Sharing a self explanatory wonderful story from the “Song of the Bird” by Anthony de Mello … It sure got me introspecting ….
There are so many events that compel us to think many times whether we belong to the circumstances that we have put ourselves into or whether we deserve the lives we are living… it’s then worthwhile to discover or rediscover our true self to soar as high as our dreams can dare…
“A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chickens and grew up with them.
All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.
Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.
The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked.
“That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbor. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth—we’re chickens.”
So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.”
Taming the beast of change has never been easy for any living being. Those that did tame it, survived… those who didn’t … well normally never lived to tell the tale of their folly. So what really triggers the capability to adapt & embrace change? Is it the inevitability of the nature of the beast? Is it the optionlessness that it brings with it. Or is it the millions of the evolutionary years of inherent conditioning of some strand of our DNA?
Change always begins with the voluntary willingness to recognise & capitalise the hidden possibilities that it brings. For without this invaluable agent of disruption there could seldom have been any advancements. However I do not wish to deliberate on that change here today as there are tonnes of pages of material on it…
I want to discuss the change that is enforced on ones character and persona due to the actions and inactions of the actors that influence their surroundings. The change that is enforced by behaviours, experiences, treacheries of beliefs, principles, people and events. These are the ones that have the most damaging impacts on psyches of a person.. that indelible scar of learning that steers future courses of action. Change that disrupts innocence. Change that corrupts faith. Change that violates humanity.
As we have often been given to believe that we are circumstantial animals and that circumstances have a huge impact on us. If there is some element of truth to that, then there are many events that are beyond our control and the only control we ever have is our response to that. People will always act on the firm foundations of their motives and interests and nature. Those who don’t anticipate that and accordingly insure their own interests are the ones to blame. And hence it’s imperative that one normally wears the lens of their benefit through which they see the actions and inactions of their co-actors. The only exception to this tenet is the setting aside of such lenses when in the company of their most intimate companions. However a word of caution, choosing this genre of beings is perhaps the most challenging gambles of life and one can never really perfect the art. Here the vulnerability is the strength and any scrape on that vulnerability again has the potential to metamorphose one into a finer being. Or harm their persona indelibly forever..
Human experience is an outcome of it’s state of mind within. The impact of the experiences that one allows on one self is also the resultant of the inner state of mind. When you are joyous within, you tend to be sensible. That is when you are at your best strength and transformation is possible. You are ready to receive.. to accept… to forgive… to create… to inspire… to just be your best. However the moment that equilibrium of the inner joy shifts its scales, the sense and sensibility of the victim takes an unfortunate hit.
Thus the sages of humanity have since times immemorial advocated the supremacy of action over reaction and stability of the state of mind over tempestuous volatility of impulsiveness. It will do us a world of good if we were to transcend from compulsive reaction to conscious actions. Not for a moment am I advocating the dismissal of the supremacy of self interests even once.. just that one ought to not allow reactive impulses take over active positioning of appropriate measures.
The world is full of deception, conspiracies dictated by obscene selfish motives, conniving comrades, foes with masks of friends, teammates plotting a fatal backstabbing episodes, relatives burning your effigies constantly in their dreams, it’s just a wonder that one can ever wade through unharmed inspite of so dubious stratagems of the cabals of your dissidents. And that’s how thorny the path of life is. This requires incisive alertness of the senses to ensure that one not only remains unharmed from the various machinations of the renegades of life that adorn your circles. Therefore it’s imperative to remain stoic from within and embrace a joyous state of mind that no matter what, you will not allow those of such abominable standards impact your own nature, action and intrinsic goodness.
Goodness also must not really mean inaction against treachery or harmful attacks. It’s simply means calculated appropriate surgical response to such changes that have the potential to subvert your own tranquility and peace of mind. Embracing change is inevitable, but the requisite response to such changes also must be measurably inevitable. Kindness must never be taken for timidity. The measure of one’s worth cannot be pawned to scheming plots of the unworthy.
The quality of a person’s worth is in direct proportion to their commitment to the betterment of self. And that truly dictates the quality of the person’s life eventually. Having said that it’s not really all that gloomy. All the seven plus billion aren’t thus else the doomsday would have already descended ruthlessly. Humanity is thriving on the strength of the few who still are virtuous and genuine… who are still not corrupted by the decadence of baser motives and who still don’t subscribe to climbing the ladder of success on the corpses of their friends and those that trust them. It’s such finer souls who make the world a better place to live in and true spirituality thrives on the strength of their aura.
