DON’T DEFINE LIFE, JUST LIVE IT

Me then:

Sitting in computer class, learning Microsoft office package, trying my hands at different fonts available, scribbled down few lines in a poetic style:

“Life is a book, read it;

Life is a game, play it;

Life is a dish, taste it;

Life is lesson, learn it”

Me now : While thinking of all that stuff, ” Oh please cut the crap, what were you trying to do, you ain’t Shakespeare and that’s anything but poetry and last thing to be beautiful 😁.  But as they say you grow only when little wisdom is added with every passing day, I have realised one thing – there’s no need to draw comparisons and parallels, life is meant to be only lived.

Are we living in true sense?  We eat, drink, sleep – are we living?  We are chasing our dreams, celebrating occasions, mourning losses, hating people, loving things, loving to hate but are we essentially living?  Perhaps NO.  We are just filling the gap between our date of birth and death which is nothing but a number.  And everything in between in our lives is about numbers – age, number of hours you sleep for, calories taken, weight gained, targets achieved, number of bedrooms in-house, digits in salary, number of likes and follows on social media, price of accessories….. Typically everything under the sun, but where is life in our lives which is beyond any such quantification?

Happiness is the essence of life:  All our actions in our lives aim at attaining happiness.  Grabbing an ice cream at the wee hours of day gives happiness, parking that newly launched beast in the backyard is happiness, catching that extra five minutes of nap when the alarm is hell-bent on throwing you out of the bed is happiness.  I can go on.  What’s happiness for me might be a matter of indifference for you.  It’s a subjective issue.  But everything mentioned (not mentioned for that matter) doesn’t even constitute an iota when it comes to the real essence of life – the Eternal Happiness, that lies and comes from within, that’s once attained never dries up, the one which our supremacy intend us to unleash from within.

It’s not that we are completely aloof or oblivious from what our destination is.  Accidentally listening to spiritual talks, our festivals, times of distress do draw our attention towards important questions like “What’s the meaning of my life” , “how to get closer to the one and only supreme power called God”.  But again for majority of us (that includes me, I am not ashamed to admit the obvious) that’s a passing cloud before we fall to the trap of materialistic bliss of this world.

How to march towards Eternal Happiness?

Well that’s a continuous evolution before He can say that you have finally evolved.  And to begin with it’s an uphill task for sure.  That reminds me of the fact that our skin is weak that gives in easily before our souls could reap the fruits of eternal happiness.  Prayer, chanting, meditation are the three tools to keep our efforts from falling apart midway.

And here comes two fulcrum to utilize the aforesaid tools.  Two simple rules to apply in life:

Act without expectation:  When was the last time that you dropped a message wishing your long-lost friend without expecting a reply?  Or when was the last time you just picked up a big boulder impeding the way just to make a safe path for others without expecting appreciation?  Such instances for us may be countable on fingers for we all are so self-absorbed and self-centered  that we want every action of ours to be noticed even if it is for near and dear ones.  When expectations are tied to our actions, non-fulfillment of such expectations brings in gloom.  So the first rule of our journey towards Eternal Happiness is to act without expecting.  Begin with petty things and closed circles, practice and practice, just do your part with all your heart and soul in it.  See the difference of being indifferent to the laurels, soon criticism won’t affect your inner peace.

Forget and Forgive:  How I wish the first part was easy.  I simply can’t forget the words exchanged in the heat of argument that occurred two years back then how to expect  (again expectation 😁) people to forget the misdeeds of others directed towards them?  But without forgetting the past forgiving stands next to impossible.  And if one can’t forgive, can’t let the baggage of past and grudges go, there’s no way that a person could march ahead in the path shown by the supreme power.  Forgiveness is a way of easing the burden from our souls that renders us from being able to identify God in every soul.  And with God all around us what’s there to stop the stream of inner happiness from flowing.  When nothing but change is constant why let the past be stagnant in our present to disturb the future?

The idea is to commence the process of detachment from emotions that could lead us to sin and finally deviate us from the way that could lead us to our Sole (soul) destination.  Indifference to the happiness, worldly acknowledgements, tranquility of mind in adverse, in-your-face situations are the signatures of successful lives in true sense that comes from practice of these two simple rules.

Let’s inculcate these habits, , let’s just live life to the core of it and not just enact it.

LIFE – A MYSTERY YET TO BE COMPLETELY UNRAVELLED

Life is an adventure, say some.

Life is a challenge, say others.                     

Life is a puzzle for many, while for some others it’s just a smart juggle.

No great philosopher of the world has been able to give a comprehensive definition of ‘life’. Many have tried, but succeeded in giving only a partial picture.

