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The thought behind this piece has been fermenting in my mind for a while, but it has been given structure and form following a recent “comment exchange” with my dear friend and co-blogger, Tulika. Tulika- this one is for you, and whilst it will not come up to the high standard you set through your blog, I hope you enjoy some of the thoughts within it.

 The well known poem of “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson has always been my favourite. Its very simplicity is amazing and no matter how many times I read it, it offers sound counsel in troubled times and strength when it is most needed. I am sure all know it – the lovely piece that describes the writer’s key life moments as sets of corresponding footsteps in the sand, mostly walking along with God. There are some points where there are two sets, hers and God’s, and then some points when there is only one set. It is these that the poet believes are her own steps. All the times that the steps are a singular set, she recalls are the low moments for her. As we are all won’t to do, she questions her Lord about why he abandoned her at those times. In it’s sublime climax she (and through her, we) are corrected by the ultimate sustainer, who explains that those prints at those times are His, as on each of those occasions, he was carrying her!

So it is with most of us. We are so quick to blame God for everything that goes “wrong” for us. God is an easy punching bag, we cannot physically see Him/Her, and even more importantly, He or She does not lash back at us in response. Oh, spare me those cautionary tales about a vengeful God who wreaks havoc on sinners. I have never subscribed to that theory and if you do, you may want to read no more of this piece. God is loving and forgiving, He loves us all, whether we acknowledge him or not and his capacity to love and forgive is, just like Him, unfettered and unlimited (I do not believe God is gender specific or even form-specific but for ease of reference, I shall continue to refer in the masculine).

Many will argue about the times that they have been afflicted with pain or tragedy in their lives. There rests the foundation for the belief that they were/ are punished for whatever wrong they may committed, whether comitted knowingly or not and regardless of whether they even acknowledge that to be an act/ acts to be deserving of retribution. I suggest the answer to that lies in the inexorable nature of your own actions, every action after all has a reaction. Oh, again, let me clarify – I do not believe that people always “deserve” what happens to them, no, that is too crude. Instead, I feel that there is a fine balance, constantly fluctuating and regulating itself, which combines a perfect symmetry of fate and action. It is too simplistic to believe that God sits there in literal judgement on each action and strikes down those who are guilty of some form of significant failing. Yes, I personally believe that there is a higher power who looks over us at all times, call that power what you will. The engineering of this incredible process is never visible unless you are willing to really see, not just look, and also agreeable to opening yourself up to faith and belief, unconstrained by requiring a physical manifestation, or “rational” explanation of each event or incident.

I do believe in fate, I feel that the vein of fate runs through all our paltry existence. I call it paltry as what is our life but a nano-second in the macrocosm of the universe. Therefore, whatever ills befall you, they are your lot to bear and it is how you face them that defines you as as a person. What I also firmly grasp on to, is that no matter how severe your suffering, God watches out for His own and if you have faith, it will see you through, in one way or other. I do not imply that your belief negates the suffering, no, the suffering is an essential component of almost all human existence, but that agony is made bearable and eventually relieved by a surrender to the supremacy of will beyond our comprehension. This is that moment when you understand that whilst you thought you were walking alone and bereft, you were infact being sustained by the creator, who never leaves you to suffer alone if you place your faith in Him.

It is this thought and this faith that always end up bringing me personal salvation, no matter how dire my straits are. This is no meaningless preaching without practice, it is my own experiences after I have crossed that metaphorical sandy stretch, which at the time felt worse than the most arid desert. I clung to my faith and He did carry me, safely delivering me to the “other” side and to sanity and hope and most importantly, to renewed happiness.

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Tempus Fugit

Tempus fugit or time flies – a phrase most of us will have used or identified with, many times in our lives. Does it sound as trite as “Time and tide wait for no man”? Well, common place and much-used these sayings may be, but they are none the less true for that. Most of us wonder where the days, months and even years went when we occasionally sit back and take stock. We bemoan lost times and get nostalgic or often sad, that we seem to have let a long phase go past without any seeming significant achievement or memory to remember it by. Yet, every moment we pass is one moment less in our relatively short life span, so should it not have been treasured for all it is worth?

