Stay Cool – “Thand Rakh”!!

Just surrender to the Universe’s energy, to Life, don’t fight it!

bai thand rakh-750x750I love the Punjabi phrase – “Thand Rakh”! It means “Stay Cool”! Not just in situations when anxiety grips you, or when you are provoked by someone, but stay cool, at all times! This is not a state that is beyond your reach. If you just understand how Life works, and how it is working for you, you will learn the art of dropping anchor and staying unflustered despite Life’s upheavals!

Consider this: don’t you agree that if there indeed is a Master of the Universe, who was controlling, coordinating, delivering, granting, blessing and driving whatever is happening in the world, in your Life and mine, then this person is mighty intelligent? So intelligent that zebras have stripes while horses don’t, that when the East has daylight, the West has stars in the sky, that there are four seasons that keep switching as if someone is operating the switches in a Master Control Room, that mangoes are different from oranges and the Himalayas are different from the Rockies! None of these have been or can be controlled by you or me. Yet they happen! And so, we have to admit that the Universe’s energy, which, in my humble opinion, powers our lives, is far more intelligent than all of us put together. Yet why don’t we trust this energy?

Think about it. When things go per your expectation, you don’t have an issue. When they go against what you wish, you immediately start fighting Life. Why? For instance, let’s say, your DVD player doesn’t work when you sit down to watch a movie. You feel frustrated. Even so, it is a small thing, you will eventually get over that setback! You will fight your DVD player for a while, then chuck it out the window and move on. Now, take a more serious situation. Let’s say you are out of work and out of cash. What do you do? You begin, of course, by fighting, by hating, by resisting the Life which you currently have to endure. You sulk, you brood! But does that change anything? Or what if your liver malfunctions or your heart suffers an attack? That’s a situation you can’t even mentally fight! When you realize that you are dealing with situations beyond your control, you learn the art of surrendering to Life. Now, think, if we could consider surrendering to Life in all contexts, how much more simpler and easier to live will our lives be?

In Hindu scriptures, they talk of surrender as ‘saranagati’ to a physical God, an idol. I am suggesting that we learn to surrender to Life, the energy that keeps you – and me – alive! The truth about Life is, no matter what you do, what is to happen (alone) will happen! What I have also learnt from Life is that the Master Plan no flaws. Whatever is happening to you just now is what is ordained to happen. Therefore, intelligence demands that you and I don’t fight Life. Fighting and resisting Life is what causes all your suffering! So, simply, “Thand Rakh” and surrender to Life!

Just Believe

For anything to happen, you must first believe it will happen.
In any situation there will always be a certain amount of unpredictability associated with it. But whatever be the odds, stay with your belief that what you envision, what you want will happen. Even when it doesn’t on first attempt, keep believing. Be at the core of your belief and it will happen.
However, be sure, your belief will be tested. The world may laugh at you. But you have to keep believing. The tragedy happens when you get swayed by popular sentiment and start believing in the opposite. Then naturally the opposite will happen. Let’s say you are obese. Overweight by 30 kilos. And you start on a diet. People will laugh at you and will keep reminding you that you cannot do it. Now, you have to decide. Are you going to believe in yourself and what you envision for you or are you going to believe what others say and let go of your pursuit?
Know that whatever you believe in, will happen. From a diet to a career opportunity to the love of your Life to curing yourself of a life-threatening disease, just believe. But don’t hold yourself to ransom with a deadline. Allow things to happen in the natural course, over time. Deadlines are good and important – but when you decide when something should happen, and it doesn’t, for whatever reason, you lose hope. And depression sets in. You surely don’t want that.
It is the same law for everyone and works just the same in any situation. The way it works is simple – the Universe picks up your energy and manifests your deepest desires for you. Which is why, even if the world were against you, if you believe in something, the Universe will deliver whatever you believe in to you. The other way of looking at it is this – the world is full of people and their opinions; but the Universe thrives on energy, not people. Naturally, undoubtedly, energy is more powerful than people! So, what are you believing in for yourself today?

