Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The mad man went on speaking
He couldn’t stop his chatting,
Commenting, arguing, complaining,
Comparing, judging and claiming.

He earned my sympathy
He sensed my empathy
And he started laughing
Saying words with meaning.

“Hearing noisy words of mine
You label me quick insane
Your mind does the same
Yet you think you are sane”.

His words wounded my pride
Turned my attention inside
There I did the same rubbish
Nothing stopped as I wish.

My inner state was very bad.
Truth made me really sad
Losing ego all I had
I stopped calling anyone mad

- N.Ganeshan

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Promise Yourself

This is one of the most meaningful passages I have ever read. It is written by Christian D Larson. If we can promise ourselves and keep our promise we can definitely be powerful and peaceful human beings. And we can leave footprints on the sands of time. Read as many times as possible and remember this promise at all moments of your life.

- N.Ganeshan

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature you meet.

To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud word, but in great deeds.

To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

- Christian D Larson

Monday, January 18, 2010

Money is important, but how much do you need?

Money is not everything, but money is something really very important. Beyond basic needs, money helps us achieve our life’s goals and support the things we care about most deeply – family, education, health care, charity, adventure and fun. It helps us get some of life’s intangibles – freedom or independence, the opportunity to make the most of our skills and talents, the ability to choose our own course in life, financial security. With money, much good can be done and much unnecessary suffering avoided or eliminated.

But money has its own limitations too. Money can give us the time to appreciate the simple things in life more fully, but not the spirit of innocence and wonder necessary to do so. Money can give us the time to develop our gifts and talents, but not the courage and discipline to do so. Money can give us the power to make a difference in the lives of others, but not the desire to do so. Money can give us the time to develop and nurture our relationships, but not the love and caring necessary to do so. Money can just as easily make us more jaded, escapist, selfish, and lonely.

Considering the above two sides of truth it is wise to know the answers for two important questions. (1) How much do you need? (2) What is it going to cost you to get it? It is keeping these two questions in mind that gives us a true sense of money’s relationship to happiness. If we have less than what we need, or if what we have is costing us too much we can never be happy. As things stand in the modern world, we need money to eat, sleep, dress, work, play, relate, heal, move about, and enjoy comforts. In what style we choose to do each of these will determine how much money we need, that is, our lifestyle. We should remember in choosing our style that it comes with a price tag.

Evidence of the psychological and spiritual poverty of the rich and famous fills our newspapers, magazines, tabloids, and television programs and hardly needs repeating here. Suffice to say that many who own great stockpiles of material possessions, and who are, to all outer appearances, extremely wealthy individuals, do not enjoy real abundance. They are never content with what they have and live in constant fear of losing it.

"We always think if we just had a little bit more money, we'd be happier," says Catherine Sanderson, a psychology professor at Amherst College, "but when we get there, we're not." Indeed, the more we make, the more we want. The more we have, the less effective it is at bringing us joy, and that seeming paradox has long bedeviled economists. "Once you get basic human needs met, a lot more money doesn't make a lot more happiness," notes Dan Gilbert, a psychology professor at Harvard University and the author of the new book “Stumbling on Happiness”.

While earning more makes us happy in the short term, we quickly adjust to our new wealth--and everything it buys us. Yes, we get a thrill at first from expensive things. But we soon get used to them, a state of running in place that economists call the "hedonic treadmill."

The problem isn't money, it's us. For deep-seated psychological reasons, when it comes to spending money, we tend to value goods over experiences. Money can help us find more happiness, so long as we know just what we can and can't expect from it. And no, we don't have to buy a Lexus to be happy. Many researches suggest that seeking the good life at a store is an expensive exercise in futility. Money can buy us some happiness, but only if we spend our money properly. Instead of buying things, we should buy memories.

How much money it costs is not the issue, but how much the money costs us is of critical importance. Money should not cost us our soul, relationships, dignity, health, intelligence and joy in simple things of life. People who figure out what they truly value and then align their money with those values have the strongest sense of financial and personal well-being.

