In today’s Podcast, I share how we can make peace with pain and avoid suffering.
Listen time: 5:11 minutes
In today’s Podcast, I share how we can make peace with pain and avoid suffering.
Listen time: 5:11 minutes
In today’s Podcast, I make a case for why happiness cannot be pursued. We postpone happiness, so we are unhappy. Happiness is not elusive, we are. Simply, trust the process of Life, let go and be happy despite the circumstances.
Listen time: 4:13 minutes
My Vlog today says receiving help and support from people around you is an integral part of the process of Life! There is no shame in receiving. It is a humbling experience.
Viewing time: 2:28 minutes
Today’s Vlog flows from this question that I was asked recently: “Do you believe in God?” And I talk about about why it is relevant to celebrate the Godliness in us – by being Grateful for the Gift of Life! This understanding is key to achieving our Goals!
Viewing time: 3:00 minutes
A lady called me frantically the other day. She was upset that her husband, who has not spoken to her mother over the last eight years, expected her (his wife) to look after his mother! She conceded that she didn’t see any value in having an honest conversation with her spouse. Even so, she was keen to understand how she can learn the art of being happy while living without expectations.
The lady’s quest is in the right direction. She has nailed her focus. What is the point in trying to change others if you believe they won’t heed the voice of reason? Instead, why not transform yourself? And if anyone can truly learn to be happy, living without expectations, and despite the circumstances, they would certainly have learned the art of intelligent living. For this to happen, essentially, one needs to train and tame the mind. You must learn to simply still the mind, you must learn to just be.
Just being may sound and appear to be difficult. But it is not.
In Zen Buddhist practice, there’s this concept called zazen. It invites the seeker to simply sit, “opening the hand of thought” – which means to drop all judgment and let words, actions, events just unfold, just flow. This means assuming the role of a witness of one’s own Life. In that witness state, you always see the futility of clinging on to emotions, things, opinions and relationships. As a witness you just are – you are not observing, you are not engaging, you simply are. Just being brings phenomenal clarity to you and helps you anchor within.
My advice to the lady who called me would be to embrace and practice zazen. She must learn to just be, to be a witness of her own Life and not be involved emotionally in the actions of her spouse. Learning this art of just being takes time and practice. It is like riding a bicycle for the first time – initially it appears tough and you need help, but, soon, you are on your own. And then you feel liberated!
How can I be a witness of my Life when my world is pulled at from different directions, you may wonder. Good question. But in some situations is Life, what else can you do? By trying to control the uncontrollable__Life__you are subjecting yourself to misery. Your suffering comes from this desire to control. Instead let go, you step away, be detached. The essence of detachment lies in just being. Not in controlling. Not in demanding. Not in becoming. So, just be.
Osho says it profoundly, “There is nothing to become. You are already that, it is already the case. Stop running after shadows. Sit silently and be. Sitting silently, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself.”
What a beautiful perspective. Step away from your Life. Let go and get some zazen into your day today!
In today’s Podcast, I share how every experience in Life is a means to grow, evolve and to understand Life better. I have realized that God manifests through the compassion of Life around us. So, let’s just be grateful for the challenges we cannot immediately resolve – because they help us break down our ego.
Listen time: 4:15 minutes
I recently found my friend sparring animatedly with his friend over a Facebook post. It was a political stand my friend had taken on a post on his Wall. And his friend was rabid, scathing and unforgiving of my friend’s stance. My friend argued tooth and nail. But soon the conversation turned into a verbal slugfest and ended with my friend unfriending and blocking his ‘friend’ on Facebook.
I am sure the disagreement between the two gentlemen could have been handled differently. But, well, that’s the way it was meant to be!
I wonder why people find it difficult to let others have their opinions. In fact, the key to inner peace is to respect another’s opinion – because it belongs to them and they are entitled to it, just as you are entitled to yours! Important, your desire to correct another’s opinion or to deny them their right to have one can cause you untold suffering!
Vaani and I are often at the receiving end of criticism or unsolicited opinion on how we must be leading our lives. Particularly after they have read my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal or have heard my Talk (of the same name), some people approach us saying they differ with us. They disapprove of the choices we have made. And they are open about what they feel. But both Vaani and I have learnt to receive public opinion with gratitude and detachment.
