Pruning

I intentionally dwarf myself
Cutting myself down to size
Afraid that my own largeness
May be a false idea.

And yet…
Even as I continue to belittle myself
The truth of my staggering stature
Reveals itself.

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Freedom & Responsibility

As individuals, we feel confined within our circumstances and bound to our attachments (whatever those attachments may be: to people, ideas, occupations, fears, desires, our pasts…). These in turn, make constant demands on our time and attention. They compulsorily ask of our responsibility. And these responsibilities –we feel-come in the way of a truly free life.

We theoretically understand that we, as human beings are bestowed with free will and the power of choice i.e. the ability to choose our course of action, but we often wish we were free from the burden of making a choice itself. The responsibility that making a choice entails- is a heavy load to carry. As a result, in spite of being empowered with the ability to choose our circumstances or our responsibilities, we find ourselves perpetually craving for freedom. For if choices truly did exist, then a difference- between a superior choice and an inferior one- would immediately be evident. In other words, one of the two choices would clearly lead us from entrapment to freedom. This however, is rarely the case. There seems to be no vertical ascension on having made a choice; no release. Choosing is more like a horizontal meandering- damned if I do, damned if I don’t! What initially feels like an escape from burdensome responsibility- within no time- finds us entrapped within a new set of circumstances. In a bid to replace our old circumstances we get attached to, and responsible for the new one.

So what does that mean? Are we all doomed to a life of enslavement- forever trapped in our circumstances? Or is there a freedom that awaits us?
In society, we exist within a matrix of relationships. As an individual, my sense of responsibility keeps me bound to these relationships. I find myself moving and operating within only a specific trajectory within this matrix. And even as a sense of duty keeps me tied to my family, my environment, my profession, my country; a constant call towards a greater freedom beckons.
What does it mean to be responsible? What does it mean to be free, to be liberated? Are freedom and responsibility two separate choices, two separate paths? Must one be forsaken for the other? Or is there- like everything else within this matrix- a relationship between them?

Freedom and responsibility are internal states, not external ones. The call for responsibility is a call of the conscience and must not be confused for an external demand to meet others’ expectations. Shouldering responsibility means acting authoritatively… and here is where the problem begins… here’s where we begin to feel bound, trapped and enmeshed. We’ve never questioned the true extent of our authority, of our capacity and duty ‘to do’. In general, we have an exaggerated notion of our doer status.

The times we live in, lay a great emphasis on individuality, ownership, authority, and success and accomplishment. These are the values of our times. The ideas of today are rooted in the idea of individual doership and by extension-in individual responsibility. We’re supposedly responsible for our successes or our failures, the happiness, health and safety of our families, or the profits and losses of the organizations we work for… Phew! What a tremendously heavy load to carry!
Being responsible today also implies being willing to be held accountable; to be willing to be the scapegoat on whom the hurt and the affected can anoint blame. After all, if we’re all doers and would like the credit for all the things we have done right; we must also be willing to take the blame when things go wrong because of our doing. But let’s pause a moment… let’s examine: do we really ‘do’ everything we claim to do?

For example, if I drive my car from point A to point B and I reach point B safely; many factors are ‘responsible’ for me having reached there unhindered and unharmed. The fact that the fuel in the car did its job; or the fact that everybody driving on the road with me did their bit and followed traffic rules; or the fact that the traffic lights were working- the list is numerous! And yet, oblivious to all this, I credit myself for being a ‘smart’ driver! Now, contrast this with a scenario where there is an accident. The two parties blame each other, or the poor quality of the roads, or to failed brakes; or to a dysfunctional traffic light… the list is indeed numerous!

The fact remains that everything I think I do, I do because I am silently enabled by other responsible factors that demand neither compensation nor recognition for having done their bit. Our capacity to do is often over-estimated and is in fact, nothing more than our ability to feel and respond. To respond to situations and circumstances is really all that we’re called to do. As deep is my ability to feel, that much full and wholesome is my ability to respond. In other words, the greater the space and freedom within me, the fewer the desires and fears that occupy my mind and heart; the greater is my capacity to feel and respond. If some amongst us possess greater authority than others it is because they are internally free from the unnecessary preoccupations and fears that bog most of us down. The only thing that we’re truly capable of doing is responding sensitively to circumstances and not ensuring or guaranteeing desirable outcomes. As individuals, we can only claim ownership of our responses, not of our circumstances. And the reason by which and for which responsibility is called upon is freedom.

Bound as we are within a matrix of relationships, we often find ourselves shouldering the responsibility for the irresponsible, the reckless and the immature. So, what must we do? What is my responsibility towards another who realizes neither his folly nor the true implication of his authority?

Just as there exist numerous responsible factors that enable and facilitate my free movement through life, I too, must- most urgently and in that very spirit- free another from disadvantage, ignorance, inability, fear, falsity and doubt.
True responsible action happens only when we’re free to act in our truest essence. And true freedom exists in the realization that we’re only essentially responsible. Freedom and responsibility are therefore intricately connected: you can’t live through one without being enabled by the other!

