Humanity stands at a new threshold
Rising hatred, sinking hope
For every spark of hatred
Let’s rain million drops of love…
Humanity stands at a new threshold
Humanity stands at a new threshold
Rising hatred, sinking hope
For every spark of hatred
Let’s rain million drops of love…
A conversation with Ram (the divine masculine)
10 lessons from Lord Rama’s life journey for our current time & context
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
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
For every story of violence, let’s take a baby step of love…
Waking up in a hotel room,
Somewhere in east Africa.
Chilled morning breeze across the mountains,
Bringing the news of lost humanity.
200 girls kidnapped on the name of religion,
47 students killed for claiming their right for land,
11 journalist in jail for free speech,
More that half the people I see around
Live in extreme poverty.
This is my world too…
My mother was born here 3 million years ago,
My ancestors hunted here,
And their wisdom lives in every cell of mine.
My friend studied in the same college where others were killed…
I am afraid why he is not responding to my messages.
What makes a human so desparate to kill another?
What is the world that we are cocreating for our children?
Feeling deep sadness
Tears overwhelming in my eyes
Fire beneath them
Now settling into heavy warm breath…
I close my eyes in meditation..
Pictures of violence run in my mind
Like a mute movie
Camera zooms on the victim just before he lost his life
Camera zooms on the prosecutor just before he saw a life lost
Both fearful, both shocked, both seeking forgiveness…
One dies. Other is destroyed
One falls on ground. Other falls in his own eyes
Both are helpless characters of the same script
That is unconsciously being written by you and me…
Camera zooms on the witness
Fearful, helpless, shocked eyes
I see my face
Sound of Tibetan bell ringing…
Compassion wells up from depths of my heart
Words break open from my mouth…
May all beings be peaceful, be liberated, be healed…
Suddenly, I see image of Vaishno Devi
Mountain goddess from India
I pray to her to liberate the 200 kidnapped girls
And liberate their kidnappers from their hatred and fear…
I then wake up to go to work
With deep commitment to move every stone possible
To restore humanity
In this region and in every heart around the world
For every story of violence
Let’s take million baby steps of love…
Love so pure,
That it desolves all past
and makes the future, irrelevant.
Transforming all resentment
into a refreshing morning mist.
Lightness so magical,
That you forget,
Whether you are a bird
or the wind beneath her wings
(Poetry by Manish, inspired by a morning walk at Hajii Ali, Mumbai)