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.

How Effective Is Cancelling A Person?

Cancel culture is the latest buzzword nowadays. It is a way to call our small and big celebrities on their behaviour, views, misdeeds etc. Recently, we have seen several famous people who were cancelled for various reasons like their past tweets, behaviour, views and opinions etc. I became aware of this cancellation culture during the very public dispute between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. While Johnny Depp was dropped from major movie franchises, many were calling for the cancellation of Amber Heard. This was when I became aware of the act of cancelling celebrities and what it entails.

Many famous stars and public figures were cancelled in the past years, for example, actors Lea Michele, Chris Pratt, Ellen DeGeneres, Shia LeBeouf, author J K Rowling, Piers Morgan from Good Morning Britain, YouTubers Jeffree Starr, Shane Dawson, James Charles, David Dobrik and his vlog squad, musicians like Marilyn Manson, Lil Nas X, and many more.

Before I start telling you about my grouse with this cancel culture, I would like to explicitly state that I do not condone the wrong deeds of any of these celebrities, YouTubers, musicians etc. Many of them deserve harsher punishments for their actions. In fact, I am happy to see some of these famous personalities get their comeuppance.

Having made that clear, I also want to question what we aim to achieve by cancelling them. Some of the people listed above have done real-world damage, for which they should be legally prosecuted in court. Whether it be bullying, slandering others image, perjury, harassment, endangering other lives, harassing minors etc. When one has done such heinous acts, is cancelling them an apt punishment. Do they not deserve a stricter legal binding punishment? 

All these people who were cancelled were public figures, celebrities that thrive on publicity and staying in the public eye. So it makes sense to cancel them and cut off the celebrity worship that they enjoy so much. It is like cutting off oxygen for some of them, yet we also have people who thrive on negative publicity. People like James Charles and Jeffree Starr have made an art out of issuing apologies every time they are caught and continuing with their degenerate behaviour. People like Piers Morgan and JK Rowling do not care for their cancellation. They continue on with life as if nothing happened.

So that brings us back to the very pertinent question of, ‘How effective is cancel culture?’

It Is Time To Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Often in life, we all reach a point where we are unhappy with the way things are going, yet we are unwilling to try something new. We feel that the known devil is better than an unknown angel. We might have faced many struggles before yet, we find it daunting to work our way out of this predicament. We pacify ourselves that the difficulties don’t outweigh the rewards yet. These are all classic symptoms of getting stuck in a comfort zone.

This comfort zone might be in our relationships, workplace, the projects we choose or life in general. On whichever front, it is just as detrimental to a person to stick to their comfort zone. It forces us to settle for less than the best. Even though we know we can be better and achieve more by taking a risk, it does not matter. Our fear of taking a chance just dulls our senses and distorts our objectivity. Comfort zones are like quicksands that appear harmless until they have pulled us in and we are stuck too deep to fight it.

Our fear to try something new, the inertia to change, the pessimistic attitude towards risk, and so on can hurt us on many levels. They are not just hurting us emotionally and financially but also psychologically. Many people waste their life stuck in the same relationship or job because they are scared to spread their wings.

As with all my posts, this one is also inspired by personal experience. Earlier, in my job, I was so comfortable in my own misery that I stopped seeing it as hell. I made excuses for bad managers, horrible hours of work and less pay. I perceived them to be industry standards. I felt enjoyable work is a myth, and everybody hates their job, so I would just suck it up and carry on.

I have since changed my job and even changed professions. I do not claim that life is better. Yet, I remember why I took the decision to change and that it was a valid concern. So as long as I know that my reason to change, I will not regret jumping out of my comfort zone.

There is no easy way to get out of this. One just needs to find the determination to change. The best way to fight your comfort zone is to keep pushing and challenging yourself. Having a loyal support group to help you change can be a big help.

At the same time, never forget why you have decided to change. As long as the reason is valid, we will always find the strength to keep fighting. Sometimes an honest and rude shock from reality can also wake us up. There are many ways to help you recognise the trap of comfort zones. We just need to be willing to take a step ahead.

It’s Not Yours Unless You Take It

The first time I heard my manager say this to me, I thought he meant to encourage me to reach for my promotion. The next time he said that to me, we were discussing my team’s poor performance. The team was performing poorly due to the willful actions of a particular member of the team. This was dragging the entire team down. I felt that since I was the team leader, it was my responsibility. I tried to correct, teach, chastise even threaten that particular member, but to no avail. My manager felt that the person was a lost cause, and I should not waste time on him. In both situations, the same advice taught me to work for my ambitions, and let go of the dead weight.

Many years later, I heard the same advice from my friend when I complained about an insulting situation I had to face. She advised me that the insults were for me as long as I took them. Once I stop taking them, they are just words that hold no meaning to me. I thought that she was being just philosophical and not practical. Now I see the true meaning behind the words.

It is not yours till you take it, be it a promotion, responsibility, insult or praise. Be it happiness or sorrow, it can only affect us as long as we let it do so. A problem is ours to solve, only if we consider it as our problem. Responsibility is ours to carry only as long as we choose to fulfil it.

These words can be understood in two ways. It can be used as a way to either shirk responsibility or get rid of an unnecessary burden. To ignore good advice or to undermine praise. To brush off insults or to seek out blame. Which option we choose shows our attitude in life. When you feel burdened or stressed out in life, or if you lack direction and purpose, then maybe it is time to change your attitude.