A Stubborn Suffering

We know that we are in the midst of life
But we’re unable to apprehend its constant flux
Our minds are older than our bodies
And even though our bodies undergo continuous change
Our minds can be frustratingly refractory
Stuck in a time warp
Dulled by habit
And clouded by ignorance and delusion
The mind can be obstinately resistant to the flow of time
Fixated either in the past or future
It remains incapable of living in the present

Remaining absent to the present moment
Is the seed of all sin.

So before you condemn a man for indiscretion
Ask yourself if you speak
From yesterday’s ideas or from tomorrow’s fears
Or if this very moment
Uncontaminated by memory and mistrust
Speaks for itself

And if it doesn’t
Restore your kinship with him
Seeing in him
Christ reborn and re-crucified
Suffering once again for your sins.

An Opportunity

The everyday as I  see it

Is a mask, a disguise

A mock constitution

Of half-truths and lies

 

You think you stand with a crowd

But you’re actually alone

The voices you hear around you

Are really your own.

 

Then why do I experience

The same world and the same you?

Why do I bring old eyes

To see the new?

 

We are in a sense blind

Till we begin to see

We’re born enslaved

And we must set ourselves free

 

How will such a freedom

Come to be mine?

Through the thick walls of my being

How will light come to shine?

 

Why does my heart, I wonder

Never utter a word?

Why does it suffer in silence

Never to be heard?

 

The mind is a vacuum

I’ve mistaken for a missing part

It sucks in fear and hate

That silences the heart

 

The heart will speak

When one is all of you

And not till you stand fractured

Dismembered into two

 

How do I join together

Parts of my being?

How do I accept your half-truths

As flaws in my seeing?

 

Where do I begin

Where do I make a start?

How do I silence my mind

And listen to my heart?

 

The heart I understand

Is the mind of a higher face

Its power of feeling

Removes all distance and space

 

Let me not just hear your bitter words

But of them also make sense

To the kaleidoscope of the everyday

Let me bring a whole new lens

 

The everyday is not

A displaced fragment of eternity

It’s what you are and

What you have the opportunity to be.

A Room Full of Ghosts

I sit alone in a room full of ghosts

Each one of them claims to know me the most

I know not who I may be

As each one of them screams their image of me

So shy! So bold!

So hot! So cold!

You’ve got it all right! You’ve got it all wrong!

Pathetically weak! Incredibly strong!

 

I sit in silence

Absorbing the noises

Till a momentous insight

Reveals them as choices

Choices I made a long time ago

I chose to let them stay

I never let go

Just as I made them then

I can make them now

So I get up and leave this room full of ghosts

How dare they claim to know me the most!

Manifesto

Our economic system is flawed.

Our political system is flawed.

Our education system is flawed.

Our society is flawed.

 

Because they thrive on falsehood

They need lies for profit, for leverage

And in and through their design

All work is sacrilegious and a curse.

Poverty is immanent in wealth

We only graduate in degrees of ignorance

And man is bound to man in a wretched dependency.

 

The root of all this is the individual

Fallen from Grace

He seeks his Self

He tries to know who he is

By being who he’s not (a sum of different parts).

 

Filled with deluded notions of grandeur

He procures. He makes. He sells.

And he is celebrated for the profit he makes.

In this blinding business of generating profit

He is left with sight, but loses his power to perceive.

 

With such an impairment

He can find worldly sustenance only through profit

He woos gain

And fears loss

He is wide in mirth

But shrivelled in sorrow

He wants only part of what life has to offer

He has no faith in the whole.

 

And the Truth cannot be anything but whole

The Truth Is.

It need not be created

The Truth cannot be measured by numbers or degrees

It is all-pervading and all-embracing.

 

Truth does not grow

It does not favour

the rich over the poor

the strong over the weak

the haves over the have-nots.

 

Infallible in its system

It awaits our homecoming

If only man could find solace

in the knowledge that it’s okay to not know…

And simply accept his being

Forego the contrivances of “who” or “what”.

And celebrate am-ness…

 

Then Truth would speak

And Truth would need

That which only Truth can give

Truth would ask

And Truth would answer

And Truth would accept

What Truth had made.

 

 

 

Tao

Contemplation is my shrine, my sanctuary

Therein lies my peace, my solace and my freedom

It is in this space that I give of myself and receive

It is this that is my essential nature

And all that I have is offered

In obeisance, in worship and in sacrifice

For its flame to be eternally kindled

And I protect it

As one would protect something dear

I share it with the listeners

Or with those who ask of my thoughts

Or with those in need

And all of this happens naturally

With effortlessness and in eternal wisdom

There is no conflict

No division of myself

The giver and receiver

Are not two but one

There is no higher or lower self here

And no question of prudence

There is just this

Complete in itself

Independent of my ‘knowing’

And now it feeds me with this thought

Offers unto its own flame

Must there necessarily be a way to God

Or is it not that God is the Way?