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.

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.

Train your brain to kick bad habits

The title of this post, ‘train your brain to kick bad habits’, might sound like a medical thesis or a white paper on psychology. However, I got the inspiration for this from a comedy movie. I kid you not, there is an old Telugu comedy movie in which the protagonist wins the heart of his lady love by helping her family get over a few of their bad habits. It might sound whimsical and far fetched, but, the idea behind the plot is a simple trick to train your brain. Without further ado, I will give you a brief explanation of the story.

The father of the heroine has a bad habit of swearing and cursing for the smallest of reasons, this in turn is seen by his son as a carte blanche to misbehave and abuse everyone around him. Since the child’s behaviour stems from what he sees in his father, the hero first tackles the father. He sets about to cure the father short temper and habit of using swear words. Everytime he gets upset at anything and has the urge to start cursing, the hero advises the father to tell out all the inanimate objects in front of him. Instead of saying bad words, he would be listing harmless objects around him. This results in some good comedic situations, but the idea behind it works. Since the father is now consciously making an effort to watch what he says, he has subconsciously started moderating his speech and actions.

Watching his father change, the son also takes it up as a game. The hero challenges the child to play games and the loser has to learn any new lesson, moral, concept etc that the winner teaches. The child’s natural curiosity takes over and he begins to play and learn, thereby changes his aggressive and competitive spirit is channelled in the right way.

The movie might seem like a comedy and the problem may have been trivialised, but the fact remains that our brain is powerful enough to cure and change all our bad habits. With the will to change, we can make our brain bend the way we want. Like a machine, with all the right commands our brain will start churning out the best results every time.

Start with simple tasks like waking up at a set time daily. Before you sleep at night, tell your brain to wake up at a set time and repeat this command 5 times. When you practice this with a calm mind and make the effort to wake up when your brain reminds you, you will notice that without an alarm, your brain will wake you up. I have tried this and it did work for me.

In the same way, we can train our mind to stop many habits like picking things that do not belong to us, smoking, being lax in our work etc. It just takes a determined effort and anything is possible.

All that remains is for us to stop using excuses and start to make real efforts. I do not promise that the task is easy, yet the results are always worth the hard work we put in.

Does Positive Thinking Really Work

Hello friends!! When someone spoke about positive thinking, I always made fun of them by asking, will it help me get away with murder just by wishing it away. Yet, I have seen it work and I have experienced its failures too. You might understand my perspective if I tell you the backstory about a coworker of mine. I have known her since my school days, but never really warmed up to her until we started working together. Since the beginning, she was always a bundle of positivity and this rubbed me the wrong way. In school, when all of us wished for the teacher to fall sick so that we get an extra day in the assignment, this girl would just say that the teacher won’t mind it if she didn’t submit and it worked for her. We all thought it was favoritism, but after the same story repeated in college and work, we realized she can’t have so many fans. It was her luck maybe?

Well, this good luck did not limit itself to assignment submissions or tests. From getting comfortable seats in buses to the last dress in her size at a sale or chance to meet her favorite star in the airport, she had all the luck. At one time, we even suspected that she might have a stock of rabbit feet that brought her all this good luck. However, that was not the case and while working with her I realized the truth. The secret was her positive thinking. As you can guess, I did not believe her. She would say, ‘don’t worry, it will all work out’ or ‘you will win this time’, and her words came true. The positive thinking did not work for me though. No matter how many times I thought positive thoughts when I did I shoddy job, I always got caught.

One day, I sat down with her to get to the bottom of the matter. How come positive thinking worked for her and not me? The answer she gave me took a while to digest and understand. When one thinks about positive thinking we already have a set outcome in our mind and everything else is a negative outcome. She explained that that is not how it works. We should be open-minded about all the outcomes and ask for one that is the best suited to us. Whether it is the one that we foresee or not is of no consequence. We have to have faith that we will be given the best outcome. She was, quite literally asking for the best outcome and nothing else.

This was a difficult lesson to learn for me. When I tried practicing it, I had difficulty accepting the outcome. Maybe it was because I could not see far into the future and determine that the outcome was for the best in the long run. If we want to succeed in making positive thinking a way of our life, we need to be more accepting and open-minded in our approach. I decided to start with small steps by applying it to my daily tasks and everyday issues rather than starting off with all of life’s big problems straight away.

I am still practicing it and have not become a master at it yet. As of now, I can safely say that Positive Thinking is not quite the impossible concept that I thought it was. There might yet be more to this than just getting the promotion or getting away with murder.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images. They are sourced from Google and Pinterest.

Who gets my vote

Voting and elections are the hot topic in the country today. With the general elections just around the corner, every political party is campaigning, canvassing and, in some cases, begging for your votes. It is not just political parties that depend on our votes, reality show participants, news anchors, beauty pageants etc also depend on public voting. When votes are such an important part of our democracy, what is the psyche behind each vote.

I am not talking about the contestants of any show, political party, pageant, reality contest or the virtues of any candidate. I, simply aim to understand what triggers a voter to choose a particular participant. I have spoken to my friends, colleagues, co passengers, and gathered general opinion from neighbours and relatives. Mind you, I am not conducting a scientific survey or study, all this is just to satisfy my curiosity. Now that I have made my intentions clear, I will make my findings clear too. I have found some very weird and funny reasons, some smart and practical reasons and some absolutely ridiculous reasons too.

  • Some people have given usual answers like ‘that participant is from my community/ caste/ neighborhood/ ethnicity’, this reason is most unreasonable because it has no bearing on the contest at all.
  • There were also reasons like ‘his/her relative was a good person’, this again is a bad reason because you can’t call someone a good reason or actor or person just because they are related to good people.
  • Some people have given practical answers like, ‘this person is a lesser evil compared to others’. I understand that in some contests you don’t have any suitable or good participant, we just have to pick the best option.
  • Here is a foolish reason for supporting or voting for your candidate. ‘i like to support the underdog’. This is such a bad reason because, you are the underdog most of the time due to your lack of skill, preparation and qualification. How can that be a reason to make you win.
  • Some people also vote purely based on appearances or looks. ‘he looks so innocent/ kind/ cute’ etc.
  • Sometimes the participants create tragic backstory  to gather sympathy votes. I have seen hardcore enthusiasts and fans and followers fall for such plots. The participants mainly have the skill needed, but have a sad story and you can get through. Revenge is also another reason for people to vote for unqualified candidates. We try to play god and avenge the wrongs done by a candidate by voting for other unqualified candidates

In this way, people have given a wide range of good, bad and ugly reasons to bestow ones vote. The sad thing is that we can’t preach to the public about the importance of vote and their duty. When we are starved for good choices, we have to make do with bad ones.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images. They are sourced from Google and Pinterest.