There is great joy in living dangerously

Don’t ever fear living dangerously. Simply focus on the living, for you can do nothing about the danger!
Neerja Malik
Picture Courtesy: Facebook
The other day we were at an event to launch a book based on the Life of Neerja Malik, a two-time cancer survivor. Titled ‘I Inspire’ (Jaico, written by Megha Bajaj), the book tells Neerja’s story – of grit, of letting go, of acceptance and of being happy despite the circumstances. At the launch, Neerja, just as the way she always is, was beaming and radiating abundance. She personified being joyful! Without any prior notice, finding me and Vaani in the audience, Nina Reddy, of Savera Hotels, who was the chief guest at the event, invited me to share some perspective (perhaps given our own experience with dealing with a Life-changing crisis) on how “it is possible turn a crisis into an opportunity”.
I talked about how ancient Chinese philosophy and literature support this belief that the word “crisis”, when written in the Chinese language, is actually the sum of two other words. One meaning ‘danger’ and the other meaning ‘opportunity’. So to the Chinese, crisis always means danger + opportunity. The import for us is this – whenever you see crisis, don’t get overwhelmed by its inherent dangerous nature. See the opportunity. To be sure, there is opportunity all around, everywhere, and every step of the way.
Osho, the Master, takes the Chinese argument one step further. He says Life is intrinsically fraught with dangers. Each moment is an encounter with the unknown. He says our academic education, social conditioning and the availability of economic resources makes us believe, actually kids us, that we know what outcomes can occur each time all necessary and sufficient conditions are fulfilled. But every now and then – when an MH 370 disappears into thin air, when you are faced with a debilitating ailment with no cure, when a close relationship sours irrevocably because you have stopped relating to that person – you realize that you are controlling nothing. That only Life was, is, and will be, in control. You discover then that you are a mere pawn. So, when this realization strikes you it can be very unsettling. You thought you were the boss, the king. But now, Life’s telling you are that you are just a cog in the wheel, a nobody who controls nothing. Osho says that instead of feeling depressed and powerless, celebrate the joy of living dangerously. Since you can’t do anything about what happens to you in Life, since you have no idea or control over what dangers lie on your journey ahead, simply let go and be happy!
Neerja epitomizes that spirit. It’s her joie de vivre that’s helped her conquer cancer not once – but twice! It’s her zest to live that spreads so much positivity and cheer among all those she touches. She doesn’t make living this way seem easy. Living this way iseasy because she lives each moment fully – with awareness, with joy! There’s indeed great joy in living dangerously. If you can find some time from your worrying and fearing and fretting and fuming about the ‘dangers’ you are currently dealing with, believe me, you too can feel – and be – that joy! 
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It’s never over until the last ball is bowled

