Friday, February 27, 2009

Pleasing always is no virtue

“I don't know the key to success but I know the key to failure- trying to please everyone.”
There is a weakness in all of us to be accepted and liked by others. These result in our saying always YES to please others. We seldom say No even if saying yes would inconvenience or hurt us. We do not like to displease others and are willing to suffer than being frank about our true feelings. While the need to be accepted and loved by others is a common trait, it would be a folly to strive to gain acceptance for all things we do or say. We must have a high esteem of ourselves and have confidence in our worth. While learning from the opinions of others is welcome, it should not become an obsession that the opinions of others are always right. When our dependence on outside approval becomes less, we would be in a stronger position to say NO.
I have seen how many people are made to work harder and longer in work places because they have not learnt to say NO without being impolite. Their submissive nature and tendency to please others should have affected their friendships and family relationships. We must remember that others respect us to the extent we respect ourselves. When you’re true to yourself, doing the things that you like, and developing your interests, you will be a better person. You will be better to be around and do a better job in all things you do
I took to writing stories to please only myself .But I used to get comments on my stories both positive and negative. There was a feeling that most of my stories ended on a sad note and more often than not I killed the main character to make the stories emotional. I gave serious thought to the idea of eschewing such sad ends. However one good friend advised me that as a writer I should not pay heed to all the advice and opinions of readers, and that I should write the story as I saw fit. She warned me that if I write more to please others than myself I would be pulled in different directions and that my creative ability and writing skill would eventually suffer. This advice that writing for myself was not selfish was a turning point and increased my hunger to write though I had not disregarded the need to maintain a balance between myself and my readers. It is always good to be yourself, to be natural, open and true, instead of succumbing to others views. It is more valuable to be original than be a mere mirror of others’ ideas.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Be thankful for the blessings

How many of us are grateful for the things we have? We always keep complaining for more. Complaining is the opposite of being thankful. We would realise the abundance bestowed on us if only we are able to observe calmly how better off we are than most in the world. Yet we are averse to reflect on our blessings but compare ourselves with a few whom we perceive as better off. Being thankful is not only for the things given us but also for the things not given. A pink slip, an acute ailment, a sad bereavement of a dear one, a victim of natural disaster and many such could have made our lives miserable.. Just ponder a little to know how much we have been blessed in life by God. "For what I have received may the Lord make me truly thankful? And more truly for what I have not received." -Storm Jameson

We must be thankful for being able to hear when many are deaf, for the vision when countless are blind, for being able to walk and move about healthily when many are bedridden, for having a loving family of wife and children when many are lonely and desolate, for being able to eat well sumptuously three times a day when millions go hungry without a meal, for the job or employment that pays us well when many are jobless and for the roof over our heads when many lie in open space exposed to vagaries of nature. It is in countless ways that we have to be grateful to the Almighty and thank Him for keeping us in circumstances that are not so harsh and modest. Instead, when we have been given so much, we crave greedily for more and pray to Him foolishly asking for more. He knows what is apt for us.
We fail to see that He would shower more of his grace if only we are compassionate and kind to the needy by sharing a part of what we have already got. It is in giving, the key to receiving more lies. That is the mantra. We should always be thankful to God for keeping us in a position to help others. Let us end the night offering thanks for the kind acts we did during the day. Let us be thankful for every opportunity given to us to be of help to someone needy. We should be happy in life with our present lot. All things we have and the things we do not have are all God’s blessings. Our not possessing certain things and experiences are determined by Him for our good

When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food, and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

To be humble is great

In the present day competitive world when people brag about their achievements and wealth, humility as a virtue is fast disappearing. Humility is often regarded as a negative trait and is equated with weakness or timidity. Importance is attached to self esteem suggesting that being humble goes against it. Little do people realize that humility doesn't mean thinking less of yourself? It means thinking of yourself less and showing greater concern for others too. It means understanding one’s own limitations. Humility means that we do not presume to know more than we actually know. It signifies being sensisitive to others feelings and stature and putting yourself in proper perspective. It means’ freedom from pride and arrogance, humbleness of mind and a modest estimate of one’s worth.’

