To simplify Life, be aware, be honest

Nothing about your Life is going to change unless it does. Life is what it is. Feeling negative about it is never worth your while.
Someone asked me the other day if it is possible to not feel negative about Life at times. Of course it is possible. Yet, don’t expect negative thoughts not to rise. They will. Such is the nature of thoughts. They will always keep swimming in your mind. But you can develop the ability to recognize and rid yourself of negative emotions as they rear their ugly head. This calls for being both aware and honest.

Be aware first of the futility of negative thinking. Can you solve any problem by brooding over the fact that you don’t have a solution in sight? And is there any point in brooding over a problem that you cannot solve? Even so, negative thinking will insist – and ensure – that you brood. This is where awareness comes into play. It is simple – if you are aware, if you observe your thinking, you will not heed the negative thoughts that will arise in you. And what you don’t heed, what you don’t give attention to, doesn’t grow. Period.
Take self-pity and jealousy for instance. When you compare yourself with others, naturally, you are bound to pine for what you don’t have and feel jealous, often subconsciously, of what someone else has. Neither of these emotions is constructive. Self-pity keeps your feet nailed to the ground and jealousy fills you with negativity. This when you must be brutally honest. Ask yourself: What are you pining for? And who are you jealous of? Continue this train of awareness-based questioning: Is what you are pining for really so critical for your Life? Can you not manage without it? And is feeling jealous of someone going to make you get what you are pining for? These questions can have an awakening effect. You will be amazed at your own ability to realize that these emotions are wasted, unproductive and are shackling you. Out of that ruthless honesty will emerge the simple clarity that you are who you are. Unique. And what you have is all that you have. You will awaken to the reality that pining and brooding is not going to make you, or your situation, any different.

Employ awareness and honesty to simplify your Life. Being positive about Life may not solve your problems. But it will at least make you smile. As a line I often quote, ostensibly from the Guru Granth Sahib, goes: “Taqdeer teri apne aap hi badlegi aye dost; muskurana seekh le, wajah ki talaash na kar!” It means: “Your Life will change when it must, my friend…Learn to smile (in the meantime), without looking for a reason!”

There’s no denial ever in Life

Whatever is due to you will come on its own. And what is not due to you will never come to you – no matter how hard you try!

A feeling that causes much of our suffering is the one where we feel we “deserve” something. Seeking deservance is a natural human tendency. Most of us are hard-working, sincere and honest folks who believe that whatever we do must be compensated fairly and our contributions must be both recognized and rewarded. But this does not always happen in Life. Things we don’t ever want to happen to us, just happen to us, no matter how good or ethical we have been, and we feel Life’s being unfair to us. But through a rather inscrutable design, even if something’s delayed, and if it is due to come to you, it always comes. There’s no denial ever in Life.

NYC Officials with Ms.Talat Hamdani
Picture Source: The Hindu/Internet
Just yesterday, I read this news report of the 9/11 hero Mohammed Salman Hamdani being honored by New York City. Hamdani’s story is unique and relevant to our discussion. He was a 23-year-old Pakistani-American researcher and a certified Emergency Medical Technician. On the morning of 9/11, 2001, he rushed in to help when, on his way to work, he saw the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center burning and collapsing. Tragically, he was among the 3000 who perished in that terror attack. What was even more tragic was that the New York Police Department (NYPD) named Hamdani as among those responsible for plotting the attack on the Twin Towers with the al-Qaeda group. His family, led by his mother Talat Hamdani, fought this humiliation and sought redemption. 13 long years later, this week, the City of New York named a street after Hamdani in the Bayside neighborhood. While the NYPD had long seen their indictment of Hamdani as an error perhaps, Hamdani’s family hailed the naming of the 204th Street in the Bayside area as “Salman Hamdani Way”. They saw it as Hamdani’s sacrifice acknowledged and as a wiping out of all the humiliation and disgrace that his memory was wrongly subjected to. Talat, Hamdani’s mother, said: “My soul is calm.”
Can you imagine? Someone who goes in to help, ends up sacrificing his Life, but is named a terror suspect but, years later, a Street is named after him – something that will stay on for posterity? Bizarre isn’t it? But such is Life!
I have learnt that when things go wrong in Life, as they often will, and you don’t get what you believe you deserve, just make your point and move on. Don’t berate anyone or anything. Don’t hanker for justice by suffering and agonizing over what’s been denied to you. If you must really fight for what’s due to you, do so with a calm, calculated and stoic approach. When you bring in emotion into a fight such as this one, you are expending precious energy which may actually be useful for lasting the long haul. Righting a wrong is important. But perishing in the bargain, suffering, is avoidable. Because whatever’s due to you will come to you – no matter what. And if it doesn’t come, then, perhaps, it was never meant for you! Quoting a couplet from the Guru Granth Sahib, which says, pretty much, the same thing: “Apne Gham Ki Numaish Na Kar…Apne Naseeb Ki Azmaish Na Kar…Jo Tera Hai Khud Tere Paas Ayega…Har Roz Usse Paane Ki Kwaish Na Kar…Taqdeer Teri Apne Aap Hi Badlegi Aye Dost…Muskurana Seekh Le, Wajah Ki Talaash Na Kar!”

