A month after my then husband spelled the D word, I wanted to do something about this D. Take a drastic step. To hurt myself. To hurt him. And the only harmful, and yet harmless, option in sight was to
chop off my hair I had grown laboriously. I wanted to go as short as possible. Probably to get rid of insults and humiliation hiding in the strands. As if to unburden a part of me. As if to feel as alien as possible to my dark present, and a future that looked darker.
I was in office when I decided to get a hair makeover. I called my mother and asked for permission. She instantly rejected. "I cannot take any more pressure. You are not a mother. You don't know how difficult it is. I am not going to let you get a haircut."
What did my haircut have to do with the divorce? It was not a life-altering decision. If anything, it was supposed to bring in a metaphorical lightness to my being.
I hung up. I was furious. And for the first time, I experienced anger in its raw form. There were no questions. None which would have otherwise scornfully stared at me — Why didn't my
mother understand my grief? Why couldn't she see my suffering? Why do I need her permission to cut my hair?
I went to the washroom and wept. Half an hour later, my mother called me and said, "I am sorry I hurt you. I didn't realise I caused you so much pain. Appa told me that I behaved rudely with
you. Please cut your hair if you want."
What changed my mother's thoughts? I didn't rebel. I didn't try to justify my decision when she disapproved. I didn't disrespectfully retort. I didn't express my anger to her. Nothing. But the magic — my spiritual guide and teacher, Balagopalji, would explain it to me later during my counseling session — had worked.
Two days later, I met Balagopalji for my third counseling session where I shared this incident. He smiled and asked me, "Do you know why she apologised?"
I was now introduced to one of the core teachings of Ekam (previously called as Oneness University) — 'to stay with the what is' and experience the emotion completely. As Sri Bhagavan, the founder of Ekam, says, we tend to brush our emotions under the
carpet. We justify our anger, our jealousy, our hatred, and all the society-prescribed 'negative' emotions. We have been made to believe that these are not qualities of a good human being. The outcome? We constantly judge ourselves.
In several Ekatva Gita classes, where Balagopalji, who teaches us the Bhagavad Gita through the teachings of Sri Bhagavan,
he has explained why one should remain passive in the internal world, and active in the external world. Our tendency is to change how we feel within, to move out of the zone of discomfort. We make every attempt to escape from experiencing it.
In the last four years with Ekam, I have had innumerable experiences of hurt at work, and in relationships. Every time
I stayed with the emotion at that given moment, the external aligned. Either immediately or later. The magic always happened.
So the next time, your boss or colleague, or family member or friend hurts you, try to get in touch with the raw emotion running through your veins. Do not judge it. Remember, this is not a race to win an award in nobility. It is your own sadness, your own hurt. It is all yours. Stare at what you are feeling. Stare at the discomfort. Embrace it, hug it. Cry, weep, bawl, but stay with it without trying to cheer yourself up, or trying to move into a space of comfort. This is combustion of karma.
Karma, which I have understood through classes and courses at Ekam, is not just what we know of it in the conventional context. Karma is carrying forward of emotions without experiencing them fully. Carrying forward these hurts leaves a charge inside us. And the charge becomes active every time we have to engage with the person who caused the hurt, or when a similar event in life occurs later. Become aware of the charge. Become intensely aware of the anger. Do not chase it away. Do not tell yourself, I cannot be angry. I am not a short-tempered person. Stop justifying. Just experience. We have, like Sri Bhagavan says, lost the art of experiencing.
Praise/blame, heat/cold, joy/sorrow, as Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita says, are the dualities of human life. We have to weather every experience. This is the impermanence of life. This is the Titiksha (endurance) that Krishna has been talking about to mankind since ages. But we tend to fight upsets.
Every time I have 'stayed with the what is' I have felt free within. It helps me see my inner truth in all its nudity. Even if the inner truth is lust. We tend to deny these emotions because of the notions attached. But when you become aware of these rising and descending waves, it is liberating. It brings in acceptance. It prevents judgements, which are burdening.
Let me share a mundane instance of 'staying with the what is'. On one dull, rainy evening in August last year, I told my father that we needed to change the lights in our living room. In a stern voice, he said that a lot of things have to be changed and that I'd have to wait for a year.
I was hurt. All I wanted was brighter lights. I stayed with the hurt. Experienced it completely. Cold feet, blood rush, and shivering body. Everything that is indicative of fury. But I let all of this flow through me. Without asking questions, or justifying my anger.
Two days later, when I reached home after work, he had changed the lights. No one had persuaded him to do this. 'Staying with the what is' works like magic in aligning the external world. Of course, I call all of this grace. I've enough experiences to confidently say that we need grace, a higher Supreme energy that guides us to experience these moments in totality, to understand the experiences, to become aware, to have these insights, and these realisations.
'Staying with the what is' doesn't mean one stays in inaction. You must continue to function in the external world, accomplish all tasks but with absolute awareness of the dialogue and hurt inside.
(These are experiences, insights and realisations that I receive by attending courses at Ekam and the monthly Ekatva Gita classes held in Mumbai.)
The writer is the Editor of City Express