Before After and Thereafter — Trilogy
by Binal Joshi, Mumbai
Part 1: Before
I was already….until
I was already holding the flame of curiosity innately until the water of authority doused the fire.
I was already wild and creative until the cage of culture and traditions tamed me through conformity.
I was already humming freely to the beats of the moment as it unfolded until I was trained in a certain genre
I was already seeing humans as humans until the lenses of conditioning in the form of nationality, religion, caste, gender, colour, sect, and ideologies blurred my vision.
I was already caring naturally until the concepts of respect, duties, and responsibilities were ingrained in me
I was already learning by playing in the open fields of life until disciplining and moulding clipped the freedom to explore
I was already thinking and asking barrage of questions until impositions and impatience took over.
I was already looking at each moment afresh until the adherence to the routines and repetitions of a tried and tested life left very little time to reflect and observe.
I was already listening to my inner voice until it got muffled with the blaring noise of external influences and my obedience.
I was already meditating effortlessly with eyes wide open until I was told to sit and pray with eyes tightly shut.
I was already sparkling with joy visible in my twinkling eyes until the expectations and aspirations faded and jaded the sight.
I was already seeing nature in its wholeness, rawness until it got shredded to pieces of subjects, compartments and labels leaving a gaping hole, losing the essence.
I was already healing until I was subjected to various natural and artificial interventions leading to suppressions of symptoms and chronic conditions.
I was already painting the blank canvas of life uniquely with different colours until the outline of the drawing in the form of career and goals and the colours to fill therein through specialization restricted the natural flow.
I was already standing and falling, rising up and falling again in the course of life until falling down got termed as failure and rising up as success making me too cautious to charter unknown territories.
I was already flowing in the river of life until the boulders of my beliefs, judgements and opinions obstructed the flow and stagnated the flowing river.
I was already a part of nature until I believed in the wall of development that separated me from nature.
I was already satisfied with bare necessities until I started considering my wants as my needs
I was already relating to one and all until the mirror of life got broken into pieces with my imaginations and assumptions, thereby dividing us all.
I was already swaying like a blade of grass in different life situations until the rigidity of “should” and “shouldn’t” set in within me.
I was already dancing in the rain unrehearsed, carefree until I started saving for the rainy day.
I was already conserving fuel in the car of life by avoiding the potholes of beliefs and disbeliefs, taking pit-stops and refuelling regularly until the alarming signs of the fuel gauge were ignored repeatedly, halting the ride abruptly.
I was already exploring and meandering in the journey of life at my own pace through the by-lanes until I participated in the race to reach the destination called by different names like success, profits, fame, ambition, perfectionism, passion, enlightenment, etc.
I was already living each moment to the fullest until I oscillated between past and future through memories and aspirations.
I was already thriving and open to the twists and turns of the enigma called life until I found myself in the survival mode following the set-formula of security and predictability.
I was already treading the earth gently until the load of ego, possessions and attachments burdened me.
I was already soaring in the vast expanse of open sky of life, soaking in the panoramic views until the noose of my own choices tethered me with a limited world view.
I was already surfing zestfully, ever moving, manoeuvring fluidly in the crests and troughs of life until I aimed for the crests in life and timed my jumps accordingly leaving little energy in other walks of life.
I was already pliable like a piece of clay until my strong views hardened me.
I was already open to being questioned and to engage in dialogue to know more until I found myself either defending or opposing at every instance.
I was already choiceless and therefore free until I got leashed by my own choices and prejudices
I was already flowing in different ways until the ink of outward and inward conditioning coloured my outlook. By rekindling inquisition, the obstacles gets unblocked and I flow again…..
Afterthought: Some questions to reflect on….
If I was already flowing, learning, thinking, healing, relating, conserving, swaying, dancing, listening,….was there any need for intervention from outside (inherited/imposed/acquired) or inside (which are formed by one’s own mind)? Wouldn’t one flourish and thrive in the freedom to just be instead of becoming?
Wouldn’t it be a hypothetical scenario where a child remains untouched by external or internal forces of information and influences? Instead of blocking or controlling the influences from the child, can one just connect with the child without any ulterior motive? Can a conducive environment of free flow of communication between the parent and the child set in? And if the child is interested, engage in conversations with the child not with the intention to change him/her, but to explore together the impact of the influences on one’s natural flow? Not as a judgement of right or wrong but seeing the facts and unearthing the layers of influences? Letting the child be irrespective of his or her choices? Wouldn’t a real change come about when one decides to change from within instead of being told to?
