Being POPO-ed is a dimension of Life that you have to live with

POPO: Pissed On and Passed Over!
This often happens to all of us in Life. And leaves us frustrated, fuming, feeling negative and vengeful. So, when this happens to you, or if it is happening to you just now, take it easy. You are not the only one. We are all POPO-ed__one way or the other. When this happens in a relationship, you feel like a used paper tissue. And the grief of having been taken for a ride, taken for granted, takes a long, long time to heal. At work, it leaves you disenchanted and grumpy. You sulk. You stop putting in your best and reason with yourself asking ‘what’s the use?’
But here’s a different take. When POPO-ed don’t do the normal. Don’t grieve. Don’t sulk. Don’t give up on the individual. Instead keep giving your 100 %. Grieving, sulking, bad-mouthing and cold-shouldering are acts of cowardice. Fight the injustice but with love, with mindfulness, by serving. In fact, whatever happens in Life, happens because it was meant to be so. If someone got promoted, that person perhaps deserved it. But in your eyes, you deserved it more. Instead of saying ‘hey, this is unfair’ respond with ‘how could I have served better so that I could have got it.’ This whole idea of deserving must be preceded by serving. Serve to deserve. And even then if you don’t get what you think was truly yours, live in the acceptance of that verdict. This is what will help you retain your sanity, stay anchored and keep moving on.
When we get caught in the cesspool of negative energy, resentment, anger and vengefulness, we are hurting ourselves. We must be selfish here. If someone pissed on you, trampled on you, let you down, they did it because they wanted to hurt you. And you will be, by being angry with them, by carrying vengeance and hatred in your heart, allowing them to succeed. If someone overlooked you and gave another what must have truly come to you__a job, a raise, a promotion, a gift, a compliment, a reward, whatever__understand that this person may either want to hurt you or must have a different point of view. By burning within, you are helping this person get what she wants. By reacting without understanding her point of view, you are being judgmental. So, the most selfish, the most blissful response to being POPO-ed is to be selfless and give the situation love, all your attention and magnanimity, to keep doing what you would have done if the situation did not exist. This is your way to inner peace.
Now, many times, people tell me, “But I am not Saint or a Mahatma? I am not evolved. I am just human.” Please know that Gandhi was also an unevolved, hurting human and he died only because he was human. To be evolved you don’t need to be a Saint. And being a Saint does not mean you are meek. A Saint, a true Saint, is a warrior of a different kind. Someone who has conquered the demons within. Someone who knows that it is but natural for Life and people to be unfair, that being POPO-ed is but a dimension of Life, a phase that we have to live with. Not with suffering. But with peace.
This doesn’t mean that the peaceful should not fight the injustice. But fight it differently. First don’t hurt. Next, return love for hatred and respect for contempt. Third, if there has truly been a case of injustice, choose a form of protest which rises above the ordinary and refuse to yield to the injustice by giving the situation 100 % of everything. These are not contradictory approaches. They are complementary. When you are peaceful, you will be able to fight meaningfully and successfully. So when POPO-ed, be mindful and loving, don’t be sulking!

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Awaken the artist in you


A common, and unfortunate, myth about spirituality is that it demands renunciation. That it asks of you to give up something in order to gain inner peace. Nothing is farther from the truth. Spirituality asks nothing of you. It does not even ask you to awaken. It is, in fact, only when you awaken, when you understand who you really are, when you realize the purpose of your creation, that you turn to spirituality. Spirituality is always there. As is ‘everything else’. It is only when your inner awareness blossoms that you look to spiritual experiences and want more of it. And you find, in your awakened state, that ‘everything else’ is so very insignificant.  

Elango: Realize and Indulge
Yesterday I had a unique learning experience. I was invited to an art show and auction. There were two artists on stage. One was the celebrated painter A.V.Elango and the other was the famous pianist Anil Srinivasan. As Anil played the piano, Elango painted. For over 45 minutes all of us in the audience were in a trance. We watched, in amazement, as Elango created a ‘Krishna with a Cow’ on a blue canvas, even as Anil had us mesmerized with his soulful piano recital. When invited, Elango spoke very briefly, preferring to let his art speak. However, what he said appealed to me greatly and I share my learnings with you. He made three major points:

  • There is a surrendered Nandiand an arrogant Mahishasura in each of us. We need to let more of the Nandievolve, through total surrender to Life, in us. (Both Nandi and Mahishasura are bulls with unique characteristics in Hindu mythology)
  • Let us learn to be happy being alive. I am happiest when I am painting. That’s when I merge with the silence that I really am.
  • There is a simple difference between a saint and an artist: “A saint realizes and renounces. An artist realizes and indulges.”

How true. There is an artist in each of us. We don’t need to be able to paint magically with oils like Elango does or make music the way Anil does. There’s something that truly brings us alive. And it is unique to each of us. A friend of mine simply loves cooking and having friends over. He cooks each dish and serves his guests personally telling them how he has prepared it. Another friend loves to sing old movie songs sharing trivia on how the lyrics came about or nuances of how the music was composed and such. Similarly, there’s masterful artistry of some form in you. In me. The artist in each of us is often dormant for most of our lifetime, waiting eagerly, patiently, to come alive. But because we are so busy being “career professionals” and providers, we don’t have the time to be the artist that we really are. But whenever the artist in you awakens, the real youis unveiled.

Elango invites us to experience, perhaps even as an experiment, that state of awakening. We can get there provided we don’t come in the way of Life. Provided we stop being arrogant, like Mahishasura, and stop thinking we are in control of our lives and that each of us has to play the all-important role of protector, provider and lead performer in this lifetime! He says we can get there by simply surrendering, through what gives us joy, to Life!

By surrendering to Life, he is not advocating that we become saints and renounce the world. He is saying just the opposite. He says indulge by all means. But indulge in what gives you joy. When you realize and indulge in what makes you joyful, with the artist in you coming alive, you grasp the essence of spirituality. You will then not feel burnt out. You will not feel you are working harder yet are getting nowhere in Life. You will not be seeking “something” despite having everything. You will then be peace. You will then, like a flower, bloom every single day. You will then be bliss – because the artist in you is awakened!