Friday, October 28, 2011

God comes to us...

In spite of being an introvert, my life for long has been spread pretty widely, sometimes possibly thinly too. Often I would keep in touch with long gone people, because I would cherish everyone. I will have new additions because of changing places and circumstances of my life.

But then I finally learned to let go, and celebrate the blessings I had. The jewels which often get covered amidst all the frenzied connectivities. And I started finding my real soul family. I have a few amazingly good friends, as gifts of life, some other great friends and then a lovely family.

And then I have Vi.
If God ever comes to us in form of a friend, philosopher, guide, it has to be you. If there was one blessing in my life, it has to be you. It takes a village to bring up a child, but even just one soul-presence is all that matters, is all the blessings one can have. When I think of you, I know God does care, Mother is around and all is well.
You have pulled me back from 'walking too close to the cliff', 'falling into gutter' and many other such adventures. I don't know how people having too many blessings manage, my heart sometimes burst into tears of gratitude, when I think of you.
With deep love and appreciation for all what you are...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bury the past...

Talking to one of my closest friend (lets call him Vi) I was wondering about my life.
Vi has seen me over many many years and has been that solid presence in my life in spite of differences and not-talking-days :)

I was wondering how much I keep growing as a person and how when I look back a few years down the line, I marvel 'How did I... '
How did I survive some lousy environments, how did I manage to invest my identity into it, how did I manage to fall into so many holes and puddles, and still am standing here perfectly alright. how did I this.. or that...
I guess miracles do happen!

Sometimes we have outgrown our old self, learned and integrated whatever was required and then become a completely newer, a better person that it is difficult to even connect with the person we were or the people and places we happened to live. If there is an attempt, it is very disturbing, distressing. Guess that is why past is synonymous with ghost in Hindi, 'bhoot'.
Vi told me that the best is to close the door to it, ...
I think it is apt to say, bury the past!



In this context, I would also like to mention, against Western/mainstream Psychology's usual focus on 'past', eastern world-view often focuses on 'pure potentials', as the basic narrative is different. Western Psychology's narrative is about self- ego, while eastern Psychology's narrative is further deeper, a divine-self, moving towards which we need to shed our ego.
Only recently this ideas that- ego has its pitfalls, is increasingly being recognized in Western Psychology.
(I am learning from my training as well as my experiences & contemplation that there is lot of goodness in Eastern spiritual philosophy/psychology/ worldview, and we need to bring it into the mainstream for common good).


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Impoverished public discourses

On one hand, internet has given freedom to multiple voices, a space to be say what one wants to, and also be heard... On the other hand, it is rather disconcerting to see the level of our public discourses. Often it is not only impoverished in content, but also in its language.

Take any article with some bit of emotions involved, and invariably you will find off-the-mark comments. But it really makes you think what is happening when the comments are full of abuses (as I found in some of the facebook posts of India Against Corruption).

I am also not too sure if this is more in the Hindi belt, because that is the only regional language I know. But the poor quality of comments in Hindi almost makes me forget that the language has the potential of raising ones' consciousness to a fire like quality.Watch ... this ... (Look at the glowing eyes of these kids, ... I am tempted to say if I had a son I would have brought him up like this, with courage, strength and honor, divinity glowing within... and not a mere consumer, which is such a waste of human spirit!!!).


However I wonder, with some more efforts like this, in few years hopefully, the negative aspects of life and society would be better placed ... everyone would be having food and water and cloth, and housing, and health and sanitation too... the government schemes would be working for the public welfare. Then what! ...

What are we going to do about the quality of our thinking, stimulus for our happiness, directions of our efforts ?
What are we going to do about the quality of our thinking when every tiny bit of left-over space around any intelligent article in most of the media pages are covered with something related to sex and celebrities.
What are we going to do about the well-being and emotional health of the people, when hot bodies are the best way to make consumers believe that something will make them happy ?
What are we going to do about the direction of our efforts, when the entertainment industry leaves only this much energy in the couch-potatoes to engage in arm-chair activism ?

It all ends up with the question, does our planet has the ability to survive, if all our best mental efforts are spend for increasing the production of goods we do not need, stimulate the desire to own things which do not have any intrinsic value and feel-good factor, and our efforts are focused on having more and more?

There is this inherent limitation, which asks us to stop and question what are we doing? This is cheapening of human life!

Thankfully we do not have the technology to invade another planet in the service of these goals. Otherwise we were certainly doomed to forever living a life, not worth living!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Words-Attention-Consciousness

A very interesting idea from the famous Indian treatise on performing arts, Bharat's 'Natya Shastra' is that:
Where the hand goes, the gaze follows.
Where the eyes turn, there goes the mind.
Where the mind goes, there comes bhava,
And where the bhava comes, there also will be rasa.

