Empty yourself and feel abundant

Life’s an amazing paradox. When you fill yourself you feel an eerie emptiness. And when you empty yourself you feel a joyful fullness!
Think about your Life deeply. What are you filling it with? The more you fill yourself with fear, guilt, grief, ego, anxiety, greed and desires, the more empty you feel. You can’t just escape the emptiness. You may call it by any name: mid-life crisis, not enjoying your job, unhappy with your partner, feel lost with how to raise your children, whatever. But you do feel empty. The irony, however, is that to rid yourself of this emptiness, all you need to do is to empty yourself. When you empty yourself of all wasteful emotions, like those listed above, or many more, you are emptying yourself of your self. This is when you are enriched, filled with love and are full of peace. This fullness is what is called bliss. Emptying yourself of your self means to get rid of the ‘I’!
Several years ago, when my business started going horribly wrong, I sat in my hotel room in Bengaluru and shared my worries with a good friend, Deepak Pawar, a highly acclaimed media photographer in India. He’s much older to me and I have always valued his perspective. What was causing me immense grief was the way my team was behaving with me. There were resignations, a case of embezzlement and even blackmail from a colleague who threatened to share company data with competition if his salary was not paid. This was tragic for me. We had not only given this gentleman employment but had also supported his MBA program and his coaching in spoken English. As I shared my woes, describing my Life as being ‘empty, meaningless and thankless’, with Deepak, he said, “For your Life to be full and meaningful, you must shed yourself of your ego AVIS.” I was devastated by his remark. I shot back: “Sorry Sir, with due respect to you, I disagree. You are saying I have an ego. I don’t. I have worked hard to grow my business and I have done so with humility. My team is family to me. This colleague of mine who is today threatening me, I have groomed him. I have trained him. I have educated him. I have always sat with him and guided him on how to plan his career professionally. I have done so much for him and you are saying…” Deepak cut me short. He smiled and said, “Just see the number of times you have said ‘I’ in your defense just now AVIS….That ‘I’…that’s your ego speaking….that guy, the ‘I’ in you…you must empty yourself of that ‘I’…and you will find meaning and a Life full of peace and happiness!”

To me that moment, that nano-second, was the ‘CTRL+ALT+DEL’ moment of my Life. With that enlightening perspective, Deepak opened my eyes, helping me see clearly, why there was so much emptiness in my Life. Osho’s masterly perspective on this too helped me immensely: “Emptying oneself means emptying of all content – just as you empty a room of all the junk that has gathered there, over the years. When you have emptied the room of all the furniture and all the things, you have not destroyed the room, not at all; you have given it more roominess, more space. When all the furniture is gone, the room asserts itself, the room is.” What’s interesting is, as I discovered, when the ‘I’ goes out of you, all the parasites that thrive on it, off it__fear, guilt, grief, anxiety, greed and desires__run after it too. The feeling you get with emptying yourself, and therefore filling your Life with abundance and bliss, is truly liberating. It has to be experienced to be understood. It has to be lived! 
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Your ego obstructs your living Life fully

If you are not living Life, fully, freely – it could be that your ego is coming in the way!


Humility is the key to your spiritual growth. But your ego is a big deterrent. It has to first be expunged.

A Japanese king sent his minister to meet the Zen Master Lin Chi. The king had a question. He wanted to know the difference between hell and heaven. Lin Chi told the minister to ask the king to come personally if he really wanted to learn the answer to his question. The king arrived to meet Lin Chi and bent down to touch the Master’s feet.

