Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell notes...

We jump up at every opportunity to teach Tejas a new word; it's mighty fun to listen him gurgle out the word in his baby language. At night before he falls asleep, I take him to the puja corner, address each deity over there and ask them to bless him. So it'll be, 'Goddess saraswathi, give tejas knowledge and wisdom, Swami Vivekananda, give him strength, Hanuman, give him devotion...etc' and Tejas sports a broad grin all along. 'Do namaste', and he folds his palms, closes his eyes, pretends to mutter something and lifts one eye towards me to see if I'm watching. 'Say Jesus Christ', and he mumbles, 'Jeej chaish'.

Mom is aghast. 'Why Jesus Christ?' She doesn't seem to appreciate her hindu grandson utter a christian god's name. I suppress my urge to give an explanation, to correct her. No arguements. No convincing anymore.

***
A project ends and I apply for a 10 day leave, to accompany archana and tejas to Jammu. On the last working day, when I shut down the system, I feel as if a burden has been lifted off me. There's a sudden sense of relief, something I used to strongly feel and enjoy on the last day of school before the summer vacations began. We used to come home and just throw the books everywhere and flop down on the bed. That gesture remains as a reminder of how we hated school from our guts and how relieved we would feel to escape its clutches. And strangely, the workplace seems to have morphed into an advanced school, something I've come to hate and resist strongly although unable to shake off and bound away. You can never be at ease amidst the helplessness and boredom that are typical in a classroom setting, the unqualified authority of the elders and the inescapable chore of studies-homework-exams. And the repetitive drill at work reminds me of the grind of those years. Inspite of the economic freedom and superficial respect this job has given me, I look for and savour every opportunity where I can be far off from anything called Work.

No, I don't like hating this everyday chore, spending the best part of the day in these activities that help me 'make a living'. I would love to involve myself in work that nourishes my spirit, makes me lose sense of time when I'm at it, gives me a keen sense of achievement and satisfaction irrespective of the endresult and is tremendous fun to do however taxing the details might be. And of course, has at least an ounce of positive benefit to anyone but me, beyond the economic calculations.

Either I find such work or lift my current work to that level.

But.... How?

***

An overwhelming need... to be alone. And I realise how difficult it is, how precious those moments of solitude are.

If I'm not in the office, I'll be at home, with my kid, with archana, in front of the TV, with a book in hand. Switch off the tv, keep aside that book and my son swings on my neck, demanding to be taken out for a walk. I rationalize that I'll find my solitude late in the night when everyone's asleep or early in the morning. But my body refuses me this previlege.

Maybe there's a quota of aloneness allotted to every individual for a lifetime, and I've bloody exhausted mine in those long years between graduation and job, where hours and days just passed away in rich solitude.

Or maybe it isn't the case. I'll soon snatch huge chunks of time from the daily grind and sit blissfully alone, staring into a vaccum, pondering, scribbling,....just being.

***

Where does this fear arise from? Why do I get anxious? I try hard to pin it down but in vain. A very relaxed and jovial meeting with friends is underway when suddenly he says,' Okay, what were your good and not so good experiences of 2008?' Each one begins to narrate. Then he tells another person to share his experience. And another.

Suddenly I'm in the grip of an unreasonable panic. I don't want to speak! This is my family, these people are my own and I'd love to interact with them, any given day, on the subjects we all love to discuss. Yet, in a group setting, my throat runs dry and I have a mild shiver. I'm praying that nobody points out to me and says, 'What about you.....?'

This fear of embarassment has tormented me over the past many years. I remember giving no shit and rattling my guts out, not so long ago. When and where did my nerves run cold, I know not. I've shied away innumerable times from confronting this fear, from voicing my opinion in a group. Many of my decisions have been influenced by this fear. Many twists of life have been shaped because of this anxiety. This remains a dark shadow, something I'm unable to and unwilling to shrug off.

Maybe it hasn't grown huge enough where I have no choice but to root it out. And it isn't mild enough to allow me to cope with it. It remains in that delicate tense equilibirium where you can neither spit it nor gulp it. A perfect thorn up your nail.

***

'How fast the year ended,' I tell her, as if it's a routine to utter this by every december end. But it's true. I remember finishing a translation and sending out a mail late in the night, just last december and it appears as if it was done yesterday. And a whole year has passed after that... as if an entire river flowed under the bridge by the time you finished that sweet little conversation.

This year will be remembered most for the worldwide economic recession among many other things. Although pundits may point out that the recession had already started out years ago, this was the year it hit many in the face. Our jobs are still secure uptill now, but the future is uncertain, the present a bit shaky. Personally I realised that this cubicle will not be my permanent money spinning corner forever, that there are skills to be learnt, risks to be taken and ventures to be answered very soon--before the rug is pulled from under the feet. And it isn't scary afterall, it can also be a thrilling adventure, if you choose it.

When I look back at the year, I realize that many dreams still remain dreams, many resolutions are still in cold storage. And I remember Dave pollard's advice,--that unless something becomes a 'must', it ain't gonna materialize. That drive, that hunger, that urgency is required to make something happen---whether it's experiencing Light/God, moving on to a new job, penning that short story or just waking up early for a round of exercises.

Many dark emotions came to the forefront where I could see and recognize them for what they were. I realized that I'm not the saint I thought I was. And also I found out that being a no-saint wasn't such a bad thing afterall, as long as you know where you stand. There was a broadening of horizons, an increase in awareness however slight. I watched my son grow up from a sweet little baby to a sweet little monster. Joy of fatherhood, agreements-disagreements in family, boredom-disappointment at work, small personal victories, loss of discipline, a feeling of alienation-spiritually, new knowledge about existence, lost friends, gained insight....2008 will be a special year which I'll look back at from the future...

My biggest inspiration of the year was Obama's victory. When the light channels movement was started sometime back, we were told that this collective effort would bring forth a world leader. Yes it has. We rightly think that only thugs and scoundrels are fit for politics, that nothing worthwhile will transpire out of that bunch of humanity. The way Indian leaders behaved after the Mumbai carnage is ample proof for this. Perhaps Obama is one of the few leaders to kindle the hope that maybe this isn't always the case, that sane, sensible people can aspire to lead from the front, that even in hopeless times you can make things happen at every level by beginning with the attitude, 'Yes, we can.' After Gandhi, if there's a leader whom people all over the world looked up to with hope, it is Obama.

How different or similar will our lives be by this time next year? How would the world have changed by another 12 months? Will there be drastic changes--either desirable or miserable? After Nov 2009, when the effects of the proximity to the Photon belt start taking effect, how seriously will our lives be touched? It remains to be seen.

As I sit typing out these words, wishing to be amongst friends in Taponagara who're channelling light to our world, I wish everyone a very happy new year. And pray that we all find light and align with the light in the days ahead......

Friday, November 28, 2008

Raining blood

It's raining incessantly. The gloomy weather and biting cold is matched only by the horrible reality Mumbai is facing right now, played out in our living rooms through the television sets. The greatest instinct a human being has is that of survival. As you want to survive under any circumstance, you also shrink back from snuffing the life out of another being. So it makes one wonder what drives ordinary human beings to defy this instinct and run around, firing indiscriminately and killing unknown people? Who are these animals and what on earth has our life come to in today's world? Hell!

Amit verma who was near the site of the terror attack blogs about the events as he witnessed it. The worrying fact is that, after nearly 2 days since these attacks began, nearly a dozen heavily armed madmen are still roaming free in the city. How could've they carried out this operation
without the support of some locals? The media, though doing a commendable job of reporting the situation braving great odds, still continues to warm itself in the fire that burns mumbai ( 'those pictures you see are exclusive to 'times now', 'the terrorists spoke over the phone exclusively to 'Indiatv'...scum ). Politicians continue their same old job of blame game and posturing, with an eye on the upcoming elections. Most of us who are far removed from the reality but participate vicariously through the television and newspapers, return our normal lives and wait for the next big story. The noises that are being made now in the media about starting a movement against terror will soon abate as another issue explodes and our attention diverts. Violence and death are so prevalent that they don't move us anymore.

