Thursday, January 26, 2012

Celestial Beings

If there is one sight that brings out emotions like awe, peace, inspiration, curiosity and humility in us regardless of our age, culture or religion, it is a starry sky.  It has the capacity to evoke pure and positive emotions in us. No matter how tense we may be, how angry or hopeless, the night sky soothes us, makes us realize the insignificance of our problems and fills us with wonderment.

Our fascination with the night sky is as old as the history of mankind itself. When early man looked up at the glittering universe it was perhaps the first instant when humans became aware of Divinity. When we realized that there was a Higher Power. As our civilization evolved we developed mythologies to explain our relation with the stars, we became fascinated with astronomy and religions from the earliest times to the present day allude to God, hell and heaven all being ‘above’.  From time immemorial humans have always felt a sense of connectedness with the visible universe, it has always been for us the place where we ‘go’ after we die. Somehow the thought of returning to the universe after death makes it easier to accept the finality of our physical existence.

What is surprising is not why we feel this way towards the universe but that for thousands of years we have instinctively known what science has recently confirmed – we are celestial. Every element on this earth including every single molecule in our bodies comes from stars in their death throes – the Supernovae. We are literally made of star material.

The glory of a night sky is all but hidden for all of us who live in cities. The light pollution prevents us from seeing the stars. Our opportunities to look up and gasp in wonder are non-existent unless we go out in the wilderness. The layer of pollution not only blankets the planet it also stands as a barrier between us and our true selves. Just like we are unable to see what is above us, we have become unable to see what is within us. The more we lose touch with the universe the more we are losing touch with all that’s pure and good in ourselves. The more light we have the darker the night sky appears. The more ‘advanced’ human civilization becomes the less visible human beings are becoming to each other. The haze within us is that of intolerance, greed, fear, manipulation and compromises on values and principles. We find it difficult to see people as they really are only as how we want to see them.

We are celestial in our composition and therefore connected with all that is in the universe, and by the same logic we are also all connected to whatever there is on this planet – especially other people. Just because we can’t see the stars doesn’t mean they have disappeared and just because we refuse to see good in people doesn’t mean that people are not good. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thank You Life

After spending nearly half a century on this planet, hosting my non-physical self in this physical body, it is perhaps time to take stock of some of the lessons I have learnt so far along this journey.

Perhaps my greatest lesson has been that what you shun most has a way of manifesting itself in your life. Whenever I have been judgemental and by that I mean having put a negative label on anything or anyone based solely on ‘instinct’,  life has somehow thrown that very thing in my path and invariably I have changed my initial opinion. It has been life’s way of teaching me to be non-judgemental and open to perspectives different from me. I take this as a blessing – for indeed only a good teacher will make such an effort to teach an important lesson rather than just giving up on the student. So thank you life saving me from bigotry and fanaticism.

My life has been mostly magical. I have traveled extensively, met a multitude of people and have had many exciting experiences. So it is no wonder that when I hit a bad patch it seemed like the end of the world and many a times I really wanted it to be so. But this was another important lesson that was slowly unfolding. At the end of this chapter I learnt that in the scheme of things a rough ride for a couple of years is really insignificant no matter how bumpy it may have been. The most important thing I learnt is that there is always a solution to the worst of problems, one just needs to keep searching and if you do not give up when you hit the point of desperation, the solution will come to you. So thank you life - for teaching me that even when I have nothing else, if I have my will-power and wits I can survive. And another thank you for introducing me to the strength within me – it will always remain my most cherished possession.

Most people find it unusual that I am single. They think there must be either something wrong with me, or that I am nursing a wounded heart or there has to be some dark secret behind this state of affairs, many even feel sorry for me! Let me dispel all doubts once and for all – I am this way because I choose to be so and believe it or not I’m happy. This has been another lesson life taught me – the difference between romance and marriage. Like most people I have been ‘in love’ many times but none of these relationships seemed to materialize into marriage. At first like most women are conditioned to think, I too started wondering what was wrong with me? Then I took a long hard look at all the people I was ‘in love’ with over the years – and you know what? They were all wrong for me – every single one! Which means that I was deliberately seeking out people with whom I knew sub-consciously that there was no chance of getting into a life long commitment. Upon further analysis, it dawned on me that I really did not want to share my entire life with anyone. Being an only child and extremely independent from an early age I was too selfish to really allow so much space to anyone in my life. I am not saying it is right, but it is me. So thank you life for having given me the wisdom to realize my own limitations and preventing me from making a mistake which would have had disastrous consequences not only for me but at least one more person.

