Living Mindfully

I read in the newspapers that an anguished, depressed  Malaysian teenager committed suicide because the majority of her Instagram followers polled ‘Death’ than ‘Life’. She dumbly followed what the unseen crowd had ‘chosen’ for her. She let them decide her next course of action. End.

The greatest power- the power to choose what one thinks, or acts- handed over like a free gift to mindless others?

I took a walk in the past to recollect what the world told me to do  and how noxious it all was…!

  1. ‘You look like death roasted twice in hell-fire. Why don’t you go and hide yourself?’

The easiest way to get to a girl,( or boy), is to poke fun at the way they look. It was a generous helping of  ‘Give her unto this day the daily bread of bitterness.’ The chorus was faithfully echoed by all those who sought control over me.

Decades later, I laugh when I remember the trauma.  Invariably, all who poked fun at me, were not my well-wishers. All who loved me, ever, have always made me a better version of myself-physical, spiritual or mental. The difference between then and now is that I have learnt to ignore the opinions of the naysayers and value the comments of my true friends.

And so, in my four and half decades of living, I enjoy wearing a good dress, putting on danglers, and putting flowers on my hair if I feel like it. Do I look old/foolish/blah-blah…I don’t give a damn anymore.

Baby, look into the eyes of those who care for me and love me! They sparkle like diamonds. I can live in that light for eternity.

2. ‘Your accent is horrible and you speak like a train chugging non stop. Shut up!’

I speak my mother tongue without any accent. The rest of the two languages may be notched up with an accent. So what?Having been shut up for too long, when my words took flight, literally and figuratively, they soared like frantic souls escaping dungeons.

And to my utter delight, I found that there were listeners. They bothered about what I spoke and how I spoke and not about the way I spoke! If it came from my heart, they applauded me. That gave me the confidence to venture out more.

My accent is still flavored by the mysterious sea winds of my home land. I continue to speak non stop and irritate the heck out of my loved ones. They shrug and listen. Sometimes, they grin. Or politely tell me to shut up. Sure.

The difference is that I know whom to ignore and whom to listen to. When to shut up and when to shout.

3. ‘You overestimate your own abilities. You over reach, don’t you?’

Ahhhh! Do I now? I remember withering on listening to such comments once upon a time.

What I do is my business, monsieur. You can take it with a martini. Success or failure, I shall not come running to you for your shoulder to cry on. Okay?

One has to stand up for oneself, and fight for what is due! The world is a tricky customer. It will change from mockery to adulation in a jiffy if you succeed. Better not to expect a helping hand or support from the outside. Inertia and indifference are chronic diseases infecting the systems -running the wheels of worldly life.

Help your own self and then watch as the world arrives to help you. Remember Shakespeare in love. Queen Elizabeth’s take on Romeo and Juliet?

**

I started the article to make some sense of that mindless self destruction. Sixteen years of age! And she asked the world if she should kill herself or live!

At twenty six, thirty six, forty six, fifty six, sixty six, seventy six, eighty six, or ninety six, if you pose the same question, the thumbs-down voyeurs of the gladiatorial rings  (of the world wide Colosseum) will  still vote that you go to hell.

Time to watch the sky a bit. The nature and the birds. No one votes to kill you there.

***

 

ദുഷ്ടദൂരാ ദുരാചാര ശമിനീ ദോഷവർജ്ജിത…

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‘DMwM’ഹാഷ്ടാഗ്: # DO NOT MESS WITH ME നെറ്റിയിൽ ഒട്ടിച്ചു നടക്കേണ്ട സന്ദർഭങ്ങൾ ഉണ്ടാവും ജീവിതത്തിൽ..!

ദുർഗ്ഗാ ദേവിയെ നമ്മൾ പൂജിക്കുന്നത് ആ ശക്തി സ്വരൂപിണിയെ ഭയന്നും ബഹുമാനിച്ചുമാണല്ലോ ! തല വെട്ടുന്ന അരിവാളുമായി, കോപാവിഷ്ടയായ കാളി ദേവിയെ ആരും സ്നേഹത്തോടെ നോക്കാറില്ല- തീർച്ചയായും ഒരു പടി ദൂരെ നിന്നും കൈകൂപ്പും.

