Monday, March 30, 2015

'HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT TAKE TO CATCH SIGHT OF THE MOON?"














Pic.: Chandrashekhar Varier



“Opening one’s eyes may take a lifetime.
Seeing is done in a flash.”

-  Fr. Anthony de Mello in ‘One Minute Wisdom’


Like everyone else, I, too, wake up every morning looking forward to be happy. Now, if there is nothing in the day that I would be enthusiastic and excited about, there is no way I can hope to be happy along my day.

The wise say, that doing what we love will make us happy. It is because we do it with great enthusiasm… But, they, also, say, that if we cannot do in life what we love, we should learn to love what we do…

What is the other way left for us to be happy in life?

Perhaps, an attitude of gratitude. But, again, learning to love what we do is nothing but being grateful for what has been offered to us. Isn’t it?

Yes, every day, like everyone else, I look forward to be happy… and, I keep getting the same advice, “Do with love whatever you do… do with a great heart... Complain and crib less… Thank and appreciate more… Help and empower others more… Forgive, forget and let go more…. And, above all, pray, celebrate and rejoice more.”

In one of my favorite books – Fr. Anthony de Mello’s ‘One Minute Wisdom’, we come across this pearl of wisdom:


To the woman, who complained
that riches hadn’t made her happy,
the Master said,” You speak as if luxury and comfort
were ingredients of happiness;
whereas, all you need to be  really happy, my dear,
is something to be enthusiastic about.”


Sometimes, our search for happiness can be as uncomplicated – and end as near - as this.  In the very first para of the Introduction to his book, Fr. de ’Mello tells us this:


To his puzzled disciples, the Master, later, said,
“How much time does it take to catch sight of the moon?”

“Then, why all these years of spiritual endeavour?”

“Opening one’s eyes may take a lifetime.
Seeing is done in a flash.”


Can I feel enthusiasm in my heart? If I can’t, I can’t feel there my happiness, either!


GERALD D’CUNHA




Thursday, March 26, 2015

MAY WHAT HAPPENED IN SYDNEY, TODAY, REMAIN IN SYDNEY







Pic.: Chetna Shetty



In one of THE DAWN CLUB debating sessions, the topic was cricket craze. A young boy blasted, without quoting George Bernard Shaw, “A famous man had said, cricket is a game played by eleven fools and watched by eleven-thousand fools.”

“Whoever had said that,” thundered another young-man “was the biggest fool!”

Today, like billions of ‘fools’,  all over the world, I, too, stayed at home to watch the India-Australia World Cup Semifinals. Right from the first over of Indian innings, my heart was telling me, “You fool, you should have gone to work!” After the fall of seventh wicket, I switched the TV off…

Ashwin, a 12th-standard (ISC) cricket-fool had his last Board paper, today, at noon. At around 11, I saw his FB status. “Angry… Ind-Aus Semifinals… And I am supposed to write my last Accounts paper today!”

In the evening Ashwin called me to say that the paper was good. “Are you still angry?” I teased him.

“Not at all, sir,” Ashwin was quick, “I am happy I missed the match!”

In fact, like all my fellow-fool-beings, I did not want to miss anything. So, I watched all the pre-match analysis, assessment and predictions. I loved the way Ravi Shashtri was answering the questions. He was the ‘Director’ of the Indian squad… He had to be absolutely positive and upbeat. “That’s past,” he quipped to one of the questions when reminded about some of our past debacles against Australia, “We will leave behind the old baggage… It is a new day, a new contest.”

I do not know how Shashtri and our players are feeling now… Particularly, Virat Kohli, who had the crushing weight of a billion hopes on his shoulders. When he came back with that one run, my heart choked!

Will Kohli sleep tonight?

For fools like us, there have been countless jokes on social media… Sai Baba reminding the devotee who wanted India to win, “Beta, it is Sydney and not Shirdi.” … The joke on the tyre ad,  where the girl reminds Kohli, “Virat, I want you back in five minutes!”… The teaser, that to see that one run, Anushka had travelled all the way to Sydney…

Yes, I loved all that… Like a true fool, I have, now, put behind that match… Frankly, I am not at all feeling tensed now as I was while watching the match…

For many fools, it may not be so easy… They must be still ‘carrying’ the young-beautiful woman, even now…

Even if you know this popular Zen story, allow me to share it, here, once more…

Once, two monks were crossing a river. The water was knee-deep. A young-beautiful woman was frightened to cross the river. The older monk gently offered to help and she seemed a lot relieved of her stress.

