In Our Next Birth

The Bhagwat Gita explains that every being that takes birth eventually goes through the doors of death to be reborn again in a new body. The body is perishable but the soul isn’t, it changes from one body to another as it passes through the cycle of life and death just as a person change from his old clothes to new clothes. But what the Gita doesn’t explain is where exactly will the rebirth be and in what form will we be reborn again. This last line brings us to our topic today.

Even thought reincarnation is a concept that is specific to Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism, imagine if every person in this world believed in this concept. I am not recommending that everyone should but just contemplating what the world would be like if everyone believed.

A person born in his present life with all comforts could be reborn in any war torn or poverty ridden country, terrorism ravaged country or a place oppressed by a dictatorial regime. If we are gifted with a human birth in this life, the next one could be that of a stray animal or scavenger, bird or as some endangered species. What if we are reborn as a chicken in a claustrophobic cage waiting in a butcher’s shop watching each and every fellow bird butchered.

Is it enough to take comfort in the fact that we have air that is still not too bad to breath, water to drink and the temperature is bearable? What if we are reborn into that time in the future where climate change has gone to the extreme and the changes are irreversible and survival itself is the greatest achievement. Wouldn’t we take better care of our planet if we are certain that today’s grandfather could be tomorrow’s grandchild in another vulnerable part of the world?

 Selfish and opportunistic politicians take advantage of international disputes and supply weapons to the war fearing nations rather than trying to maintain peace. Greed dictates every decision. Occupying territories that don’t belong to them, starting trade wars, pushing countries into the throes of poverty in the name of developmental projects or devious money lending schemes and the worst of all terrorism, chemical warfare and biological wars all of them are crafts of the trade. We even have dictatorial regimes that prey on their own population and suffocate their basic rights. What if the oppressors are reborn as the oppressed? Can they handle the misery that they themselves created?

Disregard and disdain for that which is inappropriate, unfair and immoral just because it doesn’t affect us directly in this birth could spell doom for us in our next birth. If every one understood this fully well and worked to achieve peace and harmony, we can create a better world.

Today if we take delight in racism, religious discrimination, religious intolerance, what if in the next birth we are born into that same religion we abhor or the same race that we tried to trample or born into that same hatred that we created?

If everyone believed in reincarnation, it’s not difficult see what kind of a world we are creating for our rebirth. We are sowing the seeds for the harvest we going to reap in our next birth. If knowledge was used not to create more misery but instead to save and improve lives for everyone, we will be creating heaven on earth for our next birth.

Short Story: The Road That Leads to Nowhere

A village shepherd took his sheep to graze in a meadow outside the village. The meadow was close to the forest so most people avoided this place. On one such occasion when the shepherd fell asleep, a ram, an ewe and a lamb wandered into the forest looking for juicy green leaves. All three of them ate until their stomach could hold no more and rested well. When the family wanted to return back to the shepherd, they realized that they were lost in the big bad jungle.

Since then, the family of three sheep were wandering in the forest, searching their way back home. The lamb played with the fawns, the baby monkeys and the rabbits under the watchful eyes of his parents. He jumped with the frogs, chased the butterflies and scared the lizards. When there was trouble lurking around the ewe bleated and he understood the warning call immediately and ran with them.

As time passed by the lamb grew taller and plump. He became very comfortable with his forest life. He left fear far behind and his confidence grew taller than him. Even though the ram and ewe knew that the forest was not the place for a family of sheep and they were trying their best to find their way back home, the lamb knew no other place in the world and felt that the forest was his home. He thought that 0he can never adjust to the village life his parents described. The lamb never realized how lucky they were to survive so long in a forest.

