Patience is the way

If you have learnt to be patient in Life, with Life, you have mastered the art of living!
My friend and I had a creative and spiritual disagreement a few days ago. My friend argued that you cannot 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 her job done faster. So, patience, really? It doesn’t work, my friend protested: “You live in a 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. Despite our living in a time of instant gratification – WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter surreptitiously aiding and abetting it – Life works only 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 even 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 needed it – 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, right?

Patience is about simply understanding these three dimensions of Life and reminding yourself of them every time you mind grieves or when frustration sets in. Simply, there is a no way to be patient; patience is the way!

Apply the Twitter logic: define your problems within 140 characters

Kiss your problems away.

A simple approach worth trying is to apply the Twitter formula to your__any__problem situation: If you can describe it in 140 characters or less, you have got a way out! Most of the time we tend to blow problems out of proportion by adding too much data, too much analysis, too much reason, too much emotion and too much fear to it! Think of some situations. You have had a bad morning__kids acting cranky, morning rush hour traffic, a flat tyre and an incomplete presentation before the crucial meeting starts. Your boss balks at you. You feel like a worm. You start imagining this is a worthless, thankless Life. You carry your grumpy feeling home. You snap at your kids. You ignore your spouse. You wish you could die. The next day, same scenario, with some added thrills, twists and turns, plays out. You are giving up! So your well-meaning colleague asks you to share. You say that you should never have got married in the first place. Or had the kids early. Or that that you shouldn’t be working because you can’t manage this stress. But you need the money. And then there are the loans. The EMIs. And then there’s the older one’s college tuition fee responsibility coming up. Oh! God, there’s no way out! You lament, perhaps, break down, hold your colleague’s hand, say your thank you, and rush because it is time to pick up the kids from school. So, what’s your problem? Marriage? Kids? Job? Simple: “You are unable to manage your time.”  And all you need to do is to get help to manage your multiple tasks or get out of some activities (like give up the job if you can afford not to have one) or just stop cribbing.

To imagine that your entire Life’s a pain is completely futile! Or take another situation. You are self-employed. Run a small business. Clients are not paying up. But you need to keep the business going. You borrow. Interest rates, over the years, are hurting you. You take to smoking and drinking to handle your stress. Things go into a spiral. Losses. Client and employee attrition. Plus your destructive habits. You fear you will die. And the family will be on the street. So, to drown that fear, you drink more! You think everyone is ganging up against you. You feel Life is conspiring to fix you. What’s your problem? “You need help running your business.” That’s it. Not that you are a bad businessman or a bad employer or that you are inefficient. It is just a phase in Life. And unless you bring in help __ to either restructure your Firm financially (infuse working capital) or remodel your business __ you will be in this situation. And yes, you must help yourself by giving up your destructive habits! 

Apply this Twitter-focus to any situation to Life __ relationships, health, family, social, community, career __ anywhere. It will work. Theodore Rubin, an American psychiatrist and author, says, “The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.” All of us dramatize situations in our Life. Resultantly, we are unable to state or define our problems simply and objectively. This, therefore, delays__or, often times, even denies__problem resolution. Keeping definitions of the problems we face simple__within 140 characters__makes them less painful to endure and far easier to solve. Keep It Simple to Solve—KISS your problems away

To anchor in peace, be in an “Is that so?” mode, accepting what is!

Does Life challenge you more because you graciously accept whatever comes your way?
That’s an interesting question that someone who follows me on twitter asked me the other day. Well, the answer really is that whether you accept it or not, Life goes on happening to you. When you don’t accept what’s happening to you, you suffer. Because suffering comes from resistance. While acceptance, of what is, can take away the suffering, it cannot stop a problem from arising, a challenge from cropping up or a painful situation from surfacing. Acceptance cannot change the Life that is designed for you. Acceptance can only make sure you don’t suffer from whatever that happens to you. So, to imagine that Life should not challenge you just because you have learnt acceptance is a naïve expectation. And, as always, expectations bring agony; they bring suffering. So, abandon such an expectation and just be accepting of whatever is!
One of my favorite Zen stories is an illustration of unconditional acceptance. Three hundred years ago in a small Japanese village Zen Master Hakuin lived a quiet, contemplative life and was much loved by the villagers. A beautiful girl, whose parents owned a food store, was his neighbor. One day the girl’s parents discovered that she was pregnant. This made her parents very angry. She would not tell them who had fathered the child, but after much questioning she at last said, “It is Master Hakuin.” The distraught parents went to the Master and expressed their rage. “Is that so?” was all he would say. When the child, a boy, was born, the parents brought him to Hakuin, who now was viewed as “a sinner and an outcaste” by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. “Is that so?” Hakuin again said calmly as he accepted the child. A year later the young girl could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market. The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to seek his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back. Hakuin calmly placed the baby in the grandmother’s arms. In giving back the child all he said, again, was: “Is that so?”
There’s a phenomenal lesson here in Hakuin’s story. Don’t analyze Life. Just live it. In total acceptance. There’s really no point in wondering if Life will “challenge” you more if you are accepting or if Life will “understand” you better if you are accepting. Just live the Life you have been given. Be in Hakuin’s “Is that so?” mode all the time – accepting what is and being open to experiments, adventures and possibilities. This is the only way to avoid suffering – despite the circumstances – and anchor in peace!  

“God is not a person. God is a presence.”

