Does Stardom Come At A Price..?

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Who wouldn’t love being recognised in public, showered with adoration and love wherever one goes? Isn’t it exciting just to think about revelling in the special attention a famous person receives: Being asked for selfies and groupies by fans? But if you ask the stars, you will know fame is not all about glitter and glam. Have you pondered about the pain that comes with it and how stars tackle the same?

You gain some, you lose some

While there is a plethora of perks that comes with being famous, hidden dark sides of it are aplenty. Rest assure, it is not cakewalk to reach ultimate success. Moreover, the stress of maintaining that success comes soon after tasting it. The incessant pressure to look good, give the best performances, use the right words and evade controversies has left the best of the bests with sleepless nights. Normalcy in a celeb’s life is often zilch. Even small pleasures of their lives become a well-planned event. Say, a walk to the neighbourhood grocery store or some time with family becomes difficult as per their convenience. All the special attention one received and loved initially loses its glaze soon and become monotonous.

Real relationships vs. acquaintances

An entourage, fans, and friends from the industry always surround a celeb, yet they feel alone. When it comes to having a real conversation or relationship, the closest a star has is his or her makeup and hair person, manager or the therapist. Imagine a life without the care and protection of your loved ones. And don’t forget the rumour mills that sometimes affect them as well as their family. Often a celeb has to become detached from the world or be thick-skinned. Having friends and family around is the best way to enjoy their job. After all, being famous is just a job and a hardworking person needs mandatory vacations and regular “me” times.

Goals and games galore

Fame, out of all the things is uncertain in life. Today one might be “in” and tomorrow, it may be another, younger and promising star. Competition is never-ending in any industry, especially entertainment and sports. When you achieve your goals, you set for more and more. And it is not always a fair game. Anticipate the worst, and one will be fine! One needs to enjoy the perks of being famous such as enough financial security to buy or do anything, and access to the best of things. However, everything may seem overwhelming, leaving the stars feeling depressed and suicidal. Many have been victims to it and substance abuse becomes their thing. Late Princess Diana was bulimic, dealing with depression and was suicidal. Actor-comedian Robin Williams was fighting depression and killed himself. Deepika Padukone confessed to being depressed, so did Kapil Sharma.

It’s never too late

As long as the star knows s/he is in trouble and needs help, it will be fine. Meditation, Yoga, SKY healing, and positive thinking and having well-wishers around are some ways to keep the mind calm. You will love fame and will hate it, but it is not everything. Many have lost their sanity and lives to it. One starts wondering how can it happen when fame brings everything one needs, right? Well, Jim Carrey has said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything that they ever dreamed of, so that they can see that it’s not the answer.”

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Moving from Ignorance to Wisdom

Have you experienced any of the following?

  • You have to take a difficult decision. You are unsure, and suddenly a voice speaks from within and you get your answer.
  • You found yourself saying, “My gut feeling is that I should go for this opportunity.”
  • You feel the presence of some divine energy guiding and protecting you through some of the most challenging and difficult situations.

If you are reading this blog, the chances are that you did experience at least one of the above. It is commonly said that ‘we are not human beings having spiritual experience, but we are spiritual having human experience.’

We come on this earth as a part of the super divine source to gain human experience; with the ultimate aim of evolving and going back to that source. While in human life we are faced with challenges that provide lessons for our growth and develop ourselves spiritually.

However, after we are born, we get so caught up with what the world offers us, that we start identifying with our human-ness more than our spiritual-ness (which is our true nature). Thus we get drifted from our real path and grope in the darkness. At such times we need to be reminded about our true purpose, we need to be shown light in order to get back on our path. This job can be done either internally or externally. Our internal being, our higher-self guides us through the internal voices or the gut feeling, or the awareness of the presence of an energy. Whereas externally, we are guided by the things and people around us. In a nutshell, whoever dispels this darkness and ignorance in us is called our Guru.

