Heartspeak - Make The Intelligent Choice
by Akila Jaikumar
Are you intelligent?” I asked this question to several people I met. I received varied responses. “Well, I have been successful thus far; so I assume that I am intelligent enough to manage my life well,” said one. “Fairly good – I am neither the research type nor the village fool, somewhere in between,” said another. “Yes, I have always stood first in my class, right from schooldays,” said the bright spark engineering student. “Oh, no, I don’t consider myself intelligent,” said the humble, modest person. Then I asked another question. “Are you foolish?” This time, the answer was uniform. “Of course not, what do you take me for?” So, while people were modest enough to not acknowledge their intelligence, they were very confident that they were not foolish.
By and large, we all act more foolishly than intelligently. Why do I take this view? Because, we, as humans, choose thoughts which bring us unhappiness. We choose to focus on our lack rather than the abundance in our lives. We often choose to speak harshly, without thinking through the effect our words may produce. We choose life styles which do us more harm than good. We choose to view situations from our own perspectives and prejudices, not open to seeing another’s point of view, or not seeing the truth as it is. We choose to be blind to the joy in our lives, and remember unpleasant events, thereby making ourselves unhappy.
Humans are a species endowed with the capacity to discriminate, the intellect to analyse, the freedom to act out of free will – and still we make the wrong choices. We do not learn from the mistakes of others; we do not even learn from our own experiences. It would be quite hilarious if it was also not tragic. Many of us cling so much to unpleasant memories of what happened earlier, or worry about what is to happen in the future, that we tie ourselves into a bind, forgetting to live in the only moment there is to live – in the Now. And try as you might to get the message across, you may get an answer, “Oh, it is all very well for you to talk about forgetting the past and living in the present moment joyfully, but if you had been through what I have had to undergo, you would also be miserable, and unable to forget the injustice done to you.”
Agreed. You cannot undo the past. And that is precisely the reason why one has to let go. It is bad enough to have suffered the unhappy event. Do we need to be punished again and again by remembering and reliving something that happened aeons ago?
Let us look at the lives of everyday people like you and me. Have you not come across a case where a family is unhappy because of the turmoil between the parents and daughter-in-law/son-in-law/children? Or tensions between a husband and wife? Or problems with bosses or colleagues at work? In all these cases, the aggrieved parties have a feeling of right and wrong. Each chooses to make the actions/words of the others wrong and his own right.
The question is not of who is right, and who is wrong. The question is – how does one choose to react? It is apparent that adults tend to get caught up in their own self-importance, in their dramas, and miss all that there is to be enjoyed – the beauty of nature, the joy of children, the laughter of friends, financial security and modern-day comforts, good health, the myriad career opportunities available today – the list can go on.
As adults, we seem unable to let go of unhappy past events. We would have had situations where the same sad tape plays over and over in our heads, and we experience the same feelings of anger, depression, injustice, worry, fear, jealousy or revenge. Why do we dwell on the weaknesses of those who do not act according to our expectations? Why do we want to exercise control over others or events, neither of which we can truthfully control? Events happen. We cannot direct them. People are what they are. They are working to the best of their knowledge (or ignorance). We have to get out of the mindset of complaining, fault-finding, criticism, mistrust and backbiting. By focussing on what is not, we forget what is.
Is there a way out of this loop of self-inflicted suffering? Yes. It is the power you have to choose. Life is simple. There is nowhere to go, nowhere to reach. It is just to experience. Whether a situation is good or bad is based on your perspective. This perspective varies from human to human. A hot summer with the mercury soaring is bad for all, except the farmers, who look forward to reaping a rich harvest of sweet mangoes as it gets hotter. Come unexpected rains and storms, everyone heaves a sigh of relief, but the mango farmer rues his luck, since now the mangoes will be spoilt.
An experience we undergo is the result of certain actions taken by us as individuals and by others. We really cannot control the actions of others. But we can control our own actions to move towards the consequences we desire. If I choose to make money by investing in equities, the action I can take is to analyse and pick the right stocks. The companies I invest in may make profits or go bankrupt. I do not have control over that. I can only choose wisely, based on the inputs I have in the current moment, be alert in watching the stock price trends, and hope for the best. And if I am too lazy to do all this, I may choose not to invest. It is all my choice.
So before I choose an action, there is a thought. The thought is based on previous experience, memory, knowledge, or understanding. The thought transforms into action or it remains a mere thought, depending on how often we dwell upon it, what our intent is, and what our will is to put it into action. The more we think about it, the more likely we are going to manifest it in our lives.
So if we choose angry thoughts, if we choose unhappy thoughts, our vision is clouded by these perspectives. As we continue to view the world through these coloured glasses, the experiences in our life will appear to mirror our perspectives. We call ourselves an intelligent species. Our behaviour is anything but intelligent, when we let the resentment or sorrow or guilt from the past, or the fear, the worry, or the anxiety about the future, prevent us from enjoying the present.
If we can step back and be an observer, if we can play the part required of us but not become the part, then we will see that life is one great play. There is only One of us. We will see that the One manifests in the many. We will understand that life is an experience, and the one Supreme Being, who is in all of us and in the entire world, is just having simultaneous different experiences. We may stumble as we try to internalise this understanding. We may not be able to see the oneness and the unity of all, but hopefully, we will learn and not blunder along, repeating the same mistakes lifetime after lifetime. If we are conscious, we will now choose according to the following thought.
“If you hate another, you hate yourself.
If you take from another, you take from yourself.
If you are revengeful towards another, you are revengeful towards yourself.
If you love another, you love yourself.
If you give to another, you give to yourself.
If you forgive another, you forgive yourself.
You can choose to be aware of your thoughts.
You can choose your words and actions.
You can choose to consciously live.
You can choose to be intelligent or foolish.
Choose for yourself. You will choose for the other also.”
Life is meant to be enjoyed. There is so much to be thankful for. To spend it in unpleasant memories is foolish and such a colossal waste of time. It is your choice, to choose wisely and to live a happy and meaningful life.
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