Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Unconventional Talents

Teriya Fauja Magar 
There is a clear convention among us that unless we base ourselves in the Kathmandu Valley, we will not be successful in life, no matter how hard we try. To prove yourself, the first requirement is you must move to the capital city. We generally believe that ‘mofussil’ is good for nothing. This deep-rooted belief is challenged by a teenage girl, Teriya Fauja Magar one more time. She recently won the first prize in the popular Indian dance competition Jhalak Dikhla Jaa (season 9). This is the same girl who took part in the Dance India Dance Li’l Masters 2014 and bagged the first prize. As we all know, she was not fortunate enough to be trained in Kathmandu. Instead, she comes from the small village of Rudrapur in Rupandehi district. Her example proves that if you are capable enough, you can succeed, no matter where you are based.
‘Conventions’ are not only related to the geographical space, though. They are attached to your
Amitabh Bachchan
physical features as well. For instance, if you want to enter the movie world and succeed there, you must at least have perfect height, perfect facial features and perfect body. However, what is interesting is that some superstars in Bollywood also do not fit in these conventions. For example, let’s take a living legend, Amitabh Bachchan. According to him, he has not always enjoyed his stardom. When Bachchan entered the cinematic world he was strongly criticised as he was ‘too tall’ and no leading lady wanted to work with him because they would feel too short with him. The critics also said that he did not have ‘good looks.’ Similarly, another superstar of Bollywood, Sahrukh Khan was criticised for having unconventional looks, long nose and floppy hair. One of his producers complained, “Your hair is like that of a bloody bear.” But these men
Sahrukh Khan
proved all criticisms wrong and made their mark in the Indian film industry.
Along the same lines, Freida Pinto, a famous actress and model, also had to face harsh comments while she was trying to get some roles in Indian television commercials. She had been rejected quite a bit with criticisms like, “She isn’t fair enough” or “She isn’t Indian looking enough.” Someone even suggested her to get some sort of plastic surgery done. Interestingly, with her very first film, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ she did not only achieve national success, but she truly became an international celebrity.
Freida Pinto
The crux of these success stories is that if we believe in ourselves and in our capabilities, nothing can stop us from achieving what we want to achieve. We do not need to limit ourselves within ‘conventional’ boundaries. More importantly, we must not be afraid of criticisms and keep on trying to achieve our goals. The critics cannot decide what we should do and what we should not. Once we set our mind on our passions and follow them constantly without getting distracted from anything, success keeps running our way sooner or later; the people discussed above exemplify this idea.
(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, January 27, 2017) 
[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Duality Blurs Reality

Since my childhood I have heard the terms ‘dependent’ and ‘independent.’  I have been taught that it is good to be independent and dependence is a curse. My belief system would still revolve around these two concepts if I had not learned about interdependence. I have found that this term is used quite often in the discourse of spiritualism.
The dichotomy of dependent and independent is particularly used in our society to indicate the financial condition of women. If women earn their own money, they are labelled as ‘independent’ and if they do not, then they are regarded as ‘dependent.’ I do not think that this distinction is politically correct. Those women, who may not have their own source of income are still able to look after their homes perfectly.
In such a situation, men are dependent on women when any household issue arises. To keep a functional family is a great challenge, which women in general take up happily and successfully. On the contrary, men (historically) cannot handle this homely role as skilfully and successfully as women can. So their family roles and responsibilities are mutual here; a wife is not really dependent, and a husband is not exactly independent.
Even when we come out of the family and enter the community, we are interdependent. There are all sorts of people doing their jobs. For instance, farmers grow their crops and consumers buy their products. Both parties are interdependent for their livelihood. Without the former group the latter one cannot have edibles and without the monetary support of the latter group the former group cannot continue their profession. The same applies in other fields of work as well; different people share relationships that are mutually beneficial.
Again, when we step further and embrace humanity, the role of interdependence becomes sharper. The qualities of humanity like love, kindness, forgiveness, sharing and caring cannot be manifested in solitude. Let’s suppose, by the grace of God, someone has all these gems within them. But at the same time they need other people (or beings) in their lives to whom they can express their love or kindness and feel ultimate joy. Thus, givers and receivers are interdependent.
In this vast universe all living beings are interconnected. Spirituality treats them equally. The importance of one being is magnified by the support of the other. It is unfair to tag someone ‘dependent’ when they simply lack one aspect of life (e.g. women not earning) or boastful to label ‘independent’ when they only gain one aspect of life (e.g. men earning). In fact, we all are ‘interdependent.’ The term ‘interdependence’ is inclusive and generous, and more importantly it gives the flavour of ‘non-duality’ whereas ‘dependent’ and ‘independent’ carry the feeling of ‘duality.’ As long as there is duality in life reality cannot be realised, and to realise the truth is the highest purpose of human life. Therefore, let’s practise to be interdependent and to appreciate each and everyone around us who support us directly or indirectly to understand our existence in a better way.   
(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, January 20, 2017) 
[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Taking For Granted

