You carry a hurt only as long as you think about it

By letting go of your hurt, transform it into forgiveness!
Bollywood actor Tabu’s new movie Fitoor (Abhishek Kapoor) is releasing this week. She apparently plays a bitter, vengeful character. The New Indian Express’ Anita Britto asked Tabu, as part of a pre-release interview, if, in real Life, she was as vindictive as her onscreen character. “When hurt and deeply betrayed, only revenge can give you happiness. The great concept of forgiveness is not easy. It is great if you can forgive, but you are in a place to forgive only when you don’t feel hurt,” replied Tabu.
While I don’t agree that revenge can give anyone happiness, I do believe that forgiveness happens when there is no hurt.

It is important to understand why you feel hurt when someone lets you down or causes you pain, injury and grief. Of course any form of pain – physical or emotional – will hurt. But a hurt festers in you because you allow it to. The truth is that you hurt only when you allow someone’s action to stay with you, in your thoughts. When you let go of your anger, of your suffering, while the source (or impact) of pain – as a person or event – may remain, you will not hurt anymore.

You can reach this level of evolution if you understand the futility of hurting and being vengeful. What is the point with either? Someone has wronged you. And they have done it only because they saw it as right. Your getting even with them will only make you suffer more. It is not going to make them any better or realize that they have wronged you. Instead, they are going to retaliate. And then the process of vengeance is will go on and on, never ending.
Osho used to tell a story that so beautifully illustrated the need to replace hatred and vengeance with love and forgiveness.
One of the greatest Sufi mystics was Rabiya al-Adabiya, a woman who was known for her very eccentric behavior. But in all her eccentric behavior there was a great insight.
Once, another Sufi mystic, Hasan, was staying with Rabiya. Because he was going to stay with Rabiya, he had not brought his own copy of the holy Koran. He thought he could borrow Rabiya’s holy Koran.
In the morning he asked Rabiya for the holy Koranand she gave him her copy. He could not believe his eyes when he opened the Koran. He saw something which no Muslim could accept: in many places Rabiya had corrected it. It is the greatest sin as far as Islam is concerned; the Koranis the word of God according to them. How can you change it? How can you even think that you can make God’s teaching better? Not only had she changed it, she had even cut out a few words, a few lines – she had removed them.
Hasan said to her, “Rabiya, somebody has destroyed your Koran!”
Rabiya said, “Don’t be stupid, nobody can touch my Koran. What you are looking at is my doing.”
Hasan asked, “But how could you do such a thing?”
She replied, “I had to do it, there was no way out. For example, look here: the Koran says, ‘When you see the devil, hate him.’ Since I have become awakened I cannot find any hate within me. Even if the devil stands in front of me I can only shower him with my love, because I don’t have anything else left. It does not matter whether God stands in front of me, or the devil; both will receive the same love. All that I have is love; hate has disappeared. The moment hate disappeared from me I had to make changes in my copy of the holy Koran. If you have not changed your Koran, that simply means you have not arrived in the space where only love remains.”
I have not read the Koran. I am not even sure if this story is true. But I believe that its essence is unputdownable. The story reminds us to replace hurt and hatred with love. For ourselves and for those that let us down. You carry a hurt as long as you think about the person that caused it as someone who has wronged you. Instead think of that someone as one who is lost in Life. Who knows not what he or she is doing. And then watch your anger, your hurt, transform into something beautiful and liberating – forgiveness!

