Sometimes, you can’t unentangle a web unless the master-weaver awakens!

If things don’t work out the way as they should, it is perhaps best to let go and let everything – and everyone – just be!!
Angel Glady and Sunil Menon in conversation with Vaani and AVIS
This weekend has been more than interesting. Vaani and I have led a public conversation with people who have a special orientation. This is part of a non-commercial, by-invitation-only Event Series called ‘Heart of Matter – Happiness Conversations’ that we host quarterly in partnership with InKo Centre. Last evening, we had renowned fashion designer Sunil Menon and theatre artist Angel Glady as our guests – it was a conversation that was intimate, intense, thought-provoking and awakening. It helped people in the audience reflect on their idea of happiness and invited them to turn unequivocally inclusive. Elsewhere in the city, my brother, a well-known theatre director and entertainment industry coach, staged a production that had actors with special abilities perform in it. His production, I am told, championed inclusiveness too and was highly, critically, acclaimed. Isn’t it beautiful that both brothers, supported by their spouses, are doing work that’s meaningful, in the same city, on the same weekend? Yet, what makes this rare coincidence ironical too is that we brothers don’t speak to each other!!! We haven’t connected in several years now. We remain strung, clinging on to our own positions, in a web of deceit, manipulation and self-obsession that has been cast by someone else. A third sibling, our sister, is strung from somewhere on the web too. We all live in the same city and yet we can never quite figure out a way out of this web. I have made attempts in the past, to unentangle this mess, but I have found myself getting stung, not just strung, every single time. So, I have let it all go. Concluding that perhaps the best thing to happen for all of us is for us to be where we are, the way we are; but being happy, at peace with ourselves, in spite of ourselves and each other!

Sometimes your Life’s design is so intricately constructed by a web of actions that someone has woven that you end up just being a helpless victim! But you have a choice to not feel like a victim – just let go and let everything – and everyone – just be! And sometimes this is the way Life has to be lived. There are no hard and fast rules in Life. There is no guarantee that all homes and families will be the same. We all have to do what we have to do. If in some cases, like in mine, things don’t work out the way they should, it is best to just be. For, if you are not weaving the web, how can you ever hope to unentangle it unless the master-weaver awakens? 
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Dear Sri Sri, I planted a tree for you…!

An open letter with love, compassion and a ‘jadoo ki jhappi’ for Sri Sri Ravishankar
Dear Sri Sri,
I must begin this letter with a confession. I am no follower of yours or of anybody else.
I am just a student of Life, learning from everyone around me.  I am just another fellow voyager – who believes totally in what the Dalai Lama so beautifully advocates – and practices – “responsible visitorship”. He reminds us that we are all mere tourists, visitors on this planet; our lifespans are a mere 100 years max compared to how long the planet has been and will be around. So, he says, we must act responsibly towards our inner and outer ecosystems and live meaningfully.
I understand spirituality to be simple and undemanding. It is the flowering of inner awareness. Period. An awakening that invites you to consider responsible visitorship and meaningful living. So, to me, anyone on the spiritual path, and that I imagine includes you and your organization Art of Living (AOL), must make an earnest attempt to live meaningfully and demonstrate responsible visitorship. If anyone is not making this earnest attempt, then, to me, they are not on the spiritual path. Period.
Around the same time that you and your organization Art of Living have refused to consider the sane counsel of the National Green Tribunal and are forging ahead with ‘your’ idea of preserving and promoting ‘world culture’, the people of Bhutan, have welcomed the country’s newborn Prince with planting 108,000 trees, each sealed with a prayer, for the heir to the kingdom’s throne. That, dear Sri Sri, is responsible visitorship. That is how, as I understand, culture is built, nurtured and protected.
So, I planted a tree for you. I planted it with love and compassion; I am sending you this open letter with my ‘jadoo ki jhappi’for you to receive my innermost energy and yearning for doing what is most compassionate for our world.
The word culture, again as I understand it, is best explained with the way the word appears in Tamizh: kalacharam. This word, kalacharam, is made up of two words kalai and acharam. kalai means art and acharam means discipline. The ‘art of living together in a disciplined manner’ is kalacharam, culture. And the art of living, dear Sri Sri, surely involves responsible visitorship!
I don’t think the world, most certainly not India, needs another culture festival. What the world needs is peace – both in our inner and outer ecosystems. Two of the world’s greatest musicians and singers, MS Subbalakshmi Amma and John Lennon, in their own way, left behind their soul-stirring reminders to what the world needs. Here’s a fusion of their Maithreem Bhajata and Imagine rendered by two contemporary artistes – Akhila Ramnarayan and Vedanth Bharadwaj. I am sending you this fusion single as well. Perhaps, after the dust settles down on your festival, and on the marauded plains of a beautiful river, this song – ironically and painfully titled ‘Pipe Dream’ – will invoke reflection and awakening.
I ask nothing of you dear Sri Sri or of Team AOL. I ask nothing of nobody. I have no hidden agenda, I practice no religion and support no political thought – and I am no foreign hand. I, however, make an earnest attempt towards responsible visitorship every single day, even while dealing with my own, often imponderable, real-world challenges (http://www.avisviswanathan.in/fall-like-a-rose-petal.html). So I guess I have earned my right to write you this letter.
All I have is love and compassion for you Sri Sri. The least I could do was plant a tree for you.
I feel immensely blessed I could do that.
With a ‘jadoo ki jhappi’,
AVIS Viswanathan, Chennai

