Thank the Strangers

Hitchhiker

Who else, other than strangers, can help you without expecting anything in return, without even knowing your name, and sometimes without even seeing or talking to you? Help need not always be monetary or material. A smile, stopping by to help you find the direction to a place, or giving his/her seat in the bus to let you sit,  or helping you to stand up and collect yourself  when you accidentally tripped and fell down while walking on the road, to name a few, are also profound forms of help. Most of us would have come across such incidents, when a stranger out of nowhere walked up to us, gave us the needed help, and simply walked away without even waiting for a ‘Thank you’ from us. What do we give in return for such timely, ‘no-strings attached’ help?  A Thank you, of course, with all our heart,  but nothing more than that.

Now compare this with the help we get from our ‘known’ people, which includes family members, friends, business associates and acquaintances. 99 % of the business friends help us for a return on investment at a later date.  Personal friends and relatives help us because they have vested interests in us. Though it is a respectable form of help, it still has expectations from us. A minimum of ‘thank you’, at the least, will be expected from us. But one thing is common, whether personal or business, anyone who has helped us, WILL remember that they helped us at our most needed hour, and this naturally, creates expectations in them. When they are in a similar situation, we are obliged to help them in return. We have no freedom here. Strictly speaking, this can’t be called as help. This is give and take. But, it is this demanding circle of people we rely upon, too often and too much, only because they are predictable and reachable. But it so happens that, at times, our acquaintances fail to help us, the reason being anything. This can hurt, especially if we had expected a known someone to help us out. This is the reality of our known circle of people, this is their limitation, especially in a world that is becoming increasingly nuclear and demanding in nature. Acquainted people are a society of expectations – met and unmet. They are not available all the time, and even if available  and willing to help, are not always without terms and conditions.

If you ever come across a situation where in you get no help from your friends and feel let down, take a walk to a nearby park or a mall, sit there and just observe the life around you. You WILL get help, provided you see and listen with your heart and not with your mind . The help could be from a physically challenged person selling popcorn at the entrance of the mall, quietly telling you to pick up yourself and fight your troubles courageously, or two happy children playing in the park indicating you to live your life in the ‘Now and Here’ or an elderly gentleman giving you a lift in his car and entertaining and educating you by telling his life’s story through the drive. Help from strangers is all around. Learn to identify them. Next time when a stranger helps you, thank him or her with all your being and awareness, so that the experience is etched in your memory for your future reference on inspiration. And remember, God is always anonymous.

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Karma or free will? Let inner Silence guide

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“What is the difference between Karma and free will?”

Someone put this question to a great spiritual Guru of India –

He replied, “Your height is your Karma, your weight is free will.”

Smart answer! But the situations in life are not always as black and white as the ‘height and weight’ example. Most of the time we find it very hard to figure out which is karma, the unchangeable, and which is free will, the changeable. Day and night we are bombarded with questions like ‘let go of what and hang on to what? Surrender to what and fight what?’ Even with genuine application of our rationality, we still lack clarity in understanding life’s situations. The very mind that helps us to reason out, can also play trickster in clouding our perceptions. If only rationality and reasoning could solve all the problems, then this world would be a perfect place. But it is not. So, reasoning is not the only way to understand the nature of a situation, especially when the situation and context are defying all ‘logic’.

The faculty of reasoning cannot guide us much because reasoning is just a state of mind, which is  influenced by our needs, and constrained by our limited knowledge. But Karma and free will are forces that operate beyond the faculties of reasoning. These are universal, dynamic force that connects everything with everything and are in a state of perpetual flux. Trying to grasp these tremendous forces with this tiny tool called mind, is near to impossible. So the solution has to be something other than the mind. To be specific, something other than the thinking, reasoning mind.

Mind is a natural chatterbox. Depending on the person, it could be an emotional chatter, or an intellectual chatter, but it is chatter nevertheless.  Society believes this mental chatter to be a sign of a ‘thinking’ or a ‘feeling’ man. I am not going to criticize this mindset of the society. Enough is to say that there is a state of mind that is superior to thinking. It is the silent mind. Experiencing it is similar to the freshness and clarity we feel after a good sleep, but in a much higher degree because when we sleep, our mind goes to the sub conscious state, but in a silent, still mind, we are fully awake, conscious and aware. It is very vital to give breaks to the constantly chattering and manipulating mind to feel the intensity and direction of the flow of life. It is only by quieting the mind, or by meditating, if you prefer that word, that we can decode complex situations of life. Karma and free will are not two discreet forces but they are two constantly negotiating, interchanging and evolving forces .It won’t be possible to seek clarity at root cause level while being influenced by the mind which incessantly tries to define and interpret situations.

Physics says that a perfect balance state is essentially a motionless state, a state of no activity. But it’s this very stillness that holds the motion.  So with the still mind. It is in such a state that the whole activity of the cosmos is contained.  It is the only state where the forces of dualities cease to influence us. It is in this state that the faculties of the mind, namely the reasoning and emotions, reset themselves and align with the natural flow of life. It is here that the inner guiding voice can be heard clearly.

Meditation is a big subject in itself. It is not the aim of this article to discuss it in depth. But if we could take it as a lead and start practicing silence/meditation at least for a few minutes in a day as a beginning, then we may realize how the quality of our perception of life has greatly improved. Let the silence speak and guide us through the labyrinth of Karma and free will into a more beautiful life. I will conclude with one of my favorite quotes of Lao Tzu;

“To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders”

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Photo credit: Trigger Image