Are you the Master or are you enslaved?

Is something possessing you? Or are you possessing something?
I saw a lead story in The Economic Times last week saying the iPhone 6S which launches in the US on September 25 will be available in the Indian grey market for Rs.1 Lakh – instantaneously. When I read the story, I could not help but reflect on the way some people look at Life. (Disclosure: I have never owned an iPhone. Ever since the iPhone launched I have been unable to afford one. My current phone is a basic Samsung smartphone that my friend has helped me acquire.) The fact that grey market entrepreneurs in India are seeing a business opportunity here is evidence that there are people who want to have that phone now. But I wonder why people can’t wait for an official India launch – after all isn’t India a big market for all ranges of phones? Perhaps, allowing logistical and regulatory delays, the iPhone 6S may well be available here by year-end. I am not even talking about the monetary price that people are willing to pay, I guess there is a spiritual perspective, a heavier price that people have to pay actually, to consider here – in reality, isn’t the iPhone 6S possessing these people while it only appears that they are rushing to possess the phone?
The iPhone 6S is but a metaphor. All of us are possessed, in fact enslaved, by our thoughts, by things we have bought and by opinions that we have cultivated. In our trying to build an identity for ourselves, what we have started to focus on is what we want to possess; in wanting more of such possessions we are missing the point that the possession has begun to possess us! And what possesses us goes beyond the material realm. I have a friend who believes that the world must go on appreciating his work – he is world-famous and a legend in his field. But he craves for validation and public appreciation – constantly. When he or his work doesn’t get noticed or talked about, he feels miserable. Now, who’s possessing whom – does my friend possess the attention he gets or does the attention that he doesn’t get possess him?
There’s nothing wrong in seeking attention if you can get it or buying what you want if you can afford it. But to become obsessed with what you want will leave you suffering when you don’t get what you want. It’s a simple truth that you miss – if you own something, you are its Master. If something owns you, it is the Master.

How many Masters do you have? Review your Life – from a ruinous habit to your car to an opinion to your thoughts to a parent to a spouse, anything or anyone can be controlling you. Even if you have one thing or person controlling you, you are living enslaved. To be free, you must stop wanting, stop obsessing. You must let go and simply learn to be happy with whatever you get and whatever there is.  

Be your own Master, make your Life count

Don’t be a slave of your Life__of this lifetime. Be a Master.

Last week I met a senior manager at a large company, who had given 38 years of his Life to the company, and is serving a post-retirement contract extension presently. He said, “I have been consumed and cooked by my professional focus. It was a journey I did not regret so far. But, suddenly, at 64, I wonder how many more active years I have for me to go see and explore the world; to just stop being a manager and just be myself.”

His “awakening” perspective delivers a big lesson to all of us. This Life has been gifted to us for us to lead it, to live it! Not for us to be enslaved by it. Yet, don’t we run this Life as if it were some kind of a race? Some even call it a rat race. When you reach a point, like the manager here has, you will wonder why did you run the race in the first place? What did you race for or against? Liberate yourself. The biggest freedom movement must be taking place within you, not just in some dictatorial regime in the world. So stop running. Pause, introspect and initiate immediate action.

One way to set yourself free is to break away from your routine and look beyond the predictable. This morning, even though it was a Monday, we took a bunch of managers, who we are coaching, through a Life-changing experience called “Dialogue in the Dark”. It is a personalized exhibition tour in which you experience Life for about an hour in total darkness. The experience humbles you, wanting you to count your blessings. It makes you realize that your other senses are as strong as your ability to see, which you believe naively to be your most indispensable sense. It teaches you that you can and will survive when you are put in a situation. And most importantly, doing it on a Monday morning, helps you to break away from the monotony of your pressure-cooker schedule. Mondays need not be manic, need not mean bad traffic and need not end up leaving you imprisoned in meaningless meetings. They can mean something magical and liberating – if you step off the beaten path! Our guide through the entire “Dialogue in the Dark” experience, Nithyanand, a visually special (I hate to say impaired) person, had this to say, “I can’t see. And I manage pretty well using my other senses.” The way he said this, with total acceptance and with ease, made me wonder if we are indeed living our lives to our fullest. With one sense down, he is. But are we? I came away realizing, yet again, that when you know you can be your own Master, you can and will make your Life count!