The mind holds the key to your physical fitness

When you are anchored in inner peace, your body functions the best.
Swami Parthasarathy
Photo Courtesy: Mid-Day/Internet
This morning’s The New Indian Express (TNIE) carries a story of Swami Parthasarathy playing cricket. Parthasarathy, now 88, was once a businessman and is now a corporate guru who teaches managers to live intelligently! He lectures frequently on the Bhagavad Gita and runs Vedanta World, a learning academy in Malavli, near Pune. Sharing the key to his fitness, he told TNIE: “When you don’t worry about the past and don’t get anxious over the future, you stay fit.”
This is such a simple, beautiful, perspective. Yet this philosophy eludes most of us. Because we have come to somehow believe that our lives are complex and so only a complex solution can help rid us of our problems. Resultantly, we keep waiting for a perfect future, where there will be no problems and we can live happily ever after. The truth, however, is that there is and can never be a perfect future – you can never have a Life that is free from problems. All you can and must do is to live your present perfectly. What prevents this from happening is the mind. It draws you into grief, anger and guilt over the past and into anxiety and worry over the future. So, you are never present in the now. The now is perfect. It is what it is, the way it is. But you are not here. You are brooding or you are worrying. So you are besieged with lifestyle-related ailments – diabetes, hypertension, stress, cholesterol and such. What is a lifestyle ailment? Anything that is an outcome of the Life you lead. So, if you can train your mind not to worry and if your Life can be a continuous celebration of a series of present moments, your body will be fit and you can enjoy the pleasures of a good, productive Life.
I don’t say this from a philosophical perspective alone. I have been there – so I know what it means to be trapped in an unhealthy lifestyle situation. And I have experienced the power of transforming my Life by changing the way I think. I once had a tobacco habit and was obese. And I am both diabetic and hypertensive. When I understood the role the mind played in my physical condition I worked on training my mind. Over time, I have learned to rein in my mind and now know how to stay focused on the present. I have since shed my excess weight and have been able to keep my key physical markers under check. I did this through the practice of daily silence periods – mouna. So, I know that you too can do this. Your method may be different depending on what works for you. But I want to reiterate that it is both possible to train the mind and, therefore, stay fit. It doesn’t matter what industry you work in or the hours you keep. You just need to be willing to be the change that you want to see in you!
Inner peace is not elusive. It is not complicated. If you stop imposing conditions on the way your Life must be, and instead accept it for what it is, you will start living, than merely existing. When you live fully, in the present moment, you will experience inner peace and you will see the magic and beauty of a healthier, happier Life!

Stop whining, start living!

The amount of time we spend complaining about Life can actually be spent living it fully, spiritedly!
Justin Vijay Yesudas
Picture Courtesy: The New Indian Express
I read an inspiring story in this morning’s New Indian Express (NIE). Archita Suryanarayanan profiles 34-year-old Justin Vijay Yesudas who has recently won three gold medals at the National Paralympic Swimming Championship at Indore. An accident in 2004 left Justin paralyzed. Save his shoulder and elbow, Justin cannot feel or move any other part of his body below his neck. Yet he took to swimming and has managed to get this far. He tells NIE’sArchita that he’s now ready to aim for the Asian championships. Justin is not just a swimmer. He also has a corporate job as a Deputy General Manager at Cognizant Technology Solutions. He accepts his special condition as part of his Life’s design. He does not complain about it. In fact, he keeps a tight schedule daily – swimming, weight training and his regular corporate work. I simply loved this quote that he gave NIE: “Everyone tries to walk, but I know that I can’t. So, I continue doing what I used to (before the accident) instead of trying what I can’t. I see many able people who find excuses not to do things. What I do is find reasons to do things, Life can be beautiful even after paralysis.”
Reading this and seeing his million watt smile in the paper today lit up my morning! I just thought to myself – Isn’t it a shame that we, well-endowed folks, succumb to negativity and depression so often? Don’t we always end up complaining about what we don’t have? And aren’t we quick to cite constraints for not being able to do several things in Life? People like Justin invite us to re-examine our attitude to living and encourage us to live more spirited lives!
If you reflect on the way you approach your Life, you will find that complaining about what you don’t have comes naturally. To complain about lack of resources, lack of time, lack of money or lack of understanding is comfortable. You don’t have to do anything to complain. You just have to state what isn’t there and sit back and pine for it. We miss the whole point of intelligent living this way. We don’t realize that it is part of our Life’s work to work around constraints – whatever they may be. When we complain the lack of something in Life and feel deprived, we are actually beginning to suffer. Over time, this suffering holds us hostage and keeps us depressed. That’s really how you lose the yen to live and be happy. But if you work around your constraints – either by getting what you don’t have or by learning to live without what you don’t have – you may surely feel the pain, but you will not suffer. Justin surely feels the pain of being paralyzed. He will feel it all his Life. But clearly he is not suffering.

