Saturday, July 15, 2017

Guru Poornima: A Day for our Guides

They say that when a student looks for his teacher with earnestness, he finds one. Because the teacher is waiting for that earnestness, no one else but an earnest student finds them.

Sunflowers, when they bloom, turn toward the direction of the Sun. The Sun also wakes up each morning because it knows that the world looks forward to it every night. Sunflowers cannot bloom in their full glory without the Sun and even the Sun would feel worthless if it did not have the Universe waiting for it.

When we go through difficult times, we look for hope - a ray of light that will guide us out of our pain and bring happiness.

Just as a thirsty person looks for a well, the well waits patiently for the day a thirsty person will use it quench its thirst. If no one comes to drink out of the well, the water in it will go to waste. the well will dry up or the water will become stale, rending it useless.

A true Guru is also like a well waiting for its Shishya to whom he can impart his knowledge and wisdom. The Universe was created such that we all would be codependent. No one would be all-powerful and no one would become full of ego or too perfect to stop being human. Arjuna needed Dronacharya to become Arjuna, and no one would have known Dronacharya without Arjun ... he wouldn't have fulfilled his life's purpose of being a Guru.

There is also a difference between a teacher and a mentor or a Guru. A teacher teaches; a Guru gives guidance. Teachers make us literate. Gurus educate us, about ourselves and our lives. Most of us hunt for a teacher when what we really need is a Guru who gives us the tools to eventually not need him. We look for easy, short-cut solutions to our problems and in the process start living like parasites, thus stopping ourselves from living to a much higher purpose and potential.

Our parents selflessly birth and raise us. They teach us to walk by letting us hold their finger, until finally we let go and walk on our own, then run all by ourselves, not looking back. But maybe parents do that because they are our parents. We all still need that finger every once in a while, a guiding light to lead us along the path of our lives - whether or not we'd like to admit it!

A Guru would be someone who'd do that for us. He or she may not be related to us by blood and yet be that guiding light, that supporting finger, that nourishing sunshine.

Very few among us are fortunate enough to be blessed with a genuine, selfless, and giving mentor/guide. Maybe that is why Vedic philosophies say that a Guru is more important than a parent.

Many of us keep looking for one, travel length and breadth, and turn the world upside down, only to face failure, telling ourselves that we are not meant to find that guiding light. What we don't consider is the possibility that, more often than not, the light that we seek outside us is actually inside us. That we are our own guide. A Guru would take us to the point where we'd be our own guide some day.

Whether the guide is within or outside us doesn't matter. What matters is we take a moment to acknowledge that directing compass every once in a while. This write up is for all those Gurus in my life ... from mother who imparts me her tough love to my father who endures me silently, the janitor who humbled me ( to women leaders in this world who lead by example, my younger brother who stuns me with his ageless wisdom to my older one who constantly shows me the mirror, the people who through their cynicism teach me to be kind to myself when no one else does to my yoga teachers who gave me the tools to discover myself, and my endless list of great guides.

Thank you. I am in your debt.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Failure and Change

Often life presents us situations to change the course of the path we are walking on. We may not realize that these situations are in fact opportunities because we are too focused walking on our path. The opportunities may be the breakthrough to change our lives for the better; they could also be opportunities to learn something and therefore evolve.

There are times we spend eternity walking inside a dark tunnel searching for light. But by the time this this light starts to appear before us, we might be presented with another crossroad. Another situation, another opportunity, another tunnel whose end we may not know of.

At such times, what will one do? 

Most likely, walk towards the visible light that we were looking for in the first place. The freedom from the darkness that we were searching for, for so long ... the solutions to the problems we've been facing ... the happiness that had eluded us all this time.

But what if that little voice at the back of our head - our conscience - whispers to us that, maybe the light we are chasing will not be probably not as bright as we dreamed it would be? What if while moving closer to fulfilling our dreams we started to wonder whether the dream is really worth achieving, and that maybe our lives are meant for a completely different or a much higher purpose?

Of course, there is a difference between being crazy and being stupid. But bravery does come at the cost of being called stupid sometimes, doesn't it!

If we are not brave, we will not succeed. We will not understand the meaning of failure, which is in fact being successful in knowing what we shouldn't do.

Fear of failure is therefore fear of success itself. It is only when we are brave enough to fail that we will be ready to succeed.

When we were small children, we didn't know how to walk. Walking was a new concept, something unknown to us. We learned how to walk after falling hundreds of times. And once we started walking, we started enjoying being able to move around on our own. We even started running! Today that walking is so ingrained that we just do it involuntarily. It just happens from muscle memory.

Same with facing the unknown.