I desperately wanted to get admission to the DM Neurology course, one of the toughest known. The entrance for only 6 available seats in India then was attended by many hundred doctors who had passed their MD. The results came on a stormy rainy evening, there was a chance: I intensified my prayers.
The interviews left me stranded on the high edge: I was first on the waiting list for Neurology. I returned with a heavy heart to Aurangabad, and joined a private medical college as a lecturer, just to buy time. I started preparing for the next entrance, to be held a year later. The feeling of “not having what you want” is the worst in the world. You know it, I don’t have to explain!
A loner, I sank further into studies, and my calendar was full of studying, teaching and attending my toddler son. I was posted in a new unit, I was told the new boss would be a little “surprising”.
I met Dr. C. S. Shah, professor of medicine next morning. He had a Roger-Moorish mocking expression perpetually upon his smiling face. An excellent clinician himself, he had his own mysterious style of behaviour and speech, and the best part of it was he was completely unconcerned what people thought of him. Still more enviable, he didn’t think at all about them.
“Why are you stressed?” He asked one day after the rounds, as we had a light OPD. I told him I desperately wanted to get into DM Neurology course, but was waiting because there were only 6 seats in the country then. He asked “So what? Study all the Neurology you want and practice it… who is going to stop you?” “But sir, people look at the degree” I replied .
“That is why you will always be stressed. People.” He laughed at me.
“Give it up” he said.
“What?” the dumb me.
“Your desire to do DM Neurology. Give it up” he replied with his trademark mysterious smile.
If it was anyone else, I would have lost my mind. But this was a person I respected.
“I won’t be at peace with myself sir” I replied.
“Are you at peace with yourself now? Have you ever tried giving up what you desperately want just because your arrogant mind wishes it?” he asked me.
I had never. I remembered my favourite quote from Einstein’s book “Ideas and Opinions”: “Man can indeed do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wants”: profound words by Schopenhauer!
I was not prepared to. This was one of my fondest wish: to attain the highest in Neurology education, and DM was an essential step for later plans.
Once we spoke about prayers, I told him my efforts and failures about meditation and “Kundalini Jagruti”. One of my early mentors Dr. P. D. Purandare had encouraged me to read J. Krishnamurty, and I had attempted “feeling one with eternity” for many times, without success.
“Because you are not prepared” Dr. C.S Shah answered immediately.
“For feeling one with all, you cannot have a selfish intention that can harm anyone else. You eat killed animals, how will any animal feel one with you? If you take what belongs to others, if you want to be better than everyone else by showing them down, why will they feel one with you? Inner peace has a price: you cannot hurt or deceive anyone” he added.
It was difficult to follow this in a competitive world where the ability to cleverly deceive others is considered smartness, and to diplomatically market that ability has become the gold standard for most businesses. Honesty and loyalty are considered weaknesses in a world that faces the worst addiction humanity knows yet: money.
But the divinity of good is that it seeps into your soul, whether you like it or not, and even the bad ultimately knows to respect the good. I gradually started realising what a grand difference it makes to myself, to not harm others by even a word, by making choices based upon honesty and trust.
Dr. Shah often told me: “Give up your desire.. it kills you…you will get whatever you want only if you pursue it with a neutral interest, with a readiness to let it go. The more you run after something, the more difficult it will get for you. Nothing is more important than your peace of mind. Don’t sell it for anything else in life”.
He took me to the Ramakrishna math (monastery), where he had found his inner peace. It was such a joy to let the silence soak your being, a flood of realisations that woke me up to what life had to offer and how my stubborn wishes had suffocated my own possible futures. To let go is not always weakness, it is also a sign of higher maturity. A loser or a coward lets go for fear but a winner lets go for a better life.
There, in complete silence, I made a decision that a million words and thoughts had been unable to make: I wanted to move ahead, and even my best dream couldn’t be an obstacle in the path for a good tomorrow. Dreams were not meant to stop my life.
I resigned and went to Nanded, joined one of the best hospitals there and started working with a cardiologist who wanted to pursue a social career. He offered me to take over his hospital.
On 7th January 1999, my birthday, I signed a contract with him. I had also finished a religious book as planned, and my parents were very happy about all this.
On 8th January, I received a telegram:
“You are selected for D.M. Neurology at KEM hospital and Seth G.S. Medical college Mumbai. Please report immediately”.
I called Dr. C. S. Shah sir, and told him I got DM after ‘giving it up’.
“Now give up your dream of a happy life” he said.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande