These are a few of my favorite things:#4 (Ferdinand, the Bull, by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson)

Ferdinand, the gentle, peace loving & content Bull is everyone’s favorite. Though the story is meant for children, Ferdidand is equally loved by adults. To me Ferdinand’s story is about embracing your true nature rather than succumbing to the pressure of society . If you are a bull but like to smell flowers rather than fight then there is no good reason that you should fight. I discovered this book n video only a couple of days back but wish I had known it in my growing up years when I had a little tough time being comfortable with my introversion & solitude loving nature. You were supposed to love meeting new people, making loads of friends & enjoy partying. I would rather read books & daydream. Eventually I learned that my choices were as valid  if not more valid than the more popular choices of the day. Today I don’t feel the pressure to be a super-woman. Like Ferdinand I’d rather be smelling flowers & enjoying afternoon naps.

January 19, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Book Review, Books, English Movies, I-Me-Myself, Must Watch Movies, My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Teaching Stories. Leave a comment.

Quitting the Rat Race #7: Lessons from the Mexican Fisherman

Perhaps everyone has heard the story of the Mexican Fisherman. The Mexican Fisherman is the hero of the people who are out of rat race.

The American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?” The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senior.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senior, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, senior?”

The American laughed and said that’s the best part. “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions, senior? Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

The Mexican Fisherman represents the spirit & essence of people who have quit the Rat Race. While other people are  like the American Businessman who is busy acquiring money & things & is planning to rest & relax later, a day which might come or not come. The Mexican Fisherman is happy in the present, the American Businessman is chasing happiness in the elusive future.

 “Man…sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” ~The Dalai Lama (when asked what surprises him the most about humanity)

October 7, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Consumerism, Happiness, Hmm..., Humor, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Quitting the Rat Race, Reflections/Musings, Simplicity, Slacker-Sutras, Slacking, Teaching Stories, Wisdom. 7 comments.

Diogenes the Eccentric Philosopher

Diogenes. Öl auf Leinwand, 74.5 x 101 cm. The ...

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Diogenes of Sinope was a cynic philosopher. Cynic philosophy was a great influence on the development of Stoic Philosophy. He was a student Antisthenes  who was a student of Socrates. The word cynic is derived from the Greek word which means dog like.

Diogenes believed human beings live artificially and hypocritically and would do well to study the dog. Besides performing natural bodily functions in public without unease, a dog will eat anything, and make no fuss about where to sleep. Dogs live in the present without anxiety, and have no use for the pretensions of abstract philosophy. In addition to these virtues, dogs are thought to know instinctively who is friend and who is foe. Unlike human beings who either dupe others or are duped, dogs will give an honest bark at the truth.

“I am Diogenes the Dog. I nuzzle the kind, bark at the greedy and bite scoundrels.”

 He believed that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory. He used his lifestyle and behavior to criticize the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt society.

Diogenes made a virtue of poverty. He begged for a living and slept in a tub in the marketplace (Some versions say he used to live in a wine barrel).This attitude was grounded in a disdain for what he regarded as the folly, pretense, vanity, self-deception, and artificiality of human conduct.

Practical good was the chief aim of his philosophy; and he did not conceal his disdain for literature and the fine arts. He laughed at men of letters for reading the sufferings of Odysseus while neglecting their own, and at orators who studied how to enforce truth but not how to practice it.

Diogenes shared Socrates’ belief that he could function as doctor to men’s souls and improve them morally.

Diogenes taught by living example. He tried to demonstrate that wisdom and happiness belong to the man who is independent of society and that civilization is regressive. He scorned not only family and political social organization, but property rights and reputation. He even rejected normal ideas about human decency. Diogenes is said to have eaten in the marketplace, urinated on some people who insulted him, defecated in the theatre, masturbated in public, and pointed at people with his middle finger.

When asked how he wished to be buried, he left instructions to be thrown outside the city wall so wild animals could feast on his body. When asked if he minded this, he said, “Not at all, as long as you provide me with a stick to chase the creatures away!” When asked how he could use the stick since he would lack awareness, he replied “If I lack awareness, then why should I care what happens to me when I am dead?”At the end, Diogenes made fun of people’s excessive concern with the “proper” treatment of the dead.

There are many humorous incidents from Diogenes life. In fact since none of his writings have survived we know of his philosophy through anecdotes from his life.

~Diogenes was particularly upset by extravagant and lavish interior decorations, and at one rich man’s house, on finding himself surrounded by expensive carpets and sumptuous cushions, Diogenes spat in the owner’s face, and then wiped it with his rough cloak and apologized, saying it was the only dirty place in the room he could find to spit.

