Monday, August 17, 2015

Midwives of the New World



In the recent times, some of us have been witnessing a leap in the number of individuals and communities seeking to pursue HEALING. 

Some are seeking to understand and redefine their relationships with their bodies through organic and wholesome food, yogasana and pranayama, traditional systems of medicine, and other means.

Some are seeking to reestablish their lost connection with the earth through gardening.

Some are seeking to take their emotional healing into their own hands through inner work.

Some are seeking to redefine their ownership of their talents and resources, by offering them as gifts to serve life. 

Some are seeking to unlearn the dominant ways of our industrial culture, starting by taking their children out of school or leaving their corporate jobs.

Some are seeking to participate and co-create a more sacred economy that is based on relationships, trust and abundance. 

Organisations are seeking to redefine their visions in ways that are more life-affirming, to distribute power more equally, and to develop a work culture that is based more on cooperation and trust. 

Communities are seeking more authentic and harmonious ways of being, by learning how to share and listen to each other more courageously and compassionately. 

That we are the edge of a significant leap in consciousness, is evident from the growing number of people who sign up for workshops that facilitate any of the above. My conviction comes from personally and closely witnessing this through the spaces that I am associated with over the years.

I am blessed to have in my life, so many friends who have undertaken this journey towards healing. They have each struggled through life in disempowering family / work contexts, searched  in various places, found inspiration, found tools for healing and empowerment, connected with their callings, found their paths, and are journeying on them. And in their journeys, they are experiencing more and more healing with each step they take. 

These are ordinary people like you and me, who still go through everyday struggles, who are still entrenched in old habit patterns, who still have unmet needs, who are still hurting from old wounds, who still have pain that they are yet to connect with. But what makes them leaders is that 
- they recognise, acknowledge and embrace all of these, bringing awareness to their own judgment about them,
- they consciously decided to step out of the 'blame' cycle and own up their pain and their healing,
- they recognise that they have a long way to go, themselves, (long way does not mean long time)
- they recognise that we need to come together as groups in order to fully heal, and
- they have allowed themselves to be profoundly impacted by the insights and experiences they have had so far, and have assimilated and integrated them as much as they could. 

The delight and freedom that they experience through their journeys is so much that they decided to make their lives about sharing what they are seeing, what they are learning, how they are healing, inviting and working with others who would like to embark on similar journeys. They all love their sacred work of facilitating healing, and come alive doing it.

This is a humble effort in putting together a 'Directory on Healing' to be used by individuals and collectives that this invitation speaks to.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible

          

Shall we build a house in this forest and move in here?
I want to just play outdoors all day, stay up on the trees, get wet in the rains. Why am I sitting locked up in my classroom all day, instead?
When I grow up, I’ll build houses for everyone and make sure no one goes hungry or lives on the street!
Why don't we ask their family to move in with us? We can empty one room in our house for them to keep all their things.

These are things I’ve actually seen children say or ask. We’ve all asked such questions, within ourselves, if not with others, when we were little.

That’s how we begin our life journeys; with innocence; with wide-eyed wonder; with a yearning for a more beautiful world, where abundance, unity, celebration, equality, freedom, community, communion with nature are lived realities. The child’s innocent yearning typically gets met with control, apathy or criticism: All the unreasonable ‘No’s’ that we tell a child. Don’t play. Don’t go there. Don’t explore. All the way up to ‘You are crazy! You are naïve! What's wrong with you? Be practical. One person can’t change the world. If you resist the fact that life is drudgery, you will suffer more!’

With repeated criticism, comes a growing self-doubt: May be I am crazy and impractical! May be I can’t! May be life IS meant to be dry! May be I need to stop dreaming! May be I need to learn the game and get better at it! Things are this way for a good reason; a reason I may not understand now! Millions of people can’t be wrong!’

Innocence gets called names like ‘naivete’, and feels battered. The dreamer in us feels betrayed. We suppress our innocence and our dreams and join others in their game at various points in our lives. We try very hard to forget about the more beautiful world, but the memory lingers on. We mostly resign and  “agree” with the world, but have a vague, though painful, memory of our disagreement and our dream of a more beautiful world.