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There is a wonderful story of Lord Dattatreya and his twenty-four Gurus that is narrated by Lord Krishna in Srimad Bhagavatam., in His final teaching to his dear friend Uddhava.

Once King Yadu saw Lord Dattatreya happily wandering in a forest. The king was surprised and asked the sage with humbleness, about the secret of his happiness and the name of his Guru, “You look capable and wise, why do you live in the forest. Even though you have no family, nor any loved one, how could you be so blissful and self-contented?”

To this, the Lord Dattatreya replied, “My bliss and contentment are the fruits of self-realization. Soul alone is my Guru, yet I have gained the necessary wisdom from the whole creation, via twenty-four individuals who were therefore my Gurus. I have taken shelter of twenty-four Gurus, who are, the earth, air, sky, water, fire, moon, sun, pigeon and python; the sea, moth, honeybee, elephant and honey thief; the deer, the fish, the dancing girl Pingala, the kurari bird and the child; the young girl, arrow maker, serpent, spider and wasp…”.

How beautifully Lord Dattatreya has defined a Guru. By this definition, each and every person, animal, or thing that we encounter becomes our Guru – anything that takes us from darkness to light and from ignorance to wisdom.

After we are born, our mother teaches us everything necessary for our survival and growth, our teacher imparts us knowledge, every person who comes in our life and teaches us something. We also learn a lot of things from the nature around us – the trees, animals, earth, water sky – each one of them is our Guru. Since our very purpose of this life evolution, there is everything and everyone around us offering us lessons that we need to recognize. Above all we have a Guru residing within us – our soul – our higher self who is always guiding us. I call this as our Inner Guru. The inner voice that we hear, the feeling that there is somebody always guiding and protecting us is none other than our Inner Guru who can manifest in various forms externally.

There is a famous story in Mahabharata of Eklayva who aspired to learn archery. He went to Dronacharya who was the Guru of Kauravas and Pandavas, but was refused to be accepted as his student. Though he was deeply hurt by the rejection, Eklavya didn’t give up on his resolute will to master archery. He collected the mud where Dronacharya walked, as a symbolic gesture, and made a statue of him. By invoking the Guru within and in front of a mud statue of his Guru, he began to learn archery and mastered the skill after many years of practice.

Eventually, Eklavya gained mastery at archery and became greater than Dronacharya’s best student, Arjuna, simply by accepting the statue as his Guru and practicing in front of it every single day.

On the auspicious occasion of Guru Poornima, let us bow down to this divine energy within us and in others. This will be the true respect to the Guru within.

Some Super-heroes don’t have capes… they are called Dad

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It was an early morning of 24th of May 2017. I was frantically woken up by the attendant who was looking after my dad. I rushed to his room. We checked his BP, pulse, oxygen saturation, etc. The BP machine constantly showed an error, and pulse and the Oxygen was descending rapidly. The situation was alarming. CPR was given, ambulance was called for, he was rushed to the hospital, admitted in ICU, put on ventilator….all in a matter of half an hour….but all was in vain. His spirit had freed itself from the physical bondage. What remained lying still on the hospital bed was ‘the body’….. My dad had left for his forward journey leaving all of us behind.

20170618_111920-2Though we were engulfed with immeasurable grief, I decided to bid him adieu the way he lived life – no tears, no gloom but with love and in style. He was 90 year old, but was always elegantly dressed irrespective of whether he was in the house or stepped out. He loved to wear different outfits and carried them equally well. Whether it was a Hawaiian shirt I got him from Indonesia or the traditional Nepali dress from Kathmandu, he loved wearing new clothes and often showed them off. If someone asked him, “How old are you?”, he would ask them, “What do you think?” and when people said, he looked like he was in his seventies, his day was made. He took great pride in the fact he looked much younger than his age. His enthusiasm for life was contagious. He would do everything ceremoniously.

How can a person, always full of life, die? He never dies,…he always remains alive in all our hearts.

My dad loved to meet new people and visit new places. I was surprised at the number of people who came to pay their last tributes. I had quite underestimated his popularity in our neighbourhood.

