Once upon a time, in a far away place, hemmed by big and tiny blue and green hills, lived a young and beautiful princess who was about to leave the great comforts of her home and intense love of her family to join her newly wed, unfamiliar, husband in another far away land — barren, arid and hostile.
Naturally, she was worried, confused and nervous for most of her waking hours. She thought about the uncertainty of her new life she was about to engage with. She thought about how she must interact with the new family. She thought about how would her husband treat her and how she would treat him in return. She grew increasingly worried about her new future. Slowly, she was become lifeless, dry and stiff.
Her brother noticed the fade of her cheeks and how she was slowly becoming disengaged from daily life — spending most of her time mulling over imagined affairs and about the ghostly demons waiting to pounce on her in future. So, one day he asked her about what was paining her so much and whether he might be of some help.
His offer came as a big relief to her. At least one person in the world, understood the dire state she was in – to offer help. She also knew that her elder brother was known to be wise, honest and skillful in negotiating life. Finding her brother by her side, she emptied her worries and asked him the secret of engaging with life from now on — since everything is set to change for her.
On this, her brother talked about the five principles one might follow to successfully take on life as it unveils. These five were — Wisdom, Love, Justice, Surrender and Patience. He asked her to imagine these five principles as five containers each holding something of those. He assured her that a proper mix and match of these contents helps one to skillfully sail through life.
But she could not understand any of these. She thought how can someone carry wisdom around like money or a handkerchief? Or does it seem to surface only after an event — sadder the better? What one must do to gain wisdom? Is there any step by step process to gain it? Can it be borrowed? If it were to be borrowed, who must she go to?
Then she thought about what is love? Is it about enduring pain? Is it about keeping quiet while one suffers? Is it an overt expression of happiness? Or is it about passion – unbridled? Is it about sacrificing oneself at the altar of compassion or idealism? Or is it doing something without judgment? But that would again bring judgment. Is it about giving others all you have when you have nothing much to give? Or is it about playing a role society determines for you? Or is it about listening to one’ heart, if that may really be listened to? What might be the art of doing that?
What is justice? Isn’t it only reserved for the rich and famous? Isn’t it made by those in power? Isn’t it a secret and clever weapon in the hands of strong men to protect their selfish interests and narrow thoughts? Is justice divine? Is evil always followed by retribution? If so, then why good people go about doing bad things? And why bad people go scot-free after their many crimes? Is it about how people; wisely or unwisely, think societies should run? Or is it about what society does to straitjacket one into particular modes of behavior?
Again, would surrender mean giving up on life? Is it about not having one’s will in anything? Is is close to defeatism? Is it about believing something without rationale and logic? Is it about letting go and accepting life as it is? Is it about accepting meaninglessness in everything we do?
And then she thought how long can one stay patient about anything? What is the basis of patience? Is it about believing something when nothing is at hand? Is it about applying this theory or that with the expectation that things would work out well in the end or as expected? Is it about deluding oneself in the face of distress and torment? Is it a skill or a tactic? Or is it just a blind belief that things would spontaneously work out in one’s favor? Or is it about holding on tight with all that great nervousness boiling inside without expressing anything about it to anyone? Or is it about pretending to be a martyr?
She could not think any further and felt sleepy out of exhaustion. Soon she was dreaming… and the tautness of her face started melting bit by bit… she seemed enjoying her dream. Soon a glow of happiness engulfed her.
She wasn’t aware of how long she slept. But when she woke up everything was still around her. Few palace lights were still flickering. The moon on the horizon was waning but held on to her dreamy lustre. Far away on the banks of the silent river small dimly lit earthen lamps were floating on the water, casting the magic spell of their reflections. She knew someone died in the night and the relatives were performing the last rites. But the birds, completely unaware of that fact, started chirping one by one — first the sparrow who lived on the cornice of her room followed by a melodious nightingale roosting on a distant tree standing alone in the pale darkness of twilight. Somewhere, a lonely cricket chirped to keep pace with the birds. The first shafts of light were breaking free from the pall of darkness — how soothing it was — like the cool turmeric balm her mother applied when her delicate skin got bruised in play.
Her mind was clear — no restless waves disturbed its tranquility. The delicate sun rays while kissing her face with warm kindness, kept whispering — there is hope, there is energy, there is kindness of life nestled inseparably in the deary darkness of every night, however dark that might be — have faith that light would emerge effortlessly to unveil something new. Look at it with awe and wonder…. the darkness and despair would melt away — keep dreaming; the rest of it is a big lie.
As the haze of the night lifted by degrees and the solid black yaks, hanging their heads, stood silently on the dew drops of the green valleys, the distant hills seemed a bit more blue. She was dreaming of the great and exciting life that impatiently awaited her arrival.
In the stillness of the moment her brother’s words took life.
(Excerpt from a forthcoming book that follows #powerofsee)..