- Published in The Hindu dated 17-01-2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010


When Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, many people thought it was a lucky accident. It is true that by chance he noticed a mold contaminant on a culture plate. But without his previous foundation in microbiology, the organization of his laboratory and his systematic follow-up on his discovery, the chance accident might have gone unnoticed. In fact that lucky accident must have occurred many times before. But no one had been prepared enough to discover it.

Good luck is the meeting point of opportunity and preparation. So you have to be prepared even to recognize luck. If you are not prepared it will usually pass you by. Many youngsters think that their education is enough. They don’t realize that the degrees and diplomas are merely preparations. They are just tools for a great beginning. Unlike general opinion education is not an end.

You cannot have a good physique just by reading a book on gymnastics. For every result, action must be taken. There is no magic wand for success. You must take the first step now. You must begin with devotion and enthusiasm. If you want to go ahead don’t wait for someone to push you. And don’t think that you are young, so you can wait. Could Vivekananda or Bharathiar or Keats have waited?

Carpe diem, Seize the day is the motto of every successful person. It requires 100% commitment of time, energy and effort. Learn more. Do more. Go the extra mile. There is not much competition on the extra mile. Go on bravely. Things that go upwards have to be pushed. But the things that go downward will run themselves. It is so in our lives also. Successful living is conscious effort to go upwards to greater life. If you are making no effort in your life, it shows that you are going downward.

If you are sincere in your efforts to go upward, you will grow greater. As you grow greater your troubles will become smaller, because you see them with greater eyes. And you rise above them. As you grow greater your opportunities and luck grow greater. That is, you will begin to see them. In fact luck is around you all the time, but you must really be ready to notice it and to take advantage of it.

- N.Ganeshan

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Recently I read a story in net-

There was a lone wanderer who had been traveling for many days and had grown weary. One day he stumbled upon an abandoned cabin in the woods. Night began to fall as he peered through the cabin window. Seeing no one was occupying the space, the lone wanderer stepped inside and decided to rest. Finding a small cot in a corner of the room, he happily rested his head upon a pillow. The last faint streams of sunlight illuminated a wooden chair a few feet from the cot. Upon the chair the man viewed an object. It sat coiled on the chair perfectly still.

A poisonous snake, the wanderer deduced and began to shiver. His fear of snakes, born in childhood, rose up inside him. The wanderer remained very still as the sun dipped completely below the horizon. His eyes stayed fixed upon the chair throughout the night.

At one point, he swore to himself that the snake began to slither and hiss. The petrified wanderer stiffened his body and shut his eyes tight. His heart pumped faster and faster, and he began to sweat profusely. His panic raced through the night along with the rapid beat of his heart.

The following morning, the owner of the cabin returned from his trip. He discovered the wanderer lying on his cot. He prodded the man several times, only to realize the man was dead. Confused, the owner looked around the room. He noticed a bag of clothes beneath the cot. He found no clue to the man’s identity in the bag. He removed the coil of rope on the wooden chair that he had left behind and placed the bag on the chair. What strange circumstances, the owner thought to himself.

What this short tale illustrates is the incredibly immense power inside each one of us. The wanderer's sure belief that the coil of rope on the chair was a snake created within him a panic that eventually killed him. This example may seem strange to you, but we have inside of us this very same immense power. This is the power of our beliefs, our thoughts, of that which we accept and hold within us.

Our subconscious mind accepts whatever we choose to believe. The Universal Power never judges or criticizes us. It only accepts us at our own value. If you accept a limiting belief, then it will become the truth for you. If you believe that you're too short, too fat, too thin, too tall, too smart, not smart enough, too rich, too poor, or incapable of forming relationships, then those beliefs will become true for you.

