Monday, March 31, 2014

THE TRICK FROM THE OLD MONK







Pic.: Chetna Shetty

The question, “Is your glass half-empty or half-full?” has been so overused, that it doesn't look useful, anymore!

Along my path, if I come across one person who is a chronic cribber or a nasty manipulator, I, also, come across another who is empathetic and supportive.  In fact, if I patiently look along my path, I will find more friends than foes, more cheer-leaders than fear-leaders... But, like most others, I, too, tend to hear the deafening cries of those who boo... and think that’s how it is...

That’s not how it is!

For every half-empty glass, there is half which is full... And, that’s how it is!  I need to see that reality, immediately... Else, I should be prepared to spend my life-time worrying, cribbing, blaming... yes, like a loser in life!

Once, there lived a woman, who had two daughters. The elder daughter was married to an umbrella vendor, while the younger one to a noodle vendor. This woman worried all the time!

On a sunny day, she cried, “Oh, it is so sunny outside! No one will buy umbrellas... My elder daughter’s shop will have to be shut down... How will her home run?”

Then, on a rainy day, the woman would cry, “Oh, it is raining so badly outside! How can noodles be dried? If there are no noodles to sell, how can my young daughter’s home run?”

This way, all through the year – on a sunny day and a rainy day alike – our woman had something to worry about!

Then, one day, a monk happened to see her plight, and offered to help her. “Woman, there is a simple solution to your constant misery,” he told her, “All that you need to do is this: On a sunny day, you don’t think about your elder daughter’s umbrella-business. Instead, you think about the booming noodle-business of your younger daughter. Likewise, on a rainy day, you don’t think about your younger daughters’ noodle-business. Instead, you think about the roaring business of your elder-daughter. That’s how you will remain happy not only through the year, but, also, through out your life!”

It seems, the woman lived happily, ever after!!!

Well, this old-trick is, really, simple and still effective. Just as I should not look at the glass which half-empty but half-full, on each of my sunny day, I should not think about my umbrella-business but my noodle-one... Similarly, on a rainy day, I should not think about my noodle-business but umbrella-one...

Else, I should be prepared to spend my life-time worrying, cribbing, blaming... yes, like a loser in life!

GERALD D’CUNHA


Saturday, March 29, 2014

THE 'WAY' OF THE CROSS









Pic.: Ivan Mathias

A friend of mine came to meet me, late last evening. She looked very disturbed. After working for eighteen years in a reputed multinational-company, among the ninety employees laid off by her company, she happened to be one. Her immediate lady-boss, who had, apparently, made my friend’s life miserable, was one more! Before joining this company, my friend had worked for many years in two other companies... But, now, at 46, she wasn't so confident about her future.

My friend is a divorcee and lives alone with her ailing mother. Father had passed away about fifteen years ago, and, ever since then, life has been a very rough ride for her. Mother has major health complications, and needs constant attention. Money for mother’s treatment is a huge worry for my friend.

“Sir, I have been taking all the ‘crap’ from my sadist boss for last five years only because my company took care of my mother’s health-care,” my friend told me yesterday, “Else, I would have walked off long ago.”

So, now, when some major operations of her mother have been, already, scheduled, my friend has been struck with this blow! Obviously, there are these reactions: “Oh, not again!”... “Why me, again?”... “Why now?”

For five long years, my friend had ‘taken all the crap’ from her ‘sadist’ lady-boss! She said, that, she would feel the heaviness in her body right while getting off the bed each morning... But, she would keep praying till she reached her office, “God, just for today, help me bear my burden... Help me not to speak and behave in an undesired way.” She had anger, hurt and humiliation bottled within her, so much, that she feared it might explode, any moment... But, mercifully, it did not!

And, now, it was ‘destined’ that she and her nasty-boss should part ways, together... for better or for worse...

Well, the question is: Who has destined so? If God has, why so? Why has He picked her, again... and, why now?

Yes, even though my friend had gone through these familiar outbursts in her mind, and even though anxiety and pain was writ large on her face, she wasn't filled with blame, self-pity or hate... She was humble and hopeful...

In fact, in the midst of our discussion, I had called another friend of mine, who ran a recruitment firm and got them speak to each other. He had asked her to mail her resume, and visit this morning...

I am praying!

Here, on this earth, Life comes for all of us with our respective shares of problems and struggles. Whether we like it or not, and whether we accept it or not, we will have our respective crosses to carry through our own Calvarys. We have no choice there... No choice when it comes to choosing our burdens, struggles and pain... We only have a choice when it comes to our ‘reactions’ to our crosses... How we view our burdens, struggles and pain. Our suffering is the consequence of our reactions, our resistance, our denials. And, we do have a choice there... Yes, as the wise words tell us:

“In life, pain is inevitable; but, suffering is, always, optional!”

Today, as a strange co-incidence, I came across two things, which have left me a lot moved. Both have helped me to calm down incredibly... and look up to the skies with gratitude. One of them was this passage from Rob Bell, a Christian pastor:

“Our tendency in the midst of suffering is to turn on God. To get angry and bitter and shake our fist at the sky and say, "God, you don't know what it's like! You don't understand! You have no idea what I'm going through. You don't have a clue how much this hurts." 

The cross is God's way of taking away all of our accusations, excuses, and arguments.

The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, ‘Me too’!” 


The other one is a short video clip shared by two of my cousins, who live abroad - Ivan and his sister Marina. It was about the plight of a poor family in one of the remote villages near Mangalore. ‘Daiji World TV’ is a popular news channel among the Mangalorean Christians. I couldn't hold back my tears while I was watching this; and, yes, I was led to my knees to write this Post, immediately...

You may not need the language of our tongues to understand what the story of this family conveys. Please watch it... And, if possible, do reach out...


GERALD D’CUNHA

Friday, March 28, 2014

KNOWING THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING AND VALUE OF NOTHING












Pic.: Sherry Haridas



“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything,
 and the value of nothing.” 
  
I first learnt it in our Economics text-books: that, the ‘Price’ of a commodity is different from its ‘Value’. But, as I have gone about my life, it has become more and more evident to me, that, the price and the value of each and everything in my life are different!

A glass of water when I am dying of thirst...

A piece of cloth when my honor is at stake...

A bottle of blood when I am struggling for life in a hospital...

A little oxygen... A kidney... Some sperm...

To know the value of water, someone has to put me in a desert...

Similarly, to know the value of my breath, I need to be put on the ventilator in an ICU...

My money will be, always, ‘MY MONEY’... till someone or something takes it all away from me... Or, it looks utterly pale before the imminent death or destruction!

While a reasonable amount of concern about my future and my financial security is justified, too much of it can be a neurotic behavior. When I constantly keep securing and protecting myself, it, actually, keeps me more and more insecure, imprisoned... Isolated.  I live in a constant state of distrust... fear... lack...

Yes, I become suspicious, skeptical and petty-minded... Cynical.

Everything in life should be beyond its ‘price-tag’... It should be ‘priceless’. When I value the value of a value, in my life... probably, that is my greatest source of security:

GERALD D’CUNHA

Thursday, March 27, 2014

THE DUMB BOX






Pic.: Bhushan Thakkar

There are many people around us, who help the needy in small ways. They have been doing it for many, many years... and quietly!


Some young boys and girls become exam-writers for their less-fortunate counterparts. Some teachers teach poor children, without any fees, either going to their places or calling them home. I know a friend of mine, who takes care of the tuition-fees of a couple of deserving students, every year. He has been doing it quietly... and for years.


An elderly lady-doctor, who lives in our complex, treats, free of cost, the house-keeping ladies, whose job makes them prone to various diseases. Another elderly gentleman in our complex takes care of weekly groceries and school-fees plus uniform of a little girl of a family that lives in a roadside shanty. He has been, also, helping our watchmen in kind, for years... and quietly.


Many people give time to their community services... church, temple, gurudwara etc... and have been doing it quietly for years on. I know many young girls and boys, who visit old-age homes and children’s homes just to spend some time and make the inmates a little happier... They go and come quietly.


A friend of mine is a good artist. He goes to some local municipal-schools just to help some talented children out there to draw and paint well. Yes, he has been doing it all free and all quietly for years. Another chartered-accountant friend of mine, whenever dines in restaurants, makes it a point to pack whatever food is left on the table, and hand it to those who sleep on the roads, on his way home. I have been seeing him doing this for years... and all quietly!


