The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, is a report released in May 2019 by the UN, and it is dire news for all fellow living beings, on our Mother Earth. The continued pillage of natural flora and fauna, to meet the agricultural needs, to feed 7 billion humans is devastating our planet. For one species alone, to virtually annihilate all others is the path we are on if we don take action. An estimated 82 percent of wild mammal biomass, has been lost, since their last warning, just a few decades ago. This loss in our fellow mammals, with the closest gene relationships, is a clear indication, of the heartless and willful destruction; of whales, tigers; and other mammals, large and small. It is not that we have even spared ancient species like amphibians, where almost 40 percent have similarly declined; in living environments available, and their numbers.
When I went to remote Maldives, I was devastated to see the white and dead reefs, where previously there had been extensive colored corrals, and schools of fish. Almost a third of reef-building corals, have been lost around our world. With global warming, it’s likely to prove deadlier, for this fragile ecosystem. As the oceans come under pressure, more than a third of the exiting marine mammals, have disappeared. The sight of Polar Bears roaming in areas, where they were never seen before, in search of food, is heart rendering. Bee populations have been decimated, and 10 percent of all insect populations, are threatened with extinction, in the near future.
The Report called on countries, to begin focusing on restoring natural habitats, and providing corridors needed for creatures to move about. All illegal logging must be stopped, and instead large areas need to be returned, to nature, with help from our best organizations. Humans have to learn the science of growing more food, on less land. Vertical cities, will need vertical farms, to feed them. The overfishing of our natural reservoirs has to stop. Fresh water bodies should be restored, to avoid severe water shortages in the future. Water harvesting and drip agriculture, will be needed on a massive scale. We cannot allow the continued dumping of heavy metals, and waste water into our natural bodies. Lastly nations need to take more action, to protect their marine areas. Offshore drilling reductions, waste and plastic removal and reduction of pollution strategies must be implemented on a massive scale. Marine protection habitats are all required urgently to ensure large swaths of Ocean are cleaned, of man-made pollution, and returned back to its rightful inhabitants.
The final recommendation is that we are all in this together, or else we will each die, separately. Economic drivers for polluting the earth and making it unfit for other creatures to survive, is no longer a viable option. Nations need to change their taxation systems, and economic penalties, to stop the continued pollution of our land, oceans and atmosphere. The money gained from these should be funds spent towards, doing what is right for all of us. The more environmentally beneficial programs we embark on, the better we will be. With this second warning in as many decades, the UN has put us on notice; that we and many of the creatures around us, are on a very destructive path. It is urgent to take action, and amend our way; before we lose most of what is so beautiful, on our planet: – the biodiversity of life that nature has created, over billions of years!
The young boy looked up in wonder, at the morning sun, rising above the trees. There was a line of them, along the slow river which flowed, far away. As it rose, it made the flowing river, to turn into a shining silver\gold combination. He closed his eyes and still the shadow of the bright light, remained in his brain, as if the sharp reflection of the sun, still remained. The flash reminded him, of that light he had seen, before the explosion, which changed his life.
He shivered as he lay on the ground, half up, leaning on his elbow, watching the day dawn, and turn to morn. He moaned slowly, as the ghost pain from his missing left legs, rose again. He tried not to start crying, so early in the day, as he did not want the village children, to call him a crybaby again. He closed his eyes again, trying to take long breaths, in and out, as his father had taught him, to calm his mind and body. When he opened them again later, he saw that the reflection of the sun, had gotten weaker, and the river appeared darker, against the green and brown of the trees.
He realized he was thirsty and started to crawl on the ground, towards the hand pump, in the shade of a nearby tree. It was where the street to the temple ended, from the heart of the Brahmin section of the village. He found a container with some left over water, and raised it, and took a long draught right down his open face, and down his parched gullet. Some spilled, but he did not mind as the cool water felt good, and his thirst was gone. He turned and looked down the Temple Street, and watched a stray dog walking away. He did not like dogs and was glad it wasn’t coming, for water.
He had never been inside the temple, or even the Brahmin section of the village. His sister had gone there to steal cow droppings, from their cows, when they went to graze, for his mother’s open fire. She mixed it with straw and made cow dung patties sun dried on their outside wall. His mother used the dried fuel and twigs as fuel. His eyes would often glaze, lying in that smoke, and soot filled hut. His mother cooked the family meal of cheap rice, and whatever they could afford, that day.
