Monday, April 30, 2018


Life is like a trek in the mountains. Every peak entices you. Standing on the zenith, you look at other peaks which beckon you. Conquests, that’s what trekking is about; that’s what life is about.

The joy that a trekker experiences while standing on the zenith of a mountain is quite different from, say, what you experience when you receive a promotion at your office. Real conquests fill the spirit with a new vigour in spite of all the pain you endured on the way. The rugged paths through the mountain slopes, the exhaustion on the way and the rain and the sun that you braved, they don’t matter now. In fact, they metamorphose into a special kind of joy.

As Richard Bach said, when you have conquered certain heights you don’t want to go down; you want to spread your wings and fly. That’s what zeniths do to you. You don’t want to go down; you want to spread your wings and fly.

Zeniths that really enrich life are not about amassing more wealth or attaining higher positions in society. They are about reaching out to the higher levels within your consciousness. They are about expanding your consciousness, deepening it, becoming more and more aware of the mysteries of life, the magic of life. All great people achieved higher levels of consciousness. Greatness is a higher level of consciousness. Higher levels of consciousness give you wings and you fly among the clouds. Wings don’t belong to the earth’s mundaneness.

The real magic of life is rising above the mundane concerns and considerations. There is a milieu that lies beyond those concerns and considerations. It is not difficult to reach that milieu. What is required is the desire to reach there. And a concerted effort to grow wings. Read, contemplate, question and dream. Life’s magic will unfold as smoothly as the rain descends from burdened clouds.

PS. #BlogchatterA2Z
This is the last post in the series. Thank you for having been with me in the last one month. I’m particularly grateful to those who supported my venture with their comments and especially those who sent me WhatsApp messages telling me that my A2Z series helped them see life in a different way. I’m gratified.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Yes to Reality

At Allahabad Triveni Sangam
where I said Yes to one of the harshest realities of my life

“I don’t know Who – or what – put the question, I don’t know when it was put. I don’t even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone – or Something – and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.” Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the UNO wrote those words just four months before his death in 1961.

Saying Yes to reality is a self-surrender. Unless you can surrender yourself to both the joys and sorrows of life, both hope and despair, light and darkness, you can’t say Yes to reality. Your triumph in life is a catastrophe and the catastrophes of life are triumphs when you say Yes to reality. Your Yes to reality carries you to the realisation that “the only elevation possible to man lies in the depths of humiliation” (Hammarskjold’s words).

There is no greatness in life that is not tainted with some obscurity and there is no darkness that is not touched by a ray of light. “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought,” as Shelley said. Our most bitter sadness carries in its deepest core an alluring joy.

Saying Yes to reality calls for fundamental trust from us. Catholic theologian Hans Kung says that “Fundamental trust means that a person, in principle, says Yes to the uncertain reality of himself and the world, making himself open to reality…” (Does God Exist?) Life is persistently and menacingly uncertain, says Kung. Yet we need to maintain a positive fundamental attitude in order to be able to live happily.

This fundamental trust is not cheap optimism. Rather it is an attitude of openness which gives us the confidence to confront reality as it comes, to make sense of that reality in spite of its absurdity and painfulness. It is essentially a trust in yourself, a trust that you can go on even when the going is excruciating and apparently purposeless. It is an acceptance of life as it is with all its insurmountable problems.

Albert Camus concluded his classical essay titled The Myth of Sisyphus with the unforgettable sentence, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” Sisyphus spent a lion’s share of his life rolling a stone uphill only to have it pushed down invariably every time by the vengeful gods who had punished him with his stone. Camus says that Sisyphus continued to roll his rock uphill all his life challenging the gods. Sisyphus was saying a resounding Yes to his reality, Camus would say. But Hans Kung says that Camus and his Sisyphus are a kind of nihilists who say No to reality with their rebellion and questioning. No, I go with Camus and Sisyphus. Sisyphus was queerly happy, I believe with Camus. Accepting life as absurd is not nihilism. It is intellectual honesty or at least my personal Yes to reality. Kung has his God to console him. If you have your god with you, it is easy to say Yes to reality. Be happy with your god and your trust in him/her/it. But fundamental trust need not have any divine foundation. I have learnt to say Yes to life and reality without any divine support.

Either way – with or without god – it is important to say Yes to reality if you want to make life as happy as possible.


