Install a worry-check gateway, keep the worry virus out!

Worry is like a virus. It will arise. You can’t stop it from arising in you. But you avoid being led by it!

Yesterday, while copying some files from someone else’s computer via a pendrive, both my pendrive and laptop got infected. Luckily the person who I was with is a geek. And he noticed the infection in a nano-second. But it took him quite a while to fix both his own machine and mine. He told me that the only way to deal with viruses is to be “extra vigilant”. “Don’t trust any source,” he said, adding, “Just install a gateway check before you allow any data into your system – via email, internet or offline transfers.”
What the gentleman suggests as a possible method to keep out computer viruses, applies to our lives as well. Most of us are, subconsciously, constantly, worrying. We are led by our worrying. From relationships to our children to our finances to health to careers to the state of our countries and world, we worry about anything and everything. Now there’s no logic or pre-qualification required for worrying. The human mind thinks 60,000 thoughts a day. And if unchecked, if untrained, the mind simply keeps spewing worrisome thoughts among several other debilitating ones like anger, grief, guilt, fear and such. So a worry is like a wave in the ocean. If there is an ocean, waves will arise. If there is a mind, a worry will arise. But you have to realize that you have the ability to prevent that worry from affecting you. You may be touched by the worry, but you can choose to be unaffected. Being able to do this consistently is what intelligent living is all about.
One way to be untouched by a worry is to simply postpone it. Most of us do just the opposite. We miss the beauty and magic of living in the moment by postponing living, by postponing happiness. We indulge in worrying almost 24×7. Instead try postponing worrying for a change. Let’s say, you have to pay a bill and you don’t have money. A worry arises dramatizing the consequences of being unable to pay that bill. Just postpone the worrying and instead focus on what you can do, within your means, with your abilities, to earn the money to pay the bill. Simple. And if you can’t pay the bill, on the D-date, well, face the reality then. How could worrying have ever helped you pay off the bill? Think about it!
The other way to deal with worry is to practise ignoring it. When it arises, just ignore it. Your ability to ignore worry will be honed when you consistently remind your mind that worrying is of no use. Truly, no situation in your Life, or even in the world for that matter, can be solved by worrying. Only concerted, focused action leads us to solutions. So why worry? When worry arrives, ignore it.

So, install a worry-check gateway in your mind. Keep the worry virus out. Postpone worrying to start with. And you will instantly, magically, start enjoying the moment. This ability to enjoy what is, is happiness! 

Live Unsoiled!

Learn to live unsoiled by the world.
There are enough and more temptations and distractions out there. And we are not talking about materialistic objects of desire alone. Or of ruinous addictions like alcohol, tobacco or drugs either. While these are deterrents to intelligent living, most certainly, what we need to be wary off also are the myriad ways in which we get dragged into brooding or worrying on a daily basis. Think deeply about this. How often in a day do you worry about a future event __ someone’s terminal illness and impending passing, a child’s graduation, someone’s wedding or loans to be repaid? How often in a day do you grieve over the past __ having experienced someone wrongly, an irreconcilable loss, a mistake you made, a hurt you caused someone? How often do you lose your patience or temper or both daily __ on a child or spouse or subordinate or with just someone on the street? Each of these episodes takes us away from living. Every time we worry about the future or fret over the past or get dragged into anger spells, every single time, we die a death.
The ultimate goal and measure of success of intelligent living is notto change your external environment and make it incapable of causing you worry or making you feel guilty or angry. It is about engineering your inner space and insulating yourself from the vagaries of the world. This is what the Bible says ‘living in the world but not of it’ and what the Bhagavad Gita advises of ‘being in this world but being above it’.
The Buddha enlightens us, making this perspective simpler and easier to hold, using the metaphor of the lotus, “As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world.” Imagine being like a lotus. You too must avoid letting your soul be soiled and live, unsoiled, in bliss!

Unless we know when we worry, we will never be able to quit worrying.

