Saturday, March 30, 2013

THE WALK AND LAUGHTER



 

 

 

 

The people who take walks in the morning, the people who attend satsangs or daily morning mass in the church, the people who do yoga, laughter sessions or gym… These people are very proactive people. It takes a strong will to do that… and, do it every day, for a long, long time.


Making a small promise to yourself and keeping it is the best way of building up your self-esteem. When you make a promise to get up early every morning and take walks, do yoga, attend satsangs or Mass… or, do laughter sessions in the park or workouts in the gym, it really means, you are taking charge of your mind. And, when you follow up, keep your promise, you have to feel good about yourself. Your self-esteem soars up by a few notches every time you do that…


This morning, I was on my way to my class. I had to take a class at 8. Just outside my classes, I met a friend of mine, an advocate, who was coming back from his walking-laughing sessions. We stood there for about five minutes to talk; and, let me confess: I felt his positive energy immensely!


“I really admire your discipline,” I said to my friend, “You have been doing it for years, now.”


“Well, even you should do it,” he said, “but, what is important is your ‘outlook’… not, just your daily walks or workouts alone.”


I was a lot relieved to hear the word ‘outlook’. Before I could I ask him more about it, my friend was telling me this. “I make it a point to walk with only those who help me think positive. There are hundreds out there who walk and pollute the atmosphere.”


I smiled.


Not because, I was able to justify that I started my days on a positive note, everyday… but, because, he was reminding me to bring the beauty and essence of walk and laughter into everything we did, including our prayers.


It is a ‘walk’ of a different discipline…Very spiritual, in deed!


GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Manoj Nair




Friday, March 29, 2013

BE STILL... AND KNOW



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the Biblical messages received by me, today – Holy Good Friday – was this:


“The Lord will fight for you;


You need only to be still.”


EXODUS 14:4


On a day like Good Friday, this message does make a lot of sense.



We Christians believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. But, we also believe, that when He lived His life here on this earth, He did it exactly as we did: He laughed and cried, He wondered and surprised, He braved and feared, felt wounded and healed… worried, hoped and loved… Yes, He went through the whole gambit of human experiences which any one of us would.



When the most grueling time of His life was nearing, He was wrought by the same human conflict: to fight or flight. He found no strength left in Him to fight… He was tempted to ‘give up’ the fight… and flight. Yes, He was wrecked by fear, sorrow and loneliness.



Finally, Jesus goes, all alone, into a quiet place called ‘Gethsemane Garden’… There, He kneels down and prays before God one of the most heart-wrenching prayers: “My Father, do away this Test from me; but if it is Thy wish, Thy will be done.”



This was the most profound moment in Jesus Christ’s life. The Holy Book says, so intense was His prayer, that He sweat blood!



But, then with this prayer, Jesus’ – the man – had defeated fear!



It was after this poignant moment in the Gethsemane, that Jesus comes out like a Valiant… fearless in the face of the toughest time of His life…



“Who are you looking for?” He asks the blood-thirsty mob.



“Jesus the Nazarene”, they scream.



“Here is he,” Jesus offers Himself!



Jesus has become ‘still’ by now!



Rest of the fight isn’t a fight at all…



It is God’s wish fulfilled!





The suffering of Christ and his death on the Cross 

is the victory over fear, victory over mortality… 




Jesus needed to be still… to know the God’s grace within in Him. For that, He needed to be on His knees… and pray intensely…



Rest of His fight was the ‘spiritual fight’… and it was fought by God for His beloved Son…



To fulfill what was written, long before the Son was sent on His worldly mission!





A Holy Good Friday to all of you…



May we all pray… May we all ‘be still… and know’… Yes, that, the Lord will, surely, fight for us.





GERALD D’CUNHA



Pic. Malabika Ganguly

Saturday, March 23, 2013

HOW CAN I BE SELF-CONFIDENT?




“How can I be self-confident?”

