Month: March 2007

Good mistakes

Good mistakes

A colleague said to me yesterday, “Everyone makes mistakes. Some are good mistakes, some are bad.” She said it rather innocently, but what she said was so profound.

I like the expression “good mistake”. Mistakes are always perceived as negative or bad. But so often, what we think of as mistakes turn out to be favourable to us. No, it does not happen with purpose or design. In fact a mistake is always labelled as one only in hindsight. A good mistake is one that we make in our ignorance (or arrogance) and afterwards when we realise it didn’t serve us, we tag is as a mistake. Yet, with time we realise it was not a mistake at all. Better still, it was a good mistake. Because in the long-term, the perspective changes and we begin to accept that whatever happened was for the best.

The choices we make, the decisions we take are subject to a myriad of forces outside our control, many of them unpredictable. From that perspective, mistakes are indispensable to success in life. The only way to avoid them is to do nothing — and that is a BIG mistake.

Lloyd Jones said, “The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed.” Inaction and indecisiveness is the cornerstone of a dull, boring, uninteresting life. When we are afraid of “mistakes” and avoid making them, we are turning away joy, excitement and a richer life.

Fate of Stars

Fate of Stars

I see two stars in the sky
Like two lovers that, torn apart, lie

Eager to eliminate the distance
By fighting every resistance

Space wants to separate them forever
But time has bonded them together

Their situation looks hopeless
But they know one day they’ll caress

Patience is all they need
To break fate’s chains and be freed

It’s just a matter of time
Before their song starts to rhyme

Before the sky starts to bloom
And the moon overcomes its gloom

Ah, their lives will finally flower
Thanks to love’s awesome power

~© Manoj Khatri~

Life longs for itself

Life longs for itself

A few days back, I received a link to a new post of a fellow blogger Kartikeya Dwivedi. I clicked. I read. I smiled. I could sense genuine compassion for women in the writer’s heart. I found his concern for women endearing. But as I finished reading the post I remembered a few lines from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet:

“Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”

I think it beautifully explains the paradox of why women (most of them!) are happy at the prospect of bringing in a new soul into human form — why women happily accept the inevitable pain of pregnancy, childbirth and rearing.

I think nature has planted the right seeds at the right place. Children arrive not because we want them to. They arrive because of “life’s longing for itself”. Women are delighted at the prospect of conception, the “tribulations” notwithstanding, because it’s all part of the larger divine plan. That should explain the “inexplicable” joy of the conceiving woman and also the natural nurturing instincts of all women.

Love is…or is it?

Love is…or is it?

Love is courage
Or is it the source of fears?
Love is happiness
Or is it the cause of tears?

Love is hope
Or is it a spell of despair?
Love is forever
Or is it a momentary affair?

Love is pleasure
Or is it the reason for pain?
Love is sunshine
Or is it a season of rain?

Love is glory
Or is it something austere?
Love is dreams
Or is it a lingering nightmare?

Love is heaven
Or is it the pathway to hell?
Love is treasure
Or is it a commodity we sell?

Can anyone pray tell?

~© Manoj Khatri~

Her Grace

Her Grace

Her grace I can see
in glimpses of her soul
Loving her forever
seems like my life’s goal

Her grace I can hear
in her voice as she speaks
Eternal joy for her
is what my heart seeks

Her grace I can feel
in the beauty of her heart
I wish the world for her
right from the start

Her grace I can picture
in my dreams day and night
And each morning as I awake
life feels like sheer delight

Her grace I can sense
I know it’s not illusion
For as I ask my God
I’m answered through my intuition

~© Manoj Khatri~

Violently peaceful?

Violently peaceful?

“When you live on a round planet, there’s no choosing sides,” says Wayne Dyer. That’s how God made our planet. But our over-active intelligence has led us to create divisions, partitions, separations. What’s worse is that we frequently indulge in acts of division, hatred, murder and treachery in the name of God.

I was reading a post yesterday…about the righteousness of nations. Debating are two passionate bloggers – an Indian and a Pakistani. Both indulge in a battle of which country’s leaders are right. From the discussion, I gathered that they are both well-read and smart enough to understand that world politics is not about peoples of the nations and their interest. It’s always about power, manipulation, and greed. It’s a no-brainer that governments and political leaders have different agendas than the rest of us. Yet I often find intelligent people discussing such issues.

Sometimes I think intelligence is a curse. We humans, the most intelligent of species, are also the unhappiest. We employ our intelligence in the worst way possible. We have a violent disposition. So much so that even when we discuss peace we do it violently!

My advice to my blogging friends is to stop being worried about peace between nations, because all you can do is talk, talk and talk…and then some. If you really want to make a difference, go resolve a conflict between two estranged friends, or a fighting couple, or even alienated brothers. That way you’ll bring in peace in more tangible ways. As Stephen Covey would say, think in terms of your “circle of influence” and not in terms of “circle of concern”.

Give and receive

Give and receive

I received this beautiful message from someone I met only once — perhaps an evolved soul:

“In wanting I give to receive
In loving I receive from giving”

There is wisdom and truth in it.

When we give something with an intention, then deep down there is a wanting that is the motivator of our “giving”. The intention may be purely material — as in giving your services to a company in return for monetary benefits. Or it could be something as noble as giving charity, expecting in return a feeling of contentment and worthiness. The intention is immaterial, as long as it is there.

