When you embrace your problems, they make you stronger

No problem goes away until you have learnt from it and know how to deal with it.
This is the simple truth we all fail to get. And so, we keep denying problems or keep hoping the problems will go away. Only when we stop denying or wishing our problems away, only when we embrace and welcome our problems with open arms do we find them mellowing down, or easing their stranglehold on our lives. Even so, what happens then is that the problem still remains as it is, where it is, only, our ability to deal with it gets better. When we are able to deal with a situation better, we play the game__in this case, of Life__better. When we play anything well, we experience joy. When there is joy, nothing remains a problem.
The Bible says,”And God said, let there be light; and there was light.” The light that God is referring to is the joy in us. Just as darkness cannot exist in the presence of Light, problems cease to exist in their draconian forms when we experience inner joy and peace. This essentially means that when we are anchored, our problems don’t frighten us, they don’t make us insecure. We then learn to co-exist with our problems.

Let us stop making pimples seem like cancers. Let us un-darken our lives by opening our souls to the Light within. Let us embrace our problems and discover the joy of having them in our lives__and be grateful for the opportunity they give us to learn from them and become better, stronger people.

Real faith is when you can live in the darkness and know that there “will” be light

Faith requires no special sacrifices. Just complete mindfulness.

In the darkest of hours, when the chips are down, and you are up against a big, huge wall, it is normal for you to get tense, for your mind to get distracted with worries and imagine scary, ‘what if’scenarios. You are feeling that way because you are no longer mindful. Your sense of grief is arising from the fact that what you wanted to happen is not happening. Instead, you begin to fear, that something unplanned, unexpected may take over your Life. Mindfulness helps you stay in the present. The present moment may be indeed stark, but when you are mindful you realize that your future state has not yet arrived. So, you begin to see the futility in being worried and fearful – why fear something which is not there?

Let us say that you are expecting a raise. Just then there’s news that recession has hit your industry and that your company is likely to announce layoffs and freeze pay hikes. Now, your vacation plans, your idea of applying for a mortgage loan on your house and some investment options you have been considering are possibly likely to go on the back burner. You begin to worry. While the reality looks grim there need not be any truth in your fear that your raise will not come through. It is your fear of what you think is a likely consequence that makes you worry. Mindfulness helps you here. When you are mindful, you learn to stay with the reality, accepting it as it is. While at the same time it also teaches you to greet any fresh reality__like your imagined future or otherwise__only when it arrives, not before that.

This attitude, really, is what faith is all about. Many people will tell you that faith is about fasting, about going to temples, to places of worship, about abstinence and about talismans. But real faith is when you can continue to live in the darkness, appreciate the darkness and yet never imagine that darkness can ever submerge light. In fact, just the opposite is true. Only light can remove darkness. So, if you want to get out of any hopeless situation, imagining that the situation will finish you is indeed poor thinking and you are causing yourself to be fearful and stressful. Faith demands that you think intelligently. With faith, anything is possible!

When we are illuminated from within, we are enlightened

The ability to see Life clearly is what leads us to be illuminated from within, to be enlightened.
A holy Hindu scripture, Brihadanyaka Upanishad, has a prayer with the line that goes “Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya”, imploring the Almighty to lead the prayerful from ‘darkness unto light’. From a state of existing to awakening. From being unenlightened to enlightened. This state, while salubrious to the soul when in prayer, is often, in all practicality, seen as unattainable. And this is why humankind fail to see the huge opportunity to evolve and awaken to this simple truism.
We think enlightenment is for the Buddha, for the fakirs, for the Himalayan Masters. And that those of us who are caught in the worldly web of action, emotion and desires, have to be content with just prayer which sounds pious on the lips but is listless in the heart! And so, we have concluded that several of us will suffer in the dark recesses of our existence. This need not be so. There is a way out. Interestingly, simply, practically, it is possible to lift ourselves from darkness to light. Instantaneously. All we need to do is to see Life with clarity.
Legend has it that when the Buddha was dying, and was about to embark on his ultimate journey, his disciple Anand, was distraught and was crying. He asked the Buddha, “What will happen to me?  Who will guide me now?  Who will show me the light?”  Buddha opened his eyes and uttered his last famous words, “Appo Deepo Bhava”. (Be a light unto yourself!)  “There is no one else on this inner journey.  We are all alone.  We need our own light to show the way,” was the advice the Buddha gave Anand.
Indeed, to find enlightenment, you don’t need anyone, you don’t need a venue, a tree or a religion. You only need yourself. You are the One! You are the only one who can be your own light. What is this light? This light is nothing but clarity in and about Life. To see things as they are. And not to interpret them or try to choose between them. There is always clarity in each moment. And you need not do anything other than just see it. For example, if there is death of a dear one, see it that way. Don’t avoid it or lament it. If there is loss in business, in love, see it as a loss. If there is birth of a child, see the new Life. Don’t reason, don’t justify, don’t exult, don’t gloat. When you see Life for what it is, as it is, choice disappears.
J.Krishnamurthi (1895~1986), the renowned philosopher, calls this choicelessness. This ability to see things as they are. When we have the clarity of this insight, it brings us freedom. Because we are no longer fearful of a choice that may lead to grief or are desiring success and witnessing the bloating of our egos because we chose right. This clarity, this freedom, is the light that can illuminate our souls. When we are illuminated from within, we are enlightened. We would then have passed from darkness to eternal light.

On being the light yourself!