‘ഭയ ബിനു ഹോയി ന പ്രീത് ‘ എന്ന് തുളസിദാസ് ശ്രീ രാംചരിതമാനസത്തിൽ എഴുതി വച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട് . അതായത്, ഭയം ഉള്ളിൽ തോന്നിയാൽ മാത്രമേ ബഹുമാനവും നല്ല പെരുമാറ്റവും ഉണ്ടാവൂ! വരുണൻ സ്വയമേ വഴി കാട്ടാതെ വന്നപ്പോൾ, ആഗ്നേയാസ്ത്രം തൊടുത്തിട്ടു , ക്ഷമാശീലരിൽ അഗ്രഗണ്യനായ ശ്രീരാമ പ്രഭു, കത്തുന്ന കണ്ണുകളുമായി ചൊല്ലുന്നതാണ്!

ഏതു മൃഗവും, അള മുട്ടിയാൽ, ചേരയെ പോലെ കടിക്കുകയും, സ്വരക്ഷാർഥം ‘baring the fangs’ചെയ്യുകയും പതിവാണല്ലോ. മനുഷ്യനും ഒരു മൃഗമായതിനാൽ, ഇപ്പറഞ്ഞ പരിപാടികൾ നമ്മളും ചെയ്‌തു വരുന്നു. അത് കുടുംബത്തിലോ, ജോലി സ്ഥലത്തോ, പൊതു വേദിയിലോ – എവിടെ വേണമെങ്കിലും ആവാം.
ഒരു വ്യക്തിയുടെ പരിപാവനമായ personal space-ഇൽ അതിക്രമിച്ചു കടക്കുന്നവരെ മനുഷ്യർ പലപ്പോഴും -അരിവാളും, ചുറ്റികയും, വാളും, വാക്കും, തോക്കും കുഴലും, അമ്പും വില്ലും, ചീത്തയും, തെറിയും, കോടതിയും കേസും, ഇത്യാദിയുടെ വകഭേദങ്ങളോടെ – തീക്ഷ്ണതയോടെ നേരിടുന്നു. അത് പ്രകൃതി കൊടുത്ത പാഠമാണ് : SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST. ഒന്നുകിൽ നീ, അല്ലെങ്കിൽ ഞാൻ !

നമ്മൾ പെൺകുട്ടികളെ പലപ്പോഴും വളർത്തുന്നത് ‘ക്ഷമിച്ചും സഹിച്ചും ജീവിക്കണം’ എന്ന് ഓതിയാണ്. ഈ പുണ്യമായ ചിന്തകൾ അവർ എത്തിപ്പെടുന്ന കുടുംബ സാഹചര്യങ്ങളിലോ, ജോലി സ്ഥലത്തോ കാണില്ല എന്നത് നമ്മൾ മറന്നു പോകുന്നു. ‘ നല്ല ആഹാരം ഉണ്ടാക്കാൻ അറിയില്ല’ എന്ന കുറ്റത്തിന് ആരോപണ വിധേയയായ,അതിനു ശിക്ഷയായി കൈ വിരലുകളിൽ വടിയുടെ അടിപ്പാടുകളുമായി ഐ എ എസ് ബാച്ച് മേറ്റിനെ കാണേണ്ടി വന്ന എന്റെ സീനിയർ എന്നോട് ചോദിച്ചു : ‘അവൾ എന്തിനാണ് അത്രയും സഹിച്ചത്?’ ‘ നേരത്തെ ഇട്ടിട്ടു പോകേണ്ടതല്ലേ? കേസ് കൊടുക്കേണ്ടതല്ലേ?’
അപ്പോൾ ഞാൻ കെആർ മീരയുടെ ‘സൂര്യനെ അണിഞ്ഞ ഒരു സ്ത്രീയെ’ഓർമിച്ചു . എത്രയോ സത്യങ്ങളാണ് അതിലുള്ളത് എന്നോർത്ത് പോയി.

