Are you making a living or would you rather make a Life?


Examine what possesses you to understand how impoverished your really are!

All of us have been trained to calculate our net worth basis our material assets – property owned, gold lying unused in lockers, investments in stocks, insurance policies, vehicles, cash in the bank. If you think you have enough, all your thinking is focused on how can you protect your net worth, as viewed by you, from eroding and ensuring it actually appreciates in value. And if you think you want some more, and what you already have is not enough, all your thinking centers on amassing more assets – everything is about property, money, stock markets and investments. In either of these scenarios, you are being possessed by something you are not. And that makes you, very, very, very poor in Life’s scheme of things!

The truth is you are not your bank balance, not the property you own, not all the assets that your accountants total up to declare your net worth. You are Life, the Universal energy, in its purest form, and you imagine that you are a few pieces of paper and metal or a few measures of this earth, that which you cannot take with you in any case, when this human form of yours dies! As long as you are possessed by what you think you own, you are not living. You merely exist.

I met a friend recently, who, by his own admission, has plenty saved up in his bank accounts for his next two generations of family to exist comfortably. Yet, for several months, he confesses, he has been ‘grieving and suffering, often spending sleepless nights’, fighting to recover a sum of money owed to him by someone. Since that person has changed his address and is not traceable, a court order that my friend has secured stating that the party pay up cannot be served on the latter. My friend therefore has embarked on a pilgrimage to rid himself and his family’s path of all the obstacles that prevent them from recovering what’s due to them! In principle, there is nothing wrong in fighting legitimately for what is yours. There’s no harm in undertaking a pilgrimage too. But in either situation and effort if you are going to be ‘possessed’ by your desire to want the money desperately or by the fear that you may not ‘get what you want’, then are you not a slave? Of what use is all your wealth if at the end of the day you are enslaved by what you think you possess?

Do what you think you must do to earn your incomes, protect your wealth and grow your asset bases. Just don’t get possessed by your material wealth.

In Life’s book, net worth is judged not by how much you have, but how much you give. Give freely. Give food to the hungry, give clothes to the homeless and cold people this winter, give your time and attention to your family that perhaps doesn’t nag but pines for you, give your love and compassion to a harassed colleague at work or give a helping hand to a stranger struggling to cross the road or load heavy bags on to a cart at the airport. Give without expectation __and you will feel you have gained something. You will feel enriched. You will realize this simple truism about Life – that when you give, you rejoice, you exult, you feel happy and blessed. When you want, you feel tormented, depressed, fearful and always unhappy!

In reality also, all that you want can be robbed from you __ Life can take away your power, position, prestige, money and all your material assets. But no one, not even Life, can take away what you can give, unless you want to give it yourself. Like your love or your time that you choose to give someone – without any expectations of anything in return.

Think about it! Making a difference to someone’s Life can enrich you. Just making money for yourself actually impoverishes you! It is the difference between making a Life and making a living!


Life’s nature is to go up and down!


Life’s nature is full of duality. What’s up will go down soon. And what’s down will go up too.

When we don’t understand this duality and refuse to go with the flow of Life, we will grieve, suffer and agonize over every twist in our Life’s tale!

The Master Forlorn
This is not a comment on the man or his decision. This is just a presentation of a case in point. Just look at the venerable Sachin Tendulkar, the master of the game. Look at how pale shadow he has become of his own original great self! Writing in The Hindu this morning, Vijay Lokapally, observes painfully: “The master’s dismissal, against England here on Friday, was a poignant moment for those who have watched him conquer batting peaks that none dreamt of. His state is that of a singer who has lost his voice, an artist his brush or a soldier his gun. Or, precisely, of a Tendulkar who has lost his bat. Bowled off an inside edge. Not for the first time. Fifty-two times the ball has hit his stumps; 58 times the pad has come in the way. He has failed many times, but never has he appeared so helpless, so despondent…But his aggregate stands at a monumental 15,643 runs in Tests and 18,426 in one-day internationals. Had his technique and attitude been faulty, Tendulkar would not have travelled thus far. If failure has embraced him more than success this year, the reasons can be many, and different. “What if he is getting bowled? It is another mode of dismissal,” former great Bishan Singh Bedi would insist. True. It is just another mode of dismissal, this one triggered from a spot that jagged the ball in by a bowler brought back into the attack with a specific plan. Tendulkar, 39, nearly collapsed as the ball crashed into the stumps. He recovered and trudged back to the dressing room, leaving a trail of sadness. The introspection of his dismissal was best left to him, the greatest batsman the game has seen.”

So, this is not an analysis of Tendulkar as much as a perspective on Life itself. Get used to this truth: what may once appear invincible will be humbled. And the meek shall conquer. This is the way Life works. With a peculiar, inscrutable madness. This will happen to every single person that walked the planet. And you__and I__are no exceptions.

So how does one deal with Life? By just living it!

Living simply means that Life will give you problems, challenges and pain. Whether you like it or not! Now you can do nothing about what comes at you. But you can do everything within your means to ensure you don’t grieve, agonize or suffer over what comes. You can live without suffering anything: a bad relationship, an ailment or injury, emotional stress, poor or even zero income, poor form or injustice. You, in fact, are responsible for all your suffering. Suffering comes from wishing, pining and insisting that things were different. Acceptance is an antidote for suffering. Give up insisting and start accepting what has come your way. You won’t suffer. 
Know at the same time that what causes you pain now will fade away with time. It will eventually be replaced with extraordinary and boundless joy. Only, in some more time, for the whole cycle of Life to be repeated again. 

