The God you seek is in you, in me, among us …

Let’s stop seeking God, searching for God, hoping, in vain, to find God, outside of us. Know that we won’t find God there. Because the God we are looking for is within us__in you and in me.
There’s this parable of God calling his or her council of advisors, after creating humankind, and conferring with them on where God should be based, so that human beings may reach out in times of distress and need. There was a pre-condition that God stipulated though. That God must be within immediate reach and yet not so overtly visible. The first wise advisor said, “God, you must be behind the farthest star. There humankind will not find you.” “Not so,” said the second wise advisor, “One day human beings will learn to fly and then they will find you God. Hide yourself God, I say, on the floor of the sea and they will never find you.” “Not so,” said the third wise advisor, “One day the people will learn to swim and they will swim to the bottom of the ocean and then they will find you God. Rather, hide yourself God in the everyday lives of the people. No one will immediately know you are there. And yet, when they do need you, they can always find you within them, among them.” And so, God did precisely this. God hid among the people.
This is not so much a parable as it is a truth. But we don’t and won’t believe in this too easily. Because we have been fed an overdose of evidence of God being an external source of energy and creation, of God being an “outside presence” in our lives. We have been brought up to believe that God must be feared. And so we fear an external retribution rather than feel conscientiously the energy of all creation within us. God must not be feared. God must be understood as being you, as your true Self. It was the famous Polish-French physicist-chemist known for her pioneering work on radioactivity, Marie Curie (1867 ~ 1934) who said, “Nothing in Life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” So it is true too about God. To know God, fear less and understand more.

Kamal Haasan, renowned Indian actor and a genius in thought and expression, captured his philosophy of the God in us, in his beautiful 2003 movie ‘Anbe Sivam’ (meaning ‘Love is God’). In the movie, Kamal Haasan, tells co-actor Madhavan, that the seed of compassion that intrinsically remains embedded in each of us, gets activated when we feel compassionate towards any form of creation. That sense of compassion, boundless love, which flows unhindered, even if it is for a brief while, makes each of us godly! Say, when you feel for a hungry child on the street, or when you say a silent prayer when an ambulance passes you by, or when you read of a natural disaster or accident that has claimed several lives in another part of the world and you feel the urge to reach out and help, these are the times, when you experience your own godliness. If you pay attention to it, if you give that feeling of compassion for another human being more energy, it will stay with you longer. Which is, if you let go of desires pertaining to yourself, and let your entire being relate to serving another form of creation__even if it is immediately unconnected to you__you will know, feel and find the God in you!
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Irrespective of the circumstance you are placed in, play on

