The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Wednesday 30 December 2009


Attunement is attention that goes beyond momentary empathy to a full sustained presence that facilitates rapport. We offer a person our total attention and listen fully. We seek to understand the other person rather than just making our own point.

Such deep listening seems to be a natural aptitude. Still, as with all social intelligence dimensions, people can improve their attunement skills. And we can all facilitate attunement simply by intentionally paying more attention.

A person's style of speaking offers clues to their underlying ability to listen deeply. During moments of genuine connection, what we say will be responsive to what the other feels, says, and does. When we are poorly connected, however, our communications become verbal bullets: our message does not change to fit the other person's state but simply reflects our own. Listening makes the difference. Talking at a person rather than listening to him reduces a conversation to a monologue.

When I hijack a conversation by talking at you, I'm fulfilling my needs without considering yours. Real listening, in contrast, requires me to attune to your feelings, let you have your say, and allows the conversation to follow a course we mutually determine. Two-way listening makes a dialogue reciprocal, with each person adjusting what they say in keeping with how the other responds and feels.

Full attention, so endangered in this age of multitasking, is blunted whenever we split our focus. Self-absorption and preoccupations shrink our focus, so that we are less able to notice other people's feelings and needs, let alone respond with empathy. Our capacity for attunement suffers, snuffing out rapport.

But full presence does not demand that much from us. "A five-minute conversation can be a perfectly meaningful human moment,” an article in the Harvard Business Review notes. "To make it work, you have to set aside what you are doing, put down the memo you were reading, disengage from your laptop, abandon your daydream, and focus on the person you're with."

Intentionally paying more attention to someone may be the best way to encourage emergence of rapport. Listening carefully, with undivided attention, orients our neural circuits for connectivity, putting us on the same wavelength. That maximizes the likelihood that the other essential ingredients for rapport -- synchrony and positive feelings -- might bloom.

Daniel Goleman

Monday 28 December 2009


We had a stable government at the centre then. Figures decided to follow the line. The toothless demon, that inflation figures had become by then, started to fall down. We thought to breathe easy. But lo. The conundrum of figures started deceiving them too this time. The figures representing inflation and hence prices started coming down and settled as negative numerals for quite a period of time while the prices actually started the journey to skyrocket. Anything and everything is in between. Now the negative numeral value is gone and the trend has regained its upward spiral again and it is only expected to add to the price rise.

So prices will go up no matter where that inflation figure remains. Why all this hype and hoopla around figures then. Why such figures have become sole barometers of driving public sentiments, if not on ground but on perception.

True, inflation figure is not the only decisive factor. There are other indices too that affect and interchange the dimensions of statistical calculations and so the economic impulse of you and me. But they are not in the domain of the Indian voter of the street. He would never be able to find time to understand intricacies of WPI and CPI and inflationary reincarnations. Put aside the government’s move to measure Inflation figures now on monthly rather than on weekly basis. Food Inflation touched the decade high of 20% during the week ended Dec 6. He understands this only that it portends an omen, that surviving is going to be more burning, the scorch is continued unabated.

Statistically, the problems of an Indian has exaggerated manifold and are still increasing. Add it to the spectacle of austerity. Since 2006, inflation rate@consumer prices have seen the upward spiral stepping up from 4.2 to 5.3 to 6.4 to 8.3. 2010 is going to add to it. Another anomaly. Figures when they were favourable could not give any relief as in case of negative inflation figures. But when they were not favourable, they dragged the whole inflationary regime to stupendous highs year-on-year basis and mind you, the prices have escalated even during the high recession times before onset of doomed prediction of bad monsoon. Erratic monsoon just added to it. Some more figures. Agricultural production is likely to go down by 2% this year up ahead from the last year negative growth of 1.6%. The curry is brewing.

At one hand, income didn’t get the parallel growth as the prices; consumption bore the brunt if IIPs are any indication. So the consumption was down. Production was down. Jobs were going, still not coming handsomely. Salaries were being reduced. Employees were being threatened. Common Indian was being given lessons in austerity. Common Indian was advised to bear it this time. Delhi CM very emphatically says after three consecutive wins that expect and be prepared for price rises. Everything is getting dear, from drinking water to electricity to taking a walk on the street.

The politics of figures is manipulative enough to astound anyone. Much debates of controversial nature of China growth story emanate from ‘how this bulky country twists and turns statistical regime of its economy’. We Indians are sometimes sold a dream by some experts and analysts that Indian will overtake China as China would fall by its own weight of economic manipulations.

