TMJ 1: From chaos we begin

This is the first post in The Meditation Journal series.

Imagine a big musical drum and you are asked to make a beautiful rangoli on it i.e. on the flat stretched surface of the drum. Seems simple, right? You take the color powder in one hand and with a chutki, pick some of it. Just as you begin drawing on the stretched drum surface, someone comes and start beating the drum or rather playing it. What happens? The color powder that you are drawing with on the surface is all messed up, mixed and even thrown out. You can try all your patience but as long as the drum is being played and hit, you cannot draw your rangoli the way you wanted despite how hard you try.

This drum is your mind and your rangoli is nothing but your ability to focus, meditate or find your consciousness. The sticks are the worldly concerns (How am I going to earn more? How do I take care of my children? Should I move to another place?) and illusions that keep beating on our mind, never letting it rest for a moment. So, unless we learn to curb or control the sticks, we will never be able to draw the power of consciousness amidst the chaos that is created in our mind. The world out there is playing a cacophonous noise and your mind is itching to join in on the concert. Amidst all this, you are trying to focus and weed out the illusions and understand life. This can only work when you know how to stop being a drum and how to not let the useless worries play a stick to that drum.

Is it easy? Heck, no. Can it be done? Yes. Should it be done? It is the only rescue.

Mind-Mess_web
src: http://www.scrapbookgraphics.com/

This is how I have come to understand the chaos of mind. This is the blurry landscape from where the exploration begins in search of a symphony of light.

It brings me to the topic of Meditation and ‘why is it needed?’. Why is it so important to curb this chaos? We will get to it in the next post. For now, just let the most important journey of your life begin.

  

Announcing ‘The Meditation Journal’

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Last year, I did a personal photo essay project Tretar that I thoroughly enjoyed. It got too consuming at times but in the end, it was worth more than I could imagine. I wrote nearly 5000 words in those 24 posts. This year started on exciting notes and saw me traveling to a place I had always wanted to see – Pondicherry. What I did not anticipate was discovering the real gem – Auroville. Thanks to a Morpheus planned retreat on exploring higher consciousness, I found myself sauntering through the dusty red lanes of this very interesting town. I added couple of days extra to explore and spend some time writing. If you do not know much about Auroville, you should read about it and better yet, check it out! It is an experimental township that was created on a wasteland and harbors the philosophy of oneness as visualized by Mother (read about Sri Aurobindo and Mother) – “Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.”

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auro-1From its organic food to spectacular architecture to the feel of community, Auroville has become one of my favorite places in India. It was in this serene environment that we began our 3 day workshop with Partho. There was no agenda and no goal. I did not even know what to expect. We entered this hall in Verite where the session was scheduled. It was a high and wide hall with magnificent windows and a big glass hole on the top that bathed the whole room with ample sunlight. The trees outside rustled and filtered the air. We took our seats on the cushions and chairs. Roughly at 9, the session started and Partho asked, ‘So what do you guys want to know?’. It was perhaps a weird way to open but it could not have been better. The whole 3 day workshop continued as a QnA after that. From 9 to 5, we just talked and talked for 3 days. I am not going to bore you with the details here but will pick up on some insightful threads in the series I intend to do for my blog this year – The Meditation Journal.

So yes, my Tretar project for 2015 is to unravel the mystery of Meditation. I am a novice at it and I shall transcribe my experiences of tackling it head-on. How far shall I go remains to be seen. My interest has been piqued since this workshop because some of the things we talked about seemed so right to me. It answered some of my questions, clarified many doubts and opened up a new direction of thought. And it also shed light upon something that has always intrigued me – How to approach Meditation? What is it? Why? How? And, I think many people have the same questions. After coming back, I further explored the topic and happened to read more on Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy and even some Tibetan Buddhist approaches. I am thoroughly enjoying this exploration and I am sure other Meditation enthusiasts will too. So, if you are interested, join me in this voyage – let’s find out together if it demystifies you or is it just a hoax :) Either ways, we will come out enlightened!

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Power of memorylessness

For past one week, I am plagued by the unreliable internet at my home. I have been trying to download 5.18GB update of OSX Yosemite and since the update comes directly through the App store, it is like a game of roulette when you bet on a specific number – there is only one possibility of you hitting the number and if the ball settles anywhere else, you are doomed. In this case, the update can stop abruptly at any point before hitting the 5.18GB mark and all you can do is wiggle away in pain.

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I have started calling it my screen of death. I tried to time the day guessing when is the internet appearing to be most reliable and downloading only then. I have tried pausing when speed slows down in the evening. However, the whole sequence remains as unpredictable as life. In total, I must have downloaded more than 12GB in different tries but a full successful download still eludes me.

As I was staring at this screen once again today, something hit me. I would start off happy and for the first 2GB, I wouldn’t even bother checking the progress of the download much because even if it failed, I would tell myself that I had not downloaded that much and can start over. Twice it happened that I had downloaded close to 4GB when it failed and it made me miserable because I was invested in it too much. Same thing happens when anything that you are invested heavily in life falls apart. The more invested you are (financially or emotionally), the heavier is the toll. But why should it be?

One of the points we discussed in the ‘Exploring your Deeper Consciousness’ workshop at Auroville recently was to be conscious of every moment and treat it as a separate entity without carrying the burden of past memories – simply be attentive to what is going on at that point of time. Imagine if you could start fresh every time with same energy, without correlating past failures or future anxieties. Imagine if ‘right now’ is the only thing you ever care about. Imagine the freedom. No past, no future, only the present state. How free your mind would be from unwarranted burden of memories and regrets? It would have more space for accommodating the beauty of ‘right now’. It is also called ‘Mindfulness’. Deep down in my heart, I know that is the only way to live but practice takes time :)

For now, I am prepared to start the download all over again even if it fails at 5.15GB (or to go for better Internet vendor!).

