Finding the real you!

To be free from stress, pressure, worry, pain and sorrow, you need to go within and find the real you!
There are three layers of each of us. Imagine yourself to be a Russian Matryoskha nesting doll which is a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. The first, outermost, you which is attached to all the material things in Life__that which is also trying to possess, protect and control all these things. The second, immediately inner,  you which recognizes and is aware of a larger cosmic design__but still leans towards possession, protection and control of all the things acquired in a lifetime. The third, the core, you which does not see itself as separate from creation and in which your Godseed really is. All the pressure, the stress we take on ourselves is because we are playing on our Life’s surface layer! Think about your worries, for example. You worry about your house, your car, your job, your business, your bank balance, your insurance claim, your Visa__and such. And any threat to any of them causes you to be under pressure, be worried, be stressed. As you advance in Life, with age and experience, you realize that there’s more to Life than material things and see a larger cosmic design, you appreciate it, and so your focus__and perhaps concerns__begin to include more meaningful things like your health, your family time, your passions, your causes or your beliefs. You feel you need to ‘invest’ in the quality of your Life than focusing only on the ‘quantity’ of whatever you have in Life. This phase is what is erroneously, and historically, called the “mid-Life crisis”. Please know that this is NO crisis. This is the biggest opportunity. Because someone, actually Elliott Jaques, a Canadian psychologist, called it so in 1965, we have believed it to be one! Hence while we see that our lives are perhaps pre-designed, we are worried about our time on this planet ticking away and so rush to go on to further control, further possess and further protect our lifetime’s acquisitions. Instead of reaching outward one more time, which we already know is the source of much pressure and stress, try going one layer below. The third you, your core doll in your personalized Matryoshka nesting doll set, is where you will find complete peace. Arriving here is when you will find no pressure, no want, no worry, no sorrow, and complete, unadulterated bliss. This is the layer that insulates you from all the chaos and turbulence in your Life. This is when you can feel__and therefore say__that you are capable of living in this world and yet being above it! Or when you can claim to live in the world but not be of it, as the Bible says.
This really means that when you are the outermost doll, which we all are, when we are emerging into early adulthood with starry eyes, dreams, wants, aspirations, lusts and desires, you are individualistic. Your worries are about you. Your wants are about you and your loved ones. But when you go deeper, to the next doll, you do see that things have been happening much beyond your own control and imagination. You see the design. You may deny it. But you can’t claim to have been untouched by it. It is only when you encounter the third doll, the real you, that you see how you are Creation, the Universe and the God, that you have always been seeking!

Just Believe

For anything to happen, you must first believe it will happen.
In any situation there will always be a certain amount of unpredictability associated with it. But whatever be the odds, stay with your belief that what you envision, what you want will happen. Even when it doesn’t on first attempt, keep believing. Be at the core of your belief and it will happen.
However, be sure, your belief will be tested. The world may laugh at you. But you have to keep believing. The tragedy happens when you get swayed by popular sentiment and start believing in the opposite. Then naturally the opposite will happen. Let’s say you are obese. Overweight by 30 kilos. And you start on a diet. People will laugh at you and will keep reminding you that you cannot do it. Now, you have to decide. Are you going to believe in yourself and what you envision for you or are you going to believe what others say and let go of your pursuit?
Know that whatever you believe in, will happen. From a diet to a career opportunity to the love of your Life to curing yourself of a life-threatening disease, just believe. But don’t hold yourself to ransom with a deadline. Allow things to happen in the natural course, over time. Deadlines are good and important – but when you decide when something should happen, and it doesn’t, for whatever reason, you lose hope. And depression sets in. You surely don’t want that.
It is the same law for everyone and works just the same in any situation. The way it works is simple – the Universe picks up your energy and manifests your deepest desires for you. Which is why, even if the world were against you, if you believe in something, the Universe will deliver whatever you believe in to you. The other way of looking at it is this – the world is full of people and their opinions; but the Universe thrives on energy, not people. Naturally, undoubtedly, energy is more powerful than people! So, what are you believing in for yourself today?

