Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Life, Reflections

“Situational Awareness” From Within

“This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” (Philippians 1:9)

With the long weekend off from work and the longing to go somewhere new, the whole joint family, with grandparents, children and all of us “working adults” found ourselves onward to the nearest hill station for an impromptu getaway. While exploring the national parks, wildlife boat rides as well as the mini treks, the constant checking if everyone was there, paying attention to those around us as well as what was going on. Today on reflecting the events of the past few days, the realization of how we were all silently practising the art of “situational awareness” had come as a surprise. The sad truth is the time such that the world we live in; it isn’t safe anymore.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)

 

The concept of “situational awareness” has been drilled into military, law and order as well as defense to be their second nature. Yet with changing times, the more we see or hear of the current scenarios, the gravity and need for “being awake and alert” with every situation from a very young age arises. the everyday life demands that the consideration of the complexity of people, relationships, bills, jobs and responsibilities. One needs to have an innate awareness of their surroundings no matter how engrossing the task at hand may be or whether one is in a hurry. Even if cellphones are at hand, earphones on or if one is prepared; unless one stays awake, alert and aware, things may go out of hand.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? ” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

 

Situational awareness doesn’t exist based on physical, social or emotional front alone, but also on a spiritual level. Going downhill may take only a few moments, the struggle lies in going upwards and in the right way. The honest, true and just way is never easy. To fall into traps, snares and temptations along the journey in life can happen in a single moment, yet the ramifications can be huge, irreversible and regrettable. Which is why constant renewal of faith through His Word is necessary in these times.

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13)

Prayer should echo the desire for increasing discernment with respect to the who, what, where and why of the situation. Going to the extreme of “being aware” would result in a load of worry, skepticism as well as unrest within. Instead seek His Word, His Wisdom and Guidance so as to remove the blinders from our eyes and see the complete picture around us. The best way of living would be when our lives springs from within with the awareness of God. Doing so would enable us to be “situationally aware” at all fronts of physical, social, emotional, mental as well as spiritual levels. Each one is given one life to live. While chances may be between few or many, it’s how we change situations or use them while being “alert and aware” is what matters the most. Just like time can never be reversed, life goes on always.

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.” ( Proverbs 26:4)

 

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Posted in Christian, Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections

The Path that We Take

“A trap is only a trap if you don’t know about it. If you know about it, it’s a challenge.” China Miéville

Likewise, a mistake can be an error by chance or circumstantial, but once that error becomes “by choice” it ceases to be a regrettable error but a moral transgression or “sin”.

Being human, man is prone to making numerous errors through each stage of life, from childhood to adulthood and old age. While in the early years, clear boundaries between the right and the wrong were learnt, mistakes were bound to happen. Many a time, they were overlooked primarily because of the fact that the involved was a child; with the error being more of a part of learning, misunderstood or “not knowing”.

“Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to error that counts.” – Nikki Giovanni

As one progressed through the “teenage years” to that of youth, “errors” were considered as misguided or misjudged acts, more of immaturity or being misconstrued. While a slap to the wrist was common, society didn’t look down unless the crime was heinous in nature. Simply put, second chances were often given.

“What is done cannot be undone, but at least one can keep it from happening again.” Anne Frank

Fast forward to the mature adult stage, mistakes are still there. Yet the approach differs from being careless to sincere regrets and attempts not to let them happen again. For when mistakes become a habit, they are no longer known as “mistakes” but as “sin”. Once caught in this trap, it’s always easy to fall again and again, on one pretext or the other. Little do we realize how harmful it is, to fall into these traps which may seem small at that time, but have the consequence of a land mine. In addition “sin” doesn’t affect us alone, but also the world around us; even for those who are indirectly involved with us. While it’s human to make mistakes; it isn’t human to continue the trend of “repeated sins”. Learning this will help avoid the boomerang that life will throw us into as a consequence of the actions that we “throw” around.