One Professor “was listening to his students as they presented oral readings. When one young man rose to begin his recitation, he held his book in the wrong hand. The professor thundered, “Take your book in your right hand, and be seated!” At this harsh rebuke, the student held up his right arm. He did not have a right hand! The other students shifted uneasily in their chairs. For a moment, the professor hesitated. Then he made his way to the student, put his arm around him, and with tears streaming from his eyes, said, “I never knew about it. Please, will you forgive me?” His stature did not deter him from seeking forgiveness in public. He accepted his mistake and ego did not stand in the way. There was no false pride in him that we are witness to everywhere. Humility is defined as the state or quality of being humble; the absence of pride. It is better to have another man praise you rather than exalting yourself.

You can teach a humble person as his mind is not closed. He reforms himself before he attempts to reform the world. A humble person treats others with respect and accepts criticism or adversity as an opportunity to grow, to build character. If the seed has to sprout, it should go beneath the soil with the attitude 'I am nothing’. Likewise we must cultivate and develop humility when our ego is made to bow low in front of the Supreme and His creation visualizing everything as Him...Humility is accepting everything and anything without complaining

Friday, February 20, 2009

Do not always allow sleeping dogs to lie

We do have often some issues with some persons that we have to confront them with. A subordinate whose work is not up to the mark, the driver whose handling of your car is rough, your fiancé on some of his or her undesirable habits , your child indulging in TV or computer games for unreasonably long time or your spouse in refusing to accept certain responsibilities. We employ different methods in dealing with the problem. We wish not to injure the relationship to the extent possible. Most often, we allow the sleeping dogs to lie and may at best make oblique reference to the issue. We nurse the hope things will become better wishing to maintain harmony. But such hidden remarks often do not have the intended result. We may also feel the alternatives are no better and that such issues are the order of the day. We forget that when we do not directly speak out, it is liable to be taken as weakness on our part or a tacit approval to the way things are. The situation can also become worse testing the limits of tolerance, as there is no confrontation. The two quotes “We receive the behaviour (or performance) we are willing to tolerate.” and “our silence, denial or avoidance gives approval to the situation” are to be borne in mind.

The above non-confrontation response is certainly not desirable. It is very much required to confront the problem headlong at some stage. There can be no evading the issue. The suggestions,that I read in a book entitled SUMO your relationships, are in a nutshell as follows: choose the right time to tackle the issue avoiding when tempers are frayed, focusing only on facts and not on emotions or perceptions, listening patiently to the other side, telling them the adverse outcomes of their actions that are under discussion and what would be the solutions to solve the issues. The one important thing would be to end the confrontation wherever possible on a positive note. This does not mean where there is no agreement, we should suffer the problems. Other ways are to be explored no doubt that may even be hurting sometimes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Learning to be cheerful with our circumstances

We are always restless worrying all the time about petty personal gains or hurts. If we look at our lives rather closely and frankly, we would find that we are, always at war with our circumstances and the people surrounding us .The intensity of war may vary in degrees but the strife is very much present. However much we may deny we do harbour negative thoughts due to our unfulfilled desires. We keep clamouring for more: quicker promotions in office, larger increments, admissions in better institutes of learning, acquisition of homes in good localities, more material comforts , newer gadgets and the list is endless. We dislike anything or anybody standing in the way of our realising them. These become our consuming passions and our mind is pre occupied mostly with such thoughts. Virtually the devil takes over the control of our mind. It then we lose the distinction between right and wrong , good and bad and are willing to adopt any unethical means to realise our objectives.
It is not our stand that we should not aim and work for reasonable goals. Yes, we must all have some aims and diligently work for them but by eschewing negative qualities of greed, jealousy, malice, anger and wickedness. We must make a sincere effort but accept the outcomes whatever they are without resorting to undesirable methods. We must learn to be contented. We can be happy and successful in ever so many areas in life and not thro achievement in selected choices alone. The young students who come out of the higher secondary schools should be taught that the world is wide open and a person can be successful in life even without entering into the prestigious institutes of learning like IIT or B schools. There are any number of areas where one can excel and show talent. We should avoid the beaten track and blaze new trails. We sow the seeds of failure and negative outlook young children when we instil in their minds that only some selected courses are desirable. I read in an article by M.P.K.Kutty that ”the swiftest man did not always win the battle; and wealth did not necessarily accrue to men of wisdom. It was largely a matter of chance. Success and good fortune does not always go to those who deserve it…...whatever your field of work take interest in it. Work diligently to the best of your ability. Take pride in your work.”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Do not squander time