Trust the hand that gives

Life is more meaningful when we humbly accept whatever comes our way, while implicitly trusting the hand that has given us this beautiful experience.

As 2015 gathers momentum and we settle down to our routines, the celebrations and hangovers of festivity make way for another year of opportunity, challenge, apprehension and faith. It is just the right time for us to think and reflect on something that will set the tone for the rest of the year to follow. This one is a story from Osho, the Master, that reminds us that when we accept what comes our way, there is joy and fulfillment. Here’s hoping you find it relevant to all that you have experienced or will encounter as you cruise along through the year.

A slave had served his Master faithfully for years. So diligent was he that the Master rewarded him by taking him along on a tour of the Amazon jungles. They camped at night and walked, exploring nature’s pristine beauty, during the day. The loyal slave never failed in his duty to his Master even though the trip was his reward. He would feed his Master, make his bed and keep him warm at nights by stoking the bonfire. Impressed further by his service, one day at lunch time, when they both spotted a big, exquisite, colorful fruit, the Master insisted that the slave have the fruit first. When the slave was shy to take up his offer, the Master said, “My dear son, you have served me well. Go on, eat this rare fruit first, and give me a small portion at the end.” The slave reluctantly agreed. And had a go at the juicy fruit. As he devoured the first few slices, the Master asked him how it was. And the slave replied: “Extra-delicious”. A few more slices later, the Master again asked him how it was and the slave gave the same reply. Big fruit that it was, larger than a pumpkin, the Master got the same reply time after time. Soon, more than three-fourths of the fruit had been eaten by the slave and the Master began to worry that he would not get to taste it. “Slaves will be slaves,” he thought, “Selfish and greedy.” Losing his patience finally, the Master snatched the last slice from the slave and bit into it. He shrieked in horror throwing the slice away. It was the bitterest fruit he had ever tasted in all his life. He looked at his slave in dismay and asked him: “But didn’t you say it was extra-delicious? Didn’t you seem to be enjoying it? How and why, my son? Explain.” “Master,” replied the slave, “All my Life you have looked after me. Whatever you have given me has only enriched my life. So, when you gave me this fruit to eat, its bitter taste did not matter to me at all. I just blindly trusted the handthat gave me the fruit.”

Huge learning there from the slave’s attitude to Life and his Master. There’s great joy in accepting. Let’s stop resisting Life’s vicissitudes and simply accept whatever comes our way! With prayers for a happy, peaceful and healthy rest-of-the-year for you and your precious family….

Be an intelligent master – use technology, don’t get used (read cooked) by it!

