"Bahut Mazaa Ayega!"

Don’t look for rewards and recognition in Life! In the end, they don’t matter. What will matter is this: did you live the Life you were given – fully, usefully, purposefully, happily?

400+ wannabe entrepreneurs: “The adventure is the reward!”
Yesterday, I was addressing an audience of over 400 students, from different academic streams, on ‘The Spirit of Entrepreneurship’. They were an amazing audience. Full of Life! Raring to go!! Enthusiastic!!! My message to them was that entrepreneurship is not what entrepreneurs bring to the table. Entrepreneurship is what makes entrepreneurs! I said Life, at best, is a big gamble. And both success and failure are mere labels, imposters as the Bhagavad Gita says! So, go have fun, enjoy the ride, because, I said, the adventure is the reward!

Indeed. We must all learn to have fun in Life, enjoying it every moment! Because the challenges that Life throws at us, and which we invariably overcome and conquer, in retrospect are indeed laughable! In school, when I couldn’t get Math right, I would often feel defeated. Now, when I look back, I joke about it! Similarly, when I was out of work, 21 years ago, because my employer shut shop, I thought I had lost in Life. But when I review that period, I smile appreciatively because what I thought was lost really was a new opportunity gained__because I wouldn’t be where I am today without that loss!


In the iconic Bollywood movie “Sholay”, the ferocious Gabbar Singh, often says, in a wicked drawl, “Bahut Mazaa Ayega!”, meaning “It will be so much fun!”. Just repeating this line in the same tone to yourself whenever confronted with a challenge is a great way to remind yourself that Life’s, after all, a big game, a gamble, if you like! But you must keep playing it, as long as there is Life, no matter what! As I left the auditorium after my Talk yesterday, yet another student there wanted my autograph. I wrote: “Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game of Life. Trust me, “Bahut Mazaa Ayega!””

Why faith in relationships is over-rated

The best way to have wonderful relationships is to do two things: never expect anything from it or from the other person and always respect the other person’s choice.
When we expect someone to be what we want them to be, we are not respecting the person as a special, unique individual. Where expectation comes, respect goes out, and agony comes in! Much of the problem in marital or personal relationships is because there is an expectation of faithfulness. While it is important that deceit or cheating must be avoided in any relationship – so honest, open conversations are always the best way forward in such situations – the nature of the expectation of faithfulness is an indicator that we have stopped respecting the other person. To be faithful cannot mean living someone else’s Life. Or you cannot insist that someone live their Life as you want them to for you to be able to call them faithful. To be faithful means to be true to yourself, first doing what you want to do as long as it will not harm anyone else. When all people in a relationship are true to themselves, and don’t harm each other, a harmonious environment is born that respects each individual in it. That’s when relationships become meaningful and stand the test of time.
Osho, the Master, argues this perspective immensely well: “Who are you to demand faith from anyone else? Demanding faith is like demanding slavery. There’s a misconception in people that love must be permanent. Only stones are permanent. To ask for faith is wrong. There was a season__the spring, the faith, the love arose in you. You did not create it. It was just a happening. Just like a breeze it comes and just like a breeze it goes. When it comes, rejoice. And when it goes, say good-bye. Millions of couples in the world know there’s no love between them anymore. But for the sake of society, reputation, for respectability, they go on pretending they love each other. This pretension is the real sin, the real crime.”
This is not to conclude however that love cannot be eternal between people. It can, as long as there is respect for the other person and there are no expectations, while being true to yourself first in the relationship.

Life only guarantees surprises and unpredictability

Tell Life each morning that you are waiting to be surprised and you will never be disappointed.
This is the way I have learnt to live Life. And I have also learnt that Life’s unpredictability is the only guarantee we can get from Life! True, Life’s not unpredictable. It is extremely predictable when we know that the only thing it will surely deliver, unfailingly, ceaselessly, is surprise. And the only way to respond to Life’s surprises is to be in amazement. Take delight in the continuous surprises that Life throws at you. Enjoy them.
How can you enjoy a health problem, a lost job, a misunderstanding, a loss of reputation or something that is painful __ physically and emotionally__you may ask? The truth is you can enjoy them just as you can enjoy the birth of a new child, a raise, a vacation or an orgasm. You don’t enjoy the challenges (also surprises) that Life throws at you  because you don’t see these ‘surprises’ as opportunities to learn, grow and evolve. Instead you see them as problem situations where Life has ‘put you down’. In reality, Life is actually lifting you up, raising your level of challenge so that you can rise up with it. Look at your Life so far. Despite all the hard kicking and struggle you have been through, haven’t you evolved from what__and where__you were a few years ago? That is Life. Your screaming, defying, resisting is not going to change the way Life happens to you. The best way to avoid strife, agony, grief and disappointment is to have a child-like curiosity, gleefulness toward Life.
Zen Buddhism says: “Be empty. Look without any idea. Look into the nature of things but with no idea, with no prejudice, with no presupposition.” To be empty, you must just, simply, await Life’s next surprise. If you are forever willing to be surprised, you will never be disappointed.

