Friday, March 30, 2007

The Road to nowhere.....

Paulo coelho says in 'Confessions of a piligrim'-- " I don't stack all those books that I've already read. What's the use of keeping these books which I may not read again? Who am I trying to impress with this display?'.

My cupboard is stacked with many books that I've finished reading and amidst them are a few books which are not yet opened. I have an emotional attachment to many of these books; and I also leaf through the finished pages once in a way. Hardly anyone comes to my room here, so there's no question of impressing any soul. Among these books are half a dozen novels by R.K. Narayan-- bought many ages ago, a bunch of books by Osho--mainly on Zen masters, a few collection of short stories, some inspirational books, one or two novels..........

I think, the most books that are sold over the counter of any bookstore or on any pavement belong to the 'How to' category. How to do this, do that, learn english, speak fluently, become assertive, make friends, stop worrying, become rich, earn a million bucks, write better, even grow tall....I've bought atleast a dozen such books and read another 2 dozen in the past ten years. The mantra of success appears as elusive as ever.

There's a book on my shelf--'Unlimited Power'--which I'd purchased nearly 5 years ago and had diligently read, the priniciples of which I'd tried to implement. Most of the advice from such books, although well-intended, is either far-fetched or too generalistic and vague to be applied for successful results. I know people who swear by 'Think and grow rich' or 'How to make friends and influence people'--and their financial status or friendship quotient is anybody's guess.

As far as self-help is concerned, one of the best advice I've come across is from Dave pollard. He says--'Why do we do what we do? We first do things that are a must. Then we do those that are easy. And finally, those that are fun. If a job doesn't fall in any of these categories, it'll never get done.'

I've been chewing on this advice for the past couple of days as I wonder about all those self-help manuals I bought, all those plans and goals I set for myself, and all the lofty ideals I've dreamt of achieving. Do they fall in the Must, Easy or Fun category? To make any goal or a dream a reality, maybe it should first fall in one of these. Until then, it's doomed to remain as it is--just a wisp of dream.

(Why is brushing teeth every morning not a goal--but it gets done without fail? It's a Must--you can't go out without doing this. Make it a goal and it falls flat)

I understand that no amount of advice can help until the desire for a better living arises from within. And no, you can't ignite that desire by reading ' How to develop a desire for success?' You need to arrive at the answer yourself. (Don't ask, How to arrive!)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I'm here, can't you see?

There's a spate of burglaries in our neighbourhood. At least three families lost their solar panels on a single night. These panels cover the bulk of the cost of a solar water-heater--without them, the heater apparatus is just a drum with some pipes stuck into it. Eversince this happened, our nights have become a bit uneasy and tense. Our solar heater is mounted on top of my room in the second floor. A little noise on top, maybe the rustling of the coconut branches, or a stray cat meandering about and I'm all ears, planning my next move, wondering what to do if there are actually some guys on the terrace, with spanners and screwdrivers. Call the police! Ring up my brother-in-law who lives in the first floor. Or go out with the wooden club in hand, like a superman (and get clubbed!).

A Relaxed saturday. Feel like just lying on the bed, watch the ceiling endlessless and do Nothing.

It happened once when I was watching the Movie 'Recruit'. Al pacino is a recruiter for CIA and Collin farrell is a young rookie. In one scene, Al pacino tells farrel,'You have only one overdriving need--to win my approval'. Farrell explodes, denies it but we know that it's true. Watching that scene left me with a sense of unease-- maybe I was similar to farrel, waiting for approval from someone--some father figure or a person in authority. It wasn't a striking feeling but somewhat subdued, ringing somewhere in the background.

Then 'The New Earth' confirmed and revealed many of my own doubts about myself. Almost 3 chapters are devoted to the 'Ego' in this astonishing book--you can't wade through a paragraph without keeping the book aside and reflecting on what you've just read and relate it to yourself. Many of my seemingly innocent and routine activities now looked as though they were intended to win approval and acceptance from those around me. I could easily accept that most of the time I was (and still am) led by the Ego. However, before those lessons could sink in and become transformative, I'd moved ahead to other chapters, skimming only on the surface.

This article again reminds me of my hidden need for approval and how my activities and motivations are fuelled by this need. Maybe it's routine and normal too in our modern world. But as Tolle says, madness is so prevalent that it's accepted as normal. To create a new society, to bring in a New earth, you need to break out of this madness and among others, come out of this need.

How difficult is it to be free of the need to win approval and acceptance? Maybe it takes enormous courage(or fearlessness) to stick to your convictions and not be bothered about what others think about you! How wonderful would it be to be led by your inner light and not by the opinions of those around you! This rebellion isn't a false one--just to assert yourself and prove to yourself that you are a rebellious spirit(that's another game of the ego, maybe). You rebel not because you want to or you have to prove something to yourself or to others. Your rebellion is spontaneous, a way of living, stemming out of your deep convictions. That's the way you are-- a free spirit.