The key to being liberated from worry is to be aware. Being aware requires only being. Just being. Nothing else.
There’s a perception, as a follower of this Blog commented the other day, that simply being is tough. No, it is not.
Examine yourself. Most of the time you worry without even applying your mind. It is a mechanical affair going on in your head. What will happen to this? Or that? Will I get what I want? Will my child be happy? Will my spouse survive? What if something terrible happens and what I want done is not accomplished? It is an incessant chatter. A cacophony in your head. And one worry sparks off another and another. Often times, this becomes uncontrollable. And you seek remedy. Someone tells you to lean towards meditation. Someone else tells you to propitiate the Gods. Someone again tells you to meet an astrologer or soothsayer or a tantric. Why? Because your mind refuses to listen to you.
Kabir, the 16th Century, weaver-poet, says this so beautifully in his couplet!
“Maala To Kar Mein Phire,
Jeebh Phire Mukh Mahin
Manua To Chahun Dish Phire,
Yeh To Simran Nahin”
The rosary rotating by the hand,
the tongue twisting in the mouth,
With the mind wandering everywhere, this isn’t meditation
(counting the rosary, repeating mantras, if the mind is traveling – this is not meditation)
Meaning: Control the mind, not the beads or the words.
That ability to control the mind will come only from your awareness. Awareness can be inspired in you by practicing silence.
Spend an hour being silent every day. Just being. Read a passage. Write your thoughts in your personal journal. Do whatever you want, but remain silent and refuse to attend to anything that calls for you to disengage from what you plan to do in that hour. Don’t sleep. Don’t speak. Your hour of silence can make you super productive and aware during the other 23 hours in the day! So, it is good return on investment. This is the practice of ‘mouna’.
To be sure, it will not eradicate worry. Worry will arise, but your awareness will cut off that flow of thought. It will arrest the worry in its tracks. And help you come back to focusing on whatever you are doing in the moment. Practicing ‘mouna’or silence periods bring you to appreciate the power of now! Remember, there is precious little you can do about what you worry about by simply worrying! You can either act on a situation and succeed, or act on a situation and if you fail, accept that outcome. Or just leave the situation to Life to sort things out over time. Why worry? And then, worse, why worry about your worrying? The bottomline is don’t worry about worrying. Focus on where that worry germinates, sprouts, takes root. Go to that point and stem the flow of worry.

Intelligent living is all about living worry-free

Keep Life simple – in any situation, be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. You will then be free from worry!
I simply love a joke that Osho, the Master, used to narrate. A doctor calls his patient to give him the results of a crucial medical test. “I have some bad news and some worse news,” says the doctor. “The bad news is that you only have 24 hours to live.” “Oh no,” says the patient. “What could possibly be worse than that?” The doctor replies, “I have been trying to reach you since yesterday.” Osho says the best way to live is to accept that, often times, even the worst can – and perhaps will – happen to us!
It is a lack of this acceptance that causes us to cower in fear, insecurity, anxiety and worry. The human mind is very intelligent. It will paint all possible scenarios and outcomes in any event which is governed by the possibility of uncertain outcomes. Some of these outcomes may cause you to feel insecure and fearful. For instance, when someone is in hospital and the prognosis is hardly encouraging, your mind will project outcomes varying from a miraculous recovery to an inevitable loss. Every time you want to believe in a miraculous recovery, dark possibilities of prolonged hospitalization, perhaps a comatose state and even death will arise within you. When you fear those possibilities that you don’t want to accept, or even consider, you are allowing worry to consume you. You are feeding your fears. The best way to deal with this situation is to be stoic about it – be prepared for whatever you fear the most, in this case, possibly, death. And yet, hope – and if you like to, pray – for a miraculous recovery. This way you will be free from fear, anxiety and worry. And that freedom will give you the opportunity to focus on providing your patient the best possible care.

Remember some problems in Life cannot be solved. There’s no point worrying about them. And there’s no point worrying about those problems which you can solve either. So, intelligent living is all about living worry-free. Think about it: if worry can solve problems, or if it can heal cancers, or if it can get people jobs, or if it can prevent break-ups or if it can eliminate death from our lives – then wouldn’t the world be a much happier place than it is? Because, aren’t a huge majority of people on the planet investing their every waking moment in worrying? The truth is that worrying gets us nowhere. Quit worrying. Be ready to face the worst in Life and yet believe that the best will happen to you. There’s no other way to live happily! 

