Why is it hard to forgive? (Part 2)

WIP (Manish)Four self-protective mechanisms that never let us heal !

My last blog on the above topic resonated with many readers. Some of you shared deep insights on “forgiveness” from your life experiences. From your comments, I have summarised four main themes about what keeps us stuck in our emotional wounds.

 

Illusion of forgetting
Forgetting is not forgiving. It’s only a quick fix that keeps us way from real healing 

Imagine a thorn pierced your bare foot. It’s so painful that you didn’t want to touch it. You stopped walking that path and swore to never see that thorny bush again. That’s forgetting. However, a part of the thorn still lives in you and every time you walk, it hurts.

Forgiving, on the otherhand, is coming to terms with the reality. Developing courage to look at the wound directly.  Pulling out the part of the thorn that does not belong to you. Healing what’s yours. Keeping the lesson. And, developing courage to walk the path again if you chose to.

When in pain our first reaction is to protect ourselves and so we tend to cut-off the relationship or situation that we associate pain with. Forgetting is like taking a painkiller to survive the night. Suppressing pain makes sense when it’s unbearable. However, our attempts to cut off or forget makes pain unpredictable and chronic. The real root cause never gets addressed. And the pain surfaces again and again in other life situations and relationships.

Novelist Paulo Coelho captures this difference while saying “Forgive but do not forget, or you will be hurt again. Forgiving changes the perspectives. Forgetting loses the lesson.”

Prison of stories
We are hurt not cause of what happened but the stories that we tell ourselves about the same.

Lets look at our most unforgivable wounds. What hurts us now is not the incident itself. It’s the memory of what happened. When we feel violated or wronged, we weave a story. We tell this story of our own pain, shame, blame & victimhood to ourselves again and again. Its like rubbling salt to keep the wound fresh. Why do we do that? 

Transactional Analysis defines such behaviour as “rackets” we get stuck in. If we examine deeply, we are stuck cause there is an illusionary pay-off and a hidden cost to our persistent stories of pain. We often repeat these stories cause we believe that it may help us feel justified or righteous about our victimhood. Or it may protect us from future insults. Whatever our payoff is, it’s illusionary. It would never heal us. The cost of living in pain is way too high as compared to justification about that pain 

What happened is as unpredictable as what would happen. Each actor in our play had his or her own story. Any attempt to figure out who is right or wrong is a zero-sum game. Forgiveness is letting go the story we tell ourself about our suffering.

After 27 years of unjust imprisonment, Nelson Mandela exemplified the act of forgiveness in his quote— “As I walked out the door towards the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Myth of resolution 
We can wait for life-time to seek resolution for our hurts or find another way to unleash their creative purpose  

As we heal our wounds thru forgiveness, deeper ones may surface. Some go back to childhood. Some pre-verbal. Some come from the collective suffering, from many lifetimes of disrespect and violence. When such a deep void opens what do we do? How do we forgive when the perpetrators are long gone or incapable of any confrontation or reconciliation? And what do we do with those arrows that have become part of your tissue? 

My friend Rie Gilsdorf made a great suggestion on Facebook post referring to the book, My Grandmother’s Hands, by Resmaa Menakim. She said “when the arrow is so deeply embedded and enmeshed in scar tissue, there’s no way to pull it out any more. But perhaps we can digest it, dissolve or catabolize it with an accompanying release of stored energy”

I feel she pointed out to what I now call “radical acceptance”. Radical acceptance is as simple as innocence of a child and as sophisticated as spiritual mastery. It may take us lifetime to embody it or it may happen in an instant without any training whatsoever. Forgiveness, true forgiveness, could be that simple and easy. It is the act of  gathering all our courage and saying “Whatever happened, happened. I know I can’t change the past. However I choose to influence the future. I fully embrace the current reality, with its incompletions, pain and hope. My past alongwith it’s joys and sufferings is my gift. It’s a part of who I am. I embrace it with gratitude and I step forward with confidence.” 

Sometimes resolution is not an apt solution. We seek deeper resolution and integration within. Psychologist Carl Jung reflected on the importance of integrating for our own development. “Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries”. 

Hidden purpose of wounds
Wound are an invitation to step into higher spiritual realm and unlock our creative energy  

Imagine that the jewel you were looking for all your life was delivered as a dagger pierced in your heart. What would you do now? Walk with pain and curse the messenger or thank them for the dagger and heal your wound?