I have learnt and imbibed a lot of things from my dad. In fact the foundation for what I do today was set by my father almost 40 years back. I remember when I was eight-year-old, I was a hyperactive child, and unable to focus on my studies. In spite of being a bright student I failed to score good grades. My teachers often complained to my parents about the mischiefs I did in school. But my dad never reprimanded me on this. Instead he made me sit one day and said, “Do you want to score well in your exams? I will show you a trick.” He said, “Close your eyes and focus at the centre of your brows for five minutes. It will help you concentrate on what you do and remember what you study”. With full trust on him, I started practicing it…and my results improved significantly. I started scoring good marks and was always amongst the top five in my class.  Focusing between the brows and experiencing the calm thereafter became an integral part of my routine. This practice sowed a seed for meditation in me. It brought a remarkable change and helped me develop a greater understanding of life.

My father was an avid reader and always dreamt of having a big library at home where he could spend most of his retired life; and I am happy, I could fulfil his dream. He  was the one who put me into the habit of reading. We had a collection of some really good books on literature, classics, philosophy, economics, history and so on. Some of his favourites were Shakespeare and Swami Vivekananda, which eventually became my favourite too. He made me memorise Mark Antony’s speech from the play Julius Caesar, “Friends, Romans, countrymen…”

He had a supremely creative side to him. He was a connoisseur of art and music, and a gifted painter. He would often be moving around, humming old Marathi and Hindi songs in the house. I have picked up this trait from him.

As a kid, I looked forward to every night, when he would cuddle me close and tell me stories from Phantom to mythology to Laurel and Hardy, gently patting me to sleep.

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He used to say, “When a son starts fitting into his father’s shoes, he no longer remains a son, he becomes a friend.” I still remember, when I was fifteen, one evening after I came back home from my classes, he said, “Let’s have a beer together”. In the setting of 1980s, hailing from a middle class Brahmin family, even uttering the word ‘alcohol’ in front of your parents was considered to be a complete disrespect to them. And there was my dad who wanted to have a glass of beer with me. I can never forget that day in my life. That particular incident dropped all the inhibitions between us and took our relationship to a new level… we became friends. After that there was nothing I needed to hide from him.

The biggest virtue I learnt from him was patience and a caring attitude. He was a 20150317_123234-1people’s person who always valued people and relationships. Once he was posted in a small town Ambikapur on a government deputation. Due to his nature, he became instantly popular amongst the people there. One day some children were playing near a well and a ten year old girl accidently fell in to the well. Everyone gathered there creating a big hue and cry. My dad’s office was close by. When he learnt about this, he ran and jumped in the well and saved the drowning girl. Such was my father. He risked his life without a second thought, to save the little girl. He was felicitated by the then collector of the town for this bravery.

My dad was a family person and bonded all of us together with love. Even after I grew up, he would make it a point to call me several times during the day. Our conversations would be like, “Did you have lunch beta (child)?”, “what time are you leaving from office?”, “where are you beta? Drive safe.” And so on. At times I would get slightly irritated and tell him, “Dad, I am grown up now. You don’t have to worry so much about me.” And his standard reply would be, “You can understand the concerns of a father only when you become one.”

Its an irony that now I am missing the same things I would get irritated upon. Dad, who will now call me and check on me, ‘Where are you beta…?’, and who will shower me with the unconditional love and who will worry about whether I had lunch, or slept well or if I am okay? Its truly said, “When your parent dies, you cease to be a child.”

If ever anything went wrong he would say, “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine.” Those words were so comforting. They gave me renewed strength to handle the challenges. But now I am really going to miss all of those.

Love you dad and will miss you forever.

