Don’t be a bad student – learn from what people teach you

Each person who comes into your Life is a teacher.
She or he is teaching you through not just what they know, but through their behavior. Some people teach you why you must never trust them. They have taught you this by repeatedly refusing to live up to the trust you placed in them. Eventually, you may have reached a point when you would have said that you can’t trust this person anymore. And yet you would have given this person one more chance. When your trust was betrayed one more time, you move from the can’t-trust to the must-never-trust zone. Please know, there is nothing wrong with you if you come to this conclusion. And there is nothing inhuman about this stance.
To trust humankind and Life is indeed the best way to live. But to have your self-esteem trampled upon__that’s precisely what happens when your trust is betrayed__is foolishness. Remember if that person is a teacher, just as each person in your Life is, then you are being a bad student if you are not learning from your teacher! You don’t have to hate the person though. Just don’t trust. When you don’t trust, there can be no relating, leave alone a relationship. You can still know each other and not be in a relationship. Now, even if this is a parent, sibling, child, or spouse, it is imminently possible to stay this way. Because at the end of the day, the person is simply not worthy of your trust. And the person has taught you, through repeated patterns of behavior, that she or he is not trustworthy.

So, please simplify your Life. If you have been let down repeatedly, know that you have a right to choose not to trust someone anymore. Exercise that right. Live your Life in peace and not in grief. Yet live leaving that person alone. Don’t fight. Don’t provoke. Don’t grieve. Just live and let live! 

Goodness, in ourselves, and in others, like beauty, lies in the eyes of the beholder.

The biggest casualty in Life is trust. And all the problems in the world are because of a trust deficit.
Look at the way we have been brought up. In a real world, with crime, terror, deceit and falsehood, we bring up our children pretty much the same way as we have been. We insist that they don’t speak to strangers, don’t accept eatables from them and don’t leave school unless one of us, parents, picks them up. In our zeal to protect and ensure safety of our children, we are, unwittingly, teaching them not to trust fellow human beings. Nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when, after we, or our children, reach adulthood, we don’t ‘unlearn’ what we have learnt to do__more as a necessity than as a choice. Resultantly, we end up harboring and breeding mistrust all our lives.
A few weeks ago, a friend, a very accomplished businessman who is worth several million dollars, advised me thus: “You should not trust three kinds of people. Don’t trust the three Ms: Muslims, Mangaloreans and Marwaris (the second being a place in Northern Karnataka, and the last being a businessman community from North India).” I was shocked. Here was an educated, successful man, wealthy and civilized, and yet having such primitive, conservative misgivings? But he isn’t the only one with such views. To someone else, it could be three other Ms: Malayalis (people from Kerala), Madrasis (all North Indians call anyone South Indian, a Madrasi) or Mongolians! Or it could be the three Hs: Hindus, Hungarians and the Hungry. Or the 10 Bs and so on. This is endless. And Meaningless. My response to my friend therefore was: “Well you can definitely trust one M: ‘Manithan’!” ‘Manithan’ in Tamzih means human!
Let us get this straight and right: just because we had a few bad experiences with a few ‘unevolved’ people, it does not make the whole human race bad. The number of peace-loving people in the world is far, far more than the small number of misguided, blood-thirsty extremists. There are more mothers around than the draconian mothers-in-law (saas) that Indian brides keep fearing! There are so many, many more people that are willing to help you in Life, at work, on the street, than that are out to cheat you or exploit you. There is so much goodness that’s waiting to be embraced and experienced from fellow humans than all the misery that we see and all the miserable people that we dread. To see the goodness in people, in Life, you need to stop generalizing and extrapolating your past experiences, and simply learn to trust both people and Life!
The 15thcentury mystic weaver-poet Kabir (1440 ~ 1518) says, “The river that flows in you also flows in me.” He championed seeing the oneness in creation and argued that if you could trust yourself, you could trust others. Lalon Fakir (1774 ~ 1890), a singer belonging to the wandering mystic sect, Bauls, criticized the superficiality of religious divisions in the 1850s when he sang these lines:  “Everyone asks: “Lalon, what’s your religion in this world?” Lalon answers: “How does religion look?” I’ve never laid eyes on it. Some wear malas [Hindu rosaries] around their necks, some tasbis [Muslim rosaries], and so people say they’ve got different religions. But do you bear the sign of your religion when you come or when you go?” This, incidentally, was the moot question raised by Aamir Khan’s PK too!
As much as we seem we are divided by religion, community, color of skin, nationality, social standing, education, wealth and whatever, we are still united and one as people. Goodness, in ourselves, and in others, like beauty, lies in the eyes of the beholder. So, change the way you see people. Learn to trust them. And in the event you still are let down and your trust is shattered one more time, treat it as the handiwork of someone unevolved, view it as another exception and not the rule. Trusting, forgiving, moving on, you will have found one sure way to live happily, peacefully!