In Sita Ramayana, Devdutt Patnayak writes about a lesser told story from the famous epic Ramayana. Royal maid servant, Manthara had influenced Queen Kaikeyi’s to ask King Dashrath (Ram’s father) to send Ram on exile. Everyone hated Manthara for corrupting Kaikeyi and bringing grave misfortune to Ram. When Ram discovered that what did he do? He met Manthara and forgave her. Ram could see the divine purpose for which he was born. He could see that Mathara had only done a divine error to enable his path. He accepted that and moved on.

Now that’s mythology not our daily life. However, we do have little Ram and little Manthara living within us. We do have deep power to forgive and wisdom to see the divine path we are born for.  It’s important to understand that emotional pain is a doorway to our spiritual growth. The unforgivable “other” has showed up in our life in a particular way to help us deal with some aspects of our own mess. In a mystical way they hold a piece of the puzzle that we long for our own liberation.

Forgiving requires courage– to look within our wound, to reframe our pain as our teacher, to rise beyond transactional field of right or wrong and embrace that grand play that we are all part of. 800 years back Rumi noticed that field— “Out beyond our ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.. I will meet you there”

….

I am grateful to my readers and their contributions. It’s helping me (and hopefully all of us) in deepening our practice of forgiveness. 

Wishing you a wonderful new year 2019

Cheers 

Manish Srivastava 
(Artwork by Manish Srivastava)
http://www.sacredwell.in

Why is it so hard to forgive? (Part 1)

There are hurts that could rob us from our deepest power!

I started this year with a blog on forgiveness. It initiated me into an inner journey that made me confront some deeply frozen parts of my heart. I could not publish much through the year. As we reach the end of 2018, “forgiveness” has become a recurring theme again with reminders coming from the universe at an alarming consistency. The two recent ones — a video by holocaust survivor Eva Moses Kor and an insightful summary of Anne Lamont writings by Maria Popova, made me contemplate deeply on “Why is it so hard to forgive?”

There are hurts that are hard to comprehend. The sharp arrows that enter our castle before the defences were given a chance to stand for their honour. Those sophisticated insults wrapped in culture of neo-elites or seasoned patriarchs. The games played with our innocence. Those are hardest to forgive.

How shall we confront? It’s too old. Context has transformed to the extent that the oppressor looks more fragile than the oppressed. Inspite of re-building years of confidence and power that old arrow still lies frozen in some unhealed part of our heart. Why did we not let it go with other scrap sold at the end of each year?

Why do we keep these hurts alive? For logically we know that it serves none. Except, perhaps, a part of us that cries — “it was not right!”.

A big part of our anger is towards self for not being able to stand against that wrong. And somewhere we fear that if we let-go of that arrow we may make them appear right for all they did.

So the arrow persists with its wound and pain. Wish there was a way to let-go the old arrow. May be, turn it into an artefact, return it to the shooter as a gift or make it a part of wind chime hanging on the neem tree next to the village well…

Wonder, what would the world be if that unhealed part of us discovers, that neither the oppressor nor the oppressed was right or wrong. May be, the arrow went both ways. The shooter bled way more than the wounded all these years. Though knowing that won’t heal or change anything either.

May be, it was all part of a grand design weaved for our own liberation. And while redeeming that wrong seem to be the only right choice, there may be another purpose this pain was born for. To help us reclaim our deepest power — — power to forgive!

As Eva says in her video “I have the power to forgive. No one could give me that power. No one could take it away. It was all mine to use in anyway I want”.

As we reach end of the year, I hope we make a humble beginning by letting-go old, deep arrows and healing our wounds. For “forgiveness” also comes from the same origin as ‘give’ or ‘gift’. This Christmas and coming new year, why not we gift ourselves, our dear-ones & our shooters, a gift of forgiveness!

Wish you a free and happy 2019!

Manish Srivastava
http://www.sacredwell.in
(Artwork by Manish Srivastava)

Forgiveness- an old mantra to create new possibilities for coming year! 

Threshold of the new year is an invitation for us to reflect on the passing year and make a new start for the coming. Today’s cover page article on “Forgiveness” in the Pune Mirror brought a refreshing perspective on forgiveness as a way to dissolve our old hurts, angst and helplessness, and, create new possibilities in the coming year. It made me contemplate on what forgiveness means to me.

