Life: Thy Name Is Irony

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Source: from internet

What’s Your Religion?

It was clear something bothered the man.

The Guru called him to his side and asked:

‘You want to tell me something?’

‘Yes…I have to confess, I’m not religious.’

‘That’s not unusual.’

‘So much disease, deprivation, hate, chicanery, crime, and wars… killing innocents all around.

‘True.’

‘Not sure if anyone is in charge here. This cannot be god’s – if there’s one – creation. I don’t believe in god, worship or prayer.’

‘You’ve a point.’

‘I don’t believe in karma and rebirth…and, in swarga (heaven), narak (hell) or moksha (eternal salvation). Life is here and now. Who has seen after-life?’

‘So much you don’t believe in. You believe in anything…anything at all?’

‘Not sure if I do. With so much suffering, inequities…’

‘Alright – is there anything you want to believe in?’

‘Well, if you put it that way…in goodness of man, perhaps, whatever is left.’

‘That’s here, not other-worldly and a good enough religion to go after, my friend.’

End

From My Diary – An Extract

June 1st
The film disturbed me…the plight of the single women left in the lurch by the shameless men. Amazing NGO guys working for them…and what do they get in return…

June 10th
The pravachan (talk/sermon) by the Swamiji (holy man) – it made so much sense. Shouldn’t we all give back something?

June 21st
The Swamiji said it again. Have been thinking about it. Will set aside a thousand rupees a month for giving away. I think I can afford it.

July 2nd
The HelpAge brochure…just the thing I had in mind. Helping destitute women. Must write a check.

July 5th
The check yet to be sent out. Damn all this work. Sucks up the time and the energy to do anything else. Keep forgetting.

July 18th
Saw the site. Seems to be a big setup. My contribution – a burp in a hurricane. The phrase – I coined it, Hadley Chase’s was less sanitary. Look at smaller setup’s desperately needing support. These guys won’t miss it.

August 28th
Sanskrit and Veda’s institute struggling for survival… S what if I haven’t learnt. Must do our bit for preserving tradition. It’s only two thousand rupees. Nice and smart of them to ask small.

September 7th
Yes, the institute. Had a thought – what if they’re already beyond the tipping point? Would be a waste, no? Must look at something else.

October 5th
Home for Cancer patients…poor folks. Need a place to stay in the city for treatment. Cities…so expensive. Six thousand rupees to cover one or two patients. A great thing. Will also protect us – it’ll be such an irony. Lord would not let that happen.

October 16th
Just checked on the Home’s brochure. No Income-Tax registration. No known names. These days…so many scams. Who knows if it’s genuine?

December 10th
Today, a procession by film-stars collecting for flood victims in the south. How will my contribution make a difference? These stars…if they give what they charge for just one film that should handle half a dozen floods. And what is the government doing with all these taxes? Passing on the buck to us? What passing the buck? They’re collecting the buck. There’s a word for such wrongly applied phrases – can’t recall. Some mal…

March 10th
So boring. Had to be done. Readied Income-Tax returns. Just found haven’t made any donations to claim deductions. Must do it in the next financial year.

March 28th
This is easy. Swamiji talked about small acts of kindness – like feeding the pigeons. I think, I’ll begin with that. Men will take care of men. Who will worry about these poor creatures? Need to check on this avian flu, though.

No later entries found on the subject.
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Credits: openclipart.com (Johnny_automatic)

The Guru Speaks

The morning paper carried a human interest story with a snapshot of the scene of the incident:

“…He sat in front of the temple all day and night. He never hassled anyone for alms. The mere sight of him tugged at the heart strings of the devotees and loosened up their purse strings. He had collected a pile of rags, empty bottles and a couple of aluminum plates to receive food. Whenever the temple trustees objected, he would move to a distance and was back in a few days.

One morning he did not get up from the pavement that was his bed. He had died in sleep.

The municipal authorities were called in to remove the body for whatever investigation and finally cremation.

When they cleared the rags, empty bottles and other worldly possessions, they also found a bundle.

It surprised everyone to find the bundle had a large amount of currency notes, folded and tucked haphazardly. The beggar’s wealth was inventoried on the spot and rechecked by a member of the public. It totaled up to a little over sixty two thousand rupees…”


The Sishya (disciple) read it aloud and commiserated: ‘How assiduously he must have collected the money, poor man. He had it all the time, but, miserable chap, he was not destined to enjoy while he was alive.’

The Guru smiled: ‘Well, I would think, he enjoyed doing what he was best at – begging. The money was not the act for him. He didn’t die a miserable man.’

End

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Source: Unfortunately I’m unable to presently recall the source for this piece. Credit for the image: openclipart (Gerard_G)

And they were 38

It was a rule the counter closed thirty minutes before the departure. The man was all sweat as he rushed, his wife, a portly lady straining for breath and her sari in disarray behind him. The hassled girl fixed him in a stare and after a moment’s indecision decided to take them in as the last passengers on the flight. Now this was it and no more. It was their lucky day, he thought to himself.

The airhostess standing at the head of the isle behind the pilot’s cabin launched herself into the routine of demo’ing safety procedures. Exhausted some had already slipped into a sound nap while she gamely went about her chore and there were others sharing their jokes when she was on the part about emergency landing on water.

