Present in the Present

My last article titled Present in the Past evoked this (copy- pasted below) from my dear editor.

“This made me feel really sad! It’s all well and good to take ownership of our state of mind and spirit but it’s another thing to undermine the huge trauma of being uprooted, the incredible grief, loss of identity and isolation that comes with it, especially when where you have come from holds such meaning and significance.

I relate to this because 20 years down the track, I still struggle with cultural conflicts, identity crisis and a deep sense of loss with all things familiar and as the memories are now fading, there is a sense of anger too.

I know and understand what you are saying in terms of learning the lesson and meant to help you grow spiritually. But, I wonder if it is way too simplistic and you saying I have to now live in the NOW will make the rest of your readers (such as myself!) feel like we are just not wanting to help ourselves.

I do agree (although I wish I could dispute) that ultimately taking ownership and stopping the blame game is the only way forward…!!

Definitely a bit of a sad story for me…Leaves me wanting to say but! but!

If even one reader is in sync with my editor’s thinking; the onus is on me to explain myself better . To begin with, the article was meant to be leading towards self – inquiry, and not to evoke sadness. If it comes across as sad, I humbly apologize.

Secondly, the article seems to undermine the trauma of being uprooted, loss of identity, being alone in an unknown land… this is not my intention at all.  I am not belittling the emotional upheaval one goes through when thus uprooted. Having said that, I wish to clarify a little bit here; these days all of us willingly come abroad in search of greener pastures, a better life. I am yet to meet a person who has gone abroad to study and has come back to India after completing their studies. They have stayed on, desperately hunted for any form of employment, married abroad and settled abroad. They undoubtedly miss their country, true, but not so much that they return to their homeland. To connect this to my view point, this ‘living abroad’ is per se a self-made choice. At the risk of sounding brutally honest, it is a willing ‘loss of identity’ and adapting to the new culture. Most of us living abroad seem to be reminded of our culture or the Indian traditions when its festive season or in some religious context! I do not relate to the present show of Indian culture abroad nor am I very comfortable with the way religion is being showcased! Thus, I have no authority to comment on anything I know I am mentally disconnected with.

More importantly, I was less commenting about others and more trying to dwell upon myself! For a spiritual aspirant like me, I feel it is less about the place, people or even culture for that matter. It is simply about the self; and this is what I wish the reader to read into. I came abroad because my husband got his job here. As simple as that. I was living the best lifestyle, indeed the best life back home, my greenest pasture, as it were. I never had nor do I currently feel any need or longing for a life abroad. Yet, I have been put in this situation. Before making the big shift, I had mentally prepared myself. All thanks to meditation, I thought I could be happy anywhere in the world. If I was moving away it meant that I had completed my role in my present place, a new role was awaiting me.

Since coming here, especially after the novelty and activity of discovery in the first few months, I sensed a lull within me, as if life had been snuffed out. That’s when the pondering (self-inquiry) began.  The feeling of being uprooted, isolation and incredible grief that my editor mentioned; I seriously had thought I was way past all that. Home is where your heart is, and heart is where you help the heart love into being, making its home! So, what was I struggling with, why was I angry and where did this sense of ‘nothing to look forward to’ stem from for me? It dawned on me that I was still not looking at the bigger picture. I was talking big but not living it. One change of place, a slight shift from my comfort zone and all my calm, equanimity and wisdom seemed to fly out the window.

Again, I agree with my editor, it is not as simplistic. But, it was not meant to be, which is the truth I had missed too. It took an effort on my part. Some introspection and a lot of courage to look at the mirror and face the reality of what I saw. To answer the last part, about getting the feeling of not wanting to help oneself; I don’t think we do not want to help ourselves. More accurate is the assumption that we are lost and we do not know what exactly can help us! We try everything and most of it gives ephemeral peace and solace. In no time the hunt is on again, because the restlessness creeps in. “In vivekachudamni verse 11 Swami Dayanand Saraswati writes: There is always romanticism in spiritual pursuit. You want to be something special, something different. There is a value for this romanticism. When you see through this romanticism you are objective. This is vairagya.” That is exactly where I think meditation gives me the edge! I know I can walk my way out of any dark hole, I just have to stay calm, introspect and look within.  I am practicing something unique, I am trying to become someone unique, challenges will assuredly be unique too, right? I needed to ‘see’ beyond all this, become objective.

Now, only if I started living in the ‘now’ and stopped being ‘present in the past’ would I be able to figure that out. That’s the omniety, the whole nine yards of what I wanted to translate to the reader.