Let go of control to feel great!

Written by Suraj Shah, inspired by the enlightened.

When a loss is imminent, how do you let go?

A friend whose father was very ill had found a way to let go and face the reality of his father’s imminent death.

When I heard that his dad had passed away, I called but did not get through. So I left a voicemail expressing my condolences. Later, in a message he replied:

“… we did everything we could for dad but unfortunately it got to a stage where it was out of our hands. He passed peacefully and that’s all we could ask for.”

It must have taken great courage and strength to write those words. Within those words came a great realisation:

“…it was out of our hands.”

We think we’re in control

How much of what happens in our world is in our hands? How much can we control?

We think that we determine how other people behave and the situations that arise.

We think we can get people to do as we want.

  • We get happy when the sun shines and sad when the rain falls.
  • We get happy cruising in our shiny new car, but upset and angry over the tiniest scratch.
  • We are smitten by the cute new baby, but fall into depression when losing a loved one.
  • We are over the moon when we receive a compliment, but fiercely bitter when people fail to notice our greatest work.

So much of our day to day life is spent trying to control the people and the situations in the world around us.

We so desperately want things to go our way. When they don’t, we plead and we bully, we get angry and upset and we cry.

It’s out of our hands – we control nothing

The reality of life is that we control nothing.

My grandma used to say (in Gujarati):

“jeh thawanu hasse, ee thaasse”.

It loosely translates to:

“what is meant to happen, will”.

For years I would brush it off, thinking my grandma was nuts. What mumbo-jumbo! Of course I control my own destiny. Right?  No so.

Turns out that since she passed on, I’ve come to realise just how right she was.

Things certainly do happen as they are meant to:

  • People come and go.
  • We land jobs and get fired, or made redundant, or just lose interest.
  • We fall in and out of love.
  • Others fall in and out of love with us.
  • Houses are built and fall down, or are demolished, or burned down.
  • Our health is great one moment, and the next we suffer with aches and pains and fevers.

Our life, our world, everything around us is so temperamental. So strange. So odd. How much do we really control?

Everything that happens is appropriate

In gujarati, there is another phrase:

“jeh thaay, teh yogya chhe”

It translates to:

“what happens, is appropriate”.

Based on our self-bound karma, situation arise. What we experience is a result of our own self-bound karma. What others experience is a result of their own self-bound karma.

The situation that arises is appropriate because it is a fruition of that previously-bound karma.

Although we make every effort to help others through a difficult time (which we should), only they have the power to get through the situation.

Just as nobody can truly take away something that we are meant to experience (that which is appropriate to what we have previously bound), in that way we are not able to take away something that another person is due to experience.

Illness is just a result of previously-bound karma arising at the appropriate time.

Death is nothing other than the ending of a karma that determined how long that particular lifespan would be. It is appropriate because that life-span-determining karma had arisen at the time of that person’s conception and had come to an end at the end of their life.

We can’t stop someone from getting ill, nor can we stop them from dying.

We can’t extract them from what they are experiencing, but we can offer strength through our love and support and practical help.

Everything that happens is good

My grandma also used the say (in gujarati):

“jeh thaay, ee saara maate thaay chhe”.

This loosely translates to:

“whatever is happening, is happening for the good”.

This one really used to confuse me. But grandmas, the wise old things that they are, have a terrific way of plantings seed within us that bloom when we most need them to.

Everything that happens is for the best.

Whatever we experience, or whatever our closest friends and family or indeed anybody in the world around us is going through, is as a result of karma that they themselves have bound.

This karma has to come to fruition, nomatter whether they want it to or not.

When an illness arises and passes, then that’s it — the karma has surfaced, and ran its course. Its a good thing. At least you are free from that karma! Of course there’s all the other previously bound karma that also has to run its course, but at least this one’s gone.

Whenever something happens, nomatter how much temporary pleasure or seemingly long-term pain it may bring you, stay calm and be happy that you are freeing yourself from that which is binding you.

We control nothing, yet we control everything

Even though we cannot control the situations that are facing us right now, we certainly have the power to dictate what comes up for us in the future.

This is done by the way in which we respond to situations.

When we see someone going through a lot of pain, if we get angry about not being able to do something about it, we bind more negative karma ourselves, which leads to negative situations arising for us in the future.

However, if we see the reality of that situation for what it is — that they have to endure the pain, then we can calmly and appropriately support that person the best way we can, without getting emotionally attached to the outcome.

By remaining detached and maintaining calm, we minimise trapping ourselves in troubling situations. That, and being happy right now that we are letting whatever is happening right now run its course. 🙂

Letting go, but feeling great!

We think we control everything.  But we don’t and that’s ok. What is meant to happen, will happen. What happens, is appropriate. Whatever is happening, is for the best.

Stay calm, respond appropriately, and be happy!

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Calm inducing rituals

Written by Suraj Shah.

Soon after the death of a loved one, emotions are all over the place.

There is so much to organise. Relatives fly in from around the world. Family and friends call up and come round to support, arriving early and staying till late.

