Friday, 22 May 2015

Being Ridiculously Lucky

Several holy texts will tell you that you must be extremely lucky, practically swimming in divine grace to meet your master while He is still alive. He will not show you the path, He will not walk your way for you but He will help you uncover what you have forgotten about yourself. He will basically come polish your mirror so you can gaze into who you are.

And we love these words while they remain words, no more. Should they unfold in real life, we will doubt the hell out of our situation, all good words and commandments forgotten.

We like our grace coming from masters posthumously, after all, don't we? Who trusts people these days anyway? We won't let strange people smile at us without doubting their motives, a master is surely a far cry! Imagine a real life Donald Shimoda. And he may not even fit your definition of a master in the conventional sense. Or he may be as conventional as can possibly be, crushing your hipster expectations. Sorry, no plane flying. But maybe rudraksh mala wielding. Then what?

A master has zilch to gain from turning you into a devotee. And a master need not even fit your idea of what a master should be to flip your life around. Because remember how Eklavya mastered his art? We think very little of Dronacharya as a master - terrible guy. And yet, if it were not for him, would we have known that supreme archer at all?

I have known my master for fifteen years now. And it's taken me fifteen years to ask him how I can be of use to him. And it's taken fifteen years for me to hear a real, direct answer on what could possibly lie ahead of me should I choose to walk down that path. And of course, I have already chosen. You do not ask "how can I be useful to you?" with total surrender unless you have already readied yourself to be hauled into a life that you cannot plan for.

That's the thing about plans; they do not factor in the unexpected. And masters are ridiculously unexpected. Being ridiculously lucky to have a living master basically says in fine print that you are now open to the absolute unexpectedness of life and learning.

Friday, 1 May 2015

The Things I Have Learnt

I have recently been told by somebody who I deem is important to me that I am as tarnished as everybody else. It was meant as an insult. As an attack. It was meant as a reminder that I am fallible. I am happy to report that I have long since accepted my fallibility as a human being, a sister, a daughter, a wife, a girlfriend, a friend, and every other role one can think of. I have even been a most disappointing audience once, when I fell asleep and may have snored a little during a grand musical performance everybody else seemed to be enjoying. I have been a disappointing trainee on more than one occasion, when I failed to lift a weight my trainer felt I could lift.

I am comfortable with disappointing people now. Not because I am a disappointment. But because I have long since accepted that I cannot be perfect, I do not want to be perfect. I am happy to hobble along my way through life, making my mistakes and figuring out my own learnings. It is so much better to do that than borrowing learnings.

Borrowing learnings is a dangerous job. You read stuff, you hear stuff and you then start quoting that stuff. Call it self help, spirituality, psychoanalysis, whatever. But soon enough, you start believing you know the stuff you perceived. Nope.

Knowing comes from living through experiences. Or knowing comes from complete empathy and faith. Complete empathy that if a movie can scare the pants off somebody else, it could do that to you too, and then deciding if you want your pants scared off you. Is that a good example? Perhaps not. Complete empathy that if people say they feel mildly sick after being force-fed curd rice, they are probably not lying, and instantly offering them a steaming hot plate of Medu Vadas. Complete faith that sticking your hand in fire will give you a horrid burn, even if you have never done it before. Learning from complete empathy and complete faith saves us a lot of time. For instance, you need not know the exact principles of how electricity works for the fan to start rotating when you switch it on.

Everything else is borrowed. Borrowed learning is pointless because it creates this illusion that you know, deep inside, when actually, all you know is the definition.

All I have learnt on my own is that I must take care of my body, and my body feels good when my mind is at peace. I know that when my mind is at peace, I am a more effective, productive, happy person. I know the people I love and who love me back, irrespective of my journeys and the milestones on it.

I know that I must get enough sleep, that I love good music, that silence is precious. I know that people just want to be heard. Not everybody is looking for a solution. I have learnt it's easy to be nice. I have learnt to be happy at silly things. I have learnt that I cannot base my life on feelings because they change; I therefore stick to my commitments. I have learnt that I do not have to make commitments just because I am expected to do so.

I have learnt that doing things you want to do is one way to be at peace inside. I have learnt that if you wait for universal agreement, you will be waiting an eternity. I have learnt that sometimes, the universe is one person.

I have learnt that death is coming for me, sooner or later. I have learnt that the idea of never seeing a loved one again is the sort of wound that never closes, whether you pick at the scabs or not.

I have often felt ridiculously lucky.

I know that a good cry helps as much as a hearty laugh.

I know no more. And dear universe, everything you throw at me, I shall tackle with the knowledge I have learnt. I am hopeless at using borrowed knowledge, I have learnt this too. Mostly, dear self, just focus on being at peace with how you live your life. I am not the authority on this but it seems to me that that sums it up.