Aug 11, 2012

The complexity of the self and the simplicity of the SELF

How complex we are as human beings! There is an inherent tendency within me that pre-disposes me to grow or un-grow in a particular direction, make the same decisions I made, seek out the same things I sought out earlier. These inherent tendencies make me what I am - direct my body, mind and intellect (self)  to engage in the pursuit of those specific things, those specific emotions, those specific people. This further reinforces these inherent tendencies - like water flowing across a piece of land, that eventually makes a path for itself and becomes a stream - the path increasing its pace and the pace creating a more defined path! These inherent tendencies are called Vasanas.

The rut created by these vasanas is so strong that it invariably propels my SELF across multiple births to seek out a body, mind and intellect that is conducive for the exhaustion/ expression of those vasanas again and again. Thus the whole concept of re-birth. I experience the same emotions - the sadness, the joys, the sorrows, the peace, the thrills over and over again.

So how do I get out of this cycle? Do I need to? Why? What is the benefit of getting out of this cycle? Why can't I just continue on, blissfully ignorant, living my life experiencing the joys, sorrows, pains and disappointments? Can I get to something lasting? What is permanent? What can I rest on knowing that it is unchanging, everlasting?

They say that when the desire to seek answers is strong enough, answers come seeking you.

Because I call this body, mind and intellect entrapments as my 'Self', I march along with these confusions and questions. We treat our body, mind and intellect entrapments as the real Self. We mistakenly believe in this so much that we build vasanas binding us to these things even further, making it ever so hard to get out of it. Just like that river cannot change its course, or reduce its flow because of its momentum/ inertia, I can't get out of these vasanas if I continue to indulge in them.

But, if I build a dam, I change the flow of the river. Yes, for some time, but eventually the current builds up and destroys the dam. So also, by blindly controlling my vasanas, I am not going to control anything. It will eventually catch up with me. Until I realise that my body, mind and intellect are mere encrustations that work under the direction of my inherent tendencies (vasanas), I can do nothing but stare blindly and attribute everything to fate, to destiny and such.

What I need is the knowledge that my true

'SELF' ='Self' - B+M+I+vasanas.

And my actions (through my body), my feelings (through my mind), my judgement (through my intellect) can operate without binding or creating new vasanas.

All this is easily said than done! But for every practical problem, every living breath, if I believe and continue to live with this knowledge and channel my B,M,I to be non binding, then I hope I will get there experientally as well.

An encounter with the past

After 22 years, I visited myself in BHEL. Met me at my school, saw a lot of changes in me and in my school. Met all my friends and tried to connect my past self to their past selves. It is an exciting experience.

Its like a time warp except that you have knowledge of the experiences not being real since we have seen/ are seeing a different reality. You know it is from memory. We laughed at ourselves and our antics back then and enjoyed the experience of recounting the past - dispassionately, non judgementally, with no regrets or sadness, except what the passage of time carries with it. Some of us could see how we have grown - the inherent tendencies, I think, showed even back then although our ability to perceive it was not as keen as it is now.Who cared!

We were also quite content with going back to the present. With promises of going back to the past, in the future! We also tried to effect a change in the future of some others! Complex - isnt it?

Oct 10, 2011

Why are weekends not weekends anymore...?

Back in the US, Friday evening is the best time of the week. Why? Cause it signifies the start of the weekend. The next 48 + hrs are completely yours to do as you wish. Ofcourse, you have the regular kid's classes, the grocery shopping, the birthday parties etc to do. But somehow, you physically and mentally unwind. It is the end of the week! A halt to your regular routines, do something different or nothing. Something that will be / can be done only on the 'weekend'.

In Chennai, Friday evening comes and goes. And there is no sign of a weekend. Come Saturday, I still have to do the regular chores that I do everyday - clean the house, wash clothes, dishes etc. In fact, I do these and the weekend things like kid's classes, grocery shopping, birthday is exhausting!! There is no end to the week - no different routine. You just dont go to 'work' - well, not all days atleast. A week doesnt end, it just keeps flowing into another. There is no halting and re-starting. It just continues....

Tired. Very tired...

Oct 1, 2011

Someday I'd like to paint my own God

I've been thinking about how many different selves of ours we carry around. First, there is the physical self, the emotional self, the intellectual self, the spiritual self. And as if that is not enough, we now introduced this new projection of these different selves in the internet - my avatar on FB, my avatar on Linkedin, my avatar on Orkut, my avatar on this blog and so many more! Sometimes, I wonder if all these alternate selves are simply a way to discover our true self. Or is it the freedom to exercise what I cannot exercise in another form. For example, on Linkedin, I can't be as candid as I am in FB or this weblog.

Whatever it is, it is there - the need to create the avatars and the avatars themselves. Each one, supposedly providing an anonymity from the other. However, all of these avatars and the need to create the avatars are connected through Me. "I" know that all these avatars are my creations. My consciousness to express myself from which stemmed these different avatars.

That is the essence of Vedanta. Our physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual selves are but expressions of a Higher consciousness that connects "ALL" of us. Understanding and realising that, will allow us to see that Higher consciousness in everyone! Nothing matters anymore then.

Now, I want to express all these different forms of myself through paint...I want to paint my physical form, my emotional form, my intellectual form and my spiritual form. I want to create my own God. Adding to the growing number of the 33 crores of Gods that already exist. So now you paintings are not any greater than yours.

