Here and Now

Age bhi janena tu.. pichhe bhi janena tu.. jo bhi hai bas yehi ek pal hai. ( You do not know what lies ahead.. nor what happened earlier.. whatever there is, there is only this moment)

I am reminded of this song from the Hindi movie Waqt now that the topic of present moment has come up. Of course we understated that we do not know what will happen in future. But the song says  you do not know the past. In a way, even though we know some events of the past, we do not know how to put it in right perspective. If you tell your story to five people, each may interpret it differently. Some one will say that whatever happened,  happened for good. Someone may say how miserable it was. In a larger context, we are not sure how much myth and propaganda material go into the making of what we officially read as history.

In fact, the concept of present moment is not new. Our ancients were not only familiar with this concept,  but also devised many methods to bring the mind to here and now.

Hindu rituals of worship begin with the customary sankalpa. It starts with something like this: In sweta varah kalpa …. in Jambudwipa (Indian sub-continent) … in the country of Bharatabarsha …. in so and so state, in so and so place, on so and so day, at so and so time ……. It starts with the higher  denomination of place and slowly brings our awareness to the present place. Same way it starts with a bigger expansion of time and brings our awareness to the present. The time and place are put in proper context. If one follows this sankalpa, our awareness is brought from the vastness of time and space to here and now at the end.

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If you have attended any evening arati at any of the temples, especially the Ganga Arati at Varanasi or Haridwar,  you must have experienced that the overall ambiance crated by sights, smells  and sounds act  as a kind of shock therapy to hammer out your wandering mind out of its dwellings in past or future.

You may also read: One life is not enough, yet for now this moment is enough unto itself

It is said that the symbol of Jesus on the Cross indicates the importance of present over past and future. The horizontal line of the cross representing past and future is much shorter than the vertical one representing the present. The Buddhist practice of mindfulness aims at bringing the awareness to here and now. So are many of the meditation techniques and yogic practices.

Since ancient times,  volumes have been written and spoken revolving around the importance of living in the present moment. In spite of all these talks and practices, scientifically speaking, the elusive present moment is just a concept,  like the geometric concept of line or point that have no real existence.  Time is a continuum. The moment I say moment, the moment is already gone.

However, it is a useful concept to rid the mind of the unpleasant feelings that comes from dwelling too much in past or future. To a certain extent, it is good to take the mind to past and learn the lessons it taught. It is equally good to have fixed goals and have a vision and know where one is going. It is only when the mind is too much anxious about the future or obsessed with the regrets of the past that one does a lot of harm to one self.

Here again I am reminded of another old Bollywood hit and let me conclude this post humming it:

Ae bhai ! jara dekh ke chalo.. age hi nahin pichhe bhi.. daen hi nahin baen bhi ….upar hi nahin  niche bhi

Ae bhai! jara dekh ke chalo


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If Life is a Game, Play

 

I am reminded of Shakespeare’s famous lines, ” All the world is a stage and we are mere actors and actresses….”. Further, he goes on to describe the stages of life. Beginning from childhood to old age, it is a full circle. My take from this is that if it is a play, where is the need to be so serious. Five thousand years before Shakespeare, Lord Krishna had emphasized amid the back drop a looming war that life is a leela, a play.

Of course, dear life, you are fleeting and momentary. So many sages through out the ages have tried to bring home the point that life is transitory. If misery does not last, so doesn’t  happiness. This does not mean one should shut oneself out of the play. Or, just watch, wait and endure till the play is finished.

I am reminded of the sand artist. The sand artist is a beautiful inspiration. His art is so transitory. Sometimes it may  not last beyond a couple of hours. But, look at his enthusiasm while he is in the process of creation. He does not loose heart over the fact that  it would all be over in a few moments.

Of course it is good to have the realization at the back of the mind that nothing is permanent. It takes away the feverishness that comes out of too much desire and attachment. At the same time one need not be anti-life. The sand artist inspires us to be lost in the creative process of the moment so much so that  the present moment is stretched to eternity. It is a beautiful balance. If life is meant to be a play, it is meant to be played and played with all intensity. One loses so much being just a bystander all the time.

Your opposites are there to give depth to each other, not cancel out each other. So, where is the point of complaining when bad moments come. Without pain how would we know pleasure? Even sweetness loses its taste when there is no other taste to contrast it with. Thus, dear life, whatever you throw at me, gratitude comes. Sometimes, when you take me down, I know it is just to deepen my roots, so that when I come up, I come up like never before.