നമ്മൾ പലരും,കൂടുതൽ ക്ഷമിക്കുന്നു. നേരത്തെ ചെയേണ്ടത് പില്കാലത്തേക്കു മാറ്റി വയ്കുന്നു. അടിക്കാൻ ഓങ്ങുന്നവനെ, ഭയക്കുന്നു. അപമാനിക്കുന്നവരെ, അർഹതയില്ലാതെ തലയിൽ കയറ്റി വയ്ക്കുന്നു. നമ്മുടെ നന്മയെ മുതലെടുക്കുന്നവരെ വെറുതെ വിടുന്നു. അത് നാശത്തിലോട്ടുള്ള വഴി.

ഇതാ, ഇവിടെ വരെ മാത്രം. അത് കഴിഞ്ഞു ഒരടി മുന്നോട്ടു വച്ചാൽ, അപ്പോൾ തിരിച്ചടി കിട്ടും എന്ന് ശത്രുവിന് ബോധ്യം ആകണം. സ്വയം രക്ഷിക്കാൻ പ്രാപ്തിയുള്ള മനുഷ്യരെ – സ്ത്രീയോ പുരുഷനോ ആകട്ടെ – ആരും പരീക്ഷണ വസ്തുവാക്കില്ല.
ശത്രുക്കൾ ആരും ഇല്ല എന്ന മൂഢ സ്വർഗത്തിൽ ജീവിച്ചിട്ട് കാര്യമില്ല. ആരുടെയാണോ hidden agenda നിങ്ങൾ കാരണം വെളിച്ചപ്പെടുന്നത്, അവർ ശത്രുക്കളാവുന്നു എന്നത് സാമാന്യ ബുദ്ധി മാത്രം. ഇത് ‘നല്ല മനുഷ്യർക്ക് ‘ വരില്ല എന്നത് വിഡ്ഢിത്തം! സാധാരണ, നല്ല മനുഷ്യർക്കാണ് കൂടുതൽ ശത്രുക്കൾ!

എല്ലാവരേയും പ്രീതിപ്പെടുത്തി ജീവിക്കാൻ ആവില്ല. ഭയമില്ലാതെ ജീവിക്കാൻ ആവും. അതിന് നെറ്റിയിൽ ഒട്ടിച്ചില്ലെങ്കിലും, ശരീര ഭാഷയിലും, വാച്യ ഭാഷയിലും, ‘ ഒരടി ദൂരം പാലിക്കുക’ എന്നൊരു signal ഉള്ളത് നന്ന്.

ഗുരു ഉവാച : കുരങ്ങന്റെ പിൻഗതിക്കാർ, ആ സിഗ്നൽ വേഗം വായിച്ചു കൊള്ളും!

**

Visitor

1. Less

Bad words, bad man

Bad tears?

Trying to get at your jugular

Stop you from breathing, creating!

Why give a bad word, a bad man

Such importance?

(Tears should spring from joy, by the way !)

I have found the antidote!

Good words, good man,

Good, wholesome laughter!

So I have removed ‘fear’ from my lexicon

And instead added a word with ‘less’ in it:

Fearless.

Great, isn’t it?

What less of a bad thing can do to  one’s life?

**

2.  A Visitor

She told me in my dream that she cared deeply,

That loving soul.

‘Did you feel pain’, I asked.

‘No, I was reading as usual and then a

Strong wind blew…

That is all I know, my dear!’

I heard that bubbling laughter again

That loving, gracious face again.

‘I will give you enough money to bring up

Your children, ‘ she said.

Before I could answer, she took out a blue

Purse, check pattern all over

And started counting coins!

‘To know that you are watching over me

That is all I need,’ I wanted to tell her.

When I woke up, I had a smile

On my face.

Next birth, we will meet again,

Most beloved woman.

 

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening to The Way

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I was listening to the great Wayne Dyer recently. He was espousing the beauty of Tao Te Ching by Laozi. ‘The Way’, as he explained, seemed so beautiful.

Then it struck me. Who better epitomises all that than my own beloved Hanumanji?

Bhoot Pisach Nikat Nahi Aave

Mahaveer Jab Naam Sunaave

1. To live with integrity, joy, peace and balance…I can think of none but Hanumanji.

2. Learn to die when you live… Live without fear of death…I think of Hanuman offering himself as food to Sursa, telling her that he would accomplish SriRamji’s task first!

3. Have your own sacred space…Trust in your own nature… If you knew who walked by your side, you will never know fear!

Haanumanji always carried his Lord in his heart and offered every action as an offering at Sriramji’s feet.

