Simply be….in love!

Understand that love is just being and that’s more profound than being in love!
The moment you read that first line of today’s Thought, I bet, your mind went to the definition of love as we commonly understand it__an attraction between the sexes! That’s been the whole challenge in the history of mankind. This idea of categorizing and justifying love. To imagine that love is different between man and woman, then different between parent and child, between siblings, between people of the same sex and so on. But that’s a socially convenient way of misunderstanding what love truly is and perpetrating that misunderstanding over generations. We are all guilty of it. When a boy and girl play together as a toddlers and infants we say, “How cute?” When they want to be together as teenagers, we say, “Oh! My God!”
Love, in reality, is a feeling of deep friendship for another__whoever it may be__and wanting to place that person’s interests above your own. It is about caring, not necessarily comforting. It is about being there not about being overbearing. It is about relating and understanding and not so much about the relationship or wanting to be understood. Most people often wonder how people of the same sex can love each other and even seek physical intimacy. There’s this amazing 2010 Indian film ‘Memories in March’ directed by Sanjoy Nag and starring Deepti Naval and Rituparno Ghosh, which demystifies homosexuality, and in my opinion, offers an enlightening perspective on what love truly means. Love is also about serving without seeking returns and without expecting even a ‘thank you’. This is what Mother Teresa taught the world when she cleaned, clothed and fed the sick and the dying for decades on the streets of Kolkata.
All the beauty in this world is lost for you when you start to look at love as conditional, when you demand that you be understood and when you strip it down to a banal physical satiation of the senses. There was a huge uproar in India a couple of years ago triggered by an overzealous Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat’s Chief Minister, and who’s single, over how much Shashi Tharoor ‘loves’ his wife (Sunanda Pushkar – who is unfortunately no more), who was his girlfriend for several years. I believe that even the question is misplaced. How much ever you love a fellow human being is just not enough. Because there is so much more beauty between us human beings that’s capable of having us love each other – more  than all the apparent differences that divide us! It’s fine if you cannot accept this point of view immediately. You may often wonder if it is possible to love your detractor. It is indeed. Just send positive energy and leave that person alone, even if that person has not been amenable to your reason when you tried. Don’t insist that you get even, don’t try to pronounce that person guilty. Just let that person be. And you be too.
Osho, the Master, tells the story of two women:
“Nancy was having coffee with Helen.

Nancy asked, “How do you know your husband loves you?”
“He takes out the garbage every morning.”
“That’s not love. That’s good housekeeping.”
“My husband gives me all the spending money I need.”
“That’s not love. That’s generosity.”
“My husband never looks at other women.”
“That’s not love. That’s poor vision.”
“John always opens the door for me.”
“That’s not love. That’s good manners.”
“John kisses me even when I’ve eaten garlic and I have curlers in my hair.”
“Now, that’s love.”

Explains Osho: “Everybody has their own idea of love. And only when you come to the state where all ideas about love have disappeared, where love is no more an idea but simply your being, then only will you know its freedom. Then love is God. Then love is the ultimate truth.” Here’s hoping your own ideas about love disappear over time and you too, simply, be….!
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Focus on issues, than on people – and always say it as it is!

When you must, simply speak your mind. Keeping your views to yourself is a good idea if you have learnt not to grieve. But if you are the sort who simmers when you are unable to express yourself, it’s best to say what you want to – openly, candidly.

Tharoor and Modi: Picture Courtesy/Internet
The papers are full of stories of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) wanting the Congress High Command to reprimand Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor for “praising” Prime Minister Modi over Modi’s pet project – the Swach Bharat campaign. Clarifying that he wasn’t pro-BJP, Tharoor has said this in his defence: “The Prime Minister pitched his appeal as a non-political one and I received it in that spirit. I am a proud Congressman and a proud Indian. In short: not pro-BJP, just pro-India.” But the KPCC mandarins would hear none of this and is seeking that Tharoor be chastisized.

I am not bringing this up here to talk about the inner-party discipline of the Congress or even comment for or against Tharoor’s sense of political propriety. I believe the incident, if you peel away the political affiliations, the overtones and the personalities, gives us an opportunity to understand how we can be focused on issues than on people. The issue here is not Tharoor or Modi, or Congress or BJP – it is about a clean India.

The tragedy though is that almost always we focus on people and miss the issue – How can I say this to him? How dare she speak to me like that? How can I bring this subject up – what will happen if my intention is misunderstood? We fear the repercussions of our being open with family, friends, in social circles, at work and often even in issues that concern our nation or the world. The reason this happens is because of a subconscious tendency that all of us humans have – which is, to be nice to people and to be seen as being nice. So, whenever there’s an opportunity to flag an issue – and debate it, we let it go saying “it” won’t be taken well or that this is not the “right” time. Resultantly, we end up grieving without having been able to express ourselves. Honestly, all of us have felt this way at some time or the other in our lives.

I have learnt it the hard way too. For several years, I tried to be content being tactful than being truthful. But I was very uncomfortable in all those situations when I was unable or I had chosen not to express myself. Over time, I have learnt that if I have an opinion on an issue, I will express myself – saying it as it is, without sugar-coating things, no matter what the issue is or what the context is. And in situations when I choose not to express myself, I also decide not to grieve or complain about the situation. I simply accept things the way they are, I accept my inability to speak about it and I move on.

Recently, we had some maintenance work being undertaken by the owner of the apartment above ours. The owner lives in Dubai and had entrusted the work to a contractor. The contractor did not bother to follow certain procedures laid out for maintenance work by our building’s management. So, for weeks on end work went on, literally above our heads, noisily, for over 18 hours daily. Towards the end of the maintenance project, the owner came from Dubai to review arrangements for a house-warming that he planned to conduct at his “new, improved” apartment. He visited us too. He apologized for the “inconvenience” that we had to put up for over four months. And invited us for the house-warming event. I told him that I could not accept his apology because he was merely saying it for the sake of saying it. I pointed out to him that he could not be “genuinely” apologetic because he has not felt our pain or understood what it means to have someone banging away at the floor above your head for weeks on end. However, I did tell him that if our schedules permitted, we will join in their house-warming ceremony.


This is what I mean when I say focus on the issue. And never on the people. When you focus on the issue, you can express yourself clearly. And candidly. It is when you bring in people and relationships (could be with anyone – between friends, in a family, with a boss, or an organization) that you become emotional and wary of expressing yourself. At the end of the day, it is always better to speak your mind and get it out of you. Or if you choose not to express yourself, also choose not to grieve. Bottomline: Don’t grieve over anything. Definitely not over your inability to say what’s on your mind!