Let’s be that persona.. for those who mattered to us and those who don’t matter, doesn’t matter in any case. To be a Krishna as with Sudhama or a Krishna as with Shishupala is a decisive capability that one must develop … and that’s non negotiable. While both the decisions are right in their treatment basis their backgrounds, however what truly matters is that the change must keep improvising the divinity within you and must emanate from a sensibility that is tranquil in its state.. on the strength of your own innate goodness of your soul and core. Let that not be tarnished by the strikes of the unscrupulous or be carried away by the affections of the affectionate.
May all of us be blessed with the right struggles within our own pupas so that we may emerge as a colourful butterfly of life … with the hues and vibrancy of learnings imprinted on our wings. And let’s wade through our chapter in this planet dancing to the dulcet tunes of our joyous souls.
Lately a dear friend spoke of the legendary prayer that Shri Rabindranath Tagore gave this mighty nation on how it ought to actually be.. and wondered could we relate to such an expectation from the corporate world. What could perhaps detail out the utopia here? And that set my mind on fire and I here have voiced out for the millions of us who get up every morning and convert our capabilities into delivered competencies. Our dream of the corporate paradise…
Where talent works without fear and delivered capabilities are held high
Where voice of reason is free
Where the organisations aren’t broken up into silos of predilections espousing sycophancy
Where actions only come out from the depths of competence & values
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards collective goals
Where the budding rivulets of excellence are not devoured by the wretched swamps of apathetic cultures
Where the mind is led forward by leaders who first demonstrate steely will to walk their asks
Where padrones aren’t allowed to make pariahs of the capables by punitive practices
Where meritocracy isn’t decapitated by the gigantic guillotines commandeered by reprobates
Where excellence is a way of life and not a boardroom sermons of logic
Where transparency & care aren’t embellishments on the sepulchres of the intimidated souls of their meritorious
Into that paradise of excellence, my God, let my competencies be employed.
Almost a century ago an American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, created a very powerful serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
I have been thinking about it very deeply of late. And to me, it appears that, this is the key to that elusive happiness that we keep chasing all our lives. For in not following this is what we invite the full wrath of the unfortunate and disappointing events in our lives.
How? Elementary my dear friends. We perennially refuse to accept the things that we cannot change. We are inspired by the dozens of forwarded inspirational motivations to challenge the status quo. And it is here we often falter. For we do not seem to be a great judge of identifying what we can change, what we cannot and all the dark traumas that the abyss in between has.
In a world of the new order that is resplendent with its glorious moral turpitude of the many, where the mass lies are consumed as the gospel truth, where rumours hold the value of hard facts and where the confluence of the evil has amassed its own ugly creed, the usual moral vigilante is but destined to be lynched by the brute force of this mammoth clan of those many who are often threatened by the few whose moralities cannot be compromised.
Look around you and you will see the worst of us better off. The best usually spend lifetimes in seeking approvals of the worst.. which in itself is one of the most catastrophic ironies of the so called fate. And the code of the brotherhood of these social & moral termites is very sharp in recognising the faintest glint of creative streaks of the one who can make a difference to a community, society, creed, organisation, culture or civilisation… and are well versed in the art of ruthlessly squishing any such perpetrators of change… for this mob of corrupted corrugated mindsets are collectively too powerful for the individuality of the incorruptible to survive.
And it is here that one requires the serenity prayer. Yes the creators will certainly argue that if this prayer were to be answered, then how would the world have progressed with all its warriors accepting the status quo, and only changing what they can. If that were to be the truth then no creation or advancement would have ever been effected. Mankind would have never traversed across the universe or why, planes wouldn’t have flown or diseases never been cured or technology never advanced etc etc.
It’s here that we have to understand the prayer in its right spirit. No man enchained to the servitude mindset having pawned his capabilities for equated monthly bribe can ever create a dime’s worth of innovation let alone get the humanity forward or challenge the status quo. If you don’t believe me all you need to do is arm yourselves with intellectual luminols and investigate the millions of desks and boardrooms that have the gory stains of the sacrificial brilliance splattered across their entire area.. where time and again excellence has been battered & smothered senseless 🤓
To make a change worth its salt to anyone concerned requires independence of the soul & spirit… if you don’t have the luxury of operating in independent arena then the second & third line of the prayer immediately applies to you. Sit back, relax and train yourself to not get worked up by the conflict of the right and the instructed… for the bribe that you have sold your creative streak for presupposes your sacrifice of any remnants of conscience. Do what you are told and do it well. As much as you might be mollycoddled with the unmeant diktats to think out of the box, read in between the lines.. you are supposed to pledge your soul to the dingy darkness of that box and enjoy their resultant luminous perks. And if you in some silent corner of sedated conscience feel that you are kind of suspended on a ruthless corporate judas cradle, stifle your conscience immediately and get set to follow. For in this arena only a humble follower can ever conspire to be a great leader…
And if you obsessively feel the need to do the right, be a creator and not a paid parasite… be the tip of the compass needle for humanity… make a difference to any of your touchpoints… chase the best in you… unleash your true potential… be the beacon of excellence… feel alive in every proton of your every drop of your existential atom … throbbing with relentless excitement of having done something meaningful.., of having converted your potential for the heroic in you to reality… of having a clear conscience that knows no bondage or fear .. then unshackle your mind from servitude of the mediocrity and promote yourself & become an entrepreneur of life. Trade your creativity for happiness and shun the parasitic gospel that you have been engrained with right from your schooling to the commercialisation of your abilities through whatever ideological infection that you have been infected with by those who you handed the moulding of your conscience to. And if you are limited by your experiences and are a circumstantial victim of such a decadent dogma then venture out into chasing new experiences that complement your happiness and decorate the remaining journey of your life with the shade of blissful knowledge that you are a free bird chasing whatever makes you happy and not an imprisoned puppet of the destiny represented by the cataclysmic imbecile whom you had pawned your soul chasing abominable plugolas in return for loathsome douceurs of stifled talent.
