Remember: you too have come with an expiry date. So, live, don’t exist!

“The wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop, the leaves of Life keep falling one by one!” – wrote Omar Khayyam, (1048~1131), the Persian poet, in his classic ‘The Rubaiyat’.
Today our son Aashirwad turns 25. Suddenly a quarter of a century seems to have flown past. A quarter of a century!!?!! That’s a third of a lifetime, if you can hope to be at least 75! These are the 25 years that I have grown up from being a boy to a young adult to being a lover, a husband and a father, to being an entrepreneur to going bankrupt – and resultantly penniless – to being a student of Life. It is when I was ready and willing, as any good student should be, to learn,  that Life, the teacher, appeared before me and taught me this invaluable lesson – that we are all perishable. Each moment is perishing even as we are going through it. Everything around us is perishing and everything – and everyone – we knew has perished. You, me, all of us will perish too. The learning I have from Life is that the opportunity of this lifetime must be utilized within the lifetime of the opportunity. Life is a limited period offer. Period. Enjoy it as long as it lasts! Indeed, sometimes, you may only be in a position to endure Life. But if you understand Life and its impermanence, you will learn to accept, and therefore even enjoy, what you are enduring! So, as the famous song from the Hindi film, Golmaal(1979, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, R.D.Burman, Gulzar, Kishore Kumar) goes: “Aane Wala Pal, Jaane Wala Hai, Ho Sake To Isme Zindagi Bita Do, Pal Yeh Jo Jaane Wala Hai…”It means exactly what Omar Khayyam wants us to realize: “Each moment – and Life – is passing us by. If possible, seize the lifetime in the moment, because it too will be gone soon.”
Realize the value of each moment. At least from now on, go do what you love doing. Don’t think. Don’t analyze. Just do it! Also, please make time for your family and children today. Because even before you realize it, time would have flown, the birds too would have flown, leaving your nest empty. What you will be left with are just memories. Those are funny things, these memories. The stuff you laughed about will make you cry and what you cried over, you will laugh about when you look back! Work hard without doubt. Earn money, that’s important. But with advancing age, decreasing efficiency, and limited time left on this planet, what you will be left holding are only memories. Make sure they are happy ones, of happy times, of memorable moments that you want to relive. Not of times of which you have no memories because you merely existed back then! Someone wisely said, we don’t remember days, we remember moments. Ensure each of yours from now on are worth living for and remembering happily later!
We all have come with an expiry date. Except we don’t know what that date is. So, when you don’t know how much time you have left here, won’t you want to make each day, each moment, count?

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“Being happy means simply being – no conditions can apply!”

You can only be happy in the present. Or to say it differently, you can only be happy if you are present!

A friend called yesterday to say that his world is falling apart. His business is doing badly and his marriage is on the rocks. “I am very, very unhappy! I hate being this way. But my worries and anxieties are pinning me down,” he lamented. Surely nobody loves being unhappy! I can totally empathize with my friend. But only he, neither his business doing better nor his marriage being saved, can pull him out of the rut he finds himself in.

It is the nature of worries and anxieties to debilitate. If they are holding you hostage, it only means that you have allowed them to be that way. The human mind plays tricks on you all the time. It consistently strives to take you away from what is and gets you to attend to what once was or what may possibly be. So, most of the time, you are not present in the now. And happiness is always in simply being – present, in the now! When you impose conditions on what is, unhappiness sets in.

There was a time when I did not know, or understand when I eventually got to know, this secret to living. I remember waking up in my air-conditioned bedroom in the nights, some years ago, sweating. Sleep evaded me for months on end. I would pace up and down a long hallway in my apartment each night – worrying, fearing, feeling angry, guilty, helpless. I knew what I was doing was stupid. It was crazy. But I just could not sleep. I could not focus on the present.

