A Gift and a Blessing

Life is an eternal blessing, an endless course of abundance. We are not seeing this always because we are steeped in scarcity thinking!
Focusing on what we don’t have comes naturally to all of us. But for each thing that we don’t have or for each dimension of our Life where there’s something scarce, there’s a blessing, another aspect that’s soaked in abundance. For every dark cloud that hangs over us, there is the proverbial silver lining. To find it, we must just let go of our grief over what has happened and of what we don’t have, and simply survey what we have left with us. When we let go and learn to live with what we have we will immediately experience inner peace.
Some months ago, I had to sell my car. It was old and was breaking down far too frequently. There wasn’t money to either fix it or replace it with another car. We simply had to let it go. It was a difficult decision, having had a car for over 25 years, for as long as I have been independent and married. The question that confronted me – and my wife – was how would our daughter manage. She had never used public transport before. Not that she was spoilt by luxury. Hardly. But there had miraculously never been a need for her to take a bus or auto-rickshaw ever – to school or to her social outings or to college. We called her and updated her of our hard decision and predicament. We advised her to use autos for transport. To our surprise, she declined. She said she understood the situation we are in and so wanted to use train and bus for her commute. We tried explaining to her that since we was not used to either mode, she may find it difficult to cope with the crowds at rush hour. But she insisted that she wanted to give it a shot. We agreed that she would try for two weeks at which point we would review. In exactly a fortnight our daughter came back to declare that she was “comfortable and was settling in” with her new reality. She said it so simply, so responsibly and so convincingly that we did not feel like countering her with our parental anxiety and reasoning.

It was a beautiful moment of awakening and discovery for me personally. Here I was grappling with what I didn’t have – a car, and so was steeped in scarcity thinking, wondering how a child who had never ever used public transport would cope. And here was Life that had blessed me and my wife with such a wonderful daughter who not only had the maturity to accept our current reality – in which anything material, even a basic taken-for-granted gadget, device, instrument, machine or asset, is a luxury – but also had the sense of adventure to plunge head-on into an environment she was not familiar with. I don’t share this by way of self-congratulation or to praise my child, but I share to tell you how beautiful Life’s ways are. Our daughter (and son) fills our Life with abundance – this blessing far outweighs what we don’t have and what, perhaps, no longer matters!

Indeed. There’s so much abundance in us and around us. And not all of it is material or linked to money or to what money can buy. Most of it, in fact, can make us happier even if we didn’t have money or things with us. Someone I know, Madhuri Velegar, who used to write for Femina magazine from Bangalore, died of cancer a couple of days ago. A friend pulled out what she had written sometime back (on how she felt in her last days) and posted it on facebook: “…I got drawn into meditation. Almost daily I stared long at the Gulmohar tree and its flowers outside my house. I waited for sunsets, I sat under the morning sun, I worshipped the rain…” That’s the abundance that I am talking of.
Our lives are abundant too. Our sunrises and sunsets, the rains, the flowers, the birds, the love and warmth of our children and the companionship of our soul-mates, all these are available to us and are waiting to soak us in abundance. Provided, of course, we stop complaining about what we don’t have and instead celebrate what we have! When we do that we too will realize what a wonderful gift Life is and what a blessing it is to be alive!

You will never be denied what you need by Life!

Whatever you need will always be provided for. And if you don’t have or get something that you want, it really means you don’t need it right now!
This really is how Life works. If you carefully examine the Life that you have lived until now, you will notice that your needs have always been taken care of – with amazing consistency. If anything was denied to you at any point in time, it may well have been only something you wanted. This is true for everyone – irrespective of who they are, what they do and where they live.
We don’t see this very evident sign of this whole Universe, and its inhabitants, being soaked in this abundance (of every need being fulfilled), because we are always focusing our attention on what we don’t have or don’t get. Also, our definition of what we need or what anyone needs is not how Life looks at it. In fact, Life’s way – how it thinks and works – is  inscrutable. So, if people who live in pitiable conditions, in slums for instance, are, in our opinion, denied even basic, bare necessities – Life’s view may be different. And we can’t even quite know what that view is or why do some people have to live the way they have to. Yet even these people manage to survive only because Life takes care of them – again providing whatever “they” need appropriately.
Your grief comes mainly when you think of what isn’t there, what you have not got and what you don’t have. Almost all your waking time is spent in such unproductive scarcity thinking. If only you shifted your attention to what you have, you will realize that everything you need is there – and it keeps coming, just in time, every single time! This is called abundance thinking. It means that you must know, and keep the faith, that if you have been created, you will be provided for – with whatever you need, as long as you are alive!
So, switch the way you think. Know and be sure that you may not always get what you want – but you will never be denied what you need by Life! 