We often come across people complaining that they hardly have the time to complete the job assigned to them, while there are a few who finish the very same work in a relaxed manner. All of us have equal time, not more or not less.”We always have time enough, if we will but use it right’ .Why then some accomplish easily while some struggle? The successful men organise their chores according to their importance, do one at a time and economize their time. They do not waste time on deciding what is to be done, in what order and when,thus procrastinating the important ones. The laggards start with easier jobs and do them leisurely leaving them hard pressed for time at the end for completing the urgent ones. They invariably fail. You must have heard the anecdote of a man spending years to learn the art of walking on water. When he narrated to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa about his acquiring this feat, he laughed and said that he had wasted years for what can be done by paying ten paisa to the boatman. There should be a sense of proportion for the value of a job and the time devoted. Many people spend lot of time doing inconsequential things that have very little value.
If one fails to accomplish the work in time and always falls behind schedule there is a case for not accepting more work than what one can handle. This is to be decided by the individual. The best time saving habit is to start on time.”Lose an hour in the morning and you will be all day seeking it.”Make a plan of what you intend to do leaving small cushions of time in between for unforeseen contingencies. A well planned day means a relaxed day free from tension and hurry. Keep yourself busy throughout the day be it in work, recreation or hobbies.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Repentance is self-reproof

All of us commit wrongs and some of us repeat the same wrongs. A few sincerely regret later for the wrong done when they are free from anger. They repent for the mistake. Repentance is a kind of self–reproof. It is an act of admitting the wrong and accepting responsibility for the wrong committed by submitting ourselves to the consequences. There should be no attempt to shift the blame on someone else or seek recourse to legal jugglery to avoid the adverse outcomes. It is no doubt painful to admit one’s wrong publicly and to eat the humble pie. It means shedding the self-conceit. Repentance should be accompanied by sincere tears for God to forgive.
While realizing sin or wrong committed and regretting it is good, that alone would not be adequate. One must be ashamed of it and resolve not to commit it again.”Blushing is the colour of virtue”, it is said. We must seek forgiveness from the person whom we have wronged by making good the loss suffered where possible. The act of making restitution is an important component in seeking forgiveness. Only then the heart is cleansed of the impurities and the forgiveness of the God is earned.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose

A farmer sat daily in the evenings on the roadside culvert with his dog. His friend also used to join him. It was a highway with many trucks passing through. The dog had the strange habit of barking at every approaching truck and chasing it. The dog will run behind for some distance and return when the truck sped away. One day the farmer’s friend asked him, “Do you think this dog will ever catch a truck?” The farmer replied, “That is not my worry. What if it catches one?”
We are like those dogs chasing purposeless goals. I have asked many persons what their personal goals in life were. Some had no answer while some gave vague replies changing immediately their goals. Goals in the office are decided by the companies. But personal goals are our concern. We must decide what exactly we wish to accomplish. Most of us never do that in our life time. Just as clear goals are needed for a business to succeed; our personal lives also need clear and well determined goals that would enrich our lives. While it is understandable to have personal goals of succeeding in a career, acquiring huge wealth, or excelling in chosen avenues, we need to have other goals too.
I am talking of social goals of service to society. Having no goal means travelling in a train without knowing the destination. Life may still go on and at the end of our lives we would go with a sinking feeling of failure. Individual goals can differ. One can work for realizing the ultimate truth while another can spend his lifetime for the betterment of the poor and needy. A doctor may have as his goal of providing vision to the needy at affordable basis or free. A lawyer can help the indigent by pleading for them free. Education can be given free. Setting some goal to return to the society from what we have earned is better than drifting aimlessly without direction. A life lived only for self without any contribution to society is a waste. A useless life is an early death.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Give--without expectations

