It’s Just One Life! Live It Authentically !


“You wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were beneath it.” 

– Alan Moore

What is an authentic life? It is a life perspective from the standpoint of Self; a life in which one is morally and spiritually answerable only to him/herself. This is not selfishness but rather Self-ness. We are born solo, and we exit solo. In between, it is a choice. The relationships that we forge can be beautiful fillers or bridges that span the shores of birth and death. When one walks over the ‘bridge’ that he built, enjoying the ‘walk’, he is still an individual. He is enjoying the panorama of life and relationships from the standpoint of an individual. He is social, but retains his authenticity. However, the problem occurs when one identifies himself with the bridge itself and tries to make the ‘bridge’ his home. This is when authenticity gives way to demeaning fakery and individuality loses itself to degenerative commonality. Just like how a point or dot is the basic unit of geometry, individuality is the basic unit of an individual’s existence. One’s society is his circumference. It may expand or shrink, or may not even be there depending on the individual’s choice, but the unchanging reference point is the center of the circle—the individual. This individuality is the Self-ness, which is the essential character of an authentic life. When the two important incidents of life—birth and death–are individualistic, then it only makes sense that one retains this individuality in between these two incidents and lead an authentic life. Above all, living an authentic life is a great liberating experience.

Delayed in the shortcut lanes of life


Why are shortcuts so tempting? Because that is the nature of ‘bad  stuffs’… that is their selling-point: easy and quick. Most scandals and misbehavior involve shortcuts, and it is a well-known fact that, in most of the cases, shortcut approach fails. The reason being, any objective worth attaining requires our time and energy. The experience and the consolidation of the knowledge /skill that happens as one walks the ‘long route’ to one’s goal is bypassed and missed while taking the shortcut route. This is the main reason why shortcuts fail. They are character-deficient paths. Anybody can walk a shortcut path – and that leads to the other reason why shortcuts usually fail us: since it is an easy and seemingly a ‘smart’  choice, the crowd in the narrow lanes of shortcuts is more. In other words, there is more (unethical) competition in shortcut routes than in the long routes of life. There is always less competition where discipline, dedication, perseverance and ethics are involved. None of the above mentioned qualities are any ‘quickies’. These are robust qualities that are essentially built for, and built


travelling the long routes of life, which are the logical and definite paths to our goals.
Always remember…
“Short cuts make long delays.”
– J. R. R. Tolkien

Not this, not this – choosing through negation


“We are our choices.”
– Jean Paul sartre

Choices are given to man so that he can make mistakes! I am sorry for sounding pessimistic, but I don’t have a negative outlook about mistakes. They have their place and purpose in life. But that does not warrant us to make mistakes, especially avoidable mistakes. It is natural to get confused when we are confronted with too many choices, or for that matter, even the presence of just two choices can cause great confusion. Indian philosophy has a very powerful technique to understand the ultimate reality or truth. It gets to the real nature of the self by rejecting, one by one, that which is not real or false. It’s called ‘Neti Neti’ in Sanskrit language, which means ‘not this, not this.’ Apophatic theology or the negative theology of the West is a similar concept wherein the religious experience and language about the divine good is understood through discernment. Of course, these are grand concepts that I am talking about, but nevertheless they could be applied to mundane choices of life too. When there are too many choices, and when they are all seemingly equal in ‘weight’, focus on what you don’t like or what is deficient in each of the choices. ‘NO’ is always more powerful than ‘YES’. So, start with what each choice does NOT have, and eliminate it from your pool of choices. And start from the one that has the biggest deficiency in whatever are your parameters or specifications required for the situation. This is the quickest and reasonable way to make the right choice. At the least, it will reduce the number of contestant and make your selection process more easy.

“In the end that was the choice you made, and it doesn’t matter how hard it was to make it. It matters that you did.”
– Cassandra Clare

Be Judgemental !


What is wrong in being judgemental ? And why is so much negativity attached to this word? We respect the words ‘Judge’ and ‘Judiciary ‘  but we abhor the word ‘judgemental’!! We are repeatedly and strongly advised against being judgemental, while every nation has a supreme or an apex court, numerous sub-judiciaries, committees, and cultures that pass judgements, which a civilized society reveres and obeys. Why is this kind of self-contradiction and hypocrisy when it comes to judging at a micro, individual level?  Every sane human being will judge, either consciously or sub-consciously, and whether he or she likes it or not. We are advised to think logically. We are trained to make rational decisions. How can logic and rationality be present without the presence of judgment? Most people have no problem if a situation is judged, but if it is a person that is being judged, the alarm buzzes! Is there any situation that is devoid of the involvement of human beings? Who creates the situation? We, the humans. Then it is just a matter of common sense that in order to judge a situation, the people involved in it should be judged too. But there is one important condition here –  do not judge if it is not necessary. Most of the time, most of us, waste precious time and mental energy in judging people and situations that are not necessary. Probably this is the reason why, eventually, the act of judging at individual level came to be criticized. When there is less of reason and more of emotion involved in judging, then of course, it is a definite No. But otherwise, do judge; judge with reason only those that the faculty of reasoning sanctions you to judge, and make sound decisions.

