Your circumstances don’t matter

Your circumstances don’t define you. They don’t matter to you really. What you are being called by others, or what you are experiencing right now, is not who you are. If you understand this, if you are able to look inward, and find your inner light, you will find tremendous beauty and a great peace within you!
King Janaka was once holding a contest to decide who’s the most intelligent of all the scholars in his kingdom. A prize of a thousand cows, with their horns studded with gold and diamonds, was announced for the winner. Five years in a row, a famous philosopher in the kingdom, Yagnavalkya had been winning the contest. As soon as he arrived, Yagnavalkya asked for the prize to be taken away to his home, because he was sure he would win. The contest had not even begun. But no one dared stop him. Because he had a track record. Not even Janaka had the slightest doubt that Yagnavalkya would win this year too. As the contest went on, an unknown scholar was seated there too. His wife sent her son Ashtavakra to fetch him back because she felt her husband was wasting his time at a contest which he was certain not to win. As Ashtavakra entered the court of Janaka, everyone was shocked. Here was a man, totally deformed, ugly to look at – one limb longer than the other, the face looking weird, the eyes popping out and the whole body was crooked. That’s why he was named so – Ashtavakra. The whole court started laughing at Ashtavakra. They were laughing at his appearance, at the sight of his deformed body. So, Ashtavakra too joined in. He too laughed. And he laughed loudly, above everyone’s laughter. So much so, that his laughter silenced everyone else’s. Janaka was surprised at what he was seeing.
He said: “I can understand why these people started laughing. They were seeing you this way, crooked and weird looking. And so they laughed. But why did you laugh? And how did they stop laughing when you laughed?”
Ashtavakra replied: “I thought this contest is for scholars. I did not realize it was for shoemakers. They are all laughing at my body, at my skin. They are obsessed with the outer. And they don’t see the inner.”
Janaka dissolved the contest. He ordered for the prize cows to be brought back. And started to inquire from Ashtavakra why he was able to say something so profound despite his despicable state.
Ashtavakra replied: “When people used to laugh at me for the way I look, I would enquire within me. And I would observe this body. That’s how I came to the realization that if I can observe this body, then I am not the body. So I developed the attitude to not let my looks or my situation define me.”
The deeper you look inward, the deeper your awareness grows. And the greater your ability is to stay detached from your circumstance or others’ opinion of you. So, don’t allow your situations to define you. Think of Ashtavakra every time people laugh at you or label you. You are as special and extraordinary a creation as there has ever been. Stay only with that awareness. And you will be forever in bliss.  

Be cool, bliss will follow!

Be cool. And you will be in bliss!

Sometimes you have no choice but to accept the Life given to you. You have tried everything humanly possible to fix your situation. To solve your problem. But the problem refuses to let go of you. Be cool in such times! Be in bliss.  


How can you be cool when someone you love is dying? How can you be cool when your teenaged child is insistent on being in a relationship that you know is ruinous? How can you be cool when your companion is cheating on you? How can you be cool when the world, perhaps your world, is inching towards an apocalypse?  How can you be cool when there is so much injustice around you, when people are being selfish, cold and cruel?

Good questions. But think about it. Sometimes, you don’t have a choice! You simply will have to accept the reality of what is, take a deep breath and attempt a new solution if you can think of one, or simply wait for time to turn. Which is, wait for your time to change! Intelligent living is never about applying YOUR intelligence to Life. It is about being intelligent in letting Life be. There is an ancient Zen saying: “Even in a fire the man who has attained satori remains cool.‘satori’means enlightenment. And this doesn’t mean wearing an ochre robe and growing a flowing beard or shaving your head of. It means being aware of the intrinsic nature of Life!

There’s a story which comes to mind. A wise sage had heard of the Captain Cool legend of the famous King Janaka who ruled from Mithila (present day Janakpur, Nepal) over Videha. Janaka was known for never being flustered with any situation. And so, like Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, he was called Captain Cool. The sage was intrigued by Janaka’s legend and so came calling one day. The King received the sage with full honors and left him in the guest room of his palace and promised to return after attending to important matters in his court. The sage meanwhile bathed and freshened up. He had only his loin cloth on him which he washed and left to dry in the sun. He stitched a small skirt of mango leaves to cover himself and sat in deep meditation. Janaka finished his meetings and came to the sage’s room. When he saw the sage in deep meditation, he prayerfully sat opposite him awaiting the sage to open his eyes. An hour or so must have passed when screams rent the air.  “The palace is on fire and it has started in the kitchen abutting the guest room”, screamed someone. The King remained unruffled. There was a lot of noise and smoke around them but he kept sitting focusing his gaze on the sage. The sage leapt up when he made sense of what people were saying and screamed at Janaka: “How can you remain so cool, when your palace is on fire? Wait! Let me save my loin cloth which I put out to dry and then we both will run for our Life!” Janaka still was non-plussed! When the sage returned in a moment with the loin cloth and the two men rushed out of the burning guest room, the sage again asked Janaka the ‘secret of his coolness’. Janaka replied: “Every moment I am ready to depart from this planet, giving up this lifetime. And I know I will take nothing with me when I go. So, why grieve over anything which is not going with me in any case?”

Indeed. Why grieve, why attach yourself to, over anything that’s not going with you in any case? So, be cool about anything that may happen to you. And surely you will be in bliss!