Monday, 25 July 2016

To Be In Bliss...Be Ignorant?

I spent a day with a childhood friend and his family. We discussed how life has been over the recent years

He mentioned that after hitting 40 or around then, life has been steady and calm. Cruising along, no stress. Vipassana helped a lot, his wife added. I enquired further how Vipassana affects diet, habits, etc. Very interestingly, I understood that it prescribes nothing other than practicing the meditation regularly. The meditation makes one more sensitive and consequently alterations to diet and mental frame get affected.

Further interestingly, they explained how they were mentally calm and stress-free. They don't think much about past or future. Think what to cook when in kitchen, not before. Official work is left behind in office. Thinking too much is the cause of much stress, they explained.

Don't think about what is wrong with the world and its ways. Staying calm is the key. This is what they concluded.

I was stumped. The system sucks life out of people in many ways. Many from our class belong to the side benefitting, but consequently causing exploitation - not directly, but incidentally. So long as we are on this side, we can be calm. We can afford to ignore the impact of our mere existence, an impact largely avoidable. We can afford to excuse ourselves of thinking so that our lives are peaceful. After all, thinking isn't going to make any difference and my peace of mind is of paramount importance!

I'm still feeling like a fool. I can just learn the technique and be in bliss. But I notice that I'm further away from deciding to join the course.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Venture Idea

Exposure - it is a critical means of learning.
Experience - it is perhaps the most effective learning methodology.
Experimenting - it is how one can gain experience.

You're fortunate if you're in a position to decide on a particular experiment in order to gain experience, to expose yourself to circumstances, which offer learning.

Saarathi finds its meaning in facilitating an experiment, helping you get an exposure, being a part of your learning.

Experimenting may not always be romantic or pleasurable. In fact challenging and adventurous experiments are fun and full of learning. Of course, you should be able to assess the risks and take on only those which seem sensible.

So, what experiments we're talking about? Let's say, living a different lifestyle, in a new setting. For example an urban elite living on a farm without a maid, cook and on a negligible budget. Or a farmer's son traveling in Mumbai local trains. Or a Keralite, who has haver seen temperatures below 25 degrees living in the mountains of Laddakh. For a few days of course, not a major life changing turn! Or assisting a vet, a mason, a script writer or any professional, whose craft has been interesting. Parenting is a world of experimenting opportunities. How does your child react to staying on a mountain or beach without any friends, TV and school? You can only imagine, but never know unless you try.

Experiences add to the perspectives. Such experiments can't happen by living in hotels and conditioned ambience. They must be for a reasonable duration, not a typical sightseeing vacation.

Such experiences need not be expensive. In fact the guest and the host can be mutually add value such that money is not exchanged.

We'll offer you some options. You tell us any others and we'll figure out if we can find a match.

How does it work?
We invite you to sign up, you do so if you find value in being an experimenter. You automatically also become a potential host. We spend time to understand your experimenting needs and intensity in greater detail. We offer options out of those available or go find one for you

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Why Does Mom want my kids to go to School?

Three years of homeschooling has answered most of the articulated concerns. In fact, as parents, we're happier than our happiest imagination.

But I just got to know that my mom secretly tries to encourage kids to join a school. Why? She's not even conversant with the subject of education.

She would have been fine if we were to send them to a Vipassana school or an Art of Living School. But no school is a crazy idea. Clearly, she's unable to bear the nonconformity.

Why is it so important to Conform?
Instead of taking a rhetorical view of the question, let us enquire. Conformity has many compelling benefits.
1. It gives me a sense of security and an identity within a social hierarchy.
2. It allows me to move ‘ahead’ instead of bothering about how everyday life has to be lived. Sending children to school, producing a certificate to prove professional ability, paying taxes so that the government fulfils its role, attending parties to fulfil social obligations and personal needs are ways of giving life a default path.
3. It allows me to excuse myself of thinking at a fundamental level. I can draw from thousands of years of experiences and experiments.

At all times, however, there have been people, who found it difficult to conform to all the accepted norms. I refused to conform to a few like the practice of doing a job to provide for my family needs. I refused to depend upon the institutions of education to prepare my children to take on life. I refused to follow the socially accepted norms to say I love you to my friends and loved ones. I find it difficult to conform.

But my mom finds it very difficult to approve of this nonconformity. Why does she find it so difficult? Again, let me enquire, instead of being rhetorical.

She is incapable of thinking fundamentally. For example, she cannot discuss whether participating in a ritual is the only method of praying. In fact, that the ritual is related to praying itself is a novel idea to her. For her, following a ritual is an end in itself. Therefore she thinks that I’ve derailed and as a good mother she must take all the efforts to get me back on track.

She’s constantly hammered by the need to conform. Almost everyone she meets, lives with and is exposed to (on TV and other media) keeps reinforcing the fact that the more a person conforms, the more he is respected.

There is also the fear of uncertainty, especially for the children. Growing up under the care of nonconformist parents increases the risk of the children themselves being nonconformists. Not only does she have to bear with the idea that her son has gone off-track, but her grandchildren may also not bring any cheer from the perspective of social acceptance.

I empathise with her, but the only option I have is to prevent her from influencing my children. I cannot reason with her for the same reasons why she is unable to accept my nonconformity. I know I will end up creating a scene.

Now, let’s move attention to a different problem on the same subject. In the society at large, people who pursue alternative paths are not entirely rejected. In fact, there are various categories outside of mainstream, which have a very strong identity. Leftist politicians, environmentalists, alternate educators, NGOs working for development of tribals, LGBT rights’ activists, organic farmers and many such groups are acknowledged and respected.

Can I consider myself one such entity? Till some time ago, I thought I can. But my experiences forced me to think otherwise. To belong to any such group, I must conform to the respective ideology. The ecology experts disown me when they realise that I do not consider it wrong to draw water from a bore well. I opted for a hand pump on a bore well instead of an open well. But the environmentalist doesn’t approve. He says that deeper ground water belongs to someone else. He isn’t willing to reason. The NGO working for the development of tribals would like me to have a philanthropic view towards tribals. I cannot consider them equals or better off. Tribals are physically, mentally and spiritually stronger than me, they’re just monetarily poor. But my argument isn’t acceptable.

For similar reasons, I’m rejected by almost everybody on the alternate path too. To be accepted, I must conform to their moral, religious or political standards. There is another requirement. I must hate the ones they hate. As a homeschooling parent, I must be anti-schooling. As a natural farmer, I must despise anything chemicals. Every activist wants me to stand up against the establishment if I have to stand on his side. I can either flatter every policy of the ruling political party or condemn every policy. If I don’t hate a Pakistani, I’m not a committed Indian, in fact, I may be tried for treason.

Basically, as a parent, I have two choices if I wish to be socially acceptable. One, I get him to join the race and try to fit him into the perfect cube mould. Two, educate him with certain moral standards, with a strong sense of right and wrong.

Unfortunately for me (and perhaps for my children), both options are unacceptable to me. My nonconformity is not disapproval. But who's willing to discuss?

Boy, I’m in a soup. I refuse to conform to the mainstream and I refuse to conform to the alternate. My children may be in an even difficult position, when they grow up.