Reflections on Change

Change is good, for without change there can be no progress,

Yet at no point should we get attached to changing.

Change because you need to move towards something,

Never because you are running away from something.

In time, you will realize you are changing towards realizing the changeless nature of your self.

When you are no longer changing, when you have achieved your deepest self,

You have true choice- for a person who changes is compelled, a person who is changeless…chooses what he needs to be for that day.

When you achieve changelessness, you choose the food you need,

And thereby no longer need to escape from food by dieting.

When you are changeless, you choose the relationships you need,

And therefore, you no longer need to run from toxic ones.

Choose your focus,

Rather than eliminating waste.

The changeless person, once having his deepest self, chooses.

A superficial person needs to add or cut away, causing him to suffer.

Change towards your deepest self,

Till you have nothing more to change into.

Desires and compulsions then become replaced by choices.

A need for satisfaction (or release) gets replaced by a need to merely express.

Life then becomes a mere light rental, instead of being a heavy burden.

Handling Trauma through Non-creation

We all go through life as a series of events. Sometimes, events hurt us, some bless us in unforeseeable ways. Some of these events stay with us forever, as ‘inflection points’, points we realize changed our life, points at which we went through great emotional upheavals- positive or negative.

When we look at such powerful positive events, we begin to realize that if that event had not occurred, we would not be the people we are today. We feel over-blessed.

When we look back at powerful negative events, we realize those events shaped our belief systems for years to come, perhaps for our entire lives.

Positive events can be the birth of a child, a marriage, divorce (from an unhappy marriage), the entrance of new friendships, the loss of bad friendships, good advice, failures that guided you to eventually make the right decision, anything.

The above very same events – the birth of an (unwanted) child, an (unhappy) marriage, divorce (from an otherwise happy marriage), the entrance of new friendships (of poor quality), the loss of (apparently) bad friendships, good advice (that was never followed), failures that guided you (too late) to eventually make the right decision, can be highly negative too.

Trauma occurs when such powerful events impact our lives. Positive trauma is when we start living in “what if it had never happened” mode and negative trauma occurs when we start living in “if we had only listened to life better” mode. Both heat and cold can cause burns. Both positive and negative events can cause trauma.

So, when does trauma occur? It never occurs during the event, but always after the event, in our recollections. It is our recollections that make an event (positive or negative) unduly special in retrospect. We make those events momentous in our interpretation. And thus, trauma is how we see our past – the events themselves have little to do with it.

How, then, do we move on? How do we heal? We move on by realizing that had those events never occurred, we would never have known they were special, and we would never have attributed undue importance to them. Our attribution of importance causes trauma. When we start treating every event in life as …” normal”, we move on, we begin living in the present.

So, are no events special? Not really. Many events are special. But our mistake is not in considering some events special, but in ignoring all of the other events that built up to that “special” event.

The car accident that left you a cripple was bound to happen, building up from your parents ignoring your poor driving skills in the name of freedom, your friends encouraging you to drink on every small occasion to ward off the dumps, your exhilaration at your first salary making you splurge it on a car, your insecurities driving your eagerness to show off your driving to your girlfriend to get her approval, your inability to take care of yourself and be selfish enough to not drink and drive….all of these threads of space and time combine into a single knot at a strategic moment of time and space – we call this knot an event. The more threads that are involved in the knot, the more powerful the event becomes.

A small event having two threads- such as you missing your school bus, and you getting a lift from your neighbour give a you a positive glow, but are not powerful enough to have an impact.

Combine multiple threads such as, you missing your school bus, your neighbour giving you a lift, your neighbour stopping to buy something at the store, your school bus continuing on and arriving at school, your janitor having forgotten to wipe the floors, an illegal cigarette falling from the bus driver’s hand on the floor, the school section catching fire due to a chemical blaze and students perishing in the terrible event, and you arriving late to be among the few who escaped – that causes trauma.

When you have failed a few exams and get a job without any major issues, it barely makes an impact.

But when you have failed a few exams, are having domestic difficulties, health issues, a tough market, a competitive friends’ circle and get a job through struggle- the multi-threaded knot formed leaves an impact. We can consider even such a positive impact as trauma- a cold burn if you will.

So how indeed do we handle trauma? We handle it by realizing that every moment in our lives is building up to something bigger; every few years, many such threads are going to get stuck in a knot; realizing that after every knot, the threads separate again to form new separate knots, new traumas, new inflection points. If you live long enough, you will suffer many scars. But our scars come from rubbing our wounds. When you pick your scabs, you leave scars behind. Allow your wounds to heal, your acne to naturally go away, and your face and your life will emerge unspoiled, unscathed.

Let there be wounds, let there be events, but assign no special importance to any of them, for there are going to be a lot more just like them, and there have already been many such events before you were even born. Your birth could have been in a moving van in the middle of a cyclone, but you are not traumatized as you were never bothered about the event, just about being born.

Focus on every event in your life equally, assign no great importance to complexity, and you will learn from life, rather than being scarred by it. Our life is mirrored in our bodies. Our body and face structure mature as we advance beyond teenage, precisely because we allow life to shape our body. Our minds will also mature when we allow life to shape it. And when we stop resisting life’s expert scalpel, when we stop wriggling on life’s work-table and stay internally still, we allow life to do its best work and sculpt us into a thing of beauty that is free of inner scars.

Thus, by creating no trauma through our resistance, misinterpretations or attaching over-significance to events, we will live life untraumatized.

Helpful Books & Reading

The following books are available either free or as paid versions online, and have been invaluable companions in my search for the truth, hidden within myself. Some of these books deal with the psychology of the self and relationships, helping you free your mind of inhibitions, while others deal with the spiritual side of our selves, building upon your open-mindedness.