Mother had changed a lot, since the wicked men
came, and took his father away. He had already suffered his injuries and was
lying in his home, on the thick cotton sheet, in his corner quietly. He had
heard his father talking and the man yelling at him, outside. Then other voices
joined in, harsher and sharper. His father was saying “I have a lame child at
home from this unholy war, please there is no one, to take care of my three
children and my wife.”
“Take him away,” Came the voice of a man, who
seemed high, as if on a horse.
“No, unhand me, No,” I heard my father cry out,
as others dragged him away, kicking and shouting.
It had been three years since then and his
mother had no time to play with him now. They had been so happy, as she would
play with him in the mornings, after all her chores were done. He would laugh
at her stories and all his pain would be forgotten. She was magical, she turned
his long troubled nights, into a wonderful day. She whispered softly to him “My
happiest baby,” and crushed him to her chest. They would cuddle together and
play, without a care in the world. They laughed a lot together, happy in their
Now she would feed the family in the mornings
and his older siblings would go off to the village school, as she went off to
work. She is a maid in one of the merchant family’s, big brick home. It was a big
whitewashed wonder, with lots of people. She worked all day cleaning and
washing and anything else that needed doing, for such a large family. She
returned in the evenings and made the evening meal, and fed and put them to bed,
and slept herself.
“Our school is also a brick building, each
class has big windows, with glass!” his sister had told him with awe, when she
returned, from her first day.
The boy wondered what it would be, to be, in a
room, with big windows. He could not imagine a place, where you could look out,
at any time. She told him her class room was bigger than 4 of their huts, and
had high walls, and a peaked clay tile orange roof. He wondered what it would
be like to be in a strong building in the monsoons, would the rain still sound
He knew he would never go to school, and he was
happy, for his sister. She pressed and massaged his left over thighs, where his
legs had been cut off, after the blinding explosion. He liked it when she did
that, and he smiled, for the first time that day. Then she heard her mother
calling her, and she rushed off, leaving him on his sheet, in his corner, of
“Come here sweat girl,” he heard a man’s voice,
who sounded like the merchant, for whom his mother worked.
“She is very young and shy,” my mother said.
“Well, once she starts working, she will be
fine,” the man said. “What good is it to you, to educate this girl, as I can
help you, if you need more money? Let her come for work also, and I will increase
your salary. You are lucky, your middle boy can continue to go to school.”
“She is too young,” my mother said, “She has to
take care of my lame son, when she comes from school.” The man would not listen
and soon left.
The boy became lonelier. He now had to fend for
himself, all day. He would eat what his mother left him, and on days when the
weather was nice, and he had the energy, he would crawl out. He was wary of
dogs, as he had been almost bitten once, His brother had come and chased two
curs away, just in time, as they snarled and snapped at him, in the street. Now
he had no one, and so ventured out less often. Today he left the well and
slowly crawled back home as the afternoon approached, and he wanted to be back,
in his shady hut.
One night he heard his sister crying, “I do not
want to go there, any more, mother.” She cried between sobs and he could see
her shoulders shaking, as she heaved and wailed. Her mother reached out her
arms and wrapped her and pulled her to her bosom. She held her in her arms and shushed
her, trying to stop her crying. “They hurt me,” she murmured and mother
continued to hold her, and tried to comfort her.
His sister stopped massaging his thighs, and she seemed to be afraid to touch his flesh. He would reach out to her as before, and she would retreat, as if afraid. This frightened the little boy even more, as he thought he had turned into some monster. He knew that he was scaring his dear sister, just as he had hurt his mom, with the blast. He hurt more, every day, now, and the pain, would not go. Even when he breathed, like his father had taught him, the pain stayed there, and arose and fell in pulses of heat.
He was losing his memory of his father, he realized one day. He could not hear his voice in his ear, telling him that he will take him to the city hospital, and that he would get better soon. He missed his strong arms around him, making him so warm and close and secure in his world. He learnt how to bear his pain, and not cry. He knew his father was taken away, because of him, as he had heard him pleading with them and they must have taken his father, because he was a bad son. Even if he cried, it did not matter, as there was no one there. So he just lay on his cotton sheet, in his corner of his world, alone, and unwanted.