Trust the hand that gives

Life is more meaningful when we humbly accept whatever comes our way, while implicitly trusting the hand that has given us this beautiful experience.

As 2015 gathers momentum and we settle down to our routines, the celebrations and hangovers of festivity make way for another year of opportunity, challenge, apprehension and faith. It is just the right time for us to think and reflect on something that will set the tone for the rest of the year to follow. This one is a story from Osho, the Master, that reminds us that when we accept what comes our way, there is joy and fulfillment. Here’s hoping you find it relevant to all that you have experienced or will encounter as you cruise along through the year.

A slave had served his Master faithfully for years. So diligent was he that the Master rewarded him by taking him along on a tour of the Amazon jungles. They camped at night and walked, exploring nature’s pristine beauty, during the day. The loyal slave never failed in his duty to his Master even though the trip was his reward. He would feed his Master, make his bed and keep him warm at nights by stoking the bonfire. Impressed further by his service, one day at lunch time, when they both spotted a big, exquisite, colorful fruit, the Master insisted that the slave have the fruit first. When the slave was shy to take up his offer, the Master said, “My dear son, you have served me well. Go on, eat this rare fruit first, and give me a small portion at the end.” The slave reluctantly agreed. And had a go at the juicy fruit. As he devoured the first few slices, the Master asked him how it was. And the slave replied: “Extra-delicious”. A few more slices later, the Master again asked him how it was and the slave gave the same reply. Big fruit that it was, larger than a pumpkin, the Master got the same reply time after time. Soon, more than three-fourths of the fruit had been eaten by the slave and the Master began to worry that he would not get to taste it. “Slaves will be slaves,” he thought, “Selfish and greedy.” Losing his patience finally, the Master snatched the last slice from the slave and bit into it. He shrieked in horror throwing the slice away. It was the bitterest fruit he had ever tasted in all his life. He looked at his slave in dismay and asked him: “But didn’t you say it was extra-delicious? Didn’t you seem to be enjoying it? How and why, my son? Explain.” “Master,” replied the slave, “All my Life you have looked after me. Whatever you have given me has only enriched my life. So, when you gave me this fruit to eat, its bitter taste did not matter to me at all. I just blindly trusted the handthat gave me the fruit.”


Huge learning there from the slave’s attitude to Life and his Master. There’s great joy in accepting. Let’s stop resisting Life’s vicissitudes and simply accept whatever comes our way! With prayers for a happy, peaceful and healthy rest-of-the-year for you and your precious family….

Simplify your Life: Trust only when and who you can

Each person who comes into your Life is a teacher.
Everyone is teaching you through not just what they know, but through their behavior. Some people teach you why you must never trust them. They have taught you this by repeatedly refusing to live up to the trust you placed in them. Eventually, you may have reached a point when you would have said that you can’t trust this person anymore. And yet you would have given this person one more chance. When your trust was betrayed one more time, you move from the can’ttrust to the must-never-trust zone. Please know, there is nothing wrong with you if you come to this conclusion. And there is nothing inhuman about this stance. To trust humankind and Life is indeed the best way to live. But to have your self-esteem trampled upon__that’s precisely what happens when your trust is betrayed__is foolishness. Remember if that person is a teacher, just as each person in your Life is, then you are being a bad student if you are not learning from your teacher! You don’t have to hate the person though. Just don’t trust.
When you don’t trust, there can be no relationship. You can still know the other person and not be in a relationship. Now, even if this is a parent, sibling, child, or spouse, it is imminently possible to stay this way. Because at the end of the day, the person is not trustworthy. And the person has taught you, given the empirical evidence you may have gathered through repeated patterns of behavior, that she or he is not trustworthy. Additionally, let me tell you, from my own experience, that it is also fine to let the other know that you don’t trust him or her.