Thinking of ‘life’, the first thing that comes to mind is the biological aspect of it. In simple terms, anything that has breath is said to be living.

So then where does this breath come from? You and I cannot infuse breath into a non-living object and make it living. We do not have that power.

To quote a verse from the account of creation given in the Bible – “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.”

Hence, the source of all life (plants, animals and human beings, though we will limit the purview of this article to human life only) is the Creator God Himself. He alone is the source and the sustainer of life. For this reason, keeping all debates aside, taking of life – be it by abortion, euthanasia, suicide or murder is a sin against the Creator – the life giver. Scientific advancements have made it possible for clones and humanoid robots to be invented, which is all marvelous indeed but, cannot in any way be equated with the creation of the Creator.

Life is meant to be social. The social aspect of life ensures that human beings live in a social relationship with fellow humans and not in isolation. Hence, the innate desire of human beings to seek and forge relationships of various kinds. Sociological research has enough data to establish that lack of human contact robs humanness of human beings. Social apathy is considered to be a sign of an underlying psychological disorder.

Life is a myriad of emotions. Without emotions, there won’t be much of a difference between human beings and vegetables. Socio-biological humans laugh, cry, love and live as an expression of their emotionality.

Adding to all the above, is the spiritual aspect of each human being. Having been created by God, there is a God-shaped vacuum inbuilt within each person. Some choose to seek and fill this vacuum by a relationship with God, some choose to substitute this space by things and people other than God, while some others decide to ignore and stifle this vacuum altogether.

All the above aspects put together give us a holistic picture of human life in general – as it ought to be. Take one slice out of it, and the picture will be fragmented.

This being life, the purpose of it is important as well. At times, we tend to flow along with the tide without sparing a thought towards its purpose and direction. That’s when the going seems easy. But, if we stop and ponder, things may not make much sense. Where is all this heading? Where am I heading? Earning, eating, drinking, enjoying, raising children, taking care of family, growing old and then waiting for death – is this all what life is all about? Or is there anything beyond this?

Sometimes, our actions seem meaningless. Sometimes, the daily toils and struggles seem monotonous beyond description so much so that we try our best to attach meaning to life by way of our jobs, children, spouse, etc.

If we look around, try to stretch our thinking skills and try to look for a complete meaning of life, it would not be possible for us to succeed at it. The reason being that while in our physical states we cannot, completely comprehend the meaning and purpose of something that has more to it than mere physical existence.

Life is more than the body.

Life is more than living, earning and procreating.

Life is more than the mundane humdrum of daily hassles.

The entirety of life can be understood only in eternity. Till then, a part of it remains a mystery. Instead of unsuccessfully trying to unravel the mystery (which can never be unraveled in the duration of our earthly existence), we can live this life to its fullest by living the revealed life to the best.

 

 

 

 

 

PREPARATION FOR ETERNITY

As a child, I used to wonder where people go when they die? When the body is placed in the coffin and the final nail is struck, and all seems to be over, what if the person inside opens his/her eyes again? Won’t the person feel suffocated and afraid of the darkness inside? What if s/he wants to come out? There would be no one to hear his/her cry for help from where s/he is buried deep down in the earth! Such thoughts often scared me.

A child’s mind is not developed enough to fathom the deeper truths of life. Nor can it rise up to the higher levels of cognitive functioning. Hence, my wondering continued to wonder. I was told that when people die, they go to God. But I wasn’t really able to gather this abstract reality much, as a child.

As the truths about life and death sunk deeper into me gradually, I realised how transient earthly life is! And how perpetual the future eternity is!

The concept of eternity still doesn’t mean much to many, especially because it is too abstract to imagine and understand. To explain in simple terms – ‘eternity is endlessness in time’ – no count of years or months or days or hours or minutes. And, eternity is what awaits the human spirit once the earthly stint gets over.

Life on earth is for a few decades at the maximum. Even the person with record-holding life span, ultimately dies. One wise writer writes thus ‘What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. True enough, generations have come and gone by all across the world. No one stays on forever.

So if the earthly life is temporary, and eternity is everlasting, don’t we need to prepare for it? If we decide to holiday out-of-station, how much in advance we prepare and wait with excited anticipation! This involves preparation for a few days or may be for a few months at the maximum. What then ought to be the magnitude of preparation for eternity!

Life on earth is a preparation for what is in store for eternity. Each day each moment of our lives on earth takes us one step closer to eternity. How carefully ought we to live our lives on earth, then!

How do we then, prepare for eternity?

To answer this, we must first be sure of what is in store for us in eternity.

