Saturday, October 04, 2014


Bodh Gaya and Vipassana- Part 1- Why this?

Often in life we feel lost. Surprisingly just loafing around like that and following our instincts, we end up in the place we exactly needed to arrive at. If I try to recollect why on earth I decided to go for a Vipassana meditation course in Bodh Gaya, it seems hazy. I had heard about it once from my teacher but it really never aroused my curiosity. I, of all people, isn't the typical one who you would expect to go on a spiritual journey seeking the ultimate truth. I remember the puzzled look on my ex-husband's face on our first girl-meets-guy-through bharat matrimony date, when he asked me whether I was religious or spiritual or both and I replied, " I am practical and sane." And how can the chatterbox who was nicknamed "RadioMirchi" by her grad friends or "Kranny" (kid+granny) by the love of her life sign up for a course where she can't communicate with anybody (even through signals) and has to be cut off from the world (no mobile phones, no music, no books, no diary) for 10 days!! Well that's life! Sometimes allowing yourself to get lost is the precursor to finding your way. 

It was right after my UPSC prelims that I signed up for it online. I was exhausted- both physically and mentally- concentrating to study in the backdrop of a divorce had been very difficult and would continue to be an ordeal unless I could somehow select my thoughts as I select clothes. And then I came across this masterpiece by Elizabeth Gilbert- Eat Pray Love which speaks about the journey of a woman who is recovering from a divorce and rough relationships to find herself- so she treats herself to food in Rome, meditation in Kolkata and finally ends up falling in love once again in Bali. Now seeing that I was already overweight with the ghar-ka-khana and the fear lurking in my head about my inability to sustain a relationship, I thought I could try meditating for a change. And that's the thing about people who are still miserable about things that happened in the past. Since they constantly seek answers to why such things happened to them without knowing where to seek them, they end up being disappointed with themselves. And to overcome this disappointment, they set even more difficult targets to achieve. Vipassana is probably one of the toughest meditation courses to go through since it compels you to look within to achieve that balance and Gaya is the place one could avoid traveling alone, especially for women- which is why I think , on 29th August, I submitted my form for a 10 day Vipassana course at Bodh Gaya.

Coming up Next- The train journey
Continue reading Bodh Gaya and Vipassana- Part 1- Why this?

Friday, August 01, 2014

Desire for Change

We often debate about the kind of people that have the maximum impact on society- people that can bring in the change that we all want to see. I have somehow always believed that any person who gets agitated about any situation or state- be it as personal as constant tension with his girlfriend or as professional as customer dissatisfaction and dwindling sales of the product he handles , as individual as the deteriorating condition of his grandmother or as societal as the gaping holes in the social net for the elderly- does have the inherent capacity to change things for the better himself.

 I wouldn't wait for that moment when I am capable of doing something out of this world- that is the most effective panacea for eliminating that cause of agitation.  The reason I wouldn't wait is not because I feel that moment won't come- it will eventually- but for that, I can't be a mute spectator today. Every time I execute an idea, its impact is there for me to see. I would know how juvenile it is or whether I am fixated on the wrong path . Some mistakes are an inevitable part of any serious effort to grapple with the reality. In a way, despite mistakes and setbacks, it is perhaps no misfortune that no ready-made, cut and dried, symmetrical formula is available to us - to cure what ails us today. 

Such formula that you wait for are often lifeless, and therefore poor guides to action .But who knows the impact of what you have taken up today- it may be just be as potent as the first squeeze of the olive that gives the best tasting and most valued "extra virgin" olive oil. Could I allow not acting on those ideas and age to probably shell out an ordinary olive oil at the third or fourth squeeze? Could I allow not risking at each small step and perfecting the path to eliminate the cause for my agitation? Someone criticized me for having this attitude- dubbing me as a part of  the "worse kind" bureaucrat class who just take these baby, frivolous or paltry steps for personal satisfaction when in reality, the situation at large doesn't improve a tad bit.  My answer to this is- the probability of the right idea striking the right person at the right place and the right time is low enough to shake people into constant action- that eureka moment will only be realized if we all do what best we can today. 

There will be systemic limitations for sure- but just as Jonathan Livingstone Seagull believed- your gift is not only your limitless thought but also the love for the system you are a part of and that may have always considered you to be an outcast. A classic case of "Rome was not built in a day"- look around you, appreciate any step taken with the right intent- if you find it insignificant, don't belittle it and push them into the same state of inaction that you are in- instead, join them and let their and your ideas pick up steam.
Continue reading Desire for Change