So, please simplify your Life. If you have been let down repeatedly, know that you have a right to choose not to trust someone anymore. Exercise that right. Live your Life in peace and not in grief. Yet live leaving that person alone. Don’t fight. Don’t provoke. Just live and let live! 

Live in faith and without fear

Those who are in doubt will always live in fear. Those that live in faith will know no fear!
Doubt is not the work of a curious or inquisitive mind. It is the product of a mind that refuses to trust. Deep beneath the layers of mistrust lie past experiences. It is in these experiences that trust could have been eroded, because none of us really is born with doubt, fear, mistrust embedded in us. It is years of living in an environment of mistrust that leads people not to have faith. There’s an old Malayalam (South-Indian language) saying that goes, “A cat that once falls in a tub of hot water will never trust water in the future!”. The cat was not born to hate water or with a phobia for water. But its experience of falling in the hot water tub made it wary and untrusting of water.
So are we. You and me. Our experience of dealing with someone defines our level of trust with them. When we go through Life’s myriad experiences, we develop attitudes to Life, based on them. A person who has lost a lot of money will not trust anyone with anything material. Someone who has had too many health challenges will never trust doctors and hospitals. Someone who has had a few bad relationships, will not readily trust the institution of marriage. And so on. But when we live each moment in doubt, in fear, without trust__of something or the other__we are living a shackled, imprisoned Life. We are created to be free. Live free. We were always liberated. But we are burdened by the weight of our doubts and fears. To break free, we must learn, yes, learn, to move on. To treat each experience as an individual event and not generalize. If one person cheated you of money, it doesn’t mean all of humanity are frauds. If one bad relationship caused you grief, it doesn’t mean you can’t have another. If your plane had a bad landing or you survived a crash, it doesn’t mean you should stop flying.
The venerable Khalil Gibran (1883~1931), the Lebanese American writer, demystifies doubt and faith thus: “Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is its twin brother.” To move from doubt and fear and to embrace faith, simply trust Life. Let go. Make that bungee jump. If you haven’t come crashing down and died yet, it means you are flying. And what if you die? Don’t worry, don’t fear, because you will not even know it when you die!

When doubt ceases to exist, trust flowers

Among the few things that will definitely kill you before you die is doubt. The moment doubt arises in the mind living becomes miserable. A kind of hell right here! To get rid of doubt, you need to practice detachment. And the simplest way to stay detached is to be aware, to remember that, anything that’s bound to be eventually taken away from you is not worth holding on to. When there’s detachment, doubt ceases to exist. And trust flowers leading you to inner peace.
Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with someone who has been making Life very difficult for me in recent months. He has made the situation worse by tying all of us up in knots so badly that nobody knows how to un-entangle the mess. At the end of another long call, he asked me to accept a fresh set of conditions. Basically this meant that he was reneging on an in-principle understanding we had and was bringing up new terms as deal points. I heard him out calmly and told him that I was willing to sign on the dotted line – no questions asked. This meant that he could, if he so wished, cause me more harm in the future. He asked me if I wanted to discuss the matter with my lawyer. I told him I didn’t see any point in doing that and instead agreed to his terms unconditionally. So, he asked me, ostensibly out of academic interest, why I was accepting his fresh terms without resistance. “Because I trust you,” I replied. Our call ended with him feeling contented that his expectations were exceeded and hopefully, unless he brings another twist to the tale, we would be making progress soon.
While logically I should not be trusting him, because he has not shown any intention to honor previous understandings between us, I decided to rise above doubt because I saw no point in doubting him anymore. I have lived with doubt in the past and have found it to be a very depressing emotion. It makes you anxious, wary, fearful and causes untold agony. I agree that trust can be a risky proposition when it comes to worldly matters, but since you make that choice consciously, you have considered its practical pitfalls. This is where detachment from outcome helps immensely. And despite your trust, despite your being prepared for the worst, should you be let down and you have to face a consequence that you were better off avoiding, I would still say it is a lot better to trust than not to! Simply because trust always delivers inner peace – often instantaneously. Surely also because we have to find newer and better ways to stay anchored in peace in this short lifespan that is available to us!
When you trust someone or something it means you have understood doubt – you have let go of that fake sense of security that doubt creates and are aware that, eventually, doubt cripples, drains and vitiates an existing situation. Dropping doubt means you have dropped what would have otherwise chewed you up from within. When doubt disappears, trust prevails. Trust is not a decision – it is an outcome that is the result of doubtlessness. And it is only through trust that you learn to live fully, to love and to experience inner peace.