 

What is forgiveness, really?

Forgiveness is a magical mantra that can
Dissolve eons of hurt
In an instance

Forgiveness is an ancient wisdom
that healed broken hearts; restored sanity
And weaved the quilt to keep our children warm

Forgiveness is a paradox that’s simultaneously
Selfish— serving the deep individual need to be free
And selfless— opening our hearts to others vulnerability

Forgiveness is a choice that refreshes the earth,
Soft, tilled, black soil
Ready for rebirth

Forgiveness is the only way a victim is
Liberated from the prison of lifelong misery
Riding the wings of grace and compassion

Forgiveness is where the anger of past
And the fear of future dissolves in
The present moment

You and I are mere parts
In the grand play
Now relaxing in the script we never wrote

 

How do I forgive in true sense?

True forgiveness is not a transaction triggered by an apology
Sometimes, eyelids are more expressive than lips
Silence has more sorrow than “sorrys”
Regrets are realisations too fine for linguistics
Then why do we get stuck?
Waiting forever for a well articulated confession

Forgiveness is an inner journey that starts only when
A soul sees the self-destructive pay-off of nurturing hurt
Pointless power game of victimhood
And disproportionate suffering on behalf of a collective
that we have little or no memory of

Forgiveness is a calling for
The courage of Rama,
Fierceness of Shiva,
Grace of Shakti
And innocence of a butterfly

It is a radical simplicity—
of seeing yourself mirrored in the others
Acknowledging the broken humanness
Dropping the sword of vengeance
Becoming the Sovereign
And embracing the wounded heart!

 

Where do I begin? 

Oh my bleeding heart!
How deeply I long to forgive
Most of all, my own self!
For failing to stand for my innocence

All those faces, I love to despise
Hold a piece of my broken heart
Standing in a hesitant circle around me
Hoping to return what’s truly mine

As the year ends
I restore the lost pieces of my heart
Sitting alone with my brokenness
Letting others dissolve within

For the old soul taught us
“Wound is where the light enters…”

 

 

 

 

 

Wish you a wonderful new year!

Manish Srivastava
The Sacred Well

December 31st 2017

[Poetry & Pictures by Manish Srivastava]

……………………….

Afterthought:

5 questions that helped me in practicing forgiveness and freeing my inner power: 

[I am a practitioner and a poet. I need to integrate the insights in my practice. So, I reflected on 5 questions to help me release old hurts from 2017 and stepping in 2018 with new energy. Adding them below, in case, the practitioner-in-you longs to take similar journey]

  1. HURT: This year, what were the moments when I felt most angered, hurt, helpless or victimised? By whom and when?
  2. MY NEEDS: What needs/values of mine were most compromised? What are my regrets from self?
  3. OTHER’S VULNERABILITY: What might be the helplessness/stuckness/ fears that others might have experienced that made them behave the way they did?
  4. LET-GO: What is the burden (hurt, emotions, old story, memory etc) that I do not wish to carry anymore? What I am ready to let-go off now?
  5. HONOUR: How can I truly honour my deep needs/ values myself in future? What learning, resources, strengths I have gathered in all these year(s) to honour myself?

Divide and rule

(A reflection on current political environment in India and world. Poetry in Hindi followed by translation in English)

Divide and rule
इतना विदेशी नहीं 
जितना बताया गया 
धर्म और जाति के नाम पर 
इंसानियत बाँटने वाले 
आज भी सत्ता पर विराजमान हो रहे हैं 

Invitation card
पर किसी और का नाम है 
और अंदर कोई और मेज़बान है 
सत्ता का खेल है भाई 
कल तू देश से खेला 
तो आज मेरा एक प्रांत तो बनता है 

Nationalism
के नाम पर कितना खेलोगे भाई? 
आज इतना समझ आने लगा– 
नेताओं का nation जनता से अलग होता है 
उनकी परिभाषा में तो 

हम बस उनकी सत्ता और स्वार्थ के ग़ुलाम हैं 
पर ना जाने कब ये मदहोश जनता समझेगी 
Nationalism एक national-illusion है! 
जनता के अनजान डर पर पनपता
ये उसी “divide & rule” का वंशज है
और इंसानियत को बाँटने वाले -isms का बड़ा भाई

