Sunday, August 06, 2006

Writing about...nothing

There may be two levels of purity in life, pure ignorance, if that is possible and pure knowledge. In between whatever we have is maya. That is what scares me so much about writing down my thoughts…writing seems to be a disguised effort to immortalize something very transient in its existence. Having said this, I would like to add that this is also the only consolation, that nothing of what I am writing is real. That this is just a story like any other, easiest way to deal with it will be to read and discard.

But I would like to believe that it is worth more than that. That my writing is a way for you to get a glimpse of that truth of my life, that I do not believe you would have seen had you been here with me, sharing my days. And I have a very selfish reason for writing too…that somehow in trying to tell you about this truth, which I know exists somewhere in me, I will actually get a grasp of this elusive little thing myself. You and me will then make it possible, make this journey called life a little more meaningful.

Here I go again - why do I search for meanings? More than half of my life I think, I ran after meanings, till I was comfortable to stop, take a deep breath in and try the opposite route. Once I heard a story – of a young cat and an elderly one. The young cat was running round and round in circles. Amused at this, the elderly cat asked him – why are you doing so? The young cat replied – My tail is my happiness and I am trying to grab it. The elderly cat smiled, and said – Watch me, kiddo – and started strolling slowly and steadily. My happiness follows me, see, I do not run after it – He winks.

So we will try this winking strategy. We will not go after meanings. Perhaps meanings will follow us. You have to trust me on this. Start at scratch and assume, okay, here we go – I have come too much ahead to take a step back – there is no meaning, everything has been and is meaningless. Let us see what comes out of this. Bit by bit, perhaps we will build something. Perhaps we will see nothing. But we will explore and find out everything about this ‘nothing’. If anything, we will get to the bottom of this ‘nothing’ that stands as a big question mark in front of my life.

Silver Jubilee Celebrations, Art of Living

Perhaps a few lucky ones had been able to conceive the event before it took place, perhaps a few others had been working towards it from long before, my confession is that I had no idea and it had me completely bowled over. Never in my seven years of association with the organization and its founder, even in conducting workshops or working for the seva projects, or even while working for the event itself, had I been able to even catch a glimpse of his vision, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.

The event was just the tip of the iceberg. The sea of more than the expected figure of 2.5 million people, the nadaswarams, thavils, veenas, tablas, violins and mridangams from 3800 musicians resounding from the three acre stage into the Jakkur airfields, the sheer effort that went behind the scene, the speeches from eminent dignitaries and spiritual and religious leaders and the one person who made it all happen, His beauty, His presence, His graceful walk, His smile as he took in everything, not missing a single detail, was by itself, an experience difficult to take in through just the five senses, in just three days. The initial feeling was an immense sense of pride, that somewhere, somehow I am a part of all this. But once the initial feeling passed away and I took in the magnificence of the event, I was able to see, to feel that the event, the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Art of Living Foundation was just a tip of the iceberg, a single dimensional view of the greatness, the abundance, the expanse, the depth of the Master which is multi dimensional.

For, one cannot miss the fact that each person who was associated in any way with the event, had a story to share. A story that touched each one of us deep within; if each one of us wrote a biography, we would write about how Silver Jubilee changed us, how it touched our lives, how through the three day event we discovered beautiful things about our own selves, how wishes got fulfilled, how all obstacles got overcome. The theme was love and peace and the event was a forum where all issues in the world that related to world peace got addressed, dealing with terrorism, politics, the role of wisdom, learning, religion and spirituality and how they relate to world peace, how music, dance and art plays a role, different forms of communication that bridges every gap to form one family. And in addressing the issues of the world, the most important factor, its people were not forgotten. The message of love and peace permeated every heart, every soul present there. Misery was kept aside, pain was kept aside, every single desire in every heart was taken care of. Each one felt an immense sense of belongingness, of security, each one felt ready for one world family. It was evident in every face…one could actually see, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam as a reality.

We have conducted workshops on stress relief, we have done service projects in villages, we have done disaster relief, worked in prisons, worked for drug and alcohol victims. We have conducted programs for the youth, for the elderly, for children, for women. We have reached out to over 144 countries. Seven years ago, I must have had a reason, however trivial it may be, to have joined the Art of Living workshop. Ever since, me and all my colleagues from the foundation have approached people from all arenas with some pertinent reason, to come and join in. The reasons have been true, people have gone back with what they wanted and more. After Silver Jubilee I realize, that all have been different routes to reach home. For the message is universal, the world IS one family and the love that connects all of us a reality. Not even a soul, can be away from this. Even enlightenment cannot be an excuse…there is one love that binds us all, and I am grateful to all those who have made it possible for me to experience this.

