Don’t Shun Compassion

Train chugged off slowly from the station …. a lady was running to catch the train carrying a heavy suitcase in one hand. She was limping, unable to run fast, as her knees were hurting because of arthritis. She was holding the heavy suitcase in one hand and struggling to catch hold of the train with the other hand.

 A person standing near the door assisted her and pulled her inside the train. The train was a little crowded; since It was an unreserved compartment all seats were completely occupied.

SEMrush

 She looked around for a seat and tried requesting a few people but in vain. She stood there balancing on her legs with her knees hurting. She was panting for breath.

 Nobody bothered to offer her a seat and a few people pretended to look elsewhere and got busy in their own world. On seeing her plight, a gentleman stood up and offered his seat. Lady thanked him and sat comfortably in the seat. The gentleman was compassionate towards the suffering lady.

 This is quite common in journeys, we have experienced it several times. Many times we feel like helping but somehow we glue our butt to the seat. A strong inner urge to help is not felt and we remain unmoved and sit like a statue.

 Compassion is the act to relieve the suffering with kindness, caring and support.

 Yes, the message I am trying to drive home is about compassion. How conveniently we forget. What happened to the principles we boast of ?  Train is just one incidence, in day-to-day life we come across many such helpless people, instead of showing compassion somehow we conveniently turn our face away.

 During the present Corona lockdown period, I’m seeing exactly the opposite. People have become very generous; they’re volunteering to help those who are in distress. The needy are given food, medicines and provided shelter. Some people don’t even bother about their safety while extending heartfelt service.

 Whenever an intense disaster strikes whether it is a tsunami or earthquake, cloudburst or flood or whatever, people just drop everything and stand in solidarity with others. We have witnessed this generosity in all calamities.

 I read a very touching story sometime back, it’s a true incident that happened in one of the hospitals.

 A young boy was nursing his mother post operation, she was recovering. It was around 10 pm, the boy started home after serving food and giving medicine to her mother.

 While passing through the hospital wards, in one of the wards, he heard a faint murmuring voice. Out of curiosity he went inside and saw an old lady in critical condition lying on the bed. With tears in her eyes she kept saying something which wasn’t clear to him.

 The boy was curious and asked the nurse over there. The nurse told him that the old lady was in critical condition and her last wish was to see her son and eyes were looking for him.  Nurse with a heavy heart told him, we didn’t know the whereabouts of her son to reach the message.

 The boy went near the old lady and she grabbed his hand thinking that her son had come. She kept talking incoherently with him the whole night with tears in her eyes.

 The boy sat quietly throughout the night holding her hand warmly and comforting her. Around 4 am she passed away peacefully. 

The nurse was overwhelmed with emotion, hugged the boy and said this was true compassion, “without knowing that lady you sat the whole night next to her and comforted her, hats off to you”.

 If you have an itch to help others, if you’re a habitually generous hearted with a deep urge for service, you could consider channeling your compassion towards starting an NGO with a purpose and make a mark in life. There are so many situations crying for attention like for instance poor couples who can’t afford treatment of their children with congenital defects like a hole in the heart or suffering from cancer etc.

 To be compassionate does not mean throwing all discretion to the winds. Always lending a helping hand out of good nature is indeed a laudable habit but there could always be some situations that do not merit it.

 Like for instance giving alms to beggars. There are many categories of beggars and not all are deserving and needy.

 Use your discretion and help only the needy.

 Knowing this well, there are some compassionate people who are tough with beggars. However one should be careful not to deny the needy.

 Other day, I saw a beggar; she was very hungry and looked like she had not had food for a day. She approached a person for food, he was rude and shooed her away. 

 Next day morning I happened to see the same person talking about helping Covid-19 affected immigrant workers. This behaviour perplexed me, a sudden change in the attitude and overflow of compassion!!!

 One should learn to discriminate.

