Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THE WISE-MAN'S RING







Pic.: Rohit Makhija

It is a human tendency: If my present life-situation is pleasant, I want it to last… Last long so that I can enjoy it more and more. On the other hand, if the present life-situation is unpleasant, I want it to go… pass as quickly as possible.

But, Eckhart Tolle says in his acclaimed book, ‘The Power of Now’, that our present life-situation - the situation in hand – is right there before us to provide us with the experience we need the most. He says:

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful
for the evolution of your consciousness. 
How do you know this is the experience you need? 
Because, this is the experience you are having at this moment.

No matter how much I try to avoid the unpleasant experience of my present life-situation, the truth is, that, it ‘is’ there, right before me! Whether pleasant or unpleasant, when it is there, I have to accept it as a godsend… as something God wanted me to experience, right now, for my own spiritual evolution… Yes, the earlier the acceptance, the better for me…

All material things in this world perish, and every life-situation is only that – a ‘situation’, an episode… a temporary scene in the play called ‘Life’!

Eckhart Tolle, therefore, says:

 “Forget about your life-situation and pay attention to your life.
Your life situation exists in time... Your life is now. 
Your life situation is mind-stuff... Your life is real.”


There is this inspiring Sufi-fable…

Once, there was a mighty king who was unable to understand why he would experience such depression despite living in the lap of luxury. He was anxious and worried with this thought. Finally, he sought the help of a Wise-man in his kingdom.

“Please teach me,” the King pleaded before the Wise-man, “how I can beat my depression.”

The sagely man assured the King that he would come back in two days with a solution…

After two days, the Wise-man appeared before the King. “My Lord, I have created this ring specially for you,” he said, “It will solve your problem.”

The ring had this inscription: ‘THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS’. The King was intrigued and asked the meaning of those words…

The wise-man only urged the King to wear it and experience the wisdom on his own. He said, “My Lord, every time you are sad and every time you are happy, do not forget to remind yourself with these words.”

Thus, every time the King was wrought by sorrow, the King would remind himself, ‘This, too, shall pass'. This would instantly help me experience peace in his heart.  Similarly, every time he was ecstatic, the King would never forget to remind himself with the same message, ‘This, too, shall pass’… It would immediately help the King not to get blinded and carried away by ecstasy.


True. As Eckhart Tolle says, All our life-situations – happy ones or sad ones – exist only in ‘time… They are temporary… They ‘shall’ pass…

But, Life is eternal, timeless…
It is real… It is ‘NOW’!


GERALD D’CUNHA



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

KEEP IT WITHIN THE VALLEYS OF TWO HEARTS






Pic.: Asha D'Souza

I was talking to this young-man, last evening, who is presently pursuing his post-graduation. He and his girl-friend, both, studied with me some years ago. The thing I liked the most about both of them was this: they kept their relationship very, very personal… Never made any show of it.

After many years, when I met him, yesterday, I enquired about the girl. He told me that they were still in relationship and she had started working.

Then, I mentioned to him what I had admired about both of them. What this young man said in response made me think and, yes, blog today…

“Sir, my dad and mom have been married for nearly forty years, now,” the young-man said, “As their youngest son, I know how much they are in love with each other; but, they never, ever had to display before their children – let alone the world – how deeply they were in love with each other. Yet, we knew how pure and intense their love was.”

My thoughts went to my own parents… I had never, ever seen my dad and mom going heads-over-their-heels to show how much they were in love with each other… But, as their young-son, I knew how deep and sincere their love was… All my brothers knew that, too...

My thoughts came back and focused on myself… “Do I need to tell the world that my wife is the ‘most important’ person in this world’ and that I will love her like a Romeo till the world ends?

Yet, I know, my wife knows and our son knows… yes, how it is!


What is personal should be, always, kept personal. What is not for public display should be guarded so… with tons and tons of respect and dignity…

The young-man I was talking to, last evening, told me this, too:

“The only person needs to know about the depth and beauty of my love is the person I am in love with… It begins and ends there!”

Oh yes; it, always, should begin and end there… within the valleys of two hearts!



GERALD D’CUNHA

Monday, November 24, 2014

HERE, IT DOESN'T RAIN IN NOVEMBER-END; BUT, IF IT DOES...





Pic.: Alwyn Mathias


Early this morning, my brother, Rony, called up. “Congratulations Rony,” I wished him, “Sorry, I am wishing you late.”

Rony is a popular Konkani singer, now based in Kuwait. A week ago, he had been conferred with the honor – ‘The Best Male Konkani Singer in the Gulf'’.