Awaken to who you really are

Strangely, we have come to a stage, in this time and age, when who we really are needs proving. Because we have started to believe that we are something else.

Think about this: we are all created as good, loving, patient, generous, compassionate, fearless, human beings. But we have become opinionated, confused, impatient, angry, jealous, anxious, fearful and self-centered. Look at children, aren’t they fearless? They are not scared of putting their hands into a burning candle flame or peeping precariously over a balcony railing? They wouldn’t have a problem sharing whatever they have with another. They would gleefully hug, embrace and kiss. They are simple and caring. And look at ourselves: we are complex and are afraid of every step we take, of every decision we make. We are jealous, silently pining to acquire what others have, and don’t have inhibitions demonstrating our hatred for others openly – especially now with social media offering everyone, virtually, ‘freedom to express’. We seek to earn a living but never a want to be living through anything we do. But we also are lost, we are searching for something. So, we enrol for “Bhagavad Gita” classes or church sermons, we read countless books on spirituality or attend Programs on self-improvement. Yet, while all spiritual thinkers and all scriptures champion and point to us going back to being loving, caring and giving as the most intelligent way of living, we demand proof. We ask if this will really work? Ironic, isn’t it? That we need justification and validation to convince ourselves of who we truly are. 

A spiritual seeker, like us, Wahiduddin, has this wonderful learning to share on awakening to who we really are: “The ultimate goal of spiritual practices is beautifully summarized in this centuries-old Zen teaching wherein Master Nanyue Huairang encountered his disciple Mazu Daoyi, who was deep in meditation, and asked him: 

“Noble one, what are you trying to do, sitting there in meditation?” 

Mazu said, “I’m trying to become a Buddha.”

Master Nanyue then picked up a nearby piece of clay tile that had fallen from the roof, and began to rub it briskly on a stone.

Mazu asked, “What are you doing?”

The Master said, “I’m polishing this tile to make a mirror.”

Mazu said, “How can you produce a mirror by polishing a piece of tile?”

Master Nanyue replied, “How can you make a Buddha by sitting in meditation?”

Oh what a wonderful little story this is! The goal of our spiritual practices is not to become something else. Our spiritual practices will never magically transform us into something that we are not. The tile will never become a mirror; that is an unrealistic goal, and an unrealistic goal will be met with failure upon failure. The goal of all our spiritual journeys is not to make us into something that we are not, but rather to awaken us to the truth of who we really are!”

Whether we get the proof we seek or we find ourselves by seeking within, one thing is for sure: unless we go back to the true nature of our creation, to who we really are, we will never find inner peace. 

In crisis situations, just carry on stepping!

Don’t expect your problems or challenges to vanish into thin air. Don’t try wishing that they weren’t there. It is the nature of Life to have problems. Deal with Life, especially in a crisis, one step at a time.
Life in a crisis is pretty much like the headlights of your vehicle. You know where you want your vehicle to go. You know the destination. But in the darkness of the night, the headlight can’t get you to see the destination. But it sure can light up some part of the way, a few feet at a time, and as you make progress you get to see what lies ahead. This goes on, until of course, it is daylight or you reach the destination you were driving to. Life works exactly the same way. The night, the crisis, is not likely to go away immediately. A new dawn awaits you, but it is never dawn until daylight arrives. So, in the darkness of the night, follow the headlight principle. Don’t expect the entire road to be lit up. Be content with being able to see just a few feet at a time. In Life, therefore, when in a crisis situation, don’t expect clarity and answers to what lies a week down the road, a month, a year or in the distant future. Just believe that you will survive. Know that you will ultimately prevail. Know that you will eventually achieve your goal, reach your destination, realize your dream.
This is as true a statement as it is to say that a day always follows each night! Live each moment and each day completely__keeping your focus on where you want to go, living in the awareness that if you can see a few feet ahead, if you can survive today, you are making good progress. Don’t ask why are you in the dark phase or why you are groping with a crisis? Don’t wish and pine for the crisis not to have been there. These sentiments will cause you agony and hamper your ability to think clearly. The truth is that the crisis exists. The truth also is that you are caught in the throes of it! Accept it. Tell yourself that if you can last the next few steps of the journey, you will be blessed. Then when you pass each day, when you last that phase of the journey, work on lasting a little longer. And keep going until time relents, the crisis blows away and you are bathed in the warm glow of daylight, or what the world will call, ‘your success’! 

An old Chinese proverb reminds us that to get through all journeys, even the hardest ones, we need to take only one step at a time, but what’s important is, we must carry on stepping!

Whether hopeful or hopeless, be happy!

