Letting go and flowing with Life is the way…

AVIS-on-Happyness

Feeling confused and lost in Life? Relax, if you are willing, you will find your way and light!

Only when you lose yourself, can you find your true Self. Only through a confusion can you gain clarity. Only when you deal with a crisis, will you awaken to realize yourself.   

There will often be times in Life when you don’t know what you are doing. Or you will not know whether you are doing the right thing or not. You seem to be lost. With no sense of direction. Every aspect of your Life seems broke and broken. It appears that no one wants you, no one loves you and nothing that you want to work ever works. In such situations, it is not unusual to feel an emptiness – along with self-pity, guilt, anger, depression and a sense of dreariness, purposelessness.

I have been through a similar situation in Life. When my Firm went bankrupt and we were plunged into a dark, hopeless, penniless phase in Life as a family, one night, I sat in my living room and was trying to swap channels. I was so disturbed that I was not able to attend to what I was doing. I was swapping the channels aimlessly not even knowing if I was understanding what was playing on any of them. At hand, apart from the TV remote, was a glass of whisky – a friend visiting us from overseas had brought a bottle of Glenfiddich some days ago. But while I drank my favorite Single Malt, I didn’t relish it either. Both the channel-swapping and the whisky-sipping were involuntary actions. I was not mindful of either. That’s when I turned to my bookshelf which was at arm’s length from where I sat that night in my living room. Almost involuntarily, I reached out to the Sai Satcharita (a book dedicated to extolling the Life and teachings of Shirdi Sai Baba). The book had been on my bookshelf for several years then. But not once had I had the urge to pick it up, or even read it. But that night I did both – without much thought or desire, I must quickly confess. I soon found the book ‘unreadable’ – the English translation is pathetic and getting past each page is sure to accentuate your suffering, especially if you love English as a language.

But two words stood out. And in the context in which my Life was placed then, they made imminent sense. Shraddha and Saburi – Faith and Patience. These two words form the cornerstones of Shirdi Sai Baba’s teachings and in a way hold the key to facing, dealing with, and living Life. Which is, keep the Faith – that is you have been created, you will be looked after, cared for and provided for. And while you keep the Faith, learn to be patient with Life – with people, circumstances and events.

Inspired by my “discovery” that night, I began to delve deeper. I embraced a form of meditation called mouna, meaning silence, where you practice daily silence periods. Through your remaining silent you train your mind to stay calm, anchored and focused. Along the way, I also turned to Osho, the Master. I found great value in what he had to say. His teachings pointed me in the direction of Zen Buddhism – I loved Osho’s practical, real-world, in-the-face approach. He always managed to distill the essence of Zen in the context of everyday living. That was indeed useful. As I explored Osho’s teachings further, and as I hung on to Baba’s two magical words, Faith and Patience, I found my Life transforming. My problems didn’t go away (they still are where they were 8 years ago) but my ability to deal with them improved greatly. Simply, I have learnt to accept my Life and whatever it brings my way, while making my efforts daily to do whatever is within my control to change my Life. But when my efforts don’t yield results, I don’t panic, I don’t grieve, I just try harder the next day. So, in a way, from being totally lost and confused in Life, I must say, I have found my true Self and have learnt that it is possible to be happy despiteyour circumstances.

The Venerable Subul Sunim
Abbot of the Beomeosa Monastery in Korea
Yesterday, we attended a Talk on Mindfulness at the InKo Centre by The Venerable Subul Sunim, the Abbot of the Beomeosa Temple in Korea, who is currently visiting Chennai. The Abbot made a very important point in his Talk which has great relevance to what I have shared here today: “Meditation can be compared to allowing the sediments in muddy water to settle, while Zen attempts to eradicate the sediments themselves.”

I can completely relate to the Abbot’s point of view. The muddy water is the confusion, that lack of clarity that haunts us when we feel our Life is listless or battle-weary through a crisis (a relationship break-down, health issues or even loss of a dear one). The sediments are the emotions we cling on to – pain, anger, jealousy, hatred, grief and such. So, in my case, while Baba’s two keywords, Faith and Patience, got me started and mouna helped me along, it was Osho’s teachings on Zen that helped me let go of all wasteful emotions.

To be sure, each of us is capable of reaching this state. But for that, you must let go of all those debilitating emotions that hold you hostage. Try Zen. It works. As the Abbot said yesterday, “The purpose of Zen is to awaken to the absolute and to enjoy mindful living perpetually.” But don’t rush to Zen as if it is a headache pill or because it’s a nice sounding word or the latest fad. Be hungry to explore and understand the true nature of Life. Be humble. Approach Life like a good student. As they say in Zen, when the student is ready – and willing – the teacher appears. And only a teacher, a guru, can dispel the darkness, clear the confusion and help you see your light – within!     

When Life slows down, enjoy it in slow motion!

There will be times in Life when you have to simply hang in there. Nothing you do will work for you. And each day will be slow, dreary and hard to live through. All you can do in such a time is to believe that Life is teaching you to keep the Faith and develop Patience.
Nobody loves a problem situation. So, really, no one wants a challenging phase in Life to prolong – joblessness, a business slowdown, a critical health condition or a messy relationship drama. But what can you do in the face of Life’s onslaught? As they say in cricket, when the bowling is intense and difficult to play, simply let the ball go past you. Don’t stick your bat out, don’t play a rash shot in desperation or you will lose your wicket! In fact, India Captain, M.S.Dhoni, told the media, after his team’s Tri-Nation Trophy triumph at Port of Spain (West Indies) yesterday: “Sometimes you have to play boring cricket.” He was referring to the difficult-to-negotiate overs in between when the Indian run rate slowed down and the team lost wickets in quick succession.
So it is with Life too – when it becomes boring and painful, you can avoid the suffering by simply accepting that your Life, for now, is playing out in slow motion. Actually, why must Life always be fast paced? Why do we need to be running from meeting to meeting, chore to chore, commute to commute all the time? Why must everything be an agenda item or on a To Do List?
A good metaphor to hold is that of a clock that’s ticking away even in a thunderstorm. Un-fluttered. Unmoved. A strong mind is like the clock. It remains untouched by the vagaries of Life. Neither exulting vainly in success nor tormented in failure. To be sure, Life is not only about winning and losing. It is, in fact, all about living. And living does not need a pre-qualification. Living simply means being present in the moment, no matter where you find yourself. Jalaluddin Rumi, the 13th Century Persian mystic and poet, has said it so beautifully: “Take sips of this pure wine being poured. Don’t mind that you have been handed a dirty cup!”
I have learned that Faith is not about a God or religion. Faith is knowing that everything happens for a reason. And since the reason will not always be immediately evident, you must have Patience to last a trying phase, till the reason shows up! Life is not a 100-meter race. If you rush through it too fast or keep brooding its slow pace you will surely miss the scenery! And since you can’t ever go back in time or Life, the most intelligent thing you can do is to live fully every moment of the Life that’s playing out for you, enjoying its magic and beauty!