And if you can’t do that.. then my friend… kneel down humbly, summon all the timelessly encoded divinity in you and with folded hands and blinded intellect beseech the universe to grant you the last line of the serenity prayer… of availing the wisdom to know the difference between that what you cannot change (yourself) and things that you can change (nothing really) and bask in the glory of a life that never knew it’s possibilities … potential and never ever wanted to explore.
Learn to remain happy in the dark panes of the photocopier of life and revel in the blankness of clarity that the virgin pages of your life churn out everyday… it’s only USP being it’s abominable uniformity of nothingness… churned out daily .. & destiny shall reward you for happily continuing to always remain in the box and always thinking out of it as instructed.
Something had been bothering me a lot of late. Life appeared to have landed at the cusp of a directional change, having to make a choice to perhaps let go of decades of heavily invested time, efforts and passion and perhaps embrace the unknown, unexplored future…treading untrodden paths… leading to destinations never conceived… The mind was perhaps conjuring up some kind of illusory destinations through untrodden paths…
At this juncture I had a providential chai pe charcha with a dear friend and a senior colleague, Pankaj Vermaji. We just chatted up on the futilities of searching for the elusive black cat in the dark room… which for all we knew (and cared?) didn’t even exist as of this moment of our zesty search…the worthlessness of brooding over such possibilities of happenings, which in the long scale of the timeframe of life may not have even a micro millimeter of marking impact.
Suddenly Vermaji threw a googly at me…
What’s your “Nasha?”
For the uninitiated… nasha here refers to intoxicating intellectual stimulant that gives you a intellectual high… zonks you out of your mind in its pursuit… an obsessive-compulsive purpose of life… the quintessential core of your drive… the zest of your existence… the nucleus of your survival…the chutzpah element of your soul… that which gets your adrenalin thumping like a rogue volcano of lava… just gathering the right amount of steam and fire to spew itself out of the encaged dreary confines of perpetual chronic procrastination…
And in that microsecond… seemingly ages… of nirvanic enlightenment, it dawned upon me that the mythical black cat that I was groping for in the dark room was for sure not my Nasha… Not at all… Absolutely…… NOT AT ALL….
Then what was I getting so worked up about? What was I so melancholically dejected about? Why was this impending possibility of nothing bothering me so much…? Why was I so overwhelmingly arrested by this “beyond my circle of influence” prospective happenings?
Was it because I had got used to the mundane and it had become my way of life? Was it because… I … a vociferous riotous disparager of the mediocrity of mind … myself had become an advocate of it… a subconscious ardent mediocre survivor… Had I too become a parasite … feeding on the ignominious morsels of leftovers of the dream-traffickers – the depraved decadent tradesmen who buy out your potential to reign supreme in return for averaged out worthlessness… a few dimes of pithy tithes?
Yes. that was it. I seem to have mortgaged my soul to the mundane existence. It was time that I sent out the right affirmations to the universe. It was time to erase my offensive ramblings and survival emg’s (electro-mental grams) from the akashic records, replacing it with my original theme of intrinsic genius… germinating the seeds of greatness within me, which seemed to be awaiting the watering of my obsessive pursuits and the soil of tireless efforts, enriched with the nourishments of the innate brilliance… chasing the iconic that is a human trait available in every homosapien dna… only requiring activation… and it was high time that I commanded the universe to activate it for me.
