It’s bad enough losing a loved one. It sucks. But for them to die before their time — it’s unjust.

The newly retired grandmother who was looking forward to playing with her grandchildren but got struck by a deadly virus.

The recently unemployed father killed by the police officer who was meant to protect him.

The depressed young professional who lost his job and jumped in front of a train.

The excited mother-to-be who died during childbirth.

The teenager who got knocked over by a reckless driver in a speeding car.

The playful infant who drowned when he fell in the pool.

The stillborn baby girl who had her whole life ahead of her.

It doesn’t make sense. How can this world be so cruel? It doesn’t seem fair.

On the face of it, it’s not fair.

Contemplating on the true nature of this world

Why should someone die at such as young age? Did they not deserve to live a long healthy life? Did I not deserve to have more time with them?

As we go through life, we discover that loss is inevitable. No matter how much we might want someone to come into our life or to stay with us forever, the reality is that when it’s our time, or their time, that will be it.

We see again and again how anything which comes to form will inevitably fall away. All things that I can see, hear, taste, touch and smell — all this will at some point break, melt, evaporate, burn, disintegrate or in some way no longer remain as what I might know it to be.

I could become furious about this loss, this injustice. I could shout and scream. But will it change what was meant to be? What I realise is that it will just hurt me further.

What if I was to become so numb and heartless that the series of losses in life need never hurt me again? Well, that might appear to work for a while, but it saps all energy. What a waste of life, a missed opportunity for self-realisation, for deep growth and to unleash the soul.

Applying the lens of kindness to myself and to the world

So what’s the alternative?

Let me cultivate a zest for life and compassion within.

Let me see the reality of the situation and be kind to myself.

Let me focus on that which can make a positive difference to me and the world around me.

Let me relentlessly pursue the quest to discover that which is permanent, that which is dependable, that which will bring rise to great calm and true joy.

The world is suffering, yet we have the power to heal ourselves and the world around us. By contemplating on the true nature of reality and recognising the transitory nature of this world, may I become empowered to lead a calm and purposeful life.

Would I want to be a bachelor again?

So my wife’s been away on a retreat in India these 5 weeks and I was curious how I would feel about this temporary loss over time.

Friends have commented how I must be enjoying bachelor life while the wife’s away.

In the past, I have felt excited initially (at the prospect of doing what I want without distractions), followed by weeks of loneliness (even when surrounded by family, friends and colleagues) and sadness at the prospect of returning to an empty home. Outer distractions would quickly turn into inner distractions, such as procrastination. Distractions, mostly, from facing up to my inner blockers and vices.

This time, however, it was different. Yes I got immersed in work but also intentionally carved out quality time with close family and friends, and yes some time to binge watch Netflix (!) Most importantly, I actively confronted my inner challenges – calmly, confidently, joyfully.

Doing this has shone a light on what’s truly important, has helped me to clearly define and work on my priorities, and has created more space in my life to do that which is fulfilling and joyful.

This is work in progress, of course, but what an encouraging start.

This year we’ll be married 10 years – and it’s now I see how much I value Heena’s presence in my life. Her creative spirit, her compassionate heart.

Time apart has been as enriching as time together.

Do I worry about losing her? Not so much. Do I love her presence in my life? Absolutely. Would I want to be a bachelor again? No need.

Deep inner calm

A friend’s grandfather died this week. The family report that in his final moments he said his goodbyes and passed away peacefully.

The state of samadhi maran, the ultimate final moment, is one in which you have a totally peaceful inner state, regardless of the physical pain at the end of life.

All the work we do in this life is to cultivate that deep inner calm, so that there is zero turbulence (free from attraction, desire, aversion, hatred, sorrow, etc.) in the most troublesome of moments in life, including at the time of death.

As it is currently Paryushan in the Jain calendar – eight days of introspection, contemplation, repentance and forgiveness – we have the opportunity to look deep within and let go of the remorse of unfulfilled desires and harboured resentment towards others. Lighten the load by letting go.

What are you willing to do to seek, cultivate and protect your calm?