It is only when you end your suffering that you can actually live fully and spiritedly. That’s when you feel inner peace and happiness. But it all begins first with stopping to complain. Inject yourself with Justin’s spirit today – stop whining, start living! 

Accept what comes your way, be happy and keep laughing!

Everything happens at its own time and place. Life works at its own pace – no amount of kicking around, or getting frustrated, can change anything.
Ganesh – Picture Courtesy: Internet
I read this remarkable story of the Tamil film industry music composer (of the famed Sankar-Ganesh duo) Ganesh in The New Indian Express (TNIE) this morning. A letter bomb he received in the mail on November 16, 1986, exploded in his hands and injured his fingers and his eyes. He lost much of his vision in one eye and was left with blurry vision in the other. This incident marked the beginning of a downhill run for his career as well. The Ilayaraja era arrived first and then A.R.Rahman swept the Tamil film industry. For 27 years, Ganesh has been in oblivion. Three weeks ago, Dr.Amar Agarwal, of the Agarwal Group of Eye Hospitals, convinced Ganesh to go through a special surgery which involved implanting an intra-ocular lens with a glued technique. The surgery was successful and Ganesh’s vision has been restored completely! While grateful for this medical miracle, Ganesh says he’s always been accepting of Life. “From my young age I have had only one policy – be happy and keep laughing. Now, I can do it without glasses,” he told TNIE’s Daniel Thimmayya.
There are two learnings I take away from Ganesh’s story. First, this story reiterates, yet again, that there will be times when Life will push you on the back foot. No matter who you are, your career or a relationship or your health or your financial fortunes – something, or at times, a few things, will get impacted. I call it an intermission, like the one we have while watching movies in cinemas in India. While you wait for the movie to resume, you just relax – maybe you have a Coke and some popcorn. The movie will resume only when the Cineplex operator turns the machine on. So it is with Life. There will be times when an intermission will be forced on you by Life. In all such times, take the second lesson from Ganesh – “be happy and keep laughing”. Because your being depressed, anxious, angry or frustrated is not going to make Life happen the way you want it to. In Ganesh’s case, it has taken 27 years. There are people who also never recover from a Life-enforced intermission – like R.D.Burman (RD), for instance (to take a film industry parallel), whose brilliant career ended in the early eighties, and he died a heart-broken, beaten man, in 1994, as nobody wanted his music anymore. That today, people worship RD and his music is one of the travesties of Life!
So, the simple truth is, that Life has a mind of its own. What goes up will come down. And what goes down will come up. Or, at times, what’s down may just get buried. Or, what’s up, may just fly away! Even so, everything, absolutely everything, in Life happens at its own time, place and pace. We simply have only one option – accept what comes our way, be happy and keep laughing!

