment! So please don’t intellectualize any grave situation. Please don’t respond with guilt either. ‘I caused this mess’, ‘I hate myself’ or ‘I am bad’ are wasted responses. Poor self-esteem cannot help you overcome a tough situation. And fear solves no problem; it, in fact, compounds a problem.

When you have tried everything, every solution and every approach, and when nothing seems to work, when Life’s become chaotic and turbulent, just sit back, relax and let Life take over. You must understand that you don’t necessarily have to know how to solve each problem that you are faced with. Know that Life is all powerful – more intelligent than you are. So, let Life handle situations that you don’t know how to handle.

No matter what your situation may be, remember, the simplest and easiest way to live through a crisis is to just be engaged with the present, with the NOW. Because a crisis anyway means all else is already lost or is being lost. So, prudence demands that we live with what is left, which is the present moment!


Acceptance is the only antidote to suffering

Suffering comes from wishing, pining and insisting that things were different than how they are. 

The way to live Life is to simply live it – don’t ask any questions, don’t resist, don’t protest. Keep doing what you must in a situation, face whatever comes your way and let whatever is be!

Yesterday was the fourth death anniversary of my classmate from school. I thought about him briefly. I had just met him once in our adult years, almost 30 years after leaving school. He was a fun guy – warm and affectionate. We shared a last name. Yesterday, I thought about his parents. I had last visited them during the Chennai floods in December 2015 – just to look up how they were doing with all the upheaval that the city was going through. They had coped well and practically. In fact, after losing their son, every other upheaval may simply be so inconsequential, I had thought after visiting them.

root-of-suffering-is-attachment-570x377I have come to understand that death is a great teacher. In encountering it in our families and in our circle of influence, it teaches us to face Life. Fundamentally, it teaches us to be accepting of the true, transient, impermanent nature of Life! It reminds us that pain is inevitable. Important, it teaches us that we have a choice not to suffer.

Whether you like it or not, deserve it or not, want it or not, Life will give you problems, challenges and pain. Now you can do nothing about what comes at you. But you can do everything within your means to ensure you don’t grieve, agonize or suffer over what comes. Know at the same time that what causes you pain now will fade away with time. It will eventually be replaced with extraordinary and boundless joy. Only, in some more time, for the whole cycle of Life to be repeated again. So, why suffer at all? If you drop all resistance, if you stop asking why or why me, you can live without suffering anything: a bad relationship, an ailment or injury, emotional stress, poor or even zero income, poor form, injustice or death of someone you love. You, in fact, are responsible for all your suffering. Suffering comes only when you wish that your Life is different from the way it is.

Acceptance then is the only antidote for suffering. Life’s nature is full of duality. What goes up will go down soon. And what’s down will go up too. When we don’t understand this duality and refuse to go with the flow of Life, we will grieve, suffer and agonize over every twist in our Life’s journey! Give up insisting that your Life be different and start accepting what has come your way. You won’t suffer.

Whatever disturbs your inner peace has to go out

You don’t have to win every argument that you end up getting into.

defaultLast evening we sat with someone who was willing to consider our business plan and help us with finding potential partners who may be interested in working with us. He is a person with a genuine interest in wanting to help us. However, Life doesn’t operate with logic alone. Our story particularly defies logic at many points. It is at the same time both miraculous and absurd. As the conversation progressed I noticed that the gentleman was coming down with a scathing critique of our Life so far which bordered on being dismissive of our efforts to rebuild our business and implored us to ‘get out of our comfort zone’. It soon became apparent that my efforts to explain why some things have not worked out the way they logically should have were not being considered. Beyond a point, Vaani and I did not see value in justifying what has been or envisioning, with this gentleman, what will be. We sat back, smiled and remained silent.