Of God, Prayer and Rewards

Prayer in the purest sense is an expression of gratitude for all that you have and is an offering, of anything, including yourself, to the Universe.
I know someone who is never available for any conversation or meetings. Every time we try to connect with him he’s either at work (which is for about 5 hours a day) or he is performing poojas, worshipping. He’s runs a small business and by his own admission, performs 8 prayer rituals a day, in three spells, over 12 hours. Is he happy, I asked him one day. “Hardly. Business is tough. A lot of money is stuck with debtors. I am continuously in prayer trying to seek a way out,” he said.
To each, his or her own way. Especially in matters concerning faith and prayer. But Zen offer a beautiful perspective on prayer. And it is worth understanding and thinking about.
Zen Buddhism says that true prayer is when no petition, no wish, is made, when no assistance is sought, but when mindfulness is practised. Through such practice, you offer whatever you have, a flower, an incense stick, or maybe even yourself, to something higher than yourself. What can be and is greater than you? Creation. Creation is the higher energy. So, offering yourself to Creation, makes you be one with the Universe. When you offer yourself you are expressing your gratitude for your creation and everything that you have. You are saying – “You created me. Thanks. I am offering everything I have, mindfully, consciously, with all my being, to you.” That’s when you truly unite with the Universal energy and are soaked in its brilliance and abundance.
The popular notion that prayer is an appeal to an “external, invisible” God is a by-product of how religion has come to be practised over many centuries. Maharishi Patanjali had demystified this in one of his works, perhaps at the beginning of the Common Era, where he equated God to be a mere clothes peg. Just as you would hang a coat on a clothes peg on the wall, we have been taught to pray looking to a “non-existent” God. He says, God is an invention, because, if God isn’t there, who will you pray to? But just as you would have learnt to hang your coat elsewhere if there were no clothes peg, you must learn the value of prayer, and develop the ability to pray, in the purest, truest sense. When you pray, as a means of complete surrender to Creation, then you don’t need a God, you are the prayer and you are one with who you pray to. God, he says is for beginners. Like when you are learning cycling, you need the small wheels on either side of the bicycle’s rear wheel to help you balance. But once you have mastered cycling, you don’t need those two small wheels jutting out – you discard them and that helps you ride freely. So, it is with prayer. The more you learn to pray, unconditionally, humbly, as a thanksgiving, the more peaceful you become.
True prayer is totally non-ritualistic and non-demanding. It imposes no conditions. It asks for nothing from you – not your time, not your offerings. You don’t need to fast nor do you need to give up or abstain from anything! It is not what you do out of fear (that God will punish you if you don’t pray) or out of greed (I want this or that – grant me my wish!). It is always about being in the moment. The moment that you choose to offer your gratitude to Creation for all that you have and are endowed with – that moment itself is your prayer. You can be anywhere in that moment – you could even be seated on the potty! Also, there is no price to be paid in prayer and there are no rewards to be claimed. When you pray, you pray. And that prayerful moment, when gone through with all humility and gratitude, is itself the reward, the treasure, the fortune!

Learning to be happy despite your circumstances

To be happy simply love whatever comes your way in Life  – even if you don’t want it!
A disciple asked his Master: “Master, how can you love what you don’t want but what you still get in Life?”
The Master replied: “Your very Life has been given to you without your asking, without your wanting it. Haven’t you been born and aren’t you alive despite that? The very same way you have to accept and love whatever comes to you, whatever you get.”
It sure is possible to love what you want in Life. But how can you love what you don’t want? You may wonder: How can you love death? How can you love a grave illness? How can you love betrayal in a relationship or a financial loss? How can you love sorrow, fear and anxiety?
To want or love what you get in Life, you have to understand Life deeply. The meaning of Life is simple – it’s just not in your control! You have been created without your knowledge. Without your asking to be born. Your creation has been a magical event. But you have not known it. You have been created as an embodiment of the Universal Energy. But you hardly see yourself as a part of the cosmos. That’s because the labels of your name, your religion, your education, your economic strata in society, your profession, your income, and many more such labels, have been stuck on you. These labels are the cause of all your desires. Each of your wants is a consequence of your having to live up to the reputation of the label that dominates your Life at a particular time or moment. For example, in reality, you don’t need many of the things that you buy and possess in Life – like a swanky car, a large apartment in a premium neighborhood, expensive jewellery, a club membership and such. But you have them around or desire them because you have a social standing to maintain. Society has packaged you in such a manner that you are acceptable to them. Who you truly are has been buried deep below several layers of those labels or masks. Beneath all of them is the non-wanting, non-desirous, accepting you. When you peel off these layers and get to the real you, you will realize that Life’s best lived by loving what comes, by accepting whatever is given and by flowing with whatever happens.
Wanting your Life to be one way or the other is what causes unhappiness. The truth is that you never caused your Life. And you can never control it. When you internalize this truth, you will discover that it changes the way you look at Life – from wanting Life to be different to loving what is! You will then find the way to live fully, to be happy despite your circumstances!

