Abhi Writes
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Abhi Writes

Life Reflections

Source: Google Search

6 March 2011: An interesting exercise is to type the question ‘What is the truth of my life right now?’ and write the answer that comes up and repeat and repeat and repeat till you reach some uncomfortable answers…and to go beyond that and keep repeating it….the stuff that comes out is amazing, crazy and incredibly interesting :)

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13 April 2011: Till very recently, I was proud of having so many ideas, insights and thought out conclusions….I now realize that these actually are just low intensity electric signals running through my neurons, that I delude myself to be real….till they don’t get acted on, they are real only in my head…and they queue up one after the other, becoming a great excuse to not act….

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21 Aug 2011: Behind every bribe demand is greed…and a lot of it originates from wanting ‘more’…in a culture that constantly sells the idea that ‘more’ is good….thrives on that demand for ‘more’…a culture fed up of irrational desires flared up by itself….a culture that’s forgotten the word ‘enough’

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3 Sept 2011: To see an epitome of patience, persistence, innovation, empathy, involvement, tough love, passion and much much more…just see a mother with her child :)

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12 Oct 2011: Expertise is over-rated. Every expert you hire — to cure you of disease, fight your cases or consult your business — every one of them benefits from making the problem appear more complicated. The ‘expert’ is incentivized to further complicate it and then solve only a very small part of it — perhaps the bare minimum that helps you get convinced of his expertise, and in effect your own ignorance. This totally warped system is responsible for the over complication in almost every domain and crippling the pace at which growth would otherwise happen.

In simple terms — keep it simple and then trust your own wisdom and judgement as much as the expert’s

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12 Oct 2011: Dentist had backache — so went to physio. Made me think that what if the physio bought soap of a company I was consulting for? i paid the dentist who took a part of my money to pay the physio who paid the shopkeeper who paid the soap company who paid me? aren’t we all tied into spirals of circular transactions where somewhere everything comes back to impact us?

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17 Oct 2011: Struggle…its gonna be there all along…if its not there I am not growing…I fear it, I avoid it….but am trying to make friends with it…coz it will take me to where I want to go….it will chisel me and my character…my ability to live with it will determine my success…struggle is good. struggle is inevitable. struggle makes me. struggle is cool

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14 Dec 2011: Death is a very powerful idea. It helps me prioritize what’s most important to me. It makes me relish my life and be grateful — for every moment I have with my beloved, for all the grace showered on me, and for the next moment that came as I was reflecting on this one. It’s okay to die.

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28 Dec 2011: The aimless pursuit of absolute freedom ends at complete loneliness

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5 Jan 2012: When the mess in the head becomes tough to handle, meditating really helps! When things get better, it seems okay to bunk meditation for a few days…or for longer stretches….which in turn increases the likelihood of the mess in the head becoming too tough to handle. Hence, meditate.

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9 Jan 2012: Labels are dangerously powerful….I start with choosing labels for myself…for who I am and what I do….and before I know it, I become the label….I adjust to neatly fit into those labels….there is so much I don’t do, just because it doesn’t fit under the set of labels that I choose to define myself with.

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12 Jan 2012: Wondering how much I am logged into facebook vs how much is it logged into me….how much of what I do is driven by a desire to share (however faint) triggered by the existence of such a platform…how much of what I know and am exposed to is through this window….how much of my language of communication to my known people is through status updates, likes and walls….how much of my understanding of others, assumptions about them come through this screen….how much does FB use me? Use my time? Use my words and content to feed on itself…

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14 Jan 2012: And in the deepest and darkest moments of your life, you shall be all by yourself….all alone….your experience is yours and only yours….you have only yourself to be with….you may delude yourself about the permanence of togetherness….you may deny the void within….but you will eventually have to face it….by yourself….all alone…

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17 Jan 2012: Dard har kisi ka apna hai….aur apna hai paimana….kam zyaada ka dhong hai bhaiyya….khud ka khud hai khaana

(Each one has a unique pain….and a measurement that’s his own….why pretend there is more (grief) or less?…each has to bear their own)

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19 Jan 2012: At least he is happy” is not a justification for compromises, unconscious choices or conformity. It is not about happiness always — very often, it is about living true to your values, being honest to yourself and listening to your heart. And that path doesn’t always lead to ‘happiness’.

