Tag Archives: life

Life – A Fancy Dress Competition

Workers people set isolated over white background.

As children we used to take part in fancy dress competitions. I remember having dressed up as an air force pilot in my 2nd or 3rd standard. Sometimes I wonder why we have those competitions – I guess grown ups like to see how their child will look in an uniform or how she would enact a specific role. So fancy dress competitions are somewhat like role plays. You get into the uniform and you kinda get into the character also. Such experiences tend to leave a deep impression. For a long time after that, my dream was to become an air force pilot.

Most fancy dress competitions are a one time event. You participate and once it is over, you return to your normal life. But if I may take a leap into the world of fashion, I pretty much see the same thing there. All fashion is about coming up with new fancy dresses – new materials, new design, new colors, new this, new that.

And then people live an elaborate fancy dress competition – going for a party, choose a party dress – going for a wedding, wear a fancy dress – going for a funeral – wear a plain dress – going to office, wear formals – going on a vacation – wear trendy clothes – and so on and on. Then there is summer fashion, monsoon fashion and winter fashion and spring wear too. Not to forget the festivals which all require a specific type of dress – Navratri, Diwali, Christmas, Halloween, et all.

Hear some women talking and conversations are mostly about what someone was wearing the other day. And why not? The clothes we wear make a statement about who we are. They create an impression in other’s minds about us. So on one hand, we become very conscious about what we wear and how we look and on the other, we tend to draw some conclusions about people based on what they wear and how they look.

Just note what you are wearing today and what made you wear that – what were you thinking? Look at people around you and note what they are wearing and listen to what conclusions your mind draws about them.

So in this real life fancy dress competition, in which we are not supposed to be aware that we are participating or judging, we are actually all participants as well as judges.

Half Full or Half Empty

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The example of the glass which is half full or half empty is often used to show how people view the same situation differently.

​However, instead of giving equal importance to both the views, we tend to prefer the view that the glass is half full. Those who see the glass as half empty are advised to be more optimistic and see the glass as half full. Nonetheless, the statement that the glass is half empty is equally true.

The half full glass has no more space while the half empty glass has scope to take up more liquid. From this perspective, the half empty view seems to be more positive and optimistic than the half full view.

Yet again, the half full glass of water has the capacity to dissolve salt so it definitely has space within and we cannot say that the space is occupied fully by water. And similarly, the half empty glass is already filled with air so it was never empty, right from the beginning.

Now lets say, we pour out the water and suck out the air from the glass. What is remaining is called vacuum, which is supposed to be empty, really empty. But scientists say that even a vacuum is not empty – it consists of micro particles which are in some sort of flux.

So what does this tell us. That in this universe, there is nothing really empty. The notion of emptiness must always be qualified – empty of what? Like in the case of the half full glass, we can rightly say that it is half empty of water.

Similarly in the Buddhist concept of emptiness, the emptiness is the absence of an enduring self. However, that does not negate phenomena and therefore, emptiness is only in relation to fullness and in itself, it cannot be. Therefore, this is also known as the emptiness of emptiness.

Psychological Balance

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We observe that sometimes we get carried away by our emotions. When things are going well, we are excited and which shows in our animated behavior. On the other hand, when things are not going well, that also shows as a relative heaviness in our behavior.

Most of us tend to spend our lives on one side of our emotions. Some people are always depressed no matter what the external situation is. They will always find something to complain about in the best of events. Psychologically, they are carrying a burden of expectations, ideals and thoughts which makes the surroundings heavy with anxiety and worry. Very rarely do these people experience carefree joy.

Then there are others who always want to have a positive attitude even if things are not going as per their expectations. They are always hoping that the future will bring better tidings and this is what helps them live.

While it may seem that the second way is advisable, a positive attitude does not imply psychological balance. Those who advocate positive attitude suffer equally as those who possess negative attitude.

Having any attitude – positive or negative – is like a crutch. It is a dependency. Real balance is when there is no attitude. One takes things as they are without differentiating the situation as being fine or not fine.

A person who is psychologically balanced does neither complain about the situation nor takes the help of a positive attitude to endure the situation. When you get involved in a situation, you lose balance. The only way to be balanced is not to get involved psychologically with anything or anyone. A high order indeed!

Real Happiness Does Not Depend on Anything

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It is very normal to think that once I get something, I will be happy. Most people search for happiness in events and struggle to make those events happen.

While there is a certain pleasure and joy to be had when you get what you want, that is not real happiness. This is because, things do not remain the same. They change and when they do, you will lose the happiness you had.

Many people even lose the sense of joy when they get what they want because they have been struggling so hard to get that that they are emotionally drained and cannot feel any joy at all.

Real happiness is something totally different. It is not dependent on anything external. When a person discovers this happiness, it is totally irrelevant whether there is food to eat or house to stay or money to spend.

This happiness can only be discovered when one sees the insubstantial and hollow nature of worldly achievements and possessions. It is through this sense of emptiness that one can get in touch with what is real. When you throw away all that is false, what remains has to be the genuine.

Does it Matter?

There are two outlooks that one can get attached to. One outlook says “It matters” & the other says “It does not matter”. But let’s look more closely.

When “it does not matter”… the ‘it’ can stand for “It matters”
Therefore, “It matters” does not matter.
Similarly, “It does not matter” matters.

Rephrasing the same
It does not matter even if it matters & it matters even if it does not matter.

So does it matter?

Is There Anything To Be Done?

