Empty yourself and feel abundant

Life’s an amazing paradox. When you fill yourself you feel an eerie emptiness. And when you empty yourself you feel a joyful fullness!
Think about your Life deeply. What are you filling it with? The more you fill yourself with fear, guilt, grief, ego, anxiety, greed and desires, the more empty you feel. You can’t just escape the emptiness. You may call it by any name: mid-life crisis, not enjoying your job, unhappy with your partner, feel lost with how to raise your children, whatever. But you do feel empty. The irony, however, is that to rid yourself of this emptiness, all you need to do is to empty yourself. When you empty yourself of all wasteful emotions, like those listed above, or many more, you are emptying yourself of your self. This is when you are enriched, filled with love and are full of peace. This fullness is what is called bliss. Emptying yourself of your self means to get rid of the ‘I’!
Several years ago, when my business started going horribly wrong, I sat in my hotel room in Bengaluru and shared my worries with a good friend, Deepak Pawar, a highly acclaimed media photographer in India. He’s much older to me and I have always valued his perspective. What was causing me immense grief was the way my team was behaving with me. There were resignations, a case of embezzlement and even blackmail from a colleague who threatened to share company data with competition if his salary was not paid. This was tragic for me. We had not only given this gentleman employment but had also supported his MBA program and his coaching in spoken English. As I shared my woes, describing my Life as being ‘empty, meaningless and thankless’, with Deepak, he said, “For your Life to be full and meaningful, you must shed yourself of your ego AVIS.” I was devastated by his remark. I shot back: “Sorry Sir, with due respect to you, I disagree. You are saying I have an ego. I don’t. I have worked hard to grow my business and I have done so with humility. My team is family to me. This colleague of mine who is today threatening me, I have groomed him. I have trained him. I have educated him. I have always sat with him and guided him on how to plan his career professionally. I have done so much for him and you are saying…” Deepak cut me short. He smiled and said, “Just see the number of times you have said ‘I’ in your defense just now AVIS….That ‘I’…that’s your ego speaking….that guy, the ‘I’ in you…you must empty yourself of that ‘I’…and you will find meaning and a Life full of peace and happiness!”

To me that moment, that nano-second, was the ‘CTRL+ALT+DEL’ moment of my Life. With that enlightening perspective, Deepak opened my eyes, helping me see clearly, why there was so much emptiness in my Life. Osho’s masterly perspective on this too helped me immensely: “Emptying oneself means emptying of all content – just as you empty a room of all the junk that has gathered there, over the years. When you have emptied the room of all the furniture and all the things, you have not destroyed the room, not at all; you have given it more roominess, more space. When all the furniture is gone, the room asserts itself, the room is.” What’s interesting is, as I discovered, when the ‘I’ goes out of you, all the parasites that thrive on it, off it__fear, guilt, grief, anxiety, greed and desires__run after it too. The feeling you get with emptying yourself, and therefore filling your Life with abundance and bliss, is truly liberating. It has to be experienced to be understood. It has to be lived! 

