Do We Do Everything For Our Own Selves?

People do everything for their own self. When somebody said this to me long ago, I had dismissed the thought as useless banter, completely convinced that all we do is not just for ourselves. There are friends and family and bosses who receive our love, attachment and services.

I have seen my aunt working all day, doing all household chores with a smile, answering all my innocent questions why she didn’t get any time to rest and why she doesn’t get tired! She didn’t seem to work for her own self…one more convincing thought that reinforced that we don’t do everything for our own selves!!

Probably I wasn’t mature enough to understand or I didn’t want to. She worked all day because she didn’t have a choice. She had to make her place in the family she got married into. Those were the times when women who thought for themselves; got kicked out of the house they were married into.

This thought reverberated in my mind recently when I went to see a very sick friend who could barely recognize me or talk to me. As she lay there, struggling to talk to me in unrecognizable syllables, I felt so helpless. To be honest, I felt most uncomfortable and wanted to get out of her room as quickly as possible. I asked myself…‘what am I doing here?’

The answers that I tried to draw out of me were quite surprising and enlightening. ‘It was my moral duty.’ ‘I wanted to show I cared.’ ‘It was expected of me.’

All of them connected with me! Had I done this for my pride, my own ego and myself, in order to escape my own distress? Did I visit her for my own peace of mind?

Was it what experts call ‘psychological hedonism?’

Eager to seek more answers I went to the ultimate savior – ‘Google’ and discovered that Thomas Hobbes, the seventeenth century philosopher believed that ‘our self-interest reigns supreme in all our acts.’

I have spent many days pondering, watching, understanding and analyzing…small children grab and push to get their little goals accomplished, they refuse to share and have to be repeatedly told that sharing is a virtue. Siblings vie with each other to prove their worth, probably impelled by an innate competitive spirit.

Sportsmen do the same and even can hurt the players of another team to win.

We donate only those things, which we don’t need. Even those rich who donate liberally to exemplify their generosity make it a point to highlight their kind acts in one form or the other. All charity is done to satisfy our own ego, to gain recognition, fame and respect.

Are empathy, compassion and altruism mere words, which may compel us to put up a façade of humanity to alleviate the agony of others?

All we do for others can be summarized under three headings:

  • Moral duty, which we have to perform for our family and friends
  • Expectations of others to show that we are successful and working
  • Self-satisfaction

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” ― Aldous Huxley

All spiritual gurus and scriptures tell us that attachments are mere illusions. The sooner we detach ourselves from worldly possessions, the better it would be!

This paradox of accomplishing and then giving up with a smile and satisfaction has always confounded me.

Just look within and introspect! Ask this question to your inner self: ‘what have I done for others?’ I know many answers would crop up immediately but consider before blurting out…was it selfless? Did you do any good without expectations?

I agree with David Hume, “ There is some benevolence, however small, infused into our bosom; some spark of friendship for human kind; some particle of the dove, kneaded into our frame, along with the elements of the wolf and the dove.”

We have been trying to evolve into better beings. Good thoughts do influence us. Positivity does bring the best out of us but we need constant reminders so that those elements of ‘wolf,’ which are kneaded into our DNA, can be kept under wraps.

Many questions remain unanswered. Let’s discuss them in the comments section.

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

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Balroop Singh.

 

Are You Beautiful?

Are You Beautiful?

Some people just look beautiful while some are really so. But it took me almost half my life to discern this truth.

A poetry lover, I had always believed “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”…that the beholder has to be beautiful (to distinguish) never passed my mind or I couldn’t believe eyes are so different!

Who cares about inner beauty while growing up? A child doesn’t even know such a beauty exists and an adolescent would scoff at it!

Try telling a teenager to dress modestly and her dagger eyes would convey all! All cultural norms are thrown to the winds to acquire the so-called beauty.

Youthful attractiveness is a natural yearning and there should be no guilt about the desire to look beautiful.

The moment we become aware of physical charm and magnetism, we try our best to look good. The efforts never cease even if the awareness of ‘inner beauty’ dawns on us!

It is personal grooming, peer pressure to look beautiful and slim that molds our thoughts about beauty.

While youngsters feel that branded attire makes them look good, the latest beauty product makes their skin glow and the vogue of the day has to be followed, real beauty remains as elusive as getting nearer to your first crush!