Things are incredibly simpler yet why are our lives more complex than ever before?
As I write this my son has reached out to me all the way from Denver, Colorado, in the US. Another young man has pinged me from New Orleans in the US. Yet another has sent me a facebook message from Singapore. And an old school mate, someone who I have not met in 40 years, has written me a note from Canada. All this has happened in just a span of 30 minutes. Can you imagine this being possible just 20 years ago? This is a new era. A simpler era. Where Google, and not Britannica Encyclopedia, is the fountainhead of all knowledge. Where, whether it is about cooking a meal with quinoa or it is about decoding an irritable skin rash or it is a query relating to when was the original “Ocean’s Eleven” movie released, you can source, all that you want, any time you want, in a nano-second – from your smartphone! It is also an era where you can buy a movie ticket, a plane ticket, book a hotel room or order a book or pizza, from your mobile device. And you can also transfer money from one phone to another! You can stay connected with me__or someone who you may have never met in ages or ever__using facebook and twitter__without intruding on their time or privacy!
The world’s so much smaller, so much closer, things are so amazingly simpler, yet, the billion buck question is, why are we, the people, still struggling? Why is it that we still ‘don’t have time’ for our families, our passions and our dreams? Why is it that we are not living fuller, more complete, fulfilling lives, if things have only gotten simpler? The problem is not with science and the technology revolution. It has done its job__made Life simpler. It is we humans who have not learnt to adapt and use technology. I remember reading a piece in The Economist a couple of years ago which describes this state that our race finds itself in and argues its causes fabulously well: “…for most people the servant has become the master. Not long ago only doctors were on call all the time. Now everybody is. Bosses think nothing of invading their employees’ free time. Work invades the home far more than domestic chores invade the office. Otherwise sane people check their smartphones obsessively, even during pre-dinner drinks, and send e-mails first thing in the morning and last thing at night. This is partly because smartphones are addictive…Employees find it ever harder to distinguish between “on-time” and “off-time”—and indeed between real work and make-work. Executives are lumbered with two overlapping workdays: a formal one full of meetings and an informal one spent trying to keep up with the torrent of e-mails and messages. None of this is good for businesspeople’s marriages or mental health.” That piece in The Economist, I remember, advocated digital dieting. A kind of rationing of tech-led work time for freeing up more Life time.
I would recommend we go the extra mile. My two-penny worth: Celebrate Life by celebrating technology. Don’t just cerebrate Life and technology! Here’s how I do it. 1. Wear your Life and your attitude to Life on your sleeve. Let people know__even if it is bosses, clients or children__who you are and how you live and work. 2. Never allow technology to slave-drive you. You can choose, and therefore please do, to be the master. 2. Define your quiet or silence or ‘mouna’ periods. About an hour every day. No voice calls. Just remain silent. Focus on whatever you are doing. Whether it is walking, watching a movie or even preparing a report. Just because you are accessible, need not mean you are available. 3. Check your mails, your text messages, your facebook or twitter account but don’t be trigger-happy. Choose whether and when to respond. Mull over the information streaming in. If it is bad news__a client feedback, an exasperated boss’ rant, a project disaster, a child’s agony__deal with it with patience. Treat the information as an opportunity to spiritually train yourself not to react. If it is good news, don’t exult either. Again spiritually evolve with the opportunity. 4. Flag as favorites some inspirational web pages (such as this one: J!) and visit them each time your mind wavers and grazes on negative emotions __ worry, anxiety, stress. 5. Do all non-core stuff__like paying your bills, transferring money, booking tickets and hotels__online, at times of the week or day when your energy is low. That way you save time for more value creation when your energy is the highest! 6. Take backups of all important data weekly __ phone contacts, mails, computer hard disk data __ that’s a sure and the only way to beat technology letting you down. 7. Remember: An intelligent master is one who can use technology to live a better Life – and not get used (read cooked) by it! So, if you find yourself stressed out by Monday morning 10 AM, know that you are to blame for the complexity that defines your Life. And the only way to make your Life simple, is to simply take charge __ of your Life and the technology you have! You will live happily, healthy, soon, after you become the master again…..!

Live simply: don’t try to control the uncontrollable and don’t ignore the controllable

Life really is so simple. It is a whole of two parts: one that is beyond your control and the other that is within your control.

This is the truth of Life. Intelligent Living is about knowing this truth and practicing it, knowing what is beyond and what is within your control. When you try to control what is uncontrollable or when you don’t act on things that are within your control, in both these instances, you experience suffering.

Epictetus, the Greek sage and philosopher who lived between 55 AD and 135 AD, was a great champion of this thinking. His life epitomized this perspective too. Born a slave (something beyond his control), he was able to convince (something within his control) his Master to allow himself education while staying bonded to slavery and loyal to his Master. According to Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control, but we can accept whatever happens to us calmly and dispassionately. Individuals, however, are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power. As Universal beings, each of us has a duty to care for all fellow humans, he taught. The person who follows these tenets, preached Epictetus, would achieve happiness and peace of mind. It is said that Epictetus’ Master broke his leg deliberately (something which he couldn’t control) but Epictetus responded with forgiveness and labored on, working and sharing his learnings (something that he could control), perhaps, earning his freedom that way. Epictetus says knowing, understanding and living this truth is the key to success in this lifetime: “If you seek truth you will not seek victory by dishonorable means, and if you find truth you will become invincible.”

