A conversation with Ram (the divine masculine)
10 lessons from Lord Rama’s life journey for our current time & context
A conversation with Ram (the divine masculine)
10 lessons from Lord Rama’s life journey for our current time & context
As I was entering the barber shop, I noticed tension on the street. Generally its a busy street especially after the construction of the Mumbai monorail pillars. Over last 2 days, I have been noticing a new addition. A police van, parked right in between a mosque and a chapel. Policemen dressed in khaki uniform, standing outside the van. I assumed that its either for pre- 15 August security or post- Yakub caution.
As I entered the salon, I was surprised to see an deserted shop with hair scattered all over the floor and chairs standing in a mess. It felt as if the salon was busy few moments ago and suddenly everyone disappeared.
A young man in professional salon uniform followed me and asked me to take a clean seat. He was shivering and disturbed. I asked him if he was okay. He replied in a disturbed tone “mujhe bin baat maar rahe hain (they are hitting me for no reason)” … Then he looked out and ran shouting “malik (owner) has come”.
It’s a nice air conditioned hair cutting salon. I still call it a barber shop. New in this area. The owner has another high end salon near by. While the owner is Muslim, his team is comprised of both Hindu and Muslim boys. I like them. They are stylish, hardworking and professional.
I walked out sensing some tension. Policemen, shopkeepers, young barber and his owner were in a mob. Some intense conversation was on. I learnt from other barbers that a policeman came in the shop and asked for some change for Rs 100/-. The barber at the counter had none. Policeman insisted that barber must give change and soon got angry. He started slapping the young man. The young barber was shocked, angry and deeply hurt.
The owner generally sits in high-end salon. He came rushing to the shop when one of his boys went running to call him for help. He maintained his posture and tried to get his boy out of the skirmish.
Sometime later, I heard policeman say “ok sorry. Now go!”, dismissing the matter. Young barber was still agitated and wanted to explain his truth. At which his boss shouted. “Enough. Sir said sorry. Now go inside.”
He came in even more agitated. Fuming with anger. I was already on chair now with another barber combing my hair. I could see his face in the reflection of the mirror. He saw mine and our eyes met. He burst into a violent mix of rage and tears. “H-H-How can he touch my face. how can he h-hit me? I am trying to make a good living. Struggled so much to come out of all that shit. Got married. I am earning a decent living. And he hit me and got away. Just cause he has a uniform. Just cause he is government. If I was in my old world, I would show me. I would teach him…”
It was heart-breaking to see a young man with nice build and heavy baritone, crying. His ego crushed. His ideals questioned. His boundaries deeply violated.
Two of his protectors had deceived him. The police and his own boss. The law-keeper and the king. He was left vulnerable and alone.
I could sense that owner was also concerned but hid his emotions behind a boss-like sternness. He said to the young barber– “why do you have to get in this mess. I know you are right but now its over. He can’t take out the slap from your face. Water has fallen on ground. You can’t pick up and drink… Cool down… You are supposed to please police men not argue…”
None of this made sense to this young man. None of this was making sense to his colleagues. None of this making sense to the owner either.
Yet the show went on. Barbers were quietly cutting hair. Owner was sitting on cash counter. Our young man was standing, looking blank in the mirror. As if, he could not see his own reflection. The silence, with only sound of scissors cutting, had a piercing quality. With such an unsettled air around us how could they resume the business of grooming. I felt suffocated in the white cloth tucked around my neck and body. I guess all of them felt the same. Young men coming from harsh slum reality to make a career as barbers, were confronted by the barbarianess of the police system.
As they completed my haircut, some more young men gathered around the shop. I learnt that the policemen who hit the barber is considered short-temered and insane by his own colleagues. I looked at the area around police van. There was no shelter or chairs. These policemen were on extra duty, standing, in sun all day due to anticipated communal tension. If I was them, I would have my own pent up frustration. We all know that frustration mixed with power leads to insane aggression.
I wondered, would adding police force on street help? Will they help check the communal tension or aggravate it?
Another little piece of data was sitting on the salon mirror. The policeman happened to be a hindu. The barber was a muslim. And the young men gathering outside the shop, to support the young barber, were not barbers. They didn’t seem trained to groom their barbarianess. They were “provoked!”
Aug 9, 2015
(from the sacred well…)
When senses are overloaded with multitude news and views
And information travels in & out of body, faster than the old-world oxygen & carbon
When movements are getting limited to moving fingers on key board
And public opinion is shaped by online petitions & Facebook likes…
When media is full of overwhelming stories of fear, violence, hatred
And the restless city life provides little anchor in self or community
In such a fragmented, frenzied and fragile social fabric—
How do we differentiate between our actions and the act that we are part of?