Lin Chi reacted violently to the king’s gesture: “You idiot! You don’t even know manners?”
The king was shocked. And in a rage, he immediately drew his sword to attack Lin Chi.
Lin Chi said: “Wait a minute! This is the door to hell”
The king was surprised. He put his sword back in its sheath.
Lin Chi now said: “Good. Now that is the door to heaven.”
The king said he did not understand what this was all about.
Lin Chi explained. “Hell is not anywhere else, in some after-Life, but is in your ego. How does it matter if I called you an idiot? Why did you get so angry that you were ready to take a poor man’s Life? Who was hurt? Think carefully – it is your ego that was hurt. And when you abandoned the hurt – in your quest for learning from me – you put the sword back in the sheath, you expunged your ego and so rose in your heaven. Heaven is where there is no ego.”
Lin Chi’s wisdom is so pure. So beautiful. The biggest hurdle on the spiritual path is the ego. How does it matter whether people call you an idiot or a great mind? At the end of the day, it is what they think, it is their opinion. You cannot concern yourself with people’s opinions. You cannot live your Life based on them. Know who you are. That’s enough. You don’t really need to depend on what society thinks of you. It is your ego that depends, that thrives on societal opinion! Your ego keeps you enslaved in a social context. To live Life fully, freely, that context does not really matter.
The ego is what causes all your misery. So, to rid yourself of your suffering, get rid of the ego. A simple way to expunge the ego is to drop the “I” in every context in Life. A friend of mine came to me to share his feelings over a messy divorce that he was going through. He said, “I have been betrayed, I have been trampled upon and I am being accused. I feel so stupid, so used. I must get rid of this feeling of injustice and shame. Is there a way?” The Buddha has taught that one way to be free is to drop the “I”. I shared that learning with my friend. And asked him to say the same statement again without using “I” anywhere in it. My friend tried and this is how it sounded: “Have been betrayed. Have been trampled upon. Am being accused. Feel so stupid, so used. Must get rid of this feeling of injustice and shame.” And that’s an interesting method, isn’t it? Without the “I” the statement is without a personal context. It is just a reporting of fact and feeling. And therefore, a solution to the situation, appears almost instantaneously! With the “I”, a resolution, or an escape from that hurt, would have been unthinkable!
Osho, the Master, points to what a beautiful Life await us if we can drop our ego. He says: “The ego is preventing everything. Your ego is making you a beggar, while you are an emperor of a vast empire. Of course, that empire does not belong to the outside world. It is in your own being. Which has the vastness of the whole Universe.”

If you carry your guilt for too long, you are as good as dead

You cannot enjoy Life when you are continuously feeling guilty. Almost all the time, we are making decisions in Life. Some of them work well. Several blow up in our faces. If we start feeling guilty for those decisions that misfired, we will be stuck in the past. When you are not present in the now, in the moment, how can you enjoy it?
Of course, guilt cannot be avoided totally. It has to only be faced, and overcome, with awareness. Every time something does not go per your design, or expectation, you are bound to feel responsible, and accountable, for the outcome. So, you cannot but feel guilty. But if you are aware that guilt is debilitating, that it is a wasted emotion, that traps you in the past, you will successfully overcome it!
First, however, try and understand why you feel guilty. We human beings have this notion, both through our education and upbringing, that we are in control of our lives. So, when things don’t go according to what you envisioned them to be, you hold yourself responsible. In a very subconscious, yet sure, way, your guilt is always a manifestation of your ego! “Ishould have been better prepared”, “I should have thought through this better”, “Ishould have planned for a worst case scenario”, “I should have not taken this decision or made this move”…these and more emotions are bound to gnaw at you from within. But do you recognize the existence of the big “I” in each of them? That’s your ego screaming out aloud! Your guilt is the shadow of your ego – it goes on vainly reminding you that you are all powerful and now that your power did not work in the current context, you have failed yourself, you should now brood over your action! You should, therefore, wallow in self-pity and guilt!  
But remember your awareness is far more powerful. When you attain a state of self-realization, where you understand that nothing is being done in Life, in the Universe, by anyone, that Life is happening on its own, your guilt disappears. This is not escapist thinking. This is the truth. Whatever has happened, was bound to happen, even if you were to murder someone! If it could have been avoided, it would have not have happened. Being trapped in your guilt and by brooding, nothing is going to be achieved. If anything, you will be dead, because you are not living in the present anymore, even if you are biologically alive! In the Hindi movie Raanjhaana (2013, Aanand L Rai), Kundan, played masterfully by Dhanush, sits on the banks of the Ganges brooding over the death of Jasmeet (Abhay Deol in a cameo), which had been caused by circumstances triggered by Kundan. An anonymous man with a camera confronts Kundan and says: “You look like you have murdered someone. Your face says it all. No religion can grant you forgiveness for taking the Life of another human being. So, no point in feeling guilty over what you did and what has happened. You are not going to attain salvation sitting like this by the Ganges. So, get up, go, go do something about your Life and make things better by living your Life fully, meaningfully!” Kundan gets the message and takes charge of his Life the best way he can! What the film’s nameless character told Kundan applies to you and me too. There’s no point drowning yourself in guilt over anything – the best you can do is to try not to repeat the same action, pattern, decision, whatever that misfired, again. That’s all!
The moment you let your guilt get the better of you, you are as good as dead. You, me, we all, are but small cogs in the big wheel of an inscrutable cosmic design called Life. And Life happens, not because of you or me, but inspite of us. When this awareness dawns and remains in you, you will see each guilt-forming moment as an opportunity to learn, and unlearn, and keep moving on.