The lamb’s over confidence and immaturity was a cause for concern. One day a few wolf pups approached him. To him they looked cute and friendly. They spoke of wonderful new places he had never seen and of their way of life that was so different from his own. The lamb suddenly realized how much more freedom and unrestrictive, fearless lives they led. This new perilous friendship brought about a lot of changes in the lamb. He abhorred the vigilance of his parents and how they dictated who to play with and whom to keep away from. “Am old enough to know what’s best for me and don’t I have any choice of my own in my life.”, he lamented. The reasons for his parents watch over him and the restrictions they laid out where beyond his understanding. He thought they were over cautious and looked at the jungle from a very negative view point. “Trust me, I know how to keep away from trouble.”, he told them, “You don’t have to come behind me all the time.”. He spent more time with the wolf pups.

The pups invited the lamb to their house in the cave. “You live in the cave? My mother never allows me to go near the cave.” Said the lamb with a mix of excitement and curiosity. The pups laughed at the lamb and said, “what’s there to fear about the cave? My mom says it’s the safest place in the forest and mom serves us the most delicious food in the cave. We love our mom and we love our cave cause it’s the best place in this whole world.”. The lamb told his emotionally charged sob story to the pups and explained how frustrated, heartbroken and fed up he was with his parents.

The lamb was in a dilemma, a faint voice inside appealed to him to go back home and the loud voice yelled what’s the harm in tasting a bit of freedom. The pups are my best friends and they mean no harm to me that’s for sure, he thought. The lamb followed the pups to his cave while the ewe and the ram bleated their heads off asking him to turn back. They are not our kind and it’s not safe to go with them explained the ram in many ways. They will eat you up warned the ewe. These cute creatures and eat me up thought the lamb. The lamb ran behind the pups into the cave and the wolves guarded the entrance. That’s the last the ewe and ram saw or heard about the lamb.

There are times in our life’s journey when we are present with situations that are so confusing. On the one hand it’s the voices of experience and reason telling us to go one way and temptation pulling us the other way. It takes a good amount of faith and determination to do the right thing. God forbid, if anyone falls prey to temptation, it could mean either the end of a dream career or loss of a golden opportunity. But what if it means the end of life and all happiness like in the lamb’s case? Carelessness, temptation, overconfidence and the like are qualities that are similar to the innocent looking wolf-pups and following them leads to nowhere good. The voice of reason might sound bitter, restrictive, unappealing or distasteful to pallet in that moment but it keeps you going towards your goal.

Do I Have The Right To Complain

In our world, there is an abundance of love and a multitude of hate.
I have not seen extreme hatred but, I have also not felt a loving embrace.
Do I complain about the lack of love, or should I feel great for the absence of hate?

I have a family that is overprotective to the point of suffocation,
I know they will not leave me alone to take the fall, but I do not get to try something new and adventurous.
Do I complain about being held back from flying, or should I feel safe that I will never fall?

There is an ocean of opportunities for the talented and the educated.
When my job does not appreciate my talent, and I can only get this mediocre job,
Do I complain about my talent that goes waste, or should I be thankful to even have a job that pays?

I have the drive and desire to succeed.
I lack the guidance and wisdom needed to move ahead and succeed.
Do I complain about the absence of guiding light or succumb to the desire to succeed by any means?

I have my life planned out for me and well-wishers who will arm-twist all my hurdles.
I am standing at the top of the podium getting applause for a victory that I did not win,
Do I complain that I did not get to work my way towards a victory, or should I just stand and soak in all the ill-gotten success?

Wise Words Are Like Pure Gold

In an earlier post, I had introduced you to the poems of Yogi Vemana. This 17th-century ascetic had written extensively on morality, ethics, human pathos and spread this wisdom through verses known as Vemana Satakam or Vemana Padhyalu.

The current verse is another pearl of wisdom from him:
Alpudepudu palkunadambaramuganu
sajjanundu balku callaganu
kancumroginatlu kanakambu mroguna
visvadabhirama vinura Vema !

In this verse, Vemana talks about how an unintelligent person can fool others with his loud voice and grand plans. His words are extravagant, but they hold little water. However, a wise man speaks softly, without any drama. His words are few, yet the meaning and impact are profound.

He compares the words of an unwise speaker to a brass pot that makes a lot of noise when disturbed. At the same time, pure gold may appear similar to brass, but it makes no noise.

