“When there is gratitude, there can be no grief”

When you grieve for something – or someone – that you have lost, or don’t have, you are perhaps missing the bigger picture. You are missing focusing on what you have! 

We had coffee with a friend over the weekend. She recalled her visit to the Gandhi Ashram, on the banks of the Sabarmati, in Ahmedabad some years back and told us about how a quote on gratitude at the ashram changed her thinking completely. The quote, she recalled, read, “When there is gratitude, there can be no grief.”
I can’t agree with that quote more. The nature of Life is that what is today will not be there tomorrow. With birth, death is certain. So Life itself is a limited period offer. While it is natural to grieve over loss, of someone or some thing, grieving endlessly pushes you into a depressive spiral. Grief has to be understood as a natural emotion, a response that arises with any loss. But you must value that grieving over what isn’t is pointless. What is over is over. What is lost is lost. It is gone. Stay with the grief to mourn the loss. But move on. And if you can’t move on, learn to be grateful for whatever is (left), whatever you have with you. This sense of gratitude alone will help you overcome your grief.
To be sure, there is no harm in grieving. But there’s no use either. With every moment that you spend grieving, you are missing a moment to live. The truth is that Life is happening for you, around you, 24×7, irrespective of whether you are grieving or whether you are enjoying it. It is up to you to decide what you want to do with your Life. With gratitude, your problems don’t recede, they don’t go away, what is lost cannot be always gained back (certainly not instantaneously), but you can at least avoid missing – losing – the magic and beauty that each new moment contains.

Being grateful is common-sense. After all why would you miss what is, for whatever isn’t? 

Don’t do anything that will rob you of your sleep

Whenever in doubt, lean on the side of your inner peace. Do only that which will give you a good night’s sleep.
I was speaking to a young man yesterday who shared with me his story. Very inspiring! He wanted to be a police officer. He was selected to join the force but there was a catch. He was asked to pay a bribe of Rs.1.50 Lakh to be recruited as a Sub-Inspector in the Tamil Nadu police force. The man was in a dilemma. To be a cop was his life’s dream. Here he was on the threshold of becoming one but the demand for bribe rankled his conscience. He was raised in an upright family where they worshipped not Gods and religious texts, but worshipped Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography “Sathiya Sothanai” (The Tamil translation of “The Story of My Experiments with Truth”). Even as he was contemplating what to do, some of his extended family members made overtures to him saying they would offer him a dowry if he married into their family – this could have helped him pay the bribe and get his dream job. But the young man asked himself some simple basic questions:
Is being a cop more important to me than being an honest citizen?
Is my dream more important to me than a good night’s sleep?
Is that dowry more important to me than really marrying the person I truly love and want to spend the rest of my Life with?
These questions gave him immense clarity. And he leaned on the side of his inner peace. He told me, “I decided that I did not want to forsake my inner peace for the sake of my dream. In fact, when I look back now, I realize I was only infatuated with wanting to be a cop. What matters most to me is being true – to myself and to all the people I know.”
Of course, this young man faced several challenges on his way to finding a stable career in an NGO, where he currently works. But he says has no regrets: “I earn enough to provide for my small family. I am happy. And content.”
I share this story for two reasons. One, we must all have the clarity in us to be discerning – to know what will give us peace and what will disturb it. The other is that we must be prepared to journey along, without regret, whatever be the path we choose. For there will be many times and situations when you will rue the choice you made. But if you believe you would have been unhappier not making that choice, then plough on. Live with your choice. And it will always end well.
Yes, in the end, everything works out just fine. So, why trade your inner peace for petty short-term material gains?

Live – ‘knowing’ you will die!