PS. Tomorrow, with the post titled Zenith, my adventure with the A2Z challenge comes to an end. I’m happy that I have been successful in meeting every deadline without fail. I’m grateful to a whole lot of readers who kept on visiting my blog regularly; they sustained me in the month of April which threw a lot of other challenges in my way. Thank you, readers. I’m grateful to Blogchatter for giving me the challenge.

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Friday, April 27, 2018


My Xanadu must have a lot of water and greenery

Xanadu is a paradise. Originally it was the summer palace of Kublai Khan celebrated by poet Coleridge in his poem, ‘Kubla Khan’. The Tatars ruled by Khan were barbaric. Khan created his personal paradise, Xanadu, as a refuge from the savagery of both his people and the nature.

We all need to create our own Xanadus in order to take shelter from the resounding savagery around us. Each one of us must find his/her own way of creating the personal paradise. I create my Xanadu through reading and writing. You can create yours following your own passions. Music, craft, gardening – there is an infinite variety of options open to you for the creation of your Xanadu. It is a place or ambience that gives you personal gratification. It helps you move closer towards self-realisation.

In the biblical creation myth, Adam and Eve lived in the Paradise created by God until the couple was driven by the irresistible human urge to know good and evil. In God’s Paradise they were mere animals that acted mechanically following nature’s laws. Animals have no knowledge of good and evil. They don’t need any ethical systems and legal codes. They live by their instincts.

Human beings go beyond instincts. The expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise was caused by their search for greater knowledge than other animals. It is quite a different matter that their search is portrayed as evil, fall from divine grace, in the book of Genesis which was written by a patriarchal sexist who wished to take the place of god outside the biblical Paradise.

The plain truth is that we cannot live as human beings without knowing good and evil. Adam and Eve had to lose their innocence one day or another, if knowledge of good and evil is loss of innocence. It is not knowledge of good and evil that causes loss of innocence, however. It is the choice of evil.

We live in a world in which evil far outweighs the good. People have made wrong choices. We have our own option, nevertheless. We can create our own Xanadu. We should create it as our refuge from the evils that surround us. Adam and Eve could have created their own personal paradise even after their God had expelled them from His Paradise by retaining their innocence through the choice of the good over the evil. But Adam and Eve are mythical creatures created with the intention of keeping believers under certain leashes.

Create your own Xanadu. Innocence is possible even in our very wicked world. Our Xanadu is the only heaven that is really real.

 Tomorrow: Yes to Reality

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Thursday, April 26, 2018


“Words, words, words,” says Hamlet when Polonius asks him what he is reading. When asked further what the words are about Hamlet’s answer is, “Slanders, sir.” Rumours and slanders abound in people’s usual conversations. We love conversations. Have you ever noticed that most of our conversations are about other people and that most of the time we speak bad things about others? Words can kill. People love to kill the reputations of other people.

But words can heal too. Words can be magical. Words create music. If we change the way we wield words, we can usher in magic to our life, to the world itself. A good word, a word of encouragement, a word of joy can transform the life of the person to whom it is uttered.

One of the tragedies in our life is to begin the day with the morning newspaper which brings us negative words: reports about rising prices and taxes, rapes by spiritual leaders, corruption of political leaders, and so on. It is difficult to sustain our smiles in such a world, let alone speak pleasant words. It is not impossible, however. We need to make that extra effort to smile and speak words that heal, sustain goodness, and transform evil into good.

Words can make the difference. They can bring joy where there is sorrow, hope where there is despair, and light where there is darkness. In the Bible, a gospel writer John says that word is god. Word is indeed god. It depends on us to give that divine power to word. We have the magic within us. Each one of us is a sorcerer. Word is our magic. We can transform the world with words.

We see powerful orators creating new realities using words and nothing else. There are gurus who heal people using words. There are books that transform lives. As Aldous Huxley said, words are like X-rays if you use them properly: they will go through anything, even the hardest of hearts.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Image courtesy here

“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society,” said Jiddu Krishnamurti. There are too many well-adjusted people today. They are rich, they are found frequently in shopping malls and entertaining places, and they are religious. They are well-adjusted at home too. The husband and the wife have their own entertainments and possibly partners outside home. The children find their own entertainments wherever they are. After all, they all live barricaded safely in their gated communities. They have insurance for everything from themselves to the last item in the kitchen. Everything is taken care of. Perfect. And yet sick.

They are so sick that they have to visit gyms and/or detox clinics to extract the venom within. They need gurus most of whom are fake to give them spiritual solace. They have medical insurance to pay their unending hospital bills. Hospitals generate more diseases than they cure. Medicines become food instead of the vice-versa.

