Accept your reality to get through an unwanted, yet unavoidable, phase

Accept and make peace with your reality. That’s when you can endure a phase you never wanted but still have to go through.
Rajratnam and Gupta: Picture Courtesy – Internet

A recent story in The New York Times caught my attention. It was written by an Indian, Anita Raghavan. And featured another Indian – the former McKinsey & Co boss, Rajat Gupta. The story talked about Gupta’s term in prison, alongside one-time friend and business partner Raj Rajaratnam – both men are convicted on charges of insider trading and are serving time at the Federal Medical Center Devens, in Ayer, Massachusetts, northwest of Boston, with 1000 other inmates. Raghavan seems to have pieced together information from a former Devens inmate, David Morgan, on Gupta’s time in prison. According to Morgan, reports Raghavan, Gupta seems to have accepted his imprisonment as “destiny”.

It is definitely a fall from grace for the former Harvard Business School graduate and old-timer at McKinsey & Co, Rajat Gupta. I remember, in 1994, when I was with India’s premier business magazine Business Today (from the India Today stable), Gupta was on its cover. It was I think for the first time that an Indian was making it to a global CEO’s position. My editor, Anand P Raman, told me what a proud moment it was for India, for Business Today and for us journalists to be featuring an Indian management great! I was young, just 27, back then. And I decided to myself that if ever I took up a corporate role (which I eventually did), I would want to emulate Gupta’s success. In fact, my erstwhile consulting Firm’s stated goal was to be an Indian McKinsey and this was in large measure influenced by Gupta’s leadership of McKinsey & Co over the period 1994~2000. It is incredible that the poster boy of management consulting and global corporate leadership is serving term in a prison in the US, to say the least.  According to Raghavan, “In prison, it is Mr. Gupta’s family that has kept him going. At the camp, he pasted family photos on the bottom panel of the bunk (bed) above him. “Hey, David, look at what we have to be grateful for,” Mr. Morgan remembered Mr. Gupta saying. “‘When I go to bed, I see them, and when I wake up, I see them.’”
Gupta’s story presents us with the opportunity to understand the true nature of Life. What goes up comes down. And what’s down sure goes up. This is the way Life plays out for each of us. Our stories may differ, our contexts may be unique, but the broad theme is impermanence – of time, people, events, things, relationships and of our Life itself. Everything and every phase in Life shall pass. And what the Cosmic Design has in store for you shall play out – unfailingly whether you like it or not, whether you accept it or not. When you don’t accept what is happening and resist the Life you have, you suffer. But with acceptance, as in Gupta’s case, as he has confessed to Morgan, while you can’t change your reality, you can at least endure it.

Advertisements

Lose yourself to creation and you will never be lost in Life!


In everyone’s Life, there will come a time, when you feel lost. You don’t know where your career is headed. Or what’s happening to your relationship. You feel you are doing too many things, are busy all the time, but don’t find time for yourself. There’s this emptiness in you. Sometimes you feel unhappy. Sometimes you feel nothing. You just feel you are missing something although you can’t say what it is. Everything you do is weighing you down. There’s a reluctance with which you are living.

Such living is not living in the truest sense. It is merely existing!

The truth is that there is a cosmic conspiracy to make you happy. But you miss it because you are so full of yourself. And you imagine instead that just the opposite is true __ that there is a cosmic conspiracy to make you unhappy, when, in reality, there is no such design! The reason why you imagine that the Universe contributes to your unhappiness, your emptiness, your reluctance to live fully, to your ‘merely existing’ state, is that you attach too much importance to yourself. All the time you are fearing how your Life will end up. And such constant thinking, that fear, that anxiety, clearly inhibits your ability to live freely, fully.

In Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Hindi classic Anand (1971 – Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna), there’s a patient (played by Asit Sen) who keeps visiting Dr.Prakash Kulkarni (Ramesh Deo) with some imagined ailment or the other. The man is really not sick. He is just imagining his conditions. Dr.Kulkarni keeps treating him and keeps getting paid a fee for each visit. Dr.Bhaskar Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan), a good friend and colleague of Dr.Kulkarni, protests this ‘malpractice’. He chides his friend Dr.Kulkarni for feecing an innocent patient. Dr.Kulkarni defends his position admirably. He says (something to this effect), “I have not conspired to make the man ill or feed his imaginations. His problem is not that he imagines too much. His problem is that he loves being sick.”

