Conversations & More

Books, Experiences, Writings, Conversations and More..


Leave a comment

Bhavatu Sabba Mangalam- A tribute to Mr. S.N Goenka

Image

Bhavatu Sabba Mangalam

The profundity of life resides in the Spaces between all that manifests itself materially. Because it’s here, in the Spaces, where actual creation happens and the most plausible example could be the DNA. How else could we explain the cosmic diversity between the  livings organisms of this planet when all of them are made out of the same basic materials- nucleotides comprising some sugars, amino acids and nitrogenous base and some phosphates. The same underlying materials creating species  from as simple as a hydra, to as complex as a human, and yet again (especially in humans) so much of diversity existing between members of the same species.

The answer is spaces.

Spaces between the bits and strands of that DNA. It is the spaces where definitions reside, it is the spaces where seeds of creation get sown. It is the spaces where miracles happens and I am sure the Prophet knew this when he said “Let there be spaces in your togetherness” because he must have known that the real magic, the real essence lies in the spaces.

Meditation is the art and science of reaching those spaces, which oftentimes gets cluttered by the cacophony of daily existence and Buddha some 2500 years ago re-discovered a very ancient technique of meditation called Vipassana which is a Pali world  meaning insight, or seeing things as they really are. The meditation cosmos comprises many stars and constellations but Vipassana is probably unique among them because of its simplicity, logicality and austere purity.  It is a completely practical course based upon scientific exploration of the the physical and meta-physical layers of existence and delivers purity of mind, eliminations of tensions and negativities to all those who learn and practice it seriously.

A completely non-sectarian and universal remedy for universal ills.

This crown-jewel which was rediscovered by Buddha (as it existed even before him) for the benefit of humanity flourished during his lifetime but gradually started loosing it’s efficacy, got corrupted and in due course of time completely disappeared from the land of its origin.

It disappeared from India but flourished in nearby Burma where it was preserved through centuries in its original form. It was here, in Burma that a leading industrialist in 1955, Mr. S.N. Goenka in search for a cure for his migraine came in contact with a great Vipassana teacher Saya Ghi U Ba Khin and became his disciple, and was so deeply influenced that he learned from his master for many years, eventually getting authorized as a teacher of Vipassana meditation.

In 1969 Mr. Goenka  came to India to conduct a course in Mumbai for his ailing mother and the rest is history. It was Saya Ghi U Ba Khin’s wish to reestablish the art of Vipassana living in it’s land of origin and to spread it throughout the world and his dream got realized through his disciple Mr. Goenka who in 1976 established the first Vipassana centre at Igatpuri Maharashtra, near Mumbai and from there it spread throughout the world. 170 centres over 90 countries around the world where more than a hundred thousand people from all faiths, religions and beliefs learn Vipassana in more than 59 languages every year.

And that too completely free of cost.

In 10 day( for first time students) and 20 days/30 days( for old students) residential programs with free boarding and lodging, which is sponsored by old students by way of donations which too is not mandatory.

I participated in my first 10 days Vipassana course last year and the experience was life changing. It was life changing because of the way it is structured and imparted. The mantra is not to focus on sermonizing or fostering Intellectualization but to impart something purely Experiential.  And by virtue of what one experiences from 4:30 AM in the morning to 9 PM in the evening, the learning stays. It actually succeeds in imparting those tools to the seeker which help develop awareness and equanimity, required to eradicate ignorance, cravings and aversions and to walk on a path which eventually leads to liberation.

The Vipassana course taught by Mr. Goenka is structured around Buddha’s eight fold path divided into 3 stages of Sila (moral practice), Samadhi( practice of concentration) and Panna (wisdom, development of purifying insight).

The practice of Sila is implemented in the course by making all students take certain vows like abstinence(during course duration) from -stealing, killing, sexual misconduct, false speech, intoxicants etc. For entire 10 days one has to be in noble silence- no speech, no writing, no gadgets of any kind.  It makes one uneasy initially because of the hyper- communicative world we are used to, but  after a while one becomes comfortable and even euphoric at the prospect of being in a silent world for 10 days.