4. Be radically humble…

I think of Hanumanji telling SreeRamji….I am just a monkey….jumping from one branch to another itself is an achievement! Whatever I do, Lord, is because you make me do it! How can I take credit for my actions?

5. Non resistance and detachment….flow like the water and accept uncertainty

Tough but so true! Hanumanji’s journey to Lanka is a perfect example of that. He met enemies and friends in that journey. He stayed calm and cool. He was so accepting of every situation and never lost his sense of humour! When Ravan ordered his tail to be set on fire, Hanumanji grinned to himself that the Goddess Sarada has helped in the nick of time: by  making him order such a strange punishment!

6.Be soft and pliable and do not be hard  and brittle….Flexibility in approach

Ah, who better to teach that than Hanumanji? He changes from humble follower to ferocious warrior to loving colleague to respectful family member….so calmly. He is unforgiving to the wicked ( the killing of the water demoness) and playful with the good hearted ( the tricking of Sursa), fair to the kind ( respecting Vibheeshan) and ruthless with the foes ( killing of the rakshasas)… He counsels Ravan and is so humble in his approach…

7. Living by not interefering…. Never trying to control anything….

Hanumanji could have easily taken Sitaji back with him from Asokavan.. But he never tries to control the situation. He is aware of the bigger design of the Master Planner at all times.

8.  Be generous, be strong by bending, living Oneness…

Jai Hanuman gyangunasaagar….

**

Probably it is human nature to relate whatever one reads or hears to what one knows in one’s own sphere.

The lesson of detachment, the ability to feel comfortable in a situation over which you have no control, to be flexible…all these are so tough in real life. But how truthful they are!

I now know that every one we meet comes to teach us some lessons…If we do not learn, then we shall endure the same experience in a different form…names and forms and situations might change but the lesson remains the same!

How blessed to listen to wise words and wise counsel. How important to trust ourselves…and the God above. How important to know that when HE walks by your side, nothing can make you afraid.

Jai Hanumanji!

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking With Him/ Her

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I have the habit of talking with my favourite God:) It is akin to having a conversation with one’s best friend. (You can substitute the name of your beloved spiritual guide in the place of Hanumanji ) Here is the argumentative devotee trying to make sense of her journey:

Devotee: Lord, sometimes life doesn’t make any sense. I feel so lost in the melange… of the pot pourri of nonsense called this world! How do I traverse this seemingly intimidating ocean of unsurety?

Hanumanji: Stop using big words. Keep things simple. Thoreau caught it wisely- Simplify, simplify… Focus on those that need your attention. Ignore the irrelevant. Do not try for perfectionism. Accept that you control nothing- not even your actions. Offer everything at His feet: your thoughts, deeds, words…Then see if the worldly ocean scares you to bits!

D: I find myself overwhelmed by the glossiness and show around me. The glamour and the magic of make believe makes my eyes blink. I cannot see the path ahead.

Hanumanji: Glamour is magik. Trace the root- it comes from occult. Enchantment of the senses through allure and make believe. People trying to increase their aura and energy fields by various charms and colours…It is their choice. Why not grin and accept that the world has as many paths to happiness as there are grains of sand? Why not shrug your shoulders and wish those who enjoy that path the very best? And look confidently- without blinking in confusion- at your own rather simple stretch of sand path? Perhaps your way follows another magic?

D: Stress! Stress! So many expectations! So many commitments! Such little time! People who seem to be doing it all with utter coolness! Where am I in the midst of all this?

Hanumanji: (Laughs) What is stress but the showcasing of your ego? When you feel you control the action and the result, you feel the nervous palpitations of stress. What if I fail? What if someone mocks me? What if…what if?

What if you accept that even your action is beyond your total control? That the only thing you can do is to take the Lord’s Name and attempt whatever it is that you want to do? And that He/ She stands guard lovingly by your side at all times? That for the Lord, every flower of your offering – your attempt- is equally beloved. He does not differentiate between worldly success and failure.

And as for people who seems to be doing it all with utter coolness- may be, they have mastered that knowledge!