There was a time, I tried to understand you. The more I tried to understand, the more I got intrigued. Then I realised there is no point in trying to analyse you too much. I stopped over thinking about you. And then, you smiled and invited me to dance with you. I just surrendered myself to you rhythm. In stead of understanding, I started living you, experiencing you and occasionally getting lost in wondering about you.

It has been such an intense living, not rejecting any of your moments, whether mundane or extraordinary. I would take this opportunity to give a small message to my fellow travelers.

If life is a game meant to be played, play. Do not stand on the side lines just to watch, cheer or condemn.

 Indian Bloggers

Of Good and Evil

Nothing is good or bad. But thinking makes it so- said Shakespeare.

Long before Shakespeare, a Chines sage had said somethings very profound. (Hope my patriotic countrymen – particularly the whatsapp warriors,  will forgive me for  using things Chines in my blog post). I extract here a few lines of Lao Tzu’s Tao- Te- Ching :

"As soon as beauty is known by the world as beautiful, ugliness is born. 
As soon as virtue is being known as something good, evil is born. 
Therefore being and non-being give birth to each other. 
Difficult and easy accomplish each other.
..............................................  "

So the concept of ugliness was born when man recognized and discriminated something as beautiful. Prior to that things existed as they were without being judged. So was the case with good and evil.

Even the ancient seers who compiled the mythologies  knew this. Hence, Ravana is actually not an enemy of Vishnu. He is just doing a role play as ordained by the divine order of things. He is one of Vishnu’s trusted lieutenants, being the doorkeeper of Baikuntha- the abode of Lord Vishnu, who becomes Rama in his seventh avatar.

According to the Bhagavata Purana, once the four sons of Lord Brahma also known as Sanat Kumaras, went to meet Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha Dham. The four sanat kumaras are Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumar. It is said that due to regular spiritual practices they looked like children. So the gatekeepers did not take them seriously. However, when they insisted that they be allowed to go inside without delay, Jaya and Vijaya told them that Lord Vishnu was taking rest and they have to wait till He wakes up. However, the kumaras were enraged and told that Lord Vishnu is available all the time for their devotees. Further, the kumaras cursed the gatekeepers for their insolence so as to be born in the mortal world leaving their heavenly abode.

Subsequently, the gatekeepers asked forgiveness of the kumaras and requested Lord Vishnu to waive off the curse. Lord Vishnu told that the curse of divine beings like the kumaras cannot be reverted. However, he wanted to commute the punishment. So He gave the gatekeepers two options – either to be born as His devotees for six births or as His enemies for three births. Jaya and Vijaya chose the latter as they thought the sooner they are re-untied with their master the better,  even though they have to play the role of villains. In their first descent from heaven as mortal beings they were born as Hiranyakha and Hiranyakashyapa. In their second life, they were to be born as Ravana and Kumbhakarna; while in their third life they became Shishupala and Dantavakra.

According to the mythologies the gods and the demons are descendants from the same father. Of course from different mothers. Rishi Kashyapa had two wives – Aditi and Diti. All the devas and other auspicious beings were born to Aditi while the demons in general, and Hiranyakha and Hiranyakashyapa in particular, were born to Diti.(Here again, feminists please forgive the misogynistic bias of the seers who were mostly male.)

There have been interpretations of Ramayana, where Rama’s actions have been portrayed more devilishly than Ravana’s. So the dispute as to who is the hero and who the villain of the same story goes on.

As we see there is a very thin line that divides good from evil or deva (god) from the devil. If I put it in Hindi – hero aur villin mein sirf unneesh beesh ka farak. This theme has been used in many English movies. Remember Spider man III? Spiderman’s scientist friend is his arch enemy this moment, his savior the next.

As there are no absolute heroes or villains, some sages suggested let us kill the demons within.

Now, which are these demons? Anger, Ego, Lust……

Ok.Wait.. wait.

As we know, without ego, many of the great things in world would not have been done.

And without lust, where would we be? Would I be here writing this post. Or, you reading it?

(I know it sounds a little incorrect, politically speaking)

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Looking Back with Gratitude

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So here comes my feedback form. My feedback at fifty. If the biblical life span is 70, for a Hindu the ideal life span is 100. So, here I am, at the thresh hold of my half way mark.