If negative thoughts and beliefs can direct the subconscious mind, certainly it can be directed with positive thoughts and emotions. Change your in-put for a better out-put. Life is very simple. What we give out, we get back. Everyone is responsible for every experience in our lives, the best and the worst. Every thought we think is creating our future. Each one of us creates our experiences by the thoughts we think and the words we speak and the beliefs we hold. So it is so very important to always be aware of what our messages are to ourselves, what words we use and how they affect our current dominant thinking. By doing so, our subconscious mind will do its work behind the scenes, like a compass pointing us in the right direction.

Beliefs are ideas and thoughts that we accept as truth. What we think about ourselves and the world becomes true for us. What we choose to believe can expand and enrich our world. Each day can be an exciting, joyous, hopeful experience; or a sorrowful, limiting, and painful one. Two people living in the same world, with the same set of circumstances, can experience life so differently. When we're willing to change our primary belief structures, then we may experience a true change in our lives.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ready to Help

Humorous Article

Varun, my neighbour’s seventeen year old son wanted to commit suicide. Declaring his intention to his parents, he closed himself in his room. His parents tried to persuade him to come out of the room. But he did not respond. They knocked on the door. He did not answer. He stopped talking to them. They were very much worried. They became panic. The whole neighbourhood gathered there.

Hearing the noise I went there. Varun’s parents were crying. He was their only child. His father explained me the situation. I came back to my house, took a file and returned to their house. I knocked on his door and said, “Varun, if you are really serious about committing suicide, I will help you. Please open the door”.

His parents were shocked. With sign language I requested them to keep quiet.

After some time the boy slowly opened the door. I went inside and locked the door. As I suspected there was no sign of any arrangements for suicide in the room. He looked at me suspiciously.

I said, “Don’t doubt me, Varun. I really came here to help you. I strongly believe that every man has the freedom to die. Birth is not in our hands. But surely death is. Are you sure you want to die?”

He nodded. Still he could not trust me. I saw disbelief in his eyes.

I sat on a chair and opened the file I brought.

“What is this?” he asked.

“In this file you can find everything about committing suicide. First, there are many ways to commit suicide. Gun shot, hanging, drowning, electric shock, lying under passing train and bleeding to death…If you fail in this suicide attempt, permanent brain damage and severe neurological damage may occur. So you must succeed in your first attempt itself…..” I went on speaking about the pain involved. My vivid descriptions of pain and torture made him shudder.

“…The pain cannot be avoided. It is part of suicide. We need not make big issue of it. Now you know about the methods. Which method do you choose?”

He thought for a few minutes. “I don’t know…” His voice was not audible.

“You must decide quickly. Next, you go through this file. Here you can find the photos of corpses of persons committed suicide using every one method. If you commit suicide, your photo also will appear in the newspaper. It is inevitable. Since it would be your last photograph how do you want it look like?”

Now he was really panicked. He went through the file half heartedly. The file was full of horrible details with photographs. I could see his hands tremble.

I asked “Do you want to do anything before you die? Any favourite food…..mmmm…do you want to meet any person last? Decide quickly. This is your last chance.”

He gave back the file to me. “Why do you keep a file like this?” His voice was weak.

“One of my nephews wanted to commit suicide years ago. So I collected all information on suicide on his behalf.”

“Did he commit suicide?”

“No. He was a coward. After seeing the file he decided not to commit suicide. Forget about him. Time is running out. Decide quickly. How do you want to commit suicide?”

Suddenly he became very angry and said “Why do you force me to commit suicide?”

“I am not forcing you. Committing suicide was your decision. I want to help you”

He shouted at me. “I changed my decision. I don’t want to commit suicide. You may go”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I am sure. Please go”, he said without looking at my face.

“OK. If you ever change your mind, don’t hesitate to call me. I am always here to help you “

Taking my precious file, I left his room.

“What is he saying?” his father asked me anxiously.

“He refuses to commit suicide” I winked at him.

After that incident, Varun started avoiding me. I have not seen him for years.


