Sunday, May 24, 2015

One Step Forward

Two young ladies from India who work in Hyderabad got married in San Fransisco - to each other. Gay or lesbian marriages are not legal in India. The young ladies have been a couple for 8 years now and this simply was their way of letting the world know they are committed to one another. 

I read the news and had mixed feelings. I am ashamed to have to admit it, but for a moment I thought this was a let down for the Indian community. Then I stopped to reprimand myself. Let down? Did I somehow harbor the idea that the Indian community is superior and so ‘such things’ do not happen within our community? Was that the level of my acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships? Was it because I was distant from it?

I am almost 60 and have seen so many revolutionary changes and have prided myself for being a well-read, educated, compassionate, accepting person. I have often said, “I am spiritual.” “I believe in kindness over rightness.” I have consciously lived my life trying to be a better person everyday.

Today is one such day when I have to consciously examine myself and my values to expel the bigotry I demonstrated when I heard about the two young women who chose to honor love! I was raised at a time in a place where the word gay only meant happy and the word lesbian was not on my vocabulary radar. As I aged and moved around the world and was exposed to the reality of love and relationships the word gay went from being a ‘bad’ word to a controversial one and eventually a word that meant love! I believed that is where I was till I read the news and realized that my ‘acceptance’ of the word and the people who celebrate same sex relationships was really just a limited tolerance. 

Thank you Shwetha and Smruthi, today you have helped me close the circle and expand my horizons of acceptance! Today I congratulate the two of you and wish you joy and togetherness always. I am a married woman and am aware of the ups and downs that two people living together face and overcome. It takes effort, an open heart, an acceptance and tons of love especially during the low times - from both. It requires each to recognize the strength and the weakness of the other and to always hold each other up. Marriage is about being tied together and yet being individuals. A committed relationship is a dance that is both dynamic and explosive and yet flows like dancers on stage - within boundaries and yet free, sometimes intertwined and sometimes dancing at a distance on the same stage! There are no half measures between two people who have promised to remain successfully committed - you are all in or you do not belong together. 

One more step towards being a more accepting person - well done Basabi, even if I say so myself. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Forgive Abuse

Abused, hurt, ill-treated, neglected, oppressed, insulted, even killed - the pain does not ever go away. Once hurt has been done it cannot be undone. To demand restitution, justice, punishment is natural but if we want to live a positive and purposeful life, we must forgive. Forgive not the wrong done, but the wrong doer. Absolve not the wrong doer but ones own negative emotions, to make way for healing. 

Abuse can happen to anyone - it may be intentionally done to one or it may be out of ignorance. It is not always that abuse is done by one person. It may be perpetrated by an entire community. Once it has happened one must consciously go through the process of eliminating the perpetuation of that abuse to oneself and to others. One must learn from abuse - learn how not to be. To learn that, acknowledgement that abuse happened, grief at the hurt and eventually forgiveness must happen. We are a species with the ability to reason and the good fortune to make choices. We may choose to be bitter and stay in the pain and fear phase forever. We may also choose to consciously forgive and come out of the pain and the fear and live a authentically loving life. 

The pain phase is destructive. It destroys our ability to open up and grow. We are afraid and so build a wall around us. We are angry and so build a wall around us. We are sad and so build a wall around us. We are revengeful and so build a wall around us. The more walls we build the more disconnected we become. The more disconnected we become the more judgmental we become. The more judgmental we become the more hateful we become. The more hateful we become the more destructive we become. The more destructive we become the more abuse we render to those around us and the cycle continues. 

Forgiveness is freeing. It destroys our ability to be abusive. Forgiveness does not take the hurt and the pain away - it gives us the ability to take the negative emotions and empathize with oneself and with others. It humbles us as it demonstrates how fragile we really are. It teaches us to love and respect oneself. It teaches us to actively protect oneself from future abuse. It teaches us to choose the right people to be around. It teaches us to walk away from the abuse. It teaches us to be connected with ones inner being, to respect intuition. It teaches us to recognize abusive behaviors in oneself and others and it gives us the choice  to stop the cycle of abuse. Most importantly it teaches us that love does not mean accepting the abuse but it means accepting the person as abusive and distancing from that person to protect oneself and the abuser from greater harm. 

Forgiveness brings peaceful consciousness. Conscious living is vibrant and beautiful. It raises our level of awareness and makes us dynamic and inclusive. It makes life more enjoyable because the approval of others becomes irrelevant. It makes us conscious of how people see us but it has no effect on who we are and what we do. We learn from our mistakes and those of others because we acknowledge mistakes as a stairway to upliftment. Forgiveness gives us strength and allows us to embrace life with an energy that is often elusive to those who choose to live in pain and fear. 

