Sunday, September 21, 2014

Step 1: Find the self. Step 2: Give it up.

Being on the spiritual path, we often talk about surrendering the self to the divine. But there is great danger in attempting to do this without reclaiming the self in the first place; reclaiming it from all the conditioning, fears and beliefs.

Most people I see around are very opinionated; not as a result of their own enquiry, but as a result of conditioning by the society (parents, teachers, priests, the media). Either this, or they take the counter point in reaction. For instance, if they’ve been indoctrinated about the need to be God-fearing, they become atheists. Reacting / taking a counter-stand, without any real enquiry into the nature of the mind that experienced oppression, and of that which it feels oppressed by, is another form of conditioning too.

In this process, we lose ‘the self’ to the unconscious. When ‘the self’ is so lost, is so entangled, how can it be surrendered? I am reminded of the story about the king who the tribals refused to sacrifice simply because his one finger was missing. “We cannot offer to God that which is not whole, that which is imperfect!” they said.

So, the first step in the process of surrender is to recognize that it is lost, that what it thinks are ‘its thoughts’ are not it’s at all in the first place. The second step in the process is to very badly want to disentangle it, find it, and humbly pray “I am completely lost! I don’t have a clue about what to do. I need help!” Patanjali refers to this state as the basic requirement for a yogi, someone to get onto the path of spiritual enquiry. Revelations and healing follow on their own. ‘Atha yoga anushasanam’. (Now, you are ready for yoga). The Mother calls this process ‘Personalisation’ / ‘Individuation’. “It is only after you learn to personalize the self, that you can understand surrender.” Through intense personal enquiry / tapas, when one starts recognizing the entanglement, getting in touch with what one really feels and thinks about things, absolutely fearlessly, as if nothing else mattered, then the process of disentanglement has begun. 

When we talk of and attempt surrender, with all our pains unrecognized and unowned, all those knots in the stomach still intact blaming this, that and the other for them, in whatever or whosever name, we enter a very dangerous space called Branti Darshanam (False vision / Delusion) Another name for it is ‘spiritual bypassing’. The sense I get from most people giving ‘spiritual discourses’ today. One cannot attain pandityam in advaita and think one has “arrived”. One needs to stay with all the deep shit of his life, take complete responsibility for all his emotions, do his tapas, be willing to stay with the flame of discontent, stay with the tension of all the unresolved stuff. And this inner work involves a lot of work with the body as well, for that is where such ‘stuff’ is stored. In biological terms, embedded within our cells. In this way, when he starts healing from the collective unconscious, when he learns more about ‘the real nature of his self and the many layers it comes packaged in’, when he learns to find strength, safety and security from within, when he learns to pick up the courage to speak his truth, to be clear about his thoughts without being conclusive, and be vulnerable, all at the same time, it’s only then that true surrender even becomes possible.

I find this perfectly correlating with the current talk about how globalization is helping us become citizens of the world; the need to drop our identities as individual nations to start identifying with the world, etc. Words like ‘global citizens’, ‘global oneness’ are liberally used, especially in the economic and cultural contexts, without any understanding of its implications. I am very convinced that it is only when we really find our own roots, reclaim our own cultures, strongly locate ourselves in the local, that true global oneness is even possible. I can truly embrace global oneness, only if I truly embrace my location in this form as an Indian. 

But we are in a very messy situation right now. What is generally called ‘India’ and ‘Indian’ is often misplaced - misinterpreted, misused. All around us, we see two kinds of people. 1. Those who use their idea of ‘India’ and their identity as an ‘Indian’ with such wrong intentions / ignorance, fueling fear, separation, pain and suffering. 2. Those who are disgusted by this and have taken a strong counter stand to disown our roots. Understandable. I’ve done that too.

Connecting being whole, strong and unique;
Golden ball in the centre represents 'The Truth'
By embracing, I don't mean blindly accepting. By embracing, I mean enquiring into the nature of my Indian identity. And from this empowered and aware place, recalibrating my relationship with it. It involves critically assessing it, understanding its strengths and limitations, challenging it, reorganising it where necessary by discarding what is not relevant and building on its their strengths, integrating and rising beyond. Over the years, finding my own empowerment and healing from the oppression in my culture, I’ve felt less and less of a need to disown my roots. For, I realize I am part of a larger collective consciousness – the Indian consciousness, more specifically, the Indian female consciousness. My personal healing is deeply connected to the larger healing of these collectives.

Rejection of our local identity in the process of 'moving on' only builds more pain, which will eventually come out in side ways and burn us out. 

Connecting being fragmented, weak and homogenous;
Black ball in the centre represents
'Falsehood / The Mass Unconscious' 
There is a great and urgent need to really enquire into ‘What is India? What does it mean to be Indian? How do we firmly root ourselves in the local. (Another interesting term being used these days is ‘Glocalisation’.) It is only after we have done that, only after we have truly learnt to get in touch with and celebrate (which also comes packaged with mourning) our own soil, can we talk about ‘True Globalisation’. Otherwise, we will continue to mistake ‘homogenization’ for ‘global oneness’. A collective Branti Dharshanam we need to urgently recognize and heal from.

Prof. Herman Daly in his beautifully articulated essay explains why the current form of globalization, with nations (and cultures) having porous borders, is actually tearing the world apart, intensifying suffering. He proposes Internationalisationas opposed to ‘Globalisation’, on very similar terms that I’ve explained here.