~When Lysias the druggist asked him if he believed in the gods,” How can I help believing in them,” said he, “when I see a god-forsaken wretch like you?”

~He was asking alms of a bad-tempered man, who said, “Yes, if you can persuade me.” “If I could have persuaded you,” said Diogenes, “I would have persuaded you to hang yourself.”

~The question was put to Diogenes, what hope is; and his answer was, “The dream of a waking man.”

~To a man whose shoes were being put on by his servant, Diogenes said, “You have not attained to full felicity, unless he wipes your nose as well; and that will come, when you have lost the use of your hands.”

~”It’s my fate to steal,” pleaded the man who had been caught red-handed by Diogenes.

“Then it is also your fate to be beaten,” said Diogenes, hitting him across the head with his staff. (also attributed to Zeno)

~A heckler in the crowd shouted out, “My mind is not made like that, I can’t be bothered with philosophy.”

“Why do you bother to live,” Diogenes retorted, “if you can’t be bothered to live properly?”

~In the midst of serious discourse in the Craneum, Diogenes realised no one was listening. So he instead began to whistle and dance about to attract attention. Immediately, people flocked round him. Diogenes stopped and said, “You idiots, you are not interested to stop and pay attention to wisdom, yet you rush up to observe a foolish display.”

“Discourse on virtue and they pass by in droves. Whistle and dance the shimmy, and you’ve got an audience.”

~A philosopher named Aristippus, who had quite willingly sucked up to Dionysus and won himself a spot at his court, saw Diogenes cooking lentils for a meal. “If you would only learn to compliment Dionysus, you wouldn’t have to live on lentils.”Diogenes replied, “But if you would only learn to live on lentils, you wouldn’t have to flatter Dionysus.”

But perhaps the most famous incident from his life is when Alexander comes to meet him:

When Alexander the Great was coming to India he met one great man, Diogenes. In their dialogue there is one point which is relevant. Diogenes asked him, “What are you going to do after you have conquered the whole world?”

Alexander said, “After I have conquered the whole world, I am going to relax, just like you.”

 Diogenes was having a sunbath, naked. He lived naked, by the side of a river, and he was lying in the sand enjoying the morning sun and the cool breeze.

Diogenes laughed and he said, “If after conquering the whole world you are just going to relax like me, why not relax right now? Is conquering the whole world a precondition for relaxation? I have not conquered the whole world.”

Alexander felt embarrassed because what he was saying was right. Then Diogenes said, “Why are you wasting your life in conquering the world — only to relax, finally, just like me. This bank of the river is big enough, you can come, your friends can come. It is miles long and the forest is beautiful. And I don’t possess anything. If you like the place where I am lying down, I can change!”

 Alexander said, “Perhaps you are right, but first I have to conquer the world.”

 Diogenes said, “It is up to you. But remember one thing: have you ever thought that there is no other world? Once you have conquered this world, you will be in difficulty.”

It is said that Alexander became immediately sad. He said, “I have never thought about it. It makes me feel very sad that I am so close to conquering the world … and I am only thirty-three, and there is no other world to conquer.”

Diogenes said, “But you were thinking to relax. If there was another world, I think first you would conquer that and then relax. You will never relax because you don’t understand a simple thing about relaxation — it’s either now or never. If you understand it, lie down, throw these clothes in the river.

 If you don’t understand, forget about relaxation. And what is the point in conquering the world? What are you going to gain by it? Except losing your life, you are not going to gain anything.”

Alexander said, “I would like to see you again when I come back. Right now I have to go, but I would have loved to sit and listen to you. I have always thought of meeting you — I have heard so many stories about you. But I have never met such a beautiful and impressive man as you. Can I do anything for you? Just a word, a hint from you, and it will be done.”

Diogenes said, “If you can just stand a little to the side, because you are preventing the sun. That will be enough gratitude — and I will remain thankful for my whole life.”


 

 

 

September 14, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Greek Philosophers, Happiness, Humor, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Philosophy, Quitting the Rat Race, Simplicity, Teaching Stories, Wisdom. 3 comments.