The mind holds the key to your physical fitness

When you are anchored in inner peace, your body functions the best.
Swami Parthasarathy
Photo Courtesy: Mid-Day/Internet
This morning’s The New Indian Express (TNIE) carries a story of Swami Parthasarathy playing cricket. Parthasarathy, now 88, was once a businessman and is now a corporate guru who teaches managers to live intelligently! He lectures frequently on the Bhagavad Gita and runs Vedanta World, a learning academy in Malavli, near Pune. Sharing the key to his fitness, he told TNIE: “When you don’t worry about the past and don’t get anxious over the future, you stay fit.”
This is such a simple, beautiful, perspective. Yet this philosophy eludes most of us. Because we have come to somehow believe that our lives are complex and so only a complex solution can help rid us of our problems. Resultantly, we keep waiting for a perfect future, where there will be no problems and we can live happily ever after. The truth, however, is that there is and can never be a perfect future – you can never have a Life that is free from problems. All you can and must do is to live your present perfectly. What prevents this from happening is the mind. It draws you into grief, anger and guilt over the past and into anxiety and worry over the future. So, you are never present in the now. The now is perfect. It is what it is, the way it is. But you are not here. You are brooding or you are worrying. So you are besieged with lifestyle-related ailments – diabetes, hypertension, stress, cholesterol and such. What is a lifestyle ailment? Anything that is an outcome of the Life you lead. So, if you can train your mind not to worry and if your Life can be a continuous celebration of a series of present moments, your body will be fit and you can enjoy the pleasures of a good, productive Life.
I don’t say this from a philosophical perspective alone. I have been there – so I know what it means to be trapped in an unhealthy lifestyle situation. And I have experienced the power of transforming my Life by changing the way I think. I once had a tobacco habit and was obese. And I am both diabetic and hypertensive. When I understood the role the mind played in my physical condition I worked on training my mind. Over time, I have learned to rein in my mind and now know how to stay focused on the present. I have since shed my excess weight and have been able to keep my key physical markers under check. I did this through the practice of daily silence periods – mouna. So, I know that you too can do this. Your method may be different depending on what works for you. But I want to reiterate that it is both possible to train the mind and, therefore, stay fit. It doesn’t matter what industry you work in or the hours you keep. You just need to be willing to be the change that you want to see in you!
Inner peace is not elusive. It is not complicated. If you stop imposing conditions on the way your Life must be, and instead accept it for what it is, you will start living, than merely existing. When you live fully, in the present moment, you will experience inner peace and you will see the magic and beauty of a healthier, happier Life!

Mind to no-mind: the art of taming your drunken monkeys

To enjoy Life and to live each moment fully move from mind to no-mind.  
We have all been conditioned to believe that the human faculty to think is what differentiates us from other forms of creation. Undoubtedly it does. But the human mind is also responsible for causing all our suffering. The nature of the mind is that it keeps generating thoughts. And the other fact is that the mind thrives only in the past or in the future. But either position is irrelevant in the present moment. Which is why it serves no purpose for the mind to be in the past – which is dead, which is over – or to imagine a future – that is still unborn, yet to arrive. Life is always happening in the present moment, in the now. So, when we listen to the mind, we are missing living in the moment. We are missing the beauty and magic of Life.
In Buddhism, the mind is referred to as the Monkey Mind. This is to emphasize the point that there is a constant churn of thoughts, most of them unsettling in nature, that is happening in the undisciplined mind. With a mind that is steeped in anger, grief, guilt, fear, anxiety, worry and such wasteful, debilitating thoughts, where is the opportunity to live in the moment? One Buddhist scripture quotes the Buddha even describing the mind thus: “The human mind is like a drunken monkey that has been stung by a bee.” This is so apt. So powerful a metaphor that I can totally relate to.
The mind is powerless in the present. So, when you are trying to relax, for instance, watching TV or a sunset, the mind will remind you of a sunset that you watched with your girlfriend. And your thoughts will go to a time in the past that is so painful because your girlfriend and you had a messy break-up. Or it will drag you into the future, to a worry about some unpaid bills and the lack of cash to meet them – which includes not being able to pay for your DTH TV connection coming due next week! When your mind wanders, it will stop being in the present. So will you. Which is why all of us are leading incomplete lives – lost in mourning about the past or worrying incessantly about the future. This is why we suffer. Since we cannot undo what has happened nor can we tell what will happen, we are either pining for something is not there or we are fearing something which we believe will happen to us. Both these thoughts cause our agony and suffering.
I have, over time and consistent practice, learnt to tame the drunken monkeys in my mind. I do this by having conversations with the monkeys. Every time a monkey starts jumping around in my mind, I talk to the monkey. For instance, whenever I think of someone who has betrayed me or has been unkind to me, Anger Monkey starts jumping up and down. I ask Anger Monkey, “What’s the point in your getting excited. It’s all over.” The Anger Monkey replies, “But you were cheated, you were pissed on and passed over. You must avenge.” I would say, “I am not interested. Why do you insist?” Anger Monkey would reply: ‘So that they (my detractors) don’t get the feeling that they got away with doing what they did to you.” I would conclude, “Let them. I am happy not wanting to prove anything to anyone or teach anyone a lesson.” That would be it. And I would go back to living my Life without the least trace of anger or vengeance in me. But, as I said, this attitude is something you cultivate with practice. This is true for every monkey in your mind – from Fear Monkey to Guilt Monkey to Worry Monkey.

