Simplify your Life: choose not to be bothered if you are alienated

Don’t attach any importance to any thing or any individual. Because when they are gone, as is sure to happen some day, you will be miserable.

12407283_1682967285322631_1106338545_nYesterday, we attended a Cinema Rendezvous screening of the documentary ‘A Life in Metaphors’ made on noted film-maker Girish Kasaravalli. After the film was over, people were in conversation with Girish. He talked about how it is important for a film-maker to express through images how a character is feeling. And he said the feeling of being alienated by one’s own family or community or society was the most painful one to endure; it is intensely personal and, therefore, very difficult to portray on screen. Someone then asked Girish if not being appreciated on social media or not appearing in Page 3 coverage in papers was a sign or way of being alienated in our times and in urban society? Very deftly, Girish avoided answering the question. And spoke only about the feeling of alienation his protagonists’ have felt and depicted in his films. I think Girish made a significant point by not answering the question directly. Which is this: looking for social media acceptance or approval and recognition among the Page 3 community is a sign of shallowness, of lack of evolution and maturity.

Alienation that happens to an individual by an act of abuse or social excommunication is never controllable by the individual. So, maturity demands that you remain detached and don’t attach importance to what others do to you. Now, in urban society where social media and Page 3 culture have become necessary platforms for expression and visibility, the same principle of detachment must be practiced. Just as it does not matter what caste or creed you are – and so being excommunicated by a society that is stooping below the humane shouldn’t matter – it doesn’t matter whether you are ‘liked’ on social media or whether you are included or excluded in the Page 3 circuit.

There are two points to bear in mind to keep Life simple – first, what others think of you is of no significance to what you can do; and second, everything, including you, will perish over time, so stay detached and never grieve over losing anything. Surely, you cannot control or avoid being alienated but you can always choose not to feel sad for being alienated.



Your Life is more precious than your misery

To overcome betrayal, forgive and just wish the other person well. It is not difficult. It is simple.

Think of a situation when you have been let down, back-stabbed and left to feel like trash. It happened sometime surely in your Life. What was your response? Anger. Outrage. How-dare-you?: your mind keeps throbbing with this question. You sulk. You rant. You brood. At the end of it, your Life goes on. So does the other person’s. And what was the outcome of all that struggle? Pure misery for you.

Was all of this avoidable? Yes surely. All you needed to do was to wish the other person well and let that person be. You can also call this forgiveness. The person’s choice to betray you was their own. Why do you have to react to it violently? It is only when you react this way that you encounter misery. If you were to just accept the situation as is, wish that person well, I am not saying you will feel good, but definitely, you will not feel like trash or be miserable.

Know this: YOU WILL BE BETRAYED IN LIFE. Not ONCE, Not TWICE, but ‘n’ number of times! Yet, each time if you wish your detractor, your back-stabber, your betrayer, well, you can be peaceful. Ultimately, it is ONLY your peace that matters. When you are peaceful, Life in your circle of influence will be peaceful. When people see you peaceful they will retract from their positions of designed or happenstance hostility. Being miserable you cannot make the world a better place. Being peaceful you can make YOUR world better. You don’t have to be a martyr to do this. You just have to be human to see value in this proposition. Wish well, forgive and move on. The rest of your Life is more precious than you clinging on to your misery! 

Choicelessness is a blessing that leads you to bliss!

If you have no choice in Life, it is a good thing. Then you can just be, with what is!
The other day I was delivering a Talk to a group of young managers. I spoke to them about learning to be happy and content while living with whatever circumstances Life has placed you in. The Talk was autobiographical in parts as I shared anecdotes and learnings from my Life to illustrate how I had made the transition from running the rat race and earning-a-living to simply living – accepting whatever Life offered me. One of the managers, in his late 20s, observed that perhaps I had lost the “aggression” in me because of the experiences I had been through in Life. He said: “Maybe because you were left with no more choices, because Life dealt with you ‘unfairly’, you had to accept whatever came your way.”
Interesting point the young man made. What do you do when you don’t have a choice but to accept whatever Life offers you? Simple. You learn to live with what is there, whatever is available, and through this acceptance, you are happy and peaceful. Well, in reality, there are no choices. Our education, our intelligence, makes us believe that we have a choice over what Life offers us, over the way Life deals with us. So we keep on resisting or avoiding the Life which is happening to us. In doing all this, we end up suffering. What causes us misery is not what is but our wish that it wasn’t there in the first place.

