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The fragility of life! The desire to live and the illusion of being immortal keep us going. When there is a death, it only comes to the next door neighbor. Such is our mental makeup.

But life is fragile and a shock could be awaiting us round the corner. So, never take your health for granted as you grow older. Now a day, things just fester inside and by the time we can take stock, things are way worse than we dreamt.

I see people shying away from seeing doctors, fearful of what they might diagnose. We talk about “mind over matter” so easily but when it comes to us that are not always easy.

Just as being forewarned is being forearmed, being careful and balanced in everything would be wisdom.

And even then, we have to pass on when our time is up. Someone said live everyday as if it were your last. That everyday would be the best day every day. A great attitude even to nullify many a karma….

Wishing us all the dawn of this attitude…


Surekha Kothari

www.BodyMindSoulCentre.com

surekhakothari.wordpress.com

Speakingtree Blog: www.speakingtree.in/public/surekhakothari

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The word “opposition” does not arouse any warm feelings in anyone I know. And yet, it is the one important requirement at every stage of life. Of course, there is great comfort in being liked, being popular and being supported all the way in whatever we do. No one would voluntarily come up and say, “Please oppose me. Please criticize me. It is good for me”. It is hard to look into the mirror held by others and clinically examine what they see in us, especially if it goes against our self image. Worse still, many a time, we ourselves are in complete denial and do not see ourselves that way at all.

In every human being, the feeling of appearing and feeling good and being accepted is very intense. People are often willing to sacrifice their intrinsic personalities to live within this bubble. Many cults are thriving exactly on this attitude of people. There is a huge psychology behind “toeing the line”. The price to pay is through externally imposed regulations which may well limit growth. The psychological benefits in such cases far outnumber the need for growth. There is anonymity in a group. Everyone seems leveled out at a similar benchmark. There is little fear of challenges and hence, failures. Everyone is polite, friendly and accepting of each other, surrendering to the body of dictates and finding comfort, “shelter” and a sense of belonging. Why would anyone want to bear the scorching heat of the sun when they can be in the shade provided by others?

But those who choose to deviate from these patterns will have to be introduced to opposition. The first opposition comes from within as an awakening call at the disturbance of the perpetual “slumber” state, Kabir, the famous Indian poet said, “Nindak Niyare rakhiye, aangan kuti chhavay. Bin sabun pani bina, nirmal karat subhaye”. To translate from Hindi, Kabir suggests that each one of us needs to keep critics around us. This will purify us without cleaning ourselves with either soap or water. How beautiful and how difficult to implement! “Frankness” is a shunned word today as much as detractors are kept away. The “healthiness” of arguments no longer exists. “It is my way or the highway” has become the norm. If we were not so myopic, we would realize that criticism itself, even if malicious, can be a cause for genuine introspection.

A strong and constructive opposition facilitates sustained development if heeded with an open mind. It is very important to take decisions only after examining all the perspectives. Take the example of the parliament. A weak opposition can be detrimental to the growth of a nation, whereas, a strong opposition can elevate a country to unimaginable heights. The pre condition is that the intentions be honorable. Maturity lies in opposing for the right cause and action, not for petty short term gains or impairing the vision and process of a bright future for an individual, family, community or a nation. In a democracy, a strong opposition acts as a system of checks and balances to prevent anarchy or a tendency towards despotism.

If we really think about it, a constructive opposition encourages a system of studying existing situations, shows the other perspectives to enable and ensure the best action under the circumstances. Personalizing criticism demonstrates a lack of maturity. In reality, opposition should trigger a need for soul searching and flexibility to incorporate corrections directed towards growth irrespective of where the suggestions come from.

The problem is that very often, personal criticism or opposition can be perceived as unpalatable because there is already an emotional charge attached to the subject. We don’t want someone else to tell us what we already know about ourselves and are not happy with.

Actually, opposition is a kind of fresh perspective. The positive side is that people actually think you are important enough to oppose. Conversely, they might oppose because they may gain some satisfaction from this. In either case, to keep an open mind helps in analyzing the new perspectives and understanding whether they apply to us, and if so, whether they help or hinder us. Intelligence is all about clear thinking and discernment.

A “no opposition” scenario can lead to inflated egos and may stunt development and growth which needs a sustained environment of challenges. Children who have excelled have done so by showing motivation and determination to stare challenges straight in the face and emerging successful. There are enough success stories of people whose life has been a huge struggle and who have achieved greatness despite severe opposition from people, circumstances and life itself, the latest being our very own Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi.

To face opposition requires courage and the ability to move ahead on the strength of the courage of convictions tempered with clarity of thinking and perception of reality , a deep maturity and intentions aimed towards the larger good. I hope we all learn to encourage opposition and change our negative attitude towards it. Let us turn every opposition into a new opportunity.

