Saturday, April 23, 2011

Activism - a personal journey

The rush of events tempted me to put off the weekly blog on spirituality, but then I remembered the principles that I espoused. One needs to keep on operating at all levels - personal, family, business and work, social activity and spiritual activity, together. Just because one has personal or family or business or nation building or spiritual priorities cannot be a valid reason for ignoring any of the layers of activity. Can the cell in our lung of our body say that because it needs to build itself well, it will not do any intercellular activities to sustain the lungs or respiratory system or the entire body. All activities need to take place together at the same time.

The last few weeks has been great fun, as we rode the crest and the trough of the anti-corruption movement with the "India against corruption" movement led by Anna Hazare. It was a kind of litmus test for me, on a personal level, too. Am trying to share my thoughts and reactions, honestly.

Some questions

I have prided myself in the fact that I have never been ruffled from within in the last 7 years. Never angry, upset nor perturbed with all that has been going around me. In the last few weeks, the adulation, the criticisms, allegations and mud throwing was at a much higher scale. I was observing myself keenly. Did the stithpragnata (tranquillity, serenity) that I was experiencing for many years get ruffled? Was I elated? Was I downcast? When the government gave in to the demands for a joint committee, did the victory excite me? When some people made allegations on me and my family- was I upset ? Was I angry? Was my state of equilibrium true or fake?

My concepts and understanding of "Why was I in equilibrium"?

Equality: We are all equal with the same power within us or in a colloquial term - we all have the power of the sun within us. Some may have lesser clouds and some more, which hide the sunlight. I have always tried to live on a 50: 50 basis. Never have I considered anyone less nor more than me and my relations with all have been on a basis of equality. Which is why I have stopped judging people. Analysing - yes, but judging - no.

Roles : I have never taken the roles of being a son, father, boss, employee, husband, friend etc. seriously. I do not play roles. My mother and family used to get pretty upset at my irreverence when younger. Now, they get scandalised at the liberty that I allow my children to speak as equals with complete irrereverence.

Approval : Because of the conviction in the concept of being a part of existence and not a separate part, I always felt complete. There has never been a need for appreciation from any one. I am complete, and I do not need anyone's approval to become complete. So, when for one of the events planned in Mumbai for the anti-corruption movement, when someone told me that it should have enough people or else, my reputation will get spoiled, I could not stop myself from replying that "I am not doing for my reputation, I do not care about that. Its a task that has been taken up and should be done to the best of my abilities. Reputation be damned."

LEELA : Also, I have started looking at life as LEELA - a game and have completely stopped taking myself seriously. Am getting more and more into a surrender mode - surrender to existence. Earlier in my activism days, I would feel that there is a need for change. And that I need to change the country, society, injustice, misery, systems, people and others. Soon I started realizing that everything in existence is exactly as it should be. The cyclic movement of existence, the events happening - positive and negative is exactly as it should be. Slowly I have started surrendering to existence.

Role : My role in this existence, is just to be a channel or vessel or player in a game"LEELA" played by existence. As Sri Aurobindo says "I am just the bamboo reed through whom God blows his breath. The music that comes out of the bamboo flute is not mine". So, the sense of ownership has left. And with that has come the realization of the truth of the adage in the Bhagawad Geeta "Ma phaleshu kadachana; ma karma phala he tur bhuh, ma te sangvasta karmani; karmanye vadhika raste" meaning that while you have a duty and obligation, you have no right to expect a particular consequence or result or fruit to follow from what you do. So, enjoyment and fun has replaced concern and anxiety.

So, what happened in the last few weeks?

Some years back, when all the gold jewellery from my cupboard had got stolen, my wife came and told me casually, that the jewellery is missing. While we suspected the maid, we had no proof and therefore my wife decided to be more careful and that was the end of that story. Her complete disattachment for material things as well as my natural casual reaction was encouraging for me.

Now in the last weeks in the midst of the agitation, when there were outcomes which were good - like the support from many quarters, like the victory when government capitulated etc, there was no elation nor excitement. The equanimity only got emotional a couple of times. I met many people - nice, decent, simple people who were willing to sacrifice everything for the country, I was overwhelmed and could not control my emotions.