Respond, Don’t React

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
-Wayne Dyer

I read this quote of Wayne Dyer, an American author and motivational speaker. Initially, it seems like a simple statement about life in general. It, in fact, reminded me of another management lesson of how we should always respond and not react.

Both these quotes convey the same lesson, i.e., we should watch how we behave while responding to what is done to us. We should observe if our reaction is a knee jerk response to everything or if we understand the situation and reply accordingly. Many times, it leads to either resolving conflict or aggravating a simple misunderstanding into an all-out war.

Coming back to Wayne Dyer’s quote, when we are in a situation, there are several ways to handle them. Some are knee jerk responses, while some are strategic moves planned to build a brighter future. Some may be conniving schemes that create destruction. The situation we land in may not be our karma or our destiny. However, our response to this unforeseen situation will create our karma. If we handle it gracefully and peacefully, we build good karma. By taking out our anger and seeking revenge, we only create bad karma.

To better explain it, I will narrate a small anecdote. It occurred many years ago, but it highlighted this quote.

One day, my friend and I entered the bank and met an old acquaintance. This lady lived in our neighbourhood previously, and she was notorious for her unhinged rants at passers-by. I saw the same lady verbally abusing another person. This person was thoroughly embarrassed in front of all the bank employees and customers, so she ran out crying as we all watched in shock. Now the lady saw me and started abusing me. She recognised my friend and spoke ill of me to her. But I ignored her as if I had no recollection of her. As a result, I did not react to her abuses, turning my head and going about my business. My friend acknowledged her, and while calmy speaking to her, she led the lady out of the bank. Once the lady went out, everything went back to normal. Everyone in the bank praised my friend for handling the situation. They appreciated me for not fighting back.

The lady created a situation where three different people were embarrassed. We each responded differently. The first person reacted emotionally and ran out. I ignored her and carried on with my work. My friend intervened intelligently by removing her from the bank and stopping any further conflict. The lady’s behaviour was her own karma, but each of us created our own karma while we handled the situation. Thereby, one ended up in tears, and another (my friend) ended up as the hero. Isn’t this thought-provoking?

I Did It My Way

As a part of his vast repertoire of music, Frank Sinatra sang the song My Way. It was written by Paul Anka. I love this song of his. Though I love the song, I never really paid attention to the lyrics until the other day. Earlier I always felt the song was about a person celebrating his successful life and the journey. As I listened to it, I recognised something about it. The person is not only celebrating his success, but he is also taking full responsibility for all his decisions and actions. That part struck a chord with me. How many of us can truly take responsibility for our choices?

It is a common complaint we hear among youth that they have no control over their life. They say that all decisions are made for them, either by others or by situations. I agree that in many of the cases, it is true. We are often under obligation to choose a path, or we are forced by societal norms to be a certain way or coerced by family emotionally to adhere to rules. It would seem that we hardly had a say in the decision.

An old saying comes to mind when I think of such situations, ‘We can take a horse to the water, but we cannot make it drink the water’. Same way as we can be forced to choose a particular path, but no one can make us walk it unless we want to. So, when we walk down a road in life, we have to remember that at some point, we consciously choose this path too. We have decided on this course of action, either due to lack of a better choice or lack of will to resist. We realised the benefits of this decision. We may disagree with the decision, but we have accepted the decision.

I would like to add a disclaimer here that I am not blaming anyone here. I do not intend to put the guilt on your shoulder and absolve everyone else. My intension is to remind us that we decided to follow the path based on logic and reasoning. We have chosen to sacrifice something to gain something else. There was a rationale behind our choice. We made that choice because this option outweighed the others. As long as we remember this rationale and reasoning, we should not doubt our decisions. We should take responsibility for it.

Whether our decisions lead to failure or success or took us on an uncharted path, we can only find peace and happiness when we remember our reasoning and rationale behind that decision. As long as we blame others for influencing us and forcing their decisions on us, we can never see the beauty and adventure in our journey of life. More importantly, as long as we remember the reason for a decision, we can be proud of what we stood up for and what we sacrificed to get to this position in life.