Thanks to my dear Vermaji for having triggered the chain of dormant thoughts that have always been my ancestral inheritance 😊 Since the beginning of humanity, the discerning crusader has always scripted his own fate…with the unlimited metrics of his imaginative possibilities enlivened by his compulsive creativity of a relentless mind and its capacity to comprehend the hitherto unfathomed ability of this species to achieve. It’s been tens of thousands of years of our existence, and we have recorded only a few known geniuses across the humanity,who dared to challenge the incomprehensible time-testedstatus quo and inspite of thousands of failures, went on to establish a code of success only on the strength of their conviction and firm belief on their own self. The cosmic codes of the Universe’s equilibrium have always favored the obsessive brave crusader… who dared tread untrodden paths to lead humanity towards progress emanating from the acts of their impossible efforts. I dare not talk of the many unknown milestones of the unknown crusaders…
This further reminded me of a humorous story that I had come across some time ago…
It all started one lazy Sunday afternoon in a small town near Toronto in Canada. Two school-going friends had a crazy idea. They rounded up three goats from the neighborhood and painted the number 1, 2 and 4 on their sides. That night they let the goats loose inside their school building. The next morning, when the authorities entered the school, they could smell something was wrong. They soon saw goat droppings on the stairs and near the entrance and realized that some goats had entered the building.
A search was immediately launched and very soon, the three goats were found.
But the authorities were worried, where was goat No. 3?
They spent the rest of the day looking for goat No.3.
Gradually there was panic and frustration.The school declared classes off for the students for the rest of the day.The teachers, helpers, guards, canteen staffs, boys were all busy looking for the goat No. 3, which, of course, was never found. Simply because it did not exist.
Those among us who inspite of having a good life are always feeling a ‘lack of fulfilment’ are actually looking for the elusive, missing, non-existent goat No.3. Whatever be our area of unhappiness – relationships, job-satisfaction, materialistic achievement……An absence of something seems to be always larger than the presence of many existing things. Perhaps we have either mis-identified the first three existing goats or are ignoring its presence at the cost of the non-existent goat.
Thus, why bother about Goat No.3 ???
Chase your Nasha… And enjoy the goats you possess 🤓😊
I sure will….
Recently I came across Simon Parson’s picture messages on taking courage from your cookie jar as given in these pics and as a mindset technique propagated by David Goggins.
This got me thinking and I did some research on David Goggins. And what I found was tremendously inspiring. David Goggins was an ex US Navy Seal. In 2005, several of his fellow soldier friends died in Afghanistan in a helicopter crash during Operation Red Wings. Goggins was extremely heartbroken by the incident. He set up a non-profit fund, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, to provide scholarships to the children of the military personnel killed in the line of duty & wanted to raise money for the same.
To raise these funds Goggins decided to participate in Blackwater 135 Ultramarathon. However it wasn’t as easy as it appeared to be. One of the precondition was to run a series of tests which began with a 100-mile race first, which of course Goggins had never done before. Why that, Goggins hadn’t even run a few miles straight in the recent times. While he was, as an ex US Navy Seal, no doubt very fit and agile, plus he had earlier been exposed to the rigours of disciplined regimen, yet this was even beyond the wild training regimens of the SEALS.
The race was about to begin in three days and Goggins had no time to prepare. Needless to say, most of us would have not dared do this feat.. But this was Goggins… his training in the toughest SEALS hadn’t taught him to give up.
Milestone 0: When the race began, Goggins did fantastic for the first few miles. His disciplined training background helped him get through the first few miles smoothly.
Milestone 25: When he reached 25 miles, humongous doubts began creeping in his mind on his ability to finish the remainder 3/4th of the task on legs . His breath was stuck in his throat and he felt that he would not be able to go any further. Goggins began to question his fitness limits. “I feel so tired already, can I run 75 more miles, which is thrice of what I have run so far?”, he thought. And here he still had about three such marathons to go after this. What kept him going was the hope of helping the children of his deceased friends. That was the only thought that egged him to stretch himself at this stage.
Milestone 50: With that thought he dragged himself the next twenty five miles. Now he was halfway through. When he reached 50 miles with such mind boggling difficulty his body began to pain crazily. He was gasping for even a small whiff of breath and his body was on the verge of giving up. Every sinew of his body was bruised and his mind was locking up the ability to pull through. He mustered all the reserve strength that was rapidly draining away from him and dragged himself further.
Milestone 70: As he scraped through another enervating 20 miles, his willpower had broken down. He did not have the energy left to take even one step forward. With no other choice, Goggins sat down. While he was sitting He noticed urine, mixed with blood and diarrhea dripping from his legs. At that point, he felt he was experiencing the worst point of his life. His mind started asking more tougher questions like, “Why am I doing this to myself? Why should I keep going?”