From a personal subjective perspective, I find that Zen/ Buddhist books and books by Eckhart Tolle are a great starting point. Christian publications, that interpret the Bible, are somewhere in the middle, focusing more on using compassion and encouraging you to find your own path. Hinduism, Upanishads and Vedas take a deeper philosophical approach, but are not easily understood by beginners (can be misinterpreted as nonsensical or having unclear applications, unless you are fully independent-minded and ready for their lessons in the first place). Once Hinduism has been understood, circling back to Sufism, Islam, Christianity, Zen etc. helps, as the teachings of these religions assume greater depth, since your own understanding would have deepened in the process of your growth.

As always, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. The deeper your own spiritual growth, the easier it becomes to understand what you read – not the other way round. Books are mirrors- they can guide you only when you are ready for them, sometimes guiding you only when you read them a second time. May you find peace as you realize your truth.

  • The Power of Now- Eckhart Tolle
  • Stillness Speaks – Eckhart Tolle
  • Tao-te-Ching- Lao Tzu
  • Invisible Partners – John Sanford
  • He – Robert Johnson
  • She- Robert Johnson
  • We- Robert Johnson
  • The Fisher King – Robert Johnson
  • When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box – John Ortberg
  • Faith and Doubt – John Ortberg
  • Soul Keeping- John Ortberg
  • All the Ways you Go- John Ortberg
  • 121 Zen Koans (a collection of Buddhist parables)
  • Poems by Kahlil Gibran (especially those on Children and Marriage)
  • Mahabharata – Veda Vyas (suggest the Amar Chitra Katha version / unabridged version)
  • Bhagwad Gita – Veda Vyas (a part of the Mahabharata, as a separate book)
  • Tales from Upanishads – Amar Chitra Katha publications
  • Story of Nachiketa – Amar Chitra Katha publications
  • Ramayana – Valmiki (suggest the Amar Chitra Katha version/ unabridged version)
  • Lagu Yoga Vasishta – Valmiki (a part of the Ramayana, as a separate book)
  • Any good books on soul astrology, such as those by Jan Spiller

The above is not a comprehensive list, and there are many other materials out there that you may find better guide you, based on your background, family upbringing and culture. This is to help you get started on making your own private library that can help you today and in times to come.

A Conversation with my Soul – On Rebellion, Truth and Freedom

A man was known in his community as a rebel. He was known to have always done things his way, and not followed societal norms. Since he wasn’t following the normal way of things, he was branded a rebel.

This made the man deeply introspective. He approached the greatest teacher he knew, his own soul. Speaking to his soul, he knew was the same as speaking to the world and accessing its wisdom.

Man (M): Why am I being called a rebel, just because I want to be happy? I am not preventing others from doing what they want. Is having a different opinion of what I want to do so wrong?

Soul (S): Your question asks if what you did was wrong. Who created right and wrong?

M: Did God create right and wrong? But if he did, I don’t want such a God to govern my life. If he has created happiness and sadness inside me, and then asks me to be perennially unhappy, then something is wrong with God. He is a sadist, and I do not want to have a relationship with him anymore.

S: Perhaps, but if God had created right and wrong, it would be the same all over the world. But what is right in the West is wrong in the East and vice versa. So, the very definition of right and wrong changes across the world.

M: So, who created right and wrong? It has to be man himself. Every generation has people who dominate and rule over others, and impose their values upon society. And those who follow them are forced to say they are ‘happy’ and those who oppose them are forced to say they are ‘unhappy’. Why, earning money or marriage is something you have to say makes you happy. If you say you are unhappy with these things, people start calling you mad.

S: Indeed. What do you think is happening here?

M: People want to not just control my behavior, but also decide what I should be happy about and what I should be sad about. This is a perversion of my individual right to my emotions. I am supposed to override my emotions now? I am supposed to say I am happy, just because others are happy, even if I am sad? I cannot stand this division of my soul anymore. Why can’t people just express their truth, which is the only truth?

S: Because telling the truth takes courage. People are afraid to speak the truth.

M: Why? Because they will be attacked like me? Sometimes, no, often I feel that it is better to be hurt on the outside than tolerate this pain that is caused by denying my inner truth. I can tolerate outer attack, however much it hurts, but I can’t tolerate my inner pain when I tell myself lies. Inner pain hurts so much more.

S: Why do you think inner pain hurts? Why not ignore it and wait for it to go away, like others do?

M: Because ignoring inner pain makes me lose touch with who I am, I begin to feel empty and dead inside. What is the use of being dead, an empty shell that acts happy? There is so much falseness in the world … internally dead people acting like they know what they want. No one seems to know what they want, because they have killed their inner pain by ignoring it. And when they don’t know, they rush to fill their inner emptiness with something outside, by listening to the strongest voice, by listening to churches, dictators, priests, corporate leaders, grand visions and promises. When you are no longer living inside your body, anyone else can easily make it their home. People have given up their souls and allowed others to take over. And these same false people now become agents for falseness- when people like me express my truth, because I am still connected to my soul, they attack me, trying their best to make me give up my soul. The world is insane, it is mad.

S: Indeed, it is. You have a choice to make then – your body will survive if you give up your soul, or your body may be attacked if you keep hanging on to your soul. Choose then.

M: I don’t know how I know this, but my soul is the actual part of who I am, my compass, my direction-giver, my happiness index. It is my soul that tells me if I am happy or not, that helps me act. If I give up my soul, I will end up following someone else’s definition of whether to be happy or not. I won’t even have emotions anymore; I will need to ask someone to decide whether to be happy or not. I will need to look at the calendar to decide if today is Christmas or Ramzan to be happy, or if today is a funeral to be sad. What is wrong if I get great news of a job offer on a funeral – don’t I have a right to be happy? What if I lose my money on a festival day? Don’t I have the right to be sad? I despise those who tell me what my emotions should be. My emotions are mine; they are inside me; they are private. No one can or should tell me what my emotions should be – I will decide.

