April 30, 2018 § Leave a comment
Being a cripple is not about being physically disabled but about being afraid. One might be physically, mentally and emotionally able but will become a cripple if there is fear. Fear of any kind, for anything and from anything or anyone is the biggest disability. Fear of not being traditionally successful, fear of not being loved, fear of being hated, fear of not being included in the social circles, fear of insecure future, fear of not having money, fear of not marrying at the right age, will cripple a person. The person being harmed because of fear is himself/herself and no one else. Fear of not being oneself, fear of not being able to find about who one is, fear of not being ideal, fear of being rejected, fear of being scolded, fear of taking responsibility for actions of self, fear of leaving everything behind, fear of getting attached, fear of letting go of attachment, fear of anything makes one so immersed in fear that one forgets to live, see, feel , think, take action etc. One becomes inhuman because of fear.
Fearlessness is what distinguishes a human from an animal. Ability to be fearless is what makes a person, human.
Am I afraid? Yes.
Hence, am I crippled? Yes.
Thus, am I becoming less human? Yes.
Are you afraid? …….
Hence, are you crippled? ….
Thus, are you becoming less human? ….
April 10, 2018 § Leave a comment
The Silent Temple
Shoichi was a one-eyed teacher of Zen, sparkling with enlightenment. He taught his disciples in Tofuku temple.
Day and night the whole temple stood in silence. There was no sound at all. Even the reciting of sutras was abolished by the teacher. His pupils had nothing to do but meditate.
When the master passed away, an old neighbor heard the ringing of bells and the recitation of sutras. Then she knew Shoichi had gone.
February 15, 2018 § Leave a comment
when asking a question about something to anyone is considered wrong or invokes a lot of anger , you have asked the right question.
If a question elicits a denial or an emotional response , it is the right one.
February 13, 2018 § Leave a comment
By Dr. Perry, PhD
“You learn a lot about people when they don’t get what they want.” ~Anonymous
Like the waves that forcefully crash on the shore and later gracefully retreat, there is an ebb and flow to life. The seasons change and the flowers bloom, only to later wilt. We all give and take in our daily lives. Our interactions with one another are overall based on a healthy exchange of emotions, ideas and positive social interactions. There are some individuals, that like crashing waves have a disruptive influence in our lives. They seem only interested in profiting from the relationship and will give little or nothing in exchange. They use psychological manipulation to disguise their true intent.
Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that uses deception, underhanded tactics and abuse in order to achieve the interests of the manipulator. The manipulator may use these tactics for…
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January 30, 2018 § 3 Comments
I have recently returned from Japan after a month of interning in a company and I am in love with the country. I haven’t been this much in love with anything so far except trekking and one big reason why I love trekking is because no one known to me can contact me- absolutely cut-off. This might sound selfish or rude but it is what it is. Similar was with Japan is my guess. Being alone with no one known, no phone calls to answer, nothing to think or worry about, enjoy the work gave me such immense lightness which I cannot explain. I felt light on my feet, mind and emotions and for me that was happiness. This lightness was further taken to new levels by natural hot water springs (onsen). Now that I am back to India, stress is palpable to me. Just landing at India made me feel much heavier. My parents kept saying that I am back to my country but I wasn’t excited about it. Just 1 day after returning and I am back to feeling heavy/stressed as I was feeling before I left for Japan.
This makes me wonder what happiness or being at peace really is. I should be equally or should be much lighter when I am around people I know or people who love me but that is not the case with me. That simply means that they are inducing subconscious stress within me. How can stress lead to peace! Thus being in home country, working for it becomes irrelevant if it induces stress in a person. Working for others becomes pointless if it doesn’t make me feel atleast a little lighter in every way than I was earlier. Almost all notions of happiness are false if it doesn’t lead to lightness of emotions, gait, mind, body etc. There are no rights or wrongs now. There is only stress and no-stress. What adds to stress is wrong and what releases stress is right. Maybe being aware of the presence of stress is conscience in action. Living heavily is the saddest thing one can do to himself/herself. There are people who will think good for you, but they might or might not know what is really beneficial as they haven’t felt otherwise. Fighting for lightness is worth it. That fight is Yog with its conclusion being ultimate lightness and everyone has his/her own fight and fighting style.