Sometimes, when I indulge in the story about how I have survived this struggle, the wounds hurt. Some other times, when I recognise the growth that the totality of my experience has brought me, the narrative changes, I feel blessed and grateful, and the wounds heal.

Through my journey as a rebel who wanted to make her own meaning of the self and the world, and as an activist who wanted to change things for the better, I’ve always enquired into the cause and nature of pain: embedded in both criticism and self-doubt. The following frameworks / messages / books / essays came to me at various points in that journey helping me expand my understanding.

Naom Chomsky (Manufacturing Consent)
Wendell Berry (In distrust of movements)
George Orwell (Animal Farm)
Masanobu Fukuoka (Fallacious modern scientific framework)
Gandhi (Being the change that one wants to see in the world)
Kumarappa (Economy of Peace & Permanence)
Thich Naht Hanh (Mindfulness, Sangha as the Buddha of our times)
Eckart Tolle (The Power of Now / The New Earth)
J.Krishnamurthi (You are the World)
Ken Wilber (Spiral Dynamics)
John Wellwood (Spiritual Bypassing)
Aurobindo (Materialization of Spirit)
Carl Jung (Shadow Work)
Joseph Campbell (Hero’s Journey)
Llewellyn Vaughan-lee (Sacred Feminine, Anima Mundi)
Patanjali (Yoga Sutras - Structure of Human Perception)
Bhagavad Gita (Karma Yoga)
Marianne Williamson (Course in Miracles)
Ramana (Who am I?)
The Mother, Schumacher, Samuel, Eknaath Eswaran, ...  and a few others.

As I spent time with each new framework, I was getting more and more Aha! moments; making newer and newer connections, expanding my understanding that transcended but incorporated (not rejected) the older understandings. Connections between schooling and war. Between rape and deforestation. Between erosion of local languages and industrial farming. And most importantly, between the violence outside and the violence within. Aha! JK said it right. I WAS the world. I was understanding all this in a strangely intuitive way that I often struggled to articulate. My few attempts to articulate my insights can be seen as occasional posts on my blog.

And then I read Charles Eisenstein’s remarkably well-written book ‘The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible’, where he has brought all of these messages and frameworks together into one meta narrative with a seemingly simple story-line that I can attempt telling in a few lines.

 In order to actually manifest a more beautiful world,
  • we need to step out of the Old Story of Separation, which we live a lot of our lives in – whether as CEOs of destructive corporations, rapists, spiritual seekers or activists;
  • we need to step into the New Story of Interbeing, which we have only glimpses of, and don’t know much about; and
  • we need to occupy the space between the two stories in order to do the transition effectively. In order to occupy this space, we need to understand the limitations of our older ways of knowing, and get comfortable with not-knowing. Our new ways of knowing that can help with the manifestation will be born out of that comfort with not-knowing. 
This mass healing of the split between activism and spirituality is happening worldwide in a scale we’ve never seen before. 

The significance of this book comes from the following explanation that Charles gives. I do not offer this book as someone who has completed this transition himself. Far from it. I have no more authority to write this book than any other man or woman. I am not an avatar or a saint, I am not channeling ascended masters or ETs, I have no unusual psychic powers or intellectual genius, I have not passed through any remarkable hardship or ordeal, I have no especially deep spiritual practice or shamanic training. I am an ordinary man. You will, therefore, have to take my words on their own merits. And if my words fulfill their intention, which is to catalyze a next step, big or small, into the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible, my very ordinariness becomes highly significant. It shows how close we all are, all of us ordinary humans, to a profound transformation of consciousness and being. If I, an ordinary man, can see it, we must be almost there.”

Charles has most gracefully captured the universe of simultaneity (paradoxes), stepping into which is necessary to resolve a lot of our inner and outer conflicts that we feel torn by. How do we practice compassion and be fierce warriors at the same time? How do we accept what is real now and work towards change at the same time? How do we remain still and act at the same time? How can we free ourselves from the burden of injunctions and hold ourselves accountable at the same time? How do I hold both your and my seemingly opposing realities together at the same time? How do I acknowledge and stay with the pain, without indulging in it? How do I be in this world, and not of it?

