You can never win fighting Life! So, Let Go!!

Fighting Life, by resisting whatever is happening to you, is a just not worth it. Every which way, you stand to lose.
But the human mind, driven by ego, wants you to believe that you can and must do something in a Life situation. So it will goad you to fight. To resist what’s happening to you. And that’s how, through such resistance, you invite misery into your Life.
Let’s understand this better. There are only two kinds of problems. One set of problems are those that you can solve – either on your own or through a third party resource, expending money or through other means. The other set of problems are the ones that are, humanly, unsolvable. Only Life has to solve them over time. When you are faced with the second set of problems, the best thing to do is to let go!

When you let go, your problem may still be there. But it won’t torment you. It will not cause you any misery. You become miserable only when you attempt doing something that you are incapable of doing or don’t like doing. Let’s get this straight – Human beings do things. Life simply happens. These are the only two realities. When you can’t solve a Life problem by doingsomething about it, let go and allow Life to happen to you – in total acceptance and humility! Just let it happen. Let go of your desire to control, to solve, to do.
So, when you find that your doing something about a situation is of no use, simply flow with Life. Float like a piece of wood does on a river. Don’t worry about where Life is taking you or about why is it taking you wherever it is going or ask when will this journey end. This does not mean inaction. The choice of allowing yourself to ‘float’ is significant action in itself! Don’t, however, analyze and form opinions about outcomes and possibilities. Don’t reason what consequences will follow an outcome – if you end up here, this is what will happen or if you end up there, this is what it means. Let Go = non-reasoning, non analyzing, non-questioning! Let Go means living spontaneously!

Living in ‘Let Go’ mode is not difficult. It is intelligent living. Because you are doing the most intelligent thing aftertrying to apply your intelligence to solving the problem or Life situation. When you live in a ‘Let Go’ you may have to live with your problem, your Life situation – but you will live in peace, in bliss. 

Go on, get crazy – go do what you always wanted to do!

Every once in a while walk the line of lunacy.
Go do things the world calls crazy but what you believe delivers joy unto you. Soaking yourself in this joy frequently is what will, ironically, keep you sane and grounded.
I met a friend the other day, who has been an inspiration. He started his career as a bottle washer in a five-star hotel’s bar. And worked his way up to become an expert in wines, a sommelier. He is employed in the Middle-East and earns substantially to be able to provide for not just himself but his extended family of siblings and relatives. On a vacation to India last week, he went to a five-star hotel, and enrolled himself as a daily wage contract worker and washed dishes for a full 8-hour shift. His reasoning: “It was a bit difficult after all these years. But there was more, unadulterated, joy than the physical pain it caused. It helped me connect back to where I came from.” Another person I know, in his 40s, has kicked his “secure” job and is learning “tattooing” because he wants to be a tattoo artist on the beaches in Brazil!!!.
If what the world calls crazy is what gives you joy, just do it! When you walk the line of lunacy, you are following your bliss. Bliss works on us in several ways – ways that we have not even thought of.  The experience is always liberating.  When you are in bliss, you are one with the Universe. In this state, you attract health, peace and prosperity. Ultimately, aren’t we all not working hard and burning both ends of the candle in this Life for just those three things – health, peace and prosperity (to be sure, a.k.a wealth!)?
Interestingly, it is that time of the year when plans and resolutions to do meaningful, important stuff in Life, are chalked out. Yet, so many new years have come and gone. And as every new year turns old, the resolutions too will slip away, snowed under the pressures of everyday Life, BAU – business as usual, as they call it in the corporate sector! You can spend a lifetime planning, but it is in those moments of doing what you love doing, that you actually live! Rest of the time, you merely exist! Here and now is where it all starts. So, go do what you always wanted to do. Don’t postpone. Don’t hedge. Go on, defy popular logic, get crazy!

On just being…grateful!

Thanksgiving as an event may be over, but as a spirit, let it thrive!  

To be blissful, just be grateful! And to experience bliss in a nano-second, just drink some water. But drink it slowly. Feel it travel within you. Drink the next sip. Feel it traveling. Don’t think about anything else. Just feel the water. Feel it heal, re-energize and rejuvenate you. That feeling is bliss.