But is this common to China only?

No, it’s pandemic in nature. A pandemic where, most of the time, we are not aware of what the signs are telling us!

Changing regimes of statistical parameters can be found anywhere. It’s like fudging at an individual level if to put words in a crude and honest way. We may or may not do it. Ramifications are different. So some Army officials in India can fudge and become parties in a land scam; so a Raju can manipulate figures to the tune of thousand of crores; so China can remain vehemently adamant about its currency; so US and European banking system can send the world into spins of recession with inflated balance sheets. Sometimes reasons are justified as the complex web of economy needs it. There are times and ample of them when such exercises are done in order to look healthy, sound correct, win trust, and instill confidence.

But then isn’t it more about being politically correct? Le’s see it.

Sunday 27 December 2009


We try to observe others and look for our role models. We generally try to imitate the behaviour of our role models. It is no doubt that TV has become an important part of the family along with the newspapers. TV speaks the most in any family. Our most of the leisure time is engaged with moving images of the TV or the news contents of the newspapers. We can have our ideals from other walks of life but it happens rarely. We imbibe most of the information through media, to the extent, that it is now shaping our behaviour, our opinions. Examples of 12 year old boy killing his friend in India or the similar incident in US have far reaching implications for the societal set-up in the coming days.

Media channels don’t operate in isolation. They are part and parcel of the society. They are, indeed, social institutions performing socializing functions but with implications. Media effect on behaviour has both aspects, positive and negative. And therefore we have tabs of every kind but still we have not come to the realization that we need an intense debate on these tabs. But that has to happen, sooner or later when social learning and media connect become complementary and not parasitic.

We can show the mutilated body parts of a powerful explosion again and again as was the case in Varanasi explosion and many other of the time but a CNN or some other US channel doesn’t go to beam dead bodies of Katrina on its soil. After that we have taken up things. We have started blurring images but still much has to be done. But that is just the beginning. It needs to be sustained and extended to the social base from here to culminate in a logical debate. But, then, that is the ideal and logical outcome. How can ideal and logic be followed in letter and spirit? The subjective objectivity will take its share too. We need to reach at a balance. Till then it will largely be parasitic connect with the perennial debate on ‘who is parasitic on whom’.


Graver is the situation with the prices supported well with commoditization of inflation in the psyche. This psyche has become divisive. Metro India and India of the towns are still not so belonging to the core of this division but it is becoming more and more puzzling. Any factor that has been the most subdued one is anti-incumbency due to price rise if we go back and analyze some past elections.

We opened our economy in 1991 and we still hail it as benchmark of our economic policy. Sure we need to pat ourselves today for the progress that we have made in these years. But again, as mentioned earlier, the recurring floods; the powerless towns and villages, where potable drinking water is scarce and that is still not an issue; where majority of the population still lives on a dollar a day; where majority of the school going population comes in the drop-out category very early in the life cycle; where farmers are committing suicide year after year, - all vehemently big question marks in their own etymologies - that each of these nullify whatever little positive that we have been able to achieve - socio—economically and not just economically.

Can we and should we be proud of the gains made in these years?

Statistics and indicative economic parameters are as good as the ways of their handling. We saw it during the outgoing NDA regime when everything was hunky dory and then suddenly the spiral of vicissitude broke its silence. The figures failed the incumbent hopes of dallying policymakers. This year’s general election again failed the intentions and indentations.

The double digit inflation that had reached over 12% and seemed to be staying there had become one of most sloganeered word and everyone was pinning hopes to nail the incumbents based on it. That didn’t happen not because the policymakers at the core were deserving but their opponents were not sharp enough to tell the voters what the figures were telling as they had failed in 2004. Figures are as good as their manipulators.

But figures have been failing the most vulnerable subject all this while – the entity of a so-called democracy – the voter – the Indian voter of the street.

India is a reality. Bharat has been a reality. The gap is widening. Figures are being done and re-done to tell a story that seems soothing. Dimensions are being looked for to add more virtual surfaces to the trickle-down opium.

So the elections threw the same government at the core. We all felt for the stability factor, more pragmatic policies and, moreover, a hope that figures would stop failing us. But on the contrary, happening are taking the downward spiral again. Let’s come to it.