We Are All Strong Until We Face The Test

They say that in the face of adversity, our true self comes forward. Some of us stand up and take the lead, while some step back and follow a leader. Some of us crumble and break down, while some of us straighten our back and weather the storm. It is hard to predict with certainty how one will turn out.

Just because we are timid and avoid conflict, it does mean that we will crumble in the face of hardships. A faint-hearted person may not stand up and fight, but they know how to survive. Avoiding conflict doesn’t mean that one cannot face disagreement. It merely means that one does not like it, they do not believe that quarrel resolves problems.

Most people judge and conclude on our strengths based on our everyday behaviour and attitude under normal circumstances. I learnt this the hard way. I believed that I was a very patient person, and counted it was my strength. The truth came out when I faced my test. Here is the whole story by which I came to the realisation.

Before joining my job, I considered myself patient because I could deal with a few difficult people in my friends’ group. While my friends would get flustered, I was able to stay calm while dealing with them patiently. When I joined work, I realised that my patience magically evaporated in front of my manager. That person was my test of patience. I realised that I got very irritated when he picked on my work, every comment he made grated on my nerves. Though I did not lash out at my manager, I took out my irritation on my colleagues.

My sister gave me a bit of wise advice, and I realised that my manager’s influence is limited, only to my work. If I say yes in that minute and keep calm, he will move away. This advice helped me replenish my reserves of patience and believe in myself again. That was until I met my niece. My niece is a bundle of curiosity and energy. She likes to play and has a short attention span. This was another test of my patience, unlike my manager, my niece did not have limited working hours. I can’t say for sure if I passed this test. I just bid my time and waited for my niece to grow up. Now that she is in school, I can recharge my reserves again.

The point is that one can never take our strengths or weaknesses for granted. Until we face a test, we cannot be sure how strong or weak we are. We can not say with a guarantee when our strengths will abandon us or our weaknesses show an alternate technique of survival. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

The Bondage of Debt

Recently I read a story from an old Indian children’s magazine called Chandamama. I was so impressed by it that today I want to share it with all of you.

Long time back, there was a night watchman. His job was to roam the streets of the village at night and look out for thieves. Every now and then he alerted the villagers to be on their guard. He was married for several years but was childless. When he approached a wise, old sage about his problem and asked for blessings. The sage explains:
“Runanubhanda Rupena Pashu Patni Suta Aalaya ,
Runakshaye Kshyayaanthi Tatra Parivedana.”

It means that cattle, wife, children and home (such attachments) are bondages that result from one’s previous birth. The relationship with these attachments ends once the debt is cleared. It can be settled in the form of service to these attachments. Enjoyment of these attachments ends the pain and suffering.

The watchman decided that to have a child, someone needs to be indebted to him. Thus, he made a pair of slippers and secretly left them on the roadside. He hoped that someone will accept them, and thereby a debt-bond is created. The same sage was walking down that street one day, and his feet were burning due to the heat. When he saw the slippers, he wore them. He inquired the whereabouts of the owner to pay for the slippers. But no one knew anything about it and later the sage died.

Due to this debt, the sage was reborn as the watchman’s son. He was aware of the debt, as he was a wise and holy man. The watchman was also aware of this. Out of fear of losing his son, the watchman and his wife never accepted any benefit from their son.

Several years later, the watchman fell sick one night and requested his son to do his job for that night. The son accepted it gladly. While on duty, he alerted the villagers with this verse:
Mata nasti pita nasti nasti bandhu na sahodhara
ardham Nasti gruham nasti tasmat jagrata jagrata.

This verse means, not mother, not father, not relatives, not siblings, not wealth, not house nothing lasts forever. Nothing follows you after death, these are bondages of present birth. All these relationships, wealth and property are merely worldly attachments, hence be careful.

After a few hours, he alerted the neighbourhood once again with another verse that spelt wisdom:
Kama krodascha lobhascha dehe thishtanthi taskarah
Jnana ratnopaharaya tasmat jagrata jagrata.