More than 60 % of the world is water. Yet 97 % of it is salty. Of the remaining 3 %, 2 % is inaccessible and is hidden among snowy mountains and frozen glaciers. The world’s population survives just on 1 % of the water available in the world. Yet several millions of people across the world don’t get even a bucketful of water for their ablutions, forget their potable water needs. By 2025, 1.8 Billion people across the world will struggle to get their daily quota of water, according to National Geographic. You just drank two sips of the world’s most precious elixir. Feel blessed. May those two sips soak you in gratitude. You experience bliss when you just be__and are grateful!

The idea of living is not about obsessing over earning-a-living.

At the end of the day, if you can’t sleep well, you need to examine what’s it that’s disturbing you. And you must weed that factor out of your Life. 

This morning I met someone who says he isn’t able to get a good night’s sleep. “I used to love my work. I still believe I love it. But I don’t know why I am unable to enjoy what I am doing, and of late, I am even unable to sleep well. The stress keeps me awake,” he confessed. I told this gentleman that if he is unable to enjoy whatever he is doing, and if it has reached a point where he is unable to sleep well, he must seriously pause and reflect. I advised him to step out of his “work-work-work zone”, take a vacation and think through his Life!
This is the nub: nothing, nothing at all, is worth losing your sleep over. If you can’t take your mind off work it means one of three things: 1. You don’t have enough reliable support (staff, material, resources) to do what you are doing 2. The system (colleagues, bosses, clients, work culture) at your workplace is highly disorganized and stress-ridden. 3. You are a lousy leader and manager. There could be other reasons. But these three are principal among them. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, then you must go do what you love doing. Simple. And if you enjoy your work but if any of those reasons is/are prevalent in your work Life, you must get down to fixing them. Simple again!
The idea of living is not about obsessing over earning-a-living. It is not about slogging for 40 years and then hoping to find happiness, inner peace and freedom to do what you want to do at the age of 60. You have been given this Life so that you can be yourself, so that you can go do what you love doing. Now, when something disturbs your equilibrium, you must zero in on what it is and weed it out. Rather than suffer and endure a Life that you don’t want, you must make choices that help you with your inner peace, and help you to find and follow your bliss.

I simply loved what Svetlana Alexievich, the Belarusian author who won the Nobel for Literature yesterday, said: “I do only one thing. I buy freedom for myself.” Indeed! What is the point of this Life if you cannot be who you want, do what you want to do, live the Life that you believe in and, at the end of the day, get a good night’s sleep?  

“With acceptance there is only happiness”

