The true meaning of Life is being free — so let Life simply be!


The true meaning of Life is being free!

And to be free you must just let everything be. When you wish that things were different is when the shackles of pain, agony, suffering, sorrow, guilt, anger, jealousy, remorse and fear imprison you. 

How do you let it, or anything, be?

This question has be answered with understanding why it is being asked in the first place. What is the difficulty in letting things be? One clear idea can be that if you don’t do something about some situation, you will have abdicated responsibility. Or if you don’t do something, something worse will happen. Or that you may grieve later that possibly you could have done something. So, for these reasons and perhaps a few more, you will find it difficult to let things be! And you want to get back into control.

Let’s also be clear about what situations call for action and which ones call for letting them be. Your house is on fire, obviously, you can call the fire service. Your teenage child is taking to drugs. Surely you can counsel him and take him to a de-addiction center and work on getting him back. So, you act when you can act and must act. No issues. But there may be situations in Life when you cannot do anything. Someone close to you is dead. What action can you take to bring the person back to Life? So, let it be. Or someone is seriously ill. The doctors are trying. But they too say only a miracle can save her. What can you do to work that miracle. The best you can do is to let it be. Or a relationship is suffering because someone is hell bent on interpreting whatever you say. You have clarified, apologized, fallen at their feet, but the person keeps on bludgeoning you. What can you do? You want the situation to heal, but what can you do? Healing takes time. So, you just let it be. Or you try your best to resurrect a failed business and your Life, but every single attempt meets with zero success. It’s not that you lack talent or purpose or values or ethics. But still the business doesn’t happen. Money just refuses to come to you. You have tried getting an employment but nobody even wants to meet you, let alone hire you. What do you do? Other than letting it be, do you have a choice? So, when you have tried everything and nothing works, while you may still want to try newer approaches to dealing with a Life situation, you just let it be. 

When you let things be, the mind will make matters worse. It will remind you that you are doing nothing about a grave situation. It will amplify every small fear into something draconian, gruesome. But fear has to be dealt with head-on by facing it. Only then can you overcome it. Once you have crossed the threshold of fear, all other emotions become manageable. If you are not scared of what will happen, how can worry even exist? When the future doesn’t worry you why will the past haunt you anymore? Your entire being slips into just being.

So, to practice letting things be, take stock of your Life:

1.   Make a two lists: areas that you can act on and areas you cannot

2.   Act on all areas that you believe there are options available to act on

3.  And on those areas where you can’t do anything anymore, where you don’t have any more options left, just let them be. Watch your emotions as they obsess with you. Meet them head-on. Only that way will you transcend them.

4.   When you transcend your emotions, beginning first with fear, you will slip into just being

5.  This may take days, weeks, months, years, but only through continuous practice can you arrive at that state of just letting your Life be

6.   And once you have let it be, you have given up the need to become, you are NOW free!

That’s how you experience true freedom. Freedom means a certain inexplicable blitheness of the spirit. You feel alive – because fear, anger, worry, guilt, everything, every guest who was residing in you, holding you in their grasp, has taken leave. The house is empty. And what resides there is a lot of air and light. It’s pure. It’s beautiful. And that is what the true meaning of Life is __ being free, unshackled, unencumbered, detached, being alive.

Gift yourself the Miracle of Mindfulness


As you start a New Year, gift yourself mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is not an impractical, difficult to do, practice if you understand the concept clearly. It is the ability to just stay engaged in the moment. Because Life is happening only in the present.

After last night’s revelry, it’s possible you slept late and woke up late too. But while you may have woken up, you may not be awake in the true sense. Mindfulness is being awake to the miracle of what’s happening to you in the present.

But the mind is cruel. It doesn’t easily listen to what you want it to do. It slips back into guilt or grief about the past or begins to worry for the future. When you are stuck in the past or peering into the future you are forgetting to look at what is. You are then forgetful, not mindful!

The Vietnamese Master Thich Naht Hahn, also called ‘Thay’ by his followers, helps us with a simple, 3-step process to become mindful. Whenever your mind strays, which is ever so often, bring it back by:

1.     Smiling

2.     Focusing on your breathing

3.     Going about whatever you are doing slowly

Let’s say your mind starts thinking of an important commitment you have to keep, say, an EMI is to be paid. And you don’t have the money nor visibility for the money. As you dwell on what you don’t have, the money in this case, you will start worrying. And soon worry will breed insecurity. Instead, the moment your mind starts to worry, smile, focus on your breathing and bring your attention to what needs to get done to raise the money required to pay the EMI. Mindfulness may not take your problem away. But will help you see a solution instead of simply worrying about a problem. And only a solution can solve a problem, not worrying!