Eat well! Eat happily! Eat gratefully!

Every time you eat a meal, eat it heartily and happily, and please do remember to thank the Universe for it!
Last night we dined at Rajdhani – a Rajasthani thali restaurant. At the end of the meal, when the check arrived, I was amazed to see what they call their thali. They call it the Happiness Thali! It made me think. Isn’t every meal an opportunity to be happy and grateful to the Universe and its wonderful creations? Haven’t so many people toiled to make the meal possible for you? Isn’t the ability to have a meal, and digest it, a miracle – for, aren’t there so many people who are sleeping hungry or are having digestive disorders or are, sadly, dying of starvation?
The problem with most of humanity that is able to have a meal whenever they want – which includes you and me – is that they take the meal for granted. These days, even at meal-time, we don’t spare our mobile phones. Our meals are had with no or inadequate attention to the food. It is almost as if eating is a chore. Which is why there are so many lifestyle-led health complications that people face.
The right way to eat is to be mindful of each morsel, to enjoy the flavor and taste of what you are imbibing, to chew each mouthful and take it in slowly. As you do this, remain completely grateful for what you have. Even if you can’t count your blessings for all that you have in the other departments of your Life, feel humbled and grateful that you have this meal in front of you now. Know that unless an entire army of people – from the farmers who grew the crop to the workers who processed it in factories to the traders who sold it to you to your employer who pays you wages to be able to buy your groceries monthly to your family which gives you reason to have beautiful mealtimes to the person that cooked your meal to your parents who brought you into this world – had worked for you, you won’t be having food on your table.

Having food to eat is a miracle. Every time you witness it, be aware, and celebrate it. Eat well. Eat happily. Eat gratefully! 

A lesson in ‘trusting Life’ from an inspiring mother

Trust Life! Know that if you have been created, you will be cared for, looked after and provided for!
Malvika Iyer (L) and Hema Malini Krishnan (R)
Last evening we heard Malvika Iyer speak for the first time! Malvika – remember, I had written (some weeks back) about this young lady with an unbeatable spirit who is also a bilateral amputee – touched our hearts with her story. She left everyone in the audience with the strong message, personifying it in every sense, that the only disability anyone can have is a bad attitude. She attributed all her strength to her mother Hema Malini Krishnan, who, she says, has never made her feel deprived or disabled in any manner. “At home, I was never treated as if there was something missing in my Life, although I don’t have both my hands. I was raised as any other teenager would be in any other home. My mother always told me that I must pursue whatever I believe in and never once did she say, ‘but you can’t do this because you don’t have hands’,” says Malvika. So, naturally, the audience was in awe of Malvika for sure, but they were even more keen to hear Hema speak.
Hema finally obliged. She epitomizes trusting the Universe, the ‘Creator’ as she says, trusting Life, implicitly. “When the bomb blast happened in 2002 that took away Malvika’s hands and changed our lives completely, indeed, we were gripped with fear of the unknown. But I was sure that we will make it. Malvika was just 13 then. But I believed that she would lead a normal Life. Though at that time, her legs were also badly injured. People ask me where my courage and conviction came from. Simple – my point is that if we have been placed in a challenging situation by Life, we will also be given the means – physical, financial, spiritual – to deal with it. I simply trusted the Creator. And I went with the flow. People often ask me what will happen of Malvika after me. And I again answer that I am only an instrument to help Malvika. I am here for a fixed tenure. When my turn is over, Life will arrange another instrument. I know this will happen. I trust the Creator. I have learned to accept what I have been given.”
Everyone in the audience was moved by Hema’s perspective. Her faith is unwavering. And this must be our learning too. 
Most of our worries and anxieties come from wondering how things will turn out in our lives. We survey our own limitations – which are anyway imagined and never logically proven – and conclude that something or the other is impossible. Our perceived impossibilities dictate our attitude. Which is why we are sulking, brooding, complaining and grieving about our lives. Even for a moment, we don’t wish to acknowledge that there’s a higher intelligence that powers the Universe. Our education makes us believe that we are intelligent and creation is dumb. So we ignore the biggest miracle that we are born human, without our ever asking to be created or born, we ignore the fact that the whole, magnificent, inscrutable Universe has been created, by this higher intelligence, ahead of us and we ignore this lifetime’s blessing to explore and experience creation’s myriad miracles. All we are obsessed with is our view of our problems and our view again of our inability to solve those problems. Nothing can be deemed as more foolish an approach to living.
Every time you feel despondent over mundane, or lesser challenging, situations, think of Hema’s trust in the Universe, in her ‘Creator’, that makes us accept her child’s special condition and yet encourages her to inspire Malvika to live a full, complete Life with no limits. Every time you are complaining that you don’t have this or that, think of your attitude as your biggest limitation, your disability. Think of Malvika, who doesn’t have hands but has the zest, the will and spirit in her to live a Life without limitations! Fundamentally, we must learn, despite all our education, not to intellectualize Life. We simply can’t. Life has a mind of its own. And we must simply trust it. There are only two ways to approach Life. If there’s a problem that your education, logic or science can solve, stop worrying about the problem – because it can be solved. And if you are dealing with a problem that your education, logic and science cannot solve, stop worrying about the problem again – because you cannot solve it! Simple. What you cannot solve, trust Life to solve it. And trust Life to give you the strength to deal with the problem if it can’t be solved.
If we pause a moment and look around we will find that our lives are blessed compared to all that people are facing and enduring around us. When you appreciate and value the blessing called this lifetime, you will start living – and you too will start trusting Life.

