Thursday, March 26, 2009

WHY DON'T WE TELL?

Raman, 40, will be celebrating the 'Silver Jubilee', this month. Twenty-five years ago, when he was 15, he had a showdown with his father. The communication between the father and son broke down that day. Staying under the same roof, they haven't spoken a word with each other, since then. So many have tried to broker peace, but in vain. The deadlock continues; the 'wall' still stands.

The best time to knock down this wall is even before its foundation is being laid. The decision to embark on an ego-trip is akin to the decision to ride on a tiger's back. Once you mount, you had better know that you are at the man-eater's mercy. Even though you don't like it, you continue to ride. To get off his back is to offer yourself for his lunch!

Ego-trip is a dangerous path. It is a path of 'no return'. No one has ever made it on this path... Never, ever. The best way to make it is never to venture into it in the first place. Leave the beast alone.

How important is peace to us? How dearly do we value the relationships in our life? What is more important to us: to be right, or to be happy and peaceful? What is more honourable: being adamant,rigid, and remain in an endless turmoil of confrontation, or being pliable, flexible, and experience simple joy and brotherhood?

The choice is always there before us. It doesn't take a great effort to make peace. It always takes a clear intention, the will of our soul. It comes from the deep, inner longing. The heart longs for it; the soul longs for it... Then, the mind simply surrenders to that longing. Ego is the play of mind. To love, to experience peace and healing, we need to heed to the voices of our hearts, our souls. It is always a childlike, innocent yearning. It is always simple and uncomplicated. All that we have to do is to say 'Yes' to this voice.

Peace eternally awaits us on the other side of the wall! When the wall comes down, we will realise, how stupid we had been all along... weaving all sorts of stories about the 'bizarre people' on the other side - hating them, condemning them, swearing to destroy them... When the wall comes down, we will realise how similar we all are - yes, the East Germans and the West Germans ... the citizens of the US and the USSR. Between the Twiddle Dee's and the Twiddle Dum's runs not only a river but also a wild human mind!

When the walls collapse, the men, women and children simply cry. Simply rejoice, celebrate.

We need to communicate our intention. We need to express our desire for peace and brotherhood. There is no other way to bring the wall down; no miracle is going to happen. The wall will come down, only when we 'will' for it. Raman will speak to his father - or the father to Raman - only when they 'will' for it, earnestly yearn for peace.

The story of the Hindi movie 'Shakti' is a moving testimony for this invisible wall called 'ego'. The ace storytellers - Salim-Javed - had scripted this story so brilliantly. How the upright father, Dilip Kumar, and the rebellious son, Amitabh Bachchan, love each other but suffer the hell-fire of a long ego trip... how, one moment, their hearts bring them so close to each other, and, then, how, the very next moment, their ego-soaked minds take them away, so far ... This is a remarkable saga of simple love being made complicated by lack of clear intention and communication. In the final scene, Amitabh, the son who had strayed away into the criminal path, is shot down by his father, Dilip Kumar, the uncompromisingly honest police officer. In this scene, the son dies in the arms of his father. Before the last breath goes out, the father keeps urging his son not to go away... but, the son keeps saying that it is not possible, that he has to. The father fervently reminds, for the last time, to his son:

"Son, I have always loved you."

The son asks: "Dad, then, why didn't you tell me that?"

One must be a rock not to melt, when the son dies with those words!

Yes, why don't we tell, that we love?

Raman, it is not too late, dear, to tell... or, even, to ask.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Monday, March 23, 2009

THE TEAM

He shines there like the pole star - dramatically distinct. He commands that place, because, no one else in the world has scored so many Test and ODI centuries ... No one else has scored that many runs. And, runs and centuries are still coming. The game is far from over. He is live and kicking... and, it seems, his best is yet to come!

This incredibly prolific run-machine, this enduring cricket legacy... Yes, he is what he is because he is an excellent 'team player'. He is Sachin - Sachin Tendulkar.

Yes, Sachin Tendulkar should not keep wickets, should not bowl too often, should not lead the Indian team. He should do what he can - and does - best: batting.

The best batsman may not necessarily be the best captain. Sachin couldn't prove himself to be a fine captain, when he had lead the Indian team. He has been, on and off, a successful bowler. But, the Team India can not count on him as the key bowler. The genius of Sachin lies in what he does exclusively his way: the batting.