This freeness shines through occasionally when I act or think just for its own sake, without keeping any end in mind, without bothering about any opinions. It happens sometimes during my blogging hours, where I write just for the joy of writing. But these occasions are rare. Maybe I need to think deeply about my own motivations and beliefs before I can find the true rebellious spirit hidden within. Maybe I need to go deeper into silence to find this inner calm and begin living in its light.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Old boy

'Look, I don't want to gossip,' the poet says. 'Tell me quickly what happened.'

The whole drama has left us sick.'This is what happened....' I begin and we chat for a while. I finish talking, cut the line, switch off the TV, turn off the lights and go to bed.

We were speaking about the oldboy all along. Mostly not so good things. The next morning, on the way to the office I meet the oldboy near the park. Inspite of the previous day's fall and subsequent injury, he appears composed. I greet him. We speak mundane things for a while. He brings up the event of the previous day and I console him. I speak words of encouragement, say things like,'This could've happened to anyone, don't worry,' etc.

It's a long story. Oldboy was a part of our lives until yesterday--a close friend, someone with whom we shared our dreams, joys and sorrows. All of us had lofty ideals and were travellers on the path towards realizing them. In short, oldboy was a family member, rather more than a family member. He isn't one any longer.

There's a relaxed yet tense atmosphere in the office. The appraisals are over-- some are happy, some are quitting, some are contemplating to quit and the rest are biding their time--not knowing what to do other than slog. I find time to reflect in between work, amidst blog hopping hours, in between bitter coffee mugs. The oldboy is on our minds.

Sunday evening. After meditations, we gather and piece together the whole story. Old boy is a friend of six years yet we don't know him--rather we thought we knew him well. He'd become a part of our close circle of friends. We have great dreams to pursue, and an utopia to manifest. The spiritual world is our playground-- meditations and the pursuit of awakening is the goal. Amidst youngsters who jump corporations in pursuit of better salaries and who wear their 'globe-trotter' badges on their sleeves, we have friends who quit their jobs and abandon their promising careers in search of an Utopia. A commune of enlightened beings is our ideal. We look beyond the everyday reality and attempt to connect to the vast unknown. We introspect, reflect on our shortcomings and make efforts to rid ourselves of our negativities. In short, we're seekers of an enlightened tomorrow, or as coelho says, the warriors of light. The old boy is one amongst us.

No, he isn't. He isn't one of us, not a fellow traveller but a guy with different travel plans. Behind the jovial, friendly and energetic facade lies a cunning mind. He aspires not to become a part of the commune but to rule it, not to walk the dusty path with friends but to command over them. Lies, deceit, rumour-mongering--everything is game towards this end. To stand in the limelight and grow tall, he doesn't hesitate to stoop to any level. In pursuit of growth, he can destroy any garden like a weed. And in a single shot, he loses us all.

I remember many of my conversations with him and find newer meanings now. Behind his praises, affection and show of humility, could there be a hidden agenda? She remembes, 'He'd say " Sister, I'm at your feet, bless me.' I don't know what his intentions were.'

You trust someone whole-heartedly and suddenly one day, you realise that you've been dealing with a mask. The biggest blow is on your ability to trust. What's the guarantee that the next guy in line isn't wearing a mask? The oldboy was just like you and me--if he can turn turkey, so can you and I. The next time you interact with anyone else, you stop in your tracks and think twice--is this fellow trustworthy? Or is he another oldboy?

This event also prompts you to redefine your own attitude and behaviour. Whenever you talk about a friend behind his back, it's the oldboy in you who's speaking. When you hesitate to point out a friend's mistake and instead choose to be sugary sweet with him so that you are accepted, it's the traces of oldboy inside that's working. In that way, the oldboy hasn't gone away--he remains within all of us, in different quantities.

A bitter taste. Sorry for losing a friend. Happy for getting rid of a future headache.
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Monday, March 12, 2007

A Personal Note

'What will happen to me?'

'Nothing', says Ravishankar.' Until now you are verticle. One day, you'll become horizontal under the ground. That's what will happen to you. Think beyond yourself'.

Then a line from Spiderman--'There are things here that are bigger than you and me.............'

And one of our directors is leaving the company. The CEO says, 'The show will go on, whatever happens, whoever leaves.....'

Inspite of the heaviness within, inspite of the vaccum, amidst the grief, I'll say this:

The show is bigger than you or me. We are tiny droplets in this ocean.

This slap will be remembered for long.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Real, yet so fragile

Dad's not well. He sometimes feels weak and dizzy--last week he stumbled and fell down, hurting his head. Mom tells me to wake up early, not at my usual 8, but before 7, so that I can accompany Dad to the nearby hospital for a checkup.