यदि दिल की खिड़की खोल के देखें 
धर्म के जड़ों को झँझोड़ के देखें
सम्प्रदाय के बेड़ों को चंद पलों के लिए तोड़ के देखें
और तकिए के नीचे से सत्य का पन्ना पलट के देखें
तो एहसास होगा कि हर लिबास के पीछे मैं हूँ
और समाज का विभाग कर के राज करने वाले खेल का 
सबसे बेख़बर मुहरा और सबसे बड़ी मात भी मैं ही हूँ 

— दिल की गहराइयों में क़ैद एक आवाज़ 
………………

Divide and rule
(English translation)

“Divide and rule” 
Is not that foreign 
As we are taught
Those who divide humanity
On name of religion and caste
Are still rising to power 

Who invites us to the show
Is way different from who rules 
So is the game of power 
Yesterday, you played the nation 
Dare not stop me from playing this faction 

Nationalism 
How long will you play this chord?
We can see now–
Nation defined by political leaders 
Is different from the ones they serve 
In their definition, 
Their ego & power is the center 
And we are their dumb slaves 

Wonder, when will we the intoxicated people realise 
Nationalism is a national-illusion
Thriving on the unknown fear of its people
Running the bloodline of same old “divide & rule” 
It is the big brother of all other “isms” that fragment humanity 

If we open our hearts 
Shake the roots of religions
Break the bounds of caste and creed
And pull out the truth hidden below our pillows 
We will know..
The one hidden in any costume is “me”
The one who gets played this dirty game of divide and rule 
And the one who looses the worst…
Is also “me”

— a voice prisoned in depths of our hearts!

from the Sacred Well
@sacredwell.in
(Manish Srivastava)

Image from https://m.downloadatoz.com/two-cats-and-a-monkey-story/com.storybook.catsmonkey/

We the celebrated slaves of social media

We pledge to let the propaganda roll…
Much before the penny hits the ground
Or logic intervenes for better
Or curiosity questions the hidden agendas..
We would broadcast your message to millions!

slavesofsocialmediaWe feed on rhetoric.. especially the one dressed in fear
Hit us under the belly and we would chant a nuclear reaction
Consider us, yours best mass media advertisers!
Often we are the krill unaware of the whales feeding on our big numbers…

For we are the celebrated slaves of social media

We are a bunch of nerves
Buzzing on surface, transporting million bytes every second
Who cares for where it came from
And what impact will it leave

As long as it’s fun
We will accentuate and spread anything
that catches our attention
We traded our intelligence and palette
For few extra emoticons by Mark Zuckerberg

Cause we are the celebrated slaves of social media

We work for free and proudly
In exchange of an illusionary freedom
We became the mini-news-producers
With 140 characters on our plate
We could shift the global debate

And that too with no accountability
To validate or verify, any fact or reality
We defend and offend but rarely repent
Unaware of the big games played at our expense

Try us, we are the celebrated slaves of social media

Give us any complex issue
And we will turn it into black and white
It’s worth only determined by number of likes
Who has patience to scroll down for nuances and minority voice
When we can reach conclusions by scanning digital headlines

When you have burgers and pizza at your doorsteps in less bucks
Why care for hunting, gathering, farming, cooking and cleaning
Screen is our buffet, our pride
Who cares about lives on other side of the digital divide

Indeed we are the celebrated slaves of social media

We conserve energy and boycott effort
Reducing activism to fingers tips and clicks on small screens
While farmers toil the earth, masons bear the heat, rest of the world walk the street,
We click, swipe, like, react, forward, comment, tweet but we never log off…

Our thumbs cries for mercy
Head low and lost in virtuality
While the real world dances and dies
A million deaths and resurrections
We wake up to the sound of new notifications

We… wait for it… are the celebrated souls of social media!

 

Manish Srivastava
http://www.sacredwell.in

Are we appreciating or idolising our leaders? 

There is significant difference between appreciating and idolising.

When we appreciate, we acknowledge the good in someone as we do it in ourself. We are at same plane. We learn from them. We honour both.

When we idolise, we put the other on a pedestal. We project all our good on to them. We make them demi-gods and rob them of any capacity to err like human. We free ourself from any responsibility to learn or to hold either of us accountable. 

Idolising quickly turns devotees into advocates of the one (or what) they idolise. As if they have an unconscious contract with their idol. 

