Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Expanding World

A decision about the rights of a section of society in one country causes a ripple that reaches into far off countries almost instantly. When a decision about the rights of a different section of society in the same country happened 50 years ago, I wonder how long it took that ripple to reach the same countries then. The world has expanded!

I have been watching the different reactions to the decision about the expansion of the scope of marriage and am trying to look 50 years into the future. We have a precedent where marriage between 2 races became legal and am sure there was much ado about that decision too, although living in India then, being less than 10 years old and not having television in the country I was completely unaware of it. I wonder if Akashwani even announced the decision on the radio waves that day so many years ago.

There had to have been proponents and opponents to that decision too and I wonder how they feel about their reactions today. Did it matter what they thought? Did their agreement or disagreement impact the world around them? How did the opposing groups interact? The decision to legitimize marriage between the races 'legitimized' the children who till then had no recognition. It expanded the world to include in its midst some amazing people, one of who is the President of the country that decided to expand the scope of marriage 50 years ago and now.

Many today are talking about what the next generation will be like with the decision that SCOTUS took to legitimize marriage between same sex couples and I am sure they have reasons to wonder and then there are those who look at this decision not in terms of sex, procreation, family, who are completely unaffected by the thought of the future generation. Yet we as a society must consider that children who come into this world do deserve our attention and understanding. We are responsible to ensure that our future generation is not unsafe, is not stigmatized, is not made to feel any less because they have same sex parents or because they may not be raised by biological parents. We need to expand our minds to be inclusive.

That is where love comes into play. It is important to recognize that societally and even biologically it may seem important that there be one male and one female parent for every child, but it is more important that the child be nurtured with love by the adults in their lives. There are many amongst us who have been raised by single parents, by adoptive parents, by extended families, by strangers - who have grown to become balanced adults. Then there are amongst us those who have been raised in a conventional two parent home and are not as balanced. There is a need for us to acknowledge that even though the family unit is vital it is not everything. As a human race we need to value oneness - with each other and with our environment. For something or someone to be right something or someone different does not have to be wrong. When change is forced upon us it is because we resisted change in the first place. Change is an integral part of life and growth. Some changes may require fine tuning and even overhaul, but opening ourselves to the challenges that even a single change could bring and tackling those challenges with the acumen we inherently possess, is what enhances our humanness.

It is maturity that allows us to give ourselves the time and the space to reflect on the perspective of those directly affected by this latest decision. 'Straight people' needs to be left out of our vocabulary because it automatically segregates us! Should it matter that two adults choose to be happy together in a relationship that gives them the same rights that two other adults who make a similar choice have? Let us instead turn inwards and see how to become better as a person, how to make this world a better place by our own thoughts and actions, protect those who are unable to protect themselves, serve those who we know need our attention now. There will always be challenges and these will continually change like everything else changes. Living in this moment in the now and working at being the best we can as a people today is what will make the world a better place tomorrow. The creases and folds in the fabric that is our world will always be there and some will iron them out and others will keep creasing and folding, that is the nature of life itself. Each of us may be a small section of the thread that this fabric has been woven with, but it is the tenacity of each section of thread that ensures the fabric endures. Let us be strong, let us strengthen each other with all that we have to offer. Let us not beat the opponents, let us not beat the proponents, instead let us look at how we can contribute to ironing out the challenges that may arise, let us celebrate our differences, let us hear and let us be heard. Every opinion is important and not necessary we have to be in agreement with them all. Harmony only requires active acceptance not agreement. Music requires different notes to be in harmony. If there is only one note it soon becomes meaningless sound.

The world may appear smaller because of technology but it has expanded because we have grown intellectually into a species that does not stay within boundaries. We are a species that has mastered the art of turning dreams into realities. Growth has an exponential pattern and unless we give ourselves the freedom to embrace it, we will be left behind in lifeless rubble. If we self destruct I would rather do it with an expansive, all embracing bang! :)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thank you once again!

Another milestone reached today - 7500 views.

This is a blog I started to share the experience of silence and the wealth it brings. I do not know if this blog means anything to anyone else, but to me it is my place of peace. I enjoy reading what I have written before and to compare it to my experience at the present. Often I am surprised at my own writing - not because it is good or bad, but because I am not sure where it came from. I write not with a pre-plan. I feel the urge to write and I simply let my thoughts express themselves through my fingers rather than with my tongue. :) I am a writer, not a talker.