D: Where does one draw a balance? Thousands of demands scream for attention every passing moment? Meanwhile one reads about by-stander indifference. People who are so immune to sensitivity that they would rather make video recording of a crime or accident than reach out to help! How does one remain human in this world of ours?

Hanumanji: Remain your own authentic self. What you value will show up in your thoughts and priorities. Focus on those. Be the first who will reach out to help. The others will follow suit. The way to break the by stander indifference is to be the change maker. Be unafraid!

D: Which brings me to the main issue: Fear! There is paralysis everywhere due to fear. The fear of consequences, the fear of tomorrow,  the fear of what others would say, the fear of denied approval, the fear…

Hanumanji: You are more powerful than you think. When the Lord stands  by your side, what can make you afraid? And it is interesting to note that once you are unafraid, the enemy in your mind loses his/ her capability to frighten you! The enemy can be an examination, a potential diagnosis of a disease, a hateful personality, anything…The battle is in your head actually. Follow me?

Devotee: I follow you.

***

All these snippets are products of my overactive and febrile imagination. However, at the end of such conversations, I see light!  And with that little flame of hope, I trudge on my journey.

Until another wind blows and  my lamp gets snuffed. Then I start speaking with my beloved God again.

HE lights another lamp for me. Always. With utter patience. With infinite love and compassion. And then holding my shivering hand, walks by my side with His confident steps.

Then I become fearless.

***

 

 

 

Sword Fights and Floods

” The great thing about the Universe is it will keep providing you with the same lesson until you learn it.” That is a quote from Rhonda Byrne’s Hero.

It is so very true.Have you had patterns in your relationships with friends, near ones, relatives? A terrible draining pattern, for example? In which you often wondered what it was that you did wrong, to entail envy, hatred and abuse? Then suddenly you realise that the neighbour is still throwing his dustbin contents on your balcony and you are still forgiving. The clerk who is supposed to pass your travel bills happen to forget that your bills deserved passing. Rudeness in a shop sets you off. What did I do to deserve this? Ahhhh..

Once I asked my Guru this question. He laughed.

” Why does Durga have weapons depicted in her hands?”

” To protect herself,” I said, not believing my own answer.

” When logic fails, weapons help, do they not? To draw a line,” said Guruji.

I nodded. Tough metaphor but very clear.

It took me many years to actually implement that lesson in my life.

How to draw a line- simple. Step beyond this, and watch the sword rise. For I have to protect sacred territory.

Suddenly, dustbins stopped being emptied into my balcony.Clerks started passing bills as per rules. Relationships fraught with open as well as subtle abuse, stopped encroaching into my life energy.Bullies started cowering. Abusers stopped stabbing behind the back.

I have not quite passed that life lesson as yet. I am probably at Grade Ten. I need to do a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree to learn the nuances more. But the learning has empowered me.

And the best thing about sword fight?

You are not afraid anymore.

********

” Ma, what does it mean- after me, the deluge?”

I should thank Dr.Who for teaching French history to youngsters!

” Madame Pompadour”, I said, ” was a very smart woman. Very accomplished. And using all the power allowed to her in that era, she was hinting at a certain importance of  self hood and existence. You see, after me what is left but the flood?”

” Awwww”, she says, ” that is arrogance!”

I grin. ” Your generation seems to like that aspect of personality a lot! I see a lot of swagger in your role models?”

” Nope. At the end of the day, attitude is all about being truly nice. Who can stand an arrogant, pompous, full -of -myself -person, day in and out?” She counters.

” It takes a lot of courage to be grounded and humble. Anyone can be arrogant. Do you know what the word humility means?” I ask.

She loves reading all about magic. Her cupboard is full of both Physics and Magic. Not too different, if you actually delve deep.

” Yup- walking the sacred earth,” she smiles.

” For that, you need feet firmly planted on the ground.”

” Mmmmmm…do you think that little brat can be taught humility?”

The little one sniffs, from somewhere close by. She is drawing a girl tottering on high heels.

” Hey, learn to walk on the ground- you walk too tall for your own good”, laughs her sister.

” I love high heels,” says the brat,” I am waiting to wear them when I grow up. Pink high heels,” she murmurs very happily.

And  as we laugh,  I rediscover magic.

Between the flood and the high heels.

Not surprisingly, it is spelt love.

