Seek within and ye shall find


When you have nowhere else to go, when you have tried everything else__and nothing has worked__it is time to go within! The journey within is not one that most of us seeks willfully or gleefully. Sometimes, we are forced into it by Life. The Bible says that God instructed Abraham to “go forth” – to leave his father’s home, to depart from the unknown and go forward. Interestingly, the literal translation of the words in the Bible, ‘lech le’cha’, is “to go inside”. It is only after going inward, seeking within, that we discover the “key to the kingdom”!

My own inward journey happened after a series of blunders I made in the material world, and perhaps, out of an unsolicited moment of awakening! Years ago, on my office door, I had stuck a little yellow sign that read ‘Seek Within and Ye Shall Find’. I vaguely that knew the phrase had a Biblical connotation. But I didn’t bother to check or learn more. I simply purchased it from the bookstore where I found it and stuck it on my office door. At that time I led a team of 40 and the sign, I believed foolishly then, was to signal to my team members that I was Mr.Know All and they should never hesitate to walk in and seek clarification or approval. Those were the heydays of my ego trip as I was to realize later. In a few years after that, my business came down crashing like a pack of cards and I soon found that every effort I made to resurrect my tottering Firm was coming a cropper. Past the phase of temple visits, worships and rituals, wearing stones and rings, following vaastu and feng shui, I leaned on mouna – a practice of observing silence periods. mouna did not make my problems go away. But it sure gave me inner strength to deal with them. One day, in 2007, as one of, among the last few, my team members was leaving my Firm, I stood alone in my empty office (the support staff too had left for the day) and was reminiscing on how much things had changed. What used to house over 25 team members was on that day people-less. I was alone in that office at that time. Yet I was not grieving. I was not filled with sorrow. I was in fact at peace with my new, though extremely painful, reality. At that precise moment, I paused to reflect on the signage on my office door. Then, as if it was a Eureka moment, the signage made profound sense to me. I realized that the larger reason why me and my Firm were subjected to such disruptive change was to force me to go within, and to discover the higher purpose of my creation. I smiled to myself, locked up my office and left for home.

The truth and essence of Life, including the God we desperately seek, is within. There are possibly many ways to go within. Some are even well-advertised methods! But the destination for everyone is the same. All roads, methods, paths, ways, lead to the same home – within! The reason why we first think this to be mumbo-jumbo or initially believe “it is not for me” is because we are forever seeking outside. Just look at yourself. Look around you. All the wants that you and the people you know, and they people they know, are chasing are outside of us. Someone wants a new car, or a new house, or a new job, or a new spouse, or a new laptop, or something or the other __ hoping that by attaining it, happiness will prevail. However, no one has been happy by either chasing or achieving wants. The seeking outside has never rendered anyone peaceful and happy. At the same time, those that have sought within, have had no more need for the pursuit outside, have had no more wants and have already learned to be happy despite their circumstances.

Instead of spending a whole Life in vain, seeking outside and finding only impermanent and unfulfilling wants, when Life’s situations seem to check-mate you, simply accept them and make the pilgrimage within. For it is only within that you will find peace that is lasting, joy that is total, and bliss that is enduring!

Allow the Universe’s abundance to drench you


What you don’t have will always torment you. And what you have will always be taken for granted, often forgotten. If you can swap these two patterns of thinking and living, you will be in bliss! Which is, take for granted, and if you will, forget about what you don’t have and instead rejoice over what you do have!

Staying wedded to what you don’t have is staying steeped in scarcity thinking. Celebrating and loving what you have is abundance thinking! Noted author and speaker, Dr.Wayne Dyer, 72, explains it so simply, so powerfully: “Abundance is not something we acquire. Abundance is something we tune into.”

Abundance, despite its glorious potential, is still a poor contender in the cosmic sweepstakes. What hogs most of human attention, most of the time, is the negativity that we ourselves create around us. And from within us. Everything seems to be wrong with the world. Hunger, Disease, Suffering, Terrorism. Everything also seems to be wrong with your own world too. You have so many problems that an immediate shortlist is, well, impossible! It is always a long litany of woes! Then there’s your view of the world. Where you imagine that someone is better off, happier, wealthier than you are. So, that comparison unleashes a whole set of new problems __ both perceptional and real! With so much negativity, how can one tune into abundance?