Old clothes, old shoes, old newspapers, old whatever... what do we do with them? And, you know there are several Good Samaritans around us, who quietly put this old stuff to good use; and yes, they have been doing it quietly and happily for years.


Back home in Mangalore, when I was in high school, my grandma would ask me to read the letters my uncles and aunts (my dad’s brothers and sisters) would write to her in Konkani from Mumbai. She did not know how to read or write; but, I – her son’s sons – knew! I did it for years, till she passed way... Yes, I did it happily and proudly!


Another lady, who lived in our neighborhood, had a brother in Mumbai. He worked in Mumbai as a lift-man and sent money to her sister to bring up her two little-children. This lady would wait for me when I returned from college with a very humble request:  to read her brother’s latest letter and write a small reply to it in Konkani... I did it till I left Mangalore... Yes, I was fortunate to read and write, and she was not!


The interesting thing about all this was: I did not know, that, it was called ‘charity’ or ‘help’! I, and rest of us, just did it... There was no noise or ceremony about such things... and, that was it.


When I look back at all these things, I realize, that, this world has Good Samaritans – doing their good work – all round us, and they have been doing it quietly for years. That’s something very inspiring for us... something that instills hope and optimism in our hearts.

This is Lent, for us, the Christians. At each home, a small box is kept at the God’s altar. It is called ‘The Dumb Box’! Every time I look at it, I smile remembering what Jesus had told about charity, help or whatever you call it:

“When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know
what your right hand is doing.”

So, today, let’s drop our coins in this box – The Dumb Box – quietly and smile... Jesus is watching!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

THE DEAD BUFFALO, ALWAYS, GAVE MORE MILK






Pic.: Sherry Haridas

“My mother always told me not to handle a buffalo by its tail,
but always catch it by its horns...
And I have used that lesson in everything in my life,
 including the Railways.”
With your mother’s advice, Laluji, you really did a good job as our Railway minister. And, you know what, sir: my mother, while raising her five sons in our village, would, always, tell:
“Sons, remember the old saying: “The dead buffalo, always, gave more milk.”

Sir, you want to know why she told us this?

Because, when the buffalo was alive, we would only complain how useless the she-buffalo was...  Her milk was not only less, it was bad, too!

So, whenever a buffalo died in our village, and we saw her master beating his chest screaming his lungs out: “What a great buffalo she was... How good the milk was... How much she gave,” yes, when we saw that sight, our mother would point to the heart-broken master and tell us this:
“Sons, you better recognize how great your buffalo is when she is alive... You better value the quantity and appreciate the quality of the milk she gives, now!”

Else, Laluji, you know, when the Buffalo is gone, we, too, would be beating our chests and screaming our lungs out... “What a buffalo she was... he was... it was!”

So, that is why...

That’s why mothers’ advice is, always, good, no?

“Handle it by its horn... not tail,” your mother told...

“Praise it when it is alive... not when dead,” my mother did.


Sirji, so nice... we both love our village buffaloes! You are a big man.; so, they invited you to Harvard to tell them your buffalo story...

I am a small man... I am telling my buffalo story to my friends, in this Blog...

Hope, they will love the buffalo when it is around!

GERALD D’CUNHA

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

BOSS, GO AND SLEEP, QUIETLY







Pic.: Errol D'Souza

All of us have our ‘pets’ and ‘pests’. But, if two of my pests are fighting, I have this tendency in me to root for that pest, who I detest less.

Like last night, when I was watching the ‘News Hour’. Well, my wife has asked me hundred times, “What do you gain watching such mindless arguments before you go to sleep?” Both of us detest Arnab’s screaming, shouting, intimidating, preaching, and dishing out judgments. Initially, like the rest of the world, we would admire him. But, now, we find him too much.

But, then, when I switch on the TV at night, I tend to be a little curious about Arnab... Maybe, just to check, what is tonight’s ‘Never, ever Mrs. Lekhi’ episode... So, last night, there were Pramod Muthalik and one of his henchmen. Now, normally, I can’t stand Arnab for more than five minutes... But, last night, I watched his ‘noise hour’ till the last ball!

