When we are illuminated from within, we are enlightened

The ability to see Life clearly is what leads us to be illuminated from within, to be enlightened.
A holy Hindu scripture, Brihadanyaka Upanishad, has a prayer with the line that goes “Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya”, imploring the Almighty to lead the prayerful from ‘darkness unto light’. From a state of existing to awakening. From being unenlightened to enlightened. This state, while salubrious to the soul when in prayer, is often, in all practicality, seen as unattainable. And this is why humankind fail to see the huge opportunity to evolve and awaken to this simple truism.
We think enlightenment is for the Buddha, for the fakirs, for the Himalayan Masters. And that those of us who are caught in the worldly web of action, emotion and desires, have to be content with just prayer which sounds pious on the lips but is listless in the heart! And so, we have concluded that several of us will suffer in the dark recesses of our existence. This need not be so. There is a way out. Interestingly, simply, practically, it is possible to lift ourselves from darkness to light. Instantaneously. All we need to do is to see Life with clarity.
Legend has it that when the Buddha was dying, and was about to embark on his ultimate journey, his disciple Anand, was distraught and was crying. He asked the Buddha, “What will happen to me?  Who will guide me now?  Who will show me the light?”  Buddha opened his eyes and uttered his last famous words, “Appo Deepo Bhava”. (Be a light unto yourself!)  “There is no one else on this inner journey.  We are all alone.  We need our own light to show the way,” was the advice the Buddha gave Anand.
Indeed, to find enlightenment, you don’t need anyone, you don’t need a venue, a tree or a religion. You only need yourself. You are the One! You are the only one who can be your own light. What is this light? This light is nothing but clarity in and about Life. To see things as they are. And not to interpret them or try to choose between them. There is always clarity in each moment. And you need not do anything other than just see it. For example, if there is death of a dear one, see it that way. Don’t avoid it or lament it. If there is loss in business, in love, see it as a loss. If there is birth of a child, see the new Life. Don’t reason, don’t justify, don’t exult, don’t gloat. When you see Life for what it is, as it is, choice disappears.
J.Krishnamurthi (1895~1986), the renowned philosopher, calls this choicelessness. This ability to see things as they are. When we have the clarity of this insight, it brings us freedom. Because we are no longer fearful of a choice that may lead to grief or are desiring success and witnessing the bloating of our egos because we chose right. This clarity, this freedom, is the light that can illuminate our souls. When we are illuminated from within, we are enlightened. We would then have passed from darkness to eternal light.

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To be permanently happy, choose to live a different Life

Asking yourself a fundamental question – “What will make me permanently happy?” – can change your Life!

The Times of India (TOI) yesterday had a very profound story, tucked away obscurely, in one of the inside pages. It is the story of a Wall Street finance whiz, Sree Patel. Patel, 35, has decided to dedicate his entire Life and a good part of his $800,000 annual pay package to social causes. He works closely with the Anoopam Mission, an offshoot of the Swami Narayan movement in Mogri, near Anand, in Gujarat. Patel leads the Anoopam Mission in the USA where he continues to keep his day job at Wall Street and spends all his other time in social service. Patel told TOI’s Bharat Yagnik that a hefty bonus of Rs.1.5 crore that he received 10 years ago changed his Life. He wanted to buy himself a Ferrari with that money and he thought that at 25, he had “arrived”. But something, says Patel, made him pause and reflect. “The sports car will give me momentary joy. (But) if someone bumps into it, it will pain me. So what will give me permanent happiness?” – Patel tells Yagnik that this thinking forced him to drop the Ferrari idea. His quest brought him to the Anoopam Mission where his mother had been serving for years. And in serving others, with no expectation of any return, Patel says, he found permanent happiness.

