It is to live dangerously that we have been created!
Ever since senior journalist and TV anchor Rajdeep Sardesai asked Tennis ace Sania Mirza that question about ‘settling down and motherhood’ a couple of days ago, the question itself is being seen as an affront to gender equality. I believe going forward this question will be categorized as one among those that we must never ask a woman. I don’t disagree.
Further, while I believe that the entire argument in favor of ‘settling down’, if at all, must be gender neutral, I prefer to campaign for avoiding the very argument.
Anxious parents and a ‘holier-than-thou’ society define ‘settling down’ as ‘having an income, saving money, creating material assets, raising a family and begetting children’. It’s a simple thumb rule that the world expects you to conform to – “if you have attained adulthood, necessarily, you shall earn money, marry, buy a house and procreate”. If you notice, in the popular notion or context of ‘settling down’, no one talks about ‘being happy’. Which is why I find this ‘settling down’ discourse sinful.
I believe we are missing the moot point here. The reason we have been created – to be sure, each of us has been born without our asking to be born; that’s incontrovertible evidence that we have been created – is not to merely ‘earn a living’. We have been created human so that we can experience the beauty and magic of this ‘uncertain, inscrutable’ Life and be happy. Osho, the Master, says we have ruined this experience by building a social framework, partly financial, partly material, and wholesomely driven by our wants and expectations, around something that can never be boxed or contained. Life is free-flowing, it has a mind of its own. It is unpredictable. And every moment of living is like a bungee jump, a deep dive into the unknown. Into this deep dive, by introducing a pay check, we think we have stemmed the uncertainty and made the whole experience predictable. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Financial security is an illusion – it is human-made and so doesn’t conform to Life’s free spirit. Which is why, despite all the money you may have, you still can’t fix some quirky health situations, you can’t unentangle complex relationship issues, you can’t buy happiness, you can’t find inner peace or you just can’t get a good night’s sleep!
Osho encouraged us to dump the false comfort that financial security gave us. He invited us to embrace uncertainty and live dangerously. He called his point of view ‘the joy of living dangerously’. He championed for a Life beyond ‘earning a living’, beyond the ‘slaving-earning-saving-procreating’ paradigm. He invited people to be happy, doing whatever gave them happiness. Alan Watts, the British philosopher, invited us to choose the Life we want to live by first imagining what we would be doing in a world where money was not an object. Joseph Campbell, the American mythologist and author, beseeched us to follow our bliss. All their clarion calls asked of us to choose to be happy even if it meant being unsettled. Happiness above all else, was their mantra. I completely agree with all of them.
For reasons that I can never understand or explain beyond what I share daily, here on this Blog, or what I have shared in my Book ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’ (Westland), Vaani and I have been ‘living dangerously’ for years now. We have no money and we have ceased to seek financial security. Yet we are not insecure, we are not unhappy and we are not spending all our time – or sleepless nights – worrying. In a purely worldly sense we have still not “settled down” – we have no income, no savings, no assets, no health or Life insurance and a mountain of debt to repay – yet Life goes on for us. Just as it goes on for so, so many “unsettled” people around us, all over the world. The common thread that links all of us “unsettled folks” is that perhaps through discovering the “joy of living dangerously” we have learnt the art of “living in the now, in the present moment”. Let me hasten to add that living “unsettled” is very, very challenging no doubt, but it is the adventure that is the reward here! Which is why, having tasted that adventure, and enjoyed the reward, we find that “settling down” is perhaps sinful – if ever anything is sinful!
Don’t let your limiting beliefs and fears hold you to ransom. Instead feed your happiness!
A young reader from Ludhiana pinged me on Facebook for my views on astrology. He wrote: “I don’t really believe in it as I think at it interferes with my Life and stops us from doing things that we wish to do. But my dad sees it as other way round.” Now, this is something I am often asked by people who have read my Book or have known me. In fact, my own son, Aashirwad, has asked me why such a rational, logical person like me takes to astrology. So, let me share what I have understood and learnt of astrology.