As former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice said, “Life is full of surprises and and serendipity. Being open to unexpected turns in the road is an important part of success. If you try to plan every step, you may miss those wonderful twists and turns. Just find your next adventure_do it well, enjoy it_and then, not now, think about what comes next.”


To avoid feeling miserable, avoid making assumptions about your Life!


To avoid feeling miserable about your Life, stop making assumptions about it. It is almost often the fear of how your Life will end up that cripples you and brings you suffering.
Think about it. We have been created to be able, yet we often become miserable. We fret and fume over our situations, our environments, our relationships, our jobs, our governments and so many, many other things! One of the reasons why we invite misery upon ourselves is we imagine a lot of scenarios that don’t exist. What we assume to be a worst case scenario never really happens. Yet we constantly fear it will and that fear debilitates us.
The other reason we are miserable is that we are all attached, particularly, with anything to do with money. Money is important, no doubt. It is fine as far as you are in possession of money. But if money has started possessing you, well, you certainly have a problem. The greatest wealth you can have is this Life. Intelligent living is the ability to employ discretion and to use money, to the extent one needs it, than be consumed by trying to protect it. Again, the truth is that everything that you__and I__need is provided for. Our needs never bring us agony. Our wants do. So, simply being happy, despite your circumstances, can make your misery vanish.
That is not to say that you will not face problems. You will. Such is the nature of Life. But when you understand that imagining something that has not happened yet, fearing it all the time, is what causes you misery, and you realize that money is impermanent, your ability to deal with the problems you are faced with improves substantially!
So, be present when Life is happening to you. Don’t cling on to anything. Don’t imagine stuff that hasn’t happened yet! Your misery will make way for peace and bliss!

Life Really Is A Mind Game


Life really is a mind game. And you need to be on top of the game to live your Life fully!
The human mind is an amazing, to use a Gen Y term, App! It can do more things than even your iPhone or the fastest supercomputer on the planet ever can! The key is to use it effectively, efficiently and point it to whatever you want out of your Life.  
Examine each of your feelings. Worry, guilt, anger, jealousy, sorrow, pain, suffering __ all of them are born out of your mind. Have you ever asked yourself why do these feelings arise? Let’s take a case. You lose your job. And are out of money. You need to pay your bills. You are fearful as a new month dawns. Is the month fearful? Is the bill fearful? Is non-payment of bills fearful? Or is it that your mind tells you that a scary future awaits you? Indeed it your mind that induces feelings in you. What if someone told you__and proved to you__that non-payment of bills is moksha or nirvana or salvation or bliss?   
According to the Buddha, the mind is full of drunken monkeys who are always jumping around, aimlessly, boisterously, mischievously, cantankerously. They are noisy and there is an incessant chatter that they cause. The drunken monkeys are Buddha’s metaphor for the 60,000 thoughts that arise in your mind daily. Research has proven that the average human mind throws up 60,000 thoughts daily. And these thoughts are random. They sometimes have no relation to what you are doing. For instance, while driving to work, you may see a lady in a red dress. And that lady could remind you of a girl from your college that you once had a crush on. And soon the thoughts could move to how difficult you found Economics back then. That thought could lead you to how you cheated in exams. And then you start wondering how hypocritical it is to be counseling your adolescent child on integrity. Then you think about the lack of transparency in public Life. You think of the state of your country. And then your mind complains about how bad the roads are and how messy the traffic has become. One red dress took you, in a few seconds, on a trip that spanned several decades and various issues! 
That’s really how powerful your mind is. The Buddha also taught that it is imminently possible to tame the mind monkeys. He said don’t resist them, don’t control them, because what you resist, persists. Instead tame them. And that means give them something meaningful to play with. On a spiritual plane, giving the monkeys awareness of your true Self is a beautiful way to tame them. When your mind knows who you really are__that you are simply the energy that powers the Universe__the mind will quit playing stupid, senseless games. You will begin to see everything__EVERYTHING__as petty, transient, fleeting and inconsequential. Success, failure, sorrow and joy, will mean the same to you. On a more practical plane, taming the monkeys means giving them a higher cause, a Purpose and a Vision, to play with. Which is, when the monkeys know why they do what they do, they will do it with involvement, with passion and with diligence. Then there will be no jumping around. There will be a certain aesthetic quality to your thinking, bringing a beauty, a sense of Purpose to everything that you do! 
On Sunday, Aadya Kaktikar wrote, in The Times of India’s Crest Edition, a piece on Odissi exponent Guru Mayadhar Raut. In the article, reviewing Raut’s biography ‘Odissi Yatra’, Kaktikar asks the Guru how he has such a phenomenal memory at his ripe age of 83. And Raut replies: ‘Ye man ki ekagrata se hota hai. Ye man ek rai ki pudiya jaise hai. Yadi bikhar gaya to use phir saath lana assambhav hai’. Meaning, “This is possible due to the focus of the mind. The mind is like a bag of mustard seeds. Once the seeds scatter it is impossible to gather them again.”
Mindfulness: This is so simple and yet so profound!

That’s at the same time so simple and yet so profound. For all of us who have not tamed our mind monkeys, our thoughts are like those mustard seeds__they are all over the place. Which is why we worry, fear, are anxious, sometimes jealous, often angry and are quickly filled with suffering at the slightest hint of pain! Which is also why we don’t see the beauty, magic and miracle of Life, in everyday occurrences. 

Change your Manic Monday today to Mindful Monday! Point your mind in the direction of your true Self and on your Vision for yourself. Let nothing distract you.  
Remember as long as your thoughts, your mustard seeds are gathered and your mind monkeys stay tamed, you will be alive to the magic of each moment. It is the sum of all these awakened moments that will make up the rest of your Life! To make them memorable or keep them manic, of course, is your personal choice!