Being Guilty is Being Foolish


To be completely free, and live freely, free yourself of all guilt!
Guilt cripples. It comes between you and your joy! It is a wasteful emotion that debilitates a person completely. To free yourself of guilt, you must treat every effort you make as a learning. As yet another small experiment in this larger experiment called Life.
You feel guilty in the first place because you are so attached to the process of doing something that when it doesn’t get done the way you want it to, you feel morally accountable. But have you considered that Life doesn’t insist on anything from us? It doesn’t have definitions of success or failure. There are no SOPs – standard operating procedures, in Life! Then why do you insist that an outcome must be only the way you have envisioned it! It is only from that insistence that guilt is born. So, wouldn’t it be simpler if you had no attachment to what comes from your actions, choosing only to learn from each experience?
Sometimes things just happen to us. Or we may simply end up being at a place at a time, contributing unwittingly to an activity that will come to haunt us later. Or sometimes we may have just done or said something which may create a sense of pain in us when we pause to reflect. Every which way, feeling guilty after saying or doing something that you ought not to have said or done is completely in vain. Grieving over what you have done or could have done is the most futile of all emotions.
In the new Hindi movie ‘Talaash’, the main protagonist Inspector Surjan Singh Shekawat (played so brilliantly by Aamir Khan) carries the burden of his guilt, suffering immensely as he does that! He agonizes over it, in each of his waking moments and does not even get sleep! It is only when he realizes that he didn’t choose this Life, which he is currently experiencing, but that Life chose him, does his grief subside, his guilt evaporates and he awakens.
Ideally, you must not do anything that makes you feel guilty. But when you get caught in the throes of everyday living and your actions do cause you to feel guilty later, treat the event as simply an event. Learn from it. Don’t lean on it! What are the few things that we often feel guilty about? We get angry with someone and regret it later. We cheat and feel miserable when we reflect on our action __ especially when we are not caught cheating. We overindulge in loose conversation or alcohol or food in a social setting and say and do more than we must have. These occurrences are common place and all of us are prone to feeling guilty after we conduct ourselves in the manner in which we did. The mind will insist that you have lost your self-esteem and that you must redeem yourself. This is when brooding begins and you start descending down a negative, depressive spiral. Cut out the self-pity and focus on what caused you to behave in the way you did in the first place.
Or sometimes you could feel guilty over what you could have done in a situation that once existed. You could have been more responsible or loyal or compassionate or sensible. But ‘could have done’ is a review of the past. Some place in time that you cannot go back to anymore! What is the point in feeling guilty over an event that you cannot contribute to anymore?
In a way, truly, being guilty is being foolish. Life is not a six sigma process. There are no minimum error rate thresholds that anyone is demanding. Then why are you inflicting one on yourself? Life is about living, enthusiastically, trying out new things, being adventurous and learning from what outcomes you get and from what situations that you are given. Only when you live your Life with this simple understanding in mind, will you be happy. Guilt then subtracts from your happiness. Do you really want to not be happier than you are? As ‘Talaash’s’ tagline says __ the answer lies within!

The End is Always the Beginning!