Friday 25 December 2009


As ordinary consciousness is gradually freed from the perspectives of everyday existence – thoughts, ideas, circumstances, emotions, physical events – the transcendent dimension begins to emerge. What do we mean by transcendence? Take, for example, an apple tree in blossom. Though your glance takes in its trunk, branches, leaves, and flowers, you are also moved by its beauty and loveliness. And while the beauty of this tree depends upon its physical form, still, it has an essential reality of its own which is its meaningfulness. Or, take music: behind the notes are an array of vibrational frequencies that could be said to constitute the language of the thinking of the Universe. So the mind, stripped of the distraction of transient thoughts is infused with an inborn sense of meaningfulness. This transcendent faculty appears only when one has given up trying to sort things out in a habitual fashion.

Once while on retreat in the Alps, I had just such a breakthrough experience – one that was dramatically reflected in the weather and surrounding landscape. After a stormy night in the mountains, precariously sheltered beneath the roof of a shepherd’s shed, I observed the dark clouds and heard the thunderclaps gradually receding into the distance, swept away by a raging wind. Vanishing along with the storm were my concepts about the world, the Cosmos, my personal circumstances, unresolved problems, values, appropriate or inappropriate actions – even my teachings about the Divine Qualities, the meaningfulness of life, egos, bodiness, the psyche. Suddenly, all these thoughts seemed so futile, worthless, and misleading!

Rather than flounder in a “dark night” of negativity brought on by the collapse of these mental structures, however, I clung to the very meaningfulness that had just shattered my commonplace thinking. It was the consummate quantum leap; it brought vividly alive the last words spoken by my father, Hazrat Inayat Khan, on his deathbed: “When the unreality of life strikes my heart, its reality is revealed to me.” All my life, I thought to myself, I have prided myself on what I thought were valid theories about the Universe – unmasking the hoax of superstitions, dogmas, and conditioned responses to life. But instead of dismissing all these constructs, I realized that they had acted as stepping-stones that led me to this ultimate breakthrough. Even though I had no more use for them, they remained there for my use, like a ladder propped against a wall.

To awaken in life, we first must awaken beyond life. As the radiation of the sun powers the unfurling of the seed into a plant, so, too, does the light of spiritual realization alter modes of thinking, dramatically restructuring the formation of the ego. As much as one may wish to change one’s individual personality, it can only truly be transformed under the impact of illuminated insights into the meaningfulness of life.

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, from "Awakening: A Sufi Experience"


Thursday 24 December 2009


Even after spending more than two years in prison on charges of being a Naxal supporter under the draconian Chhatisgarh Special Public Security Act, Dr Binayak Sen's enthusiasm for speaking for the rights and the wellbeing of the tribals in Chhattisgarh has not diminished one bit.

Out on bail since May 25, 2009 -- he was arrested in May 2007 -- Dr Sen was in Mumbai [ Images ] recently to speak at a seminar organised by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences on December 14. He spoke to Prasanna D Zore on a range of issues including his health, the ground situation in Chhattisgarh and threat to his life from "non-State actors".

"Please don't write anything about my itinerary," he asked this correspondent after discussing the same with him, for fear that it might alert those who are out there to eliminate him.

Dr Sen, first tell us about your health.

I feel good now. My friends at Vellore (in Tamil Nadu) took good care of me and I am feeling fine now. I'm on medication but I don't need any surgery for my heart condition.

Can you tell us what has changed in Chhattisgarh between 2007 and 2009, the time you were incarcerated?

I think the situation there is much more tense now than it was earlier. The tension level today has increased manifold because of the presence of large number of police personnel in Chhattisgarh. Hence the need for concerted efforts to appeal for peace and justice has also increased.

What makes you feel so? What's the ground situation there now?

There is a huge influx of armed police personnel not only in the so-called Naxalite areas but also across the state. I presume there is a variety of them including the Central Reserve Police Force, the CoBRAs (the elite anti-Naxal force, Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), and also extra-judicial forces like the Salwa Judum.

The fact is there are killings, beheadings, rape and murder happening all the time in the state and the government is not doing anything about it. Such kind of violence needs to be condemned and treated as criminal acts but the government has not taken any action to prosecute the perpetrators of such horrendous crimes.

In the given circumstances as they prevail in Chhattisgarh today, do social activists like you feel safe?

In my own case I've been told by a couple of senior police officers I know who work in other states that there is a definite risk to my life in the state. And in general the level of violence has gone up tremendously. So people who have been raising their voice against these issues (encounter killings and cases of forcible land grabbing by the Salwa Judum) may not be feeling safe.