How do we see the script that has been written & directed for millions of years?
Animal world hunter or predators knew this game well—
First, find a herd busy in feeding their individual selves, oblivious to the ecosystem
Take them by surprise, so they run helter-skelter to save their lives
Give overwhelming dose of fear so they don’t get to reflect and organise
Create a scene that disconnects them from their own power— personal or collective
Then find a scapegoat. Slay it. And feed on it in presence of others.
Let the fear go down their genes.
Let the whole herd, ingrain in their DNA, that they are alone, fragmented, powerless.
Help them tweet, post, make it a big deal, so that it becomes a collective memory.
Old world dictators and aristocrats also knew it well—
They were threatened by a new breed of soulful warriors
Who refused to be part of the fearful herd and turned back to fight
These warriors could replace collective animal fear with hope
These warriors could expose the corruption of the powerful
So the the aristocrats invented the gladiators
And forced these best of soulful warriors to play a death game
While rest of the population watched public killing with great uproar, in exchange of little bread
Their own warrior and their own soul was brutally murdered
And in midst of those celebrations, fear prevailed…
Leaving each of the audience, fragmented, powerless, fragile…
In the new world, the game became more sophisticated
Industries & governments were the new power centres who send their best to armed wars
Or created conditions for informal, ideological civil wars and named in terrorism
Or incorporated global companies that led insidious exploitation of all resources, including human
Either ways, the game continued and served the powerful
Took the masses by surprise, fragmented them, exploited them, scapegoat some
and celebrated death to induce more fear and powerlessness.
The democratic mind demanded choice
And got satisfied too soon, between the two—
Either you go to war with our army or theirs!
Logos will help you justify that your side has the moral right to kill
Yet, what we all missed is that we were still on war—
Away from Kingdom. Away from fields. Away from families and children
Away from our own soul and longing
Away from the riches that our wars and sacrifices generated for the powerful.
Predator strategies have not changed
Dictators have not disappeared
Fear remains a valuable currency of power
Our degrees and bank balance has not given us any better sense
Patterns repeat and will do so…
Unless we, the herd of deers, or audience of gladiators, or social media aggregators,
decide to stop…
To stop our frenzied, fragmented, fearful run
And look at the hidden, old patterns of power
Refuse to participate in the scapegoating celebrations
Refuse to go to war from either side
Refuse to get drunk on the scared righteousness story
Refuse to play the old script of “us vs them”
Refuse to run for life…
And choose to live for love
Choose to look straight in the eye of fear
Join shoulders, paw the ground with forefeet, and dirt flying backward…
And get ready to fight together
No lion worth its salt will dare exploit a herd that stands its ground together
No dictator however brutal can thrive on fear if the audience stands with gladiator and calls the game over
No act of terrorism can sustain if we refuse to feed on its core values of fear and fragmentation
When the victim drops his costume of fear,
The prosecutor is also liberated from his spell of violence
A warrior who has found his inner king and anchor
Wins without lifting the sword
— manish srivastava
When a mighty oak falls
It rises again in little mushrooms & moss
Dear Dr. Kalam,
The news of your departure
Hit me right in the core
Perhaps I took you quite for granted…
And yet, I recall you
As my favourite man of contradictions…
An aeronautic engineer,
with a look of a wild artist
A genius nuclear scientist,
and yet a great storyteller to kids
A village boy with humble beginning,
who led world’s largest democracy
An upholder of clear consciousness,
in a country crippled with corruption
A humble, earthy, common man,
whose vision can put you on the wings of fire
In midst of million potential limitations,
how could you be so limitless?
Your life challenges all my excuses to shy away,
from my own greatness
When a great star falls,
It’s dust shines on us all
Like a talisman reminding us
Of our own greatness
I will not mourn a single day
I will raise a toast…
To the Man, the Rocket, the President
To the Great Soul
To the Kalam in me, in you, in us
(from the sacred well)
A rustic old man. Sitting next to me. In the middle seat of the aeroplane boarding at Abu Dhabi airport. His head low, feet tapping, carrying a restless, nervous energy around him.
An elderly lady, similar to his age, was sitting on the window seat. She was getting worried by the restless man. She asked the air hostess for a change of seat.
As I settled in my aisle seat I sensed the restlessness and discomfort that I was edging in the little 3-seat space on this plane.
The old man, grey-haired, unshaven, foul-smell coming from his mouth, looked very different from the way I would define a cultured international traveller. Yet, his rustiness, including his childlike curiosity to gaze at my iPad, was endearing.