We live in a world from which genuine human values have vanished. We have become robots doing things that are programmed into our being by a heartless society with its deceitful political leaders and hypocritical religious leaders.

The solution is to rediscover the genuine human values such as compassion and cooperation. We need to realise that we don’t need to amass so much in order to live happily and healthily. On the contrary, happy people have very less possessions. At least, happy people know that happiness is not a product of possessions. Happiness is a state of the mind. A state of the heart, so to say.

Capitalism has gripped the whole world like a terminal cancer. As a result, cut-throat competition and heartless selfishness have become the values of most people. The system has generated those values and hence we think they are the right values. It is difficult to change the system. That calls for great visionaries. As ordinary people, we can change our values. We don’t have to slit the throat of the next person in order to be successful. We can cooperate with him and both of us together can be successful.

Have you ever wondered why more and more multi-speciality hospitals are coming up in every city and town? Have you ever wondered why so many people are sick?


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Unfinished Business

In psychology, unfinished business refers to emotions and memories surrounding past experiences that one has avoided or repressed. Life is very generous with painful experiences like the loss of a beloved one or the break-up of a genuine relationship. Poet Khalil Gibran sang of pain as “the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” Understand your pain, accept it. That’s the secret of dealing successfully with pain. Pain is a season of the heart even like “the seasons that pass over your fields.”

But we often choose to avoid or repress pain. When we do that, the pain goes into some dark chamber of our consciousness and remains there like a smouldering cinder beneath the mounting ashes. Some of us may seek to escape the pain by consuming intoxicants or engaging in binge eating or compulsive shopping. Unfinished business is dangerous. It burns within. It can burn us out by filling our souls with sadness, fear, anxiety, mistrust, hate and whole lot of negative emotions.

Confront your pain. Understand it. Change the situations that cause the pain if you can change them. Change your attitude towards the situations if that is possible. What cannot be changed has to be accepted. Break the shell that encloses your understanding.

Pain can create beautiful things like soul-stirring music, paintings, literature, and so on. Transmute your pain into beauty. Sing like Shelley, “I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!” Or better still, like Khalil Gibran, “keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life” and then “your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy.”

Some pains are so traumatic that it takes time to deal with them. But deal with them, we must. Otherwise they will haunt us forever as our unfinished business.

PS. #BlogchatterA2Z

Sunday, April 22, 2018


The Thinker (Le Penseur)

Our thinking plays a vital role in making our life magical or miserable. Thoughts have the power to perform miracles. Cognitive psychologist Albert Ellis presents an A-B-C framework to explain the importance of our thoughts.

A stands for the activating event, B for beliefs, and C for consequence. Let us understand this through an example. Joe and Ann break up their relationship. Joe goes into depression. A is the divorce and C is the depression. But did A cause C? No, Ellis says. B causes C. Joe’s beliefs about the divorce are responsible for his depression. Joe believes that the divorce proves his inability to love or that he is a failure or that he is not even worthy of love. What we believe about things happening to us makes the world of a difference to the consequences.

Some 2000 years ago, Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “People are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them.” If we change our views, the event changes. Rather, the meaning of the event for us changes. That is the magic. Change your thinking if you wish to change your life.

Quite a lot of our problems arise from self-defeating thinking like: I am totally to blame for the divorce; I am a miserable failure; Unless people appreciate what I do, I’m good for nothing.

Ellis continues his A-B-C framework with D-E-F. D stands for disputing intervention, E for effect, and F for new feeling. Dispute your thinking. Ask yourself questions like: Am I totally responsible for the failure? Do I need people’s applause to feel worthwhile? We have to remove all dysfunctional beliefs from our system. We have to start thinking more clearly, more logically, more healthily. Then will come the new feeling. That is the magic of wholesome thinking.

Some practical suggestions given by Ellis are:
1.     Acknowledge that we are largely responsible for creating our own emotional problems.
2.     Accept the notion that we have the power to change the disturbances significantly.
3.     Recognise that our emotional problems largely stem from our irrational beliefs.
4.     Perceive our beliefs clearly.
5.     Dispute all self-defeating beliefs.
6.     Be willing to work hard on changing those self-defeating beliefs.

PS. #BlogchatterA2Z

Saturday, April 21, 2018


Every secret has a certain degree of power. The moment you reveal a secret to anyone, you are giving that power to the other person. The more the secrets you keep in your heart, the greater your personal power. It is not power over other people; it is power within.

