Strive for harmony within

Don’t avoid conflict__whenever you strongly disagree__for the sake of feigning courtesy or harmony. At the same time, never make the conflict personal. Focus on the issue. Never on the person.
There are often times, when you will not want to accept what is being said or proposed or done. Yet you will not want to wave a red flag or raise an objection or even make a point because you fear that the “harmony” in the relationship or environment will be lost. And that you will be accused of disturbing it. So, you will choose to swallow your sentiments, submit to being popular than being authentic, and simply go on. Now, clearly, whenever you allow something to happen, with which you don’t agree principally, remember you are maintaining decorum externally but within you there is a violent churn. You are grieving, for, within you, there is chaos, turbulence, sorrow. And therefore your justification that you are choosing to ‘give in’ or remain ‘mum’ for the sake of ‘harmony’ falls flat on its face. This is not an intelligent way to live!
But this is the way we ‘adjust’, ‘accommodate’ and claim we ‘adapt’ in Life – all the time. This is true in all our relationships: boss-subordinate, parent-child, husband-wife, between lovers, neighbors and siblings. Every time we choose not to disagree, in order to prevent a debate for whatever reason, we are allowing a part of us, in the context of that given relationship, at that point in time, to die.
I am not saying that you take up cudgels on every issue, with everyone under the sun, and become combative. It is totally pointless to keep fighting people all the time. In fact, I am not even saying fight over an issue. All I am saying is please express yourself. Allow your sentiments to flow – in the context of the issue, irrespective of who you are dealing with. It is unlikely that the other person may agree with your sentiments. But at least the other person will know what__and how__you are thinking. When you express yourself, you are in harmony, you are free, you are traveling light! On the other hand, when you keep things bottled up, within you, you are simmering within, under the pretext of maintaining dignity and decorum outside.
An intelligent conflict, an intellectual debate, is far more harmonious than a pretentious peace when your insides are boiling over. Now, there will be times when your effort to debate is received immaturely. And you are dealt with a personal, often below-the-belt, response. When that happens, your awareness should help you not to get provoked, not to retaliate, but to stay with the issue – without getting personal. If you find that any effort is not worth it in this context, simply move on. Just don’t grieve. And, at all times, please don’t try to be a martyr. Self-martyrdom is very bad for your self-esteem and inner peace.
This is the way of the Tao that champions ‘effortless action’. The import here is that as long as you do what comes naturally to you, without having to make an effort, you will be at peace with yourself. So, if you must disagree while expressing yourself, please do so, even if it means being in an issue-based conflict. Except that such expression must be effortless. On the other hand, if refraining from expressing your sentiments requires a huge effort – which, in turn, affects your inner peace – drop that effort. Harmony begins with you. Unless you are at peace with yourself, in any context, you cannot live fully. And if you are not living fully, you may well be alive, but you were dead long, long ago!

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Allow yourself to be shaped by Life….!

Some years back, my good friend Rajmohan Pillai, seeing me in the throes of my Firm’s collapse and insolvency, gave me a profound piece of advice. He said: “Life will be full of problems. Don’t try to solve all your problems at the same time. Take each day as it comes and attempt solutions to the best of your ability. For the rest, just go with the flow.” When I first heard this advice, I was stumped by its simplicity. Is it that simple to deal with Life, I wondered. But, over these years, I have learned from experience that Rajmohan was on the ball. There indeed is no other way to live Life and to deal with the myriad situations that present themselves on a daily basis.
No one loves a problem. We all want to be problem-free. But that’s not how Life works. Life’s nature is to present you with a problem and get you to attempt solutions. In a way, Life’s playing with you and with each of us! As you progressively solve problems, newer ones will appear. And you will notice that the level of difficulty increases with each new problem __ pretty similar to the way our academic examinations are designed with an ascending level of difficulty through school and college. Now, there are some problems that you can solve. And there are those you can’t.. These ones, they sort themselves out over time. What’s interesting about the School of Life is that whether or not you solve problems, you will always learn. In a way, therefore, with each learning, you will continue to grow and evolve!
There’s a Taoist Zen story I remember reading: An old man accidentally fell into a river that had raging rapids leading to a high and dangerous waterfall. Onlookers feared for his Life. Miraculously, he came out alive and unharmed downstream – at the bottom of the falls. People asked him how he managed to survive. “I adjusted myself to the water and did not expect the water to accommodate and molly-cuddle me. Without thinking, I allowed myself to be shaped by it. Plunging into the swirl, I came out with the swirl. This is how I survived!”
Don’t always expect what you want to happen in Life. Know also that your Life will never be free of problems. But you can be free from them if you allow yourself to be shaped by Life. Be prepared to and learn to adjust to what’s happening to you. This is the only way to a lifetime of peace, learning and bliss!