Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Musings 213 – Clean >> Light >> Begin

Monday Musings 213 – Clean >> Light >> Begin

I have come to believe that it is the deep symbolism of festivals that make them special. The rituals in itself may not mean much as much as what we do in its preparation, in the buildup of it, in the way we as individuals and families go about ushering it in that make them special. 

Diwali to me is around three activities and they may mean more than what we take them for - for as I see it, it is these three things and the rich imagery of it that makes the day special, not in a religious sense but in a very broad way. Diwali is about CLEANING first, LIGHTS next and BEGINNING third, and in that order. 

Have you wondered why does the CLEANING begins much before you usher in a NEW BEGINNING!!. Cleaning symbolizes recognizing that living as a pursuit will generate waste, what was useful once may become junk now. The act of cleaning, and in most households diwali cleaning is not an activity that is solely delegated to paid workers or maids the way day to day cleaning is done. Diwali cleaning is deliberate, collective and yet immensely personal. Everyone goes through his or her clutter and decides what must be kept and what must be thrown. The family comes together to decide collectively what must be given away. Unseen corners must be cleaned, old boxes must be cleaned, all that has been stored must be sifted to retain only and only that is relevant, functional or useful.  What is done of the house, must apply to lives as well. Lets CLEAN our lives in ways and manner in which we deem fit - capability, attitude, health, relationships!!

The second act during diwali is the act of LIGHTING. The pursuit of bringing light to dark corners, ignored corners, every room, terrace, balcony, even bathrooms. No space in the house is not worthy of being bathed in lights, uplifting them to equal status for once during the year. Can we light up all parts of our lives and remove the veil of ignorance from them. Can we look squarely into the blinding play of ego, unawareness, denials and our own motives and light them, if not with the esoteric renunciation, at least with the mundane awareness. Let us LIGHT. 

Finally Diwali is about making a NEW BEGINNING. Old books of accounts are closed and new ledgers are formed. Diwali marks the beginning of New Year above all. This may mean many things for us. A new beginning at a behavior offers us an opportunity to make clean what is toxic in us, in what has been a thorn in our relationships, in what is causing dysfunctionality in our interactions and make way for what is functional and positive. A new beginning could mean the whole world of regenerating practices around reading, learning, playing; chasing hobbies so on and so forth. A new beginning could mean reinventing oneself at the jobs we are doing today and what is our aspiration tomorrow. A new beginning is about adding new capability, new knowledge, new skills, new thinking to what we already have. A new beginning is about acknowledging the true nature of the current state and then beginning the exciting journey of making it better. Finally new beginning is about belief, that this day can become a decisive inflection point, that a new beginning can actually be made, that reinvention is actually possible. 

So, Clean, Light and make a new beginning. I am doing the same. 


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Monday Musing 212 - "In the beginning there was the word..."

Monday Musing 212 - "In the beginning there was the word..."

There is great magic in words. Many of them are not merely words but stories unto themselves. Over a period of time they acquire a life of their own and the average reader is far removed from its origins or initial usage. The science of it is called Etymology.

In the course of enjoying a recent book I happen to learn the origin of the word ‘sincere’. Apparently in the old times while a sculptor would make a bust or an idol, he would apply wax to fill cracks if any and then cover them with the crushed stone powder with which the bust was being made. Obviously those with such wax linings were considered of poorer quality than the ones which did not have any cracks and hence did not need such wax corrections. Hence the one which were pure, were without wax or sin cere as in latin, and voila – sincere!!
I suddenly recollected how a classmate of mine during my business school had educated us, quite dramatically at that, that the act of making decision was essentially a violent act. Apparently it is not such a great idea of be in two minds and vacillate between two positions. To arrive at a decision is to kill the two and arrive at one, i.e. de (two) Cide (kill) and voila again decide!!

Dan Brown in his novel The last word opines that early thinkers and ancient people considered the mind as the most powerful reservoir of wisdom, energy and power. Such an enlightened mind was capable to creating miracles and hence worthy of being worshiped. Hence the word temple to describe the side of the head – the holy place where such a mind rests.
The Italians would keep a ship suspected with contamination or carrier of infections in observation for forty days, (quaranta = forty) and hence anything under observation in a secluded place or position is to be quarantined.

The Bible says “In the beginning there was the word…” It’s not surprising that most religions have written words that are considered holy and pious. All religions have some book or the other for its followers to abide by, take inspiration from, resort to in times of ambivalence, ambiguity and crisis. These written words have stories to tell, advise to give, directions to provide, comfort to offer and at the end of it all, happiness to promise. It is through the words, its meaning and imagery that they have managed to survive, thrive and spread over hundreds of years. Then it suddenly dawns upon me that in my own religion Sikhism the hymns sung in mellifluous raags, which should have been called as songs are not called songs but are actually called Shabads, which means  ‘word’.

Let’s know the world of words better.