The Universal Prayer to Life

Life is a continuous process of unlearning and learning, repairing and renewing.

Many a time what you think, what you say and what you do may not be in harmony. And that really is the cause for all unhappiness. Or sometimes you may be thinking, saying and doing things in one way but others, often companions, observers, onlookers, will be thinking differently. And they may opinionate differently. This can be another source for unhappiness.

So, in either of these situations, how do you restore the equilibrium? How do you anchor within? How do you come back to being happy?

Some years ago, I would lean on religion for repair and renewal, but while I found such experiences ushering in peace momentarily, the peace at most times didn’t really last. When the experience was over, the hard-won peace was also gone. Besides, I never understood or experienced happiness through religion. Further, through a Life-changing experience that I have been through in recent years, I have lost all interest in religion, as it is preached and practiced today. I find it ritualistic and divisive. In the name of pluralism it alienates us humans from each other. They say spirituality is the flowering of internal awareness. They also say religion is for those who want to go to heaven, and spirituality is for those who have been to hell! I have been to hell and I identify with both these sayings closely. 

I composed this prayer some years ago. It was a fervent plea from me to Life to show me the right way, through the labyrinth of fear, anxiety and uncertainty that tormented me at that time. It has since become a prayer to Life, whom I have come to recognize as the greatest Teacher. That’s why I always spell Life with a capital ‘L’! To me, Life is the Higher Energy that embraces and nurtures all creation. Each day, during my ‘mouna’ (silence periods) session, I pray to Life, reciting this prayer slowly, savoring each word, and relating it to my experiences of the previous day. Since I don’t understand Sanskrit, and since most of Indian Hindu prayers are composed in that language, I have been unable to relate to any of them seriously. English, however, as a medium, helps me internalize each sentiment and embed my daily learnings firmly in my soul!

Teach me, O! Teacher…

Teach me, O! Teacher, each day as I awake and arise, to be humble. To respect another Life and to accept that just as I am entitled to my opinion, others are too. To contribute selflessly and without expectation.

Teach me, O! Teacher, to forgive every act of unkindness and injustice to me. To unlearn and forget what may not be relevant to me as I journey along.

Teach me to conquer anger and to attain that state of ahimsa, when all violence inside me subsides, and true love prevails.

Teach me to avoid hatred and jealousy. To resist ruinous temptations and to employ discretion at such times that I may waver.

Teach me, O! Teacher, to soak in and converse with the silence that engulfs me and for me to discover the real me in it.

Teach me to lead a Life of action, skillfully and selflessly, to live in this world and yet be above it.

Teach me, to remain detached from the fruits of my action and to know that if the motive is pure and the means are correct, in the end it will all be fine if I do my best and leave you the rest.

Teach me, O! Teacher, to be eternally grateful for this Life and this experience!

You too can try it. Learning, unlearning, repair and renewal, on a daily basis, are guaranteed. Peace and joy are both intended and assured outcomes too!

Stay anchored to your bliss, stay focused, stay humble.

To live Life fully, just choose a path to follow, the one that gives you inner joy. And just keep walking, following your bliss! Remember you must keep plowing on regardless of what you have to face or what other people think of you. You will then eventually be successful. And that’s when you must remember to also stay humble.
As I write this, two important learnings come to mind.
One is from the south Indian Superstar Rajnikant, whose birthday it is today.
Rajni: Stays anchored and humble
Owing to his immense popularity and his hysterical following in Tamil Nadu, it has been widely believed, over a period of time, that Rajni will enter politics. In fact each election season, his legions of fans in Tamil Nadu eagerly await his announcement of entering politics with bated breath. Several election seasons have gone by and that elusive announcement has not come. It never well may come either. Dr.Gayathri Srikanth, Rajini’s first biographer, writes in her book, ‘The Name Is Rajnikant’, that Rajni is very clear that his bliss lies in continuing to be, in spirit, the down-to-earth coolie and bus conductor he once was, while also continuing to earn a ‘livelihood’ from acting. Straying beyond these two dimensions of his personal or professional Life, Srikanth explains, summarizing her understanding of Rajni’s thinking, will disturb the man’s inner core. She recounts in detail in her book how Rajni stayed awake all night, about a decade ago, after receiving a call from the then Indian Prime Minister P.V.Narasimha Rao who invited Rajni to join hands with the Congress party and in return offered him Tamil Nadu’s Chief Ministership. Rajni thought through the offer and declined it politely the next morning. I remember from Dr.Srikanth’s book, him being quoted as saying, “It was important to overcome that temptation to succumb to what people wanted me to do. What is important was that I knew I didn’t want to do it. Besides, without anything remarkable about me, I was still enjoying so much adulation by the people. I don’t think I deserved anymore and I did not want to let them down playing a role I knew I was not cut out for.”  Writing today in Chennai Chronicle, Rajni’s wife, Lata, says similarly, “I am often asked about his political move. And I always reply that we must respect his decision for what he wants to do with his Life.”
Important perspective there for us to reflect upon:
  •    How often do we succumb to distractions that take us away from our inner core?  
  •    And how often do we work for our bliss than play to the galleries doing what other                people want us to do?
    Panditji: In India, they thought I was mad!
    Pandit Ravi Shankar, the Sitar maestro, who passed away a few hours ago, at 92, has led the way for us similarly too. He was often accused by Indian music ‘purists’ as someone who sacrificed Indian art on the altar of western stardom. Talking to Laura Barnett of The Guardian for an interview in June 2011, Panditji had this to say: “(I am proud of) helping Western audiences to have a better understanding of Indian classical music. In the UK, classical music is composed by individuals, and written down. Indian music is based on certain sequences, called ragas. When I perform live, 95% of the music is improvised: it never sounds the same twice…Well, I’m 91 now, so if I haven’t learnt to live with it (the global acclaim and stardom), I never will. But some periods have been more difficult than others. When I started working with George Harrison [in 1966], I became like a pop star myself: everywhere I went, I was recognized. I didn’t like that at all. I don’t think I have sacrificed anything. But I do think that my Indian classical audiences thought I was sacrificing them through working with George. I became known as the “fifth Beatle”. In India, they thought I was mad.” 
    Such a brilliant, enlightening point of view. No wonder then that he has been so successful doing what he believed in and what gave him joy! And his humility? Legendary. When Barnett, in the course of the same interview, asked the maestro if he wanted to give any advice for young, aspiring musicians, he said, “I wouldn’t give them advice. I would learn from them.”
    That’s really how you may want to consider living your Life: Always doing what you love, what gives you joy, learning and celebrating how miraculous and beautiful Life really is!