Love Your Neighbor

I am free today, and utilizing this freedom to pen my thoughts. I wish I could transmit my thoughts to a device the instant they occur in my head. If I have the capabilities to invent anything, it would be such a device…I know I can write at least one blog post each day, but then, I’m too busy making a living, and focus on these ‘non-material’ activities when, maybe, my subconscious takes over…

Before I forget and write something totally different than what I intend to, let me get to the point. I’ve suddenly realized how I could free myself from the web of illusions that have firmly gripped me. I wish the Bible could elucidate more on what it means by Love your Neighbour…

Some of us are atheists because most of the religious teachings are left to be understood intuitively. Interpretations by a religious leader are not enough, because the answer is only revealed or experienced in a flash, when lightning strikes down upon one of the darkest corners of our self. Lightning is dangerous; playing with it is self-immolation…Our religious leaders are in fact very kind, motherly, in their affection for us, to not allow us to play with the lightning…Why bother bringing the moon to the child, when its reflection is equally entertaining?

But then, some of us actually play with the lightning and burn ourselves in the process…some luckier ones remain alive dazed by the spectacular sight, and unable to express the experience in human terms… but having been touched by the divinity, become a mini-idol for others to be revered..but can anyone duplicate the lightning?

So why should we love the neighbor? Why don’t they tell us, it is not your neighbor, but only you? That you are going to love yourself? That your neighbor is not a neighbor but a reflection of your own self? That you are actually all alone…scary, isn’t it? The most amazing thing is that our mind is so well protected by defense mechanisms that it can convert any scary thing into totally absurd…! Then why not tell the truth? Because the result is not apparent…you give all your money to a beggar and then you are totally broke. But have you actually given all your money to a beggar? But how conveniently we believe that a neighbor is a neighbor and nothing else and he should be loved…but then you are so selfish that you cannot love him at all! You are so jealous of him, that you would kill him if you are not kept in check by the government…!

What a mess! So before I decide not to publish this, let me just hit the Publish button….

 

 

 

 

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The Choices We Make

I’ve often wondered about human free will versus the theological belief of a higher power charting a unique path for us to tread upon. When young, the energies of youth infuse in us a positive spirit and we tend to believe that indeed we have a will of our own. However, after crossing the third decade of life, usually when most of us experience the mid-life crisis, we somehow succumb to the annihilating force of a higher power and moan in despair, as the concept of fate and destiny which we had till now kept at bay, starts surfacing.

Today, I wish to dwell upon this aspect of our existence.

Do we have a free will or are we just puppets in the hands of an invisible but invincible entity? I would like to believe that the moment we realize our limitations as well as our power as a human being, we become entitled to a free will.

Let me explain this further.

We cannot choose to be born, to exist (and I would not want to enter into that territory here). We do not even choose our temperaments, our appearances and our unique traits. All these are something that is bestowed upon us by our DNA. It is also true that our experiences as a child, shape our future as an adult. That is, upon becoming adults, we cannot choose anything different from what we have been conditioned to choose.

In another words, what we call fate, can also be translated as the pattern of survival, which has been ingrained into us. (That is how terrorists are bred!) So, if we decide to break that pattern and un-condition, un-learn and un-do all the things that we have been taught, won’t it mean that we are exercising our free will?

Of course this is the most challenging task for a human being. To unlearn what has been learned.

Now, let me for a moment dwell upon another aspect of free will. I have often come across people who seemed unhappy in their present state of life. They blame the condition of their life on their fates. They think that they are too helpless to reverse their situation. However, when I examined in detail, I found that they have brought such hard times on their heads through their own choices in life. And the only significant factor that played a role here was a lack of courage.

In other words, they chose a fate for themselves because they did not have the courage to choose something else.

Therefore, if you need a free will, it is not something that will be granted to you free of cost.

Free will can be exercised only with a great deal of courage and the ability to look beyond the easy way out!

The Life Purpose

What is the purpose of my life?

Every time I face a difficult situation, this question makes its way to my head, making me believe for a while that I’m indeed an existentialist. But before long, I argue myself out of it in an agreeable fashion. This time the conclusion I’ve reached is so fascinating that I’ve decided to share it with my readers. Read on…what if I am able to help you fix this problem called life? Maybe I’ve found an answer which you would only be too glad to understand and analyze!