Who poses a definite risk to your life? Is it the Salwa Judum or the government?

I think the risk is mainly from non-State actors. While I don't want to get into these details I can only say that the overall security situation in the state is not good.

Can we call this personal vendetta against all those people in Chhattisgarh who speak against the Salwa Judum? Even Gandhian activist Himanshu Kumar's Vanvasi Chetna Ashram was razed under some pretext or the other.

I don't know if it's personal vendetta or not. I don't know what is personal or what is political. But certainly Raman Singh and his ruling party in Chhattisgarh have gone out of their way to build false cases against all those people who have stood against the atrocities of Salwa Judum.

I think the fact that people like me have raised their opposition to a large number of activities -- which we think are against the wider interest of the deprived sections of Chhattisgarh -- undertaken by the state government is what is prompting action against us. We are trying to expose the false police encounters, large-scale land grabbing undertaken by the Salwa Judum from the tribal communities, and this is what is forcing the state government to respond in the best way that they know.

How would you describe the plight of the tribals of Chhattisgarh?

Large proportions of tribal populations are severely malnourished there. Though the government claims that they have been distributing rice, objective data shows that 33 per cent of the tribals have a body mass index, BMI, of 18.5 (an average person who is 5'6" tall and weighs 65 kg has a BMI of 23), that a large section of the tribals there are malnourished. This is just one indicator of the kind of horrendous policies affecting the lives of tribals in Chhattisgarh.

What inspires you to speak for the rights of the tribals and the deprived in Chhattisgarh despite there being a threat to your life?

I think the people who are living under those circumstances are showing a higher degree of courage. The wish of the people who want to be associated with the resistance that the poor there are showing in living their ordinary existence is what inspires a lot of people to speak out for them.

What would be your appeal to all the stakeholders in the region: the tribals, the state government and the Naxalites?

I think we all should appeal for peace and justice. The common people, the civil society should appeal for peace and justice and ask for implementation of the Directive Principles of State Policy that would bring in a greater degree of equality.

How optimistic would you be that your appeal will be heeded by everybody?

It's not my appeal. I am saying that the civil society should come together and make such an appeal. My appeal alone will have no significance but if I can enlist the support of a wider section of Indian people then perhaps there could be hope for the region.

Did you at any point during your imprisonment lose hope that you will ever come out of jail alive?

All the inmates in the jail with whom I interacted treated me very kindly. Everybody was kind to me and they gave me the courage to face life as it was inside the prison.

Were you subjected to physical or mental torture?

There was no physical torture at all but watching the way the inmates live and the conditions in which they lead their lives inside a prison was a very sad experience for me.

You are branded as a Naxalite by the state government. How do you respond to that?

I can say for sure that I am not a member of the Communist Party of India-Maoist. Apart from that the trial is in progress and I will await the court's decision.

Tuesday 22 December 2009


A few weeks ago someone gave me an interesting article on suffering, and the first part of it was on the meaning of the word – “suffering”. I’m interested in these meanings; they are teachings in themselves. The writer of this article pointed out that the word “suffering” is used to express many things. The second part “fer”, is from the Latin word “ferre,” meaning “to bear.” And the first part, “suf” is from sub, meaning “under.” So there’s a feeling in the word “to be under,” “to bear under,” “to totally be under” – “to be supporting something from underneath.”

So (remembering the definition of the word “suffer”) until we bow down and bear the suffering of life, not opposing it, but absorbing it and being it – we cannot see what our life is. This by no means implies passivity or non-action, but action from a state of complete acceptance. Even “acceptance” is not quite accurate – it’s simply being the suffering. It isn’t a matter of protecting ourselves, or accepting something else. Complete openness, complete vulnerability is (surprisingly enough) the only satisfactory way of living our life.

Our practice throughout our lifetime is just this: At any given time we have a rigid viewpoint or stance about life; it includes some things, it excludes others. We may stick with it for a long time, but if we are sincerely practicing our practice itself will shake up that viewpoint; we can’t maintain it. As we begin to question our viewpoint we may feel struggle, upset, as we try to come to terms with this new insight into our life; and for a long time we may deny it and struggle against it. That’s part of practice. Finally we become willing to experience our suffering instead of fighting it. When we do so our standpoint, our vision of life, abruptly shifts. Then once again, with our new viewpoint, we go along for a while – until the cycle begins anew.