I smile at my own self...took me this long to realise this well enough to be able to express it on my own! Mooda mathe!! Now, where did I see the tutorial for self portraits?!

Sep 30, 2011

Sunshine behind the clouds without a Silver lining

A friend once said - "India needs people like us - those that have seen the other side of the world". At that time, I brushed off the remark as a cliched saying to entice me to come back to India. Within a couple of months after my return, I realised the value of those words. At work, I had to go through the usual "new employee training programs". And sitting there, listening to all those 20 somethings speak about what they want to do with their life and the sometimes misguided, sometimes intelligent plans for their future, it was exciting.

India has a huge potential. I am not the first to say it nor am I the last. What I now realise is, returning back can help you see the potential a lot more clearly. You can see the gaps at the individual and organizational level. And the most exciting and challenging part is, you can help fill that gap! Imagine that! There is nothing like being able to shape something to take it to a better standard.

Putting that into action requires finesse though. Most people discard us as prodigal sons and daughters who think we have come back from heaven and therefore consider ourselves a cut above the rest. And when that preconceived notion exists, it is hard to make headway even though your intentions and vision are right. I was warned to not act as if I dropped from heaven and everything here is sub-standard and needs to be improved (courtesy - that same friend).

So we are back to the basics. First, 'Change' requires you to understand and appreciate why things are the way they are. Always. Whether in India or abroad. And that understanding helps you bring about change with a lot more empathy. But foremost, your vision has to be selfless. You are not trying to bring about a change for yourself. But for a larger good. This is true again whether India or abroad or in any work that we do for that matter. That gives you the everlasting satisfaction and enthusiasm to keep it going.

Clouds will pass - you dont have to search for the silver lining in them! There is sunshine beneath - give it time. (does that rhyme?!)

Sep 29, 2011

The thing that is most annoying...

We are all social beings. We seek other people for simple transactional purposes leave alone communication. One of the first things I had to do was to get the basics - telephone, internet, TV connection. So after finding out from neighbours and nearby store owners the numbers for the different utilities, I call them and get them to come to discuss their wares - pricing packages etc. There isnt much choice - either because the rep doesnt know and can't answer questions or there simply aren't too many options. But I do manage to get a rough idea of what the bill will be. The rep assures me that it wont exceed X amount. So we pick a package and set a date for installation. My son is waiting eagerly for the TV connection, so he can watch the World cup. I am waiting eagerly for the internet - so I can get on with my other search for things like furniture stores, music class etc.

The appointed day comes and goes - no one has called to say they are late or can't keep the appointment. It seems mundane now, but having been used to the punctuality and preciseness of things in the US, not having people show up, was quite jarring. I made some calls and these guys were not in the least bit apologetic! They simply give me an excuse that I can't penetrate and simply fix a different time. I decide to give them a chance. The next date comes and goes. The worst part is, you have to stick around at home waiting for these guys since they dont give you a good window of time. This time I am on short fuse. Remember, all along we've been getting by without these basic utilities. It is a bigger let down when you expect something to happen and it doesn't. So I call and give them a ear full. And they show up. Connection set up, TV, internet and phone all working. Everything is fine.

A month later, I get the bill and there is absolutely no correlation between what I asked and what's on the bill. I call them to get an explanation- I am on eternal hold and finally the person I get, simply raises a trouble ticket for a billing question!! No one bothers about the trouble ticket for days although I keep getting text messages to my cell phone with the trouble ticket number and that it is assigned to so and so etc. Then I realise - people here dont value their own words and most importantly, there is no penalty or incentives for (not) keeping appointments!

It is very frustrating even now. I dread having to deal with maintenance guys, furniture delivery fellows - anyone who has to show up at your doorstep for something. I am learning to lower my expectations and not plan things as well as we used to in the US.

So what is the silver lining on this cloud you ask? I stopped looking for it. Is that a good answer?

Sep 28, 2011

Life in India - the first few months

I am back again after a long time! Move back to India in Mar 2011. And a lot of friends have asked me to write about my experiences here. I can't necessarily guide anyone but can make observations that may be useful.
Overall, I find myself complaining, comparing, more complaining, reasoning and accepting in that order. And that cycle repeats with every encounter and with each stage lasting varying lengths of time depending on the situation. In the meantime, I evolved my philosophical self - that has added another dimension to all this adjustment.
The good thing and bad thing about this is - I get to compare the work and non-work aspects of life here due to first hand experiences. Good about it is - it is first hand experience, bad about it is - it is that much harder to adjust in all spheres. At the end of the day, there is a peace - the peace that one has when one is close to their final destination. So look out for more.

Jul 9, 2009

Searching for quiet

Amidst all the craziness and fast paced life, I have been searching for words to express that I am tired and I dont know why. I was also searching for what are the consequences if I stop? Interestingly enough, I found this article on Slow Language movement which summed up my feelings and reassured me that it is ok take the time to smell your flowers and fruit or the rain on dry soil or the wet mulch in the morning or the slow filtering of filter coffee.

Yes, I want to keep in touch with friends, yes, I want to bridge the divide of space, but I also want the ability to just walk away from the laptop and greet someone - even if it is my own self. Searching for quiet and me...I know I won't find it on the Internet and Google search cannot help me!!