Meanwhile the madness continues unabated. Is there a solution for this bloodthirstyness? Who will rein in these horrible instincts in these people-- this hatred, perversion and apathy?

Reality

The disadvantage of waking up late is that I miss the chance to meditate early in the morning. And as if to compensate for my laziness and also to bait me to sleep longer, there are dreams and dreams. Most are nothing but fantasies or horror stories but some are truly fascinating. In one, I am shot dead and then I move around as a spirit. Many dreams are plain embarassing, like I'm shitting in public and people who know me are moving around, casting horrified looks at me. And then there are a few that makes one start jumping, after realising that these are not just dreams.

Then there's this dream in which I meet Barack Obama, two days after he won the elections. I ask him, 'how do you manage to maintain your cool under extreme pressure?' He replies something like, 'I'm not in a hurry to go somewhere or do something else. Wherever I am, I remain there totally.' He sounds like Eckhart tolle, maybe he picked up these lines from 'The New Earth' which I was reading last night before drifting into sleep.

These words arrive when I'm in the shower, hurrying up, and without much effort I slow down. I take time to observe the drops of water as they trickle down onto the floor and lose their individuality. I feel the warmth this hot water gives my body-- I feel it totally. There's a new vigour that's building up from within and all the tiredness seems to escape with the vapours. Every drop transfers its freshness and aliveness to my body, my mind, my soul. I stop thinking beyond the door of the bathroom and stand in the shower for another 5 minutes.

Apart from any message or inspiration a dream may provide, it also makes you ponder over what you percieve as reality. What's the reality of someone who's blind and how does it alter once he regains his eyesight? How are the boundaries of reality pushed further once a deaf man opens up to sounds and music? You learn something new( a new skill, computers, another language..) and notice how your perceptions get enhanced. Visit places, talk to a stranger, learn to look from someones viewpoint and the same happens. So reality is never static but in a state of fluid dynamism. You can take your reality to any level. Meditate, still your system and allow the awareness to expand. Even at the thought/emotional level, the more expanded and broad you are, the greater are the chances of richness and happiness in your life and in the lives of those around you(The contrary is also true). Then how would it be if you can take your awareness beyond the physical level and pop into the unknown dimensions? Are there worlds beyond what we see, hear, feel? What other realities can we perceive once we break free of all our limitations?

And when you know that you're moving towards the epicenter of this turbulence, that a great explosion of awareness awaits humanity....you can't help but wonder--is it possible for the sleeping masses to actually wake up to the bigger truths? Speak about it now and you get sneers and astonished looks, as if you've just lost it. Will they still sneer then when they encounter the truth directly?

Back home

Sometimes Tejas flies into a rage over some issue. Very soon his eyes become small bowls filled to the brim and his face contorts. He raises his hands, makes a gesture of hitting, yells in a weak voice and we know that he's inches away from breaking down and wailing. He stands there, helpless, unable to articulate his anger against an adult world which doesn't understand his viewpoint and just wants to beat his rebellion into submission. Anyone would want to cuddle him, wipe away his tears, console him but that would only fuel his rage. So we stay silent, allow him to express himself, allow him to shout, to wail, to throw things in rage, let his feelings out....

Soon there are disagreeing voices around. Others in the family enter the scene and try to sort things out the way they're usually done. They try to admonish him. Or try to cajole him which pushes him further. And with the admonish, his helpless anger gives way to sorrow and he breaks down. We pick him up, soothe him and divert his attention. The others who'd entered the scene now go back to their worlds.

I remember moments in my childhood wherein I'd feel such anger that I wanted to rip the world apart. And then I'd feel terribly helpless, impotent, subdued. Now I see the same pattern repeating with my son. I hate to see him face the frustration of going through the same loop. I hate to see him encounter the same people whom I'd wanted to beat into a pulp, decades ago.

His helplessness is mine too. How can I explain to others around here that a two year old kid has a very subtle self-respect and it's not okay to trample on it? That it's not okay to put him down in any way, make him feel small, humiliated? How I wish I could always give him all the space he needs. And how I wish the others who matter also think the way I do.

Slow blog

'Thoughts are real'--I remind myself over and over. And then lose my way amidst another heap of rubbish that builds up on my mental landscape. I enjoy the orgy knowing well that this is suicidal.

Then I resolve to reject this flurry of negativity in its roots, just reject the first thought, dammit. I console myself with thoughts like, 'only if my meditations were strong enough' but that is a lie. 'You're full of shit,' is the truth.


My pen(or is it my keyboard!) goes into deep freeze and it takes quite a while for any writing to come forth! And on other rare occasions, the words pour out in a torrent, as if moved by an unbearable urge. Although many argue that this so called 'writing block' is another excuse for plain laziness, that you can write if you really have something to write, I think it's real for sure. You have your ideas. You know how to put it forth and you really would want to do it. But begin writing and pop! the muse dies. Words just evaporate and you look at the pen in your hand not knowing why it's there. That's the time to ponder a bit-- about your motivation to write, what you want to achieve by pouring your ideas out, what's the purpose of it all.

Cassandra writes that she considers blogging as a way to articulate her thoughts to herself. This looks good. And when you're articulating these thoughts with an intention of sharing with others, the clarity increases. Vague ideas begin to take shape into something tangible, something you can make sense of. Maybe all writing is nothing more than an attempt to bring order to an inner chaos, whether we know it or not.

So my already slow rate of blogging becomes much slower, thanks to slow blogging. Instead of regularly dashing off half seasoned posts about nothingness, I'd like to allow some ideas to ferment, get enriched with similar streams of thought and evolve into something of value, at least for me.

A sudden flash. I'm here to experience this pure love, pouring forth from the heart of this beautiful soul! That's the reason I was brought back from the brink, back from the edge of annihilation. To feel and experience this love. To know that one can love and be happy, without reason, without judgement, without any expectation. To know that one can be aware of such purity amidst a never ending dance with hatred and self-obsession. And one can manifest this love with anyone, under any circumstance, no matter what.

You are capable of feeling this emotion and also expressing it very silently, very subtly. Yes you can.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Last Impressions...

....are everlasting, many times. You think of someone and the first thing that comes to mind is how he'd appeared for the last time you'd seen him. He could've been a totally amazing person but if he'd screwed up in the final instance, that's what you're most likely to remember about him. Or if he'd been kind and loving all his life but finally turned bitter, you remember him as someone who's rude/depressed. This could be a top of the head reaction, and one may have to dig deep to get to the real character of that person, but how often do we dig deep is the question.

I remember my granny sitting alone in her bed, looking nowhere while we kids played around in the courtyard. She was more than 75, brittle, physically unwell and psychologically bruised. Whenever I think of her, it's this lonely, suffering image that comes up from memory. That she was a loving granny and sometimes strict too is a bit hard to conjure up, but that was a fact. She would pamper and spoil us for the two months of summer vacation every year, when we visited our native. She'd admonish us for the devils we were and also shower us with love. A mother of 6 and a grandmother to more than a dozen and a half, she must've witnessed a largely peaceful life in a sleepy hamlet for most of her years. All these would gradually pave way to a lonely existence after my grandpa's death and after the return of her rebellious son. In her last years she went through severe psychological abuse at the hands of her son, who'd unfailingly get drunk every evening and create a scene for the most trivial reason. Ignored by grandchildren who were growing up in their own individual worlds, taunted by unsympathetic daughters-in-law, and largely unwanted by anyone, it appeared as though she was wishing for death many times instead of living through the hell that her home had become. So when we were playing around and once in a while when I looked at her, I could in a way sense her desperation and cluelessness. I'd think that it would be better to die when you were needed than live upto such a ripe age and become a burden on others. It's this image of her that has stayed in me eversince.

Similarly When I think of O, I see a selfish schemer although that's the image that came to the forefront in the last 1 hour of our interaction. Throughout our 4 years of friendship he came across as a multi-talented, dynamic, warm person but how's it that I don't associate these qualities with him? How do I retain only the negatives about him? The same happened with a couple of friends, who were dignified, gentle, witty but now I've to try hard to link these qualities to them because of their not so glorious final acts. How is it that we carry back only the surface attibutes of a person that are most glaring instead of his subtle characteristics? Are we biologically hardwired to process and store information in this way--keeping stock of only the recent, more useful(?) information and relegating the rest to the dustbin of memory?