The end is always the beginning! When you fail, love that moment. Because it teaches you how to face Life! Failure always prepares us for trying better the next time!
The reason why all of us struggle with coping with failure is because we think we are in control. We feel we have put in the best effort. And so, we believe, we must pull off every plan that we embark on. In a way it is our ego, of us knowing what the outcome will be, that makes our failures unbearable.
On the other hand, failure can be a great motivator if we shed our ego. When we understand that what’s within our control are only the motive, the means and the effort. Beyond that we don’t have any control and therefore no right to the outcome. When this thinking is firmly established in our sub-conscious, we will treat failure as a teacher. And worship failure than abhor or loathe it!
Abhishek and Vikram: Expressive and Intense!
Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet and converse with one of India’s finest film makers, Mani Ratnam. A good friend, and one of India’s finest cinema critics, Baradwaj Rangan’s new book ‘Conversations with Mani Ratnam’ was launched by Penguin yesterday. And I caught up with Mani on the sidelines of the event. Everyone around there at the event was keen to talk of and toast to Mani’s fine body of work, and his most successful films. I wanted to learn from him how he dealt with failure.
Me: “Mani, the director, as the captain, the leader, often takes some momentous decisions. They work out well sometimes. And they backfire sometimes. In recent times, your decision to cast Abhishek Bachchan as ‘Raavan’ in the Hindi version of the Tamizh film ‘Raavanan’ (Actor Vikram plays the title role in the Tamizh version!) completely backfired. How do you deal with a situation when you realize you have perhaps blundered with such an important decision?”
Mani: “Failure at and with something is not the end of the road. I still feel both choices__Vikram in Tamizh and Abhishek in Hindi__were right ones. And both actors delivered masterfully. They have very distinctive styles of delivery. One is intense and the other is expressive. As his director, I believe Abhishek gave me what I wanted. He gave me a stellar performance in that role. The audience rejected it though. And I accept that verdict. Did I fail? Commercially perhaps. But creatively, I learned more than what others may even understand. And that’s the only way to look at things when they don’t work out the way you planned them to be.”
That’s a great quality. A mark of a winner. To be himself in the face of both success and failure. When you fail, despite your best planning and efforts, it only reinforces that the Master Plan has no flaws. So, that moment of failure does not call for grief. It calls for exultation, celebration. Because you have just discovered something that has the potential to break your ego __ which is that YOU are NOT in control of any of the outcomes of your efforts! And why would anyone not want their ego bubble bursted? Because only in the absence of the ego does bliss arrive and thrive! When the ego dies, a new awakening, a new YOU is born!
Which is why the end is always the beginning. So, love it, love yourself when you fail. Because you have one more opportunity at Life and__hopefully, intelligent__living!

Relating is more important than relationships!


Relating is more important than relationships. The day people understand this there will really, seriously, be no problem between people.
What a relationship does is to make anything a quid pro quo. There is an unstated contractual arrangement. So then it becomes business.
This is why people break up, marriages fail and families suffer. Because a business arrangement has failed.
What does the business arrangement say? That I will be faithful as long as you are faithful. If you breach my set code of conduct, my terms, then it is off. Love between people cannot be conditional. An overwhelming proportion of marriages break up because the spouse “strayed” in the relationship! But that assessment of love is based on passion and not compassion. A physical yearning to try out a different partner is only an expression of a bodily urge. Sex is just pure passion. But love is about compassion. It is perfectly possible to satiate a physical urge and still be relating compassionately to another. But that is not the way the world sees it.
Society loves link-ups, extra-marital affairs and juicy tales of passion. The General Petraeus scandal or the Monica Lewinsky one titillates public sensibilities. People love hearing of others’ exploits. So the whole theory of relationships has acquired an unwarranted ring of morality to it! For no earthly reason! Judgments are passed and people are ostracized.
Nehru and Edwina
There’s still so much talk about the interest that former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had in Edwina Mountbatten (the wife of British India’s last Viceroy Lord Mountbatten). Edwina Mountbatten enjoyed a close and warm relationship with Jawaharlal Nehru but it was spiritual and intellectual, not a sexual one, says the lady’s daughter Pamela Hicks. Excerpts from her just released book Daughter of Empire published in Friday’s Daily Mail say Lord Mountbatten was aware of his wife’s fondness for Nehru but did not interfere. Edwina fell madly in love with the country and with Pandit Nehru, the first Prime Minister after Indian independence, says Hicks, now 83. From the start, there was a profound connection between them, she said. “She found in Panditji the companionship and equality of spirit and intellect that she craved. Each helped overcome loneliness in the other.”
That’s what relating is all about. Mountbatten’s decision to not interfere is commendable. It is that maturity which we need to bring into our lives and associations with people. Seriously, if they did have a physical dimension to their affair, so what? It is between two adults. Why judge their desire to explore and enjoy each other privately?
Osho, the Master, says,”Relationship means something complete, finished, closed. Love is never a relationship; love is relating. It is always a river, flowing, unending. Love knows no full stop. It is an ongoing phenomenon. Lovers end, love continues. It is a continuum. It is a verb, not a noun. And why do we reduce the beauty of relating to a relationship?”.
Think about it. If you are having pain in a relationship__any relationship: brother-sister, boss-subordinate, husband-wife, lovers, neighbors, parent-child__then the simple truth is that YOU BOTH, whoever you may be, have stopped relating to each other! If you want to experience joy, then the only way you can have that happen between two people is when they relate to each other. So, in which context in your Life are you finding the river of love flowing and in which one are you finding the relationship stagnating? You know what you must do. Only when you do that, will you find the happiness that you seek!