First four days of the course one practices Anapana meditation which in simple terms is developing concentration of the mind by observing one’s breath. Just being aware of it as it come and goes. It is one of the best awareness building exercises I ever attempted and the experience of doing it in course environments is out of this world.

For the remaining days one practices the Vipassana meditation which is a step-by-step method to develop the power of insight and to advance to a point where intuition of truth becomes possible. It is a technique to observe one’s own reality by making physical sensations the object of one’s attention.

The 10 days at the Vipassana retreat was the best investment I ever made on myself and the sheer purity of intent with which it is conducted, devoid of the prevalent paraphernalia (at such places) of   frills, histrionics, charismatic discourses and other gimmicks is really commendable.

Kudos to the great master our beloved Mr. Satya Narayan Goenka who made this possible for millions of people like me. Not only for making this treasure reach us- no matter which country we reside in, but by doing so with a degree of honesty and professionalism which is hard to find in today’s world. Never focusing the spotlight on himself, avoiding all expressions of devotions to him and  discouraging his students to sit at his feet or treat him like a fancy Guru.

He was a truly spiritual and evolved soul who exuded purity throughout his life making a mammoth Vipassana edifice for humanity which serves one and all completely free of cost relying only on voluntary donations. I don’t know about other places but at Vipassana centres voluntary actually means voluntary. There is no prejudice against someone who donates a paltry amount and no preferred treatment for anyone donating a generous amount.

I wonder if spaces played a role here as well. What came out after a space of 2500 years was no doubt bound to be such beatific and nonpareil in its power to benefit mankind.

After all the magic, the gods, the creation resides there, in those spaces.

As revered Mr Goenka completes his journey and moves back to the source, I know what he must be saying to all of us.

Bhavatu Sabba Mangalam.

May all Beings be Happy….


Leave a comment

Footstep on the Sand of Time

Footsteps on the sand of time

 

Conversations, whether silent ones with ourselves or the real ones which we have or cherish to have with our loved ones, is what life is all about.

But sometimes, somewhere on our chosen or destined path, we find ourselves in those spaces, where the cherished misses a chance to get real. These spaces, whether created by us or by the circumstances of our life, give us a chance to think, to ponder about – how to communicate the cherished-but-as-yet-unsaid from the recesses of our heart to our loved ones?
I went through these spaces in my life and out of those spaces some conversations were born.

This one is from a father to a daughter. Let’s call it “Footsteps on the sand of time”.

Footsteps on the sand of time

That wintery day when world was all the same
Heavens decided to bless us once again
Your mom & my life was blessed with God’s grace
I knew it the moment I saw your lovely face

Your first footsteps on the pious sand of time
Began with a smile which was so sublime
I took you in my arms and looked into your eyes
An ocean of joy looked back at me

My life took wings from morning until night
Your infectious laughter had such beautiful light.
Every note in music has its own sweet melody
But the sweetest was the one which called me DADDY

I shall never forget the way my heart beat
The very first time when you stood on your feet
Our life was blessed with your sweet little talk
Its hard to tell what I felt to see you walk

Life thereafter was never but the same
Your love filled our lives like the most radiant flame
The softness of your touch, the beauty of your soul
The spark in your eyes made our lives worthy n whole

We came to Gurgaon and you went to Shikshantaar
Where you made many friends those sweet little Bandars
You cared for your friends ,you loved them from your heart
Nehu, Gurleen & Saumuya became your soul’s part

My dad your badepa was not keeping so well
Way you loved & cared for him words can never tell
He completed his journey and left us to be with God
The love of your soul was our binding chord

My darling daughter, this fact you must always know
Life will love, Life will test, as with time you grow
But you will always come shining through every life test
As I know you were, are, and will always be the best

Try to be the person you think you want to be
Chase your dreams with gay abandon with carefree glee
Search for your calling the reason for which you were born
Try to find what you love and do it with all concern

You are my shining star with a glow that will never end
Today, tomorrow and for ever, you would be my closest friend
Your footsteps on the sand of time as you go ahead
Will always have one more footprint, that of your dad

With profound Love
Dad

© Vivek Sharmaa


2 Comments

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Who is this guy?