S: Excellent. So, you prefer external attacks by society to dying inside?

M: Yes, I prefer to die externally (body) than die internally (lose touch with my soul). I am not saying I am suicidal, but if a mob attacks me, I prefer dying on my own terms, thank you. In fact, it is required for me to surrender the outer world, die on the outside (psychologically, not physically) to truly find my inner truth. Death is coming for me anyway, but I am going to use this body and this physical life to find and express my truth, even if I am murdered in 5 years for just being myself. And by murder, it could be just physical restrictions and not the true destruction of my body. But death is the absence of life, and I no longer care about external life and death. I only want a connection to who I am to exist and guide me, enlighten me.

S: So, you are a rebel now?

M: No, I am not a rebel because a person who is true to himself can never be a rebel. A rebel is someone who rejects others. I am not interested in rejecting others, I believe in live and let live. I just want to live my life by expressing my soul, and let others do the same. Everyone lives their own truth.

S: So, there is no universal truth?

M: Yes, there are many truths – everyone has their own individual truth, that is revealed when they listen to their soul. The moment you say there is only one truth, you create conflict, religion and division. People get branded as followers, atheists or rebels. Just be true to yourself.

S: Do you feel alive now?

M: Temporarily yes. Tomorrow, I may not feel this emotion this strongly, for my mind fluctuates. I have no control over my mind. I have no control over the outer world. I can only control my present – in space (who I am, inside my body) and in time (where I am now, without delving into the past or future).

S: So, are you not afraid that you will lose touch with your soul tomorrow, when you feel different emotions?

M: if this is my truth, it will always raise its head, knock on my inner door to tell me I am unhappy. I have to trust my soul; I have to trust my truth.

S: But how do you trust something that you can neither see, nor monitor or control. How do you trust something that you cannot check every few minutes?

M: If I don’t trust it, I will become paranoid, wondering if I will feel this way tomorrow just because I feel like this today. The moment I become paranoid, I will start living in the past or future, instead of in the present where my true power is – the power to take action. I can’t act on what my soul wants yesterday or tomorrow, but I can act now, in this moment. So, the moment I lose trust, I also lose the power to act, because I no longer live in the present.

S: So, the only way you can gain power to act on your truth, is by trusting your truth and giving up control over it?

M: Yes, I surrender to my truth, and I learn to trust my soul when I can’t know when it will talk to me again. I call this Faith.

S: So, truth is not rebellion, truth is giving up control, truth is dying on the outside to be alive inside, truth is surrender, truth requires faith.

M: Yes. It looks fancy if you put it that way. But all that is required is for you to listen, and choose to be alive inside than dead inside (while being a blind so-called alive follower on the outside). Don’t deny your soul.

S: Why are you so obsessed with your soul? Let it die.

M: I am not obsessed with my soul. I am afraid of the pain and later, meaninglessness that creeps in if you lose touch with your soul. I do not want inner pain. It is possible to face external torture if you are at peace inside, but it is impossible to enjoy outer beauty if you are suffering and dead inside. It is not outer things that make us happy or sad, but our inner soul that connects us to our happiness, makes us feel truly alive. At the end, it is a choice – do you want to act happy, or be really happy?

S: You mean, happiness, spirituality, freedom is a choice?

M: Indeed, freedom is not compulsory. You are free not to choose freedom, but you are also free to choose freedom. But if you are not internally free, someone else’s definition of happiness and freedom will be forced upon you.

S: So, what?

M: So, nothing. You are at complete freedom to be unhappy; you are at complete freedom to be sad, that is your right. You are at complete freedom to live a life of inner pain too, even if you act happy on the outside.

S: So, again, if you are free to be sad, if you are free to follow falseness, if you are free to choose an artificial life, why bother with this discussion?

M: Because I, I repeat, because I, want inner happiness even if it causes me external pain like societal rejection. This is my choice, and applies only to me. I cannot tell anyone else what to do. I cannot tell anyone else that they should follow spirituality, I cannot tell anyone else to follow my choices. If I start telling others spirituality is the only way to find happiness, I go against spirituality itself. I am alone in this world, alone in my philosophy, alone in my choices – I came into this world alone, and I will leave alone. My choices are only to affect me.

S: Ah, so to find the truth is to be alone? Is it lonely?

M: No, when there are no other people, I compare myself to, there is no loneliness. I am alone, which is a happy state. Loneliness is a false state (false to me), that occurs if I compare myself to another person’s truth.

S: So, if you are alone in your choices, what makes you make your choice?

M: I do not know, I am guided to pursue the truth, perhaps because I want to. Perhaps because I can.

S: So, choice and freedom create choice and freedom? It is a circle.

M: Yes, the world is a spiritual circle. Freedom and choice are part of a circle. Perhaps peace lies at the center.

S: So, if you are taking the decision to follow your truth as part of a deeper choice, how do you know you are right? How do you know if you are doing the right thing?

M: That’s the beauty of it – since there is no single truth, there is no right and wrong. I can follow my truth or not, that is my choice. Not because of it being right or wrong, but because I can. Choice creates choice. Freedom creates freedom. Peace creates peace.

S: Do you want to rest now?

M: Yes

Wanting, Choosing and Getting – The Freedom Conundrum

All of us want freedom. But when something happens to us- good or bad, we can feel out of control. When we think thoughts – good or bad, they are largely out of our control. Our desires come from seemingly nowhere – totally out of our control.

So, who are we then? At the center of us is a space, a silent space that simply watches observes and learns. Go into yourself and you can find this stillness deep inside you.