Why walking the talk is not as easy as waxing eloquent on deep Philosophies

For the last few days I’ve been focusing on learning wisdom from the wise Greek philosopherEpictetus, today I wrote a post on how to react (or how not to react) to insults, I received quite a positive feedback on the post & was pleased as punch with myself on having such deep thoughts. Among other things I said ‘we should not let people push our buttons, if they shout, let them, we should not shout back, etc etc…but come evening my hubby got mad at me over something trifle & spoke a little sharply to me, & the next moment I found myself paying his rudeness back in kind, I yelled for 2 mins & then suddenly recalled the wisdom from Epictetus, Buddha & Osho. I suddenly stopped in my tracks…this reminded me of a humorous story I had read sometime ago:

Su Dongpo , a famous Chinese poet, wrote the following poem to describe a state he had experienced in meditation:

I bow to the god among gods;
His hair-light illuminates the world.
Unmoved when the Eight Winds blow,
Upright I sit in a purple-golden lotus.

(The “eight winds ” in the poem referred to praise & ridicule, honor & disgrace, gain & loss, and pleasure & misery  – interpersonal forces of the material world that drive and influence the hearts of men. .

“He sent the poem to the Great Master Foyin , and the Master’s reply was two words: ‘Fart, fart.’ As soon as Su Dongpo saw the Great Master Foyin’s criticism, he couldn’t get it out of his mind, and he rushed across the Yangtze—he lived on the south side of the river and Great Master Foyin lived on the north side—to find the Master and scold him. He wanted to tell the Master that he had written an enlightened poem, and so how could the Master possibly have replied, ‘Fart, fart?’

“In fact, when Great Master Foyin criticized him, not only did Su Dongpo fart, he blazed forth and wanted to scorch Foyin to death. And so he rushed across the river and burst unannounced into the Master’s quarters and shouted, ‘How could you possibly scold someone and slander him that way by writing “fart, fart”?’

“Foyin replied, ‘Who was I slandering? You said that you were unmoved by the Eight Winds, but just by letting out two small farts I’ve blown you all the way across the Yangtze. And you still say that the Eight Winds don’t move you? You don’t have to talk about eight winds; just my two farts bounced you all the way up here.’

“Then Su Dongpo thought, ‘That’s right. I said that I’m unmoved by the Eight Winds, but two words have been enough to make me burn with anger.’ Realizing that he still didn’t have what it takes, he bowed to the Master and repented.

So while I was basking in my philosophical glory for last few days, a little thing disturbed me…but does that mean that we should simply stop trying to aim for serenity, naah that is not the case.

“Have you ever watched a stonecutter at work? He will hammer away at a rock for perhaps a 100 times without a crack showing in it. Then, on the 101st blow, it will split in two. It is not that blow alone which accomplished the result, but the 100 others that went before as well.”

So we should keep on trying & one day slowly but surely we’ll break our rocks & walk our talk.

September 13, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Buddhism, Humor, Inspiration, Parables, Philosophy, Reflections/Musings, Teaching Stories, Wisdom. 1 comment.

Finding Happiness the Epictetus Way #6

Epictetus on dealing with insults:

‘It is not he who reviles or strikes you who insults you, but your opinion that these things are insulting’

‘If evil be spoken of you and it be true, correct yourself, if it be a lie, laugh at it.’

If anyone tells you that such a person speaks ill of you, don’t make excuses about what is said of you, but answer: ” He does not know my other faults, else he would not have mentioned only these.”

My commentary: 

Eleanor Roosevelt has said that no one can make us feel inferior without our consent. It takes two people to insult, one to give & one to receive it, so if we simply refuse to get insulted no one can insult us even though they might say bad things about us. There’s a beautiful incident from Buddha‘s life which goes like this (As narrated by Osho):

Buddha was passing through a village. The people of that village were against him, against his philosophy, so they gathered around him to insult him. They used ugly words, vulgar words. Buddha listened. Ananda, Buddha’s disciple who was with him, got very angry, but he couldn’t say anything because Buddha was listening so silently, so patiently, rather as if he was enjoying the whole thing.

Then even the crowd became a little frustrated because he was not getting irritated and it seemed he was enjoying. Buddha said, ”Now, if you are finished, I should move – because I have to reach the other village soon. They must be waiting just as you were waiting for me. If you have not told me all the things that you thought to tell me, I will be coming back within a few days, then you can finish it.”

Somebody from the crowd said, ”But we have been insulting you, we have insulted you. Won’t you react? Won’t you say something?” 

Buddha said, ”That is difficult. If you want reaction from me, then you are too late. You should have come at least ten years ago, because then I used to react. But I am now no longer so foolish. I see that you are angry, that’s why you are insulting me. I see your anger, the fire burning in your mind. I feel compassion for you. This is my response – I feel compassion for you. Unnecessarily you are troubled.