Astrology is a science like any other. There are two reasons why it has a sullied reputation: (a) some of the practitioners of astrology are merely pretenders; they prey on gullible customers and so people who have lost their money consulting with such touts blame the science itself (b) people expect astrology and astrologers to solve their problems; the expectation itself is misplaced – astrology works like a dashboard on your car does, it is an indicator of what you are going through in Life; it cannot change your Life for you. So, when you go to an astrologer, be sure you choose the right one. Just as you don’t want to consult with a tout if you have a legal issue or a health condition, you shouldn’t be consulting with an astrologer who wants you to perform rituals and poojas promising to “rid” you of all your problems. A good astrologer, a learned and truly professional one, will merely cast your horoscope and tell you what phase in Life you are going through. If the weather is turbulent, you will be advised to fasten your seatbelt and trust the pilot – which is, you may want to pray and trust a Higher Energy. If the phase is extremely conducive to you, you will be told that “this is a great time” which really means that there’s tail wind that will fill your sails and so you can expect smooth sailing. Beyond this, a sound and sincere astrologer will not say anything. So, anyone saying more than this, is attempting to be a soothsayer or, to put it bluntly, is a hoodwinker! Astrology has to be used. If its practitioners are using you, controlling you, then you need to make a choice. But don’t blame the science for the choices you make. Simply, the dashboard in your car can tell you the temperature outside, the fuel, oil and coolant levels, the distance covered; it can give you directions to get from point A to point B, but the car has to be driven by you. Astrology is pretty much that – just a dashboard of planetary parameters influencing your Life! You still have to live your Life and go through it.
I use astrology as a source of information. Just as I use Google. I sift through all data, all information I receive and then make an informed choice. Important, I hold myself accountable for the choices I make. Clearly I don’t let astrology limit me. Interestingly, I don’t let anything or anyone limit me. So, this principle that I follow encompasses all aspects of my Life, not just astrology. For instance, I was on a flight some months ago and the passenger next to me was a CEO I know. He asked me, “AVIS, I know you are going through such a grave crisis. I know you and Vaani are exceptionally strong and resilient. But what will happen if your health takes a beating? You guys are no longer young. And you don’t even have an insurance cover any more?” I replied: “I have faith that the Higher Energy that created me will provide for me even if I don’t have an insurance cover. And I don’t imagine scenarios that haven’t yet arrived.” Not that the CEO’s question was wrong. He was being practical. But I refuse to let fear or insecurity limit me. I believe this is the best way to be happy and peaceful. Else, you will be held to ransom by all your limiting beliefs, fears and anxieties.
Yesterday another reader, from New Delhi, shared her struggle with insecurity with me. “The fear of failing health doesn’t let go,” she wrote. I replied: “Don’t expect fear to let go. You must let go of fear! Fear is a debilitating force only as long as you don’t let go. Failing health must encourage you to live better. Because in some time you are going to be more incapacitated than you are now. And if you are worried about being a burden on your family and such, again let go. What can you do when your health fails? Can you help it? With advancing age, each of us is going to lose our temporarily able-bodied status sooner or later. Remember, we are all speeding towards our death, albeit at different speeds!”
Whether it is expecting astrology to solve your problems, or expecting Life to be the way you want it to be, ultimately, you create your own suffering. Because nothing – and no one – can either live your Life for you or solve your problems for you. You have to go through everything that you have to go through before your number – to depart – is called. So, while you are here, while you are faced with Life, look it in the eye and learnt to live fully, wholesomely, despite your circumstances. Fear or happiness – only the one you feed will grow. I feed my happiness. What about you?
After a relaxing weekend, why is it always a week-long battle for survival until the next weekend arrives?
Running the ‘earning-a-living’ rat race, we all often feel fatigued, beaten and lost. Well, it not be so. Here are a few tips that I have learnt from experience to live each day enthusiastically – they work, big time!
First, learn the art of forgetting your age. I guess the ability to treat age as a mere number, a data point, helps immensely in learning to continue to live a full Life. That way your aches and pains will never quite pin you down. Second, I feel, in your own unique way, learning to be detached from “worldliness” helps. This simply means that you must accept the impermanence of everything – including your own Life. So if you take any loss – material or emotional – in your stride, you will never feel depressed. Next, if you can drop all expectations from everyone around you, you can be blissful. Always, expectations that people – parents, spouses, siblings, children and grandchildren, bosses, colleagues, neighbors – must be this way or that surely brings agony. After all, people have their own lives to lead. So letting them be and you too simply being is a great way to creating a peaceful ecosystem. Then, realizing that the idea that happiness must be pursued is a myth, is a great eye-opener. When you realize that you are the happiness you seek, Life becomes simple, no matter what situation you are in. And finally, learning to respect the body as the temple that houses your God, your soul – and therefore treating both the body and the soul with dignity is the clincher, the Killer App, that delivers inner peace!
Internalize these secrets. Practise them diligently. You will find your weekdays, starting with Monday of course, turning out to be a lot more meaningful and energetic than before.