To expect thoughts – the drunken monkeys – not to arise in your mind is futile. As long as you are alive your mind will be churning out thoughts. Intelligent living is the ability to tame the drunken monkeys and make them powerless by staying in the present. This then is the state of no-mind. Try to be in this state for as long as possible each day. That’s the only way to not be held hostage by the past or be fearful of the future. That is the only way to live in the now!


Give your attention to what’s more important than to what comforts you

Whatever we give attention to in Life grows.
You and I are who we are because of what we have focused on. If we have dwelt on mundane issues, we will be stuck in the rut. If we have looked at the magic and beauty of Life, we will be surrounded by people, events and scenarios that make us happy. For you to understand how this works, you must know what’s important for you in Life. And you must shift your attention to those things, those pursuits that are really important. When you look at the roads, the unpicked garbage and the street people or when you read the headlines about selfish, corrupt people you will end up being cynical. This cynicism will grow. Making you bitter and angry. Instead, if you focus on the good that people do each day to make your Life possible with a degree of comfort you have chosen, you will find gratitude welling up within you. This gratitude will make you both peaceful and prosperous. If you focus on how it’s possible for your child to go astray in this big, bad world, that feeling of insecurity will chew you up. It will haunt you even in your sleep. Instead if you focus on the joy of having brought a new Life into this world, through you, and allow that goodwill to grow within you, you will see your child as a wholesome individual charting her own path in this world.

In Life, all things you seek and that comfort you are mundane at one level: the money you have, the control you think you have on your circle of influence, the respect you get from society and other such similar stuff. And yet what you have and don’t think of always are the most important at another level: this Life, your family, the ability to touch, see, feel, hear, express….Give your attention to what’s more important than to what comforts you. You will then invite abundance unlimited into your Life!

Intelligent living is all about living worry-free

Keep Life simple – in any situation, be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. You will then be free from worry!
I simply love a joke that Osho, the Master, used to narrate. A doctor calls his patient to give him the results of a crucial medical test. “I have some bad news and some worse news,” says the doctor. “The bad news is that you only have 24 hours to live.” “Oh no,” says the patient. “What could possibly be worse than that?” The doctor replies, “I have been trying to reach you since yesterday.” Osho says the best way to live is to accept that, often times, even the worst can – and perhaps will – happen to us!
It is a lack of this acceptance that causes us to cower in fear, insecurity, anxiety and worry. The human mind is very intelligent. It will paint all possible scenarios and outcomes in any event which is governed by the possibility of uncertain outcomes. Some of these outcomes may cause you to feel insecure and fearful. For instance, when someone is in hospital and the prognosis is hardly encouraging, your mind will project outcomes varying from a miraculous recovery to an inevitable loss. Every time you want to believe in a miraculous recovery, dark possibilities of prolonged hospitalization, perhaps a comatose state and even death will arise within you. When you fear those possibilities that you don’t want to accept, or even consider, you are allowing worry to consume you. You are feeding your fears. The best way to deal with this situation is to be stoic about it – be prepared for whatever you fear the most, in this case, possibly, death. And yet, hope – and if you like to, pray – for a miraculous recovery. This way you will be free from fear, anxiety and worry. And that freedom will give you the opportunity to focus on providing your patient the best possible care.

Remember some problems in Life cannot be solved. There’s no point worrying about them. And there’s no point worrying about those problems which you can solve either. So, intelligent living is all about living worry-free. Think about it: if worry can solve problems, or if it can heal cancers, or if it can get people jobs, or if it can prevent break-ups or if it can eliminate death from our lives – then wouldn’t the world be a much happier place than it is? Because, aren’t a huge majority of people on the planet investing their every waking moment in worrying? The truth is that worrying gets us nowhere. Quit worrying. Be ready to face the worst in Life and yet believe that the best will happen to you. There’s no other way to live happily!