“Thank-you dattu*,” Rony said, “Don’t worry about the delay; I can understand.”

“I am in Mangalore,” Rony said. Till then, I was under the impression that he was calling me from Kuwait.

Melvin Peris is one of the oldest and most popular Konkani singers, whose 100th Konkani musical-nite was scheduled to be staged last night in one of the best open-air venues in Mangalore. About six-thousand people, including my mom, sisters-in-law, nephews and nieces, who are based in Mangalore, had been in the audience. Rony had been specially flown in from Kuwait by Melvin to sing at his momentous occasion. Many noted individuals, from different spheres of life, too, had been there to be a part of the grand evening…

So, today morning, when Rony said, “I am in Mangalore,” I, suddenly, remembered why he was in Mangalore…

Then, Rony told me this: Just some four songs into the show, it had begun to pour insanely, thunder and lightning adding more woes, mercilessly, for almost an hour. It was November 23rd… Nobody, in his wildest imagination must’ve thought of a downpour of this magnitude and impact. The organizers and patrons were not prepared for this… It was a mess… and, it was all over after just four songs!

Rony, my brother, had specially come down from Kuwait to sing for his friend and be a part of the great moment. But, God had different plan… He disposed, accordingly!


“I am feeling sad for Melvin,” Rony told me in the morning, “I could not sing a single song for him!”


Just one evening before this, my friend Uday and his wife Pushpa had celebrated their wedding silver-jubilee. The venue was the terrace of the building in which they had just made their beautiful new-house. So, it was a double celebration, and, understandably, Uday and Pushpa were sharing their joy with all of us, their friends and well-wishers. They had earned every bit of success they had achieved – both professional and personal. It was a beautiful evening… The event-managers had designed the venue amazingly and we were transported into another world!

But, then, as I sat there, around the well-laid table, surrounded by grandly-dressed guests and soothed by scintillating music and romantic lights, I looked up… The sky was dark and sparkled by a million stars… The hills, at a distance, stood gloriously in their silence… and people, here, were happily dancing...

“God, please have mercy,” I remember praying quietly, “may everything go well.”

I am sure, Uday and Pushpa, the event-managers or anyone else must not have thought of rain coming to act as a spoil-sport. Luckily, it didn't… God disposed exactly what man had proposed!

Thank-you God…

But, how do you explain what happened last night, in Mangalore? How much must’ve gone into dreaming, planning and preparing!

The intentions were the same; weren't they?

The prayers were the same; weren't they?

The hope was the same; wasn't it?

Well, I will be a fool if I try to ‘explain’… All that I am trying to do is to remind myself with what Harivansh rai Bachchan would do to his illustrious son:

“Beta, mann ka ho toh achcha; na ho toh aur achcha!’


I pray, it doesn't rain, here, in November-end and spoil my party; but, if it does… SO BE IT!



GERALD D’CUNHA


Sunday, November 23, 2014

'YOUR BODY IS A TEMPLE OF GOD'









Pic.: Vinod Krishnan

I was on way to my Tai Chi class, this morning. While waiting at the signal, my eyes fell on a large banner relating to health drive. “TAKE STAIRS AT LEAST ONCE A DAY.” Well, of the many things written on that banner, I could read this one, in that brief moment…

“If you can give at least 15 minutes, every day, for your body’s health, that is the greatest service you could do to yourself,” a lady told me, later in the class, “Our health should be in our own hands, not in our doctors’.”

How true it is! We run to doctors for silliest of the reasons… spend thousands of rupees on tests, swallow loads of pills… All this makes our situation only worse!

But, then, why blame doctors for our own sins? My own doctors have repeatedly advised me – with all the gentleness and honesty in their hearts – to follow these very basic and simple things in life:

Eat sensibly…

Exercise – whatever way it may be – for at least 15 minutes a day…

Take sufficient rest…

Live with a purpose…

Have some good friends…

Stay off the negative influence…

Nurture a few good hobbies which keep you happy…

Stay off any self-defeating habits…

Spend time with your family…

Thank...

Pray.


Books, tapes, videos, Workshops and T.V. shows have told me the same thing, repeatedly…

So, what the lady meant when she said, “Our health should be in our own hands, not in our doctors’ – was: “Let’s not blame anyone for our health; let’s take responsibility for it.”


Many a times, a question comes and stares at me: “How can you truly ‘achieve’ and ‘enjoy’ anything worthwhile, if you cannot focus on your very own health?”

That is the time I realize the true meaning of the old adage: “Health is wealth.”