Spirituality is not about religion. It is about the flowering of inner awareness in you – the one that tells you that it is what it is. And that you will do well to accept what is. So, over time, and from experience, all of us evolve. Some of us evolve through a crisis. Some of us evolve through resisting, fighting, avoiding and then learning to accept Life. Some of us evolve by understanding the scriptures and applying our learnings to real-Life contexts. Each of us evolves though for sure – at our own pace and time. The evolved person does not ever say no to Life! He or she is never looking for choices. Sadness comes and it is accepted. Tragedy comes and it is accepted. Opportunity comes and it is accepted. A moment to celebrate comes and it is accepted. This person does not impose conditions on Life. And therefore this person is happy and content despite the circumstances he or she is placed in.

It is only by being happy and content with the Life you have that you can anchor in inner peace. And, to that end, having no choice in Life, whatever be the context, is a great blessing. A blessing that leads you to bliss!

Ridding yourself of comparisons and envy

Comparing yourself with others is what ruins your inner peace. Drop all comparisons. You are unique. Just as everyone else is.  
A participant at one of my workshops recently asked me, “How do you not envy someone who has everything that you don’t?”
His question was as profound as it was candid. To compare, and often times, even subconsciously, feel jealous of someone is a normal human quality. But if you are aware, you will find that jealousy does not help in any manner. In fact, it ruins your inner peace. It is only through your awareness that you can drop comparisons and stop feeling jealous of someone!
I remember reading a story. A man was sitting peacefully on a mountain top. He was taking in the scenery. It was a beautiful morning. He had had a very rough time in the past few weeks. So, he had decided to trek up the mountain just to get some quiet time to himself. His girlfriend had deserted him. And he had been heart-broken over that incident. But coming here, up the mountain, had helped him greatly. He must have been sitting there for over four hours. And he did not once think about his ex-girlfriend. He did not feel anger or grief. He was able to see how beautiful Life was – just as it was, despite whatever he was going through. Around noon, a young couple arrived at the mountain top. They were happy to be with each other. The man saw this couple and his thoughts went back to his girlfriend and he started pining for her first. Then he was soon angry with her. And in some time, he was jealous of this other man for being able to have a girlfriend when he did not have one himself! The scenery and nature’s pristine beauty did not matter to him anymore. He was angry with Life. He left the place in a huff.
This story is very relevant. For it helps us understand the sequence of events that lead us to feeling miserable about any situation in Life. When the man was “present” in the moment, when he was taking in the scenery, he had no problems. For several hours he had no problems, no thoughts about his past. But the moment he allowed thoughts of his past, of his ex-girlfriend to creep in, he first started feeling uncomfortable, then angry and finally, miserable. This is the way the mind leads you to misery. When you are in the Now, when you are present in the moment, it is actually the state of no-mind. This is when all you are doing is that you are engaged in whatever is happening. If you are watching a movie, you are “in” it. If you are singing, you “are” the song. If you are reading a book, you “are” the book. There’s no past. There’s no future. There’s just you – in the Now!
The mind comes into play only when your attention wavers. Now awareness cannot stop your attention from wavering. But awareness can help you rein in your mind and bring your focus into the present moment. How do you build a higher level of awareness in you? Simple – by constantly training the mind to not interfere with the present. The mind thrives in debilitating emotions like guilt, grief, anger and worry – in the past or in the future. It is powerless in the present. To be sure, you too can train your mind through daily practices like meditation or mouna (observing silence periods).
So, don’t worry about your tendency to compare yourself with others or feel jealous of them. Those are the effects. Go to what’s causing the effect. Which is the mind. Work on training your mind. The more you train to not let your attention to waver, the more you will be present in the moment. And as long as you are present, no painful past or anxious future, can ever touch you. When you reach this state, through repeated practice, your Life will be blissful. Untouched by the scourge of comparison and envy!