Just take a quick look at the chapter titles: Separation – Breakdown – Interbeing – Cynicism – Insanity – Force – Science – Climate – Despair – Hope – Morphogenesis – Naivete – Reality – Spirit – Orthodoxy – Newness – Urgency – Scarcity – Doing – Non-doing – Attention – Struggle – Pain – Pleasure – Judgment – Hate – Righteousness – Psychopathy – Evil – Story – Disruption – Miracle – Truth – Consciousness – Destiny – Initiation

With the intention of sharing them on my blog, I started to copy paste some powerful sentences, which then became whole paragraphs, which then became whole chapters. Charles has filled every bit of this book with so much wisdom that I decided to simply get copies of the book to share with others. It is full of real-life stories, including stories from his own life.

Pretty much all the points in my activist journey, all the typical inner and outer debates that I’ve struggled with and grown through, lessons learnt, have been captured so lucidly in one narrative. Reading this book took me down my 35-year long memory lane. It’s making me dream the same dreams with new clarity and courage now.

I want to build a house in the forest and move in there!
I want to just play outdoors all day, stay up on the trees, get wet in the rains.
I want to build houses for everyone and make sure no one goes hungry or lives on the street!
We can all move in together and live as one community!

I don’t know how. And I’m very comfortable not knowing how. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Three ways of parenting

There are three ways of parenting.

The first one is the conditioned parenting. The parent has very little ability to self-reflect. She is so disconnected from her emotional being, and has very little or no idea about how her parents' treatment of her has impacted it. She does everything to her child the way that her mother did it to her. Her mom had spanked her. And so, she spanks her daughter. When you ask her about it, she's likely to say "My mom did this to me, and look, I've turned out just fine!" 

The second one is the reactive parenting. The parent self-reflects and understands to a fair degree the damage some unhealthy treatment by his parents has had on his emotional being. He says "I will never do to my child what my dad did to me!" and swings to the other end. His dad had constantly violated his space.  And so, he will let his life be organised around his son's life, and give up his space for his son. 

I see parents who have a lot of difficulty in saying 'No' to their kids, in drawing healthy boundaries for them, fall in this category. They seek their permission for everything. They "sacrifice" their space for their sons and daughters. Oh yes, and decades later, say with resentment "I gave up everything for you, and look what you did to me!" Playing the victim and the whole works, you know?

The third is the healed parenting. The parent neither behaves out of conditioning, nor reacts taking the opposite stand. The parent aspires to heal from both conditioning and reacting, and learns to draw (and teaches by learning and living with) healthy boundaries on both sides.  

I am the second category in my unconscious moments (which is most of the time), and the third in my conscious moments. 

Where do you locate yourself?

Monday, May 25, 2015

There are many ways to run a supermarket.

Isha’s latest interest is in playing ‘shop-game’. If she could, she would play it all day long everyday. All kinds of shops – cassette, book, medicine, food, toy. We’ve made some paper currency called ‘Zoni’ that we use when we play.

One day last week, she wanted to play a ‘Supermarket Game’. She was going to be the customer and I, the shop-keeper (because she does not know how to write a bill, she told me.) After setting everything up, she entered the room and I said “Welcome to our supermarket! How are you today?” She started bawling saying “That’s not what you say when someone enters your supermarket!” Not whining, or crying, but bawling. To a stranger, this might seem bizarre that a perfectly cheerful kid could suddenly start bawling over something so trivial. But I’m quite used to it, since I know that in her world, especially when she starts playing a ‘pretend game’, she takes every detail very seriously. It took me a long time to understand that she had a very specific kind of exchange between the customer and the shopkeeper in mind. When that didn't happen, it upset her. I tried telling her all sorts of things “Different supermarkets are run in different ways. Doesn’t Sajee mama greet and welcome people when they walk into restore?” Nothing seemed to console her a bit.

Now, when I’m also relaxed and in the right space, such situations, which are not at all rare, become interesting challenges to my creativity. I was put on the spot, and I had to come up with something.

I started talking about how there are many different ways to do everything. I said “There are many ways to smile.” making funny faces smiling in different ways. “There are many ways to scratch your nose!” and did the same. In a second, her bawling turned into intense laughter from her belly. The supermarket game, which we never resumed after that, turned into a song. Her life is like a musical, where she’d often break into a song in the middle of a conversation! We started enacting the many different ways one could do each thing. (Some of the words are hers, and some are mine.)

