Being Creative

I went out today. I traveled by a local train in the Mumbai city in the peak hours surrounded by a rush of ladies enthusiastically hoping in and out of the crowded train. Once I found myself a not so comfortable place to stand, holding one of the bench rods, my curious mind started observing the women around me. I hardly travel, because I work from home; so when I do get a chance to board a train, I’m always a little curious. Now, I’m not going to tell you about my observations; it’d be pretty boring…and people I assume are the same everywhere, except for the intensity of their emotions…

What I discovered was pretty amazing, so amazing that I decided to blog about it. If you have noticed, I usually write about spirituality and philosophy…So here I go again…what I discovered was so highly philosophical or spiritual, that it took my breath away; and in that crowded train where I was almost suffocated, perspiring profusely, as I traveled to my destination in the scorching month of May, I suddenly began to enjoy myself.

Let me tell you what I discovered!

Spirituality says that this world is an illusion, and our five senses are responsible for this delusion. In other words, it means that whatever we see is constructed by our mind, including our identity, and it does not exist at all. As humans, we know it’s very difficult to understand this because we are so caught by the fantastic sights that are presented to our sense organs. We can only call it real.

But then, let’s for a minute actually think that what we are experiencing is a delusion and a construct of our veiled mind. What would that make us? It would make us the supreme creator of this reality! How often do we think poorly of our creative skills? Because we have an ideal in our mind, to which we constantly compare it with. And we then pass a very poor judgment on our creative abilities to the point of saying we are not at all creative! How sad is that!

We are creative beings, and we create our delusions right since we are born. The way things and people make an impression on our mind, is so unique that it cannot be compared to someone else’s perception!

Right in front of me there were faces of all kinds of women, beautiful, strange, worried, sad, happy, greedy, wicked and so many more…wearing so many different shades of clothes, each different from the other!

Have you ever noticed two random people wearing a same dress…How creative our minds could be!

And as I traveled, I watched and watched and watched!

 

 

 

Journey

When I was a child, I dreamed of world-travel.

As an eternal student of life, the one thing I most appreciate is knowledge in any form. So, I’ve always wanted to learn as much as I could from every corner of the world. (Well, Travel XP and social networking has now made it really easy to learn about many new things which we cannot access physically…)

But to speak about traveling and journeying, I never really understood the real meaning of this activity until recently. The conclusions that we draw from the sensory perception of the world, can be quite misleading. We sense and feel the world and keep making it an object of sensory pleasures. That is how I looked at this whole idea of journeying. Knowledge that I wanted was not ‘knowledge’ but an experience to satisfy my senses. What is tourism anyway? What do we expect to learn in a 3 Nights 4 Days package?

Now, if you are a materialistic person, you would consider the ‘idea’of journeying fascinating though we all know the real fun evades us even when we are participating in all the tomfoolery.

But considering you have a temperament which makes you thirsty for more knowledge and forces you to dwell beyond the sensory aspects of life, how would travel satisfy your desires? Let’s talk about an artist and what he craves. The artist wants a muse whom he seeks desperately all over the world, if he can afford to…For an artist, traveling the world is more of a job than a pastime. His mind is always at work absorbing the messages that the variety of sights afford him. His mind is busy interpreting the sensory perceptions and making use of them for his art. Though he is not as ignorant as the materialist, he is still dealing with a material world.

So, from a material viewpoint, journeying becomes an important activity. But then again, there are two aspects of our world. We dwell in the physical world, but we also have a spiritual world where messages pass intuitively. Traveling in such a world does not happen physically, but intuitively. This world is also the world which allows you to access the deeper recesses of your mind. This is the place where the real muse resides. This is the world from where creativity can be unleashed in its most powerful and imaginative form. This is the world which tells you the real meaning of journeying. The meanings that you derive by exploring this spiritual world will end your ‘quest’.

I believe that people, in reality, do not have a slightest idea why they journey. Journeying is a quest to find meaning in life. That meaning keeps evading us unless we look deep beyond the senses. The physical world will keep satisfying our sensory pleasures and keep us unfulfilled. The spiritual world will deeply satisfy our longings and make us tranquil. And then, we will greatly enjoy even the simple sensory pleasures like jumping in the surf. And our muses will follow us everywhere!