Living with worry, fear, guilt, anger and more…

Many of us hope, through techniques and methods, to get rid of debilitating emotions like fear, worry, guilt or anger. But the truth is you can’t ever rid yourself of worry or fear or guilt or anger. You can only__and have to__learn to live with them. By learning to not give them any attention, you make them powerless. When they don’t rule your thinking, your mind adapts to your native state of peace, love, abundance and joy!

There are two states in which we naturally operate. Sub-conscious Doing and Conscious Doing. Intelligent living lies in making the important shift to Conscious Doing.

Let’s take the example of driving a car on a highway. There are so many things you are doing. And most of them are being done sub-consciously. You are driving, of course. But you are also having a conversation with someone riding with you. As you are doing this you are changing gears, switching your feet between the pedals on the footboard and keeping a sharp watch on the road ahead. This kind of doing is Sub-conscious Doing. It also comes from practice – when you are habituated to doing something.

Take another example of driving the same car through a very bad traffic jam. You are doing the same things with the highest level of focus and intense vigilance. This is Conscious Doing.

When we worry or fear an outcome or  grieve over something we are often actually doing it sub-consciously. Think about it carefully and you will agree with me. Which is, we don’t even know we are worrying, but because we are worrying we are not present in the moment. Long periods of time in a day are spent by many of us being absent from the present. You are, for instance, in a meeting at work. It is closer to 3 PM. And you are actually worrying if your kids got home and ate their meal because you have not got an SMS yet from your older one. You are worried how your younger one, who went to school with an upset tummy, is now feeling. A colleague shoots a question at you and you snap out of your worry-filled reverie and quickly struggle to get back into the meeting. Worrying cannot be eradicated entirely. But you can choose to shift from such sub-conscious worrying to, let us say, conscious worrying. Which is, by shifting from not knowing you are worrying to knowing exactly why you are worrying and knowing how to not feed your worry any attention anymore! You make this shift by increasing your level of awareness. And that comes from practicing, diligently, daily, not to give certain, especially those debilitating foursome, emotions too much attention. The secret lies in choosing what you want your mind to attend to.

So, if you choose being calm consciously, you avoid sub-conscious worrying. And even if you must worry__let us say over the health of a loved one__you do that from a positive, productive perspective. Your worry then leads to constructive action and not to debilitating grief or sorrow. Through repeated practice, and through consciously, consistently, choosing to be calm, you become your state of being __ you are then aglow with the Universal Energy.

The Buddha was asked this question: Why do the noble beings who have developed their minds appear so calm and radiant? The Buddha replied:

‘They sorrow not for what is past,
They yearn not after that which is not come,
The present is sufficient for them:
Hence it is they appear so radiant.
By having longing for the future,
By sorrowing over what is past,
By this fools are withered up
As a cut-down tender reed.’

Indeed. It is not as if the calmer folks you see around you have nothing to worry about or fear or get angry over. Anyone will get angry if there is a provocation. Anyone will fear a consequence which one has not experienced. Anyone will carry the guilt of a mistake. And anyone will have to face worries that surface in the mind. Because all of these emotions are led by thoughts. And thoughts are like waves. They keep ceaselessly, untiringly, lashing on the mind’s shore. By training the mind to only do things consciously__including thinking__we have an opportunity to live freely, fully, without fear, anger, guilt, worry and more bothering us. Without any of them taking us away from living in the moment!