Monday, January 4, 2010


“ First I was dying to finish high school and start college.

And then I was dying to finish college and start working.

And then I was dying to marry and have children.

And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough

for school so I could return to work.

And then I was dying to retire.

And now, I am dying….and suddenly I realize I forgot to live”.


This is the life story of many people. They never live in the present moment. Life, they learn too late, is in the living, in the tissue of every day and hour.

Are you waiting for the next vacation, for exam results, for a better job, for success, to make money, for a truly meaningful relationship. Do you spend your whole life waiting to start living? It means you want the future; you don’t want the present. You don’t want what you have got and you want to be in the future. With every kind of waiting you unconsciously create inner conflict. This greatly reduces the quality of your life by making you lose the present.

Tomorrow will take care of itself. Having short term and long term goals are important but not if it blinds you to the importance of what you are doing now.

Or, are you living in the past? If you always delve into the past, it will become a bottomless pit. There is never an end. Die to the past every moment. You don’t need it . Only use it as a reference when it is absolutely relevant to the present.

Whether you are looking forward or backward, the result is the same. You are throwing away the present moment. But the present moment is the only moment where you can touch life. Life is available only in the present moment. Sooner or later, you will realize that there is no station, no place to arrive at once for all. The rue joy of life is in the trip and life must be lived as we go along. Our lives are very fragile. Whether we choose it or not, they can come to an end at any time without a second warning.

Each moment is a priceless gem and therefore it should be lived in its fullness without escaping to the past or the future. Find pleasure in the fragrance of flowers, the enchanting beauty of a rainbow, the serenity of sunset and little beauties of life. Be absorbed in what you are doing at present. Be present and enjoy. Slow yourself down. Live life now because there may not be a tomorrow, or a next week or a next year. If you wake up in the morning you already have a reason to celebrate.

If you really want to know what it is to live in the present, totally absorbed in what is going on in this particular time, then watch a small child playing. Whatever he does, he is completely lost in the present. This same fascination for being in the present should be possible for all of us. When you are creatively involved in your life, you have no time for illness or tiredness. When you are actively living in the present, time seems to pass too quickly and there is no time for depression or anxiety.

Kalidasa said beautifully-

“For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.”


Friday, January 1, 2010


Lin Chi, one of the greatest Zen masters, was very fond of boating while he was young. He had one small boat and he would go on the lake alone for many hours together. Once he was in his boat meditating with closed eyes on a beautiful night. An empty boat came floating downstream and struck his boat. Since his eyes were closed he thought that someone was there with his boat and struck. Anger arose. He opened his eyes and he was just going to say something to that man in anger. Then he realized that the boat was empty.

He said, “There was no possibility to project the anger on an empty boat. So I just floated backward with subsided anger. The empty boat became my realization. I came to a point within myself in that silent night. And now if someone comes and insults me, I laugh and say, “This boat is also empty”.

We know two ways to deal with anger. One is throwing our anger onto the other. But when we have wounded the other we may feel guilty and we may regret that we should not have done this.

Or we may suppress our anger. In this way we may go on collecting anger. But we cannot suppress it continuously. It can explode any moment. Suppression is nothing but postponing.

There is a third way. As Lin Chi learnt from the empty boat, understanding that the other is not the source. The source is always within us.

A friend comes by and makes a joking remark. Nine out of ten we would laugh, think it funny, think nothing much about it and make a good natured crack in return. But it does not happen every day. One day we are suffering tensions of anxiety and worry. We take the remark in the wrong way, become offended and hurt, and anger begins to rise.

This simple everyday experience illustrates well the principle that we are injured and hurt emotionally- not so much by other people or what they say or don’t say- but by our own attitude and our response.

If we throw a bucket into a dry well, nothing will come out. If we throw the bucket in water filled well, water will come out. Water is from the well and the bucket only helps to bring it out. So one who is insulting us is just throwing a bucket in us and the bucket will come out filled with anger or hate that was inside us.

