GRATEFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITY
A woman once went to Buddha and said:
“I want Happiness“. Buddha replied: “First remove the ‘I’ - that is ego. Then remove ‘want’ - that is desire.
See now, you are left only with ‘Happiness’.“
I am realizing that it really can be as simple as that.and in this newsletter, I will share with you my on-going journey and 5 learnings. Also, a quote from Mother Teresa and a very inspiring children’s story from a close friend. :-)
1. With my four children I always believed that it is not what we do for our children but what we teach them to do for themselves that makes them successful Human beings. Now I am also realising that when we have children, the love we have for the children is unlike any other feeling in the world and unless we have children, we don’t know what it feels like. But as children grow up and start to become teenagers, sometimes we come to crossroads. It is then that we realize how much we love them unconditionally or just love them to fit our own image. Do we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them or are we capable of unconditionally accepting them as they are, even when they are very different from what we thought they would be?
In my case, being completely empathetic and understanding needed a lot of work: work on myself. Changing myself, the way I look at and see things was not easy at all at the beginning, but with time and practice it seems to be getting better. It is very interesting to see how much love and kindness there can be when things apparently seem to go wrong.
It is work in progress but I am not stressed. I am realising that Stress is nothing but the gap between expectation and reality. The bigger the gap, the greater the stress. I am slowly learning to accept everything and expect very little or nothing and as a result I am happier every day and so are my children. The love between us has grown and there is a lot more Compassion, Patience & Kindness. I am grateful for the opportunity to be on this beautiful journey.
As the famous Sufi poet Rumi said:
“Yesterday, I was clever and I wanted to change the world. Today, I am wiser and I want to change myself.”
In India we say: “You really start to learn when you have children.” I have learnt a lot from my children. Today, I will share with you one of those lessons. About eight years ago, I was in India with my older son Virat and we went shopping to a vegetable market. He was about 9 years old then and may not remember, but I do. I was negotiating with a lady vegetable seller at the roadside market and her one year old son was playing around in the mud behind her stand. Suddenly, from behind, my son tapped me on my shoulder & said: “Daddy she needs the money more than you, please don’t negotiate.” I gave her the money, but those words still ring in my ears, even now whenever I am deciding on sending funds to projects in Africa or India. Today, my personal belongings, besides my books, can probably fit into one suitcase. Thank you Virat!
2. As I continue on my journey to change myself and slowly but surely work on my Ego, I am realizing that I will always get what I need – not necessarily what I want. I can give up trying to control everything. I am learning to slow down and that it is better to STOP, LOOK & GO – just like at a Zebra crossing. So I try to STOP, get quieter, think, and then LOOK by consciously opening all my senses and having an open heart and mind each time before I GO.
Here is something I find very inspiring what helps me to continue my journey:
“People are often unreasonable and selfcentered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you are happy, people may be jealous. Be Happy anyway.The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end it is between you and god. It was never between you and them anyway.”
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
3. I am realising that it is the difficulties and the failures that have always given me the opportunity to learn and grow. Difficulties are now opportunities for me to rise, to learn from and grow. So when I see a difficulty or experience a failure I now say: “Hurrah! What an opportunity to grow.”
4. Very often when I talk about giving up the ego or practicing gratitude or compassion, I get asked the question about my religion. I was born a Hindu, but I follow no religion in particular, except Humanity and my response is always: It is not about the religion. Religion is but a means.
Buddha was not a Buddhist,
Jesus was not a Christian,
Mohammad was not a Muslim,
they were teachers who taught LOVE and KINDNESS. KINDNESS & LOVE was their religion, so irrespective of our religions we can practice Humanity, Compassion, Kindness, Gratitude and LOVE at all times.
This actually reminds me of a story that a close friend with younger children, same age as mine, told me. A story she had read to her children in New Zea-land. “Starfish and the little girl”. A little girl and her parents were walking down a beach when suddenly they saw a large number of starfish stuck on the beach – still alive but dying slowly. The little girl suddenly started picking one star-fish at a time and throwing it in the sea. The parents told her that they were too many and that she would not be able to save them all. Then the little girl replied: “I will not save them all but this one I will save,” as she threw one into the sea, “and this one, and this one, and this one…” And so she did, one at a time the lives of many starfish although she could not save all of them.
5. I now understand that it is our Ego that wants us to try to change the whole world but we forget that if we change ourselves, the difference we can make to one person at a time, just by being kinder or empathetic or compassionate or loving, can mean a lot. We may be just another person to the whole world, but to some people, we may become the whole world.
Somehow what I learnt from Virat, he knew without learning because children are compassionate and kind and loving. We all are, till we start to grow up and learn all those things which are not second nature to us. Maybe, it is us adults who need to unlearn what we have learnt and simply start learning again from our children so that we can also be kind and loving towards others at all times. There are opportunities in every single moment of every day, and I am grateful and Happy for them. :-)