Nothing can prevent you from realizing your True Self except you

This morning’s Times of India reports that the Akal Takht, the highest temporal Sikh body, bans Sikhs from keeping the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book and the “living, active Guru” of the Sikhs, in homes that also have bar counters in them. I don’t quite see merit in such a sanction.
Sikhism, as I have known and understood, is one of the world’s youngest religions, founded only around the 15th Century. It is not a religion that draws upon one line or school of thought. It is inspired by Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism and several others. It is also the only religion that is not built on the teachings of a single Guru, but is based on the teachings of 10 Masters, with the Guru Granth Sahib, being the final and ever-living Guru. To me, it is not even a religion – it is a beautiful confluence of various streams of wisdom. Which is why Sikhism, and the Guru Granth Sahib, are very contemporary and very relevant even today. Nanak, the founding Guru of the Sikhs, said that ultimately what __ or the only thing that __ matters is The Truth. And The Truth, he said, was unspeakable. Which is why he, and his successors, sang it. Which is why the Guru Granth Sahib is in verse, containing 1430 angs (limbs or literary sections), actually hymns, complied and composed between 1469 and 1708.
Perhaps, by virtue of their religion being so young, or maybe their upbringing is based on practical and liberal tenets, I have found Sikhs to be very fun-loving, friendly and caring. They live Life to the fullest. They are never self-obsessed and choose always to get involved, and to serve whenever they get an opportunity. They are also the only set of people on the planet who can laugh at themselves. The innumerable Sardarji jokes that we come across is strong evidence of this. No other community will be so tolerant if they were to be the butt of so much global ribbing and ridicule. So, when a stricture is passed on such a wonderful people, it does shock and surprise.
I have another personal reason and learning to share. Understanding and realizing The Truth that Nanak sang about, and that which every spiritual path will take you to, does not require abstinence. In fact, intelligent living does not demand anything from you. It only wants you to be. To live in the moment and experience the Now. This will happen, only after a person’s quest for inner peace, through pursuing material matters of the world, draws no result. Only when seeking outside is futile, does man consider seeking within. That’s when, as Nanak taught, and Sikhism preaches, the individual sees the panj chor (Five Thieves) of ego, anger, greed, attachment and lust, as distracting from being on The Path. So, in essence, each one of us has to find our ways to get on to The Path – through experience, through stumbling, through falling and through learning. No religious diktat exists nor can any direct anyone to The Path, unless, she or he really wants to be on it. Whatever dos and don’ts abound around us, are the handiwork of the mandarins that want to control, using the name of religion, and causing fear of retribution by an external God, to coerce the masses into submission.
Simply, nothing outside can distract you or prevent you from realizing your True Self – and the Godliness in you – except you! As Nanak himself has sung it so beautifully: “As fragrance abides in the flower, as reflection is within the mirror, so does the Lord abide within you. Why search for Him without?”