Eternity comprises of eternal life and eternal death. Eternal life is life in the constant presence of God. How blissful! The thought itself excites the mind! And, eternal life (a life that never ends) is in store for all those who confess their sins while on earth, repent for them, seek forgiveness from God and strive to live a life for the glory of God. This is because, if we are to spend eternity with a Holy God, we need to be holy as well. Eternal death, on the other hand, is a total abandonment from the fellowship of God. Those who choose to continue with sinful lives without remorse, regret, repentance or seeking forgiveness from God, those who do not acknowledge the existence of God are banished to eternal death. This is because no one can thrive in the companionship of God without being cleansed from sin.

Eternal death is horrible. That is why, even for a joke’s sake or even for one’s most hated enemy, one never ought to say – ‘Go to hell!’ – which is often considered a casual statement when one is angry or is in a light mood.

Eternal life is what we all ought to strive for and encourage all around us to aspire for. None should be left behind from savouring the eternal bliss to which God invites each of His handmade human beings. The pains, tears, anxieties, sorrows and sickness of this earth will be brought to nought when one enters eternal life. Words cannot do justice to describe what eternal life would be like. To explain the wonders of eternal life, the Bible says – “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him.”

An eternal life of bliss invites us all. Are we prepared?

MY FOREVER AND ALWAYS

We lay on the grass,

Our hands firmly enclasped.

 

That wetness between the verdant blades,

Making silken lines on your bonny face,

The faint fragrance of first rain,

Wafting through the June air.

 

This moment, our ‘now’,

I wish I could break all the clocks,

On the earth somehow.

 

Forget about seizing the day,

I want to seize this here and now.

 

For we’ll never be more beautiful than this,

And maybe we’ll never know again,

These moments of mellow bliss.

 

But should I close my eyes to the world tonight,

I’ll have you know I won’t have any regrets.

 

You’ve gifted me an eternity of happiness.

 

This life that grows within me,

And your vow that adorns my finger,

They  assure me that our love will linger,

Maybe not for eons, maybe not for years,

Maybe for just a few days.

 

But in that limited time I’ll know, darling,

I had in you my ‘forever’ and my ‘always’.

 

Pradita Kapahi

ETERNAL HOPE

That night when the world rested in deep slumber,

My mind played tricks within me in numbers.

Day and date I have passed to the oblivion now

But the consequence demanded my immediate bow.

Loneliness, abandonment, hurt, hatred, low esteem had taken deep roots;

Hours of weeping and lamentation were its flourishing fruits!

Darkness had shrouded my vision and shut the doors of hope

Giving me nothing but tears to mope.

The pain within, I could no longer take

Nothing could console my heartache.

I felt like a complete colossal failure in life

Giving another chance appeared a vain strive

I therefore wanted to end it once and for all

But my plans were disrupted with a phone call

An acquaintance offered a listening ear

I spitted my frustrations for her to hear,

Then said she with a voice so calm

“Do yourself no harm!”

“The One who created you knows you by name

He can’t see you go this lame!

He will never leave you all alone

Acknowledge the love that He has always shown

Fearfully and wonderfully have you been made,

To give you life , His  He had laid

You are precious to Him you now must know

Wherever He will lead you, you must go

Give all your burdens unto Him

And enjoy His love, happiness and blessings to the brim!”

Almost two years back, when I was in my first year in college, away from home for first time in life. I was having a tough time without any mental support or a friend to share my struggles with. My grades were going down and I was feeling like a complete failure in life. Feelings of loneliness, rejection, failure and pain had overwhelmed me to the point that I was planning to give up my life. One of my friends called me up and prayed for me over the phone. I felt God talking to me inter personally and saying to ‘caste all my cares and worries upon Him’ It gave me a new strength, a new hope to rise up and face challenges no matter how GIANT they be. I have found my hope in Christ alone. Even today the difficulties that I face, God gives me the courage to move on and face them. I am eternally thankful to God! I hope you find your hope in Him too.

Trust me, HE WILL NEVER FAIL YOU!

WHERE CAN I FIND HOPE!

13th March of 2011 – a day I won’t forget ever. On this day there was no one with me…with whom I could have shared my emotions; there was no shoulder beside me…on whom I would have lean upon and cry; there was no finger…to wipe out my tear drops! It was that day when all negativity converged to break me into pieces. When I looked behind for someone, I found – the guilt of my heart and its offer for me was, “Avinash, It’s all over! There is no Hope for you. You won’t worth to live anymore! It’s better for you to end your life…”

Like every other day on 13.03.2011, around 8:30 in the morning I left home for the official trip but my plan was completely different and was far beyond the imagination of any of my close people. My plan was to commit suicide so that at least I can get rid of the guilt and shame of my heart. It will also bring the solution to the inner problem. That inner problem was “the Hopeless Heart”. It was the early evening hour; I was in the local train. I opened the packet of poison and was about to gulp it in. Suddenly I heard a small sweet voice whispering me, “Son, you trusted human being and they failed you badly. But trust me and commit me your life, I HAVE A PURPOSE for your Life! Trust me I am not like human being.”