I have nothing against this gentleman. He has the noblest of intentions. And what he suggests we do is something we have already been trying to do – with often limited or no success. So, while we see synergy in the direction and options proposed, I still gave up trying to explain and justify because it is not my trip in Life – not anymore – to convince anybody of who we are or what our intentions are. I find arguments and debates totally worthless. It does not matter if you are not seen as doing right or being correct. At least to Vaani and me, it doesn’t matter at all. We know who we are. We know what we are going through. And we know what we are doing to get out of what we are going through. As long as we are true to ourselves, as long as our efforts are genuine, we really have stopped getting frustrated, anxious over wanting – and failing – to convince someone of our intentions.

Whatever disturbs your inner peace must go out of your circle of influence. Even if it is your desire to be seen as doing right and being correct. So, whenever you can’t convince someone, don’t fret, simply smile, fall silent and let things just be!

Perhaps it is time for global heartwarming!

If we can keep religion – and gender – out of our lives, we will all live happily ever after.

Last weekend when having a conversation with people with a different orientation, I rediscovered one thing that we all tend to overlook so conveniently – the fact that we are all human! During the conversation, Sunil Menon, renowned fashion designer and Gay Rights activist (founder of the support group, Sahodaran), while describing the levels of ostracism and apathy prevalent against people like him, broke down and for a brief while, he literally wept. He was narrating the shocking incident of one of his team members Satya who died, ahead of a sex change operation, because he was administered a lethal overdose of anesthesia. Sunil choked even as the audience witnessed a raw moment, of compassion, of being human. Talking to Sunil and Angel Glady, a theatre artist and a transgender, I realized that here are people like you and me – they too are capable of and thrive on love, compassion and understanding.

LHNL_ProfilePicAnd that brings me to a larger question – do we really need to discriminate against people basis gender or religion? How does it matter what gender you are? Or what you do with your gender? If it is about sex, then it is something intensely private. How – and with whom – someone wants to have sex is a personal choice. Religion and government seriously have no business interfering here. Think about this: sex consumes a minor part of our lifespan as a human being. Love and compassion demand and occupy so much more of our lives. And clearly it is the absence of love, understanding and compassion that makes us unhappy.

I don’t want to over emphasize this. I don’t want to sound preachy. All I want to say is that it is time we stopped dividing ourselves in the name of ‘celebrating’ diversity. At the core, all of us are human – irrespective of gender, religion or nationality. As noted Urdu poet Nida Fazli (1938~2016) said, Masjiden Hain Namaaziyon Ke Liye, Apne Ghar Mein Kahin Khuda Rakhna.” (The mosques are for the ritualists, keep God alive in you, in your heart.) He was right. What we urgently need is perhaps global heartwarming?


Sometimes, you can’t unentangle a web unless the master-weaver awakens!

If things don’t work out the way as they should, it is perhaps best to let go and let everything – and everyone – just be!!
Angel Glady and Sunil Menon in conversation with Vaani and AVIS
This weekend has been more than interesting. Vaani and I have led a public conversation with people who have a special orientation. This is part of a non-commercial, by-invitation-only Event Series called ‘Heart of Matter – Happiness Conversations’ that we host quarterly in partnership with InKo Centre. Last evening, we had renowned fashion designer Sunil Menon and theatre artist Angel Glady as our guests – it was a conversation that was intimate, intense, thought-provoking and awakening. It helped people in the audience reflect on their idea of happiness and invited them to turn unequivocally inclusive. Elsewhere in the city, my brother, a well-known theatre director and entertainment industry coach, staged a production that had actors with special abilities perform in it. His production, I am told, championed inclusiveness too and was highly, critically, acclaimed. Isn’t it beautiful that both brothers, supported by their spouses, are doing work that’s meaningful, in the same city, on the same weekend? Yet, what makes this rare coincidence ironical too is that we brothers don’t speak to each other!!! We haven’t connected in several years now. We remain strung, clinging on to our own positions, in a web of deceit, manipulation and self-obsession that has been cast by someone else. A third sibling, our sister, is strung from somewhere on the web too. We all live in the same city and yet we can never quite figure out a way out of this web. I have made attempts in the past, to unentangle this mess, but I have found myself getting stung, not just strung, every single time. So, I have let it all go. Concluding that perhaps the best thing to happen for all of us is for us to be where we are, the way we are; but being happy, at peace with ourselves, in spite of ourselves and each other!

