The problem with searching for what isn’t there is that it takes you away from what is there!
We recently bumped into a couple who had attended one of my Talks a few months ago. The gentleman said he was very moved by our story and inspired by our ‘courage’. He suggested that we attend an Isha Yoga Program led by a prominent member of Jaggi Vasudev’s team. He felt we need to ‘put into practice a method that can attract abundance and inner peace into our Life’. Both Vaani and I politely declined his suggestion. He was a bit taken aback by our response. Noticing his discomfort, I told him that we had nothing against Jaggi Vasudev personally but we are saying no because we don’t believe that there are any methods to live Life.
The Isha philosophy has somehow never appealed to me personally. Nor has any other. In the past, people, out of sheer compassion and love for us, perhaps even concern, have recommended various approaches to us to help us ‘solve our problems’. Someone said that we must follow Buddhism, another said we must try or Pranic Healing or Reiki, my former secretary said we must embrace Christianity, a friend suggested we meet a Pir Baba at a mosque on Pycrofts Road (Chennai) who would look at eggs and tell us how to get rid of the ‘evil spirit that had gripped us’. So, the suggestions have been plenty. But we have consistently declined embracing any method, any practice.
Not that we haven’t tried anything ever. We did pujas, pariharams, went on pilgrimages to various shrines, across religions, wore rings on all fingers, fasted on specific days each week and followed several, several, methods and practices. But none worked for us – forget solutions, we didn’t even feel the peace we were desperately seeking! What I am going to say now applies to Vaani and me. There is no suggestion that anyone must agree with us or that it will work for others. After years of trying various approaches, we have realized that Life cannot be methodized. This understanding alone has worked for us. So we love it. And religion, practiced in a God-fearing, ritualistic, mindless, divisive manner, as it is done today, doesn’t work. At least it doesn’t work for us.
They say religion is for those who want to go to heaven. And spirituality is for those who have been to hell. Vaani and I have been to hell, are in hell, and are loving it here. Because if a problem-ridden Life is hell, then, no one is ever going to be living a problem-free Life. So, in a sense, we are all in hell already. Instead of loving what is, and learning to deal with it or work on changing it, we clearly don’t want to merely pine for – and suffer for – an aspirational state.
Spirituality is an inner awakening. It is understanding the divine, the godliness in you. And realizing that everything about your Life, including this lifetime is impermanent, except your divinity, or as every scripture points out, except your true Self. As Osho says, there is no God, just godliness. Or as German thinker Friedrich Nietzsche (1844~1900) asked so thought provokingly: “Which is it, is man one of God’s blunders or is God one of man’s blunders?” So, spirituality inspires us to live our temporary, soon-to-expire, human lives, intelligently, beautifully, happily. On the spiritual path there is no religion, there are no methods, no mantras, no practices. There is just an awakening; an empowering awareness that there is no logic to Life, just magic, everywhere, in every moment, in everyone!
I am reminded of Baal Shem Tov (1698~1760), the mystical Rabbi, who implored his followers to drop all rituals, all methods and all practices and simply trust Life. He used to say: “Trust Life, trust God, and whatsoever has been given to you, enjoy it! Enjoy it with such deep gratitude that every small thing matters and becomes holy, becomes sacred, becomes God.”
If you think about Life deeply you don’t have any other way to look at Life than with gratitude. This whole Life is a gift. The experiences that you have been through and are going through are unique gifts – that teach you and awaken you – too. When you realize this you will wonder why did you ever complain about Life, why did you have to struggle with and suffer in Life, instead of celebrating it!
Because you think you have to ‘solve this problem of Life’, it has come to mean a set of things that you don’t have or keep aspiring or searching for. Which is why you are looking for methods, which is why an external resource, a God, or religion, or ritual, is seen as a possible panacea. But are you at peace with your Life, are you happy, despite being religious, despite practices and rituals? To be sure, this search is futile because there is nothing, no one, to be found; there is nothing to be solved. You miss this simple truth about Life because while you are running amuck chasing what isn’t there, you never feel grateful for what is there, for what you have!
Life is happening in every moment. If you are not present in each moment you will miss the most spectacular show in, and of, your “entire lifetime”! You may define some moments of your Life as good and great and several others as plain drudgery. That’s perhaps because you don’t see the blessing in each moment. If you pause to look, every leaf looks beautiful in the sunlight, and differently beautiful in the darkness of the night, every cloud has a silver lining and everything around you, in you, is a miracle! What method do you need to see all this? What practice can help you see what is evident? How much more abundance do you need than what is and that which you don’t already recognize? When you do awaken to Life’s magic and beauty, you will stop searching for methods and start living with gratitude!
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Scarcity thinking, focusing on what isn’t, invites suffering that holds you hostage; abundance thinking sets you free!