‘The Happiness Road’ is a weekly Series on this Blog that appears on Sundays where I share my conversations with people while exploring their idea of happiness!
This Sunday I feature the dancer couple Shanta and V.P.Dhananjayan.
There’s a glint in the eyes of the Dhananjayan couple that you can’t miss. Over the last three decades, I have noticed the glint every time that I have seen them perform or on the few rare occasions that I have spoken to them. Recently, I met them for about an hour at their Shastri Nagar home. And all through the conversation, I couldn’t but help admire that glint. Perhaps, I wondered, the glint reflects their state of inner joy and peace – what you will find in people who love what they are doing and do only what they love!
Almost as if he is reading my mind, Dhananjayan says, “Happiness is just being.” “It is about being satisfied with what you are doing, with how you are living,” adds his wife Shanta.
Picture by Vaani Anand
Dhananjayan qualifies his earlier remark saying he feels blessed in many respects to have had the “right influences that impact happiness” at different times in his Life. First, he considers himself fortunate to have been born in a family where his father, a school teacher, instilled in him the value of ‘giving’ and taught him to never cling on to anything material. “He gave away everything he had to his sisters, leaving nothing for his eight children. Yet, all of us grew up happy, even if there was no food to eat at home on some days.” Second, living and learning in a gurukulam, at Kalakshetra, helped him understand that “group energy spreads harmony” – a work model that he has preserved over the years. Third, his companionship with soul-mate and partner Shanta, says Dhananjayan, has contributed immensely to the way he has grown through and evolved in Life. “We share each other’s ideology. Our art brings our hearts together. There’s a great understanding between us…we complete each other.”
Picture by Vaani Anand
Dhananjayan believes that when you know what you want from Life, and what makes you happy, you can face any situation, any challenge stoically. Shanta says that when they left Kalakshetra in 1968 they were only in their twenties, but they were already clear that they wanted to dedicate their lives to “putting Bharatanatyam on the world map”. “With the 25 continuous years we have spent conducting our summer gurukulam at Yogaville, Virginia, with the global collaborations we have had with artists from various genres and with the contribution we have been able to make to propagate Bharatiya sanskruti and kala worldwide, I guess we both have had a very fulfilling Life journey.”
But hasn’t there ever been a blemish on the bliss canvas? A challenge that threatened to disturb their inner equilibrium?
“Oh! There have been many,” exclaims Dhananjayan, adding, “But art teaches you humility and gratitude. When you have that attitude you always overcome.” He recounts his 15-year saga to establish Bhaskara, an academy to preserve and nurture the performing arts, in Payyanur in Kerala’s Kannur district. Everyone, from environmentalists to common-folk to a cold bureaucracy to disinterested politicians, came between him and his dream. For years, he soldiered on, investing every available hour and their hard-earned money in the project. Initially Bhaskara was only Dhananjayan’s baby. But when Shanta saw his intent and his passion being challenged by those who were opposing the project, she jumped in too, backing him fully. But “the people who operated the system” queered the pitch every single time. Finally the couple gave up, selling their investment to an educational institution that runs a B-school there now. “I was drained. When people don’t want to understand you, it can be very difficult. Kerala may be God’s own country, but it is also the Devil’s workshop! One day, seeing me frustrated, Shanta pointed out that there was no point in doing anything, even if it is your dream, if your inner peace is going to be disturbed. I saw light in her perspective,” confesses Dhananjayan.
Would he consider the Bhaskara project an epic loss – something that he failed at? “Fortunately, the Bhagavad Gita has taught me to keep my mind steady. Yes, there may be instances when the mind will waver. That’s when my art has helped steady it again. I have realized that there’s no success or failure. I have learnt to deal with both joy and sorrow with acceptance. With acceptance there is only happiness,” explains Dhananjayan.
So, here’s the secret, as I have discovered it, of that glint in Shanta’s and Dhananjayan’s eyes: Do what you believe in and love doing, always be grateful and content, simply accept whatever comes your way and never let anything disturb your inner peace!

Live for your inner joy!

Pay attention to what Confucius had to say, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your Life.”

So, pause. Stop rushing. Know that in Life, you really have to choose only between two things: do what you love or love what you do. When you do neither is when you grieve, you struggle and you labor through each day. Please awaken to this reality that you and I have not been created to slog, to earn a living and to pine for a Life in the future. We have been created to enjoy this Lifetime and have been endowed with all that we need for this celebration called Life. We are perfect creations in our own, unique ways.

Roman Opalka was a French-born Polish painter who passed away in 2011, at 79. His claim to fame: something bizzarre from a layman’s point of view. In 1965, in his studio in Warsaw, Opałka began painting a process of counting – from one to infinity. Starting in the top left-hand corner of the canvas and finishing in the bottom right-hand corner, the tiny numbers were painted in horizontal rows. Each new canvas, which the artist called a ‘detail’, took up counting where the last left off. Each ‘detail’ is the same size (196 x 135 cm), the dimension of his studio door in Warsaw. All details have the same title, “1965 / 1 – ∞”; the concept had no end, and the artist pledged his Life to its execution: “All my work is a single thing, the description from number one to infinity. A single thing, a single Life.” Typically he would paint around 400 figures a day. Brush and paint never varied. His figures were roughly a centimetre tall, most made with two deliberate strokes of the brush, and allowed to fade away as his paint ran out. Over the years there were changes to the ritual. In Opałka’s first details he painted white numbers onto a black background. In 1968 he changed to a grey background ‘because it’s not a symbolic color, nor an emotional one’, and in 1972 he decided he would gradually lighten this grey background by adding 1 per cent more white to the ground with each passing ‘detail’. He expected to be painting virtually in white on white by the time he reached 7 777 777: “My objective is to get up to the white on white and still be alive.’” He never got to that number. But what the heck, he lived a full Life doing what he loved doing!


The reason why we don’t often make the right choice to only do what we love doing is because we relate to reference points other than ourselves. Oh, what will the world say if I just painted numbers? What will I do for an income? What will happen if 10 years from now I don’t like what I have chosen? Instead of torturing yourself with external reference points, instead of dying every moment that you live, live for yourself, for your inner joy! This is what they call bliss! And it’s inside you. And it is waiting for you to anchor within. Go find your bliss, start loving it and then __ you will never have to work again!