It is the outer beauty that gets an immediate attention.Beauty quote

Inner beauty reveals itself slowly and only if you have the inclination to perceive it.

Eventually it is what kind of human being you are that matters but we come to know a person only after we remain in constant and consistent touch.

True beauty doesn’t radiate from the face, which has been daubed with cosmetics.

A gentle and a quiet spirit, the glow that you can feel within, the spark that brightens your smile, thoughts that guide you out of your own darkness…beauty is as simple as that!

One of our family friends’ beautiful daughter Sam visited me after a long time. She had this young, short and dark man by her side whom she introduced to us as her fiancé. I looked at him and my first thought was… ‘Is Sam going to marry this man!?’ Hardly a match for her!

During my conversation with this man I realized what a wonderful communicator he was, what a warm heart he possessed and with what ease he had endeared himself as a member of our family. ! I could catch the positive vibes that he emitted.

The same moment I felt guilty of judging him. Despite holding many workshops and discussions on topics of human interest and virtuous living, knowing very well that physical appearances are but a sham…how could I jump to such a conclusion!

We admire inner beauty yet get carried away by appearances.

“Outer beauty is like a decade; it doesn’t last forever. While inner beauty stays permanent like an ocean. By all means, hold strong to your inner beauty.” – Edmond Mbiaka

Societal pressures and touchstones define beauty for us till we learn we have been looking at superficial beauty, enhanced just to look appealing.

Even Google understands beauty in those terms, which have been set by people. Try to google the words ‘beauty images’ and see what you get!

Try looking up again with the words ‘images of beautiful men/women’ and the results would be almost the same.

I couldn’t find any suitable pictures of beauty that could resonate with this piece and therefore decided to create one with eyes!

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections.

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Balroop Singh.

How Unspoken Words Harm Our Personality And Relationships

Unspoken words

A spoken word is better than those, which are kept within the heart. Unspoken words keep struggling; they create negative images in the minds of people who want to hear them and who keep suppressing them.

The words we can’t say, observes John Geddes “are the holes I punch in the walls of my psyche…” They keep growing deeper and wider with time. The unspoken words keep falling into those holes and it becomes hard to retreat them.

Unspoken words hurt. They hurt not only you, as they are emotionally strenuous but they are painful for those too who expect them to be shared. The silence keeps growing with each passing day till it becomes a habit.

You keep burying all your secrets, all the plans, even those well-intentioned ideas within your mind and when they tumble out, they provoke an untold psychological trauma for your own loved ones.

They wonder what is their role in failing to get closer to you; they start doubting their own love and misunderstandings start budding. They can never get sorted out if words remain unspoken.

Unspoken words carry emotional baggage. When feelings and emotions are not shared, they create an unknown wedge between relationships. They breed anger and angst and there is no limit to these negative emotions.

Non-communication can lead to serious rifts and it is one of the major reasons of drifting apart. Emotions need an outlet, a channel that makes them flow spontaneously.

Emotional outbursts are better than carrying an emotional baggage.Unspoken words

Repressed emotions are like a volcano and unspoken words become a lid for them. I am sure you can understand what happens when a volcano bursts!

Unspoken words create negative energy, which keeps on multiplying as people wait for the right time to share their feelings. Such a time never comes, as the right time is that moment when you feel like saying something. Once you suppress those words, you become adept at doing so each time.

Negative thoughts often change our personality as we become skeptical. Even the right-minded people, the well-wishers seem threatening and we want to shove them out of our lives.

Unspoken words conceal your real personality. How do people know about you? It is only through our words that we share about various topics and issues that others form and opinion about us. Even introverts interact with words, which may be too less!

Unspoken words make us seem hypocritical. Others get an opportunity to judge our personality according to their own perspective. If we don’t make an effort to be friendly or nice, people draw their own conclusions about us, which may not be always accurate.

Why people hold words?

  •  They don’t want to hurt others
  • They want to hide their feelings
  • They may be having some secrets
  • They could have been snubbed in childhood
  • They could be cynical or hypocritical
  • They could have been trained to do so

You can understand very well that it is all about the molding of personality, which is influenced by various factors. Whatever the reason may be, unspoken words affect us eventually. They lead us to breaking down of ties; leave us rudderless in the sea of relationships.