One of his favourite songs ”Aayega aane wala” from movie Mahal

5 Life Lessons Straight From ICCU

 

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Recently I spent nearly twenty days in the ICCU, when my father was hospitalized. It had become a regular routine for me, to go to the hospital every morning and come back in the night. I spent most of my time there during these days. The ICCU was always bustling with activities, with critical patients being brought in all the time. Being an intensive cardiac care unit, there was always an emergency, 24/7. Though my dad was quite stable, overall it was quite a mind-numbing experience. I used to stand alongside my dad’s bed most of the time and witness all the action happening in ICCU, merely as a spectator. But I believe that every incident, person and situation brings in valuable life lessons for us to grow and evolve spiritually. My experiences there have certainly made me more humble and grateful than before.

On the very next bed to my dad’s, there was a 13-year-old boy, who was diagnosed with a hole in his heart. The family was poor and did not have enough finances for the surgery. They waited for two long months, before they were ready for it. The little boy was admitted and the surgery was scheduled for the next day. The boy seemed to be quite unaware of his situation and the happenings around. He had a very cute and innocent smile on his face. He was busy playing mobile games, while his mother kept asking him to sleep and take some rest. She was continuously stroking his head with lot of love and concern.

When I came back the next morning, the bed was empty. “Has the boy gone for the surgery?” I asked the nurse. “No sir, he passed away in the morning!” She said with a sad face. “What..???” I just could not believe what I heard. I could feel my heart shatter into thousand pieces. The least I could do was to sit there silently and pray for his soul.

There was another couple who had come from a village in Punjab. The wife was to undergo an open heart surgery. The man had sold all their property so that his wife could get the new lease of life. It is really sad that medical facilities are so expensive and unaffordable to the economically weaker section of the society. She underwent the surgery but developed complications thereafter. Her husband was very nervous and requested us to pray for his wife. In the hospitals, generally, the patient’s relatives develop an instant bond with each other, as they are going through common issues. By evening there was an emergency with the lady; while the doctors were trying to resuscitate her, relatives of all patients were asked to wait outside. About an hour later, the doctors announced that the lady was no more. Her husband was inconsolable.

During my visits to the hospital in those twenty days, I came across a lot of shaking, heart-rending, and overwhelming stories. There were a few intermittent emotional moments, when I saw rakshabandhan being celebrated in ICCU. One sister tied rakhi to her brother who was in a critical condition. She tried hard to hide her tears, wore a forced smile on her face trying to hide the feeling of uncertainty that this could even be their last rakshabandhan together.

While I saw quite a few deaths happening there, there were patients who bounced back to health and left for their homes with their loved ones. Overall it was an indelible experience.

This time spent in ICCU reiterated some of the life’s important lessons to me:

Lesson # 1 :  Live every moment fully

All that we have is the present moment. Most often we forget this and spend all the time worrying and fretting about things that may or may not happen and loose the precious moments that life offers us. Life is only happening NOW. Live it fully.

Lesson # 2 : Be grateful for the smallest things in life

Consider yourselves blessed that you are still breathing and alive. We often forget all the blessings bestowed upon us by life and only focus on the lack. But such incidents like the ones mentioned above, help us realize that just being alive and healthy itself is a huge blessing and a big enough reason to be grateful for.

Lesson # 3 : Find your purpose and follow it

If you are still breathing and alive, means you still have a purpose to be fulfilled on this planet. We all have a purpose in this lifetime. However it is important to discover that and work towards it.

Lesson # 4 : Life is transient. Be humble

Death is inevitable; irrespective of your position and socio-economic status. So always be humble, as you cannot fight this mighty force. Being humble keeps you grounded and keeps your ego at bay. You realize that you are not the doer. It is the universe that is working through you and you are just a medium for the larger plan of the universe to be fulfilled.

Lesson # 5 : You don’t carry anything to the grave, except your deeds

Be kind and good to all. Don’t be judgemental. Respect and love others unconditionally. Don’t do anything that will make you regret and feel guilty later. Your deeds, are the only things that you are going to carry to your grave.

Life is your best teacher. It will always bring you challenging situations with a hidden and priceless lessons. Be conscious and open to learning those and you will never look at life with the same eyes again.

