On why do ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ folks?

‘Good’, ‘Bad’, ‘Right’, ‘Wrong’ … all these are societal labels. In reality, Life simply boils down to events and choices.
Something happens to you. It is an event. How you react or respond to that event is your choice. Period. When events meet or exceed your expectations, you label them good. If they don’t, you label them bad. If a choice you made delivers the outcome you expect, you call it good. And if it does not, you call it a bad choice! Simple.
Last evening, over some exotic Moroccan Mint tea, someone who had heard of our story and my Book asked me how could a ‘talented’ couple like Vaani and me be put through such a ‘trial’ by Life? This is a question that we are often asked. And I don’t have a very elaborate answer. The one I have is this…

Talent. Trial. Time. These are three things that we always obsess about. We think we are talented so we must be successful. We believe because we are good folks, Life should not try us! And we always want to be having the time of our lives – the way we want it! To be sure, talent and trial have no correlation. Often, we wonder why should we be tried in Life when we are talented, intelligent and ethical? Why should ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ folks? We must remember that talent is what we are endowed with; that includes the ability to deal with all kinds of trials and tribulations in Life! Trials are what we are and will be faced with. Both talent and trials are Life’s ways of making us who we must eventually be. And time is the eternal healer. Time is the catalyst. Time eventually makes us complete. When it is time to be tried, we will be. And when it is time to be toasted, we will be! So, if we give up the expectation that talented folks must not be tried, and learn to flow with time, we will never agonize in Life! We will be blissful!






Last night, as I caught Yash Chopra’s 1965-classic Waqt (Time) on TV, this iconic song played on aptly. The lead lyrics are aage bhi jaane na tu, pichhe bhi jaane na tu, jo bhi hai, bas yahi ek pal hai…meaning that you don’t know the future, you can’t do anything about the past, all you have is this moment, the now, to live in! So, peel off those labels. Don’t obsess over whether your choices are right or wrong. Just be happy you made one! Just be – live – in the moment. For there is no right or wrong, good or bad. Your Life, at the end the day, is all about choices you make in response to the events that happen to you!

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What others think of you does not really make your Life tick!

Learn to accept that people have a right to their opinions. Don’t resist either the people around you or their opinions. Simply move on.                                                                                                     
A lot of our quality time is lost in giving credence to other people’s opinions. From experience I can tell you that this is an absolute waste of time. What others think of you does not really make your Life tick. Period. Only when you give an opinion attention does it grow to be a problem – as in something that you have to deal with. If you just view an opinion as a mere statement, a string of words, and choose only what you want to internalize and discard the rest, there will be no problem.
Consider this example. I give you a pen as a gift. If you accept it, who does the pen belong to? It belongs to you. If you choose not to accept it and say that you don’t take gifts as a matter of principle, who does the pen now belong to? It belongs to the giver, me. Now instead of a pen, if it was an insult or an opinion, you have the same option. You can leave it, the “gift”, with the giver and not take it. You grieve only when you accept the opinion or insult and agonize over it in your mind – she said that, but why?; how dare he do that to me?; I need to teach them a lesson; I need to show them who I really am and such. The more you grieve the more you suffer. And that’s why most relationships end up withering away – simply because you don’t have the ability to let people have their opinions!
Opinions are of two kinds – serious, honest feedback and frivolous, even destructive, criticism. You have a choice to internalize and learn from the first kind. If you do, don’t let your mind complain about it by chewing on it endlessly. Someone said something you can learn from. Learn and move on. The second kind of opinion, the destructive criticism, just ignore and move on. Now, moving on is not always easy. The legendary Bollywood film-maker Yash Chopra would take weeks to recover whenever his films flopped. Obviously the reason why a film flops is because of audience opinion. Chopra would lock himself up in his room and step out only at meal times. For weeks he would do this until he “healed” from the criticism and until he “learned” from the feedback. So, like Chopra, choose your own method for dealing with opinions. But whatever it is, don’t grieve and agonize, and resultantly suffer, over what others have to say.
We create our own problems by wanting people to be different from who they really are. It is because they are a particular way that they have opinions such as the ones they make. Accept people for who they and know that they are entitled to their opinion, just as you are entitled to yours. When you remind yourself of this empowering perspective, every time you hear an opinion contrary to your own, you will find the energy and the ability to drop the opinion, to not judge the person who delivered it and to move on!

If you love, love openly

When you understand the true meaning of love, you will go beyond its physical expression.
Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha: Rang Barse
Yesterday, I watched ‘Silsila’ (Yash Chopra, 1981, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Rekha, Sanjeev Kumar) one more time. It’s a story of complicated relationships and of the people who are entangled in them. The movie made history not only because of the onscreen chemistry between Amitabh and Rekha but also because of the much rumored offscreen affair between them and the stresses between Amitabh and his onscreen wife Jaya (his real Life wife too). In one scene, in the iconic ‘Holi’song ‘Rang Barse’ (sung by Amitabh Bachchan himself), Amitabh hugs and kisses Rekha, much to the shock and dismay of their respective onscreen spouses, Jaya and Sanjeev Kumar – and to the surprise of the audience. While contextually, the hug and kiss are meant to only be a bold expression of the Amitabh-Rekha onscreen romance, there can be a spiritual interpretation to it too!
Here’s a Zen story, that I recall, to illustrate the point.

Twenty monks and one nun, called Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen Master.

Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.

Eshun did not reply. The following day the Master gave his customary morning lecture to the group, and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who had written to her, she said: “If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.”

The import of the story is that if you love, love openly. For long society has suppressed love. It is natural, it is human nature, for people to love other people. But society has placed a restriction. For ages now, society has proclaimed that you cannot love more than one. And that restriction has come about from what society has created again – the institution of marriage. Religion has made this even more complex and intimidating by introducing the concept of sin. So, if you love another when you are married to one, it is both illegal and a sin. This is because the meaning of love has been distorted. Love has come to mean something conditional – almost everyone is saying, at least through implication, that if you behave within the contours of a relationship, you will be loved by me.

So, Eshun’s open invitation in the Zen story, and Amitabh’s ‘daring’ act in the ‘Rang Barse’ song may alarm many. But, however difficult it may be to immediately relate to it or accept it, the truth is that it is they who personify true, pure love. As human beings, our true nature is love. We don’t have to do anything to love or be loving or become loving. We just have to tear down all the walls we have allowed to come up between us and our expression of love. Then love will transcend the physical plane and break through social barriers. Then we will love openly!