Your biggest crisis is always your greatest opportunity.
There are times in Life when you conclude that it’s all over, you have hit rock bottom and you have nowhere to go, no reason to live and you simply want this lifetime to end. This is a natural, normal feeling. Each of us hits this “low point” in Life at some time or the other. But before you let this feeling grow within you, before you let your desperation exaggerate, before you quit, ask yourself what does rock bottom really mean?
Does it mean end of a phase in Life? Or does it mean the end of your Life? When you examine these two perspectives, in relation to your own Life situation, you will find that every crisis that has hit you, or perhaps the one you are going through just now, is always about a phase ending. It is never about Life ending. Because Life, simply, goes on and on. There are no dead-ends in Life – not as long as you are alive. Each phase ending signals a new beginning. And each new beginning will surely end.
The fickle human mind craves for a steady, stable Life. But Life itself is a roller-coaster. Every day is filled with as many new opportunities as there are challenges. You don’t see Life that way because all your focus is on securing stability. Which really means a good, well-paying job or source of income, a comfortable home, an affectionate family and – if possible, a hobby or an art form to pursue. For most people around the world, most of the time, this is how Life is. So, you don’t see Life events as upheavals. But almost each one of us has had our fair share of surprises or rude shocks. Someone may have lost a parent very early or may have made it through a Life-threatening health ailment, another may have struggled with a job search, or yet another may have never got a relationship right. Or someone may have lost a child or may have failed miserably with academics.
Each beating heart has a story to tell – of trial, tribulation and eventual triumph. You too have had your own share. Even so, why is it that you fear hitting rock bottom? Why do you fear loss? Why do you resist failure?
The answer lies in your definition of Life. You have, thanks to your upbringing and conditioning, concluded that your Life must be in a certain way. So, anything outside of your definition is something you label as bad and, so, don’t want in your Life. Having a job and a steady source of income, irrespective of whether you like the work you do or not, is good per your conditioning. Joblessness and incomelessness means a crisis is upon you. Being married to a person, who you don’t relate to, is stability. But having an intimate relationship, outside of your marriage, with someone you completely enjoy being with, is a sin! Smoking and drinking is fun. But to be diagnosed with a terminal illness, owing to your habit, is suffering! The key to opening the door of opportunity that is always there at every dead-end is to drop all definitions. Drop your own definition of Life. Drop all societal definitions. Just look at the Life that you have, even when you have hit a dead end, and ask yourself where do you go from here. Almost immediately, you will find a new world of opportunity opening up. From nowhere a door will appear where until then only a wall existed.
There was a time, about 20 years ago, when a project I led failed. The promoter who was backing the project did not honor his financial commitments to the project – to me and my team. He simply went missing. My son was only four and my daughter was a month old. Since my taking up this assignment had, unwittingly, made headlines, its collapse too was much talked about. I saw no way out. For weeks on end, I locked myself up in my bedroom, refusing to face the world or even talk to my mother-in-law, who was at that time staying with us, helping my wife with our just born. Life was embarrassing. Life was scary. I was consumed by depressive thoughts. There was an important cricket series going on at that time in India. And although my depressive state prevented me from watching TV or following the series, I heard a snatch of commentary that came in from the neighbor’s TV, one evening, at the close of a tight contest that India won. I was standing in the balcony in my apartment and I could hear the TV blaring at my neighbor’s. The commentator was animatedly describing the spectacular, surprise win that India had managed. He said: “In cricket, it is never over until the last ball is bowled.” That comment, indicating that India had snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat, made imminent sense to me as I sat brooding. I suddenly felt energized and rejuvenated. I used that moment of awakening to claw my way back in Life.
That learning has stayed with me ever since. I have faced, and continue to face, many a crisis since that one. But giving up has never been an option for me. Because, I have realized that, the unmistakeable truth about Life is that when you are dead, you are dead. Till then there’s no end. And you must simply go on…

A crisis is your golden moment: Seize it!

When in a crisis situation, after all the initial fear and anxiety has left you crippled, when you are with yourself, and are grudgingly begin to accept your reality, take stock, dispassionately, calmly of whatever’s going on. Ask yourself what can you do about the situation you are faced with? There are only two ways to deal with any challenging situation: either you can do something to solve it or simply accept it. Most often we are able to see that, in some situations, we can’t do much to solve it. Even so, we simply refuse to accept the crisis, the situation, the reality. We wish things were not the way they are. This is what leads to suffering. Acceptance, on the other hand, ensures freedom from suffering, even if the source of pain, the crisis, doesn’t go away. When you are free from suffering, your inner peace will guide you to learn from the crisis and help you avoid feeling burdened by it.  
Every crisis we are faced with, without fail, is a precursor to a blessing, an opportunity. Extra-ordinary pain is not some cosmic ordinance for all the sins you have committed in this lifetime, or another one (as most religions will have you believe and, perhaps, fear), but is always a prelude to extra-ordinary grace that is due to drench you in its brilliance! In the Chinese language (although academic purists and linguistic experts do argue otherwise) the word for “crisis” is made up of the amalgamation of the Chinese words for “danger” and “opportunity”. Even if the purists’ view is considered, they concur that ‘weiji’, the Chinese word for crisis, does mean ‘dangerous or precarious or critical or crucial point’. And that’s what a crisis really is – it is a critical inflection point of your Life, from one orbit to another!
It is the duration of the inflection that kills any of us, and never the crisis itself. And this is where acceptance has a big role to play. To fight Life is being foolish. To accept it is intelligence. Whatever be your crisis, whatever it is that defines your circumstance right now, accept it. Some situations may bring you to the brink, may threaten to annihilate you, but your acceptance can miraculously give you the inner strength to cope with them. Life loves those that are prepared to go with it, all the way, down to the wire. So, it is that you will observe, that those who have been through excruciatingly painful times, have always emerged humbler, stronger, peaceful and more brilliant than they ever were. You will see such people in your family or among your friends itself. Be sure to be inspired by them than simply opinionate on them!
A crisis is a golden moment. It teaches you acceptance. If you learn that lesson, it means you have got yourself the most profound qualification (higher than any other degree that the world’s most scholarly university can award you) in Life – to lead a Life of true meaning, love, peace and joy!