Most of are slaves to the clock; in fact it is difficult to imagine how we can have any structure to our days or formulate anything meaningful without reference to that often little ticking device, that consumes us from the minute we wake. It is drilled in to us that time is money and there is often that almost natural tendency in humans to try to cram in as much as they can, to maximise all possible benefit from an available resource. It may be an extension of an intrinsically materialistic disposition, or it may be an innate recognition that our life is also a finite resource of a sort and we therefore “need to make the most of it”. Whatever it is, the reality often is that we are doing the very opposite of what we set out to do.

Many will disagree and argue vocally that they are proud of their time management. They manage to fit all their requirements into their days. Yes, it is hard for them, but with careful planning and precise implementation, it is achievable. Aha – perhaps, but I am attempting to probe deeper here. I am trying to suggest looking beyond the veil and to genuinely analyse if in that hectic rush of activity you create and immerse yourself in, whether you are losing yourself. Are you  simply working so hard to aim for that elusive “complete” lifestyle that you are left with no time to really know and absorb what it is you are, or are not, attaining or enjoying? A classic example to the of the point I am trying to make is when we are so intent on capturing a special moment on camera or video, that we spend the whole of the time that we are meant to be “living” that experience, posing and getting the exact angle correct for that wonderful pose that will be our memory in days to come. Yes, I agree that those aids are very helpful and it is wonderful to look at pictures after the event and especially many years later, but surely not at the expense of actually becoming an effective spectator at the very event you are the star in?! I do not exaggerate, I have seen people fall out spectacularly over the simple issue of how a photograph is taken and its details, which you would have thought should pale into insignificance at the enormity of what the occasion should signify.

Another manifestation of our possibly subconscious fear of time passing us by may be the generally rigid deadlines we set ourselves by which we determine to ourselves that we are to have achieved set objectives. Bad enough that we all have these at work and need to meet them to get pay rises or promotions or other forms of recognition, but the majority of us will have set targets for personal and lifestyle aspirations as well. We often mask these as “dreams” or goals, which are of course important for all and must be present to motivate and instil within us a sense of purpose. However, my concern is over the inflexible timeframes we almost always set to these. I take my own example, a much younger and more naive me (I am not ancient despite the imagery that this statement must conjure up!) knew what her priorities were. I knew what age I wanted to complete my education by, when I would be married by, my promotion progress at work was charted and generally most major life events possibly until what I then viewed as the ripe old age of 40, were all “fixed”.

 However, in my 30s now, it is clear my life took a totally different course to that I had subscribed it for. In the past that would have worried me, I would have fretted that this implied failure on various fronts but now, I am grateful that nothing “went to plan”. I am – I do not say this as some form of “sour grapes” effect. Life threw me a few curve balls and they forced me to re-analyse what I thought I wanted, and to work with what I got. It also (I like to think) stopped me stagnating and turning old before my time (I mean old in spirit as many aged people are genuinely “young at heart”) . If you achieve all you think you wanted to, by when you had planned to, what else is there to aspire to? No, achievements are never prescriptive, your requirements should be not only realistic, but more importantly, flexible. Anything is possible, I do not dispute that and I do not suggest by the mention of realistic aims, that you cannot seek to obtain what seems difficult or almost impossible. No, what I mean is that you may need to allow a considerable degree of adaptability so you can tailor them to ever-changing circumstances.

Focus on the today and enjoy what you are accomplishing. By no means abandon the constant pursuit for betterment, but do not get so swamped by the elusive gleam of the future you want, that you lose out on the present that is yours. Throw away that list and especially that bucket list, and focus instead on liking and loving what life is giving you and what you are gaining from it, here and now. In other words, really “live” life, not just plan to live it.  You may find that even if is momentary, you may manage to somewhat slow or pause time momentarily for yourself, to forever capture perfect happy moments in your soul, to provide those mental photographs no-one can deface or destroy in the years to come.

A Cupcake a Day!

Do not fear – I am not advocating a fast route to obesity, there is a method (sort of) to my madness. I have been thinking recently about how you can keep sane in situations where it all seems to be like a bad episode from a horror show. When chaos reigns supreme, there are deadlines hammering your door down, the phone will not stop ringing, more and more work is landing by the minute, and you still have a hundred other tasks such as filing those all important tax returns or renewing the car tax, that must also be somehow fit in. You constantly feel as though life is a treadmill and you are on it in high-speed, steep incline mode, and cannot even come off, for fear of falling flat on your face, and suffering permanent damage.

Sounding like a “usual” day in your life? I am sure it is not uncommon for most of the populace, trying to juggle demanding jobs, families and a whole host of other activities every day. I had one of those frequent moments last week and was beginning to despair as to how everything on my “to do” list, which was as long as my arm, was ever going to get done in a week, let alone a day. So, sitting in during yet another lunch break, staring in panic at the dreaded list and computer screen at alternate intervals, I glanced at my currently favorite drinks mug, a present from a close friend for my last birthday. A simple mug, yes – albeit, a pretty pink and white colour, with the words, “Keep Calm and Eat Cupcakes” emblazoned on it, crowned with a cupcake, replete with the obligatory cherry, in case someone did not get the point.

It made me automatically smile, the first step to arresting the panic before it runs away, with you in its grip. I then took a deep breath and forced myself to get up and walk away from my desk for a much-needed five-minute break. I made a tea and yes, resisted the urge to eat an actual cupcake, but simply reminded myself that unless calm prevails, in some form or another, productivity cannot result. Oh, it did not make the day magically better – not at all, there were still more “hair tearing” moments in the day, but that little jolt which allowed me a moment of respite and in an odd way, allowed a slight re-charge on otherwise flat “batteries”, did its work well. After all, the cake can be consumed but the sweetness lingers awhile, right? It certainly worked for me and I found that I was able to get through the day, managing various commitments and achieving what was strictly required, despite having to re-organise deadlines and tasks.

It also reminded me (at the end of that particularly hectic day) to reflect on whether I could identify any other associative tools that may be of help in the future when the weight of various pressures seems to weigh down with crushing impact, causing panic and thus putting an end to making any meaningful progress, thereby exacerbating the original reason behind the onset of the anxiety – too many tasks and too little time. It is always tricky and sometimes probably impossible, to stop yourself feeling overwhelmed. However, recognising the “danger signals” before it is too late, may be of some help. This may at least help to somewhat stem the flood, if not divert it totally. Even panic, as long as it is in manageable proportions, can be controlled and in some cases, may actually become an aid to spurring delivery despite unrealistic but immovable deadlines or focus the mind to ensure that the work being produced is actually focused and to the point, in the way that it sometimes is not when there is no urgency underlying it.

I found a variety of techniques, some of which I had myself been using almost subconsciously and probably daily, to beneficial effect. After all, what else was practicing deep breathing as taught in my yoga class, if not an instant relaxation aid? No wonder, we are often told to take a deep breath when we get agitated – I have found that many deep but systematic breaths buy you the time to calm your responses and of course also have the universally acknowledged health benefits we all know about. There is then the other obvious, but still effective methods, such as taking a quick moment to have a drink, looking at a picture on your wall or even computer screen that you associate with serenity, other seemingly silly accoutrements such as the poster I spotted recently in our offices which contains a wide circle on a page, with the words, “Bang Head Here” and a downward pointing arrow above it. I love those types of implements, as they do their work but also afford some amusement to the observer. Another very obvious mechanism for me is to almost forcibly remind myself that no matter how much I stress, it will not make the tasks any easier or the time it will take them any shorter, unless of course, I actually get on with them, rather than sit or stand there, worrying myself ill over them.

It is after all, about perspective and no matter what happens we must also try to remember that in most cases, if something simply cannot get done today, we need to organise and re-prioritise and ensure it is done as soon as it can. (I caveat this by clarifying that I am not referring to tasks of life saving importance – those are well beyond the scope of this post). Of course, one size will never fit all, and those very basic techniques I describe above may seem laughable to some, but I always believe that if a simple formula can solve the equation, why try to devise a more elaborate one?! If you are of a more intelligent disposition than I am and only feel fulfilled by a more challenging methodology, if it still causes the desired effect, i.e. that of inducing much-needed calm in difficult situations, it is all for the good. What is indisputable is that, only by conditioning yourself to this state, can you ever successfully master it. Once attained though, the benefits from remaining calm under pressure cannot be adequately described here. After all, as James Allen reminded us, “Calmness is power.”

Desi Boys (Article)

This is another article that recently got published, this time in Telly Tadka, a “well known online media news house which not only provides news but also is an interface between the fans and the show makers, actors etc. It is the first US registered online news channel which covers behind the scene people such as writers, directors, producers, cameramen and other important people in addition to the actors.”

