If you learn well, you will live well – happy and peaceful

Life is teaching you something every moment that you are alive.
It’s up to you to learn or to discard or ignore the learning in that moment! And almost always Life’s lessons arrive at a time when you have no intention or interest in learning them! Yet we can’t escape the experience even if we don’t see the point just then to learn from it.
The experiences we have in this lifetime are our real education. So, clearly, our education does not cease with an academic qualification! And the more the experience, the greater your expertise. There’s no point in having all the academic qualifications that the world can offer, be brilliant with your GPA (Grade Point Average) but be a poor human being, who has no time for others, who does not see value in the moment, who merely exists, and who does not live! The tragedy with our world is that all assessments are materialistic. To most people, how much (wealth and material assets) you have is more important than how well you have lived. So, you are evaluated basis your income, your car, your clothes, your neighborhood, your club and such. And when some of these do get taken away, as they will possibly be, on one side you grieve their loss, but on another side you are discarded as worthless. The person who has seen Life’s upheavals, who has been battered and bruised by Life’s hard knocks, and who stays grounded, compassionate and humble when success comes calling, which it surely will, is far more evolved than someone who has made his millions and has seen only comfort and no pain.
One of the most important lessons that Life is teaching all of us is that each phase of Life is a guest, albeit an unexpected one, in our lifetime. If there is a lot of wealth in the beginning, know that it is a guest. It will have to leave you some day. If there is a lot of pain and suffering, it too is a guest. It too will have to depart. If there is a lot of debt, that too will stay for as long as it must and wants to. Then it too shall be gone. We must treat each phase with the same dignity and compassion that we accord to guests in our homes. Just the little extra we may like to do with Life’s guests is that we may want to learn from them. If we refuse to meet the guest and learn from the guest, there is no chance that this guest will leave. He or she will still be at the door – knocking. Don’t you think it is more prudent to just greet the guest, learn what you must and then see him or her off? This continuous inviting, greeting and learning (and unlearning) from each guest, from each phase in your Life, is what intelligent living is all about.
If you learn well, you will live well – happy and peaceful. If you resist, or refuse to learn, you will be miserable and agonize over the way things are! So, who’s your guest visiting you in Life presently? And what are you learning from your guest?

Learn. Unlearn. Relearn. Continuously…

Learn continuously, unlearn consistently and you will learn to live.
Many of us are aware of many things. Thanks to the internet, knowledge is on our fingertips. But this knowledge does not necessarily lead to intelligent living. Our academic education prevents us from growing spiritually in Life. This is why we are unable to experience and practice awareness or mindfulness. If anything, our education is making us more arrogant. We are beginning to imagine we are all powerful because we think we know everything. A man who claimed he knew everything was asked by a Zen Master how many seeds were there in an apple. The man sliced the apple, counted the seeds and reported his findings to the Master. The Master took one seed and placed it on the man’s hand and asked him how many apples there were in that seed. The man fell at the Master’s feet and sought forgiveness for his arrogance.
Just as the man learnt humility and realized that Life’s beauty lies not in what we know but in the unknown, we must too. True power is not in getting an academic education. It is in the application of our knowledge to make the world a better place. American writer and futurist, a former editor of Fortune magazine, Alvin Toffler, says this: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Make your choice now: do you want to remain the overqualified and educated full-of-yourself and illiterate person you are or do you want to learn to live by learning, unlearning and relearning continuously? 

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!