A lesson from a pavement dweller – Life’s beautiful despite the scars

Make the most of your imperfect Life. Accept it, celebrate it and you will find that it is perfect, after all!
We often look for our lives to be perfect. We keep searching for what we don’t have and, often, in the bargain, miss out on living the Life we already have. Sometimes, people, through their own stories, teach us how to live with the imperfect, and still make the experience memorable!  
Maria: Gritty
Picture Courtesy: New Indian Express/Internet
Maria, a 19-year-old pavement dweller in Chennai, is one of them. Today’s ‘New Indian Express’ recounts her gritty story. She was forced to give up school after class 8, was married off, became a widow soon after, and lost her doting father too – all in a period of a little over a year. She had to sell all kinds of knick-knacks at traffic signals on the streets of Chennai to provide for her mother and two siblings. But thanks to the Suyam Charitable Trust, she enrolled for her 10th Boards as a private candidate and cleared it two years ago. Then the Trust helped her join the Perambur Higher Secondary School for her +2. She finished her 12th Boards this week with a flourish – scoring 890 on 1200! All this, while she lived her other Life on the pavements and earned a living at traffic signals. Maria is now the first girl from the pavement dweller community from Chennai to have ever completed Higher Secondary grade. She says she wants to either become a nutritionist or get a nursing degree. She told ‘NIE’s’ Jonathan Ananda: “…come what may, I will get my family out of here.”
Maria’s story resonates with the Japanese philosophy of ‘kintsugi’. ‘kintsugi’ or ‘kintsukuroi’ is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin, dusted or mixed with silver, gold or platinum and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. As a philosophy ‘kintsugi’ is known to have similarities with the Japanese concept of ‘wabi-sabi’– which means embracing the flawed or the imperfect. ‘kintsugi’ also relates to the Japanese philosophy of ‘no mind’ or ‘mushin’ which means non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as inevitable aspects of human Life. ‘kintsugi’ celebrates this spirit of acceptance, of making do and working and living with what is – understanding that the scars of Life cannot be undone. But you go on and rebuild with what is left, with what you have. Maria personifies this spirit – turning out, as she has, more beautiful and stronger from the experience she is going through!
That’s the key learning here. No matter what’s broken about your Life, no matter how dark the night is, no matter how incredible your situation may be, pick up the threads each day, and go on weaving. Your Life may never play out the way you planned it. But what is evolving, the way your Life is unfolding, despite your circumstances, despite the scars, is still beautiful and is really the Life that is ordained for you! Amidst all the perceived imperfection lies your perfect Life.

It is sinful to waste Life by merely “existing”

“You live only once, so please LIVE! Don’t Exist!”
This is what I have learnt from my dear friend Ejji Umamahesh. I got to know Ejji providentially! I used to write a weekly column for The Indian Express (now The New Indian Express) called “Positive Signs”. I shared inspiring stories and perspectives from my experiences through my column. Ejji, as I was to discover, was an avid reader of my column. One day, almost 12 years ago, I received an email from him. He introduced himself as a “retired rat race runner” – and that was it, we became, and have remained, great friends ever since.
Ejji in Varanasi last week on the “Highway to Swades
Ejji started his career as a toilet cleaning supervisor at the once-iconic Safire Theatre, in what was then Madras. In 1970, he set up Ejji Maintenance Contracts, the first building cleaning service company in India. A year later, he founded Ejji Domestic Services which offered on call services of electricians, carpenters, plumbers and such at home, which again was the first of its kind in India. In 1991, Ejji “quit the rat race” because he had wanted to “earn a living” for only 20 years of his Life. Ever since, Ejji has been living his Life, “doing only what he wants and only when he wants to do anything”. Right now, as you read this, at 65, Ejji is driving through India, capturing the “The Idea of India”. He is on the journey, aptly called Highway to Swades, with three other like-minded seekers – which covers 20,000 km, over 55 days, traveling the entire east coast of India, the North-East, the Hindi belt of Bihar and UP, going high up into Himachal, through Jammu & Kashmir, down through Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, coastal Karnataka, Kerala and back to Chennai! Ejji is a collector of vintage cars, loves car racing (he is the Deputy Secretary, Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix), is a theatre enthusiast and has even done a cameo in Mani Ratnam’s ‘Aaytha Ezhuthu’! Ejji, to me, is the quintessential explorer – always experiencing Life by living it to the fullest. However, since 2011, he calls himself a “congenital sybarite” – a sybarite is one who is self-indulgent in their fondness for sensuous luxury!!! That’s Ejji, Unplugged, for you!!! He’s never in one place – peripatetic as they say – having been at Katchal, one of the Nicobar Islands in India on January 1, 2000, to witness the “millennium sunrise” to traveling to most (often lesser known) parts of the world and to currently picking up the sights, sounds, smells and voices of India in this high-voltage election season.
I have often asked Ejji how he manages to do all what he does. And he has always replied: “I have just enjoyed being myself. Most people give up on being themselves only to be conforming to what is considered to be normal. People fear what others may think of them and their actions. So they don’t live their lives the way they want to. Thankfully, I did not care and still don’t care about what others think of me!” Ejji is also quick to add, lest we conclude that he has done what he has at the cost of his “worldly” responsibilities: “My Life has had just one important obsession – my family! There’s nothing that I have done which took precedence over the rightful duties I owe my family. Only after my obligations to my family were met, did I venture into the bohemian lifestyle that became my hallmark.”
I believe the greatest lesson anyone can draw from Ejji’s Life is to live. Not necessarily the way he has lived. But to live Life the way you want to live. Most of us postpone doing what we love doing for social, financial, career or family considerations. You can postpone something if you have a lot of time. But how do you decide or know how much time you have left to live? With each moment that you choose to do what you don’t love doing – because you imagine you have no choice but to do it – you are losing yet another moment to live your Life.
So, postponing living – the way you want to live your Life – is not an intelligent thing to do. Not all of us may succeed in drawing a line saying enough of “earning a living” – now, let me just live! But we can make a beginning – in doing at least a few things each month, each quarter and each year. Living, like existing, is addictive. Once you start enjoying living a full Life, then nothing else will matter. You will then realize how futile and sinful it is to waste a precious gift called Life by merely “existing”!