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20 Jan 2012: Irrespective of how much you chase happiness, it is going to be transient. And its good it is that way, else you’ll be this blissed out zombie proud of having cracked the ‘happiness code’. If that shallow happiness is what you desire, the best way to that is ignorance — wouldn’t a poor man be happier if he hasn’t ever seen a rich man?

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26 Jan 2012: Our deepest fears and pain often remain unshared….sharing makes us vulnerable & open to being judged. Most importantly, it shatters the illusion that our pain and fears are so unique, so special and so massive that others cannot understand them.

And in spite of this realization, a large part of my world remains mine alone. Its just politically incorrect to admit.

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19 Mar 2012: That life is mostly difficult is a given for all of us….the question is, instead of fighting or resisting this fact, can we make peace with it? Can we look forward to our difficulties and challenges, using them as opportunities to grow, explore deeper within and connect with each other on this path?

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19 Mar 2012: When taking a decision, every choice has reasons in favor or against it.

Don’t let the ‘choosing’ be done by the reasons but by YOU.

In that way, you own up your choice and retain the freedom to un-choose it based on yourself and not the changing reasons.

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21 Mar 2012: When I do any task really well, to the best of my ability, as if my life depended on it — I don’t do it for anyone else but me. For what it brings out in me. For what it makes me.

Anyone else might not even be able to tell the difference.

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23 Mar 2012: You’re responsible for getting everything you want — the universe may conspire, but you gotta take the steps!

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24 Mar 2012: The answer to controlling anger, eating healthy, sleeping well, working more effectively, getting mental peace, having meaningful relationships and developing emotional intelligence : SLOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW.......

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3 Apr 2012: Your need to look good combined with your desire for approval, drives your life to so many areas which it (your life) would otherwise never have visited….this need to look good is the reason behind so much of what you do and determines how you do it….

All that you do (or say) JUST to make others happy, all that you don’t do (or say) JUST to avoid looking bad … so much of your life is automatically driven by this….

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27 April 2012: The ‘Original Promise’ is the set of reasons that you considered when you first made a choice — a career, a relationship, a degree or a lifestyle.

Over time, the original promise gets lost…succumbing to events, mental evaluations of whats possible, social norms and much more

But every once in a while, its great to revisit the original promise — what was your life going to be about? What did you want to do? Why did you take up your current job/course and what did you want to experience in your relationship?

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28 April 2012: “IF you love your mother then share this” kind of forwards are reminiscent of fundamentalist stands like ‘If you are not with us, you are with them’ (war against terror).

Not only does this thinking subtly kill all other choices of action (like I love my mother but not want to share this — doesn’t mean I don’t love her), but it also destroys all grey (What if I am neither with you nor with them because I don’t know enough to take a stand?)

In my own life, I unconsciously operate with so many IF-THEN’s doing precisely the same to others

So I wanna say….

IF you love your country share this status message

IF you are my friend then LIKE my status update

Show that you are NOT supporting the fundamentalists by commenting on this

etc :)

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24 Oct 2012: Ram is the virtue and goodness in me…. Sita represents my life’s calling….Ravaan the powerful, dark emotions that steal Sita away….

Ram goes through dark forests of introspection, questioning and emptiness and finally in a grand battle, conquers Ravaan and restores Sita….

Vijaya Dashmi, every year reminds me that the play of these opposites…of Ram and Raavan…of virtue and desire…go on….over Sita….my life’s calling….

Ravan may live in a city of gold…Ram may be banished into reclusive vanvaas….but Sita belongs to Ram…Again and again….

Happy Duessera! May virtue prevail

**

20 Dec 2012: You don’t need a self help book, actually.

Just make two columns — What I am doing and What I should be doing. Start listing all that you know you should not be doing and the ideal way it should be.

Eg:

Should not : Have too much caffeine

Ideal Way : Have only 1 cup of tea / coffee a day

You’ll be surprised how much advice you can generate for yourself!

Of course, that is the start of a deeper exploration — why aren’t you already doing it then! And that also, no self help book can tell you — only you can discover for yourself :)

**

20 Feb 2013: As per Hindu relics, in every era (yug), God has taken a form (avtaar) to vanquish the evil. The form has corresponded to the nature of the evil present there.