The long nights became especially painful for him, as he tried to be quite, so his mother could sleep. The nights when he heard his sister crying silently, were the worst, for him. They were so close, and yet so far, and he felt like screaming. Then he would remember his sleeping mother, and his father’s gift. He would cuddle himself, into a ball of pain, and breathe. He would take one long incoming breath. Then a slow outgoing breath. He would continue his breathing moment by moment, aware of his pain; and dying a little bit more, with each breath.He eagerly awaited the dawn to escape a little, whenever he had the strength..
His life force slipped away in the winter night, quietly, without a murmur. Next morning his mother picked him up, and took him out, and laid him in the sun, to clean him. She washed him and looked lovingly at his beautiful face, and prepared for his last rites. The people from the neighboring huts came, and helped prepare him, for his final journey. All she could remember was his smiling and giggling face as a baby.
As the men lifted and took him away, a single
tear fell from his mother’s eyes. “My happiest baby,,,,,” repeated again, and again,
was all they heard, as they took him away.
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.
-Robert Frost, poet (26 Mar 1874-1963)
The morality of the economic elite is not be questioned by the middle class; and similarly the lower classes are supposed to live with their own moral or immoral behavior, squeezing the middle strata from both ends. The pleasures of the senses though fleeting; seem to attract the worst in us, and but for our morals many more of us would fall into a trap of descending morality and decadence. The rise of civilizations is when the middle class is on the ascendance; and lasting change comes neither from the top, or the bottom. In any great society history has shown that while the middle holds itself to a higher standard, only then the society continues to evolve into a higher rising spiral of success.
The greatest leaps in philosophy, art, science and architecture have come about, when great ideas were shared by the middle classes and spread across the spectrum of universal thought. To achieve this; great dialogs have to take place, and education and cultural renaissance has to be nurtured and spread across the nation. The atmosphere has to change to allow this great exchange of ideas, to encourage innovative thinking and solutions for the betterment of mankind, and also of our fellow creatures. For this to happen a more equitable distribution of resources has to take place; so the best ideas can be implemented and allowed to bloom, into the next fruitful endeavor.
Today we face a great dilemma where the elite are increasingly gathering the resources to them, at an unprecedented scale, and the political will to redistribute is gone. The poor subsist on the dredges of the top down approach and the middle is struggling for its economic and cultural survival. Failing standards in schools and universities are pushing the middle class further behind. In an unequal economic war, large corporations squeeze the workers out; for the benefit of their shareholders. The top corporate officers are often seen running away with the million(s) dollar prize, even when they are dismissed for not adding any value. We learnt from Alan Greenspan’s following of the Ayn Rand philosophy; by allowing capitalists to go forward and multiply unchecked, led to unintended consequences. Instead of being harbingers of the greatest good, they showed unmitigated greed, bringing the greatest financial institutions of the world to financial ruin, and led to the Great Recession and a lost decade.
It is still too early to say who will come out as a champion of this century, or this millennium. The US, and China are the front runners today but neither of them are known for their high happiness index, or measures of equality. While one has a dysfunctional political government, the other has an overtly centrally planned one. Neither of these models is conducive to find the long lasting solutions for a moral standard, which will allow humanity to be happy in the long run. The US stands on its own moral high ground belittling all other developing and undeveloped nations as inferior, and China has historically maintained that its Middle Kingdom is superior to all others. We desperately need a new model.
We should all think long and hard on what we want to achieve and what kind of a world we want to leave for our next generations. A more equitable and caring world is only possible if we remove the rose colored glasses, that we all wear. We need to be able to look clearly at reality and without prejudice move towards a morally higher path. Innovation and development are not mutually exclusive from compassion and love. We have to not only embrace diversity and equality, but have to allow it to prosper and grow. From the many will come the solutions of tomorrow and not from the elite at the top. The revolution from the poor will only unravel the laws of a civil society and be more regressive then progressive. Our greatest achievement will be to lead all around us from darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge, and from the untruth of sensual weakness to the truth of moral strength which is everlasting.
Finally the day has dawned and I can request all my fellow travelers on this journey; to sample a tale about Times Square, and a family’s despair, hope and faith on Broadway. Will you please help me to share its availability for sale at Abbott Press at the link attached?
Arundhati Roy has correctly stated that the open sore that festers all the country’s political bodies in #South Asia based on the division on religious lines by the British, now lies exposed to all when she says specifically in this last Indian elections “The two main parties agreed on most policies, and each had the skeleton of a mass pogrom against a minority community in its cupboard. So now, it’s all out in the open. The system lies exposed.”
