No more Manic Mondays: Make them Magical!

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Go with the flow of Life!

Learn to live with what is, in the now. This is Life. And the only one which you have.
           
Sometimes, we have to live through periods of time that we intensely dislike. Things could be taking forever. Business may not be happening. Or a relationship may be heading nowhere. Or a health situation will be forcing you to be confined to bed. You may want Life to move faster in such situations. But Life has a mind and pace of its own. Eckhart Tolle, the German-Canadian spiritual teacher, in his awakening book, “The Power of Now” says, “Life is now. There was never a time when your Life was not now, nor will there ever be.”

In a Zen story, a man falls into a river, with violent rapids leading to a high and dangerous waterfall. People who were watching this accident felt the man would die. But miraculously the man came out alive and unharmed downstream, at the bottom of the falls. People rushed to him and asked him how he managed to survive. He replied: “I realized I had no choice. I adapted myself to the water and did not resist the force, the direction or the flow of the river. I plunged into the ferocious swirls, giving myself up to the river and came out gratefully whenever I was tossed up. This is how I survived.”
The river rapids accident is but a metaphor. It teaches you – and me – the need to go with the flow whenever Life changes gears, changes the scenery and changes your reality! There is no point in wishing that your Life is different from what it is. There is no point going back in time and wishing your Life could be rewound or relived. And yes there is no point hoping Life could move faster and get you out of your current situation. It is what it is. You either live now, with and in the present, or you never will!

Do whatever it takes to simply live in the now!


It is indeed ironic. In this age of awakened consumerism, your Life is the ONLY product that comes WITHOUT a warranty, without a service or replacement guarantee and without a User Manual. There’s a remote control device to your Life but it certainly is not in your hand!

Think about it! This is THE absolute, real, unvarnished truth!

How different, and so how much more comfortable, Life would have been had it come with a User Manual at the time of your birth? You could then have quickly learned to live and not exist. You could have avoided mishaps and wasted experiences by consulting the manual’s Troubleshooting Guide. If dissatisfied with your Life you could have sought a replacement or pressed into play a service guarantee. Interesting perspective, isn’t it? But, really, as you well know, none of this is possible.

So how do you live a Life that you have no control over, no guarantees about, and that offers no ‘easily downloadable’ guidelines teaching you to live it well?

Simple. You live it one moment at a time. Savoring what is! And yes there’s one thing that Life unwittingly guarantees__with unfailing precision__that it will continue to amaze and surprise you. No matter what you know, you will be continue to be baffled by Life! So, the best way to live is to live with greet each moment in Life with childlike amazement. With curiosity. With glee.

After all that you have tried, tested, tasted, experienced, learned, unlearned, found, discovered, lost and gained, in Life, you will come to realize that Life’s just a simple mind-game. Where the mind continuously tries to take you away from the now, into a dead past or a yet-to-be-born future. And you, through your deeper understanding of Life, must learn to bring your mind back to attend on the present. It’s a fun game. And just like you learn to play Angry Birds or Poker, better and better, with practice, you will learn to live in the moment better by simply focusing on living__again and again and again! So, the key to intelligent living is to lose the mind. Make the mind powerless by not heeding it. By not giving it much attention. Give the moment all your focus. All your attention. Order your mind, as it tries to work you up with worry and anxiety or pin you down with guilt and hurt, to focus on what is. If it is a flower you see, give that flower all you have. If it is this post, give it all your attention. Master Ikkyu defined Zen as “Attention! Attention! Attention!”. Thich Naht Hanh calls this mindfulness. Eckhart Tolle calls it celebrating the Power of Now. Osho calls it simply being. Different words. Different labels. All point to the same state of acceptance, joy and living!

Nordstrom, the global retailer, who has a matchless reputation for service quality, has a one-line standard operating process manual. It says, exhorting its team members to deliver world-class service to its customers, “DO WHATEVER IT TAKES”. Borrowing from Nordstrom, and given that Life does not have a User Manual, perhaps a good, simple, one-line, standard living process guideline for Life would be: “DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO SIMPLY LIVE IN THE MOMENT”.

There’s a story that I remember reading in a book by Osho. It is a story of Mullah Nasruddin, Osho’s favorite character! One day, goes the story, Mullah Nasruddin’s son comes home crying saying his friend, who had borrowed a toy was now refusing to return it. Mullah’s son grieves the fact that he trusted his friend and his trust now stands betrayed. Mullah comforts his son. And promising to teach him to deal with such people better, he advises his son to climb up a ladder. The boy follows his father’s instruction. When he has reached the top, Mullah asks him to jump down. The boy hesitates. But the Mullah convinces him that he will be safe because he was going to be caught in the Mullah’s safe hands. The boy jumps. The Mullah moves away just in the nick of time. The boy falls hard on the ground. In shock, in disbelief, he starts wailing as the pain tears through his leg and grips his lower back. Still sobbing, he demands an explanation from his father as to why he betrayed him. Mullah Nasruddin explains, that he moved away so that his son never trusts anyone in future. Trust no one. Trust not even your father. That was Mullah’s message to his son.