Dear Parent, Trust, Lead, Inspire…

The primary role of parents is to instil good values in their children and give them the freedom to choose a Life they want to live. And then let them just be. More often than not, children will, with their sense of adventure, make mistakes with their choices, stumble and fall, then they will wake up and smell the coffee, find their way in Life and learn their lessons, even while licking their wounds. After all, isn’t this how we have all grown up? Even so, irrespective of what your child ends up doing with her or his Life, at whatever age, it is your duty as a parent to reiterate to your child that you still trust her or him and that she or he is always welcome to come back home!
Mother and Sreesanth: That hug matters a lot
In the latest Bollywood hit, Yeh Jawaani Hai Dewaani, the relationship between the main protagonist Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) and his dad (Farooq Sheikh) is under some stress owing to the father’s second marriage. But when Bunny is leaving home for studying in Chicago, his dad tells him, while giving him a tight hug: “No matter what happens, I will trust you. And this will always be your home.” This is not filmi alone. This morning’s papers in India carry pictures of cricketer Sreesanth’s mother hugging and kissing him when he got back home to Kochi after 27 days in jail. Sreesanth’s fall from grace has been in the headlines the last few weeks. No one would touch him professionally (or personally too) with a barge pole. But to his parents’, despite the seriousness of his alleged offences, he is still their child who has come back home after a tumultuous season in Life.
No matter how old you are, to your parents, you will still be a child. And what one needs, especially in the face of a crisis, whether self-inflicted or per Life’s plan, or in a way both, is a warm hug that says ‘Everything’s gonna be okay. We love you and trust you.’ People make mistakes. To err is human. Who hasn’t made a mistake? Sometimes, the mistake may affect only the person who has committed it. Or her or his immediate family. At other times, a whole lot of people may be affected. Making mistakes is a part of Life, integral to growing up. Analyzing, dissecting, learning from a mistake is the key. But far more significant is the role of parents who must continue to reassure their child, even if that child now is grown up and has children, and should not have done what she or he did, that whatever’s happening all part of Life’s ways to test you and teach you.
To be sure, there are no guarantees that children who have been taught the right values by their parents will live by them all their lives. Normally they do. And logically they must. But people do go astray. They are adventurous. Or they are simply seduced and blinded by the circumstances that Life places them in. There’s an old saying in Hindi: “jab subah ka bhula hua sham ko ghar laut aata hai, usse bhula nahin kehte”. It means: When the one who went astray comes back home pining, embrace him. Don’t ostracize him.
Good parenting is perhaps a responsibility that never ends. Obviously, what appears to children to be a generation gap, is actually years of experience of having lived and faced Life, stumbled, fallen, gathered and stood up to walk again, coming into play to counsel, to suggest, to guide, to lead. Of course, an integral part of that responsibility, is to teach children who have ended up creating or getting into serious situations, to face the consequences of their actions. Or if they haven’t done wrong, but have been victims of circumstance, to teach them to fight to clear their name. A parent is any child’s first hero (or heroine). And no matter what happens, a reassuring parent stands a better chance of counselling and guiding a person in distress. I write this from experience. In the face of inscrutable circumstances, with no way out in sight, when it seemed like all was over, and the whole world (including my immediate family) had written me and my wife off, my dad, held my shoulders, and told me and my wife: “You both will come out of this. Keep the faith. You are winners!” Those were compassionate words. But more than that they were trusting. And that trust mattered, when in every material sense, we were losers!
Hopefully, your children will not lead you to situations like the one Sreesanth led his parents to, or I led my parents to, but if they do, remember, you have a bigger role to play than just grieve over your children’s fate. And that role is to be a true parent – a hero, an inspiration, a friend who continues to trust despite the evidence, the circumstances and the odds, and the one sage counsel who guides the person in the dock to do, from hereon, what’s right than what appears to be right!