Now, we want this ‘still’ part of ourselves, the truest part of ourselves to direct our lives, for is that not true freedom? How dare life or circumstances control us? How dare God control us, or indeed tell us how to think, feel or act? We desire freedom.

But what is freedom?

Is freedom about getting whatever we want?

Perhaps we think, if we defeat all our enemies, rise above our humble family backgrounds, show our friends and peers how great we really are, then we are totally free. For only a free man / woman could ever conquer his / her circumstances.

But there are so many events we will never be able to conquer. We will never be able to become the President of Country XYZ (especially if you are born in another country from XYZ). But that barrier has been broken too, and say you become President of XYZ, then you will never be able to simultaneously lead the IMF or the Treasury or any number of institutions that control the President. It is only when you attain a position of power and leadership that you realize how helpless you actually are. You can’t force people to listen to you – you can’t fire everyone under you (for then, you won’t have any supporters left, and we have seen where that has led in the past in the case of certain leaders).

Say you accomplish all of this; you still can’t become President of the World. Even if you accomplish this, you can’t travel and be in 100 places at once – at most you will have to cool your heels in the HQ, issuing commands and doing paperwork, assuming that people live in awe of you. But you will NEVER know. Why? You can’t control people’s thoughts and the way they feel about you, even if you suppress their expression.

You can influence your circumstances, but there is always someone else above, below, or beside you with free will. You can guide the system from one position but not control every point of the system. So, you can’t conquer all your circumstances.

But then, are circumstances merely events? Not all of us are athletes or karate masters who can break down walls. Those are things you really can’t do much about. You can’t control your skin color or race or parents – those are circumstances too. How do you conquer your parents anyway? Replacing them? But if you replaced your parents, you (as you know yourself) would never have been born, and if you hadn’t been born, you would never have felt like deleting your parents and family. Circular logic.

Thus, we are barely capable of getting some of what we want. A lot of what we want goes unfulfilled. Even the richest person in the world has unfulfilled needs – he might want to just enjoy a stroll in the bazaar without getting mugged or kidnapped or photographed, which becomes impossible once people know he is rich and powerful. Getting what you want can destroy your freedom.

Is freedom wanting what you get?

Sometimes we get handed hard lessons – we are forced to go to school and study. We go to school crying and screaming, but ten years later, we are thankful for the experience. We learnt to want what we got. But does that mean if someone abuses us, beats us up, we should want it? Should we go and tell a gangster who is messing around with us to ‘give us more, for that is what I want’? Sure, if you are masochist, but in most cases, wanting what you get is good for some things, and not so good for many other things.

Is freedom following your emotions and choosing things?

Sometimes, we are frustrated and want to give up on learning something new or trying out a new way of life. Sometimes we get too caught up (obsessed) with an activity or person or thing to the exclusion of all else. A parent who is obsessed with a child can end up harming the child’s independence. A husband who is obsessed with his wife can end up driving her to madness and blocking all self-expression (and vice versa for an obsessed wife). A person who is obsessed with doing a job right gets over-attached to the extent he never grows beyond that narrow skillset. Perfection can harm spiritual growth. Choice is good when it helps us try new things, choice is good when it helps us give up things we have grown out of. But choice is not always enough – we do not know when to stop trying or indeed, when to start trying something new.

Triangulating the three forces – True freedom

Who created our choices based on our needs and emotions? Who created our circumstances? Who gets to decide what gifts we receive (talents, body, material possessions) and what we don’t?

Choice Focus: If we think that we only have control over choice, we will suffer by feeling frustrated with our limited gifts and circumstances.

Getting Focus: If we count on life giving us everything (getting), we will suffer because we will stop listening to our emotions and making any kind of choice. We will effectively die inside.

Wanting Focus: If we count on life giving us whatever we want, we may have choice and gifts but no contentment (the getting part). We keep wanting, but the joy of getting comes only when some of our wants are fulfilled. If all our wants are automatically fulfilled, we lose the focus and direction of life – we become too spread out. It is our limitations in getting what we want that give us direction, a compass and at a deeper level, fulfillment. Getting very little of what we want gives us a sense of identity, it helps us define ourselves. Our limitations both shape our lives and give us peace.

If neither wanting, getting or choosing is going to leave us fulfilled, how do we balance the three? The solution is realizing they are three sides of the same triangle:

Once you realize that your freedom has been created by you, through your choices (created by your emotions, which have also been created by you before being born), though your wants (based on your emotions, created by you before you were born) and your luck in getting things (decided before this life began), you achieve true peace. You see others and the world as part of yourself just as you see your emotions as part of yourself.

In this oneness of being, you celebrate your aloneness, for in aloneness, there is no comparison, no competition, no good or bad, just peace and contentment.

Handling my Writer’s Ego – A Deep Introspection to the Truth

Why am I writing this? Does this make me superior, because of my readers?

Are my readers therefore ‘inferior’ because they choose to read?

What gave me the power to write? My education.

What gave me good education? My parents and a supportive environment.

Does this mean I am ‘deserving’ of rewards such as education and a good family? Does this mean that others who are uneducated or don’t come from good families are undeserving, because of the very nature of their birth and early life?

If I start classifying people into ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ based on their education and fortune, do I not become a bigot of sorts? Being a bigot is hard, for it causes division of the soul.

The moment I become a bigot, I will feel happy only as long as my readers read what I write, only as long as I seek out friends who are less educated than I am. The moment I meet someone who is more educated, my ego will become extremely insecure and cause incredible pain. To hide my pain, if I am insecure and also immature, I may lash out at others and make others feel small to hide my own feeling of inferiority.

As long as I am a bigot, I am dependent on feeling superior to my inferiors; and causing pain to those I consider superior to me (to bring them down). Is this a true sign of my education?