Life is a great teacher. She will humble you till you learn your lessons. And then when you are humbled, she will enlighten you.
All of us live through our nightmares before we live our dreams. And if we are living our dreams, know that the peaks will give way to valleys, and then to abysses only to find that when we have hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up. Soon, we will reclaim our lost honor, succeed yet again with our craft and regain our glory __ only, the second time around, on the rebound, we are a lot more fulfilled, a lot less anxious and see each moment of Life, or what remains of this lifetime, as a blessing. This cycle of Life, with its inscrutable up and down patterns or down and up ways, plays itself out, time and again, from person to person, incessantly, ceaselessly.
One such co-voyager in Life, a genius in his own right, an emperor of his craft, is Tamil music composer Ilayaraja. During the 70s, 80s and well into the 90s, Ilayaraja, remained king. His was the music that mesmerized listeners and sold movies. For over a decade, well actually 15 years, no Tamil movie was released that did not have Illayaraja composing music. Such was his genius. Such was his command that he was unbeatable. Not that anyone even tried. And then came along A R Rahman, the prodigal genius, who with Roja, in 1992, swept the world away! His music was different and Ilayaraja’s hold on Tamil cinema was challenged deceptively. One tune at a time, one movie at a time. By 1997, Rahman had become staple in the entertainment business down south and Bollywood filmmakers too were counting on the Mozart of Madras (Rahman) to sell their films.
It was at this time that I met Ilayaraja at his home. A beautiful shrine-like place in T Nagar, in South Chennai, where music, moods, fragrances and floral patterns made the simple white walls and furniture in the house come alive almost surreally. Taking me to his studio on the first floor, Ilayaraja, playing a new tune he had just composed, asked me, “What do you think of it?” And I remember replying: “It’s out of this world.” “What to do,” bemoaned the genius, much to my shock, “the world does not recognize my worth anymore. Everyone wants the new kid, who learnt at my feet and today challenges me.” I was surprised. In fact horrified. I felt Ilayaraja must be proud, not jealous, of his protégé. I felt that the greatest compliment a ‘guru’ can get is when a ‘shishya’ (disciple) outsmarts him at his own craft. But I did not express my opinion; I went on with my meeting and left Ilayaraja’s home-shrine, a tad befuddled.
Kamal Hassan, Sridevi, Ilayaraja, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikant
at ‘Shamitabh’s’ music launch
Picture Courtesy: PTI/Hindu/Internet
What began then was, as I came to realize, Ilayaraja’s hibernation, which lasted almost 10+ years. He was down, no music composition offers, no interview seekers, no titles, no awards. I am not aware how he spent those years. Maybe he sulked. Maybe he grieved. But if that was indeed his state, it well was his own creation. He was, is and will always be a musical genius, to me, and to millions of his fans across the world. That he had to make way for a next generation sensation called Rahman was only a reflection of the way Life is and works, and was no indication of any flaw with his craft. But maybe, just maybe, Ilayaraja missed this point. Until ‘Cheeni Kum’ (2007, directed by Balki and starring Amitabh Bachchan, Tabu) happened, where Ilayaraja made a phenomenal comeback. Balki, a senior professional in Indian advertising (Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Lowe Lintas), says he got into filmmaking onlyto work with two of his idols__the Big B and Ilayaraja! And Ilayaraja re-used an old tune of his from the 1986 super, super-hit, Mani Ratnam film, ‘Mouna Ragam’ (follow video link here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5v1xOQmcQE) in ‘Cheeni Kum’, along with a couple of other unputdownable compositions. And slowly, very slowly, the King of Tamil music, a veteran of 999 (Tamil director Bala’s up-coming ‘Tharai Thappattai’ will be his 1000th!) films, and 5000 songs, is coming into his own again. He is perhaps, hopefully, in his second innings, realizing that he was always a winner. That the music in him never died. In January this year, Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Hassan and Rajnikanth came together in Mumbai to launch the music for Balki’s latest ‘Shamitabh’, which again was composed by Ilayaraja. Talking at a public event in Chennai, some time ago, Ilayaraja said, “I don’t know how the music comes, if I find out, it will stop!”

This is what is happening to all of us. We are born winners. But we stop seeing our own worth, our own value because we expect Life to give us ideal performance conditions. And despite all the wishing that we__you and I__do, that can never be guaranteed. What can be known for sure though is that there’s a lot, a helluva lot, of talent in each in us. Our craft, our work, is our prayer. Irrespective of the circumstance we are placed in, let us keep playing on. Seasons will come, seasons will go, years will wear on, the body will age and wither away too someday, but eventually we will find that despite all of what has happened to us, the music within each of us remains intact. And all that happened, happened to humble us, to enlighten us, to enrich us, so that our music can light up the world!   

To stop suffering, embrace your insecurities!


Fear of the unknown often kills you in each of your living moments. Many of us have already died a thousand deaths in our lifetimes, worrying stiff about what will become of us, if this or that happened or did not happen to us. Anxiety and insecurity hold us in their vice- like grip. We are all like the character Thenali, in Kamal Hassan’s comedy movie ‘Thenali’ (2000), who is fearful of everything in Life. In one epic dialogue he tells his psychiatrist that he is scared of the sun, the stars, the moon, the sky, the water, the earth, Gods, angels, demons and just about everything in the Universe. He confesses that he has become a nervous wreck and some way, any way, to get out of this fear-trap! So it is with you__and me!

You may not be fearful to Thenali’s bizarre extent, but there’s a lot you worry about. Principal, and common, among your anxieties are:

  • Will I ever have enough money?
  • Will I be successful__with money, business, career, academics, love, relationships, whatever?   
  • Will I be respected, recognized, famous?
  • Will I die sooner than I want to?
  • Will people cheat me, betray me?
  • Will the people I love be around me as long as I want them to?
  • Will my health be good?
  • Will my children be happy, healthy, successful, safe?
  • Will I get all that I want?

