Let neither praise nor blame fell you

A lot of our lifetime is wasted living our lives for others’ approval or praise or out of fear of their criticism or condemnation of our actions. An intelligent way to live would be to just do what you can and know to do, do it well, ethically, and simply don’t seek praise or fear criticism.

Shoaib Akhtar congratulates MS Dhoni after a match
Picture Source: EspnCricinfo/Internet
Former Pakistan bowling great Shoaib Akhtar (International Career 1997~2011) is one of the expert commentators in the ongoing Indian Premier League, IPL 7. The other day, ahead of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) vs Rajasthan Royals match, Akhtar had this to say of CSK (and India) captain, M.S.Dhoni: “What kind a guy is this Dhoni? I am just amazed. He’s won everything – a T20 World Cup (2007), was in the finals again this year, an ODI World Cup (2011), he’s taken his team to the number one spot in the ICC Test rankings, he’s led CSK to win the IPL twice…and he’s nonchalant about all this success? isko kuch hota hi nahi hai…kuch bhi dikhata nahi hai…” Akhtar is basically wondering how’s it that Dhoni is able to carry his genius, his greatness so lightly? How’s it that he’s so unmoved? Dhoni is true to that observation by Akhtar not only about the way he has handled success and praise, but also the way he deals with defeat and criticism. At 33, he’s a lot more evolved than most people twice his age. Surely it’s not only cricket that we can learn from him!

Internalizing a few truths about Life can be very useful as we live it.

First, know that however hard your work at something, there’s only so many times that you can win or keep winning. To fall, to fail, despite your best efforts and intent, is inevitable – and is an integral part of your Life design. Failure is an event – it is not a person! Remember that!

Next, when you win doing something, never let all those cheering you, con you into believing that you are great and that you caused your success. A humble flute was once put up for auction because it had been used by a world-renowned flautist. Bids for several million dollars were being placed for the flute. Suddenly, as the auctioneer’s gavel was coming down for the final, closing, bid, the flute spoke up. It said: “I am just a piece of bamboo. With a few holes. So, can’t you see how much I must be “really” worth? My value is only in the hands of a player who can make music out of me by blowing through me.” In a way, we are all like the bamboo flute. The music – whatever art or profession we follow – flows through us, in spite of us, and not because of us.

Third, don’t take what people have to say seriously – ever. Listen to your inner voice. When people praise you, be grateful. When people criticize you, be gracious – and forgiving. Don’t let people’s opinions – good or bad – take you away from being yourself and from experiencing the beauty and magic of your Life!
No matter what you do or what happens, let neither praise nor blame fell you. Be inspired by what Gautama Siddharta, the Buddha, had to say: “As solid rock remains unmoved by the wind, so do the wise remain unmoved by praise and blame.”


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You are here to just play well and enjoy yourself


Don’t let either success or failure touch you. Accept that everything is impermanent, transient. When you live, work and play with this perspective deeply embedded in you, in your subconscious, you will perform best __ in whatever is your chosen field!

Last night, at the post-match presentation ceremony of the IPL (Indian Premier League, a top-draw T20 cricket tournament) in Chennai, Chennai Super Kings’ strike bowler, Dwayne Bravo, was invited by the anchor of the presentation party, Sanjay Manjrekar, to receive the Purple Cap. The Purple Cap is given to the highest wicket taker in the tournament. In IPL 6, the Purple Cap is being closely contested for by Sunil Narine, Vinay Kumar, Mitchell Johnson and Bravo. After last night’s match, the Purple Cap returned to Bravo, whose tally of wickets then stood at 24 this season.

Dwayne Bravo: No attachment to the Purple Cap
While presenting it to him, Manjrekar asked Bravo: “Did you imagine that this season you would be sporting the Purple Cap?”

Bravo replied with his trademark, genial, West Indian, swagger and beaming smile: “Not really. I just wanted to play good cricket. I did. And the Almighty Lord took care of the rest. I know this is with me today, as it has been a few times this tournament. And I know it will go away from me if someone takes more wickets than me. I am perfectly fine with that. It’s mine today. It may be with someone else tomorrow. I am here to just play well and enjoy myself.”

Bravo’s simple, down-to-earth philosophy inspired me. And so here I am sharing it.

Let’s understand and appreciate that we are all here on this planet to simply play our lives’ parts well and enjoy ourselves. And we can do that by choosing not to cling on to anything. Success and failure are both events. They occur as a culmination of effort. Either our own or of others. When an event occurs, it also ends. For instance, with daybreak, an event, daybreak is over. With a sunset, an event, the sunset is over. With a victory, an event, the victory is over. With a loss, an event, the loss is over. It is when we take an event and make it a label and wear it on ourselves, is when we suffer. Because both success and failure are impermanent and transient. In a moment, they both have become the past. Clinging on to the past is never wisdom. Being aware of this truth, accepting, as the Gita Saram (the essence of the Bhagavad Gita) says, that what is yours today will be someone else’s tomorrow and another’s the day after, is what intelligent living is all about.

When you live this way__playing your part well and enjoying yourself__you live freely. Without any shackles. That’s when your inner spirit is drenched in joy and you, therefore, perform best __ as if, like Bravo, you were on a song!


Switch On! Switch Off! Stay Tuned!!

Not worrying does not mean not acting on what worries you. It means acting with focus but without worry.

Worry doesn’t solve anything. Least of all your problems. Solutions to your problems can only be got when you attempt them. Many a time though, you are caught up with your problems so much that you don’t see solutions. You only keep worrying about being unable to solve them. And some problems are so complex, so protracted in nature that you can’t solve them immediately in any case. And definitely never by worrying! So, in such situations, caught in the maze of your problems, your worry turns into a deep, dark brooding and your Life is plunged into grief. It is not at all funny. Half of humanity lives like that __ merely existing, often drowning in their sorrow and suffering!

At such times, switching off from worrying can help. It turns your attention to living __ from merely existing.

Yesterday, at the IPL cricket match in Chennai, Ian Bishop, the expert commentator from Sony Max asked India and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) Captain, M.S.Dhoni, how he handles the pressure of his job. Of leading his country and his IPL team to success every single time. Dhoni replied in his characteristic manner: ‘Well, it’s a high pressure job. Many people say they try it. But I can claim that I have been successful at it. Which is, I have developed this ability to switch on and switch off. When I finish a game, I switch off from cricket. I then switch on when I come back to something connected with cricket, a meeting, or a practice session or a game itself.” This appears to be a good practice and one which seems to be working for Dhoni. For he is truly both Captain Marvel and Captain Cool for Team India and Team CSK just now!

I have learned this art too and over time have been successful with it. I have designated periods of time daily that I invest in addressing the worrisome, irksome, not-easy-to-solve issues of my Life. I switch on when I need to focus on them. And I switch off from them when I have tried my bit for the day and immediately switch the focus on another department of my Life that requires my attention. This method, I realize, has helped me live in each moment __ accepting it and enjoying it for what it is. This ensures that I don’t worry or brood. Either I solve what’s staring me in the face or I turn my attention to another aspect of my Life where I can be more productive. Switching off and switching on at will, I live mindfully, at peace and in bliss! This is the way I stay tuned to Life!