Don’t come in the way of your children!


Don’t come in the way of your children. Let them journey through their lives and find their own paths.
We try to possess our children just because we gave birth to them and therefore we are ‘rightfully’ (that’s a delusionary claim, in my humble opinion!) worried for them. The very idea of possession is so vulgar. It reduces the child to a thing. You possess a thing. You don’t possess your children. You have them in your Life because you are blessed! Parenting is a blessing and is not your birthright!
I read some very tragic stories in the media over the last couple of days. That got me thinking on parenting, responsible parenting at that, all over again. And when I refer to parenting, I am not just referring to biological parents here. I am addressing the role of teachers, society and media, besides the natural parents.
Ashok Kumar
The first story is of a 15-year-old school boy from Chennai, R.Ashok Kumar, who was the runner-up in the National (Indian) Badminton championships. When he returned to Chennai with his medal and certificates, his school admonished him for missing too many classes ‘in the name of sports’! His mother, who works as a maid in households in the neighborhood, is at a loss on what to do. She says her son loves the sport but is ‘worried’ because the school threatens to throw him out. This was also the fate of young Indian cricket star, Unmukt Chand, 19, who led India to victory in the U-19 Cricket World Cup a few months ago. His college, St.Stephen’s in New Delhi, initially did not allow him to appear for his exams because he did not have enough attendance! It then took some backlash in public for the college to revoke its insensitive and senseless stand!
At least, in these two cases, we can see that the children as still in a younger age group, and therefore having __ not mandatorily, in my humble opinion again__to be answerable or responsible towards a school or college, apart from their own families.
Gaurav Jain
But take the case of this young post-graduate, Gaurav Jain, from New Delhi. The Hindu reports that after picking up a Master’s Degree from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication’s Amravati campus this year, Gaurav realized he needed to live the Life of a poor person if he wanted to honestly critique public policy. So, on September 10, 2012, he hired a cycle rickshaw from Roop Nagar (a New Delhi suburb) for Rs. 40 a day, giving his driving license as collateral. Apart from actually living the Life of the folks on the street, Jain also writes a blog on his daily learnings. Titled ‘The other side of the Fence’, his blog, cycletorickshaw.blogspot.in, chronicles his Life and times. And Life on the street is not easy. It has his own upheavals. Jain, given his education, started to mobilize the unorganized cycle rickshaw pullers into a team so that they could demand better fares from customers and better treatment from the high-handedness of the cops, who normally give members of this trade a raw deal. A few weeks ago, Jain was assaulted by a cop for “parking in a no-parking zone”. The story made it to the papers in New Delhi. And Jain’s family flipped! They had no idea their son was a rickshaw puller. And so they actually threw him out. They disowned him! And Jain found himself sharing a 100-sq ft space in a small tenement with six other daily wage earners! The Hindu further reports further that since this incident, his family and Jain have made peace. Jain is now back home. Enriched with his experience, he is now looking for positions where he can apply his real-world perspective in matters of public policy!
Can you imagine a family actually disowns, even if for just a few weeks, an adult son, just because he dared to be different __ with a good reason to boot?
This brings us to a larger question, a common thread, that passes through all three stories and is possibly playing out in your own homes too! And that is the rather sick trend of parents (and teachers) coming in the way of their children’s dreams! If you have adolescent children you will relate to this even more. You are finding now that your child, who until now, was listening to you, does not want to be told ‘anything’. You are beginning to wonder if your child is focused on academics. You worry, therefore, for your child’s grades and job prospects. If this is happening in your home, let me tell you that YOU are losing it! Your worry is understandable. But you acting from that worry __ what you fear about your child’s future __ is totally unacceptable. Instead why can’t you act from faith __ in your child’s desire and ability to make intelligent, independent choices about her or his Life? And why can’t you have faith in your ability to guide, counsel and support your child’s vision for herself or himself? Your children want to live THEIR lives. Get this straight. If you have taught them good values and share a good bond with them, then, you have raised them well! You have got an ‘A’. Beyond this, please, let us__that you and me__not come in their way.
If a child wants to take up badminton or tennis or cricket as a career or act in movies or ride a cycle rickshaw or be a ragpicker, what, pray, is the harm? How many more doctors and engineers and lawyers and software programmers do we want to produce in this world? And if children don’t take those decisions how will we have next the Saina Nehwal or Roger Federer or Sachin Tendulkar or Amitabh Bachchan or Gandhi? How will we have a better world if we keep championing conservative, secure careers, accepting mediocrity in thinking and limiting the aspirations of our children?
Here’s a simple test that you may want to take in your private time. Do it with just yourself. If you are a parent, ask yourself:
  1. Am I doing what I enjoy doing and love doing or am I just earning a living?
  2. Given a choice wouldn’t I want to be doing something totally different from what I do to earn a paycheck just now?
  3. Do I want to see my child as a well qualified professional or do I wish for her or him to be a well-rounded human being?
  4. Will I feel proud my child owned a villa and four cars or will I be happier if she or he touched the lives of people, made a difference to this world and inspired millions?
You know what you answered. You know what needs to be done. You are not dumb-headed because you are the parent (or teacher) of such a beautiful, intelligent child! So, please, for heaven’s sake, get out of the way of your child’s future. Your child needs your love, your understanding, not your ‘help’ and certainly not your decisions that are born from your insecurities, fears and worries!
      

