Throughout life we are involved in a continuous search. A search for meaning.

© Illustration by Joanne Pereira, 2021

Our greatest motivation, writes Viktor Frankl,

“is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in one’s life.”

As the body searches to find its physical equilibrium, we search for our ‘Whys’ and ‘What’s’ to find our inner equilibrium.

We search for the answer to the question ‘Why do we exist’ which is our purpose and ‘What’ we need to ‘be’ and ‘do’ to fulfil this purpose. The metaphor for life in these turbulent times is ‘Search’. Dominated by the image of the Search engine.

Even though our search is personal, we feel the…


© Illustration by Joanne Pereira, 2021

In Herman Hesse’s novel Journey to the East, we find a group of people engaged in a mythical journey. Amongst this group is a person named Leo who accompanies them as their servant doing all the menial chores. But he also has an extraordinary ‘presence’. He sustains the group through his spirit, enthusiasm and song. Everything goes well till one day Leo disappears. The group suddenly realises the key role Leo played in their journey. After he has left, the group begins to disintegrate, and the journey is abandoned. Many years later it is found that Leo is actually the…


We love stories. In fact we crave stories. There is an innate power in a story. They are our best teachers.

© Illustration by Joanne Pereira, 2021

When our lives are punctuated by confusion where we do not understand what is going on, we realise that if we put our thoughts and experiences into the form of a story which reflects how we have got to this point, it brings clarity. We are able to ‘see’. Our lives begin to make sense. We experience control. We regain calmness.

It is the same when we experience conflict. Our disordered, messy, and sometimes violent thoughts and feelings when put into the form of a story gives structure to our point of view. We begin to see the conflict from…


Relationships are more important than things. But we still treat one another as things rather than as persons.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Our economic system has created a prison within which we live a life of ruthless competition, extreme individualism and insatiable greed. We fight to grow what we have by taking from the other. We have become takers not givers. We have become ‘extractivists’. We extract fossil energy, minerals and sand from the earth without a thought to ‘giving’ for the protection of the future. We extract work from human persons treating them as resources and giving them very little in return. We extract benefits from people, using them as conveniences and throwing them away once their utility is over. Inasmuch…


In a growing consciousness that values only the positive, we find it difficult to see the positive values of the negative.

© Illustration by Joanne Pereira, 2021

As soon as we are born the process of dying begins. Life is the beginning of death. Meeting is the beginning of parting. Death gives meaning to life inasmuch as parting gives meaning to meeting. If we know we will die, we learn how to appreciate and savour life. As R.H. Blyth says

“..death is that which gives life its value, as the blackboard gives meaning to the white chalk.”

When we think of death we think of the physical act of dying. But right through life we are dying to our inauthentic selves, peeling off the layers of our…


What we pay attention to and what we do not pay attention to influences how we navigate through life.

© Illustration by Joanne Pereira, 2021

To understand this, we need to be awake. We need to be conscious of our thinking, feeling and doing. When we are not conscious, we suffer from doing things in a mechanical manner. Not fully aware of our behaviour. And not making any conscious choices or decisions. Resulting in consequences which we regret. Making us often plead ignorance. “I don’t know how I could have done this” or “I don’t know what came over me”.

As E.F.Schumacher states

“When we are not awake in our attention, we are certainly not self — aware and therefore not fully human; we are…


Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

We have created a culture of progress which follows the linear arrow of time. Its movement being measured by quantitative markers like GDP. While deep within us we experience the loss of a more enrichening life which we have left behind and long to bring back. A person grows from ‘within’. A nation progresses from ‘without’. And sometimes a nation’s progress is at the cost of a person’s growth. Consequently when we begin to realise what we have lost as persons, all the progress achieved is revealed to be a poor substitute.

In the culture of Silicon Valley emphasis is…


Photo by Boudhayan Bardhan on Unsplash

We want to do good. We feel we are capable of doing good. We seem convinced that what we are doing is for the good of the other person. And then suddenly we are confronted by the adverse results which we seem to have caused to happen.

It’s like the boy who found the chrysalis and feels very bad at seeing the moth struggling to emerge and decides to help it break out. He feels he has the capability to save the moth. He wants to do well by the moth. But when the child pulls the covering open, the…


Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

Very often we behave as if, for example, we know all about wine because we have convinced ourselves that we have ‘grasped’ what wine is all about through reading about wine. We have become familiar with the concept of wine through the words used to describe wine. We therefore start posturing as if we are wine connoisseurs who know all about wine by sharing all that we have read and understood about wine. We sound genuine, but we are fake. The represented conceptual world becomes our real world.

We mistake words for experience

We communicate through the alphabet and now more and more through digits…


We perceive real Power as an external artefact to be acquired; when in reality it is a journey which begins from the inside with an internal awareness and acceptance of oneself.

Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash

Our search for power stems from our fear of insecurity and anxiety. We need to protect ourselves from the pain which could arise from the unforeseen circumstances we may encounter. We amass wealth, build the right contacts, develop expertise and so on. All with the intention of gaining power over our unpredictable circumstances. We need to feel we are masters and not victims.

But the more we try to avoid our helplessness through the amassing of power, the more our helplessness and insecurity grows. We become isolated in our large mansions and offices; fearful of everything and everybody. We do…

Conrad Saldanha

Writer, Trainer, Mentor, Educationist and Consultant.

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