Accept your Life for what it is – and simply go on living

Does it really matter if there is such a thing as fate or destiny? If whatever will happen, will happen, then why analyze it, why agonize over it?  
In a conversation we had with a friend yesterday, we ended up discussing destiny and free will. My friend held the view that trying to understand how destiny works or blaming it for everything is simply futile. “Can your belief in or knowledge of fate, destiny, karma – whatever name you give it – really help in undoing, or changing, your Life’s course,” he asked.
And I agree with him.
What are we going to do by knowing that our lives are preordained? That really doesn’t change anything. Instead, the simpler way to look at Life – and respond to it – is to know that while you can’t do anything about what’s happening to you, you can at least act in a given situation diligently, with full commitment to living! People call this opportunity free will. I call it living. Just be, just live. Or, to further simplify, while you can’t do anything about what happens to you, do whatever you can in any given situation to make it better. And the best way to live through, endure, any painful situation, is to immerse yourself in the moment and to live it fully.
So, don’t dwell on whether your Life is preordained or not. It’s meaningless, it’s futile to do so. The fact is that you have this Life, a gift called this lifetime. You have no control over what happens to you. But you can and must do whatever is possible by you to live your every moment fully. You have that option, and no one can deny it to you, so use it fully.  
Osho, the Master, calls the fate-destiny-karma logic defeatist and escapist. He says when we try something and don’t get what we want, we conveniently blame fate. “What can I do, I am trying but my fate is such” is a common refrain we all hear or even use at times. Osho urges us to stop this blame game! He says don’t dump the responsibility of your Life on fate. Some people also dub fate as “God’s will”. So they dump the cause of their Life’s course – and their attendant miseries – on this, unknown, unseen, God. Osho asks, “You know why you blame God for all the things that happen to you that you don’t want happening? You do it because it is so convenient. God doesn’t talk back, you see. God doesn’t ask you how dare you blame me for your Life? So, you go on dumping your Life on God and you wallow in the comfortable cesspool of ‘my-fate-is-such’ thinking.”

Osho makes a powerful, unputdownable, point. Blaming Life or karma or God is of no use. Your Life – and mine – will unfold, go on, happen, in spite of you – or me. No matter what. This is the nature of Life. The only way to live this Life therefore is to accept it for what it is, the way it is, and simply go on living…!  

Our Life design, the Master Plan, is inscrutable – but has to be accepted and faced!

Anything, absolutely anything can happen in Life. You just have to learn to face it and deal with it.  

A couple of days ago I finished reading “Aarushi” (Penguin, 2015) by journalist Avirook Sen. The book obviously tells the story of the double murders (of 14-year-old Aarushi and the middle-aged housekeeper Hemraj) that shocked all of India in May 2008. But more important, the book tells us that Dr.Rajesh Talwar and Dr.Nupur Talwar, Aarushi’s parents, did not kill her.In telling us so, Sen makes few things very evident to the reader: how flawed our judicial system is, how there is a heartless, cold bureaucracy that thrives at our premier investigating agency, the CBI, and how lawyers, and their often flaky strategies, can ruin a good chance for a client. Sen does not make an explicit summary of these points. This is what you glean through reading his unputdownable book. But above all that is evident, there is also the implicit Life lesson that one picks up – anything, absolutely anything, can happen in Life; and all you can do is face Life and deal with it.

Sen quotes from Dr.Rajesh Talwar’s journal entries on the immediate few days/weeks the couple spent in Dasna jail after their conviction on 25 November 2013. I reproduce some of the quotes as they are:

3 Dec 2013: Still can’t understand how this happened to us. If only I would have gotten up….I could not even save my dear Aaru. Very difficult to live without her.

9 Dec 2013: Miss Aaru so much and that time and our Life. People talk about their children and what they are doing. They come and meet them in jail. But for us, nothing.

10 Dec 2013: Met Nupur in the afternoon. It’s really strange what Life has dealt us. But this is what it is.

18 Dec 2013: This is the 25th year of our marriage and we will celebrate 25 years on the 19th of January (2014). Could anybody imagine where we would be on our 25th anniversary? No Aaru, no house, no clinic, no money and sitting in jail for something we haven’t done.