”Even if I am wrong, why should you get so irritated? That is not your business. If I am wrong I am going to hell, you will not go with me. If I am wrong I will suffer for it, you will not suffer for it. But it seems you love me so much and you think about me and consider me so much that you are so angry, irritated. You have left your work in the fields and you have come just to say a few things to me. I am thankful.”

Just when he was leaving he said, ”One thing more I would like to say to you. In the other village I left behind, a great crowd just like you had come there and they had brought many sweets just as a present for me, a gift from the village. But I told them that I don’t take sweets. They took the sweets back. I ask you, what will they do with those sweets?”

So somebody from the crowd said, ”What will they do? It is easy, there is no need to answer. They will distribute them in the village and they will enjoy.”

So Buddha said, ”Now what will you do? You have brought only insults and I say I don’t take them. What will you do? I feel so sorry for you. You can insult me, that is up to you. But I don’t take it, that is up to me – whether I take it or not.” Buddha said, ”I don’t take unnecessary things, useless things. I don’t get unnecessarily burdened. I feel compassion for you.”

Osho says if we react to insults, it’s like we have given the remote control of our happiness to other people, they can agitate us whenever they want.

‘Watch how many things you do unconsciously. Somebody says something and there is anger. There is not even a single moment’s gap. It is as if you are just a mechanism — somebody pushes a button and you lose your temper. Just as if you push the button and the fan starts moving and the light goes on. There is not a. single moment. The fan never thinks whether to move or not to move; it simple moves.
This is unconsciousness, this is mindlessness. Somebody insults and you are simply controlled by his insult.”

So if someone says something bad about it, we should think that it’s got nothing to do with us, but everything to do with their own nature. Let them behave according to their nature & let us behave according to our nature.

Two monks were washing their bowls in the river when they noticed a scorpion that was drowning. One monk immediately scooped it up and set it upon the bank. In the process he was stung. He went back to washing his bowl and again the scorpion fell in. The monk saved the scorpion and was again stung. The other monk asked him, “Friend, why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know it’s nature is to sting?”

“Because,” the monk replied, “to save it is my nature.” 

The Best way to deal with an insult is not trying to top it up & insulting the person who insulted us in retaliation, the best way is to ignore it & go our way.

Finally it should be understood that people are bound to say one thing or another no matter what we try to do, so it’s wise to use our common sense & do what we deem the best in a given situation rather than twisting & turning trying to please them. Let them insult us but let us not make fools of ourselves in reaction to those insults. This story from Aesop’s Fables demonstrates this point wonderfully:

The Man, the Boy and the Donkey

Once a man and his son were walking to the market with their donkey. A countryman noticed that the donkey was walking alongside them and laughed, “You fools, what is a donkey for but to ride upon?!”

So the man decided to put his son on the donkey and they went on their way. A little while later they passed a group of men. One of them said, “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

The man then ordered the boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women. One of them said to the other, “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”

The man didn’t know what to do at first. He thought and thought and finally decided to put his son up in front of him on the donkey.

Soon they reached the town. There too the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The man stopped and asked them what they were scoffing at. The people said, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey?”

The man and the boy got off. They had to think of what to do all over again. At last they had an idea. They took a long pole and tied the donkey’s feet to it. Then they raised the pole to their shoulders and carried the donkey upside down.

They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to the market bridge. The donkey accidentally got one of his feet loose and kicking out, caused the boy to drop his end of the pole.

In the struggle that followed, the poor donkey, with his forelegs tied together, fell over the bridge and drowned.

September 13, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Buddha, Buddhism, Greek Philosophers, Happiness, Inspiration, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Osho, Parables, Philosophy, Reflections/Musings, Teaching Stories, Wisdom. 12 comments.

Finding Happiness the Epictetus Way #5

Epictetus, (Artist's Impression), 1st/2nd cent...

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EpictetusStoic philosophy is not concerned with the usual complicated subject matter of philosophy, such as Ontology & Physics but it concerns itself with ways to make life easier & happier for an average person. Perhaps that is the reson for it’s appeal even today.

Today’s Maxim:

If you want to improve, reject such reasonings as these: “If I neglect my affairs, I’ll have no income; if I don’t correct my servant, he will be bad.” For it is better to die with hunger, exempt from grief and fear, than to live in affluence with perturbation; and it is better your servant should be bad, than you unhappy.

Begin therefore from little things. Is a little oil spilt? A little wine stolen? Say to yourself, “This is the price paid for apathy, for tranquility, and nothing is to be had for nothing.” When you call your servant, it is possible that he may not come; or, if he does, he may not do what you want. But he is by no means of such importance that it should be in his power to give you any disturbance.