Do you hold your words? Is there any other reason for that? I would love to hear your views.

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Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable comments, they are much appreciated.

© Balroop Singh.

Can Women Escape Domestic Violence? An Emotional Approach…

Domestic Violence

My friend Lisa is writing a story on women’s escape from domestic violence. This post got an inspiration from her unstinted efforts to help ‘The Great Escape’.

Is it possible to escape domestic violence? I have often wondered…

If this could be probable, why would a woman of 21st century swallow everyday abuse, why would she compromise and be told to ‘ADJUST’! Adjust to intimidation and assault? To slapping? To emotional blackmail?

If this could be conceivable, why would female feticide be forced upon a young mother who yearns to hold her child in her hands!

Why would a woman be assaulted or killed for petty demands like dowry or standing up for her rights?

I know I am presenting a very negative picture despite being a robust optimist.

But I have seen domestic violence, its shapes and shades. I have seen it grow and flourish despite laws against it.

Domestic violence is not just perpetrated by a husband or a partner. Families too are a party to it. To my mind, violation of basic human rights by anybody around us – a parent, a sibling or a relative – is domestic violence.

According to National Coalition Against Domestic Violence ( NCADV ) Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.

I have seen so many women in such situations. They don’t even think that a mistreatment in a family means domestic violence. They don’t have the courage and the confidence to confront it.

Not just a husband unleashes domestic violence upon her; his mother is more to blame for nagging, verbally and physically abusing, making her work like a slave and not giving her enough to eat.

This is the story of most of the homes in many Asian countries.

Real story:

I had seen this woman in my early childhood…working all day, carrying out all the odd jobs of the house, from looking after the cattle of the house to cooking for the family as well as all those who worked in the fields. My most vivid memories are of those days when it would be raining heavily and continuously but she would be as active as ever, with just a gunny bag on her head, attending to the milking of the cows, early in the morning.

Abandoned by her husband at the young age of 25, she chose to live in his home all her life, probably due to societal pressures. She devoted all her life to her only child and grand children, giving them all they needed, without even a single word of complaint.

As I look back now, trying to understand the definition of domestic violence, this image seems to be more disturbing than physical violence in the homes. This memory is etched in my mind. The emotional wounds that I can feel even today for my aunt, after almost 5o years are irreparable.

Even today I can hear that unspoken message…where can I go?

Even today I can see that agony in her eyes saying…what can I do?

Who is responsible?

Women too are equally to blame for accepting such a behavior. Fifty years ago when economic independence and social taboos didn’t let them take any action, it could be understood but in the present era when there are no such constraints, women accept domestic violence as part of their life and destiny.

The sordid saga continues…

Domestic Violence

Another real story:

She is a highly educated, successful doctor and financially independent woman. There was a time when she could take her own decisions, when she was single though many of her friends couldn’t.

She married according to her own wishes, having found her soul mate at the age of 20. She has been living with domestic violence of unspeakable volumes but could never gather the courage of reporting it, stepping out of her marriage or divorcing her husband. She is a widely travelled woman but cannot step out of her own home, without her husband.

People say women have been empowered and emancipated! Really?

“We live in a world in which women are battered and are unable to flee from the men who beat them, although their door is theoretically standing wide open. One out of every four women becomes a victim of severe violence. One out of every two will be confronted by sexual harassment over her lifetime. These crimes are everywhere and can take place behind any front door in the country, every day, and barely elicit much more than a shrug of the shoulders and superficial dismay.”Natascha Kampusch

Who can help?

No soft words or empathy, no laws or stern action against those who inflict such a cowardly act can help.

Only women, yes those women or victims who accept such a beastly behavior can help.

Unless you help yourself, all others effort go futile:

  • Refuse to tolerate domestic violence
  • Never hide it to protect your self-esteem
  • Stand up for your rights
  • Don’t equate it with destiny
  • Communicate your dissent the very first time
  • Speak your mind out loudly and clearly
  • Seek help
  • If the perpetrator doesn’t change, be bold
  • Never believe in their false promises
  • Never give a second chance to such offenders
  • Be firm and take your own decision
  • Walk out of such relationships as soon as you can!

Do you know that 603 million women live where domestic violence is not considered a crime!!