Then we plan to buy a house that's under-construction. I speak to the owner, discuss and haggle with the rate, and everything is still in a phase of uncertainty when one morning I visit my in-laws . There's an empty plot just next to theirs' and it's a small hillock. They suggest that I buy this site and build a house there, instead of going for the other building. I ponder over it.

I get up early. It's a pleasant feeling, the sun's not up yet and the surroundings are a hazy white and fresh. I have an early breakfast and go with Dad.....

Just before leaving for office I sit back, pondering over the above situations.

The one involving 'buying the house' was a dream that I saw early in the morning. It was so real and lucid--and never once did I doubt its authenticity, as long as I was inside the dream. Once I woke up, I realised that it was just unreal.

And sitting here, I compare the dream with the 'real events' and see no difference between them, whatsoever. The pleasant early morning feeling, my accompanying dad to the hospital, my plans of buying a hillock....they are no different from one another. All are events and they are just as real as long as I'm there, in the thick of the action. Once I come out of it and sit at a distance and look back, they are just wisps--distant, fleeting, unreal.....

I remember a story of Lao-tzu where, he dreams that he's a butterfly and the next morning he starts wondering whether he dreamt a butterfly or whether the butterfly is dreaming now that it is Lao-tzu. Break through the surface and you find a vast, deep ocean. The everyday reality that we're familiar with may not be the only one that exists.

If I look back at last week's events, they appear no more than one of my nightmares. Real, as long as you are there. Come out of it and it's gone. But most of my life is spent in this 'Unreal' world of events and situations. Once in a way I wake up and ponder over the seriousness or futility of everything but almost always, I'm inside-- stuck up and playing the game. And when there's a distance, it's a very funny feeling. It's like you've killed someone in your dream and the police are chasing you...... you run, feel terribly anxious, frightened, your heart's racing--and the alarm wake up with a cold sweat...after a few seconds, you laugh at the whole absurdity.

Life appears absurd at moments but these moments are rare.

Yet I cannot deny and shun this temporary reality until I'm anchored in something that's permanent, something that's authentic. Unless I know and experience a higher reality, I'll always be playing this game, waking up once in a way to laugh and again get drowned in the forgetfulness and go on playing the meaningless game...

That permanent reality, what the mystics call as enlightenment, is what I want. Maybe it's what we all want and seek at some deeper level, although we may not know it. We delude ourselves with irrelevant things--possesions, security, validation from others, desires, money, name--and deep down, we're always thirsty, we're always seeking and striving, always unfulfilled. Nothing satisfies us. We seek and chase everything and anything all our lives and one day the damn game just ends.

'If you want enlightenment, you'll have it. Our wish isn't strong enough. If you truly aspire for it, you'll get it.'

How do I develop this strong wish? How to pursue enlightenment, with tremendous passion? How do I wake up, never to fall asleep again?

I continue to ponder, as I slowly drown in the everyday game of life.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

An eventful day

A gut-wrenching scene from the movie 'Syriana', where CIA Agent George clooney is captured and tortured. His nails are pulled off one by one, with a cutting plyer. Just imagining the pain would make my hairs stand on end, would make me shudder. Well, I get to experience the pain first hand.

Early morning, while parking my bike, the side-stand hits my toe and pulls out the entire nail. Ahh, delicious pain! Luckily, much of the nail comes out and the doctor has to do a few incisions to remove the remaining part. I think I'll remember this for quite some time.

Late evening. There's a call from a traffic cop. A year and a half ago, when Mouli passed away, three of us had signed in as witnesses during his postmortem. Now the case has come for a hearing and we have to depose before the court.

I've never been to a court and all the judicial proceedures and drama that I'm familiar with is only through the movies. This one will be interesting.

And just before the cop called up, I was reflecting and recollecting the events on that particular day. I was remembering all of us waiting outside the mortuary, and how a few of us signed in the papers... Maybe it's a coincidence or maybe my psychic capabilities are getting activated(?????)

Then I get to watch two fantastic movies-- 'The Deep end of the ocean' and 'Just like heaven'. The Deep end... I can relate to it very well.......!

This moment

Days of clarity are here. Somehow things are falling into place. I seem to understand myself better than before. It doesn't imply a dramatic makeover-- the old mistakes continue, but now I recognise them almost immediately. As my mind drifts during work, I become aware that I've lost focus. When I'm angry at someone over a trivial matter, something inside pricks and I'm back to observing the inner drama.

Courage comes from Love, says Dave pollard in this post. One of the best articles I've read recently. And a plethora of inspirational stuff here.

A month without Archana and Tejas. I miss the growing months of my kid. She tells me over the phone about his antics, how he splutters saliva, how he stares at her as she speaks to me, how he babbles continuosly for hours, how he becomes sullen and quiet after being ignored for an hour and she has to cajole him.....
I wish I were there, near him....