It was here at this moment, when his mind and body had given up, he remembered that this wasn’t the first time he had attempted an impossible task. There were innumerable moments of impossibilities that he had encountered in life, where he had felt that he could not get any further. That he could not succeed… Why, He had even successfully completed the US Navy Seals almost impossible gruelling training where the chances of getting through are extremely slim. The US Navy recruits approximately 40,000 people each year. Due to the popularity of the Navy SEALs, almost half of all recruits express an interest in becoming a SEAL, but most do not meet the qualifications. According to Military.com, only about 6 percent of SEAL applicants meet the requirements. Just this thought fired some additional booster energy within his fatigued body.
Goggins managed to stand up. His mind now dug into old memories to help him recall past triumphs. Recharged with the motivation of his previous victories, he mustered the energy to put one step forward, then another, followed by a few more. His feet had swollen badly & had blisters all over. His soul had worn out. Yet, his earlier achievements in life generated enough drive to keep him going. Goggins completed the race in 19 hours and 6 minutes. Overcoming all the obstacles and proving every negative emotion that he or his detractors had… wrong… he had achieved the impossible. :Milestone 100
After this Ultramarathon, he ran many other such races. He ran the Badwater 135 Marathon later in 2007 and finished 3rd. He finished second in a three day, 320-mile cycling race without having ever ridden a bicycle competitively before. He also held the world record for the highest pull ups completed in 24 hours by hitting 4030 of them in 17 hours. In two years, he completed 14 ultra-endurance races finishing nine times in the top five.
Goggins accomplished many other such unbelievable feats based on what he calls as the cookie jar concept for motivation.
“Everyone asks me, were you thinking about the children of your friends who had been killed at that time? I’m not gonna lie; I wasn’t. This became a personal thing, this became me against this race; me against the kids that called me n***** – offensive contemptuous terms based on my skin color; me against me. It just became something I took so violently personal.”
The advise here isn’t on pushing yourself to the limits to where your body starts shutting down, especially with no training… so don’t just favour me by reading this and jumping to run a 100 mile marathon immediately. What I am rather talking about is the true power of the cookie jar that David Goggin speaks about … which powered him to achieve humanly impossible tasks…
We all have battled various battles in our lives. We all have fought innumerable small impossibilities in our lives… be it having come up through worst circumstances, be it getting through something like maths that seemed impossible to many of us, be it achieving the percentages in our matriculation that seemed like an uphill mountain, be it getting through job interviews, be it fighting procrastination on a daily basis in pursuit of your real passion… we all have innumerable moments of triumphs up our kitty… life is one long chain of struggle… it’s a battle that’s fought everyday… when we were kids, we had different insurmountable tasks that we eventually got through, as teenagers, we had so many impossibilities that we had our minds chained with, which we eventually shattered, as adults and professionals, we wage a war with so many multiple things on-an hourly basis, right from getting up daily to motivating ourself to wade through a sea of traffic and reaching our workplaces… through buses, cars, taxis, trains, walk, cycling… snaking our way into the rat race as many many of us are in such employments that we never really aspired for… then we put up with so many uncertainties across the day, managing stakeholders, partners, teammates, bosses, clients, etc etc… eventually reaching the glorious fiscal end every year and wishing for that elusive rankings and rewards… yeah… life is sure one helluva series of battles…
Through all these we have our moments of triumphs and glories.. our moments of success.. where we have battled against tough tasks and won the same…
And that’s what can build your cookie jar. David says “the cookie jar is a place in my mind where I put all things bad and good that shaped me. Some people try to forget the bad in their life. I use my bad for strength when needed, great lessons learned. In that cookie jar, I pull out whatever I need for the task at hand. Remembering what you’ve been through and how that has strengthened your mindset can lift you out of a negative brain loop and help you bypass those weak, one-second impulses to give in.”
We all are ultimately the outcome of what our mind decides. If our mind says that we can’t .. then we can’t for sure… If our mind says we can… then we can for sure… all the greatest battles won were won in the mind first… all the greatest successes achieved were achieved first in the achiever’s mind… only then it fructified into reality.
Thus the need of the hour is to condition your mind with your own small success stories. You need to remind your mind that it was you who has put up with similar or more difficulties before and emerged victorious. For this you first need to build your cookie jar: Sit down and ruminate on your life… jot down 5-10 such remarkable achievements that you achieved… where you had initially thought that you would fail. We all have many such examples… it could be getting the top score in your most difficult subject, or marrying the love of your life, or getting your first car, or getting that promotion from the group of other equally competent colleagues… or jogging daily for an hour… or maybe as simple as getting up in the morning… or successfully going on a trekking expedition… or doing say those 40-50 crunches in your exercise routine.. or being able to swim after a lot of struggle… or maybe ( as many of my rural friends will agree) being able to give a public speech in fluent english… there can be dozens and dozens of such cookies in your life…
Once you have it ready, keep it in your mental bank and when the time comes when you are pitted against a seemingly tough difficult task… pull out an appropriate success cookie from your jar and bite it… remind yourself that it is the same YOU who has earlier battled against a situation that your mind refused to support you with and yet you succeeded in achieving the task… and like David Goggins… You will also undoubtedly be able to achieve that which many might call as impossible or damn difficult. The need just then is to get to know your badass side…
Will you discover the badass in you?