The monk gently lifted the young woman with his hands and carried her to the other side. Once they crossed the river, he gracefully placed her on the ground… The young woman profusely thanked the monk and they continued with their journey in different directions…

Hours later, the older monk, sensing a great deal of disturbance in the younger monk, asked, “What’s weighing you down, my brother?”

“Sir, our tradition prohibits us from touching a woman,” the distressed young-monk said to his senior, “I am sorry to say this: but, you not only touched this young-and-beautiful woman, you ‘carried’ her in your arms all across the river!”

“My dear bother, I have dropped that woman hours ago and miles behind,” the older monk said to his junior with a gentle heart, “but, it seems to me, that you are still ‘carrying’ her in your mind!”


Hope, all my fellow-fools have dropped behind this young-and-beautiful Sydney-woman. Like another famous man had advised, “May what happened in Sydney, today, remain in Sydney!”


GERALD D’CUNHA





Wednesday, March 25, 2015

THE FAST OF JUNAYD













Pic.: Rajiv Sharma
     



“Sometimes it is the journey that teaches you
a lot about your destination.”

-          Darke

Many a times, when my dearest ones ask me as to why I want to reach a certain destination, I find myself struggling for an answer. Because, that’s the time I become aware, that if my focus is more on reaching my destination – on becoming – rather than the process or the journey I chose to embark upon – on being… yes, if I am more stuck with reaching the destination rather than experiencing the joy and glory of my journey, I will only succeed in proving a point… Telling the world, “Hey, look, I have made it… I have arrived.”

I alone will know, deep inside, if, after reaching my destination, my life would be any different from how it was before I had set on my journey… I alone know if the journey was worth it.

Gandhi would, often, say, “Our means are as important as our ends.” He knew, how foolish we could be to think, that once the British left, we all would be far, far happier. He taught us the lesson, that if we did not walk the right path, our condition would be same, or worse, even after achieving our so-called ‘freedom’. Yes, for Bapu, the freedom and joy that came from walking the right path was more priceless than the thrill that came from reaching the destination…

Whenever I say, by ‘any means’, I am saying, ‘By hook or by crook’…  Yes, I will reach, for sure. But, then what?

The other day, a dear friend of mine told me a beautiful story about Junayd, the Sufi Master.

Once, Junayd decided to go on a pilgrimage accompanied by some of his  faithful disciples. He instructed them to observe a fast throughout their journey. The faithful gladly obeyed. Now, the news of the great saint passing through their village spread fast and far and many came out to greet their Master along his pilgrimage. One of the devotees, who lived along the path, prepared a delicious meal for his Master and other pilgrims. When Junayd and other pilgrims reached near this devotee’s house, they were received with great devotion and were requested to savor the meal prepared with great love.

The Master immediately agreed and sat down to eat his meal! On seeing their Master gladly relishing the meal, the other pilgrims, too, followed suit… After the meal, the Master thanked the kind devotee and his family and the journey continued…

Obviously, some pilgrims were left puzzled. Though they all had thoroughly enjoyed the meal, they couldn't resist from asking their teacher as to why he had decided to break his fast. “Didn't you instruct us to observe the fast strictly?” they asked.

“Yes, I did,” the Master replied to his disciples,” but, I did not ask you to break your fast and eat with me… You decided to do that.”

The Master continued, “My dear disciples, the man who had prepared the meal had done it with great love and he did not know, that we were on fast. On the other hand, we did not know, that he had prepared a meal for us with great love and sacrifice… When I came across this situation, I did what I thought was appropriate and, with my full heart, did what I did. I was fully aware of what I was doing… I enjoyed keeping the fast, breaking it, and keeping it again… But, what about you? Remember, we are pilgrims and, hence, the pilgrimage is more important than reaching the shrine!" 


Come, let’s proceed with our pilgrimage!