Why? Because, I detested Muthalik more!

And, when it was all over, I found myself cribbing, all over again: “Useless arguments... Stupid... Sheer waste of time!”

“Who tells you to watch, my dear?” It was my wife’s voice from the kitchen. “Go and sleep quietly,” she concluded.
Two days ago, Errol, my 20-year-old nephew from Mangalore, had posted a casual status on FB: “Still no trace of Malaysian Airliner - MH370.”

Joel, his college buddy, was quick to respond:  “Vogeth nidhe saiba!”

Translated from our Konkani, it meant: “Quietly sleep, boss!”

I was the first one to like Joel’s comment!

Why? Because, I, too, often, do the same thing: Worry about missing planes in the far away skies and groan about kissing couples in the local gardens... I, too, stand on the roadside and watch, holding my breath, the cock-fights, the bull-fights and Arnab Vs Muthalik freestyle-wrestlings...

Yes, till someone like my wife, or Joel, will remind me from the kitchen or balcony: “Boss, go and sleep quietly!

One of my ‘pets’ is Mrs. Byron Katie. In her book, ‘Loving What is’, she reminds us, that, in life, all of us find ourselves minding only three kinds of businesses – our own, others’ or God’s. She concludes, that, the stress walks into our lives, when we find ourselves focusing on, and worrying about, what they call - ‘None-of-our-business’!

Good-night!!!

GERALD D’CUNHA

Monday, March 24, 2014

WITH OUR CLARITY COMES OUR SELF-CONFIDENCE







 “One ship drives east and other drives west 
by the same winds that blow.
It's the set of the sails and not the gales 
that determines the way they go.”

- Ella Wheeler Wilcox




Pic.: Sherry Haridas


Imagine, when you wake up in the morning, you have no idea about what you have to do through the day... Imagine, this happens every day... You have no plan for the day... for the week... for the month... for the year... for your life!


Last night, another young-man - whose twelfth-standard exams will be over in a few days - was confessing with me that his self-confidence has been very low, lately. He told me that it wasn't so for him, some two years ago, when he had chosen to do science after passing his tenth-standard exams. He wanted to become a doctor. But, as college life started, he found himself getting drifted from his original goal. The boy wasn't prepared for the kind of grueling work-discipline his dream demanded... He wanted to enjoy his college life, the company of his friends... and, above all, he hated too much of competition... the rat race. Suddenly, the pressures began to mount from all sides – parents, classes, college, friends and well-wishers... In the process, the confusion only mounted... and, just before the Board exams, it was feared that he might not give his exams! Somehow, he was persuaded to write his exams, for the better or for the worse... So, now that only one paper is left!


Last night, he was talking to me over the phone. “Sir, my main worry is my loss of self-confidence,” the young-man told me, very sincerely, “I don’t like it this way.”


The boy remembered feeling extremely confident when he had a goal for his life – to become a doctor. When that goal left him, he had been plagued with confusion. Today, when you ask him, “What you want to do after twelfth?” he replies, “I don’t know.”


From this, it is evident, that the only way our young-man can feel confident about life is by being clear about what he wants to do in life...


“How can I find that out, sir?” the young-man was serious, when he asked me, last night.


“To start with, be kind to your own self, dear,” I counseled. I added, “Spend a lot of time in a quiet place... Go within you... Get in touch with things that make you extremely happy... things you don’t mind doing without caring for money and time, things you would happily do without being told, supervised and coaxed... Get in touch with your talents, skills, strengths... Learn to bring the trust within you... Learn to trust in the kindness of God... You will get the clue, the clarity, only by going within you... in silence.”


I had reminded the young-man to stay away from all sorts of negative influences – particularly from those friends who were goal-less. I urged him to read inspirational material... the success stories of achievers.


And, yes, I had, also, asked our young-man not to wait in order to feel self-confident... The process to retreat into a quiet place had to start, right there, and right away...


“Yes sir!” was the answer.


As we go about our daily lives, a hundred things may help us feel self-confident. But, the surest one is: Being clear about what we want to do in life. With that clarity alone, we all will do a great service to our own well-being. Believe me, we cannot enjoy our life-journeys when we are clueless about our destinations...


