People, who are sensitive to the happenings around, who are socially and politically aware and who have the courage to take a step to move out of their comfort zone and ‘do something’ to make a difference, face a lot of difficulties. After the initial enthusiasm (momentum) wears off the loneliness strikes. There is a huge comfort in familiarity, even when one is not necessarily in agreement or in alignment with the visible and invisible pressures exerted by the (familiar) ecosystem. Human beings have an innate ability to adapt to the circumstances, often by wearing different masks, each suiting a different set of demands imposed by different aspects of the ecosystem. When one steps out of this familiar surrounding, others (friends and family) do not know how to deal with this (new) person. The relationship(s) get disturbed and unbalanced. The one stepping out and the other (old friends and relatives) have a hard time during the transition phase. It is almost like entering into a new relationship with the same (but now in a new avatar) person. This is a process which takes time and one needs to deal with it patiently and with perseverance. There is no short cut in this process.
It is somewhat like the process of “passage rites” (or the various sanskaras in Hindu tradition). When one enters puberty or adulthood or when one gets married or gets the first child – the same process (of realignment) is in operation. Every individual has various relationships and they all need to undergo a change and individuals involved have to deal with the change with understanding. In these various changes (to do with sanskaras or passage rites) both the parties involved in a relationship have to work towards this new adjustment. But when it comes to the change when an individual decides to step out it is only this person who will have to work towards making realignments without any support from the other. Sometimes it is hard and may entail taking very tough decisions. It is quite possible that the people who have stepped out may not enjoy the same flavour in the realigned relationship and this can be discomforting. One has to be prepared for this eventuality. Relationship with other like-minded individuals helps cope with this loneliness.
But there is a bigger issue involved in the process of stepping out. We are all products of modernity. And modernity has taken deep roots in all of us. One of the strongest strains of this root is the disease of “individualism”. We are all afflicted with this to a smaller or bigger degree. Lokeshna (the desire to be appreciated, to be known by the others, desire for popularity) is very subtle and is part of human psyche just like vitteshna (desire for material facilities, money) and puttreshna (desire for our children, vicariously living through them, bias we harbour towards our children). All these are obstacles or hindrances in the path to (spiritual) freedom (swatantrata).
(To be continued next week…)