Of God, Prayer and Rewards

Prayer in the purest sense is an expression of gratitude for all that you have and is an offering, of anything, including yourself, to the Universe.
I know someone who is never available for any conversation or meetings. Every time we try to connect with him he’s either at work (which is for about 5 hours a day) or he is performing poojas, worshipping. He’s runs a small business and by his own admission, performs 8 prayer rituals a day, in three spells, over 12 hours. Is he happy, I asked him one day. “Hardly. Business is tough. A lot of money is stuck with debtors. I am continuously in prayer trying to seek a way out,” he said.
To each, his or her own way. Especially in matters concerning faith and prayer. But Zen offer a beautiful perspective on prayer. And it is worth understanding and thinking about.
Zen Buddhism says that true prayer is when no petition, no wish, is made, when no assistance is sought, but when mindfulness is practised. Through such practice, you offer whatever you have, a flower, an incense stick, or maybe even yourself, to something higher than yourself. What can be and is greater than you? Creation. Creation is the higher energy. So, offering yourself to Creation, makes you be one with the Universe. When you offer yourself you are expressing your gratitude for your creation and everything that you have. You are saying – “You created me. Thanks. I am offering everything I have, mindfully, consciously, with all my being, to you.” That’s when you truly unite with the Universal energy and are soaked in its brilliance and abundance.
The popular notion that prayer is an appeal to an “external, invisible” God is a by-product of how religion has come to be practised over many centuries. Maharishi Patanjali had demystified this in one of his works, perhaps at the beginning of the Common Era, where he equated God to be a mere clothes peg. Just as you would hang a coat on a clothes peg on the wall, we have been taught to pray looking to a “non-existent” God. He says, God is an invention, because, if God isn’t there, who will you pray to? But just as you would have learnt to hang your coat elsewhere if there were no clothes peg, you must learn the value of prayer, and develop the ability to pray, in the purest, truest sense. When you pray, as a means of complete surrender to Creation, then you don’t need a God, you are the prayer and you are one with who you pray to. God, he says is for beginners. Like when you are learning cycling, you need the small wheels on either side of the bicycle’s rear wheel to help you balance. But once you have mastered cycling, you don’t need those two small wheels jutting out – you discard them and that helps you ride freely. So, it is with prayer. The more you learn to pray, unconditionally, humbly, as a thanksgiving, the more peaceful you become.
True prayer is totally non-ritualistic and non-demanding. It imposes no conditions. It asks for nothing from you – not your time, not your offerings. You don’t need to fast nor do you need to give up or abstain from anything! It is not what you do out of fear (that God will punish you if you don’t pray) or out of greed (I want this or that – grant me my wish!). It is always about being in the moment. The moment that you choose to offer your gratitude to Creation for all that you have and are endowed with – that moment itself is your prayer. You can be anywhere in that moment – you could even be seated on the potty! Also, there is no price to be paid in prayer and there are no rewards to be claimed. When you pray, you pray. And that prayerful moment, when gone through with all humility and gratitude, is itself the reward, the treasure, the fortune!
                            

