Every story has a moral. What do you want the moral of your story to be? Here is how you can pen a beautiful one, an inspiring story, as promising as the dreams you carry in your heart.”.


What do you do if someone asks you why you are sad? Usually, you will tell them a story behind your sadness. That, so-and-so did or didn’t do something for me, or that such-and-such person said xyz to me, or that my life is really difficult, and so on. What’s particularly interesting, purely from a psychological perspective, is that we don’t view these stories as stories but reasons.

We believe we have a legitimate reason for feeling down or sad. Maybe that’s true but mostly it’s subjective, these are not the reasons but the stories we tell ourselves. 

Three bandits looted a family of wayfarers passing through the woods. They killed everyone in the family except the young wife whom they took with them. Late into the night, they got a little drunk and tried to force themselves upon the woman. Knowing she wouldn’t be able to get out of their grip with force, she played along and served them more liquor. A wee bit later when they were tipsier and relaxed, she managed to escape unscathed. While trying to get out of the forest, in the pre-dawn hours, she saw the enlightened and serene Mahavira meditating under a tree. The calmness that surrounded him immediately put the young woman at ease.

What a stark contrast, she thought. Here was a man without a thread on his body, completely naked, and yet he exuded no desire nor discontent. 

“You must be Mahavira,” she said to him, “the enlightened one of this age, they say. My life is in danger, I seek your refuge.” And the distressed woman narrated the horror of seeing her family killed by the robbers and her own ordeal. 
“I will protect you,” said the sage, and asked her to hide in his thatched hut nearby.

Sure enough, the three men came looking for her and stopped to question Mahavira. “Did you see a young woman pass by?” they said. 
It was not a simple yes or no answer for the awakened one because saying no would breach his vow of truth and replying in the affirmative would harm the lady.

“A man sees what he wants to see,” Mahavira said. “When I was a man, I saw the woman in every woman, but now, I only see the soul.”
“Just tell us plainly whether you saw her?”
“I’ve told you already that I only see the soul. You saw me when you arrived but did not notice the trunk of the tree behind me or the branches or the platform I’m sitting on. You only saw what you wanted to see. Give up the ways of violence and lead a life of purity. That’s the only way to stop the inflow of karma and the debt it brings.”

The men bowed and went back the way they had come from. What became of them is anyone’s guess but legend has it that no more robberies were reported in that region for a long time. It is important to mention that I heard a similar story attributed to Buddha in one of Osho’s discourses. At the end of the day, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not about Buddha or Mahavira but about the message. 

And, the words that stood out for me are that a man sees what he wants to see. We all only see what we choose to see. You may have a companion on a journey and you are trying to show them the silent mountains, flowing rivers, blue sky and beauty all around but they may be focused on the carcass of a buffalo.

You can’t help someone see the world differently unless they are willing to change the story they believe in. 

Whether it’s another person posing the questions or you asking yourself, it’s immaterial, because our story in response remains the same. In other words, if you said to yourself, “Why am I sad? Why am I disturbed? Why am I unhappy?”, in reply, you will tell yourself a story that the reason you are feeling these things is because you are lonely or people haven’t been loyal to you or that things haven’t gone your way or you just aren’t cut out for this world etc.

The reality, however, may be completely different. It could be as simple as my refusal to face and accept the truth or align my thoughts with my actions. And the most incredible realization is that the story could be any. Yes, any at all. It’s just a prop, a kind of scaffolding I’m using to climb up and repair the walls of my life. I may as well tell myself a good story then, the kind that inspires and uplifts me.

Mulla Nasrudin opened a hair salon, ready to welcome and serve his customers. Being the first day, a lot of people came and among them was a man in his early fifties with a flowing beard. 

“Mulla,” he said sheepishly, “my new wife is coming home today, just take out all the grey strands from my beard. I must look very young.”
Mulla grabbed a pair of scissors, cut the man’s entire beard in one snip, and thrusting the hair into his hand, said, “Here is your beard, young man. You can take out the grey hair yourself, I haven’t got the time today.”

Taking out the negative incidents from your story can be rather painful and time-consuming. At times, the best solution is to snip it all and have the courage to rewrite your story.

And, if you take a moment to reflect upon it, you will discover that we have a story for everything that happens to us. For every single one of our feelings and actions, we tell ourselves a story. That narrative becomes an integral part of our lives; indeed, it takes over our intelligence and wisdom, reducing us to merely a character in the story. Even if that character is the protagonist, it’s still just a part of the story, whereas you could be the writer of your story.

Pen a beautiful one, an inspiring story, as promising as the dreams you carry in your heart. Leave the horror stories to Stephen King (personally, I’ve never read or watched any works of Stephen King but Vidya Swami has been raving about him lately, so…). Go on, you write something full of love and hope.

Oh, and the moral of the story? Change your story if you want to change your life. 

Peace.
Swami
P.S. I’m also changing the story of my 8-year-old blog. Expect an announcement in the first week of October. Don’t worry, it’ll be a good one. Though, how good you’ll find it will depend a lot on the story you tell yourself.

 

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Are you keen on rewriting the story of your life? But you don’t know where to start, especially when – sometimes its perspective we need, other times it is choosing to do the right karma. Or you needed a nudge to get started on building those new habits, or you want to hear a reassuring voice that helps you get past your fears. And what is after all the role of compassion, gratitude, and kindness? Here are nine nuggets of wisdom that will address these big questions of life and teach you the delicate art of making the right choices in life. 
A story on perspective: Why me? Why do good people suffer or go through the pain they don't deserve?

Not everything that happens to us in our life is because we did something wrong (or right) to deserve it. There’s no why or why not. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Crooks become leaders. Saints are abused and sinners are garlanded. Most of what we go through is no doubt affected by our choices and actions, but sometimes somethings just happen randomly. It could be a life-altering event or something completely insignificant.

As far as Nature is concerned, it’s just a tiny occurrence. Most earthquakes don’t last more than a few seconds and yet thousands of lives are destroyed. Even a road accident happens in a fraction of a second. In the eyes of Nature it’s just one event, even if it has lifetime’s repercussions for you.

In other words, Why me may be skillfully handled by a theory, some consolation, in reality however, it has no permanent answer. The sooner we accept this, the happier we become in life naturally.

Read more here.


A story on Karma: What is the role of karma in our everyday life?

Karma is of three types, namely, physical, verbal, and mental. Every action leaves behind an imprint. Physical actions may produce tangible residue whereas verbal and mental karma creates psychic imprints. If you analyze the trail of any karma, you may be surprised how it may wane but never gets destroyed completely. It is the residue of each karma that conditions you. Read more here.


Building new habits: A story of the Chinese bamboo tree and how it can help you in building new habits

The Chinese Bamboo is rather unusual. Unlike other bamboo trees, it doesn’t grow at all for a long time. At least, nothing appears on the outside. You plant the seed, water it, and nurture it but nothing sprouts. You may even think that the seed has already perished. A whole year goes by and there’s no growth, not even a sign of a sapling.

You continue nurturing it but again nothing shows up in the second year either. Year three, nothing. Year four, nothing. Nothing at all. Year five, nothing. No matter how well you fertilize or care for the seed, there are no results in the first sixty months. Nothing tangible, anyway. Finally, at the end of five years, you see a small sprout. Two tender leaves force their way out of the ground.

How fast could it possibly grow if it took five years just to show its face, one wonders? Well, the bamboo plant actually shoots up as high eighty feet in merely six weeks. For the first five years when nothing seemed to be happening, it was growing beneath the ground.

I can’t think of a more apt story when it comes to building new habits.

Read more here.


A story of faith: What is the real meaning of faith?

I’ve always held that faith doesn’t mean life will go according to you. Instead, it means that you learn to get along with life. You recognize that life must run its own course. That your individual life is a tiny, albeit an integral, part of a grand play of nature. An immensely grand play, actually.

To work on everything that you can and to let go off everything beyond your control is faith in a nutshell. Such faith, made up of action and surrender, is the most potent antidote of all fears.

Read more here.


The story that our fear feeds on - How to get past our anxiety, fears, and phobias?

Personifying your fear and sending it waves of love and compassion is a good way to handle your fears and phobias. Breathe deeply. Secondly, exposing your phobia, fear or cause of anxiety helps you calm down. Announce your anxiety or its cause right at the outset rather than trying to cover it. Any attempt of hiding it will either make it more obvious or you won’t be able to focus 100% on the task at hand because you are so conscious about your anxiety, it’ll only make you more nervous. Your own mind (and many others) will respect you for your courage, for being upfront and honest. By telling beforehand, you have informed others what to expect from you. This approach often works because it goes straight to the source of your fear.

And, what is the source of our fears, you ask?

Go here to get to the source of your fears.


Why we should all make compassion our main story?

Anything you do with a selfless motive, with no hidden agenda, is always going to strengthen you. Such strength will help you experience peace and bliss, you will feel contented and fulfilled, just like you do shortly after your favorite meal.

Think about it for a moment, why does a lion roam freely in a jungle? Because it is aware of its strength, its view of itself gives it the confidence and fearlessness to patrol and prey. In much the same manner, those with inner strength are naturally more confident, they are at greater ease, they are more peaceful. 

Read more here.


If you pay close attention there is plenty to be grateful for - why gratefulness should be the backbone of your story and how to practice gratitude?

Do the following for an initial period of forty days and then adopt it and make it part of you, your life:

You need to make two lists to effectively carry out the practice:

List 1. To God

List 2. To others

1. Read out your first list of every day in the morning and before going to bed every night.

2. For the next forty days, express your gratitude to at least one person on the second list every day. It could be a simple email across thanking them genuinely, a phone call, a little gesture of treating them to a cup of coffee, sending flowers across, or anything else you can do to express yourself. During the period of practice, you must make someone feel special every day with your gesture of gratitude, be that in words or actions.

3. Mark a simple yes/no journal entry or a detailed one every night ticking that you did not falter. If you miss it any day, reset the counter and start again.

That is it. Simple. Feel free to add to your lists as you prod along. The important thing to remember is that you must consciously express your gratitude without any expectations for reciprocation. It is hard but doable. True gratitude makes one generous, compassionate, and infinitely loving.

Read more here.


So often people ask me what should they do when someone does bad to them? A story on kindness - What else could I have done?

As I always say that under all circumstances act in a manner that befits you. For that matter, we all act according to our inherent nature which determines our knee-jerk reactions in most situations. Such reactions or our spontaneous actions are largely influenced by our subconscious mind. And, our subconscious mind, I may add, is a giant storehouse of our past thoughts, experiences and emotions.

In a way, this question of what-should-you-do-when-someone-does-bad-to-you becomes redundant because you’re most likely to do whatever comes naturally to you.

Read more here.


Lastly, leaving you all with a beautiful Buddha Story.

Legend has it that Buddha was once delivering a sermon in Jetavana and at the end, he said, “Wake up! Time is running out!”

An hour later, he stepped out with his closest disciples including the ever-serving Ananda and always inquisitive Shariputra. A large number of people were still hanging about, waiting to catch a glimpse of the enlightened sage. Buddha stopped near the gates in a quiet corner so the crowd would dissipate and he could pass through. Just then a woman spotted him and came running.

 Read more here.