Sr. Dr Lilly

Realms of value contains short thought provoking stories from Sr. (Dr) Lilly SJL who is presently Vice Prinicipal of Fatima College, Madurai. She has chaired many international missions and her works belong 'Geneder discrimination in Indian Societies' and 'Education and Empowerment of women'.


“I think what makes us human—is our interconnectedness among people. It’s our ability to form and maintain relationships. It’s the barometer by which we call ourselves human.”- Thomas Jane
Life is a chain of events –Life is an inter-connected whole. It starts from womb and ends in the tomb. Each event is inter-connected to the previous one. It is like a movie—each scene is related to the previous and gives birth to the future.  Your tomorrow is born out of the present. It is said that when you are happy the world around you seems happy and when you are sad the world around you too looks gloomy and sad. So the first step in building a happy world is to lay the foundation stone within you. Then you experience the world as a rainbow of colours in all facets of life. Life is a chain. Wherever you go whatever you do—you will remain part of the inter-connected chain of life.
An American soldier wounded by the Japanese owes his life to the Japanese scientist Kitasato, who isolated the germ of tetanus. A Russian soldier is saved by a blood transfusion, which came from an Austrian. A German soldier is shielded from typhoid with the help of the Russian. A Dutch marine in the East Indies is protected from malaria because of the experiments by an Italian. A British flier in North Africa escapes death from surgical infection because of a French man, Pasteur, and a German called Koch and their work with bacteria. Need knows no language or language barriers. Or as someone put it: “We are all brothers and sisters under the skin.”
“Each form of life supports all others, together they weave the grand web of life. Thus there really is no happiness for oneself alone, no suffering that afflicts only others.’’- Daisaku Ikeda

By Sr. Dr Lilly on 18-03-2014


“For he who has no tranquillity  there  is no concentration.” –Bhagavad Gita
Pre-occupation is the greatest or biggest enemy to concentration. Often people ask; why am I not able to concentrate? Or why can’t I just do it? It is simply because we don’t give serious reflection about ourselves. For most of us worldly worries and daily problems are bigger and they are immersed in it. We have to concentrate on one problem and exclude everything else – so much so that we almost become unmindful of the rest of the world. We are preoccupied with many other activities that we forget what is our priority.
We start doing things without awareness and focus. We get entangled and engaged in numerous activities that we have no time to go deeper into our own self. The only problem that we are concentrating upon is our world. However, remember that if you cannot focus or concentrate, then all through your life you face the same daily problems. It is important to be strong internally and then face the world without fear. Sort out the internal issue and experience the bliss and joy of every day and every moment.
Once a Zen master summoned four of his disciples and said, “It is time for you to go to the mountains and sit in silence for at least seven days, and then come back.”
They went with the vow to sit   there for seven days, in absolute silence. After just few minutes the   first disciples said, “I wonder whether I have locked my house or not.”  The second disciple said, “You fool! We have come here to be   silent and you have spoken!” The third disciple said, “You are a great fool! What has it to do with you? If he spoke, at least YOU could have kept silent!” The fourth disciple said, “Thank God, I am the only one who has not spoken yet!”

By Sr. Dr Lilly on 04-03-2014

Prompt Action

Many fine things can be done in a day if you don’t always make that day tomorrow. Prompt action is important in life and that leads people to succeed in life. Opportunity waits for none. If you don’t take a decision at the appropriate time later on you will have regrets. Timely action is like a rupee saved. Because a rupee saved is a rupee earned. Prompt action requires awareness and vision. It is not a blind decision, instead a calculated, well thought and mature decision. Each time you delay your action you are lagging behind and when you take timely action you travel hundred miles ahead of future, sowing seed of better opportunities. If you don’t utilize the opportunity then there is someone else to take  your opportunity somewhere in the world.
Why delay your decision? Be quick and act timely. So no regret can haunt you. Life is possible only out of decisiveness, commitment and involvement. If not, you are always a spectator- you never participate in anything. Decide for yourself whether you want to be spectator or a doer?
A pretty young woman approached Immanuel Kant and asked, “I would be immensely happy if you could accept me as your wife.” He listened to her and he said, “I will think it over.” And he thought for three years- all the pros and cons. He wrote long treatise- what are the advantages and disadvantages of being married. And finally he arrived at a poor conclusion—almost not a conclusion at all. There was one more point in favour, and that was the point that by being married you will know what marriage is-good or bad. So he went, knocked on the woman’s door. The father opened the door and asked, “Why have you come?” He said, “I have decided, because one more point is in favour of marriage. There are three hundred points in all: three hundred against, three hundred and one for- so I have decided to marry.”The father laughed. He said, “It is too late. She is already married- and not only married, she has a child too! You came a little late.”

