Silence, Self and Surrender

Live in total surrender and you will live happily ever after!
Yesterday, a well-meaning friend suggested that we try a new form of Vaastu that helps release positive energy in a living space. His point: Vaani and I badly need that positive energy to bounce back in our Life and business. While I don’t deny that we need to bounce back in business, we can’t quite relate, anymore, to any of the methods that are on offer. Not that we didn’t try them before. We did. We wore rings and stones on our fingers, we tried foo dogs and laughing Buddhas and fountains and gem trees, we tried “freeing” up the north-east corner of our home and almost every method that’s available in the public domain. To be sure, we still consult astrology and use it like a dashboard. Even so, with due respect to all the sciences that promise “better living”, I can, through my own personal experience, learnt that the only science that works for intelligent living is the science of silence, Self and surrender.
Simply, when you embrace silence, you understand your true nature, your true Self, and through that understanding you learn to let go and surrender to Life.
I have come to realize that this is the best way to live. Don’t protest any situation. Don’t berate yourself. Don’t be angry, guilty, fearful or anxious. Just accept what is, work to your best ability on changing what is if you don’t like it, and surrender to Life’s ways, to its flow. This is a discipline – like a fitness regimen or a diet or a manufacturing process. You learn to perfect it over time. And you start by being silent for a certain period of time daily – usually 20 minutes is a good start for beginners. Slowly increase it to an hour. During your silence period, you remain silent; don’t try to silence the environment, you remain silent! With diligent practice of daily silence periods, you will awaken to this truth that your trying to control your Life is meaningless drama. You will know that whatever is happening to you is beyond your control and is happening in spite of you and never because of you. Then you will realize that total surrender – saranagatias the scriptures teach us – is what intelligent living is all about!  

Surrender does not mean inaction. It only means that you act knowing that the outcome is not in your control. Not in your hands. So you act, to the best of your ability, and leave the outcome to Life – accepting whatever is! Then you are forever soaking in positivity. You are always happy no matter what circumstances you are placed in. You don’t need any crutches – Vaastu, Feng Shui, superstitions, astrology, gemology – to live. To live well, to live happily, you only need to be silent for some time daily, you will then know who you really are and will realize the value of total surrender!
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Understand the nature of, and reason for, your creation

All of us have been created equal. No one is superior. And none is inferior.
When we understand why we have been created, we will find meaning in our lives. It is in comparing ourselves with others that we lose the essence of creation and the awareness of the opportunity in front of us. Comparisons lend us to believe, for example, that just because Sachin Tendulkar is a great batsman, your child, who like most others has an above-average interest in the game of cricket, must become a cricketer. Or someone who can recite a few couplets mustbecome Javed Akhtar. Or because your neighbor has acquired a new Toyota Altis, you must get yourself a big car too. Abandon these comparisons, strip yourself of your desires to become something. Just be. Realize the power within you. Maybe the Sachin wannbe is actually an A R Rahman in the making. Or the part-time poet is actually someone endowed with leadership skills that may be more useful in a corporate role. Understanding the Self, your Self, can awaken you to THE truth: that you have all the energy that powers the Universe within you, and that it will all be available to you when you discover the reason for your creation.
In Hindu mythology, in the Ramayana, Lord Rama asks his Mr.Jeeves, Hanuman, “Who are you?”. Hanuman’s answer is not stemming from a theological and literary perspective. It comes from his being aware of his own Self.  His reply can be understood as follows: “You are the creator and I am the created, You are the Master and I am the Servant, You are the Teacher and I am the Taught, but at a soul level, You and I are one.”  This oneness needs to be discovered and understood, for each of us to live in bliss. In a recent Bollywood movie “Mausam”(2011; directed by ‘Karamchand’Pankaj Kapur and starring his son Shahid Kapur and Sonam Kapoor), the hero is a Sikh and the girl is a Kashmiri Muslim. When professing her love for the hero, the girl fears how her father will react to the relationship. The hero replies: “At the core of it, beneath the layers of religion, communities, color of skin, we are all human. That humanity will make way for us, uniting us.”
The problem therefore is not creation’s or Life’s. It is arising from a fickle human interpretation of this lifetime that has been gifted to us. Instead of understanding why you__and I__have been created, we are interpreting it basis religion, race, color, brilliance, money, assets, class of travel and such. We are missing the opportunity to live__therefore! Let’s awaken from this deep slumber. Let us know who we truly are. All else will follow.