Marcus Aurelius (121-180AD) was a great Roman emperor who lived a life inspired by the Greek ideal of philosophy as a way of life. His ‘Meditations’ is extraordinary for its spiritual force and content. His life was an eloquent testimony to the point that “Even in a palace life may be led well.” I give below an extract from the book.
“One man, when he has done a service to another, is ready to set it down to his account as favour conferred. Another is not ready to do this, but still in his own mind, he thinks of the man as his debtor, and he knows what he has done. A third in a manner does not even know what he has done, but he is like a vine which has produced grapes, and seeks for nothing more after it has once produced its proper fruit. As a horse when he has run, a dog when he has tracked the game, a bee when it has made the honey, so a man when he has done a good act, does not call out for others to come and see, but he goes on to another act, as a vine goes on to produce again the grapes in season. ---Must a man then be one of these, who in a manner act thus without observing it…”
Look at the present day proclivities of the people to publicise widely their donations and acts of ‘charity’. There is no humility or service in their offerings. When the gifts are accompanied with expectations, they cease to be gifts and become units of exchange in a trade done for some reward. It is said that when you donate the right hand should not know what the left hand is giving. Acts of charity should be done unknown, unseen and unspoken. If there is an expectation of an appreciation from others or gratitude from the recipients, there is a loss of merit in charity. It is not in the quantum of money given that value lies but in the attitude of giving. Generosity should be selfless and without any strings. The act of giving itself should bring profound joy to the giver and the receiver
“There is the legend of the people who bring great gifts to the altar - gold, silver, and other riches - in an effort to make the church bells ring. But all these riches are unable to sound the chimes. Then a child - unnoticed by the congregation - quietly and humbly walks up to the altar and offers as his gift his only penny. At that moment, the chimes ring out. Because he gave all he had out of love, with no expectation of anything in return, it was the greatest gift of all. We have opportunities everyday to give of ourselves, and it doesn't have to be on any grand scale.”

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Curiosity never killed the cat

I have a good friend who in her first mail to me was curious to know who inspired me to write and why my stories had sad endings I had a hunch then that behind the mail there was an alert mind and intelligent person who had a thirst for knowledge It turned out to be completely true But most of us accept things as we see and make no attempt to go a little deeper It is only questioning that takes us to deeper levels of understanding. When we understand more through curiosity, we command respect by the type of questions we ask and gain by the new ideas we are exposed to. We go beyond the outer surface, learn more impelled by the desire to know more Without this quest to seek answers for the not so obvious, many of the great inventions would not have taken place at all.

Never smother the curiosity of children who are endowed with this natural gift of asking questions, like why, what, who, where and when. Never be guided by the proverb curiosity killed the cat. Encourage them and give them patiently the answers they seek. Generally parents and teachers get annoyed if the children ask too many questions. This is wrong and kills the initiative to learn in potential geniuses. They fail to appreciate that curiosity is an essential trait of a genius and should be encouraged..
Develop the habit of questioning if you haven’t one already. Be open to fresh ideas. All the great intellectuals who have enriched our society with their findings had this trait of curiosity in common. Our mind becomes active and we are exposed to new ideas. We would be aware of the different options to any issue and our decisions would be intelligent and sound. Life would turn to be very interesting with us always looking for new meanings and new purposes in what we see and hear.
The important thing is not to stop questioning… Never lose a holy curiosity Albert Einstein

Friday, February 6, 2009

Why men are grouchy but not children?

You must have observed new born babies smile frequently without any apparent reason. They smile any number of times a day and even during their sleep. When it sees a simple toy, its mom’s face or for that matter any known face, it breaks into a smile. When it hears a rattler or sees a bird or any colourful thing its face beams. Smile for it is a state of happiness and contentment. It derives happiness at simple things. It has no expectations and is contented.This frequent smile fades slowly as it grows older. Look at the grown up men. They rarely smile as they are always in a state of unhappiness. They crave for more money, more comforts, and more wealth and in some cases for more women. They are not satisfied with what they possess and are driven by greed and passion. When they fail to realise what they wish for, they become worried, tense and grouchy driving away happiness and contentment.
Happiness comes about if we are thankful to the God for our blessings instead of bemoaning at our wants. We can compare ourselves with the less fortunate and be grateful for the gift of good health, keen mental and physical faculties and for the good family and friends. But we rarely do this crying over what we have not been blessed with. We always forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but only by recognizing and appreciating what we have. We must realise that there is no end to craving and desire and that happiness can be acquired only by contentment. This does not mean that you should lead a life of sanyasin.You can have normal ambitions in life and legitimate desires .You can acquire wealth to live in comfort and help the needy but not be greedy, you can marry to lead a happy married life but not be driven by lust and you can exercise power to do good to others but not to harass.
“Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.”