And what image do others retain about me is also worth pondering. An unforgettable character from my childhood is Satyajit, a dear friend with unusually large ears, who'd happily call our teacher as 'aunty' when the rest of the class sheepishly referred to her as Miss. Although we were the best of friends, he must be recalling memories of a nasty fellow whenever he thinks of me. Long long back, on the final day when we parted ways, I was at my worst, harassing him for no reason and thoroughly enjoying his discomfort. He was sad but uncomplaining. I came to my senses within minutes after he left and fervently wished that I'd make amends if only I could meet him again. A swathing sense of guilt and sadness stayed in me for a long time after that final farewell but I guess, if I were him, I'd always carry that last impression of a nagging bully instead of a dear friend whenever I'd think of myself.

Maybe it's unfair to judge people, for better or for worse, but definetly not right to push aside all their characterisitics and weigh them only by their most recent behaviour. And given the lengths to which we go, consciously or not, to gain approval, to belong to a group/community, to look good in others' eyes, it's amazing to think how randomly we judge others or get judged by them. It takes a lot of detachment to be impervious of others' opinion of us. Maybe the evolved souls strike the right balance between developing strong interpersonal relationships and giving no shit to what others might think of one. But for the rest of us, who're on the highway of evolution it's a bitter-sweet struggle between appeasement and indifference.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mmmm....Uh!

So the crash has officially started, right! Nowhere is it more evident than in the in-between-work gossip that fills up our cubicle air. No more talks of quitting and job-hopping. No fancy info about huge pay-checks in the adjoining MNC. Nazeer, who till recently wanted to smash the manager's jaws before throwing the towel, is silent nowadays. Will our jobs be secure? Will there be a pay-cut? And if you dare change jobs, will you last in the next company till the probation period ends? No bloody idea! Back home there's an invisible air of apprehension, barely tangible. The stock market afficionados of our layout have gone underground. What's your bank balance? A few lakhs. Or a few thousands! Is there any difference? We're probably staring at the gradual unfolding of a once in a millenium situation where everyone-- rich/self sufficient, educated/worldly wise, civilized/natural, rebel/applause craver, young/defeated...everyone's brought down to the same level of bare existence. Now you're an authentic human being, not the masks you've acquired or been handed down. Exciting? Boring? Heart-stopping?

In this dazed atmosphere, you don't know what's really happening inspite of all the facts and 12 digit numbers you can rattle off, straight from the experts. Should you continue your daily job and normal humdrum until something else happens, someone comes from nowhere and fixes/screws things further so that your life gets shattered/redefined? Is there anything else we can do at the individual level, to sail our boats through this turbulence? And though this question can be asked in any situation, recession or not, it's worthy to ask oneself loud and clear----who the hell am I and what in all heavens am I supposed to be doing here? Where do I go from this point onwards and What's to be done now? What are the real things of value and what can be dispensed off? How will my level of awareness, Open mindedness, adaptability and detachment determine the suffering or enlightenment I'm going to experience further down at the bend?

Pondering...Finding...

It's a bit amusing and interesting to observe patterns--wherever they emerge. Two patterns I've observed in my son; One, he picks up an activity slightly late for his age, making us a bit apprehensive. Once he starts, there's no stopping him--it's as if he's on a race. He walked a bit late for his age but once started, we'd to run behind him, scared lest he bump around and hurt himself. Now the same thing's happening with his speech. After a spell of reticence and incoherent words, he's found the spirit, broken the dam so to say; the words seem to be flowing effortlessly.

Secondly, he seems to sense out the friendly people from the not so friendly ones. With the former, he's most comfortable --when my cousin came visiting for the first time, tejas responded with a smile and shook hands with him, inspite of his natural waryness of strangers. My cousin has a warm demeanour and assuring sense of humour and Tejas seemed to sense this instinctively. With the latter, he's either stubborn or shy. I've noticed his lack of rapport with a few people inspite of repeated cajoling; no matter how much anyone tries, he keeps away from a few people. Maybe his intuition tells him more about them than his limited intellect can.

Maybe all kids make sense of the world around intuitively, naturally, until civilization kicks in.


Driving back home from Manasa on a Sunday evening, Kavi asks, 'Where would we have been now, if it weren't for Meditations and this path?' No idea! This is one track which many of us chose independently at some point in the past and bingo! here we are, cruising together along this road -- happy, intrigued, and awakening in degrees. If I hadn't chosen this.... if I had proposed to that girl in college, if I had completed my studies, if I had not read a particular interview in a particular magazine in which someone narrated the benefits of Yogic practices, if I hadn't taken the trouble to find out about meditations and put an application, if I hadn't faced humiliation and acutely felt a sense of worthlessness.....if this and if that....maybe I'd have ended up in some gutter or made it to the heavens. But if you'd followed some other track, you'd have stopped at some point and pondered, 'if it weren't for that, where would've I ended up?'

So you have your questions no matter what track you follow and you can always ask, if not for this, where would've I been? You have reached where you were supposed to reach. Period. I am supposed to be here, at this point in time, doing these things, living with these people, going through these experiences, nurturing these dreams....pondering about all of this and writing it in my blog...Nothing else!

Most mornings begin with a drizzle. When I drive to office, I'll be breathing through an almost invisible veil of soft mist that seems to descend slowly from the overhead trees. The day passes in a cloudy gloom. Then before the skies break open, a short spell of rain lashes early in the evening and stops.

Taking a walk in this weather is nothing short of heaven. The whole world looks spotlessly clean, fresh, innocent....like a baby that's just had a refreshing bath. Smiling faces around. Receptive minds.

Afterthought...

Now let's dream a bit. Maybe I and you haven't left home at all. Only a part of my being has descended into this life-track and is going through these times. Maybe I have descended into different tracks, in different worlds, experiencing different lives, unaware of each other but knowing at the source and being aware of all these various lives... and what I know as suffering is being totally unaware of my source and being totally sucked into this individual life....and what I'll experience as Enlightenment is to know deeply, experientially that I'm the Source whose partial awareness has descended into this life-track and is asking all these questions,....that I'm only a part here, but basically I'm nothing but the source.

Okay, let's experience this!


Monday, September 22, 2008

The Pleasure of Reading...

...surpasses every other pleasure--for me. Put me in a room full of books that get automatically renewed/replaced periodically and I'll stay there for all eternity, unbothered about anything else. We picked up this dirty habit in early childhood when Dad would bring home all periodicals, magazines, books of the day(He still does it nowadays, with more vigour) and we'd fight over each other to read the latest installment of Champak, Amar chitrakatha, chandamama....the habit got reinforced in late school and early college years when I had more friends in fictional characters than in real life, the fictional world being more authentic and fascinating than the drudgery of everyday existence.

Circa 2005. I discovered blogs. And also discovered that I had sufficient cash flow by which I could indulge myself by purchasing every other delicious book I could smell. Three years of software testing and I can say, I've read more during office hours than tested code(of course, by squeezing all work into my available 'work' hours and getting three headaches every month). I wake up early sometimes and read. Or sit late at night. Carry a book to the railway reservation queue. Or at the doctors. I read two books in between attending the marriage rituals of my sister-in-law. And sometimes during breakfast, I'll be eating more words than bread crumbs. Yet there are more unread books in my shelf than those which I've read. And my must-read list goes on and on making me wonder if I'll ever get to the end of it in this life-time.

But what's the point? Why read at all? Spend so much time-money -attention...for what purpose? The primary purpose is ...pure orgasm. Nothing else. And sometimes, a bit of illumination(eckart tolle, khalil gibran), inspiration(ran prieur, reality sandwich, Dave pollard) and new thought(last american man,flow). But most of the time, it's the simple intellectual and emotional kick/satisfaction that's derived by looking and wondering at life through eyes not your own. I bet, the pleasure center in the brain for sex, fruit-salad and reading must be the same!