This was my question as a young-man.

And, that is still my question, even now, when I am in my mid-fifties!

Like thirst of my body, which keeps recurring and makes me fulfill it, the thirst of my mind and heart – the need to be self-confident – keeps recurring and seeks fulfillment.

There isn’t any soul on this planet who is free from this thirst… There isn’t any time in life, when he doesn’t feel this deep thirst.

From coming Monday onwards, I shall be conducting series of sessions to some college-students to help them build their self-confidence. So, the question comes to my mind: “What will I tell them?”

The first thing I am going to tell them is this: We all are already self-confident in many  areas of our lives. Like, in my case, I am very confident when it comes to helping students in their Accountancy subjects. But, even there, I am confident only in those chapters which I am familiar with, which I have been repeatedly teaching over the years. But, if someone comes to me with Accountancy chapters which I am not familiar with, then? Yes, I would feel the jitters within. I have to tell him the truth, that, I do not know those chapters… or, I need time to master them and get back to him. Likewise, I am familiar with issues relating to self-growth and I can deal with the young-ones with ease. But, I am not comfortable to do the same in several other circles… which, some of my friends and colleagues are so comfortable with.

Driving, swimming, technical work, singing, dancing, stage-acting… these are some commonplace areas I have problems with. You may ask me: “What, you are scared of driving and swimming? You are scared of changing a tube light or shaking your legs in public?”

My answer is: “Yes, I am!”

Exactly the way you are scared of speaking in public… Or making a cup of tea on your gas… Or, of your medical examinations… Or about the future of your growing-up children and sick parents…

I am not nervous when it comes to writing letters or essays… You may be.

I am scared to death by the thought of being on a roller coaster… For you, it may be a child’s play.

So, what am I going to tell the young-ones?

That, I am a ‘perfectly self-confident’ soul, sent specially by God, to teach them how to become like me – that is, ‘perfectly self-confident’?

Or, am I going to tell them, that, like all of them, I too struggle with my own ghosts…that, self-confidence is, always, area-specific. This means, we all are confident in some areas of our lives, and lack it in some others.

Will I tell them, that, the more we focus on the areas where we are good at, excited about, and less on the ones not so relevant in our lives, it is going to help us?

Perhaps, if I had a great desire to become a movie actor, it was impossible to dream my dream unless I spent my time and energy in improving my acting, dancing, singing,  dialogue-delivery, horse-riding or fighting  skills. But, my great desire was to be a fine teacher and a mentor for young-ones. So, my energies naturally began to flow to the direction of my heart’s yearnings.

That would be that!          

I would urge the young-ones to discover their heart’s yearnings: What is that they want to pursue in life? Then, to find out what is needed to be done: If it is learning the computer skills or debating skills… to go ahead and learn them with all their hearts. If it is acting skills or mending broken-hearts, to go head and learn them with all the passion in the world…


Self-confidence comes naturally to us when we know where we are headed… and, how important and dear our dreams are for us.

One the other hand, when we realize, that, in life, there will, always, be some areas where we will be ‘weak’ and it is not necessary to worry about them… there will be peace in our hearts…

“Mind you, my young friends,” I will conclude the thirsty hearts, “that will be the greatest self-confidence!”

GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.:Abhishek Iyer

Thursday, March 21, 2013

THE NEW INSIDE




I am writing this Post early in the morning. It is dark outside… very quiet… I am absolutely undisturbed by any outside happenings… Mind is not agitated; it is able to watch itself without getting clouded or bogged down…

Mind tells me:

That, there is enough strength in me to deal with any challenge, any uncertainty…

That, there is a way out of every maze Life throws before me…

That, no matter how harsh and hell-bent many a people seem, there is, always, some way by which they come around…

That, the challenges are the only medium through which, we are able to tap our creative resources… Discover our strengths, explore new paths and stretch our limits…

That, it is not prudent to decide when mind is numb with fear…

That, it is not sensible to judge people, label them, when mind is wounded…

That, patience pays…

That, wisdom prevails…

The storm ends…

The ocean calms down…

The skies turn brighter…

The heart, hopeful…

New, renewed!