So what could possibly be the Kalki avtaar (the 10th incarnation of God as per Hinduism)?

Earlier versions of evil were relatively more centralized and so was the Divine.

However, this era has evil that is scattered, that is almost omnipresent. Hence, perhaps, the Kalki avtaar will require God, the goodness and divinity to take birth in many many of us — a decentralized form that comes together to eradicate the evil forces everywhere….

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23 Feb 2013: Humbled to meet Doctor Swami of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha at Dadar today. A man of deep insight combined with an uncanny openness to ideas.

Swamiji shared amazing stories of how, without any formal knowledge of management, Swamis and their teams are able to accomplish amazing and almost unbelievable tasks.

Was also privileged to share our work — Blue Ribbon Movement Kehkasha — Bipolar and Depression Support and South Asian Youth Conference among others

Hope to be of service soon — may all the forces for the good unite! Thank you Shailesh Yagnik for the opportunity :)

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7 March 2013: Inspite of all the talk about women’s equality, in almost every administrative task today, women are forced to give their father or husband’s name.

They cannot NOT give it, nor can they use their Mother’s name for example.

Any idea which law needs to be tweaked to let this happen?

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14 March 2013: The arrogance of intelligence takes away the humility required to surrender to the Universe….

The brain feels it understands, it thinks and analyzes, it tries to control and predict, to plan and monitor — but its utility and effectiveness, the grand role it plays in our lives is often an illusion

It gets created when we tune out the synchronicity, the longing of the heart, the jerks of randomness and the mysterious ways of life

May our intelligence also include the wisdom of its own limitation :)

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7 April 2013: Monopoly over reality is the biggest threat to peace and co-existence.

These are individuals, nations and ideologies that assume that their view of the world is the only truth, their path is the only path and their beliefs are ‘facts’. They scream it out, propagate it, kill for it and are willing to die for it.

But, so much of Truth is self-evident and experiential — in fact, if the truth is as powerful as these monopolists believe, it doesn’t need propagation, killing or dying. Eventually everyone will converge to it.

Real Truth is Natural.

**

13 April 2013: What I learnt from Rooshiji

(@Rooshikumar Pandya left us in the early hours of today morning — this note is dedicated to him)

I feel deep grief as I write on the wall of a man I deeply admire, a man who has touched my life — and so many others.

So I was reflecting on what would be a fitting tribute to a man of his stature? Perhaps, reflecting on what I sense as the essence of his teaching.

Among the last few things we did together, was him writing a letter of recommendation for my social organization, The Blue Ribbon Movement. He worked on it for a couple of days — to get it perfect.

It made me nervous! Here was someone working even harder than us — when he could just have written something and given it. Yet, it was very Rooshiji to give something your very best — to not take anything for granted.

For every talk or speech of his, he would put in the work it takes. The mind that was so strong that his diet and schedule could be anything — and yet he would be hearty and hale.

Every phone call would be an affirmation of him being ‘Fantastic!’ — which made me feel great too :)

Very early in my life he said in his deep voice and immaculate intonation ‘Ek saadhe sab sadhe, sab saadhe sab jaye’. It was a lesson in focus — that if I focus and attend to one skill in my life, the rest will take care of itself (in my case it was training) while if I do everything, I will lose the plot.

“Very prosaic writing”. “Your reading of the passage is very staccato” — he would give strong feedback. In a world of admirers, here was one person who was more committed to my growth than myself.

And I remember how each time I would not understand a word in English, he would make me pick the dictionary there itself and look it up.

And each meeting was an encounter to remember — a small degree of transformation. Each meeting I discovered something new that he was involved with.

And as I grew I saw Rooshiji the person — who like any of us was facing challenges, and yet was meeting them like a very gracious man.

I feel a deep void within me to think that he will not be with us in the physical realm — his gaze, his voice and his presence. And yet, I do know that in spirit he will be around. He will watch me as I grow, learn, soar and bring my gift to the world.

As he said, in his estimate a very small number of people reach their potential. The work of his life was to increase that number by a small bit before he meets the Almighty.

And increase he did — he helped each of us flower. We now carry a seed of his learning with us — and it’s our part to take it forward to future generations, and tell them of this great man we had the privilege of knowing so intimately.

