newlife2design

When I can't think no more, and the thoughts crowd my head, I let them out, one at a time, and after sorting them, put them back together again…in order to begin entangling another web!

Archive for the category “Relationships”

OMG! – God exists but do we need to prove it?

This question is inspired by the movie OMG – Oh My god that I watched last evening. I don’t particularly care for Mr. Akshay Kumar, but my son was most insistent that I must watch this movie. He even tried to motivate me by saying that Akshay Kumar’s role in this movie is very limited, and the movie is all about how we perceive God, and carries some important messages.

So, here’s what I understood from the movie – God exists – everywhere. We don’t need to segregate God into special places like temples, masjids, gurudwaras, and churches. God exists in everyone, not just stone statues. God doesn’t want to be appeased or bribed – making another human/living being happy would be an excellent form of worship too.

And this vibes with my thinking very well. I am not just being lazy when I don’t feel like going to the temple. I don’t mean to be uncharitable to the priests at the temple. But something inside me does not agree with the entire concept of having rituals and customs for everything to prove that we believe in God, and are good people.

A dialogue from OMG stayed with me – “Indians are not God-loving, but God-fearing people”. Very true, and that’s why we don’t feel free to do what we want. Instead of listening to our consciousness and ensuring that we do the right thing, we confine ourselves to doing the right thing as defined by our religious interpretations. And that does not make much sense to me. For example, if eating non-vegetarian food is wrong on certain days, why is it alright on other not-so-well-recognized-by-Hindu-religion days, like a Sunday?

And after the movie finished, I was very sure – my Mom, an extremely religious and, more importantly, a very ritualistic person, must watch this movie. My cousin, daughter, everyone agreed wholeheartedly, in fact a little vehemently.

Then, I went about doing my routine tasks, and took a warm shower. I don’t know whether it was the comfort of the routine or the calming warmth of the hot shower, but I started to question myself. My mom has lived by these ritualistic procedures all her life. In fact, she has changed her life constantly in order to include more and more of these customs into her daily routine. I could always trick her into watching this movie because it’s a hindi movie which she loves. But I wonder what’s the point? What will I achieve?

After all, this is how she plans to deal with whatever problems life chooses to mete out to her. This is her way of maintaining hope and her future dreams despite all the troubles that hit us everyday. This is how she recovers from her pains. Would i really be helping her by taking this support away? What would this intervention leave her with? More questions? Is that how I should help her – shake her beliefs and leave her wondering?

Somewhere, I realized, I just couldn’t do this to her. I need to indulge her whims, and not begrudge her anything, irrespective of how I feel about the rituals she chooses to follow. Somewhere, this movie helped me accept my Mom more than anything else could have done. How very ironic!

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Letter to my 18-year old Daughter

Today, I found this letter that I had written to my darling daughter about a year ago. It was a harrowing period with tons of conflict and confusion. I wrote this to gather strength for both of us, and help us get through that difficult time. Today, it’s not just a bittersweet memory, but also a very important lesson in priorities – deciding what’s important, what’s temporary, and what’s the real feeling that will continue forever. I thought I’ll put it here as a record and a reminder.

Hey baby,

I want to start by saying, once again that I love you. I know that you know that I love you. But I wanted to say it all the same.

I know that you and I are having a real bad time right now. And I know you want me to stay out of your life, and not try to discuss anything with you. But it’s really tough for me to do that because I love you. And when I see you going through all that pain and hurt, I want to take you in my arms, kiss and make it better. It’s just a natural Mom reaction. It isn’t something that is unique to me. All moms feel this way.

It doesn’t mean that you are wrong. You want to be independent, and you want to do your own thing. And this is right. You should be independent, and I will always be proud of you no matter what you choose to be. I think you know that – that I won’t dictate your choices. Guide you maybe, but never force you.

But please remember:

Being independent does not mean cutting away from me.

Being independent means that you do what you want to do, with me and without me.

Being independent does not mean that you do the wrong thing.

 Being independent means that of all the right choices available, you choose the right thing for yourself, the one that you like.

Being independent does not mean that you never make a mistake.

Being independent means that you try new things, in the process even make mistakes.

Being independent does not mean that you make a mistake and turn away from it.

 Being independent means that you accept that you made a mistake, fix it, and move on.