“Life is a Taste!” – Simply taste what is!!!

Deal with hope judiciously. It’s good to have it but don’t cling on to it. Just let it be. And you simply be too.  
Picture Courtesy: Internet/Twitter
This morning’s papers carried stories of how Chandrika Sharma’s family in Chennai is coping with the lack of information or even a clue of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 that went missing over the weekend. Sharma was on that flight, going to Ulan Bator in Mongolia, via Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, to attend a conference. Her husband K.S.Narendran and daughter Meghna shared their sense of despair, amidst diminishing hope, with the media yesterday. ‘The New Indian Express’journalist, out of some really-hard-to-fathom, cold logic, asked Narendran if he still “nursed a small amount of hope that his wife is alive”. ‘TNIE’ reports that Narendran, in response to the question, “glanced away, turned his wrist around and smiled wryly”. And the story concludes with this rather poignant line: “Whatever else dies, hope never will, he (Narendran) seemed to say.”
The situation that the father-daughter duo find themselves in is indeed difficult to even imagine. But often times Life will bring you to the edge of such a precipice. When even to hope will be a hopeless thing to do. Yet hope is all you will have in such moments. Understanding how to deal with and handle hope then can be immensely helpful.
What must be understood first is that hope is always about a future which is yet to arrive. And Life is always happening only in the present moment. In the now. So, anything which is not real or true, which is not from the present, has the potential to cause agony and suffering. Not only because the thing or event that you hope for has not happened yet, but because you will agonize wondering whether it will happen at all or not.
Osho, the Master, in one of his discourses, has talked of a signage that some of his followers had put up at Rajneeshpuram, his ashram at Oregon in the United States. The signage, quoting a significant line from Dante Alighieri’s (1265~1321, the Florentine poet) ‘The Divine Comedy’, read: “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here”. Osho urged his followers to abandon hope too, abandon seeking the unborn future, drop the dead past, and start living in the present moment rejoicing in the small things of Life. He famously said: “Meaning is a mind thing. Life is a Taste!” What he meant was this: all of us, based on our own individual Life experiences, try to make meaning out of everything that happens to us – why is something happening to me, why should it happen now, what will I do with this Life in the future, where does this leave me, how will I cope, will I survive…and, on and on, the questions seeking meaning keep arising in you and in me. Osho says it’s futile to ask these questions. He says Life is a taste. He asks, in his inimitable, thought-provoking, unputdownable way: “Do you ever think what meaning taste has? Eating spaghetti, do you ask what meaning the taste has? Having a beautiful shower, feeling the freshness of it, have you ever asked what the meaning of freshness is? Looking at the sunset with so many colors spread all over the horizon, have you asked what meaning the sunset has?”
My inference is that when we try to reason and seek meaning from Life’s events, we will never be successful. Hope, in a way, is about reasoning and seeking to create meaning out of a Life situation. This does not mean that you must not have hope. Or that you must not want to be hopeful. Just don’t cling on to it. Anything that you cling on to, hold on to, will cause your suffering. Instead, just be.  
So, if you are in situations like the one that Narendran and Meghna find themselves in, when even hoping seems futile and yet you can’t abandon hope, remember Osho’s advice: “Life is a Taste!” Simply taste what is. And go on to the next moment, the next tasting session! Don’t try to search for Life’s meaning. Don’t yearn for an unborn future. Life’s a unique experience that is born and dies, anew, each moment. Live in and for the moment. You will never suffer then because nothing else will matter.
PS: My heart goes out to Narendran and Meghna, and to all families of those who are missing in the MH 370 episode. I pray that Life shows them all the light and the way…