Will you build your cookie jar my friend?
What does it really take to do what the majority would call as impossible ….
Why does someone who stubbornly refuse to conform to set ideals and tread the socially acceptable path & norms go on to create unparalleled benchmarks and new pathways hitherto never conceived….
What makes an outlier dream outrageously bizarre heights of success and then inspite of disappointments, dejections and discouragement by all yet pursue it unyieldingly… only to break the shackles of acceptable mediocrity and achieve the superlative… the iconic.. that is available ungerminated in all of us…
What is the secret of success… found usually in the very arenas and methods that every expert will tell you it can’t really be found and can’t be achieved… only to be achieved by the tenacious single-minded obsessive pursuit of the penultimate purpose…
What is that catalyst… the alchemy that makes prophets out of common human beings, legends out of the most common underdogs and gods out of mere mortals…
How does one crack the code of the possibilities of the impossibilities?
Date: 4th July 1999
Location: Tiger Hill, Kargil
Task: Capture three strategic enemy bunkers located at the top of a treacherously vertical, snow covered 1000 ft high cliff face. Task Assigned to: Ghatak Force Commando Platoon, Indian Army.
Time: Early Morning Hours
A 19-year-old newly enlisted 18 Grenadiers soldier, Yogendra Singh Yadav, volunteered to lead the assault in the most severely life-threatening circumstances. He had to not only climb the cliff face but also install ropes that would allow further assaults.
It was a steep uphill stiff climb with the enemy having full clear view on us and the soldiers below just grappling their way up the dark to a most certain death. Halfway up, as expected, the enemy attacked the platoon with machine gun fire and rocket attacks. The platoon commander and two others were killed instantaneously. Yadav was hit by multiple bullets in his groin and shoulders. Inspite of being brutally injured and having lost lot of blood, Yadav climbed the remaining 60ft & reached the top. Summoning extraordinary grit and courage, he crawled to the first bunker, lobbed a grenade which killed four enemy soldiers and neutralized their firing power giving the rest of the platoon the chance to climb up the stiff cliff.
Yadav by now was hit by almost 21 bullets and had lost lot of blood. He could only see dead corpses around of his people, blown to bits, and life threateningly ebbing out from himself. He summoned the remnants of extraordinary determination laced with outstanding courage… charged at the second bunker and engaged with the enemy in hand-to-hand combat… inspite of having shoulder that was smashed with machine gun fire and a body that was filled with 21 bullets with lots of blood lost… he killed 4 enemy soldiers with his bare hands and the platoon succeeded in capturing the Tiger Hill.
When he was awarded the Paramvir Chakra – India’s highest military decoration – awarded for displaying extraordinary acts of valour during wartime – it was awarded to him posthumously before it was discovered that he was alive and recuperating in an army hospital. His PVC citation states that Yadav displayed the most conspicuous courage, indomitable gallantry, grit and determination under extreme adverse circumstances.
What really triggers this kind of mindboggling determination to achieve the set goal in a human being, inspite of the most adverse extreme brutal slaughtering of fate that one can wildly imagine?
It’s your Sisu.
Sisu is a Finnish trait that the Finns have declared as their national character. While it unfortunately doesn’t have a literal English equivalent, Sisu is described as the extraordinary determination in the face of extreme adversity, and courage that is presented usually in situations where success is considered impossible. It’s the trait that summons the tenacious resolve and resolute determination in us, otherwise lying dormant. It provides us with that continuous burst of steely strength to face exceptional odds, helping us decide a course of action to face impossible situations inspite of repeated failures, in pursuit of our set purpose.
In 1940, the Time magazine first time acknowledged the word in English, reporting it thus: “The Finns have something they call Sisu. It’s a compound of bravado, and bravery, of ferocity and tenacity, of the ability to keep fighting after most people would have quit, and to fight with the will to win.”
This was a direct result of what the Finns had displayed a month ago. In the bone chilling – 40° winter of Nov 1939, the predatory neighbor of an unprepared, unequipped weak & fragile Finland… the mighty Soviet Union, 66 times their size, attacked them with 7.5 Lakh soldiers armed with 6500+ tanks and backed by a fleet of close to 4000 fighter aircrafts.
Finland was backed by an army of 3 lakh untrained, largely inexperienced reservist soldiers who were rather their peace loving agrarian citizens. They did not even have equipment or uniforms and had to use their own clothes. Against a might of the 6500+ soviet tanks, the Finns had just about 32 tanks and against the 4000 soviet fighter aircrafts, the Finns had dilapidated 114 aircrafts.