Expectations bring agony!


Expectations bring agony when they are not met. Agony leads to frustration. Frustration to anger. And anger sometimes culminates in rage__extreme agitation in the mind. And, far too often, as we see it in the world around us today, rage in the mind manifests itself as physical violence. 

But what causes expectations in the first place? The thinking that YOU are in control creates a desire, an expectation. Because you work hard and sincerely, you think you deserve a higher raise. So, you desire. Because you brought your child into this world, you think your child must ALWAYS live life the way you want her/him to. So, that’s an expectation. Because you have never done any wrong unto anyone and have had a healthy lifestyle, you believe you must never ail from a dreaded disease like cancer. Again, expectation. But how are you__and I__ever in control of anything? 

Look, the sun, the birds, the world, go on without us controlling them. We can’t as much as twiddle our toes of our own accord. We control NOTHING. We are but specks in this vast cosmic design, nobodies. When we are anchored in this humble truism, there will be no expectation, we will live in the moment and will live in peace. Only then will we experience bliss HERE and NOW. 

When we begin to see ourselves as controlling even a minuscule element in this cosmos, we will cause misery within us and then in our immediate circle of influence. 

To keep yourself grounded and free from expectations, desires, agony, frustration, anger, rage, and to find bliss, ALWAYS remember that ‘life goes on not because of you, but in spite of you’!

Celebrate Helplessness!