And just as a new project starts at work, I come across this series of blogposts--a rendition of the Epic Mahabharata through Bhima's eyes. And a book on Ramayana by Kamala subramaniam which a friend has promised to deliver this weekend. And another set of translations of Marathi mythological novels in English (Mruthyunjaya and Yayati), which I'll get my hands on very soon.

If I were a gladiator I would've shouted, 'Felice di essere vivo e cazzo!' Yeah!!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Dawn..still far away

You think that you're super detached. You think you're not sentimental. You pride yourself in your aloofness, in your stoicness. No, you aren't. You are very much human even if you have difficulty in accepting it.

A colleague leaves for another company after 4 years and you have a lump in the throat. He isn't a best friend, infact he's a pain sometimes, but this long association ends in a snap. And with this, something in you dies too. Where did this tenderness arrive from? You had become hard and opaque; you'd deliberately killed all soft feelings and turned rigid over many years. What was it that mellowed you? Made you responsive! Sensitive!

I know hunger. I've felt its pangs, an immense burning sensation that clouds everything--your judgement, your reasoning, the very awareness that you're a human being. Long back, when I was travelling a long distance with very little money and even little inner strength, I spent nearly two days eating two packets of biscuits and an apple. By the time I reached half the journey, I was mad with hunger and could barely walk. So when I hear the adage, 'The greatest God is the food God,' I agree wholeheartedly. You can speak lofty ideals only after your stomach is full. When hunger strikes everything else goes out of the window and what's left is a pure animal who's intent on surviving, nothing else. If there's anyone who's an exception to this, I haven't met him/her yet and would definetly like to know them.

There are reports of food riots breaking out in flood ravaged bihar. The administration has failed to cope up with the devastation there and much of the relief sent by the government is eaten up by the middle men, with only a trickle reaching the needy. What follows is pure survivalism. Hungry villagers armed with sticks and sickels have attacked the food godowns, grabbing sacks of rice and wheat, carrying them back to the waiting stomachs at home. It takes only a river to flood and a pathetic administration to fail and you have authentic human nature coming out.

Maybe you don't need such extreme situations too-- a small push will do. A funny thing happens every afternoon at the restuarant near my workplace. The crowd that collects at the food counter is a healthy mix of officials, executives, technicians and people from all walks of life. We buy the tickets at the entrance, hand it over to the servers at the food counter and wait patiently for the food to arrive. If there are 10 people who've ordered Masala dosa and the server brings 4 at a time, it's a sight to watch people jump over one another to grab these dishes. At that moment you aren't a manager or an executive from a Multi national, drawing a six figure income every month. You're a bloody stomach. And sometimes the cook comes out and peeks at us with a wry smile. He's no longer a poor cook ekeing out a living preparing dishes in a modest restuarant. For one moment, he's God.

'Everyone does everything for his stomach and for a peice of cloth,' sang a saint. How cool would it be if one could bypass the need to eat in order to survive! Maybe we could draw nourishment from the sun directly, the way plants do. And have no need to work, earn, struggle. Wishful thinking. Why not?

Amidst a never ending effort for a secure base, for stability, beating your hands frantically attempting not to drown, there are sudden flashes. That everything is just fine as it is. That you're better off swimming in the current and there's no need to panic, to reach the shore or find any destination. You're at home right now, here, in this very place and moment. Such moments arrive unheralded, at unlikely places--say, when I'm in the middle of the busy traffic, or under the shower, or while surfing the channels or observing my son at play....

And these moments are so fleeting that in an instant, you're back to your anxious self. You're again in the flux, in the struggle, fighting, seeking, hoping. But you know that the moment comes again. That it's not a freak occurance. That the relaxedness is your default state of living to which you'll go back soon. That you need to find ways to set up roots in that stillness, in that carefreeness.

'To utter the truth you need a simple courage,' he said. 'To accept something as true itself requires great courage. I hate to hurt others but is it because I'm scared that once hurt, they may pounce on me? Or do I have a genuine concern for their well being?'

'You might have a real concern for them...'

'Mmm. I think not. I'm scared that they'll attack me. Or maybe stay away from me and I'll become alone. Or even, if someone's hurt, it makes me feel wretched and I don't like feeling that way...'

I thought for a while and said, 'What do you want to do then?'

'Just speak the truth. And live quietly after that. No f pretense. I'm tired.'

I sit alone in the dead of the night, listening to crickets, barking dogs from another universe and the thud of my fingers on the keyboard. For one moment, I wonder what I'm doing here, putting my thoughts down, for what purpose. I have work to do, a waiting headache in the office tomorrow, followed by a possible dinner with friends in the evening and a relaxing weekend after that. I have several journeys to traverse, new lessons to learn and, inspite of bitterness and anxiety, a rewarding life to explore and celebrate. I stand on the threshold of new discoveries and an exciting tomorrow. When I'm truly tired of thinking and feeling for myself, I stand up and try to expand a bit, try to look ahead and around. No, I can't empathise with others. Expandedness is an empty word for me; I can only feel for a select few around me.

I'd love to expand, to feel the oneness with others, other beings, other things. I'd love to feel this Love--pure and pristine. Taste it. What's it like?

I'll find this Love. When I cease, it shall be found....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Immediate thoughts

'Lust Caution' is disturbingly pleasant. Not just for the explicit scenes but because of the conclusion, in which the protagonist fails in the carefully thoughtout mission for which she has devoted her life. I expected an ending in which she finishes off the villian after another intense lovemaking session and either breaks down in regret or flies off into the sunset with the hero who's waiting in the sidewings. What happens is totally unexpected and so true to life--like, you search for some bloody conclusions and neatly tied-up endings here and you draw a blank. Life isn't a fucking holly/bollywood drama where the white triumphs over the black and you get pampered and mollycoddled by existence. It's a kaleidoscope of gray shades--you don't know what's right or what's wrong in this dreamlike reality and by the time you figure it out, you're near the end of the goddamned journey and you're still not sure.

A fascinating peek into what might exist beyond our perceptions, beyond death, on the other side. Here. Reminds me of what this guy says 'The occult isn't hidden. It's ignored.'

Nowadays it's frequent... a sinking feeling... that I'm wasting my youth, my time, my energy in the pursuit of horse shit. That I'm missing the most precious years of my kid, staring at a blinking box and typing like insane in a cold cubicle, doing what, I'm not sure. That I watch the days, weeks, months passby without knowing or trying to know my purpose, why the hell I'm here or what'm I supposed to be doing.

Do I flow with the world around--living like a robot just like everybody else because everything around's so screwed up, and then waking up only when everything falls apart in the near future? Or do I take charge of my life and decide what to do with it--Now--without waiting for something to happen or someone to come around and rescue me?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Who on earth am I...

I am a body-- fair, lean and hungry. I am the voice inside my head. I am what I think I am.

I am this face... no, I am someone hiding behind this face, looking out, hearing something, thinking a lot. I am a person in this body. I'm this stubble, this breath, this black tee-shirt with some crap imprint.

I am a wary child to my parents; I am a watchful and delighted parent to my child. I am a struggling disciple to my Guru. I'm the irreverant, disrespectful guy standing next to you. I'm the lover of my beloved. I'm an unending desire, a guilty passion. A stranger to oneself. In dark moments, I'm a good for nothing jackass yet at brighter horizons I'm most self-assured. I'm my moods.

I'm what I eat. I'm hunger and thirst. I'm my frequent headaches. I'm the irritation of the mosquito bites. I'm sleeplessness. I'm physical.

I'm lust. I'm the uncontrollable anger. I'm the regret that follows the anger. I'm an energy that posseses this body at times. I'm the body possesed by this strange energy.

I'm a yearning for many freedoms. I'm the freedom which I yearn for.

I'm the fear of many unknowns. I'm the nostalgia of bygone days. I'm a few terrible regrets of my youth. I'm a great enthusiast of the coming future.

I'm what I scribble, what I type. I'm the memory, bright yet painful. I'm the hope, anxious yet excited.

I'm a slave to the society, a conformist craving for validation. I'm a secret rebel, raging to explode. I'm a prisoner of my own imagined limitations. I'm the revealation that the prison is an illusion, that I'm without limits.

I'm a stranger, lost in the crowds of a big city. I'm a friend, smiling at unknown people, feeling myself in them.

I'm the hero and the coward of my dreams. I'm the beggar of my senses. I'm the conquerer of small triumphs.

I’m a thousand questions, a million doubts, and a few answers. I’m the wonder of a baby’s eyes and the wisdom of the aged wrinkles.

I’m solitude, a deep longing to be alone. I’m the warmth of friends, family, acquaintances, a craving for company.

I’m a cog in the wheel of a Software vehicle on the Information highway. I’m a wageslave yet I’m the taste of independence given by the work ethic.

I’m the search for an unknown, unglimpsed light. I’m an untapped potential, a divine possibility.

I’m humour and pathos. I’m exhilaration and sorrow. Day and night are in me.

I stand naked yet hide innumerable secrets. I’m the tear behind the smile.

I’m the sum of several mistakes and lessons. I’m the latest fall and the newest admonish.

I’m the one you humiliated and also the one who lauged at/wept over/felt awkward at your humiliation. I’m the fire surging towards a fresh vision.

I’m an adventure. I’m a bird in flight.

I’m the one who lit the candle.

I'm the one who’ll watch the candle burn out into a thin smoke.


I am darkness.

I am light.

I am everything.

I'm the nothing that pervades everything.

I am.

I.

...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Small new beginnings

There are frequent powercuts these days. We three sit in front of the Tv late at night, expecting the latest installement of 'Mata ki chowki', and plunk goes the power. We peer at one another for sometime, a bit bewildered, too lazy to get up and
light a candle until tejas begins to get uneasy and starts questioning. The fan's stopped and it's getting warmer. Light the candle, sing a lullaby and pat tejas to sleep. Pull out a book and try to read in the waning candle light. Close it and walk out. Every other area surrounding ours is bright with glittering lights; our colony is an oasis of darkness. Stand under the million sparkles up there. Shut all mental noise and look at the silence. Be still.

I leave home early, thinking I'll avoid the traffic jams but no, there are at least three clogs before I reach office. And with 300 two wheelers being added to the roads of bangalore everyday, one wonders where this will lead to? The pollution, dust, hustle are overwhelming at times and I'm sure this must be the case across many more cities elsewhere. Suddenly you have a sinking feeling that you're driving fast down doom's lane, that an inevitable crash is staring in your face. Yet we continue our daily lives as if this technoutopia will continue ad infinitum. My next ambition is to possess an iphone, a laptop and a royal enfield motorbike. This amidst my noble desire to cut down on my wants, to simplify, to learn new skills of sustainability and,community building. The conflict is obvious; between the old world and the coming new age, a world of material wants and isolation and a new world of inner growth and community. Of hoarding excessive baggage and living lightly.

A new house is getting constructed in our layout and the watchman has built a small room next to the park and moved in with his family. The husband and wife work hard all day long, eat their food early in the evening and are deep asleep while the rest of the layout is busy watching teleserials. There are four small kids, who play all day in the sun, sand and rains. Once this house gets constructed, this small family will shift elsewhere and take roots--for sometime. And then move again. Their possessions are light, their worries & joys are immediate and it appears as though they're living day to day, moment to moment.

I guess, detachment and a kind of lightness are a part of their lives. They do not have to struggle to develop these, like I have to. If I want to change my house, I'll have to think hundred times. This house has been a part of me, my life, for the past 22 years. Much of my life is entwined here, so to shift from here is to uproot oneself and get rid of a part of ones identity.

I love to be that detached and light, however difficult and alien it is to me. And this could become a necessity also.

Reading Flow. Placed an order for a collection of short stories by Nathan englander(Had read a review of one of his shortstories here, long back). And also another book which I've been lusting for for quite sometime--'The last american man'.

I have a direct experience of how Light works. We saunter into the meeting room, expecting another round of verbal bashing and admonishes from the Manager. I channel light, spread it everywhere with a request of fearlessness and peace. Throughout the meeting, I stay aware of the light spreading out from my heart, all around.

Surprisingly, the manager seems to have forgotten that he's one hell of an asshole, for his behaviour is completly out of the norm. For the first time, he praises the team for the good efforts and resists from probing and prodding the individual efforts. Even the team members are relaxed and upfront in their reporting. There's an ambience of ease and humour, no fear or
dejection-- and the meeting ends on a high note with the manager hinting at the announcement of our overdue salary raises by the weekend.

How could this happen? 'It's an one off thing,'says Nazeer.'He'll bash us in the next meeting, just see.' The skeptic in me thinks the same. But I believe it isn't so. The Light makes a difference, in how people think, emote and act. It changes everything, elevates the quality of our lives and reminds even the hardened nut that beneath layers upon layers of accumulated dirt, she's a pristine spark of the divine. It first changes you, changes how you view the world. No matter you believe or not, it works, beyond the rat hole of all your learnt logic and rationality.

This simple event inspires me to practise Light awareness all the time, in every situation, under any circumstances, without any expectation of goodies or favourable ambience. Because I understand that the time period that's closing in on us in the near future has tremendous challenges, far far greater than dealing with the warped ego of a retarded manager. When the system comes crashing down on you, When everything you know about dealing with the world goes for a toss and you're confronted with a new world order, there's only one thing that saves, guards and guides you. It's the light that you carry, the light you manifest, the light you're aligned to.

You are that light. Not an alienated human pygmy tossed onto this earth, in a remote corner of an uncaring universe. You...are...Light. Know it and start living it....Now

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Where's your sense of humour...!


Heavy tension pervades our workplace nowadays. A project has started with the tightest deadline ever and it seems to be taking its toll on all of us. Suddenly we're transported back in time, to that suffocating school days when the terrorist PT Master stood over us, ruler in hand, thrashing not the knuckles or bones but at a part where it hurts most--ones self-esteem. That horror has revisted and everyone seems to be enjoying it.

Every evening is a torture where the project manager marches all the team members into a stuffy room and conducts a status meeting. Even the best effort is ridiculed, every minutes accountability is asked and there are long lectures on time-management, dedication, quality, work-ethics and company policy. The juice in the work is gone and what remains is a dry terror. We listen in awe as the manager barks on and on, making each one feel and realise ones own worthlessness.

When I stand listening to the never ending harangue, wondering what karmas did I do to deserve this, who comes to my rescue but my dear friend R.K.Narayan! I lift a scene out of 'The Bachelor of Arts'--and imagine the manager, a short, stout fellow standing in the middle of the room, only in his underpants. That ugly scar on his pot belly, how his teats bounce every 5 seconds, how he scratches himself like a sick dog, that super squeaky voice--what's there to be scared of this asshole? 'I'm going to hold this against each one of you, once this ends'--bark, bark--he's threatening with termination if we don't do as he wants us to. Now I imagine him in his full glory, in his birthday suit. Awww Yuck! Why does he attack and thrash his juniors? His wife's a bomb and he's so pathetic; that's the source of his self-hatred and inferiority complex! 'I was a school leader and I'm used to kicking people out'...Yeah, I just heard you fart, you jackass!

What's strikingly astonishing is the fear he evokes in everyone around here? What's everyone scared of? Loss of job? Loss of face? Fear of embarrassment? The primeval fear of annihilation is staring at every face here and it's to be seen to be believed. And secondly, the way he sways and influences everyone towards his ideals. There are only robots here, programmed to act, not aware human beings with self-respect. All nod to his tunes, the way the Nazis might've listened to the Fuhrer...where does he derive this destructive power? Does someone else whack him and so he takes it out on others? There, he farts again!

This is the worst period of my worklife. Maybe my best. These crushing forces have now shown me what's the prioritiy and what's fluffy! What's lacking, what's to be done, how to do it, where's the motivation--these are becoming clear. Whether I act on them and grow or pass through the ordeal and remain unchanged remains to be seen. But boy does it hurt, this change.
The proverb is totally true...'My ass is getting torn and becoming as wide as that door...!'

