Friday, March 1, 2013

Zen and the art of getting a driver's licence - a personal odyssey.

Zen and the art of getting a driver's licence - a personal odyssey. 

One can be enlightened in so many different ways. Here is an interesting example.

Getting a driver's licence can be a pretty nerving wrecking experience in India if we dont got through a driving school. The last time i took a driving test was in 1991, when me instructor pushed a dilapidated ambassador car down a slope and I was issued a licence for twenty years :) with no effort on my part whatsoever. Luckily, I did learn to drive afterwards and to the best of my knowledge did not knock down anybody fatally.

I stopped driving sometime in the late nineties for various reasons. It was a couple of months ago that I bought a car in Bangalore and found that my licence had expired in 2010. So began the arduous task of acquiring a new one. To cut a long story short, after having successfully crossed the hurdles of a Learner's licence , I landed today at at the test driving track to prove my abilities as an accomplished driver. I had all the documentation ready and approached the Transport officer with a little bit of trepidation (understandable , Exam jitters :) . I thought I had analyzed all possible reasons why I may be denied an opportunity of being granted a Licence, but what ensued was something extraordinary . The Transport officer had a thorough look at my documentation and then looked at me. I had this faint feeling in my stomach that he was sizing me up. His eyes rolled from my upper torso downwards finally settling somewhere between my knees. NO,NO ,NO - don't get me wrong. He was looking at my Calvin Klein knee length pants. He then looked into my eyes and said " I cannot allow you to take the driving test without half trousers". I was so totally taken aback by this statement that something cracked and I started laughing out wildly. I just couldn't control myself. There were about hundred people around me who were baffled by my illogical behavior. I was not angry, sad, irritated, frustrated or any of those emotions. I just felt that the whole thing was joke. For the brief moment, my logical thinking process which had thought of so many possible reasons for rejection was simply and profoundly stumped. It collapsed ; and in those brief moments I realized that this is truly "No mind" situation. I just couldn't react . I turned around and walked into a store a mile away and bought myself a pair of Jeans - all in a sense of Daze.

Well eventually, I did give my driving test and cleared it. It was on my way back that a very deep insight stuck me. Zen buddhism advocates "Koan" as a way to end the stronghold of conceptualization. The masters would give a student an intellectual puzzle to think about like - "What is the sound of one hand clapping", "If I see you have a staff, I will give it to you. If I see you have no staff, I will take it away from you". The student will have to contemplate on the riddle thoroughly and completely, until they exhaust all intellectual possibilities. The master then would do something so illogical such as whacking him, dropping a stone in a pool of water - which would halt or suspend the thinking process instantaneously and in that gap, true reality is perceived by the student.

Arthur Koestler - a existential novelist and thinker wrote a wonderful book called "The act of creation" - in which he develops a seminal idea in modern terms . He defines creativity in any sphere as “ perceiving of a situation or idea . . . in which two self-consistent but habitually incompatible frames of reference cross" . When those references juxtapose, there is a release of creativity or spiritual cognition.

I realized why I burst out laughing. The situation was so incongruous ; so completely out of reference that my thought process gave way completely. I just couldn't react; I merely acted on the spur on the moment. The burst of laughter had cleansed me clean of negativity and I was more focused on the task without a sense of stress or strain. The act of obtaining the licence (which I did) became secondary to the process of achieving it.

Phew - no wonder India is land of Spirituality. Even a RTO office offers you help in personal and inward growth. Cheers !!!!!! :)

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