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Tag: life is cyclical

How to remain calm no matter what?

Here is a lovely story I heard recently from my very good childhood friend.

A factory owner once gave a surprise payout to all his employees. Each one of them came up to him, thanked him, praised him and left him with a big smile. Each one, except one. Just one employee, neither thanked him nor praised him. And this got onto the factory owner’s nerves. He just couldn’t understand why this person would not come to thank him.

This kept playing on the owner’s mind over and over. A few months down the line, he announced a cut in salary for this employee. A few days passed, and he was shocked that the employee still never came to him – crying, arguing, or at the very least, demanding an explanation.

Perplexed, the factory owner decided to confront the employee about his unsettling behaviour. The employee said, “Sir, on the day you announced the bonus, my wife gave birth to our son, and I took the bonus as a stroke of luck brought by my child. On the day when you cut my pay, my mother passed away, and I took the pay cut as if she took away what belonged to her. Therefore, I am unaffected by the pay rise or the pay reduction.”

It is said that one of the hardest feats a true yogi can achieve, is to remain equanimous in the face of duality. Especially in the face of life’s opposites – joy versus sorrow, pain versus pleasure etc. Life is full of such extremes – with today’s pain leading to tomorrow’s pleasure which then leads to further pain and the cycle continues forever.

Once we accept and realise that life is cyclical, we will be able to objectively evaluate each situation life places us in – and respond appropriately. Moderation is the key – and if the good doesn’t matter much, the bad won’t either.

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The good, bad and holy

You might have been going through a very tough time. A well-wisher comes up and says to you “This too shall pass”. You’ve heard this a 1000 times before, and don’t like it at all. “Does he even know how grave my problems are right now?”

Let us do one thing. Let’s all create a common whatsapp group. And let’s all post all our problems there. Anyone who wishes, can take all your problems, and in return give all their problems to you. What do you think will be the result of this exercise?

It is highly likely that you will not find even a single taker. Because while our own problems are bad enough that we think only gloom and doom, when we look at others, our problems become meaningless. But we never look at other people’s problems. We only stare in amazement and envy at their growing list of followers and number of likes to their seemingly perfect online avatars.

Life may be cynical. But it is also cyclical. Good things don’t last forever. Because they lead to complacency which then brings downfall. Bad things too don’t last forever. Because having our backs-to-the-wall brings opportunities we would otherwise ignore. The cycle is only broken if one decides to quit midway. But that is too extreme and unwarranted.

It is best to take both the good and the bad with a pinch, nay bucket of salt.

Diving deeper, there is no good or bad. These are only nebulous extremes on a sliding scale of apparent quality created by the mind. Something to ponder upon.

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You know nothing of my pitiable condition.

You just lost your job in this pandemic. Yes the same dream job that you struggled for many years to get. It paid well. And the career path actually seemed to be looking right up. Until today morning, when the boss gave you the bad news. Your friend comes up to you. The one who still has a job. And has been having a great career – much better than yours. He tries to console you. “You know buddy, life can be tough sometimes. But don’t despair. You’re stronger than this. You’ll get through it. Just seek and tap in to the happiness within. Things will work out. Everything will be fine.”

You think to yourself. “He hasn’t lost his job. He doesn’t have to support a family with no monthly paycheck. He can lecture me. So easy to be in his shoes! And what happiness within? I’m a train-wreck and a loser, and I don’t know how I’ll ever pick myself up from this ever again. There ain’t no happiness here!”

Haven’t we all been in position of weakness at some point? Maybe after losing a job. Or a loved one. Or failed an exam. Or something else.

It may be true that the happiness we seek lies within. But the time to sow the seed, is not on the day of the harvest. Building mental and spiritual strength requires time and effort. If we didn’t get around to this 5 or 10 or 15 years ago, that’s fine.

But the next best time, is now. Before, a problem hits us. Because life tends to be cyclical. If things are going great, it is likely that may not remain forever. And if things seem desolate, that too, will pass. Meditation, yoga, pranayama, spiritual discourses and others are imperative. But we must build the roof, before the rains, not when the hurricane is overhead.

Let us start today. So that when someone comes up telling us to ‘seek the happiness within’, we are actually able to make use of the advice. Even though by then, we may not need it.

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