This means desire, anger and greed that reside inside the body are thieves that steal one’s precious knowledge. So, be careful.

Finally, in the last part of the night, he alerted the people with this verse:
Janma dukham jara dukham jaya dukham punah punaha samsara sagaram dukham tasmat jagratha jagratha.
This verse means that our birth into this world is one filled with pain suffering. Old age is torture. This entire life is an ocean of struggles. Hence be careful.

People who heard these words of wisdom were astonished by the sagacity of this simple night-watchman. They wondered how he acquired so much knowledge at such a young age. Anyhow, the young man returned home with his wage. Although the watchman refused to accept it.

One day a fire in the neighbourhood was engulfing all the houses. One after another all the houses burned, including that of the watchman. He and his family, quickly started to salvage whatever they could before the flames destroyed everything. While his wife and son brought things out of the house and handed them to him, he set them down, at a safe distance from the burning house. During that commotion, the young man handed everything to his father, and the last thing he gave is the bag of money he earned from the night shift job. The watchman grabbed it absent-mindedly and hurried. The son walked back into the house, never to return.

As realization dawned, the watchman collapsed to the ground in despair and agony over the loss of his beloved son. By the next day, the flames died down, while he stared at the ashes carried by the gentle breeze, he remembered the wise words uttered by the old sage and his son during the night shift. He understood that the debt was repaid.

This story touched my heart, I was moved by the philosophy it teaches. The Sanskrit verses in this story are taken from Vairagya Dindima by Adi Shankaracharya.
Adi Shankaracharya was the great Indian philosopher from the 8th century. His works enlighten our mind and show us the path to moksha or freedom from this cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

The Tricky Job of Disciplining Children

Disciplining children is a tough job that not many of us can master. Correcting them can go wrong even if our attitude is critical or laid back. The problem with this task is that you do not know what went wrong until it is late. While one style of disciplining works in the present but leads to a fractured future, another ensures a better future but does not seem to work in the present. I have never needed to correct or discipline children, but I have seen some interesting ways of punishing them.

As I have mentioned already, I do not have much experience managing children on my own. I have tried to babysit my nieces and nephews, but it is not the same. If things get out of hand, we can always leave it to the parents to handle the fallout. I remember an instance when my niece refused to eat lunch. There was no one at home to convince her. I convinced her that she became invisible. And no one could see her or hear her unless she ate food. She was petrified at the thought of no one giving her attention. Luckily for us, she did not think of misusing the situation.

Of all the elders that I have observed around me, each had a different style of managing children. While my aunt would give her kids a free rein and not correct them at all, my mother was quite strict. Another aunt of ours micromanaged her children in such a way, they did not get a chance to misbehave. On the face of things, it always appeared that both my parents were strict and rule-bound. Yet, they both had a very different approach to checking and correcting children. They did not tolerate indiscipline or mischief and punished us in unique ways with psychological games. Nothing sinister about it, but let me give you a few examples.

As a child, I always daydreamed and never concentrated on studying. As a result, my grades were either inconsistent or low. My mother did not have time to sit with me and coach me every day on every topic, so she took a different approach. She sat me down and explained to me that since I was not studying well, I would not get a cushy office job. I would have to either work as a daily wage labourer or a municipal worker or a vegetable vendor. She then ticked out daily wage labourers from the list of potential jobs stating that I was not physically strong enough and also lazy. Thus, it was not a viable option. She moved to a municipal worker and explained that even those people require a certain level of educational qualification. And I had to work just as hard on the job. She told me that seeing my current situation, a vegetable vendor was the best I could manage. She then went on to explain the maximum earning I can expect and all the luxuries that I would have to forego with that job. You can safely guess my reaction to that talk. I was scared for my future, I even observed a few vegetable vendors in the following weeks and imagined myself in their shoes. I was too scared to daydream after that because all my dreams were of me pushing vegetable carts, or trying to hawk cheap goods.