Be ecstatic when you feel helplessness. You may not always find solutions to what you are confronted with, but you will find peace. 
The normal human tendency is to grieve over being helpless. You are watching someone close to you die. Maybe a disease. Maybe an addiction. You have tried everything. Medicine. Counseling. Yet the person is dying __ and you feel powerless. Helpless. Or you know someone is taking a wrong decision. Like a sibling or a child or a friend entering into a relationship __ business or personal. Again you have tried making that person see sense. You have advised caution and have held a mirror. But no, the person in question, is intent on committing hara-kiri. What do you? You end up wringing your hands in despair.
Sometimes, your own situation may be one of helplessness. What do you do when each time you try to pick up and wind up the threads of your Life, they are snatched away, knotted up and thrown asunder? I have a personal situation, a relationship, which to most human beings is sacred, but to me it just doesn’t exist. And I have a business situation which, despite my best efforts, refuses to correct itself. There have been times when I have fought with both situations. And grieved endlessly. Until, after years of battling, of agonizing, I realized that your helplessness is a stark reminder that you are not in control. That your game is being played by Life all along. And that you are merely to allow yourself to be played with!
When this realization dawns, it is an awakening moment. It is an intensely private moment of discovery. You can call it enlightenment. Here you are, with all your education and upbringing, imagining that you are in control. You grieve therefore because this situation you are faced with refuses to listen to you. When you try, cry, lament, kick around, fail, try again, kick again, scream, agonize, suffer, give up, and come back to try again__somewhere in your nth attempt to regain control of your Life, you see the writing on the wall. And it reads: “Smile. Relax. Life’s in charge!”  
Allowing yourself to be played with by Life does not mean inaction and resignation. It means acceptance and humble submission. It is to do what you think you can, and what you must, without grieving.
Helplessness is actually a great feeling. It celebrates the dropping of the ego. Why do you feel helpless? Because you are unable to control some things about your Life. And the desire to control, to stay on top, is your ego at work. Nothing else. Helplessness leads also to understanding the true nature of your Self and to peace. Take hurricane Sandy or the March 2011 Japanese earthquake. Despite mankind’s greatest discoveries and scientific advancements, what were we humans able to do against nature’s will? We were helpless. We were mere spectators to events that were happening to us, around us, about us. In a way, helplessness always begins with sorrow. With grief. But if you are aware and awake, your grief will be replaced soon with acceptance and peace. Because Life is such __ transient, impermanent. So, why grieve?
Instead enjoy the cosmic process of teaching you to surrender. There is great joy in this surrender. Because initially you will resist. Then you will realize the futility of such resistance. And then when you finally give in, you accept, you humbly submit, you will exult! Because you will feel great inner peace. It’s beautiful. You have to experience it to believe it!  
So, take any situation in your Life that you are dealing with currently. And celebrate your helplessness. Choose a time when you are alone. Stand at your balcony, on the beach, in the middle of a busy street, or sprawl on your carpet as if no one was watching, and in your intensely private moment, in your personal space, let go and tell Life, “Come take me!”. Cry if you must. Scream if it want to. Just rejoice over your helplessness. Feel a new peace embracing you. Not only will you feel better, you will want more of it!
This then is your true prayerful state. Because prayer is not what you recite. Prayer is what you feel when you are one with the Universe. When you accept your helplessness, your egolessness, even momentarily, you will be blissful!

Motivation is an Inside Job!


Motivation is really an inside job! Every once in a while you will feel destroyed and completely worthless. That’s when you must draw from your inner reservoir of happiness and reenergize yourself.
Feel happy? When you are sad, down and out? How is that possible, you may well wonder?
Well, take, for instance, the most horrifying, saddest moment of your Life thus far and ask yourself how could you ever have made the situation any better by brooding over it? You cannot get rid of sadness, suffering and agony with more sadness, more suffering and more agony. You cannot rid yourself of any feeling that debilitates you by being sad that it (the feeling) exists. You can only change your current realities by connecting with your inner joy, by being happy.
In any tough situation, obviously one that you dislike, a good starting point is to ask how you are feeling. Replace that feeling with a sense of acceptance over how things are. If you are having a break up and are grieving over it, accept that it is over and done with. If you are having a health challenge, begin by accepting the prognosis. If you have lost heavily in business, accept that you goofed up, that the money is gone! Of course, the situations you choose to accept may have never been what you want them to be. Yet there is no denying that they are the way they are! It is only when you accept Life for what it is, will happiness flower inside you. Until then happiness will seem elusive. It may even seem bizarre. That till you accept a situation, you have poor self-esteem, feel self-pity, brood and feel intensely low. And the moment you accept, you feel peaceful, are flooded with a new, positive energy and are willing to give Life one more chance!
That’s really how you motivate yourself in tough times. External reference points can only be inspirations. But for something to happen to you, it must first happen from within you!  
Zig Ziglar
One of the greatest champions of re-energizing oneself Zig Ziglar, died a few hours ago in Texas, USA. He was 86. All his Life he exhorted people to accept, to appreciate and to find opportunities by being happy with what they have. He often told a story about a woman in Alabama who he said was bitter about her job and angry with her co-workers. He advised her to write down whatever positives she could think of — the solid paycheck, the benefits, the vacation time — and then stare into the mirror and say how much she loved her job. Six weeks later, he said, he ran into her again. “I’m doing wonderfully well,” she told him with a bright smile, adding, “You cannot believe how much those people down there have changed.” Ziglar would also always remind us that ‘failure is an event and never a person’. The import being simply that we may fail with many things and many times in our Life but each time we can bounce back by being happy with ourselves!
Being happy does not mean that sadness will not strike you. It may well when things don’t go per your own plan. But it will not affect you anymore. Being happy is the ability to celebrate what you have, despite your circumstances, rather than agonize over what you don’t have. When you choose to be happy, you, naturally, will be more alive, more motivated to live a fuller, meaningful Life!
So, the antidote to failure, to unmet expectations, is to motivate ourselves to believe, to try again and keep doing this__as long as we must__till we get the results that we want!