And I know this is none other than my Saviour, my Comforter JESUS, who can whisper me like this. Because there was no human apart from me, nobody knew that I was going to commit suicide and my own conscience was insisting me to commit suicide! So it is the voice of God that became the HOPE for me. Immediately I threw that poison packet and said “Okay God! I want to live on this HOPE.”

Isn’t it so obvious! We face hatred, broken relationships, unexpressed emotional strains and loneliness in our life. In such situations all that we NEED is Hope. But the big question is “WHERE CAN WE FIND THAT HOPE?” Is Hope available in a shopping complex? Is it available online? Can I find this in any human being? Can the hope from a human being is trustworthy? What is the source of HOPE?

The source of HOPE is God – the Creator. He is an infinite character and beyond human understanding. The richness of His character is Love which was displayed on the Cross. His infinite power was portrayed in His resurrection from death. In our Hopeless situation, God is always available with Love and Power. Though we have done many wrong things in our life, still He is available for us in our hopeless situation and speaks to us through different means. The only thing left for us is our availability and trust on His power!

Live in hope…

ASSURED HOPE

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;

Man never is, but always to be blessed:

The soul, uneasy and confined from home,

Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

– Alexander PopeAn Essay on Man

His school teacher called him ‘addled’ or ‘mentally ill’. He was deemed unfit for school education in the 1800s as he was dyslexic, though research on dyslexia began only in the 1900s.  Because of constant labeling and lack of help and support from the school front, the boy’s mother met the school authorities and said, “All right, I am hereby taking my son out of your school. I’ll instruct him at home myself.” The little boy, who could hardly believe his ears, looked up at his mother, the wonderful woman who believed in him and promised himself that he would make his mother proud of him. And he did that! Thomas Alva Edison held more than 1000 patents for his inventions which included the incandescent electric light bulb and the phonograph among others. Later in life, Edison said, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” His mother’s faith in him gave Edison a hope for the future.

Bethany Hamilton lost her left arm at the age of 13 when she was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore. Having begun competitive surfing since she was 8 years, she felt her world darken after the attack. In Bethany’s words, “As I grew up with one arm and relearned how to surf, God taught me that He can take the hard times that I went through and turn them into something beautiful. I think that He can do that for each and every one of you. He can take what you have been through and use it for good if you are willing to share what He has done for you.” Hamilton is 26 years old now and enjoys the companionship of a wonderful husband and a son. Her story has been beautifully captured in the movie SOUL SURFER, and continues to inspire others not to give up on themselves…or on God.

Nick Vujicic was born in Melbourne, Australia with phocomelia, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of legs and arms. Throughout his childhood, Nick dealt not only with the typical challenges of school and adolescence, such as bullying and self-esteem issues, he also struggled with depression and loneliness as he questioned why he was different from all the other kids. He couldn’t get the haunting question of “Why was I the one born without arms and legs?” out of his head. He wondered if he would ever find love, marry and hold anyone in his arms. Nick is 34 today and is blessed with a loving wife and two precious sons. In Nick’s words, “Often people ask how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose….I found the purpose of my existence, and also the purpose of my circumstance. There’s a purpose for why you’re in the fire. If God can use a man without arms and legs to be His hands and feet, then He will certainly use any willing heart.”  

These are some stalwarts whom hope kept alive. Not only did they have a mere existence, but a fulfilling life impacting millions across the globe.

More than 2000 years ago when man remained doomed for eternity, God Almighty stepped down from His Heavenly glory to reach out to man – to reconcile sinner men to a Holy God. With the birth of Jesus Christ – God as man, the threat of condemnation was removed and the gateway of eternal life was held wide open. As a child, I used to think whether life was all about eating, drinking, studying, working, having a family, doing good to others, having faith in God and so on… What after that? Is there anything to look forward to beyond this? Then the following Scripture portion created a hope for eternity with God within me:

“However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him…”   

I wish to extend the same HOPE to all the readers today. No matter how trying your life has been, there is HOPE. No matter how this year has been till now, there is HOPE. There is HOPE not because of the assurance that things would be perfect in the days to come, but because of the assured strength that God gives to those who love Him in the midst of suffering and trials. 

Here’s wishing you HOPE this Christmas and an assured HOPE for the New Year!!!