The journey is always sacred while the destination has no meaning

Goals are important. But being obsessed with your goal often makes you feel empty and lost when you finally attain it!  
A couple of days back we watched the much acclaimed Tamil film “Kaakka Muttai” (2014, Manikandan) one more time. The film tells the story of two kids, brothers, from a slum and their travails to save money to buy a pizza. When they finally do get to eat a pizza both of them conclude that they didn’t quite like its taste. The film closes on this note and, as the credits roll, the best part of the film, a song plays in the background.
Edhai Ninaithom
Adhai Adainthom
Adaintha Pinne
Unmaiyai Naam Unardhom
Asaikku Thaan Alavugal Ilaye
Adhai Thodarnthaal Vaazhkai Thollaiye
Aasaithaan Vendravan Ilaye
Athu Indru Thaan Unarthathu Pillaye
You can hear the original song here
The song composed and sung by G.V.Prakash Kumar, with lyrics by Na Muthukumar, sums up why Life is sometimes so listless and meaningless despite all the trappings of material success. The song means that when we chase our desires, our wants, we often end up attaining them. Only to discover the truth that we feel lost, empty, unhappy too, with what we have attained! There’s no limit to desires, no one has ever conquered them, and the obsession to achieve those wants sometimes makes Life miserable. If you understand Tamil, the simplicity of the lyrics and GV Prakash’s soulful rendering will uplift your mood.
Hearing this song, made me reflect on what famous Hindustani singer Pandit Jasraj once told Shekar Suman on a TV show: “Kamyaabi ek shitij ki tarah hoti hai. Paas jao to aur door nikal jaati hai.”Meaning: “Success is like a horizon. You close in on it only to discover that it has moved farther away!”
The essence of Na Muthukumar’s and Pandit Jasraj’s perspectives is this: the journey is more important, in fact it is sacrosanct, than the destination. So, simply, enjoy the journey more than obsessing with the destination.
Most people understand this as a call to drop desires and to stop wanting. But how can you drop desires? Desires are born in the mind. A thought becomes a wish which becomes a want. So, as long as there is the mind, there will be wants and expectations. And expectations always bring agony! The better thing to do is to become more aware of the true nature of Life. Understand that whatever you desire, want and achieve – name, fame, glory, wealth, power and position – will not go with you when you die. So why obsess so much over what you can’t take with you and what can never be yours permanently? This doesn’t mean you should not be ambitious or competitive or excel at whatever you are good at. It only means that you must enjoy the process of living more than merely wanting to achieve a goal.
“Kaakka Muttai” helped me, yet again, visit a significant spiritual tenet: the journey is always sacred while the destination has no meaning! I believe the greatest service we can do to ourselves is to wake up, pause and smell the roses, drink in the scenery along the road, than worry and agonize about when and how we will get to our destination.

This New Year, throw out all resolutions! Choose “awareness” instead!!!

Be spontaneous. Let Life happen and you flow through it, with it. This is the only secret to living a full Life!

As another year winds down to an end, many on the social networks are assessing the year gone by – recording its highs and lows, basically analyzing and dissecting the past – and  are also drawing up resolutions, hoping to make the coming year memorable. In my humble opinion, neither analysis nor resolution can make your year – or Life – more memorable than it will be.

Resolutions indicate that you are going to restrict what happens to you to a few choices. Let’s say one of your goals is to lose weight – for which you resolve to work out daily. Now, if you cannot work out for a whole week, for whatever reason, you will feel miserable about your resolution, about yourself and your incapability to lose weight. Given your knowledge of your Life and lifestyle, a point worth considering is, why restrain yourself with a difficult choice that you are unlikely to sustain? Anything that you restrain, anything that you try to control, or resist, will bring you misery.

This does not mean that you must not have a vision for yourself or that you must not set a goal. But don’t hold a gun to yourself. Don’t impose conditions. Instead, flow with Life. Choose to be in the now, to be aware. As your awareness increases, your ability to create new opportunities or seize opportunities, in the direction of your goals or vision, enhances.

Let’s go back to the weight loss example. You have a resolution to spend an hour at the gym daily working out, or walking for an hour. Now, you haven’t done this all your Life. Or you have been erratic going to the gym in the past. The New Year comes and goes. You are still are struggling to hit the gym. Work pressure, travel, matters at home and social engagements continue to keep you occupied. Soon, the ghost of your resolution comes to haunt you – especially because you have already enrolled at the gym but have not showed up there ever. And so misery sets in. Instead of things being this way, consider how would it have been had you been open to each day’s schedules, allowing yourself to go with the flow, and yet creating time for physical exercise or activity. This could be at the gym or it could be a swim or a walk in the park. Whatever. The key is get your body to exercise at a convenient time slot that is in sync with your schedule. This is what going with the flow means. As you continue to exercise physically, your body too responds beautifully and within a few weeks you have fallen into a rhythm. Well, surely, you have not lost any sleep over scheduling physical activity in your daily calendar. Besides, there’s no misery. You are going with the flow of Life – aware and happy!

Awareness is a beautiful tool to employ in your Life. You don’t have to do anything to activate it. Just let go of all conditions and restrictions. Don’t resolve. Don’t decide a particular way. Visualize an outcome and just flow through Life each day and make choices that are connected to your vision or goals. A principal reason why most New Year (and birthday or anniversary) resolutions fail is because they are force-fitted by you into your Life. You are making them to console yourself. You are making them under pressure and not quite out of happiness. Make sure you are happy when making any choice. If not, re-examine your choices. Find ways to tweak your choices to allow you to be happy. More happiness leads to more awareness. More awareness leads to more responsible choices. With awareness, more gets done without any misery, without any agony, spontaneously.