Each of us has the same opportunity as Patel. To seize that opportunity, we must look up from whatever we are obsessed with doing – day in and day out! Running the rat race is not the real problem. Running it mindlessly is. Earning a living, raising a family, paying bills, growing your asset portfolio, planning for retirement and providing for heathcare costs – all of this, and more, is a full time job. No doubt. Ask anyone on the planet and you will find that in the midst of all this chaotic activity, each one, in his or her own special, unique way, is searching for happiness. Over time, and thanks to some unfortunate conditioning, people have come to believe that happiness lies in acquiring things. So, they go after things – cars, villas, fat bank balances, exotic luxury vacations, gadgets – only to find that after acquiring what they wanted to, they still feel incomplete – and unhappy! The cause of all unhappiness is in the way we define happiness. Happiness is not getting what we want. That is success. Happiness is, simply, wanting what we get. Happiness is also in touching a Life, making a difference and in pursuing something meaningful – and not just materialistic.

The Dalai Lama says this very beautifully. Someone asked him what surprised him most about humanity. And the Dalai Lama replied: “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result being that he is neither in the present nor in the future. He lives as if he is never going to die. And then he dies never having really lived!”  

The true meaning of living is to have lived happily and to leave the world a better place than you found it. And to live that way, ask yourself what will make you permanently happy. Then, go ahead and do whatever it takes, to enable and ensure that you are happy. You will never regret having made that choice to live your Life differently!

It is Life’s ironies that make it beautiful


Some riddles fox us __ keeping us charged, engaged and wanting to try harder! Isn’t Life one such inscrutable, unsolvable riddle itself?

In the 1971 Hindi movie, the classic, Anand (directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee) Yogesh Gaur wrote an iconic song that Salil Chaudhary made immortal with his music. The opening lyrics of the song go like this:

Zindagi … kaisi hai paheli, haaye
Kabhi to hansaaye … kabhi ye rulaaye
Zindagi…

It means:

Life’s a riddle …. oh!

It makes you laugh sometimes

And sometimes makes you cry…

The song is a moving paean to Life’s ironies. Even so, it is Life’s paradoxes that make it beautiful.


Last week someone very close to me, well, at least on a theoretical, relationship basis, conceded that I could not be trusted anymore. I greatly appreciate that person’s honesty in at least telling me so even though  the sentiment hurt me badly. Yesterday, someone who I don’t know too well at all, apart from him being a social acquaintance, contacted me, on his own, and without my even asking for it offered to help me out with a complicated situation. While thanking him profusely, I said I was not sure if he knew me well enough and therefore appraised him so that he could be doubly sure if he really wanted to help me in the manner he was offering. This person cut me short though, saying: “You don’t need to say all this Sir. I know you need this help right now. Don’t think too much AVIS. Because I am not thinking about this too much. I implicitly trust you.”

I woke up this morning thinking about this irony. It was both stark and beautiful. It was tragic and moving. Tragic because someone who I considered “my own” did not want to trust me anymore. And moving because a rank newcomer was willing to. While I humbly submit that some of my conduct, circumstantial or otherwise, may have led to the erosion of trust in the first instance, I am still unable to comprehend the compassion of the person in the second one.

But such is Life. An enduring mystery. A logic-defying experience every single time. Unique in the way it treats each of its own creations. You will have experienced such moments too, just as I have, several times over. Yet, we must not even try to solve the Life riddle. Because we will get confused and even go bonkers. Life does not conform to any concept, framework or mindset.  Trying to make meaning out of Life is futile. We will never understand the meaning of Life. It is impossible. The only way to live is to make this lifetime meaningful!

Think about it.

For instance, those who have everything material are often searching for the most easily available treasure – happiness. And those who have nothing, while working hard to acquire everything material, are perhaps happier, because they know they can live, as they have lived so far, without them. Or those who have gone through a Life-changing crisis have often found a great inner peace. Because despite their upheaval, they have understood the impermanent and transient nature of Life! But when you think logically, when a storm ravages one’s Life, you expect pain, grief and suffering. Not inner peace. Yet ask anyone who’s been  tossed up by Life and thrashed down, and they will swear that Life’s trials and tribulations have made them stronger and more peaceful.