My commentary:

Worrying is the most futile of our mind’s activities, because it achieves nothing. There’s a very apt poster which says that there are only two times you should not worry: When you can do something about the problem & when you can’t do anything about a problem.

“I vow to let go of all worries and anxiety in order to be light and free.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

Worry never robs tomorrow of it’s sorrow. It only saps today of it’s joy.” –Leo Buscaglia

“Practice being content, your world will become worry free.” (Still Thoughts-Jing Si Aphorism)

Mark Twain said it well when he quipped: “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

if there’s something you can do about the situation, why worry. If there’s nothing you can do about it, why worry!”

You may remember the A.A. Milne stories of Winnie-the-Pooh and Pooh’s friend Piglet. Piglet was an inveterate worrier: “Supposing that…?” “What if…?” “Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?” We are told that, after careful thought, Piglet was comforted by Pooh’s reply of “Supposing it didn’t?”  I can’t resist mentioning another favourite reference from the same books, this time from Eeyore: “It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily. “So it is.” “And freezing.” “Is it?” “Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.” (http://www.legalsecretaryjournal.com )

There’s a Buddhist/Zen story that illustrates how Human mind is accustomed to seeing only the bad situation instead of focusing on the good that is there:

There was once an old lady who worried all the time. Her elder daughter was married to an umbrella merchant while the younger daughter was the wife of a noodle vendor. On sunny days, she worried, “Oh no! The weather is so nice and sunny. No one is going to buy any umbrellas. What will happen if the shop has to be closed?” These worries made her sad. She just could not help but cry. When it rained, she would cry for the younger daughter. She thought, “Oh no! My younger daughter is married to a noodle vendor. You cannot dry noodles without the sun. Now there will be no noodles to sell. What should we do?” As a result, the old lady lived in sorrow everyday. Whether sunny or rainy, she grieved for one of her daughters. Her neighbors could not console her and jokingly called her “the crying lady.”

One day, she met a monk. He was very curious as to why she was always crying. She explained the problem to him. The monk smiled kindly and said, “Madam! You need not worry. I will show you a way to happiness, and you will need to grieve no more.”

The crying lady was very excited. She immediately asked the monk to show her what to do. The master replied, “It is very simple. You just need to change your perspective. On sunny days, do not think of your elder daughter not being able to sell umbrellas but the younger daughter being able to dry her noodles. With such good strong sunlight, she must be able to make plenty of noodles and her business must be very good. When it rains, think about the umbrella store of the elder daughter. With the rain, everyone must be buying umbrellas. She will sell a lot of umbrellas and her store will prosper.”

The old lady saw the light. She followed the monk’s instruction. After a while, she did not cry anymore; instead, she was smiling every day. From that day on she was known as “the smiling lady.”

Ajan Brahm says ‘The possibilities for the future are infinite. When we focus on the unfortunate possibilities, that’s called worry. When we remember the other possibilities, which are usually more likely, that’s called freedom from worry.’

There’s this cute song by Bob Marley ‘Don’t worry About a thing’ & Connie Talbot’s rendition :

 

September 12, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Buddhism, Greek Philosophers, Happiness, Inspiration, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Parables, Teaching Stories, Uncategorized, Wisdom. 4 comments.

Finding Happiness The Epictetus Way #4

Epictetus

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Epictetus was born into slavery about A.D. 55 in the eastern outreaches of the Roman Empire. Sold as a child and crippled from the beatings of his master, Epictetus was eventually freed, rising from his humble roots to establish an influential school of Stoic philosophy. Stressing that human beings cannot control life, only how they respond to it, Epictetus dedicated his life to outlining the simple way to happiness, fulfillment, and tranquility. By putting into practice the ninety-three witty, wise, and razor-sharp instructions that make up The Enchiridion, readers learn to successfully meet the challenges of everyday life and face life’s inevitable losses and disappointments with grace.

Epictetus’s teachings rank among the greatest wisdom texts of human civilization. The Enchiridion is still the best primer for living the best possible life — as helpful in the twenty-first century as it was in the first.

In every post I’m focusing on one Maxim from Enchiridion to understand it more fully & holistically.

Today’s Maxim: ‘Don’t seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen.’

Commentary: Many times we wish that life should go only as we want, all our wishes & dreams should be fulfilled instantly. We want instant gratification. And then if we meet some circumstances that are not as per our expectations then we get frustrated, disappointed & depressed.