**

23 April 2013: Now is humanity’s adolescence.

We are heady and high on our technological achievements. We have been consuming with little regard to the future. There are so many questions about how do we work on our challenges and how do we make things better. There is energy, there is anger and there is a lot of hope.

It’s time to start growing up. Time to start acknowledging the billions who have been denied even the basic dignity to live — that, inspite of there being more than enough to go around.

It is also time to give a serious thought to our future — there have been several times in our history when survival of a large portion of humanity was under threat, and we saw it through. This time is no different — with the gifts of innovation and persistence we will be able to see these challenges through. Everything from corruption to climate change. But, it will need action.

I wish we build greater awareness of our actions and their impact on us and our world. I wish there is greater mindfulness and thought behind our action.

And I wish we transition from the euphoria of an industrial adolescence to an ecologically grounded adulthood.

**

23 Aug 2013:

Why are most people in power insensitive, tuned out of ground reality, abusive of their status and unapologetic about it?

Earlier I used to think it was about the people — wrong people in power makes it that way.

But, there is something more fundamental at play here. Realized this when I saw a large group of customers at a resort — behaving like all groups tend to do.

Think of a time when we are in a group — as a group, the decisions we make are typically a result of ‘groupthink’ and reduced to the lowest common denominator — groups become overly conservative, highly demanding and ready to pounce on anyone responsible for our miseries.

Having come together, we feel powerful, invincible and entitled.

Similarly as we approach closer to power, there is some latent force that gets us out of tune with the ground, feel more entitled and not factor in other’s feelings, more and more. In spaces where I have power, I find this happening to myself.

So the assumption of ‘get into power and set things right because we are good people whereas currently bad people are in power’ may actually be flawed.

There is deep rooted inequity on our minds and psyche — which has both these patterns. Those of the powerful and those of the weak. Till we do not resolve this polarity, we will continue to repeat the dramas whichever side of the table we are.

Can we instead, be grounded in the spirit of equality — knowing that each of us has within us the potential to fend for ourselves as well as be benevolent, if only we become aware of this drama? Can we explore the power of deep democracy?

Because if we do, then who is in ‘power’ doesn’t matter — there is power with each individual to engage, to participate and to act.

And if we fail to do this, we will keep repeating this saga of exploitation on one end and learned helplessness on the other, and a few people wanting to jump sides hoping they will change the story.

If we fail to make this fundamental shift, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes generation after generation.

**

23 Aug 2013:

With gang-rapes and eve-teasing happening all around, we need to relook at our relationship with sexuality and between genders.

When something inherently natural and beautiful is repressed, made a taboo, forcefully put into the shadows and not acknowledged, it becomes very ugly and dangerous.

On one end, we have a society where sex education is mostly non-existent, conversations around these topics are only reserved for the most private spaces, and norms are set by macho-heros

On the other hand, we oogle at item numbers, turn a blind eye to blatant child abuse, have “illegal” red-light areas, escort ads in tabloids and create adult bhabhi-themed comic books.

So instead of a very honest, direct and mature approach to sexuality, we have created a totally warped context. There is no space for conversation, exploration, understanding or learning. And this gets perpetuated across generations — an imbalanced equation between genders loaded with sexual undertones.

We need to engage in a deep and authentic conversation to explore a new balance, to revisit boundaries and recognise that beneath these surface level aberrations lie a much deeper, unaddressed and fundamental imbalance, a historic abuse of power and an unfair repression in which both the oppressor and the oppressed are locked into.

To me, it is an imbalance similar to that between human beings and nature, between rulers and the oppressed masses and all other lop-sided power structures we are locked into.

**

25 April 2014: Now is a great time for all those different and crazy people to unite….all those who believe in liberal ideas, in free speech, in embracing diversity and in a deep relationship with the planet….

All the ‘minorities’ — those with alternative orientations, those discriminated against because of being different, those whose voices are likely to be muffled…..all of us need to come together, to unite and to organise ourselves

We haven’t done it so far, because each of us is so different — and yet it is our differences that we have in common….and it is our respect for those differences that must connect us….

Connect us not only because our voices need to be heard but also because ours are voices that push humanity forward. Ours are voices that question status quo — as the mass of humanity blindly marches on, to the hypnotic beat of mindless growth, homogeneity and fear of the other….