Once again the unease comes up. And we have to struggle, to go through it again. Each time we do this – each time we go into the suffering and let it be – our vision of life enlarges. It’s like climbing a mountain. At each point that we ascend we see more; and that becomes broader with each cycle of climbing, of struggle. And the more we see, the more expansive our vision, the more we know what to do, what action to take.

Charlotte Joko Beck

Saturday 19 December 2009


The ongoing row in J&K; the ‘crisis for nowhere’ – demand for many more states and the threat of the inflated voices of shabby nationalism and regionalism; the controversy over India’s Nuke capacity and the slugfest now reaching to scientists adding to the fuel that polity was looking for in the wake of the highly-pushed but equally controversial Nuclear Deal; happenings in our immediate neighbourhood and their explicit and implicit consequences for us; and to make the worsening of a peaceful existence and co-existence complete, there is the steep price rise, now beyond control of the regulating machinery of the country. National Integrity is more at stake now than ever.

If we see what is happening in J&K today, we clearly see an irresponsible attitude. From the line of thinking of taking the state within the same administrative mould as other parts of the Indian Federation are, to the widespread separatist voices and agitations again, irresponsibility and lack of vision run deep. See what Shopian is representing now. Probably no would ever know the truth behind brutal killings of the two women. It is a clear case how petty politicians of the state has killed the process of justice and human spirit that could’ve been restored to some bit had it been the case where justice would have been allowed to be delivered even in the common but pathetic Indian machinery way. A classic case of conceptualizing legends out of nothing to serve the purpose, but distortion of policy ballooning to this extent! Nobody is there to think what will happen and what is happening to our national integrity. Nobody is thinking how severely it is affecting lives of the common people first in J&K and thereafter in the country. Just some countable months ago, the state was on almost a complete plank of harmony creating avenues of peace and prosperity and today it is again heading towards a split that is deepening in minds of the people of the J&K and which may lead to crisis of trust, and the victims are going to be again the likes of the women killed in Shopian. Life of a commoner is the least priority in crisis hotbeds of the universe!

What Pakistan has been trying since Independence, we give it that edge, sometimes, in just one go, thanks to the ways the concerned parties handle it. Terrorists, separatists and their promoters in Pakistan who had started showing signs of frustration, has been given a new lease of life and they are quick enough to revive their separatist agenda. When would the time come when we would be honest enough to critically scrutinize the measures adopted to resolve the issue to the extent of self-condemnation? We, just, do not need to emphasize but we really need to start a national dialogue with concrete action on ground involving people really affected. We need to advocate humanitarian policies to be adopted for people of the valley and of Jammu without any delay so that separatists’ intentions can be curbed.


With our mobile phones and wireless palm devices, we are now able to be so connected that we can be in touch with anyone and everyone at any time, and do business anywhere. But have you noticed that, in the process, we run the risk of never being in touch with ourselves? In the overall seduction, we can easily forget that our primary connection to life is through our own interiority ? the experiencing of our own body and all our senses, including the mind, which allow us to touch and be touched by the world, and to act appropriately in response to it. And for that, we need moments that are not filled with anything, in which we do not jump to get in one more phone call or send one more email, or plan one more event, or add to our to-do list.

What about not connecting with anyone in our 'in-between' moments? What about realizing that there are actually no in-between moments at all? What about calling ourselves up for a change, checking in and seeing what we are up to? What about just being in touch with how we are feeling, even in those moments that we may be feeling numb, or overwhelmed, or bored, or disjointed, or anxious or depressed, or needing to get one more thing done?

What about being connected to our bodies, and to the universe of sensations through which we sense and know the outer landscape? What about lingering for more than the most mindless and automatic of moments with awareness of whatever is arising in any particular moment in the mind: our emotions and moods, our feelings, our thoughts, our beliefs? What about cultivating a bigger picture that includes ourselves on any and every level, even if the picture is always a work in progress, always tentative, always changing, always emerging or failing to emerge, sometimes with clarity, sometimes not? [?]

The more we are entrained into the outer world in all these new and increasingly rapid ways that our nervous system has never before encountered, the more important it may be for us to develop a robust counterbalance of the inner world: one that calms and tunes the nervous system and puts it in the service of living wisely, both for ourselves and for others.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

The journey from ‘selfs’ to the ‘Self’ – Realization of the Curves

It was just the last moment when it hit me again, like any other time; unlike any other thought. The thoughts that sometimes go unbound in every flesh of existence came riding the rush, finding again a moment of their expressivity, to make again a situational triumph. They solemnly tried to remind whether I was on the bricks now that may be laid to construct the road that the person I have come to identify with me would take on to the journey to the final moments. This time I had less doubt and more alignment and I said go on.