Soak in this simple philosophy. Don’t try to control Life. But you can choose to respond by living intelligently though__accepting whatever happens, calmly, dispassionately!

Only when you are ready and willing, will you experience Life’s beauty and magic

For you to see Life’s beauty, for you to experience the miracle of Life, you must be both ready and willing!
There is a famous Sufi story I remember reading.
A young man went in search of a Master. He was ready to go around the world, for he was determined to find the Master, the true Master, the Perfect Master.
Just outside his village he met an old man, a nice fellow, sitting under a tree. He asked the old man, “You look like a wanderer…”
The old man said, “Yes, I am a wanderer. I have wandered all over the earth.”
The man said, “That is the kind of person I was hoping to meet who can guide me. Can you suggest to me where and to whom I should go? I want to be the disciple of a Perfect Master.”
The old man suggested a few addresses to him, and the young man thanked him and went on.
After thirty years of wandering around the earth and finding nobody who was exactly fulfilling his expectations, he came back to his village, dejected and depressed. When he was entering his village he saw the old man again, who had become very old now, sitting under the tree. And suddenly he realized that this old man was the Master he had all along been searching for! He fell at his feet and he said, “Why didn’t you say it to me, that you are the Master?”
The old man said, “But that was not the time for you. You could not recognize me. You needed some experience. Wandering around the earth has given you a certain maturity, a certain understanding. Now you can see. Last time you had met me, but you had not seen me. You had missed. You were asking me about some Master. That was enough proof that you could not see me, you could not feel my presence. You were utterly blind; hence I gave you some bogus addresses so you could go. But even to be with wrong people is good, because that is how one learns. For thirty years I have been waiting for you here, I have not left this tree.”
In fact the man, who was not young anymore, looked at the tree and was even more surprised. Because in his dreams, in his visions, he was always seeing that tree and there was always a feeling that he would find the Perfect Master sitting under this tree. Last time he had not seen the tree at all. The tree was there, the Master was there, everything was ready for him, but he was not willing, even if he was ready.
This is why we don’t often find what we are seeking. Inner peace and happiness. Because even if we are ready to seek it, we are not willing to let it enter our lives. Only when we are ready and willing, both, can we experience Life’s beauty and magic!

A goose in a jar, Jai’s death in Sholay, and a lesson in being happy!

When you step back and witness your own Life, objectively, dispassionately, you can then find bliss even in a tragedy or catastrophe.

When you are in the throes of a big crisis, when you don’t see a way out to end it, take a deep breath, step back and watch the situation with the eye and view of an observer. Be a witness. Don’t participate in the situation by thinking, by worrying, by attempting to solve it! Just watch the crisis, your place and role in the situation, and let an awakening happen within you – that enlightens you!

A Zen Master once gave his disciples a ‘koan’ to deal with. A ‘koan’ is a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to encourage them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment.

The ‘koan’ given here was the one of a goose within a jar. When the goose was small, the task was to simply feed the goose. Soon the goose grew big. And was barely fitting in the jar. Now the task was getting the goose out of the jar without either breaking the jar or killing the goose. Disciple after disciple kept thinking of achieving this task by looking at the situations from different angles. Each of them concluded that it was impossible. They saw it possible only if the jar were to be broken or the goose was killed. Now, neither of these actions was allowed. They gave up.

But one disciple persisted. He too was tired of examining the situation from every conceivable dimension. He too wanted to give up. That’s when he concluded that his Master may not have recommended this situation without a reason. In a flash, it occurred to him that the Master was perhaps not interested in either jar or the goose. The Master wanted the disciples to learn something else. He recognized that the jar represents the human mind. And the goose represents you – the individual. He concluded that the Master wanted them all to understand that to experience bliss, the ‘you’ goose must detach itself from the ‘jar’ mind.

So, the disciple rushed to the Master and declared: “Master the goose is ‘out’!”

The Master applauded him: “You are right! You have understood the essence of this ‘koan’. The goose was never ‘in’!”

