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

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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

Provoked

FullSizeRender

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!”

 

Manish Srivastava
Aug 9, 2015
(from the sacred well…)