Spike Fear, Embrace Uncertainty, Have Faith

To peacefully journey through Life you must understand uncertainty and let go of all that you fear.
Indeed, none of us knows what lies in store for us in each approaching moment and, most of the time, we are running scared of this uncertain, unknown, dark future. The way to nullify the impact of the lethal cocktail of fear and uncertainty in Life is to have faith. The faith that can remove fear and help you embrace uncertainty is not the faith that religion tries to dispense and that we all claim we profess. All religious faith is dogmatic, puerile and fanned by seeking to identify with a power that (we are made to believe) is outside of us. God, per all religions and their diktats, fatwas, gospels, is external. Which is why anyone who is deeply religious will still be plagued by worry, anxiety and fear. Whereas, true faith is having conviction in creation itself, in the Universe and its Master Plan. The same energy that powers you__and me__and keeps us alive also created the mountains, the trees, the gorges and the valleys, the petals and the fruits, the oceans and the drops of water. It is part of the Master Plan that the Earth goes around the Sun and not the other way round. It is the same Master Plan that divined you were born to the family that you call your own and were endowed with whatever faculties you had at the time of your creation! That Master Plan has no flaws.
Knowing this, feeling this and living this reality in wondrous amazement is faith. When there’s this real faith, no imposter__religion, dogma, beliefs, rituals, superstitions__can get anywhere close to you. Nor can fear and uncertainty torment you! Where people have true faith, no explanation is required and no amount of explanation works for those who don’t have faith!

Jaluddin Rumi, the 13th Century mystic Persian poet, described living in faith thus: “Do you think I know what I’m doing?…As much as a pen knows what it’s writing, or the ball can guess where it’s going next.” He compared himself to a flute, a wind instrument made from bamboo reed, that cannot create music, unless it is played by a master flautist. So are we, he said, played on by Life. Thinking that we have no song in us is letting fear and uncertainty get the better of us. Knowing that our lives will be music is faith. Spike the fear, embrace the uncertainty, keep the faith and you will live happily ever after! 

Approach Life with a ‘WHAT IS’ than with a ‘WHAT IF’!

Embrace uncertainty and you will thrive. Fear it and you will suffer.

Certainty is a man-made illusion. Before you were born, where was the certainty that you would be? When you were an infant, where was the certainty that you would be provided for, fed on time, cared and loved? As you grew older you were tricked into this illusion of certainty __ you are sure to have a home, you usually have both parents with you, siblings, education is guaranteed, and you are bound to get a job, earn wages and raise a family! How much more simpler Life would be if only it were to progress in this certain, assured, linear fashion__one thing leading to another with such predictability and precision?

Just to demolish this illusion, and wake up to reality, if you live in any part of urban India, go to a busy traffic intersection closest to you. And after getting over the shock of seeing so many homeless, destitute children begging there, strike up a conversation with any or some of them. You will soon discover how uncertain their lives have been. And continue to be. Maybe some were abandoned by their parents. Maybe some were kidnapped by organized racketeers in the begging syndicate. They live on and off the streets. Abused by people like us who despise their presence and by heartless cops who extort their meager earnings from them. When you understand their Life’s design, you will awaken to the inscrutable, uncertain ways of Life. And when you think about it, you will just be grateful that you were born to your parents and not to theirs __ and there was no way ever you could have been certain of this realization until this moment!

It is also when you are faced with uncertainty for the first time, that you will stop taking Life for granted. A first layoff, a first health crisis, a first relationship break-down, a first financial crisis – that’s really when you begin to realize that perhaps you had read Life differently. That maybe, just maybe, you cannot really be certain about some things in Life. 