Interesting isn’t it? This paradoxical quality of Life! That’s perhaps what makes Life beautiful __ and worth living.

Here’s an interesting Life riddle that German philosopher Friedrich Neitzsche (1844~1900) poses: “Is man merely a mistake of God’s? Or God merely a mistake of man?” Keep thinking. And may be when you do get an answer to that question, you will have unraveled the mystery of Life itself!

Lose yourself to creation and you will never be lost in Life!


In everyone’s Life, there will come a time, when you feel lost. You don’t know where your career is headed. Or what’s happening to your relationship. You feel you are doing too many things, are busy all the time, but don’t find time for yourself. There’s this emptiness in you. Sometimes you feel unhappy. Sometimes you feel nothing. You just feel you are missing something although you can’t say what it is. Everything you do is weighing you down. There’s a reluctance with which you are living.

Such living is not living in the truest sense. It is merely existing!

The truth is that there is a cosmic conspiracy to make you happy. But you miss it because you are so full of yourself. And you imagine instead that just the opposite is true __ that there is a cosmic conspiracy to make you unhappy, when, in reality, there is no such design! The reason why you imagine that the Universe contributes to your unhappiness, your emptiness, your reluctance to live fully, to your ‘merely existing’ state, is that you attach too much importance to yourself. All the time you are fearing how your Life will end up. And such constant thinking, that fear, that anxiety, clearly inhibits your ability to live freely, fully.

In Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Hindi classic Anand (1971 – Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna), there’s a patient (played by Asit Sen) who keeps visiting Dr.Prakash Kulkarni (Ramesh Deo) with some imagined ailment or the other. The man is really not sick. He is just imagining his conditions. Dr.Kulkarni keeps treating him and keeps getting paid a fee for each visit. Dr.Bhaskar Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan), a good friend and colleague of Dr.Kulkarni, protests this ‘malpractice’. He chides his friend Dr.Kulkarni for feecing an innocent patient. Dr.Kulkarni defends his position admirably. He says (something to this effect), “I have not conspired to make the man ill or feed his imaginations. His problem is not that he imagines too much. His problem is that he loves being sick.”

So do we! We love being clueless, being lost in Life! We love feeling empty, unhappy, worried and fearful of everything in Life. Pining for a new Life seems to be more fashionable than doing something about creating that Life! If everything is going right per our expectations, we worry about how long this run will last; and if everything is not right, we worry about how long more it will take for the tide to turn. We doubt simple, unconnected events, harmless intentions of people around us and live in fear and anxiety of how it will all add up in the end.  

The antidote to such a phase, the only circuit breaker available to snap out of this vicious, self-destructive cycle, the only way to repair, revive and recharge yourself, is to lose yourself to creation. 

Try this: Lose yourself to a sunrise or walk in the rain. Feel the ground beneath your feet. Look at a flower. Hear the bird songs, look at your child sleeping peacefully, hold your companion’s hand, watch a tree laden with fruit…..do any of these or your own. But for a full minute. In that minute, as long as you have lost yourself to creation, I promise you, there will be no unhappiness, no worry, no turmoil in you. The Cosmic Design has a unique feature that only makes all of creation happy. But to experience that you have to learn to lose yourself. You have rid yourself of yourself, of your thought and immerse your Self in the beauty of this Universe.

When you fight with creation, the Universal whole, you are bound to lose. In your emptiness you are actually feeling the sense of futility of an unequal battle. You have everything material, but you don’t have the most priceless of the Universe’s offerings, available free, 24×7, perennially __ happiness. On the other hand, when you have surrendered to creation, immersed in it, lost yourself to it, you may find happiness even if you have nothing material. You may well have found your true Self! It is unbelievable. But this is the only way it works. This is no rocket science. It works simply because the human form is an expression of the Universal energy.  Logically therefore, Bliss, really, truly, is a by-product of losing yourself to creation!