Appreciation on the other hand, leaves room for inquiry. There is curiosity that’s open to both “how did you do that?” and “what happens if that does not work?”.

In appreciation there is a field of “and“. We see the gold in our leaders and we see their limitations. We see their strengths and their vulnerability. We can praise them and we can criticise them. 

In idolising, we get stuck in an “either-or” field. We assume that one can either support our leaders or be against them. We can’t see their faults and we refuse to hear any criticism of their decisions. There is no place for nuances. It’s all black or white!

Humans and societies evolve when they learn to appreciate the grey. The nuances. The field between and beyond “either-or”. When they can tolerate an alternate view and see the value even if it’s radical to the mainstream. When they are not threatened by criticism. They don’t have to defend. They resort to child-like curiosity, innocence and acceptance. 

Diversity is not merely a threat but an opportunity to learn and integrate. 

While idolising, we glorify our leaders and ignore their shadows. If they also promote the same (as most politicians end up doing), sooner than later, we have disasters, failures and corruption. 

When we are out of the spell of idolising, we fall flat on earth. Feeling cheated, exploited and used. Desperately looking for another pedestal…

from the Sacred Well
(manish srivastava)
24.10.2016

India- Its time to own our own shit!

This poetry-prose is triggered by recent uprising of dalits (permanently untouchable low castes) as a response to increasing atrocities and injustice they have faced in recent times. Indian society is at another verge of evolution. This is an opportunity for us to clean years of shit that we had conveniently put under our archaic carpets!


It’s time for those
dancing on white marble floors–
To know where our shit goes,
who wipes our streets,
and mops our floors
Cause those who were
systemically condemned
to live in hell,
have awakened
and won’t do it anymore!

It’s time for all of us
to own our own shit!

While we dipped our fingers
in sandalwood with care,
They were neck deep
in our gutters and sewers
While we donned our white kurta
and self-righteous ego
They were stripped of their shirts
And dragged naked in streets…

Now the dirt inside
is staining the white

It’s time for all of us
to own our own shit!

As long there is a task in our mind
that we look down upon
And a part in our psyche
that we shudder to own
Or a longing in our vanity box
Thats too comfortable with low-cost helps…
There will be untouchables!

Untouchability is a social innovation, created by & for, all of us!

Ensuring guaranteed supply of cheap slaves generations after generations!

High castes download it as their birthright. Finding nothing weird in expecting a fellow human being to live on leftovers, forever. Neo-rich and middle-class play another game. On surface they try to look good by giving their used clothes and old electronics to their domestic helps (not very different from skinning dead cattle). However, deep down they also enjoy the convenient and low-cost labour that cleans their shit and supports their life while they pursue their big dreams. Thus they also collude with the existing system that cares nothing about equality, education and progress of dalits.

Lets face it…
Are we providing employment benefits and respect to maids, drivers, cleaners just like employees in business or public organisations?
Can we imagine them sitting on same table for dinner with us?
Why are the jobs like cleaning, sanitation, service, least valued and least compensated?
Why do we strive so hard to gather and show the power and influence but absolve ourselves of any responsibility to change the life of those living in slums and streets? Are we really curious? Or too quick to justify their condition as not our business?

We need to look within..
Each one of us
To shift the paradigm
From our homes, to our streets and the state

(Watch this video and read more below or click on this link)

 

A quarter of India is Untouchable
A quarter of India is systemically oppressed, dehumanised, suppressed–
to serve rest of us,
to clean our shit,
skin our dead cattle,
from generation to generation..
Keeping their mouth shut!

A quarter of India
Is excluded from the GDP growth saga
A quarter of India
Is not counted in great story of Indian compassion and humanity

This quarter of India is 300 million people.
As large as entire population of USA.
This quarter of India is boiling right now
Gathering like a human tsunami
Asking for justice
for generations of atrocities
Calling the facade off our faces

They have thrown the wrench
They are showing the mirror
and awakening the conscience of our country
its another service
This time they are helping us
clean our conscience!

Wake up India!
Its time to clean our own shit

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.sacredwell.in
manish srivastava
03/08/2016

—–

Some references:

Who are dalits? 
An assault on Dalits may have triggered the biggest lower-caste uprising in Gujarat in 30 years
Dalits pledge not to lift animal carcasses in Gujarat
Descent into hell: Mumbai’s dehumanised sewer workers 

 

 

होली के सूखे आँसू  (dried tears of Holi)

 

सोच रही हूँ इस बार
लातूर की होली कैसी होगी?

