Drop Anchor – Move to your Center

When Life becomes unbearable to live, what do you do? What do you do when whatever’s happening to you defies logic and reason and seems totally unresolvable? Clearly, giving up on Life__and taking your Life, committing suicide__is not an option. Facing Life and continuing to live it fully, without expecting it to be any different from what it is, is the only option, and an intelligent, responsible response.  
Whenever you are in tremendous pain and are suffering from it, examine what’s causing you the suffering. Make a serious, conscious effort to understand what about your current situation makes you grieve. When you do this, you will discover that what’s causing you pain is beyond your control and is not really the cause of your suffering. You are grieving because you expect the pain causing factor to have not been there in the first place. So, to rid yourself of any suffering, or grief, you have to fundamentally rid yourself of all expectations. Here’s an irrefutable truth about Life – expectations bring agony! Expunge expectations and you will never suffer with or over anything in Life!
Expectations arise when you live at the periphery of Life. When you are attached to material things – money, fame, property or even to relationships. Attachment to anything perishable, impermanent or transient is bound to bring you grief. Isn’t it simple, plain logic? Isn’t it common sense? Think about it. If you know something is going to be short-lived, and is going to be eventually taken away from you, why not enjoy it as long as it lasts and why not be prepared to let it go when it’s time in your Life is over? Why have the expectation that it must continue to be with you forever? And why, through such irrational expectation, invite grief in your Life? Asking yourself these simple questions, and, through answering them, understanding Life better, can have a profound impact on you. It can take you to your center, to your inner core. Where you will find the strength, the courage, to live your Life peacefully despite whatever’s happening with it on the surface. The ocean is a good metaphor. When you stand at the periphery, among the waves, you witness the turmoil on the ocean’s surface. Wave after wave, comes crashing angrily on the shore. There’s a lot of restless energy at the surface level. But if you go to the ocean’s depths, lower, closer to its center, you will find a beautiful calm. It will be hard to imagine it is the same angry ocean, which is now serene and unmoved despite all the frantic action on its surface. Similarly, for us humans too, there’s a choice to go to our center.
Meditation is the only way to reach your center. And there is no one way to meditate. Don’t get carried away by populist prescriptions that you need to silence the environment to meditate or that you need to ‘go somewhere’ to meditate. Create your own way to meditate – one that makes you forget everyone and everything in the world and unites you with an ‘indescribable, invisible, yet imminently realizable energy’. It could be through whatever gives you joy – dance, music, writing, painting, gardening, cooking, housekeeping, walking, watching a sunrise or sunset, or simply being silent! Don’t force the way on you. Don’t insist that you put a framework to it. Do it once. If you love doing it, and you find losing yourself in it, keep doing it daily. Over time, you will be drawn to doing it effortlessly. And through this experience of losing yourself to what you love doing, you will train your mind to act not on the surface, the periphery, but to stay anchored deep, at your center!
When we drop anchor at the center we will find all that we are yearning and searching for – inner peace, bliss and the reason to carry on living!

Wear your Life on your sleeve

Don’t fear being vulnerable. Be true. When you are true, primarily to yourself and then to whatever you believe in, then you need no defense. And nothing, no one, can touch you!

Often times in Life, we fear that people will exploit us. That they will want to “use” our vulnerability to their advantage. While conceptually, in a world where everyone is fighting to win at the cost of someone else, this may appear to be true, in reality this is hardly so. The world is not infested with blood and flesh thirsty sharks and vultures as we imagine. But is inhabited by perfectly normal, compassionate, beautiful, loving people__just like you and me. So, when you wear your Life on your sleeve, when you expose your stark vulnerability, you will discover how kind people really are.

I have often found that saying things as they are, the truth, always helps. It may lead to people drawing different meanings from what you say. But Life is not about inferences and interpretations. Because when you bring in either inference or interpretation, then you are bringing in logic. And there’s no logic to and in Life. Life is about experiences. And people are going through experiences similar to yours, or they have already been there, all the time.