So do we! We love being clueless, being lost in Life! We love feeling empty, unhappy, worried and fearful of everything in Life. Pining for a new Life seems to be more fashionable than doing something about creating that Life! If everything is going right per our expectations, we worry about how long this run will last; and if everything is not right, we worry about how long more it will take for the tide to turn. We doubt simple, unconnected events, harmless intentions of people around us and live in fear and anxiety of how it will all add up in the end.  

The antidote to such a phase, the only circuit breaker available to snap out of this vicious, self-destructive cycle, the only way to repair, revive and recharge yourself, is to lose yourself to creation. 

Try this: Lose yourself to a sunrise or walk in the rain. Feel the ground beneath your feet. Look at a flower. Hear the bird songs, look at your child sleeping peacefully, hold your companion’s hand, watch a tree laden with fruit…..do any of these or your own. But for a full minute. In that minute, as long as you have lost yourself to creation, I promise you, there will be no unhappiness, no worry, no turmoil in you. The Cosmic Design has a unique feature that only makes all of creation happy. But to experience that you have to learn to lose yourself. You have rid yourself of yourself, of your thought and immerse your Self in the beauty of this Universe.

When you fight with creation, the Universal whole, you are bound to lose. In your emptiness you are actually feeling the sense of futility of an unequal battle. You have everything material, but you don’t have the most priceless of the Universe’s offerings, available free, 24×7, perennially __ happiness. On the other hand, when you have surrendered to creation, immersed in it, lost yourself to it, you may find happiness even if you have nothing material. You may well have found your true Self! It is unbelievable. But this is the only way it works. This is no rocket science. It works simply because the human form is an expression of the Universal energy.  Logically therefore, Bliss, really, truly, is a by-product of losing yourself to creation!


Accept what you are served in Life and you in turn serve too!


There will be times in Life when you don’t know what’s going on and simply don’t know how to deal with it. You wonder if there’s a cosmic conspiracy against you! Nothing can be more untrue. Know that Life has no fixed agenda or menu. You get served what Life has laid out for you. And, interestingly, you have no way of knowing upfront what lies in store for you!

 

 

But you__and I__view what we deserve from Life very differently. You always believe that because you are good at heart, ethical, sincere and work hard, you deserve to be treated better by Life. Life, however, has no such ideals. It just keeps on serving what what’s programmed in your design, in your Master Plan. And from Life’s point of view, that Master Plan has no flaws!

 

 

All your grief in Life, from Life, comes only when you question what’s being served to you. Don’t question Life’s design and you will be at peace, perpetually. There’s great value and beauty in not being able to decipher Life or understand its design. Osho, the “spiritually incorrect mystic”, as someone called him famously, says: “The beauty of facing Life unprepared is tremendous. Then Life has a newness, a youth; then Life has a flow and freshness. Then Life has so many surprises. And when Life has so many surprises boredom never settles in you.”

 

 

Whatever happens in Life, whatever, it only makes you stronger and better. While you may not accept this at face value__and you shouldn’t because there’s a great learning in questioning and discovering how Life works through your own journey, your personal experience__an intelligent way to respond to Life’s vicissitudes is to serve before you say you deserve.

 

 

Serving selflessly in Life may not make any change to the way Life deals with you. But it will definitely make you feel better. The problem with expecting to be treated better by Life and demanding that you deserve better is that Life is not going to give you an answer or explain your design to you. When you keep asking questions and you get no answers, indeed, you will be frustrated. Your frustration will eventually lead you to depression and you end up becoming bitter in Life. Instead, immerse yourself in serving others despite your circumstances. It may not resolve your personal situation but will greatly enhance your inner peace.

Stop asking why Life is happening to you the way it is. Instead, make your Life meaningful and purposeful. Accept what comes your way and find ways to serve, make a difference and leave the world a better place than you found it!

Celebrate the Equality in all Creation!


All Life is equal.

Celebrating creation is our principal religion and only duty! Over centuries, religion, by its opportunistic practitioners pointing to an external God, has made bad spaghetti out of a perfect recipe for equality. Religion singularly has made us forget the divinity in all creation.

When you recognize that all Life is equal, and that you are as much the source of the cosmic energy, that which powers the Universe, as creation itself, then, you will discover the Godhead in you! Then, and only then, will your search for an external God end. When you have found God, why would you need religion?

Let’s do a small exercise to grasp this truth in a nanosecond.

Take an empty (water) glass.

Is the glass really empty? Or does it contain something?

Well, arguably, it contains air.

Now, drop the glass on a hard floor (not carpeted). Yes, just drop it!

It breaks, right?

Now what happened to the air in the glass? Where has it gone? Did it also break or did it go somewhere?

Well, it just merged with the air in the room. In fact, it always was merged with the air in the room in the first place. The glass was merely a container holding some of the air.

So is this, your, body. It is merely a container holding, during a specific tenure, a portion of the air, or the cosmic energy that’s powering the Universe. Isn’t that case strong enough to establish that you and everyone else are equal? Because all of us are powered by the same cosmic energy.

All our problems in the world, between us human beings occur because we identify too much with the human body. Without the body, without the mind, there can be no desire. Without desire, there can be no one-upmanship. Without one-upmanship, how can there be inequality? And without inequality how can there be ignorance? Just this awareness that you are not the body, that you are the God you seek, that you are the Universal energy is so brilliant and so very liberating.

“Desire, ignorance, and inequality—this is the trinity of bondage,” taught Swami Vivekananda, whose 150th birth anniversary it is today!

Indeed. We are enslaved by our ignorance of our true Self. We are trapped in our desires. And we are victims of the conditioning that we are an unequal race. The question we must ask ourselves is if you inhale from the same source I exhale into, how can you and I be unequal? If people across the world understood this truth, there would be no problems, no wars, and we will have peace and love everywhere.

Swami Vivekananda further said, over 100 years ago, and it is so true, so relevant, even today: “We believe that every being is divine, is God. Every soul is a sun covered over with clouds of ignorance; the difference between soul and soul is owing to the difference in density of these layers of clouds.”

By simply worshiping, and celebrating, creation, we will find our God and peace __ both that which we desperately seek and need!

Bliss is celebrating and loving Life’s design!


In Life, everything is predetermined. And yet everything is up to you!

No, I am not contradicting myself. On the other hand I am merely summing up what Life really is. It is, essentially, what you experience between two ends of this paradox __ where you are born without your asking for it, you are given a lifetime without your inability to control anything that happens to you and at the same time, you have the opportunity, the choice, to live your Life fully, in bliss!

So, is there a destiny? A friend raised this question after the ghastly manner in which a 20-year-old girl died in an accident on Sunday. The news made headlines in the papers and left all of us shocked. The girl, with a gaggle of friends, was at a place which is more that 25 km from the accident spot. For no earthly reason, these girls, seem to have ventured out for a drive in the wee hours of Sunday morning and were on a highway on the outskirts of Chennai when the accident happened. All other occupants of the car survived the crash, except this one girl. So, someone who knew her and was shocked therefore beyond description said, ‘She literally walked into her death trap. It was destined.” That prompted my friend to ping me for a perspective.

Destiny is a subject that I too have often tried to understand. I don’t claim I have the answer that you may relate to. But I will share what I have learned through my Life and experiences__and what I find acceptable to me as an intelligent perspective!

Hard as it may appear to instantly believe, given our scientific grooming and our temperament for logical inquiry, our entire Life is in the hands of a Universal energy that is at the same time inscrutable and marvelous. At once compassionate and cruel. Totally understandable and yet completely incomprehensible. This is the energy that powers us all __ the breath that we take, and so does every living organism. From birth to death, of this lifetime in human form, we live to a pre-ordinance which we are completely unaware of. To that extent, it is all pre-determined. Even so, we do have the opportunity, the free will, to respond to Life as it happens to us.

Since none of us has seen God, in the manner in which each of our religions insist he or she exists, I would like to conclude that God, Fate, Destiny are excuses that mankind has invented to take the easy way out of remaining accountable in Life! We abdicate our responsibility towards our lives by dumping the blame on a God, an unknown Fate and an inscrutable Destiny. Osho, the Master, explains this well, in his trademark, in-the-face style: “There is no fate, no destiny. You are just trying to dump your responsibility on something that does not exist.  And because it does not exist, it cannot resist you; it cannot say, “Please don’t dump your responsibility on me!” God is silent, you can dump anything on him __ no resistance, because there is nobody to resist. Fate is again the same. You fail in love, you fail in other matters. It hurts that you have failed. You need some kind of ointment for your wounded heart. “Fate” is a beautiful ointment and freely available. You don’t have to pay for it. You can say, “What can I do?  Everything is decided by fate.” Success or failure, richness or poverty,  sickness or health, Life or death,  everything is in the hands of an unknown power called fate “I am doing my best,  still I go on failing. I am following all the moral principles preached to me, still I am poor. And I see all kinds of immoral people becoming richer,  getting ahead, becoming famous. It is all fate.” It gives you solace.  It gives you solace that you are not reaching your goals. It also gives you solace that if others have achieved success, there is nothing much in it, it is just decided by fate. So, on the one hand, you are saved from feeling inferior; on the other hand, your jealousy enjoys the idea that the successful person is successful only because fate has determined it that way: “It has nothing to do with him; he’s not superior to me.” God,  fate, destiny–they are all in the same category: throwing your responsibility onto something that does not exist.

My understanding is an extension of Osho’s point of view: If there is birth, there will be death. So, what’s so intelligent about calling someone’s death, a well-known, inevitable reality, his or her destiny? What’s the point in sulking and blaming your fate__when things go wrong, when we know for sure that things WILL go wrong? What is the point in calling a God, who you fear, unkind? Isn’t it obvious that you will fear something only when it does not meet your expectations in some manner __ being unkind being one of them!? I would, for the same reason, want to find someone who loves__not fears__God, call God unkind!

So, the moot point is Life will keep happening to you, the way it wants. You can accept it and be happy and content or you can resist it and sulk. This act of responding to your Life is what is free will all about. And that free will is within your control, even if your own Life is not!

Let’s take two examples of two exemplary women to understand how deployment of free will really impacts the quality of one’s Life:

Chitra Singh
Chitra Singh, the ghazal singer and maestro Jagjit Singh’s wife, came out of her self-imposed exile to pay tribute to her husband. She has been interviewed in the latest issue of People magazine. 22 years ago she had lost her son Vivek in a car crash, then her daughter Monica committed suicide in 2010 and Jagjit himself passed away in 2011. She admits to Dhaval Roy that she made repeated attempts at finding her voice again, but failed each time: “Life has been so kind and unkind to me at the same time that singing doesn’t come to me anymore. One’s voice is a very delicate mechanism. I just choked up and stopped singing. So, I did not leave music, it left me.” So, that is her response, employing her free will, her way, to living, to a predetermined Life design.

Shagufta Rafique
In the same issue of People, I encountered the amazing story of Shagufta Rafique, who once was a dancer in bars in Dubai and a prostitute, who has not become a screenwriter, dishing out hits like Raaz 3 and Murder 2, in Hindi cinema. She tells Divya Unny: ‘My stories are cheap and melodramatic like me. I am not a trained writer. A course cannot teach you how to tell stories. You need to have a flame burning within you which translates into something relatable. Life has taught me that. I have been a whore too long to erase that part of my Life. I have always dreamt of telling my story. And my own film will be the biggest test of my strength.” And, that, dear friends, is her response, employing her free will, her way, to living to a predetermined Life design.

Bliss is what happens when you choose, through your free will, to accept, celebrate and love, your Life’s design, or destiny. When you rue your design, blaming your fate, you will suffer. When you live your Life lovingly, you will meet God __ your God! And that God is bliss!

Expectations bring agony!


Expectations bring agony when they are not met. Agony leads to frustration. Frustration to anger. And anger sometimes culminates in rage__extreme agitation in the mind. And, far too often, as we see it in the world around us today, rage in the mind manifests itself as physical violence. 

But what causes expectations in the first place? The thinking that YOU are in control creates a desire, an expectation. Because you work hard and sincerely, you think you deserve a higher raise. So, you desire. Because you brought your child into this world, you think your child must ALWAYS live life the way you want her/him to. So, that’s an expectation. Because you have never done any wrong unto anyone and have had a healthy lifestyle, you believe you must never ail from a dreaded disease like cancer. Again, expectation. But how are you__and I__ever in control of anything? 

Look, the sun, the birds, the world, go on without us controlling them. We can’t as much as twiddle our toes of our own accord. We control NOTHING. We are but specks in this vast cosmic design, nobodies. When we are anchored in this humble truism, there will be no expectation, we will live in the moment and will live in peace. Only then will we experience bliss HERE and NOW. 

When we begin to see ourselves as controlling even a minuscule element in this cosmos, we will cause misery within us and then in our immediate circle of influence. 

To keep yourself grounded and free from expectations, desires, agony, frustration, anger, rage, and to find bliss, ALWAYS remember that ‘life goes on not because of you, but in spite of you’!