Better late than never: Go Home!

Don’t agonize over the external environments that tempt or torment you. Instead go home – to the sacred space within yourself!
Don’t seek solace in the material stuff__your salary, your car, your apartment, your smart phone, your office desk, your visa status and such__which tantalizes you. In fact, even companionship has become materialistic, opportunistic. We met someone who doesn’t want to get married because she’s not sure he’s the right guy, and despite courting him for seven years, she doesn’t want to let him go either because she’s not sure if she will find the right person any time soon! The papers some time ago reported of a Chennai couple’s quest for the sperm of an IIT-ian (a premier engineering school in India) in their effort to ensure that their in-vitro procedure begets them a “brilliant, intellectual” progeny! A lot of humanity is obsessed with these fringe benefits of Life. People are also petrified of ‘what-if’ scenarios. A friend, while he hates the job he is in, does not want to quit it because he is worried that he may not be able to pay his mortgage dues if he moves to a job that he loves because the pay may be less! Many of us are like these people. We swim on the surface and get trapped in the “never-ending waves of desire” or unmet expectations or drown ourselves in wasteful emotions like sorrow, jealousy and therefore endure Life__suffering endlessly.
Life’s to be enjoyed not suffered. Also, Life is never at the surface, where the waves operate. Deep down, the ocean is always calm and beautiful. Life’s never in the external elements that we crave for. Real Life is what we experience from within. Therefore the advice that you go home. Go within, where you will find an ocean of peace, abundant energy and boundless bliss. The road to this home will appear when you stop doing and start being. Stop existing and start living. The Bible says, “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Mathew 7:7). But Osho, the Master asks, ‘when was the door locked for it to be opened?’ He declares that it was always open. And he says the tragedy with all of us is that we keep knocking at an always-open door and keep complaining that no one’s there to open it for us! This is Osho’s way of reminding us that we are foolishly obsessed and engaged with all the material, impermanent aspects of Life. He says the door to joy opens inwards, where, our own private space__our sanctum sanctorum, unpolluted, unaffected__awaits us. The Buddha has said, “Go home to the island within yourself. There is a safe island of Self inside. Every time you suffer, every time you are lost, you go back to your true home. Nobody can take that true home away from you.” This was the ultimate teaching the Buddha gave to his disciples when he was eighty years old and on the verge of passing away.
Your true home is within yourself. When you arrive there, fear, insecurity, desire, lust and such crippling emotions evaporate. This is a home that will not be taken away by your bank, because you couldn’t pay your mortgage dues! This is a home where you will not want anything, anymore! And once home, you will wish you had come here, much, much earlier. Am reminded of the 1970 classic by John Denver (enjoy it here ) whose lines go: “….And driving down the road, I get a feelin’, that I should have been home yesterday, yesterday…Country Roads, take me home, To the place I belong, Country Roads, take me home…Better late, than never: Go home!

Finding the real you!