When you are vulnerable, you are willing to face Life. And face the consequences. Even death perhaps. When you are in that state, you are never insecure. Insecurity comes when you fear that you will lose something __ your position, your status, your title, your wealth, your reputation or your Life. At times, you may fear losing someone. But if you are past that fear, then your vulnerability is an asset, never a liability. Of course, chances are that there may be a few exploiters who will step into the ring. But face them. When you look them in the eye, they will step back. Exploitation cannot stand the brilliant gaze of truth. Exploiters can never face the courageous. When someone whose weapon is fear, recognizes you are fearless, then he or she becomes fearful. This is how Life works!

Try this in any situation you are faced with currently. Whatever you have wanted to say or do, if you have held it back because you thought of yourself as becoming vulnerable, go do exactly that now. Watch what happens. How much ever you may think it to be potentially disadvantageous, you will always find that your being true leads the world around you to be true as well. Remember this: you cannot live in fear, you can merely exist. To live fully, you have to wear your Life on your sleeve.


Guts and Glory don’t matter: Experience and Learning do!

Guts and Glory are mere perceptions. The reality is in experiences and in learning from them. It’s through the experiencing and the learning that the soul is enriched.


When we watch a movie and admire a hero for the way he or she has fought for justice, against perpetrators of evil or crime or injustice, we come back feeling good. We loved the movie. But don’t really think any of it is real. Because it’s just a story enacted for our entertainment. In real Life when we meet the actor, we do say we admire him or her and their ‘acting’. We know little about who they really are for us to be able to see the person behind the actor.


So it is with real Life heroism. Often people look at others around them and call them courageous and celebrate their valor or the stance they have taken in Life on fighting injustice or simply meeting a challenge head on. Someone who has found a deadly disease like cancer is often seen as a champion. Someone who has lived on despite the passing away of a loved one is believed to be very bold. Someone who fights injustice is seen as a ‘fearless’ crusader. And someone who refuses to run away from a seemingly impossible situation is believed to be incredibly resilient.


To be sure, everyone who has ever lived has had to encounter fear. Fear spares no one. Interestingly enough though all of us have the ability to be courageous. Because courage is NOT the absence of fear. Courage is what fear delivers when you face up to the fear. Because only when you face up to something, will you realize that it cannot harm you. Only what you run away from chases you, haunts you.



In a health challenge like cancer, you can feel fearful of death. But as long as you run scared of death, it will torment you. But the moment you discover that death is a non-negotiable eventuality that all of us who are born have to confront, you will no longer fear death. Then you start living. And despite your speeding to death, owning to your personal situation,  you begin to feel blessed that at least you reasonably know how much time you have left to live. And you start investing in the living than obsess with the dying. Fear of death has delivered to you the ability__courage__to live simply because you stopped running away from death.



So, it is with every Life situation. The more you run away from a problem, the more fearful you will be. When you face it, the problem, even if it doesn’t go away, will at least stop tormenting you. When you stop feeling intimidated by the problem you face, with courage playing a catalyst, faith is born. Faith is the light that drives away the darkness of fear. Remember, darkness cannot drive away light. Only light can eradicate darkness. You cannot project darkness on to anyone or anything. But you can light up a Life, including your own. And faith is that light!


Where there is faith, fundamentally in yourself, triumph is certain. You will ultimately prevail. Even if you die, while attempting to get on top of your Life situation, it is a triumph. Because you are now free, liberated from bondage to this world and its worldly attachments, responsibilities, consequences. But often times, the triumph happens again in the real world. And the world will glorify you. The world will see you as successful. True wisdom though lies in knowing that the fans of your success don’t see your struggle or don’t want to see it. They only see the finished product (at least for the moment): the successful you. And that glory can be humbling, relieving, gratifying and, often, heady. Beware of this tricky moment. And stay grounded reminding yourself that all this glory is a mere perception. A perception of the world. The truth is that the experience of getting here has been the reward. Not the material reward that all this glory brought you.