Obviously, the list can be endless. And a global list may be close to Thenali’s too!

Anxiety breeds insecurity. Insecurity causes suffering! Understanding insecurity can help us deal with it better. Fundamentally, insecurity haunts you because you dislike it. Instead welcome it. Anything that you resist persist. If you are feeling insecure about something don’t hate it or fight it anymore. Just accept it. Because insecurity is the very essence of Life. Life is all about change, impermanence, uncertainty. So, it is perfectly fine not to know what’s your Life all about or how things will be or what will befall you. You are suffering only because you demand security in a compulsively, naturally insecure scenario. Yet you insist on being convinced that you are secure and will be secure forever. So, when that sense of security is unavailable__because it can NEVER be available or given to you__you grieve. You plunge yourself into worry, anxiety, depression and enslave yourself to such dark, debilitating emotions.

Someone I know was telling me that he has saved over a million dollars in cash in his bank accounts. Besides these he has invested in shares and real estate. He has two apartments. One in the heart of Chennai and another in an up-market suburb called ECR. Yet he said to me on his 60th birthday a few weeks ago that he was feeling insecure. He said, post retirement, his monthly inflow had stopped. And that gave him sleepless nights. He confessed: “I feel so incomplete and insecure. I wonder what will happen if my wife or I fall gravely ill and all our assets have to be liquidated to meet our healthcare expenses. So, I am desperately trying to create an income stream by seeking a retainer assignment with a couple of companies I know so that I can feel confident that the money I have saved will not be touched and will be available for an emergency on a rainy day!”

A family we know insists that their 22-year-old daughter must marry before she gets into grad school in the US (for a post-graduate program). Since we are reasonably aware that the young lady is not interested in anyone presently we asked why is marriage a pre-condition to her academic pursuit? “So that we can feel secure that she’s with someone she knows and also to ensure that we complete her marriage before something happens to us,”explains the girl’s mother. The girl’s parents are in their mid-40s and they don’t necessarily believe it is important their daughter be with someone she loves than someone she knows!

This is how most people define, and perhaps invent, their insecurities. They define them through demanding a sense of security in an environment, in Life, where none can be guaranteed. Demanding means you insist Life should be the way you want it to be. But Life works only the way it IS and never works like it SHOULD. And how Life IS you can only say in the moment, in the now, in the present. You cannot create a Life by aspiring it, anticipating it, fearing it or demanding it! You can only live the Life you are given in the moment. So, there will always be a fuzziness, a certain insecurity, a cluelessness that you will always experience about Life. You will have to yield to this insecurity by welcoming it, by accepting it and by living it!

Referring to our prolonged bankruptcy, a creditor asked me and my wife the other day how is it that we have managed at an emotional level when we see no evidence of Life improving for us financially.

“It must be very fearful__living the Life that you live,”declared this person.

I replied speaking from, and sharing, our experience: “It used to be fearful. It used to be scary as long as we demanded that evidence__that semblance of security. It is only when you want to seek the light that the walk up to it becomes fearful. Supposing you don’t want the light anymore? Because you have tried you damned best to get to the light but it hasn’t happened. All your attempts have come a cropper. And the fear of what-will-happen-now suffocates you every single time, makes you insane, leaves you to suffer. It was such a horrible, reclusive existence we led. So we broke free. We gave up on seeking the light. And accepted the darkness and began to love it instead. We have accepted that we will never know what will happen to us next! We have also realized by now that we wouldn’t have known any better had we been financially secure. So, we live in a newfound awareness__call it happiness__having made peace with our insecurity. The light of our awareness makes it possible for us to love our insecurity and live in it peacefully!”

Accepting and embracing insecurity in any Life situation does not mean inaction. It simply means stopping to look for or demand evidence that comforts or reassures you. It means to know that such evidence does not exist in the first place. So, it is foolish to demand it. Instead it means starting to live with the insecurity and working through it, with it. It means realizing that nothing is permanent. Nothing is certain. Nothing is secure.

When you embrace your insecurities, all your suffering will magically, instantaneously, cease! So, don’t demand security from Life. Learn to love it for what it is. Then, and only then, will you be able to live it in peace, joy and bliss!