The outside agitation can not overpower me, if I am able to deal with the agitation within…

It is great that this ocean called Life is rough, too often.  It is a great chance for me to become a fine Captain of the ship…

This early morning, when the outside is quiet and calm, I wonder: Is it because the inside is so?

A new path, a new strength, a new limit… everything new outside can unfold itself only when it is quiet and calm inside…

Yes, when it is new inside!

GEARALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Manoj Nair


Saturday, March 16, 2013

WHEN STRUGGLE DOESN'T HELP





It was past mid-night. I was fast asleep. Someone called me at this time… and, it broke my sleep. After the call ended, I went back to sleep… but, for about half-an-hour, I just couldn’t catch a wink!

I want to sleep… but, I can’t get sleep. This is a peculiar situation. Well, for me, this situation came about by this freak phone call. It was a pleasant discussion; still it robbed me of my sleep. I knew, that ‘struggling to get sleep’ works exactly in the opposite way: the more you struggle, the more you remain awake, frustrated. Sometimes, the whole night long!

In the past, I have done many things to deal with such a problem: read a nice book, write something, complete a pending job, take a warm shower, drink a glass of warm milk, watch a programme on TV, put on the head phone and listen to some soft music… yes, I have tried many things like this whenever my sleep was broken and I had problem regaining it…

Invariably, as I kept reading, writing, watching a programme or listening to music, my eyes would become tired and soon sleep would return… This might take an hour or two… Sometimes, even more than that… But, sleep would return.

So, today, for half-an-hour, I tried to get back my sleep… Then, I decided to get up and write about it…

Hardly twenty to thirty minutes of writing, I needed to do… My eyes are, already, closing!

I am glad, that I chose to write something… Whatever it is…

It is worth it!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Malabika Ganguly


Friday, March 15, 2013

OUR MISSION IS TO BUILD







Forsome days now, I have been watching these little birds building their nest, just outside here. They have set their goal: to build a home for themselves… and, they are so faithful and committed to the task of realizing it. I am fascinated by their team work, their strong faith in the consistent work done in almost molecule size – go far and wide in search of one tiny straw, at a time… drop it here… and go back to fetch the next one…  and, then, another… then, another…

In every season, I have seen them doing it here, unfailingly. When the nest is ready, it leaves me speechless: “What a craftsmanship… What a masterpiece!” I marvel. And then, some one like me, a human, comes and ‘clears off the mess’, in one single sweep… Gone!

Just like another Emperor invades the city of Agra and pulls down Shah Jahan’s Taj Mahal… Yes, as soon as he has finished building it!

In what way is the work of these little sparrows less superior to Shah Jahan’s?

And, in what way our act of destroying their lovely monument less barbaric than any invading Emperor’s?

“Somebody has to pull down your dream house the moment you have raised it!” Once, I heard a young lady yelling at the man who had ‘cleared the mess’ outside, here!

Well, my thoughts went to the mighty beehive, raised by thousands of small bees… so faithfully, so single-mindedly, so consistently… Yes, nearly eighty thousand bees doing it… all knowing that they will not even live for a month and a half… knowing that all that each one of them would be able to contribute to their Queen’s Project is just one or two spoons of honey… Still they go, far and wide, hopping from one flower to another, suck a tiny, tiny sip of nectar… come back and offer it so lovingly!

Perhaps, what they do not know is: that as soon as they complete their dream-work, humans will come to smoke them out and take away all the honey home… and, yes, pull down the mighty monument built with such devotion!

My thoughts also went to those little ants – millions of them – coming together with a single mission of building a home for their Queen. Just imagine, how much load each of those ants can carry at one time! Yet, they do it… and, they do it so brilliantly! The anthill – the Taj Mahal – is ready… And, alas! Now, they come – the invaders… the poisonous snakes…!

