Life hasn’t promised or guaranteed anything to anyone

Life is simply at play. Whether it is playing fair or unfair is a purely matter of “your” perception.
As humans we expect Life to deal with us fairly. And when it doesn’t, as it often turns out, we feel depressed.
The other day in the IPL 7 match between Delhi Daredevils (DD) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) at the Feroz Shah Kotla, DD’s Kevin Pietersen was clearly run out by RR’s Sanju Samson. For reasons best known to him, the square-leg umpire, Sanjay Hazare, decided to rule him not out and, worse, did not think it wise to refer the decision upstairs, to the third umpire. Everyone was aghast – the RR players surely, the commentators, the spectators and, perhaps, Pietersen too may have known that he was out. Everyone held the view that it was an umpiring error and that it was just not fair.
Many believe that so is Life. A friend’s 28-year-old daughter committed suicide on Sunday. We thought our friend clearly did not deserve this. Our neighbors, a couple in their early 50s, are both struck by rare ailments and have been completely immobilized for several months now. They believe Life’s being unduly harsh on them. Someone else we know has been out of job for over two years now, though he’s among the most qualified and experienced finance professionals in the country. He thinks Life’s dealing unfairly with him. A young man I have been counselling is depressed that he hasn’t been able to find a companion in Life. And a struggling actor we know  is still battling with the various constituencies in the film industry to have one of his films, in which he plays the hero, released. He’s been at it for four years now with no success. He says, “I am already 39. I don’t know whether at all I will be able to get a toehold as hero in the industry. Life’s been grossly unfair to me.”
As much as I am able to empathize with all these people and their situations, I wouldn’t say Life’s being unfair – to them or to anyone. You can say that someone is unfair only when you have an expectation of fair-play from them. And you can expect someone to play fair only if you have been told that they will play that way. Now, think about it, has Life ever promised any fair-play? Has it given you or me any guarantees? Of course not – Life hasn’t promised or guaranteed anything to anyone! The only truth is that ever since you were born, Life’s been happening to you. One event after another. Your education and your conditioning has led you to lean on to human perceptions, aspirations and expectations – of good and bad, of fairness and unfairness, of being just and being deceitful. So, when Life didn’t promise you anything, how can you hold Life responsible for being unfair? If you continue to feel that you have been treated badly by Life, despite being aware of this truth about Life, you, and only you, are to be blamed for this feeling. And for all the depression that engulfs you.
We will all do well to remember that Life’s just a series of experiences. Sometimes, we welcome and enjoy those experiences. At other times, we dislike, despise and resist some experiences. In either scenario, there’s no point holding Life accountable. Because what you feel, how you feel, means nothing to Life. Life simply goes on happening. Your berating it or yourself makes no difference to Life. So, stop complaining, stop lamenting that Life’s being unfair – just take it as it comes. If you love what you receive, enjoy it. And if you get what you didn’t want or expect, simply accept it and learn to live with it. Only then will you live in peace and be happy!

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Let neither praise nor blame fell you

A lot of our lifetime is wasted living our lives for others’ approval or praise or out of fear of their criticism or condemnation of our actions. An intelligent way to live would be to just do what you can and know to do, do it well, ethically, and simply don’t seek praise or fear criticism.

Shoaib Akhtar congratulates MS Dhoni after a match
Picture Source: EspnCricinfo/Internet
Former Pakistan bowling great Shoaib Akhtar (International Career 1997~2011) is one of the expert commentators in the ongoing Indian Premier League, IPL 7. The other day, ahead of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) vs Rajasthan Royals match, Akhtar had this to say of CSK (and India) captain, M.S.Dhoni: “What kind a guy is this Dhoni? I am just amazed. He’s won everything – a T20 World Cup (2007), was in the finals again this year, an ODI World Cup (2011), he’s taken his team to the number one spot in the ICC Test rankings, he’s led CSK to win the IPL twice…and he’s nonchalant about all this success? isko kuch hota hi nahi hai…kuch bhi dikhata nahi hai…” Akhtar is basically wondering how’s it that Dhoni is able to carry his genius, his greatness so lightly? How’s it that he’s so unmoved? Dhoni is true to that observation by Akhtar not only about the way he has handled success and praise, but also the way he deals with defeat and criticism. At 33, he’s a lot more evolved than most people twice his age. Surely it’s not only cricket that we can learn from him!

Internalizing a few truths about Life can be very useful as we live it.

First, know that however hard your work at something, there’s only so many times that you can win or keep winning. To fall, to fail, despite your best efforts and intent, is inevitable – and is an integral part of your Life design. Failure is an event – it is not a person! Remember that!

Next, when you win doing something, never let all those cheering you, con you into believing that you are great and that you caused your success. A humble flute was once put up for auction because it had been used by a world-renowned flautist. Bids for several million dollars were being placed for the flute. Suddenly, as the auctioneer’s gavel was coming down for the final, closing, bid, the flute spoke up. It said: “I am just a piece of bamboo. With a few holes. So, can’t you see how much I must be “really” worth? My value is only in the hands of a player who can make music out of me by blowing through me.” In a way, we are all like the bamboo flute. The music – whatever art or profession we follow – flows through us, in spite of us, and not because of us.

Third, don’t take what people have to say seriously – ever. Listen to your inner voice. When people praise you, be grateful. When people criticize you, be gracious – and forgiving. Don’t let people’s opinions – good or bad – take you away from being yourself and from experiencing the beauty and magic of your Life!
No matter what you do or what happens, let neither praise nor blame fell you. Be inspired by what Gautama Siddharta, the Buddha, had to say: “As solid rock remains unmoved by the wind, so do the wise remain unmoved by praise and blame.”