Thus, the question should be- how do I not become a bigot? How do I not classify anyone in the world as lower or higher than me, be it on the basis of education, race, caste, creed, color? For being a bigot traps me in a pleasure – pain cycle and I don’t want to feel that pain.

How did I become a bigot? I classified people into categories.

Why did I classify? Because I asked questions about why I was educated, why I am able to write, why I am fortunate, why I have people reading what I write.

So, being happy leads to bigotry? Yes. But feeling sad with what you have also leads to bigotry? Yes – starting the other way round – from feeling inferior to trying to act superior.

So, feeling happy or feeling sad about your life and your position in society can cause suffering? Yes.

But how do I resolve this? Is it so wrong to have emotions? No – emotions are natural. It is okay to like or not like things.

If it is okay to like or not like things, how do I prevent my preferences from blooming into a bigotry and suffering? By coming out of the world itself- the world is a pool – as long as you are immersed, there will always be people floating on your left or right, above or below. Your immersion in the world causes you to know where you are. Because you know where you are, you can choose where to go – your direction. Because you choose a direction, you automatically classify people ahead of you as superior and behind you as inferior.

So, I classify because I want to move? Yes. As long as you want to move, you need to know where you are relative to others. And the moment you think about where you are, you experience emotions of liking or not liking your situation. Your emotions help you move, take action, make changes in your life.

So, if emotions are so necessary, if action is necessary (or I won’t educate myself, eat or have a job), then is bigotry / division/ pain impossible to eliminate? No, it’s not. You can eliminate it by asking a much larger question – why ARE you in the swimming pool of the world? Who put you there?

Who put me here? God? If you start thinking it is God, you will start fearing God, and start praying to him/ her for blessings and salvation. Prayer cannot be driven by fear, for fear itself is suffering.

So, if the truth is something that will not make me fear, what is the truth? You put yourself here. You created yourself, you created the world. You created the people around you. You chose your strengths; you also chose your weaknesses. You chose how rich you want to be, and how much a failure you are. After creating the world, you had to place yourself somewhere. The moment you placed yourself anywhere in the world, even if at the top, you created division and suffering.

So, do you mean I created suffering? Yes.

Am I mad to create my own suffering? Not really. You created suffering accidentally because after creating the world, you forgot that you yourself had created it. Realize this and you will neither fear nor over-idolize anyone. You will realize that everything in the world is equal. The thing that made things unequal is your own presence. By entering the world, you classified people based on the kind of life you manifested.

So, there are two things I created? Yes. The world and your life. The container and the contents.

Why would I choose to forget I created my own world? You can’t remember everything in the limited mind of the human form you have taken. The world can’t be contained in a single human mind, but you can be contained in the world. It is like going to sleep- you pull the blanket up and go to sleep and forget that you are sleeping, until you wake up and find a blanket on top of you.

Why would I do something this silly? Perhaps it is a game. Or as the Hindu scriptures call it, a Leela (game or play).

Why would I want to play such a game by putting myself into a world and forgetting that I created it, and on top of that creating unnecessary suffering for myself? Perhaps you were bored. Perhaps this was the only way you knew how to grow further. Perhaps you are sleeping and when you die, you will realize this entire life was just a dream.

If I am dreaming, where am I sleeping? I surely can’t be sleeping in this world- the real world always exists outside the dream. Yes. You will know the real world only when you wake up, or perhaps when you die.

So, if I commit suicide, will I end this dream? Maybe. Maybe not. If you created this world, you won’t wake up until you are ready. Trust your reasons for creating this world – you can’t remember why you created this world but trust you had a reason.

How can I trust myself when I don’t even know who I am? Well, trust is a bad word I guess, a better word would be faith. Have faith in the reasons behind you creating this world, behind you creating your parents, behind you creating your wife/ husband, behind you creating your friends, behind you creating your college, behind you creating your enemies – yes, you created them all.

So, I should have faith in myself? Yes, faith is trusting in the absence of evidence.

This is blind and stupid – I want evidence before I have faith! That is of course your choice. You see, faith is not a mandate by some fancy religion (by the way you created all of the religions of the world – you created Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism etc.). Faith is a choice – you can choose to have faith or you are perfectly at liberty not to have faith.

What will happen if I do not have faith? Absolutely nothing. You will simply continue suffering because you refuse to see the truth. But apart from that, there is no great damage that is going to happen. Rebel all you want – the world you created is free, you see, you created the concept of freedom too. You created enslavement, you created evil and you also created ethics and morality. You are free to pursue any path and of course face the consequences.

You mean, I am free to rob someone? Sure, if you are okay going to jail – you yourself created the rules of this world before you entered it.

How do you know I created this world? Because the only part of the world you can experience is what you see, hear, smell, feel and touch, not to forget what you experience through your sixth sense/ gut feel. You can only see the world when you are awake, conscious, not sleeping. This blog is being created because you can type, which in turn is because you can see. Close your eyes and the blog will cease to exist, except in your memory.

So, everything exists only when I am seeing, or hearing it? Essentially yes, they exist in your present. But they move into your past the moment you close your eyes. Close your eyes and this blog will become your past, by a few minutes. But the words you are typing now are your present and your present exists.

So, being in the present is proof of me creating the world? In a very twisted way yes.

Will I continue to suffer? If you want to, yes. Suffering is not bad, you know – classifying suffering as bad is also a form of discrimination. Classifying suffering as suffering only creates suffering again due to you dividing/ classifying things again.

So how do I find peace? By remembering you are the creator, whenever you want to.

Understanding Peace

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on

Peace is one of the most difficult needs to explain to another, for people in general do not understand peace. People who do not understand peace, seek refuge in noise – the noise of crowds and relationships. Such people who do not understand others’ need for peace will never understand the concepts of privacy, space and calmness.