August 18, 2017 § Leave a comment
What is identity?
Identity is the fact of being who or what a person or thing is. It is about recognising ourselves with something other than ourselves. This tells us something crucial about the nature of a person. We need an identity to gauge our value and importance in our own eyes and in the eyes of the others. If you see synonyms of the word identity they are self, individuality, ego, personality, character, similarity, sameness, oneness and you get the idea.
Identity can hold a certain meaning for an individual and a different meaning from the perspective of a group. From an individual’s standpoint it gives a person a certain sense of belonging, security and stability in an otherwise unknown world and unpredictable life. Almost everything from civilizations, cultures, institutions, cult following, fan following, religion, family name, society is to give one an identity with which he/she identifies themselves or others can identify them as. Identities are important to help a person bond with others so that his/her understanding and experience of the world becomes relatively easy and comprehensible. Identities provide a tried and tested map for navigation in journey of life. But are identities always helpful or is this safety backfiring on us by not allowing us to become exploratory and have open minds in the truest sense?
Consider present day India. When a child is born the first id given to him/her is the name of the family. The pre-assumed id given is the affiliation to a certain religion which is of the parents. Another pre-assumed id is the caste of the family. Since you are born in India another id given to you is that of an Indian and the place you are born in. As the child grows up various ids are taken and given to the child. Which school he has gone to, which college he goes to, which profession one takes or is forced to take. Thus various innumerable tags and roles are given to play. All these ids are alright as long as a person is able to think on his own. The importance of all the institutions lies in the fact that they have certain strengths within them. When a person belongs to an institute he will ,by-default, imbibe within him the values that are practiced by the members of that institution. The ideal role of these institutions is to make the child or an individual capable enough to understand what might be right or wrong in a situation and not be afraid. Instead of this, members say something else, do something else, pass on their biases knowingly or unknowingly to both children and grown-up alike thus leaving them confused and highly influenced by that confusion. They promote limited curiosity. This results in a child/person who doesn’t ask the right questions but only questions to impress or asks comfortable questions, doesn’t observe what is happening around him and is desensitized due to lack of any understanding. All those traits which have led mankind to current state of development and prosperity both technologically and culturally are systematically suppressed in a child. The abilities to observe, not hold any pre-informed biases, ask questions based on observation irrespective of the comfort of the others, strength of mind to ask the right questions and seek its answers and the courage to act in a situation according to the need of the situation are what each identity giving institution should provide. Lack of such traits leads one to become a human-robot instead of being a human. Change whether internal/external has never been brought by a person who agrees to every identity he has been given or asked to take. Small changes within self which are brought about by the person after observation of self and big changes in society are brought about by people who have shed a certain identity ( whether to take on a new one or not take any) that was given to them.
Letting go of a particular identity /tag is a very challenging task which can be done only by an individual. No identity or role is harmful as long as it promotes growth and realization of true nature of an individual. Sadly that is not the case. Today an identity or a role aims to make an individual similar or a carbon copy of an ideal member with the same id. If the role alignment is successful then a person is ‘good and very obedient’. But this leads to a person becoming a robot doing similar things as people have done in the past and becomes a fanatic. If one looks around, fanaticism is what is seen. For example what does it mean to be an Indian? Does it mean being born in a certain landmass and utilizing it’s resources or does it mean contributing to its GDP? Does it mean approving of it’s ruling government or does saying Jai Hind or I love India make one an Indian? According to me, being of a certain country or some boundary means imbibing and acting upon what values that country has been built, formed or perpetrated. Thus a person living in India might not necessarily be Indian but might act on a different set of formative values. Thus having an id is alright as long as one is aware what one is being identified with and identified as. The role that you are asked to play should be well justified according to one’s nature and tendencies instead o2f being forced upon due to uncontrollable events like being born or simply because something is done by most hence has to be done by rest.
What can be done to improve the current scenario then? One suggestion is to be yourself which is easier said than done. Second is that identities have to evolve with time and societies. An id that was working well a few 100 years ago might not be suitable is current scenario. But is this the solution or a temporary workaround? When a particular solution did not work for a problem then how can a similar suggested idea work. There has to be different solution to the problem of tagging and identity.