Let us come together, because, more than ever before, we need to engage with power….we need to apply ourselves not to hide and dodge the establishment but to come out in our entire glory, in our dazzling colours and our diverse views and ways of being….

Together, we can act as a balance to all that we may feel threatened by….together, we can forge a consensus that redefines the idea of India….together, we can steer the world into a safer, more vibrant and thriving space….

Together, we are stronger

**

7 May 2014: I am not my Facebook profile. That is how much of myself I want to show you — all that I consider great about myself, and a few, very carefully selected vulnerabilities….

The status update is not what’s on my mind. It is that thought, which I feel, when shared, will give me your validation. It will give me your acknowledgement and approval — almost as if it is way more valuable than the intrinsic worth of the thought itself….

My profile picture is not how I actually look. It is a very carefully chosen picture, and if you look at me at random, I am unlikely to look anywhere as good…

And my friends — only those of who are “a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection”….which I suspect is a small section of my 2,200 friends…..(though I do acknowledge the great wishes of each of you)

So who am I really kidding?

If you treat this profile as me, it is such a reduced and skewed version of me…..and if I treat what happens in this space with such seriousness, that seems delusional too…..

At best, to me, this is an exaggerated version of the world we live in itself — where we are on guard; wanting to be perceived in favourable ways; appearing all cool, intelligent, beautiful and friendly; and marketing our own brand of truth :)

And I don’t intend to close this post with a positive, meaningful conclusion that neatly ties this for you or me.

**

5 June 2014: The more I read‚ reflect‚ learn and introspect‚ the closer I seem to be approaching the realisation that I have NO CLUE. I have no clue what’s going on in this vast mysterious and complex unfolding called life…..I feel like a blind man sitting in a dark room discussing light….

And it is strangely beautiful n liberating :))

**

9 Sept 2014: Another world is surely possible….

A world of much greater freedom, much deeper peace, of more fun and celebration….a world with much more abundance, much more dignity and with adequate rest….

How?

I don’t know.

I have a hunch that if only me or you or someone out there thinks of an answer, it will be a very incomplete and fragmented answer. There is too much complexity out there for any one of us to be able to hold answers that work for everyone.

But if we come together and collectively hold the intent for ways to reveal themselves, for larger intelligence to manifest through us, there are infinite possibilities….

It will require us to come together in a true spirit of the sangha, to ruthlessly inquire into the truth that stares us in our faces (and yet we keep denying) and it will need us to humbly submit to an intelligence that is beyond our ‘rational’ comprehension and models….

If we are committed to the dialogue, the messy negotiations, the overcoming of conditioned responses and inflated egos…if we are willing to engage in that journey, we have hope….hope that we will move to a better place, and even if we do not, the journey will have shaped us and humanity for the better….

I don’t think it is time yet….but I do see it coming….

19 July 2015: “Foreverness”

Source: Personal

In this image, the artist questions the notion of ‘forever’.

Seeing plastic diamond rings suddenly brings salience to the cultural selling of diamonds as something precious.

The deeper question though is, our obsession with the idea of ‘forever’ and how that is at the root of some of the challenges we face — non-biodegradable plastic suddenly makes ‘forever’ not romantic but almost threatening

While it combines various other themes around ecology (from green to black in rings, the carbon ‘ring’) and consumer marketing (an obvious questioning of the value of diamonds), its the deeper and more subtle messages (like the pair of eyes that gets formed with the rings, the desire for ‘forever’ in our own lives) that the artist invites the viewer to mull over….

11 Oct 2015:

Dear Those-who-know-a-lot,

It might be that you understand very little.

And those you look down upon for knowing very little,

May actually understand a lot.

**

3 June 2016:

I heard Tanmay’s video was distasteful. So I chose not to see it.

But I can’t say the same about the festive celebrations and prayers that happen at insanely loud levels. I can’t not hear them when they are in progress — perhaps they have to make sure that the sound reaches the heavens.

I can also not say the same about advertising that creeps on my timeline or before a Youtube video or on hoardings — while I now know there will be ads I don’t have a premium ad-free version that I could subscribe to. The only way to not see it is to not use the platforms at all.

Similarly, I can’t say that for any compulsory broadcast (that is beamed into schools for example) that kids have no choice but to watch.