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

One world.....One Light

'I'll first practise this properly. Only then will I write about it.....'

'You're already practising it all these years. You've been living it. You don't have to wait!'

Early in the morning, before my son is up and jumping, I come out of the room onto the terrace. At a distance, one floor below on another terrace, I see Sahana sitting in a meditative posture. Maybe she has spotted me and becomes self-conscious and fidgety. I move away where she cannot see me.

Go down memory lane. Nearly 15 years ago, in my college years I took up Yogasanas and spiritual practices, just on a whim. It was unusual then-- nobody in my class practised such things, none of my friends were bothered about meditations or spirituality....even my interest in these things was born out of a desperation to improve myself, to come to terms with a nagging sense of emptiness. I would wake up early, have a cold bath, amble up to the terrace, spread a mat and practice exercises, yogic postures, breathing techniques, try to silence the mind....and I was the queer fish. Once in fifteen days I would go on a 12 hour fast. I became totally vegetarian and began to strictly observe my diet. Mom and Dad would scold me for such fancies, my sisters and her friends found these indulgences silly(maybe they still do).

Things happened fairly quickly. In the same desperation, with the similar necessity to come to terms with another spell of dejection and directionlessness, I joined a spiritual path. I took up meditations a tad seriously. And with that a new life began, something I never paid much attention to, and just took into my stride as if it was a natural thing. A paradigm shift, you could say.

Meditation, as I understood, was a process by which we would silence, not just the mind but our entire system. It was difficult. It is. But what I gradually came to know and accept was that, behind this practice there existed the wisdom of thousands of years. Meditation was not just about focussing your attention on some symbol and gaining peace of mind. This effort of becoming silent would create a space where a hundred other processes would get initiated. Most of these processes remained hidden except for a few glimpses here and there, a fleeting vision, strange dreams,.....but I would hear accounts of amazing experiences from fellow practitioners. There are multiple worlds and dimensions behind and beyond what we normally can see, hear and feel! One of the processes initiated through meditations would cleanse our perception and make us aware of these multiple worlds! I met and listened to people who could recall these visions, who could narrate improbable occurences. Somehow these didn't come across as tall stories. They defied logic but there was a ring of authenticity in these experiences.

Yet these were just the side-effects. The main intention of Meditation was Self-transformation. Not just the transformation advocated by self-help gurus-- to become assertive, to communicate well, to win friends, to become the toast of the party...No. The transformation had to be total, from taking your awareness from a limited ego-centric 'I', to the center of your being. To experience who you truly are, not just a body or a mind, but a brilliant spark of divinity. To directly know the truth of existence. To find out who you are, why you're here, what you're supposed to do with your life, how to do it and where you go from here. What lies before birth and after death? Not just rhetoric but an actual experience. In deep silence and an expanding awareness, you would gain a simple clarity about existence. Meditation was a process that would take you to that experience and bring you back transformed. Enlightened! The Goal is Enlightenment. And beyond!

This was tremendous. I'd unknowingly stepped into a fantastic voyage.

It was an ocean, an unknown world into which I waded with trepidation. There were fellow travellers, youngsters like me and also unlike me. Many of us(not all) came to the spiritual world without an inkling of what it was. We wanted relief from our problems, we wanted a sense of direction when nothing was sure, maybe we wanted to explore. Yet we got more than what we'd bargained for. Without any fanfare, we'd gradually grown into better people. The total transformation towards which meditational practices aimed at, did not come in one big cascade. It would happen gradually, without upsetting the balance of our lives. Yes it did. And continues to do so. There were fears reconciled. Responsiblities taken up. Adventures were answered. A cheerful disposition arrived. Cynicism withdrew. I changed and so did my life. This world is subjective. Change your attitude and 'your' world changes.

And there was new knowledge awaiting us. That we're in a very great period of transformation, a period of turbulence and churning which was mistaken as 'pralaya' or destruction. That the destruction was not a physical one but that of an unstable old world order. That the Golden age is about to begin and we all are on the threshold, to welcome this new age. That all the darkness we observe around us as corruption, violence, pollution, environmental devastation and all the negativities that are within us in the form of greed, hatred, excessive materialism, unconsciousness--every ounce of darkness would be answered soon. That we were the answers as much as we had been the problems. That we carry the light which would remove this darkness. And there is more light waiting to descend. There are unseen Masters, unknown guides waiting to help humanity transit into the new age....Much much more.

There were techniques which were beyond meditations. We meditated to transform ourselves. And we practised the higher techniques to transform the world, to help others receive the light and transform. A collective growth would happen at a lightening speed if there was a collective will and a mass practice.

On a day with an overcast sky yet a cheerful atmosphere, I open my mailbox and.....

Dear Friend,

This is about a movement that has just begun, a World Movement. A movement towards a higher life. It is a movement towards Light, away from darkness represented by injustice, corruption, suffering, environmental damage etc. It is a movement to live in Light.

Like all movements, this movement has begun silently by a small group of people and it should be expanded to as many people as possible to gather momentum and become effective. The participation does not involve any money or lots of your precious time. It does not require any specific background. All it needs is a few minutes of your time to bring down the Light and spread it to the world. The Light has the power to transform the world but it will work only when we consciously bring it down and allow it to work.

Please visit the website for information on how you can participate in this World Movement.

Please forward this message to all your friends and help this movement.

Divine Love,

Guruji Krishnananda

When I see Sahana meditating on her early morning terrace, I feel like shouting to her, asking her to take up this practise--although she was one of my sister's friends who ridiculed my spiritual practices long back. Yet the world has changed in all these years. There's a newfound interest in the sublime. Youngsters and the elderly alike are drawn to Meditations and yogic practices. We no longer accept what life hands down to us but raise questions---Is there more to life than mere survival and sensual gratification? Do we continue to exist as mere cogs in the ever churning wheel of civilization--nothing more than nuts and bolts in the greater scheme of things? Where on earth are we headed towards? There's a growing unrest with the mundane and an inclination to grasp higher truths. Many of us are at different stages but all are on this journey. From darkness towards the light of a New Age.

I make time amidst my seemingly hectic schedule to practice lightchanneling*. I imagine this message spreads far and wide, through emails, blogs, word of mouth--from this blog and many other websites too. I see millions and millions of people practicing this technique every day, all over the globe, across nations, races and religions. A tremendous force of intention is created through innumerable hearts--that we shun darkness and ask for light. That we shun selfishness and ask for oneness and love. That we desire simplicity. Happiness. Bliss. And Enlightenment.

We get what we ask for. We ask for the Light. Let there be Light.

* Technique: Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Imagine a huge globe of bright white light above you. Draw this light and imagine it enters and fills up your body, your entire system. Feel and experience this light for a minute. Then imagine that this light spreads out and fills up your room, house, locality, city, entire globe and out towards infinity..... Practice this for 7 minutes in the morning and for 7 minutes before going to bed at night. Or at any convenient time in the day.

This light is not the physical light. It is God Himself. Have the awareness that this light is Love, Bliss, Joy, Positivity....this light ushers in the Newage wherever it goes.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My world

'What's your motivation?'

The question arrives as I stare out at the darkness all around. Fresh darkness.

Amidst endless channel hopping, I stop breifly at Sanskar. Swami sukhabodananda is lecturing on living a stress-free life. Continous flow of words, expressions, stories, gesticulations.....of all the modern day swamis, gurus and teachers I personally find him to be the most irritating. The moment I see him on Tv or hear his voice on Moksha, I revolt....'but what has he done to you?' she protests amidst admonishes of not to utter expletives in front of the kid and I have no answer. I just can't stand him, that's it. Watching his theatricals, a question springs up, as if out of nowhere.....what motivates him to sit in front of an audience(and a bigger audience through television) and blabber on and on about stress, breathing, prana, mind, watchfulness.....! What on heavens motivates this person to clown around? From where does the inspiration arrive? Why do people do what they do?

