Category: Blog

If you’re not the one

If you’re not the one

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eurZUm5otVs]

If you’re not the one
by Daniel Bedingfield

If you’re not the one then why does my soul feel glad today?
If you’re not the one then why does my hand fit yours this way?
If you are not mine then why does your heart return my call?
If you are not mine would I have the strength to stand at all?

I never know what the future brings
But I know you are here with me now
We’ll make it through
And I hope you are the one I share my life with

I don’t wanna run away but I can’t take it, I don’t understand
If I’m not made for you then why does my heart tell me that I am?
Is there any way that I can stay in your arms?

If I don’t need you then why am I crying on my bed?
If I don’t need you then why does your name resound in my head?
If you’re not for me then why does this distance maim my life?
If you’re not for me then why do I dream of you as my wife?

I don’t know why you’re so far away
But I know that this much is true
We’ll make it through
And I hope you are the one I share my life with
And I wish that you could be the one I die with
And I’m praying you’re the one I build my home with
I hope I love you all my life

I don’t wanna run away but I can’t take it, I don’t understand
If I’m not made for you then why does my heart tell me that I am
Is there any way that I can stay in your arms?

‘Cause I miss you, body and soul so strong that it takes my breath away
And I breathe you into my heart and pray for the strength to stand today
‘Cause I love you, whether it’s wrong or right
And though I can’t be with you tonight
You know my heart is by your side

I don’t wanna run away but I can’t take it, I don’t understand
If I’m not made for you then why does my heart tell me that I am
Is there any way that I can stay in your arms?

“The Zahir” is about soul searching

“The Zahir” is about soul searching

A couple of days ago, I picked up this book, for no rhyme or reason, and then finished reading it over the next 48 hours. No matter how absurd it seems, time and again I have discovered that books end up being read only when the time is right.

Although I had a copy for more than a year or so, I kept putting off reading The Zahir by Paulo Coelho because I had heard mixed reactions to it. Some said it was very boring, some said it was good. But no one spoke about it in superlative terms. I should’ve known better. Because when I went by other people’s “high” opinions, and read The Alchemist by the same author, I was disappointed. Yet when I read his Veronica Decides to Die, which no one ever mentioned in the same vein as The Alchemist, I was thrilled. I thought it was a fantastic book and only an extremely sensitive person could’ve written a story like that. The Zahir too has some brilliant moments, some “a-ha!” ideas .

The way Coelho has narrated The Zahir, it appears to be his own real account. The protagonist, the narrator of the story, is a writer whose life and history is pretty much like Coelho’s own.

The Zahir is a good story. I found many flaws in the book— sketchy characters, fluctuating pace, often ambiguous dialogues, narcissism—but in spite of these, I loved it. Set partly in Paris and partly in Kazakhstan, the story is about the complexities of relationships.

The narrator is a writer who writes on spirituality (there is an indirect reference to The Alchemist too) and is expected by the world to have mastered human frailties. Yet, he succumbs to them all the time. I could relate to his humanness, his continuous struggle to be a better person, and his enormous capacity to love.

The character I loved the most is that of Esther, the narrator’s wife, who loves him so much and yet leaves him quite suddenly. I liked her attitude. I liked how she did everything she could to make him what he is…I liked her selflessness and unconditional love. And yet paradoxically, she leaves him because she wants to save her relationship with himthe man she loves so much. She leaves him in search of true happiness. She leaves him to find herself. And as she leaves, she becomes the narrator’s Zahiran object of obsession. We learn about Esther only from the lens of narrator’s memories, because the story begins after she leaves him.

I don’t agree with many of the narrator’s (Coelho’s?) life values, but I like his candidness, his humility and also at times his arrogance. He comes across as unpretentious, even if a bit stuck-up in his celebrity status.

If you’re looking for a literary masterpiece, skip The Zahir. However, if you’re ready for some serious soul searching about relationships, you’ll find plenty of substance. It’s definitely worth a read.

© Manoj Khatri

Shun assumptions

Shun assumptions

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.”
~Henry Winkler

Prayer discussion
Assumptions are, as the word suggests, not necessarily facts. In fact, more often than not, they are only a figment of the assumer’s imagination. When we assume, we are trying to fill in the gap in our knowledge by guesswork. This means that when we assume, we are defining only ourselves.

In relationships, assumptions create misunderstandings and confusions, which in turn lead to needless squabbles. Too many assumptions can destroy a relationship. That is why Winkler refers to assumptions as “termites” of relationships.

We could do away with most conflicts in our relationships if only we could shun assumptions. To do so requires faith. I find it remarkable that all relationship issues seem to be solvable by faith. The answer is so simple. But, like Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Rebooting life

Rebooting life

Most software programs allow us to undo a deed (by clicking ctrl+z) if we change our mind. Since I work a lot on computers, I sometimes have tended to do the same in real life. I know of some others too who have had similar experiences. Too bad, there is no such option available in real life.

There’s another thing that windows-based computers allow. When a certain program stops responding, we use task manager to shut that program. But at times the culprit program is rather adamant and refuses to respond and even causes the entire system to stop responding. Nothing works. Then the option left to bring the system back on track is to press ctrl+alt+del to reboot the computer.