Audience Ka Tadka – Desi Boys

Early warning: the views below are entirely subjective. Nothing in the article is intended to suggest that any other actors not mentioned are not to be reckoned with, I have only commented on the ones I am familiar with. I am sure most will understand that, no matter how much I love TV, I can only keep up to date with a finite number of shows, so please read and enjoy but do not be upset or offended if your favourite “man” is not mentioned.

Is it finally the era of the boys of Indian TV to at least have an equal share of the spotlight, if not outshine, the girls? We are used to Indian television being the dominion of central women characters; we have had a very long run of female-centric shows in the past, and they have certainly paid their due in terms of impact and TRP ratings both. Just when we think that to run a successful Indian soap, the fail-safe recipe is to structure it around a dominating female character, be it positive or negative, or even both, we see a step-change. Yes, the men have arrived to Indian telly town and they are a sight for sore eyes. Little wonder then that females (maybe males too, could not say!) are now spoilt for choice and loving it. They have a welcome break from conventional dramas portraying mainly kitchen politics, and are now treated instead with romance and sizzling on-screen chemistry. From the numerous appealing shows and their stars we have, some certainly make a lasting impression, both in terms of their talents and personas, and the choice roles they get to play.

So what have we got? Let us see – let us start by taking God’s name and I am talking about both a show on a God, and the wonderful actor who brings this deity to life in truly magical style. Yes, I am talking about Life OK’s mythological offering, Devon ke Dev Mahadev and versatile model/ actor and perfectionist, Mohit Raina, who has now become indistinguishable from the character he plays – that of Mahadev aka Lord Shiva. Chiselled features, a physique to die for and expressions that can make you laugh and cry at the drop of a hat, all seem to be Mohit’s domain. He has made Shiva come alive for us and his portrayal of a very human, and humane, Mahadev has won over the hearts of young and old alike.

From a “God” to someone who acts as though he is one (on-screen!) – yes – I am talking about none other than the heart-throb of most – the one and only, Arnav Singh Raizada of Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon fame. Talk about an unconventional hero and Arnav has got to come to mind. The man re-defined arrogance for us, his portrayal of a seemingly heartless, brutal business tycoon who cares for no one other than his sister, until his happiness (Khushi!) literally falls in his arms, transports us into the pages of a Mills & Boons romance as soon as we tune in for the show. Little wonder then that his very name creates a frenzy with his fans and hysterics abound when Barun Sobti is referred to.

Depicting a more mortal persona, but still crammed with attitude and an inspiring love for our country, Rajveer of Star Plus’s relatively new entrant – Sajda – Tere Pyaar Mein, brought to life by the dashing Shaleen Bhanot, has already made a “dabbaang” impression. Portraying an intelligence agent, in a story depicting conflict with love and duty, both the show and Ranveer’s character, already show great promise. It is clear why we would love Shaleen, with his easy charm, intense performances and the mystique surrounding Ranveer, all we now need to wait for is a display of his fantastic dancing skills, which I am sure the show’s makers will not overlook.

We then have the dashing duo, who literally could have been lifted from a Bollywood script. I refer to none other than on-screen brothers Viren and Viraat from the much-liked Star Plus show, Ek Hazaron Mein Meri Behna Hai, portarayed by Karan Tacker and Kushal Tandon, who are setting so many hearts aflutter. The boys are shown very different on-screen, but both appealing and attractive in their own ways – one is the husband half the nation’s girls would give their eye teeth for and the other, the charming rogue, the remaining half would be anxious to claim as theirs. All in all, between them, there is a delectable mix of qualities and characteristics to appease a wide and varied audience.

Finally, I make mention of the “boy next door”, a simple man but one who possesses qualities no one would deem a simple task to locate in a life partner. Yes, I am referring to Diya Aur Bati’s Suraj, superbly depicted by Anas Rashid, certainly no stranger to female attention thanks to his clean-cut good looks, million watt smile and just general appeal. Suraj seems to buck the current general trend which favours glamorous business tycoons, collegians or just generally a more Westernised male lead, but makes up from any apparent lack of glitz by bringing home the importance of real values – true family devotion balanced with trying to be an ideal husband as well. Suraj makes us realise that it is more important to have a soul mate who can be truly in tune with your innermost desires, rather than focussing solely on educational or social qualifications, which do not in themselves test a person’s character or eligibility.