Mourning or Celebrating: Our world is the same!


In the midst of all of our problems lies a very beautiful world. Simply, we don’t notice it!

Yesterday I was on a flight. The hostess did a particularly bad job of the announcements. The food was cold. My ear was blocked thanks to an infection I have been carrying. And my thoughts wandered, at 30,000 feet, to the slew of problems we are faced with. I tried attempting solutions to some of them by making a diligent list of them on my little Post-it pad. My problem solving skills were particularly challenged because the nature of the problems were so nscrutable. After about 30 minutes of concentrating intensely on those problems, I was no more wiser or relieved than before! Suddenly I was forced to look up.  Some activity across the aisle from my seat had drawn my attention.

What I saw blew my mind away. There was a very, very old lady, perhaps well over 90. She had very little hair left. But whatever she had was in a brilliant silver and was neatly combed and made her glow. Her skin was all shriveled. And hanging. She had no teeth. Even so, she appeared to be completely at peace with herself and her world. She was looking radiant and very beautiful. Her toothless smile made me come alive and connect with a higher energy. She was struggling though to stand up to walk to the washroom. The hostess, with the pathetic announcement skills, was helping her. When she realized, the lady couldn’t make it with just she offering her hand for support, the hostess reached out and embraced the old lady and walked her slowly to the washroom. They were back after several minutes. In that time I put my pen down and replayed the whole spectacle again in my mind’s eye. What I had witnessed was a beautiful spirit in the old lady and genuine human compassion (and not just the discharging of a professional responsibility) from the hostess. When the old lady was seated again, she held the hostess’ hand, smiled benignly at her and said, in a beautiful voice, in English: “My child, I love traveling. And I prefer to travel alone without having to depend upon anyone from my family. Because I know the world is full of such angels like you. Thanks for being so kind to me.”

The irony struck me hard. Both the old lady and I were traveling together. We were literally seated next to each other, with only the plane’s aisle running in between us. Yet the world the lady inhabited seemed so much more beautiful and abundant than my own. For, if I had not looked up from my futile problem-solving attempt, I may have missed the beauty in the moment that I actually was so blessed to witness. An awakening and a learning dawned on me: The world we live in is the same. It is the same for the one who mourns and for the one who celebrates. It’s beauty doesn’t diminish ever. We actually see the world as beautiful, for the way it is, but in the throes of our problems, we hardly notice its beauty! So,we believe “our world” has lost its sheen. Because we see it with problem-tinted eyes and a depressed spirit! Alfred North Whitehead (1861~1947),English-American mathematician and philosopher, has summed it up perfectly: “Everything of importance has already been seen by somebody who didn’t notice it.”

The import here is not to say that we should not face our problems or attempt solutions. There’s only a humble submission that in doing that, don’t get so consumed, that you stop to pause and celebrate the magic and beauty of and in the Universe! When you allow yourself to notice the world you see, without judging whether you are in a frame of mind to celebrate it, you will open yourself up to such a whole new world of opportunity and a beautiful new way of living __ intelligently!