Eat the strawberry or stop complaining – either way choose to be happy!

Focus on what is happening than on what was happening or what will happen.
Distractions in our Life come from two sources. The past. And the future. There’s no worry about the present moment. Because you are in it already! There’s no choice with the present. This is where we can be happy.
But while we want to be happy, we don’t recognize the opportunity to be happy when it comes in front of us. The truth is we don’t know how to be happy. We like to indulge in self-pity and in worrying. So, we conveniently exercise the debilitating choice of slipping into the past or moving into an imaginary future state. Neither of which is in our control. The past is over, it HAS HAPPENED. It is dead. The future is still TO HAPPEN, it is the unknown. Anything can happen and not necessarily what you imagine. So, stay in the present. Stay here knowing fully well that you CANNOTstop the worries from coming to you. What you can do is STOP WORRYING!
Worries are like waves. Their job is to keep coming to the shore. Come, crash, ebb, recede, resurge, come, crash, ebb….this is a non-stop cycle. So will your worries keep coming to you, non-stop. Their job is to keep coming at you. You will have to learn to be unmoved. Don’t try to be untouched though. Because the nature of a worry is like the wave, it will drench you if you are standing at the shore. But don’t be influenced by it. Remain unmoved. And that you can achieve by focusing on what is happening. Worrying from a guilt or a burden from the past or fearing the unknown future is going to take away the beauty of the moment you are in. 
There’s this Zen story called ‘Cliffhanger’ that should help us understand the power of being in the NOW. One day while walking through the wilderness a man came across a vicious tiger in his path. He ran for his Life but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the precipice. As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing at the vine. Suddenly, he noticed, on the vine, a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious, he thought, and enjoyed himself! Imagine, the man had the following options: 1. Continue to hate the Tiger, his past, at the moment, that had, in a way, led him to his present. 2. Fear the mice for what they were about to do to the vine and worry about the future__for his Life. 3. Eat the strawberry and celebrate the moment’s delicious opportunity. He chose the third. This is the secret of intelligent living. To make the right choice.
Remember: Life’s offering us delicious strawberries even as the tigers from our past are chasing us and the mice are chewing away and possibly ruining what we imagine to be our future. Know that the tigers can’t come down to the present__they are only there to haunt us. And that the mice can’t do anything to stop you from enjoying the strawberry, if you decide to eat them! The simple non-negotiable reality is that if you want to be happy, you must eat the strawberry, you must ACCEPT WHAT IS. And if you don’t like strawberries, then, please stop complaining about the lack of happiness in your Life!

Get off that “ledge” and get going…

Last night I watched the 1993 Hollywood action movie Cliffhanger. In the movie, Gabe, played by Sylvester Stallone, is a mountain rescue team member. When attempting a rescue mission, across from a ledge on a mountain top called The Tower, Gabe is unable to save Sarah, whose harness breaks and she falls 4000 feet to her death. Gabe is unable to forgive himself and vows to never attempt another rescue in his Life. In fact, he gives up climbing. Eight months after Sarah’s funeral, Gabe comes to pick up his belongings from his girlfriend Jessie’s place and asks her if she too will go with him. Jessie is livid and distraught that Gabe’s gone into a shell and is grieving with guilt. She tries to talk to him, invites him to move on while explaining to him that it wasn’t his fault! But Gabe refuses to accept her point of view. In one final, desperate attempt to make him see reason, Jessie screams at him. She says: “If you don’t forgive yourself, let go and move on, you will be on that ledge forever.
Metaphorically, many of us are on our own “ledges” too. Often times, we make Life choices that backfire or even blow up on our face. It’s important we recognize that making mistakes, judgment errors, is an integral part of growing up. Almost with every wrong call, the realization that it was indeed a wrong call is instantaneous – as soon as it fails or bombs! Within ourselves, we know that it didn’t work out. And we know for sure that it was our __ the individual’s __ mistake. But we will not want to admit it, and instead prefer to grieve with guilt, pretty much like Gabe, because it “feels good” to take the “higher moral ground”. Well to sit on a perch, even if it made from a mountain of guilt and self-soothing morality, is good for a while. But how long can anyone be up there? And how long can anyone be carrying the burden of a past guilt? At one time or the other, you have to climb down, you have to set down your guilt, free yourself, and move on. If you don’t do that, you will be depressive and will suffer endlessly.
Today is Kshamavani– the Forgiveness Day, per the Jain calendar. Mahavira taught that forgiveness begins with the Self. Unless you forgive yourself for your mistakes, your transgressions, your anger and your ego, you cannot forgive others. And if you don’t forgive others you are a breeding ground of more hatred, more anger, more himsa (violence – violent thought). The Jains use a very beautiful phrase to practise and propagate forgiveness: Micchami Dukkadam. It means ‘May all the evil that may have been done be fruitless’.
Today’s a good day to make an intelligent choice. To forgive. Begin with yourself. Let go of all resentment. And let all the himsa in you, turn into ahimsanon-violent thought. Get off that “ledge”, learn to forgive, if possible forget, and move on! You, surely, will live happily ever after!