The truth however is that you can be certain about nothing in Life. The way to deal with uncertainty is to welcome it. Don’t try to wish it away. Because it ain’t going anywhere. It is always here with you. For instance, if you have a good job, enough savings and investments to take care of your retirement, where’s the certainty that your health will be all fine or that your companion still loves you? Of if you have a health complication and have the best doctors treating you, where’s the certainty that you will still survive? Where is the certainty that your family members will live long enough to be with you till your very end? So, don’t try to crave for a Life without uncertainty. If you accept Life as being uncertain, you will find joy in each moment.

So, approach Life with a ‘WHAT IS’ than with a ‘WHAT IF’. ‘What is’ is a celebration of the moment you are in now and there’s nothing uncertain about that moment. It is happening. So, there can be no fear of it. ‘What if’ is loathsome, fearsome and amplifies what is not yet. It is imaginary and breeds suffering. In the end, it is so very simple: when you embrace uncertainty you will find immense joy and beauty in this totally unpredictable, inscrutable experience called Life!   

Embrace, welcome and celebrate uncertainty

It is in the Unknown that you will find the true treasures of Life.
We have been sadly conditioned to expect rewards and recognition for every effort we make. These expectations bring agony. The pursuit of any goal by itself does not cause suffering. It is in not seeing outcomes that we desired that we feel defeated and begin to suffer. When what we seek is not what we get, we give up and choose to stay with the predictable. By itself, it is not a bad choice. The problem arises when we start lamenting about Life, whining and feeling depressed or let down.

Understand that Life has a mind of its own. Its benevolence and creativity is shrouded in its eccentricity. (Aren’t all creative folks a wee bit eccentric?) It is unpredictable and moves is bizarre ways. That’s why all of the world’s wealth is with a chosen few. And a large mass of people__like you and me__are hardworking, ethical climbers with no idea of where the top of this ladder we are on will lead us. A larger mass of people, the strugglers, have no desires than just getting past basic stuff (that which we climbers take for granted) like two meals a day, a home, something to cover themselves with and, possibly a steady source of income or education. There are no answers to why a Sachin Tendulkar should be ordained with boundless abundance and glory while Vinod Kambli should have not got there__though both came from similar backgrounds, trained with the same coach and were equally talented.

The point is that Life’s unpredictable. Period. And the way to deal with its eccentricity__often seen as its unfairness__is to simply Let Go and be prepared for the Unknown. Do your bit, joyfully, ethically, sincerely, and Let Go. Every other aspect of Nature’s creation thrives in Let Go mode. The birds, the trees, the insects, the reptiles, the animals, they have all Let Go. We humans are afraid to Let Go because we have a fear of the Unknown. So we suffer. But clinging on and expecting desirable outcomes is a foolish choice. So, in every sense, our suffering is self-inflicted.  When we Let Go and face the Unknown, remember, we will never be let down. There will be no more suffering. The true treasures of Life, which were always there, will now be visible to us: we will feel the air in our lungs, see the beauty of creation all around us, find ourselves drenched in grace and feel happiness in our every pore.

Move from the mind into the moment

Where there is uncertainty, there will be creativity and progress. Where you seek certainty, you will be held hostage by fear, anxiety, stress and suffering.
Not knowing what comes next is what makes Life a wonderful adventure sport. Just like you wouldn’t want to spoil the fun by knowing the plot of a movie in advance from friends or by reading a review, don’t try to pre-suppose or find out what Life will deal you next. Just dive into each moment, each day, with total readiness to meet__head-on__whatever comes next.
Erich Fromm, German-born American philosopher (1900-1980), says, “The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.”

Where there is acceptance of uncertainty, there will be a paradoxical sense of security and peace within. So, the best attitude to take into each moment of Life is innocence, a child-like view of seeing the Universe with amazement, surprise and being accepting of whatever happens. Allow the uncertain future, which will nonetheless unfold, to take you into its embrace and to soak your soul in adventure. Enjoy uncertainty. Welcome whatever happens gleefully. Move from the mind__so stop rationalizing and analyzing each development__into the moment__simply living each one fully, blissfully!

Celebrate Life’s chameleon nature!