Well, this question first came to me when I was an adolescent. I even tried to share it with one of my literature professors, but he just smiled and shrugged, thinking that an ambivalent attitude would be the best way to get out of the dilemma. He was a poor man who had received a scholarship and a gold medal at the end of his university years. Once I watched him long enough from a train, when he was standing just on the opposite side, on a platform, looking at the ground near his feet, contemplating hard. What was he thinking about? I do not want to define the feelings that I experienced at this sight. It is enough to say that, that image of my professor has stayed in my mind forever. The reason I bring him here is because, what he conveyed to me was, in spite of all the odds he had decided to look at the brighter side of his life, and somehow he had turned that into a life purpose.

Yes, that is what I’ve been taught by everybody ever since I have faced any difficulties.

Now as an exercise, let’s erase all that we have been taught. Let’s unlearn what has been drilled into our heads since childhood. No, I’m not going to tell you how bad the world is. I don’t want to talk about the entity called soul. Neither will I dive into Karma theory. I won’t even bring in quantum mechanics.

What I’ve discovered when I unlearned all these theories and facts about life and living is that our life indeed has a purpose and it makes me smile because just a decade ago I was so full of doubts about it and wished I was never born. I looked for answers everywhere.

I looked at the people around me who told me earning a lot of money was the true purpose of life and I tried doing that. But I soon realized I was not ambitious for material things. Then there were others who said that work is worship, and I took a job to dedicate myself to some purpose. But, it got tiring after a while and still I do not have a clue why I was doing it. A quick resignation followed. Then I went to the temples to understand what religion has to offer. Other than faith it had nothing to offer and alas I could not pray. So I turned to books to seek answers and I found many interesting people and guides there who had interesting theories that stimulated the mind and for a while I wanted to trust them and adopt their ways. But then, again, the wisdom they shared was too difficult to imitate and adopt. So then I turned to spirituality which took me on a journey to seek my soul. But again it was an arduous journey. I soon learned that I couldn’t eliminate the petty desires of my senses.

So, did that mean at the end, I had not found any purpose? Any concrete evidence of what I was supposed to do with my life?

No.

The answer that I was seeking was beautifully hidden in the question itself. The word ‘LIFE’ which I considered as a noun was in fact a verb. The purpose of life was life itself. To live and experience life. To see it ripen and embrace the nature from which it had risen for a brief time. To see it falling down, getting charred, and then rising like a phoenix, innumerable times. To see it rolling a stone up the mountain like a Sisyphus forever and ever. To see it condemned to Hell like Satan. To experience the anguish of being banished from the Garden of Eden again and again. But to also enjoy the brief period of bliss before the Fall.

The only logical question that arises here is about death.

How could the fact, that we die, also retain the meaning and purpose of life? What is the life purpose of a body which has been mutilated, raped, abused? What about mental illness, what about cancer, hunger, famine, poverty, incarceration? How do these experiences give meaning to life? Why do we experience such intense and extreme realities, if we can call them so?

So, as we say, youll never know until it happens to you. The people who suffer such extreme realities, are here to experience life as it has been given to them. And when we learn to take an experience for its own sake, we actually learn something consequential from it. Some of us somehow need to experience that variation of our existence. It is an experience ‘meant’ for some of us to lead us on some other path. It is an experience not ordained, but perpetrated by the desires of an uncivilized, discontented race of human beings.

And there is nothing pessimistic about it. Just like there is nothing optimistic about gaining fame! We are not here to argue if experiences are good or bad, but just that these are the experiences that have to be experienced.

So each life has a unique purpose. And that is to experience the unique journey of life that has been charted for you. Your experiences are going to be unique and all your own. These are the real treasures of your existence. And no amount of experiences borrowed from others, ‘wise or otherwise’, is going to make the journey any easier or difficult for you.

The Tree

As a person who loves travelling, reading, learning about the world that surrounds me, the one thing that I pitied most of my adolescent life was the supposedly inanimate tree that stands mutely before my house. No, it was not mutilated, withered or infertile. In fact, Spring brought forth its beauty and splendour every year and afforded me the most beautiful sight I could find in a city. What my restless mind pitied was the fact that the tree had to stand in its place every moment of its life, witnessing the same sights day and night, quietly shedding its old parts and donning new ones year after year. The maddeningly repetitive acts were a sheer torture as I imagined myself in its stead. What if I was stuck in one place unable to move, bear wind, sun and rain unflinchingly, just forced to accumulate experiences without being able to exorcise them in any way?

The perception of this dichotomy gradually dissolved and as I actually accumulated and shed experiences, I found that just one particular object in nature had so much to teach me.

What I perceived as movement in my existence, was actually so limited to one small part of the Earth, that it did not really mean movement from a higher plane. I cannot escape this planet after all. However, trotting the globe would also have been a welcome respite. But my life was restricted to very few repetitive acts I performed year after year. And that is when I realized I was so much like the tree that stood just a few feet away from me, doing nothing much than patiently welcoming the change in the external conditions and experiencing the same seasons over and over again.

And the more I contemplated about the tree, the further I learned about the secrets of life. The simplest fact that it taught me was that I could cultivate the ability to tolerate the changes that the external conditions impinge upon my self. And if I refuse to welcome those changes, I’d still have to tolerate them anyway. Nature is much larger and pretty ruthless than you’d like to believe.

And once I cultivated the patience, it also taught me that there is nothing wrong in being stationary. The perception that it is dreadful to be stuck at one place was so limiting. The tree as a stationary object of nature was serving so many purposes, as a source of livelihood and beauty! Why couldn’t my adolescent eyes understand such simple fact of life? And then I could at once understand the concept of sacrifice and love that issued from the twisted branches in front of me. From a pulseless object, the tree had now transformed into a source of wisdom and knowledge for me. How could I have ever undermined its existence? Or dared to pity it even for a moment?

Now, if just one lone object in nature is filled with so much purpose and service for other creatures surrounding it, how much more are we human beings capable of, if we consider ourselves on an elevated position compared to that tree? How can I find my existence without purpose? And likewise can’t I be a source of beauty, happiness and livelihood to others?

Wouldn’t that align me with the true order of the Universe, or the Nature?

Why some of us can afford to give up on the LPG subsidy after all…

A letter is going viral regarding why one should not give up on the LPG subsidy. Of course, I agree to each and every word that is stated in the letter. But then, considering 2.8 lakh citizens have given up on this benefit, there must be some inherent value in this idea that has appealed to those people.

First of all the appeal has been made to people who are well-off and who can afford to give up the LPG subsidy. The advertisement is also aimed at evoking a moral obligation. And though the letter is aimed to show the defect that lies in such an appeal, with which the rational mind readily agrees, I might as well list a few points in favor of this appeal.

First as I said it is aimed to evoke a moral responsibility towards our fellow beings. Here is a golden chance for the common man to really put his virtues of sharing to practice which he has only heard about and never understood how to practice.

Then there are people who can really afford to give up the subsidy with little effect on their lifestyle. In fact in most cities, for many people working at prestigious positions, giving up this little benefit would only mean having to give up on a party or such other triviality. Surely, considering a minor reduction in the amount of liquor and goodies that we stuff ourselves with on weekends is certainly beneficial in the long run.

Third, just because there are callous politicians who refuse to think about our welfare, it does not follow that we do the same to our fellow beings (After all that is the main reason why NGOs exist in the first place). If one small act by one man is going to bring relief to another man, why not as well do it? Even if it is not our political or economic responsibility to do so? Do it just because you can.

Then there are social ills which perpetrate because of a lack of equal distribution of resources. Will not a man be tempted to steal less often because he can afford a meal easily? Giving a small share of your wealth to a poor man is going to let you enjoy the rest of your wealth without any worries.

Fifth, and the most important, charity begins at home. The little mind of the child will at once be influenced by this simple act of the parents. Telling him that you are doing your bit for others’ benefit is going to make him look at the social ills a bit more closely and responsibly.

However, the issue here is not whether one should give up on the subsidy or refuse to do so. The problem is that whether this act by the common man is really going to benefit the needy or whether there will be sly middlemen waiting like foxes in the bush ready to pounce upon the poor man’s bread.