My dad had a different approach. One summer, all of us kids were gathered at our house for a sleepover. And one of us scribbled all over the wall. We did not know who it was. No one would own up. My dad decided that we should play detective and try to recreate the scene of the crime. I walked us through the incident in a dramatic way about how a person stealthily scribbled on the wall without anyone noticing and almost made them appear heroic. He then conducted mock interrogations and acted out how the perpetrator committed the crime. As he expected, one of us slipped up and corrected my dad on the sequence of events and how they actually scribbled. The best part was that we did not even realise that one of us confessed to the mischief. He went on to embarrass the ‘perpetrator’ with all the loopholes in the plot. He even got the elders involved in a fun way. He made the whole incident appear like a game and made us point out all the mistakes made thereby, making my cousin who did the mischief appear like a fool. No one made mischief at our house again.

Both my parents used different tactics to correct us while making it seem like we chose the right way ourself. It is all fun to recollect now, but I wonder how they thought up the idea during those incidents. I can only hope to be half as smart as them while handling children. Do you have any such fun stories to share? You can put them in comments and have fun.

Image courtesy Canva.com

Poor Little Rich Kid

When you read the title of this post, ‘poor little rich kid’, we are all reminded of the story of Richie Rich. The comic character who was so rich that his riches caused unique and comical problems for him. Today, however, I am talking about that poor little rich person who is rich in wealth but doesn’t have money to spend. If you think that it is oxymoronic, then let me explain.

Many of the young adults, are college-educated, working in cushy jobs in software or MNCs. We earn fat salaries, travel in style, dress up in the latest trends, but how many have ready cash to spend in case of emergency. In our quest to secure our financial future, some of us have cornered ourselves in the present.

This little bit of wisdom has come upon me after seeing the misfortune of my neighbour. He comes from a regular middle-class family. With his sheer hard work, he got himself a respectable job in a reputed company, he earns a sizable 6 figure salary. He belongs to the upwardly mobile young generation, who grew up middle-class, but who suddenly find themselves swimming in wealth. His parents advised him to make his financial future secure before he can spend on any luxury. That sounds like sane advice, and my neighbour took it.

He invested in a wide range of long term investment policies. He opened a few different insurance policies, mutual funds, recurring deposits etc. He observed his peers become homeowners and under peer pressure, he also booked a house in a gated community along with his office friends. Taking into consideration different parameters, he took a home loan and bought a house along with his friends. When you say home loans, automatically there will be monthly payments that cannot be missed. Apart from these expenses, he also pledged to donate to a few charities to appease his conscience. As a result of all these planned payments, my neighbour’s comfortable 6 figure salary was gone before his eyes. Halfway through the month, his bank balance was hitting zero after making all the payments and donations. On the paper, he was a rich guy with sizable investments and assets yet, his salary was just about sufficient for all his monthly bills and payments.

He did not have money to spend on himself anymore. With the recent COVID situation, he was worried about his job security. All the while that he was at home, he was scared out of his wits because he could not afford to fall sick or lose his job. He was ready to take a pay cut by the time he started working from home. He was among the lucky ones who did not lose their job but, shudders to think about those who did lose it.

Instead of tying himself up with a mountain of future payments, if my neighbour has planned his money better, it would have saved him a world of tension. Thinking about long term goals, he missed on taking immediate contingencies into account. He was not a lonely case, it happened with a few of his other colleagues, and they had to move out of their fancy apartments to save money. Many went back to their hometowns and villages to manage finances.

What I would like to point out is that it is definitely good to plan for the future. But do not lose focus on the present. Always keep aside some contingency money that will see you through unforeseen situations like this. You may not need it, but the safety blanket it provides will help you sleep better.

Make Sure Your Sacrifices Are Valued

A sacrifice means an act of giving up something of value for the sake of others. You can sacrifice your time, money, any possession etc, for the benefit of others. These ‘others’ that I refer to can be family, friends, siblings, co-workers, or obscure strangers for the purpose of a good cause.

