It’s your own fault

Written by Suraj Shah.

“Koina parn dosh jo nahi. Tara pothana dosh thi je kai thaai chhe, te thaai chhe, em maan.” = “Don’t look at anyone else’s faults. Understand that whatever is happening, is taking place due to your own faults.” – Shrimad Rajchandra, Vacchanamrut, letter 157, part 13, point 1.

In everyday life, we face a multitude of challenges, with people and situations demanding our constant attention, with mayhem rattling our mundane lives.

It’s far too cold out there, but it’s just too hot in here.
Thieves broke into my house. Some jerk rear-ended my car.
My children won’t obey me. My boss is a tyrant.
My husband is lazy. My wife won’t stop nagging.
Everybody wants a piece of me. Nobody loves me.

Aren’t we always looking for somebody or something to blame?

When things don’t go as intended, we flare up, identifying and enlarging other people’s faults, blaming them for what is happening, thinking that perhaps in some way, by offloading the responsibility onto them, it will lessen the heat.

But our situations are not due to them, their actions, their malicious intent, or their negligence. The difficulties arise only due to our own faults.

Our faults include many damaging levels of anger and spite, of endless greed for more and more, of the untamed ego wanting to protect “me and mine” and of deception through constant scheming and lies. We all do it, whether we recognise it in ourselves or not.

Karmically, it’s all your own fault

As the law of karma goes, these faults bring rise to strong emotions that send out vibrations into the universe. These vibrations attract negative clusters of karmic particles towards us that bind to the soul. At a predetermined time, these karmic clusters naturally fall off. But the eventual shedding of the karmic clusters is what brings rise to situations in our lives.

You could say that me reacting angrily to a situation today results in an unprovoked attack on me by thugs at some point in the future. At that point in the future I might think I did nothing wrong, that I was just a victim. But the truth is that I was certainly at fault, just that it was triggered by the way I behaved in the past.

So quite bluntly, our own faults are the direct reason that all painful situations, whether mild or tough, arise in our lives.

From fault to freedom

So how do we turn that around? Knowing what we know now, that our faults lead to troublesome situations, how do we overcome our faults of anger, greed, ego and deceit?

FACE-ing it: Friendship, Appreciation, Compassion and Equanimity.

Friendship cultivates forgiveness which is the antidote to anger. The power of friendship towards all people and all living beings, means that you have not even a single speck of malice towards anybody else. Through friendship, revenge is not an option. Nor is hatred. Nor is spite. Nor is any level of anger or frustration towards another living being. Instead, you only want for them to be happy and at peace.

Appreciation cultivates humility which tames the ego. Appreciation is about feeling joy at the observation of someone’s beautiful qualities. When you can see and appreciate someone’s qualities while identifying and introspecting on your own faults, it moves you away from the “look at me, look at how amazing and powerful and rich and popular I am!” It makes you humble, treat others with respect, and learn from their positive traits to help alleviate your own misgivings.

Compassion cultivates straightforwardness, which hampers deceit. Compassion is about wanting to take away the sorrow felt by others. Every single day we make up stories in our minds and through our words. We want to get ahead, so we plan and we scheme and we think of ways to show that we are better than others. Our scheming and lying causes so much harm to those around us. Instead, be straightforward. With love and care, say it like it is. Stop all the scheming and all the lying. Lets have more compassion for each other.

Equanimity cultivates contentment which overcomes greed. Equanimity is about not being swayed by our mood. It is about not being a victim to our own senses. It is about calming the greed and being content with what we have. Equanimity is about realising that we have more than enough, that we don’t need any more. The great soul L.M. Vora used to say in Gujarati “Chaalse, fawse, bhavse & gamse. Jem chhe, em.” which roughly translates to “It will do, it will fit, it will taste ok and I will be ok with it. It is, as it is.” He was not swayed by likes and dislikes. He adjusted to everything. He wouldn’t demand or ask for more. He was content with what life presented him with. Equanimity is about being calm in the face of life’s wavering situations.

With these four qualities of friendship, appreciation, compassion and equanimity, you are armed to face any fault that may arise within you, and as a result, lessen the mayhem as you move forward in life.

(Photo courtesy of Stuart Richards)

Tame the rioter within

Written by Suraj Shah.

I believe London is ready to tame the rioter within.

London’s blazin’, London’s streets gone crazy,
There’s only madness and mayhem about.
Why do these fierce Londoners riot and loot,
What makes them scream and shout?

It turns out that London merely reflects you and I,
We must go deep within to discover the true cause.
When we find the reason that London’s been looted,
Bet you half-a-penny it’ll be worth a grand applause.