We alone are responsible for our responses and reactions. So it is our own response that we have to be concerned about-not other people’s. We are programmed to react, we are hypnotized into thinking that a response is called for or we are not matured adults. Actually the matured adult is the one who thinks before reacting to anything. We do not have to respond at all. Like Lin Chi we can also laugh and say “This boat is also empty”.


How we decide our destiny

Ralph Parlette, an American public speaker, once exhibited a glass jar more than half-filled with small white beans and a few walnuts.

He said to the audience, “You note as I shake the jar the little beans quickly settle down and the big walnuts shake up. Not one bean asks, "Which way do I go?" Not one walnut asks, "Which way do I go?" Each one automatically goes the right way. The little ones go down and the big ones go up”.

“Note that I mix them all up and then shake. Note that they arrange themselves just as they were before”.

“Suppose those objects could talk. I think I hear that a little bean down in the bottom
saying, "Help me! Help me! I am so unfortunate and low down. I never had chance
like the big ones up there. Help me up."

“So I lift him up to the top.”

“See, the jar shakes. Back to the bottom shakes the little bean. And I hear him say,"Well, if I cannot get to the top, you make the big ones to come down. Give every one an equal chance."

“So I say, "Yes.You Big Nuts get right down there on a level with Little Bean!" And you see I put them down.”

“But I shake the jar, and the big ones go right back to the top with the same shakes that
send the little ones back to the bottom.”

“There is only one way for those objects to change their place in the jar. Lifting them up
or putting them down will not do it. But change their size! Let the little one grow bigger and he will shake up. Let the big one grow smaller and he will shake down”

His demonstration eloquently expresses a great truth. If you want a greater place, you simply grow greater and they cannot keep you down. Grow greater, enlarge your
dimensions and develop new capabilities, you will surely end in greater places. Don’t wait like the little bean for someone or something to take you high. It will never workout and sooner or later when destiny shakes the situations, you will be in the same position.

Remember, we are not helpless like the little beans and walnuts Mr. Parlett used in his demonstration. We are human beings with choices and great potentials. But most people live trapped inside their assumed personalities for their entire lives, never knowing that they can leave. They are victims of their own invented "selves." Destiny can only help a man to help himself. It can help him to grow. But it cannot help many people, because they are not willing to be helped on the inside. They are not willing to grow up.

Destiny is in your hands. It is your choice. If you choose to grow and become worthy of your goals, all world cannot stop you from reaching them. If you choose to stay in comfort zone and wait for things and situations to change for better, you will remain far away from your goals. So remember that you go up by your own personal efforts. You go up by your own service, sacrifice, struggle and overcoming. You push out your own skyline. You rise above your own obstacles. You create your own destiny.


Derek Lin, a great Tao writer, used to tell a story of a donkey-

Once upon a time in ancient China, the people at a village received orders from the regional governor to build a shrine for the emperor. If they could meet the deadline, the governor would reward them handsomely.

The chosen location for the shrine had a well, so they needed to fill it up before construction could take place. They brought in a donkey to transport piles of sand and mud for that purpose.

An accident occurred. The donkey got too close to the exposed well, lost his footing and fell into it. The villagers tried to lift him out but could not. After many failed attempts, they realized it would take too long to rescue him.

Keeping the deadline in mind, the villagers decided to sacrifice the donkey. They proceeded to shovel the sand and mud into the well, thinking they had no choice but to bury him alive.

When the donkey realized what they were doing, he began to wail pitifully. The villagers heard him but ignored him. The value of the donkey wasn't much compared to the rewards they would get, so they continued to shovel.

After a while, the wailing stopped. The villagers wondered about this. Was the donkey dead already? Or did he just give up? What was going on?

Curious, they looked in the well. A surprising sight greeted them: The donkey was alive and well. When the mud and sand rained down on him, he shrugged them off, and then stamped around until they were tightly packed below him. This formed solid ground that lifted him a bit higher each time. Eventually, the donkey got high enough inside the well. With one powerful leap, he jumped out of it. Amazed, the villagers watched as he trotted off with his head held high.