Worship Your Divinity!



Recognize how sacred you are and worship your divinity.
There’s so much focus on an external God that we humans have all but conceded that we are mere pawns in this game called Life! While it is important to follow our individual faith and respect the traditions in which we have been raised, it is equally crucial for us not to feel unworthy.  
Just consider you upbringing. You have been told that God is all powerful. That God hates sinners. And that you must keep doing good to stay blessed. So, all along, the reference point is something external. And when things go wrong, as they often do, you believe that your solutions too has to come from an outside source! As you grow up you do get a whiff of wisdom and realize that it is perhaps possible that the energy that powers the Universe, that keeps you alive, is inside of you. And that energy is possibly the God that everyone refers to and is looking for. Yet years of conditioning cannot possibly be dismissed by few moments of epiphany.
Also consider the experiences when you have possibly encountered people who, while appearing to be incapable of divinity (at least as perceived by us), are able to provide phenomenal insights to intelligent living. Your logical, re-doubting mind often wonders if such people have an axe to grind or are charlatans! Fundamentally, while we humans crave that the Gods we worship, in temples and churches and mosques and gurudwaras, open their eyes and grant us our wishes, we have a serious problem believing and trusting when God, finally, speaks, especially in human form!
Seek Within and You shall find
During some specially trying times, a few years ago, my wife and I went to meet a Siddha yogi. We were referred to him by a close friend. When we reached his place, on the outskirts of Chennai, we were quite startled to find him dressed in a lungi and vest, standing outside on the street and smoking a beedi. He politely requested us to go inside and be seated. He took his own time finishing his smoke and later joined us. As soon as he sat down in front of us, he said, “Is your problem your debt?” We were dumbfounded. Startled. Shocked. We had not spoken to him about anything. Nor had we introduced ourselves. And here he was, putting his finger on exactly the same issue that confronted us, our enormous debt and our struggling business! How was that possible, we wondered? But the yogi had no intention to allow us time to marvel at his abilities. He continued quickly, even as I mumbled saying yes, “Sir, your problem is not your debt. Your problem is how you are dealing with your debt. You are hating your debt. So, it bothers you. Instead love your debt. It has come into your Life to teach you something. Learn you lessons. And be sure that when you learn them your debt will go away just the way it came into your Life. All our problems in Life can be solved ONLY when we look within and find our OWN answers.” With that our meeting ended.
We found his answer too simplistic. I remember telling my wife as I got into our car that the man is either too naïve or is a charlatan! Now, when I look back I realize how stupid, fickle and uncharitable I had been. Because the yogi had not called us, we went to him. He did not ask for money. He did not prescribe a tantric ritual or a series of prayers. All he said was look within and advised us to learn our lessons while loving the problem that had invited itself over in our Life! Over the years I have found only his approach working for us. Our problems remain where they are. Even so, our ability to deal with them have grown phenomenally because we have learned to love them and continue to learn from them. The yogi has also become a close personal friend who has taught us another important perspective to Life: “Worship the divinity within you. Face Life. All your solutions, to problems that confound you, are within. Seek within and you shall find them”!
In our case, it was our debt. Your story and your problem situation may be different. But whatever the problem may be, I am sure, this awakening perspective will certainly apply to you too.
It really is as simple as it sounds. Life is not complicated. We make it so by failing to recognize our own divinity!  