Are We Reading Too Much Between The Lines

Reading between the lines is a phrase that loosely means, to grasp what has been left unsaid, to uncover the truth behind the half-truths. In the past, it was an intelligent trait that only a few wise people possessed. The ability to read between the lines was a highly respected quality, people flocked to such wise ones for advice. By closely observing the body language, past history on the matter, the attitude of people involved and other socio-economic situations at that given point, one would make an educated guess about the intended meaning and unsaid story in a message.

The reason that I have raised this point today is that I have noticed that nowadays, we have stopped listening to what is being said. We see social media platforms abound with crazy conspiracies and theories that are based on seemingly innocuous interviews, discussion and press tours etc. Even mainstream media has stopped reporting facts and started producing conjectures and their analysis of what is said rather than giving us a chance to decide for ourselves.

We are so busy looking for the underlying message that we have stopped listening to what is being said. When we listen to someone speak, we closely observe every minute change in expressions, variation in pitch, tone of voice, line of vision of the speakers etc. Every time we see any fluctuations, we scramble to decode its meaning. We argue and debate to find an explanation. When we find it most of the time, it is the most perverse and unreasonable explanation we can think of.

As a result of all this ‘reading between the lines’, simple conversations are a thing of the past. Slowly reading between the lines got transformed into conspiracy theorizing. This intelligent quality got morphed into the petty and unhinged babbling of a conspiracist. You can visit any of the social media platforms and get 10 different versions and analysis of the same interview. While one site reads the meaning behind the message as a prediction of doomsday, another theorizes it as a ray of hope, and someone else says something totally tangential to both. Everyone tries to connect the dots to create different images while the viewer is left with a headache.

I miss the good old days when news channels only reported news and left the analysis to us. They stated only facts and the storytelling was left for grandmas. I miss the days when only a few wise souls could ‘Read between the lines’.

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?

Attitude For Gratitude

Everyone must develop an attitude for gratitude. This is one of the main lessons that is taught by all self-help gurus, life coaches, personality development speakers etc. They always say that we must be grateful for what we have. We must say thank you to God or the universe or the people around us. Who you thank depends on what you are thankful for.

Every time I heard this phrase, I thought, “What do I have to be thankful for?” My job was a dead-end one, my personal life was going nowhere; I saw people around me moving forward while I felt stagnant. I had a very depressing sense of life. Every time I spoke to my sisters, I would always complain about my problems. Sometimes they would just listen, sometimes they would correct me on my thinking. My friends would try to reassure me and make me see the good in life around me. Some friends even introduced me to life coaches to help me find joy. My parents supported me by being patient and understanding. I appreciated all their efforts and yet, I found nothing to grateful for.

My mood continued to be sad for a few months. I don’t quite remember what made me turn to God for help, but I did that. I went to a temple, sat down and told my troubles to God. I asked him, “What is there to be grateful for in my life?” That was when my question was answered.

Before you think that I went crazy, let me explain, God did not actually answer my question. I had an epiphany while I was going to work. Though I have always complained of not having anything to be grateful for, I forgot about the biggest gift I always had, ‘someone to speak to’.

I always had my sisters, whom I ran to with my complaints. My friends tried to cheer me up. My parents never complained about my sour moods. My relatives also tried to help me find a way out. I have so much to be grateful for right here.

My job might be a dead-end one, but it keeps me busy through the day. My pay might be bad, but it keeps a roof on my head and food to eat. I have difficulties, but I have people who will listen to them. Whenever I feel lost, I have people who will show me the way back home. If I am moody, I have friends to cheer me up. What more can I ask for in life?

Indeed, I am not as successful as I could be or as rich as the next person. I might not lead as fulfilling a life as someone else. However, I still have the potential to achieve them. I have the means and resources to turn things around for myself.

That day, I thanked God, the universe and life in general for giving me all this. I found a direction to move forward in. Each and every one of us has the potential to be the best. We can achieve greatness and reach the highest point in our life. We just do not realize what we have. We always look at things we do not have and we feel bad. It reminds me of a proverb that my mother told us. There was once a man who was bothered about picking up the grains of wheat that fell down in front. He was so busy picking them, he missed all the tasty fruits and melons that were behind him. It is time we wake up and build our attitude for gratitude.

Celebrate Your Victory, Not Their Loss

Celebration after victory is required after any contest. Be it in sports, business, politics, elections, cinemas, academic pursuits etc, it is common to see the boisterous celebration, partying, and quite a bit of chest-thumping. Especially in sports, we get to see spirited voices that speak of the greatness of their team, players, strategy, execution and much more. Any football fan would vouch this being a common practice. Even as part of the ‘after analysis’ of the game, we see experts on both sides break the game down, play by play for their viewers.

As long as the discussion is limited to the performance and play, it is all good. The trouble starts when the fun and celebration start to get personal about the players of the losing team. To make one team look great, followers start to demean and insult the opposite team. They make a show of how bad their performance was, the number of errors they made, the flaw in their strategy and play etc. This is the most unsportsmanlike behaviour, but it is particularly common among the fans.

We see such mudslinging, offensive and personal attacks being made toward the opposing team not just in sports, but also in politics, elections and business competitions too. Something about participating in a contest brings out the darkest and meanest attitude in people. They resort to various below-the-belt tactics to take cheap shots at one another. Celebration becomes more of a slugfest. It takes away the joy of winning and the fun of participation.

True sportsmanship is an attitude that should reflect in all of us. In those who participate in the contest and the revellers who come to support the contestants. By resorting to demeaning our opponents, we only prove that our victory is undeserving. It shows that our team won, not because of our superiority, but because of the opposing team’s inferiority. Nothing is more insulting than being robbed of our victory because we did not deserve it. It is something that the world needs to learn.