Friday, June 10, 2011

secular or peculiar?

As I inspect Pavan's clothes this morning before he left for school, I notice a scratch mark on his nose, near his forehead.
'What happened? You scratched a mosquito bite?' I ask.
'No.' The look on his face says he wants to say something.
I wait.
'A boy in the school said that if you scratch the forehead, you will see Hanuman.'
'What non-sense! Papa, did you hear that? He scratched his forehead to see Hanuman!'
As I make his paranthas, I hear papa patiently explaining him why he should never hurt his body for any reasons, with mixed feelings.

I remember an image of Hanuman stuck on the mirror, in the house we have just moved from. Suddenly, I feel regret for having left it there.

'And we are Arya samajis. We dont worship gods.' Prayas is saying.
'Arya samajis who never do havan are only so in name.' I retort.
'Ok, so?'
'He can chose to give a face to God if he wants to.' I say.
'Of-course he can. But without hurting his body.'
'Yes. Without hurting his body.'

Much after he has left for school, I look at this image, where Hanuman proves his love for Ram by tearing apart his chest to reveal the Lord literally residing within. I am horrified at the implications it can have on a kid.
But when I see he expression in his eyes, I am stunned by the simplicity and directness of the devotee.

I remember many years ago, in the days I used to frequent temples, a friend and I were staring at an image of hanuman in red. It was very beautiful.

'It is made of ram naam.' she said.
'this hanuman. the red line. look clearly. it is not a red line. it is written, not drawn. ram ram ram ram. everywhere. hanuman is made of ram, from ram. look at the micro.'

And i wonder where can we escape? If we are made of him, by him, in him, where can we escape?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

before i die...

One usually gets dozens of such mails, and maybe because I am sitting at home, nursing a sprained ankle, it suddenly makes a lot of sense.....

a forward by someone called Bronnie:

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Bronnie Ware is a writer, singer/songwriter, songwriting teacher and speaker from Australia. She has lived nomadically for most of her adult life. Bronnie shares her inspiring observations and the insights gained along the way through the diversity of her work. To read more of her articles and learn about her other work, please visit Inspiration and Chai at