Life happens in its own time, of its own accord, at its own pace!

So, be patient.

A bug in an original, 3-year-old, licensed version of MS Office led to it crashing on my laptop on Monday morning. After some futile attempts to download and install a fresh version of the license, I got on to a call with Microsoft’s tech support representative. What started as an estimated 20-minute problem resolution window, took over 24 hours and three spells of remote desktop control and tele-support to fix.

In this time, I re-learnt something supremely important for everyday living – the value of patience!

Two Microsoft technicians took turns working on the fix on my machine. Windows 10 had to be, as a last resort, reinstalled. Since they required remote access to my machine, uninterrupted net connectivity was a must. The process became unbearably painful for all of us because we had to contend with both sloppy connectivity and frequent power outages. I was very wary of losing data when the Windows 10 reinstallation and a C drive reset had to be performed. But the technicians remained calm with my naïve questioning, with my hesitation to go through some steps in the process and, at times, with my constantly wanting to know how long it was going to take. They were ultra-patient. They left me feeling good and comfortable every time they even remotely felt I may well have been upset.

AVIS-Viswanathan-Be-Patient

This morning, when I rebooted my machine, it started off faster. My internet access is fast too. And overall, there’s a refreshing quality to my computing experience. So, whatever happens, I concluded, happens for the good! In addition to this, there are a couple of flavors to my learning from this MS Office episode. One, technology can be a tyrant – a minor bug can drive you nuts – and the only way you can lead it and drive it is by being patient!  Sometimes, situations and people around you can drive you up the wall, but you must not succumb to the pressure; you must keep your focus, you must be at it to beat it – this is what the young Microsoft technicians did admirably well!

Patience, I have realized, is a non-negotiable, a must-have, pre-requisite to deal with Life’s upheavals and with the twists and turns of everyday living. I totally believe in what Osho, the Master, taught the world – “Be patient. Everything happens in its time, everything happens when it is ripe and, everything happens when you are ripe!”

Like in my MS Office instance, there may be times in your Life when you will catch a bug that you can’t immediately fix. And the only way to resolve the situation would be to go through a reboot, a reinvention – however painful it may be. And if you would like to enjoy that process, if you wish not to suffer through it, you must be patient. Because no matter what you want, how hard you wish or pray, Life happens in its own time, of its own accord, at its own pace.

Why I refuse to call myself a Hindu

Can we just be human, pleeeaaassse?

My good friend Girish Pradhan was stopped from entering the famous Kapaleeshwarar temple in Mylapore yesterday. The temple authorities wanted to ascertain that he is a Hindu. Girish sports a beard and apparently that’s why the “clarification/proof” was sought.

I have been thinking about this episode ever since Girish’s wife Weena posted a status on Facebook last afternoon. And interestingly, adding to the discourse brewing in my head, I ended up watching a Subhash Ghai film “Black & White” (2008, Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Anurag Sinha) on TV last night. The film deals with some searching questions on Hindu-Muslim unity, on how a terrorist is born and why most acts of terrorism are led by Islamic fundmentalists. While the film was engaging for most parts, it didn’t quite answer all the questions it raised. And that is the problem. No one seems to have the answers – even though a majority of people think peace, think secular! We are all, as well meaning citizens of the world, stuck in a situation where a few people hold us to ransom with their anti-human ideas of religious fundamentalism.

Before this post is conveniently misinterpreted and given a communal flavor, I must hasten to confess that I was born to Hindu parents. But I refuse to call myself a Hindu. My religion is humanity. Period. And Life is my God. In fact, later this month, on 29th April, Saturday, I host famous dancer Zakir Hussain on my popular show – The Bliss Catchers – at Odyssey Bookstore, Adyar. Now, Zakir is a Thirupaavai Upanyasam expert. Had Zakir and I tried to enter the Kapaleeshwarar temple, and if we were asked to prove ourselves as Hindus, undoubtedly, Zakir would have won himself an entry ticket! And I would have failed miserably – I don’t wear my poonal (sacred thread), I don’t know any shlokas and, of course, I may have well refused the test. To me, a God who resides in the smelly, dark, sanctorums of a temple, or for that matter who is ensconced in any “place of worship”, watching over apathetically, even as people fight each other in the name of religion, is no God at all.

Clearly, we cannot afford to be like God. Not anymore. We must not sit back and allow the rot to happen. I believe each of us has a responsibility to heal our world. I am not even talking of healing the entire world. I am suggesting we begin with our small Universes, our circles of influence.

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First, we must make religion irrelevant in our actions, in our pronouncements, in thought. Let me explain. I have another friend, who often brags that he prefers keeping his second apartment locked up, but he says he will not give it to Muslim tenants. Such thinking must stop. Religion, if at all it must be practiced, is a deeply personal affair. And must be kept that way. Flaunting your religious belief is what makes it relevant. And when there is a mass relevance, fundamentalists seize advantage, they want to induce fear, control you and brainwash you. Some of them take it to a destructive level – they turn barbaric and murderous. Sadly, this is what is happening around us, with alarming frequency. Second, let us understand the difference between divinity and God. Divinity is Life’s way of expressing itself – you will find divinity in a sunrise, in a raindrop, in the stillness of a valley, in a bird chirping, in a child’s eyes, in you, in me and in every aspect of creation. God, on the other hand, is a human invention, who does nothing to save the world from anarchy and extremism. Yes, there is a Higher Energy that governs, guides, nurtures and protects all of us. And we are all created by that Energy and we carry that Energy in each of us. So, to me, every form of creation is God. I don’t relate to God again as one Supremo who resides in a designated place of worship. This theory and its belief is downright divisive and abhorrent. Finally, can we just soak in the essence of this immortal song from Yash Chopra’s directorial debut Dhool Ka Phool (1959, Manmohan Krishna, Mohd.Rafi, N.Dutta) “Tu Hindu Banega Na Musalmaan Banega, Insaan Ki Aulad Hai, Insaan Banega…”? Sahir Ludhianvi’s inspiring lyrics remain relevant to this day – can we just be human, pleeeaaassse?

I know millions of people out there echo these sentiments that I share here. The time has come for all of us like-minded folks to step out and speak up for humanity. My prayer is this: let’s stop being closet secularists. Only when we make religion irrelevant in the public domain, can we make religious fundamentalism irrelevant and powerless.