Since the time immemorial, the fleshes have been craved into curves to lead a curvaceous life, and the cliché doesn’t go like this. It has not been a simplistic ritual of finding a brick or two to be hit by the mortar into an array that could give some sort of legitimacy to the moments of walking around, bare-footed, drifted, airlifted, or levitating on the horizon of nowhere. It has been a multitude of battles at numerous curves of every flesh with its soul to find the legitimate balance. The battles do exist. Their realizations exist to cease after some moments of existence and it happens again in the multitudinous proportions. Here it goes like the cliché.

The journey from the ‘selfs’ to the ‘Self’ is this only -- striving to maintain the continuum of ‘realizations of battles of the flesh with the soul’. The realization that the curves are going to be unending if we decide to take the materialistic means of the words – not in terms of enraptures of consumerism, but for harmony of devoted existence of the soul of the ‘Self’ and the soul for your other people – is needed to be assimilated, for I have ‘selfs’ for the soul of the ‘Self’ as well as I have ‘selfs’ for my other people too.

The journey from the ‘selfs’ to the ‘Self’ is always about maintaining the harmony of the soul with the flesh, something that elevates us from being animals, separates us from their crude ways. If the soul is not in unison with the flesh, we are, indeed, just animal fleshes then, fighting for the “I’ at any cost, irrespective of the realization of the curves. We need to be continued with the process of self-doubt and self-awareness to flatten every curve that we come across.





Tuesday 15 December 2009


"Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful." -- Cambridge philosopher, Dr. C. D. Broad

According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this Particular planet. To formulate and express the contents of this reduced awareness, man has invented and endlessly elaborated those symbol-systems and implicit philosophies which we call languages. Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been born -- the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the accumulated records of other people's experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things. That which, in the language of religion, is called "this world" is the universe of reduced awareness, expressed, and, as it were, petrified by language. The various "other worlds," with which human beings erratically make contact are so many elements in the totality of the awareness belonging to Mind at Large. Most people, most of the time, know only what comes through the reducing valve and is consecrated as genuinely real by the local language. Certain persons, however, seem to be born with a kind of by-pass that circumvents the reducing valve.

Aldous Huxley


Extracts from letters written to a lady resident in Brisbane, whose two sons were officers in the Indian service during the Indian Uprising of 1857 and were stuck in the area around Banaras. (Published in The Moreton Bay Courier on October 31, 1857)


I again write to you a few lines to say we are all well. H. has joined. I cannot say I can give you good news, far from it. Delhi has not been taken; in fact the troops, so report goes, have had to retreat from before that town, and are almost besieged in their turn. The force sent to Lucknow, for the relief of some 800 Europeans, ladies, and fighting men, besieged there, have, after a glorious advance, fighting 20 times their number, and taking no less than 50 guns, had to retire to Cawnpore, when within a few miles of their destination.

Again fancy the feelings of the unfortunate people at Lucknow encompassed by these ruffians! God grant they may be relieved, for another scene like Cawnpore would be awful. You will hear of the latter by the papers, so I will not tell you anything of it, with the exception that out of some 500 souls, men, women, and children, not two escaped to tell the tale; and Agra being besieged, is also in the same predicament, but it is hoped if the Delhi force retreats, that that place will be relieved.