सुना है दो रोज़ पहले, जल दिवस पर,holi ke rang
सरकार ने धारा एक सौ चव्वालिस* लगाई थी..
डर रही थी कि कहीं पानी के टैंकर के पास
प्यासे लाचारों की कोई टोली बवाल ना मचा दे !
मैं भी सूखे आँसू रोई..
मेरे ही बच्चे मेरे ही जल के लिए तड़प रहे थे
पर आज होली है
आज तो पूरे भारत में
बावलों की टोलियाँ पानी से खेलती हैं
आज, लातूर की होली कैसी होगी?
चलो एक दिन ही सही
कम से कम होली पर इंसान विभिन्न रंगों से खेलता है
मैं तो रोज़, प्रकृति के हज़ारों रंग
उस पर न्योछावर करती हूँ
पर वो अनजान सिर्फ़ काले रंग का धुआँ
मुझ पर फेंकता जाता है
दोपहर का वक़्त है
सब थक कर घरों में सो रहे होंगे
मेरे तन पर कई रंग और
अनेक प्लास्टिक पैकेट बिखरे हुए हैं
काश ये फूल होते
ख़ुशी या माहतम के
मुझ में समा जाते
— धरती माँ–
(मनीष श्रीवास्तव)
————————————————–
English translation…
I am wondering, this year–
How would they celebrate Holi in Latur?
2 days back on the world water day,
Government enforced section 144*
Fearing that thirsty mob may go wild
around limited water supplies
I also cried dried tears
for these are my children suffering draught
Well, today’s Holi
Whole India will gather in mobs
And go wild with water and colours
Wonder, how would they celebrate in Latur?
 …
Even if its just for a day,
Atleast they celebrate various colours of life
All through the year,
I offer so many from nature
And they give me back just one
Black carbon smoke…
On Holi afternoon,
They might be tired & sleeping
Leaving so many colours
and plastics on my body
Wish they had left flowers
of joy or funeral
and let those dissolve in me
————————————————-
 …

The Alchemy of Writing

A pen knows the language of the land.
One dipped in soul, activates many…

Writer is an artist with a form–
that sings with the music of heart
and flows fearlessly on the canvas of imagination
Writing can be as subtle as the breath…
and as literal as the word.

What’s even more magical is the shape-shifting of creative writing
When a soul’s longing transforms itself
in word, on paper, in print,
travels readily across the oceans, infects the field,
meets another eye, ear and heart–
shifts back into fire, water, spirit–
rekindles many souls and the earth…
and hibernates to be rediscovered in future…

Writing is alchemy
Its an ancient discipline of transforming
unformed emotions into shining words
After each para… I am born anew

Writing is healing
It channels wounds
A secret passage for tears and scars
To find their salvation

Writing is a great sacred ritual
When I write, I am dancing with my soul
With the discipline of a samurai
and surrendering of a devadasi

Do I write or am I written…
By the great pen of life
Filled with deeply felt experiences
On the paper called humanity

All arts are great expressions
Soul yearning a creative from
Writing is special for here the masterpiece
Is the writer himself (herself)!

 

— manish srivastava
(the sacred well)

Conversation with Ram (the divine masculine)

A conversation with Ram (the divine masculine)

10 lessons from Lord Rama’s life journey for our current time & context

Rama in light
Standing with eyes closed, head bowed and heart open–
Worshiping the idol of Lord Rama.
Listening to the chants and bells.
Smelling the floral fragrance of incense.
I am not much of a temple-visitor or an idol worshipper.
Nor do I vouch for historical presence of Lord Rama.
But today, I seek him within me.
Today, I relate to him as a man.
With his gifts, struggles, power and failures.
So, I started running, as I often do,
And conversing with the Ram within me
I call upon him—
.. .. ..
What if, you were to be born again?
What context would you choose?
A ruler or a professional or a slum-dweller…
What demons would you slay?
What principles would you live by?
What exiles would you take?
What inner wars would you fight? 
How would you honour the grace of your Sita, trust of Laxman & Bharat, service of Hanuman and faith of all people?
How would you forgive those who rob you of your inheritance and separate you from your love? 
How would you balance between the call for duty and longing to be with family?
 
