Be your own Master, make your Life count

Don’t be a slave of your Life__of this lifetime. Be a Master.

Last week I met a senior manager at a large company, who had given 38 years of his Life to the company, and is serving a post-retirement contract extension presently. He said, “I have been consumed and cooked by my professional focus. It was a journey I did not regret so far. But, suddenly, at 64, I wonder how many more active years I have for me to go see and explore the world; to just stop being a manager and just be myself.”

His “awakening” perspective delivers a big lesson to all of us. This Life has been gifted to us for us to lead it, to live it! Not for us to be enslaved by it. Yet, don’t we run this Life as if it were some kind of a race? Some even call it a rat race. When you reach a point, like the manager here has, you will wonder why did you run the race in the first place? What did you race for or against? Liberate yourself. The biggest freedom movement must be taking place within you, not just in some dictatorial regime in the world. So stop running. Pause, introspect and initiate immediate action.


One way to set yourself free is to break away from your routine and look beyond the predictable. This morning, even though it was a Monday, we took a bunch of managers, who we are coaching, through a Life-changing experience called “Dialogue in the Dark”. It is a personalized exhibition tour in which you experience Life for about an hour in total darkness. The experience humbles you, wanting you to count your blessings. It makes you realize that your other senses are as strong as your ability to see, which you believe naively to be your most indispensable sense. It teaches you that you can and will survive when you are put in a situation. And most importantly, doing it on a Monday morning, helps you to break away from the monotony of your pressure-cooker schedule. Mondays need not be manic, need not mean bad traffic and need not end up leaving you imprisoned in meaningless meetings. They can mean something magical and liberating – if you step off the beaten path! Our guide through the entire “Dialogue in the Dark” experience, Nithyanand, a visually special (I hate to say impaired) person, had this to say, “I can’t see. And I manage pretty well using my other senses.” The way he said this, with total acceptance and with ease, made me wonder if we are indeed living our lives to our fullest. With one sense down, he is. But are we? I came away realizing, yet again, that when you know you can be your own Master, you can and will make your Life count!

Awaken the child in you

Last evening I met a couple of interesting people – just social and professional acquaintances – and we laughed a lot. About silly things. We talked for a long time about inconsequential details that we obsess over in Life – and we laughed. This morning when I woke up and reflected on the evening’s camaraderie, I thought, why are we not this way all the time? Why must every meeting – at least in the professional circuit – conform to an agenda? Why can’t we be like kids – simple, uncomplicated, funny, happy?

Look at the children in your family, up until the age of 5 at least. Don’t they deal with people as they are? Never judging. Always trusting. Full of energy and enthusiasm. When you are child-like, and see the world with curiosity, with a raging quest for each new experience, you will find your soul singing and you will find bliss in every moment!

When you awaken the child in you, you will never have a problem living__and you will never feel old! While it may be a good idea to choose a successful adult to be a role model for your dreams, ambitions and professional aspirations, in terms of your attitude to Life__and to practice intelligent living__it may just be a great idea to make an infant your role model! Children teach us innocence, to forgive and forget, to trust and to be joyful at all times! British author, known most for his science fiction works, Brian Aldiss painted a bleak, but awakening picture of adulthood with these words: “When childhood dies, its corpses are called adults and they enter society, one of the politer names of hell. That is why we dread children, even if we love them; they show us the state of our decay.” As adults we have stopped being innocent. There’s a lurking suspicion we have in every encounter, judging motives and evaluating people all the time. We carry baggage of past hurts and often want to avenge insults and betrayals. We are never happy for whatever moment we are living through __ always choosing to wallow in the past or worry for the future.

Each of us has the opportunity to be the child that we once were. When nothing else but the pitter-patter of raindrops or a butterfly sitting on a flower or a passing train’s whistle really mattered. So, if you are walking around a puddle and not through it, if you are worried about what people at the table will think if you dropped sauce on yourself, if you are conscious of people looking at you at an airport while you peer at and count the planes, if you are unable to sleep deeply, peacefully, instantaneously, it’s time for you to go back to your childhood. And do all those things NOW that you did then.

There is still the child in you__rediscover your true self!

Is there really a God or is that someone “out of office – on vacation”?!