Surekha Kothari

http://www.BodyMindSoulCentre.com

Blog: surekhakothari.wordpress.com

Speakingtree Blog: http://www.speakingtree.in/public/surekhakothari

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Every phase in life urges us to introspect in terms of the conditions at the time, the imbalances and what needs to be introspected upon and changed. The Indian Elections of 2014 remind me of the movement led by the Mahatma Gandhi phenomenon which actually succeeded in making India an independent nation. It was a massive mandate given to one extraordinary individual. History has repeated itself with a “tsunami” wave hitting the country in the form of one individual, the Prime Ministerial Candidate of BJP. Ten years of indifferent governance has resulted in the earthquake triggering this tsunami.

Of course, the needs of the hour were different in both cases. But this would be, to my mind, a superficial perception. In the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna has averred and I translate,” whenever evil exceeds the good, I will come to the earth to put things back in order”. I am not labeling anyone as God. This message is more symbolic than literal. In a country torn with strife, divisive politics, corruption, a complete lack of governance, a disregard of the agony of the common man and above all, no intent exhibited to change any of this either, the sudden emergence of a man who promises all of these is evidently like chancing upon an oasis in a dry desert.

I always wonder why, even as individuals, we wait for a crisis to change ourselves. A general discipline always starts at the top. Examples are always set by those in authority which subordinates must follow. It is next to impossible to have an upright, honest boss and corrupt employees unless they have his permission for whatever reason. Of course, very often, as human needs take precedence over ethics, there will be some who will always try to work around principles to achieve petty gains. But, they should be aware that a chain of such actions may prove to be a web they weave around themselves which, over a period of time, becomes their prison. And a group of such people may create a prison for the entire group.

In the case of the ruling party also, we have seen a gradual decadence of morality and a disregard of the duties towards the people of this country. We have seen a distancing of those in authority from the crying needs of the citizens. There has been on the part of many in the party, an attitude of “making hay (for themselves) while the sun shines.” Logically, this must have been permitted by the upper echelons of the party, even if it is, perhaps, by turning a blind eye when this was happening under their vigilance.

My very simple contention is, we have forgotten the teachings of our elders. If we have been placed in a certain situation, we have a duty to fulfilling all the needs of what that situation demands from us. It is a moral responsibility and the attitude towards this responsibility shall be sincerity, commitment and integrity and nothing else. Again, my second simple contention is, if any party considers their first duty to be towards the task they have taken up, would there be any need for voting different parties into power based on a sense of frustration and anger or a feeling of being cheated? The one who always looks at duty with respect and a priority can seldom go wrong.

I keep coming back to the essence of every individual. Today, the News channels are filled with discussions about the worthiness of the parties and senior individuals in the party. Sadly, many of these prominent people come across as very angry, backed by a fear about their own “comfortable” existence. The vehemence they exhibit with their words and body language says more about who THEY are rather than the person they talk about. I guess, at this point, they are past caring about the image they portray to the world because dignity has gone out from the back door long ago. We have seen a lack of this wonderful quality in the mudslinging, abusive and chair-flinging in Parliament and a lot of it on the Television time and time again.

Have the politicians been conducting themselves with the propriety and dignity that commands respect? Or is there so much complacence that they can do anything and get away with it because they truly believe that the people of this country are deaf, dumb and passive? If this is the case, it is a huge mistake and this has become evident during the electoral battle of 2014. The desperate attempt to ostracize one man promising a rosy future to India and its people has been the most pathetic one to date.

At this juncture, the parties need to forget their petty egos and work together for the prosperity and, very important, the security of this country. It is amazing that blatant threats from neighboring countries also have not succeeded in removing the veil of greed and acts of subversion. Thankfully, the youth of today only votes in favor of development and growth and refuses to be swayed by any other considerations. They want to be led by a visionary towards the fulfillment of their dreams which transcend the narrow boundaries of caste and creed. The youth of today is actually looking towards a future which will focus on multi levels of inclusive economic growth and development.

The lessons learnt and to be learnt are many. But mainly, these elections have shown us that a change for the better is always required within every individual first , because it is a group of individuals that make a party. As is the caliber of each individual, so will be the caliber of a party. Mahatma Gandhi led us into freedom but thereafter, we gradually gave up our spiritual freedom to become slaves to greed. The need of the hour now is to unite and move hand in hand to elevate India as a nation to reckon with in every way morally, spiritually, economically, politically and socially. Only by harmonizing the center and all the states and its people under this great democracy will we lend true meaning to the flag hoisting on Independence Day and the sentiments expressed in our national Anthem, “Jana Gana Mana”. Just as a mother brings up her child that she can be proud of later in life, it is the responsibility of each one of us to create the nation that we can be proud of.

I AM A PROUD INDIAN.

Surekha Kothari

Website: www.BodyMindSoulCentre.com

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