To understand Life, understand the certainty of death. It is the only thing you can be sure of in this lifetime – that you will die! Once you understand death, you will live fully, intensely, celebrating each moment that you are alive!
The conditioning, however, that all of us have had has led us to fearing death than accepting it. Death is presented to us as something that’s horrible, grave and sorrowful. So, we grown up fearing it. And therefore we don’t really live – for how can you live, forever cowering with fear, of a death that you certainly can’t avoid?
There’s an insane political drama playing out in Tamil Nadu politics where Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) patriarch M.Karunanidhi has expelled his older son M.K.Alagiri from the party ostensibly because the latter wished for the death (a charge that Alagiri has denied) of the former’s younger son, M.K.Stalin. The brothers have been sparring publicly for a long time now – to the extent that, especially with the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) firmly in power, the public at large hardly bothers about this sibling rivalry or the internal challenges that grip the DMK. But a charge from Karunanidhi saying Alagiri was “wishing Stalin’s death” certainly made Page 1 headlines. What I found interesting was not what the father and the older son were saying, but how calmly Stalin reacted. He said: “Everybody who is born has to die someday.” Political analysts don’t see Stalin’s retort as a study in profundity. Nor do I. I see it simply as the truth – stated aptly, appropriately.
Gandhi before his final journey
Picture Source: Internet
Today is also the day, 66 years ago, when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. In a book being published shortly by Roli Books, titled, “My Experiment with Gandhi”, author Pramod Kapoor says that “Gandhi would often say – ‘Death is a celebration…the body falls and the bird within it flies away. So long as the bird doesn’t die, the question of grief should not arise.’” I believe this is the most profound understanding of, and a very beautiful explanation for, death.
So stop fearing death. Rejoice in the awareness that you have of what the end-game is all about. Celebrate that your soul, your true Self, is non-perishable and that it will soon be free – when death consumes your body and ends your current lifetime. If we can understand this truth about death – and Life – you will live, than merely exist!

Don’t fight your desires. Understand them!

Every scripture in the world will tell you that desire is at the root of all our unhappiness. But it is also intrinsic to human nature that we desire. The way to deal with desire then is to not resist it but to understand it, appreciate it and make an intelligent choice. Desire cannot be dropped. Because desire is an energy. And energy cannot be destroyed. When the energy, the desire arises, go it its root and understand it. Do you need what you desire or do you want it? If you need it, go for it. If you want it, you can still go for it, but absolve yourself of all guilt. Make a free choice by remaining alert, being awake and by practicing awareness.
The latest issue of India Today runs a cover story on ‘The Untold Story’ of Mahatma Gandhi’s experiments with practicing celibacy based on now available excerpts from the personal diaries of Manuben, who was his personal attendant for many years and was with him at the time that he was assassinated. It is common knowledge that Gandhi’s experiments with celibacy involved sleeping naked with female companions. People then, and now, see it as an eccentric side of a Mahatma, Great Soul. Others find it condemnable and questionable. We will never know why Gandhi used this method to deal with, in an attempt to perhaps conquer, his sexual desires. It is believed that Gandhi looked to conquer this enormous energy within, which would have only helped satiate his selfish and intensely personal desire, his lust, and direct that energy in the pursuit and practice of ahimsa, to help his country and its citizens. It was Gandhi’s personal choice and something he had the honesty, as Manuben’s diary jottings reveal amply now, to make no bones about what he did as part of this practice.
While the India Today story will be lapped up by its readers for the sheer expose it offers into the private Life of one of the most revered Indians, it helps us, on another plane, to reflect deeply about our own ability to deal with desire. I lean to Osho, the Master, for a better understanding of the anatomy of desire. Osho says the energy behind desire and the energy behind creation, existence, are one and the same. He quotes from the Eastern scriptures where legend has it that God had a great desire. To expand beyond himself. And so, in order to grow from one to many, he let his desire create us__humans. So, fundamentally, all desire is about expanding oneself because we are all an offshoot of the same creative energy. Fighting desire, therefore, means fighting with ourselves. No desire is bad unless you succumb to it and it starts to enslave you. And nothing must be succumbed to. We must not capitulate but we must choose freely. When a desire, let us say to smoke, to drink, to eat an additional gulab jamun, to have sex, to get angry, to feel frustrated, to be jealous, whatever, arises, look at the desire not as if you are desiring it but as a third person. As an observer. Understand the desire with your awareness. Where there is awareness, there will be prudence. It is only when we are blinded that we succumb mindlessly to our desires. When we stay alert, we will always be able to deal with the desire intelligently, effortlessly __ perhaps, overcome it by letting go of it, perhaps, choosing it consciously.