“I can think. I can wait. I can fast.”


“What is it that you’ve learned, what you’re able to do?”

“I can think. I can wait. I can fast.”

“That’s everything?”

“I believe, that’s everything!”

– Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse

– The famous dialogue from  Hermann Hesse’s great novel, Siddhartha. This is the reply the protagonist, Siddhartha, gives to his prospect employer who interviews him on his knowledge and job skills. This novel and I, grew up together…. It has given me different meanings and answers to the same questions I asked at different stages of my life. Today, when I sat to write my weekend blog and had trouble focusing and got vexed in the process, this dialogue from my ‘guide’ knocked at the doors of my mind.

Can I think?
Yes,  a lot!

We all can think. But ‘a lot’ is the problem. Do we think only that which is necessary? And are we able to think with the required degrees of attention about which we are supposed to think?  In majority of the cases, the answer in no. We think too much about unnecessary things and too little about the necessary ones. In a day, almost 90 % of our thinking is either repetitive, redundant, unnecessary or imaginative. Conscious imagination is a wonderful work of the mind, but an unconscious creation or recreation is a mere waste of time and energy. Nothing is more detrimental to a productive and peaceful life than a mind that is on an ‘auto-run’ mode.

And the next, can I wait?
To wait means to be patient. And to be patient means to respect the pace of life. There is no point in trying to run ahead of life. We simply cannot outsmart life. It is similar to running within a moving train with a hope that our running would take us to our destination faster. The best way to wait is to shift the focus of the mind from the object of waiting to something else. This method is effective because the perception of time is nothing but the perception of an experience /incident. In waiting, there is no experience or any incident happening, and so, time comes to a standstill which is very difficult for the mind to handle. The best way is to engage the mind in some activity during the waiting period. That is how some of the great books were born in prisons and exiles.
And finally, can I fast?
Very occasionally and with great difficulty…

What is the psychology and spirituality behind fasting? Fasting increases our sustaining capacity, tolerance level and will power. The will power is not just about bearing the physical hunger, but at a higher level, it is also about bearing  mental and emotional hungers, and agonies of life. This is the deeper meaning behind the ritual of fasting which is practiced in almost all the religions of the world. All those who can survive through tough times without succumbing are the ones who can fast –  those who can fast their pride, egos, desires, and aspirations. There are no short cuts to learn the art of fasting. It comes only by practice and determination.

Siddhartha was a smart man. He knew no trade or craft but knew well the fundamental skills required for survival. And he was right when he said, “I believe, that’s all.”

The Good, the Bad, and the Balanced


As I grow, I realize that life is not about good or bad, but is about balance. It seems that Creation is concerned about only one thing – balancing of the dual forces. In fact, duality is inbuilt in the ‘system’ to tally itself and be in balance, or the ‘zero’  state, or the neutral state. Philosophy calls it the peaceful state. Probably that explains why the ‘too good’ people and the ‘too bad’ people face more sufferings and turmoil in their lives than those who take life easy and as it comes. The turmoil that is experienced by the extreme characters (or forces)  is nothing but the act of balancing, similar to the swinging of a spring balance to attain its ‘zero tilt’  state.
Probably we need religions that are less restrictive and more inclusive, and less serious and more joyful.

Slow and steady wins the race: in the context of new year resolutions.


“Nature does not hurry. Yet everything is accomplished. ”
– Lao Tzu.

We are three days old into the new year and I am sure many of us would be already struggling to keep alive our new year resolutions. I am certainly one of them. The reason for such quick failure and eventual give-up is, in majority of the cases, not due to  lack of determination but due to excess of ‘start-up energy’. In our enthusiasm, we bite more than we can chew. Quite naturally, our body/mind, which is not used to such rigorous schedules, buckles. When a series of failures occur in our new year – resolution  implementation, our mind gets discouraged and we give up. Our old habits, which were waiting and watching in the sidelines all the while, quickly catch up with us. And so, 2015 is set to continue in the way 2014 continued from 2013 and before.
How does an airplane take off? It starts in the runway by running slowly at first, then gradually gaining speed, and finally taking off from the ground. Even in the air, it gains heights in stages. The implementation and accomplishments of our resolutions are similar tasks too. We set resolutions to change our lives, to change ourselves. Therefore their implementation should also be a well thought, planned, and phased process. The golden quote, ‘slow and steady wins the race’ is no more appreciated nowadays, but holds good even today. Our resolutions are not a race against anyone outside, but against our own weaknesses. We have a wide range of weaknesses with ‘under-doing’ at one end of the range and ‘over-doing’ at the other. As the world and life around us gets more fast, more pushy, more demanding, and less tolerant, it is the weakness of ‘over-doing’ that more often surfaces in our attitudes than ‘under-doing’. In such a scenario, the fundamental and first resolution should be – start slow, go steady,  and gain momentum incrementally. This is the ‘engine resolution’ that can pull our other resolutions. Set achievable goals, attain them, celebrate the ‘small’  accomplishments, and inspire yourself to set higher goals.

All the best for the accomplishment of your resolutions!