Who is this guy?

Welcome to my blog.

A place where I intend to curate a world of my writings, my forthcoming books, interesting conversations and much more.

Something which I always wanted to do because of my belief that every life has a story; in fact many stories. Some sweet, some bitter, some perhaps tasteless and a few, hmm…. lets say having a lingering aftertaste, and I feel that a blog is a good place to share them, interactively.

Which I wished to do much earlier but for some barriers which prevented me from doing so.

First one being none other than Adam Smith, the founder of free market economy who perhaps very rightly taught this world, that the way to economic prosperity is through rational self-interest and competition which I took very very seriously, pursuing self-interest and all that jazz in “Fortune 500s” of this world.

And the second and the more serious one being the potent virtue of procrastination which ensured that I witness all these stories passively, without taking any action on the calling which lay dormant in some deep recess of my heart.

But just by chance one day an over ruling act of providence broke my slumber. It came in the form of “Bruno”, my beagle, and I am pretty sure that when Aristotle gave the concepts of “potentiality and actuality” trying to differentiate the possibility a thing might have, from the actual fulfillment of that possibility, he definitely must have included a beagle in his list of subjects for deciphering this dichotomy.

Bruno is fully actualized potentiality which means he is perpetually kinetic. It so happened that one fine morning when I was getting ready for office, Bruno for the very first time in his life sneaked into our dressing room which normally is out-of-bounds for him. I was tying my necktie in the full length mirror when suddenly I saw Bruno standing by my side peeping at me from the mirror. He obviously saw me, actually two of me, one outside the mirror and on inside it and got royally confused, which I gathered from that “ how weird is this” look on his face, typical of beagles.

And then he saw himself and was shocked. He moved back a few feet growling and was at his wits’ end when he saw the dog in the mirror too ceding ground. Bruno grunted and charged at the mirror and was flabbergasted to see the other dog grunt and groan too. This went on for about fifteen minutes before (perhaps) he understood that it was nobody else but him in the mirror.

The next morning as I was getting ready for office (this time with the dressing room door closed), Bruno started scratching the door from outside giving out those typical beagle wailing sounds which come out only when they want something. He was asking me to open the door. I allowed him in and without wasting any time in niceties like wagging his tail or licking my hands, he straightaway proceeded to the mirror with a real nice swagger. He touched the mirror with his claws touching his image and then gave out a typical “Bruno chuckle” this time wagging his tail quite profusely. Then he receded back, then sideways, then again walked towards the mirror and this went on for quite some time.

He was thoroughly enjoying himself.

From that day on it became our daily ritual when Bruno would come inside the room to have a really nice time with “his self” in the mirror.

He seemed to have fallen in love with what he saw in the mirror.

I was quite worked out those days because of extreme work pressure and although I was doing well but had no clue where my life was going. Maybe I was a perfect example of Gurdjieff’s automaton- somebody who lives his life in a state of sleep not having the ability to perceive reality.

Then one day while getting ready I looked at somebody in the mirror and quite strangely my heart skipped a beat.

I was not in sync with the person who looked back at me. In many ways it was like looking at a stranger.

That day I couldn’t focus much on work and I don’t know from where these lines came out of me.

I tilted it Mirror.

Mirror

One day suddenly

standing in front of the mirror I felt

that it’s been ages since I met

myself.

In the jungle of life

by attaining speed

my boundaries got expanded but

somewhere I separated, from myself.

I sometimes think that one day, someday

I will meet myself

and ask “Where have you been?”

What was your search?”

But till that happens,

there is the jungle, there is the speed,

there is the boundary and the breach of it

What is not is a meeting with myself..

Penning down these lines in itself was quite therapeutic and I knew that if kept on looking inside, one day I will find and meet that stranger, that “me” , who looked back at me when I stood in front of a mirror.

The process has started and I hope that this time I won’t let me leave me.

Have a fantastic weekend and keep checking out this space.

Cheers

Vivek