“Remember, it is the ants who build their home; but, it is the snakes that come to live!” Many years ago, when I was dreaming about my own desire to raise an institute to serve, a very respected and experienced soul had ‘warned’ me.’

Today, all these images flashed back before me…

Felt sad?

Yes. No.

“That’s how it is… for little sparrows, bees and ants,” I consoled myself, “Then, why not for any of us – the humans?”

GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Abhishek Iyer

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

THE NOISE HOUR










What is good with my nation? Our news channels don’t tell me this. They tell me, what is wrong with it… and, they tell me this relentlessly, remorselessly… every night, everyday. They install a dozen experts to tell me why everything is wrong with my nation and its government… Why we should grumble, complaint, protest, ask or revolt.

Turn to whichever channel you wish, you get the same thing: half-a-dozen men and women arguing and going nowhere. Their arguments are predictable, and the anchors impatience, too.

It is night time… Nine p.m. It is supposed to be an hour of my night prayers or supper. Instead, it has become the ‘News Hour’…

No, it has become the ‘Noise Hour’!

They need something bad, something very, very bad, everyday to happen in my country… so that they can ‘feed this into my mind’, each night, before I go to sleep…

Just as, when I was small, my loving mother gave me a glass of warm milk to drink before she put me to sleep, every night!

When there is nothing sinister or monstrous to present, they know how to make a monster out of something so silly as a rat-hole in Tihar jail!

Well, for last two nights, it is not, exactly, a rat-hole in Tihar; instead, it is Ram Singh’s death in his cell. Suicide or murder? What were other inmates doing? What were jail authorities doing? What was Home Minister doing?

They are heatedly debating…

And, last night, when a particular anchor was screaming - as he always does - I knew my nation had not gone to dogs, certainly… even though he was screaming so hysterically as if to reach each nook and corner of my nation!

Two Marines have gone back to Italy… They had shot dead two fishermen in India. So, why did our government and he Apex court allow them to go? Now, their government is refusing to send them back…

So, my nation has gone to dogs!

I wonder, if all these channels want, really – and sincerely – less problems and tension in my country. What would they do, if everything was fine?

Just like, what would all our doctors and hospitals do, if all were hale and hearty?

What would all our lawyers, judges and courts do, if no one had any disputes with any one?

What would Police and jails do, if there were no offenders… no cheats and criminals?

What would priests, high-priests and their vast organizations do, if all souls walked on the scared path?

Yes, even I wasn’t required, here, if all my students had done their studies on their own!

So, just as I want students and a doctor wants patients, and just as lawyers want disputants and priests want sinners… our news channels want all of us… so that they can scream their throats out to tell us everyday – yes, 24 x 7 – ‘What is wrong with us’!





As an individual, if I carry in my heart 
 
more good than bad, more virtue than vice, 

 more hope than despair… 

and more nectar than poison, 

I have all the more reason to believe, 

that my Nation, too, does…



After all, is it not true:  “The glory or the ruin of a nation begins in the home of its people?”

Where is the ‘home’?...

And, where are its ‘people’?



GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Malabika Ganguly


P.S. :  I still have a choice at 9 pm every night: to say my prayers... to savor my supper... or to stay glued to the 'Noise Hour'!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

SHEDDING IS JOYFUL... SKINNING IS PAINFUL.

















A snake sheds its skin, time to time, in order to facilitate its constant growth… to make way for new skin. It has outgrown the old, doesn’t fit into it, any more… So, it knows that the time has come to discard its old robe… it rubs itself to a hard surface, starting from its nose till the skin comes off its tail… It is one of Nature’s incredibly amazing scenes to behold... And, yes, it is, also, one of Her most priceless lessons to us, the humans.