 Through acts of compassion you make a difference in your communities and sometimes in the world. Some of those who made a difference are Mahatma Gandhi, Baba Amte, Mother Terassa, Nelson Mandela. Through acts of compassion they made an ocean of difference in the lives of people and put the smile back on their faces.

 Act of compassion enriches your life and you will see many benefits. Some benefits are listed below

They are self-explanatory; however, we can dwell on each one at length, but i am limiting the scope.

If any of you interested in discussing further, please feel free to connect with me.

  • 1.     Improved health
  • 2.     Understand yourself and others well
  • 3.     Your social connectivity increases
  • 4.     You open up your heart
  • 5.     Reduces own suffering
  • 6.     You get peace of mind

“IF YOU WANT TO BE HAPPY, PRACTICE COMPASSION. IF YOU WANT TO BE HAPPY, PRACTICE COMPASSION.” DALAI LAMA

Paper Boat

Hey!! do you remember how we used to  play with paper boats…exclaimed my friend when he saw a few kids playing with paper boats, while we were walking on the streets after a pleasant evening rain. I nodded and said yes and we both reminisced about the good old days. Those days were the happy days, our joy knew no bounds.

We used to craft a boat, keep it ready and wait impatiently for rain to stop. When rain stopped, we used to jump and rush to select the small water streams on the roads, to let our boats sail…. We would compete for the selection of materials for the boat, designs and the right streams to set sail our boats. We would blow air from our mouths and try to make them go fast. Sometimes to our dismay they would topple and sink instead.

We would have lots of fun and childish misery in childhood playing like this in the rainy days. In our childhood just as much as our joys were intense so were our miseries, when we lost our toys or a game, when we bullied and played pranks on one another, etc. It was indeed a great training ground for the future life of cooperation and competition as grown-ups. How we cope with our inter-personal relationship has its roots in childhood

How similar is our life to the paper boat. We start with hope and excitement, then experience the joy of initial success but as time goes the inevitable setbacks set in. It could be other way round as well, initial setbacks and final success or both alternating all life. In whatever order life happens you will essentially go through all the vicissitudes of life and in the end depart into the unknown leaving behind everything, leaving no trace…… Life is so fragile, unpredictable, takes unexpected twists and turns. By the time we realize what meaningful life looks like, our life will be knocked out of the earth.

I am not a fatalistic person, I believe in fighting till the end. However there are circumstances where things are beyond our control and we may not have the ability to handle them. In such a situation, be patient and have faith and pray for divine intervention, instead of needlessly torturing yourself to the point of madness. To have faith and pray for divine intervention requires patience and sadhana…..

Life could be so fragile. But can’t we maintain a semblance of sanity and strength in the midst of gloom and doom. Like there’s calm in the eye of a storm we must also learn to remain calm and wise and strong in the middle of life’s unpredictable storms. Gradually that peace and strength within will radiate and infiltrate our outer life and bring a semblance of stability.

We must take inspiration from our epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Life threw all possible misfortunes at Rama but he was by nature so pure and strong and wise he never once lost his balance. He was not touched by misfortune. Only time he suffered was, understandably, when his beloved wife was in trouble.

Sri Krishna went one step further. He was not just calm and balanced but in the middle of all chaos he remained always in joy as if he was enjoying the whole thing! He was Anandamayi.

Purandara Dasa is famous among the Haridasa of karnataka, is known for surrender and devotion. Early part of his life, he was a miser and greedy and lived only to amass wealth. He was nick named as Navakoti Narayana.

An incident opened his eyes and he realized the impermanence of life and gave away all his wealth and said God is  his wealth. He was calm and composed for the tough life he had to lead after he relinquished his wealth. He composed lakhs of songs in praise of Lord Krishna. He was in continuous joy and ecstasy throughout his life in devotion and surrender.

Let me narrate a beautiful story…

A king goes hunting with his soldiers in a thick forest, the sun is setting and it is getting dark everywhere, all of a sudden a ferocious hungry lion from one of the bushes roars loudly and attacks the king. All his soldiers run helter-skelter to save their lives. In the melee, the king was thrown out of the chariot by horses as they try to save themselves from the lion.

The hungry lion chases the king, while running to escape from lion, he falls into a pit, it is an open dry well, while falling he observes a python sleeping in the pit, he gets panic and somehow he manages to catch hold of one of the roots of the tree he sees protruding from inside the wall of the pit. Now the king is suspended in the middle of the pit. Above is the hungry lion waiting to kill him, and below python is aroused and slowly moving upwards to gobble him up.

Meanwhile, the king hears a feeble sound, he looks around and finds two rats one white and another black biting the root on which the king was holding on to.…..he was in a dire state. Above the lion waiting and below the serpent was moving up….. not knowing what to do, he just looked at the sky, a few drops of honey fell on his lips from a huge tree where a honeycomb was hanging. King while savouring honey he forgets the problem……..after sometime he comes out unscathed …strange…how?

Story is a metaphor; when you are faced with situations which are beyond your control, placing your faith in the universe will help you overcome tough situations. Lion and Python represent problems and two rats represent time, day and night …..when misfortune strikes it’s usually so bad your mind goes blank. At such times we despair and look up (it is symbolic). Honey is the divine intervention to assure you that difficulties will eventually get resolved but one must endure patiently.

This is how the story ends. On hearing the roar of the lion, the python comes out and fights with the lion, in the end both die. On hearing the commotion rats run away and the king comes out unhurt.

Placing faith and surrendering to a higher power is easier said than done. Our logical mind questions their rationality and refutes them as baseless. Faith is intuition in the heart. It’s a higher quality than intellect and we develop it through patience and sadhana as we get wise weathering the blows of life.

Don’t be Fussy

Dinner time 8.30pm …….”Khushi”…shouts her husband Akash, “Chapati is not roasted properly”.

“Oh sorry dear, next chapati i will make it better”…tells khushi..

“Khushi…Sagu has less salt and is very bland …how many times should I tell you to make it spicy”.

“Khushi…why is this plate not cleaned”……complains Akash.

“Khushi…look… the dining table is littered, how can i have food in this messy place…can’t you clean it before dinner”…….Akash claims he is spic-and-span and very particular about food and he wants everything to be in order….This irritates Khushi.

From the kitchen a blunt wooden object came flying and landed on his head…  thud…There Khushi standing in front of him fuming with anger and wiping the dripping sweat from her face ….with crossed elbow on her waist…..she shouts at him ….”You are very fussy!!…. can you not adjust one day,  even I have just come back from work and I am as tired as you are”. They both get into arguments followed by a small mahabharata battle, after that one of them shows the white flag and they reconcile and sleep.

Next day morning, its quarter to 9, Akash is restless, it is getting late, he has an appointment with a client around 11am, Khushi is not yet ready…..he has to drop her to office, her office is on the way to his office.

Angrily goes to her dressing room and finds she is busy selecting the dress from her cupboard. On seeing Akash, she says “hi dear can you help me select the dress, tell me which dress i should wear. Pink, yellow or Saree or  Salwar, Jeans, ….I am just not able to decide…. dress should match with accessories”……she smiles.

“What the heck……are you out of your mind….don’t you know it is getting late. I have an important meeting at 11am, wear something and start now…………. why you girls are so fussy about the dress. Come fast we have to hurry”

She retorts, “You guys are boring, very raw and tasteless”…now he loses his control, but has no freedom to throw anything, he gets back to the car and waits for her to come….

Sounds familiar?….this script is from every day drama happens in most of the families.

All of us are fussy to some extent; we are fussy about food, about clothing, about jobs, relationships etc. Trouble starts when your behaviour goes to extremes.

While ordering food in a restaurant some people get too fussy and it irritates the onlookers and embarrasses colleagues or family members.