The attack on the Indian consulate in Afghanistan where luckily no official died is a symptom of this disease. The killing of 60 people in Northern Waziristan a strong hold of the Pakistan Taliban, the killings in eastern India all show countries, in a war with themselves. To the credit of the countries the security forces have behaved admirably and performed their tasks well keeping the separatists and terrorists at bay. The fear mongers and nay-sayers will predict the worst for the future atrocities that humans are prepared to undertake in the defense of their religion or their community. For tribal societies homogeneity is not a preferred lifestyle as life is lived within the remote forests and valleys in their own distinct flavor. With democratic governments all across the SARC region the imagination boggles at the possibilities of a progressive state.
Will the economic ties be strengthened and the rule of law enforced so that trade and commerce can happen in open borders with trust and conviction?
Will cultural exchanges be encouraged so that we can all understand, how much we have in common and to gain collectively, if we all pool our resources and develop together?
Will we open up seamless trade between our traditional Indian Ocean neighbors from South Asia to the far east and Africa in the greatest development of trade ever imagined?
Will pipelines of energy flow into the starved heartland from Iran and Central Asia; so great enterprises can flourish, and tech cities be built to house the next generation?
Will the harnessing of 80% of the region’s water that flows into the ocean today, be saved for prosperity, before the Himalayan snow caps melt into history?
Will healthcare, education, human development and equality be the new standard against which a nation is measured; rather than the old ones of hate, ignorance, bigotry, caste and creed?
Will the infrastructure finally be built to crisscross the land; in 12 lane highways, superfast trains and modern airports, with the bridges, tunnels, ports and warehouses that are required for a modern life?
Will we be able to leapfrog to the internet of things; as while it too a long time to collect 550 million votes, we could count them electronically in just one day. By modernizing electronic communications – imagine what we could do for agriculture, housing, transportation, crafts and local products with open markets?
Will we generate employment for the millions; that will only spur us into an upward spiral of development and prosperity at a scale, that the world has never known before?
Questions that only time and a steely resolve to improve a fifth of humanity’s condition can answer, we can all join in the effort with a single step forward.
“This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a real threat to inclusive political and economic systems, and compounds other inequalities – such as those between women and men. Left unchecked, political institutions are undermined and governments overwhelmingly serve the interests of economic elites – to the detriment of ordinary people.” Oxfam reports that the 85 richest people own as much as the poorest half of humanity put together.
The growing #inequality between the haves and the have nots continues to grow despite all the trickle down economics that was supposed to help the poor. There is no rising tide in the forecast that will lift all the boats and reduce poverty and provide the education and skills required to improve productivity. Those who have control of the property and assets will continue to reap rewards and those without will continue to struggle to make ends meet. Nation states will continue to protect their wealthy citizens as they control the nation’s wealth. All others are second class citizens and can be controlled with the laws of the state, if they step out of line to grab a fair share of their existence. Who ever heard of laws to help the homeless, insane, destitute or of our own folks in deep despair? The laws are written to protect the precedence of established #wealth and hierarchy, by the paid servants whether by political or economic patronage. Suspect all not for profits and charitable institutions, until you can see them working with the disadvantaged and for them alone.
Modern states have all the tools at their disposal to build a more equitable economy through the use of taxation and the dreaded words to conservatives “income distribution”. A more equal world will open up opportunities for half of humanity living in dire states and allow them to achieve what the 85 can never do on their own. I am no Robin Hood who would rob from the rich to give to the poor. I would instead advocate a path of growth and development where the state provides justice and the rule of law and national security and leaves the rest to the people. The use of taxation is to take from those who have been blessed with too much and use it for education, health care, shelter of the masses by providing the infrastructure for the people to build their own lives. People are resourceful and can solve their own problems and to create what they need, to leads a happier life. We do not need the Rich or the State to provide handout but rather help the individual to develop into a productive member of society.
The state should ensure that the roadblocks from outdated laws and political patronage, should be overhauled to provide more inclusive growth. This overwhelming inequality is a moral insult to all people who value human dignity and respect human freedom. Why force people to live out a life of subsistence and depravation when we have the means to raise them out of poverty and destitution. The cost of raising their standards is insignificant in the larger political economy; as if we stop our wars for even a year, we will be able to pay for it many times over. It is the price we pay every day that is too much; to have this #inequality fester, all over the human body. Given the opportunity people will become productive and lift themselves out of poverty and ignorance. Even history guides us as Greek-Roman historian Plutarch: `An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.` . Is the empowerment of 85 more important than that of 3,500,000,000?