GERALD D’CUNHA

                                                                                                                           

Monday, March 23, 2015

GETTING OUT OF THE 'BOXES' WE ARE RAISED IN







Pic.: Alwyn Mathais
“If you don't get out of the box you've been raised in,
you won't understand how much bigger the world is.”
The ‘box’, Angelina is referring to, is our mind. Unless, we bring ourselves out of the rut – the image – we are in, we shall, always, be held captive there. Yes, inside the ‘box’. Someone had said it, rather bluntly, this way:
“A rag-picker’s son will, always, remain a rig-picker as long as he has the image of the rag-picker.”
And, that’s the story of each and every one of us…
We have this image of the situation in which we are born and grown… That’s our ‘box’, our ‘image’… our ‘world’. So, till we don’t look at it hard and decide to re-sketch this image, decide to re-write our script, we will, always, remain caught-up in our ‘boxes’.
There should be something bigger than us calling us, all the time… There should be something greater challenging us, all the time… A bigger vision, a greater cause… a brighter place to be… Only then will we give our best, only then will we come out of our ‘boxes’…

A frog’s world is the pond he finds himself in. When the pond gets full, he has the choice to go out to find a new world – brighter and bigger world. Or, he can hold on to his pond and die there… And, just as this frog, we, too, have these choices to make… To get caught-up in our ponds, or to come out in search of a bigger and brighter world…


The sorrows that we choose to live with… The hurt, hatred, resentment and self-pity we choose to live with… the self-defeating habits we are entangled with… negative influences and friendship that seem to rule our lives… the poverty we are faced with, the jobs that we are placed with… the religious beliefs that dictate our reactions… yes, all these are the ‘boxes’ we are caught-up in…

Unless we take a hard look at our boxes, we will never be able to find a new world…

A frog will always remain as a frog-in-the-pond… A rag-picker’s son will, always, remain a rag-picker…  

Yes, inside the ‘box’ called ‘mind’!



GERALD D’CUNHA



Saturday, March 21, 2015

A DIAMOND IN JHARKHAND






Pic.: Nimala Sundar



Last afternoon, when I was talking to some of my old acquaintances, another friend of mine, a doctor, showed up. I introduced him to my old friends and our discussion continued. During the course of this discussion, my doctor friend, referring to me, casually said to my other friends present, “To me, Gerry (He calls me Gerry sir!) is a ‘Diamond in Jharkhand’!”

Immediately, my other friends began to nod in agreement, while I was left clueless as to what was the significance of a diamond in Jharkhand’.

Well, the rest of the discussion cleared the coal around this diamond thing…

My doctor friend and others knew about the wealth hidden in the diamond mines of this otherwise remote state called Jharkhand. They knew, that no such mines existed in great cities like Mumbai, Delhi or Chennai. But, my friends, also, knew this: unless someone digs the diamond out of black coal mines and unless someone transports it to big cities – where people who appreciate, value and can afford it live, the diamond, itself, is just coal in Jharkhand!

My friends, including the doctor who had said this, were my well-wishers. I knew what they wanted to convey through this analogy…

That, like that diamond in remote Jharkhand, we are hidden, all unnoticed, unappreciated, and undervalued here in our own Jharkhands… That, unless, we make a conscious effort to dig ourselves out of our obscure mines and carry ourselves – our preciousness – to where it truly deserves to reach… where our beholders and connoisseurs really dwell… yes, unless this happens,  we all will end up being just that – ‘Diamonds in Jharkhand’!

My heart smiles as I, too, nod in agreement with my friends!


GERLAD D’CUNHA




Friday, March 20, 2015

WHO TAUGHT US NOT TO LOSE STRENGTH, NOT TO LOSE HOPE?






Pic.: Alka Chawra



One of the most humbling moments in the life of a teacher – at least in my life – is when, many, many years later, your student comes back to you to give you back that priceless lesson, which you had imparted to him or her several years ago. Your lesson had empowered the student when he or she needed it the most. And, now, here comes the student to empower you, when you need it the most!

I believe, this happens to all teachers several times in their lives…

The students grow up to become great physicians and surgeons… and they come back to treat their teacher… The teacher has lost strength… also, hope…”Teacher, it was you who taught us not to lose strength, not to lose hope,” the student, now, reminds the teacher…

The students grow up to become Lawyers, Psychologists, Chartered Accountants, School teachers and Principals; they become Architects, Builders, Bank Mangers, movie and sports stars, even Ministers and Clergymen… They all come back to their teachers, who have, now, become weak, tired, perhaps, a bit cynical… Yes, just to remind them, “Teacher, it was you who taught us not to lose strength and hope.”

I have been blessed to empower thousands of young boys and girls, over all these years. Many of them, now, hold fine positions in life… More importantly, they hold great expertise and right contacts. Today, when you need it the most, they appear and assure you, “Don’t worry teacher; what we are giving you is what we had gained from you.”