Life is a “Limited Period” Offer! Hurry!!! Offer open only until Life lasts!!!!

Beware: If you don’t live the Life that you want to live, you may not get a second chance!
Mishra: the tea leaf plucker in Assam
Mishra: the “sevak” at the Golden Temple

This morning’s ‘The Indian Express’ (TNIE) has a fascinating story. The headline screams: “In pursuit of happiness former techie does 28 jobs in 28 states in 28 weeks”. Alexina Correya reports from Kochi that Jubanashwa Mishra, 29, a former engineer with Tata Consultancy Services in Chennai, decided to “seek what gave him joy”. So, he quit his “stable, paying job” and set up a website ( www.oneweekjob.com/india ) announcing his plan to travel all over India, across the 28 states, working at a new job each week, over 28 weeks between May and December 2013. He invited prospective employers to donate the wages due to him to an NGO he supports, Goonj ( www.goonj.org ). He actually pulled off this incredible idea! He says he was inspired by Vancouver-based Sean Aiken who did 52 jobs over 52 weeks across North America in 2008. Mishra says Sean’s struggle to answer the question “What should I do with my Life?” got him (Mishra) thinking too. He told TNIE’s Correya that he has worked as a tea leaf plucker in Assam, as an emotional support consultant in Karnataka, as a hardware store assistant in Nagaland, as a photographer in Haryana, as a river rafting guide in Kashmir, as a groundnut/sundal seller in (Chennai) Tamil Nadu, as a cremation assistant in (Varanasi) Uttar Pradesh, as a contraception campaigner in rural Bihar, as a mountain garbage remover in Himachal Pradesh, as a pre-school teacher in Andhra Pradesh, as a film executive in a Bollywood production in (Mumbai) Maharashtra, as a TRP analyst in Odhisha, as a house boat driver in Kerala, as a strategist at a construction firm in Madhya Pradesh and as a sevak (volunteer) at the Golden Temple (Amritsar) in Punjab, among many other jobs! (See some great pictures in UK’s Daily Mail here  Daily Mail Jubanashwa Mishra Story) Mishra says parents put undue pressure on their children to follow the beaten path of securing an engineering or medicine degree. He says he too was “living someone’s else’s dream” until he decided to follow his own. Mishra says he has discovered that people who live their passion are the happiest. He told TNIE that he found his stint as a pre-school teacher in Andhra Pradesh the most “fulfilling” and plans to take it up full-time. He is currently writing a book on his 28-week experience and is also a motivational speaker.

Mishra: the “verkadalai-sundal” seller in Chennai

Mishra’s story and experience is as engaging as it is inspiring. Surely several of us would like to experience Life to the fullest – trying out different things like Mishra did and then choosing what gives us joy. But parental pressures, financial considerations, the responsibility of raising a family or societal influences prevent us from taking the first step. But if you, like Sean, ask yourself “What do I want to do with my Life?” – the answer can have a profound impact on what you “really” want to do. It is a Life-changing question.

There are no compulsions to live Life the Mishra way though. Or even live it any one way. It’s a free Life. You can even choose to ignore this opportunity called Life and be content with “earning a wage while doing a job”. But please be content and be happy. Don’t complain then that you had to make sacrifices for your family. Or that you are not happy in your career. To find fulfilment in whatever you do you must either love what you do or do what you love. It’s as simple as that. Hope you make an intelligent choice. Because you live only once – and remember, the offer of this lifetime is closing fast, faster than you can even imagine!

Pictures Courtesy: Jubanashwa Mishra/Internet