I did my education at a number of schools in a number of localities falling in rural , semi urban and urban areas. This provided the opportunity to have a taste of  India in its myriad of colours and flavours. This experience was extended in range and depth when I joined Indian Air Force that provided me the opportunity of close interaction with people and places from all across India. A career in Defense takes away many of the biases associated with religion, language and locality. The stint in Indian Air Force has truly been a blessing.

By the way, as I write this article today, the Indian Air Force is celebrating its eighty fourth anniversaries. My hearty greetings to all Air Warriors (serving and Ex) and their families. I also take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Indian Air Force for not only giving me an opportunity to do my bit for my fellow citizens, but also for enriching my life with beautiful experiences.

There were times when the perceived indifference of parents was painful. But, when I saw how some of the over caring parents are playing with the dreams of their children and hindering their growth by their protectiveness, I realised what a blessing it was to have parents who did not interfere with many of my choices.

It is has been a great wandering, a great journey. There have been moments of fulfillment, moments of disappointment. Kabhi khushi kabhi gam – life has gone on. There have been rewards, there have been brickbats. There have been times when I have been treated like a celebrity and there have been times when I preferred to go into temporary oblivion. Plenty of foolish decisions marked by a few sparks of wise ones.

But no moment has betrayed me. Each moment has given me an intensity and passion. The failures have been as intense and meaningful as the successes. A cluster of failures caused disappointment in those moments. But, ultimately it was so sweet when those failures led to greater success subsequently. Through it all everything has been a learning experience and it continues to do so. Every event has been a launching pad, a rest house by the great road side of this journey called life.

One thing that I lack let me confess, is focus. Nature’s myriads of creations detract me. Sometimes I want to do too many things in one life. I get easily bored. However, I feel my interests in thousands of things do not leave any moment to get bored.

At the end of the day what is there to achieve ?  Of course here I am reminded of the sand artist. Every achievement is like the art work of the sand artist, may be just a little more enduring. Nevertheless, the sand artist does not stop his creative work knowing full well it would be so transitory.

Similarly, I also take up challenges – sometimes for my own personal growth, sometimes to bring some beauty into the world through creativity, sometimes to make this world a little more livable and lovable thorough bits of unreasonable acts of service and criticism. Have I achieved anything substantial? By the way what would be my definition of achievement? Well that is for others to evaluate.

And so far, it has been a great wandering in this wonderful creation; and I would continue to wander and wonder.


Indian Bloggers

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(This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.)

The Notebook of a Blank Life

New Delhi, 31.12.1974

She opened a blank note book. “It was not just any blank note book”, recalled Shravani. It had been given to her by a Buddhist Monk, when she had wandered inside the monastery in a listless moment  a few days back. Nothing was written on its blue covers. There was  no mention of its price, not even the name of the company making such notebooks. It contained one hundred pages of spotless white pages. It reminded her of ‘One hundred years of solitude’ – a book she had postponed reading a hundred times or so.

She smiled. It was the smile of a remote uncertain hope. A kind of imagined hope one experiences when the day gets slightly brighter on a gloomy rainy day.

But the memory of the tumultuous recent past cast such a gloom. How was she going to erase it? How was she going to be relieved of the burdensome memory?

She had read somewhere, she remembered, “to write is to get relieved”.

Indian BloggersAt the age of thirteen, when most of her friends boasted of boyfriends,  she had formed an idea that she was enough unto herself. Now, at the age of twenty four some one comes into her life and she has this feeling that she is not enough unto herself.

He came, he saw and he swept her along. It happened at the wedding of one of her cousins, who was also one of her best friends. Usually, she avoided going to weddings. But this one she could not. Saket was not the usual guy who went out of the way to flirt with girls. Something happened in her in his presence. At the first meeting he had given her a ten second glance and gone away. Of course, she had heard of him from her cousin who had so profusely praised him as if her own fiancee was nothing compared to Saket.

Then there was a chance meeting with him after one week or so. The Ambassador she was driving had met with a  minor accident near Old Delhi Railway station. It had hit a taxi in front and a crowd had gathered around her. Things were taking an ugly turn. Suddenly, Saket appeared form nowhere and became her saviour. A friendship developed which slowly turned into romance.

They met at secret places as often as possible. There was neither a dream nor a down to earth plan that did not involve him. But the dream world of heaven did not last long. Some days back, on 20th December to be precise, she received a letter that jolted her out of the dream world. The hero of her dream world turned out to be a coward. Of course he claimed he was being martyred for the sake of his family’s honour and he had to marry the girl of his father’s choice.

