Insecurity is a sign of inherently mistrusting the process of Life.
On the way to a coffee place that we frequent, we see a beautiful bungalow that has the name “Mehfuz” (pronounced “Mehafooz”) written on its gate. “Mehfuz” means “the secure, the safe” in Arabic. Every time I see that word a sense of serenity pervades me. It is such a reassuring feeling…the energy that “Mehfuz” creates when you say it to yourself! If you understand Urdu or Hindi, you will feel that sense of security that the word conveys, even as you merely read it and infer its meaning!
When you deeply reflect on it, “Mehfuz” communicates how secure the whole Universe, all of Creation in fact, is! There is magic and beauty in the rising and setting sun, in your being loved and in your ability to be loving, in the roof over your head, the food on your plate and the clothes that protect you from the elements. This is the security that the natural order of your Universe offers you. These are unmistakable signs that you are “Mehfuz”, you are safe, you are secure – that you are being taken care of, looked after and provided for!
Yet, if you feel insecure about Life, if you find it hard to trust the process of Life, if you succumb to worry, to fear, to anxiety, how can Life, or anyone, help you? The primary cause for insecurity in Life is when you don’t know what lies ahead – when you don’t know if there will be respite from a debilitating health challenge, when you don’t know if you can unentangle a relationship mess, when you don’t know if you will have enough money, when you don’t know if your children will find good vocations and settle down and when you don’t know how so many, many other open-ended Life situations will pan out. Instead of asking what will happen, ask, why do you want to know what will happen? You must know the answer to every question, you must have the solution to every problem, only if you are causing all your Life to happen, if you are, well, the Creator. But Life happens not because of you, but often, in spite of you. Besides, your own creation as a human being, with no apparent manufacturing defects, is a miracle. For perspective, just consider what would have happened, how would your Life be, had you been created as the swine that gives the flu instead of being the human that gets the flu? Simply, the order of the Universe is that you are who you are, you have what you have, you have not got what you don’t have yet and what wasn’t meant to be yours anymore has been taken away from you. If you understand this truth about your Life, you will not hanker for security and you will not succumb to insecurity.
A question you need ask yourself is, do you feel secure, do you feel a sense of inner peace, when you pray? Or when you visit a place a worship? If you do, then why do you feel insecure when you are out of it – out of the prayer, the worship? Isn’t the whole Universe a Higher Energy’s manifestation – for your joy, for you to experience? If you can’t feel “Mehfuz” in your Universe where everything, everyone has been created by this Higher Energy, that’s more intelligent and compassionate that all its creations put together, then, you are missing the blessing in being human! Insecurity, therefore, is a sign of inherently mistrusting the process of Life.
I will leave you with Mirza Ghalib’s (1767~1869) couplet that, to me, sums up the need for each of us to feel secure, feel safe, being who we are, with where are and with what we have! Ghalib writes: “Ghalib Sharab Peene De Masjid Mein Baith Kar, Ya Woh Jagah Bata Jahan Khuda Nahi.” It means: “Allow me to drink in a mosque or tell me a place where God isn’t present?”
Don’t resist Life – be ready and willing to flow with it!
Gauri Shinde’s new film Dear Zindagi (Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan) has suddenly revived interest in the Ilayaraaja classic “Aye Zindagi, Gale Laga Le” from Sadma (1983, Suresh Wadkar; Balu Mahendra, Kamal Haasan, Sri Devi). I am yet to see Shinde’s film, but I spent much of the weekend listening to the original song by Wadkar (the new version is sung by Arijit Singh); I simply love Gulzar saab’s lyrics…the opening line means…“Come, embrace me Life; don’t I embrace all the pain that you send my way…?”
As I write this blogpost, I remain immersed in the spiritual essence of this song…it teaches us to accept the Life we have. But unfortunately, because of our social conditioning, we don’t learn this simple lesson early enough. We live much of our Life steeped in insecurity, resisting pain, asking why, why me, and so we suffer!
I can relate to this conditioning from my own experience. To be sure, I too felt insecure when I first came face to face, nine years ago, with the reality that we were insolvent and our Firm was bankrupt (read more in my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal ). Of course, I was devastated by the gravity of our crisis and was very, very scared of where we would end up in Life. But resisting the insecurity, wishing that things were different, only made me suffer. And in my suffering I could not focus. I was always unhappy. When you don’t focus or are unhappy, how can you function? How can you think of even attempting to solve your problems? While I could make sense of the futility of my suffering, I didn’t know where to start or what to do. What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
My daily practice of mouna (silence periods) helped me understand that all Life is impermanent, that pain is inevitable, and if we choose to embrace the Life we have, then we can completely avoid the suffering. I came to realize that Life really is an “adventure”, a “deep dive”, a “bunjee jump” into the unknown. Insecurity, pain and impermanence, I discovered, are the very weaves that make up the fabric of Life. Over time, I awakened to the truth that you can’t ever “fix” your Life, you can only flow with it, and allow Life to repair and reinvent on its own.