To be free from stress, pressure, worry, pain and sorrow, you need to go within and find the real you!
There are three layers of each of us. Imagine yourself to be a Russian Matryoskha nesting doll which is a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. The first, outermost, you which is attached to all the material things in Life__that which is also trying to possess, protect and control all these things. The second, immediately inner,  you which recognizes and is aware of a larger cosmic design__but still leans towards possession, protection and control of all the things acquired in a lifetime. The third, the core, you which does not see itself as separate from creation and in which your Godseed really is. All the pressure, the stress we take on ourselves is because we are playing on our Life’s surface layer! Think about your worries, for example. You worry about your house, your car, your job, your business, your bank balance, your insurance claim, your Visa__and such. And any threat to any of them causes you to be under pressure, be worried, be stressed. As you advance in Life, with age and experience, you realize that there’s more to Life than material things and see a larger cosmic design, you appreciate it, and so your focus__and perhaps concerns__begin to include more meaningful things like your health, your family time, your passions, your causes or your beliefs. You feel you need to ‘invest’ in the quality of your Life than focusing only on the ‘quantity’ of whatever you have in Life. This phase is what is erroneously, and historically, called the “mid-Life crisis”. Please know that this is NO crisis. This is the biggest opportunity. Because someone, actually Elliott Jaques, a Canadian psychologist, called it so in 1965, we have believed it to be one! Hence while we see that our lives are perhaps pre-designed, we are worried about our time on this planet ticking away and so rush to go on to further control, further possess and further protect our lifetime’s acquisitions. Instead of reaching outward one more time, which we already know is the source of much pressure and stress, try going one layer below. The third you, your core doll in your personalized Matryoshka nesting doll set, is where you will find complete peace. Arriving here is when you will find no pressure, no want, no worry, no sorrow, and complete, unadulterated bliss. This is the layer that insulates you from all the chaos and turbulence in your Life. This is when you can feel__and therefore say__that you are capable of living in this world and yet being above it! Or when you can claim to live in the world but not be of it, as the Bible says.
This really means that when you are the outermost doll, which we all are, when we are emerging into early adulthood with starry eyes, dreams, wants, aspirations, lusts and desires, you are individualistic. Your worries are about you. Your wants are about you and your loved ones. But when you go deeper, to the next doll, you do see that things have been happening much beyond your own control and imagination. You see the design. You may deny it. But you can’t claim to have been untouched by it. It is only when you encounter the third doll, the real you, that you see how you are Creation, the Universe and the God, that you have always been seeking!

Have an ego? Try hailing an auto-rickshaw in Chennai!

When you understand ego, you will be able to deal with it and your Self better!  
Cartoon Courtesy: Surendra/The Hindu/Internet
I have come to believe that if you really want a crash course in learning to handle ego, you must try commuting using an auto-rickshaw within Chennai. No matter what your net worth or self-worth is, the auto-rickshaw drivers will cut you down to size. They will be, often without provocation, nasty, irreverent and downright greedy and abrasive. The most humiliating part, the unkindest cut if you may want to call it so, is when you are trying to tell the driver (before boarding) what your destination is, and he simply drives away – no explanations, not even a glance at you, forget a “Sorry, I am headed in a different direction!” … It can be very humiliating and surely the fastest way of ridding yourself of your ego.
Last evening, I was, yet again, subjected to such a treatment trying to hail an auto-rickshaw. And that brought me to reflect on Osho’s, the Master’s, perspective on ego. Osho says the ego does not exist. He likens the ego to darkness. He says just as darkness is the absence of light, which disappears the moment light arrives, the ego too will be powerless if there is self-awareness. He says ego is just that state when there is absence of self-awareness. If you know your true Self, says Osho, you will never have a problem with ego.
On a simpler plane, the ego is the feeling that your mind whips up that you are in control of your Life and of everything and everyone around you. So, when someone, like an auto-rickshaw driver in Chennai, behaves in a discourteous, and often obnoxious, manner your mind pumps up your ego to demand “How dare you?” But a Chennai auto-rickshaw driver cares a damn – neither for law, nor for humanity. He will simply rubbish you. Which is why I say that spending time on the streets of Chennai trying to hail auto-rickshaws, over a period of a few weeks, can help you learn to manage your ego better. To be sure, you will learn to appreciate and value the truth that you control nothing.
Understanding ego is a very important aspect of intelligent living. This whole feeling that you are in control makes you a hostage of your ego. Ilayaraja, the music maestro, was once on Radio Mirchi, talking about the ego. I remember him saying this, so beautifully: “Show me one human being who says he is the one causing the digestion of all that he eats. Everything, absolutely everything, is controlled by a Higher Energy. We don’t even have the ability to control the digestion of the food that we imbibe.” I can totally relate to that perspective. This does not mean we must become defeatist in our approach to Life. This only means that we become more aware.

