Monday, October 26, 2009

Innocence of a child

All of us love children. It does not matter whether it is our child or not. At the mere sight of a child, strangers start smiling at each other and the ice is broken. There is something very attractive in children. It could be their playful nature. It could be the joy that seems to fill them. It could be their low level of ego and self consciousness. It could be their ability to quickly forget pain and smile despite it. It could be their vulnerability. It could our own amazement and wonder at seeing God's blessing in the form of a child.

It is not the physical appearance of the child that attracts us. It is not her talent or intelligence. It is not the wealth in her family. Even a child without any of these is cute and beautiful. What strikes me as really wonderful in children is their innocence and their ability to trust everyone around implicitly. A child's mind is not crooked or scheming. It is simple, straight, open and transparent. She is honest about what she wants and what she likes or dislikes. She does not hide things. She speaks what she thinks. And most of all she believes what we tell her.

When we see a child we want to love her. We want to play with her and laugh in a carefree manner like her. We want to provide her with things that make her happy. We want to protect her from harm. The whole world loves a child for its nature, character and behaviour.

Why can't we be more like children?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The 'needs' test

The whole universe and everything that exists is God's creation. He has made sure that every creature he has created is well provided for. Every insect, bird, animal, fish etc. has a space to live and food to survive. It is truly a magnificent creation wherein each of the millions of species is programmed to survive and flourish.

If we see most creatures, they only consume what they need. Even if they store or accumulate, like bees or ants do, it is only for the sake of their consumption during the lean season when food supply is limited. They never seek or crave for anything beyond what is necessary for survival.

If we look at human, we have a difference of approach. After the basic needs of man is taken care, the needs of the ego arise. So, we seek larger homes in better locations and multiple homes too. We buy clothing that we may not wear too often and remains in the confines of our wardrobes. There is virtually no end to the "needs" of our ego. Is it need or greed?

It is our greed that results in unnecessary destruction to our habitat and our world. In the name of progression man has ignored other creatures and progressively encroached on their lives. It is time we reverse this trend.

One simple way would be to take the 'needs' test every time we feel compelled to buy something. Do I really need it? Can I manage without it? Can I make do with what I already have? These are the kind of questions to ask ourselves. If we can make this one change, we can make a significant positive impact. And the 'needs' test can be applied in many other areas too. Let's simplify our lives this way.

Even if we can "afford" something, we should not procure it unless we really need it. If indeed we have surplus resources at our disposal, we can use it to fulfil the genuine needs of people who do not have the means to satisfy it. Here too, the 'needs' test would be relevant. Charity done without doing the needs test may turn out to be a wasted effort.

If we thus make sincere efforts to use the available resources in this world to satisfy the needs of its creatures, we will end up making this a much brighter and happier world.

Lets spread joy around us. It will surely end up making our lives more joyful..

Monday, October 12, 2009

The way to true happiness

It was a few days before the Diwali festival many years ago. The mood was festive and we children were eager with anticipation of eating the sweets and other savouries that would be made at home, bursting the crackers, wearing new clothes etc. The mid-term exams were over and the vacation had started.

Although we were not very well off and belonged to a simple middle class family, our parents ensured that we celebrated such festivals within our modest means. Those days, we used to buy clothes only twice a year during such occasion or on birthday. On the day when we were about to go shopping for new clothes my elder brother (aged about 10)announced that he did not want new clothes.

We were surprised by his decision and were wondering what was wrong with him. Did he feel offended by something and is expressing his dissent in this manner? Or did he wish to get something else instead of clothes? When he was asked the reason, he just kept quiet and did not give any special reason. Our mother would not take no for an answer and probed him further.

After a lot of questioning, he finally gave his answer. He said one of his friends, who stayed in the same building as ours, came from a poor family and he normally does not get new clothes during Diwali. So, my brother felt it would not be appropriate for him to strut about in new clothes while his friend continued to wear his old clothes. It was an unbelievable act of self-denial and selfless behaviour from someone as young as my brother.

At that time, I just couldn't relate to this spirit of sacrifice that my brother displayed. However, I learnt a very big lesson from him that has stayed in my heart ever since. In our joy and our success, we should not forget others. Share with and care for others. Keep the feelings of others in mind. True happiness is when we bring a smile in the face of others..

Greetings of the season to all my readers... May the festival of lights bring joy and peace to your family and you..

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

No pain no gain

All of us are programmed to avoid pain. We know it hurts. Having experienced pain once, we do everything possible to keep it away. We react spontaneously and instantaneously at the first hint of pain - physical or mental pain. But pain is not always so bad. Though it hurts, it also has its uses.

People who work out and are into sports enjoy pain. They feel satisfied with their training and hard work only when they feel the pain. It indicates to them that there is an impact and a resistance being formed in the body which makes them stronger and fitter. Pain helps them identify which muscle parts to work on and which to give rest.

Pain at the mental level also has its positive benefits. It makes us mentally prepared and strong to handle similar situations in the future. It helps the mind to reflect on things. It is only when we experience mental anguish that we realise that there is more to life than mere enjoyment and pleasure. We ponder on our purpose and become more realistic when we experience pain.

A life without pain is boring and pointless. With such a life we become complacent and start taking things for granted. It might even make some of us arrogant and rude. Most importantly, without pain we might even forget God and spend our time in useless pursuits which do nothing to help us evolve into better beings.

So, welcome pain. Treat it as a necessary evil which has come to do some course correction for you. Look at it positively and enjoy the experience that pain delivers. When your mind is thus tuned to accept pain, it loses its sting. Who knows, you may even look forward to the experience...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Choose heroes carefully

"A man known by the company he keeps" goes an old saying. People ascribe our character with the character of our friends. If our friends love social work, we are bracketed as social workers. If we keep the company of people who love to fight, people presume us to be short tempered and always ready for a fight. It is also true that we get influenced by the behaviour and thinking of our friends.

Similarly, the people whom we adore and consider as heroes also reflect our sense of values and aspirations. Think about this for a little while and then think of your heroes. Are they the kind of people who lived ideal lives and a life based on ideals? Are they known for their high moral standards?

It is important that we choose our heroes carefully. Their lives must impress us with its high standards. Do not choose people who achieve success unless it was based on value pillars like honesty and integrity. Do not choose people who became famous for their talent and skills but were lacking in principles. Make sure that your heroes were people whose lives lead you in the right direction.

Do consider people like Swami Vivekananda who exhorted us to live courageously, Abraham Lincoln for his greatness as well as humility, Nelson Mandela for patience and perseverance, Mother Teresa who lived a selfless life full of love for the down trodden masses or Mahatma Gandhi who taught the world about non-violence and secular life. Choose such people whose lives made a positive impact on the world around them.

I would love to hear about who your heroes are and why?