Aren't we just like the donkey in the well sometimes? We all have days when we feel as if we are trapped. We can't get out, and there seems to be a never-ending stream of sand and mud raining down on us.

According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, when we have a grief issue to deal with, we tend to go through four stages. In the first stage, we deny the event; second, we bargain to have the situation changed; next, we become very mad, sad, and scared; and, finally, we reconcile to the event and experience forgiveness and gratitude. Grieving is a necessary and important event that will reoccur for each and every one of us throughout our lives. If we take responsibility and deal with the feeling, then we will not be dragging it along and plugging up our capacity for joy.

When we encounter adversity, our first impulse may be to complain. We ask ourselves questions like "Why does stuff like this always happen to me?" or "What have I done to deserve this?"

Just like the wailing of the donkey, our grievances have no effect whatsoever. The sand and mud continue to fall. Expressing outrage and feeling sorry for ourselves do not change anything.

In the story, the donkey came to the realization that his wailing was futile. In real life, many of us are not quite as intelligent. Even though we know it won't do any good, we still cry over spilt milk and wallow in bitterness.

This can become a repeating pattern of frustration followed by complaints followed by more frustration and more complaints. When we fall into this pattern, we cannot be at our best. The cycle of negativity prevents our mental state from being resourceful.

One way to break out of this pattern is to realize that we ourselves had a hand in authoring our fate – the good as well as the bad. Notice how the donkey was the one who carried the sand and mud next to the well. Whether he realized it or not, there was a note of irony in that he initiated the problem he complained about later.

Remember the old saying that bars do not make a prison. The prison is created by mental attitudes, not situations or the environment.

Do not be tricked into thinking human happiness is externally caused and that you possess little or no ability to control your sorrows and tensions. Although our problems in life cannot always be eradicated, our attitudes about problems can be changed.

The difference between a tragedy that emotionally cripples one individual and a similar tragedy that another person adequately continues to cope with life in spite of is simply a difference in mental outlook, mindset, or attitude. Avoid converting problems into worries.

According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, when we have a grief issue to deal with, we tend to go through four stages. In the first stage, we deny the event; second, we bargain to have the situation changed; next, we become very mad, sad, and scared; and, finally, we reconcile to the event and experience forgiveness and gratitude. Grieving is a necessary and important event that will reoccur for each and every one of us throughout our lives. If we take responsibility and deal with the feeling, then we will not be dragging it along and plugging up our capacity for joy.

Therefore, the question we really should ask isn't "What have I done to deserve this?" Rather, it is "What can I learn from this?"

Once we break out of the complaining mode, we must then come to the realization that there is value in everything – even things we normally consider "bad." No matter what happens, there is always something we can learn from it. There is always some way for us to turn it from something negative to something positive. 

Next, we deal with the adversity itself. We need to be able to shrug it off just as the donkey shrugged mud and sand off his body. To shrug it off doesn't mean pretending it never occurred. We recognize and acknowledged the event – with the crucial distinction that we do not see it as a personal affront.

The villagers continued to shovel mud and sand for their own reasons, not because they hated the donkey. Similarly, when something bad happens to us, it isn't because the universe has something against us. It is not an attack and it is not personal. We then make use of negativity. The donkey used the mud and sand as building blocks. In the same way, we can use a negative event as the raw material to increase or enhance our spiritual cultivation.

When we look at it from this perspective, we quickly realize that there isn't anything we cannot use in some way. We can even say that everything that happens can be "good" because we can make it serve us in some capacity. No matter what kind of sand or mud is falling on us, we can step on it and use it to elevate us a little higher.

The more we do this, the better we get at it. Each negative event that occurs becomes just another helpful stepping stone. Every adversity moves us up, until we rise to the level of the Tao sages, who are known for their ability to handle anything with calmness and composure. Now we begin to understand their secret!