This post is about being a team player... being a 'spoke in the wheel' in the real sense, and making that distinct contribution towards the movement of the wheel. Towards success.

The beauty of existence lies in the great variety that abounds around us. Each one of us is endowed with a strength and talent which is unique. That makes us special. Some of us can communicate well, and some of us can quietly work well from behind. Some of us can negotiate and strike a hard bargain, while some of us can mend the broken hearts. While some of us are designed to to be aggressive, some others are sent on this planet as peace makers. Life needs all of us. Every spoke holds the rim, helps the wheel of life to move smoothly. It is like a great recipe: every ingredient counts, the touch of every person - from the kitchen to the table - makes the difference. We all have to realise this truth. That, being a good team player means being the part of the match-winning process. No matter how good we are in our core domains, we need the complementary strengths of our team mates, our fellow-humans. Be it our offices, sports fields, homes or battle fields... The success lies in exploiting the best in each one of us. It lies in the great team spirit. Like great romance, it thrives on great chemistry.

So, let Tendulkar keep doing what he is best at - batting. Let Dhoni lead and keep wickets. Let Yuvi and Veeru go for big hits, and let Bhaji and Ishant fire from the bowler's end. The Team India needs all of them... as distinct as they are.

Let us not forget the role of the spot boys in the production team. Each spot boy is as significant as the King Khan. The spotlight and limelight, both, are related. Cricket, movies and life - all are related. That's why, the more I think about it, the more I get convinced:

That, Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan should do what they are blessed to do. And, I ,too. We all hold the wheel together, and we all are connected to the same centre: LIFE.

If my role on this planet is to be good to every one - so be it.



GERALD D'CUNHA

Friday, March 6, 2009

THE LOTUS

I just said, "Lotus," and, he reacted, "I know, I know."

I was surprised. I asked him, "You know, you know ... what?"

He replied, "Lotus is one of the most beautiful flowers, considered to be, even, sacred ... But, it is born and it lives in the muck, the ugliness."

He was right. I was about to say that. But, so old the analogy is, that he seemed, terribly bored and annoyed with it. "I know, I know," was his way of protesting any more 'bombardment'.

"Tell me, what you want to tell me about the Lotus," he had dropped his resistance, almost making me puzzled.

He was a wealthy young man. He had begun his pursuit of wealth when he was just a teen. "I want to become really rich, really very, very big." That was the resolve, that saw him to the other side of the sea. Now, in his mid-forties, the man has a dozen questions to ask. He asks them to people like me. Sometimes, our answers satisfy him. But, most of the times, they only leave him disturbed.

"Nothing is wrong with our wealth, our riches. Like King Janaka, we can be wealthy as well as noble. Lotus is great, because, it rises from the ugliness and stands gloriously 'above' it." ... I wanted to tell this to him. But, he had heard it so many times before, from so many 'gurus'. For a while, he was reluctant to hear the same old 'example' ... the same old muck.

But, he was there, the next moment, asking me to narrate the legendary 'Lotus Story'!

"I want my teenager son to study well; but, he doesn't want to study ... He wants to get into business, right away, he wants to do it big ... really, really big. Many years ago, I had decided to go on that route; and, now, my son wants to. Some how, I don't feel okay with this approach," the man told me.

My answers did not hold a key to his happiness and peace.

More than two-thousand years ago, a rich man had asked a similar question to Jesus:
"Master, I have obeyed all the commandments of God; tell me what else need I do to enter the kingdom of God?"

"Give up all your wealth and come with me," Jesus had answered.

Apparently, the wealthy man had expected a 'sensational answer' from the Master. When he heard this 'shocker', his heart sank, and he had walked away.

Referring to this man, Jesus had told the crowd, "It is as difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, as it is for a camel to enter the eye of a needle."

Our rich man has the same question, the same dilemma. "What else need I do?"

"Let your son enter the Kingdom he wants to ... till he comes to the 'narrow gate' you have come to," I advised. "You be the Lotus, you claimed 'I know, I know'."

In silence, the Lotus shone even more majestically!


GERALD D'CUNHA

JUST A HUG AWAY

Ashish, my friend, had posted a comment on my yesterday’s bolg – ‘I SEE NO ENEMY’. He had agreed with my views, and written: “Friendship is just a hug away …”

How true!

At the same time, how difficult!