Viktor Frankl drew on his own existantial experiences as a survivor of the holocaust, to originate the discipline of Logotherapy as explained in Wikipedia. “Logotherapy is a form of Psychotherapy that stresses the need to find meaning in life even in the most tragic circumstances. When “Man’s Search for Meaning” was published in 1959, Carl Rogers called it “one of the most outstanding contributions to psychological thought in the last fifty years.” He broke away from Nietzsche’s will to power and Freud’s will to pleasure by explaining that the individual’s highest calling is to find the meaning in life based on the following:
• Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
• Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
• We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.”
Frankl went on to explain that to find meaning in life we need to be careful against affluence, hedonism and materialism as that will distract from finding the purpose that will give meaning to our life. No matter how adverse the environment we face (Frankl lost his family and survived multiple death camps during the Holocaust), we must always remember “the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”. The freedom of will is ours and we have to determine our own character and personality, no matter what the circumstances. We will be buffeted by biological, political, social, economic and other adverse situations but our will is our own and we will suffer, but we must never surrender to our circumstances.
Existential analysis and psychotherapy aside how will we bring this message alive, so that we can continue to find meaning in our life and get fulfillment from a life lived with purpose? We are the victims of our own inadequacies which are largely the result of “unfulfilled responsibility” (I could have provided better for my daughter) and we suffer from “anticipatory anxiety” (I will not be able to sleep when I go to bed). To battle anxiety from such situations Logotherapy offers “paradoxical intention”, or go to bed and intentionally try not to fall asleep (this will reduce the hyper anxiety about not being able to sleep, and the person will fall asleep in a more normal timespan).
Now I look back on my life and see the successes of all my contemporaries and also the many accomplishments of the wonderful people that I have known. #Life is valuable and we must not squander this greatest of all opportunities. What are anxieties about my lack of personal success; whether economic or social are eating away at my purpose in life and I am unable to develop myself. The depression from promises unfulfilled to my spouse, or family, or boss have taken their toll over the years; till now I am a mere hollow shell of what I once was. Drop by drop, the repeated blows of perceived failures, have hollowed out my inner strength; till now I project a weak exterior, trampled on by one and all in the passing herd. Life has become a daily look in the mirror at past failures and lost opportunities and preconceived notions of my own inadequacies for #self actualization.
Now I consign all these sorry feelings and low attitudes, to the dung heap of history. I will raise my beliefs again to the level where I will find the meaning in life, which I have long sought. Next time we meet you may find a spring in my step and a vision that rises higher. If you see a new light around me, it is my life burning in a new flame of meaning. The wick is time (my life) and the fuel is will (my attitude) and the light is knowledge (my life providing meaning to others around me). Look closely at the flame that rises; for I have decided that from now on I will become the temple lamp that lights the way, by burning itself out. In my newfound wisdom I will indulge fully in a joyful effort to improve myself and those around me. We will promote training in generosity, patience, concentration, wisdom and above all a compassion for all creatures and promote ethical living. My current flame is weak I know; but by the time I am done I #hope, it will be an inferno that will become a shining lighthouse in life’s storm, for all humanity if you join with me!
The pursuit of happiness is an explicit goal laid out by the founding fathers of this nation; and the Homestead Act was the greatest law ever passed, as it allowed for the settlement of the wild lands of the west expanding the original colonies. The native Indian tribes were driven out and the European settlers brought with them personal property ownership, to what had been a largely communal land. This basic premise where ownership of land and all the resources below it belongs to a person; and not the state was the bedrock of American thinking, which lasts to this day. It laid the foundation for the greatest wealth creation that our times have seen, and changed the course of entrepreneurship and invention over the past few centuries.
Freed from the clutches of the state each individual was truly free to pursue his or her own development and lifestyle. All lands have their own resources but to explore and use those needs courage, determination, vision, steadfast determination and a risk taking ability. Majority of such endeavors may end in failures, but even if a miniscule portion of new projects are successful, they can change the course of our human condition for centuries to come. The latest example is the development of horizontal fracturing (fracking) of shale rock to release the natural gas and oil buried deep in our earth. As people own the land and its resources a new gold rush has started and an example is the remote state of North Dakota where unemployment is 2.6% and the economy is booming.