You don’t know how a revealed secret will come back to you with a sting. People love to play games with other people just for the sake of preserving whatever ascendancy they have over others. People love power. Worse, they don’t know how to use power for the welfare of others. Why do you want to give your power to another person and be his slave?

There are only two kinds of secrets: the kind you don’t want to share and the kind you don’t dare to share. There may be a few, a third kind, which may do a little good by sharing: like reduce a burden in your heart. It may be quite alright if you have a good friend who can share your burden. But the question is how many such good friends does anyone really have? The ideal friend is one who helps you keep your own secrets.

In Joseph Conrad’s story, The Secret Sharer, the Captain of a ship is confronted with a dilemma when a naked man swims his way through the ocean to the ship. The man who introduces himself as Leggatt was the chief mate of another ship on which he accidentally killed an insolent fellow crewman. He was kept under custody and would have to face trial for murder on landing. He escaped by jumping into the ocean. The Captain feels an uncanny affinity to Leggatt especially when he puts on the Captain’s clothes. According to seamen’s morality, the Captain should report him to the concerned authorities. But the Captain conceals him in his stateroom and saves him even when the people of the latter’s ship come in search of him. Finally the Captain goes out of his way to help him escape.

The secret gives a unique power to the Captain who was considered a weak man especially by himself. Leggatt is a murderer even though the murder was committed accidentally and the victim was a bully who posed a threat to the very safety of the ship. Leggatt symbolises the irrational but brave side of humankind, while the Captain represents the more civilised and refined rational side. The crew on the Captain’s ship are the normal human beings who have their fair share of irrationality. The Captain’s refinement is powerless before them. His secret, however, gives him a mysterious power.

Critics have suggested that Leggatt is the Captain’s doppelganger, an alter ego. Our secrets constitute our doppelganger which has a mysterious power. As long as our secrets are not evil or supportive of evil, it is better to trust them to the doppelganger who will eventually vanish into the ocean and the unknown beyond, having empowered you.

PS. #BlogchatterA2Z

Friday, April 20, 2018


At prayer :)

My religion is one of the accidents that happened to me when I was an infant. I was just a few days old when my parents took me to the church for christening. Thus I became a Christian without my knowledge or consent.

For most people religion is a similar accident; it is given to them at birth. You are a Hindu or Muslim or whatever merely because you were born in a family whose members also had their religions foisted on them by others. That given religion becomes a part of our personality. Christianity played a major role in shaping my personality. It gave me a lot of guilt feelings because almost everything good is a sin in that religion.

I outgrew my religion when I became an adult. I could not accept most of what it taught me. So I gave up the religion and sought truth in my own personal way. Life becomes magical when you begin to discover your own truths though the process is not easy.

Religion can help in the discovery of your personal truths, no doubt. It can offer guidelines, inspiration, solace and much else. The problem is when we accept religious truths blindly. Scriptures written centuries ago need not be relevant today. There are no eternal truths except values such as love and compassion. Every religion was an effort to foster those eternal values. But most religions have ended up as tools for acquiring power in its various protean shapes.

If Jesus were to return today, he would be shocked by what people are doing in his name. There is very little that is common between Jesus and the hundreds of churches that function in his name. Similar is the case with Prophet Mohammed or Lord Rama or whoever.

Religion becomes meaningful only when it helps you become a better human being. What we see in the world, more often than not, is hatred and violence perpetrated in the name of religions and their gods. Such religion is absolutely useless. If you want to bring about a magical transformation to your life, religion is a good place to begin with. See whether and how it helps you to be a good human being. If it doesn’t help, It’s better to chuck it and discover your personal truths. If it does help, carry one, of course.

PS. #BlogchatterA2Z
Tomorrow: Secret

PPS. I received a WhatsApp message this morning from one of my most beloved students. “Today when you write about religion, make it gentle,” said the message. I hope I have not been harsh J

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Thursday, April 19, 2018


Photo by Tomichan Matheikal

In one of his poems John Keats presents a knight who met an exceptionally beautiful woman in some distant land. The knight instantly fell in love with her beauty. But the woman disappeared after tantalising the knight’s passions. The knight started searching for her. He never gave up the search though the woman seemed untraceable. If you reach that land even today, you will find that knight roaming there like a weary skeleton continuing his endless quest, says the poet.