Yesterday, my wife and I had to walk through a crowded, noisy street __ full of people, vehicles, hawkers and litter! We had just finished a rather exacting day__having had to examine a fully blown, 70mm, version of our Life and our immediate, attendant problems. By the evening we were exhausted, battered and bruised. But the busy street necessitated deft negotiations with its other occupants to create enough room for both of us to walk. At one point, I realized, my wife was holding my hand. It was a beautiful moment of discovery. It was energizing. I realized how blessed I was, in these times, to have a companion that, literally, was willing to walk hand in hand with me. I was drenched in the abundance of that moment, in the beauty of that realization! All my problems seemed momentarily insignificant. What mattered was the joy of knowing how blessed my Life is!

Indeed, to be happy, peaceful and blissful we have no other choice but to celebrate the abundance in and around us! And to celebrate abundance, we must align our intention, attention and energy! All of us have the right intentions. Because none of us wakes up planning or wanting to do a bad job. So, from an intention perspective, we are all winners. Each of us wants to do good, be happy and be successful. But where is our attention? Almost all of the time, our attention is not on what we want to do or what we want to become. That is, our attention is NEVER on our intention. Our attention is on what we don’t have, on our wants and on what worries us. So, fundamentally our attention is steeped in scarcity while our intention is to be soaked in abundance. Isn’t it jarring?

That really explains why we are all caught in the world wide web of depression, pain and suffering. Being grateful for the blessings and abundance in your Life is a sure way of driving out depression. None of us forgets to brush our teeth in the mornings. But how many of us remember to be grateful when we wake up for another day to live, another day to love and be loved, another day to serve and be served?

Look at your Life afresh. Look at what you want done in the remainder of your lifetime. Look at what’s AVAILABLE __ than what is MISSING! Discover the abundance in your Life, love it, than brood over what’s scarce, and allow yourself to be drenched by it!


Learning to live when you hate Life


We all know that not all our wants are ever going to be met. So, even though, often times, we do plunge into despair and grief over unmet expectations, we have the ability to overcome, repair and revive ourselves.

But what do you do when your basic needs are not met? What do you do when you are not loved? When you are not understood? What do you do when you don’t know where your next rupee or dollar in income is going to come from? What do you do when it is a special day in your Life, your child’s birthday, and you can’t even afford a new dress for her? What do you do when the only person you can relate to in the world has been taken away by Life, in a ghastly, unexpected accident? What do you do when you know you are dying of cancer and there’s so much pain that it feels like your whole body is on fire __ and yet death seems so elusive?

What do you do when you must live though you wish you could actually die?

Contrary to what you want to do is, often, what you have to do. And to do that, to live when you would much rather die, you must look your situation in the eye, and despite all your grief, choose to live, LIVE, in that tormenting, torturous moment. That’s when you will find that despite all the pain, you feel no suffering. When you have learned to overcome suffering, you have learned the way to joy, you have learned to live!

Yesterday, a close friend called. He is going through a painful phase in his Life where his brother and he are separating as business partners. The separation has turned messy. My friend says he has tried to be completely giving and has agreed to all terms and conditions stipulated by his brother, however outrageous they have been. The idea was to ensure a peaceful, amicable partitioning of the business. Even so, said my friend, his brother was taunting him and provoking him. My friend did not want to blow up and confound an already vitiated situation. So, he called me asking for advice on what I thought he could possibly be doing.

I was reminded, even as my friend spoke, of a similar situation I encountered some years back. My entire family had concluded that (my wife and) I had cheated them in a transaction involving family property and some substantial cash borrowings. In fact, they still do. Just hearing them say what they did, and reading some ghastly text messages from my siblings, was both humiliating and traumatic. I must have died a thousand deaths in the days and weeks following that episode. Then, call it a revelation, call it enlightenment, I suddenly reasoned that I sought my family’s understanding because I needed it badly. It dawned on me that to understand me (and my wife) did not appear to be on my family’s agenda. Instead misunderstanding every word and action of ours appeared to be on their agenda. So, what was the point in demanding understanding when it was not likely to be given? I looked at the scenario dispassionately and came to the following conclusions:

1.  What was the basis of the misunderstanding? – My family believed that my wife and I were faking our bankruptcy and so were feigning an inability to settle money borrowed from the family

2.   Where was my grief, my suffering coming from? – That I, a son of my family, was being misunderstood, was not being trusted. My ego demanded trust. Whereas the situation completely lacked it because my family simply did not give it or me any trust!

3.  What was the way to end my suffering? – Settle my family’s money for which I didn’t have any means then (or even now) or let go of my need, my craving, for understanding. I chose the latter.

4.   Despite what I felt or experienced, I realized my family had a right to its views and opinions. They didn’t fulfill my need, but surely they believed their reasoning to be sound and so backed their behavior!

