Life is too precious to be spent massaging someone’s ego or pandering to another’s whims.
There’s a wedding coming up in my extended family. And as it often happens, no TamBram affair is free from its share of bruised ego and petty politics. In this wedding story, the mother of the groom is a single parent. So, she invited her older brother and his wife to solemnize the wedding. Her daughter’s husband meanwhile has got offended because he was not invited to preside over the ceremony. So, hearing of his stance, the groom’s uncle (the older brother I referred to earlier) offered to step aside. But the lady’s daughter’s husband is still not happy. He is of the view that the opportunity to preside over the ceremony was given to him only after he demanded it. He feels that he and his wife have been “ignored and insulted” by his mother-in-law. So, he and his wife have chosen to “boycott” the wedding. Hearing of all this ruckus, all this tamasha, the groom, is threatening to call off the wedding – I guess he just wants to be free from all this drama!! I hear that his poor mother is busy running between him, her brother and her son-in-law trying to manage expectations and massage egos.
All this may sound juicy. And I am sure you too can relate to such behavior among your immediate family. I remember when Vaani and I got married in February 1989, several members of my family, both from my maternal and paternal sides, created so much fuss over non-issues. Someone or the other, I recall, was always sulking and Vaani’s brother had such a difficult time trying to please everyone. I am appalled that almost three decades on, nothing much appears to have changed in our society.
At the core of all such family soap dramas is ego. And gender bias. If you are the girl’s family you are expected to pander to the whims of the boy’s side. Else the boy’s (side’s) hurt ego will manifest itself by childishly sulking and throwing tantrums.
Change can happen only when the bride and the groom treat marriage as a celebration, as a joyous union of the two of them. The couple alone must have the right to how they want to host their wedding ceremony. Currently, as I see it, the couple hardly has any say in what’s going on – a wedding is typically a pompous ritual that parents undertake, in the name of love for their children, to show off their social, familial and financial muscle. Additionally, as I have observed on this Blog in the past, marriage itself as an institution has become irrelevant. It is the loving between two people that keeps them together and not necessarily their being married. So, my unsolicited advice to young folks who plan to marry will be to take all the money they have, including the budget that both families plan to spend on the wedding, and travel the world. Enjoy yourselves, explore each other and the magic and beauty on the planet. Make beautiful memories than make insipid wedding albums and videos, full of people who are either pretending or are sulking, which you are unlikely to revisit too many times in your Life.
And if you do plan to have a wedding, and don’t know how to deal with all those who try to control and torment you, by either sitting on an ego pedestal, or by throwing tantrums, or by doing both, well, just let them be. Only when you give such people attention do they begin to demand more. Instead, just smile and walk away. Let them kick around, rave and rant. In some time, they will tire themselves out and fall silent. Don’t analyze or fret over such behavior – by being the way they are, such people give you a great spiritual opportunity to evolve, to ignore all those who are irrelevant in your Life and to learn to focus only on what matters to you. Life is too precious to be spent massaging someone’s ego or pandering to another’s whims. Remember: you live only once. So, live that Life well – happily – and live it your way!
A couple came to us wondering how they can separate while ensuring that their children are not affected. I shared how my friend and his wife worked out a win-win arrangement, based on my advice, that has helped them both immensely. On this Podcast, I talk about how it is possible for a couple to set aside their differences if they choose to keep their children at the centre of their Universe. Any fight that is ego-driven is not worth it. Focus instead on a “working arrangement” when the relating between two people goes out the window.
Listen time: 5:31 minutes
In today’s Vlog, I share from personal experience how Life has cut me down to size and has humbled me. Clinging on to things, opinions and even ego, I have realized, is a sure cause for misery.
View time: 3:19 minutes
My Vlog today says receiving help and support from people around you is an integral part of the process of Life! There is no shame in receiving. It is a humbling experience.
Viewing time: 2:28 minutes
In today’s Podcast, I share how every experience in Life is a means to grow, evolve and to understand Life better. I have realized that God manifests through the compassion of Life around us. So, let’s just be grateful for the challenges we cannot immediately resolve – because they help us break down our ego.
Listen time: 4:15 minutes
It’s a big, beautiful world full of kind, compassionate people!
At my Uncommon Leader event yesterday, a member of the audience walked up to me and said, “It must be pretty tough on you and Vaani to be so vulnerable in this big, bad, cruel world. I don’t know if I would have survived the crisis you are faced with.” (To know more about the crisis and why this remark was made, please follow this link: Fall Like A Rose Petal.)
Vaani and I understand where this perspective is coming from. It appears that much of the world is cold, cruel, judgmental and self-obsessed. It also appears that wearing your Life on your sleeve, being transparent, being vulnerable, is an absurd, almost foolish, thing to do. But our experience has just been the opposite. In all the time that Vaani and I have been dealing with this bankruptcy, for about a decade now, we have never come across someone who has exploited our vulnerability. To be sure, we have always been very open about our enduring situation. But this hasn’t made us a target or victim of social prejudices or attitudes. Of course, there have been those who have proceeded against us legally to protect their rights (on account of having to recover from us the monies we owe them); we totally understand their need to have done what they have done. Yes, there have been those who have been judgmental and there are those who have distanced themselves from us only because we are no longer in a certain “league”. But such people have been few. A large majority of people in our circle of influence and who we have come across in the past decade have been, in reference to their specific contexts, forgiving, compassionate, sensitive, loving, understanding and important, in general, all of them have been trusting.