Our egoes make it so difficult. The hug remains a complicated, a calculated ‘move’ … rather than just a spontaneous response of our hearts, a celebration. It is just like the first rain. It, almost always, pours out unannounced, spontaneously, making all of us so glad, so excited. Our response to it, too, is unannounced and spontaneous ... a simple outpouring of our hearts, a celebration. For that hear-felt moment, we all become little children, innocent. We come out and enjoy, get drenched so completely – never even for a while worrying about the consequences of doing so. We all celebrate the new rain.

Joy is as simple as this. As uncomplicated.

Spontaneity begets spontaneity. Love begets love. Hate begets hate.

Our hearts are heavy with the weight of our egoes. They are hardened. So, how can they hug?

I always think, that an ego trip is a ‘path of no- return’. No one has ever made it on this path. Never, ever. Proving something to someone can certainly give us a ‘high’ – a sadistic satisfaction of defeating someone. But, it is a ‘lost game’ … a lose-lose situation. As long as we are driven by our ego-intoxicated-minds, we are incapable of seeing this truth. We remain hell-bent in ‘winning’ by ‘defeating’ someone. Misunderstanding and enmity breed on this ground.

The only key is the ‘awareness’. The moment we realize the futility, and the danger, of this war path, we begin to lighten up, we begin to let go our rigidity. Ego is always a shadow; it cannot be there on its own. In the light of awareness, the shadow dissolves. We are, now, in a position to see the choice: TO BE RIGHT … OR, TO BE PEACEFUL!

Happiness and friendship are, always, our personal choices. And, they are, always, just a hug away.

I completely agree with Ashish, my friend.


GERALD D’CUNHA

THE GAUNTLET

Some things in life come to us naturally. One of them is blinking; blaming is another.

Today, just before leaving home, I had an intense argument with my wife. We were blaming each other, never letting the other person walk away with the great ‘blame’ trophy.

Any way, I had to walk out of the house, as I was getting late for work. By the time I reached here, the intensity had substantially come down... It had, almost, transcended into something sublime, something spiritual.

I thought, I should blink, I should laugh … and, I did.

When we were growing up, one of our favourite games was: 'Who will blink first?'. I had never won in this game. Never. Within seconds, I would blush, giggle and surrender. Henry, a neighborhood kid, was always a champion. I do not know, where he is today … Whether he is still a champion when it comes to a 'game' with his wife!

I am just curious.

Blaming is a psychological defense mechanism, which we build to protect ourselves from the ‘perceived’ attacks on our self-respect. No matter who we are – a parent or a child, a teacher or a student, a clergy or a devotee, or a police or a thief – we all have our own ‘perceived’ self-respect. The moment someone attacks us, we are ready with our counter attack, in order to defend our ‘honour’.

A husband and a wife are no exception!

They say, blinking is healthy. It is the sign that we are ‘okay’, normal …That, we are capable of laughing, crying, scaring, staring and, even, loving and deceiving. It is a protective shield. We are born with it.

And blaming?

How can that be different?

When some one throws before me something, even before my hands come out, my eyes blink. When some one throws before me the gauntlet, my mind has to jump – instinctively – to pick it up!

That is Nature’s law. I think, we should simply obey it!

When small, we did play the ‘Blinking Game’ and so thoroughly enjoyed it. It helped us to bond so very well. Today, when we have ‘grown up’, why shouldn’t we play this ‘adult’ game – ‘Blame Game’? Why shouldn’t we enjoy it thoroughly?

Yes, like in my case, now. See, how it has helped me to bond so very well!

Therefore, shall I declare: Blaming is the gate pass to spirituality?

Let me wait, till I reach home, tonight!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Thursday, March 5, 2009

'I SEE NO ENEMY"

"Hatred is its own punishment."

When I heard this statement first, many years ago - to be precise, when the Punjab terrorism was in the thick of things - I was not able to comprehend its meaning fully.

"How can hatred be its own punishment?" I still remember, asking.

The terrorists have struck, once again, in Pakistan. Yes, the victims are the innocent Sri Lankan players. And, the victor?

Why do I hate some people?

Because, some of them have hurt me, done injustice to me ... and, I do not approve that. Some of them are persistently doing that to me, and I am angry; I want to get back at them, take revenge... and this thought consumes me all the time ... makes me stressful, burdened... I am imprisoned, all the time, by my own mind, my own thinking. Before my hatred can get back at my enemy, my tormentor, before I can punish him, I am punished by my own thoughts of hatred. I am consumed by it. Tormented.