By Sr. Dr Lilly on 25-02-2014


“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.” Peter T. Mcintyre
When we chase things they elude us. When we are confident and ready to face the reality of life, it comes to us. Because we are not bothered or shaken by it. When you are strong like a rock nothing will shake you. So be firm in whatever you do and leave the rest of your life to God and let Him control it. Being strong and confident in life as well as in whatever you do is a sign of success. Most of us are weaklings who have no guts to face reality. Our confidence starts shaking as we get closer to reality. We only speak and when it comes to the real test get away faster than the speed of lightening.  Certainly you must have come across a number of such characters in your life! What is your reaction to them? Are you comfortable with such characters? Now let us check- am I also such a character? Do I run away from the realities of life? Am I ready to take the responsibilities and challenges of life? It is always better to be confident and face problems than hide like a coward. The option is left to you!
Some of us have a good case of the “can’ts” too. Stop being bitter,  “I can’t!” One of the devil’s greatest tools is to try  and   erect a stronghold in our minds to make us think we can’t do something, God has told us to do. Do not give the devil a foothold. Stay true to yourself! Be faithful to the talents you are blessed with. Be positive in your attitude. Indeed you Can do many things that you think you Can’t! You CAN!
A mad solider came in to the village cutting down men, women and children, and terrifying everyone .Arriving at the doors of a Zen monastery, he smashed down the door with the hilt of his sword. Striding up to the Master who was sitting in ZAZEN, he raised his sword and was just about to kill him, when something of the Master’s stillness touched him. And angrily he shouted, “Don’t you realize that standing in front of you is a man who can cut you in two without the blink of an eye!”
The Master quietly said, “Don’t YOU realize that sitting in front of you is a man who can be cut in two without the blink of an eye? So go ahead. Don’t be restricted by my silence, do whatsoever you have decided to do.” These words of the Zen Master transformed him. He surrendered his sword at the feet of the great Master and became a disciple.
“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.”-  Jesse Jackson
Sr (Dr) Lilly Thockanattu SJL

By Sr. Dr Lilly on 18-02-2014


Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote, “All that is not given is lost.”
Nothing speaks to others more loudly or serves them better than generosity from a leader. True generosity isn’t an occasional event. It  comes  from the heart and permeates every aspect of a leader’s life, touching his time, money, talents, and possessions. Effective leaders, the kind that people want to follow, don’t gather things just for themselves; they do it in order to give to others. .Cultivate the quality of generosity in your life.
Give something away. Find out what kind of hold your possessions have on you. Take something you truly value, think of someone you care about who could benefit, and give it to the person. Genuine charity does not evaluate an action by its bigness or smallness. It evaluates it as an act of love, an act that makes us discover the greatest good: God Himself!
Put your money to work. If you know someone with the vision to do something really great- something that will positively impact the lives of others-provide resources for the person to accomplish it. Give generously and you will receive much from your giving. Give a smile to everyone you meet and you’ll receive smiles. Give kind word and you will receive kind words. Give appreciation and you will be appreciated. Give time for a worthy cause and you will be richly rewarded. Give hope and you will be made hopeful. Give happiness and you will be happy. Give encouragement and you will be encouraged. Give prayers and you will receive blessings.
When an earthquake happened in China, a farmer was standing on a hilltop surrounded by his rice fields. Suddenly he saw the ocean rush away from the shore like some large animal crouching for a leap. He saw his neighbours working in the low rice fields, and when that tidal wave came back, they would be swept away by its force. Somehow he had to call them to the safety of his hill. So without thinking twice, he set fire to his straw stack furiously rang the temple bell. His farmer neighbours thought his farm was on fire and rushed up the hill to help him. They had  hardly   reached the top, when they heard and saw the swirling wall of water swish through the field they had just left. Then it was that they realized how the farmer had saved their lives. From that day on, they went to the temple to pray for their neighbour to whose generosity they owed their lives.
God in his generosity really loves us, cares for us, heals us and watches over us.