Why do unpeaceful people not understand peace? For their souls are filled with suffering and noise. The only way they can drown out their own noise is by clanging objects and people around them. One who has terrific noise within, can only achieve silence by creating a greater noise outside his mind to distract him or her. It is best to never form a relationship with such people, for their noise within will create noise within you as well.

Thus, you realize that the only way to be ‘happy’ is to have peace. Peace is the subtext of all happiness, sorrows, ups and downs of life. We do not desire happiness for that is merely a fleeting high. We do not desire freedom from sadness, for every time you try something, you will either get what you want or not- which will either make you happy or unhappy. This is natural.

Thus, we replace:

Achieving Happiness and Sadness, with

Wanting something, getting it or not getting it,

Accepting what we get, and accepting that we may not get everything,

This acceptance is peace.

Those who aim at happiness or only achievement live a half-life, and never truly accept both sides of the coin above. Their half-life results in deep un-peace. Their un-peace translates into our suffering. The question we need to ask such people is: “Why are you not at peace with the way I live my life?”

Their answer will most likely create more noise and suffering within themselves and within you.

When you try to explain peace, unpeaceful people cannot understand it, for peace cannot be explained, only experienced. Peace only has a negative definition, not a positive one – peace is the absence of noise.

Happiness, on the other hand, has a positive definition – it involves goals to achieve, things to do, places to see, people to meet. But peace underlies the success or failure of these events. If you succeed in finding what you want, you will be happy and at peace. If you fail in achieving what you desire, you will be sad, but very much again at peace.

Peace is the constant beneath it all. Peace is silence. Peace is nothingness. Nothingness can only ever be explained by the absence of ‘things’. The absence of sadness is peace, The absence of happiness is also peace.

Once you pursue peace as your overarching goal, every other aspect of your life falls into place and begins to make sense.

  • You need boundaries to achieve peace
  • You need to give up the concept of right and wrong to achieve peace
  • You need privacy to achieve peace
  • You need truth to achieve peace
  • You need silence to achieve peace
  • You need financial independence, but not necessarily riches, to achieve peace
  • You need contentment to achieve peace
  • You need a spiritual backbone to achieve peace
  • You need emotional intelligence to achieve peace
  • You need to die internally (ego, false self) to achieve peace
  • You need to accept bodily death to achieve living peace
  • You need to accept others’ lives and life paths to achieve peace
  • You need to respect others’ boundaries to achieve peace
  • You need to respect others’ privacy to achieve peace
  • You need to help others achieve peace, if required, to achieve your own peace
  • You need to make peace with the fact that others may never understand you
  • You need to make peace with the fact that others may never find peace
  • You need to make peace with the fact that you may be alone (but not lonely) in your peace
  • You need to make peace with the fact that some relationships may fall away as you seek peace
  • You need to be alert to relationships that can teach you more about peace

In the end, you will find yourself making peace with the last frontier, all forms of noise and un-peace.

We Are Too Afraid To Be Lazy

And too attached to being active

Photo by Zhang Kenny on Unsplash

We seem to be attached to energy levels. We judge others by it. We evaluate partners by the energy they show, our colleagues by how they use it and ourselves by the level we are at.

Active people are shamed when they are lazy

Tell someone you have low energy or you just don’t feel like doing something and you will generate several unfortunate reactions:

  • Parents and partners will immediately ask you if you are well. If you insist you are okay, they escalate their ‘concern’ by checking you all over for symptoms of unknown diseases.
  • Tell your colleagues you need a break and they understand. But sometimes, you might be judged if you actually tell them what you did on break. People may like you to have a personal life, but being too happy when others are loaded with work can create friction.

The definition of health and wellness has become doing what you do continuously every single day, without a break, without feeling bored, without feeling lazy. I propose, ladies and gentlemen, that we are not machines. Even machines break down and we are cool with it. But if humans break down, we overreact.

It is not possible for us to do the same thing every single day in the same way. If this had been so, we would never have gotten fed up of working. We would never have invented machines. We would never have written software programs. We would never have created teams or studied business hierarchies.

Boredom is good. Boredom leads to progress. Boredom shows you what you hate doing. Laziness leads to innovation.

When you become too active

At the other extreme, if we exceed our performance (at running, at work, at home) in any way, and do it consistently for a few days, that becomes our new benchmark. If you were doing 80% earlier, then with a sudden burst of energy you do a 120% for a few weeks, and then drop back to 80%, people start thinking you are sick.

Being too active makes people redefine what your laziness level should be. High energy is not sustainable- it always peaks. When it peaks in children, parents (the unwise ones) label it as hyperactive. When it peaks in adulthood, people feel you have entered the ‘prime’ of life (which doesn’t last anyway).

Returning to your normal level of activity after a peak downgrades others’ evaluation of you. Romantic partners ask why you no longer put in the effort to make them happy (can you ever make another person happy?). Employers feel you were a short lived star in their team. Friends start seeing you as ‘not so fun’ anymore.

A bit of psychology and statistics

It all comes down to the psychology of statistics. And also often ignored math knowledge. Statistics starts with collecting sample data, say blood pressure or heart rate. They then place this data on a spectrum (normal bell curve) and find the following:

  • The average heart beat is 72 beats/ minute for a healthy adult
  • It is around 120 beats/ min for babies
Source: Slideserve, ResearchGate

What it means is:

  • There are many adults with heartbeat above 72 and many with heartbeat less than 72. These adults are not unhealthy, they are different. But society says that since the average has shown up as 72, any deviation should be considered abnormal.
  • But wait, the sample that was taken initially was from healthy adults. So all the healthy adults who did not fall near the average have now been classified as unhealthy.
  • Research often starts with mathematical open-mindedness, and ends with labeling all (healthy) outliers as unhealthy…unless you are a super-intelligent, highly valued celebrity in which case, everything you do is considered beyond normal (and hence normal).

