I am Freedom

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I am Freedom - Front cover

Publisher: Vakil's Publications
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Preface

The ancient Vedantic philosophy has been a distinct part of Indian culture for over 5,000 years. This science of thoughts was unlocked and presented to me as I was seeking a way to live life and move beyond circumstances and experiences. Humbled and blessed with this unique gift, I have written this book as my expression of love and freedom.

Your Inner Self, the power to create and be blissful is always free. Love, our core, moves silently and harmoniously amidst the perfection and order in the universe. Truth is eternal, universal and does not change. We know this and see it, yet sometimes live in denial. While accepting theories and rules of sports, science, and other worldly subjects, we sometimes tend to defy the law of being and seek to rediscover this Truth. Our conviction arises only when we experience the answers personally. What a perfectly fabulous design and play of Illusion and Reality! This is the ultimate beauty and perfection in Creation.

I am Freedom stimulates you to introspect, contemplate and reflect to discover your inner freedom. Freedom is what we desire, freedom is what we seek, freedom is what we work towards. Human beings are gifted with curiosity – turn it inward and experiment with your inner world to find your inner light and shine.

This book captures my journey of yearning for freedom from continuous hurt and agitation to understanding its meaning, discovering it within me and ultimately living with it in harmony.

The knowledge of the Truth, as presented in the scriptures – Vedas, The Bhagavat Gita, Upanishads and other religious texts – have been my guiding light. I have presented this knowledge in a simple manner to spark the inquiry within. Seek knowledge and break free! Discover your answers on various aspects of life and free yourself from day-to-day stresses, anxieties and frustrations. Re-evaluate, choose and design your life and live effortlessly with contentment and fun within a material world to accomplish success. We have the power within us to make that possible.

In Chapters One to Four, I show how we are born free and perfect. Chapters Five to Ten delve into how, as we grow, we can lose our sense of freedom and perfection. The next thirteen chapters serve as a guide on how we can recreate and restore this freedom within ourselves and the final seven chapters propel this guidance to permanently living a life of joyous harmony of freedom and perfection.

Table of Contents

  • You are Born Free!
  • You are Born Perfect!
  • You have Free Will
  • You have Freedom of Thought
  • Are You Living Freely?
  • Are You in Control of Your Life?
  • Do Your Desires Control You?
  • Is your Ego Obstructing You?
  • Are You Caught Between Success and Failure?
  • Do You Know the Purpose of Your Life?
  • You can Recreate Your Life!
  • Be Courageous
  • Let Go of Your Past
  • Build Mental Equanimity and Strength
  • Understand and Accept Yourself
  • Life is Just an Illusion!
  • Forgive Yourself
  • Surrender!
  • Free Your Self
  • Does God Exist?
  • Flow with Your Inner Self
  • Silence Your Thoughts
  • Realize Your Self Worth
  • Work Through Love and Faith
  • Be Patient
  • Be Dignified
  • Be a Leader
  • Be Peaceful
  • Grow and Contribute
  • Celebrate Life!

Sample Chapter

I was free, I am free, I will always be free.
I was Love, I am Love, I will always be Love.

For years, I just could not see it. So neither did I love freely, nor live freely. Today, I have re-discovered my freedom. I now know I have the power within me to love freely. I feel like a sailboat with wind between the sails; the ocean is my horizon and I have befriended the winds. When there is a storm, I shake, patiently weather it and wait for it to pass – I know nature’s love protects and surrounds me.

I was born with a twinkle in my eyes and a smile on my lips. I would skip my way into the hearts of people around me. I enjoyed the simple pleasures of life – singing in the school bus, chatting endlessly, reading jokes and laughing with my family. Life was indeed beautiful.

I have always been sensitive. A harsh or loud word would hurt so emotionally that I would build a wall as a self-preservation tool. I often withdrew and hesitated to express and love freely. With the experiences of life this strength slipped to becoming my largest roadblock. Although I cultivated a brave persona to mask my fears, I remained sensitive internally. I forgot to apply my mother’s wisdom and be strong internally and compassionate to the world. To be accepted, I tried hard to be good and do the right thing. My smile became hesitant and less frequent and my eyes lost their spark. I was frustrated at not being understood.