When nothing works, try CTRL+ALT+DEL

Last evening I attended the launch of a unique initiative that focuses on providing preventive and curative care for people with diabetes. The program, with special emphasis on women, is the brainchild of renowned endocrinologist Dr.Usha Sriram of ACEER (Associates in Clinical Endocrinology Education and Research) and her team. Dr.Sriram shared a simple prescription for diabetics. She said: “CTRL+ALT+DEL – Control your Lifestyle, Alter your Diet and Delete unwanted/negative influences from your Life. Sometimes, you simply may have to reboot!”
I have found the CTRL+ALT+DEL method particularly inspiring. This is what we have all learned to do with our computers when programs running on them ‘hang’. We decided to use it on our Firm, when our business turned “unresponsive” some years ago. It was bleeding losses quarter-on-quarter and guzzling cash in the form of debt. That’s when we embarked on a strategy that we called ‘CTRL+ALT+DEL’. We closed 6 offices, painfully let go of 38 clients and as many team members. We basically bombed our Firm and ‘rebooted’ it!
Sometimes, Life requires a ‘forced’ pause, especially when it doesn’t seem to be heading anywhere, and possibly, a reboot. So CTRL+ALT+DEL in a Life context means that you review and revalidate every premise that you have been holding as true.
CTRL – CONTROL – the urge to grieve over what has happened or to conclude that there is no way forward and that it’s all over
ALT – ALTER – your focus; stop thinking about what you don’t have – SCARCITY THINKING; instead, look at what you have – ABUNDANCE THINKING
DEL – DELETE – the anxiety to want to solve all your problems at the same time; if you can’t find solutions to your problems yourselves (either personally or through experts), learn to go with the flow of LIFE
Remember: Life is not to be endured or suffered. It has to be enjoyed. Allow no one and nothing to come between you and your enjoying Life! Be obsessed with your happiness. And if you like, be selfish! Because from your inner core of happiness, is born your ability to serve, to be selfless and to make a difference in this world. And in case you are struggling with a listless Life just now, when nothing seems to be working, try rebooting it with the CTRL+ALT+DEL method. It works!
  

Of Raavan, Ram and Jannat

The conditions inhibiting our inner peace are, interestingly, within us! Our true, native state is love and peace. But years of conditioning, in the way in which we have been raised and how we lead our lives, have suppressed that true state. Our only task is to undo that conditioning and remove all the layers of anxiety, misery, jealousy, self-doubt, anger, hatred and fear that suppress our true nature__and we too will return to being loving and peaceful!
I watched the Hindi movie Swades (2004, Ashutosh Gowariker, starring Shah Rukh Khan) another time last night. There’s a line in a beautiful song “Pal Pal Hai Bhaari” (Lyrics by Javed Akhtar, Music by A R Rahman) in the film that goes like this: “…man se Raavan jo nikaale, Ram uske man mein hai…”. It refers to the plight of the devotee who is signing the Lord’s praise but actually nurtures a lot of hatred and evil within. Raavan (the demon) and Ram (the Lord) are metaphors here. That line in the song is a reminder that if you really want to experience the Lord (love and peace) get rid of what’s tormenting you (the evil, whatever’s debilitating, in you)! The real import for all us, mortals, caught in the rat race, is that to be truly peaceful, we need to throw out all the conditions that inhibit our inner peace from our lives.
In Urdu there’s a word called jannat – it means paradise. Jannat is where love, peace, prosperity and all the good things in Life are in abundance. Most people believe jannat is something to be attained after completing our worldly tasks, after fulfilling our responsibilities, perhaps, in an after-Life.  But the truth is that there’s only this one lifetime, as we know it. And whatever has to be attained and experienced has to be done here. Now. By accepting and loving what is.
It is by resisting what is that we are piling on the layers of wasted emotions that restrain our true, native state, of love and peace, from flowering. Look at young children. They just submit themselves to Life, to their environment, to the conditions into which they are born – unquestioningly, without resisting. Which is why they are in complete bliss. We will do well to draw inspiration from children around us! And experience Ram and jannat – here, in the now!