The latest Bollywood number – mera jiban kora kagaz – wafted across from the radio of a neighouring house. She closed the notebook, kept aside the pen after  capping it and glanced at the envelope lying at the corner of her study table. She opened it to read the appointment letter, perhaps, for the seventh time. “Mama we are leaving to Calcutta Tomorrow. I am going to take up that job at the All India Radio, Calcutta”, she shouted so that here mother who was in the kitchen heard her. “It does not matter if we have to pack the whole night in stead of celebrating the new year”, she added.

She stepped on to the balcony. A gentle breeze was blowing, to sweep away the last trace of her burdensome past.  The neighbour had increased the volume of the radio. But she heard nothing. She saw nothing. Felt nothing. As if a sea of void had devoured her. As if the decision not to write about her tumultuous recent past had erased the memory of it. With this erasure, came a great relief, a great hope. A hope to start life anew, as new as a blank note book.

Mumbai, 31.12.1994

She moved to Calcutta with her mother, leaving behind her father who did not mind staying alone for some time. The stint at Calcutta was short lived. So was the stint at Madras where she had been transferred subsequently. At her own request and with a little bit of influence of her father who still worked for the government of India,  she got a transfer to Bombay. After moving to Bombay, life took a different turn. No more did her mother brought up the topic of marriage. She left the job at All India Radio and at the  behest of a private production company she became a director for Telvision Serials.

The December month of this year has been particularly  eventful. The short documentary film she had made on the life of the slum dwellers had won an international award. Her serials were getting high critical acclaim.

She was not much of a party woman. So she had declined all the invitations for the new year party. But her mother was happy to see the glow in her daughter’s face. This month has been an all time high in her career.

May be now was the time to write something in that notebook,  she thought. She had regarded the note book as a kind of a sacred relic. Neatly wrapped in a silk clothe, she had given it to her mother to keep it in a safe place. She asked her mother to bring her the notebook. The interior pages had slightly mellowed. But the pages were fit enough to be written upon. She recalled all her achievements and thought of chronicling those watershed moments in the notebook. She felt the rush of adrenaline and the unconstrained joy by recalling her achievements that had far surpassed her dreams. She wished she could somehow reign in her overflowing joy.

In the morning that day, she had gone to the beach to inaugurate the Sand Art Festival, where she was the centre of attraction. One of the sand artists was her intimate friend. As she remembered her friend, suddenly, she had a vision where the art and the artist were not different. She was terrified when she saw, in her mind’s eye,  the artist receding into the sea along  with the sand sculpture that he had created.

Simultaneously she saw that she herself and her achievements were  vanishing into the blank pages of the notebook and the overflowing joy had ceased into a calm lake without any waves.

She closed the notebook immediately, wrapped it up and gave her mother to keep it where it was.

New Delhi, 31.12.2014

After the death of her father, they moved back to Delhi. Even at eighty four, her mother was healthy enough to walk without support and eat without any restrictions. Sometimes she felt older than her mother. Of late, she had taken more interest in yoga, philosophy and spirituality. This particular day she had thought of going to the monastery with the blank note book and if possible to trace the monk who had  given her the notebook forty years back.

After reaching the monastery she sought an immediate appointment with the senior-most monk. She was ushered into a  circular room where the monks received visitors. As she entered the room she wondered whether life, some time or other came full circle. There was nothing on the wall except a painting of a lady and a monk. As her attentions got stuck there, the monk said that it is was a painting of Amrapalli, gifted to the monastery a few day back.

Oh! how could she forget Amrapalli. After all, she had made a serial on the Buddhist tales and the serial was highly popular those days.

The monk, his head clean shaven, was sitting on the floor on a mattress. He motioned her to sit across and make herself comfortable. She asked him as soon as she settled down, “Are you the same monk who gave me this blank note book?”.

“It does not matter whether I am him or not him. But what matters is, whether you have written anything in it.”

” I tried, but I could not write anything. Whenever I tried to write something some strange things happened in my mind.”

“Then, perhaps,  you deserve a better blank book or some surprise gift in exchange of the blank note book. You have preserved it so carefully.”

He went inside and brought a gift wrapped in colourful paper.

She was going to ask many things, say many things. But the monk got up and said, “Excuse me. I have to go urgently. Take this gift and open it at home. I will discuss with you when you come here next time.”