In the name of God and religion mankind remains divided. Only when each of us realizes the ‘godliness’ in us will all this strife cease.
I read two interesting stories in the papers today. Both had to do with “controversial” Tweets posted well-known personalities. One is Ram Gopal Varma, the highly-talented film-maker, who’s presently going through a bad run at the box office. Varma tweeted a purportedly derogatory remark against Lord Ganesha, whose birthday it was on Friday. Varma wanted to know what obstacles Ganesha had removed for his devotees in all these years that they had been worshipping him. Naturally, the devotees, particularly Hindus, were up in arms against Varma. Their angst forced Varma to issue an apology for his insensitive remark. The other Tweet was by DMK leader M.K.Stalin who wished everyone a “Happy Ganesh Chaturthi”. This surprised his followers and his detractors alike. Now, the DMK is a “rational Dravidian party” that does not follow or champion any religion or God. So, some of Stalin’s followers lamented that he was “breaching party protocol and tradition”, while others treated his “social, secular greeting” as a “new beginning” for the party. Stalin, for his part, chose not to comment any further – even as the debate continued on whether he had done the “right thing or not.”
I have nothing to say for or against what either gentleman has had to tweet. My point is this – why do we give so much importance to God and religion? Why do we divide humanity on that count?
Down the ages, all through history, God has been seen only from two angles by mankind. There’s one view which says that God is a person, someone high above – who cannot be seen, but who has to be feared and followed. This is where religion came in and made matters worse. Each religion is basically saying this: if you follow our processes, rituals and practices, we will show you the way to God. And so, for lack of any other option, people follow a religion. And, sometimes, they move from one religion to another hoping to find God – that elusive person who apparently has all the answers and solutions people desperately want! The other view challenges this view and invites us to be rational, to be scientific and to apply common-sense and intelligence. It questions the futility of this ongoing search for God. And those who hold this view have successfully maintained – and often argued – that there is no God. These are the atheists. What the atheists have done further, apart from denying that God is a person, is that they have, without any material evidence, denied the presence of God too. What I have understood, primarily from following the Buddha’s teachings and Osho’s, the Master’s, works is that there is also a third view. And that view says – “God is not a person. God is a presence.”
This is such a beautiful perspective. And I relate to it completely. It invites us to consider that God is not someone, God is an experience. In fact, Zen Buddhism says God is in the stillness, in the silence, in the magic and the beauty of all creation. And Osho says, when you shift your focus from searching for God, to experiencing yourgodliness, you become free. I find great value in that insight. As long as you are searching for God, you remain hostage to religion. Irrespective of which religion you follow, your search for God remains incomplete and you are bound by tradition and rituals. You can’t ask why something is being done. You can’t seek. You must just follow. But, through the flowering of inner awareness – often through practising silence periods or any form of meditation – when you awaken to your godliness, you realize that what you seek is within you. Then religion becomes an avoidable process. And God becomes a personal, direct experience.
As I journeyed through Life, I too ended up searching for God all over the place. I have been through rituals, prayers and tried all religions – and have visited several places of worship. But I finally found God in fellow human beings – who through their kindness and compassion continue to touch my Life in myriad, beautiful ways. I find God in every aspect of creation – in a sunrise, in a raindrop, in the chatter of the birds and in the breeze that soothes me on a hot summer afternoon. I find God in my happiness – in my state of “simply being” irrespective of what circumstance I am facing. This is the way, over the last several years, I have come to experience God – and my godliness! When you realize your godliness, and feel God’s presence in everyone and everything, then you are forever prayerful, forever blissful and forever at peace!

On witnessing the miracle of your Life

Stop, pause, breathe and witness the miracle of your Life!   
In everyday living, the business of earn-a-living, keeps us so much on the edge that, sometimes, we don’t even know whether we are coming or going. There’s always so much to do. And so little time. Technology should have made Life easier – to be sure, it has – but we have complicated it by being addicted to it. Some people have got so addicted to facebook and Twitter that they are always feverishly typing away statuses and comments from their phones. Think about it. The first thing most of us do when we wake up is to reach for our cell-phones.
A quick look at your emails, facebook and Twitter notifications, WhatsApp messages and SMSes is now a subconscious first action. Even before you have brushed and freshened up, this is what you do. And the mind starts pounding away responses to what you have seen and read. By the time you are at work, you are so pumped up that, you carry that “rushed” frame of mind all through the day. Even when you are back home for dinner, you are still looking at your phone even as you eat. The same charade repeats itself day after day, even on weekends, and often on vacations too.
There may be nothing apparently wrong with this lifestyle. Except that you are probably missing the miracle in everyday living. Over time, as age catches up, you realize that you haven’t really lived the Life that you wanted. You have merely existed, gotten by, by surviving! This is why perhaps the venerable Russian dramatist Anton Chekov (1860~1904) famously said: “Any idiot can face a crisis. It’s day-to-day living that wears you out.”
A Zen story comes to mind. When Bankei Yotaku (1622~1693), the Japanese Zen Master, was teaching at the Ryomon Temple, a priest, who was jealous of Bankei’s large following, decided to debate with him to put him down. So, one day, when Bankei was in the middle of his Talk, the priest arrived and created a commotion. Bankei stopped his lecture and asked the preist what he wanted. “The founder of our sect,” boasted the priest, “had such miraculous powers that he held his brush in his hand on one bank of the river, while his disciple held a paper on the other bank, and yet he would be able to write the name of God on the paper – through air. Can you do such a thing?”
Bankei smiled. He replied: “Perhaps your founder, who is a genius it appears, can perform such a trick. But this is not how Zen works. My miracle is that when I feel hungry, I eat and when I feel thirsty, I drink.”
To be alive, to experience this Life that you and I have been given, is the biggest miracle of them all. It is also the greatest wealth we can ever have. The truth is that we have it and the tragedy is that we don’t realize we have it. So, we keep searching for it and in the process squander it. Remember: your Life is not going to change, unless you change the way you live!