By Sr. Dr Lilly on 11-02-2014


Providence is the care God takes of all existing things- St. John of Damascus
The well of Providence is deep. It’s the buckets we bring to it that are small. We may rest assured that nothing whatever happens on earth without God’s permission. What a source of consolation to know that even the sufferings and adversities which God send us are for our very best, and have in view  our eternal salvation. Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow; the same Everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of your tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations. Praise Him therefore, whether in His gifts or in His scourges. The praise of the scourges is the medicine for the wound.
God sends us nothing that is too hard or painful to bear. He proportions all to our strength and abilities. Our trials are suited to our needs as the glove to the hand of the wearer. All things will contribute to our sanctification if we but cooperate with the designs of Divine Providence. The farewell address of Abraham Lincoln upon leaving Springfield, for the White House, contains this touching testimony to his trust in God. “I now  leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. To his   care commending you, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”
The great St. Teresa of Avila, who did big things with small means, once wanted to build a large orphanage. She had only three shillings to start with. Some friends told her that she should be more wise and wait for more funds before beginning the construction. This is the answer Teresa gave: “With three shillings Teresa can do nothing, but with God and three shillings there is nothing that Teresa cannot do.”
Please, dear God, do not bless us as we deserve, we couldn’t along on so little.

By Sr. Dr Lilly on 04-02-2014


Respect is a gesture of deep reverence, gratitude and
gratefulness to the Creator. When we respect our fellow beings we are in fact
respecting God himself because each of us is a part of God. Every culture has
different gestures expressing respect and reverence for a deity or to human
beings.                 Respect is the
acceptance of the other as they are. So respect should start from the heart and
not to be an external show. If it is a show, then it becomes an imitation and
pretence. Respect human beings- respect their individuality, respect their
differences. And that is possible only if you respect your own individuality.
Great people are respected anywhere without demand. Rich people are respected
for their money power and influence. In our context people living in the lower
strata are not respected. So they need to be respected and made comfortable.
Being friendly and hospitable to such people always imprints a feeling in them
that they too are part of the system and they are wanted in the society.
Everyone likes to be respected and likes to get importance. It is the game of
the ego.

One day a kind visited the Zen master. The Zen master
did not even get up when he saw the King coming. The King felt very strange and
surprised. However the King asked, “Which is higher, a worldly king, or the
king of dharma? The Zen master replied, “Among human kings I am higher; among
the kings of dharma I am also higher.” Hearing this surprising answer, the king
was very pleased.

The next day a general came to  visit the Zen master, who not only got up
from his seat when he saw the general coming, but also showed him more
hospitality in every way than he had shown to 
the king. After the general had left, one of the disciples asked him, “Why
did you get up from your seat when a person of lower rank came to see you, yet
you did not do so for one of the highest rank? The Zen master replied, “You
don’t understand. When people of the highest rank come to see me, I do not get
up from my seat; when they are medium quality, I do; but when they are of the
lowest quality, I go outside of the gate to receive them.”