Happiness comes only from celebrating what “is”

When you learn to focus only on what you have, and not dwell on what you don’t have, you will find yourself soaked in inner peace. This understanding is the simplest way to attaining bliss.
Do this little exercise for yourself on your commute to work today. Make a list of all that you have. Flip the page and make a list of all that you don’t have. Spend a minute reviewing each list. Surely, the first “what you have” list filled you with joy and gratitude. And the second “what you don’t have” list triggered a yearning, an anxiety, a concern for having to still working on making that list a reality. The truth is, because you spend a lot of your time, subconsciously, on the second list, more often than not, the emotions connected with that list magnify, and manifest as anger, depression and/or restlessness. You simply are under the spell of that list – completely oblivious of what you have. Happiness and contentment are possible only when you celebrate what is. Neither happiness nor contentment can ever be experienced over what isn’t there. This is an irrefutable law of Life.
Obviously, goals, aspirations and ambitions, come from the second list. And without those, there can be no progress. So the import here is not to tell you to be less ambitious or aggressive. Please stay doggedly on the path of your ambition – but don’t sacrifice what you have on the altar of your aspirations. Love and keep celebrating what is, even as you pursue what you want! This you can do only when you learn to live in the moment. And you can live in the moment by accepting and wanting what is, than by wishing that what isn’t were actually there.
On the futility of merely wishing, here’s a story that Osho, the Master used to say!
Bryant, an Irishman, was out fishing. And he caught a fish that spoke to him! The fish said that it was actually an elf that could grant Bryant three wishes if he let it live. So, Bryant threw the fish back into the river and rushed home. He shared this piece of good news with his wife and the two of them decided to go to the market in town to look for three things they could “wish” for. The wife decided to open a can of beans so she could make them dinner. The can opener, for whatever reason, was not to be found. And the lady “wished” she had a can opener so she could get done with dinner faster. Bingo! A can opener arrived in her hand. As Bryant looked on, angrily, his wife felt sorry having wasted a “wish” on a stupid can opener. Bryant was vocal: “Why did you wish for such a stupid thing? I wish the can opener was up your ass!” Bingo! Again! Sure enough, that’s where the can opener ended up being. And you can imagine what the couple would have done next – they had to use up the third wish to get the can opener out of where it was!
So, wish, dream, pursue, by all means. But live with and love what is. Remember: being in the moment that “is” always far more valuable, enriching, and productive than trying to wish for something that “isn’t”!

Just keep walking, the path will always unfold on its own!

Sometimes, it is best not to get what you want in Life. Because when you review the reasons why you did not get what you wanted, you will really find what is truly ordained for you.
Life is inscrutable. The path you choose may not always be available to you. But a closed door or a dead end will, ALWAYS, often miraculously, open up a whole new path for you. You may trudge on it reluctantly to arrive at an unknown place, only to discover that you really, truly belong there!
This is so bizarre at one level. You are encouraged to set a Vision for yourself, have goals and diligently pursue them. Yet you are now being told that despite what you have planned, Life will take you on its own course! Well, it may seem incredible, but it is the way it is. At another level, it is so simple and easy. You can only make a Life out of what happens to you __ irrespective of what you planned or wanted. That’s really the only way to bliss!
16-and-a-half years ago, in 1996, after three successive disastrous employment stints, I presented myself in the office of a high-profile recruiter in Chennai. He subsequently built his company up well and sold it recently to a global recruitment firm. But back then, the recruiter was a big name, and his firm was still a start-up. I had known him through my years as a business journalist. So, I sought his help in getting me a good, well-paying, purposeful corporate job. He spent three hours speaking with me and assured me of a quick turnaround. Post that meeting, over the next three months, I must have called him a few dozen times. Email was not so big then. So, one had to follow up only via phone. He neither answered my calls nor he did return even one of them. It was bizarre. I remember agonizing then: at least he could tell me why he was not successful in pushing my case with employers?
Frustrated, and perhaps also driven by the fact that I had been ‘rejected’, I resolved that I should perhaps go on to be an employer. And not be an employee anymore. One fine day, in August 1996, I went ahead and set up a tiny consulting Firm with my wife! We were moderately successful financially in our early years. But by the end of our first decade in business, we were staring at a big, dark,  black  hole of accumulated losses and an unimaginable pile of debt. Eventually, we went bankrupt and, in many ways, continue to be in that state.
Initially, I hated where we had ended up finding ourselves: presiding over the debris of a debt-laden, problem-ridden firm. I used to hate that feeling__of guilt, ignominy, hopelessness, fear and resentment__ which would gnaw at me from within in each waking moment. But now, after all these years, when I look back, I find that without the rejection I faced in the job market, I may not have embraced entrepreneurship and without having failed at entrepreneurship, I may never have understood what Life is, what intelligent living is and understood what contentment is as I do now!
When I introspect, I am grateful for the experiences I have been through that have transformed me from being an angry, foul-mouthed, obsessive, possessive, egotist to being a simple, accepting, mindful voyager through Life. My learnings from the path that I did not choose, but which unfolded itself in front of me as I walked, have brought me to, I earnestly believe, my Life’s purpose: to awaken people to the right way of thinking, living, working and winning! I am reminded of what John Bunyan, a 17thCentury English writer and preacher, had to say: “Although I have been through all that I have, I do not regret the many hardships I met, because it was they who brought me to the place I wished to reach.”  
So celebrate Life’s inscrutability. Don’t grieve, don’t mourn over what you wanted and did not get. Keep walking, knowing that the path will always unfold, and always take you to where you must eventually arrive and truly belong!