When there was a vicious attack on me and my family on Facebook and similar, I did get a bit pensive. After I woke up in the middle of night, completely unemotionally, I created a blog stating the real position and asking my activist friends if they wanted me to resign. There was no anger or pique. I was not asking people if my action was correct or wrong - of course I had done no wrong. I was asking a specific question - in light of this vicious and dirty attack, would my continuation as the coordinator affect the movement? Once, they said that I should continue, the matter was over.

As I examine my reaction at that time, in the midst of all these dirty allegations, yes, I did feel out of place. Like being in a gutter. Or like being in a middle of a mud slinging arena. I did examine my thoughts and wondered if I was in the right place. Should I just walk away from this negative place and go back to my meditation, study of scriptures, reading and writing of spiritual issues? Or should I continue doing my nation building activities? The questions still exist and the answers will come when they have to. I am surrendered to whatever comes.

There are lots of lessons and learnings from this last few weeks and with this blog, would like to share some of the thought processes and ideation. While this blog might sound egoist and I-centric, but it is just an honest and realistic appraisal of myself in the last few weeks. I am sure all of you must be going through similar thoughts, self doubts and self examinations. Maybe this might help.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

LEELA - Activism, Service

The choices one makes in life, drives one's growth towards either evolution, status quo or drop in frequency. For example, like Mike, if one was born at a frequency of 450Hz (which is somewhere in between the lowest frequency of 300 Hz and the highest of 750 Hz) then the choice of use of sattvic (purity) , rajasic (passion or action) or tamasic (inertia or impurity) actions would determine the evolutionary trend. The subset of the actions would be Aahar (food), Vihaar (environment), Achaar (behaviour) and Vichaar (thoughts).

For example, action that promote

1. Egoistic tendencies of I-me-myself, comfort and momentary pleasures would bring down the frequency.
2. Looking after family, business, extended family, success in society would keep the frequency at status quo.
3. Thinking and working for others, searching for truth, God, existence would increase one's frequency.

So, in our search of higher frequency, in this game of LEELA, what is the extent to which we should go? What is the balance? Where does activism fit in? Can we only live by serving others? Should we take sanyas and leave family and the narrow responsibility of society and dedicate one's life in search of truth and service to humanity? These questions assail us at all times. I have been thinking of these issues almost every day.

I found the answer to this, as usual in the Vedas. It says "As is the atom, so is the Universe; as is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm; as is the human body, so is the cosmic body; as is the human mind, so is the cosmic mind." So, let us look at one of the examples of the way nature behaves and learn from it.

A cell in the lung carries out a million reactions every second. In terms of physical and chemical composition and DNA structure, it is exactly the same as a cell in the kidney. But it has intelligence to take its own decisions. Out of the millions of reactions every second, the cell parallely carries out physical and chemical reactions, every second, to look after (1) Its own health and existence (2) Intercellular reactions to maintain the health of the lung (3) Health and operation of the Lungs (4) Health and operation of the Respiratory system and (5) Health and operation of the complete body. Note that it does not take care of one of the facets and then takes up the other. Every second and every microsecond, there is a continuous activity on all aspects of existence - its own and its dependent.

Let us extrapolate it to our lives.

Gagangiri Maharaj, a great yogi, used to say that we have to exist at three planes of consciousness. In the triple mode of consciousness, the person is first aware of his own body-mind system and observes from moment to moment the complex inward processes which are happening inside him. Secondly as he is not a closed being, he is also listening attentively to the world and to the people. He is aware of their individual and collective problems. With a sense of objectivity and detachment coupled with involvement and participation, he can find out relevant solutions to their problems.

Thirdly his uniqueness lies in being aware of the dynamic potentiality of the Other World : the Divine World of Peace, Compassion and Beauty. Through his meditative awareness, he is praying on behalf of the many for bringing Grace and Happiness to all.

Therefore, while we are all looking after ourselves and our family, we need to be engaged with the rest of society. Thus we must get engaged with activism, service to humanity and major reforms. And all these in parallel with the other activities. As a living cell cannot stop one set of reactions , while doing the intercellular ones, we should not just be involved with one's self or/ and one's family. We must at all time, be engaged with society and the country trying our utmost to bring in relief and happiness to others. But as Gagangiri Maharaj says "with a sense of objectivity and detachment, coupled with involvement and participation."

Thus, the more we work for society and the nation, more is our evolutionary growth. Use sattvic actions - pure foods, selfless thoughts and action and engagement or satsanga with good and powerful people.

That is the way one can start going towards winning the game of LEELA.