Just yesterday, someone we know came forward to make a generous offer to us. He noticed that we are struggling to earn an income. He said we could market his services as ours, he would deliver on the mandates that came by and we could take the fees that accrued as our own. We need not necessarily pay him any fees, he suggested. What a wonderful gesture! Except that his services don’t fall in our line, zone, of work. Even so, at what point will people offer themselves pro-bono just so that another set of professionals like them, who are going through a tough phase, stand to benefit? Vaani and I are moved beyond words.
This is not an isolated case. Last week at least two people reached out offering to help with any bills that we may have trouble paying. My Book and my several of my blogposts are peppered with examples of how people have come in, some of them rank strangers, unexpectedly into our Life and have helped us onward on our journey.
This experience has taught me and Vaani that God exists – but only through the godliness in the people around us. We have seen this God again and again and again, repeatedly, in the actions and hearts of those people who we have known or who have come into our Life. I believe if we drop our ego, abandon all judgment, and simply, humbly, accept the warmth, love and compassion of people around us, we will only see a beautiful, caring, loving world. This world doesn’t exploit your vulnerability, it does not take; it only gives – and gives unconditionally! Look around you – perhaps you live in this same world!
Detachment is not difficult; once you understand what it is, you will celebrate it!
“What’s the best way to practice detachment,” asked a reader. He added that he found it so difficult to do – “I feel very emotional about people or things; I guess I can never ever be detached.”
There is no way to practice detachment, really. Detachment is the way to inner peace.
To understand and embrace detachment, consider these four questions:
- Haven’t you been growing older – biologically, that is?
- Over the years, haven’t you had to replace things around you – gadgets, vehicles, machines and stuff – because they have worn out?
- Haven’t you lost money?
- Haven’t you lost people around you owing to death or misunderstandings?
Invariably, you may have answered ‘yes’ to all questions. And that’s how you discover that you are capable of detachment. You have already learnt to be detached. The four questions pertain to what’s true for all of us. Over time, your youth, stuff that you own, your money, wealth, assets and the people around you – everything and everyone, who you claim is yours, will be taken away. That’s the way it always has been. That’s the way it will be in the future too. When you examine and accept these truisms, you will not just embrace detachment, you will celebrate it!
When you are detached, you will be living your Life – free and easy. You will be soaked in inner peace. Then your energy will not be frittered away in the form of ego, anger, grief, guilt, worry, anxiety, stress and such. You know that everything shall pass, in the due course of time, and that includes you! When you are aware of this truth, when you don’t cling on to anyone or anything, you can only be at peace; you can only be happy!
This whole world is besotted with everything else except what it must truly obsess over!
Mutely witnessing the goings on in Tamil Nadu politics, I can’t but wonder how much materialism has caught people in its vice-like grip. Sasikala’s vow to “avenge” at Jayalalithaa’s Samadhi yesterday reeks of such a debilitating, unevolved point of view. Ego, the desire to control, the greed for money, power – all of these are evident in the manner in which she “slapped” her erstwhile friend and mentor’s tombstone. This, even as she was getting ready to go to jail to serve a jail sentence! This, after holding not just 100+ elected representatives hostage, but after holding a whole state’s constitutional machinery to ransom over wanting to grab power. And what about the elected members of the state assembly? What have they subjected themselves to – don’t they even realize they have a fundamental responsibility to serve their constituents? More important, don’t any of these people want to learn a lesson from their recently-departed leader that despite all her success, all her glory, she finally left empty-handed, not able to take any of what she achieved or gained or accumulated – including the infamous disproportionate assets that Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling talked about over 564 pages – with her?
All this is so unsettling at one level when I look at it as a citizen who is concerned at the state of the polity and democracy. And it is all so banal when I view it as human being who is on a limited-period, single-entry visa, on this planet! Why don’t people get it, I wonder? Why don’t people get it that they only have this one Life – to live fully, to be happy – and yet they squander away precious lifetime in chasing what they can never take away with them? And they do all this chasing, often at the cost of others, and while being intrinsically unhappy and suffering themselves!
Let us not fail to pick up a key lesson ourselves from all this apparent madness in Tamil Nadu. I am reminded of a song Mujhe Naulakha Mangaadere from Sharaabi (1984, Prakash Mehra, Amitabh Bachchan, Bappi Lahiri, Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle) in which the lyricist Anjaan, listing the different types of intoxicants that people are addicted to, says ‘bring me someone who is not “drunk”’… “…nashe mein kaun nahi hai, mujhe bataao zaraa, kise hai hosh mere saamne, to laao zaraa…”! Indeed, so drunk we are about earning a living, solving our problems, worrying, suffering, so steeped in stupor we are about wanting to control everyone and everything, that we are missing the magic and beauty of the Life we have. Unless we stop clinging on to material things and live happily with what we have, with what is, we will forever be living with insecurity, worry, grief and guilt. And that should explain why we suffer, why we are unhappy.
Therefore, to me, Sasikala and the AIADMK’s theatrics over the past 10 days have only been a metaphor. One that reminds me that this whole world is besotted with everything else except what it must truly obsess over! And that obsession must be over making each moment of your Life count. By living it fully, meaningfully, happily.
Happiness is the ability to sleep well each night, grateful that you have what you need – food on the table, a roof over your head and something to cover yourself. Everything else is a frill. The more you cling on to the frills, the more drunk you are, the less obsessed you are with living. And when you are too drunk and you don’t sleep, well, that’s when you have a hangover!