Yes, in life, enjoying our journeys is self-confidence... It is our happiness, too. The poet E.E. Cummings had said it, so beautifully:


“Trust your heart if the seas catch fire,
live by love though the stars walk backward.”



My young-friend, whose life is it, anyway? Whose happiness? Whose self-confidence?


GERALD D’CUNHA

Sunday, March 23, 2014

THE GATES OF A HEAVEN AND A HELL






Pic.: Bhushan Thakkar

One day, a soldier, by the name Nabushige, came to the Zen master Hakuin Ekaku with a question: “Is there a heaven and a hell?”

“Who are you?” the Zen master asked.

“A Samurai,” answered Nabushige.

“You say you are a Samurai, a warrior,” said the wise-man, “but, from your face, you look like a beggar… Which king would hire you to guard him?”

This sent the Samurai into a rage, and his hands reached to his sword…

“Oh, you carry a sword!” Hakuin remarked calmly, “But, my friend, do you think it is sharp enough to chop off my head?”

By now, the sword was out…

“Behold!” said the wise master, “There open the gates of hell!”

The Samurai quickly got the message, and sent back the sword to where it belonged.

“And, now, you see there the gates of heaven opening!” the Master concluded.

None of us has seen the gates of a heaven and a hell. Who wants to, and why? Yes, the gates of a heaven and a hell, ‘here after’… But, ‘here and now’, in this very existence, are present a heaven and a hell… and, you and I can see their gates opening before us, so often… and so clearly!

I have, always, loved this little Zen story… Particularly, when my hands reach to my sword in anger… and, then, when something makes me send it back to where it belongs…

GERALD D’CUNHA 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

WHY PEANUTS ARE GOOD








Pic.: Sherry Haridas

“You know you are on the road to success
if you would do your job, and not be paid for it.”
Prateek*, who has just given his twelfth-standard exams, wants to pursue studies in Law. He has been telling this to me for, almost, two years, now. That’s something nice about him. He has a definite goal before him.


Whenever a young-man tells me, with all his conviction, what he wants to do in life, I feel happy for him. For, with that clarity come the rest of the ingredients required for success: motivation, hard-work, passion, self-discipline and, above all, that dogged determination. Many young-ones are not very sure about what they want to do in life. And, some - even though they are - have a bad work discipline... They get distracted very fast, get carried away by peer-pressure and, with slightest set back, tend to get unsettled, discouraged... and they give up.


So, I keep telling the young-ones, that they need to be incredibly focused. That, focus penetrates and helps them channelize their energies... That, it will help them deal with their distractions effectively. That, most importantly, they need to have loads and loads of patience, be ready to wait, sacrifice – now – so that their waiting and sacrifice would pay off rich dividend to them in due course...


Last evening, Prateek had come to see me with his dad. His dad is a self-made business-man. He has been fully supporting and mentoring Prateek in his dream of becoming a fine lawyer. He wanted Prateek to work, during his present vacation, in the office of a well-known advocate-friend. But, Prateek wanted to know how much would he receive as his pay for the work. And, Prateek’s dad had failed to convince his son as to why the pay, at this stage, should not be a concern... why this period of a voluntary and conscious apprenticeship was so significant in order to learn and grow... how it would pay off in a long run etc.


Prateek was, somehow, not convinced with his dad’s logic. He was a new-age dreamer; he believed in instant results. He wanted his efforts to be recognized, valued and paid for... and now!


His dad had argued: “Your efforts would be recognized and valued, by all means... But, they might not be paid for, now... at least, the way you expect them to be... You have to forego that desire consciously, gladly... for the greater good. You need to wait, sacrifice... trade-off... You need to prepare yourself, become tough... and, that would be your pay-package...” 


Prateek was still not convinced... So, the son and his father had come to take my opinion.


I shared my own story.


I told Prateek, that when I was in first-year B’Com, my idol, Prof.  B.S.Raman had come to teach our hundred-odd-all-boys class. I was a shy and scared kid, self-conscious, and full of self-doubts. I had no clue as to what I wanted to do in my life... Essentially, because of my low self-esteem and a killing inferiority-complex. So, when I saw a hero in Prof. Raman, right there – sitting lost in that big class-room – I had resolved to become a teacher like him. Such was the intensity of my desire, that, I couldn't wait to become one... And, before I knew it, I was, already, doing it: I was teaching my close friends after the college hours... I would do it in the college premises, at my place, in their places and even on hilltops! They would praise me, and I would feel good about myself, very, very worthwhile... They would tell about me to their friends and neighbors, and, before I knew it, I was teaching my whole village... yes, ignoring my own studies, ignoring my parents’ well-meant warnings... and, strangely, I was doing it all free!


I told Prateek, that, what seemed mysterious – rather outright foolish – was this: At home, we needed money badly. Mom and dad would have felt a lot relieved had I brought home some money through my efforts... But, despite the constant cash crunch at home, they never ever insisted that I should ‘bill’ my students, immediately... They only warned me not to ignore my own studies, and felt glad that I did a good work and trusted that it would help me in a long run...


And, I told Prateek this, too. Even after I came to Mumbai and struggled without a job for some time, I did the same thing... When I made up my mind to go to house to house and teach, I did a large part of my work for free, and the rest for a much lower fee... But, I did it, all along, keeping my long-term plans in mind... always believing that my work would pay off rich dividends in due course... believing that it would help me build bridges of trust, friendship and goodwill...Yes, even though I did not have money in hand, I wasn't tempted, at all, to make a killing out of my work... I was ready to wait, sacrifice... and trade off...


I told Prateek, that his dad was right to the core... That, he should be prepared to work in the office of his dad’s advocate-friend for free – of for peanuts... And, he shouldn't mind doing ‘any work’ there, including sweeping the floor or washing the boss’ tea-cups... Yes, he should do it gladly, lovingly and proudly... Yes, if through that ‘choice’, he was able to see himself becoming a great lawyer...


Did I convince Prateek?


Hope, I did.


*The name is changed


GERALD D’CUNHA

Friday, March 21, 2014

WHAT HAS TO BE CARRIED BY ME, MUST BE DONE ONLY BY ME









Pic.: Rajiv Sharma

This is Lent. The last days of Jesus Christ’s life... They are packed with His human experiences... his fear, anxiety, pain, suffering, humiliation... and, then, the passion, prayer, faith, courage and mighty resolve... As a Christ’s follower, this part of His life leaves me shaken, humbled, inspired and, yes, confident.

As a Christian, I am, also, taught, that Christ had come on earth, taking His human form, to save the mankind... save me. So, we call Him the Salvador... the Savior.

However, faith of my religion aside, I seriously feel, Jesus Christ should not have come to save us, the sinners. God, Jesus’ Father, had shown no mercy when Adam and Eve had sinned. He had thrown them out of the Eden Garden, saying, in no uncertain terms: “By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made.

I ask God, “Why did You send, then, Your own Son to bail us out from our sins?”

But, I know how small I am to ask God this question!

When Christ himself was in great distress, when he lost all His strength and felt the fear in his soul, he knelt down in the Gethsemane Garden, all alone, and prayed to His Father: “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup [of suffering] away from me. However, Your will must be done, not mine."

Even Jesus Christ, the savior of mankind, had been on His knees when in distress... Therefore, I believe, we all have to follow Him... We all have to be on our knees, in times of our distress, and pray to our savior: “Lord, if it is Your will, please do away this test from me; but, Your will must be done, not mine!”

I think, there is hope of salvation for me only when I yearn to be saved. Not otherwise.

So, what am I supposed to do in Lent?

Each one, here on this earth, is expected to carry his own cross. Expecting Jesus Christ to carry mine is expecting too much from God. It is sacrilege!

I have never liked the idea of rescuing someone when he is not willing to be rescued. We need to help those who need help... who are humble, yearning and grateful... It can be, truly, a spiritual experience whenever we step forward to carry someone-else’s cross for a little distance... just as it was for Simon of Cyrene, who had carried Jesus’ cross for a short journey through Calvary. But, then, no one bailed out Jesus, not even his own Father...

What Christ had to carry, only he had to!

Somehow, this message is too painful for us to accept. Because, most of us are hooked on to the idea of ‘the Savior will come’... The White Knight... The Florence of Nightingale... Yes, to save us, to bail us out!