She took the gift home. This year too she had decided to skip the new year celebrations. “But one thing I will do this year”, she thought, “I will open the gift exactly at 12 o clock”.

It was midnight and she could hear crackers bursting and loud speakers blaring to announce the dawn of a new year.

She opened the gift. Inside was a strange thing that looked like a note book. As soon as it was exposed to the air it started vanishing and was gone in a few seconds.

Now there was nothing even to create the dilemma – whether to write or not to write.

Outside, the celebrations became louder and louder. But she heard nothing. She sat down and felt the silence within, as she sank into the depths nothingness.

 

When the wrapper is considered superior to the gift inside

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I have a friend who has a cup board full of gifts given to him. These are still kept neatly wrapped and he has never opened them. I once asked him whether he has ever bothered to find out what they contain. He answered, “I am not among those fools who would spoil such beautiful wrappers”.

Of course I do not mean to undermine the usefulness of gift wrappers. They are very much needed to make the world a little beautiful and to attract the attention in the first place. They are useful only up to a limit and should not be taken for the gift itself.

  Emphasising the inner over the outer, Sant Kabir, in one of his couplets, says – Jat Na Puchho Sadh Ki Puchh Lijyo Gyan. It means, one should not ask for the caste of a saint but know him from his wisdom. Seen from another context the saying highlights the obsession of the society with the outer. The first impression becomes the only impression. The outward traits like one’s looks, the way one dresses, walks or talks become the sole criteria to pass the final judgment.

Discrimination by caste has been one of the worst banes of Indian society. In Kabir’s time it was very rigid. Of course now the rigidity of the caste system based on the four fold division of Brahmana, Khatriya, Vaishya and Sudra is loosing its grip. However, one can not altogether do away with the class distinction. New class distinctions always appear based on power structure, social status or property holding. Now In most of the so called progressive, liberal and secular western countries, especially in Australia, Germany and France racial and religious discrimination is taking an ugly turn.

In organizations also employees and members are divided into various classes based on hierarchy and receive differential treatment and benefits based on their relative status. In organizations like the Military it is unavoidable. Even some spiritual organizations formally divide people into categories like jignasu, sradhhalu, premi, bhakt etc. Sometimes there may be informal divisions like junior disciple, medium disciple and senior disciple, or, local devotee, national devotee and international devotee.

Even in spiritual organizations that are supposed to be more concerned with the inner beauty, the same madness goes on. In one of the advertisements for a spiritual teacher that I came across recently the USP highlighted was his handsome look. In another brochure the pronunciation skill of a yoga instructor was highly praised. Never mind if the person is just a parrot. All is well, if he looks well, dresses well and talks well.

Ironically one of the highest forms of knowledge has been given to us by one of the ugliest persons on earth – Astavakra.  King Janak’s court was full of rishis and sages and he used to take great delight in inviting rishis to conduct discussions and debates on spiritual knowledge. Astavakra, when he was barely twelve years old went to the court. Not only was he bent at eight places (hence the name Astavakra), he must not have been able to speak fluently as well, or so I think. Seeing him, the sages burst into laughter. So Astavakra said to Janaka, “Oh, king. How come such a knowledgeable person like you is surrounded by people who judge others by their skin”

King Janaka could immediately understand. He came and fell at the feet of the twelve year old deformed boy and begged him knowledge. Thus Astavakra Gita was born. And barely before the completion of the first chapter Janaka had become enlightened.

Sometimes the division becomes a practical necessity. However, as long as the structure is not rigid and it remains only a functional requirement, it aids growth of both the individual and the organisation. On the other hand, how can one, whose eyes are stuck only with the wrapping, find out the gift inside?

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I see you as you are


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When the protagonist of the movie Avatar says to the heroine.”I see you”, the heroine retorts back” I see you too”.  Like the movie itself, the dialogues may contain many layers of meaning. When they say to each other “ I see you” that means,  “I see you as you are, stripped of the psychological conditioning brought out by the society. I see you as a unique individual not to be judged based on your family, social,  national, or planetary background”. Or else, how could two different minds from two different planets meet?

As I have mentioned in my article ‘Living by the motto‘, by virtue of my association with some wonderful organizations, I have got the opportunity to interact with a wide spectrum of people from the Indian and global diaspora. I have learnt to see everybody as a unique individual. Sometimes, persons in a particular group may show some similarities in some aspects like way of thinking, food habits, pronunciation etc.  However, It does not mean every one of that group would confirm to those characteristics. The reality is that, two persons speaking the same language and living under the same roof can be  diametrically opposite in many aspects. Similarly, two persons living in two different parts of the globe may show similarities in many aspects of their character, attitude and life.