I shared this learning with my friend yesterday. I told him to give up his need for his brother to understand him. I told him that at the root of all our suffering is a cause. The cause often has little to do with what may have led to a situation. Instead it has everything to do with our need for the situation to be different. So, let me clarify, it is not even about a want. It is about a need, a more basic, often elementary, non-negotiable, human requirement. For instance, a son, a child will need a family’s understanding and not merely want it. A brother will need his sibling’s understanding and not merely want it. A companion will need her partner’s love and not just want it. A cancer patient will need a cure or death and not simply want either of them! If money be a common denominator for a standard of survival in the world, a basic income is then a need for the qualified, skilled and experienced, and not just a want.

Yet, as is with my story, or my friend’s, or even your own, Life, sometimes, will put you in a place where even a basic need is not fulfilled. You will initially hate such a Life. Because unhappiness__when wants are not met__can perhaps still be endured. But insecurity__when needs are not provided for__suffocates. And yet you have to live! That’s a difficult place to be in. This is when you must learn to live fully with what is__without grief or angst or rancor or suffering. When you do that, your own definition of what is it that you need will undergo a tectonic shift. Then, you will realize that Life is so benevolent. Because all that you really, badly, immediately, need to live is always available, in abundance, to you! Then some of your needs become wants and you reconcile to them not being met. Such an awakening and reconciliation delivers inner peace unto you. You then learn to surrender completely to the moments that make up your Life and you live, fully, freely, peacefully, joyously, in them!


Don’t let your money matter more than you!

Employ money to make your Life comfortable. Don’t let it enslave you!
This morning’s papers had a shocking story of girl from Kochi suing her father for gifting her ‘fake jewelry’ at her wedding. It’s yet another instance of how money keeps us from being human! It got me thinking.
Money is important. No doubt. It can buy you many things that will make your Life simpler and comfortable. But letting money buy over your peace of mind is hara-kiri.
Our entire attitude to Life has become money-oriented. Life decisions are being taken basis whether it can help make or save money. Not basis whether it can give you joy! Another dimension worth considering is that you can never say what people want of you. Do they want you and respect you for what you really are? Or do they want your money and respect how much of it you have? So, when money, which anyway is impermanent, stops coming your way, you suddenly discover that your durbar has dispersed. People don’t want you anymore. Because you don’t have what they want with you. You feel lonely, unwanted and unhappy. That’s when your big realization happens. That money is just a means. It must not dominate your Life, your emotions or your actions. Instead if you let happiness dominate your Life, emotions and actions, you will still make money. More important, you will then know how to use it!
I remember the movie Forrest Gump, which has a very relevant line that Gump says: “Don’t own nothin’ if you can help it. If you can, rent your shoes.” This whole desire to amass more and more in the hope that we will be secure and happy makes us slaves of a lifestyle we have long stopped enjoying. It fills our lives with grief every time something goes wrong with our Life __ as it often will and does! You lose your job or an important business contract and you imagine it is the end of the road. You plunge into depression. Or you lose your sanity over trying to protect what wasn’t worth protecting at all in the first place. I love LAMY pens. And I collect them as well, besides using them. A few years ago, when on a flight, I lost my favorite blue LAMY pen. For weeks I agonized over it. I felt a part of me was lost. I hunted high and low for one in India. At that time, Indian stationers did not retail LAMYs. And so I couldn’t find one in India. Years after this incident, my Firm went bankrupt and we entered a phase of complete pennilessness. One day, while practicing my daily silence period, it suddenly struck me how stupid I had been in agonizing over the loss of a pen, when in reality, my family and I had lost everything material __ all our money, all assets. And what remained was just us and our love for each other! It was a beautiful moment of awakening. The light that appeared in that moment continues to drench my Life with its brilliance!
Azim Premji: Keeper not Owner
A recent issue of Forbes India has Azim Premji, one of the wealthiest Indians, and chairman of Wipro, share his views about ‘employing’ his wealth to make a difference to others. His son Rishad, who works with Premji, both in the corporate and also on the board of Azim Premji Foundation, the Group’s philanthropy arm, says that they (the Premji family) are only keepers of the wealth (estimated to be $ 12 billion) and not its owners. “He’s (Azim Premji) always told us, ‘I am comfortable giving you something in Life but if you want anything above that, you have to earn it for yourself. The rest is meant to be given away, it is an obligation to give it away’,” says Rishad to Forbes India’s Mitu Jayashankar.
Important perspective that. You or I may not have the billions. We may be giving. Or we may plan to give. But the least you__and I__can do is to not grieve over money or let it enslave us. Let’s put it to good use __ to make our lives comfortable and to make a difference to someone else’s!