The Heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.... Blaise Pascal
‘Tell us the one unforgettable experience of your life’ was the question thrown out of the blue by my seniors. It was fresher’s night at the Dept of Electronics & Comn Engineering, IIT Kharagpur. I was a little old for a fresher but I had been there and done that having been to war torn nations, swept away by a Himalayan Stream and so on. However, to my surprise I found myself responding , ‘The day the pretty girl in my Class who I was in love with all the fervour that only a 15 year old can have, walked up to me and said ‘Do you have last year’s question papers?’’. That night the moon was rounder, brighter and the cool night breeze carried a fragrance that I still can’t forget.
Now I am a lot older and wiser – and yet still long for the unbearable sweetness of existence when I was in love or infatuation or whatever you want to call it. From where did it come? How did it arise? Why didn’t it last? Was it hormonal imbalance or was it nature's way of ensuring the survival of the species.
Hindu Godmen make no bones of the fact that all they offer is unconditional love. The Buddha spoke of compassion rather than love but was quite certain that this was the first step in living the holy life. Love seems to be a mystery - almost as much as God even.
Romantic movies at times seemed to have the answer. Who can forget Humphrey Bogart as he gives up his seat on the last plane out of Casablanca for Ingrid Bergman and her husband, or when Jack Nicholson tells Helen Hunt, ‘you make me want to be a better man’ or when Renee Zellweger tells Jerry Maguire ,’you had me at hello’ or when Julia Roberts tells Hugh Grant,’ This fame thing isn't real you know – I am just a girl asking for her boy to love her’. In ‘The Beautiful Mind’ mathematician John Nash’s junks a lifetime of logic and reason for the mysterious equations of love.
My search led me to the ancient Greeks who with their penchant for cold analysis have classified love. Conventional romantic love that is passionate and emotional is Eros from which Eroticism springs. Ludus, is a love that is played as a game or sport involving conquest – the chase is all important! Storge is the affectionate love that slowly develops from friendship. Pragma love is driven by the head, not the heart – so resoundingly successful in the arranged marriage scene in India! Finally agape a selfless altruistic love that is spiritual.
I have experienced all these forms of love except agape. They all fail in the acid test of permanence. From the point of view of longevity, spiritual love seems to be the most promising – and who better than Osho who experimented in free love and tore down societal barriers. In one of his discourses he remarked that a girl has been taught to be a little ahead of the boy always. Not so far ahead that the boy loses interest – but just that little bit ahead with that occasional backward glance. When finally he catches up or she succumbs the girl is morally ahead of the game. It is not her fault. She always knew that she was not perfect – It was the boy who was chasing her.
So perhaps, this is the first step – to truly love another one must feel worthy of being loved. There is no better way for this than to begin by consciously relating to all situations, events and people from the perspective of love. If you were in love with all the people in the drama being enacted how would you respond. Jesus Christ on the Cross, the Buddha practicing loving kindness, Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa helplessly proclaiming ,’O ye children of the light’ give us a way of doing just this. Simply put, love begets love.
This brings us to the importance of acceptance. Love happens when you accept a person, a situation or an organisation completely without any barriers. When ego barriers drop, you are one with existence and bliss happens. As it did to me when I had my first crush. For the first time after infancy I had completely succumbed to another person and in the process demolished barriers between me and existence. Meera Bai, saw Krishna everywhere and Jesus saw God in every human being even in those who crucified him. It is easiest for a mother because the child has been a part of her for 9 months and for her there is no difference between the child and herself. The point is that love is not restricted to one person or one definition - whenever ego barriers drop, the heart expands and love happens. Unfortunately those barriers again swing back since day to day living provides many reality checks and the hard work of love and loving then begins. When you feel that a person is being inconsiderate or uncaring, you may wish to react. But if you realise that the feeling has come from a thought in your head - then that thought is within your control. And when you control that thought you control your feelings and you respond rather than react. This automatically makes you loving and accepting since you realise that you can only control your thoughts but not any other person external to you. Ultimately all peace and joy lies within. And with that people are attracted to you and your love increases all the more.
My conclusion that ego is the key is borne out by Vedanta. The final barrier in the struggle towards emancipation is the thought of 'I' and 'mine' and the separation between 'I' and 'you'. Indeed at first there was only the one. The one split into many in an effort to know itself. And thus started creation. The one can be called by many names - brahman, consciousness or God. There is nowhere to go or anything else to be be. For our essence was never created and will never die. It simply is. If the whole of creation is one how can you not be in love?
And in my experiments with love where am I now? One thing I have learnt this far – love is not the destination it is the road to be traveled on.
‘I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years; I fled him down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind ……. ’. This poem by Francis Thompson describes my existence from the ages of 12 to 37. I consciously tried to avoid God all my adult life, starting from when I was 12 years old and ironically just after my Sacred Thread ceremony. I denied him totally and absolutely as I got fascinated by Science and reason and logic. All the rituals just made no sense. At the age of 20 I was on top of the world having secured a good respectable job but still felt a strange sense of uneasiness, of having missed out on my true potential. Now it was the turn of my brother to undergo the Thread ceremony. Perhaps, the Head Priest could sense my cockiness and doubt. During a lull in the proceedings he casually asked me if I performed the Gayatri Jap every day. I told him I didn’t believe in it. To which he replied,’You will never succeed unless y
Do Dogs Have Souls? This question bothers me. And this is why. Zeus was the pick of the litter – a bouncy, chubby, six week old Labrador for whom the basket I had carried all the way from Delhi turned out to be too small. He seemed petrified at being away from his mom and by the sights and sounds at the railway station and quietly puked – a white yoghurty substance. When I took him inside the rail compartment he took one look at me as if to say ‘Let us sleep over the problem’, turned his face towards the backrest and curled up to sleep. Not for long though. An hour later he woke me up asking to go to the bathroom. Two trips later, I just spread newspapers over myself put him on top of me and told him to use it whenever he felt the urge. And he did –throughout the night. My 11 year old daughter was at home waiting eagerly for her birthday present. Much like Draupadi this present was soon shared by our whole family. But he was closest to me for a variety of reasons- he was too bi
Brief Recap Part 1 ( http://chiragdeep.blogspot.in/2017/09/a-visit-to-kailash-manasarovar-part-i.html ) covered the experiences of 40 pilgrims who had gathered from all over the country in Delhi on 12 Aug. Part II ( http://chiragdeep.blogspot.in/2017/09/a-visit-to-kailash-manasarovar-part-ii.html ) described the sojourn through Kumaon Hills over a period of nearly ten days till they crossed over into China on 26 Aug. Expanding the frontiers of understanding As we walked down to our buses waiting 500 metres below the Lipulekh pass, I mused on the history of the region. Our Rishis had a unique understanding of the geographical frontiers of the Indian civilization. Recognizing that the regions around Kailash and Manasarovar region were the source of three rivers that fed the Indian sub continent - Indus, Sutlej, and the Brahmaputra, they extended the ideological frontiers by weaving myth and legend around these regions. Militarily, Zorawar Singh, the Dogra General,