There is no other country which could have developed this, as it is a unique American characteristic that when faced with resource challenges, its innovators and tinkerers come up with ways to achieve new breakthroughs in how we think and do things. When the oil majors gave up on the US oil fields as too mature and moved their investments to offshore and to other countries; it was the wildcatters in Texas, who continued to pursue new ways to exploit existing resources. Last year alone 150,000 wells were dug to harness this technology in the US, dwarfing all other countries around the world. Majority of these were done by small unknown companies and individuals and have revolutionized American energy growth, while the rest of the world suffers shortages and high prices of gas. Even China which sits on one of the largest shale formations; with its huge state owned oil companies, is far behind and will take decades to catch up as it copies the technology.
The new industrialization of America based on cheap gas and oil will allow the country to continue to create #wealth and become energy independent and eventually the largest exporter of petro chemicals in the coming decades, while the rest of the world will continue to play catch up. It takes trillions of dollars to increase the GDP of America even marginally and thus innovation and continuous technological breakthroughs are required on a daily basis. The internet of things is coming and it will need more energy than ever before. The problem is that all these fossil fuels like coal, gas, oil are destroying our eco system and global warming is leading to an unsustainable planet, as we are destroying habitats and environments indiscriminately.
We are exterminating whole species and microorganisms on a scale similar to the extinction of the dinosaurs. The sad reality is that extinction of a species is final and billions of years of evolution die with it. We are destroying the oceans and the land and all living creatures are threatened by the indiscriminate growth of our species. We have no idea how nature works despite our huge scientific knowledge and research in various fields. The more we learn the more we understand that there is still much we do not understand, about the interdependence of life and creatures around us. The creationists would have us believe that we are created in God’s image; but do they even understand God’s compassion and his laws that are progressive, which allow the blossoming of nature in all its variety and complexity to develop. If we are created in his image then we should be better harbingers of our environment and must ensure that we become the custodians of His world, and everything that exists in it.
There are of course some scientists who have understood our interdependence on everything around us and are pushing for change. Renewal energy whether from solar, wind, biogas, tidal, fusion, fission, algae must be developed to wean us away from the carbon dependency of our addiction to cheap coal and oil. With seven billion humans and growing our energy and resource needs are assuming Malthusian proportions. Global warming has to be reversed or we will face mass extinction of more species of flora, fauna, microorganisms, animal and bird species with devastating effects on our own survival.
There is of course progress being made on renewal sources of energy across Europe, China and America and they are the main consumers of energy today. For example GE just confirmed orders for 3,900 MW for its wind turbines in the US alone, as they have become more efficient. Similarly the dormant nuclear energy industry is showing signs of renewal and new plants are being built again, though the problem of storing nuclear waste still remains. Solar is another area where giant strides can be made to harness the power of the sun to provide for our needs. More funding is required to make alternate energy sources available and also we need innovation to make existing transportation, habitats and lifestyles more energy efficient to reduce our carbon footprint.
My #hope is that instead of destroying each other, we need to find a way to coexist and prosper. The whole universe is available for us to grow, but if we kill our own blue planet then we will have nowhere left to call home. Human ingenuity and innovation knows no boundaries and we have a lot of work ahead of us still to do. In the pursuit of happiness we need to raise our compassion and love for all creatures, as that is the only sustainable path for our future and the generations to come.
There is a thick fog that has covered the bay, as I walk into the dark early predawn hour. A distant fog horn sounds from a passing ship and I peer at the lights, that are circled by the mist and appear dim. I realize it is not my vision that is in a blur, but that the world itself has become opaque from this phenomenon of water and moisture and inverted temperature, causing me to feel disconnected and lost.
I walk on and hear the rumblings of the trucks down Queensway from the Long Beach harbor to the hinterland carrying goods to the consumers of this great land. This Queensway is a road to commerce; very similar to the Queensway of my youth which connected Connaught Place to the Viceroy’s palace on Raisina Hill, in New Delhi. They were both named after the Queen Mary and yet they are not related. The contrast in ambiance and looks cannot be starker as one was a display of colonial power and this is a utilitarian road of commerce.
As I turn to go back I feel lost in the fog, as familiar signposts are no longer visible. My mind feels the need to identify these comforting signs and I realize that our lives need similar milestones to guide our daily journey. When we lose the familiar we feel lost; and then fear and anxiety and the consequences of these which are loss of self-confidence and the feelings of inadequacies, rear their ugly head. We are the creatures of habit and anything that disturbs our comfortable cocoon makes us uneasy.
