On why do ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ folks?

‘Good’, ‘Bad’, ‘Right’, ‘Wrong’ … all these are societal labels. In reality, Life simply boils down to events and choices.
Something happens to you. It is an event. How you react or respond to that event is your choice. Period. When events meet or exceed your expectations, you label them good. If they don’t, you label them bad. If a choice you made delivers the outcome you expect, you call it good. And if it does not, you call it a bad choice! Simple.
Last evening, over some exotic Moroccan Mint tea, someone who had heard of our story and my Book asked me how could a ‘talented’ couple like Vaani and me be put through such a ‘trial’ by Life? This is a question that we are often asked. And I don’t have a very elaborate answer. The one I have is this…

Talent. Trial. Time. These are three things that we always obsess about. We think we are talented so we must be successful. We believe because we are good folks, Life should not try us! And we always want to be having the time of our lives – the way we want it! To be sure, talent and trial have no correlation. Often, we wonder why should we be tried in Life when we are talented, intelligent and ethical? Why should ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ folks? We must remember that talent is what we are endowed with; that includes the ability to deal with all kinds of trials and tribulations in Life! Trials are what we are and will be faced with. Both talent and trials are Life’s ways of making us who we must eventually be. And time is the eternal healer. Time is the catalyst. Time eventually makes us complete. When it is time to be tried, we will be. And when it is time to be toasted, we will be! So, if we give up the expectation that talented folks must not be tried, and learn to flow with time, we will never agonize in Life! We will be blissful!






Last night, as I caught Yash Chopra’s 1965-classic Waqt (Time) on TV, this iconic song played on aptly. The lead lyrics are aage bhi jaane na tu, pichhe bhi jaane na tu, jo bhi hai, bas yahi ek pal hai…meaning that you don’t know the future, you can’t do anything about the past, all you have is this moment, the now, to live in! So, peel off those labels. Don’t obsess over whether your choices are right or wrong. Just be happy you made one! Just be – live – in the moment. For there is no right or wrong, good or bad. Your Life, at the end the day, is all about choices you make in response to the events that happen to you!

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Live Life for what it is: pure and happening.

Life is neutral. It is neither good nor bad.
It is how we view it, use it and live it, that shapes our experiences and therefore our sentiments about Life. A man before entering a city paused at the gate and asked an old fakir, a nomad, “What kind of people live in this city?” The fakir replied with another question: “What kind of people used to live where you come from?” The man replied saying, “Thugs, cheats, venomous creatures, which is why I decided to migrate from that city.” The fakir remarked: “Then you will find the same kind of people here too.” The man went away without entering the city. A week later, another new visitor arrived at the city’s gates and asked the fakir the same question. The fakir asked him to first say what kind of people lived where he came from. The man replied saying, “Wonderful good souls. Peaceful, helpful and kind. I wanted to never leave them but also want to grow my business. Hence I am migrating.” The fakir said invitingly, “Go on! You will find good souls, peaceful, ever helpful and always kind, here.” The man entered the city.
Life is like that city. Always there. Always happening. Good or bad is based on our interpretation of it. Swami Vivekananda asks us, ‘Is fire good or bad? When it warms us during the cold winter nights or when it helps us cook food, we say fire is good. But when it burns down our forests or scalds our fingers, we say it is bad. But is fire changing its properties? Or are we changing our perception basis our experiences?” So it is with Life. Someone somewhere in this world right now is celebrating the arrival of a new baby. And just at this same time, someone else is grieving the loss of a dear one. But isn’t it the same world? So, when Life, that is giving us all these experiences, this discerning ability, when that energy source itself is neutral, why are we clinging on? Why are we attached? Let go of that which is a creation of your mind, this definition of good and bad. Live Life for what it is: pure and happening. Life’s playing in you, for you, right now. Where are you?

Don’t label Life’s experiences; learn from them

Defining events as “good” or “bad” or “ugly” is a human trait. The truth is that there are only experiences in Life – irrespective of what label we stick on them!

Everywhere that you turn, every social media platform, all newspapers and magazines, all over television and on FM radio – there’s so much review of 2013 as it winds down. Events and memories are being categorized as good, bad and ugly.

I don’t think that’s a very productive exercise. In fact, at one level, it’s entirely pointless. Whatever has happened is over. It’s dead and gone. Why review? Why analyze? And, more important, why label what has happened? You come across a fortune. So, it is good? You get laid off, so it is bad? Someone you know dies, so it is ugly!? Life is just a continuous set of events. Or happenings. Each of them teaches us something more, something new about Life. It is up to us to learn from them. This is the essence of Life. There’s nothing ahead of or beyond this. Period.

So, when you can learn something from Life, from each moment, from each experience, how can you label such an event as bad? Which is why you often hear the older people in your family say, with alarming equanimity, when they are faced with a grave situation: “Whatever happens, happens for the good.”

People, including my children, often ask me how can something painful – like the bankruptcy we are going through – be something that’s good? And I direct them to what the experience of being bankrupt has taught me. It has taught me Faith and Patience, it has taught me the value of money, it has showed me how kind and compassionate people are in this world, it has brought me closer to my wife and children, it has made me feel grateful for all the abundance (integrity of purpose and the powerful intent to rebuild the business and repay all our creditors) in my Life in the face of apparent scarcity (lack of money)! So, the truth is that while the events in Life may be painful, ghastly and numbing, experiencing Life through pain can teach you a lot. Provided you are open to learning from it.

But how does one learn through pain? That’s, undoubtedly, a fair question. When you are socked by Life, when you are down in the dumps, when everything you held close to you has been snatched away, the last thing on your mind is to seek a learning from that experience. But in its apparent impossibility lies the opportunity. Now, you can’t do anything – in most Life-changing situations – to put things immediately back. So, the only opportunity available is to ask yourself what you can learn from the experience. When you seek to learn, you gain. And that learning makes the experience of enduring the pain worthwhile!

I remember learning long back that Life is a great teacher. Because she always gives the test first and the lesson later. Each experience in Life therefore is nothing but a test. In this test, there’s no GPA (grade point average – in any case, no one bothers about your GPA once you leave school!). You neither pass nor fail in Life’s tests. You only learn. The faster you learn – and internalize – the faster you graduate to the next test and to the lesson it has to offer!