In life too we encounter such incidents. Some programs stop responding. No matter what we try, those aspects of our life simply don’t react. If only we could press ctrl+alt+del or, in other words, reboot life. Imagine how nice it would be. When something stops working, simply restart life, and everything gets solved. All programs start working again, as if nothing ever went wrong.

Vulnerability in love

Vulnerability in love

“Love is not love until love’s vulnerable.”
~Theodore Roethke

Prayer Discussion
Roethke is bang on target. I find this true. I sense it. I feel it. When I love, I am completely vulnerable. Willingly. But is vulnerability equal to weakness? A vehement NO! On the contrary vulnerability in love is a sign of courage. We can be willingly vulnerable only when we have faith. And faith is an act of absolute courage. Faith needs tremendous inner conviction. Even as I feel vulnerable and needy, the source of my courage is my love.

Blessed!

Blessed!

“Count your blessings” is a timeless adage that somehow never seems relevant until we go through a crisis. Right now, I feel immensely blessed.

My blessings have arrived in an assortment of odd shapes and sizes. Here are a few:

My mother is a rare blessing. I wonder how she can tolerate me and stand by me through my most difficult times. I sometimes take her rock-steady support for granted. She is “unconditional acceptance” personified. She has taught me how to love unconditionally. She’s taught me kindness. She has taught me to have faith in trying circumstances. In fact, I think I have inherited all my virtues from her. I feel so blessed to have such a mom.

Three more grand blessings of my life are my older siblings, who have never questioned me on my decisions, however much they disagreed with them. They respect me for my talents, encourage me to pursue my dreams and allow me the space to be my weird self. I feel so blessed to have such siblings.

My friends, so many of them, are also my treasured blessings — always ready to listen without prejudice and accept me with my human fallibilities. Sometimes, they even fight with me just so that they can stop me from making a mistake! I feel so blessed to have such friends.

My teachers, many of who I have never even met, are my most revered blessings: Wayne Dyer, Robert Fulghum, Michael Crichton, Linda Goodman, Paulo Coelho, Neale Donald Walsh, M Scott Peck, Hugh Prather, and so many more, whose writings have inspired me, guided me, and made me wiser through the years. I feel so blessed to have such teachers.

My victimisers (yes, you read that right) are also my valued blessings. Without those who caused me pain and suffering, I wouldn’t have learned anything, and my soul would not have got the opportunity to grow as much as it did. I am grateful to them for the difficulties they brought into my life. I feel so blessed to have such adversaries.

I call my colleagues — subordinates, peers and bosses, and my business associates — my the commercial blessings. They have taught me, mostly unknowingly, many a lesson in the area of work ethic. I feel so blessed to have such colleagues.

Then there are strangers and acquaintances, who, in their ordinary interactions with me, remind me of the universal blessing that I am always bestowed and protected with. I feel so blessed to be on this planet.

© Manoj Khatri

Trust and vulnerability

Trust and vulnerability

“We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone — but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.”
~ Walter Anderson

Prayer discussion
Most people find it difficult to trust others. When it comes to trust, there are two basic philosophies:

1. Trust everyone until they prove they’re not trustworthy
2. Don’t trust anyone until they prove they’re trustworthy

IMO, the second way is not about trust. By definition, the moment you need reasons, then you are not trusting…you’re simply trying to hedge your risks. In contrast, genuine trust is an act of faith. Trusting means we are confident that the one we trust can do no wrong, because we’re sure of his/her intentions and integrity. This confidence is not a result of any past experience or other reasons but of an instinctive knowing that is not, usually, rational.

Trusting is the easiest when we love someone. This is because when we trust we know we are vulnerable. And in love we’re willing to be vulnerable. So the ability to take the risk of being hurt is the cornerstone of trust, and, as Anderson puts it, of love and joy.

But it is not trusting others that is the most difficult of challenges…it is trusting the self. We ought to love ourselves to be able to rely on our instincts and our intentions to guide us. We can then trust ourselves enough to be confident of our feelings and emotions.

Perception can be deadly

Perception can be deadly

My recent experience at my workplace corroborated what I have known all along: a seed, if it’s poisonous, should be weeded out as soon as we discover it. If we let it grow into a deep-rooted tree, the fruits will be poisonous too.

Perceptions too begin as seeds and, if not dealt with early enough, grow into deadly, poisonous trees that threaten to destroy the consumers of their fruits. The problem with perception is that it is just that—perception. It’s not necessarily reality. If it is possible to verify the accuracy of the perception—in others words, its closeness to reality—then it must be done as soon as possible, perhaps when it’s still just as tiny as a small seed. That’s because it’s easier to weed out a small seed than it is to uproot a full-grown tree. Besides, a poisonous tree is more likely to spread its kind, because each fruit would have several seeds, each capable of blossoming into a full-grown tree and so on.

Celebrate Gently

Celebrate Gently

Last year I wrote a story about Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in my column “Out and About” in The Times of India, Thane Plus, in which I urged readers to celebrate gently. I feel its relevance has not diminished and therefore I am reproducing the story here.

