Advice To Those Stepping-Out (Part 2)

(The first part of this post was published last week and is available here…)

Let us look at lokeshna and its relationship with individualism. I may be wrong but I am proposing that people who step-out tend to fall into the trap of lokeshna—almost unconsciously—to cope with loneliness and, of course, because of the disease inflicted by modernity—individualism. The attention one gets because of the act of stepping out can be exhilarating. And then subtly idealism and righteousness creeps in. Idealism is good as an aim to be used for course correction but idealism in “doing” or in the manifested world is false and hence problematic.

There are two realities—coexisting like two sides of the same coin. The eternal reality of “being” (है और होना) and the transient or manifested reality—in the “doing”. There is and will always be a gap between being and doing. After all they belong to different realities, different worlds—eternal and transient. The world of doing is circumstantial, is contextual, needs to change and adapt according to the times and circumstances. This is not to say that “doing” is rudderless or rootless. No, it can be anchored in the eternal but while manifesting takes into account the context. Idealism can only be in the “being”. In fact the eternal IS. There are no alternatives in the eternal, hence it is beyond comparison. Idealism has validity only when there is another possibility—not ideal. In eternal, there are no alternatives, hence there is no space for idealism. Unless we are calling the eternal or ISNESS as ideal.

In the world of doing what can and must be aimed for is that the “doing” is rooted or anchored in the eternal (Truth). But this world is changing, is transient, hence again there is no space for the ideal. What is ideal today, may not be tomorrow! Idealism is rigid in the transient. It tends to fix things. Hence in the world of “doing” Idealism is an idea, an imagination and ultimately a trap which makes us righteous (and others wrong). A trap because it can only feed the ego, it has no basis in (transient) reality.

Understanding of the eternal makes it quite clear that we are not the doers. At best we are nimitta karana (incidental in the happening). We are not the doers (upaadaan). We are a product of the opportunity (which presents itself), the circumstances and the sankalpa (decision to do/ what to do/not to do etc.). If we are not the doers then how can we take credit for what happens. We can rejoice in it but we can not take credit. The problem arises because we mistakenly start taking credit for what we “do” in stepping out. Therefore the need to refrain from both lokeshna and idealism, if one is stepping out.

Advice To Those Stepping-Out (Part-1)

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…)