When I started seeing Life from this new perspective, I saw that each day threw up a fresh episode of “adventure” – a legal twist here, an irate creditor who had lost patience with our situation there, bills to be paid for essential services like electricity and telephones when there was no money to even buy groceries, a health situation to be urgently addressed; yet each time we thought it was all over, help, a.k.a miracles, arrived from unexpected quarters. No day, as Vaani and I have experienced, has been the same. Honestly, not all the stuff that comes our way on a daily basis, however new or fresh it is, is appetizing. But however much we feel spent at the end of each day, we wake up revived the next day. And take that day’s “adventure” head-on. This is how we have been living, in fact thriving, this past decade. In this time, it has become clear to me that Life has all along been, and will continue to be incredible, inscrutable and, therefore, insecure. Clearly, Vaani and I don’t have that sense of security that a steady income can provide, yet when we stopped feeling insecure about it, and let go, and let Life take over, things have happened on their own. We have learnt that our duty is to make our daily efforts and let the results take care of themselves. Even so, we don’t deserve, nor do we claim, any credit for the way we have learnt to live our Life. Why would anyone want a crisis, and as in our case, a prolonged state of cashlessness and worklessness? We simply chose to accept the Life we got and we have.
This numbing phase of our Life has taught us to live with insecurity. There are days, several times in a month, when we really don’t know what will happen from an income or business point of view. But we know fully well that we will be taken care of. Maybe this is what they call faith. Not in an external God. But in Life itself – that if you have been created and you are in whatever situation you are placed in, you will be cared for, provided for and looked after. Maybe this is what Gulzar saab’s lyrics, with the song’s revival, are trying to remind us; that always be ready and willing to flow with Life! So, Aye Zindagi, Gale Lagaa Le…!
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In Life’s darkest moments, remember, the light within you can show you the way!
A friend who works with a large US-based financial institution called me a couple of hours ago. He is the head of operations of this company’s back-office in Pune. Many of his company’s Asia-Pac business leadership has quit in the last week. Actually, with an acquisition n India having gone awry, the US office has asked the Asia-Pac business leaders to own accountability and leave. My friend has over the last 10 years built a reputation for himself within the company as a reliable and responsible manager. Therefore, he was allowed a higher degree of empowerment. He was, exceptionally, allowed to lead the company’s largest global back-office in Pune. Which meant that his centre accounted for the highest payroll in the company. But just this week, with the top heads quitting, the Pune centre has been made directly reported to a person sitting in UK. My friend called me to seek my view on making sense of this development. “I am very uncomfortable that my empowerment is withdrawn. I fear I will be axed,” he told me. He was sounding very, very disturbed. I told him: “You are feeling insecure. Which is natural. Accept your insecurity. Talk to your new boss or even to your global CEO and ask them upfront if the reason for this change has anything to do with their view of your efficiency as the centre head. If your insecurity persists, despite that conversation, go look for another job. If you get one that you like, move. If you don’t get one or don’t want to move even after getting another offer, at least you would have realized the value of what you have on hand and you will be able to be more productive and efficient. Important, you will stop feeling insecure and disturbed.”
For various reasons, in myriad situations, each of us encounters insecurity. The best way to deal with insecurity is to accept that it is there.
Insecurity is a normal human response to situations that you can’t immediately make sense of. Metaphorically, you are groping in the dark. There is no light. Suddenly you feel lost. Lonely. You are filled with fear. What do you do? Well, you can shiver and shudder. You can cry in despair. But soon you realize that none of that can drive the darkness away. What you need is light – and you don’t have a source like a torch or a matchbox or such. So, when you understand and accept the hopelessness of the situation, when you embrace your insecurity, you will be able think with greater clarity. And then the greatest realization will dawn on you – you don’t need any light from the outside; you are the light! The light from within is what can and will guide you onward. This light is your faith, your trust in the process of Life, that no matter what, you will get what you need, you will be cared for and looked after.
When you think about Life deeply, you will recognize the truth that there is nothing called security. On the vast cosmic plane, the human being is as powerless as an ant is in front of humans. One event, and in under a moment, a Life is snuffed out. So what security are you and I seeking when we can never really escape the inevitable end, death? When you understand this quality – its impermanence – about Life, you will stop seeking security.
In the course of a lifetime, there will be several million, or more, occasions when you will feel insecure. Accept your insecurity every single time. When you do that, your awareness, through your acceptance, will remind you each time that the security you crave for is a myth. Then insecurity will not hound and haunt you. You will be free from it. You will then be happy despite your circumstances.