Everyone in the illustration above is considered normal before the analysis, they are classified into normal and not-so-normal after the analysis.

When people know you too well, they become attached to what you are. Any change is considered unhealthy (actually not for you, but for them) and is met with resistance. People expect you to stay lazy or stay active, stay good or stay bad. Being lazy is considered unhealthy (again not because it will make you happier and relaxed, but because it makes others uncomfortable with the change in your pace).

So when people observe you on a daily basis, they develop their own normal bell curves (ex: during initial days of dating, or when a child is 3 years old).

  • They accept kids trying out different things as ‘learning and experimentation’, as long as the child sleeps at the same time every day (even if it is from 5AM to 10 AM). When the child accidentally starts sleeping at night (normally), any deviation is labelled as abnormal and followed up with a phone call to the pediatrician.
  • They accept dating partners doing weird stuff as ‘lovable quirks’ that makes them refreshing. When the same adult tries something new (or stops doing some of those lovable quirks), society labels it as a mid-life crisis.

It is interesting that experimentation for a child is considered equivalent to a crisis for an adult.

It is time we accepted people for the outliers they are. It is time we stopped asking people to be average in the name of stability. We become new people every single minute. When we live in the present, we stop worrying about how much energy we had a week or month ago. We enjoy feeling down, sleepy, bored or sick. We welcome the break it provides.

When we live in the present, we allow ourselves and others to grow (positively and negatively). We experience fewer crises, and learn to experiment more. We stop trying to change ourselves or others and focus on enjoying the best of what we have.

Averaging it out as a Generalist

Finding your path when are (reasonably) good at many things

Images by David Mark, Chuk Yong, Alexandra ❤️A life without animals is not worth living❤️ from Pixabay

I see myself as a generalist, working as a specialist. I find many subjects and ideas interesting but find it challenging to master more than 60–70% of any given area. Can I do better? Sure. Do I want to? Not really, there are other interesting things to pursue.

My social media feed offers me a lot of literature (by educational institutes) on how you need to specialize in one area to survive the next decade. While this is great marketing strategy to attract students for a course or program, it is not the best life practice. If you are good in just one area, say French literature, you may be great at stringing sentences together — but communication needs knowledge and experience to have depth. If you are great at math, you might be able to formulate models and differentiate in your sleep — but if you can’t connect your skill to applications in physics, biology or even sociology, you might be replaced someday by an AI-driven scientific calculator.

The T-shaped skill structure is much touted, but many people are more of Ms or Gs or Zs than Ts. People are not Legos — their building blocks are not the same, and not arranged in the same way. Our approach to learning may need a refresh:

Learning should help us understand our own mind

Our education is centered on providing us knowledge as ‘facts’, be it regarding science, math, sociology, anthropology or sports. We are taught, either in the classroom or the playground, a set of rules that define the subject (or the game). We are then measured on how well we play within those rules (or constraints) to manipulate the world around us. We also have a scorecard that defines a ‘best outcome’. People whose minds and talents are aligned to achieving that outcome are considered at the top of their game, while those whose minds see things differently are graded average or low.

Some of us think in images, some in sound. Some of us think in numbers, others in words. Education should help us understand what our (unique) minds can do and how we can harness our power, not revere the power someone else has displayed. Education requires testing, outcomes and measurement — but this should be balanced by encouraging self-discovery.

Same ingredients, different proportions

Imagine a dish with (for example) 12 ingredients. There are now 12X12 ways of preparing the dish. Each of these successful outcomes is a different mix of the same ingredients- monetary capacity, artistic creativity, logical ability, physical prowess and the like. When you see learning and personal potential as a creative dish to be prepared, you attain the power to maximize potential by creating your own recipe. Every cook may use the same ingredients but in different proportions. There can be no right recipe for learning, just different flavors — as long as what you eventually create is edible by the people you are cooking for.

Expertise helps you stand out, average helps you connect

We seem to have developed a penchant for experts. People with emotional intelligence are not valued unless they are psychologists. People with reasonable sports ability are not valued unless they are coaches or athletes. The issue is life is fluid — it requires us to utilize multiple disciplines everyday. You brush your teeth using toothpaste (chemistry), you select your food at the supermarket (guided by nutrition facts as an amateur nutritionist), negotiate at work (mediation skills), lead teams (management), write persuasive reports (writing skills) and drive home at the end of the day (driving).

Does this mean that you can’t talk to a truck driver about his job since you are not an ‘expert’ on driving? Does it mean you can’t have an opinion on nutrition since you are not a nutritionist? Having opinions is not wrong (and necessary) as it impacts your body and life. We are all generalists — it is sub-productive if we value ourselves for only one of our many skills.

When we rely too much on panels of experts, it can be akin to a group of 10 people standing on 10 towers shouting at each other and unable to hear anything. Any expert needs to be average in someone else’s area of expertise to understand and communicate with them. For that matter, men and women have a bit of both genders inside them — if not, men or women would never be able to communicate with each other.

Average is the fluid that links one expert to another. We are all good in some , average is many and bad in some things. When we get too attached to the good and ignore the average in us, our education, potential and inner power becomes lopsided and crippled. By valuing the good and average within us, we can achieve the sense of balance we need.

From False Wounds to True Healing

How to know if you have healed (enough)

Image by 6155856 from Pixabay

Many people begin healing their pain by seeking wisdom, understanding themselves better, and accepting themselves. But their journey never ends. A person traumatized by an event continues to work on his/her trauma all through life. A depressed person embarks on a never-ending search for the perfect state of non-depression. I find this approach doomed to failure.