Just like the donkey jumping out of the well, we will be able to transcend beyond the mud and sand. Negativity and adversity no longer have any power over us and may as well not exist. The prison of bitter complaints disappears below us as we make the leap. We are no longer trapped in the well!



“Why won’t he even listen to me?” “Why am I cut off before finishing the whole story?” How many times have we been frustrated by someone not listening to what we have to say? How many times have we frustrated others by not listening to them? With all attention that most of us pay to self –expression, the art of following what others are saying has largely been neglected. Many times we jump in to say what’s on our minds before we’ve even acknowledged what the other person has said, short circuiting the possibility of mutual understanding.

Listening is the art of connecting with another person so you fully understand what they are saying and feeling. It is an indispensable skill needed in creating and maintaining a marriage, in parenting children effectively, and in working together.

We tend to think that listening is the same as hearing; but listening really is more than that. Listening with ears is incomplete unless it is joined with eyes and heart. Many people only pretend to be listening. They may smile while you talk to them. They may nod their heads. They may appear to be intent, but they are either thinking about something else, or are so intent on appearing to be listening that they do not hear what you are saying. Often their minds wander as they tune in and out of the conversation.

Some people never allow the other to finish. They may be afraid that they will forget something important they want to say. Or they may feel that it is necessary to respond to a point as soon as it is made. Or they may simply be more concerned with their own thoughts and feelings than with those of others.

Families are created, maintained, and/or destroyed through effective communication. Most important thing is our need to listen to each other--with the heart as well as the ears. Empathic listening is the greatest gift parents can give to their children. It is the ability to put themselves in their child's place and understand what the child thinks, without imposing their point of view. Emphatic listening is the cementing factor in the relationships of husbands and wives also. Showing sincere interest in each others’ problems, ideas, thoughts, and opinions builds real love and understanding. Only after understanding the other person can you agree or disagree, and then work cooperatively to clarify thinking, seek solutions, and resolve conflict.

Speaking without listening and hearing without understanding are the two major characteristics of bitter families. If they disagree they begin to shout louder and louder - if not actually, at least inwardly - hanging fiercely and deafly onto their own ideas, instead of listening and becoming quieter and more comprehending. But understanding ears give the other person a chance to "get it off his chest," to "clear the air," or "let off a little steam."

Listening is probably the single most important thing you can do for someone who is grieving. This means active listening, or listening to understand and feel what another person is feeling. Active listening involves eye contact, feeling the grieving person's feelings, and, in some instances, naming these feelings.

Someone said eloquently-

My words come from my life's experiences
Your understanding comes from yours.
Because of this, what I say,
And what you hear, may not be the same.
So if you will listen carefully,
Not only with your ears,
But with your eyes and with your heart,
Maybe somehow we can communicate.

In the course of becoming a better listener, the first thing you'll realize is that it's important to listen not only to what's being said, but also to what's not said. Remember that effective listening can reveal many hidden truths. If you listen with your eyes, your ears and your mind, you will always get the information you need. And you must pay attention to the non-verbal clues of physical gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, and body posture. An authority on nonverbal language says that 55 percent of the message meaning is nonverbal, 38 percent is indicated by tone of voice, and only 7 percent is conveyed by the words used in a spoken message. Few people know how to listen to the eyes; what a tapping foot means; a furrowed brow; clenched fist; the biting of nails. These often reveal the key feelings behind the words.

It is important to realize that failure to listen is not necessarily a product of meanness or insensitivity. Anxiety, preoccupation and other pressures can make all of us poor listeners at times. But the damage is still the same. So learn to listen. Relax, smile, look at the speaker and help that person feel free to talk. Look and act interested. Remove distractions: turn off the TV; stop what you are doing, and pay attention. That takes time and concentration. Listen to your wife, your husband, your father, your mother, your children, your friends; to those who love you and those who don't, to those who bore you, to your enemies. It will work miracles in all your relationships



Recently I read a story of Swami Sukabhodhananda -

A man goes to a shop, picks up a beautiful cup and exclaims "My god! This cup is so beautiful" Suddenly the cup starts talking to the man. The cup starts saying "O man, I am beautiful right now, but what was the state of my being before the pot-maker made me a beautiful pot?”