Unfortunately, we too have been brought up the same way. By both our social environments and by our parents’ compulsions. We have been taught that to be cunning, street-smart, clever is more important than being trusting, caring, forgiving and loving. So we have been living our lives this way. Without knowing, without realizing, that the absence of trust is the cause of all grief in Life. Fundamentally, learn to trust creation that if you have been created, it means that you have also been given all that you need to live a whole Life, fully, meaningfully, joyfully! But you__and I__go beyond needs and press for wants to be met. And when they are not met, you become untrusting of Life. You grieve. You seek answers, wonder why there are no guarantees, why Life is being unfair and such. To live in the moment, just trust the Life you have, for what it is, as it is, in that moment!

Gautama, the Buddha, taught the world, TATHATA. It meant acceptance of what is, of the moment. Buddha said: “Whatsoever happens, happens. Nothing else can happen, nothing else is possible. Don’t ask for it to be otherwise; be in a let-go, and allow the whole to function!”

The whole here is Life itself. It is working perfectly well. And for you. The way it must. So, let it be. Don’t ever seek guarantees from Life. Because there are none! Simply tee off, living in the NOW, every single moment!

Accept each moment with gratitude and humility!


Accept whatever you get with gratitude and humility. Be grateful for the moment. That’s all there is to Life!

Is that it?

Indeed. This is it.

This moment is all that you__and I__have. Embrace it, immerse yourself in it and you will not have any problem with it and in Life whatsoever!

Bombay Jayashri: Grateful for the moment
The first time, more than a decade ago, I attempted to read Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’, it went over my head. Now, when I look back, I think the book didn’t needed that many pages as it eventually had! Just the title was enough to convey the power of the message, the essence of the lesson it taught! This morning, something I read in The Hindu, amplified this learning one more time. My good friend K.T.Jagannathan, interviewing celebrated Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri, in The Hindu’s op-ed page, asks her of her Oscar nomination for her song ‘Pi’s Lullaby’ from Ang Lee’s 2012 movie ‘Life of Pi’. I quote the relevant part of that interview verbatim.



KTJ: What does this Oscar nomination mean to you? Where do you take-off from here?

BJ: It means so much to me, Indian music and musicians. I feel I have been chosen to represent them all. I really don’t know where I go from here. But I am just grateful for the moment. That’s all I can think of at the moment.
So beautiful. That she should just choose to celebrate the moment and be grateful for it! One can go on and look at the larger impacts the nomination can have in the Life of an artist like Jayashri, for Indian classical music in general and for Carnatic music in particular. One can talk of how India has once again proven to the whole world what we are made of and blah and blah. But the beauty, the joy, resides in the moment. And in celebrating it Jayashri has chosen the more evolved path – of living with what is!

Well, it’s easy to celebrate an Oscar moment the realist may argue. Pointing out that it is so difficult to celebrate a tragedy. Pain. Suffering. Death. How do you celebrate such moments when all you want is for it to go away? A joyous occasion you will want it to linger on, stay longer. And a painful one, you just want it over and done with. How then do you stay in such a moment and what power does it have in our Life?

You stay in a painful moment the same way as you stay in a happy one __ with acceptance. Moments don’t come labeled happy or sad. These labels you give them. Your mind is the villain – it goes on labeling it. A moment becomes sad because you dislike it. And it becomes a happy one when you like it. What if you liked every moment? Then won’t every moment be a happy one? This is the simplest and the easiest way to understand bliss and to attain it. Imagine your Life’s a big status message box, just as the one that sits on top of your facebook Wall. Each moment’s definition is a new status message. All you have to do is imagine that in Life, just as it is presently on facebook, there are no Dislike buttons and all you can do is simply Like each status message, each moment! This technique may not prevent pain from coming your way. But it will eradicate suffering for sure.

For instance, you cannot prevent death in your family or in your circle of influence. The nature of Life is such that the moment birth happens, death is inevitable. So, the best way forward towards peace and bliss, in Life, is to accept death as an inevitable reality. Surely, when a person you know and love dies, there will be pain. Enormous pain. But there will be no suffering because you have ‘liked’, by accepting, the non-negotiable dimension of Life called death! If you have transcended death, if you are no longer running scared of it, what else can move you or trouble you in Life?

Wanting a painful moment to go away IS the cause of your suffering. Replace that want with acceptance. Do away with all disliking and indulge only in liking what is. Because there are no ifs, buts, or logic, in and to Life! It is what it is. Period. And each moment is teaching us the immeasurable value of celebration, patience, faith and acceptance. So, deal with Life’s moments the same way as you would deal with the teacher that taught you in primary school__greet each moment with heartfelt gratitude and immense humility. Bliss and abundance will follow!  

For the musically inclined, here’s the video clip of Bombay Jayashri’s Oscar nominated ‘Pi’s Lullaby’!