“A clean shod man carefully goes around the dirt, but once he stumbled, he dirtied his shoes, he was already less wary of it, and when he saw that his shoes were dirty, he was already boldly slapping on the mud, getting dirty more and more. Similarly, a man from his youth, while he is still pure from bad and depraved affairs, takes care and avoids everything bad, but once he makes another mistake, he thinks: beware, do not beware, everything will be the same, and it will be launched into all vices.
Do not do that. Soiled – wipe, and be more careful; sin – repent, and more beware of sin.” – L.N. Tolstoy “The Way of Life”

Posted in Christian, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Stories Around the World

The “Atmosphere” Around Us

Once a wise man was asked: “How can you recognize a good man?”
The sage replied: “This is not what he says or what he seems to be, but the atmosphere that is created in his presence. That is what evidence is. For no one is able to create an atmosphere that does not belong to his spirit.”

In the daily, once-in-a-while or chance encounters in our life, there are numerous people that we meet. Like the colleague from another department whom we meet when at lunch once in a while or the acquaintance at the gym or at the coffee shop line up whose times match ours and so on. The list is endless. Yet some people stay on in our minds. While these people may have done something remarkable, friendly or not; their presence is noted by us and at times we look forward to those encounters. What makes those “chance encounters” significant ? May be its’ because we like to meet them or they remind us of ourselves or simply put, it may be because of the aura or atmosphere around them.

“People are sent into our lives to teach us things that we need to learn about ourselves.” Mandy Hale

Each person has a presence about them, reflecting their state of mind. When one is happy, we spread the happiness. When one is constantly plagued by troubled thoughts and insecurities, the “feel” around us would be one of “worries”. Likewise this “feel around us ” is what others perceive. We reflect ourselves around.

“It is when you lose sight of yourself, that you lose your way. To keep your truth in sight you must keep yourself in sight and the world to you should be a mirror to reflect to you your image; the world should be a mirror that you reflect upon.” C. JoyBell C.

Whether is it really important to concern ourselves with ” the atmosphere” we create, is a matter of perspective. In today’s society, life has innumerable opportunities and chances. Yet by constantly blocking them with the “negative vibes” around us would cause more regrets and lost “chances” down the lane. When a person has a good feel around them, spreading the happiness; we internally learn to deal and overcome the sorrows that we hold. Life is not always a cup of tea. Even for the “most rich and bountiful” it holds true in some aspect or the other. Just as no one is perfect, a person with a really perfect life is an abstract thought or reality. Each one has their own share of difficulties; but whether we chose to carry them like a “heavy bucket” along with us or learn to use them to “water other opportunities” in our lives; is in our hands. The choice is always one’s own.

“Unless you learn to face your own shadows, you will continue to see them in others, because the world outside you is only a reflection of the world inside you.” Unknown

More than words or emotions, it’s the vibes around us that stay on. We need “happiness” to live life with serenity. The “vibes” we create, tempered with kind thoughts, honest words and sincere actions, goes a long way in giving the “good feel” within us. The latter is what goes around and helps us in the quest of finding as well as living with happiness.

“The journey into self-love and self-acceptance must begin with self-examination… until you take the journey of self-reflection, it is almost impossible to grow or learn in life.” Iyanla Vanzant

Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Of the White Handkerchief

” We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Many of us, during our school or college days, may have those “friends” who were a part of needless teasing and mocking group who had often made days miserable, troublesome and quite depressing, in those times. Fast forward years later, when emails and contact with them were kept to a bare minimum or ignored to prevent emotional setbacks, thinking of those days. Suddenly out of the blue, a phone call or an appointment with the very same people who were directly or indirectly involved then. Will it be within each one of us to forgive them or not ? The old adage, “let bygones be bygone” may sound simple; but when faced with reality, it will never be easy.

“13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

As life and time teaches us again and again; there would be nothing good in fostering the hatred, regrets or dark memories. While those may have happened, it’s how we move on ahead that matters.

” 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” ( Ephesians 4:31-32)

On abetting the bad memories, we often lose out on enjoying and gaining our own happiness in life. When one part of us says, “forgive and move on” and the other holds us back with “the memories”; learn to chose the right one.

” 3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” ( Luke 17:3-4)

All of us have been bad in someone’s books; which we may or mayn’t know about. When given a chance or opportunity to “do good”, do so without letting the memories of “what has happened with them” keep us from doing the right thing. We all need forgiveness from somebody at some point of our life, be it at the resent, in the past or the future. As life and the scriptures teach us, unless we learn to hold the olive branch; no one will lend us one or share the one in our hand. Above all what goes around, comes back to us; so despite all the setbacks and disappointments or dark memories of people, be kind, forgive and do good; if not for their happiness but for our happiness as well as one’s own peace of mind.

