A Prayer

Prayers come in all forms — some big and some small. As children, we want a lot of things — to be successful, to be rich, to be popular, to love and be loved, to travel around the world, to be perfect and so on. But does wealth really bring happiness? Does love make us contended and give us peace? What about success and popularity? Do they satisfy us? Who bothers about these things at that age?

Wisdom comes with experience and, sadly, not necessarily with age. The more difficult the experience, the more we learn from it. So, with the relentless knocks of life and advancing years, I realised that most of the things I had craved for were either transient or downright undesirable. I know, I know! All those admonishments I had heard about them being so had never penetrated my thick skull, till life knocked sense into it.

As we grow older our prayers metamorphose from the material and selfish, into intangible ones, seeking clarity of mind and the welfare of those around us.  I had been feeling good about the last, till I read an article about prayers by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. Apparently, all prayers are self centred no matter for whom you pray! When you see someone suffering, you also suffer because you are human. You want the other person to be happy which means you want to be happy….. My prayer therefore is to help prevent or bear that (my) suffering.

As selfish as they are, I take comfort from the fact that they help me in becoming a better person and so I am sharing them here with you.

Detachment:

Desirable as it is, love can suck you into its vortex and spin you out of control and that is a dangerous thing. When that happens, you can get hurt, turn possessive or smother those you love.

In my new found wisdom, I have realised that detachment is the key. Love with detachment is also unconditional because it releases both the lover and the loved from any kind restrictive binding. Being detached, one does not feel taken for granted or get hurt by those who reject the love. Detachment is especially necessary for those who are caregivers, whether at home or outside. Even those who are in social work, need a measure of detachment, lest the sufferings of those they are helping, overwhelms them.

So my first prayer is: God, give me detachment, and the courage to look from afar at those whom I love, if going too near is making them claustrophobic. After all, a handful of sand drains away fast when held tightly in the fist.

Contentment

Is there anything as ‘enough’ when it comes to material wealth and possessions? As we crave for and get more, we end up being proportionately more dissatisfied and there is no contentment. Contentment here is not to be confused with passivity, as it is being happy with what you have while still striving to improve your lot in the material sense. Only, the striving stops short of greed and discontent.

So please God, give me contentment and happiness with what I have — both material and otherwise.  And give me a generous heart to share what I have in humility and gratefulness, for being able to, instead of a sense of charity or a feeling of superiority.

Imperfection

Why would anyone ask for imperfection, you wonder? I once had wanted to be a perfectionist – in everything I did. However, I soon realised that it is not a virtue and being an order-freak can be downright undesirable. For it fosters intolerance, impatience, smugness and contempt for anything or anyone one considers less than perfect. I also discovered that perfection is subjective and hence there is no such thing as absolute ‘perfection.’ What one might find as being perfect might fall short of another’s parameters. Besides, it is too fraught with tension —  those who are hung up on order and perfection can create tension for others, if not for themselves! A major offshoot of perfectionism is a monster sized ego. And that is something I want to save myself from, under all circumstances.

So my next prayer is: God, make me imperfect if perfection inflates my ego, breeds intolerance, ridicule, smugness and condescension towards those whom I consider beneath my standards of perfection. Instead let me see the beauty in imperfection — a twisted branch, an imperfect vase and a limping gait or crooked teeth. Please keep me from the isolation that perfection and the attendant arrogance it breeds.

Success

No, I am not asking for success, but for the opposite. When I had been young, I had craved to be recognised as an achiever. But alas, it never happened. However, in hindsight, I am glad that it didn’t, for it spared me the ills limelight brings in its wake — the need to perform consistently to conform to the expectations of others, the pressure of being the cynosure of all eyes and the attendant emotions — both positive and negative. I find that these are too high a price to pay for success. I have done quite a lot in life, but quietly and without pressure. And I am grateful to God for that.

So God, please let me remain unknown and unsung – an ordinary, average person. And if you do give me popularity, do give me the humility to acknowledge and thank all those who have made me popular, and to take bouquets and brickbats with equanimity and grace.

Hey! I just realised that all these prayers can be condensed into a single one: God please nip my ego in bud. For, isn’t ego at the root of the desire for success, love, possessions and everything else that makes one look good?