Byron Katie, author of the book ‘Loving What is’, is a champion of accepting Reality as it is without interfering/judging/demanding. This is the key to peace of mind.

She says:

Reality doesn’t wait for your opinion, vote, or permission, sweetheart. It just keeps being what it is and doing what it does.

Reality doesn’t ever wait for our agreement or approval. It is what it is. You can count on that.

Nothing ever goes wrong in life.

Nothing terrible has ever happened except in our thinking. Reality is always good, even in situations that seem like nightmares. The story we tell is the only nightmare that we have lived.

Without the “should” and “shouldn’t,” we can see reality as it is, and this leaves us free to act efficiently, clearly, and sanely. Asking “What’s the reality of it?” can help bring the mind out of its story, back into the real world.

All I have is all I need and all I need is all I have in this moment.

When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.

If you want reality to be different than what it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark.

Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it… it’s just easier if you do.”

I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.

Nothing comes ahead of its time, and nothing ever happened that didn’t need to happen.

When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.

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It’s true that whatever life brings us, whatever happens to us for the best. An old Akbar Birbal Tale come to my mind:

Once Akbar the mughal emperor and Birbal, his minister were having a chat. While cutting a fruit, Akbar cut his finger slightly and was upset about it. Birbal said “Jahapana, whatever happens is for your good. Do not worry”. This irked Akbar and he wanted to score it even with Birbal. He takes him for hunting trip at the end of the day they are tired. Akbar asks Birbal to get down into an abandoned well and fetch water. After Birbal got down, Akbar pulled the rope up, said, “Birbal stay there, what ever happens is for your own good”, and left him there. Wandering in the Jungle, Akbar lost his way back and was captured by the Tribes, who decided to offer him as a sacrifice to Goddess Kali. Just before chopping his head off, one of them sees the cut on his finger, asserted that he was not perfect, and hence cannot be offered as “Bali” and they released him. Akbar realized Birbal’s words and repented for leaving him in the well and went back to get him. When Akbar explains what happened and apologizes to Birbal for his act, Birbal says “Jahapana, good that you left me, else they would have killed and offered me to kali instead of you”.

It’s a story, still the moral is priceless. We all know that thinking positively through tough times is not easy. It’s hard to practice, easier said than done. Nevertheless, they are great support under difficult circumstances. 

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This is the Message of Bhagvat Geeta too:

Whatever happened, happened for the good; whatever is happening, is happening for the good; whatever will happen, will also happen for the good only. You need not have any regrets for the past. You need not worry for the future. The present is happening as it should.

September 10, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Books, Greek Philosophers, Happiness, Inspiration, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Philosophy, Quotations, Reflections/Musings, Teaching Stories, Wisdom. 6 comments.

Finding Happiness the Epictetus way #2

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Image by Eka Wangsa via Flickr

After laying emphasis on focusing our attention to ‘things under our control’ & giving up struggling on ‘things outside our control’, the next thing Epictetus deals with in Enchiridion  are the concepts of ‘impermanence’ & ‘clinging‘.

He says “With regard to whatever objects give you delight, are useful, or are deeply loved, remember to tell yourself of what general nature they are, beginning from the most insignificant things. If, for example, you are fond of a specific ceramic cup, remind yourself that it is only ceramic cups in general of which you are fond. Then, if it breaks, you will not be disturbed. If you kiss your child, or your wife, say that you only kiss things which are human, and thus you will not be disturbed if either of them dies.”

“Never say of anything, “I have lost it”; but, “I have returned it.” Is your child dead? It is returned. Is your wife dead? She is returned. Is your estate taken away? Well, and is not that likewise returned? “But he who took it away is a bad man.” What difference is it to you who the giver assigns to take it back? While he gives it to you to possess, take care of it; but don’t view it as your own, just as travelers view a hotel.

“If you wish your children, and your wife, and your friends to live for ever, you are stupid; for you wish to be in control of things which you cannot, you wish for things that belong to others to be your own. So likewise, if you wish your servant to be without fault, you are a fool; for you wish vice not to be vice,” but something else. But, if you wish to have your desires undisappointed, this is in your own control. Exercise, therefore, what is in your control. He is the master of every other person who is able to confer or remove whatever that person wishes either to have or to avoid. Whoever, then, would be free, let him wish nothing, let him decline nothing, which depends on others else he must necessarily be a slave. “

Further Analysis:

Buddhism also stresses on the importance of understanding ‘impermanence’ and ‘attachment’ to attain Equanimity & Peace of mind.