During such a delicate time, close family members experiencing the loss need something to help bring calm to the madness.

Calm during chaos

In the timeless Jain tradition, we have one such method to bring about calm at a time of chaos.

Within a day or so of the death, we hold a prayer meeting. Distant family and friends of the bereaved and other members of the community congregate in a hall, giving them the chance to offer their condolences to the family.

What I value the most during these two hour sessions are the songs that are sung. These “vairagya na stavano” are songs from the Jain and other Indian traditions that bring about detachment.

What is detachment and why is it important at a time of loss?

In our day to day lives, we spend so much time indulging in objects of the senses, constantly being seduced by the desires of our body and its constant demands.

We succumb to likes and dislikes in pretty much everything we do.  These attractions and aversions bring about damaging emotions of anger, greed, ego and deceit.

When we lose someone that we like so much it is easy to fall into a sorrowful and bitter state – but there is a way to rise above it.

Detachment cultivates freedom from attractions (likes) and aversions (dislikes).

Songs that help bring about detachment, the “vairagya na stavano”, result in calm and clarity in our lives.

These songs paint a compassionate picture of how:

  1. The soul is separate from the body.
  2. Even though the body is momentary, the true self (soul) lives forever.
  3. Nothing we do can change someone else’s destiny.
  4. Nothing we do can change our own current situation.
  5. We have great power to influence our own future experiences.
  6. We have great power to remain calm no matter what we are experiencing right now.
  7. There are those who are completely liberated from suffering.
  8. There are those who are in a state of abundant, infinite and eternal bliss.
  9. Those liberated souls presently in a state of eternal bliss have left a path for us to attain it too.
  10. Having faith in words of these wonderfully compassionate souls and patiently treading the path they have shared will bring about great calm and clarity in our lives.

At a time of sorrow and chaos, attaining a sense of calm seems fairly straightforward.

In your faith, tradition or community, what calm inducing rituals do you take part in?

Love overcomes loss

Written by Suraj Shah.

We know that love is extraordinary.

We know love has the power to build bridges and break barriers.

We know that love can bring rise to our greatest qualities while conquering our most stubborn enemies.

We know that love has the power to deliver freedom from pain and bring about eternal happiness.

So how does love do all this, and how can we strengthen it in our lives?

I love you, and I’m thankful for you

In a Zen Habits post, Leo Babauta writes about a powerful algorithm for happiness.

He suggests using the phrase “I love you, and I’m thankful for you” in our day to day relationships.

Leo writes:

Look at each person you pass or encounter today, and think to yourself (as if you’re talking to the person you’re looking at), “I love you, and I’m thankful for you.” Try to say it with feeling. Mean it! Even to those you pass on the street, in the elevator, while you’re driving (you might only see them for a split second, from a distance).

When I applied it, I discovered that love transformed tense situations into calm and generous relationships. I found that I felt better, I felt real, I felt like I could move forward with my day.

This phrase works when we are experiencing the loss of a loved one. When someone we love is no longer around, feelings of sadness, anger and guilt come about in us. Often, great stress is placed on our closest relationships. Through our oscillating emotions, we push away the very people we need during delicate moments in life.

But by thinking “I love you, and I’m thankful for you” and truly meaning it, you will find that it drastically transforms tense relationships into ones of care and support.

Here’s what love does for us…

Love enhances the feeling of friendship

When you love someone, it brings about a feeling of care for their well-being.

You want them to come to no harm.

You want them to grow and discover their true selves. You are supportive of their decisions and you help them up nomatter how many times they may fall.

Love enables appreciation

When you love someone, when you are thankful for them, you discover and magnify their qualities. You feel great joy at observing what is great about them.

These same qualities that you observe in them start to grow in you.

The more you see them from a positive perspective, the more you benefit from the development of these qualities in your own life.

Love grows compassion

When you love someone, you want to protect them from fear and pain. You want to do whatever is in your power to shelter them from the harmful forces of the world.

Of course, you can only give to someone when you have it to give in the first place.

So it reminds you of the gifts you hold within you. It reminds you of the greatness you possess within you that can help someone else through a hard time.

Love tolerates through equanimity

When you love someone, you are willing to embrace them completely. You patiently listen to what they say, nomatter how they say it, and you simply observe their actions.

Free from expectation or frustration, you tolerate their every expression, and realise that they are not all too different from you.

Like you, they want love. Like you, they want to be heard, to be understood, to be cared for.

So looking at them with eyes of love communicates just that – you love them and you care for them, and nothing else matters.

Apply love in every interaction, every day

When you lose someone you are fond of, it can be very difficult for you and the people who want to support you through this loss. But what helps make it smoother is thinking and feeling “I love you, and I’m thankful for you” in your everyday interactions.

In relationships with those who are still around you, realise that the love that you possess at this delicate time can bring about deeper friendships, appreciation for the qualities of others, wider compassion for those who would benefit from your support, and great calmness through tolerance and equanimity.

When you lose someone, do something about it. Love those who are still around you. It will help you lead a calm and purposeful life.