Life may shake you often, but you can choose not to be stirred!


Choose to be a witness, especially when a ruinous emotion like anger rises in you, and you will attain bliss.

Watch your thoughts as you would watch traffic on the street. When riding to work, especially when you are not driving, aren’t you just a witness? You just see a million things happening in the hustle bustle of a daily Life in a metro. Ensconced in your car, in the comfort of your air-conditioning and listening to some music, you are just a witness. May be you are watching two irate drivers honking madly. Or you are observing a senior citizen crossing the road with extreme caution. Or you are seeing someone opportunistic brazenly edge past a more tentative driver. You are merely an observer__who sees everything but chooses not to participate in further confounding the chaos!  

Is that really possible__being a witness to your own thoughts?

In fact, the Buddha, prescribes this, only this, to attain a Life of peace and fulfillment. He says: “Just be awake. Be a witness to your thoughts.”

The essence of the Buddha’s message is that we must not suppress ourselves. Take anger for instance. When someone does something stupid or hurts you or betrays you, you will feel angry. It is natural. And it is logical. What is the point in suppressing it? Suppressing ANYTHING that you believe is negative__like anger, sex, greed__is detrimental to your well-being. All these emotions are basically energy being expressed in different ways. So, suppressing them, means wanting to get rid of them, to kill them. How can you kill energy? Isn’t it a futile exercise? You will only end up creating more stress for yourself and within you. This also does not mean that you must succumb to these emotions and let their fiery energy consume you. Be aware. Be awake. Be alert. If you are witnessing your thoughts, you will realize that anger is rising in you. Then you won’t explode mindlessly, destructively. You will, through your awareness, be able to channelize your anger into, of all things, believe me, compassion!

Osho, the Master, says that anger can turn into compassion, a sexual desire into deep love and mindless greed into complete sharing! He says that these emotions are but energies. And the way to deal with them is to allow them to be expressed in a different form rather suppressing them.

I know, from experience, that this possible through relentless practice.

Once upon a time, I used to be a very angry man. I remember, in my teens, I once flung my shaving razor on the TV screen in our living room, because I was furious with my mother for saying something she should not have (at least in my opinion!). Over the years, right up to my mid-30s, which means a good two decades of my Life, I would let my anger control me. I wouldn’t even think before I exploded. It had become a normal, instantaneous reflex action to any situation that did not meet my expectations. Once when I was buying a car I had to travel urgently on the day the car was due to be delivered. So I had asked my admin assistant on my team to take delivery of the car while ensuring that the color I wanted was the one we got. My assistant called me AFTER taking delivery of the car that the company regretted not getting my color and said that I had to ONLY accept the color they had if I wanted immediate delivery. I lambasted my assistant for an hour on the phone, standing on the kerbside at a busy intersection in Bangalore. I went on abusing my assistant, who was both speechless and shocked at my tirade, and I went on, endlessly, until an old lady passing by, tapped me on the shoulder and whispered in my ear: “Just be aware of where you are when you scream!”. I felt ashamed. I hung up. It was too late. My assistant texted me his resignation within the next 5 minutes. I lost a good resource. But that moment of personal shame and guilt did not transform me. I raged on. At work my colleagues had nicknamed me ‘chiefscreamer’. (My business title, also on my business card, is chiefdreamer!)

It wasn’t until Life landed me at the edge of a precipice, where I continue to hang from, and I realized that my kicking around is not going to help my situation in any manner, that I awoke to the futility, and vanity, of being mindlessly, violently angry. Anger by itself is not a bad thing. Without being angry, with any injustice or current reality, no change, transformation or revolution has ever been possible in the world! Yet mindless anger has to be channelized. And, in my experience, has to be converted into compassion.