Don’t resist Life! Embrace it, for what it is!!


When grave things happen to you in Life allow them to. Don’t resist them. Just deal with them.
There’s a big difference between dealing with Life and resisting Life. Resistance always brings grief along with it. Because what happened to was always ordained to. And what is to happen will. This has been my key learning from Life: that Life’s Master Plan has no flaws. So, resistance to any situation is stupidity.
I know it will be frightfully difficult to “allow things to happen to you and merely deal with them”. Because it is intrinsic human nature to question, to demand justice, to want to control a situation that is happening without your wanting it or allowing it to happen. But recognize the futility in resistance by looking at all your Life’s upsets, crises and tragedies, up until so far. Despite your kicking around, didn’t those things, events, situations just happen to you? Your resistance only brought you agony. Untold misery and suffering too, depending on the gravity of your own situation. Instead ask yourself if it would not have been different if you had dealt with the situation __ calmly, purposefully?
Dealing with Life doesn’t mean inaction. Acceptance doesn’t mean sitting back and doing nothing. In this context, dealing with Life means doing what you must, to the best of your ability without being  agitated, desperate or sorrowful. Channelize your distaste for your situation to trying to change it with focus, purpose and astute action. Know also fully well that some situations in Life may not be changeable after all!
Conceptually, you may be in agreement with this approach. But should you try it, you may come back and report that it’s still a struggle. And that struggle, my dear friend, will come because of another innate human trait that will surface, which is our tendency to cling on to the past. Most often our progress, our moving on, is affected because we still have one foot in the past and we refuse to extricate ourselves from that which is over. The past is dead. In Tamizh, the past is referred to as the ‘erantha kalam’ __ which means ‘time that is dead’! The past is gone. And is over with. The more you dwell in it, the more removed you will be from the opportunity to live freely.
Sonali with Lara Dutta-Bhupathi and Amitabh Bachchan
Let me share with you Sonali Mukherjee’s story. In 2003, when she was just 18, Sonali, who lives in Dhanbad, in the north Indian state of Jharkhand, turned down a marriage proposal from a certain Tapas Mitra. A month-and-a-half after she spurned his offer, Mitra, aided and abetted by two of his friends, attacked Sonali and poured acid on her face, disfiguring her gruesomely, permanently. Now, 26, Sonali has gone through 22 surgeries to graft skin and restore, to whatever limited extent possible, her face. She has lost her eyesight in the incident and is due for nine more restorative surgeries. Her family has spent their entire resources on her treatment. And they live in abject penury while her assailants roam scot free, having been granted bail by a higher court (after a lower court sentenced them to nine years imprisonment). Sonali’s complaint/appeal in the higher court is pending trial. Those who understand India will know that this trial could take several more years to complete. Just consider the poor girl’s plight: she has lost her identity, justice is being both delayed and denied to her and all this, for no fault of hers! On Sunday’s Kaun Banega Crorepati show (Indian version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’), the host, the Indian super star, Amitabh Bachchan asked Sonali, who won Rs.25 Lakh (about USD 50,000) prize money that evening, what was her thinking on the incident and towards her assailants. Stoic and with deep conviction, Sonali replied: “I don’t want to look back. I just want to focus on what I can do now. I will continue to seek justice from the courts. But importantly, I want to be available to other victims of violence and abuse and help them on their lives’ journeys.”
That’s really how you deal with Life. Stay stoic. Stay resolute.
Contrast your own situations with Sonali’s. What she has lost can’t even be recovered. Some of our stories may be similar too. Sonali then is an inspiration. She teaches us the value in accepting, and moving on, with conviction and calm. Some other stories may not be as gruesome. What is lost, for instance money or property, may still be, over time, be regained. In such situations, Sonali’s story should remind us of our blessings. Either way let us remember we don’t have a right to grieve. Because grief and bliss cannot co-exist.

So, if you want to be in peace, in bliss, give up resisting Life, give up grieving and embrace Life for what it is, the way it is. Loving ‘what is’ is intelligent living!