Healing is an imperfect process. Healing begins with recognizing our incompleteness and ends when we are comfortable with that incompleteness. Once healed, we continue to remain incomplete. Healing does not remove problems from our life — it merely helps us:

  • Move away from our problems (not everything can be solved)
  • Resolve and change things to a new state (resolve or restart)
Image by Zuckerschneggle from Pixabay, Author’s edits

The reason some people never heal is because they evaluate their healing in a flawed manner.

Healing is not always repair, it can be choosing a more natural state

We are works in progress. As we grow, we leave parts of ourselves behind. When we find that we have ‘lost’ a part of ourselves in healing, we believe we are still unhealed, which can be a mistake.

Children lose milk teeth so they can grow permanent ones. Babies give up soft skin and flexible joints so they can grow sturdy, muscular ones. Having milk teeth or soft joints are not wounds to be healed, they are just different states. Healing does not always mean advancing to a higher version of your previous self, it may just require shifting yourself to a new, more natural state.

Don’t evaluate your healing against someone with a different wound

Everyone is on a different life path with their own challenges. Everyone is working on healing wounds that serve as crutches they need to shake off. It does not make sense to compare yourself, a person struggling with math, to a person who is natural at math and struggles with poor communication. You might be a financially poor person with a healthy life- it would be incorrect to compare yourself to a rich person who relies on drugs and caffeine to work 20 hours a day. Since there is no one out there with the exact wounds you have, comparison doesn’t help.

Wounds are to be judged by your perception, not others’

Let me give an unusual example- many decades back, there was an influx of literature on abuse in the media. Upon reading this, many men and women re-evaluated their childhoods and accused their parents of childhood abuse. When they had been children, they had never felt it as abuse (they had accepted it as normal), but when they grew up, they evaluated their own childhoods through others’ eyes and ‘discovered’ wounds that they ‘should have suffered from’. As present day adults, they were well-settled, but in the process of educating themselves, they decided to feel wounded.

Move towards self-awareness, but beware of self-delusion. Education should help you evaluate your life through your eyes, not through others’.

True wounds exist in the present, false wounds exist in the past

Going back to the example above, the adults in the story were happy and settled. If they had suffered trauma, it would have been justified to revisit past wounds. However, as happy adults, the only reason they revisited their past was to validate their education and new self-awareness. This is a perfect example of ‘the idle mind becoming a devil’s workshop’. Since they had no specific problems in their life, they could not use their education to solve genuine problems. So they used their new-found knowledge to find ‘false’ problems to solve, creating a lot of suffering for themselves and others.

Others can project their wounds onto you

A good example of this is seen among over-cautious parents. A child who got bored in class 20 years ago got a scolding and a lecture. After around say, 4–5 years, the child actually found something he/she was interested in and did well at school.

Today, ‘educated’ parents rush their children to therapy, where they are diagnosed quickly with ADHD and given enough drugs to kill an elephant. The drugs don’t actually improve the kid, they shut down the ‘boredom-inducing system’ and also what remains of the child’s creativity. People are afraid to leave kids to their own devices any more, these kids are treated with their parents’ devices.

Bringing up children is partly a waiting game — the child has to grow at its own pace. When parents become impatient, they encounter fear and anxiety. When their child doesn’t grow fast enough to soothe their fears, they project it onto their children and label their kids as disabled.

We see this in relationships and marriages too. It was natural for people to be different a few years ago, it was natural for couples to fight. One partner usually became a more flexible partner, and the other a less-flexible directional one (irrespective of gender). This flexibility differed by area based on each partner’s strengths. Today, with both partners being told that they need to agree or divide everything perfectly, they ‘project’ wounds of relationship abuse onto each other. They rush to pre-marital and post-marriage therapy.

A bully at high school tripping you down the corridor is a high school grudge, it need not become post-traumatic stress syndrome. Being bored with grammar does not mean ADHD, it might mean you need to take a creative writing class. Fighting all the time does not mean your partner is abusing you, it might just mean you are incompatible. A new mother wanting to be alone with her baby might mean just that, not post-partum depression.

I am not commenting here on the validity or seriousness of psychological disorders. But psychology is becoming a bit like selling soap. You might need to bathe just once a day, but by showing you ads where microbes keep crawling all over your skin each time you shake hands or kiss, you are trained to use and buy more soap…or mouthwash. By constantly showing you examples of how you are doomed to unhappiness unless every single thing in your life is perfect, you are urged towards finding new problems and more therapy. With healing becoming a business, wounds become reduced to ‘creating a need in the market’.

If we don’t learn to be patient with ourselves and others, we shall continue to discover new wounds. As long as we search for proof that we have (completely) healed, we shall never heal. A healed person is not complete, he/she has discarded those wounds that serve them no more, and chosen the wounds that he/she can handle. Once you can handle a part of yourself, it ceases to be a wound.

When you rely on someone outside you — it might be your friends, a role-model, your parents, your spouse…anyone, to understand why you are flawed, you create false wounds. These false wounds can never be healed because they aren’t your wounds, they belong to someone else. True wounds are found through introspection, not through comparison.

Emotions are natural — both the ups and downs. The moment you divide emotions into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, you create wounds. The only way to be constantly, everlastingly happy is keep yourself pumped up through drugs and alcohol or by going insane. For everyone else, it is normal for emotions to go through a down cycle to help the body recharge. This down cycle is not a wound — it is how we remain physiologically and mentally stable.

It is okay to be happy and unwounded. Others’ discomfort with who we are does not mean we are flawed or wounded. We need to judge our happiness and pain by our own standards, not those of society. We will find your deepest joy when we see pain and obstacles as challenges to help us grow, not as wounds that need constant healing.

This article is related to my earlier post:

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