If being hopeless makes you peaceful, be hopeless. What’s important is that you be at peace with yourself!
Yesterday a reader wrote to me saying she didn’t want to be hopeful about her Life anymore. She said she had made peace with her miseries. I did not disagree with her. If she is peaceful, even while she’s ostensibly in a lot of pain, that’s what matters the most. It is wrong to assume that people can’t have a truck with their problems. Always, that’s how acceptance comes. But the key is that you must be happy accepting your Life the way it is. If you are not happy, if you are not at peace, then such acceptance is, virtually, no acceptance. An intrinsic effect, an outcome, of acceptance is that it puts an end to all your suffering. The pain continues to be there. But the suffering ceases. If you are still suffering then you have not accepted your situation fully, you are still grudging it.
I have found that being hopeless is not a bad thing to do – as long as you don’t sulk, brood and become depressive. Hopelessness is nothing but acceptance. You reach a state when you decide that things are going to be the way they are and you can’t do anything but endure the Life you have. So, if this is the state in which you find inner peace, then it is completely irrelevant whether you call it hopelessness or acceptance! But there’s a caveat here – don’t complain or grieve about your situation. Just learn to cope with it and live with it. You of course can continue to work on trying to solve your problems, but with acceptance and not with resentment!

Now, whether you accept a situation or not, whether you are hopeful about Life or not, your Life will change over time. Everything changes. And every situation passes on. What comes, goes away. And something new comes in its place, to soon go away. Hope and hopelessness are human inventions. They are mere labels we stick on otherwise listless events and circumstances. Think about it: if you are likely to get what you want, you are hopeful; and if you are unlikely to get what you want, you are hopeless. But neither your wanting something, or resenting something, is going to stop whatever is coming your way. This is how Life works – it has a mind of its own and it keeps on happening to you, irrespective of how you feel. So, why label situations as hopeful or hopeless – and sweat over either? Just go with the flow, living with what is. But if you can’t avoid labeling, live with the label too – like the reader who wrote in yesterday. Whatever you do, be at peace with yourself, with your Life, and, important, be happy!

What is over is over! Move on…

Each new beginning results from something ending.
Separations. Break-ups. Showdowns. Desperate but unsuccessful attempts to control people, situations or events. Whatever. They are all over when youstop responding to them. They are over when youdecide they are over.
Understand that whoever caused you pain and agony has accomplished whatever he or she set out to do. The event is over and out. By spew venom over the episode, by continuing to direct anger against the person who caused you the hurt, you are only hurting yourself. Sometimes, it may not be just a hurt from a word or an act that someone said or did. It may be from a separation that the pain, the grief ensues. And you want to avenge the person’s audacity to have betrayed your trust, that too with such impunity. You seek justice. And your entire being is consumed by this mad urge to get ‘even’. Because you feel used and discarded __ as if you were some tissue paper. The cocktail of hate, anger and grief can be depressing, debilitating, lethal. Yet there is a way out. You, and only you, can draw a line; and decide not to continue with stretching this episode and story any more. It is best to remember that dwelling on what is past__including the prime, good times, of a relationship, and pining for those times all over again __ is futile.

It is also important to remember that seasons change, people change, relationships change. Each new beginning results from something ending. So what is over is over. Get up. Dust yourself. Move on. And go on…living…

Celebrate Life by Celebrating technology. Don’t just Cerebrate Life and technology!

Things are incredibly simpler yet why are our lives more complex than ever before? Because, instead of using it, we are getting used by technology!
Today’s my daughter’s 21stbirthday! Vaani and I made a film (by ourselves; with no outside help!), with a selection of pictures from her Life, on Windows Movie Maker, to commemorate this special day. We hosted it on a private channel on YouTube. And sent the link to key family members across the world on a WhatsApp thread.
Can you imagine this being possible just 20 years ago? This is a new era. A simpler era. Where Google, and not Britannica Encyclopedia, is the fountainhead of all knowledge. Where, whether it is about cooking a meal with quinoa or it is about decoding an acid reflux situation or it is a query relating to the original Neerja Bhanot, you can source, all that you want, any time you want, in a nano-second. It is also an era where you can buy a movie ticket, a plane ticket, book a hotel room or order a book or pizza, from your mobile device. And you can also transfer money from one phone to another! You can stay connected with me__or someone who you may have never met in ages or ever__using Facebook and Twitter__without intruding on their time or privacy!
Illustration Courtesy: Internet
Copyright with original creator
The world’s so much smaller, so much closer, things are so amazingly simpler, yet, the billion buck question is, why are we still struggling? Why is it that we still ‘don’t have time’ for our families, our passions and our dreams? Why is it that we are not living fuller, more complete, fulfilling lives, if things have only gotten simpler? The problem is not with the information technology revolution. It has done its job__made Life simpler. It is we humans who have not learnt to adapt and usetechnology.
Schumpeter, a weekly column in The Economist  once described this state that our race finds itself in, and argued its causes, fabulously well: “…for most people the servant has become the master. Not long ago only doctors were on call all the time. Now everybody is. Bosses think nothing of invading their employees’ free time. Work invades the home far more than domestic chores invade the office. Otherwise-sane people check their smartphones obsessively, even during pre-dinner drinks, and send e-mails first thing in the morning and last thing at night. This is partly because smartphones are addictive…Employees find it ever harder to distinguish between “on-time” and “off-time”—and indeed between real work and make-work. Executives are lumbered with two overlapping workdays: a formal one full of meetings and an informal one spent trying to keep up with the torrent of e-mails and messages. None of this is good for businesspeople’s marriages or mental health.” Schumpeter recommended digital dieting. A kind of rationing of tech-led work time for freeing up more Life time.
I would like us to go the extra mile. My two-penny worth: Celebrate Life by Celebrating technology. Don’t just Cerebrate Life and technology!

