Letting inner awareness bloom amidst all the imperfection

If there indeed is a Higher Energy, a Creator, why is that Energy partial? Why is it that we see so much imbalance in the way in which peace, happiness, health and wealth are distributed in the world? Why is Life so unfair to most people at most times? Why is Life so imperfect?
The answer to all these questions lies in accepting Life, the reality, as it is and understanding the purpose of Life itself. To be sure, we are created on this planet to understand the value of this Life, this lifetime. We are incarnated as human beings to be able to distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad, happiness and sorrow. To serve before we deserve or seek ‘deservance’. Each moment has been designed for our personal learning, evolution and growth. If we see pain and suffering around us, we must see an opportunity to both be grateful for the blessings in our lives and to work for alleviating that suffering to the extent possible by us. Each event or encounter is inviting us to either soak ourselves in gratitude for what we have or to serve another. Each challenge placed in front of us is again an invitation to discover the indomitable spirit in us. To realize the ‘Self’, the soul, that is immortal. As long as we keep questioning why things are the way they are and keep doubting Life’s intellect and integrity, we will remain stuck and experience stagnancy. We will be embittered and embattled. The moment we awaken to the reality that ‘it is what it is’ , we will discover that ‘our sense of gratitude’ and ‘our spirit to serve’ are inspiring us to live our lives meaningfully. We will then find abundance and joy in everything we see and do.
Spirituality is simply the flowering of this inner awareness. And what helps this flower bloom within is acceptance of what is, including the imperfection that surrounds us, than pining for what is not!

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What I have learnt from the NaMo Wave

The biggest lesson I glean from Elections 2014 is “acceptance”.  

I am not a Narendra Modi fan. Simply, I cannot relate to someone, however brilliant he may be as an administrator, who used religion to build both his party and himself. But this is a verdict that my country’s people have given emphatically. And I can do nothing to change that. So, the best way forward, I discover through my awareness, in such a scenario, is to accept what is and simply move on.

A lot of our problems and miseries come from wanting people and situations to be different from what they are. The moment we drop the “wanting” and accept a situation for what it is or a person for who she or he is, we are instantaneously at peace with ourselves and with everyone else. We often fail to realize that in our wanting people or situations to be different, we are actually letting our ego play up. We are saying that we know better than others how they should be leading their lives or doing things.

Cartoon Courtesy: India Today/Internet
For instance, as the election results started coming in yesterday, my ego told me that the people of India were making a mistake. My issue was no longer with Modi. It was with the people of India. I was alarmed that we were handing over power to someone charged with genocidal racism. Whenever I am disturbed I have learnt to drop anchor and be silent. When I reflected on whatever was happening with the election results, I realized that I was being unduly paternalistic about the situation. Who am I to tell the people of India what to do? They are informed and responsible enough to have done what they did. My awareness again helped me conclude that there was no point in resisting the reality. The people of India had either decided to overlook Modi’s credentials on a key aspect like secularism or they had backed his very ideology that I was uncomfortable with. Every which way, they had voted for change, voted for Modi and he is now our new leader. When this reality sunk in, I simply accepted it. I even wrote on my facebook wall wishing Modi and his A-Team all the best. With that acceptance, I found myself immensely peaceful, within.

Acceptance is not resignation though. And I want to clarify this. Resignation has a quality of discomfort to it. It is really about not being able to do anything about a situation that you hate. So, you resign to it. But there’s no scope for hatred in acceptance. Acceptance is really a celebration of the way people and things are. It reasons that while Life is imperfect it is also beautiful. When you accept imperfections in you, around you, your Life can only be beautiful. Because you are not complaining anymore. Or wishing or hoping or wanting that things were different.

So, the day after the resounding mandate, I am seeing, through my acceptance of my country’s new reality, the beauty of it all. For the first time in over 30 years, someone will lead India with a complete majority. And even if half of what he has managed to get done in Gujarat (I have seen it first hand and have great admiration for what has been accomplished there in the past decade) can be implemented across India, we will be a different, and a far improved, nation. Just as I have accepted the way I am, I have accepted the way my country men and women are, the way our new reality is, and I hope, we will all enjoy, despite the imperfections that abound, the development and governance that’s been promised!