Do whatever it takes to simply live in the now!


It is indeed ironic. In this age of awakened consumerism, your Life is the ONLY product that comes WITHOUT a warranty, without a service or replacement guarantee and without a User Manual. There’s a remote control device to your Life but it certainly is not in your hand!

Think about it! This is THE absolute, real, unvarnished truth!

How different, and so how much more comfortable, Life would have been had it come with a User Manual at the time of your birth? You could then have quickly learned to live and not exist. You could have avoided mishaps and wasted experiences by consulting the manual’s Troubleshooting Guide. If dissatisfied with your Life you could have sought a replacement or pressed into play a service guarantee. Interesting perspective, isn’t it? But, really, as you well know, none of this is possible.

So how do you live a Life that you have no control over, no guarantees about, and that offers no ‘easily downloadable’ guidelines teaching you to live it well?

Simple. You live it one moment at a time. Savoring what is! And yes there’s one thing that Life unwittingly guarantees__with unfailing precision__that it will continue to amaze and surprise you. No matter what you know, you will be continue to be baffled by Life! So, the best way to live is to live with greet each moment in Life with childlike amazement. With curiosity. With glee.

After all that you have tried, tested, tasted, experienced, learned, unlearned, found, discovered, lost and gained, in Life, you will come to realize that Life’s just a simple mind-game. Where the mind continuously tries to take you away from the now, into a dead past or a yet-to-be-born future. And you, through your deeper understanding of Life, must learn to bring your mind back to attend on the present. It’s a fun game. And just like you learn to play Angry Birds or Poker, better and better, with practice, you will learn to live in the moment better by simply focusing on living__again and again and again! So, the key to intelligent living is to lose the mind. Make the mind powerless by not heeding it. By not giving it much attention. Give the moment all your focus. All your attention. Order your mind, as it tries to work you up with worry and anxiety or pin you down with guilt and hurt, to focus on what is. If it is a flower you see, give that flower all you have. If it is this post, give it all your attention. Master Ikkyu defined Zen as “Attention! Attention! Attention!”. Thich Naht Hanh calls this mindfulness. Eckhart Tolle calls it celebrating the Power of Now. Osho calls it simply being. Different words. Different labels. All point to the same state of acceptance, joy and living!

Nordstrom, the global retailer, who has a matchless reputation for service quality, has a one-line standard operating process manual. It says, exhorting its team members to deliver world-class service to its customers, “DO WHATEVER IT TAKES”. Borrowing from Nordstrom, and given that Life does not have a User Manual, perhaps a good, simple, one-line, standard living process guideline for Life would be: “DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO SIMPLY LIVE IN THE MOMENT”.

There’s a story that I remember reading in a book by Osho. It is a story of Mullah Nasruddin, Osho’s favorite character! One day, goes the story, Mullah Nasruddin’s son comes home crying saying his friend, who had borrowed a toy was now refusing to return it. Mullah’s son grieves the fact that he trusted his friend and his trust now stands betrayed. Mullah comforts his son. And promising to teach him to deal with such people better, he advises his son to climb up a ladder. The boy follows his father’s instruction. When he has reached the top, Mullah asks him to jump down. The boy hesitates. But the Mullah convinces him that he will be safe because he was going to be caught in the Mullah’s safe hands. The boy jumps. The Mullah moves away just in the nick of time. The boy falls hard on the ground. In shock, in disbelief, he starts wailing as the pain tears through his leg and grips his lower back. Still sobbing, he demands an explanation from his father as to why he betrayed him. Mullah Nasruddin explains, that he moved away so that his son never trusts anyone in future. Trust no one. Trust not even your father. That was Mullah’s message to his son.