Another grand insurrection occurred at Dinapore on the 25th July. Three Native Regiments marched out of the station, and were afterwards joined by an Irregular Cavalry corps, so there is a fine force of some 3000 men going about the country. They laid an ambuscade, and caught some 200 Europeans that were sent against them, fired one volley, the effect of which was the death of more than one-half of the little force, the rest ran for their lives into Dinapore. I am so afraid the people in England will not understand Indian affairs, and only send a small force, whereas not less than 30,000 Europeans are now required. We are not fighting against the old matchlock men of the past times, but against the picked fighting men of India, armed, equipped, and disciplined like European soldiers in every way. We are very quiet in our small station, and likely to remain so, as it is out of the way, but like every Englishman in India, we want to be where we can give our little aid against these murderers of women and children. The 47th remain quiet, and appear to be staunch, but nobody can tell what an hour may show, but they are powerless, as there are only some 60 men, with the same number of muskets left at head-quarters, and we live apart from them, near the small detachment of Europeans stationed here. You cannot tell how anxiously we are looking out for troops from England, not because of our own danger, but it galls to think that these men, whom we have in every way honoured, should turn so treacherously against us, and commit such atrocities. You cannot fancy men in cold blood murdering men that have been their companions in war and in peace, living in their houses, and day after day for years speaking and seeing to them; but it is to be hoped when the opportunity comes, that no absurd feeling of pity and mercy will interfere with the total extirpation of these cowardly murderers. I am far from being a cruel man, perhaps too much the other way, but it makes ones blood boil to hear of what has happened. I do not suppose there is a single Englishman in India who is not now thoroughly warmed to the work, and the revenge will be terrible when our turn comes. Now my dear - you must not get frightened at this letter; both H. and myself are at present quite safe, and hope to remain so; but we are soldiers, and of course are not enclosed in a patent safety iron box. But believe no reports, the mail at any time may be stopped; in fact, I very much doubt this being in time, as the telegraph yesterday from Benares reported that the mail communication was interrupted.


It is the most basic question of life, and the most demanding one. Demanding not due to being basic in nature, but by varying explanations of paradigms of the quest to find the 'Self', something depending on the 'self' only. And here it becomes double edged. We need to be aware of the 'self' in order to find the "Self'. We may realize it as we grow spiritually; we may realize the true 'we'.

But mind you, it may or may not happen. We may come to realize who we are tracing our thoughts to the root of our consciousness, when we had started thinking; thinking somewhat independently about our spiritual quotient and the values of our existence. Then we are able to fix the bolt correctly.

On the other hand, we may altogether lose what we used to think of us spiritually when we had the basic free thinking and some perspectives on who we would be so that we could contribute for our existence here. Before setting eyes on it firmly, we had to embark onto different journeys, for subsistence, for Existence. We gain. We lose. We are nourished. We are battered. In soul. In mind. In thoughts. The thought process that was free of shackles, at least in matters of soul, and hence the representative one, starts inviting changes. Now these changes may or may not be in line, to keeps us on the track of the spiritual quest, or to sweep us away, somewhere in a world, utterly individualistic and extremely hedonistic. Here we may, somehow, fix the bolt; or may not fix it altogether.

It is about trying to find out the ways to extend thoughts when we had started thinking about values of life, in a desperate yet resolute effort to find the 'Self'. I believe growing spiritually is a journey from the many shades of 'selfs' to the 'Self'. I have felt the unease. I feel the unease. My many ‘selfs’ have let me down so many time, leaving me absent-minded. Perhaps the quest to the ‘Self’ has been the only constant as it has allowed me to assimilate every ‘self’ of mine irrespective of where it takes me. When I feel let down, I look up to the distant ‘Self’ that tells me then that every ‘self’ is a constituent of the ‘Self’ only, trying to impart significant insights, sometimes, to be let down to look up to survive.

The varying paradigms of the quest to the ‘Self’ let us on occasional introspection and retrospection sprees to see our ‘selfs’ in varying degrees of vulnerability and adaptability. We may be left let-down to go down. We may not be left let-down, as such, to go down.


If your deeper intention is an inseparable part of how you are, it is not capable of attachment.

You can seek to accomplish your intention. You live out your intention. It is like the wind, the life force from which your energy and determination arises, whereas your vision is a particular destination you want to reach.

So, as best I can understand, the heart of the dynamic of being truly committed and nonattached is to anchor in your deeper intention and focus your energies on realizing your vision, while at the same time knowing that the vision is, at best, a reflection of your deeper intention.

It is possible to be truly committed and not attached. Indeed, it is essential to developing our mastery in the creative process. For years we have expressed this basic idea as the principle. "It's not what the vision is, it's what the vision does." In other words, rather than obsess about realizing my vision, consider it as a force for change, a way of aligning my actions with nature's unfolding. When you operate this way, what happens may not be exactly as you imagined it in your vision, but what happens would otherwise not have happened. You could hold a vision of a genuine perfection in some domain and, although you might never realize that vision, you might also achieve things that would have never been achieved otherwise. It's not what the vision is, it's what the vision does.

In this spirit, pursuing a vision is a way to live in harmony with your deeper ineffable intention. In this sense, vision is a tool for orienting our energies and effort around who we really are. But when we obsess about whether or not our vision is being achieved, we confused the animating force behind our being with an idea created by our mind.

Peter Senge