 

 

 

Feeling Grateful

One of the most common problems of human life is our tendency to focus on our deficiencies. I’m not wealthy enough, I’m not beautiful enough, I don’t have a great career, and my child is not strong enough! I wouldn’t say it is wrong to focus on those areas, but then we tend to define ourselves by such standards. This, according to me, is the only reason why we feel so miserable. We obsess about the deficiencies in our life.

After obsessing a great deal, some people turn towards spirituality or religion to eliminate the pain they experience. However, religion and spirituality are arduous practices and many a times, when people don’t get the desired result, they feel more miserable. And this is how some claim that they do not believe in a god at all, or spirituality is a sham.

If you observe yourselves, anything that you firmly believe is the result of deep conditioning that has been happening to you since birth. Your elders tell you pray to god and god will help you. You believe that and continue believing it as you grow older. The elders stop teaching you as you grow old or they keep saying the same thing that they did when you were a child.

What they fail to realize is that, the study of spirituality has to deepen and grow more complex as the child progresses from one grade to another.  It is a subject just like any other subject at school. But we drill the same thing year after year into the minds of our children and there is no progress for generations. Left to fend for ourselves, we fall prey to bogus gurus who prey on our ignorance.

Then, there are people who think spirituality is escapism. (Who wouldn’t, considering the potent ecstasy that you experience!) Again, this is a bias. Spirituality is nothing but a way of life and it does not mean that you have to give up on your materialistic desires. But again, spirituality is not a way to further your materialistic ambitions. “We humans are more concerned with having than with being.” (LUCY)

Spirituality is just a way to tell you that you should be concerned only with ‘being’. And one way it does that, is by making you grateful. ‘Being grateful’ like spirituality is also a way of living—an attitude that you will or you won’t cultivate. If you think you are spiritual, you will gradually realize that you feel more grateful about different aspects of your life. This is the only way to measure your spiritual progress.

You will no longer focus on the deficiencies in your life. This is the greatest benefit of spirituality. It changes your attitude towards life. No human being is completely miserable or completely contented, unless he believes so. ‘Being grateful’ doesn’t mean that you live a lie or you ignore the ‘difficult’ things in your life. It only means that you need to appreciate the ‘good’ things in your life more often. You’d be amazed how contented you’d begin to feel, in spite of all the difficulties that you face.

This attitude may gradually develop as you accept spirituality as a way of life. But, sometimes you may need to learn it and practice it more often.

 

 

 

 

Relationships

This post is as random as the others. Essentially this blog serves my purpose of capturing fleeting ideas in their raw form. Sometimes, I also get out of my bed deep into the night to write a post, to make sure my thoughts do not drift away . I’m sure all writers experience this often. And well, I’m lazy too. Some nights I procrastinate a great deal and the next morning all I know is that the muse that was getting me all excited about something has disappeared, the ideas dispersed like seeds to barren lands.

So tonight, I’m back to my blog. Tonight is the auspicious day of Durga Ashtami. No, I’m not going to write a spiritual post..I’m no longer naive. I’m now more interested in the lesser known sacred archetypes and how they help us define our life. But about that, later, in some other post. Well, on Durga Ashtami day, I’ve always experienced a longing of some kind, (which I now call my soul thirst) which is fulfilled only through a creative pursuit such as engaging in a ritual or other artistic pursuit such as writing. It is said that the spiritual energies are at their peak on this day, and I’d like to believe that.

So, here I am, feeling ecstatic and venting it all in the form of words. I’m not going to ramble on. I never pen my thoughts unless I can provide a definite message. Tonight, I’ve been dwelling upon relationships that we have with other people. Well, this area of life is an utter mess for quite a lot of people. I’m not going to state the cliched statements of how ego ruins relationships. It’s time to go beyond that. Ego cannot be eliminated, though it can be ignored after a great deal of practice. What I’ve come to observe is that we have been conditioned to look upon ourselves as ‘me’ and the others as ‘they’. It is always a one versus the other situation which we are trained to look upon since birth. How fanatically we name our child and then religiously teach him his name!

