Taraka, the demon king, is Indra’s most dangerous enemy. Only a son from Lord Shiva can kill Taraka. But Shiva has no desire to father a child. No amount of seduction from Indra’s apsaras or arrows of Kama (Cupid’s bow for the West) affect Him. In fact, this relentless effort of Indra frustrates Him enough to open His third eye and reduce Kama to ash.
Lord Vishnu then takes help from the Goddess, who dons the avatar of Kamakshi. She doesn’t approach Shiva as a damsel, but as a a devotee. Impressed by Her devotion, Shiva marries Her and they together produce Kartikeya, who becomes the devas’ commander-in-chief and goes on to kill Taraka.
Kamakshi transforms Shiva the hermit, into Shankar the householder. She leads Him from the icy and isolated peak of Kashi to the great marketplace city of Kashi. How? Is it because She is a woman?
Indra doesn’t care for others’ needs. His short-sightedness prevents him from seeing things from different perspectives. According to Him, every male can be manipulated into seduction by his legion of apsaras. But when He encounters someone as contended as Shiva, He fails. Vishnu, on the other hand, addresses the needs of others. He realizes that only Shiva’s knowledge can teach Indra the futility of seeking happiness through wealth and pleasure, and the importance of widening His gaze.
To find solutions to problems, we must look at them from different perspectives. Looking at the world through a single lens makes everything appear the same. To see things differently, you must perceive them differently. To develop a vivid and unique perception, you must add certain tools to your arsenal.
1. Smell the roses
A man played six intricate Bach pieces for 45 minutes at a Washington DC metro station. It was rush hour on a cold January morning. Thousands of people passed him by. One man stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried along. A woman threw a dollar in the violin’s trunk without stopping. Only children stopped and listened, before being pushed by their parents to continue walking. Two days before, this young man, Joshua Bell, had played at a sold out theater in Boston with seats averaging $100 each.
We’re so engrossed in our own worries and life that we fail to notice the roses. In the Washington metro case, the roses were six brilliant music compositions, being played by a legend, on a $3.5 million violin! Take time off your busy schedule to appreciate what seems insignificant. When you appreciate things around you, it’s easier to face life’s challenges with self confidence and assurance.
2. Try different experiences
To discover what made innovators different, Harvard researchers spent six years interviewing more than three thousand executives. They found that the number one skill is “associating”: the ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas. Fresh inputs trigger new associations; for some, these lead to novel ideas.”
Dozens of people saw the graphical user interface at the Xerox PARC facility. But Steve Jobs perceived it differently, which led to the personal computer revolution. You don’t have to be an innovator like Steve Jobs was to see things differently. Just expose yourself to different experiences. Meet people outside your inner circle, attend different events… do something new once a week. The more you try new experiences, the easier ‘associating’ is. You will understand people better, and the brain’s synapses will help you find more creative solutions to your problems.
3. Turn towards the challenge
Our first impression when we encounter a challenge is flight. We procrastinate even while thinking about it. Procrastination is important, according to Adam Grant, because it fuels creativity. However, procrastination even while thinking about the challenge is harmful. By the time you have to address the problem, it has turned into an 800-pound gorilla.
Instead of running away from a challenge, turn your torso towards it. This helps you develop a deeper capacity to deal with it effectively. What was once impossible now becomes possible; what was difficult becomes easier. This internal strength also helps you build self confidence, which further helps you grow stronger.
4. Take your time
“The problem is, you think you have time.” The internet attributes this quote to Gautam Buddha. But I can’t believe that he would say something like that. People who think that they don’t have enough time take knee-jerk, impulsive action almost always. They try the same tried-and-failed methods and expect different results.
By being hurried, you thwart your chances of success. You cut corners and make mistakes, which you pay for dearly later. The slower you go, the sooner you get there. If you don’t believe me, rewind a few decades to a childhood story. Who won in the race between the hare and the tortoise?
5. Accept failure
No one gets it right every time. Even Steve Jobs didn’t. Heard of MobileMe and the Twentieth Anniversary MacIntosh? You will try, you will fall. But unless you are dead, you can bounce back. Experience teaches you that there is no success without failure.
A compassionate and discerned attitude towards yourself will help you accept, and learn from, failure. Instead of looking at yourself as a victim, you become a student of life. This expands your horizons and helps you develop the perspective needed to see things differently.
6. Recondition your thoughts
Indra wanted Shiva to mate and have a child who could kill the asura, so that He could enjoy Amravati (Heaven). Kamakshi wanted Shiva to keep asuras from taking over Amravati and wreaking havoc. The former only cared about Himself, the latter cared for the greater good. Who succeeded?
It’s important to ask yourself why you want to do something. If you think “everyone is out to get me”, it shows. In turn, you will try to manipulate people. Change the way you look at things, and life changes. Do what mutually benefit everyone, and help will always make itself available in unexpected ways when you face a challenge.
Life doesn’t throw curveballs because it wants to hurt you. Instead, it wants you to evolve. Evolution is why you can read this, and don’t have to deer with Neanderthals. To continue your journey of evolution, you must get out of the confines of the same cubicle or environment. Animals have the same limbic brain as us. Perspective and rationale are what separate us from them. It’s time you changed your lens to look at life.
Which are the most memorable moments when you handled a problem in life creatively? What do you think led to it? Do share your experience as a comment. I would love to hear from you.
Featured image: tesmall