Once I went to a live concert of R.D.Burman hits (performed by a fantastic national-level orchestra). The hall was full. And the audience was hysterical. About an hour into the concert, I suddenly realized I had not even known which songs had played until then. I was there physically, I was hearing everything, I was watching everyone clap, shout, whistle and sway to the legend’s unputdownable music, but I was not “in” the concert. I was not present there. What finally woke me up from my worry-filled reverie, was one of my favorite R.D. numbers from the film Golmaal (1979, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Gulzar, Kishore Kumar). The song went like this: “Aane Wala Pal Jaane Wala Hai, Hosake To Isme Zindagi Guzaar Lo, Pal Yeh Jo Jaane Wala Hai…” The lyrics meant a lot to me that day: “The moment which is coming will go away, if you want to, live in this moment, for it will be gone soon too…” Not that I had not heard that song before. But that evening, that song stirred something within me.

Swami Sathya Sai Baba
As they often say, things happen in Life, when they must – never a moment earlier or later. The next time my inner consciousness was stirred was through an experience I had with Swami Sathya Sai Baba (whose birthday it is today), which happened within a week of the R.D. concert. I confessed to Swami that I was very worried and anxious about the future. I told him I saw no way out of the problems that we were faced with as a family. I said, I simply cannot go on like this. Swami asked me what would it take for me to be happy. I replied that if someone could assure me that my problems would be taken care of, I would be happy. Swami then told me that I would never be happy if I thought this way. “To imagine, to desire, to wish that you will not or you should not have any problems is the biggest problem. As long as you have this problem, you will be unhappy. Being happy means simply being – no conditions can apply!” explained Swami.

That conversation with Swami changed my entire approach to Life. I soon found a wonderful method called ‘shubha mouna yoga’, which is to essentially practise silence periods daily, that helped me discipline my mind. The human mind, I discovered, is like a dog. If you don’t train it, if you don’t discipline it, it will lead you. But if you coach it and teach it to “stay still”, and to obey you, it will never stray. Swami’s inspiration and his awakening message to me, and my practise of mouna, has taught me to be happy despite the circumstances I am faced with in Life.

We have to learn to accept that Life will have problems. And our entire lifetime has to be spent dealing with these problems. Now, we can grieve over the fact that we have problems, and wish, in vain, that we have none, and so be perpetually unhappy. Or we can expunge such an expectation and be happy – in the here and now!


(Disclaimer 1: The author, AVIS, does not that he is the be all, know-all and end-all of all that he shares based on experiences and learnings. AVIS has nothing against or for any religion. If the reader has a learning to share, most welcome. If the reader has claim a bone to pick or presents a view, which may affect the sentiments of other followers/readers, then this Page’s administrators may have to regrettably delete such a comment and even block such a follower. Disclaimer 2: No Thought expressed here is original though the experience of the learning shared may be unique. AVIS has little interest in either infringing upon or claiming copyright of any material published on this Page. The images/videos used on this Page/Post are purely for illustrative purposes. They belong to their original owners/creators. The author does not intend profiting from it nor is there any covert claim to copyright any of them.)

It is Life’s ironies that make it beautiful


Some riddles fox us __ keeping us charged, engaged and wanting to try harder! Isn’t Life one such inscrutable, unsolvable riddle itself?

In the 1971 Hindi movie, the classic, Anand (directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee) Yogesh Gaur wrote an iconic song that Salil Chaudhary made immortal with his music. The opening lyrics of the song go like this:

Zindagi … kaisi hai paheli, haaye
Kabhi to hansaaye … kabhi ye rulaaye
Zindagi…

It means:

Life’s a riddle …. oh!

It makes you laugh sometimes

And sometimes makes you cry…

The song is a moving paean to Life’s ironies. Even so, it is Life’s paradoxes that make it beautiful.


Last week someone very close to me, well, at least on a theoretical, relationship basis, conceded that I could not be trusted anymore. I greatly appreciate that person’s honesty in at least telling me so even though  the sentiment hurt me badly. Yesterday, someone who I don’t know too well at all, apart from him being a social acquaintance, contacted me, on his own, and without my even asking for it offered to help me out with a complicated situation. While thanking him profusely, I said I was not sure if he knew me well enough and therefore appraised him so that he could be doubly sure if he really wanted to help me in the manner he was offering. This person cut me short though, saying: “You don’t need to say all this Sir. I know you need this help right now. Don’t think too much AVIS. Because I am not thinking about this too much. I implicitly trust you.”