Yet despite such a superior mindboggling military strength, in the Winter War, the Soviets suffered incomprehensible losses at the hands of a small insignificant weak nation that was one sixty-sixth their size. By the time the Sisu enabled Finns were done with them, the Soviets had 3.8 lakh casualties against a total of 70,000 Finnish casualties. The Soviets lost 3500+ tanks & 500+ aircrafts.
Whatever could be imagined as superlative strength or superior might was on the Soviet’s side. Yet the David against the Goliath here were the Finnish. It was an easily pre-determined victory for the Soviets. Then how did they get routed and wiped out so heavily? How did the tallest ferocious wild giant of its time get its nose bloodied and punched by the circus dwarf? What fuelled the Finns to face such an unprecedented adversity where the odds of surviving itself were below nil… as minus as the climate of a bone chilling – 40° winter.
It’s the Sisu in us that propels & breathes life into the untapped beast of aggression against unforeseen brutal adversities that threaten to subdue our will to succeed against odds and achieve our dreams. It’s the Sisu in us that feebly whispers in us to keep moving on even if fate repeatedly has dealt us bloody blows and defeat has become the way of life. It’s the voice of tenacity in our soul that we usually strangulate with the manila rope of societal conditioning and circumstantial beliefs. It’s the voice that few out of billions pay heed to and go on to achieve the extraordinary impossible that the rest of us thereafter make motivational fables and stories to recite passionately to our friends, children and relatives or make viral through exciting forwards.
Sisu is the strength that propels you never to give up. It is the single free neutron of resilient determination that strikes against the nucleus of the atom of epidemic epitomes of accepted impossibilities. In this process when one or two neutrons are set free with their achievements which in turn releases the energy of possibilities…. this chain reaction sets of the nuclear fission of unprecedented energy and success that hitherto seemed highly improbable. To break that first neutron of rock-hard mindset of survival mediocrity, one needs the Sisu. Only then the chain reaction of possibilities can be set free.
Across the timelines many souls have discovered their Sisu and triggered that fissionary reaction of monumental energy within themselves that has given impossible momentum to their wings of desire.
After guarding the prestigious JNU campus as a security guard for over four years, Ramjal Meena cracked the entrance exam to the very university that he guarded and became a student there. Lekhraj Bheel, an 18-year-old youth and the son of MNREGA labourers from Rajasthan, hadn’t even heard of the JEE-Main exam till a couple of years ago. Now he has become first from his tribal village in Rajasthan to crack the exam…Middle class privileges leaves us blind to how difficult things are for those who aren’t as fortunate as we are… Like Sreekant K who worked as a coolie at Ernakulam Junction for five years, using the free railway wifi there to eventually clear the Kerala Public Service Commission Exam & become a Civil Servant…. Or Satendar Singh whose eyesight was lost as a result of a wrong injection.. but did not lose hope… cracked the toughest exam in the country – UPSC Civil Services Exam…Or the 18 year old Rekha who ran away from home in a small rural village in Karnataka to escape getting married and with the assistance of a friend scored 90% plus in her 12th …. Or 20 year old Asharam Choudhary who inspite of being a rag pickers son and living in absolute penury and suffering cleared his AIIMS entrance in first attempt all by himself…
There are millions of us who summon small amounts of Sisu everyday and fight the battles of our lives as we weave our way through making a living, reaching our workspaces and fighting to survive against all odds, giving food and security to our families and quality education to our children, millions of us who work as doctors, engineers, social workers, manual scavengers, teachers, soldiers, mill workers, farmers, insurance agents.. and millions of what is considered as menial jobs … that hold the structure of the society intact and keep the wheels of progress moving at its minuscule speeds.
But if we want to achieve the astounding, create history in a single lifetime that the universe has blessed us with, battle with the impossibilities of life and win against all odds against the most adverse extreme brutal slaughtering of fate that one can wildly imagine… then we will have to summon extraordinary determination and courage … the tenacious resolve and resolute determination in us to face impossible situations inspite of repeated failures, in pursuit of our set purpose…. Our Sisu
Can you discover & activate your SISU?
The deluge of necessary and unnecessary information in this age and time is astounding and mind-numbing. The cache is storing trash that practically has zilch recall value.