@AVISViswanathan

"Bahut Mazaa Ayega!"

Don’t look for rewards and recognition in Life! In the end, they don’t matter. What will matter is this: did you live the Life you were given – fully, usefully, purposefully, happily?

400+ wannabe entrepreneurs: “The adventure is the reward!”
Yesterday, I was addressing an audience of over 400 students, from different academic streams, on ‘The Spirit of Entrepreneurship’. They were an amazing audience. Full of Life! Raring to go!! Enthusiastic!!! My message to them was that entrepreneurship is not what entrepreneurs bring to the table. Entrepreneurship is what makes entrepreneurs! I said Life, at best, is a big gamble. And both success and failure are mere labels, imposters as the Bhagavad Gita says! So, go have fun, enjoy the ride, because, I said, the adventure is the reward!

Indeed. We must all learn to have fun in Life, enjoying it every moment! Because the challenges that Life throws at us, and which we invariably overcome and conquer, in retrospect are indeed laughable! In school, when I couldn’t get Math right, I would often feel defeated. Now, when I look back, I joke about it! Similarly, when I was out of work, 21 years ago, because my employer shut shop, I thought I had lost in Life. But when I review that period, I smile appreciatively because what I thought was lost really was a new opportunity gained__because I wouldn’t be where I am today without that loss!


In the iconic Bollywood movie “Sholay”, the ferocious Gabbar Singh, often says, in a wicked drawl, “Bahut Mazaa Ayega!”, meaning “It will be so much fun!”. Just repeating this line in the same tone to yourself whenever confronted with a challenge is a great way to remind yourself that Life’s, after all, a big game, a gamble, if you like! But you must keep playing it, as long as there is Life, no matter what! As I left the auditorium after my Talk yesterday, yet another student there wanted my autograph. I wrote: “Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game of Life. Trust me, “Bahut Mazaa Ayega!””

Why faith in relationships is over-rated

The best way to have wonderful relationships is to do two things: never expect anything from it or from the other person and always respect the other person’s choice.
When we expect someone to be what we want them to be, we are not respecting the person as a special, unique individual. Where expectation comes, respect goes out, and agony comes in! Much of the problem in marital or personal relationships is because there is an expectation of faithfulness. While it is important that deceit or cheating must be avoided in any relationship – so honest, open conversations are always the best way forward in such situations – the nature of the expectation of faithfulness is an indicator that we have stopped respecting the other person. To be faithful cannot mean living someone else’s Life. Or you cannot insist that someone live their Life as you want them to for you to be able to call them faithful. To be faithful means to be true to yourself, first doing what you want to do as long as it will not harm anyone else. When all people in a relationship are true to themselves, and don’t harm each other, a harmonious environment is born that respects each individual in it. That’s when relationships become meaningful and stand the test of time.
Osho, the Master, argues this perspective immensely well: “Who are you to demand faith from anyone else? Demanding faith is like demanding slavery. There’s a misconception in people that love must be permanent. Only stones are permanent. To ask for faith is wrong. There was a season__the spring, the faith, the love arose in you. You did not create it. It was just a happening. Just like a breeze it comes and just like a breeze it goes. When it comes, rejoice. And when it goes, say good-bye. Millions of couples in the world know there’s no love between them anymore. But for the sake of society, reputation, for respectability, they go on pretending they love each other. This pretension is the real sin, the real crime.”
This is not to conclude however that love cannot be eternal between people. It can, as long as there is respect for the other person and there are no expectations, while being true to yourself first in the relationship.