Similarly we can say, where goes the words, attention follows, and there goes the Consciousness.

Some of the pictorial languages such as Chinese & Japanese have this amazing ability to reach to the root of the matter, while expressing it in a single pictogram. I am in love with Sanskrit for this reason, a single word such as 'Shantakaram' immediately engages me with the idea of not only Vishnu, but also a 'form of peace' or 'peace in a form state as contrary to formlessness'. Or like 'Sundaram' is Krishna or Rama, but also absolute beauty. What better to contemplate on, than absolute peace or beauty.

This gets all the more interesting when such kind of word-attention-consciousness process goes far enough leading to long lasting structural changes in the brain and cellular changes in the body. And some studies report beyond its effect on intra-personal and inter-personal world, it even influences the physical world not only at Quantum level but also at concrete bio-chemical levels. (Though, due to my professional training background, I'm better able to comment on the intra-personal & inter-personal worlds, which in any case influences the material world at every level by its actions, and motives behind those actions).

This was the conversation with a friend, about how the pure Consciousness at the mental level is the 'Observer, the Witness', and at the vital level is 'pure emotion of joy', and at the level of physical is 'pure happiness of Existence' in itself, without any need or requirements.

However, growing up on stimulus-response or stimulus-organism-response theories of emotions, I used to get stuck at 'Rasa'. Conceptually it gets difficult to understand, in a world dominated with distractions. Further, even though I would have felt pure emotions, intellectually it was difficult to fit into my training in Western Psychology.
Now I'm increasingly able to appreciate why some Indian psychologists (and my most vocal friend from Europe) have been dead against Western paradigms.

Well, gradually I'm getting some grasp over this entire map of Consciousness, which seemed sooo very unreachable, earlier. At this rate may be, someday, we can even write a chapter each on these levels, for the benefit of others like my earlier self. Can't wait to reach back my real home, that place of absolute joy and freedom :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Season of falling leaves and golden sun

It is amazingly beautiful to watch leaves turning from green to light green, yellow, orange, red, brown, ... falling off... it looks more beautiful with the evening sun. It looks almost fragile in its beauty ... for a different light a different stroke of color and the beauty will be gone.
There is a sense of it being very transient, which adds a poignant feel to it... it almost made me tearful.

In India the season of falling leaves used to have a completely different existential feel to it. It had a celebratory feeling, a sense of destruction before new creation, a kind of eternity. As another friend agreed that it used to be associated with a crisp cold windy beginning to winters. And for some trees it used to be associated with the time just after Holi, around Spring time. (as far as my childhood memory goes, it used to happen around April- the exam season).

I'm glad I had someone to reach out to ... who reminded me how 'Dawn' (Usha) in ancient Vedic literature was associated with eternity, where every morning is a complete fresh start, all new! I wish we all are able to do that... start afresh every morning.

I surely need a fresh dawn like this, a different world with a different paradigm, where the system encourages joy, goodness, truth, beauty, creativity, perfection, thinking in newer ways... where its not all about a culture of mindlessness and money. Where people are nice, sweet, good, respectful, honor self and others, just because it is their natural self and they are just being themselves... not because they see it a way to mask their manipulation of others.
Instead of a culture of shallow skill-based interactions, there is a world of consciousness based connections. It will also bring back that concrete trust that, all is well... :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Death of modern economy- hopefully!

I have always found the idea of making money out of money completely insane and unnatural... even Aristotle thought so :)

Watch this ...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swkq2E8mswI
&
this
http://www.movie2k.to/movie-525565-Inside-Job-film.html
(this one is not only a horror-story, but disgusting because of the level of baser instincts given a free ride- greed, power, cheating, impulsiveness, etc etc... Gives a sense of what low levels these guys can stoop... My goodness! I could not watch it at one go.. but had to take breaks every now and then, because of its shock value... saddest part was.. its all true... and there are people who are entangled in it all... the octopus like grip it had on the world, over people is still not yet over).

And here is a video that 'the party is over'... finally! Hooray!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjFQLGVIJak&feature=player_embedded#!

Insane, but if this system doesn't end, it will destroy all of us! It has already lowered the arguments where the protestors are being labeled as 'jealous' of the rich and powerful!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The majestic idea of pure Purusha

I have been reading and contemplating the Vedic psychology-cosmology from Sri Aurobindo's perspective, especially after reading an article by a very dear friend, which was game changer for me.

Today I got some clarity on Purusha, the pure Consciousness (note the capital C) on 3 levels, mental where it is pure observer, vital where it is pure joy and physical where is it pure existence and being.

My Goodness ... I suddenly remembered all those times when I had this pure joy of existence, just plain being... the feel of sun and air on skin, the colors of leaves, the sound of wind...