Here’s how I do it. 1. Wear you Life and your attitude to Life on your sleeve. Let people know__even it is bosses, clients or children__who you are and how you live and work. 2. Never allow technology to slave-drive you. You can choose, and therefore please do, to be the Master. 2. Define your quiet or silence or ‘mouna’ periods. About an hour every day. No voice calls. Just remain silent. Focus on whatever you are doing. Whether it is walking, watching a movie or even preparing a report. Just because you are accessible, need not mean you are available. 3. Check your mails, your text messages, your Facebook or Twitter account but don’tbe trigger-(keyboard)-happy. Choose whether and when to respond. Mull over the information streaming in. If it is bad news__a client feedback, an exasperated boss’ rant, a project disaster, a child’s agony__deal with it with patience. Treat the information as an opportunity to spiritually train yourself not to react. If it is good news, don’t exult either. Again spiritually evolve with the opportunity. 4. Flag as favorites some inspirational web pages (such as this one, J!) and visit them each time your mind wavers and grazes on negative emotions __ worry, anxiety, stress. 5. Do all non-core stuff__like paying your bills, transferring money, booking tickets and hotels__online, at times of the week or day when your energy is low. That way you save time for more value creation when your energy is the highest! 6. Take backups of all important data weekly __ phone contacts, mails, computer hard-disk data __ that’s a sure, and the only, way to beat technology letting you down. 7. Remember: An intelligent Master is one who can use the slave, technology, to live a better Life! 

So, if you find yourself stressed out on any morning by 10 AM, when you are technically supposed to be starting your work day, know that you are to blame for the complexity that defines your Life. And the only way to make your Life simple, is to simply take charge __ of your Life and the technology you have! You will live happily, healthily, soon, after you become the Master again…..! 

Go to work on your problems than just lament about them

When Life’s problems seem insurmountable, take each day as it comes, but keep at your problems without thinking of the outcomes.
There will be times when nothing will seem to go your way. Situations at work will be unproductive – stressful, political and complex. Your relationship could be heading nowhere – often leaving you lonely and lost. The money may just not be enough. And any efforts you make to fix things, to find solutions, to make the situation better, may only end up confounding matters. The normal response to such a situation is anger, frustration and depression. When these emotions arise, observe them. Hold them and give them your attention. Ask yourself if feeling angry, frustrated or depressed is of any use in a situation when you don’t like what you are getting in Life. When you realize the futility of anger, frustration and depression, you will immediately want to let them go.
Running away from Life or feeling sad continuously for what has happened or feeling guilty for what you may have contributed to what has happened – none of these serve any purpose. In fact, Life never cares how you feel. Life just goes on happening. And if you bring debilitating thoughts to the table, if you keep clinging on to the negativity that arises as a result within you, you will feel bogged down and held hostage.
What is a problem situation at the end of the day? Any situation that you dislike is a problem situation. Plain and simple. If what you dislike must go away – one of two things must happen. Either you must work on driving it away. Or you must walk away from it. You can’t forever be lamenting that you dislike a situation. That’s escapism. Of course, in any situation, you can act, you can take remedial steps. So, act. Don’t worry about the results. Simply act. An action may lead you to a result. And you may like or dislike that result. Then act again if you must change that result. That’s how it works. Inaction on account of depression, anger, guilt, grief or worry is sacrilege. For anything about a current reality to change, you have to change something within you first. Which is, you must be ready and willing to go to work on your problem regardless of circumstance, outcome, reward or recognition. Just keep chipping away. When the going gets tough again, when you face rejection, failure and hit another no-go place, you may well face another bout of depression and frustration. Hold your depression again and examine its futility. Then let it all go. And you go back to work, to chipping away at your problem. One day, one day surely, what you are chipping away at will give way. And that day, when you connect the dots backward, you will be grateful for the choice you made – to have gone to work on your problem than sit and bemoan it!