Genuine quests are endless. Saint Augustine of the Catholic Church famously said, “Our heart is restless until it rests in you.” That you was god for Augustine. Augustine was quite an adventurer in his youth who enjoyed life to the hilt like other young men of his time. He had his fair share of beautiful women too who did not elude him like Keats’ La Belle Dame sans Merci.

The women did not, however, satisfy Augustine’s passions. God did. God is infinity. Anyone can go on questing after infinity for any length of time without ever getting tired. Keats’ knight was exasperated because his quest was limited to beauty. Keats equated truth with beauty. His quest was for beauty in life. He died at the age of 25. Limited quests can kill you too early.

Saint Augustine lived up to the ripe age of 75. His quest was for infinity. He contributed some silly notions too like the original sin. No one is infallible in spite of the genuineness of one’s quest. But genuine quests keep you going for a long time.  Our heart is indeed restless until it rests in what is our own truth. Our own truth, not the truths given by our parents, society, religion, political leaders, etc.

Our own truth is the only truth worth living for. Discover it. The path towards that truth is what I call quest. This quest ends only when you die. It is a perpetual search because truth is as elusive as the water in your palm. You have to keep on gathering it whenever the occasion arises. That willingness to catch the truth at the required time is the mark of the person on a genuine quest.

PS. #BlogchatterA2Z
Tomorrow: Religion

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Paradigm shift

Paradigm shift, in simple words, is a change from one way of thinking to another. For example, we can think of religion as compassion instead of a set of rituals and prayers. A paradigm shift can bring about miraculous changes in our life. A prisoner, for instance, will make his life miserable if he despairs of his condition or can make his term a happy period if he chooses to do something creative under the given conditions. Aren’t we all prisoners in this world?

Awareness is a necessary prerequisite to all meaningful changes. One plain truth is that we love to live in our comfort zone. Only when we become aware of facts like our comfort zone is not the best of zones available and that there are many other better possibilities and options open to us, will we be able to change.

In the beginning of his novel, Illusions, Richard Bach tells a story about some water creatures. These creatures spend their entire lifetime clinging to the rocks and twigs at the bottom of the crystal clear river. One day they see another creature like themselves floating on the water above them. They think that creature is going to be their messiah since he is performing what they perceive as a miracle. They beg the messiah to save them. The floating creature tells them that he is no messiah and that if they want to save themselves they should let go their clinging. The creatures cannot imagine letting go. All their life they have been clinging. Clinging was the way of life for their ancestors, it is theirs as will be their future generations’.

They refused to let go and continued to cling. Maybe they made up imaginative stories about a messiah who made an apparition to them once upon a time. Maybe they made a religion in the name of that messiah, created rituals, composed prayers. And continued to cling.

Letting go is the paradigm shift. Can we let go some of our silly prejudices? Can we let go some of our attitudes to success, wealth, and whatever else we think is very important? Can we open our minds, our consciousness, to new truths which are waiting to reveal themselves to us?

Are you ready for the paradigm shift?

PS. For #BlogchatterA2Z

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Image from Fluidsurveys

You may feel oppressed at least occasionally. Even in a well-oiled democratic system, the citizens can feel oppressed by various policies of the State. As poet Louis Macneice said in his poem, Prayer before Birth, the world can convert us into “lethal automatons,” make us “a cog in a machine,” or blow us “like thistledown hither and thither.”

The State and its various machineries may decide what food you can or cannot eat, what kind of dress you should wear, how much money you can save, and so on. The State can make you feel powerless. There are even States which encourage one section of the citizens to eliminate another section. Both the eliminator and the victim are powerless. You want to overcome the lies  that create powerlessness.

There is only one way of overcoming that kind of powerlessness: living in your personal truth.

The State compels us to live within a lie, as political thinker Vaclav Havel said. You don’t have to accept the lies foisted on you by the State. You may have to accept those lies in order to be a law-abiding citizen. You have no choice in that matter. You have no choice but pay the umpteen taxes, for instance. You have no choice if your State decides to ban a certain food in the country. There are thousands of people in many nation-states who are forced to wear a particular kind of dress much as their hearts rebel against it.

The State cannot exercise any power over your soul, however. Your spirit. Your conscience. Call it what you like. The powerlessness of those in power begins there: in your soul.

Power has its rituals like making and enacting laws or foisting certain lies and illusions on the citizens using protean propaganda or terror agencies that look like political or religious organisations. But power cannot kill that part of our being which relentlessly yearns for freedom, truth and dignity. As long as we keep that spirit alive, we can overcome oppressive powers.