There are many ways to cry, there are many ways to fry,
There are many ways to fight, there are many ways to light,
There are many ways to run, there are many ways to have fun,
There are many ways to run a supermarket.

There are many ways to dance, there are many ways to advance,
There are many ways to sing, there are many ways to ping,
There are many ways to taste, there are many ways to waste,
There are many ways to run a supermarket.

There are many ways to eat, there are many ways to greet,
There are many ways to tie, there are many ways to die,
There are many ways to laugh, there are many ways to cough,
There are many ways to run a supermarket.

There are many ways to stitch, there are many ways to bitch,
There are many ways to sit, there are many ways to knit,
There are many ways to see, there are many ways to be,
There are many ways to run a supermarket.

By the end of this song, she seemed to be quite convinced that there were indeed many different ways one could run a supermarket. In the end, she laughed saying “If someone thought there was only one way to run a supermarket, that would be so ridiculous!” :) 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Change. It's happening elsewhere!

Noisy Minds 
busy
analysing
planning
acting
anxiously hoping for Change!

But 
The Design for Change is being made in the stars
waiting to be recognised as mystery 
so we can silence our arrogance.

The Secrets of Change are being carried by the soft flutters of the butterflies
waiting to be heard in the silence
so we can listen to the voice of life.

The Levers of Change are stuck within the layers of the subconscious
waiting to be delved into and released
so we can heal and shift consciousness.

Ideas for Change come floating as colourful bubbles
waiting to be called forth and be popped 
so we can receive the treasures in them.

The Power for Change is resting with the divine
waiting to be surrendered to and claimed
so we can resolve.

The Energy for Change passes by as colourful waves of varying frequencies 
waiting to be tuned in to
so we can channel.

The Vehicle of Change resides in our bodies  
waiting to be disciplined and trained
so we can be available.

And the Blessing for Change is abound
waiting to be invoked
so we can manifest.

All the work we really need to do is to 
recognise,
listen, 
heal,
find,
receive, 
resolve,
channel,
be available,
manifest.

Noisy Minds 
busy 
analysing
planning
acting
anxiously hoping for Change

But, 
Change, it's really happening elsewhere!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Party time for Mr. GDP!

When we
sit by the beach watching the waves,
spend silly times with our friends,
sow a seed and watch it sprout,
spot a new bud on a plant we’ve been watering everyday,
watch the sun rise,
watch a baby play and giggle,
forgive someone,
dance,
sing,
write poetry,
bake bread,
toil in the sun and get sweaty creating a garden or building something,
attentively listen to toddlers narrating stories,
serve without expectation of reward or recognition,
watch a sparrow perched on the window sill,
trek through the forest,
feed someone hungry,
stand under a waterfall,
listen to soft and slow music,
have a meaningful or cathartic conversation with someone,
resolve a conflict,
read a book that gives us aha! moments,
visit a sacred place where we feel a calming energy permeating our being,
go for a walk alone or with someone we connect to,
watch the night sky,
cry out loud from the belly,
eat wholesome and flavorful food,
receive an email from an old cherished friend,
read news about how a group of people came together taking responsibility to do something meaningful,
it gives us joy.
It makes us feel more peaceful.
We feel something within us settle.
It awakens something inside us.
It makes us come alive.
The nourishment that our spirits yearn for all the time.

Since we have all created living contexts (homes, schools and workplaces) which are so often bereft of nourishment, we feel pained but remain unconscious about it! I rarely see very basic needs of children, adults and the elderly being met these days. Our need for silence, for communion with nature, with meaningful connection with people, for trust, for true knowledge, for respect, for love, for leisure, for artistic experience, for nourishing food, for sweating labour, for sunlight, for fresh air and so on often goes unmet in our busy city lives. When we don’t get nourishment, we go against the flow of life. When we go against life, it leads to a building up of pain.

What do we do with this collectively created cultural pain? We do one of three things.