It is common human nature to ignore what we own. Our mind constantly wanders towards the things that we lack like a tongue automatically moving towards the gap left by an extracted tooth even though the remaining teeth are perfectly fine. As a result, we invite dissatisfaction and unhappiness in our life.
Just think – how fortunate we are to have a sound body and mind? Is it our birthright to have them? If yes, why are there physically and mentally challenged people in our society? Aren’t all humans supposed to have an equal claim to such features? Unfortunately, those who have perfect bodies and minds hardly ever appreciate them as if they were entitled to get those valueless entities and destined to find something else.
If one feels that their body is useless, are they ready to trade any part of their body for something like money? At least, not me. I would not exchange any part of my body for anything available in the whole world; I would hope for you to hold the same view.
We only realise the importance of a healthy body and mind when something goes wrong. For example, when one falls seriously ill, they are ready to sacrifice everything that they possess just to feel normal again. After all, with the help of our body and mind, we enjoy the beauty of this world. But the problem is, in ordinary situations their value goes unnoticed.
Secondly, we take our family relationships for granted. We never bother to stop and think about how much time and energy we spend to sustain a certain relationship. In a typical Nepali household, strained relationships between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, a husband and wife, or a parent and child can often be found. When it is clear that we need all these relationships, why not make them beautiful and look out for everyone’s happiness?

In my experience, one of the main reasons behind a family argument is one party wanting the other to follow its principles in life, which is almost impossible when both parties are capable of thinking for themselves. Tensions arise. No one is ready to use other people’s perspective and think through the problem. In such a situation, only problems are seen, never solutions.
Family tensions can easily be settled with the help of an open conversation considering everyone’s views. Usually, what happens is that the senior members dismiss the ideas of the junior ones and label them useless, which is not true at all. Likewise, the latter bunch thinks that the oldies never understand their problems. As a result, a fair discussion is out of the question and all members involved think that they are the victim. Unnecessarily, they themselves make their relationship complicated or dysfunctional.
If we simply value and take care of ourselves and our relationships, which are always available to us, our lives will be happy, rich and more fulfilling. Self-worth and family support make a solid foundation to achieve other successes, such as academic success, career success or monetary success. Thus, ignoring our own productive body, mind and warm family relationships and yearning for something beyond our reach will never be in our favour; it will only ever lead to more suffering.

(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, January 13, 2017) 
[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

Friday, 6 January 2017

Get bold, not old

When I hit forty, something started changing inside me. Basically, I am an optimistic person but at that time most of my thoughts started turning negative. I was doubtful about the meaningfulness of life. I felt I was useless. Whatever I had achieved until that point became insignificant to me. Restlessness followed everywhere I went. I was feeling something was not right with me. I desperately needed to find out what was going on. To consult a psychologist to discuss such problems is not a common practice in our culture.

So, I began to search for literature that was related to my situation. Soon I came into contact with the term ‘midlife crisis.’ Even though I had heard of this term many times before, I was not entirely clear about its meaning and I did not really pay any attention to it. My reading informed me that I was going through a ‘midlife crisis.’

According to Dan Jones, a psychologist, a person may face a midlife crisis at any time between their late 30s through to their 50s. Men and women are equally likely to experience this phase of life. Another psychologist, Daniel Levinson, says that this is a normal ‘transitional period’ which indicates that adults are just entering another stage of life. Likewise, Jenny Chanfreau, a researcher, claims that no particular reason, physical or psychological, has been found yet to justify the ‘midlife crisis.’ She says, however, that unmet expectations could trigger this crisis. These studies show that more research is needed in this field.

It should be noted that ‘midlife crisis’ and ‘depression’ do not mean the same psychological state. In fact, depression is a mental disorder and it requires professional support, whereas a middle age crisis is simply a life stage. Once people are aware of this reality, they themselves can re-evaluate their priorities and transform their lives for the better. This may be the reason why Robyn Vickers-Wills writes in her book ‘Navigating Midlife: Women Becoming Themselves’ that the middle age indicates the death of a person’s old life and the beginning of new one.

Carl Jung, a famous psychologist, divides people’s life more clearly into two parts. According to him, the first half, let’s say until a person’s 30s, is basically a life of outward looking or ego-satisfaction. During this time, people are busy finding their success in the external or materialistic world. As soon as they enter the second half of their life in their 40s, they begin self-discovery. During this time, their spiritual self gradually starts to evolve. So, their focus shifts to the internal world from the external one. They search for the true meaning of their life. Hopefully, their life purpose will be clearer at this stage.

Considering these facts, our later life seems to be more fruitful than the former one. In reality, the ‘midlife’ is not a ‘crisis.’ Instead, it is an opportunity to review our life and find a deeper meaning in it. On the surface it may look like a ‘crisis’ because of the loss of youthful days or many physical changes, externally as well as internally. We should not forget that underneath this crisis remains tremendous power and energy which can transform us completely for the better. So, let’s celebrate our midlife by getting bold, not old.


(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, January 6, 2017) 

[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]