Monday, February 27, 2012

Competition

The other day there was a comment on FB about a Yoga Competition and one of my friends asked if that made sense - since Yoga was more about serenity and tranquility done for ones own peace. Does it then make sense to hold a competition to see who is better at it? Well if Yoga is just about who can contour their bodies more attractively then the competition makes sense - but that will require the definition of Yoga to be re-written.

There is a bigger question about what the purpose of competition is. Competition in my mind is not about comparison between people trying to defeat one another - it is more about raising each other to be the best that we have the potential to be. In short doing better than the other cannot be my goal! If I am declared as the winner amongst others it cannot be about holding the others down - it must follow that everyone including the winner must work harder to surpass the established result fairly. When a sprinter wins a race and goes out and continues to practice to improve his own time while motivating others to meet and surpass his time it is a healthy competition - but when that same sprinter goes out on his own, takes performance enhancing drugs to keep his position of number one he has corrupted his path and introduced an unhealthy competition within the sport.

I must hold myself up to the highest standard and compete with my own potential. The moment I say, "I am better than the other" I limit myself. My success is not about being better than someone else, my success is about being the best I can be at all times. Today India is competing with the rest of the world for economic supremacy but we have sadly lost much of our traditional values to get there. The result is visible in the gap between the rich and the poor growing wider, visible in the way progress is often defined and visible in the way corruption and political mayhem is overtaking the country.

In my opinion competition is about progressing together and raising the bar at every level for all of us within a realm. When we satisfy ourselves simply by being better than someone else we lower the bar of what we expect from ourselves and others. No matter what the field we must strive to do the best irrespective of what the others in a field are doing. Winning is not always about first place it is about entering a field and improving it continuously and with single minded perseverance. Winning is about being the wind below ones wings and those flying with you.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Balance Is

Place a 6 feet plank of wood on the ground. Stand on one end of the plank and get a friend to stand on the opposite end. Now seesaw. Silly girl, you say? I agree. The plank of wood is the world, the ground is the Universal One. If placed on plain ground the plank maintains its entity but remains in perfect balance rooted to the ground. Similarly if I consider myself as an entity and you as one too but know that we are part of the same source, there need not be a separation. The moment I raise the plank off the ground and place it on the edge of another plank it becomes capable of causing an imbalance and there can only be a limited amount of points on that plank at which there maybe a chance at balance. It is the same with me - the moment I see myself as an entity separate from anyone and anything else I cause an imbalance in life and there is a constant struggle between balance and imbalance which is the premise of duality!

This does not mean that I suffer no pain nor that I do not empathize with the very 'real' pain of those around me. It only means that I am part and parcel of the pain and joy of all around me and that I impact the lives of all around me by my actions, words and thoughts whether it be directed at one, the other, or at many! If I truly believe that I need to be kind, compassionate, giving, forgiving, empathetic towards the destitute or the sick then I must be the same with the wealthy and healthy too! If I am unkind to the simple and friendly with the rich then I am causing confusion in the Universe! Lying or being deceptive maybe the path I follow in some aspects of life while being true, kind and compassionate in most other aspects - this can only cause stress! It is better to stay centered and true to the core and live up to the higher principles in all aspects in life. Only then is true balance possible. Is this possible when the world is so full of deception? I believe it is not only possible it is essential! The reason why we choose to compromise with values and standards is because we are afraid of the backlash or the consequences that will come from the 'outside.' That is we separate ourselves from the Universe! The true consequence of all our actions comes from within - never from without! It comes from how we FEEL first about our own actions and then about how others judge us for that action!

Judging and being judged is a perfect example of imbalance. When we label ourselves and others, when we talk about us and them, we are calling up our sense of separation. Simply because you are doing something different or in a different manner than me does not separate you and me. Duality is a concept. All the possibilities together make up the One. Our ego hates to be judged by others but is quick to judge others itself. I am always right and even if I can see that you have a viewpoint that is different I have to continue being the one in the right - which according to principles of duality means you are wrong. Instead if I am peace and joy and you are peace and joy then you and I have views that spread peace and joy. Does this mean that there is no anger and sadness? Not at all - there is and I empathize with that feeling and share in it with you in peace. I do not add to it!

A group of people are trying to clean up the streets of Bangalore in India. They simply take their brooms, their cleaning agents, paints, masks and go down to the streets and clean them up, paint the walls, repair the pavements, remove the posters from lamp posts and trees, place garbage bins and walk away. They then hire a few people to clean the garbage bins, sweep the roads and simply maintain the small stretch of road. The shopkeepers along the street help them by making sure their customers do not litter and take pride in their small part of the street. These young men and women do not say a word to anyone, they simply keep doing their part. When asked what if you ruffle the feathers of a politician whose poster you have scraped off the wall and their followers act rowdy with you? Their response is a, "We smilingly let them know that this is public property and we all benefit by keeping the place clean and beautiful. We do not fight back - this is not about being against anyone - this is about being in it together. Most times people appreciate it and if they do not we leave that part alone. We simply clean the place around it and leave that spot ugly! The poster stands out like a sore thumb and eventually gets removed." What a great way to make a difference. Not only does the street get cleaned up but it adds peaceful vibes to the environment! That is balance!

We can all do this. Speak to one another from a deeper sense of personal peace. Maintain silence within, no matter how noisy it is around. Stop the clutter in the mind. Stay focused on this moment and wholeheartedly do what is at hand now. Small steps that maintain the balance that already is!