Most people know that my mom suffers from dementia and anyone who has to deal with such a person also knows that living with them is an agonizing experience. My mother has transformed into a person who is so far removed from the person who raised me that at times it is like living with a total stranger. In my worst times when I wished nothing more than to end the whole thing the one thing that prevented me was my mother. Without me there would be no one to take care of her, and that one thought gave me the courage to keep on fighting.  So thank you life for teaching me that no matter what the circumstances may be parents are always a blessing for their children. They don’t just give you life they protect it too.

The say ‘when the student is ready the teacher appears’. I am ready and I know my teacher will continue to teach me many more valuable lessons.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Defining Books

The most important book in my life is ‘Noddy’s Car’ a picture book which my father gave me when I was three years old. Since I hadn’t learnt to read at that time I badgered others to read it aloud to me and soon I knew the story so well that I could just flip the pages,look at the pictures and follow the story.  Nothing remarkable about that – but then one day magic happened. As I was flipping through the pages I started to read the story, at first I didn’t realize what was happening but then suddenly I realized that I WAS READING! That instant of realization, that moment of wonder is frozen in my memory as if it just happened.  I had acquired the single most important skill which would shape my life forever in that very moment.

Over the next few years I became an avid reader. Being an only child I found companionship in books. Perhaps the single most important influencer in my life other than my parents was Enid Blyton, whose books I grew up with, and many of the values I carry to this day came from her characters. Of all the books I possess my most cherished collection is the Enid Blyton books which sit at the top couple of shelves encased with a glass door.  There was a book shop near the house we lived in at that time and I was its most regular customer, in fact after a while I didn’t even need to go to the shop myself I just sent the money and the store keeper knew which book was next on my reading list. The characters of those books became my friends and I spent hours talking to my imaginary friends. You could say that books saved me as a child, if I did not have them in those early years of my life I wonder how lonely my childhood would have been and what effects would I have suffered as a result of that solitude.

The next milestone on my significant books journey is a book on social anthropology entitled ‘Faces of Mankind’ which I was given at the age of 9. I became fascinated with the different races and tribes that I hadn’t ever encountered before.  I came across the term ‘Neanderthal’ for the first time and found that humans evolved out of ape like creatures. That was the time the history bug bit me for the first time, I wanted to know more, I wanted to uncover old bones and go on digs, in short I announced that I wanted to be an archaeologist.  However my parents had other ideas for their little princess and certainly did not want her digging up old skulls – so that career choice never materialized, but my love for ancient history is still going strong.

Over the next few years I read many books, mostly fiction and management titles Then one day a book was recommended to me by a mentor ‘The Road Less Traveled’ by Dr. Scott Peck.  It is a book on psychology and discusses love, values and spiritual growth. This book opened a completely new path for me. A path of self discovery. I started to examine myself and my relation to my world view, I understood my own emotional fracture points, I realized that life was so much more than mere ambition.  In short I started understanding myself and examining my relationships – a journey which still continues. This book enticed me to read more self-help and spirituality material.  Paolo Coelho’s ‘AIchemist’ is definitely one of my favourite books, but I cannot categorize it as a milestone since it was ‘The Road Less Traveled’ that brought me to it.

Then one day I stumbled upon Robert Bauval’s ‘Orion Mystery’ in which he describes how the Pyramids of Giza are a depiction in stone of the Orion’s belt and how the ancient Egyptians were in fact emulating the cosmos on earth. My love for ancient mysteries and especially Egypt started with this book. Subsequently I started reading anything and everything I could find not only on Egypt but books on a multitude of topics concerning ancient civilizations including the Judaic history and the Ark of the Covenant, the Christian search for the Holy Grail and other ancient mysteries. I read about the Knights Templars, the Illuminati, and other secret societies. In short by the time Dan Brown came out with ‘Davinci Code’ I had already read the background research material on which it was based.

It was but natural that having my mind saturated with history of the rest of the world, I would start looking closer to home i.e. the Indus Valley and Vedic civilization.  Many people find it strange that I have the Upanishad, Rig Veda, Bhagwad Gita on my book shelf. Some have tried to let me know in not so many words that it is ‘not right’ but for me they are a source of knowledge and history. My focus is currently on the myths of Hindu religion and trying to analyze how they may have emanated and what historic events could have over the years snowballed into such fantastic tales. To study a religion does not mean one has converted to it.  My grandfather used to say “if you do not study other religions, you cannot appreciate your own completely” wise words indeed.

I have no idea what the next pit stop of my knowledge journey will be. Which book will take me on which path next is anybody’s guess, all I know is that books have been my surrogate parents thus far. They have played as important a role in my character development and life choices as my real parents. But one thing is for sure from ‘Noddy’s Car’ to ancient history the journey has been not only exciting but also one of expansion and extreme satisfaction.