And on that note, I will take your leave, for it is time for my daily fix....

Homepage image courtesy: sojo.net

68 comments

  1. For me “Prayer” is like connecting with GOD..not asking for anything else.

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    1. That is so wonderful, Poonam. How I would love to reach that stage of communion with God!

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  2. Beautiful prayer, Zephyr. The first paragraph reminded me of a Hindi Film called ‘Life mein Kabhi Kabhi’ – it had made a deep impact on me years back. Watch it if you get a chance – didn’t get popular, no big names. Yet, a film with a message.

    I could so relate to the imperfection. Yes, striving for perfection for myself has led me to expect the same from others but in addition, it makes me expect that things should be done the way I would do them. Impatience, tolerance tag along. Yes, I wish I could give that up too! Detachment is something that makes me sad, but what you say is true. It is extremely necessary if we do want to end up doing something good. If we end up getting overwhelmed ourselves, what good will that do.

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    1. Good to see you here, Deepa 🙂 Thanks for sharing the name of the movie. I will try to see it. Unfortunately, some good movies get lost in the mass of popular ones, don’t they? I agree that striving for perfection is counterproductive — even for ourselves.

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  3. remo1323 · · Reply

    Love the post. I invariably alway take back something with me when I visit your blog.

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words of appreciation 🙂

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  4. Amazing post.. I have always wished to of for all three of this.thanks for sharing your prayer… It’s wonderful how you have summed up everything in a nutshell so well.. I learnt a lot from your post.. New to your blog.. Superb blog.. Keep writing..

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    1. Thanks for the visit and the comment, colorsaroundmysoul! I am glad you liked the post. Do visit again 🙂

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  5. Well this certainly is a prayer I could ask for the many things you mentioned. My prayers are often answered, but in a round about way. Not always a pleasant outcome, but brings into my life what I had prayed for and that is a closer connection to God. I find one that suffers tends to spend more time trying to stay connected with God. When one is happy and carefree, one tends to forget the precious gift of life we were given and rushes through life without ever stopping and reflecting on those moments of growth. So I find circumstances always thrown into my life to keep me in check with God so that I speak or pray to him more often. But so true, money, love, happiness doesn’t always bring satisfaction. One has to be reminded constantly otherwise we wonder off our path. I thank you so much for such a wonderful reminder of what we should pray for.

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    1. So good to see you here after a long time, Carrie 🙂 We do tend to take life for granted when things go smoothly, don’t we? But often too many of us complain that God doesn’t bother about us when we suffer instead of asking for help. It is hard, very hard to pray without asking for something material, but that is the only way to pray, isn’t it?

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  6. sridevi1974 · · Reply

    Dear Zephyr , I used to have all these discussions/debates with my grandfather , when I was very young . Now almost twenty years later , I am beginning to understand what he was trying to tell me all along . Am I practicing it ? No , still feel I have a long way to go . But at least now I feel I am ready to try 🙂

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    1. Oh, I argued and debated with my father too in my naivete when I was a teenager 🙂 But it takes years of knocking around by life to get you on the track towards something higher. I am sure you will find it rewarding to try. Good to see you here, Sri!

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  7. Hi, beautifully said. For some people, prayers brings peace and create positive energy in the surrounding:)
    Cheers
    Vishal

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    1. Glad you liked the post, Vishalbheeroo. Prayers are always full of positive energy, which is why I like going to places of worship 🙂

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  8. Prayers that are offered from the heart never go unanswered Aunty and no wonder, all of yours have been well looked into. 🙂 I also try though, whenever I can but have a long way to go – in age , wisdom as well in experience. What I understand though, is that prayers do not always necessarily need to revolve around ‘wanting or gaining’ things, sometimes asking God to help us in losing certain things can lead us to gain everything else, automatically. Like ego. Losing our ego can help set so many of our thoughts straight and actually give us so much more in life… from life than what we might get if we simply kept craving for them. Such a beautiful thought. A very beautiful and unique post, Aunty. Gives a lot to think and ponder. Big bear tight hugs to you, take care. 🙂

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    1. You have got the gist of it beautifully, Arti. Thanks for liking the post. Hugs right back 🙂

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  9. Thank you Zephyr for this. I am really teary eyed and have to wipe them off (since am in the clinic )
    It is true. I ask for all you ask but I find detachment to be the hardest. I try to tell myself this but it is always a work in progress…. I must admit I still ask for success, not fame so much but more of being able to do the things I have always wished to do.