When we give up something as a sacrifice, we look at it as a good deed, we don’t expect anything in return. However, in recent times, I have seen a transformation in the meaning of sacrifice. We are starting to expect something in return every time we sacrifice something. We expect intangible things like gratitude, loyalty, love and in some extreme cases, even servitude of our sacrifices. This shift in our expectations has adulterated the meaning and importance of sacrifice. People started viewing a sacrifice as a tool to bind someone to oneself, with a sense of duty and gratitude. Do I sound too dramatic?? Let me explain.

How many times have we heard the term; ‘after all the sacrifices I’ve made for you, is this what you give me?’; ‘is this your way of repaying us for our sacrifices?’; ‘don’t let my sacrifice go to waste’. I’m sure we have all said this at some point in life or had people say this to us. But, the response to these charges is what shows the importance of the sacrifice. When the opposite person says, ‘well who asked you to make those sacrifices?, I did not’; ‘You expect me to repay you for your sacrifice?’; then all our troubles appear insignificant and egotistical.

Neither do these accusations nor do the rejoinders make you a bad person. I am not trying to judge anyone here. It is only natural for a person to have expectations from loved ones. We love them, we want the best for them and we are ready to give up anything for them. In our rush to shower them with love, we forget what they need and want. We keep them guarded against all hardships, grief and loss.

When our loved ones do not know what we lost for them, how can they appreciate it? When they don’t go through the trouble of purchasing groceries, cooking a meal, maybe burn a finger or two, clean everything afterwards, how can a person appreciate the value of a delicious breakfast? We cannot blame them for not thanking us enough when they don’t know what trouble we went through.

The example I have given is very small, although it applies to most things that we take for granted. You may ask me what the solution is? Obviously, we cannot go around enumerating what all we have forfeited, at every step of the way. At the same time, we cannot sit by and stay detached when our loved ones are having difficulty. Let’s give more importance to communication, speak freely about what is needed and how to get what we want. Stop assuming on behalf of others and then blame them for not valuing you. If you have any expectations from loved ones, state them frankly rather than disguise them as repayment for past sacrifices.

Let me know what you think about this. Is this a real problem or is this unreal? What do you think of my suggestion? Does it feel utopian to you?

Do Your Duty, Leave The Rest To God

We all aim to succeed at every endeavour we take up. We plan, strategize, work hard, make all necessary corrections and wade past every hardship only with the intent to succeed. Yet, despite all our good intentions, good work and effort, there are many instances where we are faced with failure. The first advice or consolation we receive in those situations is ‘You did your best, the rest was up to God’.

Growing up, this statement was a sore point for me. I always thought that when we do our best, then we should get the best results. If I work to succeed, then I should succeed. In my naivety and limited life experience, this was my outlook towards everything. I never considered all the factors that are out of control, yet contribute to the success of a task. As my experience increased, I learnt that all the hard work, good intentions, and best efforts are worth nothing when something is not meant to be. Not just good intentions and hard work; Even the evilest plans, wicked intentions, cruel efforts can be thwarted when something is not meant to be. In the grander scheme of events, my success at a particular task may be trivial, or sometimes my failure may be necessary.

Needless to specify, later in life, I faced a tough time unlearning this perception. We can only be 100% prepared for the task, but we can never be 100% sure about the outcome. The whole meaning of life is to navigate the twists and turns, face unexpected challenges etc. The goalposts are shifting all the time, and we need to change accordingly. As long as we remember this fact of life and contribute wholeheartedly to every task, every outcome feels like a success. Before the pandemic, better pay, promotions, a bigger house, latest gadgets etc, may have been the parameters for success. I planned to shift jobs and look for a more challenging role. However, now job security, steady flow of income, good health, being alive and healthy have become parameters for success.

There is no guaranteed equation for success or failure in life. What may appear to be a failure today is only the framework for greater accomplishments. In fact, they are not failures, but simple lessons in our path to victory. They will prepare you with priceless lessons that will take you to greater heights. Even the solar system failed with numerous planets and moons before it successfully created life on earth. However, that does not make all the other planets less magnificent or important in the grander landscape of the universe.