Oh Lord Ram
Your principles inspire me 
Your purusharth gives me courage
Your humility makes me humble
Your end leaves me sad…
 
Dear Ram,
Rise in me…
Awaken in my heart!
Teach me to honour every being–
Be it a sevak, a king or an opponent.
Teach me to live with and for principles;
To stand tall to honour promises,
To see every event of life as a blessing & a divine call, 
To suffer with grace,
To forgive with love,
To be imperfect yet complete…
 
Dear Ram,
I seek you to come again
In my heart
In this new world…
.. .. ..
As I chanted and ran,
3 kms down the path…
I felt a distinct voice speak
From within
Deep, clear, compassionate
And thus He spoke:
 .. .. ..
Before I answer your questions,
I want you to get ready to receive.
You need to go beyond 3 limitations within you:
 
Go beyond form: Look within:
I am not a blue looking god from your posters or temples. 
I am a manifestation of human potential. 
I am a deep desire of every man to live his life fully 
and of every woman to feel honoured and loved. 
I am human potential and possibility that lives inside you. 
You can only find me inside yourself. 
 
Go beyond time & location: 
I am not located in history or in a region called Ayodhya or some place called heaven. 
I am a manifestation of human mind and I take form as per their context. 
When you seek me in a particular age and way, you are not seeking me. 
You are stuck in a story. 
I am ready to manifest in your context, in your time, inside of you. 
In that sense anyone and everyone is potentially my avatar, my incarnation…
 
Go beyond religion, class, caste
Even though my story is told in a context, I am pure consciousness. 
You can call me whatever. I have no caste, no class, no religion. 
This is the only way you can truly access me and my power inside you. 
Your membership to a any particular sect of society does not entitle you any special access. 
 
I want you to pause and consciously cross the 3 thresholds I just mentioned. 
Write them down. Read it again…
and then we will start with the lessons from my manifested life as you know it. 
.. .. ..
So I ran more.
Contemplating on the the threshold.
I felt I am running side by side with Ram’s energy.
Quiet. Calm. Assuring.
Then as I looked at him, he smiled.
Still running on my right side.
He looked ahead and started sharing some timeless lessons.
He said that, this is the essence of his journey as articulated in Ramayana.
He left it upto me to find it’s timeless value.
I leave it upto you to receive it the way you want…
 .. .. ..
10 lessons from Lord Rama’s life: 
 
Roots: honour where you come from but not let it define your unique path. 
 
The context, the parents, the family and the field in which you are born has significant value. You are a manifest of their longing. They set the initial conditions of your journey. They give you a name, childhood companionship and unconditional love. Honouring them fully is important so that you can evolve beyond that. You are beyond your surname, caste & inheritance. There is risk in identifying too much with those. You may get stuck and forget your true divine purpose. If I had got too stuck with my Suryavanshi kinghood, you would have no real Ram to connect with.
 
Divine: remember the divine connect you have with the Earth, Heaven and all spirits. 
 
Take a moment to absorb this: you are an avatar of the divine. You are pure consciousness and your purpose is to live divinity in human reality. Remembering this will help you to go thru many struggles with grace of a true warrior. Remembering this will help you see the grand plan in all ups and down and feel compassion and gratitude for all— be is Kaikeyi, Manthara, Supranakha or great Ravana.
 
Purusharth in real world: this world, where you are born, is your spiritual field
 
I just mentioned that, as divine manifestations, our real job is to live divinity in human form and context. This is Purusharth. The inner journey of wholeness. The choice to live fully with whatever shows up in life. Its about understanding & embracing the inner lover, warrior, hermit, wild, demon, king and father inside of us. Wherever we are born and whatever we face is a perfect opportunity to take this inner journey of spiritual evolution. Your greatest service to me is to- go and live your life with great courage and compassion. In the end you will see great value in your exiles, wars, failures and joys. 
 
Collective journey: your journey is as much as the journey of those who walk and live with you.
 
Ever wondered why you always speak my name with Sita (Siyaram) or Laxman (Ramlakhan) or have them along with Hanuman in all my manifested forms. Ramayan is not just my story. It’s their story too. They are parts of me. Sita represents the feminine in me, Laxman the fierceness, Hanuman the wild courage and devotion, Bharat pure love and trust and so on. Each part of my story represents a part of my soul. And each part is whole, taking their own journey, where I represent only a part. Making my story or your own story bigger and more important is the ego-stuckness that will derail you from collective evolution. 
 
