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)

Did we cause loss of trade?

Written by Suraj Shah.

Were we the cause of lost trade for a local businessman?

After we crossed over the river Salzach late one night on our way home from an evening out in Salzburg, home to Mozart’s place of birth and the Sound of Music, my wife and I popped into an Italian restaurant to find out whether their pizza bases have any dairy or eggs.

All holiday, we had been enquiring in various restaurants whether the foods offered may be vegan-friendly.

We were delighted to hear from the charismatic owner that they only use flour and water in their bases. So our mind was set – we would go there the next day for lunch!

Pizza for lunch

The next morning rolled along and we walked around the beautiful city of Salzburg and made our way to the pizzeria for lunch, as planned. The owner greeted us warmly as he recognised us from the previous night, and found us a table in a popular spot, outside on the walkway but in the shade, on this unusually hot day.

It was a great spot for people watching, with locals and visitors walking past, looking in the shops and enjoying their ice cream.

Heena and I ordered our food and drinks and patiently waited for the meal to arrive. The pizza was to be prepared on an organic wholemeal base, by the way – superb!

Playing cards while waiting for food to arrive

The restaurant was busy, so we got out our deck of cards and played a few games of blackjack. Something fun to do while the food was being prepared. Something we had done when we had travelled together in the past to St Lucia, or Marrakech, or Zanzibar.

After some time, the drinks and soup arrived, and moments later the pizza was brought to the table. We halted the game and dived into our lunch. The soup was boiling hot, but the pizza was just right, so we polished off the pizza, put the soup to the side to let it cool and continued our game of cards.

Within five minutes of recommencing our game, while Heena was still gradually getting through the soup, the owner abruptly approached us and asked if we would like to order anything else. We were content with our meal, and so asked for the bill while we finished the soup.

Playing cards at the table is “nicht guut”

As we were paying for the meal, the owner, attempting to speak English said “this is not good…”, pointing to the cards. He added “Don’t mind, but you don’t spiel (German for play) at the table… this is not good”, again pointing to the cards.

I tried explaining that we were only playing while waiting for the soup to cool down. But we could see he was getting more and more frustrated, so we simply settled the bill, packed away the cards, finished the soup and promptly left the restaurant.

It wasn’t like it was an upmarket restaurant. It was a casual environment, and I thought we had a good rapport with the staff there. But alas, it appeared we had done something wrong.

Were we responsible for the restaurant owner’s frustration?

The question was this: “What led to his frustration?”

Heena and I deduced that it could have been any of the following:

  • It was a busy lunchtime and he was worked off his feet.
  • We ordered a soup, a pizza, a sparkling water and a tap water – perhaps it wasn’t enough to make it worth his while.
  • While we were finishing the soup, all he could see was that we were playing cards, and therefore he couldn’t seat more customers – a loss of trade.
  • He may have seen our card playing as an insult to the ‘class’ and reputation of his establishment.
  • Playing cards at the table while waiting for food may not be socially acceptable in Austria.

So did our presence there really cause him a loss of trade and ‘class’? Should we restrict our card playing to places other than bars and cafes?

Perhaps more importantly, why were we playing cards in the first place? Why did we choose that to fill the time in such a way? What happened to good old-fashioned meal-time conversation at the dinner table between two people who adore each other?

(Photo courtesy of Erin Kohlenberg)