Unfortunately, we too have been brought up the same way. By both our social environments and by our parents’ compulsions. We have been taught that to be cunning, street-smart, clever is more important than being trusting, caring, forgiving and loving. So we have been living our lives this way. Without knowing, without realizing, that the absence of trust is the cause of all grief in Life. Fundamentally, learn to trust creation that if you have been created, it means that you have also been given all that you need to live a whole Life, fully, meaningfully, joyfully! But you__and I__go beyond needs and press for wants to be met. And when they are not met, you become untrusting of Life. You grieve. You seek answers, wonder why there are no guarantees, why Life is being unfair and such. To live in the moment, just trust the Life you have, for what it is, as it is, in that moment!

Gautama, the Buddha, taught the world, TATHATA. It meant acceptance of what is, of the moment. Buddha said: “Whatsoever happens, happens. Nothing else can happen, nothing else is possible. Don’t ask for it to be otherwise; be in a let-go, and allow the whole to function!”

The whole here is Life itself. It is working perfectly well. And for you. The way it must. So, let it be. Don’t ever seek guarantees from Life. Because there are none! Simply tee off, living in the NOW, every single moment!

Patience is not a virtue, but a necessity!





Another Monday morning! Rush hour. After the lazy weekend, getting to work, finishing up at home, battling insane traffic and plunging into the everyday rough and tumble of a working week __ apart from the stress you feel, there’s a lot your body is taking. And that’s, seriously, not great news! What you need now is not a chill pill, but to learn to be patient__with yourself, with others and with Life!

But how can you be patient when the whole world is impatient around you? The boss is breathing down your neck. The guy behind you is honking. People rush into elevators instead of filing into them with order and decorum. Your colleague is pressurizing you to finish up your part of the work fast so that she can get done her job done faster. So, patience, really? It doesn’t work, I hear you protest. A friend of mine told me recently: “You live in an Utopian world AVIS. Here, in today’s world, if you are not moving at the speed of light, if you are not overtaking slow-coaches and laggards, someone else is going to overtake you and them. The one who is moving fast, has the advantage. Patience does not work anymore today!”

Yet, despite my friend’s well-reasoned pitch, today’s world requires patience more as a must-have quality, a necessity, than as a rare virtue which, when available and used, can create value! Because patience alone can lead you to a Life of peace, personal well-being and prosperity.

Patience comes from a deeper understanding of Life. We are impatient with people, events, circumstances, service, technology, and with Life, because fundamentally we want things to happen our way. But that’s just not going to happen. Life works in its own way, at its own pace. You can have your way only if you are patient with and in Life. Osho, the Master, often narrated these three lines to help people understand Life better. He would say:

1.     Everything comes in its own time

2.     Everything comes when you are ripe

3.     Everything comes when you deserve it

Now, review your own Life in the context of these three statements. You will find that anything you have got so far from Life, stuff you have welcomed and have wanted, has come ONLY per these three dimensions of Life. You may have wanted something and may have been frustrated. And it has never come. You know your story better than anyone else. So, think back, and ask if you got anything you wanted any earlier or any later than when you finally got it? Were you not in total receiver mode to have got it? And you only got something when you truly deserved it. Patience is about simply understanding these three dimensions and reminding yourself of them every time you mind grieves or frustration sets in.

I have learned patience the hard way. It first appeared as the twin truths of Life that Shirdi Sai Baba taught in his lifetime. Whenever I saw them __Faith and Patience__at his temples, I was drawn to them for their simplicity, but I also, initially, believed they were impractical to internalize and practice. Over the years, having faced Life and learned from it, I have painfully discovered that being patient is the only way. Because impatience can create chaos where only confusion prevailed. That impatience can vitiate and make knotty a simple problem situation. That impatience makes you miss the magic and beauty of Life. That impatience makes you imagine that a dark night will never end. Whereas, the truth is that the night is the darkest, just before dawn!

Patience is also about having faith in and in trusting Life. Trust that if you have been created, you will be looked after too. Have faith that none of our stories will have a gory end. That each test is Life’s way of reminding you that you are NOT in control. When you trust Life, and learn to be patient, your problems don’t worry you or bother you or haunt you anymore! You then begin to live fully, happily, despite your circumstances.