A phone call. It's a far-off relative. He informs that one of my distant uncles passed away in Mumbai. I don't know how to react....I don't know this uncle, I haven't seen him at all. 'Is it....? Oh...' I stammer. Keep the phone. Inform Dad about it. Ponder a bit.

People depart just like that. A middle aged lady whom we used to meet in our weekly meditation classes, who used to be a bit of a bother with her quirks---she's run over by a truck and....It's bloody shocking. I drive to my office, covering nearly 25 kms a day, and hardly a day goes by without me approaching the 'edge' at least a couple of times. Vehicles whizz past and they have no eyes, no feelings, no sense of life or death. You're always on the edge and you never know when the balance tips. Cynical! And we always thought this drama would never end, would go on and on and on.....

The death toll in the Chinese earthquake is staggering. A Couple have lost their only son when his school building collapsed. The relief worker is holding the lifeless body, and the parents are putting on new clothes on the body of their child before sending him.....the anguish, the pain on their wailing faces...it brings a lump in the throat.

There's a cricket player on TV-- he's a batsmen for the Chennai team. I remember this bloke because I played with him once, long back, maybe 6 years ago. That was the period when all of a sudden I decided that my future would be in International cricket. I purchased a brand new cricket gear and joined a cricket club, at the ripe age of 25, when most players would be peaking at the highest level and beginning to wither away. Of course, the madness lasted for an year, but before that, there was a match against a team from chennai and this guy played for that team. A few years younger to me, his name was peculiar; Vidyuth. Meaning 'Electricity'. Who on earth would name their kid as Electricity? Why not Hydro electricity? Or nuclear power? Anyway this kid smashed us to all corners of the field in that match and that was it. Six years later, one day you switch on the TV what do you see but this guy playing in the Indian Premier League, smashing bowlers of international repute out of the stadium... and you can't help but admire the persistence, the tenacity this guy has, the passion that sustained him so long when everyone else who played that game six years ago are no where in sight, cricket wise.

We quarrel. My son gets irritated and shouts. As if he senses the ugly vibrations.

We stop at an evening restauarant and order two milkshakes. Overcrowded. A Sunday evening relaxed atmosphere pervades everywhere. A bunch of youngsters eat noisily. A shy couple at a distance. Another couple with an one year old kid. The chubby kid picks up the menu card and begins to play, much to the amusement of a lady in the next seat. She gestures and the kid smiles. The father plucks the menu card, gestures a hit at the baby and pulls him over to his lap. A young waiter watches the crowd, searching for any table that needs cleaning. The couple get up and the waiter walks over with his tub, cleans the table, removes all leftovers and goes back to his place. Stands there and watches again. Tired eyes.

A kid next door. His mom slaps him and he wails, 'What did I do.....Pappa come fast, Mom is beating me....!'

A new team leader arrives at Work. He's short statured, a bit low on the technical front but looks good in people management. A bit hesitant, trying to win the loyalty of a new team, balancing between bossing and understanding, getting bewildered by the aggressiveness of the senior management, pretending not to be listening when we make fun of his predicament...

A chunck of unstructured time arrives. Archana and Tejas are away at Nagpur visiting her sisters'. I take a week off and stay at home. Suddenly there's an abundance of the most scarce commodity in my world---Free time! Empty room. All the time in the world to give life to my dreams, to plan, to do, to stare at new horizons....and what I do is just while away my time in laziness, mindless reading and daydreaming. At the end of the week I sit up and ask, 'What happened?' No answers. And No judgements too. It's okay to laze, to stay relaxed, to let go and do NOTHING!

Suddenly I tell Mom. 'We'll be leaving in another 2 years.' She is worried.

Petrol prices are about to go up exhorbitantly. There's a suggestion that fuel could be rationed. Then? 'Can you ride to your office on a bicycle?' I imagine it for a minute. Not improbable. 'But what office are you talking about? What if the IT industry collapses?' ... What if fuel prices go so high that very few can afford it? What if oil reserves become empty? Will we go back to horse carriages, bullock carts?........ The first signs of days to come!

'When the human order collapses, a divine order will replace it immediately. We'll never be left alone.'

In this I trust. We will wake up to that tomorrow. You and Me. All of us.

Early morning. I channel the light. Just before hitting the bed at midnight, I channel it again. 'This light is God. It will transform this world. Spread this message everywhere, through websites, emails, blogs....Tell your friends. When a large number of people take up a simple act, it gains enormous strength and builds up a revolution...Do it. Tell others....'

Yes, I will.....

Friday, May 02, 2008

No Reflections, No lessons....

We lived in a rented house for nearly 7 years before moving to our own house. The construction activity lasted nearly an year, during which Dad juggled between his office and monitoring the construction work-- a herculean task, given that he had to do it alone. I was about 10 then and was all excited about moving to a new house. What I never reckoned was that I'd be leaving behind a host of friends and playmates whom I'd known closely all along, moving away from an environment which was very familiar and intimate since my childhood.

Venu was one of those friends, studying a class above mine, who belonged to an austere, pious family, which was very particular about tradition, values and orthodoxy. We'd spent countless afternoons and evenings, creating and inhabiting an astonishing world where we lived multiple roles. We were the fishermen, bus drivers-conductors, police-thieves, cooks-waiters, movie heroes-villains, and much, much more. He was my best friend. He was thin and dark complexioned, but over the one year period during which our house got constructed, he grew to become plump and fair skinned. Kinda chubby. When I asked Mom, she said,'He has brain tumour.' I didn't ask what it meant.

He left school and stayed at home, invoking terrible jealousy in me because school was nothing short of hell for me. He'd borrow my comic books/story books and read them all day long. 'Lucky fellow,' I reflected while dragging myself through the never ending chore of books, study, homework and exams. One night, his parents put a cot outside the house in the garden, and made him sleep there. 'Why?' and Dad said,'Some custom.' Later they moved him back.

We shifted our house in the early hours of a Sunday morning. We woke up early, got dressed and hauled all the furniture and other belongings onto a tempo. Venu's parents had once again made him sleep on the cot, outside the house. They were standing outside and waving us goodbye from a distance.
As the tempo started, Dad said, 'Venu passed away last night'. Those words hardly got registered amidst all the excitement and trepidation of leaving behind an old world and entering a new one.

Transitions are easy, even desirable, when you're a kid, but somewhere on the way to adulthood you lose the flexibility. You tend to become rigid, unmoveable, brittle.. The very thought of change brings uneasiness.

Maybe 10 years back. I was journeying from Mumbai to Bangalore on a second class train compartment. A man in his late 40s opposite me was reading 'My days', by R.K.Narayan. After resisting for a while I broke through my reticence and borrowed the book. He was a seniour executive in an investment firm, carried a guitar, smoked endlessly, and soon I got familiar enough with him to borrow a couple of cigarrettes from his pack and begin puffing. Another guy joined us--a young man my age, an autorickshaw driver from bangalore. We made an interesting trio--A seemingly refined gentleman, sophisticated and successful; a rustic struggling to make ends meet, but jovial and carefree; a young student, bumbling and unsure. We chatted like close friends, shared cigarettes and fruits, joked silly and filled up the compartment with spiralling smoke----looks like an improbable scene from a stupid movie.

What keeps this incident fresh in memory is the dirty looks I received from a couple in the same compartment. Especially the girl, who had a horror stricken expression, who constantly glared at me for having picked up bad habits at such an innocent(?) age, for having the audacity to smoke in public . Not the elderly man, not the autodriver but me! They could do it but not someone my age, someone with my appearance and from my background. It was as if I was murdering someone right there; what might have caused them serious greivance was the fact that I gave no shit, totally ignored their concern and continued to burn the endless hours into ashes.

A slight apprehension about 2012, when our earth enters the photon belt on the 21st of December. What could possibly happen? Will we survive? Or will the man made systems survive? When I think about my savings and future plans, I tend to keep this date in mind. Will civilization collapse? Or, as a few survivalists argue, is the system already crashing? Are we in the crash, right now?

'I want to become enlightened, before any such thing happens.....' he said. 'I don't want to exist in that turmoil, the way I am right now.'

'So what's the plan? How do you get enlightened....?'