Now that I am uncomfortable and vulnerable the morning walk is not as pleasant and thoughts arise of getting back quickly to the familiar hotel room. I realize that this is the crux of our problems, as we are not ready to step out into the unfamiliar. We are not ready to give up what we have built around us, to find the path we need to travel. We cling to our egos as it defines us and do not allow the souls journey to continue, as it will lead us into the opaque and the unknown.
We have to get out of our comfort zone and become vulnerable again, to realize love and compassion. We do not initiate sex with our partner or build loving relationships with those around us due to the fear of rejection, and so it becomes a cycle of withdrawal and jilted relationships. We narrow our world into one where we are no longer free, but confined by our own fears and imaginations of inadequacy.
The fog still sits heavy on the river but now I am ready to go with its flow. I realize that until this ego is killed I cannot be free. My life was carefree and I wandered this world in wonder in my youth, and now that #hope and joy is long gone. I have allowed the fog of fear, uncertainty, unwholesomeness, anxiety become the norm, till I am no longer whole. The perfection we seek often takes us further away from the joy of discovering our own uniqueness, and the uniqueness of those around us.
The morning will come and the sun will rise and burn this fog away. Similarly we have to awake to our own imperfection and then with consciousness drive our fears away. We have to allow ourselves to become vulnerable again, as only then can we open ourselves to the compassion and joy around us. Until we can forgive ourselves and bring compassion to ourselves, we cannot spread compassion to others.
Deeply hurt I stumble into the hotel lobby and know that the healing has begun; and a new life will dawn for I am unloved, because I am unloving. I open my heart a little bit and say “Good Morning” to the surprised lady at the front desk; as she has seen my predawn wanderings before, and I used to pass her silently sulking away to my room. She gives a sleepy smile after her tiring night shift; and jokes that the city seems blurry this morning. I agree hoping that our personal fog will also lift; I can see clearly now that it is only in dying to our self, that we will be reborn to eternal life. My joy returns and spreads outwards…
“Enveloped by the Lord must be This All — each thing that moves on earth.
With that renounced enjoy thyself. Covet no wealth of any man.”
It is only in the darkest of nights that you can see a pinpoint of light appear like a bright star. Similarly it is in the quite of meditation that you can hear the roar of the ever expanding universe. It is when you still the heart; that you hear its pounding and the pulsation of our body, as it screams out its existence. As I walked past midnight the sounds of far highways and the activities at the nearby harbor; seemed to suddenly emerge and when you seek silence, is when you hear the most.
So waste the time and do nothing, and suddenly you will find yourself in the midst of all the action. When you still your thoughts; then more will rush in from the far corners, of consciousness. No wonder people will not meditate; as we find it too distracting, and we lose the motivation to seek realization. Consciousness is not in doing something for reward but in being present with the whole universe surrounding us. It is then that we become one with everything and compassion and love flow as everything is one with us.
Singularity in a state of consciousness is a hard state to live in, as we love duality. Us and them, mine and yours, it goes on and on and we stay confused, hurt, hateful and unfulfilled. Watch your breath and stay calm and then the powers of universal knowledge appear and we are swept away with the joy of the creator. He is not separate from us and we are him and he is us, and every single moment becomes eternal.
When you live a moment in time then you have gained eternity itself, as everything is connected. Now is the moment that awareness rises and duality falls away. I seek so I find. Having found then one only has to live with it; as what we gain is not the treasures of possession, but the joy of renunciation. As the Isa Upanishad said and Mahatam Gandhi pointed out “Renounce and enjoy” should be our only mantra for life.
So I will seek the solace of my bed again in this passing night as the body is weary and the mind is restless. I pen these thoughts with an effort for life is fleeting and there is much to say. I am; so the universe exists, and when I sleep the dreams will come again. The past lives on in us and we are attached to the karma of our past; just like the child who smiles in its sleep, remembering the times when it was happy. On awaking it cries; for life demands survival, and all that comes with it.
Thus we cry on as life is suffering; and all we seek, we will never find. I give you eternal life and what will you do with it. Will you continue to look for what you do not have, or will you learn to enjoy all that you already have. It is a conundrum and who is happy and who is unhappy, is only known to the wise. I take a breath and allow consciousness to slip away and yet the mind clings to this maya of appearances, and I cannot sleep. Then I drift into a dream and all is real again.