The Lent, for me, is the time to seek strength and not to lose it by ‘clinging’ to my Lord... It is the time to go on my knees, yet again, and thank Him for doing more than enough for me, already... and to believe, from His own example, in the truth, that, what has to be carried by me, must be done only by me!

The Lent... The grace time!

GEALD D’CUNHA

Thursday, March 20, 2014

WHEN THERE IS NO REMEDY FOR THE 'PAIN IN MY NECK'...






Pic.: Rajiv Sharma

In life, the lesser I resist, the better for me!

And, it applies to, almost, every situation and person in my life... whose presence has become what, in my frustration, I, often, yell out as - ‘a pain in my neck’!

Nobody - or nothing - in my life can become a pain in my neck, unless I allow him or it  to be!

Yes, people can not eat my head... I allow them to!

Situation in life can not destroy my peace... I allow them to!

When someone behaves the way I don’t like, I can tell him about it in a dozen different ways... But, in spite of my telling, if his behavior doesn't change, my reaction to it, should. Else, he will continue to dwell in my head as my perennial tormentor, make my head constantly spin... and, most certainly, he will end up becoming that nasty pain in my neck. Or, wherever it is!

The troubles in our lives, too, may come uninvited. And, who, in his senses, wants them? Yes, when troubles come, our natural instinct is to resist their entry... try all possible means to banish them from our lives. With some, we succeed; and, with some, we don’t. The key to our peace of mind lies exactly here:

What do we do when some of our so-called troubles don’t go away?

Do we resist them more - curse them, scream at them, throw things around... blame, accuse, and swear... yes,  everything that an obsessed person would do?

Or, do we accept them – welcome them, embrace them... so that they dissolve, melt away, keeping us free from their bondage, free from being victimized, traumatized or crippled?

Carl Jung’s famous statement, “What you resist, persists; what you embrace, dissolves,” doesn’t tell us to simply lie down and allow people and situations to walk over us, rule our peace of mind. Far from it.  A proactive person – call him sensible person, if you like – will, first, try his best to change all the undesired situations and behavior of people in his life. But, not beyond that proverbial ‘wisdom point’ made famous by the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference
.

Shantideva, the 8th-century Indian Buddhist-scholar, had evoked the same wisdom, poetically:
If there’s a remedy when trouble strikes,
What reason is there for dejection?
And if there is no help for it,
What use is there in being glum?

So, my dear friend, today, if your wisdom tells you, that there is no remedy - yes, for your ‘pain in the neck' -  please say ‘Amen’... So be it!

GERALD D’CUNHA

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"HOPE HAS TWO BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS..."











Pic.: Sherry Haridas


Hope has two beautiful daughters...
Their names are anger and courage:
anger at the way things are,
and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.
-St Augustine


Whenever someone says to me, or I say to someone, “I will pray for you,” what we, actually, try to convey to each other is: “Friend, don’t worry; everything will be alright!”

Last night, when my wife saw me throwing my hands up in frustration at certain present situations in my life, I, instantly, felt her touch: “Don’t’ worry dear; everything will be alright!”

It was at night. In the day earlier, I must’ve said the same thing to at least half-a-dozen people... my students who were anxious about their exams, a couple-friend of mine who had just lost their six-month-old baby, my neighbor, here, whose wife has been undergoing cancer treatment, a dear old-student of mine who has just been laid-off by his company,  a young couple whose marriage has hit the rocks... and, this little kid here, who came to complain to me that his playmate had given him some ‘bad words’!

If the present situations – our tough times – were to last forever, then, none of us would've liked to continue living...

What is there to live for? What is there to work for? Why pray... when there is no hope?

And, because – deep down in our hearts, we ‘know’ that our tough times will never last, this very hope instills in us the ‘reason’ to live for... And, along with this reason comes the courage to work hard... to look forward with optimism and zest... to keep trusting and contributing, keep believing, dreaming and loving...

So, when I throw my hands up in frustration, please whisper into my heart, “Don’t worry dear... Everything will be alright.” And, I will do the same, when I see your frustration... Yes, we are those two beautiful daughters of Hope... and, we shall, always, be there for each other!

St. Augustine had, also, said this:

“Pray as though everything depended on God;
Work as though everything depended on you.”

Let’s read that again...

GERALD D’CUNHA