The above is just a non-exhaustive list of some of the leading men who are making waves at the moment, as indicated at the start. I am by no means suggesting that the shows they star in are not women centred, a lot of them are. However, when we talk of them, the men have made as much of an impact on us as their lovely and multi-talented female counterparts. For example, we now synonymously think of Arnav-Khushi and Suraj-Sandhya, not just one or the other. Similarly, Devon Ke Dev has certainly broken barriers by making mythology a commercial success, that too, with a real patriarchal theme. All in all, it is great to see the wealth of talent and charisma we get treated to nowadays. So – kudos to our “boys”, you already know you are much-loved but we feel we have to say it as credit where credit is due is only fair?

Author – Shruti
(www.shruts11.wordpress.com)

The Eternal Battle

I believe the concept detailed below has been much explored and nothing I write here is new, so I shall not be surprised if most find this post quite uninspiring and trite, but as a lot of you will know by now, I often write to reason things out for my benefit, so please bear with it if you can.

We are all warriors and are constantly at war. Each new day brings a battle or continues one we already find ourselves in. No, I have not got so lost in my preferred realm of fantasy fiction that I am actually turning delusional. I also do not mean that we are in some parallel mediveal universe, garbed in chain mail, brandishing impressive weaponary and fighting legions of enemies. Yet, fight we do – not only amonst ourselves, but with our own selves, daily. I refer to the battle that rages internally in us all, where the evil within rears its head in many guises and many forms, and needs defeating, if it is not to defeat us.

This should be no surprise as it has been the subject of myths and sagas since time immemorial.  Many will disagree – those epic battles I allude to were fought between armies, both human or supernatural, often a combination of both. They were spectacular tales of individual and cohesive bravery, displays of inspiring feats and skills of reknown, even Gods joined in some of them, or indeed were the subject of and participants of, some of those wars. I am not convinced. Yes, of course some of those battles may have been fought in fact, and some cleary were historical events. However, the depiction of most mythical battles, to me, are symbolic and mainly intended to represent the eternal battle that rages between good and evil. This is extended to encompass not just the extrinsic conflict between these two elemental forces, in each age and each day, in the guise of the constant struggle we all undergo, with our own selves.

For is it not a war we fight daily and is there not evil, not just around us, but within us all to be defeated?  What else are our vices such as anger, jealousy, greed, and in some cases, hate, to name but a few, other than the soldiers of evil, the forces of what is “dark” not just in the universe, but residing within our own selves? Often, it is harder to fight those elements within us, than it is to face up to people, situations or fears that are around us. Do not mistake me – I do not subscibe to theory that all, or even most of mankind, is evil. Quite the contrary, I believe in the inherent goodness present in each soul, or at least the potential for it to be present. However, whether that righteousness manifests itself or comes to the fore, is a matter of free will and choice for each individual, shaped by many factors and perhaps, to some extent, dependant on the level of self realisation achieved through personal effort, and possibly even strife. Otherwise, that very purity or virtue can be masked, or even totally subsumed by its antithesis, which also co-exists in all of us, at least in the form of its potential. Put simply, there is great capacity within each of us to do  “good” but there is also the possibility of considerable “evil”. What path we eventually choose, is up to us.

Indeed, sometimes we may not make a conscious decision. The grasp of evil or malice is subtle but tencious nevertheless. We may find that the negativity in us gradually sneaks up on us, eventually corroding everything that was shining bright and pure within our soul, if unchecked. For example, what may start as a simple craving for material betterment could become greed if we are not self aware and contained. It must be universally acknowledged that greed is poisonous, it exerts its influence powerfully and can easily strip away a significant part of, if not all, of the sterling qualities within us such as the desire to share, be content, be selfless. The same could apply to any other failing or iniquity that we may, and have the potential to be, capable of.

How then, can we guard against these often unseen enemies? Are we simply hostage to good fortume or perhaps a higher power, to ensure we do not fall before these foes and emerge the survivor from their onslaught? I do not believe so, as the danger is the greatest for those unaware and also perhaps careless. I suspect the answer may lie in constant vigilance. Just as a sentry cannot afford to sleep on guard duty, we must train ourselves to self-inspect and remain guarded that those negativities do not creep up on us, finding us complacent and defenceless, thereby being able to overpower us. Once we are captured, escape is extremely difficult, if not outright impossible. By policing your own actions and more importantly, your thoughts, you win a major skirmish, if not the battle itself. Other things may help – surround yourself with people similarly self-aware and dedciated to staying on the “right” side. The sentry on duty, can after all, be relieved at least temporarily by a comrade, whom he can trust. This is because he knows that should danger strike whilst he slumbers, his companion will raise the alarm and rouse him. Similarly, practising the art of positive living or exploring spirituality in whatever guise that appeals to you, could help you identify in time if you are at risk of giving in to any corrupting influence, and could well help you arrest its progress before it is too late.