If you like the idea, put it into practice by declaring one day of the week, starting this year, your Mindfulness Day. Spend the entire day doing everything only within the framework of the 3 steps that Thay recommends. Whatever you do, from waking up, brushing your teeth, sipping your coffee, reading the papers, looking out the window, watching a movie, having sex, taking an evening walk, drinking wine, whatever, do it mindfully. Review how you feel at the end of the day. And you will find that it would have been the most beautiful day of your Life. Make sure you have a Mindfulness Day, each week. Over weeks, you will want to make your entire week have Mindfulness Days only!

This doesn’t mean you don’t pursue goals. That you don’t remain aggressive. That you abstain from something.

It only means quit brooding and quit worrying. This will be the best gift you can give yourself this New Year! That’s when you will discover the miracle in Mindfulness.

When you really get this practice embedded in the way you live, you will have a really Happy, because it is Mindful, New Year!

Being Guilty is Being Foolish


To be completely free, and live freely, free yourself of all guilt!
Guilt cripples. It comes between you and your joy! It is a wasteful emotion that debilitates a person completely. To free yourself of guilt, you must treat every effort you make as a learning. As yet another small experiment in this larger experiment called Life.
You feel guilty in the first place because you are so attached to the process of doing something that when it doesn’t get done the way you want it to, you feel morally accountable. But have you considered that Life doesn’t insist on anything from us? It doesn’t have definitions of success or failure. There are no SOPs – standard operating procedures, in Life! Then why do you insist that an outcome must be only the way you have envisioned it! It is only from that insistence that guilt is born. So, wouldn’t it be simpler if you had no attachment to what comes from your actions, choosing only to learn from each experience?
Sometimes things just happen to us. Or we may simply end up being at a place at a time, contributing unwittingly to an activity that will come to haunt us later. Or sometimes we may have just done or said something which may create a sense of pain in us when we pause to reflect. Every which way, feeling guilty after saying or doing something that you ought not to have said or done is completely in vain. Grieving over what you have done or could have done is the most futile of all emotions.
In the new Hindi movie ‘Talaash’, the main protagonist Inspector Surjan Singh Shekawat (played so brilliantly by Aamir Khan) carries the burden of his guilt, suffering immensely as he does that! He agonizes over it, in each of his waking moments and does not even get sleep! It is only when he realizes that he didn’t choose this Life, which he is currently experiencing, but that Life chose him, does his grief subside, his guilt evaporates and he awakens.
Ideally, you must not do anything that makes you feel guilty. But when you get caught in the throes of everyday living and your actions do cause you to feel guilty later, treat the event as simply an event. Learn from it. Don’t lean on it! What are the few things that we often feel guilty about? We get angry with someone and regret it later. We cheat and feel miserable when we reflect on our action __ especially when we are not caught cheating. We overindulge in loose conversation or alcohol or food in a social setting and say and do more than we must have. These occurrences are common place and all of us are prone to feeling guilty after we conduct ourselves in the manner in which we did. The mind will insist that you have lost your self-esteem and that you must redeem yourself. This is when brooding begins and you start descending down a negative, depressive spiral. Cut out the self-pity and focus on what caused you to behave in the way you did in the first place.
Or sometimes you could feel guilty over what you could have done in a situation that once existed. You could have been more responsible or loyal or compassionate or sensible. But ‘could have done’ is a review of the past. Some place in time that you cannot go back to anymore! What is the point in feeling guilty over an event that you cannot contribute to anymore?
In a way, truly, being guilty is being foolish. Life is not a six sigma process. There are no minimum error rate thresholds that anyone is demanding. Then why are you inflicting one on yourself? Life is about living, enthusiastically, trying out new things, being adventurous and learning from what outcomes you get and from what situations that you are given. Only when you live your Life with this simple understanding in mind, will you be happy. Guilt then subtracts from your happiness. Do you really want to not be happier than you are? As ‘Talaash’s’ tagline says __ the answer lies within!