Jayakumar, an autorickshaw driver, with his topper daughter Prema! Pic Courtesy: Mid-Day


Yesterday India celebrated Prema Jayakumar, daughter of an auto-rickshaw driver from Mumbai,  for topping the national Chartered Accountancy exam. Glory followed suit. Media attention, cash rewards, job offers. And suddenly, overnight, the young 24-year-old, who shares 280 sq-ft of living space with her dad, mom and younger brother (who also passed the same exam this year), is feeling on top of the world. She knows that in a matter of a few weeks or months, she will be able to hoist her family out of the difficult Life they lead and offer them a more comfortable one. In her story, instead of living fearful of the same difficult Life she has led for 24 years, she decided to face her fears, and had the guts, as we see it, to dream big. And her guts led her to her glory. But unless she realizes that what the world sees as her guts is actually her ability to have dreamt big despite her deprived circumstances, and that her glory is only momentary and will fade away once the newness of her story is dead in the public eye, she will get caught up in this perceptional game. (If she indeed does, that’s will be another experience, another learning for her and another story!) The reality for now, in the context we discuss, is that she met Life, faced up to it, and triumphed one phase of it. The entire experience has enriched her. And now, a new conquest, a new experience awaits her.

So, don’t let all this talk of guts and glory, of whatever you do in Life, ever kid you. It’s all hot air capable of blowing your ego bubble. Only so that it can be pricked by Life and circumstance again! Your greatest reward, and your ONLY wealth, is what you have experienced in Life and what you have learned from it! Live with this understanding and focus. And you will be both in bliss and unmoved!


To solve a problem, first accept it!

Refusing to look at a problem, or denying its existence, cannot make your Life any simpler.

All what you suffer from comes from what you deny. Facing Life and taking a problem head on is what can make you solve it and live in peace.

But we invariably don’t like to exorcise our demons. We somehow have become comfortable suffering, feeling tormented, preferring to stay debilitated than feeling liberated. Because continuing to be miserable seems far more easier than having to work hard to rid ourselves of what makes us miserable!

I met someone yesterday after a couple of years. He, in his own opinion, was financially ‘very well off’. Yet he found his Life ‘incomplete’. He spent entire days, daily, in a prominent five-star hotel’s bar, literally being there from the time it opened to when it closed! He lamented to me that his wife no longer loved him and all she wanted was ‘his credit card and a certain sum of cash monthly for her shopping sprees’. His 24-year-old son, though married, was not exactly doing anything significant and ‘lived off’ his dad. His daughter was the only one who understood him but their relationship too in recent years had come under stress. She wanted to go overseas for higher studies but he was insistent that she marry now because that was the norm in his ‘community’. He said to me, in a tone reflective of a defeated man, “I have lost it in Life. I have done no wrong. Yet everyone around me has let me down. I am suffering. I wish I could die.”

I laughed at him and looked him in the eye. And said: “My friend, you are the problem. For as far as I know you, you have been drinking entire days for years now. You have a drinking problem – spurred by a lack of purpose in your Life. There’s enough and more money. So, because you don’t know how to be useful and productive, you are indulging in something that has already ruined your family Life and is on the verge of consuming you.”

My friend suddenly turned hostile. He ended our meeting and drove away drunk in his car, despite my request and protests to engage a taxi leaving his car behind.

I wish he understood that unless he faced the brutal reality of his Life, he may really be unable to make it any better.

Just as my friend has a problem, each of us has. All of us like to deny whatever is our problem__ranging from a relationship to a lousy job to a ruinous habit__hoping that time will take care of it! This is one area where no one can help you than you, yourself!  

But facing the truth is scary. How does one see the reality?

Good question. And so, it is with all situations, with all of humanity, with all aspects of Life! Fundamentally, if you know what you want out of your Life, you can go find that Life and recreate, reinvent yourself. But if you don’t know what you want, how can anyone help you? This question is not as profound as many people make it out to be. It is a dumb question. Even a person with low IQ can answer it __ by approaching it the other way, by knowing, for starters, what you don’t want in your Life! Because the answer is that nobody, definitely not you, wants to suffer. Since you don’t want to suffer or be miserable why do anything, or accept any situation that accentuates your suffering?

The only way to solve a problem is to accept it exists. And to look it in the face and lead the change yourself. There are no two ways in which you can change your current realities or end your suffering!

So, if you are feeling miserable about anything__or anyone__in Life, sit down and introspect. Diligently make a list of actions that you must take to end your misery. Resolve to do it. And just get down to doing it. Don’t give yourself the license to make excuses. Resolving to do it from the New Year is an excuse straightaway! So, don’t kid yourself!

Remember what Andy Law, maverick creative thinker and head of The Law Firm, says, “Unless you are prepared to give up something valuable you will never be able to truly change at all, because you’ll be forever in the control of things you can’t give up.”