We recognize that when you go out there and share your Life – or views – in public, you are essentially inviting people to look at you. Now, when you extend such an invitation, chances are people looking at you, listening to you, or hearing your story, will have an opinion about you. And they make their opinion known. When such opinion is in sync with your expectations, you call it praise. You love it then. But the moment an opinion doesn’t fit into your scheme of things, you dub it as criticism and you loathe it. We have learnt not to get carried away with any sentiment – with praise or with critique or with criticism.
We believe that the best way to deal with criticism is to deal with like hot candle wax. First allow it to dry up. It is a lot easier to discard it and get it out of your system when it has become cold and stale. So, don’t respond. Just let the other person express themselves, you remain unresponsive. Just let the opinion be what it is – a mere opinion. Second, appreciate where the person who is critical of your actions is coming from. Even if the person is unjustified, rude, violent or cruel, understand that that person has a right to her or his view, to their opinion. It belongs to that person and does not belong to you __ even if it is about you. Third, understand the message that is being conveyed and see if you can learn from what is being said. Train your mind to respond with an exclamation__from awe, from wonder, from amazement__ that says “Is that so?” instead of responding with anger and violence while asking “How dare you?” Know that when you, even if it is only in your mind, question the other person’s right to opinionate, criticize, it is really your ego which is leading you. So, refuse to follow it; turn your attention away.
Learn to treat the whole experience like a game. Tell yourself: “Hey! Watch out! This situation, this comment, this person is provoking me. And my mind is urging me to fall prey, to succumb. Let me escape!” And each time you win, punch your fist up like a champion will. When you do succumb, when you do get dragged into the situation and when you emerge from it bruised and grieving, remind yourself to not fall prey again. Simple.
Like with all other games you have learned to play in Life, you get better and better at dealing with criticism with practice. Then, over a period of time, you will have mastered the art of being unmoved. All criticism, then, will just fall off you, unstuck, even when it is thrown at you!!
In today’s Vlog, I point out that success and failure are mere labels that society tries to pin on to us. To be happy, we must take neither seriously!
Viewing time: 2:38 minutes
In today’s Podcast, I reflect on the fact that we are all in a queue, waiting for our impending, inevitable death. We have two options here. Exist cowering in fear and miss the opportunity to live a full Life despite your circumstances. Or accept your reality and choose to live fully – no matter what! I draw perspectives from Anu Menon’s 2016 film ‘Waiting’! Listen time: 5:17 minutes
My conversation with poet and writer Arundhathi Subramaniam for my ‘The Happiness Road’ Series that appears in DT Next every Sunday. Read the conversation on the DT Next page here. ‘The Happiness Road’ is also my next Book. Photo Credit: Vinodh Velayudhan
“Happiness”, says Arundhathi Subramaniam, “is an understanding. It is being in a state of wonder at one level and being deeply who you are at another level.”
This understanding for Arundhathi has come about through an on-going, evolutionary journey. As a child she was wonder-struck when she first came into contact with poetry through one of T.S.Eliot’s poems, “The Love Song of J Alfred Prukfrock”. “There was music, there was dance and there was a sense of total amazement that the words in the poem invoked in me. When I relate back to that encounter I can only describe it as happiness,” she recalls. She says, years later, when as an adult she sought to find out the meaning of Life, she found more meaning in that feeling of being wonder-struck by poetry, in the happiness of that memory, than in anything else. “I believe we become unhappy the moment that sense of wonder is replaced by cleverness, by worldly desire and logic.” I ask her how she stays clear of such ‘real world’ demands. Her reply: “After my Master’s degree I was almost tempted to pursue a doctorate program. But my inner voice spoke up. It reminded me that poetry is primary to my Life. So, within 45 days of being a college lecturer, I quit. My decision has meant less stability, lesser money, but it has meant more happiness being a poet.”
But does following your bliss make Life less challenging? Surely, there’s no such guarantee clarifies Arundhathi. She recounts how, in 1997, she “tumbled into a dark space where no language, no poetry, no love, nothing, could enter.” That phase led her onward to be a seeker. “I discovered that any authentic spiritual journey involves knowing that you will sometimes be on terra firma, with free-flowing traffic, or you will encounter potholes. Happiness, I have realized, is the ability to be deeply present in both realities and know that you have been given the shock absorbers to deal with any upheavals,” she explains.
Arundhathi says that in her world, a sense of cluelessness while dealing with the pulls and pressures of everyday living, and the joy of expressing through words and silence, through her poetry, co-exist. “I have learnt to enjoy the ride for the way it is. So I am experiencing complete freedom – in a heightened, alive, state.”
That’s a truly unputdownable state. It is a.k.a happiness!