And, very often, there seems to be no genuine reason to hate any one. I hate him, because, my mind has been 'poisoned' by some cunning, manipulative men. I react, therefore, to a 'perceived' threat, to a 'perceived' enemy. And, then, let myself sucked into the hell-fire of self-destruction.

Every terrorist is a creation of this poisonous seed. And, in every man's soul, there dwells a terrorist!

Some years ago, I had a heated argument with a cousin of mine. Though I did not bear in my heart any grudge or ill will towards my cousin, we did not communicate with each other for all these years. I did not make a conscious effort to speak and sort things out, nor did she. The matter remained unresolved. Yesterday, I received the sad news of my aunt's - cousin's mother's - death. My aunt had been suffering for a long time in our hometown, and I was not in touch with them, I had not called them, enquired about her. So, yesterday, when I received the news of my aunt's demise, I, instantly, picked the phone and called my cousin to offer my condolences. Understandably, my cousin was sad and depressed. She thanked me for calling, and chose to keep the conversation very short.

I wasn't comfortable the way the conversation went. My mind did go back to the playback mode. We hadn't discussed the issue and we still had our misunderstanding simmering deep down ... at least, I had. So, my reaction, yesterday, stemmed from this position. After my phone discussion, I wasn't feeling right. I knew, I had to be more honest about my intention, my feelings, and my peace. Otherwise, this thought would consume me, keep me imprisoned.

Hatred is its own punishment. I am able to comprehend, now.

'BEN-HUR' is a powerful movie about hatred, revenge and, finally, the freedom from their vicious cycle. Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) is a wealthy Jewish merchant. Tribune Messala (Stephen Boyd), the Roman General, is Judah’s close friend. Messala has been entrusted by Caesar the task of quelling the Jewish up rise against the Roman Leadership and he seeks the help from his good friend Judah in this regard. Messala is very hopeful. However, when Judah vehemently refuses to betray his own people, the story of their friendship assumes its most crucial turn. The friends turn foes ...Soon, on a silly pretext, Messala gets Judah, his mother and sister arrested and throws them into the prison. Judah, after a while escapes, and spends rest of his life with thoughts of rage, hatred and revenge. He is informed that his mother and sister have been killed by Messala and he seethes with revengeful thoughts. It is during this period, he meets a wealthy Arab, who prepares Judah for the upcoming Chariot race against the formidable Messala. For Judah, it is the only opportunity to take his revenge and feel liberated.

The day comes. When Messala sees Judah in the arena, he is rudely surprised. The race begins, and Messala, through his villainous means, goes on to destroy one racer after another ... till, finally, he is left with the strong man Judah. The ruthless Messala goes all out to demolish his friend-turned-foe through his nefarious tactic. But, Judah turns the table on him, when the monster Messala is thrown out of the chariot and dragged along brutally through the stadium. Thousands of Judah’s supporters shout rapturously, as Governor Pontius Pilate watches the plight of the devastated Roman hero, helplessly. The race ends; Messala, disfigured and almost dead, is carried away; Judah Ben-Hur is crowned.

The very next scene can take our breath away! So powerful it is: a battery of doctors attends to the mutilated Messala, and there - they bring Judah, all tied in chains. The immediate, and instinctive, response of Messala is to get up, and get back at his enemy. But, his body - all torn apart - betrays him. Only his mind - consumed with hatred and revenge - thirsts for revenge; it wants to prove. The doctors and attendants try to calm him down, tie him to his bed.

"I see no enemy." These are Judah's words, as the final breath goes out of Messala. Before the end came, the remorseless Roman has, sadistically, revealed to Judah the wicked fact that his mother and sister are not dead ... but, are 'living dead' in the cursed lepers' valley. For Judah, this is a cruel blow; it is unbearable. But, by now, he is a changed man. He has been touched by Christ. He has been healed.

"The game goes to Judah," these are Messala's final words. He has realised: he has not been destroyed by Judah Ben-Hur. But, by his own hatred. When Judah says, "I see no enemy," - it is clear to Messala, that Judah has not only defeated him in a Chariot race, but also in a race called - 'HATRED AND REVENGE'.

To win this race, we need a different strength. GRACE!

Yes, I can comprehend now, the meaning of that statement: "Hatred is its own punishment."


GERALD D'CUNHA