    Prayers do change with experience, readings, listening to others and some introspection. The transformation is beautiful because somehow you seem to feel good from within when you step into this new zone, with lesser strings and lesser conditions to be happy.

    Beautiful post. It is really wonderful to read you, always! I pray that God always grants your prayers, Zephyr!

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    1. You were one of the people I was thinking about when I wrote this post, Toffee. And you typically picked up the part about detachment. For someone who works for others who are differently-abled, it must be so hard to dissociate from their pain. Detachment is so necessary for professionals like you, dear. And I am sure you will be able to find that particular prayer answered soon. Thank you so much for your wishes about my prayers being answered 🙂

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  10. Zephyr Aunty – A brilliant post as usual..I am going to bookmark this post and read it often…I totally agree that ego is the main culprit for all the problems…But what I ask for is the attitude of gratitude. There is no use asking God more and more things when you can’t appreciate what you already have.

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    1. Hey Sia, so nice to see your here! You are very right. We should learn to be grateful and appreciate what we have before asking for more. But our super ego doesn’t let us rest till we achieve the most, does it? 🙂

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  11. A beautiful post, Aunty, as always! 🙂

    What I always pray for is the ability to accept, without hassles, what I know I cannot change in life, the ability to change what I want to and can indeed change, and the wisdom to differentiate between the two. I read this somewhere, and thought it made perfect sense.

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    1. Thanks for liking the post, TGND. The serenity prayer is the best, but I need to have specific things to ask for and work for 🙂 So I ask for these things and then try to work towards achieving the goal!

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  12. A prayer coming from heart sincerely gets answered by God

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    1. Very true, Chowlaji 🙂

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  13. Prayers are always accompanied with a long shopping list to God.But yours had just four items and finally reduced to one.Nipping the ego in bud to help renouncing all desires.If only we could accomplish it we would be better persons.
    Beautifully written.

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    1. Actually the last line came to me as I was going to publish the post 🙂 More than even giving up desire, it is being realistic about what we want to accomplish, that matters. Thanks for liking it, KP.

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  14. Gratitude for what one has, keeping the ego at an arm’s distance and humility are virtues and hope god grants enough of these! A lovely post as usual but after a long gap! Hope you are well, Zephyr:)

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    1. Amen to that prayer. I am fine, Rahul, thanks so much for the concern 🙂

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  15. What a lovely post, Mani.
    God has already answered your prayers. He has granted you the greatest gift of all, wisdom.

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    1. How I wish your observation were true! It is a constant struggle to reach the first step. As I said, I have suddenly become aware that my ego is the roadblock to attainment of any kind of serenity in the business of life.

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  16. I don’t pray very often but whenever I do, I start with gratitude.
    Beautiful post Zephyr.

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    1. That is how it should begin and continue being too, Amit. But then comes a time, when the need for a more clarity of mind and vision is felt to guide our actions vis-a-vis those whom we come in contact with. It is then that these prayers come handy. I am happy you liked it.

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  17. Maybe, I silently prayed for a post like this and God just answered! Thanks for writing this one.

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    1. What a sweet comment, Akanksha! I am glad it found resonance in your heart.

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  18. To be honest (not to say I’m not otherwise on the comments), I find prayers to be boring, repetitive, redundant, and completely, utterly, useless.

    When a demand is made to the courts for getting what is yours by right but not made available to you by the laws of the land, that is termed a prayer. In its simplest definition, a prayer is an earnest request to a higher authority to execute a task which would otherwise be difficult for you to carry out. I have two problems – disconnects if you may – with that.

    First, I don’t really believe in an all-encompassing entity. My belief in religion lies in the ultimate law that every living entity answers to, in its simplest form uttered as ‘Do that to others as you would want others to do with you.’ Even the greatest entity would be subservient to this law. I’d rather live my life as per the spirit of this law than pray to a God who too is bound by it.
    Second, I don’t believe that there exists a task that would be difficult for you to carry out… So, pray for the strength to execute that, I hear someone saying. Er, what will give you that strength? Why don’t you work to get that, I say. We can continue this ‘Pray for this, Work to get that’ cycle till we reach the smallest atom required to get your first prayer. And I believe it will be sweeter for that if you spent your time working for it rather than praying for it.