If you are living in a country that recognizes domestic violence as a serious offence, you must report it.

My dearest friend Kim supports this cause most vociferously at her website. You can visit her for advice and help.

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Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable comments, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh

Spiritual Awakening – Why ‘Spirituality’ Seems A Scary Word?

SpiritualityOne of my friends, who must have read my ‘One Year Journey’ advised me: ‘Keep blogging but remain as bubbly as ever. Don’t become spiritual.’

Her observation set me thinking.

Do I sound spiritual? I have never consciously tried to be one!

I may have liked those who believe in spiritualism. I could have even mentioned them as my friends but becoming spiritual is a far-fetched thought.

Do we pick up spiritualism just like a new box of cookies?

While pondering over the comment of my friend, my thoughts veered towards understanding this term and why it seems to be scary to some.

Why shouldn’t I become spiritual? Does it take all those little joys out of our life?

I know spirituality is actually associated with our psychological growth. Isn’t that natural?

I also know that it is an accomplishment as…

  • It leads us to emotional maturity and a deeper understanding of self.
  • It acquaints us with the darker aspects of our personality.
  • We can recognize the emotions that weaken us.
  • We develop the ability to embrace pain.
  • We learn to bridge the gap between pain and pleasure.
  • We cultivate the resilience to face inner demons, which we flee from.
  • We become sensitive to disparities around us.

Spiritual awakening:

It dawns very slowly; sometimes it astonishes us with its presence in some unknown crevice of our heart.

When we start discarding negative thoughts, when we begin to understand the feelings and emotions of people around us, when we adapt to changes without any grunts, when we adopt a positive approach to life, when self-healing becomes our goal – we may be gearing towards spiritualism.

Spiritual Awakening

Spirituality, as we know today has detached itself from religion and centers around values and humanistic ideas. It concentrates on personal wellbeing and inner peace.

It emphasizes on meditation, mindfulness, tolerance and ethics.

Yes, it matures us; it keeps us grounded but it doesn’t compel us to become another Buddha or his follower.

We can still run into the welcoming arms of rain whenever we feel the urge.

The pleasure of wading into the waves doesn’t lessen.

The glow of moon appears as mesmerizing as ever.

The bubbly aspect of our personality may not hit the surface but it remains intact!

“Spirituality can release blocks, lead you to ideas and make your life artful.” – Julia Cameron.

Are you spiritual?

Many of us don’t realize when spiritual awakening sends vibes of positivity. We may still be in deep slumber. I didn’t know my leanings till my dear friend noticed and coerced me towards introspection.

  1. Awareness:

When spiritual awakening hits, you feel something is different around you. It may take some time to really understand why you find peace in giving, why you condone the little irks that provoked you earlier and why compassion is inching closer.

  1. You feel a light within you:

You become your own counselor as you can understand and experience the emotional changes in your heart. You are willing to accept those changes. Often you find yourself talking to yourself and feel a craving to forget and forgive all that has been bothering you.

  1. You feel detached:

Attachments no longer clasp you; the drift begins slowly and you can comprehend that all relationships are hollow, phony and transient. You find immense solace in detachment. The pleasure of solitude becomes sweeter and more fulfilling.

  1. You feel connected with Nature:

Your relationship with your surroundings inspire you to breathe deeply, to gaze at the sky and reach that horizon, which shines with the brightest light, you start getting answers to all your questions, you know how to calm human ego. The tranquility of Nature seeps into your spirit.

  1. You feel in consonance with your emotions:

Distress, annoyance, disappointment and all such discomforting emotions merge into the harmony of thoughts. You feel free, floating like clouds, blending in the unknown blue. Your inner voice becomes stronger; you start listening to it with greater confidence.

Let me remind my dear friend that I am not becoming spiritual but I am not scared of learning more about it. If spirituality brings me closer to peace of mind and eternal happiness, I would like to explore it further. To say it in the words of John Bradshaw, “The spiritual quest is not some added benefit to our life, something you embark on if you have the time and inclination. We are spiritual beings on an earthly journey. Our spirituality makes up our beingness.”

Do you believe we are spiritual beings? Has spiritual awakening ever nudged you? Do you struggle with your emotions? I would love to hear your views.

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Balroop Singh.