What is it that we’re looking for, in our day to day,
What is it that we’re striving for and why?
It’s time now for that moment of truth to reveal itself,
Now ask yourself: “Are we living a smacking big lie?”

Put yourself for a moment in the rioter’s shoes,
Why did they trash, smash, loot and steal?
Damaging and claiming what was not theirs,
Thinking that this will bring them to an even keel.

What was the cause of their anger, the root of their greed,
Rising of their ego, and dodging what is true?
Had they simply forgotten who they are at their core?
Perhaps they are not so different from me and you.

You see, we all have a rioter, buried deep inside,
Bringing about mass mayhem yet trying to hide,
Causing so much friction in our day to day lives,
Many ups and downs, like the rise and fall of the tide.

Not content with what we have, so we go out to get more,
Things don’t go our way, so we shout and we cause hurt,
Desperately wanting to be seen, screaming out “I am here!”,
Trying to dodge the truth, so we cover each other with dirt.

It’s time to claim back the power from the rioter within,
Look directly in the eye and say “I ain’t doin’ this no more.”
Living the simple path of friendship, joy, care and calm,
From this moment forward I’m only working from my core.

Can we do it, I ask, can we transform our foundation?
Can we be better, act better and shed our old skin?
I know we can be calmer, certainly have more care,
I believe London is ready to tame the rioter within.

When dropping your phone is not the end of the world

Written by Suraj Shah.

We consider possessions to be extentions of our own bodies – when cherished items get damaged, we foolishly feel the pain.

How did you feel when you last dropped your phone?

Yesterday I’d just parked up, got out of the car to head into a friend’s place, and was rummaging around for my phone. At first I couldn’t feel my phone in my pocket, so I thought I’d left it in the car.  Turns out that it was in amongst a pile of books that were in my arms.  Immediately I heard something hit the ground.

I looked down, and thought: “Shit.”

Possessiveness plagues the mind

The phone had hit the filthy hard tarmac head-on – and the phone was now in three pieces.

I stopped, picked up the three pieces (main phone, back cover, and battery), decided I wasn’t going to let it ruin my evening, put the phone back together again, inspected it for damage, put it in my pocket and then walked into my friend’s house.  In fact, I felt quite proud of myself for being so calm about it.

But whilst I was with my friends, I still had worries run through my mind:

  • What if the phone doesn’t work properly anymore?
  • How could I be so clumsy?
  • I still have 10 months left on the contract before I can get an upgrade – can I afford another phone?
  • I depend on my phone for web access to work while I am out and about – will this now confine me only to where there is web access at fixed locations?
  • How will clients perceive me if I am using a dented phone in front of them?
  • My phone’s not insured – should I get insurance now and claim the damage on it?

Manifestation of anger, greed, ego and deceit

When we drop something that we are attached to, a number of feelings naturally arise.  We feel annoyed at ourselves for dropping it.  We feel like we NEED to have a replacement immediately .  Our ego is dented, by seeing ourselves as clumsy, and by what we think other people will think of us when we walk around with a damaged item.  We may even consider telling a lie to blame someone else for the damage and try to wangle a new item through insurance.

The nature of the phone is to change

The fact is that the phone was never going to stay in pristine condition forever.  It’s nature is to change.  It is made of matter that will inevitably change form and colour when external forces are applied to it.

So why do we place our happiness on something that, by nature, will not stay the same?

It’s because we consider it an extension of our own bodies.  We have so much love for it, and what it can do, and how it can make us feel.  When it’s damaged, it’s as though we ourselves are damaged – we feel the pain.  When cherished items get damaged, we foolishly feel the pain.

Cultivating trusteeship to tame the pain of loss

So how do we resolve this pain we feel when we lose our cherished possessions?

The Jain concept of aparigraha is about non-possession.  Broken down to a-pari-graha, it translates to:

  • a = not / negate
  • pari = outer / external
  • graha = hold firmly

From the perspective of who we are at our core, our soul, aparigraha is about not having a firm hold on anything outside ourselves – this includes our possessions, our relationships, and even our own bodies.

Taking the example of the phone, it means simply being a trustee of the phone, rather than assuming full ownership.  It is about looking after it, using it appropriately, and taking care to maintain it, but knowing that it will not stay with us forever, or that we may not be able to use it at all times that we may want to.

Extending trusteeship beyond the phone

What else can we become trustees of and how would that work for us?  Can we become trustees of our cars, our houses, our jobs, our countries, our relationships and our bodies?  What would life be like if we fully lived out non-possession?

(Photo courtesy of Pat Castaldo)