At a conversation organized by the Indian Prostrate Cancer Foundation, Raja Krishnamoorthy, the moderator, asked us to reflect on the value of abundance thinking. He said a good state to be in, in Life, is where you can wake up and say “Kurai Onrum Illai” – no grievances or complaints whatsoever! I have a friend, who’s in his late 70s now, who uses this line as a response to the “How are you?” greeting! How beautiful, I thought,…if you can truly respond every time you are asked “How are you?”…saying you have no issues, no complaints with Life…“Kurai Onrum Illai”!
Honestly speaking, I could never get to this state until I learnt to rein in my mind. It wasn’t until I learned to practice daily silence periods – mouna – that I could see the abundance in my Life.
To be sure, the human mind thinks 60,000 thoughts daily. And, if the mind is untrained, it is pulling you in different directions – often illogically, randomly. From grief to anger to guilt to fear to insecurity to worry to anxiety the mind seesaws between the past and the future. By nature, the mind thrives only in the past or the future. In the present, as Osho, the Master, points out, there is no mind. There’s just you, the real you, immersed, in the now, in whatever is, in whatever is happening! So, the secret to celebrate Life, to soak in the abundance that you have, is this: you must bring your mind to attend only to the present moment. Like the physical body resists training in a gym, the mind will resist your attempts to train it. But the beauty is that just as you can train your body, you can train your mind too. So, over time, I taught myself the art of mouna, remaining silent (irrespective of the environment or circumstance I am placed in) for an hour daily. I can now drop anchor wherever I am – in a busy traffic signal, at an airport, in a courtroom or a boring business meeting and even when every shred of material security is absent. And, miraculously, when I am anchored, I see only abundance in and around me.
So, I can totally relate to Raja’s call to reflect there and to my senior friend’s greeting: “Kurai Onrum Illai”!
Actually, this approach to Life is neither philosophical nor is it metaphorical. It is a very real, very sensible way to look at your Life. Life operates on this principle of compassion towards all that it creates. So, the truth is, all of us, at any time, have everything that we need. It is only our desire that our Life should be different from what it is that makes us suffer. So, simply, we cause our own suffering. Now, my Life, for instance, is ridden with debt, and has been, for almost a decade now, despite our best efforts, often about struggling to meet and cover living expenses. There’s denial of work, rejection, public judgment (for our inability to repay our debt) and there’s so much pain caused by the legal and social course that a bankruptcy takes you through. So, if I look at what isn’t, if I allow myself to be steeped in scarcity thinking, I will end up being a nervous wreck – depressed and worthless. So will Vaani. Which is why, we decided to look at each other, our companionship, and our two children – who have grown up to be fine, well-anchored, young adults despite this time of intense strife for our family – and celebrate this blessing that we have – of each other’s presence! We reasoned that even if we have no money, we have the choice to be happy for just being alive and together. We also have the blessing of so many, many, many friends and some family members who love us unconditionally and continue to stand by us and support us – no matter what we are going through and however long it is taking! So, we see the need to be eternally grateful to Life. Just counting our blessings makes us deliriously happy! And we go about spreading awareness of this opportunity called happiness, that’s freely available 24×7, around us. We wake up every morning saying a big thank you to Life, and flow with Life as it flows that day. There’s no ‘like’ button or ‘dislike’ button in our Life anymore. There’s just a ‘be’ button. So, we just are.
Therefore, we know, “Kurai Onrum Illai” is a great way to greet Life and to live it fully – despite your circumstances!
PS: Prostrate Cancer is curable and a simple blood test to review your PSA levels is all that you need to do for early action!
|Nithyanand – The Buddha|
So, stop thinking of what’s wrong with the world and with your Life. Stop cribbing. Stop wishing things were different. Start living freely, unfettered by fear. Have faith that all that you need will continue to be available to you, just as it always has been. Up until this moment. Think abundance. Think prosperity. Every time you read about the crumbling global economic indices, job losses, falling currencies and begin to wonder how you will survive, think of the most beautiful sunrise you have seen, the most intimate moment you have spent with your companion, or the most joyous vacation you have been on in Life. Define one spot outside your window that is beauty__believe me, you will find beauty everywhere, most definitely in unexpected places. And view that sight each time you feel worry and fear gripping you. The beauty of Life and nature can revive even the most hardened, numbed, human spirit. This is abundance thinking. Realize that it is from abundance that peace is born. It is from peace that prosperity flows. Will you make a new beginning today?
It was a beautiful moment of awakening and discovery for me personally. Here I was grappling with what I didn’t have – a car, and so was steeped in scarcity thinking, wondering how a child who had never ever used public transport would cope. And here was Life that had blessed me and my wife with such a wonderful daughter who not only had the maturity to accept our current reality – in which anything material, even a basic taken-for-granted gadget, device, instrument, machine or asset, is a luxury – but also had the sense of adventure to plunge head-on into an environment she was not familiar with. I don’t share this by way of self-congratulation or to praise my child, but I share to tell you how beautiful Life’s ways are. Our daughter (and son) fills our Life with abundance – this blessing far outweighs what we don’t have and what, perhaps, no longer matters!