Ever noticed a lot of spiritual movies/ pictures use the same heightened intensity of senses, especially bright colors. (watched 'What the bleep..' today).

But on second though, there must be a specific reason on theoretical level, why these moments are especially associated with time in nature, especially the physical purusha... I can see a connection though not able to express it properly.

Well... I'm inspired to make a movie about it ... though the cameras are really really costly... I'm debating ;)

Yes ... We can...

Yes, once again I am having that non-external-object-related, lump-in-the-throat kind of joy much of the time, being high, a sense of grander view of the cosmos, a little extra sprinkle of magic in life.
But apart from that I'm also catching a sense of time-for-the-revolution fever. There is a sense that I was always wanting to be part of a change movement and this is what is the spirit of the times, the zeitgeist.
Some time back a friend posted this and I could not hold myself back from expressing what I have been mulling over lately... (I have researched a bit on this issue for 2 academic articles and I was horrified with the implications of this growing trend in India and the world. Now I'm also part of a group developing therapy for obesity issues using mindfulness and that lead to newer insights at the micro human level... how the culture of consumption has made people mindless in a very cliched way. I have been thinking of writing it all together ... so good to see your article...
It might seem senseless to say this, but I'm glad to see the global recession and how it is changing the world forever... the revolution of 'capture wall-street' going in US nowadays has its heart at the right place, for how long can people make money out of money, in thin air. The castle of the cards had to fall some day or other, better now when some say we still have a few years before 'point of no-return', otherwise it would be practically a mutual suicide. I'm also glad because the failure of this system in terms of a global recession with no end in sight means that this experiment has lost the moral ground. With that it has lost the ground for arrogant assumption that 'this is the way to be', and has to be replicated in every community around the world. Now there has to be space for more voices, more reflective criticisms, a focus on solutions, a way to find and try sustainable alternative systems ...
Just now I went for a walk where I found this article pasted on the windows of a shop... you might like not only this article but also this website... http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/95/revolution-america.html).

Not only there are voices which support the revolution (like an interesting article by someone I met long back) but there are some creative ideas emerging too ... such as use of alternative money in Greece, or a call to start utopian projects in Europe.

These are amazing times to be alive, if we can contribute a little (think of a way without blinkers) to make this world a better place.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ex- Protestant Ethics ;)

Long, long time back we studied an interesting theory about place of 'work' as an idea in western cultures, along with other theories of motivation, especially achievement. The theory was called Protestant Ethics by Max Weber.

Here was the idea that, for protestants, work was almost like worship...
quoting from wiki:

"The Protestant work ethic (or the Puritan work ethic) is a concept in sociology, economics andhistory, attributable to the work of Max Weber. It is based upon the notion that the Calvinist emphasis on the necessity for hard work as a component of a person's calling and worldly success is a visible sign or result (not a cause) of personal salvation.
It is argued that Protestants beginning with Martin Luther had reconceptualised worldly work as a duty which benefits both the individual and society as a whole. Thus, the Catholic idea of good works was transformed into an obligation to work diligently as a sign of grace. Whereas Catholicism teaches that good works are required of Catholics to be saved (viewing salvation as a future event), the reformers taught that good works were only a consequence of an already-received salvation.
However, the Calvinist and Lutheran theologians taught that only those who were predestined to be saved would be saved, by grace alone through faith in Jesus alone. Since it was impossible to know if one was predestined (since one might not receive the "grace of perseverance," and one's conversion might be only lip-service), the notion developed that it might be possible to discern that a person was elect (predestined) by observing their way of life. Hard work and frugality were thought to be two important consequences of being one of the elect; thus, Protestants were attracted to these qualities, seeking to be obedient to God to whom they owed their salvation.

This is so funny because although I have noticed something similar in some people, but I never connected it to this theory, which I had really enjoyed in my social psychology classes. I guess clinical side had over-powered me in between, before 'total liberation' happened :) This is also funny that some of the people who visibly continue these behaviors would cringe to think of a religious basis to their charity and workaholism.

Unlike many other ideas which I get nowadays, this was not at all dangled within ;)
This came up in a conversation with a very interesting American scientist, when I asked what he thinks of the emotional reactions of many Americans to capitalism, apart from it being a known comfort zone invested with one's identity in a particular world-view, ... if there was something more... and after thinking for a moment he mentioned, it might be due to protestant ethics (which he too had studied in college much earlier than I did).

And although the theory has been criticized, some people do fit the bill. Though for how long things will stay same, i do not know, especially in the ever changing economic-political-psychological-spiritual world.