We can begin by expressing our feelings and ideas in social media or other places like political meetings. We can express solidarity with those whom our conscience commands us to support. We can reject certain rituals of the State and break certain rules of the game. We may have to pay certain prices for our actions. But redeeming our soul from oppressive powers is worth the prices. We cannot live in a lie for too long without losing our dignity.

Every time we choose to accept the State-created lies, our spirit shrinks and the nation becomes more of a quagmire. When more and more people begin to assert their right to live in truth, the power of governments and other oppressive systems begins to erode and the nation becomes richer. A great nation is made up of people who overcome the lies of political systems.

PS. #BlogchatterA2Z

Monday, April 16, 2018


We are all neurotics though we convince ourselves that we are normal especially because our society approves of most of the things we do. The society is the benchmark for the sanity of our actions. We can even murder people in large numbers and call it religious fervour or patriotism. We are doing it everyday. We are doing it indirectly perhaps like, for instance, when we glorify the soldiers who kill at the borders or the militants who kill wherever they wish.

There is no need to go to the extent of murders in order to be aware of our neurosis. If we analyse our usual thoughts and actions, we will find that quite many of them are plainly absurd if not insane.

One of the jokes that I have quoted again and again in my classes is from Albert Camus’s essay, The Myth of Sisyphus. There is a mad man who is fishing in a bathtub. The psychiatrist asks him with a plan to start a session of counselling, “Hey, got any fish?” The mad man frowns at the doc and gives a harsh reply, “Of course not, you fool, this is a bathtub.”

We are not different from that mad man, says Camus. We are trying to catch fish from a bathtub knowing that there is no fish in there. We are searching for happiness in wealth, luxury, power, etc knowing happiness doesn’t lie there. We are searching for peace in the barrels of machine guns and the shards left by missiles. We are searching for god in the emptiness of temples and the muteness of granite idols. We are searching for truth in words written centuries ago.

Our whole life can undergo a miraculous transformation if only we channelise our neurosis a little differently. There is no escape from neurosis. We can only divert it in different ways.

One productive way of diverting our neurosis would be to sit down coolly and identify one of the unpleasant truths about ourselves. And then accept that truth boldly. You can safely trust a person who has the courage to do that. Such a person will be willing to give up the neurosis imposed on him by his society, nation, religion, etc. He may have his own neurosis after that. Because when you discard the neurosis given by others, they will regard you as insane. Never mind. You are actually the sane one. You will become spontaneous when you shed the neurosis imposed on you from outside. You will begin to see the world for what it is: a place where people are trying to catch fish from bathtubs and docs who are trying to counsel them using patriotism, gods and a whole lot of absurd things.

Good things like art and music, literature and sculpture all originate from properly channelized neurosis.

PS. For #BlogchatterA2Z
Tomorrow: Overcome

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Meaning of Life

Image from Introvert-Inspiration

Viktor Frankl spent several months in Hitler’s concentration camps. It is very difficult to nurture hope and not capitulate to despair when you know that your days are numbered.  Frankl was lucky to survive. He wrote the book Man’s Search for Meaning after his release from the camp. The book sold millions of copies.

Meaning is what sustains us. That is Frankl’s essential message. It is not at all easy to find meaning in a life that is about to be snuffed out in a torture camp. The first thing you need is hope, says Frankl. You know that there is someone outside there waiting for you, waiting with agonised longing for your safe return. That one person alone is enough to generate hope in your heart. That person may be your spouse, your offspring or even your god. You are very precious for that someone. All of us have someone for whom we are very, very precious. We have to live for that person. We have to win for that person.

Hope alone is not enough, however. Discover a meaning in your present experience. That will help you survive. That will help you fight and not give up. Even the suffering in a torture camp can have meanings. Unless you burn, you can’t provide light. Your suffering is going to create light for someone. Convert your suffering into light.

There is no escape from suffering however privileged you are. Life offers us suffering very copiously. Suffering may assume various forms such as our ineptitude, illness, and failures. Discover a meaning in all such moments. Create the meaning if need be. Frankl created his meaning in the concentration camp by bringing hope and courage to his fellow prisoners.

Every moment of life offers a choice to you. You can choose to fight or choose to give up. You can choose to endure or choose to despair. Life is a series of choices and the choices you make create the meaning of your life.