When we give without any intention, it is inspired by love. When we love, selflessly and unconditionally, we simply give. There is no intention and no reason. It is giving for its own sake. The accompanying pleasure and delight is unexpected. We receive even without wanting to.

Here’s the irony: In wanting, very often there are no guarantees of receiving, even though the intention of giving is to receive. In loving, there is no intention to receive, but we do receive each time we give. Though what we receive is invisible, intangible, and priceless.

And the plot thickens…

And the plot thickens…

In one of his discourses, Osho narrates a beautiful anecdote. It goes something like this: someone asked Ramana Maharshi, “If God is benevolent, just, loving and all-powerful, then why is there so much pain and misery everywhere in the world? Why doesn’t God stop bad people from committing crimes? Why doesn’t he protect good people from misfortune and evil?” Raman had a short and sweet answer: “To thicken the plot.”

When I think about it, I find it funny but also true. If there was only happiness, pleasure and light, life will not be liveable. It will become too boring.

A good fiction writer knows this. He/she knows that in order to grip the reader, a story must comprise pain, darkness, sadness, and misery. The active ingredient of a story, in the words of Jerry Cleaver, is “conflict”. In his book Immediate Fiction, Cleaver highlights the importance of conflicts in stories. No story will grip you if everything simply goes right in it.

Just as conflict is a necessary evil in fiction, so also it is in real life. Conflicts thicken the plot in the story of our life. Because happiness derives its meaning from sadness, pleasure from pain and light from darkness. Opposites exist to complete each other. Once we acknowledge this, we can learn to appreciate life’s peaks as well as valleys. While we’re going through a difficult time, we would know deep inside that this is happening for a reason. When we’re sad, we learn to value happiness. When we’re miserable, we learn to value peace of mind.

When we face rough patches, we might do well to think about the most exciting novel we have read and remind ourselves: “The thicker the life’s plot, the more exciting it is and the more lessons we learn.”

Life and Love

Life and Love

An angel asked
Why do you care for those who make you weep?

I pondered and said
My life’s mission is to learn to love, selfless and deep

He then asked
Why do you make them cry who care for you?

I pondered more and said
Their life’s mission is to learn the same lessons too

The angel smiled and said
Your thoughts are beautiful and pure, bless you

I smiled back and said
Your presence helps me each day, thank you

~© Manoj Khatri~

Celebrating Womanhood

Celebrating Womanhood

On March 08, the world celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD). Newspapers, TV and radio channels and even hoardings were shouting hoarsely about the importance of Women’s Day. Most of it was empty rhetoric — lip service, if you will.

I wonder what the true significance of the day is. When I ask someone why it is celebrated, I get answers such as “to celebrate the power of women”, “to emphasise the role of women in the modern world”, or even “to establish the superiority of women”. Lofty objectives, those! What I fail to understand is: how can one token day in the whole year help achieve them?

Here’s what I think:
Women, who comprise approximately 50% of us, are far too important to us than what one single day can highlight. By dedicating one day in the year to them, aren’t we doing gross injustice to their contribution to our society, our lives? Women are mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, bosses, subordinates, teachers, friends and so much more. In highly evolved cultures, women are worshipped. Womanhood ought to be celebrated every single day.

Nature has bestowed certain unique qualities to both genders. These qualities are complementary, not opposed. For instance, women bring a fine balance to our world with their compassion and love, which they can express more easily than men. If men are physically stronger, emotionally women are stronger — they are able to withstand pressures with more grace. Men and women complete each other and fulfil the universal law of polarity.

I feel observing Women’s Day the way it’s done these days is more like acknowledging that women are a weaker sex. It’s like “let’s give them one day in the year to rejoice womanhood, let’s give them a day to air their voices”. If this is not tokenism, then what is it?

Upon researching, I found that IWD was first observed exactly 100 years ago as a collective voice against the lopsided social mores of the times. The social repression of women continues in many parts of the world. But if the objective of Women’s Day is to make our society more sensitive to women’s issues, and to bring some balance, then we are missing the point. Judging by media’s slant, Women’s Day has become an occasion to bring out the differences between men and women. I found that so many stories in the newspapers were about how women are greater, better, or superior than their male counterparts. Many others were about how some women have made it great in the world dominated by men.

I read one story that revolved around a social issue. It was Shabana Azmi’s guest piece in The Times of India, which focussed on the declining sex ratio across India. She opines that, among other initiatives, offering incentives to couples that have girl children would be a good way to set the gender ratio right. Seems like a noble idea but I don’t feel comfortable with it. I don’t like the idea that couples will now have girl children because of some external monetary incentives. I would like to think that the only reason anyone would want daughters is because daughters are blissful! They are a gift of love from God, from nature. They are little bundles of joy. They are warm sunlight. They are fairies and angels. These are the real incentives for having daughters.

Coming back to Women’s Day, I think the original significance of the day is lost. IWD is now simply a commercial opportunity that individuals and companies exploit to create an impression, to establish a “connect” with half of their target audience — the better half! (Incidentally, the advertisers and sponsors of most women-oriented features were cosmetics and jewellery companies.)

Let’s stop trivialising women by observing a day in their honour. I am not suggesting that we turn a blind eye towards women’s issues. In fact, they deserve more attention than what we can offer in one token day. Much more…