Dr.Talwar’s journal entries gives us a peek into how we think through a cathartic time in Life. When you read “Aarushi” you will realize how the Talwars have been done in by Life. Yes, we can blame the investigators, the judicial system, the witnesses who were influenced or coerced and whoever else we want to; we can even blame the Talwars for sleeping through the most dramatic and gruesome night of their Life. But ultimately this is the design for the Talwars’ Life: No Aarushi, no house, no clinic, no money and sitting in jail for something they haven’t done. They simply can’t escape it.

This is the way all our lives are designed. We can’t escape that design. We can fret, fume, kick around, bawl in agony, fight, resist – we can do all we want and can do, but Life goes on happening to us. The way it wants to. The Life design we all have to face and deal with is inscrutable. Some call it karma. I believe it is a Master Plan. And as I have learnt from someone, and learnt from being through Life’s experiences, the Master Plan has no flaws. We may think it is flawed because we believe we don’t deserve what we get or what happens to us. But in the end, it all adds up, all of it makes sense. You do eventually realize that whatever happened, happened for a reason and, believe me, for the good!
Dr.Talwar runs a dental clinic inside the Dasna jail. Even as he and Nupur await their appeal for suspension of their sentence by the Ghaziabad CBI court to be heard by the Allahabad High Court. The truth is, reveals Sen, the Allahabad High Court is presently hearing appeals from the 1990s. So, you can imagine how long it can take for the Talwars’, who were convicted in November 2013, appeal to be heard.

That brings us to a key operative word, a killer App, if you will, to face and deal with Life stoically – that word is “acceptance”. You can’t control what is. You can’t create what is. And because it is what it is, you simply have to accept what is; while continuing to do your bit to make each day count, and keep on living the Life that you have!  

Time, Destiny, Karma, Life … whatever, just accept what is!

We are all a product of the time that we go through. Time plays the biggest role in shaping the way things pan out for each of us during our lifetime.
This is an unalterable truth about Life. But the way we are conditioned to think about time, thanks to the way we are raised, we are either totally driven by a belief that everything about our lives is pre-ordained and pre-set in, and by, time or that nothing is. A more aware approach to Life, however, can be helpful.
Although there may be several arguments or methods that claim to understand how time works during one’s lifetime, the reality remains that there will be some times in Life, certain phases, when nothing may work for you, the way you plan for it or want it to work, despite your best efforts. This reality may express itself differently in the context of each one’s Life. But this reality will be un-missable, unmistakable. Now, those who use methods, like the science of astrology for instance, to make sense of the “play of time”, may find some way to rationalize what’s happening to them. Those who either have no access to or interest in such methods may simply see a pattern, “of results not coming as expected despite their best efforts”, to their lives. They may either choose to go with the flow of such a pattern, which is go with the flow of their lives, or feel defeated and depressed.
I have learnt that the simplest, and the most peaceful, way to live Life is to have faith in Life’s plan for you. I have come to understand it as The Master Plan. And I have come to realize, over the eventful years of my Life’s roller-coaster experience, that The Master Plan has no flaws. So, even if something evidently is not going per a plan that you have, and so you conclude that things are going “out of control”, everything is still happening just the way it should, for you to live the Life that has been designed for you. This perspective has been immortalized by Steve Jobs (1955~2011) when he said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that somehow the dots will connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, Karma, Life, whatever. This approach has never let me down and it has made all the difference in my Life.”
I don’t need to substantiate this point with a story from my Life or recall Jobs’ famous Stanford commencement speech of 2005. I invite you to review your own Life. And you will see the pattern, your personal journey line, as evidence of this point. Wherever you are today has undoubtedly been a result of all your efforts and intentions. Even so, you will notice that at the most crucial junctures, mystically, an unexpected twist or turn has either helped you move forward or has led to an unplanned, unscheduled change in direction. Without this providential play of time, or Life, you wouldn’t be where you are today. This perspective is as good even when you don’t like being where you are today. Perhaps, Life has laid hurdles in your path – a curious turn of events has delayed or stunted your progress. Whatever it is that you may be faced with or are going through, know that there’s a larger design that’s not evident to you just now. Someday, in the future, you too, like Jobs’ will connect the dots backward and marvel at how beautiful your Life’s design always was!
You can appreciate this perspective or debunk it. You can be wedded to the “Life-is-pre-ordained” or “it’s-all-play-of-time” theories or you can believe that you control everything. Whatever way you choose, you can’t escape the reality that Life pans out for you, as it does for me, only in its own unique way. And the only way to live such an inscrutable Life, happily, peacefully, is to simply accept what is.