Being independent does not mean that you do not study.

 Being independent means that you study hard, build your career (NDA, choreography, CA, whatever!), and be strong and happy.

Please understand baby that you are now old enough to have feelings as strong as love. But even adults find it difficult to manage their love relationships. So, you are not the only one who is having fights or problems. A lot of people do. It doesn’t make you a bad person. You are not a bad girl for being confused between two guys. It’s a natural feeling, not a bad feeling. In time, you will figure out the right guy for you, and until you do, all that you need to do is try and understand yourself. Once you have understood yourself, you’ll know what you want also. This is just a period of confusion. And I know that you are very disturbed. But believe me motu, it will be ok soon. And you will once again be happy and fine.

I can understand that you feel a divide between you and me because I am your Mom. But you do need to talk to someone, such as a counselor who can help you sort out your problems.

Just remember that I will always be there for you. In your heart. Call out once, and I’ll come running.

Take care and be happy,

Mom

Renewing Faith

Many members of my Buddhism practice share their experiences frequently. I have not had this chance too often. And I have often wondered if this was my karma or my lack of recognition of experiences/victories, or worse still, maybe it indicated my lack of commitment to the faith.

On April 28, 2012, I enshrined the Gohonzon in my house. It was one of the most special days of my life. Right from the time I got up on that day, my moments of discoveries began.

I got up earlier than usual, and got to cleaning my house. To others’ eyes, it was clean enough. But to my utter satisfaction, I had found a long-forgotten, hardly-ever-noticed window in the kitchen that was so terribly dirty. It just had to be cleaned – right then! So, I started.

First, I just cleaned the net on the inner window panes. Then, I realized that the glasses on the outer panes were much more filthy, and the task would just not be complete unless I had them clean. So, I took a deep breath, and renewed my efforts.

As I soaped, washed, and scrubbed, I realized that while the inside of the pane was easy to clean, it was really tough to do the outside. But if the outside wasn’t done, it just, yeah, you’re right, it just wouldn’t be complete! So, even though it was really difficult to reach, and even more difficult to scrub, I continued, cleaning the outside even more vigorously than the inside.

And, I thought to myself that cleaning the window was pretty akin to cleansing oneself, or rather one’s soul. If I wasn’t clean from within, if I didn’t rid myself of all the negativity and the impurity, no matter how hard it was to do that cleansing, I would never ever be really clean, I’d never ever be truly happy.

Two hours later, I was pretty satisfied with the result. The kitchen suddenly had so much light!! I was really happy.

Finally, I went to bathe and check that sms I had heard sometime ago during my cleaning.

The sms read:

Good Morning and congratulations for your Gohonzon enshrinement today. How lucky you are to enshrine on such an auspicious day when Nichiren Daishonin chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the first time. Please do not forget that actually Gohonzon exists within and this Gohonzon which is being enshrined in your house today is going to be an external stimuli to bring out your Buddhahood when chanted with strong faith. NMRK

 I had such a BIIGGG smile on my face!

This sms had just reinforced the thoughts that I had been having while cleaning the window. And now my belief was unshakeable – it was going to be the day when everything was going to go right!

Then, I went to wake up my daughter to see if she’d come along with me to shop for all the stuff I needed for the enshrinement, and if she’d be willing to attend it.

Initially, she refused for both the things, but then her love for me took over, and she accompanied me to help out with everything. she helped me buy everything, running around to get everything done on time, and between us we had everything in order, just before members started walking in. She was extremely enthusiastic the whole time, advising me wherever she felt necessary, never cribbing about the heavy loads she had to carry. Last night, she had even spent an hour with me to get the furniture clean.

But, she left the house right before the actual ceremony began. Still, I have faith that one day she will join this practice again, and be able to reap the benefits, just like I have.

The entire ceremony was beautiful. Very calm, all-encompassing, and extremely uplifting! My brother and mother attended. And the Gohonzon was enshrined by the same leaders that I had wished for.

Members told me that I would see the difference in my life after this day.

And I do.

Little things have changed. And I know some big changes are just around the corner – building up from the little things that really do matter.

Today, I am happy to report that I have an experience to share!