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We wake up in the morning and as soon as we finish washing our face and brushing our teeth, we get busy in boiling milk, reading newspaper, getting ready for the office. Then the rest of the day we spend in doing whatever our office work demands – typing on the computer, reading and sending emails, attending meetings, tea, coffee, lunch… then we get back home, watch television, read books, spend time with family and go to bed.

Day in and day out we do the same thing. On weekends we go to movies, do some shopping, eat at restaurants and go on a long drive to the countryside. That is what most of our life consists in.

We do all these things but never wonder why we do them. we might have reasons like – in order to survive, in order to earn money, to support our family, and so on. But those reasons are not the real reason why we do things.

We do things mostly by habit. We cannot do anything else. We are so used to doing things in the same way and same manner, it becomes a habit and we don’t realize what we are doing. Not only our physical actions like eating, bathing and dressing is determined by habits, even our psychological actions like thinking and feeling are driven by habit.

In reality we don’t know anything. So we tend to follow others thinking that they know. But they are following someone else. So everyone is simply following others blindly without knowing the underlying reason. This is the way we take decisions on buying a house, a car, going for a vacation and so on.

Fear is a strong motivator of actions. Based on experiences and memory we develop fear and that determines our actions in many situations.

Another strong influence for our actions is our desires. Most people think their desires are their own. But where did they find those? They did not decide to have those desires. It came as a natural inclination without any conscious effort.

So if we really look at the world and the people carefully, beginning with oneself, we find that everyone is sleepwalking, not realizing what they are doing, why they are doing, where they are going and so on. They meet with accidents, love, friendship, joy, grief and everything else without conscious effort. It happens to them. Their inner world of emotions and thoughts also happens.

When we say – I am thinking… it is the thoughts which are going on in my mind. I don’t think anything. Neither do I have any control on my thoughts. And it is the same with everyone.

Can you see how dangerous the situation is? People are living their life and dying completely unaware of who they are, what they are doing and whither they are going. They are dreaming happily with the story they invent of their name, education, job, achievements, children, family, love and friendship.

If you see the danger of this situation clearly, you instantly become conscious and you stop doing what you are doing. You become alert, mindful, and watchful. Suddenly there are no thoughts in your mind. The mind becomes calm and sharp.

And if you attain this state, you realize there is nothing to do. This non-doing is the real doing. All else that we normally call doing is only automatic reaction. No one is in control. The stopping of everything is the real doing.

What is the Purpose of Life?

So that’s the main question. Is it not? It is easy to say that you must discover your purpose in life or that different people have their own purposes. But I am not asking this question in the superficial sense. And if you have reflected for some time on this, you would have found that superficial answers do not really answer the question deeply.

Just to explain a little more. Is the purpose of my life to become somebody – a celebrity, a CEO, a wealthy person, a father, a grandfather, a good human being? Does my purpose lie in fulfilling all my responsibilities as a son, a husband, an employee, a citizen? Is my purpose gathering knowledge, learning how to do things, earning money, helping others?

All of that! We are doing all of that all our life? Is that all and then we simply die and hope that others will remember us for ever for the sons and daughters we leave behind, the houses and companies we have built. I don’t know about you but to me, none of these things seem to have any meaning. It seems to me that I engage in all these activities only because I don’t really know what I am supposed to do. So I just do what I have been educated in and what I see others doing.

The only way I can answer the question so that the question does not remain is to investigate where the question comes from and not by looking for an answer. The question is formed by the words – What, is, the, purpose, of, Life? Each word in itself has no meaning; neither does each alphabet of the word. Isn’t it true that I have composed the question simply because I can do so or have heard it or read it and then go about searching for the answer?

My mind and your mind have been trained to find answers to questions. Whenever a question is asked we are supposed to find an answer or else we will fail the exam. But can you drop the question altogether? If you can do that in reality, you might come across something which you never expected and come face to face with life in its naked form.

Looking at Life as a Story

 

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How do you describe yourself? Don’t you say something like the following:

​My name is Y. I was born in N city on DD-MM-YYYY. I attended this school and that school. I studied graduation from a reputed college and post graduation from an even reputed college. I work as a manager in some renowned company. Previously, I have worked in many companies like M, F and C. I am married and my wife’s name is B and I have two kids A and A. My parents stay in N. I like to read books. I like new age and fusion music. I also like watching movies.

That is my story. I can add more details and elaborate on it. But doesn’t everyone have a story? What is your story? You have a name. You were born somewhere. You did this and did that. You went here and went there. You like this and you dislike that. And many more things like this. Then you have your goals. “I want to do this in life. I am working on a great project. I want to earn a million dollars. I want to drive a BMW and live in a penthouse.”

Observe this carefully. Is there anything apart from the story? I say there is just the story and nothing else. Our mental life is made up of nothing but the story. The obvious question you might raise is then what is all that we see and feel. “The hand that I see is not the story; it is apart from the story. The sky, the tree, the road, the bus, other people and so on.. they are not simply stories. They are real.”

What all those things are cannot be said in words. All words and descriptions are again stories. Whether it is the story of the big bang, or how the earth was formed, or how Alexander conquered countries, how a bud becomes a flower and how a child grows into a man, all these are stories – descriptions made out of concepts invented by us. You read stories in novels, you read stories in newspapers, you listen to stories on television and radio..

Reality is not compelled to follow these stories. Reality cannot be understood with these stories. You will see what is real only when you empty your mind of all stories. You must not attach importance to these stories but know them simply as yarn woven out of thin air.