The best way to deal with uncertainty is to stop fearing it.
One of the biggest fears we deal with is the fear of not knowing what will happen if__and when__we don’t have enough data, don’t have information, don’t have an idea or clue or any guarantees of what will happen. But such a fear is unfounded. Think about it. There’s uncertainty all around us, all the time, in each moment. It is only the fickle human mind that imagines that it knows what’s going to happen in the next nano-second or in the immediate future. Life can and almost always changes with no prior notice!
We have a friend who wants to postpone a vacation abroad because his son is in final year in high school. The postponement is to allow for the child to ‘settle down’ in Life. Someone else is worried about what will happen if the company he works for is acquired by a larger company in the same industry that has a notorious reputation for downsizing. An investment banker I know laments the state of uncertainty of his investments and says he has been on sleeping pills each night! All these people are postponing their present out of fear of an unknown future that they think they control. So, what is the predictability, certainty, that these people__or even you__are clinging on to? The assurance of financial security? Or perhaps the fear of its absence?
Know this: Despite all that you think you control, nothing really is in your control. Definitely not Life! Know also that dealing with uncertainty is no big deal. You__and I__have been masters at this from the time we arrived on this planet. How did we survive the years we took to make sense of the world without knowing a thing? What if our parents were child-traffickers and not the noble souls that they are? Did we worry about our future then? What if we were left to die and were not picked up each time we bawled, demanding to be fed? Did we fear uncertainty then? Can you say with confidence that you will survive the next minute? What if there’s an earthquake? Or you have a brain hemorrhage? Dealing with uncertainty is therefore easy. Because you can say for sure that you will never ever know what will happen next. Despite all the steps that you take to control all that you can__you can never be sure what hand you will be dealt next in Life or that Life will deal with you fairly, squarely and predictably!

Uncertainty is permanent. By fearing something that’s permanent, aren’t you being foolish? Instead, deploy the intelligence that’s embedded in you. Accept that your Life will change. What is now yours will be gone. What was never yours will come your way. What you wanted may go to someone else. What you never want will arrive in your Life. And even if you do get what you wanted, there are no guarantees that it will stay that way forever. So, stop suffering and fearing what you can never control or determine. Celebrate Life’s chameleon nature and revel in its possibility to change in a heartbeat!

Life’s beauty and magic lie in its uncertainty and unpredictability

In Life, you must always ask yourself, “Am I ready for everything?” instead of asking, “Is everything ready for me?”

The way we are brought up is however that, everything, always, has been ready for us. When we were born, we have been pampered, looked after and cared for. When we went to school, the teachers tended to us. Our daily wants and needs were always kept in readiness by our custodians, guardians and parents. Resultantly, we have got used to things being ready for us at all times. When we start our working lives too, in our first jobs most certainly, things are kept ready, at least in the beginning. So, when the honeymoon in Life is over__really, past 20, when early adulthood arrives__we face the true colors of and adventures in Life. This is where, we must really be ready for everything. But because we continue to be in the “Is everything ready for me?”-mode, we stumble, struggle and suffer through Life.

Let go! Stop expecting things to be ready or a red carpet to be rolled out and Life to mollycoddle you. Instead, embrace the uncertainty, the unknown in every moment. Meet Life with that spirit of adventure, a daring, in every moment. And liberate yourself from your daily strife and struggle. When you are ready for everything that Life throws at you or for everything that Life pushes you into, there’s an ‘aha‘ in every moment. Life is a seductress that is drawing you into the unknown in every moment, promising you instant bliss, and you are stuck here__with logic and rational questioning__asking why isn’t everything ready for you anymore?

Trust Life fully and willfully get seduced. Only when you surrender to Life, being ready for everything, will you see how beautiful the Life really is. It is in its uncertainty, in its unpredictability that Life’s beauty and magic lies! As Jalaluddin Rumi, the 13thCentury Persian poet says,”I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.” Be ready for everything, then any road you take will take you home!