Zen Masters have taught that the mind is at work 24×7. It is eating you up all day with thoughts of worry, anxiety, anger, fear, insecurity and hatred, among many, many more. Now, in a crisis, unless you realize that you are like the goose in the jar, and stop believing that you were ever stuck in the jar, you cannot feel freedom. For this to happen you have to step away from the problem situation and merely ‘witness’ or ‘observe’ it. If you don’t do this, your mind will continue to hold you hostage and keep you trapped. A mind at work, or being controlled by the mind, means being susceptible to misery. The mind is a procession of thoughts. Like a full length movie. The thoughts are like the characters or the actors or the locales in the movie. The key is to not to identify yourself with these thoughts – the characters or the actors or the locales. Because once you identify yourself, you will get stuck with both the beautiful and the terrible moments in Life – as in a movie.

Dharmendra (Veeru) and Amitabh Bachchan (Jai) in Sholay
As a young boy when my parents took me to watch ‘Sholay’ (Ramesh Sippy, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Jaya Bhaduri and Amjad Khan) in a New Delhi cinema hall called Rachna in 1975, I remember I refused to come out of the hall when the movie got over. I was grief stricken that Jai (Amitabh Bachchan) was dead. I had come to identify with him. It was only when my dad sat me down and counselled me that the ‘real’ Amitabh Bachchan was still alive, and this was just a movie, did I understand and, therefore, went home with my parents!

Many of us are in so much grief with our Life situations. This is because all of us are like that goose or like I was after watching ‘Sholay’. Struggling with our ‘jar’ minds. Unless we step back and away, as my dad counselled me, and see that our whole Life is just an illusion, like a movie, we will continue to be miserable. Life happens. And keeps on happening. There were crises, there are crises and there will be crises as we go through Life. Each of those Life crises or tragedies or painful situations will leave us numb and confounded. The only way out, and the only way to find inner peace and happiness, is to stop identifying with anything or anyone.

You are not your problems. You are not your relationships. Identification is the root cause of all misery. And the only way not to identify with anyone or anything is to simply witness Life. Be and behave like a third party. Then, through your awareness, you will discover that there was, is and never will be a crisis. What there always was, is, and will be, is happiness!

Nothing, nobody, can take away your happiness

Yesterday I was watching a Hindi movie called Heroine (directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, September 2012). In the movie, the film’s heroine, played admirably by Kareena Kapoor, tells her boyfriend that she’s scared of being happy. Because she believes that happiness is too short-lived. She’s scared that someone, something, will take her happiness away!

Many of us lead our lives this way. Forever – fearful,  anxious and worried. Happiness and inner peace, interestingly, have no expiry date. But we, tragically, believe exactly the opposite to be true! The truth is that all our fears are connected with external, material, physical, reference points. These points could be people or things. To flip the paradigm, a tectonic shift in our thinking has to happen. From external reference points, we must move inward, anchor within, to and in our inner core!

An old Zen story I have read Osho say is of a Zen Master who was invited as a guest by someone. A few friends had gathered and they were listening intently to the Master when suddenly there was an earthquake. The building that they were sitting in was a seven story building, and they were on the seventh story. Naturally, they all feared for Life and ran. Everybody tried to escape. The host, running down, paused, and came back to see what had happened to the Master. He was sitting still, on the floor, on the mat, with not even a ripple of anxiety on his face.

With closed eyes he was sitting just as he had been sitting before.

The host felt a little guilty. He felt cowardly. It does not look good when a guest is sitting while the host is running away. The others, the guests, had already gone down the stairs but he stopped himself although he was trembling with fear, and he too sat down by the side of the Master.

The earthquake came and went in a matter of a few minutes. Once the tremors and rumblings stopped, the Master opened his eyes and resumed his discourse which he had had to stop because of the earthquake. He began again at exactly the same sentence as if the earthquake had not happened at all!

The host was now in no mood to listen, he was in no mood to understand because his whole being was so troubled and he was so afraid. Even though the earthquake was over, he was still in shock, in fear. He said: “Now please don’t say anything because I will not be able to grasp it, I’m not myself anymore. The earthquake has disturbed me. But there is one question I would like to ask. All other guests had escaped, I was also running down the stairs, when suddenly I remembered you. Seeing you sitting here with closed eyes, sitting so undisturbed, so unperturbed, I felt a little cowardly – I am the host, I should not run. So I came back and I have been sitting by your side. I would like to ask one question. We all tried to escape. What happened to you? How’s it that you did not feel like running?”