So, here’s me signing off, wishing you a healthy happy and a regret-free life.

 

Friendship Lives In The Heart

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My dad who is 89 year old was recently recovering from pneumonia at home, after about a week of hospitalization. One day when I entered his room to give him medicines, what I saw made me really emotional. He was staring at a photograph, with tears silently rolling down his cheeks. When I went closer, I saw that my dad was staring at the picture of his best friend Mr. Gill, who passed away almost eight years back. He used to lovingly address him as Sardarji. They must have been friends for only a decade, but they bonded instantly because of their common interest, game of cricket. If they were not able to watch the match together, both our phone lines would be continuously engaged, as a parallel commentary and analysis of the match would go on between the two.

That day, my dad was terribly missing his dear friend. It was an unusual sight for me as I had never seen tears in my dad’s eyes. I could feel the intensity of his emotions. We all were there with him, but none could fill the vacuum that was created by a friend who left this world.

That is the role of friends in our life. They are a real treasure. Friends are the ones with whom you can share anything under the sun, be it your first crush, an argument with your father, your failure, or your success. They know most of your secrets. You know that your friend will not judge you by any of these things and continue to love you unconditionally. A true friend will stand by you even during your roughest and toughest times, fight with the entire world for you, and just be there for you. Their sheer presence gives you strength and comfort. A friend is an extended part of your own self.

When I think about friends and friendship, my childhood memories suddenly come alive. Since technology had not taken over our lives that time, playing outdoor games with friends was quite prevalent. I remember coming back from school, flinging the school bag, quickly changing the school uniform and running to play with friends. We would have fights on the playground both physical and verbal but everything was forgotten the moment we left the play ground. When it got too late in the evening, one of the moms would come and drive us all back home. Back then, we would just barge into our friends house any time, have food with them or demand something to eat, which the friend’s mother would lovingly cook. Even the simplest of foods would taste like nectar in the company of a friend. All this created an everlasting bond between friends. It created such a beautiful space that allowed you to be yourself. Thanks to the technology that kept that has kept the bond alive even today.

Relationships have always been the focus of my life. And I feel if you have even a few true friends in life, you are amongst the richest people. However, friendships do not happen overnight. You need to invest a lot of time and energy into it. I am fortunate and blessed to have wonderful friends. Some of my friendships have lasted for ages while some for a short period of time, but all of them have been truly soul-nourishing, something that I will cherish until my last breath.

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Every person has his/her own ways of developing friendship, but I would like to share few secrets from my life that may help you develop an everlasting, genuine and amazing friendship.

  1. Always Be There For Your Friend : Being there for a friend in need and during challenging times, deepens the bond. Sometimes you may need to go out of your way, walk an extra mile, do a little sacrifice, put others before you; but trust me it always pays in the long run. A relationship is always two-way. You receive what you give.
  2. Never Let Ego Come In Between : Remember, your friendship is much greater and valuable than your ego. Whenever you have an argument with your best friend and it impairs your relationship, try to mend it even if you think that you were not wrong. These kind of skirmishes are small to begin with but have the potential of becoming big spoilers and in breaking the relationships.
  3. Forgive Easily : ‘To err is human’, so forgive easily, as one small mistake or incident cannot have the power to ruin your friendship. Change your perspective of looking at the situation. Empathise with your friend and understand why he/she behaved the way they did. Putting yourself in that situation will make it easy for you to forgive.
  4. Spend Quality Time : Friendships are nurtured in the heart. In today’s technological world we are in touch with or friends on social media and phones. But on these platforms, we generally put up a façade and do not reveal our true feelings. To develop a deeper, genuine and authentic friendship, we need to break free from the façade and develop a heart to heart connection. This is only possible when we spend quality time with friends. Going out for a movie, or dinner or an outing or doing something of common interest works wonders
  5. Never Be Judgemental : Never form a judgement about your friend and assume things based on hearsay. Sometimes we can easily get carried away by an incident, or someone telling us something about our friend. That is the real test. Instead of believing them and being judgemental about him/her it is best to clear any misunderstanding there and then.