I asked him, if he was okay?
He rested his head on the TV screen and said nothing.
An air hostess came by and inquired if he needs any medical attention. I translated the same from English to Hindi for him. He told us that he had an headache but he needs no medicine. Later he shared with me that while he was coming thru the immigration check, his daughter was in a different queue and she is held back. He was getting worried, what if she is in some trouble. I asked the air hostess to make the announcement. Our plane was still boarding.
He got curious seeing me help him, and asked me in Hindi:
“Kya aap Pakistan se hain?” (Are you from Pakistan?)
“Nahi, Mumbai.. India.” (No, I am from Mumbai… India), I replied.
“Musalman (Muslim)?”, he further asked seeking some familiarity.
I was a bit reluctant to disappoint him again and said, “well, I am Hindu”
He responded with some assurance “chalo aap insaan hain, achchhe insaan” (Well, you are a human, a good human)
This short conversation seemed important for him to establish familiarity and relationship, that he could only find at a humanity level. Not national. Not religious.
We continued some conversation. I was assuring him that his daughter might be delayed in the long immigration queue for non-US passport holders at the Abu Dhabi airport. Every time a new passenger would board the plane he would hopefully look for his daughter to enter. And I would look at him to hear his relief. I secretly started chatting a Buddhist chant, that I used to practice few years back, for well being of his daughter. Somehow, I became a member of his family.
In the meanwhile, the elderly lady at the window seat started engaging with us by assuring the old man that the plane would not leave till his daughter is back. They started talking and the old lady exclaimed with a sense of new found familiarity.
“So you are from Pakistan, I thought you are an Indian!”
They spoke for some more time trying to figure out each-other’s native cities, community, caste etc. But their familiarity was short-lived. I could guess that inspite of their same country of origin, they had significant differences. The lady was turning uncomfortable with old man’s inquiry. The old man quickly resorted,
“Sabsi badi baat, aap insaan hain” (biggest thing is that you are human).
Once again, I found in their search for familiarity, they could not find a lot in common except their country and language. Finally, the relatedness was established as a human, beyond caste, class, creed and gender.
Three of us had been through awkward exchanges. While he thought, I might be a Pakistani Muslim, I happened to be an Indian Hindu. While the lady on window seat, expected him to be an Indian Hindu, he happened to be an Pakistani Muslim. Yet in that moment, we three were connected by a deep human emotion. A longing of a father to reunite with his daughter. Inspite of our non-familiarity, we were connecting to eachothers’ emotions like a family.
The old man shared his deepest fear. He was scared– what if his young daughter is abducted from the airport. Such things can happen in the world where he came from. He was shivering and stammering while saying that. His fear was real to him. He also shared that he was suffering from diabetes and the blue lunch box in his lap carried insulin. So far, I thought that this rustic village man was carrying his food in the blue lunch box. I regretted my judgements.
His open-heart sharing touched my heart. I thought of my father, who is quite emotional and rustic like him. I touched his shoulder and assured that “she will come”. Part of me was growing worried too.
Somehow, some other elderly men and women sitting around me started relating to this side of me. A women asked me to guide her to her seat. A man asked my help in opening his water bottle seal. I became aware of my youthfulness and felt valued in helping elders.
Suddenly, the old man next to me jumped in excitement.
“Meri beti aa gayi!” (my daughter has come)
He was half standing, trying to reach out to the aisle, bending over me and extending his hand out. His lips shaking, eyes wet, love evident.
I could see a young beautiful women walking towards us. She was assigned a seat somewhere towards the back of the plane. She looked at her father from distance, showing her hand as if asking him to relax. She looked tired and embarrassed by her fathers emotional expression. As she went pass our seats, she just said, “baad mein sab batati hoon” (will share everything later).
The old man folded back his extended arm trying to cope with the emotional expression that could not meet a response in reciprocation. He then turned to me and shared his gratitude for helping and comforting him. He said that this is father-daughter love and paused for a while. I held his shoulder again and asked him to relax.
This exchange between father and daughter had another quality of unfamiliar familiarity. An old rustic father deeply caring and expressing his love and worry. A young, modern daughter, feeling embarrassed to receive and respond to that love in public. The unmet longing of a parent. The overwhelmed distancing of an adoloscent. A real yet incomplete family.
