Go with the flow of Life – resisting it is pointless!

The most evident truth about Life is that it simply goes on! And you and I are like the ‘musafir’ (voyager) in the opening song of Parichay (1972, Gulzar)…we have to just keep walking…‘bas chalte jaana’…!
This is the big message I picked up watching Masaan(2015, Neeraj Ghaywan) the other day. It is the most thought-provoking, poignant film I have seen in a long, long time. It deals with a young lady coming to terms with the death of her boyfriend when the police raids their room in which they are making love. A parallel story deals with a young boy, from a lower caste (his family burns corpses at the riverside crematorium), aspiring to woo, court and marry an upper caste girl. The girl is willing but soon dies in a bus tragedy along with her entire family. The boy struggles initially to reconcile with his loss – he ends up having to cremate her body! But eventually he manages to move on. Both story arcs converge as the film ends, with the young lady meeting the young boy on a boat and together they ride onward…
Set in Benares, Masaan has been winning acclaim on the international film festival circuit. And has earned praise from critics and viewers alike.
Vicky Kaushal as Deepak in ‘Masaan’
Picture Courtesy: Internet
To me, however, Masaan portrays the ever-flowing nature of Life. The young lady has to handle her guilt, her grief, over a choice she and her boyfriend made. Her father has to live with the ignominy of her choice. Together they have to face a corrupt cop and raise a ransom amount for the charges against the lady to be dropped. She tries to seek closure by going over to apologize to her boyfriend’s family, but they don’t want her apology; they ask her to get out! In the parallel story, the young boy has his father’s support to quit the corpse-burner tradition and profession. He has his girlfriend’s assurance that she is willing to even run away – should the families disapprove – with him provided he gets himself a job. He’s almost certain of getting that job when she dies. He has to deal with his demons. His depression almost ruins his career prospects and he’s on the verge of being a corpse-burner all his Life. But he realizes that unless he moves on, he will only be trapped ‘where he is’ and remain depressed. A state that will serve no purpose, he reasons. So, with great difficulty, he picks up the threads of his Life and lands himself a job. As both the young lady and the boy move on, they meet each other…
Indeed, there are no pauses in Life. It simply goes on. As long as you are alive, you have to keep walking, you have to keep going with the flow. You may not like whatever is happening to you. But you have to face it, you have to live through it. When you hate whatever is, you will suffer. Here’s the nub: you can’t prevent Life from happening to you. But you have the choice not to resist Life. And nothing, nothing really, is the end of the road, until you are alive, until you die. Period.
I talk from experience. On December 31st 2007, when I sat with Vaani in our bedroom and surveyed our Life, it seemed impossible to go on. We had just Rs.2000/- left with us in Life. And we had over a million dollars in debt. And no work. Yet, almost 8 years on, we have survived and lasted to tell our story. We still don’t have enough work – not even enough to cover our living expenses – and our debt remains unpaid. But we move on…living each day, working hard, facing our realities – court cases, police complaints, cashlessness at some times and very frustrating material scarcity at others – and believing that all this too shall pass.

There is no other way to live Life. It is what it is. You have to accept what is, keep working on what you want it to be and, in the process, exercise your choice to simply be, well, happy with whatever is. It is when you don’t live Life with this clarity and understanding that Life is miserable. Go on, go with the flow of Life. After all, there’s isn’t any point in refusing to flow it! 

Life goes on … you too move on with it

In each moment, Life is new, fresh. As long as you don’t cling on to the past, and instead move on, you too can enjoy and enjoin in this freshness!
A friend was chatting with me some time back. She shared what she called a predicament with me. Her husband had died some years back. She married again. But she was not happy in that marriage. She said she liked her partner as a person but she could not imagine a Life with him. So, she separated from him. She has two children, from her first marriage, who are young, independent adults. Now, she told me, two men were actively interested in her. She wanted to know what to do and if there was anything wrong, at her age (she’s over 45), for her to seek companionship.
I asked her to explain why she thought anything would be wrong in the first place. “I loved my first husband dearly. Somehow I feel it’s wrong for me to move on. I feel I will be betraying that relationship. Besides, when I tried with my second marriage, I failed miserably. So, I am not sure if anything will work out for me if I try again,” she replied.
I told her: “Do whatever makes you happy. If someone’s presence in your Life makes you happy, be happy. Don’t hold yourself back. Your late husband and your marriage with him – both are not there anymore. Don’t cling on to that. Just because your second marriage did not work out, it doesn’t mean you will not be happy in a new relationship. Don’t look to validate everything. Let your inner joy alone be your reference point. You have a lot of Life still ahead of you. Just do whatever makes you happy.”
I haven’t heard from her since. I hope she chose her happiness over everything else.
But her story, while unique in its own way, reminds us of a classic conundrum that all of us face – which is, how do we move on in Life? Let me tell you from my own experience – and from what I have learned from Life – that there’s only one way to move on. And that way is to let go of the past.
Life is reborn, afresh and new, in each new moment. But you are stuck in the past, so you are not seeing this freshness, this newness, even if you are seeking it. Think of a situation where an infant is playing with your cell-phone and you want it back because you fear the phone will be dropped. So, you offer the child a bright-colored rattle and the child quickly parts with the phone and accepts the rattle. There’s great wisdom in the child’s action. The child intuitively knows that unless she lets go of what she has she cannot get the new toy. As adults, we must revive this child-like quality in us. Only then can we see the magic and beauty of the Life that we have.
No matter how much you cling on to the past, no matter how much you postpone or avoid living the Life that you have, Life keeps going on. Someone you love dies, Life does not stop for you. It goes on. You lose your job. Life goes on. An earthquake happens. You lose everything. Yet Life goes on. Now, you can either move on with Life. Or you can keep wishing that things are different. The truth is that all your wishing will always be in vain. Only your moving on can make you happy.

To tune into Life, simply move on!

No matter what, Life simply goes on!
Life is programmed to go on. Something terrible happens to you. You lose your job or a lot of money or someone you love. You are in shock. You are numbed. But Life goes on. You struggle for a while with your new reality. But over time – could be a few hours, months or even years – eventually, you find your rhythm back with Life. And you too move on – because there’s no other way forward!
To be sure, it’s perfectly alright to move on. Because that’s what Life is all about – it is like a river, never-stopping, ever flowing. You find yourself lost or searching for meaning or feel incomplete because you are held hostage by your mind. Here’s a little secret – you don’t need your mind to live! Seriously. When you are present in the moment, in the now, there is no mind involved. The human mind only thrives in the past – clinging on to memories – or in the future – going on worrying about things that really have not happened!
Understand that the mind and Life can never be in sync. They don’t tango at all. This explains why we all suffer when faced with pain or have to deal with uncomfortable situations in Life. Let’s say someone you love is dead. By the time you confirm the person’s death, a new moment has arrived. In that moment, there’s just you. Not that person. There’s nothing wrong with that moment per se. It is just a new reality that going forward in Life it is just you. So the moment, the new reality, is not capable of causing you any suffering. However, your mind is fully capable of causing you agony, distress, grief and suffering. It will go on reminding you that the person you love isn’t there. And through that incessant reminding you wallow in grief, wondering how beautiful Life would have been had this person not died at all. Or you may spend time worrying about how fearful the future looks without this person for company. The truth is that even your present is beautiful and so may be your future – surely, you can never say it will be otherwise because it has not even arrived! When you recognize that it is always your mind working up your grief or drumming up your fears, you learn to appreciate the present and to actually move on!
To live Life fully, you have to learn to stop getting stuck with the past or fear the future – essentially stop allowing the mind to lead you – and simply flow with Life, moving on from one new moment to another! When you are not controlled by your mind, when you are present in the moment, you are in tune with Life. Then you see the magic and beauty in every moment. And you experience bliss!

You create more problems by wanting people and things to be different!


Intrinsically, there’s nothing wrong with Life. Or with people. Life is the way it is. And people are the way they are. It is your wanting them to be different, your wanting them to be the way you want them to be, that causes YOU__and often others__pain, suffering, misery and angst!

Any home with a teenager will understand this perspective the best. As a parent you would want your teenager’s room to be maintained well. But your child just doesn’t want you to even enter her room. Now think about this deeply. Is there something wrong with the room? Or is there something wrong with the way your child thinks she is maintaining it? Or is there something wrong with the way in which YOU WANT it maintained? In reality, nothing really is wrong. Simply, your WANT, your expectation, is what is causing you all the grief!

So it is with people everywhere. The teenager at home perspective is simple __ so you can relate to it. Also, you may be willing to forgive a teenager__because the kid is still not ‘mature or worldly-wise’ in your view! But you are not always so understanding of others! Here’s why….

If you review your Life, particularly your relationships, almost all the time, all your problems have come from wanting people to be different. Take any relationship where you have a problem and replace your want with acceptance and see how you perceive the relationship now. Let’s say, you have a colleague or a friend who is unethical and scheming. You cannot trust this person at all. Now, if you accept this person as someone who is not worthy of your trust, there will be no problem at all. The problem arises ONLY when you continue to trust this person, expect this person to live up to your trust, and this person keeps betraying your trust every single time! Who is to blame. Your friend? Your friend’s unethical behavior? Or you __ for continuing to trust someone who is NOT worthy of your trust? The answer is so simple. It is you who are responsible, and your expectation that your friend lives up to your trust, for the stress and strife in the relationship. You have to either trust this person and be content with betrayal or you have to stop trusting this person. The in between path__that I will trust and expect him to live up to it__is a foolish one and is paved with grief at every step!

This is so true of any situation, any relationship in Life. Yesterday, I watched a British film ‘Life Goes On’ (2009) directed by Sangeeta Datta. This is a simple story of an Indian doctor, Sanjay (played brilliantly by Girish Karnad) who comes home one evening to find his wife Manju (Sharmila Tagore) dead. She had suffered a major cardiac arrest. Sanjay’s grief is soon overshadowed by some facts, bigger, more shocking and more painful, he stumbles upon about his three daughters and his wife. His oldest one, he finds, is breaking up with her British husband. His second one is in a lesbian relationship. And his third one is pregnant with the child of her Muslim boyfriend. He further discovers that his best friend Alok (Om Puri) is the father of his first daughter because Manju had sought out Alok’s companionship in the early years of Sanjay’s marriage to her, because Sanjay could not take time off from his medical studies and practice to nurture their relationship! Everything that Sanjay had created in Life__a family, built on what he thought were Indian values, a culture of discipline and a tradition of being conservative Indians and staunch Hindus__seems now blown to smithereens. He is plunged into deep grief. And even roams the streets of London one night looking for answers. Then Alok confronts him with the truth: “Your wanting is not going to make anything different or better. It is the way it is.”

Life’s beautiful ONLY when we stop wanting people and things to be different. The moment a want creeps in, rearing its ugly head, a perfectly peaceful Life can become traumatic.  You can’t do much to prepare yourself for the rest of your Life. You can only deal with what you are dealt with! So, the best thing you can do, for now, is to simply, stop wanting people to be different. If it is someone you deeply love, try having a honest conversation. If it works for you, fine. If not, just let people be. You be who you are. And, believe me, your Life will be peaceful ever after!