I woke up this morning thinking about this irony. It was both stark and beautiful. It was tragic and moving. Tragic because someone who I considered “my own” did not want to trust me anymore. And moving because a rank newcomer was willing to. While I humbly submit that some of my conduct, circumstantial or otherwise, may have led to the erosion of trust in the first instance, I am still unable to comprehend the compassion of the person in the second one.

But such is Life. An enduring mystery. A logic-defying experience every single time. Unique in the way it treats each of its own creations. You will have experienced such moments too, just as I have, several times over. Yet, we must not even try to solve the Life riddle. Because we will get confused and even go bonkers. Life does not conform to any concept, framework or mindset.  Trying to make meaning out of Life is futile. We will never understand the meaning of Life. It is impossible. The only way to live is to make this lifetime meaningful!

Think about it.

For instance, those who have everything material are often searching for the most easily available treasure – happiness. And those who have nothing, while working hard to acquire everything material, are perhaps happier, because they know they can live, as they have lived so far, without them. Or those who have gone through a Life-changing crisis have often found a great inner peace. Because despite their upheaval, they have understood the impermanent and transient nature of Life! But when you think logically, when a storm ravages one’s Life, you expect pain, grief and suffering. Not inner peace. Yet ask anyone who’s been  tossed up by Life and thrashed down, and they will swear that Life’s trials and tribulations have made them stronger and more peaceful.

Interesting isn’t it? This paradoxical quality of Life! That’s perhaps what makes Life beautiful __ and worth living.

Here’s an interesting Life riddle that German philosopher Friedrich Neitzsche (1844~1900) poses: “Is man merely a mistake of God’s? Or God merely a mistake of man?” Keep thinking. And may be when you do get an answer to that question, you will have unraveled the mystery of Life itself!

Lose yourself to creation and you will never be lost in Life!


In everyone’s Life, there will come a time, when you feel lost. You don’t know where your career is headed. Or what’s happening to your relationship. You feel you are doing too many things, are busy all the time, but don’t find time for yourself. There’s this emptiness in you. Sometimes you feel unhappy. Sometimes you feel nothing. You just feel you are missing something although you can’t say what it is. Everything you do is weighing you down. There’s a reluctance with which you are living.

Such living is not living in the truest sense. It is merely existing!

The truth is that there is a cosmic conspiracy to make you happy. But you miss it because you are so full of yourself. And you imagine instead that just the opposite is true __ that there is a cosmic conspiracy to make you unhappy, when, in reality, there is no such design! The reason why you imagine that the Universe contributes to your unhappiness, your emptiness, your reluctance to live fully, to your ‘merely existing’ state, is that you attach too much importance to yourself. All the time you are fearing how your Life will end up. And such constant thinking, that fear, that anxiety, clearly inhibits your ability to live freely, fully.

In Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Hindi classic Anand (1971 – Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna), there’s a patient (played by Asit Sen) who keeps visiting Dr.Prakash Kulkarni (Ramesh Deo) with some imagined ailment or the other. The man is really not sick. He is just imagining his conditions. Dr.Kulkarni keeps treating him and keeps getting paid a fee for each visit. Dr.Bhaskar Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan), a good friend and colleague of Dr.Kulkarni, protests this ‘malpractice’. He chides his friend Dr.Kulkarni for feecing an innocent patient. Dr.Kulkarni defends his position admirably. He says (something to this effect), “I have not conspired to make the man ill or feed his imaginations. His problem is not that he imagines too much. His problem is that he loves being sick.”

So do we! We love being clueless, being lost in Life! We love feeling empty, unhappy, worried and fearful of everything in Life. Pining for a new Life seems to be more fashionable than doing something about creating that Life! If everything is going right per our expectations, we worry about how long this run will last; and if everything is not right, we worry about how long more it will take for the tide to turn. We doubt simple, unconnected events, harmless intentions of people around us and live in fear and anxiety of how it will all add up in the end.  

The antidote to such a phase, the only circuit breaker available to snap out of this vicious, self-destructive cycle, the only way to repair, revive and recharge yourself, is to lose yourself to creation. 