'..............'

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Unconventional...

'When your son grows up, you'll see--he'll put you both in your right places.'

I was about to flare up but on hindsight, I think, it was good I didn't respond. Or maybe I should've said 'Thank you'. What she said was a wonderful compliment!

An obedient child is what most parents would desire. They'd like their sons/daughters to go to a good school/college, get good grades, find a well paying job, get married and settle down, have kids...... Or maybe not, not most of them. Some crazy nuts like me would rather, our children grow up as rebels, as unruly kids who give nothing but trouble to their parents. Not in a strictly negative sense though.

A parent belongs to the old world order. When she gives birth to a child, she's also giving birth to a new possibility, a new world. Every generation is an improvement over the previous one, every son/daughter is one step ahead of his parents in an evolutionary sense. The generation gap is bound to exist between all parents and kids of every age--the parent of every era looks back wistfully and says,'In our days.....', and decades later, when the kid becomes a parent, he too would say the same to his boys. An obedient son who's dutiful, follows his parents words and lives as they want him to could be what most parents wish for, but as a human being, he's just another cog in the wheel, another speck in a mass of ordinary souls who go through the motions of life. For my money, he's a failed ambition.

A rebellious son thinks for himself and decides the course of his life. He respects his parents' wishes but also has the utmost regard for his own dreams. Given a choice between following a path which his parents/society approve or setting out on a individual journey, he'd happily choose the latter. He is not afraid of unpopularity, nor is he worried about the opinions or validations of those around him. Because he knows well that most things of value will be feared and despised by the majority, who'd always want the status quo to continue. For them, a non-confirmist is an immediate thorn in the flesh, though years later, they might applaud and covet the success of the rebel.

I have friends who've followed the beaten path and also a few who've dared to pursue their own calling. A few who initially confirmed to the norms of the society, gathered muster later and took a leap into their destinies. They may not accumulate riches, comforts or a life of ease, but I believe, these are the souls through whom evolution takes a step forward. They may not accomplish great feats; some may do nothing more than reject a long held irrational belief. Some may simply refuse to run the rat race and instead decide to find meaningful work they care for. In the never ending humdrum of life, a few may choose to sit for a while and ponder over the questions, 'Who am I?' 'What is the purpose of my life?' & 'Am I living that purpose?' The seed of rebellion is ingrained in everyone of us; those who choose to recognise it, nurture it and allow it to grow into a mighty tree, irrespective of the murmur of disapproval from the surrounding wasteland---these are the ones who've fulfilled their destinies.

The rest of us are all on this journey---from confirmity to rebellion, from following our heads to listening to our hearts. Whether we choose to stay in the comfort of our self-made prisons or decide to fly out into the open sky, is left to every individual's choice. This choice is not an one-time affair, it needs to be done every moment, at every given opportunity. Each moment decides whether you're a rebel or a conformist.

A rebel discovers abundant joy, even in the absence of the comforts that a conformist craves for. And every conformist is a rebel in the making, whether he knows it or not.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Where was I

Archana is filling up a form at the hospital and she shows an entry-- Religion! 'Skip it', I say but she writes 'Spirituality' and moves to the next one.

A story on the web--A nurse enquires with an elderly gentleman:'Religion?'. He says, 'Deals direct'.

My car breaks down and shows no sign of recovering, even after repeated cajoling. A friend says,'Take mine, no problem.' I thank him but he insists. Wondering if I would've lent him my car in a similar situation, I accept and drive back in his brand new vehicle.

We worry about how our son will cope up in our absence. Archana's in hospital for a couple of days, I've to run around and there's no option but to leave our toddler in my parent's care. Will he eat properly? Can they console him if he starts wailing? Will he sleep soundly? I call back every hour and Mom says, 'He's playing. Don't worry'. When I get back home I enquire. No, he had hardly noticed our absence and was blissfully enjoying the play and the company of other familiar faces around. 'Children are super-flexible and adaptable', says Ran prieur. No, he's super-detached, the way I hallucinate I am.

Reading 'Conversations with God'. 'Sit alone and talk to God. He'll respond and you'll notice', said Guruji once. Looking at the evening sky, I ask,'God, where are you? How can I talk to you and how do I know that it's your voice?' I wait, for a response, for a voice that is distinctly different from the usual chatter that goes on within. Out of nowhere there's an unusual clarity, a strange expansion. Before I can go deep into it, feel it, know it, experience it and come back transformed, I shrink back to the inner chatter, to the daydreams. And never think of attempting it again until now.................Why?

Standing naked in broad daylight. And those you know, you respect and you love are walking around, watching you. How does that feel?......This is the recurring theme of my dreams these days.

Why do I write? For what purpose? Maybe to get clarity within, to put my thoughts down and observe them for what they are. Maybe to understand my inner world. And something strange happens at times, when I pickup a pen and start scribbling, or begin typing. Strange connections form and new ideas start flowing--ideas that I never intended to put down in writing. After I finish writing I wonder at what has been written. They may not be earth shattering profound ideas, just simple truths, unusual perspectives, a fresh angle on an everyday issue. Was it me who penned these down? Or did these ideas find an outlet through me?

The magic of writing never ceases to amaze me. I'm glad I discovered it early and have used it to make sense of my world. And I hope this joy, this wonder never leaves me.

I want to stand alone, on my own conviction and do things by myself. A kind of non-cooperation, a kind of solitary heroism, a subtle arrogance...and soon life comes round and whacks! Situations arise where I need the other, where I have to bend down and ask, seek. Once these get over, I return to my prideful self until life reminds me yet again....Be humble, be a part of the whole, be one with everyone...!

One moment of madness is enough to destroy everything. Just one slip and I'm finished. And there were so many of those moments! What saved me? How did I remain sane?

Maybe I'm mistaken.... that's how life flows--unbothered about how we label the events....Not caring if I become a saint or end up a sinner. Who cares, anyway!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Monday, March 03, 2008

Down to earth

'Hold your left thumb between your fingers,' Ravi says.'Then squeeze it gently on an inhalation and release it while you exhale. Do it for five minutes and your headache will vanish.'

I'm desperate for any advice that removes this damn throb in the head. There's a long drive of 30 odd kilometers to be done and I don't know how I'll navigate the dusty, hot evening with this headache and drowsiness. Holding my thumb, I inhale and exhale, slowly. The nerves relax or it appears so. Before I start the car, I repeat the exercise for another 5 minutes. Feels better. I start off.

I've slept for most of the day, unable to tolerate the headache. I've skipped meditations, listened half-heartedly when friends were busy discussing, didn't smile even for courtesy when another friend joked---all my attention was captured by a silly throb in my temples. Maybe it's the body's way of drawing attention--'hello there, I've been here all along and you've bloody wandered off. Come back, a**h*le....'

After an hour and half of valiant effort, I reach home. Archana pours coconut oil on my scalp and pats rythemically. It's heaven! Slowly the pain subsides. Admonishes! 'Did you eat anything in the morning? I've told you not to drive on any empty stomach....' I reply something, all along watching my son play with his toys. His hair's grown and touches his shoulders--like that of the princes in ancient mythological tales.'Are you a prince?' and he nods. An hour later, after a hot bath, I'm back to normal.

'You are a body first.' The guy behind the mirror tells me. No, I tell him. I'm light, a spark of light, incarnated in this body. The body disintegrates, and with that, all that's associated with this body also goes off. This is temporary. I've been in millions of these bodies and one day, I'll leave this behind too. I'm pure consciousness..

'But first and foremost, you're physical. Ignore that and I'll screw you...' he mocks.

I ponder, a bit deeply, for sometime. I want to argue but decide against it. Maybe he has a point, maybe I need to pay attention. Take care of the body first. Be healthy to the point of becoming free of any physical concerns. Have that lightness in your body. That spring in your steps. Let the body be a tool, not a barrier, for your purpose whatever that might be.

The kid's fumbling with his shoes and making noises. He wants to go out and play with other children of the locality. 'Take him out, I'm tired,' she collapses on the chair, book in hand. The boy runs out and I follow him.