Saturday, April 25, 2015

‘Thy will be done!’

The last scene from Bruce Almighty. 
Praying is easy, what to pray is a dilemma. Most of the time we play safe and pray for things that are mundane and transitory in nature. Just the same they’re important to us. The most difficult prayer, in my opinion, is this divine entreaty: “Thy will be done!” I can’t imagine anyone saying it with absolute faith—trusting him enough to know and do what is good for us and being happy with the outcome. I have tried it and so far it has been a halfhearted effort, because I’m scared that what he decides for me may not be good for me. The great Indian sage, Ramana Maharshi, has said: “Leave it to the Lord to do what he likes with you.” Always, easier said than done. For now, “surrender” remains a nine-letter word that I merely understand but am still not brave enough to put into practice.

Putting others first
Traffic jams on the roads, especially in the suburbs, are a blessing. For they slow down reckless bikers and autorickshawallahs who ride with such speed and urgeny, you'd think their bowels were coming loose. Honkers gone bonkers. Sometime back the traffic police launched a campaign called “Pehle aap” (you first) which I have been following in letter and spirit, often to the irritation of vehicle owners on my tail and occupants in my car. "Why did you allow him to cut you? This way we will never reach." Oh yes, we will, all of two minutes late." I think “Pehle aap” is a novel idea but how can you put others on the road first when you don't put others in your life first? A matter of opinion.

Renovation is change
Why is home renovation in India so complicated and messy? Once the contractor walks in with his masons, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and painters (have I left anyone out?), you don't know when he is going to walk out again. There are no guarantees either on your time or on your money. Both move only in one direction - up, up and usually away. By the seventh day you're so fed up with all the dust, the debris, and the disruption, you swear loudly, "Never again! Not as long as I'm alive." Whom are you kidding? You know there is always going to be a next time.

The thing is once you take up renovation, where your only meaningful role is to inhale dust and serve tea, there is no backing out. Effectively, it means you are done for, trapped and caged in your own home, and at the mercy of the ringmaster and his labourers who are experts in their field in spite of their total lack of skilled training and safety standards. They work in their banians and with their bare hands and do a damn good job with their drill machines and their granite cutters. You can't help admiring their handiwork. By the end of it all, you're singing a different tune. "Am I glad we did this? What can we do next?" You look around the house and then up at the loft. "You know, I have always wanted a library, one where the bookshelves swing out at the press of a button. What do you think?" Neat, huh!

Happiness or misery?
Two spiritual and self-help authors I always keep close at hand are Indian teacher Eknath Easwaran and Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thích Nhat Hanh whose books and ebooks on the power of the Name and Meditation are a panacea for a restless mind and a listless soul. Their books are an excellent tonic for the ills of everyday life, particularly our fears, anxieties, and insecurities, which are often more than the sum total of all our possessions, both in number and intensity.

Easwaran and Hanh tell us, in clear and simple language, how we can make happiness a better and more lasting state of mind than misery, which in addition to our own loves other company too. I have been following their teachings for the past two decades and while I have understood everything they are saying, I have so far absorbed and applied just 1% of it and I'm already the better and wiser for it. Imagine if I run the distance! The other 99% will happen when I let it. What are the odds? One in a million. I still have a chance.

The view from inside my train.
© Prashant C. Trikannad
Shared parenting
I took a fast train from Andheri, the suburb where I live, to Churchgate, the central business district where I work, in Mumbai. Inside it was hot and sweaty and sticky. It won't be anything else till mid-June. The first thing I saw inside was a small white and blue poster on the wall that said, YES FOR SHARED PARENTING. There was no anonymous mobile number beneath the printed graffiti. I assumed it had been put up by a disgruntled single parent or maybe a kid feeling orphaned by estranged parents. It reminded me of an interesting film I saw many years ago, Irreconcilable Differences, starring Ryan O'Neal and Shelley Long whose little daughter, played by Drew Barrymore, took her warring and career-minded parents to court in order to divorce them. I wondered if it caught on in the West and I also wondered if copycat Bollywood remade it with song, dance, and tears.

What goes around comes around
There is a saying in Hindi, “Jaisi karni, waisi bharni,” which means "As you sow so shall you reap," or "What goes around comes around." I believe in this well-known dictum and I also believe that it works even if I don't always come to know when, though how I wish I did. Too many people are unkind these days and for absolutely no reason other than the fact they are stripped of human feeling and understanding. People who are complete strangers, people you work with, people who are passing acquaintances, people you couldn't care less about, people who couldn't care less about you, people who have no stake in your life or you in theirs. To such worthies I ask what makes you so hurtful and nasty and humiliating? Don't you know every time you point a finger at someone, four fingers are pointing right back at you? Just what is it with you?! It'd be simplistic to say "Get a life" but how do you say that to one who has a life but doesn't know how to live it.

Source: Adapted from my writings on Facebook


  1. This was an enjoyable and interesting ramble of your thoughts on a variety of topics. I have never been to India. I would very much like to visit but your post gave me a vicarious experience. Thanks for that.

    I especially appreciated the first topic on praying to God. At church last night, the pastor's sermon was on the function of prayer and how different people in the Bible used it. I especially was moved by King Jehosphat's prayer:

    “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. "

    He goes on to say:

    "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

    As you say, it is hard to surrender our will to God's. We'd rather do what we want and pray to God to "make it right".

    I think it is a universal struggle, man's will striving against God's. It's wiser to seek God's will.

    Have a good day!

    1. Sharon, thank you for visiting this blog and for your praise. I have not been a regular here, myself, and hope to post more often in future. I agree, there is a constant struggle between self-will and God's will, and one would be infinitely wiser to seek His will. Well said.