”Before I was sheer mud and the pot-maker pulled me out of the mud from the mother earth and I felt why that pot-maker is so cruel, he has separated me from mother earth. I felt a tremendous pain. And the pot-maker said, "Just wait." Then he put me and churned me, when I was churned I felt so giddy, so painful, so stressful, I asked the pot-maker "Why are you so cruel?" the pot-maker said, "Just wait." Then he put me into a oven and heated me up, I felt completely burnt. There was tremendous pain and I asked the pot-maker "Why are you so cruel?" and the pot-maker said, "Just wait."

”Then he poured hot paint on me and I felt the fume and the pain, I again asked the pot-maker "Why are you so cruel?" and the pot-maker said, "Just wait." Then again he put me into an oven and heated it to make me more strong, I felt life is so painful hence pleaded the pot-maker and the pot-maker said, "Just wait." And after that the pot-maker took me to the mirror and said, "Now look at yourself". And surprisingly I found myself so beautiful.”

Isn’t the story very inspiring?

People want to have good time, with no unpleasant experiences, trials, difficulties, adversities. They are, however, merely chasing rainbows. The easy life they seek constantly eludes them, simply because there is no such thing. The true object of life is that man may attain wisdom through experience. This cannot be accomplished by giving in to the difficulties of life, but only by overcoming them. The only life that is easy is the life of the strong soul who has overcome. So, it is impossible to have an easy life, and, if it were possible, then life would be not worth living,

A biology teacher was teaching his students how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. He told the students that in the next couple of hours, the butterfly would struggle to come out of the cocoon. But no one should help the butterfly. Then he left. The students were waiting and it happened. The butterfly struggled to get out of the cocoon, and one of the students took pity on it and decided to help the butterfly out of the cocoon against the advice of his teacher. He broke the cocoon to help the butterfly so it didn't have to struggle anymore. But shortly afterwards the butterfly died.

When the teacher returned, he was told what happened. He explained to this student that by helping the butterfly, he had actually killed it because it is a law of nature that the struggle to come out of the cocoon actually helps develop and strengthen its wings. The boy had deprived the butterfly of its struggle and the butterfly died.

Apply this same principle to our lives. Nothing worthwhile in life comes without a struggle. When god gives us lot of trouble, it appears god is very cruel but we need patience and we have to wait. When bad things happen to good people, they become better and not bitter. All difficulties are part of a cosmic design to make us really beautiful. We need patience, we need understanding, and we need the commitment to go through in a very calm and wise way.

With this understanding, let us not be against difficulty. A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor can you get the finest steel without putting it through fire. Understand difficulty is a part of a purifying process. A purifying process at present which we cannot understand and hence we need faith and we need trust. Patience is one of the most important qualities to develop if we care about personal growth. It’s also one of the most difficult.

Every successful person we see deserves our total respect. The successful persons must have battled through many difficulties and disappointments to get to where they are today. But it's all part of the process and the lessons we learn will make us a much stronger persons.

Henry Thomas Hamblin said beautifully, “Difficulties and troubles there will be in every life, and sometimes disaster and heartbreak, when the very earth slides from under the feet, yet, by calling upon the Power within, it is possible to rise from the ruins of cherished hopes stronger and "greater" through experience. Happiness and true success depend upon how the troubles and difficulties of life are met. Adversity comes to all, but if it is met in the right manner even failure can be made the stepping-stone to success. Trouble comes to all, but, while it makes some people stronger and better in every way, it submerges others so that they never rise again. The trouble is the same; it is how it is met that makes the difference.”