Buddha said “Whatever is subject to oirigination is subject to destruction”  Impermanence is a fact of life. He said that suffering is not inherent in the world of impermanence; suffering arises when we cling. When clinging disappears, impermanence no longer gives rise to suffering. The solution to suffering, then, is to end clinging, not to try to escape from the transient world.

It is possible to find ease and grace in the world of change; it is possible to trust the mind of non-clinging and so find our liberation within the world of impermanence. One means of reducing clinging is to see the transient nature of what we cling to. This insight can either show us the futility of trying to find lasting happiness in what is impermanent, or it can encourage us to examine deeply why we cling.

 There is a very interesting story by Ghou Zeng , ‘Letting Go of Illusive Sentimentality’ where a non Buddhist encounters how Buddhists understand & deal with death. The non Buddhist comes across a father whose son dies after a snake bite when the father & son are working in a field. The father is unperturbed & continues to work.  The non Buddhist is shocked beyond belief & asks the father is he not sad, to which the father replies “What for?  Death is an element in life.  The prosperity and withering of things has its own clock.  Now that the person is dead, if he is kind, there will be kind arrangements for him.  If bad elements in his life have matured, he will experience retribution right away.  What good can I do to the dead person if I
cry?” .

Not only this the father asks the non Buddhist to go to his house & tell his family that he would need only one lunch that afternoon. Hearing this the non Buddhist is not only shocked but angry too. He things the father is the most selfish unfeeling person in the world who is not even skipping his lunch when his son has just died. Anyways he reaches the man’s house & passes on the message to the mother, sister & wife of the dead boy. Surprisingly their reactions are very similar to that of the boy’s father. They take the news as if it is something very normal & expected. They are neither shocked nor sad.

The non-Buddhist asked, “Aren’t you sad about your son’s death?” The old woman said, “This son came to my family out of his own will.  I didn’t ask him to come.  Now he is gone.  I cannot keep him.  We are like travelers spending the night at the same inn.  The next day, all of us leave for our own paths. No one can keep anyone else.  In fact, there’s no need to keep any one.  It is the same between my son and me.  I cannot direct my son’s coming and going.  It follows his karmic predestined relationship.”  The non-Buddhist heard this and thought that the couple was truly cold-blooded.

The sister remarked, “He’s already dead.  Why should I be sad?  We are like logs tied into a raft.  We are sailing together in the water.  When a big storm comes, the raft falls apart.  Each log follows its own way with the current.  The logs cannot be combined together any more.  We have become sister and brother due to random reasons and have come to the same family.  However, life is different for everyone.  There isn’t a set time for life and death.  He has left before I do.  What can I do as a sister?”

The wife said calmly:  “Our marriage is like flying birds in the sky.  They rest together at night.  They go out their own ways to find food at the next dawn.  Every one has each one’s destiny.  It is his fortune that he doesn’t have to come back once he flies.  I cannot replace him.  I cannot bear his karma for
him.  We are like people who get to know each other on our journey.  We have to go our own ways sooner or later.”

Then he meets Buddha, he didn’t ask any questions.  However, Buddha read his mind and asked, “What has made you so sad?”

The non-Buddhist told the story of the farmer family to Buddha.  He thought that the farmer family didn’t have any love not to mention compassion.  He didn’t think this kind of things should happen.

Buddha smiled & said “The family you met wasn’t wrong on the principle.  They knew that they couldn’t forever keep their human flesh.  When a person dies, everyone cries loudly for him.  What good does it do to the dead person?  Moreover, life has birth and death.  Happiness at birth and sadness at death are signs of the confusion that the secular world has towards life and death.  The circle of life and death never stops.”

After hearing the guidance from the Buddha, the non-Buddhist suddenly understood.  From then on, he converted to Buddhism and became a diligent monk.

The story of Kisa Gautami

Kisa Gautami was a young woman from a wealthy family who was happily married to an important merchant. When her only son was one-year-old, he fell ill and died suddenly. Kisa Gautami was struck with grief, she could not bare the death of her only child. Weeping and groaning, she took her dead baby in her arms and went from house to house begging all the people in the town for news of a way to bring her son back to life.

Of course, nobody could help her but Kisa Gautami would not give up. Finally she came across a Buddhist who advised her to go and see the Buddha himself.

When she carried the dead child to the Buddha and told Him her sad story, He listened with patience and compassion, and then said to her, “Kisa Gautami, there is only one way to solve your problem. Go and find me four or five mustard seeds from any family in which there has never been a death.”

Kisa Gautami was filled with hope, and set off straight away to find such a household. But very soon she discovered that every family she visited had experienced the death of one person or another. At last, she understood what the Buddha had wanted her to find out for herself — that suffering is a part of life, and death comes to us all. Once Kisa Guatami accepted the fact that death is inevitable, she could stop her grieving. She took the child’s body away and later returned to the Buddha to become one of His followers.

September 8, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Buddha, Buddhism, Greek Philosophers, Happiness, Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Parables, Philosophy, Reflections/Musings, Teaching Stories, Wisdom. 10 comments.

What is Really Impotant in Life? :Putting Things in Perspective

 

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university lecturer. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the lecturer went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, some plain-looking and some expensive and exquisite, telling them to help themselves to hot coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the lecturer said: “If you noticed, all the nice-looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. “While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.”  What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the better cups and are eyeing each other’s cups.”

“Now, if life is coffee, then the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, but the quality of Life doesn’t change. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee in it.”

Don’t let the cups drive you… enjoy the coffee instead.

 

Other Parables/Teaching Stories on my blog:

https://ritusthoughtcatcher.wordpress.com/category/parables/

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Book Reviews on my Blog:

https://ritusthoughtcatcher.wordpress.com/category/books/

Travelogues on my Blog:

https://ritusthoughtcatcher.wordpress.com/category/travelogues/

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https://ritusthoughtcatcher.wordpress.com/category/i-me-myself/

 

April 10, 2011. Tags: , , , , . Meaning of Life, My lifestyle, My Values, Parables, Slacker-Sutras, Slacking, Teaching Stories, Wisdom. 4 comments.

Parable:“The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable people.”

A physician gave some rather whimsical advice to a patient, an aggressive, go-getter type of businessman. Excitedly the businessman told the doctor what an enormous amount of work he had to do and that he had to get it done right away or el…se things will fall apart.

“I take my brief case home every night and it’s packed with work,” he said with nervous inflection.

“Why do you take work home with you at night?” the doctor asked quietly.

“I have to get it done,” he fumed.

“Can’t someone else do it, or help you with it?” asked the doctor.

“No,” the man snapped. “I am the only one who can do it. It must be done just right, and I alone can do it as it must be done, and it has to be done quickly. Everything depends upon me.”

“If I write a prescription, will you follow it?” asked the doctor.

This, believe it or not was the prescription. His patient was to take off half-day a week and spend that half-day in cemetery.

In astonishment the patient demanded, “Why should I spend a half-day in a cemetery?”

“Because,” answered the doctor, “I want you to wander around and look at the gravestones of men who are there permanently. I want you to meditate on the fact that many of them are there because they thought even as you do, that the whole world rested on their shoulders. Meditate on the fact that when you get there permanently the world will go on just the same &, as important as you are, others will be able to do the work you are now doing.”

The patient got the idea. He stopped fuming & fretting. He got peaceful and developed a more competent organization & his business is in better condition.

Bottom Line: No one is indispensable. So you might as well relax n do your own thing

January 20, 2011. Tags: , , . Parables, Teaching Stories, Wisdom. 1 comment.

Mulla Nasurrudin & Green Chillies : Think About How it Applies in Your Own Life

On his way from Persia to India, Mulla Nasrudin saw a man selling a small long green fruit which he had never seen before.  Curious, he asked the vendor:  “What is this lovely fruit?”

“Chillies. Fresh Green Chillies,” said the Vendor.

Mulla Nasrudin gave the vendor a gold coin and the Vendor was so overjoyed that he gave Nasrudin the full basket of green Chillies.

Mulla Nasrudin sat down under a tree and started to munch the Chillies and   within a few seconds, his mouth was burning. Tears streamed down his cheeks, his nose watered copiously and there was fire his throat.

But, utterly nonchalant, Nasrudin went on eating the chillies and his condition began to get worse and worse.

Seeing his pitiable condition, a passerby asked, “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you stop eating those hot Chillies?”

“May be there is one that is sweet, “Nasrudin answered. “I keep waiting for the sweet one!” Nasrudin said and he kept on eating the fiery Chillies.

On his way back, the passerby saw that Mulla Nasrudin’s condition had become even more terrible, but he kept on eating, and the basket of Chillies was almost empty.

“Stop at once or you will die.  There are no sweet Chillies!” the passerby shouted at Nasrudin.

“I cannot stop until I have finished the whole basketful,” Nasrudin said, croaking in agony, “I have paid for the full basket   I am not eating Chillies anymore.  I am eating my money”.

July 25, 2009. Tags: , . Parables, Teaching Stories. 1 comment.