Sometimes your Life’s design is so intricately constructed by a web of actions that someone has woven that you end up just being a helpless victim! But you have a choice to not feel like a victim – just let go and let everything – and everyone – just be! And sometimes this is the way Life has to be lived. There are no hard and fast rules in Life. There is no guarantee that all homes and families will be the same. We all have to do what we have to do. If in some cases, like in mine, things don’t work out the way they should, it is best to just be. For, if you are not weaving the web, how can you ever hope to unentangle it unless the master-weaver awakens? 

Dear Sri Sri, I planted a tree for you…!

An open letter with love, compassion and a ‘jadoo ki jhappi’ for Sri Sri Ravishankar
Dear Sri Sri,
I must begin this letter with a confession. I am no follower of yours or of anybody else.
I am just a student of Life, learning from everyone around me.  I am just another fellow voyager – who believes totally in what the Dalai Lama so beautifully advocates – and practices – “responsible visitorship”. He reminds us that we are all mere tourists, visitors on this planet; our lifespans are a mere 100 years max compared to how long the planet has been and will be around. So, he says, we must act responsibly towards our inner and outer ecosystems and live meaningfully.
I understand spirituality to be simple and undemanding. It is the flowering of inner awareness. Period. An awakening that invites you to consider responsible visitorship and meaningful living. So, to me, anyone on the spiritual path, and that I imagine includes you and your organization Art of Living (AOL), must make an earnest attempt to live meaningfully and demonstrate responsible visitorship. If anyone is not making this earnest attempt, then, to me, they are not on the spiritual path. Period.
Around the same time that you and your organization Art of Living have refused to consider the sane counsel of the National Green Tribunal and are forging ahead with ‘your’ idea of preserving and promoting ‘world culture’, the people of Bhutan, have welcomed the country’s newborn Prince with planting 108,000 trees, each sealed with a prayer, for the heir to the kingdom’s throne. That, dear Sri Sri, is responsible visitorship. That is how, as I understand, culture is built, nurtured and protected.
So, I planted a tree for you. I planted it with love and compassion; I am sending you this open letter with my ‘jadoo ki jhappi’for you to receive my innermost energy and yearning for doing what is most compassionate for our world.
The word culture, again as I understand it, is best explained with the way the word appears in Tamizh: kalacharam. This word, kalacharam, is made up of two words kalai and acharam. kalai means art and acharam means discipline. The ‘art of living together in a disciplined manner’ is kalacharam, culture. And the art of living, dear Sri Sri, surely involves responsible visitorship!
I don’t think the world, most certainly not India, needs another culture festival. What the world needs is peace – both in our inner and outer ecosystems. Two of the world’s greatest musicians and singers, MS Subbalakshmi Amma and John Lennon, in their own way, left behind their soul-stirring reminders to what the world needs. Here’s a fusion of their Maithreem Bhajata and Imagine rendered by two contemporary artistes – Akhila Ramnarayan and Vedanth Bharadwaj. I am sending you this fusion single as well. Perhaps, after the dust settles down on your festival, and on the marauded plains of a beautiful river, this song – ironically and painfully titled ‘Pipe Dream’ – will invoke reflection and awakening.
I ask nothing of you dear Sri Sri or of Team AOL. I ask nothing of nobody. I have no hidden agenda, I practice no religion and support no political thought – and I am no foreign hand. I, however, make an earnest attempt towards responsible visitorship every single day, even while dealing with my own, often imponderable, real-world challenges (http://www.avisviswanathan.in/fall-like-a-rose-petal.html). So I guess I have earned my right to write you this letter.
All I have is love and compassion for you Sri Sri. The least I could do was plant a tree for you.
I feel immensely blessed I could do that.
With a ‘jadoo ki jhappi’,
AVIS Viswanathan, Chennai