Archive for January, 2016

Leave your past behind!

I am writing this piece looking out at the serene brutality of the never-ending sea. As I sip my coconut juice, I allow my mind to become engaged in the beautiful sounds of nature. The waves rippling gently, the trees subtly whistling in the wind, the nagging sound of a frog croaking behind the bushes, the birds chirping in the shade and the sound of fishermen casting their nets as they wade in the shallows.

There is something important to be learned from the art of 'letting go'

There is something important to be learned from the art of ‘letting go’

This feels like a truly blessed corner of the world, one where I feel incredibly free of distraction. It takes a trip to a place like this to really be able to let go… to let go of the mundane thoughts of bills, things I need to do, things I should have done, people I need to contact. Of course, I’ve come here on work, but for a while, I feel like my mind is de-fragmenting. I am just letting it all go.

My day started pretty early. As I took a quiet walk in the vicinity, I bumped into some monks, who were carrying out their daily parade through the dusty roads, blessing every person with an eternal smile. As they gracefully passed by, I was reminded of a story I heard many years ago, a story which ties in nicely with this day of letting go and re-centring my energy in the present.

The story goes like this: Two Buddhist monks, who have been taught not to have any contact with women, are walking back to their monastery. They come to a river where a young woman is standing, wondering how to cross it.

The first monk looks the other way and starts to cross the river. The second monk lifts the woman onto his back and crosses the river. After he puts the woman down, the two monks continue their walk.

The first monk then starts a tirade, ticking off the second one for touching the woman. He is furious about the contact with the woman and the latter listens silently. He went on blasting him right up to the gates of the monastery.

Finally, the second monk turned to the first and said, “I left the woman on the other side of the river, but she is still with you.”

The compassion of the second monk to put the needs of the woman before his own spiritual practice, and his mental ability to then let go of the fact that he had strayed from the path of his personal commitment, without feeling guilty or disappointed, is a lesson for us all.

…. The story brings some level of solace, I feel charged up. I’m nothing special. I get that. I come from humble beginnings. In school, I was quite a misfit.

I kept on moving ahead. I understood the power of passion, dedication – I read books, kept writing, studied consistently – putting in the effort relentlessly. Through seemingly small acts I made progress, quietly proving my naysayers ‘I can’.

Of course, there are a handful of teachers and professors, my parents and a few friends, through my journey, who helped me believe in myself. They shaped my thoughts, ideologies and often played a part in changing my self-perception. A lot in me transformed… There have been ups and downs, but my faith was bigger than my fear.

I kept moving… I believe, whenever I’d fall along the journey, I’d rise. When I’d stumble, I’d dust off all dismays. And stand again, that’s life… I would want to keep doing this until my death.

I am reminded (by my conscience) everything I’d experienced in the past was necessary to become the person I am today. Then why am I saying “let go of my past?”

That’s because, my pain has purified me. My stumbles have strengthened me. My failures have fortified me. It’s all been a brilliant path, even when I resisted it the most- and I thank mother Universe for that!

We cannot delete our past, just cannot erase it – but we mustn’t allow yesterday’s actions to affect today’s progress, because letting go of the past is necessary to live, grow and love. As spiritual teacher and author of bestselling book, “The Power of Now” Eckhart Tolle says, “As long as you make an identity for yourself out of pain, you cannot be free of it.”

Why I Still love Charlie Brown and Peanuts cartoons

The Peanuts Movie provides its life lessons through humour, heart-felt messages and endearing characters.

The Peanuts Movie provides its life lessons through humour, heart-felt messages and endearing characters.

My first encounter with the Peanuts comic strip was way back in the ‘1980s. As a 7-year old, brimming with enthusiasm and curiosity, I instantly fell in love with Charles M. Schultz’s endearing and a bit chaotic child characters – Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang.

After over three decades, it was indeed a pleasure watching the Peanuts Movie in theaters – this time too with my 7-year old. Yes, Charlie Brown Survives the Leap to 3D, something which many of its contemporaries could not.

For somebody like me who has grown up with Schultz’s characters, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and the rest of the beloved “Peanuts” gang, seeing the big-screen debut in glorious 3D animation was simply wow! My kido was enjoying Charlie Brown’s mistake-ridden adventures – fidgeting with his 3D glasses, often binging on his favorite caramel popcorn. However, the cartoon’s contemplative style and dark humor that gives it a timeless appeal was meant for us – the grown up kids on the block!

As the movie picked up pace, I started deciphering all the familiar characters in a different light like never before. Of course Snoopy and the Peanuts gang, like all good pop culture icons, have taught us some important life lessons over the years. One of the key lessons is to ‘Never Stop Trying’. Charlie Brown taught us how to really give it the old college try.

Linus’ big sister Lucy was always my Peanuts shero. She was loud, ambitious, ridiculous, and really kind of mean. In spite of her faults, Lucy knew that she didn’t owe anybody anything. When she set up shop as a psychiatrist, she didn’t hand out free advice, because she knew her time was worth. Lucy van Pelt’s self-confidence taught us all to value ourselves, even if it wasn’t very polite.

While sorting out our personal philosophy, Peanuts remind you to never take anything too seriously. After all, life is hard enough without taking every punch straight to the gut. It’s here that Charlie Brown’s little sister, Sally, the ultimate pragmatist can cross no other. If she tried to summon sunshine and got rain instead, she’d celebrate her powers. Pragmatism might not always be the logical choice, but Sally taught you just how well it could serve you.

On the other hand, Peanuts pianist Schroeder rarely speaks, preferring to practice his music instead. When he does talk, it’s because he has something pretty damn important to say.

Snoopy has an enviable imagination. One minute he’s a happy beagle, the next a tortured writer, and the next, a Space Flying Ace. He had his head in the clouds, and he made his own fun when he wanted to. Following Snoopy on his imaginary adventures made you hold on to your own sense of make-believe.

Everyone in the Peanuts gang loves to dance, right? Even if they didn’t have the best moves, that didn’t stop Schultz’s characters from cutting a rug. So their philosophy dance like no one’s watching, and make your own happiness is worth learning.

Finally, Charlie Brown and Snoopy have plenty of fun, but they’re even happier than when they’re just enjoying the weather and each other’s company.

The Peanuts Movie provides its life lessons through humour, heart-felt messages and endearing characters. Taking joy from the simple things is one of the most valuable life lessons we can ever learn, and Peanuts has been teaching this to us since childhood.

New Year 2016: A time for contemplation and renewal

Today, the world will joyfully celebrate the New Year. Many of us will make resolutions to improve our lives like every year. But as I sit at the old keyboard, I try to focus on the fact that how many of our last years’ resolutions have we fulfilled. Not that we would want to know… Instead, we will drown ourselves in entertainment news, gossips and fake showiness and other trivial things that really don’t matter when we look at the bigger canvas.

New year - a time of reflection

New year – a time of reflection

From terrorism to brutal rape, from corruption to infant death, are we doing – or at least making an attempt – to do something about it? As we head into 2016, we are contemplating an uncertain future that looms like a dark cloud.
As one year ends and another starts, it is a time of reflection and looking forward to the future.

Let us not forget our mistakes of the previous years, so that we do not repeat them in the New Year and the years to come. Let us also thank the Almighty for the gift of time, who atone our mistakes and renew the gift of life we have been blessed with.

Happy New Year!

(Courtesy: Shampa Bagchi)