Suffering comes from arguing with reality

Whatever happens in Life, you can’t escape it. You have to face it, you have to accept it. It’s when you try to fight it or wish it away that you suffer.
As the MH 370 episode drags on inconclusively, befuddling the whole world and over 30 countries searching for the missing plane, I watched a news report on BBC last night that said that the relatives of some passengers on board the flight were “extremely distressed” and were threatening to go on a hunger strike. They demanded better “quality” of information and wanted more frequent updates. A Malaysian Airlines official, trying to calm down the agitated family members, told them: “We know as much as the world does at this stage. What do we do?” It may seem that the official was downright rude, cold and bureaucratic. But I guess he was also being brutally honest. Well, from whatever information is now available, Malaysian Defence radar officials did not report a blip on their screens that fateful night as the plane flew over the Malacca Strait because it is believed they slept while on duty. They weren’t supposed to be asleep – but apparently they were. What do you do now? Malaysia could have shown agility with the investigations – but they took a whole week to realize the seriousness of what they are dealing with. And even now there are reports that they continue to stonewall offers from the USA for help with the search and investigations. What do you do when a government does not appear to be serious enough? What do you do when 30 countries can’t find a plane? While we can empathize with the pain and the agony of the families of the passengers, the truth is that their resisting the reality – that the whole world doesn’t know where MH 370 is – is of no use. Apart from causing them suffering, their agitation is not going to help them in any manner.
                                                                                                                                                      
Closer home, I witness the agony of an 80+-year-old couple. Both their sons live with them but don’t care for them. The mother has just been through a surgery. But neither of her sons is available to nurse her. Both the men, in their late 40s~early 50s, are “depressed” with their own lives and so are not in the “frame of mind” to look after their aged parents. Forget caring for parents. At a basic, human level, if you are living with someone who needs post-operative care, won’t you volunteer to help, to support, to care? Who can educate grown-up men on compassion and being human? The poor mother though grieves and pines for affection from her sons. But what’s the point in her grieving? She’s only causing herself to suffer. The more she pines for what is not likely to happen, the more miserable she will feel.
What causes our suffering often is our desire to see perfection around us. We expect people to understand. We crave for their attention and appreciation. But people have their own priorities, their own views, their own ways of doing things and leading their lives. Many around us are even steeped in shallow thinking – they simply don’t get it! They don’t know what empathy is or what being human means. Expecting to see perfection, where mediocrity abounds, is futile. Such an expectation will make you suffer endlessly. A simpler, more peaceful way to deal with Life is to be prepared for anything. A plane can go missing and no one in the world can find it even after 12 days! A father, who’s rated as one of the country’s most intelligent minds, can molest his daughter’s best friend. Sons can choose to not care for their mother because they are depressed. A mother can call her son a “cheat” when there’s no evidence of such misdemeanor. Parents can lose their only child because the driver of the car he was in was drunk! Well, as disturbing as all this sounds, there’s no doubt that absolutely anything can happen in Life!
Even so, if you care to pause and look around, Life is beautiful despite all these upheavals. But when you are caught in a bind and are dealing with an unforeseen challenge, you don’t notice Life’s beauty and magic. The only way then to respond to Life, when something that you don’t want happens to you, is by not resisting it. Don’t wish that it didn’t happen. Simply accept what is. And begin to work with that reality. As long as you don’t argue with reality, you will never suffer!

sssssssssssssssh! … here’s the secret to happiness!

The secret to happiness is pretty straightforward. Learn to Live with what you have. Never grieve over what you don’t have. And simply don’t have any expectations.
Once a man met a Sufi Master and wanted to know the secret to happiness. And the Master told him this story.
There was once a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and noticed she had only 3 strands of hair on her head. “Well”, she said, “I think I will braid my hair today.” So she did and she had a wonderful day. The next day, she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two strands of hair on her head. “Hmm,” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.” So she did and she had a grand day! The next day, she looked in the mirror and noticed she had only one hair on her head. “Well” she said, “I am going to wear a ponytail today.” So she did and had a fun, fun day! The next day, she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed there wasn’t a single hair on her head. “Yeah!”, she exclaimed, “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”.’
That ability, said the Master, to look at what you have and not worry about what you don’t have, is the simple secret to happiness. Learn to Live with what you have, you too will have have a grand, wonderful, fun, fun Life!