So, as I was allowing the meaning of the line in the banner – ‘TAKE STAIRS AT LEAST ONCE A DAY’ – to sink in, I was getting more and more convinced, that, if I cannot focus on my own body, for at least fifteen minutes a day – in whatever manner – then, I do not deserve to be healthy…

With that, I do not deserve to reap the harvest of all my toil and struggle in life…

Like everything else in life, unless I make health a value, a priority in my life, it just won’t be…

A hundred reasons and another hundred excuses won’t change that reality…

Do I need a doctor to tell me this?

Or, a priest to remind me:  'Your body is a temple of God'?


GERALD D’CUNHA


Saturday, November 22, 2014

THE WISDOM FROM THE 'DITCH'






Pic.: Vinod Krishnan


There are only two ways in which I can save myself from falling in a ditch: One, by heeding to the wise and well-meant advice of my well-wishers – parents, teachers, friends and such… Two, by ignoring their advice and falling in the ditch, itself!

“Sir, my son will never learn from my advice or your advice,” the mother of a 19-year-old told me, one day, over the phone, “he will learn only from falling in the ditch.”

The ‘ditch’ was young-man’s T.Y. B’Com exam!

The mother was right.

Both parents were highly qualified and worked very hard to give the best to their son… including the best of advice…

But, then, but then…

Here, in my class, I, too, did the same thing. Besides the best teaching in their subject, I would give him and others the best of advice, as well… Yes, wise, kind and well-meant advice...

“You guys are not doing well, not because you are weak,” I would remind my students, repeatedly, “It is because you do not know what you are capable of!” Then, looking straight into their eyes, which now seem to ‘listen’ and understand, I would conclude, “Just imagine, what a tragedy it is! It is enough to motivate you.”

The effect? Some would change; some wouldn't… The young-man - whose mother knew her son better than I did - failed in his T.Y. B’Com!

Sometimes, failing and learning – falling in the ditch and realizing one’s mistake - can be the most priceless-lesson one can ever learn in life…

Mercifully - and happily - the young-man is not the only student in this famed life-school; we all are there in it, too…

The only difference is: For our young-man, the ‘ditch’ was his T.Y. exams…. For us, it can be our own!

Most of us smile every time a ‘Dekh Bhai’ or Dekh Behn’ or ‘Dekh Beta’ troll pops up on our computer or mobile screens… The other day, I smiled when a young-girl was telling other girls (in my English translation):

“Look sister, in life, the wisdom you get from getting 'ditched', you will never get it from eating those almonds!”…

Badam ki akal… Dhoke ki akal!


And, today, in my morning batch, many of my eleventh-standard students had turned up, yet again, without doing their homework… Yes, not because they were weak, but because they did not know how capable they were. Instead of getting into a long sermon, I told them about this ‘Dekh Behn’ troll and, on the spot, created and presented before them my own:

“Dekh Bachchon, in life, what you learn from falling in the ditch, you will never learn from my sermons!”

The hell broke loose in my class…

They were happy; I was happy…

They knew it; I knew it!


GERALD D’CUNHA



Friday, November 21, 2014

WHOSE ARE THESE SEA-ROCKS, WHOSE ARE THESE BLADES OF GRASS?







Pic.: Vinod Krishnan


There is plenty for all of us, there out… All that we need to do is ‘see’ it, ‘appreciate’ it and ‘desire’ it… very, very deeply, sincerely and passionately.

Now, is it what the famous ‘Law of Abundance’ all about?

Last morning, I saw the above picture shared by my friend, Vinod Krishnan. Now, I said, my ‘friend’…

Well, Vinod and I haven’t met anytime. Ashok, my dear friend, is a dear friend of Vinod, too. They, both, are photographers and share the same passion… So, that’s about my friendship with Vinod…

But, then, there is a deep connect, which goes beyond the realm of our physical meeting…

We both ‘see’ what is there out… free and in abundance to all of us…

Vinod captures them through his lenses… I through my writings…

He stops to ‘appreciate’ the brilliance in the wild, the wayside…
I do the same… as I walk by…

Vinod lays his claim on the glory-in-the-mundane… desiring it deeply and passionately…

I, too, do the same, every day…


Whose are these sea-rocks, whose are these blades of grass, whose are these feathers of eagle, whose are these tear-drops and rain-drops?


The same Sun gives us light to see, the same God gives us showers of blessings… Is not the rainbow same, are not the clouds and the thunders… the boats, waves and the silence?

They are all there all in the open… and they have been there from the beginning of time… and, they shall be there till the end of time…

So, you, Vinod and I – who come here as tourists and go – yes, we all… what are we supposed to do with our brushes, lenses and pens… with our eyes, hearts and soul?

“No matter what it is, how it is and when it is,” Vinod tells Ashok, often, “take a picture, putting all our heart into it.”

What did he say?

“Buddy, it is there all free and in abundance… All that you, as a photographer, need to do is ‘see’ it ‘appreciate it’ and ‘desire’ it deeply and passionately… with all your heart… Yes, at least one picture a day… no matter what it is, how it is and when it is…”

But, what impressed me the most was this part of the advice: “Do it for yourself!”

I think, in that last bit of advice lay the whole world of abundance!


This river called ‘LIFE’ will never, ever go dry…

Thank-you Vinod.


GERLAD D’CUNHA


Thursday, November 20, 2014

WE ONLY LEARN WHAT WE WANT TO LEARN





Image courtesy: Internet


Meeta, my friend, shared an inspiring quote this morning:

“Your best teacher is
your last mistake.”

But, the next moment, I was wondering if it was:

 ‘Your last mistake
Is your best teacher.”


Attitude. Perspective. Outlook. Paradigm… Call it by whatever name you like. But, they all boil down to the same essence:

In Life, you only see what you want to see… You only hear what you want to hear… You only learn what you want to learn… The moral of the story is what you like to draw from the story… Yes, what ‘suits your fancy, your imagination’!

One of the earliest motivational books I had read was ‘Your Erroneous Zones’ by Dr. Wayne Dyer. He starts with this story:


“Once a very famous motivational-speaker – they call themselves ‘Life-coach’ these days – had come to transform the lives of a group of chronic alcoholics. It was believed that the man, with his charm and power, would compel the addicts to kick the bottle once and for all…

So, our miracle-man stood before the group of alcoholics with a demonstration, which, he was dead convinced, would do the trick…

He placed on the table two glass jars - one filled with crystal-clear water, the other with pure, undiluted liquor.

Then, the speaker opened a box of worms. He pulled one long worm and dropped it in the first jar which contained pure water. To everyone’s delight, the worm gently swam through the water and settled on one side of the glass jar…

There was an applause!

Next, the speaker pulled another worm and dropped it in the second jar which contained undiluted spirit… And, even before anyone could blink, the worm disintegrated into a thousand pieces!

There was a stunned silence in the room!

A long pause later, the trainer asked, “What did you learn from this, my friends?”

Instantly, a hand went up, from the last row… It was Johnny.

“Yes Johnny, “the speaker said extremely impressed, “tell me, what did you learn?”

“Sir, I learnt,” Johnny said, unable to stand firmly on the ground…

“Yes, Johnny…”

“Sir I learnt…”

“Tell me, what did you learn?”

“Sir, I learnt,” Johnny was, finally, able to hold himself straight, “that, if we drink the way we do…”

“Yes, yes, tell me Johnny…”

“Sir, if we drink the way we do…”

“What will happen?”

“ALL THE WORMS IN OUR STOMACH WOULD DIE!”



The applause was louder and longer… But, the legend has it, that, it was the last time this speaker – the Life-coach – tried to change someone else’s life!



GERALD D’CUNHA


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

THE PARADOX: BURJ KHALIFA AND SANDSTORM

















Pic.: Rohit Makhija



I had watched the movie, ‘The Mission Impossible 4 – Ghost Protocol’ when it was first released, some years ago. Last night, they were showing it on T.V. and my eyes happened to fall on the action scenes in Dubai.

When I had first watched it, I don’t remember the Dubai scenes evoking the same thoughts they were evoking in me, last night…

Now, I was thinking…

Many, many years ago, Dubai was not as prosperous and as vibrant as it seemed now… It was a God-forsaken desert inhabited by the poor and illiterate locals… As time passed by, someone spotted oil and began to dig wells… The oil brought big, big money… and, money made not only their king wealthy, it made, almost, everyone who set foot on this land wealthy, too…

We know, the oil-wells have come with an ‘expiry date’. They will, soon, dry-up… and, the land will be barren, again…

But, that’s how it is for every land on this earth… The trees go, the rivers dry and the tigers and the birds will disappear… The kings and the queens go, the tycoons and the terrorists, all come and go… The children grow-up, become old one day and go… The temples end-up as ruins… God comes on earth by a new name, a new incarnation… Everything is in a state of flux… the mountains, the deserts and the oceans…

They come, they go…


Last night, I was wondering over the paradox called Dubai: on the one side, man has raised amazing landscapes – ‘The Palm islands’ - right at the heart of the ocean; the Burj Khalifa proudly stands to remind us as to how a desert can be turned into pure gold and can house the power that be…  But, then, there is this scene when  a sandstorm comes charging at you with ferocity and you  - the power that be – like everyone else run for your life, hide… try to save yourself, leave alone saving what you have built!