Life Really Is A Mind Game


Life really is a mind game. And you need to be on top of the game to live your Life fully!
The human mind is an amazing, to use a Gen Y term, App! It can do more things than even your iPhone or the fastest supercomputer on the planet ever can! The key is to use it effectively, efficiently and point it to whatever you want out of your Life.  
Examine each of your feelings. Worry, guilt, anger, jealousy, sorrow, pain, suffering __ all of them are born out of your mind. Have you ever asked yourself why do these feelings arise? Let’s take a case. You lose your job. And are out of money. You need to pay your bills. You are fearful as a new month dawns. Is the month fearful? Is the bill fearful? Is non-payment of bills fearful? Or is it that your mind tells you that a scary future awaits you? Indeed it your mind that induces feelings in you. What if someone told you__and proved to you__that non-payment of bills is moksha or nirvana or salvation or bliss?   
According to the Buddha, the mind is full of drunken monkeys who are always jumping around, aimlessly, boisterously, mischievously, cantankerously. They are noisy and there is an incessant chatter that they cause. The drunken monkeys are Buddha’s metaphor for the 60,000 thoughts that arise in your mind daily. Research has proven that the average human mind throws up 60,000 thoughts daily. And these thoughts are random. They sometimes have no relation to what you are doing. For instance, while driving to work, you may see a lady in a red dress. And that lady could remind you of a girl from your college that you once had a crush on. And soon the thoughts could move to how difficult you found Economics back then. That thought could lead you to how you cheated in exams. And then you start wondering how hypocritical it is to be counseling your adolescent child on integrity. Then you think about the lack of transparency in public Life. You think of the state of your country. And then your mind complains about how bad the roads are and how messy the traffic has become. One red dress took you, in a few seconds, on a trip that spanned several decades and various issues! 
That’s really how powerful your mind is. The Buddha also taught that it is imminently possible to tame the mind monkeys. He said don’t resist them, don’t control them, because what you resist, persists. Instead tame them. And that means give them something meaningful to play with. On a spiritual plane, giving the monkeys awareness of your true Self is a beautiful way to tame them. When your mind knows who you really are__that you are simply the energy that powers the Universe__the mind will quit playing stupid, senseless games. You will begin to see everything__EVERYTHING__as petty, transient, fleeting and inconsequential. Success, failure, sorrow and joy, will mean the same to you. On a more practical plane, taming the monkeys means giving them a higher cause, a Purpose and a Vision, to play with. Which is, when the monkeys know why they do what they do, they will do it with involvement, with passion and with diligence. Then there will be no jumping around. There will be a certain aesthetic quality to your thinking, bringing a beauty, a sense of Purpose to everything that you do! 
On Sunday, Aadya Kaktikar wrote, in The Times of India’s Crest Edition, a piece on Odissi exponent Guru Mayadhar Raut. In the article, reviewing Raut’s biography ‘Odissi Yatra’, Kaktikar asks the Guru how he has such a phenomenal memory at his ripe age of 83. And Raut replies: ‘Ye man ki ekagrata se hota hai. Ye man ek rai ki pudiya jaise hai. Yadi bikhar gaya to use phir saath lana assambhav hai’. Meaning, “This is possible due to the focus of the mind. The mind is like a bag of mustard seeds. Once the seeds scatter it is impossible to gather them again.”
Mindfulness: This is so simple and yet so profound!

That’s at the same time so simple and yet so profound. For all of us who have not tamed our mind monkeys, our thoughts are like those mustard seeds__they are all over the place. Which is why we worry, fear, are anxious, sometimes jealous, often angry and are quickly filled with suffering at the slightest hint of pain! Which is also why we don’t see the beauty, magic and miracle of Life, in everyday occurrences. 

Change your Manic Monday today to Mindful Monday! Point your mind in the direction of your true Self and on your Vision for yourself. Let nothing distract you.  
Remember as long as your thoughts, your mustard seeds are gathered and your mind monkeys stay tamed, you will be alive to the magic of each moment. It is the sum of all these awakened moments that will make up the rest of your Life! To make them memorable or keep them manic, of course, is your personal choice!