  

Seeing Mother’s room and Aurobindo Ashram: Pondicherry visit

21 Feb 2015. I was in Auroville for a workshop and had kept one day to roam around Pondicherry. Around midnight, my Dad messaged me that it was Mother’s birthday and one of the few days in the whole year when her quarters are open for the public. I thought it was a significant coincidence and I must avail this opportunity. To my chagrin, there were no bikes available to rent because it was a darshan day. Since 7 am, I had been trying to call bike lenders but no one had anything. Around 9 am, a scooty became available due to a last minute cancelation. Stroke of luck!

Pondicherry Ashram
Pondicherry Ashram

When I reached the Ashram at noon, a long queue filled the street. Token for half an hour slots were being handed out to people when they could come for visiting Mother’s rooms. I had to return to Auroville before dark and it seemed impossible to get a token for myself on time. So, I went away for lunch. While eating, I felt a tug to go back to the Ashram and give it another try. When I reached back, the queue had doubled. I spotted the girl with whom I had chatted before leaving for lunch, she seemed ahead in the queue. I am usually a shy person who would never do a thing like this but I saw no other option. I went to her and asked politely if I could join her and her father in the queue. I expected her to give me a look. I expected the person behind to complain. Surprisingly, neither happened. She very happily let me in. I still cannot believe how sweet she was. I chatted with her and her dad for few minutes until we got our token for 5:30-6pm. I thanked Lakshmi and went to see Sri Aurobindo’s samadhi. I wasn’t familiar with his or Mother’s work until then. So, all I can say is that I was meant to visit and pay my respect there. I liked what I saw – the peaceful ambience, the lovely flowers, the quietude and the stillness.

Lakshmi and her Dad
Lakshmi and her Dad
Pondicherry beach
Pondicherry beach

I spent sometime roaming around the beach and parks. As scheduled, I returned at 5:30 and got to see the rooms and some of Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s personal effects. I would not claim to have felt any extraordinary vibes or visions but I do feel that it was no coincidence my being there. Since then, I have come to find out more about Sri Aurobindo and my interest is piqued. Some of the people I respect have great appreciation for his philosophy, perhaps it is time for me to explore him in greater detail. Whether it was a calling or my imagination does not matter, Pondicherry visit (and overall my exploration of Auroville on which I will write separately) was a revelation to me in more than one sense. That day started another journey.

My Pondicherry shopping
My Pondicherry shopping
  

Another open letter to Arvind Kejriwal

Dear Mr. Kejriwal,

If AAP can win, so can I. That is how I felt when people of Delhi gave a decisive victory to your party on 10th Feb. Something about the world seemed right and trustworthy. The wavering lamp of hope got its fresh supply of fat and the flame rekindled. Whenever asked a question (even a tough one), you never said ‘No comments’ or ‘I will not answer this’. When humbled by a landslide victory, you actually cautioned your party members against arrogance. That gave me further faith that my support was not misplaced. When you said it was scary, believe me you are not alone. Every supporter of your’s knows that the path ahead is full of hurdles. It is because you chose to follow the difficult path instead of a stable bureaucratic job. You wanted to get into this mud and slime. We helped you jump into it and did our part of throwing a rope for you. The battle ahead is your’s to win or lose. And whatever you do will determine if people like me would ever put trust in a voice from amongst us. We were defeated and uninterested mob who had gotten used to ‘sab chalta hai’. When you came on board, we felt for the first time that it is ok to believe that ‘sab kuch actually nahi chalta hai’. You will be wrestling a hungry and grumpy opposition in this mud but trust me, we will cheer for you every time you get dirty to clean the filth. We will wait to high five you and those muddy hands will feel much cleaner than the hands that are used to taking bribes.

The wolves are waiting to pounce upon you for the smallest of your slip, face it with same grace that you did during campaigning. Do not become one of them. At the same time, never underrate or disgrace your competition. They will attack you on policies and even the day you don’t feel like wearing your muffler. It’s fine, stay focused and trust the people who have put their trust on you. They are more aware and sensible than their parent generations. They do not vote for dynasties or empty promises, they keep an eye on what you are beyond your speeches. They know that their God is bigger than someone who needs Ayodhya mandir to prove His presence. So, do not be trapped into doing wrong things that have worked previously.

The good thing is you have forced your opponents to keep the competition clean – they will have to find honest people to fight you. Or, at least, the ones with least dubious backgrounds. Either ways, it is a win win for me. We trust and respect you like a school principal who actually knows how to teach and does not endorse expensive tuitions. But do not tempt me with freebies. I want an honest governance and hope. Hope does not equal unrealistic expectations. And understand that I am not your fan. Fan is someone who has fixed allegiance irrespective of merit. I am not that. I am a believer and a cheerer but I shall always judge you on your actions. I will trust you when you deserve it and I will not be swayed by a hateful opposition but the day you turn arrogant like your predecessors, the day you bullshit me why you did not do your duties, I shall go back to ‘sab ek jaise hain’. Don’t make me go there because you are my last hope of a better India.

Elections are over and the time to be antagonistic is over. Be skeptical but not biased. Give me progress and better quality of life. I don’t need swachch bharat abhiyan on twitter, I need it to be executed at ground level. Keep women safe, please. Punish the rapists. Stop hate speeches against any religion. Act now. I know that your report card will not be 100% but I hope that you will try more honestly than your predecessors ever did.

-Nistha

P.S. And, please don’t take Shazia Ilmi (read opportunists) back.