Stop being a miser – and you will never be miserable!


Have you ever wondered why when we are created so ‘able’, let us say arguably by the creator, do we end up becoming so ‘miserable’?

The answer lies in the word ‘miserable’. In one sense of the word, ‘miserable’ means someone who has great wealth but leads a despicable, wretched existence in trying to be stingy with spending it. The wealth  that we truly have is this Life, the ability to love and to be loved, and through living intelligently, the ability to be happy. When we don’t recognize this great wealth that we have, and keep pining over what we don’t have, we live in misery. To become ‘able’__in fact, recognize and be that which we already are__we must stop being miserly. We must be generous with our love for all that is part of creation. And through loving Life, unconditionally, we discover abundant, limitless, inner joy!

In fact, as Eckhart Tolle, author of the best seller, The Power of Now, says, “All that you think Life is withholding from you is what your are withholding from Life!”

So stop being a miser. Let go of all you have! And all that holds you back. See how able then you are to celebrate Life’s boundless abundance!


Allow the Universe’s abundance to drench you


What you don’t have will always torment you. And what you have will always be taken for granted, often forgotten. If you can swap these two patterns of thinking and living, you will be in bliss! Which is, take for granted, and if you will, forget about what you don’t have and instead rejoice over what you do have!

Staying wedded to what you don’t have is staying steeped in scarcity thinking. Celebrating and loving what you have is abundance thinking! Noted author and speaker, Dr.Wayne Dyer, 72, explains it so simply, so powerfully: “Abundance is not something we acquire. Abundance is something we tune into.”

Abundance, despite its glorious potential, is still a poor contender in the cosmic sweepstakes. What hogs most of human attention, most of the time, is the negativity that we ourselves create around us. And from within us. Everything seems to be wrong with the world. Hunger, Disease, Suffering, Terrorism. Everything also seems to be wrong with your own world too. You have so many problems that an immediate shortlist is, well, impossible! It is always a long litany of woes! Then there’s your view of the world. Where you imagine that someone is better off, happier, wealthier than you are. So, that comparison unleashes a whole set of new problems __ both perceptional and real! With so much negativity, how can one tune into abundance?

Yesterday, my wife and I had to walk through a crowded, noisy street __ full of people, vehicles, hawkers and litter! We had just finished a rather exacting day__having had to examine a fully blown, 70mm, version of our Life and our immediate, attendant problems. By the evening we were exhausted, battered and bruised. But the busy street necessitated deft negotiations with its other occupants to create enough room for both of us to walk. At one point, I realized, my wife was holding my hand. It was a beautiful moment of discovery. It was energizing. I realized how blessed I was, in these times, to have a companion that, literally, was willing to walk hand in hand with me. I was drenched in the abundance of that moment, in the beauty of that realization! All my problems seemed momentarily insignificant. What mattered was the joy of knowing how blessed my Life is!

Indeed, to be happy, peaceful and blissful we have no other choice but to celebrate the abundance in and around us! And to celebrate abundance, we must align our intention, attention and energy! All of us have the right intentions. Because none of us wakes up planning or wanting to do a bad job. So, from an intention perspective, we are all winners. Each of us wants to do good, be happy and be successful. But where is our attention? Almost all of the time, our attention is not on what we want to do or what we want to become. That is, our attention is NEVER on our intention. Our attention is on what we don’t have, on our wants and on what worries us. So, fundamentally our attention is steeped in scarcity while our intention is to be soaked in abundance. Isn’t it jarring?

That really explains why we are all caught in the world wide web of depression, pain and suffering. Being grateful for the blessings and abundance in your Life is a sure way of driving out depression. None of us forgets to brush our teeth in the mornings. But how many of us remember to be grateful when we wake up for another day to live, another day to love and be loved, another day to serve and be served?

Look at your Life afresh. Look at what you want done in the remainder of your lifetime. Look at what’s AVAILABLE __ than what is MISSING! Discover the abundance in your Life, love it, than brood over what’s scarce, and allow yourself to be drenched by it!


Learning to live when you hate Life


We all know that not all our wants are ever going to be met. So, even though, often times, we do plunge into despair and grief over unmet expectations, we have the ability to overcome, repair and revive ourselves.

But what do you do when your basic needs are not met? What do you do when you are not loved? When you are not understood? What do you do when you don’t know where your next rupee or dollar in income is going to come from? What do you do when it is a special day in your Life, your child’s birthday, and you can’t even afford a new dress for her? What do you do when the only person you can relate to in the world has been taken away by Life, in a ghastly, unexpected accident? What do you do when you know you are dying of cancer and there’s so much pain that it feels like your whole body is on fire __ and yet death seems so elusive?

What do you do when you must live though you wish you could actually die?

Contrary to what you want to do is, often, what you have to do. And to do that, to live when you would much rather die, you must look your situation in the eye, and despite all your grief, choose to live, LIVE, in that tormenting, torturous moment. That’s when you will find that despite all the pain, you feel no suffering. When you have learned to overcome suffering, you have learned the way to joy, you have learned to live!

Yesterday, a close friend called. He is going through a painful phase in his Life where his brother and he are separating as business partners. The separation has turned messy. My friend says he has tried to be completely giving and has agreed to all terms and conditions stipulated by his brother, however outrageous they have been. The idea was to ensure a peaceful, amicable partitioning of the business. Even so, said my friend, his brother was taunting him and provoking him. My friend did not want to blow up and confound an already vitiated situation. So, he called me asking for advice on what I thought he could possibly be doing.

I was reminded, even as my friend spoke, of a similar situation I encountered some years back. My entire family had concluded that (my wife and) I had cheated them in a transaction involving family property and some substantial cash borrowings. In fact, they still do. Just hearing them say what they did, and reading some ghastly text messages from my siblings, was both humiliating and traumatic. I must have died a thousand deaths in the days and weeks following that episode. Then, call it a revelation, call it enlightenment, I suddenly reasoned that I sought my family’s understanding because I needed it badly. It dawned on me that to understand me (and my wife) did not appear to be on my family’s agenda. Instead misunderstanding every word and action of ours appeared to be on their agenda. So, what was the point in demanding understanding when it was not likely to be given? I looked at the scenario dispassionately and came to the following conclusions:

1.  What was the basis of the misunderstanding? – My family believed that my wife and I were faking our bankruptcy and so were feigning an inability to settle money borrowed from the family

2.   Where was my grief, my suffering coming from? – That I, a son of my family, was being misunderstood, was not being trusted. My ego demanded trust. Whereas the situation completely lacked it because my family simply did not give it or me any trust!

3.  What was the way to end my suffering? – Settle my family’s money for which I didn’t have any means then (or even now) or let go of my need, my craving, for understanding. I chose the latter.

4.   Despite what I felt or experienced, I realized my family had a right to its views and opinions. They didn’t fulfill my need, but surely they believed their reasoning to be sound and so backed their behavior!

I shared this learning with my friend yesterday. I told him to give up his need for his brother to understand him. I told him that at the root of all our suffering is a cause. The cause often has little to do with what may have led to a situation. Instead it has everything to do with our need for the situation to be different. So, let me clarify, it is not even about a want. It is about a need, a more basic, often elementary, non-negotiable, human requirement. For instance, a son, a child will need a family’s understanding and not merely want it. A brother will need his sibling’s understanding and not merely want it. A companion will need her partner’s love and not just want it. A cancer patient will need a cure or death and not simply want either of them! If money be a common denominator for a standard of survival in the world, a basic income is then a need for the qualified, skilled and experienced, and not just a want.

Yet, as is with my story, or my friend’s, or even your own, Life, sometimes, will put you in a place where even a basic need is not fulfilled. You will initially hate such a Life. Because unhappiness__when wants are not met__can perhaps still be endured. But insecurity__when needs are not provided for__suffocates. And yet you have to live! That’s a difficult place to be in. This is when you must learn to live fully with what is__without grief or angst or rancor or suffering. When you do that, your own definition of what is it that you need will undergo a tectonic shift. Then, you will realize that Life is so benevolent. Because all that you really, badly, immediately, need to live is always available, in abundance, to you! Then some of your needs become wants and you reconcile to them not being met. Such an awakening and reconciliation delivers inner peace unto you. You then learn to surrender completely to the moments that make up your Life and you live, fully, freely, peacefully, joyously, in them!