By Sr. Dr Lilly on 04-02-2014


Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought– Hazlitt
Simplicity is nothing but an act of love, pure and simple, with one aim to acquire the love of God. Our soul is truly simple when we have no other goal than this in mind, in everything we do. The function of simplicity is to lead us directly to God without heeding human respect or our own interests. It makes us speak frankly and from the heart; it makes us act with sincerity, without hypocrisy and pretence; and finally it keeps us far from every sort of double dealing. All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single word; freedom, justice, honour, duty, mercy and hope. The only simplicity that matters is the simplicity of the heart. If that be gone, it can be brought back by no turnips of cellular clothing; but only by tears and terror and the fires that are not quenched.
To become childlike or simple:
Uncomplicate your life, be open and honest. Don’t be afraid to admit, “I can’t do that” or I don’t know.” Don’t hide your feelings or be afraid to show affection. Delight in simple things. Enjoy being you. Know who you are, what you can do and what is expected of you.  Don’t hold grudges; let the past be past. Whatever happens, do not shed simplicity. To judge from our good books, one might suppose that God tests his saints as a blacksmith does a bar of iron, to try its strength.
William Pit, the great Prime Minister, had as a friend a Scotsman called Dundas. He had grown to depend on Dundas very greatly. He said of Dundas; “Dundas is no orator, not even a speaker, but Dundas will go out with you in any kind of weather.” Dundas had none of the showy qualities, but he had something greater— you could depend on him hail, rain or shine.Simplicity is the badge of distinction.

By Sr. Dr Lilly on 21-01-2014


“Commitment is the enemy of resistance, for it is the serious promise to press on, to get up, no matter how many times you are knocked down”. D. McNally
How important is commitment to you? Are you someone who values loyalty and follow-through? When things get tough, are you in the habit of standing firm? Is your dedication undeniable? To improve your level of commitment, tie your commitments to your values. Because your values and your ability to fulfill your commitments are closely related, take some time to reflect on them. First, make a list of your personal and professional commitments. Then try to articulate your core values. Once you have both the lists, compare them. You will probably find that you have commitments unrelated to your values. Re-evaluate them. 
The world has never seen a great leader who lacked commitment. If you want to be an effective leader, you have to be committed. Being committed involves risk. True commitment inspires and attracts people. It shows them that you have conviction. They will believe in you only if you believe in your cause .People buy in to the leader, then the vision. Commitment starts in the Heart. If you want to make a difference in other people’s lives as a leader, look into your heart to see if you’re really committed. Commitment is tested by action: It’s one thing to talk about commitment. The only real measure of commitment is action. Arthur Gordon acknowledged, “Nothing is easier than saying words. Nothing is harder than living them day after day.” Commitment Opens the Door to achievement: As a leader, you will face plenty of obstacles and opposition- if you don’t already. 
Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.  And there will be times when commitment is the only thing that carries you forward.

By Sr. Dr Lilly on 14-01-2014


Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time.  When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace. If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other says Mother Teresa. Order and beauty go together. The fair flower of peace does not grow among the weeds of an ill-regulated life. The radiance of a deep inner serenity is the product of disciplining both in the heart and in outward affairs. He who is united with the divine will, enjoys even in this life, a perpetual peace.
Every leader in the world aims to find a lasting solution to the problems that beset our planet, but so far, peace on earth has continued to be an elusive dream. There are many movements, organisations and fraternities all over the world that promotes the idea of world peace. Why is the world peace so difficult to achieve? Perhaps the answer lies within our self. What have we done to make the world a better place to live in? How have we treated our brothers and sisters and our neighbour? Fulton J Sheen gives psychological suggestion for acquiring peace of soul. Never brag, never talk about yourself, never rush to first seats… never use people for your own advantage, never lord like a symphony orchestra. God is the conductor. When nations turn to Him for direction, there is harmony; but when they turn away, then there is confusion and strife.” it over others as if you were better than they.
Is it possible to achieve world peace? When we start doing good to other people, we can inspire others to do the same. By carrying the good deeds forward, we can multiply the number of people we touch with our goodwill and eventually it will spread and infect others. We cannot expect peace in the world unless we give that in our heart we are prepared to sacrifice. In this holy season of Advent Jesus the Prince of peace is promising us his lasting peace. May we empty ourselves of our complacent attitude and all that destroys our peace to experience this lasting peace promised by the Lord. 
Madam Galli-Curci, the famous singer, made this observation, “The world is like a symphony orchestra. God is the conductor. When nations turn to Him for direction, there is harmony; but when they turn away, then there is confusion and strife.”

By Sr. Dr Lilly on 24-12-2013