I looked around the plane as it took off. So many people from all ages. Fathers, daughters, sons, mothers, wives, husbands. In spite of our distinct religious, national & racial identities, we are deeply familiar to each-other in our being as a human… longing for love…
In the auspicious week of Navratri, I felt an inner longing to reconnect with the divine feminine within. She has shown up in my dreams and life upsets earlier. I have been reluctant, and little scared, to understand her. However, this Navratri, she knocked my heart’s door again. Offering me a path to journey from hurt, ignorance & rage to love, wisdom & grace.
Since, I am not well versed with our scriptures, rituals or mantras, I started running to invoke the divine goddess. The rhythm of my body became a hymn & a chant. Silence of my mind allowed me to contemplate on the essence of 3 powerful goddesses I have known since my childhood. As a child and an adolescent, I used to adore their magnificent form, nurturing gaze and voluptuous figure. Now, I could relate to them as a collective energy or consciousness. In some way, I am invoking their felt-sense within me and my environment. Offering my experience to my blog-mates as a shared gift from the Goddesses of Navratri.
From hurt (scarcity) to love (abundance)
Maa Lakshmi Namh..
Give me love, give me healing
Teach me abundance, and, teach me giving
Make me a source of your boundless love
Help me see it in every one
When I am hurt, it feels as if something is snatched away from me. Leaving a deep void & incompletion within. Projected as victimhood created by others. Either ways, I am living is deep scarcity and longing for love and healing. Believing that it can be compensated either by others mercy or my revenge. Neither approach fills my void or honours my self-esteem. I become further hurt, insecure & manipulative. Stuck in an endless cycle. Goddess Lakshmi helps in breaking this cycle by filling me with boundless love for self and others. When I stand on the reservoir of her abundance, I feel internally secure, assured and complete. What was deep hurt earlier transform into the pain necessary for my growth. I become open to wisdom hidden in advertises (the realm of Goddess Saraswati). This evokes deep gratitude and compassion for the prosecutor. Goddess Lakshmi when invoked in one heart transform the whole field by reminding us of the endless love and wealth that we naturally inherits.
From arrogance (of intellect) to humility (of wisdom)
Maa Saraswati Namh..
Give me wisdom, give me learning
Make me humble for my shortcomings
Show me how my life is my creation
And how will it help me in my evolution
When confronted with complex, emotional challenges, I feel hurt and helplessness. All I want is to fix the issue, the person, the problem, forever. Ego makes me believe as if I am in-charge of the same. However, I have spend lifetime, striving to solve, fix, eradicate these issues. Yet, they surface again and again. Often I am oblivious to the patterns and my own blindspots. When my intellect fails me, I become even more cynical and hurt. I invoke Goddess Saraswati to bless me with wisdom to understand the larger whole. Help me see my part so I can transform from within. Give me courage to learn from my challenges and turn them into crucible of my evolution . Make me humble to honour the wisdom in others.
From rage (outer madness) to grace (calm strength)
Ma Durga Namh…
Give me courage, and, give me faith
To take a stand with resilience
Teach me how to forgive with grace
With outer calm and inner strength
When hurt & cynical, my anger manifests as wild rage. Like an erupted volcano, my outburst creates more damage and hurt for self and others. It gives me a momentary sense of power but soon leaves me very weak and powerless. I end up becoming the part of same drama— displaying the same animality that led to my hurt in first place. On others times, I am frozen by fear of such rage within me or other. Either ways, I loose my centre and calm. I give away my capacity to listen and influence. And worst of all, I miss the opportunity to learn and transform myself and others. In such possessed moments, I seek the almighty Durga to invoke within me her grace— a powerful presence with inner strength and outer calm. I seek her courage and faith to stay centred in the middle of fire. Her magnanimity to forgive self and others.
May divine mother goddess energy show in all our life. May they bless us and our worlds. May we all shine in their love, abundance, wisdom, humility, courage & grace.
Om Hrim Shri Lakshmibhyo nāmahā
Sri Sarasvatyai nāmahā
Oṃ Duṃ Durgāyai nāmahā
(above mantras & pictures from wikipedia.com & hdgodwallpapers.com)
from the sacred well
on March 27, 2015
Showing up is vulnerability.
Standing for is vulnerability.
Staying still is vulnerability.
All acts of leadership are vulnerable.
Any moment lived with authenticity is….
The most important life skill
is to stand still with a naked heart…
Feeling the softest wind on the skin;
Drenched, when rain of judgements washes us over;
Shivering, when fear shakes every foundation;
Blown away, when joy marries madness;
Enflamed, when rage comes from deepest violation;
Dissolved, when tears know no other way;
And empty, when there is nothing else to hold on…
Vulnerability is rendezvous with Self!
(Dec 21, 2014, from thesacredwell…
inspired by David Whyte’s recent Facebook post)