    Reminds me of a joke, too. (Sometimes even I get amazed at the different random neurons that my mind bridges to make such connects ;))
    One Sunday, a man prayed to God to ensure he won the lottery. Nothing happened. He prayed again the next week. Again, nothing. And so on, for a few weeks. Pray to win the lottery, and nothing happens.
    Frustrated, he finally asked God why He wasn’t hearing the prayers. The skies split apart, the clouds thunder, the earth trembles, and God speaks: “You idiot! Why don’t you buy a lottery ticket in the first place?!”

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    1. Ah, a Harshal comment, that requires all my mental and cerebral prowess to understand, leave alone reply 😀 You are not honest just in your comments but in everything you do!

      I understand your disconnect as you don’t believe in God. But there is something that governs the universe — call it nature, the soul or the ‘ultimate law’. All our actions are the the reactions of other actions, right? And if we ended up doing unto others what others do unto us, we might well have a condition of perpetual anarchy or complete peace and harmony. Am I right so far? You have asked me to pray for the strength to bear the burden of a hard task. Sometimes it is difficult to even know that you need wisdom and not strength to get over a difficult patch. As someone who is into deep meditation techniques, you would agree that sometimes we hark inwards to dig up reserves of strength and wisdom. Even that is a form of prayer, if you find the concept of God unacceptable.

      And finally, I haven’t said anywhere that we should simply sit and pray — striving is of utmost importance as you have rightly pointed out.

      …now tell me, have I understood your comment and replied reasonably lucidly? 🙂

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      1. Quite well, in fact.

        My disconnect does not lie with prayer, sometimes that gives us a way to tide over the time required to wait out the potholed periods.

        What irks me is that instead of working it out, people tend to spend their time praying for a large pothole to disappear from their lives. If only they spent that time in defining what they needed to do to remove that pothole, they could break it down into smaller portions of the larger problem – each manageable in its own size, and then when one by one each issue is managed, voila, the pothole has disappeared!

        And as the bard put it, a rose by any other name… What some may call a prayer (for the theists) would be a period of introspection (for the newfangled agnostics) or brainstorming with the self (for those business-theory minded) or whatever – as long as at the end of that session, you get up and get to work, I’m ok with whatever you’ve named it.

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        1. Not everyone sits on their hands and prays idly. Most of us do it and then get on with the business of daily life. So it is not fair to say that all those who pray don’t act. There have been innumerable times when prayer has given me a direction, a way out of problems and at times even acceptance when no action was either possible or of any use. And since you have summed up your comment saying the same thing, I rest my case 🙂

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  19. Good to see this post and it is wise and profound . May God give you peace Zephyr :)loved every line in this post .

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    1. Ah peace! Isn’t that what we all crave for? Thanks for the wishes and for appreciating the post, Jaishree 🙂

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  20. Often what we seek via our prayers is happiness, comfort and well being. Most pray out of fear or greed. But when one is seeking detachment and contentment, prayer becomes a source of pure joy. A lovely post Zephyr.

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    1. Like the great spiritual master said, even these prayers are selfish, since we seek something for ourselves. But I take comfort in the fact that it at least sounds altruistic 🙂

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  21. “Thank You, O Lord! for whatever you’ve given me, and thank You, in advance for whatever you are going to” – This is what I used to pray for a long time, whenever I passed a temple or was asked to pray/prayed.

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    1. 🙂 Better cover all the bases, right? Good to see you here, Sajal!

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      1. Yeah! 😀
        Origin: The fact that we always find time to curse the Lord for when times are not favourable and never otherwise!

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        1. Interestingly, I never blamed God for misfortunes, in my exalted state of ego 🙂 But I sure remembered to thank Him when something nice happened 🙂

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  22. Lovely post !
    Agree wholeheartedly !