Do you sometimes feel like a page in a book that nobody bothered to read? For some reason or the other, the readers flipped through that page. That happens. That is precisely the feeling of meaninglessness. Create something on that page, something that catches the attention of the reader. That something is the meaning you are creating in your life. That meaning is what is going to alter your life altogether.

PS. #BlogchatterA2Z – letter M

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Love’s dilemmas

Othello and Desdemona
Image from Wikipedia

Love is a complex thing though it ought to be the simplest being the most natural feeling between human beings.  Love makes the world go round.  Love is a feeling that wells up within us almost always.  We love our family members, friends, colleagues and a whole lot of people with whom we establish some sort of relationships. Yet it isn’t a very simple feeling.

Othello loved Desdemona arguably more than any man would love a woman. Yet he ended up killing her. He killed her for love. Can anyone kill the person whom he loves so much? Can we call that emotion love?

Desdemona was a pure woman who loved Othello as much as he loved her.  Her love was simple.  It was a childlike trust.  She was so innocent that she could not even prove that innocence.  Should love be so innocent, so trustful, so childlike? 

Did Othello really love Desdemona?  Or did he love himself more?  He killed her because he thought she had betrayed him.  Let us assume that she had indeed betrayed him.  Even then can a man who genuinely loves his wife kill her?  Othello had a lot of insecurities.  He had a good share of inferiority complex.  It is that complex, his insecurity feelings, that drive Othello to kill Desdemona.  He was saving his self-respect by killing her. So who did he love more: himself or Desdemona?

Genuine love is letting go if required.  If Desdemona did really have an extramarital affair, Othello should have proved that and asked her to move out of his life.  Let her go.  That is love.  However painful that decision may be.  Love brings pains.  Love calls for suffering.  Love cannot kill.

Love cannot possess the other person.  The other person is not an object to be kept under the lock and key of my love.  She is an individual with her own emotions and rights.  I have to respect those emotions and rights.  She has to respect mine too.  What is love without that mutual respect, without certain compromise?

The plain truth is that Desdemona could not have betrayed Othello.  Her love was so pure, so genuine.  It is Othello’s failure that he could not understand that love.  What is love without understanding?

The problem in any relationship is that we let our personal complexities mingle with the relationship unnecessarily, thus obscuring it.  Some such mingling is inevitable, no doubt.  What am I without my personal idiosyncrasies?  But it is my most sacred duty to prevent my relationships from being polluted by those idiosyncrasies.  There is always an opportunity for a dialogue with the other person.  Sit down and clarify messed up things.  A good conversation has saved many a relationship.

Couldn’t Othello have saved his love if he had sat down and had a hearty colloquy with Desdemona?  

PS. For #BlogchatterA2Z – today’s letter: L

Tomorrow: Meaning

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Knowledge and Folly

Source: Quotefancy

“You understand, and that’s why you’ll never have any peace. If you didn’t understand, you’d be happy.” Zorba the Greek, protagonist of the eponymous novel by Kazantzakis, tells this to the narrator who is a young man of much knowledge. “You’re young,” Zorba goes on, “you have money, health, you’re a good fellow, you lack nothing. Nothing, by thunder! Except just one thing – folly! And when that’s missing, well…”

Zorba doesn’t complete the sentence. The sort of folly that Zorba wants his boss to attain is not something that can be explained. It is the product of enlightenment. It dawns on you when you stop depending on your brain for everything. “A man’s head is like a grocer,” as Zorba says, “it keeps accounts. I’ve paid so much and earned so much and that means a profit of this much or a loss of that much! The head’s a careful little shopkeeper; it never risks all it has, always keeps something in reserve. It never breaks the string.”

Knowledge is not wisdom. In order to be as wise as Zorba, one has to go beyond all the cerebral knowledge one has stored up in the head and step onto the shaky grounds of folly. Wordsworth’s heart could leap up when he beheld the rainbow or a daffodil because he possessed that folly. The nightingale did the same for John Keats and the skylark for Shelley. 

You may have all the knowledge in the world and yet be discontented. What you lack is folly: the readiness to risk all that you hold as the most precious. Why not step out of your certainties for once? Why not look at the rainbow and the daffodil for a change? Listen to the nightingale and the skylark? And perceive what they long to tell you?

A different kind of knowledge will descend on you then. That’s wisdom. That’s folly. That’s joy.

PS. Today's #BlogchatterA2Z letter is K.

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