Besides, being in natural surroundings like farm or countryside may reduce the influences of external stimulations and suppressions, but is it enough to lead a natural life? After all can one escape the internal forces of one’s own imaginations and assumptions? Wouldn’t it follow like a shadow wherever one goes?
While the impact of the outside conditioning is quite evident, can one confront one’s own conditioning? As one grows, is one building a dam of actions, emotions, and thoughts either by believing or disbelieving thereby stagnating the flow? Or can one float effortlessly like a fallen leaf going downstream choicelessly by reinstating the innate inquiring knack? If we started as unconditioned beings driven by our tendencies and neutral outlook in the natural flow of life, how did we get conditioned with strong preferences, beliefs, opinions, judgements, intentions,… moving away from the natural flow and no longer in tune with our inner voice?
Can the conditioned mind be observed to understand the source of its formation without the intention to get rid of it or change it? Can the mind which houses dualities of likes/dislikes, good/bad, right/wrong, should/shouldn’t,… be confronted head-on with mind which is curios and open? Isn’t the curious and open mind our inherent, innate knack? Can this flame of knowing more be reignited through inquiring? Instead of doing anything extra with effort, technique, method… can the un-blocking, un-layering happen effortlessly?
Can the innocence of childhood which fades overtime be rekindled in adulthood? The difference being: In childhood, the innocence would be reflected by not hurting others whereas the innocence of adulthood would be reflected by not being hurt or provoked by others.
Can one flow again naturally after being stagnated? Let’s explore….
Part 2: After
I am born again whenever……
I am born again whenever I die to the old patterns of the mind
I am born again whenever I remove the blinders of “this” and “that” and see the world in “may be this or may be that”
I am born again whenever I question my knowledge and acknowledge “I don’t know”
I am born again whenever I rekindle the flame of curiosity and burn the dogmas and indoctrinations housed within
I am born again whenever I call a spade a spade without giving excuses and justifications
I am born again whenever I question the authority of all kinds outward and inward. Not just Institutions, leaders, gurus but believing in the authority of my own thoughts
I am born again whenever I break free from the dualities of “right or wrong”, “likes or dislikes”, “good or bad”, “violence or non-violence”, “appreciation or hatred”, “beliefs or disbeliefs”
I am born again whenever I confront and meet my attractions and aversions fully without any distraction, escape or judgements
I am born again whenever I see you afresh irrespective of our past.
I am born again whenever I don’t intervene to fix or control the situation but rather attempt to understand the cause in the making
I am born again whenever I see myself in others through the piercing gaze penetrating the opaqueness created by my own biases
I am born again whenever I change from within by turning my gaze inwards to the cobwebs of beliefs lying in the deeper crevices of my being
I am born again whenever I see life through the prism of possibilities, no longer imprisoning me with my own conclusions.
Part 3: Thereafter
And as a consequence:
There is no place to arrive at, no abode to call home and no summit to scale…
There is no fixed philosophy or ideology to define and confine the views
Always in a state of flux, moving, learning, and flowing with whatever unfolds
It is a lifelong journey of un-layering, un-blocking, and unravelling the mysteries of life
Through the drill of observation that penetrates the sediments of beliefs and opinions accumulated over time
Observing the contents of the “self” manifested in different emotions like jealously, pride, attraction, aversion through the mirror of relationships
The outer shell containing the illusionary “I” being broken by questioning its contents of preferences, opinions, beliefs. With the emptying of the contents, the container of contents “I” too dissolves.
And with the flowering of awareness, the kernel of the seed of our life which is the essence of our being shines through effortlessly
The kernel of the seed of our life being love, freedom, humility, passion, compassion, meditation, innocence, cure, truth, wholeness, nothingness, balance, oneness …
This kernel being limitless, unfathomable, and unmeasurable and can never be explored in its entirety.
In such a state one stands alone but is not lonely
In such a state, it is not how much one has explored but how much one is exploring that matters
In such a state, it is not how far one has reached but how far one is reaching that matters
If one were to bask with pride in the glory of one’s exploration or be irritated with the happenings around, one gets immediately transported from the kernel of nothingness (absence of I) to the outer shell of “self”, creating the “I” all over again.
Once created, the “I” separates and divides one from its surrounding, in effect imprisoning oneself
Until brick by brick the building blocks of “I” are questioned again
Seems like a journey without a destination… there is no place to arrive at, no abode to call home and no summit to scale…