Fear and pain are choices we must stop living by. They weaken our spirit, destroy our potential. There is always circumstances that will cause us to be hurt and afraid. We cannot control those circumstances, but we can choose not to let the pain and fear overpower us. We can choose to live with a soft dignity. Forgiveness is the choice of lovers. I am a lover of life.  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Journey of Doubt

Doubt is a curse that we bring upon ourselves. We only enhance that curse when we begin to believe that our unfounded doubt is the truth, because then we go out of our way to establish that the doubt is nothing but the truth.

Doubt arises either when we refuse to believe that man is inherently good or when we have been fooled by many often. I would rather be fooled by some people than doubt everyone around me. I choose to believe in the goodness of my brethren - until I have proof positive that they have done evil. Also, one evil or wrong done does not make the person evil. I refuse to judge the entire life of a person on one wrong-doing. At the same time - given the opportunity to do good, if one continues to do wrong, I will and do distance myself. I choose not to hate, but I find it very difficult to like such a person, because when I think of him/her it brings out the negative in me and a lot of my time is wasted in trying to counter that negative.

I deal with doubts by questioning my personal motive first. What is the payoff I am getting by giving credence to the doubt? If there is a payoff, (and more often than not there is one, I am ashamed to admit) then I become vigilant and make sure I stop entertaining the doubt. If there is no payoff for me then my next question is what reason do I have to doubt? Is it someone else's doubts that I have chosen to take on, or is it something I myself have seen? If it is someone else who has doubted then too I am vigilant and is reason enough for me to remove the doubt. If it is something I myself have seen then I move forward to verify the veracity of my doubt and take care that until I can confirm that the doubt is true, no wrong has been done. The human mind is vibrant and can override every logic if allowed to do so. The mind can show us what we want to see if we let it. It can blind us to the truth unless we control its velocity. We have the power to control our thoughts and be a witness to our mind. Silence, meditation, contemplation and above all acceptance of the imperfection within us all, gives us the necessary control that is the key to our innermost peace and outward harmony. 

We are all here with a purpose and I constantly remind myself that my purpose is unique and I am unique and if I stay on course and never lose sight of my goal nothing can take me away from it. My purpose in life is to bring joy and peace into the lives of those I touch. My purpose is to be a source of love - for myself and for those around me and so no matter what it is I do or say it must come from a space of love. I do not have a material purpose, I am not here to possess things or to give away things, but I am here to ensure that my interaction with people brings no pain, no hurt, no ill-will. For that to happen I must trust, I must have faith and I must love unconditionally. Doubt is counterproductive in my life and so I choose to treat it with only as little respect as it deserves. :)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Lesson Learned

Walking down memory lane today and I was struck by how far I have come and how much I owe to life experiences and relationships. Today, though, I want to write about one lesson in particular that I have learned through many experiences but very poignantly through the experience of sickness and death - of my loved ones.

My first brush with illness came at birth. My sister - born 5 years before me - suffered from epileptic seizures and they happened everyday. This experience was definitely more severe for my parents and my brother, but it was an experience that molded me more than most other childhood experiences did. I saw her suffer for the first 8 years of my life - day in and day out - till eventually her body could not take the assault of the seizures and gave in. She died at 13.

The next experience was with cancer - it took my hero away from me. Dad suffered, thankfully for a very short period of time and was gone. I was 18.

The next was the most recent event, when my husband was diagnosed with cancer and has since recovered.

The lesson is a very profound one - all the information and all the advice that may be available is good to have but it is imperative to know that the experience of each one of us as we go through watching our loved ones suffer is unique. No one can foresee the future that is ahead - not the person suffering, not the doctors, not all the loved ones. Yet, there is one thing that each one of us does have and that is the power to make a difference in the moment. We can choose to worry, grieve, wallow, smile, laugh, be positive, be strong, be sad, be prayerful or resourceful - the choice is ours. The mind is our tool through which we take control of the moment and live it by design. We have to accept that all the knowledge we have cannot foretell our future, we may even accept that destiny has already designed what the future will be, but we cannot give in to worry. Worry is our greatest enemy when we are faced with caring for or even simply watching our loved one suffer. Worry drains us and it leaves us lacking. Worry comes from fear. Each of us has a different set of fears and we have to learn to overcome our basket of fears. Our ally in all this is a stable mind and we must at all times care for that stability of mind. Never let it waiver even during the best of times. Staying focused, positive and recognizing ones own potential to overcome every odd ensures that we are at our best at all times. Never give in to anger, hatred, envy or pride for they take our mind away from the moment. Handle these emotions with care for they are part of our human psyche. We need to recognize them and use them to fire up our engines to bring out the best in us - never the worst.