Being yourself is easy to say and looks great as a quote or a photo tagline but what mostly happens is that even being yourself ends up following a certain trend or pattern. Being yourself in entirety requires shedding of all masks, ids and affiliations given to one and taken by one. If I have to be myself , I should try and think independent of all possible tags and ids. And then what comes to my mind is what I am in truth. The catch is- our thoughts and process of thought is defined by the environment and people around us. We are so influenced by these two factors that to not think in a particular way is almost equivalent to not thinking at all. The people who I believe are able to break away in whatever amount are the ones who have always thought differently and have never believed a word told to them unless they have verified it themselves even if that means that they believe very few things and very few people. Some are exceptions and some are taught to think that way. Not only this but these are the people who have great observation skills. They can see the farce, fanaticism, close-mindedness , behavior contrary to someone’s internal nature due to ids and tags. This creates an urge to shed those. Shedding those ids means un-thinking what has been thought and learned to think. In essence, it means becoming a blank slate, a child again at a later stage. That is what shedding or letting go of an identity means.
Being oneself is not easy. It is the most easily said and the toughest thing to do by an individual. How does one do it, that path has to be searched for. One way could be to find out if we are really our thoughts , our ego or not. But this is just a suggestion. I do not know the solution. This urge to shed and let go only arises when a person understands that there is something fundamentally wrong with what is going on.
June 6, 2017 § 1 Comment
What is your best moment in the trek?
Why do you come to mountains?
What did you take from the mountains and what did you leave in the mountains?
These three questions were posed to us by the camp leader of Patar Nachauni (Uttarakhand) and we were asked to give our own answers without discussion when we returned to Patar after summit. After the questions were asked discussions started and there was a difference to be noticed. The relatively younger ones (recent undergrads) immediately started discussing and words like perseverance, endurance, will power etc could be heard. Most just smiled at each other and didn’t discuss these questions with each other (not in my knowledge atleast). After successfully summiting Roopkund when all of us had returned to the camp of Patar Nachauni, one or two of the camp trek mates randomly asked if we have to answer the three questions and if we have to, when will they be asked. The questions were casually forgotten later maybe even the answers. In my case, one of the questions remained unforgotten and unanswered. I tried finding out the reason but everything seemed shallow, incomplete, dissatisfying or simply not the real reason. Maybe it requires many more treks to be able to realize the answer.
Recently I had successfully completed the Roopkund Trek (15696 ft) which located in the Trishul massif in the state of Uttarakhand. One difference that I observed between Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand is that Himachal looks like most common paintings done of the mountains (soothing) whereas Uttarakhand is rugged and raw. This is due to the flora of the state. Nevertheless it is not the soothness or the ruggedness of the mountains that brings one to climb it all the way to the top or the destination which requires endurance, patience, will power, perseverance and knowing oneself (partially and atleast physically if not otherwise).
Coming back to the questions, my best moment in the trek was reaching the summit. This time I had poor stamina and had caught a bad cold just before the trek started. This led to intense congestion throughout the trek thus leading to breathlessness while ascend. There were multiple instances while ascending where I had almost planned to give up and come back later but then decided to reach the camp site and then see if the thought still persisted. The last few hundred meters in reaching the summit were the most exhilarating steps I had taken as I was unable to breathe properly and it was a steep snow climb. One big reason why I was able to cover that last distance was due to not letting go at the last moment and the presence of one of the members of the technical team with me throughtout the climb. Had Inder Bhaiya not encouraged continuously saying “ तुम अच्छा चल रहे हो |बस थोड़ा सा और ऊपर है | तुम कर लोगे, बस अपनी pace में चलते रहो |”, I might have reached even later than I already did. I am so thankful to the technical team and the guides (Nari Bhaiya and Suraj bhaiya) of TTH for encouraging me to move ahead. Due to improper health , I always walked last which led to longer resting break. For fast walkers such long breaks are annoying as it cools their body down thus reducing efficiency. Even after all this not a single member complained rather all of them encouraged me to keep going. Hence I am thankful to all my trek mates.
