What I have learnt from the NaMo Wave

The biggest lesson I glean from Elections 2014 is “acceptance”.  

I am not a Narendra Modi fan. Simply, I cannot relate to someone, however brilliant he may be as an administrator, who used religion to build both his party and himself. But this is a verdict that my country’s people have given emphatically. And I can do nothing to change that. So, the best way forward, I discover through my awareness, in such a scenario, is to accept what is and simply move on.

A lot of our problems and miseries come from wanting people and situations to be different from what they are. The moment we drop the “wanting” and accept a situation for what it is or a person for who she or he is, we are instantaneously at peace with ourselves and with everyone else. We often fail to realize that in our wanting people or situations to be different, we are actually letting our ego play up. We are saying that we know better than others how they should be leading their lives or doing things.

Cartoon Courtesy: India Today/Internet
For instance, as the election results started coming in yesterday, my ego told me that the people of India were making a mistake. My issue was no longer with Modi. It was with the people of India. I was alarmed that we were handing over power to someone charged with genocidal racism. Whenever I am disturbed I have learnt to drop anchor and be silent. When I reflected on whatever was happening with the election results, I realized that I was being unduly paternalistic about the situation. Who am I to tell the people of India what to do? They are informed and responsible enough to have done what they did. My awareness again helped me conclude that there was no point in resisting the reality. The people of India had either decided to overlook Modi’s credentials on a key aspect like secularism or they had backed his very ideology that I was uncomfortable with. Every which way, they had voted for change, voted for Modi and he is now our new leader. When this reality sunk in, I simply accepted it. I even wrote on my facebook wall wishing Modi and his A-Team all the best. With that acceptance, I found myself immensely peaceful, within.

Acceptance is not resignation though. And I want to clarify this. Resignation has a quality of discomfort to it. It is really about not being able to do anything about a situation that you hate. So, you resign to it. But there’s no scope for hatred in acceptance. Acceptance is really a celebration of the way people and things are. It reasons that while Life is imperfect it is also beautiful. When you accept imperfections in you, around you, your Life can only be beautiful. Because you are not complaining anymore. Or wishing or hoping or wanting that things were different.

So, the day after the resounding mandate, I am seeing, through my acceptance of my country’s new reality, the beauty of it all. For the first time in over 30 years, someone will lead India with a complete majority. And even if half of what he has managed to get done in Gujarat (I have seen it first hand and have great admiration for what has been accomplished there in the past decade) can be implemented across India, we will be a different, and a far improved, nation. Just as I have accepted the way I am, I have accepted the way my country men and women are, the way our new reality is, and I hope, we will all enjoy, despite the imperfections that abound, the development and governance that’s been promised!

To be permanently happy, choose to live a different Life

Asking yourself a fundamental question – “What will make me permanently happy?” – can change your Life!

The Times of India (TOI) yesterday had a very profound story, tucked away obscurely, in one of the inside pages. It is the story of a Wall Street finance whiz, Sree Patel. Patel, 35, has decided to dedicate his entire Life and a good part of his $800,000 annual pay package to social causes. He works closely with the Anoopam Mission, an offshoot of the Swami Narayan movement in Mogri, near Anand, in Gujarat. Patel leads the Anoopam Mission in the USA where he continues to keep his day job at Wall Street and spends all his other time in social service. Patel told TOI’s Bharat Yagnik that a hefty bonus of Rs.1.5 crore that he received 10 years ago changed his Life. He wanted to buy himself a Ferrari with that money and he thought that at 25, he had “arrived”. But something, says Patel, made him pause and reflect. “The sports car will give me momentary joy. (But) if someone bumps into it, it will pain me. So what will give me permanent happiness?” – Patel tells Yagnik that this thinking forced him to drop the Ferrari idea. His quest brought him to the Anoopam Mission where his mother had been serving for years. And in serving others, with no expectation of any return, Patel says, he found permanent happiness.

Each of us has the same opportunity as Patel. To seize that opportunity, we must look up from whatever we are obsessed with doing – day in and day out! Running the rat race is not the real problem. Running it mindlessly is. Earning a living, raising a family, paying bills, growing your asset portfolio, planning for retirement and providing for heathcare costs – all of this, and more, is a full time job. No doubt. Ask anyone on the planet and you will find that in the midst of all this chaotic activity, each one, in his or her own special, unique way, is searching for happiness. Over time, and thanks to some unfortunate conditioning, people have come to believe that happiness lies in acquiring things. So, they go after things – cars, villas, fat bank balances, exotic luxury vacations, gadgets – only to find that after acquiring what they wanted to, they still feel incomplete – and unhappy! The cause of all unhappiness is in the way we define happiness. Happiness is not getting what we want. That is success. Happiness is, simply, wanting what we get. Happiness is also in touching a Life, making a difference and in pursuing something meaningful – and not just materialistic.

The Dalai Lama says this very beautifully. Someone asked him what surprised him most about humanity. And the Dalai Lama replied: “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result being that he is neither in the present nor in the future. He lives as if he is never going to die. And then he dies never having really lived!”  

The true meaning of living is to have lived happily and to leave the world a better place than you found it. And to live that way, ask yourself what will make you permanently happy. Then, go ahead and do whatever it takes, to enable and ensure that you are happy. You will never regret having made that choice to live your Life differently!