1. Numb it. We watch fast TV, play video games, consume alcohol, take to drugs.

2. Indulge in things that give us a false sense of ‘power or security’ by winning the race run by the popular culture of the pained. We dress up following fashion, buy expensive clothes and jewelry, go shopping in malls and supermarkets, seek praises and rewards from authority figures, seek recognition as being “successful”, throw our “weight” around those we perceive as less powerful than us, chase wealth, want to be the first, the best, the largest, the strongest, the fastest, etc., get into institutionalized religion, and so on

3. Over-stimulate our senses so we get distracted enough from the pain. We get addicted to sugary drinks and salty snacks, watch thrillers, drive fast, watch thrilling games, listen to fast and loud music, and so on

All the three create what we call ‘pleasure’. Pleasure gives us a ‘kick’ as some people call it. We feel ‘excited’. We feel a semblance of ‘control over the situation’. It shoots up our adrenalin levels giving us a ‘high’. It feels like a disco-light, colourful and flashy. 
But, if the adrenalin shoots up, it has to drop. If you hit a high, you have to then come down and hit a low.

The problem with ‘pleasure’ is that not only does its effect wear off, it actually creates more pain. We constantly feel the need to feel more powerful, we need newer and more stimulation, more drugging and numbing, more distraction. We get bored with ‘old stuff’. We cling on to our memories of pleasure and try to see how to recreate those experiences again. With every clinging to a memory of pleasure, there is more anxiety and insecurity. When we cannot re-create pleasure, we get pained and depressed. Or we get frustrated, angry and aggressive. We feel low self-esteem. We feel bored. We blame. We suffer.

Today’s misplaced motivation is nothing but a sophisticated form of stimulation. It says “See you will get rich, powerful, noticed, rewarded, recognized, praised, excited, thrilled … if you do this”. Very rarely does anyone motivate us by saying “If you do this, you will feel joyous, free, peaceful, calm, alive….” That is because seeking all these is our true nature. We are naturally drawn to them. We need no motivation for seeking them. But when we feel beaten up by life, we might need inspiration: a word of reminder, support and encouragement to help us tap into our inner strength to try again. This encouragement and inspiration is different from external motivation. Motivation is usually done without any real understanding of why the person is bored and pained in the first place. And that is why it is shallow, unhelpful and detrimental. Detrimental because when we feel the effect of external motivation wear off (which, it will over time) we feel like terrible losers! We end up believing the society’s story about who we are, what we are capable of, etc. We get caught in a downward spiral. That is why the younger we are, the easier it is to get motivated; the older we get, the harder it gets.

In my own life, 'pleasure' has a very interesting place. I find it always being available for me to make use of, no matter where I am in my life. When I feel depressed and find it too much hard work to stay with all the pain all the time, I resort to it – food, place, person, activity or thing. 'Pleasure', a form of comfort, can be used to heal and recharge when used moderately and mindfully. It is only when we settle down there basking in it, refusing to step out that it becomes detrimental to our own growth and well-being. We become complacent and desensitized. Life is constantly pushing us out of our comfort zones. When we refuse to step out, we say ‘No’ to life. Whenever I have resorted to comforts with awareness about what is, using the space to stay with my pain, I have found it helpful. Whenever I have resorted to comforts with a lack of awareness, it has become another distraction from what is, making me more desensitized adding more layers of pain, pushing me further down the spiral. 



The question we all need to collectively and carefully look at is this: “What part and how much of our individual lives is fed with nourishment vs pleasure? What part and how much of our society has structures and spaces that enable nourishing vs pleasurable experiences? How much are we impacted by them? How can we reorganize both our individual and collective lives (and their interfaces) to wean ourselves away from pleasure, and co-create spaces and structures that can provide nourishment? Until we do this, we will want to buy, waste, consume, build, wear more and more of what we don’t really need. Party time for Mr.GDP! 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Kill The Bees

Wow, it's all looking very good!

Let's get in and pretend like we're the ones doing it.
Let's spray pesticides on crops!


Oops. They're finding out unpleasant stuff about what we sell! We're in a mess! 

Ok, let's pretend to care.



Now that there aren't any bees, 
let's start companies to provide 'pollination services'.




Let's write a story book for children saying that it's really not the pesticide, 
but the varroa mite or some such thing.


   
But hey, we need to sell more neonicotinoid pesticides to answer our shareholders!

What, the US-EPA says it's too bad for the bees? We'll take up the fight with them!


Oops! They're still at it. Fighting us...

... and keep exposing our tactics!

Well, all we'll need to do is to tell the world, 
"We're increasing wealth, increasing the GDP, every step of our way!"