My cold had started from home itself and my parents are well aware of congestion at higher altitude. This kept them in constant worry throughout my trek and there wasn’t regular contact as well. After reaching Patar Nachauni the first time, I had called them after a day’s break to inform them about my condition. The relief was clearly evident in their voices and the happiness that I was fit enough to continue though slowly (read very slowly). That relief and happiness in their voices gave me more strength to continue. That moment I realized the importance of parent’s support in a particular endeavor and how it helps to continue regardless of whatever conditions.
Another question was regarding what I had taken from the mountains and what I had left in the mountains. I had packed my bag assuming that I will be carrying it on my own and will not burden the mule with my bag. Also I am not a fast walker but neither am I a very slow walker. Hence walking at the last was the first dent on my ego. Second major dent was giving my bag to the mule on the third walking day of the trek. It was during these moments that I had realized that either it was my ego or me. It was these particular points in time throughout the treks that made me realize that my ego is not what I can do or what I am capable of doing. Thus during the course of the trek I have left some part of my ego in the vast expanse of the mountains. Not only my ego but also some of my weight was lost during the trek 😛
What did I take from the mountains? More patience and perseverance and bliss of an empty mind. Also a lot of memories of Uno and discussions. That is the only thing I can think of right now. A few realisations like why meditation is easier in the Himalayas as compared to any other place and why it is easier to put one’s mind to use than to quiet it down. There were moments of pure relaxation where it was easier to understand and realize these things.
The last question was why I come to the mountains. I do not know the answer to this question. There were a few hypotheses I had thought of but none of them seemed apt or satisfying. I do not even remember them now. As mentioned earlier, I will have to do self-exploration and maybe many more treks to realize the answer to this particular question.
The ‘why’ of most questions are tough to answer with certainty. Either the answer is attributed to age old customs or are ignored and forgotten. What I have understood by going alone on treks to mountains is that not being with someone and walking alone makes one thoughtless. If not completely thoughtless then atleast useless and redundant thoughts don’t occur or bother a person. This calmness gives one the medium to see things as they are than from a pre-informed lens. Such clarity of mind gives a person enough space to grow and work towards improvement of self. This state of empowerment can help a person answer or seek those ‘why’s’ much effectively and properly than with influence of others keeping only the most necessary points in mind. Such de-cluttering of mind which in ideal condition should be possible anywhere, becomes much easier in the mountains. Maybe this is one of the hidden cravings that lead me to the mountains. I believe that the day I achieve such a state of mind without going to the mountains will be a day of lifetime achievement for me. Then going to the mountains will be for a reason not involving self or maybe I become as vast and as accommodating as the mountain itself. Who knows.
My first Himalayan trek was Sar Pass. Roopkund’s beauty is not the same as Sar Pass. Its beauty lies in its ruggedness. We were lucky to have experienced sunny, cloudy, rainy, hailstones and snowfall in a span of six days. Story behind Roopkund and various sites on the way holds religious (Hindu) significance. The campsites were Loharjung-Didna Village-Ali Bugyal-Patar Nachauni-Bugwabasa-Roopkund-Patar Nachauni-Bedni Bugyal-Wan Village. Each of the campsites are named according to some mythological incidents involving Nanda Devi Yatra in the old times when Nanda Devi (Goddess) was going for a yatra through this route. Also some campsites are named after Lord Shiv and Goddess Parvati’s journey to Mount Kailash. Besides this Roopkund is one of India’s oldest trek routes. I will not be mentioning the reasons regarding why a certain campsite is named as it will reveal the fun of story telling beforehand. Some stories and moments are best experienced live and at that particular place for full effect. What I will mention though is the night sky (3AM) sky at Bugwabasa camp. It is the clearest ( hence the most beautiful) night sky I have seen till date! I can totally understand the curiosity night skies must have evoked in the man’s heart and mind which led to important findings and today’s search for extra-terrestrial life.
For me Roopkund was a trek with some old and some new lessons learnt, new understandings and increased clarity. I intend to do many more in the future in the hope of exploring a new place and a new part of self.