If all else fails, ask yourself whether what you are doing, or thinking, is the right thing to do. Your innermost soul will seldom lie to you, and if it does, the battle I have been rambling on about may perhaps be already lost! However, for most, it is never too late and hope is eternal, so I remain very postive that a lot of us can learn and train ourselves to master the art of this warfare and yes, even win.  As described by Sun Tzu,Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories” and also by the great Aristotle who said, “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self“.

Attaining Mahadev

Below is another article published on on-line entertainment site, Rangmunch TV, on 9 April 2012.

 
What can be highest aspiration for a human being? Wealth, fame, glory, happiness or love? Think beyond that, take your mind and imagination to a higher plane. It may not be the first thing one thinks of when asked the question I raised, but surely there can be no more lofty achievement on any level, than ultimate union – that with the divine or Almighty, whatever form or manifestation you worship Him/ Her in?
 
An aspiration to achieve God is the central tenet of possibly all spiritual learning and longing alike. If we take Hinduism for example, the four pillars underpinning life’s goals are those of “dharma” (duty or righteousness), “artha” (wealth), “kama” (desire) and finally, “moksha” (liberation). It is clear that the final objective automatically implies an eventual absorption within,or submission to, a higher power, as to be liberated not just from your physical body, but to fully free your entire spirit, you must be “released” from all mortal boundaries. The other three may also necessitate submission to God in one form or another to achieve, as many will seek to do their duty, obtain material riches or fulfil worldly desires by relying on prayer, religion or even simply by following some form of “karmic” (deeds oriented) ideology, all of which rely on some form or other of a belief system in a superior power.
 
 
What does this have to do with Devon ke Dev Mahadev, you may ask? To answer this, ask yourself what the show is really about. Yes, we can see that it is an epic love story, it is about mythology and some will say, even fiction; it teaches us moral lessons, it warns us not to be arrogant and to have faith. Indeed, it does all that and more, but its most subliminal symbolism lies in seeing beyond Sati’s love and desire to attain Mahadev, and to equate it to the potential for EVERY human to attain God.
 
 
After all, is that not what Sati is trying to do? She is human, she is limited by her mortality and spiritual constraints. That is why there is a lot of focus on the recent track about her “yogyata” or suitability to be a bride to the most powerful of all Gods. This can, and possibly has been, misunderstood by some.
 
That was not a male diety being patronising to his (now) human but destined consort. It is simply a stark realisation that a human being, even one who was once “divine”, such as Sati was, can be hemmed in by her mortal limitations. Sati is often described as being possessed of all qualities one can aspire to – she is righteous, dutiful, kind, beautiful, multi-talented, and loving. How can she be unsuitable? We are told she can, as her love is still egocentric, in the sense that she struggles due to her humanity to extend that to the level of universal love that Mahadev as God can dispense.
 
Mahadev himself understands that and knows that an attempt to unite with Sati whilst she is still trapped within those inevitable human desires and limitations, will lead to catastrophe for Sati herself.
 
 
 
We have here our epic love story as a more seemingly insurmountable obstacle is harder to imagine. If it was only opposition from Sati’s father, no matter how vehement, that would be an external hardship to overcome, but again we are reminded that it is the internal battles one must fight and win, that stand between us and God more stoutly than extrinsic factors. We also have here, the hope that there is potential for a human (Sati here but it could be anyone?) to shed their impediments through challenging but yet achievable, tests or exertions.
 
I draw the parallel here for the potential for each of us to therefore be able to aspire to what appears almost unachievable – union with the divinity, whence we all come from and back to which we must aspire to return to, if we are to be free for once and all from all pain, suffering and to be able to merge back to the cosmos and its creator. Think also on the suggestion that it is not only through the desire for God that you can be finally released of all “desire” or attachment in itself, thereby paving the way for your own“moksha” or true liberation. Such liberation does not necessarily have to be through death- you can attain this state whilst being part of the living macrocosm.
 