Your Life will be as dark as you imagine it to be.
Over these last few days of Diwali fervor, there’s so much talk about darkness and light, on social media that it’s assuming an almost banal proportion. People are mindlessly talking about dispelling the darkness around them with light – ostensibly with candles and diyas, and firecrackers. It’s almost as if a social media status or an utterance or wishing over SMS or WhatsApp can make anyone’s Life brighter. I am not being cynical. I am only calling for a greater degree of reflection. What about the darkness within? How will you dispel it?
This reflection requires that you first understand the meaning of darkness in a Life context. Almost all of us are steeped in worry, insecurity, anxiety, guilt, anger, grief and fear. This is the darkness that grips our soul. And the true message of Diwali is to trust Life and allow your faith to light you up from within. As our lives get challenged by events, people and circumstances, we often tend to worry over what will happen to us, we fear the unknown future – and these are what are causing us to feel that our lives are filled with darkness. In such times, we must learn to keep the faith – and learn to be the light ourselves. Metaphorically, when you find yourself in a dark, endless tunnel and you don’t see the light at the end of that tunnel, your faith can be your light!
Where does such faith come from? It comes from a deeper understanding of Life. It comes from knowing that if you have been created, you will be looked after, cared for and provided for – no matter what the circumstances may be. However, Life’s provisions are never to meet your wants. Yet all that you need will be available to you when you need it the most. I am reminded of a beautiful song from “Panakkaran” (1990, P.Vasu, Rajnikanth, Gauthami, Ilayaraaja), sung by Ilayaraaja. The song goes like this: “Maratha Vecheven Thanni Oothuvan…” meaning “The one who planted (created) the tree will water it too…”. If you follow Tamil, you can listen to the song here.

This song epitomizes the true nature of Life. It reminds us that all our worries, anxieties and fears serve no purpose. That what will happen will happen, no matter how much you worry. And no matter what happens, you will still be taken care of by Life, not the way you want to be, but the way you must be. When you don’t hold this faith in Life, when you don’t trust the cosmic design, you grope in the darkness that you have invited into your Life. So, truly, you are responsible for your Life being filled with darkness. The moment you start trusting that a way will always be born to take you onward, despite all the darkness, you will see the light. And surely you will be that light too! 

Believing, while living in the dark

People often report that they find it difficult to stay positive in the face of intense negativity. And though they are not wrong in facing a struggle,  it is possible that they may not be approaching the negative in their lives the right way.
Let’s understand first that negativity__in people, in situations, in events__cannot be ignored. It is real. To look, as some would suggest, only at the brighter side of Life when things are on fire on another side, is to look away, to ignore the reality. No one who has ignored what is has ever been able to deal with it, forget overcoming it. Leadership is the ability to see reality and mobilize the appropriate response, taught management thinker, Noel Tichy. And I agree with him. So, when things are out of control, when everything’s broken, staying positive does not mean ignoring that reality. You can stay positive though while accepting the reality. It is when you want to wish away the negative that it insists on showing up, again and again, and terrorizing you. Instead if you accept it, and choose to stay positive despite your circumstances, you would have learnt the art of intelligent living.
The positivity in us cannot and must not be pretentious. Nothing succeeds against Life. You cannot be in the throes of a crisis and imagine it does not exist. And simply say it will all be fine soon. What happens when, after a period of time, the ‘soon’, does not happen – say after a month, a year, a decade?! Such flaky positivity, such vain optimism will evaporate at some point, leaving you devastated. Instead, first accept your situation. Understand it. Be conscious of it. Stay aware. And then look for the blessings, the abundance, the silver lining and live each day believing things will change. Until they change, recognize and appreciate, that you will have to live with the reality, whatever it is, without wishing it weren’t so. The crucial difference is that your acceptance and awareness will ensure that you stay anchored in faith. That faith will give you the patience. To be sure, your problems or your situation will not change overnight, or dramatically, but your ability to face them stands phenomenally enhanced.  
Understand that it takes the dark nights along with the bright days to make up Life. Without darkness, we will never appreciate the value of light. Staying positive does not mean wishing the darkness away or hoping it doesn’t exist. It means accepting the darkness for being what it is – intense, gripping, fearful – and believing that if it is night now, a dawn will surely follow.

Your greatest gifts in Life come disguised as your worst nightmares

It is in your darkest hours that you are able to see clearly. This is when you truly understand your Life’s purpose and learn to live intelligently. So when it is dark, don’t despair. It is in the darkness of the night that you can see the stars!

No one loves darkness. Because we are all scared of the dark. As children we hesitated to enter dark rooms without an adult to help us turn on the light. Similarly, when sometimes Life does turn dark, with no light to guide us, no way forward that’s visible, we are overcome by fear. We start imagining that the worst is about to happen to us. That it is all over. We hate such situations don’t we?

But try loving a dark phase in Life than hating it and you will find it an extremely rewarding experience. When the chips as down and you are pushed by Life to a corner, if you actually pause to reflect, you will find a lot to learn from the situation. Ask yourself:

  1. What did I do or not do that has led me to where I find myself now?
  2. What can I learn from this experience?
  3. What must I do to change the situation and get out of the mess I find myself in?

These questions are not the only ones. But they begin a process of internal inquiry. You may not also instantly find the answers. But asking these soul-searching questions can beat depression for sure.

Remember: your greatest gifts in Life come disguised as your worst nightmares. Let me not tell you any story here. Be guided by your own Life’s experiences. Think of all the times in your Life that you have hated whatever was happening with you. Think of your evolution since. Haven’t you found opportunities that you have benefited from ONLY because of the fact that you were in the throes of those crises?

The truth is that but for a setback, we never look for newer ways of surviving, working and, therefore, succeeding. Much of our intellect comes from knowledge acquired in University classrooms, but all our wisdom, which is understanding the meaning of all that knowledge, comes ONLY from the experience we go through in the classroom called Life!