Death and disease are part of life and we all have to face it, and the lessons they teach us can be carried through into many life experiences, both good and bad. My experience with illness and death has made me recognize myself and be more compassionate, more caring towards others and definitely more appreciative of life. Most of all it has taught me to care for my mind and be meditative at all times. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Being Alone

Many are curious about how 'being alone' feels. I am not alone. Relationships that I have built over my lifetime have a depth that goes beyond the need for physical presence. I realized that, for the first time, when I moved out of Canada and away from the physical presence of my sons. For 25 years everything I did, had to take my sons into account. Any decisions I made started with, "what about my precious boys," then came other aspects of the decision making process. For the first little while away from them, they were still my preliminary consideration, but soon I realized that I had to let go if I wanted them to be as complete as I was. I had to think about life without them so I could enjoy and not begrudge them their independence. It was difficult to see them struggle through difficult times and simply watch, but I knew that life, and not I, would be their greatest teacher. I relegated myself to be their soft place if they needed it. Then one day I realized that this soft place is mutual. My boys are all grown up and are my haven where I go to when I feel anxious or depressed and joyful or excited.

Their physical presence is irrelevant. I feel connected to them no matter what the distance. That was when I examined the rest of my relationships and now know that the soul connection (or whatever one may call it) is common for all relationships. How connected I am to one may differ from how connected I feel towards another but there is an almost tangible connection that is wonderful to experience. Technology makes it a lot easier to enhance the experience and I consider it one of life's greatest blessings. It comes with its disadvantages but the good, telephones and the web brings into my life, far outweighs any negatives.

I am loving life doing what I want when I want to. I am living a life independently and with no one depending on me for anything at a personal level. This is unique to me and an experience everyone deserves to have. I have had a great life so far. There were ups and downs and these have made me who I am today. People I love have helped me every step of the way and have become intertwined with my life as, I know, I have become with theirs. These bonds have nothing to do with the material world and so I am 'wirelessly connected' to my world. I am in the presence of many at all times, never alone. I am grateful to all my nearest and dearest ones. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

My Book

Life has a method. A predictable method of teaching one about oneself. There is this book of Life that we all have to read. We all have the same author but each of us has a unique set of chapters depending on the lessons we take from the previous one. In the process we all grow. Some of us flourish and some of us don't but each of us is totally responsible for our own success in life.

Life has given me some hard knocks and over the last few years the knocks have become easier to bear. I have learned that the knocks were actually not being given to me, but were given for me. If I simply examined the event and let it lead me towards the true me I invariably opened a hidden cell within, that showed me something new about me - but I found out something even more important than that. I, the person, who only I truly know can never be changed. If I respond in a way that is inherently me then every challenge I face I can conquer and be happy about. If I respond in a way that is not authentic then the challenge begins to eat at my inner peace and joy. To realign myself I have to respond from my inner wisdom. I am often reminded that in todays world authenticity is considered 'too good to be true.' :)

The 1st 10 chapters of my book are the most important ones and I end up 'reading' them very often. Here they are.

1. I love people unconditionally. I do not expect perfection from anyone. They may stop loving me but I never will. I will not let them walk over me but I will continue to love them - maybe from a distance.

2. I trust people blindly. It is only if I have absolute proof that someone is not trustworthy do I stop trusting them. I have been told this is naive. I would rather be naive than compromise with my inherent self.

3. I believe in forgiveness wholeheartedly. I do not forgive the wrong-doing but I let go of the hurt and pain the wrong has caused me because I have no intention of giving my power away. The earlier I forgive the sooner my power comes back to me.

4. The opinion of others about me does not matter. If someone says I am being dis-honest I do not try to convince them otherwise. It is more important for me to know that I am honest than for others to maybe think so.

5. I take my responsibilities seriously. I work with the best of intentions and have no problems owning up to mistakes and correcting them as I go. I am careful to not knowingly make the same mistake twice.

6. I refrain from judging others on hearsay and conjecture. If two people tell me opposing stories of the same event I never side with one over the other - unless of course I was there. I understand the power of perspective.

7. I know that wisdom is not directly proportionate to age - it is only directly proportionate to knowledge. The more I am willing to learn the wiser I get.

8. I cannot change anyone. :) I accept people the way they are. I may attempt to share some knowledge with them but eventually one can only change oneself, no one else.

9. It is important to build a strong character with all the traits that give me the strength to carry the weight of my own ego. If ego is not to take over I must overcome fear and for that, I must have an unshakeable character that can stand up to scrutiny anytime by anyone.

10. I am continuously on a learning curve. Right now my new lesson is French. Oui. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thank you!!

5000 views so far. I will be back to write on a regular basis soon. Have to spend some time learning new things for a while first. New language, new city, new job, new friends, new life. Writing is my go to place during good times and bad and gives me the most joy and solace depending on what I need. I love sharing my writing with others and hope my readers like my word pictures. Through the silence, words creep out onto my fingers and thence onto the screen giving voice to ideas and thoughts which would otherwise most often remain hidden. Thank heavens for this medium of expression.

Take care all. Will be back soon and more often.