Know that there’s a Higher Energy leading you and your Life. By all means do whatever you can and must in each situation – but for a moment, never imagine and believe that you are controlling the situation. The more aware you become, the more you understand ego. And the more you understand ego, the more you realize that your Life was never in your control in the first place. How do you control something that you have no control over? The game of Life will be played no matter what you do or don’t do. The best you can do is to simply play along and flow with Life – pretty much the way you will end up learning to hail an auto-rickshaw in Chennai!!!

Let Go and be Fearless

There is nothing to fear in Life. And, in fact, no one to fear. All you have to ask is – “What am I afraid of?” – and you will be fearless.
Fearlessness comes from a deeper understanding of the Self. Of knowing that everything is transient. Impermanent. This Life, your name, your acquisitions, your fame, your wealth, your relationships and your memories of the Life you have lived – everything, absolutely everything, will become irrelevant, when you die. So, all the feelings of insecurity, anxiety and fear that grip you in everyday Life situations are meaningless. Just let go and accept Life’s transient nature. You too will discover that there’s nothing to be afraid of – and no point in being afraid of anything!
Here’s a popular Zen story on fear that Osho, the Master, used to narrate. A man walking in the night slipped and fell from a rocky path, at the edge of a precipice. Afraid he would fall down thousands of feet, because he knew that just at the edge of the path was a very deep valley, he grabbed hold of a branch of a tree that was growing out of the edge of the precipice. In the darkness of the night all he could see below him was a bottomless abyss. He shouted for help and his own shouts echoed back – there was nobody to hear him or come to his rescue. You can imagine that man, and his night of torture. Every moment there was death below, his hands were becoming cold, he was losing his grip…but he managed to hold on, and as the sun came out he looked down…and he laughed! There was no abyss. Just six inches below his feet there was a rock ledge. He could have rested the whole night and slept well. The ledge was big enough – but instead, because he was afraid of the imaginary abyss and the whole night had been a nightmare.  
Osho says it is entirely up to you whether you want to, metaphorically, cling on to “your branches and spend whole nights in fear” or if you really want to “let go and land on your own feet”. The import here is not to say that you must foolishly plunge into an unknown abyss. What is being said here is that when you can address Life deeply and know that everything that you are afraid of losing, including your Life, will at some point be taken away from you, then you turn fearless and live your Life freely – and fully!
To be sure, fearlessness is not being without fear. In fact, everyone – anyone – will have fear. Fearlessness comes when you can face your fears, and through your understanding of Life, reason with your fears and realize that being fearful is pointless. This understanding will lead you to appreciate Life better – that all that you fear losing will perish including your body, but the real you, your true Self, who you don’t quite think about or relate to, will carry on, as it is immortal and, therefore, fearless!  

Witness – Doer = Bliss

To understand and deal better with your ego, just be a witness. Not the doer. The ego is all about doing. Being the witness is about non-doing, simply seeing.
In fact, as I have seen it happen in my Life, all of Life’s experiences are to humble you, to teach you to be a good witness. To realize that in any case you are not causing anything – neither success, nor failure. And with each new experience, your ego gets peeled away. And you start relating to your inner core, your soul, more and more. Imagine your lifetime to be like a pencil. As you sharpen the pencil, its shavings fall to the ground and expose the lead within. With your lifetime too, the same thing is happening. With each experience, a part of your ego has been shaved off and you are closer to your real Self. Over time, there’s only a non-doing, no ego Self of you that is left. And that’s the point when you truly realize what a great teacher Life is!
So, don’t fuss or obsess over your ego. Don’t be stumped by it. Don’t be controlled by it. Don’t attempt to drop it either. Just sit back and watch Life happen to you. As if you are a third party, a mere witness. When you are in this state, you can see through this whole game called Life. You will realize that you were never in control, you are not in control, that you cannot control anything in your Life! You will then enjoy yourself merely being a witness, without engaging with your doing self – your ego! You will then be bliss!