Life only guarantees surprises and unpredictability

Tell Life each morning that you are waiting to be surprised and you will never be disappointed.
This is the way I have learnt to live Life. And I have also learnt that Life’s unpredictability is the only guarantee we can get from Life! True, Life’s not unpredictable. It is extremely predictable when we know that the only thing it will surely deliver, unfailingly, ceaselessly, is surprise. And the only way to respond to Life’s surprises is to be in amazement. Take delight in the continuous surprises that Life throws at you. Enjoy them.
How can you enjoy a health problem, a lost job, a misunderstanding, a loss of reputation or something that is painful __ physically and emotionally__you may ask? The truth is you can enjoy them just as you can enjoy the birth of a new child, a raise, a vacation or an orgasm. You don’t enjoy the challenges (also surprises) that Life throws at you  because you don’t see these ‘surprises’ as opportunities to learn, grow and evolve. Instead you see them as problem situations where Life has ‘put you down’. In reality, Life is actually lifting you up, raising your level of challenge so that you can rise up with it. Look at your Life so far. Despite all the hard kicking and struggle you have been through, haven’t you evolved from what__and where__you were a few years ago? That is Life. Your screaming, defying, resisting is not going to change the way Life happens to you. The best way to avoid strife, agony, grief and disappointment is to have a child-like curiosity, gleefulness toward Life.
Zen Buddhism says: “Be empty. Look without any idea. Look into the nature of things but with no idea, with no prejudice, with no presupposition.” To be empty, you must just, simply, await Life’s next surprise. If you are forever willing to be surprised, you will never be disappointed.

Awaken to who you really are

Strangely, we have come to a stage, in this time and age, when who we really are needs proving. Because we have started to believe that we are something else.

Think about this: we are all created as good, loving, patient, generous, compassionate, fearless, human beings. But we have become opinionated, confused, impatient, angry, jealous, anxious, fearful and self-centered. Look at children, aren’t they fearless? They are not scared of putting their hands into a burning candle flame or peeping precariously over a balcony railing? They wouldn’t have a problem sharing whatever they have with another. They would gleefully hug, embrace and kiss. They are simple and caring. And look at ourselves: we are complex and are afraid of every step we take, of every decision we make. We are jealous, silently pining to acquire what others have, and don’t have inhibitions demonstrating our hatred for others openly – especially now with social media offering everyone, virtually, ‘freedom to express’. We seek to earn a living but never a want to be living through anything we do. But we also are lost, we are searching for something. So, we enrol for “Bhagavad Gita” classes or church sermons, we read countless books on spirituality or attend Programs on self-improvement. Yet, while all spiritual thinkers and all scriptures champion and point to us going back to being loving, caring and giving as the most intelligent way of living, we demand proof. We ask if this will really work? Ironic, isn’t it? That we need justification and validation to convince ourselves of who we truly are. 

A spiritual seeker, like us, Wahiduddin, has this wonderful learning to share on awakening to who we really are: “The ultimate goal of spiritual practices is beautifully summarized in this centuries-old Zen teaching wherein Master Nanyue Huairang encountered his disciple Mazu Daoyi, who was deep in meditation, and asked him: 

“Noble one, what are you trying to do, sitting there in meditation?” 

Mazu said, “I’m trying to become a Buddha.”

Master Nanyue then picked up a nearby piece of clay tile that had fallen from the roof, and began to rub it briskly on a stone.

Mazu asked, “What are you doing?”

The Master said, “I’m polishing this tile to make a mirror.”

Mazu said, “How can you produce a mirror by polishing a piece of tile?”

Master Nanyue replied, “How can you make a Buddha by sitting in meditation?”

Oh what a wonderful little story this is! The goal of our spiritual practices is not to become something else. Our spiritual practices will never magically transform us into something that we are not. The tile will never become a mirror; that is an unrealistic goal, and an unrealistic goal will be met with failure upon failure. The goal of all our spiritual journeys is not to make us into something that we are not, but rather to awaken us to the truth of who we really are!”

Whether we get the proof we seek or we find ourselves by seeking within, one thing is for sure: unless we go back to the true nature of our creation, to who we really are, we will never find inner peace.