Over the years of practicing mouna (daily silence periods) and growing awareness, I have come to realize that people that hurt you do so because they are suffering themselves. Their inner turmoil is reflected in their unreasonable and unfair behavior. So, when someone does something nasty to me, I try to understand them better. Anger is no longer a response. It has become an intelligent choice. When anger rises in me, and it well will, I watch it. Then I say to myself, why is this person doing what she or he is doing to me? And if it a foolish mistake the person has committed forgiveness is easy. But when there has been a willful assault on my privacy or dignity or sentiments, I simply feed someone on the street thanking the Universe and my detractor for the opportunity to serve. I don’t even tell my detractor I am doing this because I don’t need to. As I feed someone randomly, I concentrate all my energy on my detractor and wish deeply that she or he heals. And I dedicate the act of serving, and the meal, to my detractor. This practice gives me immense peace and joy. I find it meaningful that:

a. I have not lost my head and exploded.

b. I have been compassionate towards my detractor and another human being.

c. I feel grateful that I have been useful.

The bigger cause for celebration though is that when you are merely a witness, an observer, you don’t participate to perpetrate any mindless crisis that may emerge in the course of daily living. You don’t get distracted from your focus on being peaceful. You don’t feel disturbed. You feel love rather than raw desire for people around you. You choose saner responses and constructive energy options when you have to express yourself. You discover great joy in realizing that Life may often shake you but, by being a mere witness, you can ensure your inner core is not stirred!


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Don’t let your money matter more than you!

Employ money to make your Life comfortable. Don’t let it enslave you!
This morning’s papers had a shocking story of girl from Kochi suing her father for gifting her ‘fake jewelry’ at her wedding. It’s yet another instance of how money keeps us from being human! It got me thinking.
Money is important. No doubt. It can buy you many things that will make your Life simpler and comfortable. But letting money buy over your peace of mind is hara-kiri.
Our entire attitude to Life has become money-oriented. Life decisions are being taken basis whether it can help make or save money. Not basis whether it can give you joy! Another dimension worth considering is that you can never say what people want of you. Do they want you and respect you for what you really are? Or do they want your money and respect how much of it you have? So, when money, which anyway is impermanent, stops coming your way, you suddenly discover that your durbar has dispersed. People don’t want you anymore. Because you don’t have what they want with you. You feel lonely, unwanted and unhappy. That’s when your big realization happens. That money is just a means. It must not dominate your Life, your emotions or your actions. Instead if you let happiness dominate your Life, emotions and actions, you will still make money. More important, you will then know how to use it!
I remember the movie Forrest Gump, which has a very relevant line that Gump says: “Don’t own nothin’ if you can help it. If you can, rent your shoes.” This whole desire to amass more and more in the hope that we will be secure and happy makes us slaves of a lifestyle we have long stopped enjoying. It fills our lives with grief every time something goes wrong with our Life __ as it often will and does! You lose your job or an important business contract and you imagine it is the end of the road. You plunge into depression. Or you lose your sanity over trying to protect what wasn’t worth protecting at all in the first place. I love LAMY pens. And I collect them as well, besides using them. A few years ago, when on a flight, I lost my favorite blue LAMY pen. For weeks I agonized over it. I felt a part of me was lost. I hunted high and low for one in India. At that time, Indian stationers did not retail LAMYs. And so I couldn’t find one in India. Years after this incident, my Firm went bankrupt and we entered a phase of complete pennilessness. One day, while practicing my daily silence period, it suddenly struck me how stupid I had been in agonizing over the loss of a pen, when in reality, my family and I had lost everything material __ all our money, all assets. And what remained was just us and our love for each other! It was a beautiful moment of awakening. The light that appeared in that moment continues to drench my Life with its brilliance!
Azim Premji: Keeper not Owner
A recent issue of Forbes India has Azim Premji, one of the wealthiest Indians, and chairman of Wipro, share his views about ‘employing’ his wealth to make a difference to others. His son Rishad, who works with Premji, both in the corporate and also on the board of Azim Premji Foundation, the Group’s philanthropy arm, says that they (the Premji family) are only keepers of the wealth (estimated to be $ 12 billion) and not its owners. “He’s (Azim Premji) always told us, ‘I am comfortable giving you something in Life but if you want anything above that, you have to earn it for yourself. The rest is meant to be given away, it is an obligation to give it away’,” says Rishad to Forbes India’s Mitu Jayashankar.
Important perspective that. You or I may not have the billions. We may be giving. Or we may plan to give. But the least you__and I__can do is to not grieve over money or let it enslave us. Let’s put it to good use __ to make our lives comfortable and to make a difference to someone else’s!