Thursday, April 28, 2016

Jottings : Slice of life - 5

Jottings : Slice of life
"Bill, there is a restful look on your face these days. Your body language is relaxed and you are smiling and laughing more..." Bill and I were having coffee in nearby Starbucks, after our workout.
"thank you so much Bali ( that's how he calls me, for some reason he can never get the "a" right.. I have gotten used to it though) , your observation means a lot to me..."
Here is what he recounted.
"About six months ago,My wife and me joined a Zen Buddhistic retreat in Sanfrancisco. You know, I was absent from the Gym for about three weeks. Thats where we went. I am not sure what prompted us to make this trip, but my daughter in law is an avid reader of Buddhistic literature, and I chanced to lay my eyes on "Zen mind, Beginners mind" . The last year or so has been specially stressful with a lot of personal, professional things going around us, and somehow when I dipped into this book, it touched a deep chord within me. I gave it to my wife, and she read it with equal interest. Both of us, as you know have daily jobs. So last July , we took our annual vacation and landed in this retreat. There were about twenty of us there. That's all. And our facilitator was a lady, around 45 years, not more. The only thing, apart from specifying daily schedule of activities, she said on the very first day was this:
"...For the next three weeks, just be your authentic self always, no matter what you are doing. Don't bring in your Husband or wife personality, Manager or employee personality, father or mother personality, friend or acquaintance personality to anything. Remain yourself under all conditions. ...."
"Seemed a simple enough advice. But the first few days was torture. At each point, we had a specific identity from within reacting to a given situation. Never acting, only reacting from solidified persona. It was almost we had to slow down to snail pace before we did something. It was very uncomfortable. To stop the flow of constant reactions, is like building a dam to stop flowing water. Tremendous resistance. But the amazing thing, after a week or so, imperceptibly , without our effort, the pace of life had indeed visibly slowed down. We began to act based on what was presented to us at that moment, and not from a habitual center from which we had reacting so far. I am not saying there was complete transformation, but there was definitely a few little cracks in the walls we had built around ourselves. There was definitely an enveloping peace within. A curious experience of being imperfect and not needing to assert and succeed, yet happy and serene , was beginning to flower within.
"Very quickly, three weeks came to an end. On The last, our facilitator told us : Just be as you are. Nothing more is required.. The seeds sown here will sprout with or without your intervention.."
" Bala, I am not being sentimental when I say this to you. She was right. The taste of what we experienced in those few days has somehow become an integral part of us. As a family, we have started meeting each week for dinner. During dinner, we talk, eat, laugh as individuals without the burden of roles we play. It has never happened in our family before. At work, I am more relaxed and carefree - almost as if the center of gravity has shifted a bit allowing for some room and space for empathy and healing..."
I have summarized Bill's account as far as I could within these short paragraphs. Isn't it amazing that what we call so callously practice as religion with all its madness and violence has nothing to do with what it actually means. All Mystics have throughout ages, have emphasized this fact that what you project as yourself is merely a social convention, a bundle of thoughts purely fictional and functional. The true self, the core, the center, the anchor - call it what you may is deeper and holds this fantasy together. Every now then, some of us are privileged to touch that source. And once that happens, life turns around and a new way of living emerges. A kind of effortlessness creeps in our daily life. It is not being flippant or irresponsible, but leads to action emerging from a deeper center ,where the peripheral waves of agitation does not reach..
Ramana Maharishi sums up this truth in one glorious and profound statement : "Effortlessness while remaining aware is the state of bliss, and that is self-realization..."
God bless....
Yours in mortality,
Bala

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