Celebrate Gently
(First published in The Times of India, Thane Plus on 26 August 2006)

Last year, on the sixth day of Ganapati Mahotsav, a truck carrying an idol was proceeding towards immersion. The reveling children and adults were dancing to loud music and throwing gulaal (red colour powder) on passers-by. As this writer overtook the truck in his car, some of the ecstatic celebrators tossed some colour, which landed on his windshield, blocking the view partially. Fortunately, it covered only the passenger side of the windshield. If the colour would’ve landed on the driver’s side, it could’ve led to a disaster on the road, risking the lives of pedestrians and of passengers in other vehicles.

Every year the twin cities of Thane and Mumbai celebrate Lord Ganesha’s birthday with vigour. Millions are spent on extravagant pandals, ornate idols complete with themes and contests marking the ten-day festival. Immersions too are grand affairs with devotees dancing all the way to tunes produced by a combination of large drums, banjo, keyboard and other musical instruments. With so much show of devotion, the Lord of Prosperity would be pleased with Mumbai devotees. So what if in the process of celebrating, the devotees cause irreversible damage to His creation? So what if they disturb the peace of their neighbourhood, cause traffic obstructions and create impediments for ordinary passers-by who are trying to reach home after a hard day’s work? These are trivialities that the Lord will obviously overlook. Or will He?

The world over, and especially in India, people spend a lot of energy in trying to please God by celebrating religious festivals lavishly. To be sure, there’s nothing wrong in celebrating per se, even celebrating lavishly. It is only when these celebrations take on a competitive nature, with everyone vying to please God that the problems begin. It does not require a high level of IQ to understand that you cannot bribe your way through to earn the blessings of the almighty, the Creator, the omnipotent.

Bigger idols and brighter colours are often made from substances that pollute the environment and harm Mother Nature, which God created with such love. Loud music creates noise pollution that has been found to be harmful to humans in the long run. And nothing, not even celebration of the Lord’s birthday, justifies the inconvenience that all this causes to millions of residents, both believers and non-believers.

It strikes one as ironical that devotees create impediments for others in the name of the very God who is known as the “Remover of Impediments.” Such is the inconsideration displayed by some of the devotees of the Lord that they need Supreme Court rulings to prevent them from blasting music after 10 pm, so that senior citizens and those suffering from high blood pressure can get sound sleep. Come to think of it, it must have been Lord Ganesha who, in the guise of the Supreme Court judges, gave the 10 pm ruling, in order to protect His other devotees – the ones who express their gratitude silently – while the noisy devotees indulge in reckless extravagance to earn brownie points.

Let’s take a pledge this year to be more considerate towards God’s creations – both Mother Nature and Her people. We can do so by acquiring only idols made of clay, keeping noise pollution in check, by immersing the idols at home in a bucket of water, and by celebrating Lord Ganesha’s birthday in the spirit of love for all humanity. Let’s pray for greater peace in the world and seek His blessings for a better world.

Link to the original article

High Life

High Life

They are beautiful. They’re rich. They are famous. But the similarity doesn’t end there. Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Nicole Richie have other things in common…like being booked for drunken driving, doing drugs, serving prison terms and going for rehabilitation.

To common folk, these girls have a dream life: looks to die for, good fortune, wealth, fame, fan-following. Or do they?

Having to go to rehab at 20 is not exactly the kind of life anyone would want. But maybe I am old-fashioned, conservative, or even downright boring! “High life” is about taking the risk, get on a high, and indulging in all that is proscribed — after all life’s nothing if not adventurous. Going by this logic, these girls are living their lives to the fullest, aren’t they?

To me, life is a constant high. Unlike what abusing artificial stimulants and substances produce in us, life’s challenges produce a genuine high. Its varied trials, tests and hardships make it adventurous. Its unpredictability makes it risky.

Perhaps the irony is that these are the very things that are missing from the lives of these rich and famous girls. They get everything on a platter. For them, life is easy. They have lived, and are living, a life of utmost comfort. No worries or challenges whatsoever — at least not the kind we common folk have. They have nothing to look forward to. If life is simply great all the time, it becomes monotonous. Much like, if there was only happiness, it would quickly lose meaning because there isn’t anything to compare it with.

The following extract from Tao Te Ching (The Book of The Way) by Lao-Tzu sums up the irony:

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad

Being and non-being create each other
Difficult and easy support each other
Long and short define each other
High and low depend on each other
Before and after follow each other

So, essentially, opposites define each other. And, too easy a life loses definition. I suspect that Lindsay & Co have too much of a good thing going for them — so much so that they get bored of it and therefore “manufacture” worries and challenges to make their lives interesting. When I ponder on what makes celebrities do drugs, indulge in outrageous acts, or break the law (à la our own Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt and Fardeen Khan), I am tempted to veer towards thinking that they create their own problems to keep their lives exciting even though they may be doing so entirely unbeknownst to themselves.

Of course, this is just my hypothesis and I may be entirely wrong. But it’s worth thinking about…it makes me wonder whether our hardships and difficulties are a blessing in disguise?