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Often I come across  people who have a stereotyped image of an ex-defense personnel  and the ideal way he should behave. On many social gatherings when I refuse to take alcohol or non-vegetarian food, this comes as a surprise to many. “How come”, they would say, “you being an ex-defense personnel do not drink or take non-vegetarian food”.  Even though the person himself may not be exhibiting all the group characteristics of the group he is part of, it comes as a surprise to him that somebody does not behave in line with the group image he has formed in his mind.

 “Judge not, for ye not be judged”, says the Bible. However, you and your work are constantly being judged, most often prima facie, by people who do not care to learn a little more about you. The height of such prima facie judgement happened when I took up the current job. There was another ex-serviceman who had joined that office one year back. At the age of 47, he was  still a bachelor. There was this lady colleague who asked me the moment she came to know I am an ex-serviceman, “when are you going to get married?”

When a whole society or group develops bias against another group it leads to social and political unrest. In its extreme form this group bias may manifest as racial discrimination, or still worse communal violence, terrorism, genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Even though the differences with regard to the way we dress and speak may be slowly vanishing due  to frequent migrations,  globalization and other factors, our biases with regard to other cultures and religions still remain a matter of concern. The only way to overcome these biases are to learn more about other cultures and religions with an open mind. May be the day we learn to see  a person as he is or she is, without drawing premature conclusions based on his family background, position of power, caste, religion, sect, language or nationality, will be the day that heralds the end of all group conflicts and forms extremism.

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One life is not enough, yet for now, this moment is full in itself.

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Life in its myriads of colours, shades, flavours and tastes

There are six basic tastes, according to Ayurveda. Depending upon the person, some tastes are pleasant some are unpleasant and some may be outright atrocious. However, to have a balanced diet and thus a balanced body and mind, one should include a bit of all the tastes.

Same way the artistic expressions involve nava rasas- some positive some negative. Any piece of great art or composition includes all the nine rasas.

So also in life. There are positive as well as negative feelings / emotions / flavours.

If one has experienced only the height of joy and not the depths of depression and sorrow, if one’s journey of life has been a smooth road without any ups and downs, any twists and turns, one has missed to live life in its totality.

Life is such an enigma

This is my translation of a favourite Hindi poem, which has been included in a popular movie.

 

Life is such an enigma

Sometimes it makes you laugh

sometimes it makes you cry.

The mind never wakes up.

It continues chasing after dreams

Sometimes it so happens

The traveler on the path of the dream

leaves behind the dreams

and goes away somewhere

never to be found again.

Those who came together

to set up the ‘mela’ of life

together struggle and are

partners in happiness and sorrow.

Suddenly one of them chooses silence,

and goes away somewhere

never to be found again.

One life is not enough, yet for now, this moment is full in itself.

Time is fleeting. It is a continuum. The moment one tries to catch hold of it, it is already gone. So where is this moment and how to catch hold of it?

Living in present moment is like flowing with time, like a stray leaf blown by the wind, without any resistance. One can experience the relative dimensions of time depending upon one’s state of mind. In deep meditation one can experience time stop for one self. In doing 100%, one is not bothered by past or future.

Baffled by the myriads of the creation I have often made the petition to the maker of this creation that one is not enough to experience His limitless creations. At the same time to experience the depth of His creation one has to live in the present moment fully. One who is bothered by past or anxious about the future most of the time, looses the opportunity to utilize the fare that the creation serves one now. For such a person, even this life is more than enough. Same way, being grateful gives out a message to the universe that you deserve to be an active part of His creation for ages to come.

The secret of living is to live as if YOU do not live. When the realization dawns that one is pure witness and everything is a happening, then where is the regret for past, or worry for the future?

The concept of living in present moment is beyond intellectual dissection. However, one can experience it. So, come let us meditate.

(This post was one of the Spicy Saturday Picks – August 20, 2016 at BlogAdda )

A Brief Note on Stephen Hawking

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Here is a brief introduction to Stephen Hawking from his official website: 

Stephen Hawking is the former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time which was an international bestseller. Now the Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and Founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge, his other books for the general reader include A Briefer History of Time, the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universe and The Universe in a Nutshell.