Familiar scenes: In a showroom, the poor salesman puts a heap of dresses in front of the customer, and the customer is never happy and still wants to look for more designs or patterns. After spending sufficient time, mercilessly walks out without making a purchase. There is no remorse or sympathy for the poor salesman. When you ask them they’re unregretful and say he has been paid to do that job.

When you slice and dice the anatomy of fussiness, some questions pop up.

  •    Is it because we have too many choices available today?

Answer is yes, we have many choices available and we would like to pick the best which gives   maximum value for our money, and in the process we get fussy in selection.

Just a couple of decades back, we did not have so many choices either in products or services. Post globalization, a plethora of products and services are available at an affordable price. Companies are enticing customers with attractive schemes and installments. Even a middle class and lower middle class people can afford to buy. When so much choice is available it’s natural to look for the best product to get the value for your money. It is like a buffet in a hotel, so many items are spread in front of you, and without   a bother you eat, and get sick.

  • Does this give a sense of pride?

Some people wear pride on their sleeves and they love to flaunt it in front of everyone. This gives them immense satisfaction and inflates the ego. Hence they love to get fussy throwing their weight around.

  • Is it a sign of trouble adapting to changing times?

Before the onset of modern era, man had simple, well defined roles much more suited to local life. But now after advent of modern era, it is become complex. Our outer expression, our dressing, language, mannerisms have become nuanced. Our etiquette has developed into a subtle and delicate art. There’s an underlying current of nagging stress to match all that with perfection. To provide for all that society has come up with a wide variety of creative choices. Making right choices requires calm judgment. When you lack that faculty or when you’re still in the process of developing it you tend to be nervous, and fussy. As you mature you’ll acquire the faculty of calm and swift judgment and you’ll no more tend to be fussy.

  •  Is it because of compulsive behaviour?

 

Small percentage of people falls in this category. They are not clear about what they want, and they are strongly driven by obsession that results in restless and repetitive acts. Though it is annoying to them, they are unable to control. Such situations warrant, psychological counseling and corrective suggestions after understanding the underlying cause.

  • Wrong role models

 

Role models have a huge influence on our behaviour. These role models are film personalities, sportsmen, business magnets and even politicians. We try to unrealistically imitate their lifestyle without understanding the class difference and hence we fumble and tumble in the behaviour and become fussy over little things.

There are some questions we need to ask ourselves;

Why should we spend so much time on trivial things, is it worth spending?

Can’t we use the same for betterment of ourselves?

Life is precious, we only have so many days on this earth, why waste time and resources in fussing around trivials.  It does not serve any purpose.

Look around there are so many underprivileged who are struggling to get one square meal a day. Corona has taught us a great lesson that our life is ephemeral like a bubble. Life is a dynamic process, not static. We’re all caught in the web of time, don’t waste your time and money on trivia

Let me end this with a nice story.

 A village was flooded with water due to heavy rains. Water levels rose to dangerous mark, people started fleeing to safe place in the boats with their belongings. In one of the boats, a family of 4 members with a pet dog was moving to the safe place. The boat was overloaded, since they had stuffed many house hold items in it. The water currents were swift and the boat was overloaded, a slightest jerk would endanger and sink the boat. Inside the boat a mischievous dog was jumping and playing in the boat, risking everyone’s life. Somehow it was uncontrollable.

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A sage  passing close by in another boat , saw this and thought boat can sink any moment if the dog continue to jump and play, immediately shouted and told those guys to  “throw the dog in to flood water”  and leave it there for some time and don’t forget to hold the chain so that it will not wash away in water.  The dog was thrown in to the river, dog couldn’t withstand the pressure as water force was heavy, it started gasping for air …. it struggled to survive and somehow held on to the boat. After sometime the dog was pulled back to the boat. Lo….now the dog becomes quiet and  happily sits in the corner of the boat.

Moral is: Appreciate what you have and value it, you will never know what awaits us tomorrow, being fussy or grumbling for anything and everything will not take you far.

“The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep”