What time is your appointment with Life?

Launching “#HelpYourselfToHappiness – Inspirational Reflections for Everyday Living”…This is a video blog series which I will post from time-to-time.

Today’s post is on an appointment that we unwittingly miss ever so often – “Our Appointment With Life”!

Excerpt: “Vietnamese Buddhist Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh writes: ‘Our appointment with Life is in the present moment. The place of our appointment is right here, in this place.’ So beautiful!”

(Kindly bear with the video quality and editing – still new to the medium! :))


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Living fully is more important than arriving first

Don’t compete with anyone or anything in Life. Life’s is not a race that you must aim to complete first. It’s not a battle either where only the fittest will survive. It is about living, letting others live too, and enjoying every moment that you are on this planet doing what you are good at and love doing.
For the last four weeks, the front pages of the Chennai editions of most leading newspapers have been taken by Kalyan Jewellers. Announcing the brand’s arrival in Chennai the ads claimed that Kalyan’s was the largest jewellery showroom in the world!!! A high-voltage star-studded campaign featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Prabhu, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Nagarjuna led the media blitzkrieg. But even as Kalyan opened their showroom last Friday, their rivals Prince, Lalitha and Joy Alukkas upped the ante splurging on full page ads. This morning’s Page 1 of The Hindu’s Chennai edition was taken by Joy Alukkas to claim that they owned the world’s largest jewelry showroom “as certified by the Limca Book of World Record”. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you are the first or the largest, what really matters is that you are great on service and quality, ethical and true to your customers. To me, this avaricious need to be “seen” in a certain way takes away the joy out of living and doing business!
Unfortunately, our education system and our social architecture promotes just the opposite sentiment. Both erroneously, irresponsibly, define excellence as being the first and getting on top of the world. So, in school you are encouraged to top the class and in society you are measured by the wealth, power and stature you have. Therefore, many of us are running a rat race, trying to outdo the others, wanting to be first and more importantly be seen as the first. A way to examine this perspective is to understand that ultimately, however fast we get anywhere in Life, our stories will allhave to end. So, why are we rushing? Think about it. Our Life is ticking away, one moment at a time. So, does it make sense to run at all, worse, run faster and only to get to the end faster or is it prudent to savor each moment, drink in its beauty, help others with whatever we can and arrive at our story’s end, gracefully, peacefully?
Celebrated Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar, helps us understand this perspective by sharing why he chose notto direct the remake of the film that his father Yash Johar had originally produced. In 1990, Yash Johar, had produced ‘Agneepath’with Amitabh Bachchan in the lead role of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan. While the film won a lot of critical acclaim and also got Amitabh Bachchan his first National Award, it failed to be a commercial success. This left Yash Johar personally heart-broken and financially broke. Karan Johar recalls that his father eventually died grieving his favorite production’s failure. As a token of respect to his father and to celebrate his memory, Karan has produced the remake of ‘Agneepath’ (in 2012) with Hrithik Roshan playing the role of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan. Times of India asked Karan Johar why he chose not to direct the film himself: “Dad had pinned a lot of hopes on it as the previews had been full of praise, but when the film didn’t do well at the box office it broke his heart. Dad always wanted to remake it. One day Karan (Malhotra), who was my associate director on ‘My Name Is Khan’, and I were chatting when I told him about my desire to make it again. Karan told me he was a huge fan of the original so I asked him if he would revisit it. He agreed immediately. I am incapable of directing a film like ‘Agneepath’. I can do only what I am good at, so I would have been the worst choice to direct it. It has aggression, action and an inherent violence in it – things I am not capable of directing in my films. Karan is an exceptionally talented and angry boy, and for this film one requirement was anger. There’s an inherent sense of suppressed anger in Karan and ‘Agneepath’was the platform to express that.”
So beautiful. Karan Johar is such a successful director and has delivered several blockbuster hits over the last 15 years. There sure may have been a temptation to want to direct it himself had someone else been in his shoes. But that’s intelligent living. When you make a powerful choice of enjoying Life rather than proving or making a point. Because, in the end, to have lived__fully__is more important than to have arrived__first!

What time’s your appointment with Life?


The unforgettable ‘appointment with death’ scene from Agneepath

In the iconic, original, Hindi movie ‘Agneepath’ (Path of Fire, 1990, Mukul Anand), Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, played admirably, memorably by Amitabh Bachchan, tells the Police Commissioner, M.S.Gaitonde (Vikram Gokhale) that he (Vijay) has ‘an appointment with death’ at 6.30 PM that evening. The unforgettable dialogue is, ‘Apun ka maut ke saath appentment hai, kya?’.

I was reminded of that movie and that dialogue when I came across the concept of our appointment with Life. With some time to kill, I ended up browsing through the famous Nalanda bookstore at the Taj Mahal Hotel, by the Gateway of India, yesterday. There, Vitenamese Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn’s (Thay) book “Our Appointment With Life” stared back at me.

It is such a simple and beautiful concept. In our everyday Life, all through each week, our calendars are full of appointments. Technology has made the calendar universally compatible across multiple platforms – MS Outlook, Apple, Google, smart phones and so on. Reminders and alerts are possible too. Overlapping events are pointed out. And at a glance a whole month or quarter or year can be looked up. Many people I know have often displayed enormous pride in declaring that their calendars are full for many, many weeks and months.

But what about our appointment with Life?

Thay writes in his usual, inimitable, simple, soul invoking style: “Our appointment with Life is in the present moment. The place of our appointment is right here, in this place.” So beautiful.

Thay quotes The Buddha from the Dhammapada as saying, “Let go of what is the past. Let go of what is not yet. Observe deeply what is happening in the present moment, but do not be attached to it.” This, says Thay, is the way to keep our appointment with Life! To live perpetually in the present moment.

 Agneepath’s’ Vijay Dinanath Chauhan famously demonstrated fearlessness by agreeing to keep his appointment with death, by venturing out to meet his detractors who were waiting to assassinate him. What about you and me? Of course, we all have an appointment with death – except we don’t know when it actually is! But we can choose to keep our appointment with Life by learning to live, with detachment, in the present moment – unburdened by the past and unmindful of the future. Simply, by being – engaged with present!