Let me give a small demonstration… Try remembering any three likes on any FB post.. Tweet… Instagram pic that you liked three days ago. Try humming the first few lines of your favourite song from the last three favourite movies you saw. Try recalling three favourite lines from the last three books that you read that made a deep impact on your intellect. Try recalling what made you laugh out the loudest last week. Try recalling the news that made you question the future of this country quite negatively… from the newspaper or tv news that impacted you two three days ago…
Chances are that you might find it difficult to recall any of them or even all of them.. since chances are that we may have been exposed to some or all of the above indispensably important activities…
Then, also try and remember when was the last time when you actually sat down and gave yourself a straight one or two hours of uninterrupted dedicated time .. thinking about the most important person in your life… YOU… introspecting on where you stand in life today… where you are really headed… what really excites you the most and are you doing that? if not then when will you embark on that journey? what is your passion and are you living it … or are you merely surviving.. existing… just earning a living… creating a security blanket for self and family and managing some stray savings between so many EMIs and the various taxes that are bleeding you… chances are that you wouldn’t really recall when you spent dedicated time with yourself.. thinking about yourself…
Many of us actually dread to live alone with ourself.. spend quality time with self in solitude.. look within.. contemplate.. introspect… evaluate.. criticise… admire.. most of us don’t either really know ourselves or rather we have buried ourselves deep inside the debris of our unfulfilled desires and possible ideal… and masked our true self with various vizards… suitable to various situations.. people and circumstances.
And hence the need to continually keep ourselves busy craning our neck towards the ground… staring reverently into the inanimate battery operated instrument between our thumbs.. ensconced between our palms … that usually fatuous scrapbook of barren unproductive trivia… that is our window to life today.. or so we think… gluttoning away inutile information as a passionate indoctrinated disciple of nomophobia..
As a result we have lost our path. That’s a hard hitting reality that many of us may intellectually refuse to agree since we have now programmed our mind into believing that this is the way if life we always wanted… that whatever we are doing is our passion and that we actually get up every morning trembling with excitement.. as we look into the day ahead and the joys of what we are about to do that day… this is the state of condition of.. well many of us… many of us who have mediocritized our existence.. many of us who are just striking days off our existential calendar existing…
Some of us never ever really knew what we wanted… some of us knew it all along but compromised with it due to the circumstances of life.. some of us are still in the process of discovering what we really want… some of us may never really discover what we wanted… and some of us are pursuing temporary goals that will empower us to actually one day chase & achieve our ideal life…
But those of us who are really really contented.. really really happy… really really loving every moment of their existence.. really really looking forward to each day excitedly.. not putting on any facade but strutting around with their own happy faces devoid of any situational masks are the ones who are doing so because of the operative existence of one single word in their lives that they have in abundance.
Clarity is power.
It empowers the owner to pack maximum satisfaction into every minute of theirs. They aren’t threatened by any social termites that eat away into any part of their meaningful existence. They revel in their own company and are so much in love with their real selves. They just adore who they are and what they do. They squeeze out maximum out of every minute because they are clear on what they want.. where they are headed and what the milestones of their existential path of life are.
Yuval Noah Harari says in his Sapiens that as far as we can tell from a purely scientific viewpoint, human life has absolutely no meaning. Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose. Our actions are not part of some divine cosmic plan, and if planet earth were to blow up tomorrow morning, the universe would probably keep going about its business as usual. As far as we can tell at this point, human subjectivity would not be missed. Hence any meaning that people inscribe to their lives is just a delusion.
If there is any iota of truth there in that, as it evidently is.. then what are we really chasing. As said the narrator in a movie that I saw..On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. Then what use is any glory or any achievement or any goal that is not stamped with the stamp of permanence.
There are seven billion plus breathing human beings out there in the planet … in different stages of discovering their purpose of existence. How many do you know. How many know you. How many do you want to know you. How many do you want to know of your existence and your purpose in life. Do you really have a purpose? One that you are breathing and living for? And if yes, then what is the importance of that purpose in the timeline of this impermanent universe. Do you have clarity on the cause of your existence? Or just because your parents decided or undecided.. whatever may be the case of your existence.. you are justifying just that.
We need clarity.
Simply because clarity will set us free. It will add meaning to our breathing. It will bring a smile on the face of our existence. I don’t want to recommend any grandiose plans or suggestions on what you should or shouldn’t. But you must have clarity… for sure… on the way of your life. Is your life so insignificant that it doesn’t merit the respect of a purpose? Is there anything more dangerous than an irresponsible causeless existence? Status Quo is a crime against humanity. Status Quo of existence is despicable suicide of the soul. It makes us as animate as the other organisms of the vicious food chain and the sands of time will mercilessly devour us without a trace. Don’t cannibalise your own existence. We need to give meaning to our existence and perhaps only then we will be able to crack open the being from the mere human that we are.
That clarity of purpose is required. As a mark of respect to our relentlessly & tirelessly pumping heart and the mind that consistently subconsciously wants the best for its owner.
For clarity is divinity.
Do you have clarity in your life?