Yesterday, after many days of smouldering tension, the volcano between my daughter and I just erupted. The issue was extremely mundane. We had discussed in the recent past that because of my lack of energy and time, I was unable to cook meals for the two of us, and because she was home almost all day, she could take on this responsibility. This would help us eat at home – and not spend huge loads of money on rich, not-so-healthy meals outside.

However, she wasn’t really taking on the responsibility completely. And on one point, she was really adamant – she wouldn’t purchase the veggies or groceries. We seemed to have reached a stalemate. Yesterday morning, I raised the issue in a not-so-understanding manner, and of course, my daughter just lost her cool and started shouting rudely.

Extremely upset, I left for work, but was troubled throughout the day. I kept trying to talk to her on the phone, but was unable to keep the conversation on an even keel. The lowest point came when, totally exasperated, I told her that I didn’t want to live with her anymore because of her rude behavior, and taking-others-for-granted attitude.

In my emotional turmoil, I was unable to work. I called up my brother, and related the entire incident to him. He listened with empathy, and advised me to chant. Coincidentally, one of the members called me and asked if she could come over and chant with me in the evening. I accepted.

In the evening, I tried to set aside my problem, and concentrate on chanting with my friend. But my mind continued to be restless.

Suddenly, while chanting, a thought struck me that even though the situation appeared really bad, and it seemed as if all actions needed to be taken by my daughter, was there really nothing that I could do? Wasn’t there something that I could try to perhaps improve the situation? At that moment, I realized that my friend and I were chanting really powerfully and in perfect rhythm and coordination. We seemed to have built up the perfect crescendo! Acknowledging the joyful note in our Daimoku, I realized that the Gohonzon was inspiring me to not feel hopeless, and sparking a confidence in me to take action. I wondered if making a dish – paneer or chicken – relatively easy to procure, and quick to make, could help me kind-of sweeten the situation for my daughter, and convey to her more demonstratively that I loved her, and wanted the situation between us to improve.

After our Daimoku, my friend and I chatted for a brief time over a cup of coffee. Then, I ordered some raw chicken and salami to be delivered to our home. After that I hunted for the paneer all over the fridge. Of course, I was unable to find it. But, just before leaving the house to buy the paneer, I thought, let me call up my daughter, and ask her. I was unsure of how she would speak to me, if she at all chose to pick up my call.

She did pick up the phone, just as I was about to hang up after many rings. And she spoke so sweetly! My heart was overjoyed at just hearing her nice tone. She told me where the paneer was, and promised to return soon, and make the parathas.

I made the paneer, and switched on my laptop to attend my call. She returned while my call was still going on.

After I ended my call, she came over to talk to me. She apologized for her behavior, and promised to purchase the groceries from then on. She also told me that she wasn’t apologizing to just end the matter, but she genuinely felt sorry, and wanted the situation between us to improve. Thereafter, the evening progressed just perfectly, and for a short time, we returned to being the happy, laughing mother-daughter duo.

In gratitude, I chanted three Daimoku to the Gohonzon.

Honestly speaking, I felt like a cherished, protected baby that the Gohonzon was tending to – making sure that I did not falter in faith, instilling more belief in me for the practice by granting me victories immediately, not making me struggle so much, not making me question, but nurturing me to be stronger in faith – helping me carry out my promise:

“Demonstrating the power of this practice through my victories to the rest of the world, and developing my own Buddhahood from within by growing in faith.”

Thank you Nichiren Daishonin, thank you my leaders, thank you my friend who shaku-bukoed me, and thank you Gohonzon! Thank you all!

Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo!

Nice of you to have stopped by…

I had no idea what was building up. Very quietly, slowly, you grew up on me. I didn’t realize your presence at first. Then, suddenly, there you were! Where the hell did you crop up from? Why are you here? Why are you subjecting me to this kind of torture? I never even knew you existed. So, I could hardly have invited you here.

Wait a minute! Let me think back. Did I say anything to point your attention to me? Did I do anything that could have made you feel welcome in my life? You know that nobody likes you. No one ever wants you around. Yet, you refuse to give up. And your entry mechanisms never change, do they? You’ll just sit there right outside the door, listening in, biding your time. Just when we are not looking, you’ll slip in through the cracks.

Yes, yes, I know. The cracks are there in my life. Sometimes, I have just been too lazy to bring things to closure. And just when I or someone I claimed to love, didn’t close the door properly, or we were too busy fighting with each other, you got your chance to sneak in.