“25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25)

White Handkerchief

Freed from imprisonment, he returned home by train. The railway ran through their native places, and approaching its station, it would certainly pass by its native home. But the closer the house came, the more restless it became in his heart. It was hard for him to realize; how much grief he brought to his parents.
Despite the fact that the separation lasted for many years, he loved his parents and dreamed of meeting with them. The fact that he often neglected the love of his parents was even more his than the crime he committed.
He was not at all sure whether they would accept him at home or not. Therefore, he wrote home a letter in advance asking; hang a white handkerchief in the yard if parents are ready to take it. If the scarf will not …
However, the closer the house came, the stronger the heart beats. The house is still far away, but he does not take his eyes off, looks intently into the distance, to the place where people endlessly close to him live.
They are waiting for me at home, or I, the outcast, have to roam the world; for many days these thoughts have not given him peace.
As slowly as this train goes, it seems that it deliberately intensifies its suffering with its slow speed.
And in the distance they appeared at home. Soon will be his home. There is a white handkerchief in the courtyard of the house or not …
And suddenly … tears gushed from his eyes. He saw his home and yard, which was covered with large white sheets … ( Translated from Russian)

This above story may have been shared with similar versions across the world, either by word of mouth or in some forgotten book or been told an acquaintance or friends as “real stories” to those known by them. Maybe this story is one of those that emerge every few years, told new in one form or another. Even though the setting and the people may shift; the message endures. The feeling that it did happen, somewhere and at sometime helps one to believe int he spirit of forgiveness as well as the kindness, love and humaneness of man and society.

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” Bernard Meltzer

Posted in Christian, Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

The Spirit Within

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings

In ancient Indian legend tells of a mouse that was afraid of cats until the wizard agreed to turn it into a cat. And it stopped being afraid of cats, until it met a dog. Then the wizard turned it into a dog. The mouse who was turned initially into a cat, then later as a dog, was pleased until it met the tiger. Then the wizard turned it into a tiger, the animal which it was afraid of. But when this “tiger” came to the wizard with complaints that it was afraid of the hunter, the wizard refused to help and said, “You will again become a mouse, because in your body, even as a tiger, the heart of the mouse still beats.”

“One who conquers fear cannot be conquered by anyone.” Matshona Dhliwayo

This legend often brings familiarity to many of us with similar emotions experienced at some point in our lives. There are days when one has to put on a courageous face, hiding the fear and insecurities within, in order to brave the world. Yet that is alright, as long as we shore up our inner courage by strengthening the spirit, mind and soul. Faith, hope and love are all required to maintain the courage within. In fact this is a continuous cycle, wherein which when one link is broken; it would be difficult to continue the journey without stopping to fix the “broken links”.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” Ambrose Redmoon

For those among us, who brave on and face both insecurities and fear, by keeping the spirit of courage in our hearts; being a mouse or a tiger, one will still prevail. Yet when we refuse to address the spirit, but seek to pacify oneself under the guise of aggressiveness or personal appeasement by accumulation of wealth, social standing and the like; the spirit will stay on only for so long, before it breaks down. Security in the material world is always temporary. One was born with the mind, soul and body with hands open and empty; the going may be similar. What we can hold on to is our spirit and memories which keeps the days going fruitful in the short time that we have been allotted here, in this world.

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” Maya Angelou

The courage to strengthen the spirit, brave the world, live our dreams and stay true to the right morale all depends on the mind, spirit and soul. In fact, courage is a function of what we are. While the external surroundings can momentarily support us; it’s the internal soul, the fortress of spirit that generates courage and keeps us at peace within. Nothing true in life happens overnight. This will all need time, patience and fortitude with the will to stay on His Path and the true conscience. His Grace and His Spirit strengthens us to do so, as long as we let them to work on us.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs

Posted in Family and Society, Life, poetry, Quotes, Reflections

Finding the “Shade”

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Abraham Lincoln

With summer break nearing to an end and summer camps coming to a close, the excited chatter and the melee around were a welcome sight last weekend. Like every year, contests were held and best prizes were announced. Interestingly during the course of events, especially at the award ceremony, the expressions on the faces of many adults, parents or guardians and the like had caught the eye. While kids were happy that they had or hadn’t secured a prize, the momentary disappointment as well loss of happiness on the adults’ faces was a cause for surprise. At the end of the day, the tussle of thoughts were whether prizes do really matter or is the joy of the vent more fun.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi

The catch to happiness always depends on how one defines it. One can be happy or sad for the same reason. One can find joy for the moments or consistently ponder over the uncertainty of the next and lose sight of the present. Like there are many shades to a single colour, there are innumerable ways on how to react to a particular situation as well as choose the face of our happiness. Eventually everything boils down to our understanding of happiness in life and what it comprises of.

