Life Is a Gift…Living Is an Art
Dr G Om Prakasham
Chairman, Lotus Wellness
Consultant Cardiac Surgeon

What is a gift?
If we buy something for ourselves, it is purchase, and cannot be called a gift. Basically, a gift is given by someone else; given out of love. A bribe, though given by someone else, is not a gift, because there is an ulterior motive and an expectation behind the giving. A donation may not be gift because someone may have asked for it or even forced us to give it! When giving comes from the heart and out of love, when no one demands, and yet you give because you feel like giving, then it is a gift.

Life is the most precious gift
As living beings, it is clear that we have life in us, but we cannot claim any right over it. The fact that we are living enables functions like seeing, hearing , feeling, touching, smelling, acting, reacting, responding and achieving. Without life, what can one do? Life is most precious. When I get up, I feel that I am alive, and when I go to sleep, I have the expectation that I will wake up.

The medical profession that helps to sustain life evokes a great deal of respect in everybody, because life is so precious. We are willing to pay any price to preserve. Once, a bone got stuck in a man’s throat and he almost choked. A doctor removed the bone surgically and saved his life. When he asked the doctor how much he should pay him, the doctor replied, “Pay me at least half of what you were willing to pay when the bone was still in your throat!”

Who gave us this gift?
Only when there is life in us, everything else becomes possible. I did not buy this life. I cannot truly say that my parents gave it to me. I did not create it and cannot take credit for it. I may have created a lot of confusion in my life, but did not create life! It is a gift – but from whom? Who gave it to me? People with faith say that god gave it. Atheists say nature gave it. Whether it is nature’s gift or god’s gift it is a gift. And whenever we receive such a precious present, we must know how to use it.

Easy to destroy, difficult to create.
It is very easy to abuse, misuse, not use or even destroy life. While making good use of life is difficult, destroying it is easy. Gautama Buddha was passing through a forest when the dreaded Angulimala, who killed people and wore a necklace made from their fingers, lived. No one had the courage to go through that forest. Angulimala saw Buddha, and was surprised to see him so calm, collected and without fear.

He confronted him, “Are you not afraid? My name is Angulimala!”
“Yes, I have heard of you. What do you do?” said Buddha.
“I kill.”
“Great indeed is your strength!” replied Buddha and showed him a branch of tree and ask him to break it. Angulimala broke it.
“Can you join it back and make it a living thing?” Asked Buddha.
“No,” replied the puzzled Angulimala, “I never thought of it”.
Buddha pointed out, “What is so great about your strength? You can only destroy and kill, but cannot give life!”
Angulimala fell at Buddha’s feet and became a changed person.

Gratitude for the gift of life:
When someone gives us a gift we say, “Thank you”. We feel happy, obliged and grateful for the mere material things that we receive. Should we not be more grateful for the most fundamental gift of all – Life itself?
We are thankful for a wrist watch, but who gave us the wrist? Who gave us life? How many times do we remember to thank god who gave us life? Sometimes people deny god’s existence or destroy their precious gift of life.

Use the gift:
A little boy received a violin as a birthday present from his uncle. On meeting him after 10 days, he told the uncle that he really liked the violin.
“So, you have learnt to play it?” asked the pleased uncle.
“No, but my mother gives me Rs.50 for not playing it during the daytime,” smiled the boy.
“And my father gives me Rs.50 for not playing it at night!”
If I own a violin it does not make me a violinist. I have to learn to bring out melodious music with practice and skill. A violin is a gift, but playing it is art. We have received life as gift. What are we doing with it? We must understand the purpose of life and learn how to live joyously and harmoniously. It is a lifelong process and every experience is a teacher.

Cherish the gift:
All actions are possible only because of the gift of life. In Spite of having this precious life, how many times do we complain that we do not have anything?
Once, a boy was crying bitterly, saying he had no desire to live. An elderly person passed by and asked him why he wanted to die.
The boy said, “I do not have anything, no money, no house, no parents. I want to die.” The elderly person offered to help, but wanted something in return.
“But I just told you. I do not have anything,” bemoaned the boy.
The man convinced the youngster. He would not ask anything the boy did not have. “I will give you Rs 10,000 , if you cut off your left arm and give it to me. I will give you Rs 20,000, if you cut off both your hands and give them to me. “
“If I give you both my hands, then with what I will receive the money?” exclaimed the stunned boy.
The wise man pointed out, “Oh! I see that you not only have hands, but also have the brains to think. Now, do you realize that you already have wealth worth millions. Can you still say you do not have anything?”

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