Once you were there, reasons unimportant, you just feasted on my sorrow, on my feelings that I was trying so hard to bury. You dug up even those feelings that I thought I had been able to set aside. I thought I had moved on. You fed on my anger, and you grew to a humongous size. You were too much to ignore. And you just wouldn’t leave.

You touched everything, everyone, nothing was above you. All of it was tainted suddenly, so horribly.  I thought you’d just taken over my house. I wanted to run away. I thought you’d taken over my life. I wanted to die. But I didn’t want to give up without a fight. So, I fought with all my might. and you took advantage that I was so blinded by my fury, that I just didn’t know where to strike. So, conveniently, you hid. You hid behind everyone around me. I don’t know why they felt compelled to shield you. Why they thought that diverting my attention from you was the right thing to do. Did you never think about what you were doing to me? I grew weak in my misery, and I felt you were making everyone sneer and laugh at me. They saw what you were making me go through, and did nothing to help me. Life had never been so bleak and hopeless.

Right when I hit rock bottom, and I thought it was the end, I saw a small, tiny flickering light. That light made me look at myself. You’d made me really dirty,. But, you know what? I was dirtier because of my own actions. My filth was my own creation. Yes, you got me down. But you didn’t finish me.  I was trying to finish the job that seemingly you had started. But this tiny ray of light had changed everything. I could see better even though the light was not so strong. So, I stepped back and gave that light some air. Dragging in a deep breath, I saw it fed with more oxygen. The light grew stronger, and soon became a flame. I felt, confident, alive once again. I was going to cleanse myself. So, I picked up the duster, and started shaking the dirt off myself. Ruthlessly, I continued until I felt clean. I could see better; there was clarity. I looked up and found that the sky was just as blue, the grass and trees that I so loved were just as green as they used to be. The simple pleasures of life once again gave me peace. And with that peace, I started stitching everything that was torn, making myself whole, once again. I removed the parts I didn’t like, I tidied myself and smiled.

That’s when it hit me. This is what you’d come into my life, hadn’t you? I was getting complacent. I had stopped thinking, developed a comfort zone that I was reluctant to leave. You came in to shake me up. To make me realize that although still alive, I had stopped living. I had reached one peak, and wasn’t interested in getting back down, and finding a new mountain to climb. I didn’t want to change. I didn’t want to struggle. I just thought that by letting things be, I was indeed letting them be. But nothing stays the same, does it? Everything had started to go stale. Rot had started to set in. My family, friends, and colleagues were starting to feel the stink. They were going to leave.

Before I lost everything that was dear to me, you walked in and forced me to change – to clean. I started to feel good with that change. Today, I realize that I should never have resisted you. I should have embraced you. Because you are the one who game the opportunity to move from good to better. You are the reason for the new, clean, improved me.

Thank you dear PROBLEM. I am so sorry. I had no idea that you were going to be the one to shape a better me. Thank you for helping me change!

So, so nice of you to have stopped by. Whenever you think I am getting stupid, and getting stuck in a rut, please feel free and visit again. I realize that you are named Problem, but really, you are the only chance for a better me!

Choosing Peace

Jan 2011 I decided to give up my anger. Among other factors, I felt that my anger had been the primary reason, at times instigator, sometimes the catalyst for all the negative situations that had arisen in my home. True, a lot of horrible things happened to me, and I hadn’t done anything to deserve them. But caught up in self-pity and desirous of sympathy and attention, I refused to consider if I could have chosen to not get angry, and, thereby, prevented situations from worsening.

With my 20/20 hindsight, it’s so easy to see where I could have not shouted, toned down my reactions, and removed provocation. In the false sense of calmness that I feel while looking back, I know I could have handled things better, leading to very different, maybe even positive consequences.

I can’t bring the time back, I can’t change anything in the past. Neither am I so confident that I will do things differently in the future. It’s far too easy, and too damn difficult to “Never ever get angry!”. But I know how I feel now. The regrets in my heart don’t help me forgive others, but pretty much put the ball firmly in my court. The sense of control that I have on my own actions, makes me feel that at least for the time being, I can choose peace over anger. And that I think is far more sustainable than trying to control all of my future. “For the time being” is so much easier to predict and handle than “never”, “always”, and “forever”, don’t you think?