There is another reason why a snake sheds its old skin: to do away the parasites along the old skin. The parasites feast on snake’s body… drinking its blood, eating up its skin and flesh. So, if the snake is unwilling to let go of her old skin – however dear and beautiful it is - it should be prepared to bear the consequences: suffer and perish!

Now, imagine, someone is skinning this snake… The way a chicken or a goat is skinned by us, the humans, to eat!

Holding on, in our minds, to anything, which is not useful to us anymore… is akin to a snake adamantly holding on to its old, useless skin. It’s the surest way of inviting self-destruction…

Parasites will drink our blood… and eat our flesh…!

They say, “A blind snake is a dead snake.” When we are blind to our relentless holding on – to our harmful biases and beliefs, to our anger, hatred, envy and ill-intentions, to our attitude of fear and insecurity – it is the death of our soul…




Yes, holding on means living on, dead!
 

Letting go – the shedding of our old, useless, parasites-ridden skin – is beautiful, sublime! All that is needed to do this is the ability to see how important it is for our growth, and well-being…

When we are able to see it, we are able to shed it…

That’s how the Nature has planned for all of us:

That, unless the old goes, the new cannot come…

That, if we are too stubborn about it, then, She will send someone - or something - to perform the ‘skinning act’…

The painful one, that will be!










GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Malabika Ganguly
Video courtesy: YouTube

Monday, March 11, 2013

THE LIMITS BRING BEAUTY





















“A hunter, who has only one arrow, does not shoot with careless aim.”



In life, the accountability comes only when we realize the limitations within which we are expected to operate. The Law of Abundance makes sense only when we respect the limitations set upon us… when we respect them.


A dear student did not respond to my last evening’s message… Just a while ago, she called me to say, “Sir, I am very sorry for not replying… There was no balance!” But, it doesn’t mean, she comes from a poor family… In fact, it is to the contrary!


Even if I possess with me a credit card with which I am able to have a good time now, I know the consequences of blowing the money that way. Once bitten, twice shy…! Many of us have learnt this precious truth the hard way…and, therefore, we think a hundred times before flashing cards crazily anywhere.


The car that I drive may run at 200 kmh, even 400. But, I know where I am driving… and, what happens if I drive with a speed like that…


Likewise, the food that goes into my stomach. When young, I could get away eating any junk, though, even then I had to be careful… But, now, when I know I am no more so young, it is plain commonsense… The limits are already set!


When my wardrobe overflows with clothes, I neither appreciate nor value the clothes I wear… The way I keep them back clearly indicates it! On the other hand, if I have only a couple of pairs, then, I know what I should wear… when, how and why… How I should keep them back… When they should go for wash…


Yes, limits bring with them the beauty of appreciation and value!


The schools have uniforms and the exams have time limits… The projects have budgets, deadline… and, penalty clauses…


Heart has limited capacity… so do the brain, veins, liver, kidney, pancreas and our teeth… You can’t expect them to carry more than they can handle…


Even the wealthiest father doesn’t like to spoil his children by pouring money on them recklessly… He knows how important it is for the young-ones to value and respect money.


Even the wealthiest nation and a mightiest company have to operate within the prescribed budgets…




It is not how much we earn that will 

make us wealthy and prosperous… 

It is how wisely we spend, 

how well we save and invest…



When you battle for life in a hospital, a bottle of blood means a hell lot… … So does very beat of your heart… and, every blood cell...


The more we recognize the limitations set upon us, the more we value and respect each of our privileges – time, money, health,  relationships, commitments, trust and freedom…


The more we value and respect these privileges, the more abundance will flow into our hearts…


More beauty…


More joy.


Yes, we will not shoot our arrows carelessly!


GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.Savita Laddha


Sunday, March 10, 2013

FOR POT'S SAKE...



















There was an interview in the newspaper, today, with Amish Tripathi, the author of the sensational Shiva Trilogy. It was the typical last question: “What is your advice to aspiring writers?”