Silence has brought me joy and an awareness of myself, my environment, other people, different perspectives and a deeper understanding of life in general. In silence I am not running the rat race, rather I am watching it and learning how to be and how not to be. Over time I can see that it is not circumstances that change my viewpoint or decision - it is the awareness of who I am that directs me. I may do or say something that is out of character but if in retrospect I see that, it is not difficult to correct myself and get back on track again. I have learned to value my emotions and feelings and direct them to improving myself as a person. Each day I ensure that I live by the edict of being kind rather than right. I respect myself and others and if push comes to shove I always stand by the underdog. Sometimes life decisions may be good for many but bad for one and such decisions have to be made, but even those can be made with empathy.

I have one hole in my life and it comes from a very personal spot that I am unable to share publicly - simply because it would be hurtful to others. Only my soul mates - and I have a handful of them - are aware of it and help to fill that gap with love and understanding and it is because of silence that I was able to identify and deal with it.

This blog is definitely my place of peace. Thank you for visiting and I would love for you to comment on my writing, share your views, your stories, your thoughts. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Gratitude

"Thank you for the world so sweet;
Thank you for the food we eat;
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything."

That was a prayer we said at lunch when I was in school.

Saying 'Please,' 'Thank you,' 'My pleasure,' 'Sorry,' were taught as 'good manners,' then. That was the ABC of the words. As I grew older I recognized that these are more than good manners. They are what opens the window to knowing oneself. Gratitude, empathy, humility, grace, and more are what the words relay.

Lessons we are taught as children often stay at the 'kindergarten level' with many of us. In reality everything we learn as children need to be re-learned as we grow older so we get age appropriate lessons.

I was taught to pray before exams and so I did. I even believed that all that was really needed was to pray and all would go well at the exams. In my innocent mind studying was secondary. I read, wrote and did math because I liked to. The exams I passed because I prayed. If I did not fare well, it was because I had not prayed hard enough. Very soon though, I came out of that reverie. For many years I prayed knowing fully well that it was just to be a 'good girl,' in the eyes of others. Prayers had little meaning for me. I even went through spiritual initiation to find out 'what it was all about.' I chanted and said prayers, read holy books, all with the intent to know more, never quite able to figure it out till years later.

It is the same with every life lesson I get. There is something much deeper than the superficial 'event' that I go through. Every event is a lesson that teaches me about myself. My spiritual journey - the path that takes me towards my inner being. I do not know what that inner being is. All I know is that I experience 'aha' moments multiple times in a day - if I keep myself open to the experiences. Some days, though, I live life moment to moment by rote and only recognize lessons in retrospect.

Gratitude is a lesson I learn and draw from every day. Being grateful keeps me joyful, satisfied, in abundance, and wanting to share the abundance. I thank people all the time, not because it is good manners, but because I am grateful for the grace that makes my life as beautiful as it is.

A prayer taught in school that simply heralded the lunch break, now means so much more. Thank you, for everything. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Impatience

Impatience can bring stress and negative results. I got a glimpse of that this week.

A customer was very upset and disappointed with one of our service reps and wanted to cancel doing business with us. Someone who has been a client for over 5 years now. To me that was an indication of poor customer service and I took it upon myself to successfully bring the customer back. 

His service was to be restored yesterday. I kept an eye on it and was fully cognizant of the fact that the work would be completed yesterday, but did not have a definite time line. The customer called me over 10 times during the day, wanting me to give him a time line and every time I told him it would happen - he just needed to give it a chance. Eventually around 4:00 PM he called very upset and said, "Cancel the order!" At that point I decided it was simply not worth trying to reason with someone who was not willing to understand that when we have to depend on others to get a job done it requires us to give up control. I did not cancel the order as I wanted to see when the job would be completed. Sure enough about 20 minutes after his call the service had been restored. I called the customer simply to tell him that he could use the service till he got new service and that we would not charge him till such time - a few days. He refused to hear me out and said, "I already have new service." I was more than taken aback. How could he already have acquired new service? But I still asked, "Then I can go ahead and cancel as per your request, right!" 

His response, "Yes go ahead and cancel," still quite rude and short.

So I canceled the service.

15 minutes later he calls, "I don't have the service anymore?"

"The new service?" I asked.

"Yes, what did you do?" he says.

"You would have to ask your new service provider that," I said. "I canceled your service with us as you requested."

"No, I asked you to cancel the order, not the service," he shouts back.

Huh? 

Too late! 

Now if he wants our service it will take another 5 to 7 business days! What an absolute waste of time and energy. Patience and the willingness to depend on those who do the work, would have meant he and his family would be surfing the net today. :(

I guess the real reason he was canceling was not poor customer service after all. :)

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. :)