So, here’s my renewed choice for 2012 that I make today: When I need to, my first choice will be peace and calm, cooperation and understanding, not anger or disruption.

Last year, I could count the number of times I lost my temper on the fingers of one hand. Each time, the consequence was bad. Very strangely, I was became increasingly aware of my feelings every time. Perhaps the first time I lost it last year, I was too caught up in the situation to acknowledge my emotions, the rise of anger, fueled by my sense of righteousness and ego. The last time I did it on Dec 25, 2011, I was so darned aware of what was happening inside me and the way the whole situation was proceeding towards disaster, that I could almost feel myself standing on one side, watching myself rip the scene with my rants, and I knew exactly what was going to happen after I’d finished doing it. And it happened exactly that way, minute-by-minute the scene played out my script. Unfortunately, even in my sense of awareness, I was unable to find the alternate way of handling that situation. It was like I knew what I was doing was wrong, and I totally let myself do it.

Well, my morbid curiosity is certainly satisfied now! And the more I thought over it, again and again, I realized what I should have done instead. A much more liberating thought than that helplessness that I had allowed myself to feel! What else can I do in this situation? How long can I keep my mouth shut? When will they understand and do the right thing? These questions still rake my mind. But this time I know what I can do. I know how I could have changed my responses to the situation, and changed it towards a better end.

Here’s what I realized:

What else can I do in this situation? – Nothing, if that is really the only option.

How long can I keep my mouth shut? – Always, if I cannot think of the right thing to say.

When will they understand and do the right thing? – One day they will understand. But that day is not today. So, I just need to wait.

Choosing to do nothing, to say nothing, and to just wait suddenly does not seem like a sense of helplessness. I realized that it’s a deliberate choice that I am making, and I am being smart if by controlling myself, I am preventing the situation from worsening. Inaction doesn’t seem so bad now, especially when I can do silent Daimoku while I think the right thing to say or do. 🙂

If only life were so simple!

So, here’s something that occurred to me yesterday while reading a book. Books, typically the ones that have some romance in them, always make it so convenient for us to know who the heroine and hero are. And these characters will either find happiness for ever with each other, and the book will have a happy ending, or these characters will not end up with each other, and the book will have a sad ending. In fact, even if they find happiness with other people, there will be a definite twinge of sadness in the book.

But my point is that it’s so easy to determine when they will be happy – it will be when they are with each other. As a reader I know who the right and wrong people are in the book, and I can so easily choose the people on whom I will focus my loyalties.

So, why doesn’t life offer such clarity and foresight? Why can’t I know who’s going to be my hero in real life – the one who’ll make my life-story have a happy ending? What if I already know him? Imagine the time that’s being wasted while we carry on separate lives, with our loneliness, and disappointments from other relationships! It could be so much more simple if we would just know who is the “One” for us.

This simple clarity might even help me with my quitter mentality – the one that makes me think that all’s over with the first disagreement. If I knew my hero, I wouldn’t get so scared whenever I have a fight with him. I’d be so cool, wouldn’t I? Just stating my point of view with a healthy regard for his perspective, content and confident in my knowledge that the difference in our opinions does not matter, and it’s simply a matter of time before we are once again happy together.

Oh I do wish this were so!

Plunging Down, Bobbing Up

On the heels of yesterday’s happiness and gratitude for the year gone by comes the following thought:

What is one supposed to do when someone comes so close that when they take even a step away, it makes one feel that they have gone too far?
And what is one supposed to do when someone goes so far that if they took even one step closer, one would think, come on just one more step, it’s not so far?

Oscillating between depths and heights,

Swinging between highs and lows,

Struggling to keep my head above water,

My heart insists on being morose.

I try hard, so hard, not to reach out, not to ask,

Am I going to lose this battle today?

Just a little more courage, just a bit more,

No one will see my tears, but for a while I might need a mask.

Happy 2012, Thank you 2011!