In a couple of minutes the aircraft climbed to its cruising altitude and the seat-belt signs were switched off. It was a cue for a few to stand up and stretch their limbs. Shortly after the hostess was all business sporting a plastic smile and handing out tea, coffee and light refreshment. That done the passengers, 35 of them, caged in the aluminum shell for the next fifty minutes, quietly settled down to reading books and magazines, listening to the in-flight audio channels or to resume their interrupted nap. A few busied themselves on their laptops and tablets. The mothers pulled out toys and gaming kits to engage the restless children.

All was well until thirty third minute when the plane smashed through a large bank of thick clouds. The turbulence brought prayers to the lips of the believing. The seasoned travelers were nonchalant.

About twenty seconds later

The channels were quick to push aside economic crises, epidemic breakout and ethnic violence to announce with profound grief the loss of thirty eight lives – that included a promising TV actor, a group of business men returning from an offsite event, a few other professionals, senior citizens and families with children and a honey-mooning couple. The flight from the island resort had crashed into the sea. There were the usual stories of how some narrowly escaped the grim fate quite fortuitously and others despite hurdles kept to their appointment. The search was mounted for rescuing survivors, the prospects appearing dim. There were clips of wailing relatives, some quietly in tears. One of them pitifully cried to the camera: ‘If there was a God, and a benevolent one, how could He mercilessly and indiscriminately cut out so many lives in a single swathe?’

On the same day late evening one of the channels trailing in ratings put out a hastily pieced-together program on places of interest on the island. A partial transcript of what was said:

“…Weeds, reptiles and rodents had taken over the old mansion and its lands. No one dared to go anywhere near. Whoever went in to lay hands on the rumored treasures from the mansion’s cavernous rooms was said to turn up dead foaming at the mouth. Screams could be heard in the nightsThere were no records of any descendants; no one so far had come up to claim ownership of the propertyWhatever could be gleaned about the last occupants of the mansion was by talking to a puttering oldie – she had heard it from her grandma: The Pannaiyar (the big landlord) owned much of the lands in and around the village. He and his hands had mercilessly lynched a young lad accused of outraging the modesty of a woman from the mansion. That the boy was mentally a little unstable did not count. His parents, restrained, watched helplessly as life seeped out of the dying lad. They cursed the entire assembly of perpetrators to doom then and forever. That was the beginning of the end for the Pannaiyar, his family and others and the mansion…”

An innocuous factoid strangely preserved in the oldie’s account was regarded as an insignificant detail and edited out by the channel: they were thirty eight in the assembly.

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Credits to openclipart.com (laobc) for the image.

It Doesn’t Always Pay Going To A Guru

Earlier in the day, his wife informed him about the arrival of the Guru at a premise nearby.

And here they were, after a wait, being ushered into his presence.

On a plate kept before the Guru, they placed their offerings of fruits, touched his feet and stood back respectfully.

The Guru said in a soft voice: ‘I’m sorry, I cannot raise my voice. You need to come closer.’

As they shuffled nearer to him, he fixed the man in a steady gaze for a few moments and spoke:

‘I see the lines of worry etched on your face. What is it?’

‘Guruji, in a couple of days, there is a draw in the state lottery. I need your blessings – the prize money is 50 lakhs of rupees. It’ll change our lives.’

‘Oh, that’s what it is, eh?’

The Guru saw an expression of concern on the wife’s face and signaled her to come forward.

‘And, what is it with you? You don’t appear too pleased.’

‘Guruji, kindly put some sense into this man. He spends more in buying these useless lottery tickets than on food, month after month. Hasn’t got a paisa out of it yet.’

‘Oh,’ the Guru was silent for a moment.

Breaking into an amused smile, the Guru went back to the man:

‘Well, unusual requests you have here. ‘If you win a bigger prize, would you mend your ways?’

The man did not take long to consider the proposition: ‘Why, Guruji, once is enough for me. I’m not greedy, as this lady here thinks… as long as it is not one of those bottom-of-the-list prizes.’

‘Fine, I’ve heard you. Now, go home and come back tomorrow morning….for some good news.’

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On the following day, the man stood before the Guru.

‘Where’s your wife?’

‘She was not able to come – the chores in the house. I’m here.’

‘That’s a pity. Anyway, congratulations.’

‘Congratulations? I won? But the draw isn’t due until noontime tomorrow.’

‘But you’ve won a bigger prize today!’

‘I don’t understand, Guruji.’

‘Everyday, some 150,000 to 200,000 don’t get it. You have won the most precious prize today – the prize of life for one more day. And this prize is yours day after day while it lasts. Now, go and make the most of it.’

The man had to be gently helped out as the next man was ushered in.

As he was stepping out, the Guru said: ‘Do come back if you still wish for the bumper prize in the lottery – I might ask you to trade in your life.’
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He regretted ever going up to the Guru. The words kept ringing in his head – he had to sort this matter out.

End

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10 lakhs make a million. Paisa is the Indian penny. ‘Guruji’ is a reverential reference to a Guru.

Thanks to india.phillipmartin.info for the clipart.

The Five Regrets of the Dying

This is reblogged from one of my favorite sites: ideachampions.com:

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives.

She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom:

“When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

The Five Regrets of the Dying:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

End

It would be interesting to find out what would be this list with other cultures.

Anyways, before it’s too late…

Source: Grateful thanks to ideaschampion.com