After almost twenty-five years or so, Alka, a dear student of mine, came to meet me with her husband, Prasad (who was not my student and had never met me before). A couple of hours before that, while talking to her over the phone , Alka could sense, that I badly needed some help in a certain area, which happened to be the area of their expertise. “Sir, it was you who taught us not to lose strength, not to lose hope,” my student reminded me from the other end, “I am coming right away; don’t worry.”

In less than an hour, Alka appeared, along with her exceptionally-gifted husband. We spent over two hours together discussing many things… Yes, that included my ‘problem’!

Mysteriously, after talking to Alka over the phone this morning, my mind went back to a powerful scene in the Hindi movie, ‘Saaransh’. Some thirty years had passed by and I had never thought of it, consciously, any time during this period. But, today, I revisited the scene and felt, there was some divine connection… a divine reason. When Alka and Prasad settled in my office, I told them about the scene and played it…






The cycle - call it 'circle' - was now complete!



GERALD D’CUNHA


Thursday, March 19, 2015

SELLING IN GOOD FAITH... AND BUYING IN GOOD FAITH












Pic.: Manjeet Singh Kukreja


“Selling millions of records is great;
but, at the end of the day, it really doesn't bring peace.”


On some days, some words or phrases keep coming to your lips… and, they come straight from your heart. Today, it was ‘In good faith’… I have used it, today, in my conversation with, at least, ten people!

What was I trying to achieve through the use of this phrase? Was I trying to ‘sell’ them something, make hem believe in me, or, in I was trying to present before them?

Though I fully believe, that, in this world, each and every one ‘sells’… and, though I know, that, if you have a fantastic product, service or idea and do not know how to present it to those who it is meant to reach, then, there is something wrong with your approach and attitude. Yes, though I fully believe in this theory – rather, the reality – I refuse to believe, that we should ‘mislead’, ‘hard-sell’ whatever we want to promote.

The mindset of hard-selling is quite a deceptive one. Often, it makes you mislead your prospects, your clients and customers. You sell anything - any product, service or idea, you need to be clear in your conscience… You need to do it in good faith. Simply because, your prospect buys from you it good faith!


So, today, as I was talking to people – call them my prospects, clients, friends, or, simply, well-wishers, yes as I was trying to present my idea, my plan, before them, I was constantly getting in touch with the core from where I was convincing them… I alone knew how true I was to my own conscience… And, I found myself using the expression – ‘In good faith’… many times, today…

I am glad, I did that!

Frank Zappa had said, “Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.” Did he, also, say this: “And, when you sell it with a clean heart, it becomes a ‘fine art’?”

GERALD D’CUNHA

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

THE STRONGEST WALK














Pic.: Pradeep Nanda



“The hardest walk is walking alone;
But, it is, also, the strongest walk.”

- Anonymous


There are some things in life, which we are deeply convinced about… We believe in them and we are passionate about them, so much so, they have become our ‘magnificent obsessions’… Some ideals, some dreams, some projects, some causes… Yes, there ‘are’ those things in our lives which we alone know how close they are to our hearts… we breathe them all day and all night long… all through the year and all through our lives… We wake up with those things, we go to sleep with those things… We talk about them to everyone and everywhere… And, it seems, our lives would be empty and miserable without realizing those ideals and dreams… without completing that journey, without reaching that destination…

Every dream, which is dreamt passionately, every ideal which is cherished very, very intimately… and every cause which is carved on the solid rock of fine intentions and integrity, is bound to be contagious… It ignites passion in others and inspires them to rally around us… Probably, because, everyone cannot be to the mountain-top… everyone cannot see that ‘promised land’… They need the ‘dreamer’, the ‘idealist’, the ‘leader’ to do that… It has been the story behind every great movement, every great cause or institution… Someone had to dream it first; someone had to breathe it like none else did… like a possessed man, all consumed by it. Yes, that’s the story of every dream and dreamer, every ideal and idealist.

The path of an idealist – the dreamer – is a lonely path. Though he is surrounded by many, who seem to support him, he has to be ready to walk alone, guided by his own inner light and propelled by his own inner strength…

One of Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite songs was Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘ Ekla Chalo Re’. He used to find immense motivation and strength in this song. You and I may not have to lead a nation to its freedom from foreign rule. You and I may not have to crusade against social or political injustice… But, then, you and I do have our own ‘personal crusades’ to lead, we have our own ideals and dreams to realize… and, that is a lonely path… We need to be ready to walk it alone, when many do not believe in us, when they desert us.