No matter how pure and pristine the messages of these prayers, advertising and public service messages may be — they don’t leave me with as much choice as I had vis-à-vis the ‘distasteful’ video.

If someone’s ‘freedom’ leaves me with a choice to not be affected, I think it is totally legitimate.

However, on the pretext of religion, commerce or civics, if someone’s speech leaves me with no choice but to listen — that to me is a misuse of the freedom of speech by them, in a very real sense.

If you don’t like it, turn it off.

If you can’t — then its time to raise the questions that need raising.

**

7 Oct 2016: This is a piece of crowdsourced community wisdom at our Being Urban Community evening…here’s some of what we collectively recommend:

- Narayan Dosawala at Charni Road for Palak Paneer Dosa

- Deepak Cinema Lower Parel for 100 rupee tickets and free parking

- Chimanlal’s at Fort for great stationery

- Mawa jalebi outside Mira Road Station

- Endo Mondo : a great fitness app

- Al Kazi Exhibition at NGMA

- Neutellate at Suzette

Once we’re together as a community, a whole new set of possibilities open up!

**

10 Jan 2017: Research indicates that if you preface any statement with ‘research indicates’ it is more likely to be considered true.

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23 Sept 2017: I have only a slice of history …of what actually happened. And so does anyone else who claims to know (though some surely know more than others)

However based on what I know, there is an ancient glory of our land, something that I had no part in creating but can choose to stand on

Similarly there has been conflict n bloodshed n I can choose to hold on to it or work at reconciliation n forgiveness so that I move on

Either ways no denying the lessons of history and for me the lesson is that humanity thrives most when there is no war, differences are managed healthily and art flourishes

Each generation is like one more word added to the essay…the last word can totally change what the whole essay means…or does it ?

**

17 Aug 2019: Will we ever transcend org-centered behaviour

We talk a lot about transcending self centred behaviour. That would include being kind, doing small acts for the planet and thinking beyond your own self interest.

Often though, many of us who go beyond self centered-ness, end up expressing it in a new (and more legitimate) form. Being org-centred.

Organisations being selfish is so normalised that it doesn’t strike as odd.

Corporations, governments and NGOs all dedicated to their own survival and with an intent to go on forever.

Is the essence of an organization in being centred around itself?

If there is an organization (or un-organization) that stays invisible, silently supports what it choses to and still retains the capacity to act together (and be visible when required) would it even count?

If there is no logo or name and yet there is energy and people coming from somewhere nameless, does it even count?

Essentially I guess I am wondering if an organization would ever exist if its not self-centered.

And if that is the case then a group of self-centred organizations will recreate the same mischief that human beings have painstakingly tried to escape.

**

19 Aug 2019: You and I are “powering” this world with our time.

Every time we work FOR the current system, our work feeds this giant machinery that wrecks havoc in the planet.

Each time we take time away from nature, from our loved ones and from what matters, we increase our isolation.

In fact, it is not only time. It is our vitality that we pour in. It is our attention, our energy and our consideration.

The current rules of the game are this : if you fuel this machine, it will let you live. If you show up to work, you earn. If you earn, you live, you enjoy, you win.

We are also “participating” in this game without questioning the rules. At best, we are trying to make rules ‘better’ or more ‘fair’ rather than seeing the foolishness of the game itself.

We’re too busy playing the game. Our education makes us obedient, complaint players.

And finally we allow this world to be the way it is through “passive consent”. We agree to the existence of this world as it is. It is in place by our collective silence and acceptance.

On each of these three fronts, we have a chance to shift things.

If we are conscious about what we “power”, we can energise whatever we want more of.

This includes choices of where we spend our time, money and attention.

Our “participation” can start including questioning the rules of the game. Who is setting these rules? Why these and not something else? What does it take to play a different game?

As we do this, we can start withdrawing our “passive consent”.

This means declaring the world as it is, as unacceptable. Refusing to take the world for what it is and continuing to make it more peaceful, fair and loving.

We are co-creators of our collective reality. So shifting it may not be as difficult as we may imagine. Or rather, the effort we need may be different.

If we shift our collective agreements, the current reality will also start to shift. It will start becoming more workable for more of us.

And for our future generations, to whom we are answerable.

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