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    1. What? So many people agreeing? I thought there would be some disagreements… 😀

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  23. One of my biggest fears, like yours, is whether I will become very popular sometime in the future. I know it sounds more like fantasy than fear, but I have already realized the ills that would accompany fame. And also, I hate to put in all that work. Talk about being wise!! 😛

    Destination Infinity

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    1. You dear friend, are quite young and accomplished enough to become very popular 🙂 My best wishes for that day soon. And since you are worried about the attendant problems of popularity, you will do well, don’t worry!

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  24. Nice post as usual.

    humility and patience are what I pray for. Interestingly I notice that when you seek some qualities or virtue, it’s not that you are filled with those suddenly, but life seems to put you in situations in which you need to practice those qualities that you seek. This has been one of my recent learning for myself.

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    1. I have missed you here Sharbori. I am glad you have taken time off to comment in the recent posts 🙂 I love this observation of yours about being put in situations where one is required to practise what one seeks. It is sort of like being tested to see if one is qualified to possess them, right? Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  25. Awww….BM…I don’t know what to say..I am Muted. Your post says it all, how wise you have become after all these years, with experience, not age 🙂 I need to practice contentment…

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    1. I am only trying to look and sound wise, Latha 😉 Don’t add to my ego by inflating it, ok? 😀

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  26. Beautiful post, Zephyr! It has been a really long time since I prayed for myself, for others I do. But you really put things into perspective. What lovely and deep thoughts have gone into the things that you’ve said in this post. For once I am speechless. Your post does say it all eloquently.

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    1. …and that is a first from one of my most regular and prolific commenters. I always look forward to something different in your responses. but I am happy that you agree with what I have written. It has been in the making for a long time and has undergone several revisions — in keeping with my growing wisdom (??) 😀

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  27. I usually start my prayer with a high-five to God, because I am grateful to be alive one more day. So gratitude for everything I have. Then, I move on to a list of requests for my family and friends. And finish off with thanks again. So selfishness is the core of most of our actions and thoughts, Zephyr. We can’t get away from that, because everything we do has a purpose. Most of the time, anyway. Letting go is the Holy Grail. At this point in my life I am trying to practice detachment. It is tough. Very tough.

    So wonderful to see your post. Hugs! Hope you’re keeping well. Will email you! Love, Vidya

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    1. Hi Vidya, lovely to see you here!

      Detachment is very tough, especially since it is too close to renunciation and rejection. My ‘guru’ keeps exhorting me to practice it and I am trying….That’s why I need God’s help. Waiting for that mail 🙂

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  28. Fully understand and agree.

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    1. What? No disagreement? I would have loved to have a different point of view 🙂

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  29. I am going to read this post of yours often, Zephyr…I too agree that ego is the main culprit for spoiling our nature. I try to be easily approachable by everyone. I too was a cleanliness freak once upon a time. My husband used to say that I wanted the house to be like a hospital. I have changed now. Still there are lots of things to be changed!

    Loved this post, Zephyr.

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    1. Thanks Sandhya. It is good to share what we have learnt/are learning from the knocks (sometimes knockout punches) that life delivers us. But it is so hard to control the ego. When great men and women have had to try for years to master it, where do we, mere mortals stand? Still, as you say, we have a lot to change in ourselves and hence a long way to go 🙂

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  30. Hear! Hear!

    My favorite prayer has been the serenity prayer – “God give me the courage to change that which can be changed, the patience to endure that which cannot be changed and the wisdom to know the difference”

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    1. ..and when you get the wisdom, all else will fall into place, right? 🙂

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  31. A post worth the wait!You have encapsulated so well,all that one should ask from God.
    You know what i ask from God–that we should all be blessed with good sense(sadbudhhi).Seeing the atrocities happening all round us,this is my prayer for everyone.

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    1. That is a lovely thing to ask for, Indu. In fact it sounds even better and less pompous than my asking for nipping my ego 😀 I guess the more experience in life, the more wisdom one garners. By that yardstick I have a long way to go to reach where you have 🙂 *bows deeply*

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  32. Gratitude I think is the most important thing in a prayer and in life…

    Great post!

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    1. Hey Rahul, nice to see you here after a long time! Gratitude is a great thing in a prayer, but with experience, you realise that you need to downsize the ego 🙂

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