Here is the song, as translated from original Bengali by Tagore himself:


If they answer not to your call,
walk alone
If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall,
O thou unlucky one,
open your mind and speak out alone.
If they turn away and desert you
when crossing the wilderness,
O thou unlucky one,
trample the thorns under thy tread,
and along the blood-lined track travel alone.
If they shut doors and do not hold up the light
when the night is troubled with storm,
O thou unlucky one,
with the thunder flame of pain ignite your own heart,
and let it burn alone.





Yes, it is the path of the strongest!

GERALD D’CUNHA



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

STAYING INVESTED IN LIFE









Pic.: Chetna Shetty

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine pointed to some of The Dawn Club activities and events of the past and wondered if they had yielded the ‘desired results’. “Have they just gone wasted?” he was concerned.

I took a long pause before I could reply to my friend.  The question was so familiar to me; for, more than I had heard my well-wishers asking this to me, I have asked this to myself. Inside me, there had been – there still are – two voices… One, soars, dreams, trusts, embraces, laughs, rejoices… The other sulks, dreads, doubts, distances, broods and despairs…. One comes from the sphere of abundance… The other comes from the sphere of lack… One makes me walk into the world with my open arms, the other, with my guarded fists…

So, to this concerned friend of mine, I replied, “No, not at all… Every activity we did seem to me as the connecting dots… They have brought us here, today.”

Another friend of mine, who was with us, came up to support my view. “Take the case of our children… My daughter has just started working and, soon, she will be married and gone.  My son is in his final-year of graduation. Raising them up for years has been not easy… I have felt inside my heart the entire gambit of exhilaration and frustration… So often, I have wondered, ‘Have my efforts gone wasted?’... That’s the time, another thought would, always, come to console me… I would remember my own parents who were blessed with much meager resources in life and, yet, had gone about raising me and my siblings with all they possessed… with loads of trust and love. Certainly, they must’ve gone through the same kind of feelings - of hope and despair – and, yet, they had never given up on their children… If we have not been ‘wastes’ in life, our children, too, won’t be.” Then, this friend added, “How is a dream different from our children or any other investment in life… I think, we should stay invested!”

Spot on! What a wonderful way to beat our fears… What a brilliant way to convince ourselves, that no effort, done with full heart, clean intention and earnestness, shall go wasted in life. That, they all are the connecting dots, the pieces of the ‘great Jigsaw puzzle’… That, they help us ‘come home’, where we ‘belong’!

What if I told you, that this very blog post is one such connecting dot… That, it won’t be a waste… That, it will help me ‘come home’… Yes, what if I told you so, would you be convinced?

Let’s stay invested.


GERALD D’CUNHA

Saturday, March 14, 2015

"ALL SEEDS DON'T SPROUT, MY SON"


















Pic.: Alwyn Mathias




“No force on earth can stop an idea whose time has come.” 


When I was small, back in our village, I would feel excited seeing seeds sprout in the wild orchard. They were all sorts of seeds - cashew seeds, mango seeds, jack-fruits seeds, tamarind seeds, berry seeds, coconuts seeds, papaya seeds, chikoo seeds, guava seeds and all sorts. Many a times, after returning from school, I would attempt to plant a cashew or a mango seed in place of my choice… And, then, I would go there, every day, to check if it had sprouted…. Most of the times, it hadn't… and, I would wonder ‘Why’?

“Because,” my mom would tell, “all seeds don’t sprout, my son.”

“But, why so?” I would insist.

“For, that’s how God wants it to be!” my mom would calm me down.

Today, I attempt to plant seeds of different kinds… One of them is my ideas. The ideas that I try to give life to… Like I did as a little child, even today, I go out there – into my orchards – and try to plant my ideas where I presume they would sprout, grow into rich fruit-giving trees… I wait and watch… I wait and watch… And, many a times, I do feel disappointed…

I ask: Was it a bad seed? Was it an infertile soil? Was it a wrong season? Or, was it not in God’s plan?

True, just as all seeds don’t sprout, all ideas too, don’t. And, just as they do when everything is right for them to, our ideas, too, shoot up when everything is right for them to… And, as Victor Hugo’s famous line goes, “No force on earth can stop an idea whose time has come.”

My mom did no t know who Victor Hugo was. That’s why she would calm me down with her words:

“For, that’s how God wants it to be, my son!”

So, so be it!


GERALD D’CUNHA