This young author is currently in news. The 5-crore advance deal, even before Amish has decided on the theme… is no small deal. So, the answer he is expected to give assumes importance. The answer is something like this: “When you write, just focus on writing… Literally shut yourself from every other concern or thought… including the selling of your writings, the money and the fame. Write with total devotion… and, once you're done with, try to sell it with equal devotion.”

As I said, Amish’s answer, though not in these words, conveyed the same message: Just write with all your heart… Don’t worry about the money and the fame. It will follow, if you really deserve!

And, this afternoon, I had with me my 19-year-old student Advait. He is very fond of food… very passionate. So, he has joined one of the best Hotel Management institutes in our city. But, like or don’t like, their studies involve a bit of Accountancy, which, in his own words, he ‘hates’! Well, the hatred for the dreaded Accountancy has much come down ever since I have come in.

Today, Advait had brought for me a special dish called 'Mango Bavarios' (a lovely pudding), stunningly decorated with cream. It was his love, his field... and, I could feel it in the way he had prepared that dish… the silent pride and innate confidence.

“I will be pursuing my masters abroad, mostly in Switzerland,” Advait has told me many times, “My dream is to come back to India and start my own chain of hotels.”




Just dreaming? Just kidding?


No, he is not.



Whoever has started his own hotel anywhere in the world, whoever has published his own book anytime, anywhere… for that matter, whoever has realized any dream, anytime and anywhere… has done it only the way my young Advait is now doing: by dreaming!

So, whenever I see stars in a young-man’s eyes, I don’t laugh at him. I smile with joy… Wish him well and tell” “Beta, put all your heart and do the work in hand well… Just don’t worry about the rewards it's going to bring. When you have good work to show, that’s the time to sell it… and, you should do it with all your heart the selling work.”

So, I was hugely impressed by the simple, practical and logical advice Amish Tripathi, the sensational author, had to offer…

Like my Advait, Amish must’ve dreamt of being an author, ‘one day’… This is that day!

I will bring back to your heart one of my childhood stories. Our school teacher had told us this story with the moral: “Your lazy dreams don’t come true… Beware, my boys!”

Once, there lived in a small village a lazy priest. He hated doing any hard work, and, instead,  only kept dreaming about becoming rich one day.

One day, a villager gave this priest a pot of milk. The priest was very happy. That night, he added some curds in the pot of milk, hung it nicely up over his bed, and went off to sleep. Soon, he was dreaming…

This milk will become a pot of fine curds by tomorrow morning…

I will churn the curds nicely and bring delicious butter out of it…

Then, I will warm the butter well and produce good quantity of quality ghee…

I will sell the ghee in the neighborhood, with the money I get, I will bring home a good-fat-hen…

This hen will give me eggs daily… I will sell in the market some of these eggs, and, with some, I will breed more chicks, more hens… produce more eggs… I will run a huge poultry farm, soon…

It will make me rich… famous…

Then, I can ask the richest man in the other village to give his daughter in marriage to me… which, he will, surely…

My beautiful wife will bear a lovely son… his name will be ‘Sweet Pie’…

But, then, Sweet Pie will be very mischievous, too…

One day, he will be annoying me with his mischief… I won’t like it… I will chase him with my stick… give him hard on his head… So hard, that…

That, the lazy priest was woken up by the blow… only to see his broken pot… with milk spilled all over his bed…

The stick, next to his bed, had done it!

Today, like my own school teacher, I tell my every dreaming-student – including Advait – “Beta, not just the lazy dreams, for Pot’s sake!”

GERALD D’CUNHA

Pics.: Abhishek Iyer




Thursday, March 7, 2013

THE UNOPENED WINDOWS





















“Your assumptions are your windows on the world.

Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.”









































“Assumptions are unopened windows 

that foolish birds fly into,  

and their broken bodies are 

evidence gathered too late.”





And, if so, that’s not so nice, no?


GERALD D’CUNHA


Pics.: Yojana Singh