Try this: Lose yourself to a sunrise or walk in the rain. Feel the ground beneath your feet. Look at a flower. Hear the bird songs, look at your child sleeping peacefully, hold your companion’s hand, watch a tree laden with fruit…..do any of these or your own. But for a full minute. In that minute, as long as you have lost yourself to creation, I promise you, there will be no unhappiness, no worry, no turmoil in you. The Cosmic Design has a unique feature that only makes all of creation happy. But to experience that you have to learn to lose yourself. You have rid yourself of yourself, of your thought and immerse your Self in the beauty of this Universe.

When you fight with creation, the Universal whole, you are bound to lose. In your emptiness you are actually feeling the sense of futility of an unequal battle. You have everything material, but you don’t have the most priceless of the Universe’s offerings, available free, 24×7, perennially __ happiness. On the other hand, when you have surrendered to creation, immersed in it, lost yourself to it, you may find happiness even if you have nothing material. You may well have found your true Self! It is unbelievable. But this is the only way it works. This is no rocket science. It works simply because the human form is an expression of the Universal energy.  Logically therefore, Bliss, really, truly, is a by-product of losing yourself to creation!


Immerse yourself in whatever you do to find bliss!


When you do something from your inner core, for yourself, for your joy, you don’t have to work at all! Then work become a prayer, an offering of yourself to the Universe. Then what you do always delivers bliss unto you!

Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan: Abhimaan
Last night I was watching Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s 1973 classic ‘Abhimaan’ starring Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan. Both play singers and in the early stages of their romance Uma (Jaya) asks Subir (Amitabh) about his singing. He says he sings for a living. She is quite startled with that answer and says: “So, you don’t sing for your own joy? My dad who is also my guru always says true music is created only when it comes from your inner joy!”

(Here’s a brilliant song from the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAb-ru6rjXs! Enjoy!)

So it is. Only what you do for yourself, and that which arises from within you, from your inner core, leads you to bliss.

This is not the same as concentration. When you concentrate you are still employing a thought of getting something done. When you are simply doing, without employing any thought, but are becoming one with the doing, with the action, then work becomes worship and you experience bliss.

One of the Emperors of Japan had gone to see a great Zen Master, Nanin. He asked Nanin, ”What have you learned that makes you a great Master, known all over the country?”

Nanin said, ”Very simple: when I chop wood, I simply chop wood; and when I carry the water from the well, I simply carry the water from the well.”

The Emperor said, ”I had come to listen to something spiritual. What nonsense are you talking? Chopping wood, you simply chop wood? Everybody does it; what is special in it? Carrying water from the well, you carry the water from the well? I have come a long distance, and I am your country’s Emperor. You should at least give me some spiritual advice.”

Nan-in said, ”That was my spiritual advice, and I want to make it clear to you that everybody is not doing that. It took me years to chop wood without any thoughts: to just be there, chopping.” And it is tremendously beautiful: the sound in the valley, the chips of the wood flying all over, the wind blowing through the trees, their song, their music. And I am utterly silent, just chopping wood. Carrying water from the well is the same. ”My whole day is the same. I have given you, in short, my basic approach of Life. Be where you are. Don’t let mind go away.”

This is the key. Not letting the mind to get dragged away in different directions. The human mind, on an average, thinks 60,000 thoughts daily. None of those thoughts often, on most days, pertain to what you are doing. Many of them are focused on the past__on remorse, guilt, anger, grief__and many, many more are steeped in worry, anxiety and fear of a future that is yet to arrive. This happens all the time. When you are drinking your morning coffee, when you are driving to work, when you are in meetings or even when you are talking to someone on the phone. Which is why most days have become dull, drab, monotonous, listless and boring! Which is why bliss seems so unattainable. Why, even happiness plays truant and you imagine you have to pursue it to find it!

Make a simple shift this Sunday. Choose one activity. Maybe it is reading. Maybe it is spring cleaning your home. Or maybe it is gardening. Immerse yourself in it like Nanin says, being silent, and simply doing that one thing. Don’t focus on getting it done. Just do it! Do it for 15 minutes. If you like it, extend it for another 15 minutes. Examine how you feel after this immersion session. That inexplicable feeling of peace, calm and happiness, is called bliss.

Live a blissful Sunday today!