Ever so often, every once in a while, you will find God ‘unreachable’! A much touted omnipotent savior who is simply not traceable when needed the most! Who’s probably fiddling away on his harp, while your home’s burning. Irrespective of what religion you follow, you will find that it’s most prized invention, it’s God, is not available to its followers, including you, to stop injustice, pain, death, separation, disease or loss. When you zoom out, climb to 30,000 feet, and take a holistic view of things happening in this world you live in, you will seriously wonder whether there indeed is a God? Tsunamis, earthquakes, wars, terrorism, malnutrition, AIDS, starvation, water scarcity, lack of education, the rich become richer and the poor get poorer, rape, murder, forgery, betrayal, deceit, the good, the pious suffer while the sinners prosper  __ what is God doing? At a personal level __ you often wonder why you don’t ever get what you believe you deserve? Why do people whom you love have to leave you or die? Why is there so much pain__and suffering__in your Life when all you have striven to be is good, ethical, devout and caring? But despite all this grime, gore, tears and sorrow, look at each new day, look at the sun rise, feel the rain, watch the birds fly away and the butterflies hover from flower to flower or watch a child smile. Now, how’s all this possible? Is there someone who makes all this happen? And is it the same one who simply watches when everything’s going wrong in the world?

However fair such questioning may well be, it is also futile. Because there’s no point in asking such questions. They have no answers.

Yesterday, my own Life came to yet another precipitous point. In the 30-odd minutes that it took for that crisis to finally blow over, hours after it had kicked in, I discovered that I was in a state of complete inner peace while a storm raged outside. It was one of those moments in Life when the paradox is both stark and soulful! In my moment of solitude, I recollected a friend’s email, which had arrived a few hours ago. Someone in that friend’s extended family had died. And there was an overall pall of gloom and anguish, understandably, in the family. Given my own circumstance, I was able to relate to their grief. Which is when it dawned on me, one more time, that the only truth about Life is what you are experiencing in the present moment. Nothing else counts. If you can encounter inner peace in the throes of a storm, you may have well found God. If you are searching for one in that moment of, call it despair, know that you are moving in the opposite direction. Not only will you not find peace, your search for God__and God’s answers to your whys__will end yield nothing__and in fact may enhance your desperation!

Think of all the reasons why God is relevant. Fundamentally, God is an emotional crutch, a form of security that consoles you, gives you hope and succor. God-bashers make you believe that all such hope is  hot air because why would a merciful, compassionate God create so much hardship and suffering for helpless, hapless, people in the first place? So, those who find hope in God, are the believers. The theists. And those who find no hope in God are the non-believers. The atheists. Atheists say they are free from God. Good point. But being free from something or someone is one thing, and being free for something or a reason is another. If freedom from God has led you to peace and joy, great. If it has not, and you still remain miserable, then, something’s not right. Obviously!

That’s where I would humbly like to offer a different take. A third dimension, if you will. When you are confronted with a dark and desperate situation, and you are drowned in hopelessness, remember that you are still alive. If you are alive it means that the same energy which is powering the cosmos, is powering you too. Which further means that if the whole Universe is a miracle so are you. And if you are a miracle, then you are capable of one too! We miss this simple truth when we are confronted with death, pain and suffering. Instead of dipping into the endless reservoir of cosmic energy within us, we look to external reference points. God too is one such external reference point. In its most identifiable forms, God is an idol at a temple or a church or a tombstone at a dargah. The problem with an external reference point is that its tangibility only makes it unreal. So, when you ask why, wailing in prayer or pouring your heart out at a place of worship, you don’t ever get a reply. Instead, if you go into the world of the intangible, go within, then you encounter the real truth. The real God! So, simply, if you go inward, you will awaken. You will then understand that:

  1. Life happens differently to each of us all the time. It IS inscrutable and it IS always what it IS!
  2. Nothing is permanent. Anything that is created will be destroyed. Anything born will die.
  3. As long as you know you are alive, you are capable of living happily. The choice to live happily__despite your circumstances__is your own.
  4. If you have not known how to live in the moment, you never will have lived. You will have merely existed. If you have only existed, you have not found peace within you. If you have not known inner peace, you will never know God!      

Kabir, the 15th Century weaver-poet, said it so beautifully: “Moko Kahan Dhoondhe Re Bande, Main To Hoon Tere Paas Main…..Na Thirath Main, Na Moorat Main….Na Mandir Main, Na Masjid Main….Main To Hoon Tere Paas Main….” This means, referring to man’s quest for God, “Where are you searching for me? I am near you. I am not in a pilgrimage nor in an idol, not it a temple nor in a mosque, I am near you, in you….”.

Here’s hoping you make that short journey inward. You will find your God at work__and not on vacation or missing in action__24x7, there!