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” Guillaume Apollinaire

When we react to any event, they are two main faces that can happen. Either we chose to be happy or change the mood such that the events don’t shadow the inner happiness or peace. On the other hand, we can let the sequence of events affect one’s actions, words and thoughts dimming or darkening the mood for the day. What we fail to realize that all the wile, people around us, near or far are affected by one’s own after-effects. The change of moods can start off a chain reaction of words or actions, which in some cases, once said may not be easily taken back. When those affected around us are children, what those young minds grasp and learn from the adult behaviour goes a long way to influence and shape theirs. The next time one cribs about losing one’s happiness; look around and ponder within whether we are solely responsible for it or not. For the actions belong to others, but power of thoughts, remedial thinking and words are in our own court.

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” Helen Keller

What Is Happiness?

So, what is that happiness, people?
Ones answer, “It is to be mingled
With cards, alcohol and flirtations –
And all kinds of tempting sensations.

The others have beatitude’s vision
In money and higher position:
In flattering ‘kindly’ permitted,
And awe of the workers submitted.

The thirds think that it is in actions
Reflecting the perfect relations:
Sweet kindness, good care, attention
And general hearts’ comprehension.

The fourths think that it’s just advises
To meet with your dear sunrises,
To tell her your love and your favor
And go together forever.

And sometimes the meaning is longing
That it is the permanent burning:
The job, dreams and searching enlivened,
The pair of the wings for the heaven!

I think that in all enterprises,
Has happiness different sizes:
From peaks to a lowest mound,
Depending from people around.

-Eduard Asadov, Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, March, 2001

“True happiness arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one’s self.” Joseph Addison

Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Work

Patience to Thy Own

“Patience is when you’re supposed to get mad, but you choose to understand.” Anonymous

At the grocers’ en-route from work, as the shopping was underway, the realization that the long list taped to the refrigerator door was still stuck on there, had raised the annoyance levels. Consequently the shopping was a very quick one and while paying for the bill and for the rest of the journey, the niggling sense that the shopping was incomplete and things were still undone was lingering on. The journey back was disturbing for one’s peace of mind. Later on, while defusing the day’s stress with tea, the fact that one is least patient with one’s own self struck the core thoughts.

“One minute of patience, ten years of peace.” ~ Greek proverb

One of the first subjects is patience towards oneself, although we often tend to lose sight of this fact. By tolerating oneself means that on seeing our own mistakes and shortcomings or failures, one shouldn’t be distraught to an unnecessary extent or be greatly upset or indignant. For all these are signs of pride, leading to one’s own downfall. Instead accept that even oneself is prone to make mistakes. Understanding this requires the patience towards self first. For once we learn to be patient with one’s self, then only will the art of patience with others’ and in our daily lives be the routine norm.

“Have patience, my friend, have patience; For Rome wasn’t built in a day! You wear yourself out for nothing In many and many a way! Why are you nervous and fretty When things do not move along fast; Why let yourself get excited Over things that will soon be past?” – Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “Patience”

Being human implies that all of us will make mistakes. There are no perfect people in this world. One is prone to stumble and fall, on way or the other. Unless we learn to have patience to correct our steps and put one foot in front of the other, we will never move on or away from our own troubles. Accepting the ignorance of own mind, heart and thoughts; learning to be careful and cautious but having the patience to accept the fact that we have been wrong, will aid us in finding help from His Grace, to rise again and turn the day’s mood from sour to happy. Patience with own help us not only to learn from our mistakes, but also to grow ourselves. If one is not patience with oneself, who else will be patient with us.

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” Victor Hugo

“Patience Is Not the Ability to Wait:
Patience is not the ability to wait. Patience is to be calm no matter what happens, constantly take action to turn it to positive growth opportunities, and have faith to believe that it will all work out in the end while you are waiting.” Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart