Accept your brutal reality – only then can you hope to change it.

However unpalatable the truth may be, once you accept it, you can work on changing it. This applies in all contexts to all of us.
Image Courtesy: Outlook Magazine Website

In a recent issue of Outlook, Tarun Tejpal, founder-editor of Tehelka and a former Managing Editor of Outlook, pays a beautiful tribute to his former boss Vinod Mehta who passed away earlier this month. Tejpal is facing charges of rape in a Goa court filed by a former colleague, a young lady who was also his daughter’s best friend. I have always been a great admirer of Tejpal the writer and the journalist. He was a senior colleague of mine when I was in India Today between 1990 and 1992. So, naturally, I was keen to read what he had to say about another man I greatly admired – who doesn’t? – Vinod Mehta. The tribute was vintage Tejpal – carefully chosen words to describe a man that few people can claim they knew personally and closely; each sentence painting a mental picture of the ‘last great editor’ in the reader’s mind. But what I liked most was Tejpal, with brutal honesty, referring to the six months he spent in prison (in Goa, on account of the rape charges levelled against him). He referred to his incarceration as he would refer to any other aspect of his Life – very matter of fact, ‘you-know-what…it-happened’ type. Now, given the salacious overtone that a rape charge invokes, it is possible that people may rush to conclude that Tejpal is brazen, that he is pig-headed and that he is being cold-blooded in his approach to his Life and the charges he faces. But I see in Tejpal the rare ability to confront and accept a brutal reality – that he is accused of rape; that he has to prove his innocence and until then public and popular sentiment will hold against him; yet his other Life – as a writer, a journalist, a family man, a father, son, husband and brother – must go on. What’s remarkable is that Tejpal, it appears to me, is both ready and willing to face Life squarely and deal with each aspect of it on the merit of the reality that lies in front of him!

To be sure, not many can do that. Most of us, when under pressure in Life, prefer to hide behind the shadows. We are either refusing to accept our realities or even if we accept them, we are unwilling to face people – and Life. When you don’t accept what is, and either keep justifying why things have happened the way they have or keep running away from facing the reality, you suffer. Tejpal teaches us that no matter what, Life has to be faced. In a way, your past actions do cause your realities. Or circumstances, events and people conspire to create them. But no matter how or why things happen to you, unless you accept what has happened as your current, final, non-negotiable, reality, you cannot hope to change it. What comes between you and acceptance is an imagined fear of social judgment, reprisal and ostracism. What- will-people-say almost always clouds the what-can-and-must-I-do-now thinking! The only way to deal with such fears and feelings is to know that no matter who created the mess, the one on whom the mess has arrived alone has to clear it up! And, without doubt, all change, all clearing up, begins with first accepting the mess for what it is.  
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Judgments and Opinions have no place in a Life that spares no one

As much as is possible, stay opinion-less and don’t judge anyone. For, anything can happen in Life to anyone – including you – at any time!  
As the Aarushi Talwar whodunit continues to flummox an entire nation, a CBI court, in perhaps a first of many sentences to follow in this case, holds the parents guilty and has awarded stringent punishment for them. This is a case where it’s common knowledge now that crucial evidence has been either lost or destroyed and where the investigators have evidently, consistently, bungled. The latest issue of Outlook magazine runs a cover story titled Everybody killed Aarushi! The story details how several gaps exist in the CBI theory, how, mysteriously, evidence has gone missing, how, curiously, the CBI court refuses to ask pertinent questions and how everyone – the media that has thrived on sensationalizing the case all the time, the inefficient UP Police and CBI teams and the public at large, who have been recklessly pronouncing judgment from day one – has contributed to the trial being driven more by popular opinion than by intelligent, evidence-based reasoning.
In the midst of all this, one can’t even imagine what the dentist couple, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, must be going through. Whether the Talwars are guilty or not should have been ideally determined through an unimpeachable investigation and an unchallengeable judicial process. From all that is available in the public domain, it just appears, at least to many, that the Talwars did not get a fair trial. Yet, I am not going to invest myself in dissecting the case more than it already has been. Instead, I invite you to consider another opportunity here. This bizarre (ongoing) episode can teach us something about the nature of Life – if we care to pause, reflect and learn from it!
If we look at ourselves, we will realize that all of us have opinions about anything and everything under the sun. Further, we like to offer these opinions, freely, with complete abandon – often when they are never really solicited. Worse, we rush to judge people and events based on hearsay or on what we imagine or, as sadly is the case these days, on what the media has to conjecture! In an urban, educated, tech-driven world, ruled by nano-second social media virality, trial by the people, by popular and ill-informed perception, is as irresponsible as it is instantaneous. Really, of what use are opinions that don’t concern us? Why comment on someone or something, without knowing the truth, just because you want to make a statement, and, more important, be seen as making one?
All of us are a product of the time that we go through. What is happening to the Talwars can happen to anyone – not so much in terms of the specific context but in terms of being put in the dock with nowhere to go to or hide! Life can be totally unfair and can sock you again and again and again – without respite – leaving you no opportunity to even find your bearings or gather yourself. You can go on beating your chest and keep crying from rooftops saying you have been dealt with unfairly. But since Life never guaranteed anything, and most certainly does not promise any fair-play, it will simply go on. Life’s events and course have no logic or explanation. For instance, you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time and may be implicated in situations that you did not bargain for. Or you can invite a situation because of your actions. Either way, you have to endure what the cosmic design has ordained for you. You simply can’t escape it. People with a different perspective will refer to the cosmic design as destiny and explain it by way of Karmic theory. Without refuting such thinking just because we don’t necessarily understand it, let’s remember that Life’s just the same, inscrutable and unpredictable, for everyone – no matter what the packaging looks like with respect to each person’s lifetime and what the individual label reads.
Judgments and opinions have no place in a Life that spares no one! So, if you are the Talwars, you stand accused and, now convicted, for murdering your own daughter. Or someone can call you a cheat simply because your  business sank and you went bankrupt. Or someone can say your marriage failed because your spouse suspected you of infidelity. The stories are endless – as many as there are people on the planet. And each one will have a twist of its own, its own tale of Life’s vagaries and, often, injustice. Each and every one of us has to live the Life that’s already cast and is in store for us! Remember though that each Life event or encounter is not an accident. It is there by design – to teach us something new, while making us better, stronger and humbler.  
So, just because your Life-changing crisis hasn’t arrived yet, just because you think nothing dramatic will ever happen to you, it’s probably not a great idea to let your opinions and judgments about others run amok. A simpler, and definitely more peaceful, way to live will be to wish everyone well. Don’t judge anyone. Don’t offer an opinion for the sake of making one. Let people live their lives per their unique designs. While you live yours knowing fully well that the Master Plan has no flaws!