This scene of Tom Cruise running - on the one side to chase his Russian foe, on the other side, he running to save himself from the wrath of the sandstorm - made me numb for a while… The time when storm raged, the Burj Khalifa and city in the ocean… yes, they all looked meaningless, pale…  But, when the sandstorm passed,  it was clear to all of us that God gave everything to us with its terms and conditions, with its expiry date… and left us either to make the most of it, or to just lie there dormant in our deserts…

America, England or Australia, India, Japan or China… France, Russia or Egypt… Singapore, Mauritius or Dubai… all the lands, all the kingdoms have come from God with ’clauses’ attached to them…

Just as our own lives do…

God has given us our lives stuffed with our hidden wealth… and has left it for us to convert our deserts and oceans into whatever we want them to be… 

Even to abuse them is a choice before us!

Japan is such a small land. When her people raise those mighty skyscrapers, they are aware of the deadly earthquakes and tsunamis which God has put in their package… They can’t argue with God, just as the Sheikhs of Dubai and Saudi Arabia can’t argue with God about the sandstorms and the imminent oil dry-up…

All of us are given what we have and we are expected to make the most of it in our lifetime…

Yes, we are aware of our sandstorms and earthquakes, and we find out how to raise our skyscrapers tougher than those tsunamis and earthquakes… We find out where to hide and how to run when they come… Above all, we learn how to bounce back in life!

So, should man raise castles in the air?

I say, ‘Yes’…

Should man pray?

I say, ‘Yes’

Should man argue with God why sandstorms in Dubai and why tsunamis in Japan?

I say ‘NO’.



GERALD D’CUNHA


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

THE DAY STARTS WELL, ENDS WELL... WITH SOMETHING 'GOOD'







Pic.: Rohit Makhija

This Post is about ‘Good-morning’.

The first person to greet me ‘Good-morning’ is our doodhwala boy. The door-bell rings around 6.15 every morning and I open the door to take the milk. “Good- morning sir,” the greetings come before the milk...

“AHHHH!” I can feel the positive vibe, “Good-morning beta; thank-you,”  I give the vibe back to the young-boy, who, after doing the morning milk-rounds, goes to do his regular job as an office peon.

Honestly, I feel very, very happy about this young-man, who must be up on his feet before 5 every morning and goes about doing his door-to-door service by giving every resident more than what his line of duty expects, calls for… He lives in one of the slums in our vicinity and has studied till twelfth.. So, every time I close the door, I shake my head in a pleasant disbelief and ask, “Who must’ve inculcated this value in him?”

When I reach my classes, invariably, a group of young-students await me. “Good-morning every one,” I push it out of my lungs the way our doodwala boy does…

But, what I get back is very lukewarm!

“I said Good-morning!” I remind them as I have just crossed them…

“Good-morning, sir,” some of them remember…

“How come these college-kids forget to greet their sir, that, too, right at the start of their day?” I ask with a lot of disbelief and denial, “Were they not taught this in school as a golden value? Were they not repeatedly reminded by parents, “Beta, say Good-morning” to uncle, aunty and others? And, now, how can they forget it? They have come to learn from their teacher… It’s the very first lecture… and, how can they just ignore this simple basic lesson in life?"

Many a times, before I start my typical Accountancy or Taxation class, I let them know what crosses through  my mind… I tell them about the doodwala boy… I tell them about the book by the title: ‘What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School’!

They make faces; obviously, they don’t like a sermon in the morning…

“If I don’t give this sermon, darling, someone else will,” I read their sermon-allergic faces and tell them… Yes, tell them on their faces!


Finally, at 9 in the night, when I close my classes and come out, there is this watchman, who I love for his gung-ho greetings… “G00D-MORNING sir!!!!”

“A very, very Good-morning raja,” I give it back to this one-of-a-kind watchman, who - despite being reminded by many, that, at night, he shouldn't wish ‘Good-morning’ -  keeps doing the same, and does it so happily, proudly and sincerely!

“So what if it is night?” I tell myself. “He does it in style, with lots of gusto and honesty!”


The day starts well, ends well… with something ‘GOOD’…

In between, Life only reminds me to see ‘good’ in everything… even when my heart finds  hundred reasons to grumble about!


Have a nice day…


GERALD D’CUNHA