Wishing you a happy and enduring friendship, now and forever.

Touch Your Inner Core Through Authentic Relationships

MITS-3“The only way to have a friend is to be one…” –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recently we had a silver jubilee meet of 1990 batch of our engineering college, MITS Gwalior. The preparations started six months back; whatsapp group was formed, messages were sent, extensive plans were being discussed and so on. Everyone was charged up with excitement. It was as if all of us had travelled back in time and were experiencing the youth again. I am sure you will agree with me that the college days are the most memorable days in anyone’s life. It had been two and a half decades, and some of us had not been in touch until the world was blessed with mobile phones and social media networks. However each one of us was superlatively excited. It was as if the 1990 batch of engineering had taken a re-birth and we were back in college again.MITS-2

From our batch, some had achieved great heights in their career, some were very close to their goals, while others were still struggling to make a mark. But nothing seemed to really affect the close bond we once shared.

I was one of the very few, from my batch who had completely changed the course of life. I was a bit sceptical of how my work and I would be looked at and accepted by my alumni. Of course, some of them knew what I was doing.

I was deeply touched and pleasantly surprised, when one of my dear friends, got the 60 copies of my first book KEYS to be distributed amongst everyone present as a gift from him. My friends said that they were so happy for me and that they proudly tell their children about my achievements and what I am doing.

Those two days of the reunion we had, happened to be the most precious moments of my life. Each one of us connected at the same level where we had left. Some of the batch-mates who did not interact during the college days met each other like the best buddies. There was so much of love and respect we all shared for each other.MITS-4

Everyone present there had clearly dropped their respective status, their accomplishments and their egos the moment they boarded the flight/train to Gwalior. It was a home-coming moment for all us, as if the whole big family had united once again. We were in a space which was totally non-judgemental and non-threatening. We could be our true selves, make fun of each other, share silly jokes and burst out laughing.

I realized that I had not had a laugh from my belly since ages. Those two days of our reunion were a totally healing, empowering and enriching experience for me. We all parted from Gwalior with a strengthened bond, with a promise to be there for each other and to meet again soon.

We get so absorbed in our day to day lives, that we lose connection with ourselves. We may be connected to the whole world through the electronic media, but they also come with lot of ‘Terms & Conditions’. Most of those relationships are formal or superficial. Though the social media grants the biggest advantage of re-establishing the connections that are lost in the sands of time, it does not necessarily assure authentic relationships. I remember, when we were children, we would just barge in our friend’s house at any time and also share a meal. Needless to say, those relations have really stood strong through all the adversities. In today’s scenario, even the best friends have to plan and meet. Sometimes we don’t even meet them for ages giving the excuse of being connected electronically. But let me tell you it is highly important to meet in person. It is important to share the space and energy with people who mean a lot to you and with the people you love. It is a soulful experience.

Since we are all emotional beings, it is the need of the soul to connect to the authentic relationships. And when we do that we automatically connect to our inner core. These relationships give us the space to just be; which is important for the nourishment of the soul. As they say, no man is a failure who has friends…

Let us resolve to build and nurture such authentic relationships this year onwards….. MITS-1

Launch of my second book – MANY LIVES ONE SOUL on 11th Sep 2015

It gives me great pleasure to invite you to the launch of my second book – MANY LIVES ONE SOUL on 11th September at CROSSWORD.

This book is about Past Life Regression and promises to answer the questions that bother us such as, “Why Me?, Why Relationship issues?, Why Bad Things Happen To Good people?, Why there is Disparity in the world?” and so on based on the theory of Reincarnation and karma.

Many Lives One Soul

Book – Many Lives One Soul

Many Lives One Soul Pre Launch Offer

Many Lives One Soul Pre Launch Offer

I sincerely hope that you like the book.

Thanks for always being there and for contributing to my life’s journey.

Gratefully yours

Santosh Joshi