Gratitude: be grateful to every soul who is part of your journey, even your enemies. They all are there to serve you. 
 
Manthara & Kaikeyi helped me to break free from family expectations and find my path. Shabri gave me tremendous hope and love in the untamed wild. And Ravan helped me in manifesting my full power and compassion. They all were significant part of my journey. When you feel deep gratitude to all who show up in your life, you do two divine acts: 1. You integrate their power and beauty within you and 2. You set them free from your script. Their job is complete. 
 
Exile and separation: separating is as critical to your evolution as integrating 
 
In journey of manhood, exile is of great value. Women experience it too thru rituals. This is when you are born again. You get to discover your true self and embrace the wildness inside you. Exile is often created in strange and painful ways. When that happens, honour it. It will be fearful, painful, devaluing, humbling, sad. All of that is part of the game. Embrace it and feel gratitude to all your facilitators of exile. In every exile, a king with a birthright to rule will die. After every exile, a King with a divine purpose will be born. Go on, my son…
 
Forgiveness: most important lesson of life is developing the magnanimity to forgive your self and others 
 
If there is one thing you can take from my story, it’s forgiveness. At some stage, before you step out of this world, you may have a brief moment of realisation that all this has happened before. All the people you met have been with you in many lifetimes. This lifetime is an opportunity to seek forgiveness and complete with them. Forgiveness is complete and unconditional acceptance of our past and present. Without which we end up carrying baggage of grudges from one lifetime to another. Weary and tired. In every interaction, expand your heart, embrace the other, and forgive yourself. 
 
Inner war and integration: all wars are only fought deep within
 
Real Ramleela (as you call it) happens every night inside your heart. There is no demon or divine outside. The Bali, the Ravana, the fear of loosing the loved ones, the struggle between duty and love, the loneliness of a father.. all of that lives inside you. Life is full of many battles within. First, accept this. Fighting a battle outside is pointless and of greatest disservice to humanity. Inside, there is only one way to win the battle. By fully honouring and embracing your enemy— the part thats longing for acceptance. When we give the Great Ravan his due and simultaneously stand for our truth, the battle is over.  
 
Return and the trial: at end of all your journeys, you will come back and to where you started and will face real trials of life
 
Ordinariness has great value. It keeps us grounded in real. However, celebrated your heroic journey is, you will meet the real trial on your return. A part of you, pure, feminine, may have  to walk on fire. Remember, your context is your spiritual field. It will test you and put you face to face to the ordinary world you are part of. Will you succeed in integrating yourself or not? Will you choose your love or duty? Relationship or principles? Country or family? What is the real success of a man? 
That is the part of my journey that is unanswered…
 
 .. .. ..
There was a long pause. He was lost in some deep memory. I kept running in silence. World stopped. My footsteps sounded like a clicking clock. My breath synchronised with earth breathing. My heart expanded and broke open. Sweat camouflaged my tears. Legs could carry me as long as we were quiet.
I re-called the lessons. They were only 9. What about the 10th one? Something was not complete. Just then He spoke again. From my right.
 .. .. ..
That’s exactly the 10th lesson from my life- “Incompletion”…
 
Incompletion: my journey is incomplete so that you can take yours…
 
I fought whole battle to unite with my love but she left me. I vowed for her honour but was I able to honour her as my soul-mate? Why does my story leaves me alone? Why did I live away from my children? 
My journey is incomplete. And that’s why you are born as my incarnation. All of you. Each one of you. 
Our journey as humanity is incomplete. That’s the task for all of us– to reintegrate the feminine, the wild, the earth, the free inner child.
My journey is incomplete so that you also learn to accept failure, loneliness and melancholy as a important part of your own divinity. 
My journey is incomplete so that you can take yours. 
Wherever you are ready to take yours, I will manifest with your heart…
 
I am Ram. I live in each heart. I am a potential, a possibility, a commitment to take the inner journey of wholeness with courage and compassion. 
 .. .. ..
Written on Ramnavami, March 28, 2015
Published on Dusshera, October 22, 2015
from the Sacred Well

manish srivastava