Haven’t you wondered how our perspectives about our parents change as we grow…Parents have always been the same. But with each year, we perceive them in a different light. (If you are lucky enough, you will understand the significance of the choices that they make.) So, why do our perspectives shift? The only logical reason is that the change happens within us. As a rule parents always react when they respond to a child. A child always reacts when he responds back. And this is because we always treat each other as different from us. This locks us in a conflict. And with time the conflict gets deeper and unsolvable. That was the only message of the novel ‘Frankenstein’.

The only way to resolve this conflict is to start treating the other as a part of our self. Just like we do not want to hurt a part of our body, we must not hurt the other. This is the only lesson that we need to learn in life. In other words, all the spiritual practices are geared towards this outcome. And the moment we learn this and start practicing it, life changes for the better!

But then there is hate, envy, greed and vanity. And overcoming these emotions can be a humongous task. But then these are partly nurtured. It is not human nature to harbor these emotions. It is human nature to transform and transcend these emotions..! And today is the day when this transcendence is celebrated. Today on Durga Ashtami day the Goddess Durga destroys an evil demon called Mahishasura. The demon stands for all these negative emotions that we harbor and the goddess stands for the energy that we need to annihilate these demons.

So celebrate this day and your ability to transcend!

[Mark 12:31: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”]

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 Colours of Navratri

Navratri is as much a festival of reflection as it is of music and merriment. For those whose energies reverberate on a higher plane, it is also a festival to experience the intensity of energies that surround them for the nine days. For the pious ones, who experience God through rituals, it is a festival of re-living the myths and inviting the blessings of deities. And then for others, it is just dressing up and flaunting their traditional dresses on these nine days.

The tradition of wearing a different colour everyday, is the first thing that attracts us to this festival, if, of course, one does not have a family tradition of engaging in the elaborate worshipping procedures. And just like all festivals, the merriment and apparently mindless rituals are just a way by which an uninitiate is directed towards the path of enlightenment. That is the beauty of rituals.

However, what usually happens is that the devotee or the fanatic becomes so obsessed with the rituals, that he cannot see the bigger picture and the destination where his actions are supposed to lead him to. Navratri, is much more than the colours that we adorn or what the eye beholds. In fact, the colours correspond to the energy centers in our bodies and are supposed to make us focus on different areas of our life. These nine days have been given to us to reflect deeply about our life, cultivate spirituality, and grow an inch closer to goodness and love.

But then, it is easily said than done. Given our busy schedules, I know it well enough that it is not possible to engage in spiritual activities in the middle of office work and deadlines. So this is what one can do.

The sole aim of every colour that we adorn is to bring about a balance in our life by healing the energy center that the colour represents. This year, the first colour was Red which represents the root chakra located at the base of the spine. This area represents the issues of safety, security and stability in our life. So as a reflective exercise, one can think what do I need to feel safe, secure and stable in my life. How am I going to achieve that? What changes do I need to make in my life to feel secure? Though apparently the questions look simple, one can arrive at the most profound realisations by honestly reflecting on such questions.

In fact, a true self-assessment in this way, can actually tell us what are we missing and what we actually ought to do in our life. So similarly, the rest of the colours deal with different areas of our life.

Indigo/Blue: Can I differentiate between reality and illusion? Do I have a tendency to escape in my dream world? Do I have escapist tendencies, how can I control them?
Yellow: How do I feel about myself, my appearance, my self-esteem? Do I fear rejection? Why?
Green: How open I am to give and receive love? Can I feel love for others? Why do I fear loneliness, why do I feel jealous?
Grey/Black: is the unknown, mysterious elements in our life. What role such elements play in our life?
Orange: What do I need to experience pleasure, what are my desires? How are my sexual needs expressed/met, or how can I express them effectively?
White: Does my life have an element of purity, of spirituality, what can I do to feel enlightened, awakened to the source energy?
Pink/Purple/Violet: Do I have self-knowledge? What is Self? Who am I?
Sky Blue: How do I get my message across to someone? Why do I feel shy? Do I need to improve the way I express myself?

Enlightenment is nothing but an honest evaluation of your self and working on these issues. So, make use of this Navratri to reflect a little more about yourself..!

Wishing you all A Happy Navratri!!