Choosing to Live

Each morning when I wake up, I get to decide how I want to spend the day. Usually I do a little breathing exercise and some meditation. This takes around half an hour but this is the time I feel restless, eager to finish with my morning chores and hit the day that is waiting for me head on. A typical day involves work at office, household chores, giving time to my family which includes a six-month baby, and some voluntary service work that I do. I thrive on multiplexing between them. There may be many benefits of this little morning exercise, many that I have experienced already and many that I am yet to experience perhaps, but there is one basic reason why I do it. If I cannot sit with my own self and my breath for barely half an hour, am I really experiencing life, experiencing my own self or just running away from it?

I decide I am running way. Running from brushing my teeth to eating my breakfast. Running from eating breakfast to driving to office. Running from driving my car to reaching my workplace. Running from one meeting to another. Running away from day to night and night to day. Running away from life towards …what?

My daughter is 6 months old. She spends her days in a hurry to grow up, trying her hardest to sit up…not satisfied with that; she tries to stand on her feet. All I can say is that - I know the feeling.

Like her, I have not made the choice of running away from what I have to what I don't have. Somewhere, I just Am, like she just Is.

So each morning I make the choice to sit. Just with myself. If there is pain inside, that is me – so I don't run away. If there is too much joy, happiness, it is even harder for me, but still I sit, I refuse to run away. If there is restlessness, well …even that is me. What am I restless about? My own self? My breath, my mind? So I do not run away.

It is not really a choice. Because there is never a choice between choosing to live and anything else. Once I agree to choose, I realize there is no choice.

Missing you, my love

Its easy to say I miss you. I love a lot of people but do not necesssarily miss them. In fact, it doesn't take much to realise that this is a relative factor, when I say I miss someone, it may actually mean that I am just bored with what I have at hand. Often the feeling may be a result of an association with a person and a habit. Like I might miss someone because I happen to share my early morning tea with him and having it alone is not necessarily any less pleasurable, just might take a bit getting used to. All this is fine, except for the fact that when I say that I miss someone, this does not get translated. Rather it is taken matter-of-fact-ly, as if it is an obvious consequence of being in love :) While in fact there is hardly the time to miss anyone, and for how long can you do that?

Yet I have felt that there is another aspect of missing someone. To put it in someway, it may be the warmth, the feeling of someone's presence that comes when I think of someone I love. I mean the feeling is different when I think of you or someone else.

This feeling is at its purest when the person is not physically present and usually gets diluted when I am actually with the person concerned. When the extraneous things are just too many, I have to put an effort to locate this 'pure feeling' of just your presence So then why the longing to be close? Maybe the feeling intrinsically comes with a longing for something, and as a solution, we think just being close to the person will satisfy the craving, which obviously, does not happen :)

Unfortunately, here are no such loopholes in missing you. Even if there are other things going on in my mind that could possibly have diluted the experience of your physical presence ( for example, seeking your attention, etc), they become too trivial when you are there and actually just your presence remains and that too, remains as quite an intense experience.

I felt kind of sad today, you know. But not the usual way. As if life suddenly felt too short and you too far away :)


For me, it is the feeling for anything that I do not like. Put simply, it can have something to do with relationships, a friend did not invite me for a party, or a colleague said something unpleasant at workplace. It can be physical, maybe a plain old headache that comes back on a busy day. It can be a state of mind; boredom or feverishness. Can be yearnings, regrets or worries. Looking closely I may find that even something that I like, is usually mixed with a pinch of this. Maybe one great achievement has a drop of the fear of sustainability mixed with it. Whatever, we all know about this; the lack of perfection in life. An unpleasant feeling, some little feeling of unrest that mars even the greatest of experiences. For want of a better word, let me call it pain or discomfort.

Simple and everyday as it is, it can be completely overpowering at times.

Any pain has a purpose. In most cases that I have seen in my life, this purpose is a slight awareness about something that I am not taking full responsibility of. Maybe a pointer to an age old pattern in me that is not doing me any good.

The purpose of the discomfort is to identify the purpose. Once that is done, the whole thing disintegrates and disappears.

In spite of being aware of this, I waste so much time groping around and not facing the truth. I use all gymnastics that my mind is capable of, defense mechanisms to convince myself that it wasn’t my fault, not me but something else is responsible. There are situations where, when we look at the “perceived issue”, it is very easy to believe that really, I am not responsible for the pain I am going through. Once I am able to see the “real issue”, I can identify the cause of the drama. It becomes clear that there is no truth in the statement that I am going through something unpleasant and yet I am not responsible for it. It is incredible how I can fool myself in spite of knowing that that is what I am doing.

It is only after some hours or sometimes even days of wasted tears and energy that by sheer grace, something happens to me. I look at the truth, face to face. And I tell myself, “Okay, (the powers that be) I have understood. I take responsibility of this right now. Now, please help me in the present situation. It is causing me a lot of pain.”

Just this, a teeny weenie shift, a drop of courage – that is all that it takes and so lovingly, so gently the problem is resolved in my life. The compassion, the care that I feel at that moment is overwhelming. I know no other route to this exquisite feeling, except the one that starts with a feeling of pain.