I am so thankful for the year gone by. It was a year that taught me a lot about life, myself, people, relationships, hope, letting go, self-control, Buddhism, and my blessings. I struggled on both personal and professional fronts. I struggled to keep my temper in check. Many things did not go the way I wanted them to. And during all these struggles and disappointments, I realized my own strength. I realized that I can go through a lot of difficult situations and come out smiling. I realized the most important lesson of my life: I can be alone, by myself, without anyone, and I can be quite happy and satisfied. I do not need others for my happiness. They do not bring me peace, and, therefore, they are not the cause of my problems and dissatisfaction. I am independent and responsible for my feelings, and I can take care of myself.
This also made me free, completely free, to do things for others without expecting them to acknowledge it, to change anything because of it, or to care for me because of it – not even one tiny bit of expectation.
Yes, it was hard to learn these lessons. But this learning leaves behind such a sweet happy taste! I feel stronger and more ready to do things.
It’s not a spark of confidence. It’s a cemented force with the potential to do more, and the grounding to be able to go on, to continue.
Ooooh! I feeel gooood!!!

Letting go – seemingly easy!

I thought I had it all figured out. How naive can a human mind be? I talked to myself for hours on end, arguing both sides of the debate, and then figured out some more sides to the whole argument. Analytical, super-foretelling me! Yeah, right! I mean, how could I think that I could foresee all possible situations? Generically speaking, specifics cannot be determined! No! Never! Who am I to demonstrate that being a parent can be easy when it’s supposed to be probably the most difficult task in the world. Really, how could I have ignored the kind of help there is available for parents when they face difficult situations? Why would handing out this help be such a profit-making proposition, if it were not so necessary, not so critical?

So simple it seemed. Let go. No one stays, no one will be there. So, you gotta be independent, expect them to not be there! But how do I do it day after day? So, what caused this mental fight to ensue in me? Why do I feel engulfed by these questions that hit me from all sides?

Here’s what happened.

Today, when my eighteen-year old (awfully young in my mind) said she wants to celebrate her first new year’s eve without me, I didn’t know whether I could just let her do that.  I am sooo struggling to let her go. On one hand, I can totally understand her – who would want to be without their friends, not have that fun that her friends’ company would offer, and miss the chance to have the time of her life on New Year’s eve. On the other hand, is the mother inside me who rears her head, I think, quite selfishly. Selfishly, I want to hold my baby to me, and never let go. As a parent, I worry. So, I ask her for the promise, and she gives it totally unhesitatingly – she would not cross her limit of drinking. The minute she starts to feel the high, she’ll stop drinking, and on my way back from my party with my friends, I can pick her up. Looks like a pretty reasonable thing, doesn’t it?

Even the woman inside me, especially the single woman, is kind of looking forward to a party without my children. Then, I can simply look to enjoy myself, without any worries of my kids – did they eat, what did they eat, what did they miss, are they dancing, are they getting bored, are they surrounded by unsavory characters, are they ok? God! I really would never give it a break. And they were always so rolling-their-eyes tolerant of my super-mothering-hen kind of behavior. With them out of my sight, enjoying life at their own parties, maybe I can restrict myself to a few well-spaced out calls, and ensure that we all have a good time without stressing each other out. Then, I had the dilemma – what about my son! Without his sister for company, he’d be totally out of his mind at the party with me and my friends. So, he solves that problem so simply – he’ll spend time with his father and his father’s wife. He hasn’t met them for some time, and this would be a good time to make up for that. So, it all seems to be working out – isn’t it? So, why am I still nervous? Why am I still wondering if it’s the right thing to do? With or without me, my son and daughter want to have their own plans, and I can have fun on my own too. So, what in the world is wrong with me? Why am I over-thinking this?

Is it just that it will be strange to celebrate without them, or is it that I am wondering how people around me will look at this? Or is it that I’ll be pitied as the abandoned mother? Did I even give this a second’s thought when I decided to celebrate my new year’s eve without my parents for the first time? So, why it so difficult to let go of my kids, and let them have fun without me?

Return to the roost

My daughter came back home on her own. Says that she’s realized who was wrong, and who was right. And realized that she could neither live with pretenders, nor pretend herself. I am happy that she’s returned after the realization, and not just because she felt more comfortable with me. Probably, this will be more sustainable this way. But I’ve got my fingers and toes all crossed! I don’t want to relax and think that all’s gonna be ok. Might be grounds for some rude awakening! Most of all, I want to be a lot more aware parent than I was before, and do more things right than I did before. Learn from my mistakes, and be more careful this time around. But I AM SO HAPPY!!!!

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