WHAT ARE YOU BEING WHEN YOU ARE DOING?

He went there after a gap of several, somewhat lazy weeks. While ‘no visit’ was a product of passivity, the intervening weeks too were absent fierce action and the resultant discoveries. The ‘being in the park’ and jogging were invigorating. The slow progression towards increased energy that got generated while jogging has always been an inspiring process…he jogged on.

The others on the path — walkers, joggers, music listeners or time-passers were all there, carrying multiple thoughts and their absorptions in them. The girls listening to the music with the ear-phones in their ears, the women with their slow walk, conversing deeply on an obviously trivial matter of the neighbour’s family, the middle-aged brown-eyed tall man walking briskly or the girl jogging behind- they all had their thoughts and were absorbed in them. There were others off the path, in the park. The dozen odd people in white kurta pajamas, lying on their individual mats on the grass, doing something akin to exercise…raising their legs and putting them down. Then raising the other one. Repeat action. They call it yoga, quite proudly. And the man sitting on the bench, closing one nostril with his index finger to control his breath. In a few minutes, he would feel fresh, get up and go back to his routine of the day. The other middle-aged man, lean and tough-looking, was often there with his warriors that one can always count on the fingers of one hand. The captain always wore trousers and t-shirts, while the warriors would always wear their white, visibly cumbersome, ‘samurai’ dress. And they would go on, almost doing the same thing everyday- trying to hit each other with their legs and missing.
They were all doing different things, thinking different thoughts, or being thought. It is a world of variety. And yet they were all absorbed in what they were doing, or being done to. They were all ONE, not similar, but one in that.

The lone jogger jogged. And watched. He watched his surrounding, the people and their actions, the trees with their light-green fresh foliage, the cement-tile lining beneath and the clearer sky above. He watched his legs as they rose and moved forward. He watched the air as it went in and out with force. He watched his body rise and become straighter as he sprinted, and he watched how it generated propelling energy for the body to move forward. He was totally attentive and focused- he put all his energy to his jogging. He was aware of what the breath is doing to his body, and mind. He was immersed in what he was doing, or causing to happen.

The jogger existed in his observation. As if both were one. Things were happening around him, things were happening inside him. He watched. With attention and care. With freedom. Seemingly he was doing something very similar to those around him, and yet he was not one of them. He was free.

The watching and being absorbed are two fundamentally different processes. One exists in the space where the other is completely absent. You can either be absorbed or watch. Absorption is an ‘identified being’ whereas immersion is being with the experience with all attention and watchfulness. One creates ‘kaama’, leaves residue of memories and their attachment, creates past. The other moves on, without residue and past. In that it is a ‘niskaama’ action.

LET LIFE LEAD YOU

Let Life Lead YouHave you met a person who hasn’t fallen, ever, in life?

Every now and then, life takes an unpredictable turn, despite our efforts to shape the future we want. Every now and then, life thrashes you for what you have done, or not done; for the company you kept or did not keep; for the things you did not see coming; for the things you did not expect to happen.

And the impact is inescapable; no matter how prepared you are, no matter how strong you are, no matter how wise you are. For a while, your smooth and comfortable life is disrupted, you are thrown out of gear, you find yourself fallen and down. You are struck and don’t know what to do, how to rise. It is here that you must stop looking outside of yourself, and look within. Let your fears lead you to find your hidden strengths, and let your undiscovered self come forth. Rebuild your commitment to the higher purpose for which you breathe and walk.

With watchful eyes and courage in your heart, awaken the change forces within you…they will propel your life into an unforeseen, hitherto unimagined victory.

Let life lead you.

THE GOAL IS RUTHLESS. IT WANTS YOU ALL.

It happens often. Almost always. That she fails; when she is on her own. When she is not supported. When she does things on her own volition. And it always leaves a trail of pain…deep and inexorable pain in the father’s loving heart. The pain intensifies further upon the realization that he cannot directly change things for her, in her, about her. He feels helpless.

When supported, she is able to achieve, she is able to persist, and she is able to make it till the end. But that support is not always available. Nor does the supporter always have access to her.

And every time the failure hits her, she moves a bit towards accepting her weaknesses, or distractions. She shows remorse, and promises to learn from the failure, as she apparently moves towards a newer objective. And yet, the cycle repeats itself.

What does it mean to own up something? My acceptance that I goofed up, that I was inattentive; I did not exercise enough rigour, or did not give my best? The articulation and acceptance of a cause does not undo the effect it causes. And it is too weak to cause a fundamental shift in my thinking, in my engagement and in my actions. How can mere acceptance of a reality, however authentic and wholehearted it is, change a reality? It only brings certain peace to my mind, and I am able to sleep well at night, but that is all it achieves. Acceptance of reality is a necessary condition for change to happen, but it is definitely NOT, by any stretch of optimism, enough to BRING ABOUT change. Of course the acceptance frees the mind and leaves it with the energy much needed to enquire into the nature of the concerned elements, their inter-relationship and what can possibly cause a change.

So what would cause the change in me? What would, inescapably, bring it about?

Let me begin looking at how I am using the resources available to me- what am I doing with my attention, my time and talent?
‘I am not doing anything that is harmful. What I am doing is perfectly natural for a 20 year old modern girl – socializing, going around with someone I like, watching movies, exploring exciting places around me, and so on. Of course there is nothing ‘wrong’ in any of them. But then, do you do things because there is nothing ‘wrong’ in doing them? Then you could be doing every conceivable thing that is ‘not wrong’, that is ‘natural’ and you would be going round and round, never reaching where you have to go. It is not that you are doing anything ‘wrong’ but does that make it ‘right’ in the sense that it moves you towards your goal? Every moment that you spend in doing what is not directly taking you towards your goal, is a LOSS to the goal.