*****************

For My Daughters: A Letter

P1000994

My daughters,

One day, amma might not be there to tell you all these tidbits. Not pleasant to hear, eh, but then, we will start with discussing some home truths.

The world in which you live has both darkness and light. Like your favourite movies and books have villains and villainess abounding, our little earth has her share of these horrid creatures too. Dementors, Soul-suckers, horrendous evil- name them what you may- they exist.

Remember the scene of those froth dripping mouths of evil when they attacked Frodo and Company in the Two Towers?They were trying to stop those monsters from getting to the innocent women and children.

Evil exists, in both myth and reality. In fiction, fantasy and our daily lives. In souls so dark that a six month old flesh and seventy year old flesh and twenty year old flesh are all flesh to them- to be attacked and devilled and destroyed. Hence, caution!

Amma does not want to frighten you. But awareness is the first strength. So start being aware that all things that smile need not be the Kind GrandMother. It could be a wicked wolf in disguise too.

How can you make out the deadly swamp from the pure river?

The great intuitive power which the Divine has vested in you, will serve you well. But for that, you have to value that gift, and respect it.

It is called the Ïnner voice.

By the way, there is a word called “Bestiality” in the English language. Among the various meanings are “being like an animal” or “being depraved or brutal”.

I want you to listen to this very carefully.

There is not a single living animal, bird, insect or fish…any non-human living thing which is capable of “bestiality” as much as the human being- man or woman. Animals might kill, but they kill to defend themselves or to satisfy their hunger. Even the wild lion, tiger, bear…they do not commit acts of unimagined torture on another living being. They do not rape and insert rods into innocents. They do not throw burning acid into beautiful faces claiming to love them.They do not shoot a child because she went to school. They do not hammer the head of a three year old because her parents pray to God in a manner different to theirs.

So, only human beings are capable of “bestiality”. We defined the word in the first place- no animal did.

That is a very important lesson to remember as you grow up in this world.

Have I frightened you? Sometimes, fear is a good companion, provided we let her sit afar and tell us her tales.

Does that mean, all the bright, beautiful, brilliant little souls should hide themselves away?

No.

It means that all the bright, beautiful, brilliant little souls should stay wide awake in their awareness- of light and dark.

Listen with a smile to the cacophony around you– telling you what to wear, what to dream of, whom to desire,what to yearn for,how to worship God,which job to do, what vacation to take, how to be hot, how to be cool..go ahead, listen…but then decide for yourself.

That is another lesson, by the way. (Have you wondered on that phrase- by the way? By life’s way, as we travel..:)

Decide for yourself – all your life choices. You will make mistakes, but they are yourmistakes.

Be proud of the fact that you chose for yourself, even if you failed.

Dust yourself up, cry a bit, but then simply go ahead and choose again.

That is thousand times better than primping that you never made a mistake at all.

There is the story of an old crone in the Canterbury Tales.  Someone is tasked to find the answer from her on the greatly discussed question: What do women want?

The old crone gives the answer : Sovereignty over their lives.

How do I explain that conundrum to you?

Hmmm, let us put it this way:

Women (as well as men) have the right to dream of living their own lives. They have the right to choose their destinies. They have the right to be treated with respect and dignity. They have the right to let their inner light shine forth in whatever creative way they might choose for themselves.

Basically, they can dress, dance, walk, sing, dream, work, study, climb mountains, play football, mess around with clay and wet earth, fall in love, make love, have children, watch them grow, live happily, die gracefully…I hope you get what I mean.

But then, my girls, sadly, even after millions of years later, having been evolved from primitive animals, our world seems to be having difficulty about this simple proposition.Especially when it comes to women, let alone groups and sub groups of apparently “different” characters.

Remember the phrase ” Live and Let Live”.

It is also one of the greatest spiritual principles enshrined in all religions of this world.

It is based on one word- respect.

I have a right to live and shine in this world- as much as you have. As much as a butterfly has. As much as that evil creature has. As much as the mango tree has.

Yeah.

So, where were we?

Somewhere on the way, Amma lost track of what she originally wanted to tell you.

Does not matter, right now- the sunshine is bright enough.

And remember as you run off and play- be kind, be tolerant, be accepting, be yourselves.

Dare to be.

Bless you,

Your Amma