 
Thank you once again to Life OK, Nikhil Sinha and the entire team of Devon ke Dev Mahadev for bringing us this important message of spirituality and ultimate hope through their wonderful show, which masquerades as a mythological drama, but is far more than just that. Also, thank you to our wonderful on-screen Shiv and Sati, Mohit Rainaand Mouni Roy, for making us fall in love with them, and thus inspiring each of us in some way to try to seek our own God or divinity.
 

Aashi – this one is specially for you. Aashi, one of the sweetest people I have come to know recently, raised a really good question, or questions really, whilst commenting on my “Glass Houses” post. She essentially asked how you deal with the pain of those who let you down or outright hurt you, behave in a way that breaches every acceptable remit of what trust implies – how can you forgive such betrayals, let alone forget? I expect we must extend this to include those who may not have in any way directly wronged you, but have merely drifted apart from you due to any number of potential factors and you thus view this as an abandonment. How do you deal with the loss of such relationships, without bitterness corroding he once happy memories you must have shared with them? I use the word relationships deliberately, as ended friendships can hurt or scar as much as any broken bond with a romantic partner, so the scope is wide but can include any person or persons you had a significant bond with.

This discussion reminded me of the phrase, “Friends can be for a reason, a season or a lifetime”. I used to struggle with grasping this concept as I suppose everyone I counted as a true friend, I assumed would be a “lifetime” influence or fixture. This cannot be so – thinking like this is another manifestation of attachment that binds us to people in a way that often overlooks our cosmic connection with them. We befriend or meet someone, or they us, we get on so well, they help us in ways that cannot be defined, we then start to believe they are an indispensable part of our existence, we form an attachment to them that transforms them often into a ‘human crutch” for us. We sub-consciously believe that we cannot do without their support, our well-being and success is somehow incomplete if they do not share it. We often give this the label of love, but true love should not be a slave to possession or reciprocity.

Anyone who has had an extremely close friendship or other relationship must have at some point experienced the pain and despair of it ending, or at least fracturing, so I hope that what I describe is something they can relate to. However, if we think about friends who are no longer friends, either due to some disconnect or discord, or simply due to time and distance or circumstance, as still having been our one-time teachers, that might help. They enable us to remember the lessons we learnt but not be corrupted by pointless pain or anger at their departure from our life. We do not hate our teachers, good or bad as they may have been, for having “left” after having imparted whatever lesson or knowledge that was their forte. In fact, in many cases, we owe them, and afford them heart-felt thanks for making us what we are. It is after all, the lessons we learn and how we learn them, that shapes the course our lives often take.

Think of your friends, both past and present, or any relationships really, in the same manner. You were meant to meet some people at a certain point in your life – you will not accept this if you do not subscribe to the inescapable theory of “karma”, but I cannot otherwise account for why we meet some people and not others, from the multitudes that prowl our universe. Why do some lives intersect with ours at any given point and why are we only meant to walk a certain distance with such companions, before their own paths diverge and they accompany us, or us them, no longer? Why, because it was fated to be and yes, our free will may, and will, impact on a lot of our actual interactions with the other “passengers” on this “journey”, but it will not affect the overall outcome or destination of our quest or theirs.

Put simply, accept that not everyone who means a lot to you at any given point in your life, will be a constant throughout your existence, or theirs. After all, change is the only constant in life. Just take from them and your relationship with them, whatever good you can extract, let any “bad” serve as an experience that helps the future and overall, let them go. Focussing on, and remaining affected by, the pain, anger, loss, grief, frustration or any other negative feeling you associate with them long after your relationship has played its course, only shackles you in a meaningless prison of your own making. As Ann Landers described: “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head”.

However, I extend this slightly further – do not despise, despise implies hatred and continued negativity, any trace of this will continue to keep you chained to the very person or memories you need to part with, so do not hate, resent or stay angry. Simply understand that even any pain caused to you is a part of the full range of experiences we must undergo to have really “lived”. The feeling of release from letting go extends its benefit by causing an immediate lightness in your own spirit and being. It then sets you free to like, love or live again, and hopefully all three. Simply love, live and learn, it is a fluid process that only ends with life, and maybe not even then. I read a wonderful quote recently, source unknown – “If someone you love hurts you cry a river, build a bridge, and get over it”, which really struck a chord with me, I hope it does with you too.