The Master said: I also ran, but you ran outwardly while I escaped inwardly. Your escape is useless because wherever you are going there too is an earthquake, so it is meaningless, it makes no sense. You may reach the sixth story or the fifth or the fourth, but there too is an earthquake. I escaped to a point within me where no earthquake ever reaches, cannot reach. I entered my center.”

This story is the essence of Zen. It means that when you reach your center, nothing can affect you. No external event, development, can touch you. Your center has been, is, and will be with you. It is INyou. In your center, you will find both perpetual happiness and inner peace. Even if you are physically in shackles, if you are anchored, centered, no one can take away your inner peace or make you unhappy. Know that only you yourself are responsible for your peace and inner joy. But since you and I are not awake and aware all the time, we keep looking at external reference points and keep fearing, like the heroine in Heroine, that somebody, someone will snatch away our happiness.

So, go within, connect with your center. Drop anchor. Only then can you can remain in this world and yet be above it__untouched and out of it.

Creation will take care of you

A fundamental belief that comes in the way of our living fully, totally, is the view that we have to take care of ourselves and of others ‘dependent’ on us. There’s this huge protector-provider role that we all have self-imposed upon ourselves. Or a better way to say it is that we have self-assumed this. And so we go about our lives obsessed with an avoidable sense of self-importance. We believe every problem around us needs our immediate, urgent attention__and resolution. That everything from money to succor, in our immediate circle of influence, must be provided for by us. And when it doesn’t happen that way, as it often may not, we feel something’s wrong with us, or with creation, or both and so we grieve, agonize and suffer!

Through our suffering we miss the celebration called Life. All around us there’s celebration. A sun rise is a celebration. A moon rise is a celebration too. It is through the darkness that you can see the celebration of the stars. A gaggle of birds chirping is actually a symphony. A bleating lamb is an expression of Universal love. A flower waiting to bloom, in a bud stage, is a celebration of how pregnant Life is, creation is __ with hope, with ecstasy, with color. A raindrop signifies the arrival of a cosmic blessing, to drench you in abundance. But we are so complete in our suffering that we are perhaps witnessing this grand cosmic festival, but we are not seeing the beauty in it! Our inner ugliness__acquired from that skewed sense of self-assumed, self-importance__blinds us from seeing the magic and beauty of Life.

Osho, the Master, says, and only he could have said it so well: “If the whole existence is one, and if existence goes on taking care of trees, of animals, of mountains, of oceans__from the smallest blade of grass to the biggest star__then it will take care of you too. Once you have started seeing the beauty of Life, ugliness starts disappearing. If you start looking at Life with joy, sadness starts disappearing. You cannot have heaven and hell together, you can have only one. It is your choice.”

So observe what’s causing you grief just now. And let it go. Let go of your self-assumed need to be problem-solver, protector, provider. Instead just be. And then through your being, you will witness the celebration of Life. Happening in your world, all around you. Simply for you. You will discover that creation will take care of you, and all that you call your own. That moment of discovery is your bliss! And once you taste it, you will want nothing more. You will simply want to just be!

You control nothing – and yet you are the Master!

You are a Master the moment you realize that you can never be one! Or, more simply, you can be in control of your Life when you realize that you don’t and can control nothing! This understanding is all that there is to spirituality!  

Most people don’t see spirituality as the flowering of internal awareness. They don’t get it that its essence lies in understanding an irrefutable paradox about Life __ that the less you believe you control, the more you are in control!