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Admitting one’s mistake

As we work towards our goals, whatever they may be, we are apt to commit mistakes. Not all our actions may be perfect. We may fail many times due to the mistakes we commit.”Making mistakes, getting it almost right and experimenting to see what happens are all part of the process of eventually getting it right.” But the most difficult and perhaps disliked part in life in general is to admit one’s mistake. Most people defend their mistakes even when they know they are wrong. We do not yield easily, we fight, justify, we point out the extenuating circumstances to vindicate ourselves. We are reluctant to express our regret or to tender an apology by confessing to the mistake. It is this undesirable trait in us that is at the root of all misunderstandings and human strife.
We little realize that by owning responsibility and admitting the mistake the esteem for us actually goes up. People respect the noble streak in our character and our courage to accept our failure. There is no man who has not faltered or fallen down in his path of progress. But the wise get up, do not look back for too long and learn quickly the lesson taught. There is no sense of guilt when they own up their wrongs. As Sophia Loren put it, “It's better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe. Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life. ” Sadhu Vishwamurtidas says “Asked what she thought was most needed in the coming century, the celebrated historian Barbara Tuchman, a Pulitzer prize winner, said “Personal responsibility….taking responsibility for your behavior and not forever supposing that society must forgive you because it’s not your fault.” The mistake may not be totally one’s own. But usually, in some subtle way—either through action, reaction or even inaction—we play our role poorly.”

impermanence of human life

As I was contemplating on the impermanence of life, I recognized the fact that there is nothing that does not change.Things change, decay, die or transform into something else. The process of change is continuous. When you think of human body, you know this journey of life.” From the human body, cells split, grow and die incessantly. Through the processes, the cells transform an egg and a sperm into a cute baby; a baby into a youthful teenager; a teenager into a loving, beautiful young woman; a young woman into a delicate wife and an adorable mother; and then, all traits of beauty of an energetic life eventually fade away and are replaced by a frail, unpleasant silhouette waiting for disintegration. How pitiful and ephemeral human life is!.......This Law of Impermanence, thus, applies to all beings. No one can escape it. Because it is an eternal truth.”
There was another way of looking at this change as I saw in a blog where the blogger felt that we are living the life cycle backwards. He tells that we should die first and get it out of the way.I will put it in his own words.”The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What’s that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating …and you finish off as an orgasm.”
Either way one thing is certain. “This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds .To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky, rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain”. Buddha

I hope this is food for thought

Monday, February 2, 2009

Asking questions to ourselves

I read this in a book by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen “The Aladdin factor”
“A friend once asked Isidor I Rabi, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, how he became a scientist. Rabi replied that every day after school his mother would talk to him about his schoolday.She wasn’t so much interested in what he had learned that day, but she always inquired, “Did you ask a good question today?”
“Asking good questions” Rabi said, ”made me become a scientist.”
How frequently do we spend time asking questions and looking for answers from within us? The answers for most of our questions lie deep within us. I am not talking about mundane questions about time and weather here. I refer to questions that if you had asked and obtained the answers would have changed your life. Answers may not be forthcoming immediately. We should not give up but live with the questions till we get the answers. Revisiting them frequently and cogitating on them is the key.
A few questions to illustrate the type would be; what is your purpose in life? If you could be anything at all, what would you like to be? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get what you want? What wisdom you have learnt from your life’s experiences? Is there something yet to be done to reach the Ultimate goal of a human life?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Find the extraordinary in the ordinary

This is from a discourse by Osho. He has explained that even ordinary things get transformed into objects of beauty and invested with new meanings if only we observe things carefully.Nazunia is a common flower growing by itself by the side of road, a grass flower. It is not as precious as rose and nobody ever notices it. It grows anywhere needing no gardening. To see a nazunia carefully a meditator is needed, a delicate consciousness is needed; otherwise, you will bypass it. It has no apparent beauty. Its beauty is that of the very ordinary, but the very ordinary contains the extraordinary in it, because all is full of the divine-even the nazunia flower. Unless you penetrate it with a sympathetic heart, you will miss it. But the mind of the observant who is possessed by its beauty, is transported into another world. The meditation, the sympathetic vision and insight acts as alchemy and transforms the ordinary nazunia into a stunning lotus.
Likewise, we should train ourselves to see carefully, attentively and without any material expectations even in the ordinary things, the inner meanings, the rich beauty and the divine scheme. You will no longer see nazunias but only lotuses, the extraordinary in the place of ordinary.