And this reminds me of the 'Hindu ethics' or what was called a 'Hindu rate of (economic) growth', one which is lazy and slow. With increasing growth rate in India, I'm afraid we now are beyond this point and it won't be too long before it would be re-named as... 'Saraswati ethics' for diligently working and 'Lakshmi ethics' for wealth creation. Ah! all-flexi theories of modern world.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Serendipity?

This gets interesting... I was almost going to shut down this blog again, thinking it as a distraction on the path, that this message was delivered in my mail box (by Tricycle magazine)...

"Richard Baker Roshi once told of a dream he had: He was trying to find the answer to a question, and the telephone rang. He ignored the phone and focused instead on the question. On the thirtieth ring he picked up the phone, and the answer came to him through the receiver. What he had labeled a distraction was really the point."

Hmm... I will take this with a pinch of salt! ;)

missing ?

The bright sunlight with slightly cold feel to it, the sound of the wind passing through the leaves... feels like home. Because of this, or in spite of this I have been missing India more than ever.

It is Navratris, the nine special days of worshiping the divine feminine power. The power of universal Mother, the power of creation and preservation. The mythology of her visiting mere mortals... or mere mortals remembering her with big fan-fare. But then for many that was never the point. I have always found people of same clan, the ones who feel its sacredness, beyond din and noise and all the marketing gimmicks.
O Mother...

The saving grace is, today we will have a senior Lama visiting us (a small group practitioners of one of the oldest esoteric Tibbetian Buddhism). I should look towards what is great in life...


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Being me!

My housemate suggested, I should watch 'Wake up Sid' movie... her next statement was more interesting... she said I should watch it because the Konkona Sen's character was like me, a very independent woman.
This reminded me a long pattern in my life. Some years back someone sent me the book 'Zahir' because he thought the main protagonist is like me. Independent and relational.
However some people find it hard to understand this balance... usually those who are on an extreme themselves. It takes a lot more strength to be independent, and still cherish relationships, not as means to one's own need gratification but in itself.

Life path

The Way is shaped by use,

But then the shape is lost.

Do not hold fast to shapes

But let sensation flow into the world

As a river courses down to the sea.


(Tao Te Ching)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Curse or Love?

Yesterday I learned that the wish 'may you live in interesting times' is considered to be a well known curse. Some say it has Chinese origins and is one of 3 curses of increasing severity, the highest being 'may your wishes get fulfilled' (some of our wishes are no doubt interesting, just imagine what if they were fulfilled... shudder :)

When people are insensitive, or hurtful, my wish for them take some form of, '...may you reach some kind of understanding about your behavior, learn in life and regret'. It feels close to 'living in interesting times'.

But what if the times are interesting in general? (not the kind of Hollywood movies... I have a theory about them... but here I'm talking of the reality bites).
Although as a planet we have been extremely lucky, but we have enough reasons to start thinking that our luck has run out. Ask any environmentalist (heard about a book called 'Revenge of Gaia' by one of the most respected environmentalists).
Yesterday I was also watching discovery channel's video on 2012. And although they dismissed most of the doomsday theories, some of the major environmental disasters are always waiting to happen, from super-quakes to super-tsunamis. The accompanying scenes about such possibilities (though borrowed from some movie) were impactful ... almost like hundreds of thousand times more destructive than what happened in 9/11 ... the naked dance of death around. Sheer unbelievable horror...
In such times of universal dissolution no other wish arose, except 'I send love to you'.
Guess, that is why they give three cheers to love!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Krrazy Karma Connections ;)

There are times in life when we have amusing patterns with a particular city.

I have one since last one and half year, with a city... let us call it B. I remember the date too when it all started, and how, on 'that' fateful morning. It certainly went on to be chaotic! After many events ... the latest is missing connecting flight there, then making a great friend at my next (interesting) destination who turns out to be from B and then invitation to visiting her in B, and a plan unfolds...

Then there was another city in my long travel itinerary to India. But then I got a dream command to visit a particular temple, which I 'googled' to find out was near this one city. And when I dismissed this idea as unrealistic, someone in the corridors of a conference in Florida advised me how to reach there. In the end, visibly the trip was less than spectacular, almost a wash out ... although there was something more here too...

Though there are too many interesting aspects to both of these stories, but overall what I am left with is an idea that, one should take all serendipities and intuitions with a pinch of salt. Even if one decides to follow them, don't go ahead thinking it will be all goody-goody-happily-ever-after ride.

Sometimes they can be a cosmic trap to lure you into a practical joke (if cosmos is in any way engaged with the third speck of dust from a little star called sun) and sometimes they are just plain 'karma' waiting to catch up with you around the corner !!!

(I dare the universe to change my cynicism, although it certainly makes life very, very interesting, only if some of it was not so painful ;)
haha... I'm just teasing the universe, although I believe (and have found it true) whatever happens is good, although sometimes it could have been better... A note to universe with love :)