Reflections on “The secret of Happiness”: 1.Response to Shiva’s questions

Author Raja Krishnamoorthy / Kitty - Nov 18, 2013

Dear Ravi (or Shiva, which one do you prefer?)       

My apologies for this slow response. I was tied down with a “team building workshop” for a corporate house, spread over 4 days this week, and all my mail responses took a back seat.

First my thanks for the keen interest you have shown on this “trip” of writing this book on “secret of Happiness”, and second, for the provoking thoughts that you have shared with me. I have also read your subsequent mail and must confess that it adds to the wider perspective required while dealing with this topic of Human happiness!

  1. On the book, I am starting the drafting work only from today, and will keep you posted on the progress. I plan to share some of these very interesting and reflective exchanges of ideas, such as your mails, in the face book & in my blog as I go ahead with the drafting of the book.
  2. Yes, 30th Nov.2013 has no great significance other than this feeling I have about my style of working: I tend to have goals & intentions but do not work on them for months or years together. Writing on this subject of self-awareness has been one such intention! I am not so much of a systematic, disciplined, and well planned; time allocated, focused and organized kind of deliverer on the creative areas. I seem to work better in spurts of focus and drives of high energy and do seem to deliver when I am on to such frame of mind. I can see that pattern in my social activism, public talks, my painting and my writing (including my blogs which are now a little more regular and disciplined). So I am trying that approach now when this desire and sense of responding to a call has been deeply felt by me.
  3. This will be the first draft/manuscript for sure, not the final version. It has every possibility of evolving in form, shape and contents thru its few other drafts/stages.
  4. I have some responses on the specific questions raised by you in your mail, and these are truly “my responses”: they carry the imprints of my understanding of life, values & beliefs and my world view – developed and influenced by the journey of my life. As much as some amazing teachers, philosophies and authors have influenced me, this book may also carry my limitations, ignorance and romantic illusions of life! So here are my responses.

Question 1- There is so much written on the subject that the readers may begin with a natural skepticism as to what yet another book can offer – so there needs to be something different and original in your (our!) book

Response 1: Thanks Shiva for reminding. The difference can be the imprints coming from my journey of life. Not because they are “the standards” but because they have the authenticity of experience, beyond conceptual or intellectual collections. I believe that our lives are our best evidences to deeply check out a premise or hypothesis.

Question 2- We can talk about “choosing to be happy under any circumstance” etc., but one might justifiably ask how can people who are dire straits (extreme poverty, incurable disease at a young age, hit by accidents, natural catastrophes etc.) choose to be happy?

Response 2: How many of these, Shiva, we “choose” in life? Accidents, un-expected diseases, natural calamities, environment of our birth and upbringing …and other such factors? We do not choose them, but  life in its mystery, chooses them for us or offers these to us, or imposes these on us- depending upon how we perceive these.

Basically, when some body is in dire straits – like abject poverty, hit by natural calamities or affected by any other physical deprivation that makes even survival difficult, the right thing to give him/her will be the physical comfort and emotional support for survival, help for overcoming the situation or condition- before any intellectual or spiritual comfort is offered. I admit that as a society- we have failed in recognizing this. That’s why parts of our Indian philosophy in practice look very pseudo.

But Ravi, what about you and me… and millions of others like us for whom life- in its physical reality- has been relatively more comfortable?

As you rightly observed in your second mail, between all these triggers of life (failures, challenges / incidents/ accidents) and our responses (reaction/ shock/ bewilderment) we have a choice: Of mature response! Like one of our teachers says, we can be flabbergasted and say “WHAT? (…This looks like the end of my life)” or recognize the reality and say, “So what, I might have lost many things but I AM HERE, I am not lost! I recognize this and will moment to moment deal with my best possible responses”. The 3 paradigms of maturity “is that so?”, “I see” and “this will also pass” are essential for this shift.

  • The shift in understanding about the flow of life- that it can be well contributed to but cannot be totally controlled by us, is the crux of this shift.
  • We seem to have made a hash of life, chasing things as if things mattered the most, when truly no-thing matters!
  • If only we recognize how wonderfully we have created a mechanism of “becoming unhappy” regularly, and keep making the “drama” for overcoming the same, we will laugh at ourselves!
  • More on this Ravi, as we flow!

 Question 3- How can one not be frustrated by social ills like corruption, breakdown in law and order, terrorism, religious intolerance, discrimination based on caste and community (including the reservation systems – not only in India but in countries like Malaysia too)?

Response 3: There are a few things to look at, but let me start with this question back to you:

What have you done about any of these ills Ravi, personally (YOU also refers to thousands of others who have been observing and enduring these evils in our social systems)? Other than not being an active practitioner, partner or perpetuator of such ills personally, what have you done to fight these evils?

 Have you invested a few days of your lifetime doing any thing “against” these ills and evils?

Have you fought against these? Stood against one of these in the open? Challenged them in appropriate public forums? Taken on any issue personally to its’ logical end, legally, at least in one case? Taken to the streets to protest and put them down? 

What have we done?

The truth is we have done almost nothing “against” these evils, even though we may not have “contributed” by practicing these evils our selves. This is where the “ownership of social space” comes up.

We intellectually own social space. That’s why we ask intelligent questions about what happens in society. But we-almost 95% segment of the population- deeply, emotionally, physically, really does not have any ownership or accountability in creating a “POSITIVE social space”.

So we choose to observe, analyze, criticize and pass judgments about society and its’ evils but PERSONALLY do not do any thing to put down those evils.

That’s why possibly Krishna says in Bhagvath Geetha…”whenever there is a threat or possible erosion of Dharma in the world, I choose to come (as an avathar) – for the sake of safe guarding the good and putting down the adharmic evils!” ( Yadha Yadha hi dharmasya glanir bhavathi bharatha, ……..parithraanaya saadhoonaam…slokas).

That God, I believe, is not out there somewhere. That god is in every one of us. We need to be accountable to put down the evil.

When you become action oriented in fighting to uphold dharma or put down adharma, the very act brings you to a level of peace and joy, you have never experienced before. The joy of living as per the call of our conscience, our soul!

Then the frustration fades away. Then the effort itself becomes a yagna and you become the offering of the yagna. In other words, it is also the sense of sacrifice and act of moral courage. We need to discover these within us. Then there is peace that we live by conscience, that we ARE conscience, that we live truly.

If you are true to yourself, If you ARE conscience, you experience peace. Sat-chit-aanandha!

Then we are far more objectively entitled to analyze why society has Ills and evils…when we have become soul-full-actors in society and not mere intellect-licensed-audience of society!

This is my first level response; we will have more as we flow!

Love & regards


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