On why do ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ folks?

‘Good’, ‘Bad’, ‘Right’, ‘Wrong’ … all these are societal labels. In reality, Life simply boils down to events and choices.
Something happens to you. It is an event. How you react or respond to that event is your choice. Period. When events meet or exceed your expectations, you label them good. If they don’t, you label them bad. If a choice you made delivers the outcome you expect, you call it good. And if it does not, you call it a bad choice! Simple.
Last evening, over some exotic Moroccan Mint tea, someone who had heard of our story and my Book asked me how could a ‘talented’ couple like Vaani and me be put through such a ‘trial’ by Life? This is a question that we are often asked. And I don’t have a very elaborate answer. The one I have is this…

Talent. Trial. Time. These are three things that we always obsess about. We think we are talented so we must be successful. We believe because we are good folks, Life should not try us! And we always want to be having the time of our lives – the way we want it! To be sure, talent and trial have no correlation. Often, we wonder why should we be tried in Life when we are talented, intelligent and ethical? Why should ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ folks? We must remember that talent is what we are endowed with; that includes the ability to deal with all kinds of trials and tribulations in Life! Trials are what we are and will be faced with. Both talent and trials are Life’s ways of making us who we must eventually be. And time is the eternal healer. Time is the catalyst. Time eventually makes us complete. When it is time to be tried, we will be. And when it is time to be toasted, we will be! So, if we give up the expectation that talented folks must not be tried, and learn to flow with time, we will never agonize in Life! We will be blissful!






Last night, as I caught Yash Chopra’s 1965-classic Waqt (Time) on TV, this iconic song played on aptly. The lead lyrics are aage bhi jaane na tu, pichhe bhi jaane na tu, jo bhi hai, bas yahi ek pal hai…meaning that you don’t know the future, you can’t do anything about the past, all you have is this moment, the now, to live in! So, peel off those labels. Don’t obsess over whether your choices are right or wrong. Just be happy you made one! Just be – live – in the moment. For there is no right or wrong, good or bad. Your Life, at the end the day, is all about choices you make in response to the events that happen to you!

Get drunk on Life: it gives you an unputdownable high!

Learn to postpone worry! Be in the moment!
Yesterday, I got some quiet time to myself at a café. I find it absolutely necessary to remain silent for some spells – at least one – daily. I use this time to pause, reflect – and importantly to postpone worry!
To be sure, I make a list of all the stuff that worries me – and I have enough and more to worry about, just like you have – and bucket them into two lists. Stuff that I can act on and resolve over time. And stuff that I can’t resolve. Those that I can work on and solve, I convince myself that I need not worry about them. And those that I can’t solve myself, I convince myself again, that I must not worry about them either. This is how, methodically, practically, logically, I postpone worrying on a daily basis.
The biggest benefit of postponing worry is that you are available to the now – and are present in the moment. No past. No future. Which means no grief, anger or guilt over what has happened – the past. And no fear, anxiety or worry over what may happen – the future. No past. No future. You are just present in the moment.
In the present moment there is just beauty. There is complete magic.
Last evening, while at the café, it rained like crazy for about 40 minutes. It was a very heavy downpour. It was also the day after Diwali here in the south of India. Most services were still not available as most people were on an extended festive vacation. I wanted to get back home. But no Uber cars were available. And it was impossible to step out because the rain came down pelting. I stepped out onto the balcony at the café to gauge the intensity of the rain.



A cat meowed incessantly in a corner of the balcony – perhaps feeling wet and cold in the rain. The café had festive, decorative lights running around the trees on their premises. In the rain, these lights came alive differently – they felt surreal. And the rain created a music which was at the same time intense and sublime.

I was reminded of the opening lines of a Kumar Sanu number from Sir (1993, Mahesh Bhatt, Naseeruddin Shah, Pooja Bhatt, Atul Agnihotri) which goes: “Sun, Sun, Sun Barsaat Ki Dhun Sun…”. It means, “Listen, listen to music of the rain…!”

I spent several minutes staying immersed in the music that the rain made. At another time in my Life, in such weather, I would have preferred to drink my favorite whiskey while watching Amar Akbar Anthony(1977, Manmohan Desai) – perhaps for the millionth time! But, over time, I have learned that you don’t need an induced, artificial intoxicant, to get a high. You can get an inexplicable, unputdownable high if you know how to get drunk on Life by being present in the moment. Perhaps that’s why Jalauddin Rumi, the 13thCentury Persian poet has said this of Life: “Be aware of the pure wine being poured. Don’t complain that you have been handed a dirty cup!”

Simply be. Drop this urge to constantly become this or that.

Life simply is.  There is really no objective to Life; there are no goals to be achieved, no responsibilities to be fulfilled. Nothing. You are born. You live. You die. Period. This is the truth – so simple, so uncomplicated. It is only society that brings in expectations of goals and outcomes, and labels of success and failure or joy and sorrow. You take away the social denominators from Life – starting with money – and suddenly Life simply is.
The other day, we were sitting at a coffee shop. I was thinking of something I had seen on Facebook, I was looking up from my phone and I was smiling – staring blankly into space. A friend walked up and tapped me on my shoulder and asked, “Wow! What are you thinking deeply about? What next creative idea are you pulling out of your hat?” I replied, “Hardly…No creative idea or such…I am just in the moment, enjoying it, savoring it.”
Our friend, and his wife who was with him, were hardly able to comprehend what I meant. They smiled and waved their goodbyes and walked away. I can understand what they must have been thinking about – “how can anyone not be doing anything?” And they are not alone. I believe the whole of humanity thinks this way and so is missing this beautiful opportunity to just be in the moment – because everyone is trying to become someone, by trying to do something or the other.
I am not saying you must not work or that you must not earn money or that you must not raise a family. But don’t get so caught in earning-a-living that you miss the opportunity to live itself. Look at nature around you. The trees, the birds, the flowers, the river, the ocean, all of them simply are. They have no concept of time nor do they have any targets or goals to achieve. It is only man who has time-bound goals in focus. Nothing wrong with that. But if the same goals start haunting you, when they make your Life miserable, then you have a problem. Earning money is not a problem. But complaining or worrying that you are not having enough is a problem. Working is not a problem. But feeling stressed out over your work is a problem. Having a family is not a problem. But sweating over the behavior of your family members is a problem.
Osho, the Master illustrates this point with the example of a rose and a hundred-rupee note. “Life is not a logical process. It is poetry, it is a lovesong — without any meaning, yet it is utterly beautiful. In fact, when something has a meaning, it can’t be beautiful – it is utilitarian. The rose is beautiful because it has no utility at all. Its sheer being is enough; it need not have any other significance. But a hundred-rupee note has no beauty; it has utility, it has meaning, it is a means to some end.”
The nub is this: to live your Life fully, celebrate each moment. Simply be. Drop this urge to constantly try and become this or that. Don’t try to desperately make a meaning out of your Life. Meaning is a social requirement. Life doesn’t care about any meanings. So, why don’t you also live your Life for what it is, as it is? Don’t seek meanings. Don’t get keyed up. Don’t complain. Be alive, be with your Life – as is!

Life is not trying to victimize you

Stay anticipating and welcoming the possibility of an exciting adventure and you will never be in grief in Life. On the other hand, you will be able to feel and be the bliss in each moment.

What is a sudden health diagnosis: a cancer or any other debilitating disease? It is an adventure. What is a job loss? An adventure. What is a broken relationship? It’s an adventure. You call something an adventure when it is an experience that you have not been through before. Almost all the time, since you and I were born, we have been encountering Life at its own terms. One surprise after another. But we see it in a linear fashion. We see our Life go through only these stages: from birth to starting school; starting school to finishing school (pre-school to high-school); starting an academic course to qualifying for a college degree; starting a job to starting a family; finishing actively raising a family and caring for children to retiring from a job, starting retirement to reaching death. So, while are essentially flowing with Life, we think we are in control. Surely, a lot of these stages apply to almost anyone who is capable of reading this post now. But if we look deeper, peeling off layer after layer in each stage, we will notice that there have been so many unforeseen events in each stage. The bigger news is also that we have been able to overcome each of them and get to where we are today. So, why this anxiety about Life’s next surprise or adventure? Why the fear of an ‘unknown’ future?

The other truth about these stages in Life is that each one begins and each one ends when it must. Much like Life itself. It has begun. So it will end. So, why this fear of death? When you understand that the two dimensions of Life that you worry about the most are the most predictable, you will be able to live intelligently. Consider both dimensions: a. Life will always surprise you in each moment and b. you and everyone you know will eventually die. Haven’t you dealt with both dimensions in some measure already? This means you are capable of living with acceptance of what is and living with insightful action.

Know that Life is not trying to victimize you. Life is doing its job. And you must do yours by meeting each situation sportingly. “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable,” wrote Helen Keller (1880 ~ 1968), in 1940, in a poem called ‘Let us have Faith’.

Indeed. Don’t expect any more security from Life than what you already have __ which is the fact that you are alive, can read this and have most of your faculties intact. Have the faith that this roller coaster called Life is a non-stop adventure sport that you can enjoy only if you stay happy and stay in the now!

Life offers no control; just impermanence and change!

Learn to live with Life’s uncertainties. Because Life’s like that!
Understand that everything that you call your own, will perish or cease to be yours someday soon. Know that your iPhone, this facebook account, your health, your relationships, your job, your bank balance, your health and your Life, all are, every one of them is, impermanent. You know this is true, of course, don’t you? But you conveniently ignore this truth because it’s comfortable to live imagining that what is yours is yours forever. Because to worry about things withering away, people passing away and you moving on, is uncomfortable, fearful and therefore, avoidable. But to kid yourself that Life is permanent and you will have lot more time to live in the future than in the now, is outright foolish. Since you consider yourself intelligent, since you know that both Life and Money are impermanent, wake up, and start living.
Here’s a simple Zen story that makes the point. There once was a young man who wanted to face “real” Life. So he left home and travelled to seek the real world. During his travels he reached a village and met a young family, where the wife was pregnant and the husband was hard-working. They welcomed him and invited him to stay with them. He was there for just one day and night.  During that time, the husband suddenly died and his wife mourned so much that it affected her pregnancy and she gave birth prematurely. The young traveler saw death and birth in quick succession and at close quarters. He saw the impermanence of Life that caused both grief and happiness. The wife grieved at the loss of her beloved husband and yet was happy to have a baby. He helped that family with the funeral service and then continued his travels.
He arrived at another village. Here he knew two brothers: one was successful in business and the other was not. He smiled at Life and moved on to another village. A year went by and he returned to the same village and met the same two brothers. Then he discovered that the one who was successful had failed and the one who had not been successful was now doing well in his business. He saw how change happens in Life; how success and failure had brought both fulfilment and disappointment.
Time passed by.  After he had travelled for many years he realized that he was getting old. He had learned that Life offered no control, but only impermanence and a series of changes. He had witnessed that youth changed to old age, past to present and the present to the future. Impermanence means that there is no guarantee that there would be a tomorrow.  The here and now is the only time which everyone has. It took a lifetime for this man to understand Life as it was. At the end of his Life, he rested in peace and happiness.
Do we need to spend a lifetime trying to understand this simple truth about Life? Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic philosopher, (535~475 BC), said, “Everything flows and nothing abides, everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.” So, embrace this uncertainty, flow with Life, knowing that when you get called, you too will have to go away!

Bliss is when you lose yourself to the moment

No job or activity is dull or boring. Something becomes boring only when your attention wavers.
This is what I have learned from my guru, Eknath Easwaran (1910~1999). He has taught “Passage Meditation” as a way to reign in the mind, so that it attends to whatever you are doing and experiencing in the present moment. I have understood, from my own experience, that this is possible. The key is to immerse yourself in whatever you are involved in. It may not always be what you love doing. But if you have to do something, do it with full awareness – lose yourself in the process. When you are lost in whatever you are doing – you are living fully, you are then (in) bliss!
A very accomplished musician once accepted a King’s invitation to perform in the royal court. The King had been inviting the musician for years. But the singer was always elusive and reclusive. Finally he agreed. But he laid down a condition – nobody should nod their head or sway or even move when he sang. The King was a maverick himself. He immediately announced that if anyone violated the singer’s condition, he or she would be beheaded. The people of the land, who were eager to listen to this singer, for it was indeed a-once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity, were taken aback. Many of them felt that the condition stipulated was draconian and could not be fulfilled at all. How can you not nod or move when you hear great music? So, they backed out of attending the concert. Several people, however, still showed up on the morning of the performance. The King had stationed soldiers, who had their swords drawn, all around the royal court. The singer arrived. And he sang. It was magical – he sang with such purity, such class. Everyone in the audience froze. It was not hard to say if they remained unmoved because the singer held them in his spell or if they were that way fearing his condition and their King’s absurd order! Soon, as time went by and the concert became even more blissful, a few heads swayed, then some more and then some others even moved their hands and blew flying kisses to the singer. The soldiers made a note of every person who violated the King’s order. As soon as the concert ended, they rounded these people up separately and looked to the King for his order to behead them – then and there.
The musician however told the King to let these people go.
The King was not amused: “But these are the people who have violated your condition and my order. I don’t understand this!”
The musician replied: “They did. No doubt about that. But they did so only because they lost themselves to the music, in their inner joy! They are the true listeners. They risked their Life for their bliss. Those who did not move were always thinking about the order, fearing for their Life, and worried about the soldiers with their swords drawn. How could these people have even listened to my song, let alone enjoy it!”
The musician told the King that in future, whenever he visited, he would sing only to this select audience.
The import of this story is that when you are totally immersed in the moment, even Life becomes insignificant and inconsequential. When you are engaged this way, worry, grief, guilt, anger, fear – nothing can touch you. Because, in that moment, you are (in) bliss!