I cannot even recall when I got trapped in my illusionaryperceptions, fears, and disappointments. There was an overwhelming sense of struggle and an inadequacy to cope with what life threw at me. I felt bounced around by the tribulations of life, unaware and sometimes foolish.

A life altering experience was my wake up call. Nearly a decade ago, I had a second lease of life after nearly a hundred poisonous bees stung me outside our ondominium in Singapore. Literally, a face-off with death! It triggered me to question my sense of dissatisfaction and discontentment. I asked myself – What do I want from life?

This question unlocked a profound realization to value my life. “I want peace of mind and to die without regrets.”

I desperately wanted to reconnect with the child I was; I wanted happiness in my heart, I longed to revive the playfulness, wonderment, enjoy the laughter and smile at the simple things in life. I yearned to live my life to the fullest.

From thence began my quest to feel free and love life.

I began inquiring into the authenticity of my life – my lifestyle, relationships, aspirations, desires, and, above all, my attitude towards my life and myself. The journey had begun.

A couple of years later, I was at Henley-on-Thames (a quaint and beautiful town near London) to attend an image-management training program. In my intense excitement I would ask many questions, interrupt and remark – not aware that my demeanour was judgmental and competitive. One evening, whilst we were at dinner, one of the participants remarked that I was like a split personality – fun in the evening and skeptical in the classroom. Ouch! That hurt.

And then came the next piercing question. Our instructor (Lynne Marks, who has since been my mentor) asked me a direct and challenging question — "Whose acceptance are you waiting for?" The enormity and depth of this inquiry shook the foundation of my life. I had indeed been waiting for acceptance of many — totally unaware of the extent to which this subconscious thought had shaped my life and was reflected in my behaviour.

All of us seek acceptance of others. But wait. Do we accept and love ourselves?

What could I do differently to close this gap? An intense curiosity to seek answers propelled me towards a journey of self-discovery and transformation.

I dived into the unknown and pursued various selfdevelopment and transformation courses. Whilst attending one such program (Landmark Education), there was an exercise where I had to look into another participant’s eyes with complete ease. This intervention proved to be my moment of truth. I confronted my self at the deepest level unknown to me. Suddenly a veil got lifted and I reconnected with myself and rediscovered my inner core of Love. I felt a sense of euphoria, bliss and exhilaration as I experienced the realization that we are all born to love.

To live a full life and die without regrets, I needed to understand the purpose of life. It was a humbling revelation that till then, I had only questioned the world of objects, never my own life. I began to ask myself some crucial questions:

“Why was I born?”
“Why was I born as a human?”
“How am I different from other forms of creation?”
“How do I use my ability to think?”
“Why was I born into this family?”
“Why do certain experiences occur in my life?”
“What is the purpose of my life?”
“How do I make the most of my life?”
“How do I allow love to flow through me?”

Having rediscovered my core as love, I made a commitment to live a life of honesty with my inner self. To do this I had to introspect and inquire into my thoughts. To create space in the mind to design a new future, I had to shed the baggage of the past and move ahead. Ambitious and used to winning, I found myself losing everyday – my beliefs, my stories, my need to win, my need to be right and talk all the time. I was rediscovering myself – layer by layer.

It is not easy to introspect and accept that the underlying intentions of your actions are ego, fear, attachment and desires. Our instincts and expressions are driven by self-preservation and rarely by unconditional love because we do not understand it well.

Most of my actions arose from judgments, winning, success, competition, comparison, control and attachments. Through consistent introspection, I have been able to shift perspectives, shed negative thoughts and courageously pursue my goal. Peace of mind, I realized, comes at sacrificing your ego at the highest altar.

Do I regress? Of course – I am human after all. However, I now know that the secret to recreating is within me. I simply need to be curious, open to failure like a child who learns to walk only after making a game out of it and fearlessly keep striving. I now know that there is a world out there to support me, I will never be alone, I simply have to reach out. Above all, I have learnt to express gratitude for the abundance in my life.

When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die – Eleanor Roosevelt

I have written this book with a desire to share and make a difference to as many people as I can. I have met many wise people, who have held my hand, embraced me with love and guided me with words of wisdom. Through each one of them, I rediscovered goodness, love, courage and above all, faith.

This book is a dedication to all those who have played a significant role in shaping me to be the person that I am today – my parents (who gave me birth, values and abundant love), my husband (my inspiration and love), my children (my joy and love), my friends (my circle of fun), my mentor (who has showered me with unconditional love), my spiritual masters (who showed me the light in moments of darkness) and above all, The Universal Love, God.

I read a very beautiful poem that aptly summarizes this journey.

God Said "No"

I asked God to take away my pain
God said, No
It is not for Me to take away, but for you to give it up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child okay
God said, No
His spirit is okay, his body is only temporary.
I asked God to give me patience
God said, No
Patience is a by-product of tribulations, it isn’t granted, it is learnt.
I asked God to give me happiness
God said, No
I give you blessings, happiness is up to you.
I asked God to spare me pain
God said, No
You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make
you fruitful.
I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life
God said, No
I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.
I asked God to help me love others, as much as He loves me
God said... Aah finally you have an idea!

- Speaking Tree, Times of India, August 21, 2011

Back Cover

I am Freedom stimulates you to introspect, contemplate and reflect to discover your inner freedom. Freedom is what we desire, freedom is what we seek, freedom is what we work towards. Human beings are gifted with curiosity – turn it inward and experiment with your inner world to find your inner light and shine.

Seek knowledge and break free! Discover your answers on various aspects of life and free yourself from day-to-day stresses, anxieties and frustrations. Re-evaluate, choose and design your life and live effortlessly with contentment and fun within a material world to accomplish success. We have the power within us to make that possible.

“Ashu Khanna, in her book “I am Freedom”, has distilled the wisdom of all the scriptures and presented it to us in a very simple way, with some very deep thoughts, that can be understood by everybody. Hers is a very practical book, wherein she explained “real life” situations by sharing her own experiences. It is a book which gives the reader freedom from fear and disappointments and fills him/her with optimism and courage.”

Mr. Ajay G. Piramal
Chairman, Piramal Enterprises Limited

“For happiness, joy and evolution.... It is important to live a life of mindfulness.Mindfulness is an outcome of correct thinking and correct action. You can achieve that through checking your own behavior and mind from time to time. Ashu’s book will help you create the direction.”

Mr. Analjit Singh
Founder & Chairman, Max India

“This book will appeal to all on a spiritual journey irrespective of how much distance one has travelled. The power of the book is in the authenticity of experiences described and the courage of self-disclosure in a most honest fashion.Everyone can relate to some or most of Ashu’s experiences and get help for accelerating their spiritual progress.”

Mr. Akhil Gupta
Senior Managing Director & Chairman, Blackstone India

Testimonials

Ashu as my executive coach has had a profound impact on my Professional & Personal life. Ashu's tools are simple conversations & powerful questioning, which makes you dig deep and reflect about ourselves in the context of the ecosystem we all exist. I have a lot to thank Ashu for helping me in my journey to be a better "me" & look forward to my continued association with her.

Vivek Venkatachalam

MD, IOT Infrastructure & Energy Services Ltd

...having Ashu as your coach is a God send. Because, Ashu's primary focus is not limited to addressing the immediate areas of concern but to transform you inside out. She helps you (if you let her) discover and reinforce your own core beliefs, values and approaches. Her approach is to focus on you such that you can grow across all dimensions, making you capable of reaching the "here" seamlessly… and empowering you to reach the future "theres" as well!

Rajeev Ved

VP & Country Head Ansaldo STS

Knowing and working with Ashu has been a personally and professionally enriching experience. Her worldview has a deep philosophical underpinning and is informed by clarity of thought and tempered by strong sense of honesty, compassion and generosity. Ashu has the desire and the ability to make a difference.

Mr. Jaideep Khanna

CEO & Country Head India, Investment & Corporate Bank, Barclays Capital India

Ashu has worked as a coach with my team on a few occasions to help improve teamwork and team dynamics. Working with a group of type A investment bankers can be pretty tough. Ashu was able to draw out the team to share their views openly in a constructive manner.

Mr. V Anantharaman

MD & Regional Head - Origination and Client Coverage & Co-Head - Wholesale Banking, South Asia, Standard Chartered Bank

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© 2015 Ashu Khanna. All rights reserved.