The ‘right action’ is defined in the context and the role you are in. It means you are giving every moment of your life, every iota of your attention and energy, every breath of your life to take you towards your goal. It is not just passively ‘moving along’ what comes your way, but actively, vigorously, persistently pursuing what you think will take you towards your goal. It is the simple, clean, inescapable truth of attaining what you aspire for.

Unless you breathe your goal in each breath of yours, unless you give every bit of yourself to it, however small or big the goal is, you don’t deserve it. You don’t own your goal; you earn it when you have voluntarily, yet choicelessly, given what it takes to earn it. Short-circuiting to get to it only makes you less deserving of it.

YOUR CHILD HAS FLUNKED

The sun had set and there were the usual insects making their presence felt with their characteristic noise and jittery movements. The weed had grown after the rains in an unorganised, indisciplined manner. The gardener had gone into a slumber caused by the gloomy rainy season and the monotony of repetitive drill of cutting the grass or tending the plants. The insects and the grass were having a field day.

It was an unexciting evening. Warm September was feeling worse because of the stagnant air, and the quiet trees. Not a flutter of leaf anywhere to tell you the vibrancy of life anywhere. The park was quiet. The walkers had gone home to the more pleasurable setting of cooler breeze, cold drinks, lighter atmosphere with fun and laughter of the TV chatter.

The walker was alone. Not just physically. His thoughts were racing; as it happens when suddenly a cat enters into a mouse-filled cage. Or a weapon-wielding rogue enters brandishing a dangerous weapon into a perfectly quiet neighbourhood. The thoughts were disturbed, and they ran around, scattered. All kinds. So fast and of such variety, that it was impossible to distinguish one from the other.

The man walked with vigour, as if matching the speed of the thoughts inside him. As if their energies were forcing him to walk faster, so that they begin to slow down. The unstated strategy worked…and he was able to see what was going on inside.

Earlier during the day he was told by The State that his five-year-old child had flunked a test; his only child for whom he had worked hard for five long years. Worked hard to raise her, to groom her, to nurture her with the lifetime of his experiences and learning, to make her feel she has everything that could make him proud, to make her presentable to the world. For this he had worked hard, taken resources from The State so that he may give her everything she needs to grow up to be a wholesome being. He had nurtured her with all the passion and care, possible only for a parent to feel.

Today, he was devastated. Broken and lost. His child had flunked a test, for which he thought he had prepared her well. In fact, he was proud to present her to the world as someone whole and well nurtured. The people who eulogized her past successes, gave her lessons and protected her from harm, gave their love and care, all of them were feeling let down. And of course, some were questioning his ability to raise the child.

He had no defense. How could you defend yourself from things that have gone wrong in your child’s life? The very idea of defense is antithesis of parenting. Your child does well; you feel happy; you feel good you contributed to her success. Your child fails, you feel sad. You feel responsible. You don’t look for reasons elsewhere. It was your child and you should have taken care of it even if the tutor slipped; or the room was hot and sweaty and she was struggling to study; or the neighbourhood was too noisy and she could not concentrate! There is no defense. Cannot possibly be one. Not for a parent.

The State was not satisfied. It has made investment in the child’s education, and was unyielding in its view that the child had failed the test. It was not willing to look at the past successes of the child, or the joy the child had spread around for many years, adding hope and goodness to the environment. The State does not even remember the laurels and awards the child brought for being brilliant on many counts. Yes, The State was not willing even to look at the limitation of the test, this test. It was not willing to concede to the successes the child had achieved in the other tests. The State was furious, and ignored the fact that today’s failure in the test does not take away the other attributes and quality she has.

The State is powerful. It can demand. It was not willing to accept that this is only one test, of one subject. Perhaps it is being influenced by those who resented the attention the child got in past, and want to use this failure to settle a long awaited score.

“She is not worthy of being where she is. He is not worthy of being a parent.” Came voices from people, waiting for such an opportunity.

“Take ownership. Tell me what you would do” The State thundered, in its awe-striking voice.

He was devastated. Already. It didn’t need to be said that he felt responsible. The deep sense of feeling responsibility and pain of seeing the child had flunked was all over him, inside him. It needed no articulation.

‘What would you do?’ What a question to ask a father. It is his child. He can not sit back and pray for good weather to happen. He can not wait for favourable conditions to arrive. He is a father. He will do what it takes to get the child ready, to take this test; to take all tests.

“Punish him”, came another, clearer voice from behind the indistinguishable background.

Punish him? Punish a parent for his child failing a test. Can there be a greater punishment that this itself?

You have no idea about the parent child relationship, then. The child’s success matters more than his, failure worse than his own. That is what signifies a parent-child relationship. It is what makes this relationship most unique, most beautiful and most powerful.

“He should resign. He is not fit to be a father,” came another voice, from behind.

Resign from being a father! Do you ever resign from being yourself? Do you resign from breathing? Do you ever take such an easy way out for a core responsibility of being a father? There can be no bigger abdication of a responsibility than this. Not until you have resigned from life.

Your child is your responsibility. You grow it. You nurture it. You make mistakes, you learn and do better, and keep improving.

Being a father is not a job, assigned by The State. It is who you are and what you do by virtue of who you are, whom you have conceived and are responsible for.
In that you would not allow the god to interfere. The State is smaller entity.

The wind had begun to move, and there was a small moon on the horizon. The air felt cooler, touching the father with the energy he needed to begin walking. It was going to be a long path.