People often see any spiritual perspective as ‘beyond’ them because they are so caught up in the quagmire of worry, anger, guilt, sorrow, suffering and the ‘earning-a-living’ syndrome. They have an ostrich-like mentality _ their heads are buried deep in their ill-formed beliefs. Their minds are closed although there’s so much grace, so much abundance, freely available. Kabir, the 15th century weaver-poet asked us to think: ‘What if a fish said it was thirsty?’ Wouldn’t that be the most stupidest of situations? Won’t you tell the fish to go re-examine its brain? How can a fish be thirsty when it is always in water? Quite similarly, the human mind is being foolish by seeking peace outside and by not looking within. By not allowing this flowering of awareness to happen from within. So, you conclude that you can’t be at peace, you refuse to look within and choose instead to be enslaved by your self-imposed limitations. Only when the awareness within you blooms, only when you understand that you can be in control while controlling nothing, only then will you see the Master in yourself.

This understanding is elusive because, while being profound, it is, at the same time, too simplistic. That’s why, it doesn’t come to everyone __ especially when  they are employing their education, their logic, in trying to make sense of Life. The truth is Life doesn’t conform to any framework or rules. Least of all your logic. So, Life is simple__and uncomplicated__when you simply accept its paradoxical, often inscrutable, nature.

Look around you. Everything is illogical. Everything is contradictory to what you have been taught, what you have been brought up with or grown up on.

  • Consider this – People behave thanklessly. There’s no dignity for human Life. Ethics and integrity don’t always make you successful anymore. You are encouraged to be worldly-wise than be honest and sincere. You find that trust is impossible to place and impractical to earn. Yet all these symptoms of a decadent world are true of people, even if they are from within your close circle of influence, whom you have no control over. You just can’t control what others do. Yet doesn’t all your grief come from wanting them to be different?
  • Consider another context – A close friend of mine worked very hard. He was sincere and a genius with his craft __ marketing. He grew up the corporate ladder fast. Because there was none like him in the business. For a man with average qualifications, he earned substantially. He had only one son. And he was saving up for his son to be studying in an American University. Then one day, a few years ago, his 16-year-old son was killed in a car crash by a drunk driver. His son was not drunk. The driver was. I still remember what my friend told me when I visited him to condole his son’s passing away: “I wish I had known this would happen. I would have then spent enough time with my son rather than spending that time earning money for him!” It is so bizarre. A hard-working father saves up for his only son__only to lose him so tragically?

How can you, despite all their education and logic, ever prevent what happens in Life? But you can surely choose how you respond to people and to Life. You can be grateful, you can be human, you can continue to be ethical, hard-working and honest. You may not earn as much as the others do, but you can sleep well. And doing all the things that you are comfortable doing, you can feel good and peaceful __ within you! This is your personal paradox and you must learn to accept it, appreciate it and live with it! You must, for the sake of your own inner peace, know that you cannot control anyone or anything outside of you in Life. If you can control anything at all, it is just how you live, how you relate to and how you respond to what Life throws at you!

I may have shared this before. There’s this story of the Buddha. The Buddha was passing through a village. The people of that village were against him, against his philosophy, so they gathered around him to insult him. They used ugly words, vulgar words. The Buddha listened. Ananda, the Buddha’s disciple, who was with him, got very angry, but he couldn’t say anything because the Buddha was listening so silently, so patiently, as if he was enjoying the whole thing. 
Then even the crowd became a little frustrated because he was not getting irritated and it seemed as if he was enjoying.

The Buddha said, “Now, if you are finished, I should move – because I have to reach the other village soon. They must be waiting just as you were waiting for me. If you have not told me all the things that you thought to tell me, I will be coming back within a few days, then you can finish it.”

Somebody from the crowd said, “But we have been insulting you, we have insulted you. Won’t you react? Won’t you say something?”

The Buddha said, “That is difficult. If you want a reaction from me, then you are too late. You should have come at least ten years ago, because then I used to react. But I am now no longer so foolish. I see that you are angry, that’s why you are insulting me. I see your anger, the fire burning in your mind. I feel compassion for you. This is my response – I feel compassion for you. Unnecessarily you are troubled.”

So beautiful, isn’t it? Another’s thoughts and actions are not in your control. What happens to you in Life is not in your control.

This is the state we must all ascend to. When you awaken to this reality, you will discover that you are in control ONLY of yourself! That you control nothing and yet you are the Master! From that clarity, bliss is born! Then everything that matters fills your Life__love, peace, good health and joy!