Living completely requires spontaneity


Anything incomplete is dangerous. And the horrible truth is we are all leading incomplete lives.

Check it out for yourself. Are you saying what you really want to say in all your relationships? Are you doing what you love doing all the time? Are you feeling comfortable in all contexts of your Life? If you answered ‘no’ or ‘not quite’ for any of those questions (and these are not the only ones) then you are, your Life is, incomplete.

At the core of your unhappiness__both stated and unstated but felt__with your Life lies your incompleteness.

You hate your job. But you go on doing it because it ‘provides’ for your family’s upkeep and maintenance. You are incomplete. Your don’t relate to your spouse anymore. But you go on suffering in that relationship because you don’t know how__or want__to get out of it. You are incomplete. You don’t like what someone in your family is saying or doing. You hesitate to speak your mind because you don’t want to sound rude. But you squirm in the person’s presence. You are again incomplete.

Your incompleteness helps no one. Least of all you! German philospoher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844~1900) memorably said, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” So it is! In a preparatory Life you can afford to rehearse, put off your best act for the final performance. But what is the point in living an incomplete Life when this is it! When this is the only Life you have?

Life is not an examination. It requires no preparation. It requires living. Living completely requires spontaneity. When you see a beautiful sunrise or a flower dance in the breeze or a child smile, you ideally don’t think of anything else – you just soak in the beauty of that moment. The moment you think of something else, you miss the moment itself! Then you are not being. You are not present. You are physically there. But mentally lost in worry, anxiety, guilt, anger, sorrow __ whatever. Bottomline: you have missed that moment! You have missed living it!

This is how we remain incomplete. This is how we miss living. Missing moment after moment after moment __ and often an entire lifetime! All our lives we prepare for a tomorrow and then for another one and then another. Or all our lives we cling on to a dead past, a memory, a guilt, a pain __ and we suffer endlessly.

I have nothing against theorists. But people who talk of karma and say that everything is ordained are encouraging, perhaps inadvertently and unintentionally, us to give up on living fully. Perhaps indeed everything is ordained. But to live the Life that is given, and not to suffer it, is still an intelligent choice we may like to exercise. You can’t be living in fear all the time. Then you are not living. You are dying. Of course, we all have to die one day when our physical presence ceases on this planet. But why die suffering a Life that has been given to us to enjoy, to live?

Here’s a simple perspective. Easy to understand. Simpler to practice. The reason we fear Life is because we have been taught to fear it. If you don’t study, you will fail. Fear. If you don’t go to work, you will lose your job, lose your income stream. Fear. If you don’t be loyal, you will lose the trust of people around you. Fear. Every action is being driven by fear of a consequence. That explains why we have not learned love to Life! If we were told to love learning, love knowledge, than merely get grades, we would have no fear. Then we would have been better at learning! If we were encouraged to love creating value, making a difference, work would become play. Then we would not fear or loathe work. If we were taught that loving is what living is all about relationships would have been far more meaningful and would not mean simply conforming to societal norms and frameworks.

To be sure, we complicate a rather simple Life by thinking too much, by whining, worrying, strategizing and analyzing. All this analysis creates paralysis, crippling us far more gruesomely than we even realize. That’s why we don’t see the beauty and magic in each moment, in each day. The moment we stop being incomplete and start living spontaneously, we will live and love__and not fear or hate__the Life we have been given!