In response to a devaniyan’s request for a note on well-being in these corona times...
There is a story that goes like this. Once Shiva and Shani had an altercation. Shani tells Shiva - I will nab you as I do all beings. Shiva laughs his thunderous laugh and says - I am the very devourer of time - Mahakaala! And you think you can catch me? Shani smiles and says - escape me if you can. Shiva runs with lightening speed and in no time of divine units enters into a deep dark and dense forest filled with wild and ferocious creatures unseen, treacherous plants and trees and water bodies mysterious, and in all of that he searches and finds an old tree with a narrow hollow above its root. It is too small for Him yet he knows it is the only place he can hide and so he squeezes himself in and smiles that he has escaped Shani. There he stays for a long long time in divine units of time, hungry, thirsty, and bitten all over by ants and other insects with enormous stings. The greatest meditator of all, through the powers of his meditation, bears the pain and discomfort until he feels sure that He has beaten Shani in the chase. Slowly He crawls out of the tiny hole of maggots and darkness, stretches His body as large as the universe, laughs a loud, albeit benign laughter and calls out to Shani to mock him for his loss.
From nowhere and everywhere Shani appears smiling before the mighty Shiva. Shiva asks him to accept his defeat at being unable to catch Him. Shani smiles, bows to the Mahadeva and in a mocking but respectful manner tells Shiva - oh Shiva, You who are the Lord of Lords, you ran from me and hid for eons in a cramped hole - hungry, thirsty and in pain....do you not realise that was you in my clutches? If not for me would you not be in Kailasa with your consort and in peaceful meditation? I had you in my clutches in that very moment that you began to run my Lord ... until you stepped out of the dark hollow. And then I disappeared.
And the mighty Shiva bowed in acceptance and laughed.
We could take this as a story of ‘two Gods’ and leave it at that, or dismiss the story all together as unreal. We could pray to them and follow rituals of appeasement ( which is beautiful too! Traditions bring us together as communities). But one must first connect with oneself. Stories may seem unreal. Yet, they are meant to make us read between the lines and catch a message like a falling star :-).
A friend of mine had a fabulous insight which I share with you. The insight was that in this story one can see Shiva and Shani as ONE. Shani, the negativity hidden in the mind of Shiva.
Taking that insight further - both these characters in the story represent each one of us who are but fragments of the divine entirety. When the negativity rears it’s head we can either stay calm and let it drop back into silence or fight it or succumb to it, and bear the consequences thereof. Infact, even fighting it is succumbing to it :-).
All the nava rasas and their corresponding sub emotions are within the ocean of our being. They are a part of us - jealousy, hatred, insecurity, fear, anger, sorrow, depression.... all abrasions, always within. External situations and people only come our way to trigger them to rise like waves of the calm ocean. So also, kindness, empathy, joy etc. That is why a dancer’s role is to act the bhava in so convincing a manner that the rasa (the essential emotion) rises from within the Rasika and keeps him or her enthralled.
This Covid 19 pandemic and it’s ramifications are a giant stirring of the tectonic plates in the ocean of human existence of which each one of us is beautiful drop. The waves of fear, anxiety, loss, insecurity are sure to rise and throw these drops asunder.
And THIS is the test.
Do the drops in the ocean resist the rising into waves and fear their own dissolution? Or do they go along with the play, knowing that they shall always drop back into the lap of their source?
We are thinking beings. Stories and nature provide us with examples and solutions of how to BE....how to live and let live peacefully and harmoniously with ourselves, with others and with nature.
The eye of the storm is always calm at the centre....unaffected by the changing moods of the storm - sometimes beautiful at other times destructive....
We must train ourselves to be that eye - still, centred and grounded through the continuous ebb and tide of life.
One of our dear devaniyans asked me to write a note on mental wellness in these days of corona and it’s ensuing unrest. And that got me thinking....so thank you Snehal Shyam:-).
Mental wellness is too broad spectrum and also different for each individual based on their circumstances and personalities. It surely needs a professional on the subject to speak about it.
But beyond mental wellness, can one observe oneself and see if one is comfortable with oneself in any and every situation or even in no situation at all? Are we comfortable in our skins despite the external discomforts? That is the ultimate goal.
Most of us are working round the clock - whether students, working adults, home runners - all! This, coupled with the nagging fear of the virus hitting at any time. A simple sneeze or cough puts us in a moment of frenzy and doubt. Social distancing has kept us away from human contact outside of our homes. Life has surely gone topsy -turvy .
And the virtual world has as though, swallowed us all.
For those who have experienced the suffering of the corona attack, one can only bow in prayer - for more strength and grace to them to face and overcome the trauma and it’s aftermath. It can never be easy. Far from it on the contrary. Yet, life must go on... such a situation must be completely shattering....
For those more fortunate, in many ways it is very peaceful, yet, we know it is not the practical and healthy way to live. Human beings are social animals. We need contact - friends to meet, lovers to kiss, relations to hug in joy and sorrow.....but this too is only a conditioning. The universe is the ultimate cosmic celebrity and human life is the constant celebration in all times, in every weather of change.....
Whatever happens, we must constantly remember - this too shall pass, as SHALL SURELY also pass each one of our bodies that carries the emotions and this fantastic human mind. We must keep it well.
How delightful it would be to use this time to realise the macro cosmic grandeur in which we exist. To feel the oneness.....the earth on which we walk is not separate from us for our bodies are made of the very same element. So also fire, air, water, space....all the same.....let us be the clay - harmonious in all shapes and sizes, rather than the different pots clashing in cacophonous disharmony.
If at times you see yourself taking shape as a clay pan of loneliness, dissolve it in the ocean of oneness.
If you see yourself as a cauldron of fear, melt it in the calm flame of confidence.
Sometimes the dark pot of insecurity shall make you suffocate ... break it open and scatter it into the winds of trust.
And if ever you turn into a container of agitation, rest it on the warm lap of Mother Earth.
Dance to the rhythm of every moment, knowing that it SHALL pass - as even do clouds across the spacial expanse we call the sky.....
How awesome to be the sky, the canvas, the stage in and through which the universe dances to it’s grand stories and songs. We become at once the stage, the actors, and the rasikas too.... we are the uni-verse - the ONE continuous flowing VERSE in the boundless womb of stillness.
Every pain, disharmony, sorrow gets absorbed in it and in time bears sweet fruit in ways that we may never realise.
Just think - if our limited microcosmic minds can imagine the most fantastic, ‘unreal’ things and situations, then how macrocosmic and unfathomable would be the imagination of the universal mind?
We are that imagination....real yet unreal.
And in this way, we are the vehicles of a grand cosmic design. Our job is to keep ourselves well and healthy in body, mind and spirit as much as is humanly possible so the cosmic play may go on through us.....each one a glorious story of twists and turns, ups and downs ..... each to gently drop back into the one eternal source.
Vasudeva sarvam iti.