In 1963, Hawking contracted motor neurone disease and was given two years to live. Yet he went on to Cambridge to become a brilliant researcher and Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. From 1979 to 2009 he held the post of Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Professor Hawking has over a dozen honorary degrees and was awarded the CBE in 1982. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Science. Stephen Hawking is regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.’

What does not find mention in his official website is his love life. Sometimes events of his personal life gets so much media coverage that some people develop an aversion to him and ignore his contribution to science. As a person, Stephen Hawking may seem to have crossed certain boundaries of morality, particularly the ‘Indian Standard of Morality’ with multiple affairs and marriages. However, on a lighter note- considering the fact that most of his voluntary organs are not working, even the Superman should be jealous of his female fan following.

Jokes apart – his contribution to science should not be undermined whatever ‘moral’ flaws he may have. Many of the geniuses of past and present are known for their eccentricity and bizarre behavior. Stephen Hawking comes from a culture and society where his personal life is normal acceptable behaviour. Moreover, he is not a hypocrite. His whole life is in public domain. Contrast this with the life of many of our Indian leaders and famous persons. They live/ lived a double life and are/were hypocrites.An honest biographical film about Nehru was stalled time and again. What we read as history in our text books are nothing short of fiction. The stories of Stephens and Clintons would be overshadowed by the real life events of many of our adored leaders, provided these things are available in open domain.

It is surprising that a hardcore scientist like Stephen Hawking recognises the power of love.

“I’ve been privileged to gain some understanding of the way the universe operates through my work,” he writes. “But it would be an empty universe indeed without the people that I love.”

He is a great inspiration for all of us. In spite of his physical limitations, he keeps on exploring the limitless.. and he has never lost the jest for life.

“Although I’m severely disabled, I have been successful in my scientific work,” Hawking writes. “I travel widely and have been to Antarctica and Easter Island, down in a submarine and up on a zero-gravity flight. One day, I hope to go into space.”

Stephen Hawkins is a genius. His die hard attitude is an inspiration for all. I recommend my friends to read his works, at least the bestseller – THE BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME.

It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place

alice_in_wonderlandCertain lines that I came across in novels, text books and sometimes in the form of Graffiti  never made any sense then. But there was certain inexplicable quality to those lines and they remained in memory. One such line is – “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place”. This appears in Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland. Even though the novel is recommended for children, I am sure adults will be equally delighted if they could decipher lines like these.

There came a time, may be 10 years after I had read it, when one day the meaning, or what the author indicated, by those lines came as a flash of lightning. It was one of those series of busy days, while in Air Force.  I was working on a project. Work would start at 6 am and continue sometimes upto 11 pm. It was like continuous running, both in body and mind with a  few  hours of rest in between. Then one day after may be three or four weeks, orders came from a superior authority, we have to do the project again. A little frustrated, suddenly the line- It takes all the running to keep to the same place- flashed in the mind.

In another sense, especially in developing and underdeveloped countries, all the running one does is just to keep the body and soul together. In other words the whole life is spent in fulfilling only the basic needs. Forget about progress of the individual or the family or the society. It takes all the running just to keep to the same place, so that things do not degenerate further.

I discovered another layer of meaning of this phrase after a session of meditation. I was reflecting on the affairs of life. How much ever you may achieve in terms of position, money, fame, power the final destination is the same. If your body is not burnt, for sometime a few square feet of earth is earmarked for you.  You come from nowhere and again vanish into nowhere, in between running and running. Like Adi Shankaracharya said in Bhajagovindam,

A child is obsessed in playing games, a young man is obsessed in young women, the old are obsessed with worries. Man never turns towards the divine.”

Obsession is nothing but repetitive running in the mind. As long as there is life there is physical running accompanied by running in the mind in terms of obsessions or worries. At the end of it all, one vanishes nowhere. (Of course there are theories and beliefs of rebirth, let us put them aside for the moment)

I do not know for sure whether Lewis Carrol had all the above in mind while he wrote the line. This also must have come to him as a flash of insight. Nevertheless, the line has helped to get insights about certain facts of life , or at least, express certain thoughts in a better way.

An activity is an activity, whether it is pleasurable or unpleasant. Ultimately it would tire you and leave you wherever you were. It is good  sometimes to take a break from all those runnings, physical as well as mental and spend a few day in meditation or just relaxing experiencing the pleasure of ‘doing nothing, achieving nothing and going nowhere’, neither in body nor in the mind.

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