Postpone worrying, not happiness

Learning not to worry does not mean you are irresponsible. It means you are sensible!
Worrying is a dangerous occupation. It robs you of the present. One simple way to learn to avoid worrying is to know, to understand, to accept that whatever is due to happen will happen. No matter what. Your worrying about something is not going either make it happen or prevent it from happening.
As you grow and evolve, chances are you will learn this fine art of not worrying. But people around you will not necessarily be at your same level, on the same wavelength. They will keep reminding you that because you are not worrying about something, a grave misfortune is due to follow. Or they will chide you for being irresponsible. Please don’t pander to such views. Worrying cripples you and induces fear. Not worrying is not being irresponsible. In fact, when you stop worrying about something and focus, you will find ways to deal with that something.
Most of us postpone happiness because we are busy worrying. But try this when a worry arises in you the next time. Examine the worry intensely. Ask yourself if your worrying about that specific situation is likely to solve it. Obviously, as you will be quick to realize, it is not. So, do the next best thing – postpone the worry. And concentrate on doing something more productive with your time. Do this over and over again. Day after day. In some time, for sure, you will be happier than you have ever been.

Meet the worst, when it happens. Until then – just chill!

When the worst happens, face it. Until then relax – and stop worrying!

K.Kamaraj (1903~1975)
This morning I was speaking to my father. It was a casual conversation that covered all topics under the sun. My father, to illustrate a point, said that one of the best approaches to Life is what former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, and revered statesman, K.Kamaraj (1903~1975), followed. Apparently Kamaraj always said “agattum parkalam”, meaning “let it come, let it happen, we will see, we will face it!”, whenever he was asked for his opinion on “what if” scenarios. The import of Kamaraj’s philosophy is simply that “we will cross the bridge when we come to it”.

I find that approach very valid in everyday Life too – as much as it must have been relevant in politics then.        

All our worries are of a future that has not yet arrived. We imagine worst case scenarios that, most often, really don’t happen. Yet we endlessly worry in anticipation of them. The very nature of a worry is of something unreal. It is always over something that hasn’t happened. Now if worry did not take you away from the reality of the present moment, of the now, it is fine. But worrying means not being present here – in the now. And Life is always happening in the now. So, worrying is futile. It drains you of your focus and pushes you down a spiral of fear and insecurity. This is not to say that you must not see reality. For example, someone you love is dying. The doctors have told you to be prepared to lose her. What I am saying here does not mean you must not see the reality of her death, which is due to happen in some time. Of course, you are sensible and you can and will see that she is slipping away. Her impending death is not the issue here. What may be a problem is your worry that you cannot think of a Life without her. That worry is what needs to be dealt with astutely. You cannot expect that worry not to arise. The nature of the human mind is that it will spew out thoughts, often worries, ceaselessly. When a worry arises, be aware. And tell the worry to subside saying you will deal with the, in fact, any, situation, when it arises. When you say this, in the context of your dying friend for example, you will be able to focus on spending the last few minutes with her “freely”. You will be “present” with her. You will not be consumed by either guilt or grief or remorse or anxiety. You will simply bewith her.

I have painted this morbid picture here only by way of illustrating this learning in a dramatic manner. Often, our anxieties are not and need not be about Life-changing issues. We tend to project what-if and worst-case scenarios in all contexts in Life. And therefore worrying has become an integral part of our everyday Life. To understand the futility of this compulsive habit of worrying, understand the way of Life. Know that when the future does arrive it will always be as the present moment, as the now. So, when you are worrying, the future arrives, but as the present, but you miss that moment, because you are still worrying about an unborn future. This way an entire lifetime passes by and finally, when death arrives, you realize, when it is too late, you have not lived your Life at all.

I have read of a story that Osho, the Master, often used to say. Three professors of philosophy were at a train station waiting for the train to depart. They were so engrossed in their discussion that they didn’t realize that the train had begun to move. When they did realize, the train had picked up some speed and was chugging out of the platform. Two of the professors managed to scramble on to the train. But the third could not make it. The train left without him. He was in tears on the platform watching his two friends frantically waving out to him from the train, at a distance. A porter asked the man on the platform what made him so upset. He said the man should actually feel happy that his two friends managed to get on to the train even if he couldn’t! The professor replied sorrowfully: “That’s the whole problem. Those two men came to see me off. I was the one who had to be on that train.”

And that is the way it is with all of us. We are so anxious about the future that we miss our trains – metaphorically – in each moment. Such living is simply squandering a lifetime. The venerable Kamaraj’s “agattum parkalam” approach helps us remember that when the (worst) future has not yet happened, there’s great value in just chilling!