AND LIFE GOES ON
By Arun Babani
The Coloured Curtain
In society, everything, and everybody, is covered with a colorful curtain. For instance, the words, 'Conditions apply', in the smallest type in the corner of a full-page advertisement are a huge curtain on that full-page ad. A designer labeled dress is a curtain on the lady's ugly lie. The shiny powerful mobile is a curtain on the guy's insecurity. Everything is covered, colored, concealed and curtained. So what you see on the outside is a veil that hides the inside. It is a purposely, deliberately done mischief. In order to make-believe. To present something other than what actually is. Outside, is the culture, and inside, hidden by the curtain is the nature.
Culture unanimously votes for power, prestige and publicity – the appearance. And then there is the fine print that says, be careful, don't trust. Conditions apply. Nature is innocent, virgin, unconditional. And therefore vulnerable, impressionable and trusting. This is the reason culture has taught us to create impressions, by creating masks. Instead of “to be”, it has taught us “to appear to be”. And so there are curtains. In society everyone is an actor. A waiter, wearing his uniform acts out his role as a waiter. And upon changing back to his own clothes becomes his natural self again. So does the school boy or a businessman or a president. Each one has his uniform, proper dialogues and proper behavior.
Curtains are of many kinds and basically their purpose is to hide the real and make it look like something else. The color on the nails is a form of curtain, so is the color on hair, or the shine on the jewelery. The much coveted MBA is a form of a curtain. The orange robe of a Swami is as much a curtain as the necktie of a bank manager. The pagdi is a curtain and so is the Mullah's dadhi (beard).
The curtain acts like an identity card, like a character certificate. A curtain that you wear defines you and proclaims 'I'm such and such'. You come in front of the world wearing your curtain and the society takes that as you, complete, whole and final. And when you go home and take off your uniform, perhaps often you feel you're seeing a stranger, unrecognizable, but natural. You feel a strange sense of relief on taking off the smile which you wear like a curtain. You become innocent and pure again.
A better society, a saner humanity will perhaps do away with curtains, throw the masks and discard the degrees. A better humanity would simply come back to natural needs and cut off all the curtains that cover and conceal the truly human spirit.
The Worldly, The Other Worldly And The Really Free
Some of the worldly people are quite nice. In fact so nice that sometimes tears come to the eyes just shaking their hands. Same is true of the other worldlys. Some of them are quite charming and have a twinkle in their eyes. But if the majority really counts, then perhaps both the worldly and the other worldly have their own little jargon, their own petty concerns and their own reasons for being stuck. The worldly, with their regimented and unfree schedules, with a long list of wants, climb ladders quickly or steadily and have long been identified by the other worldly as the pioneers of greed. The other worldly on the other hand, with their rejection of what they call the ordinary and mundane, have their own set of ladders to climb and have long ago been identified by the worldly as the solid ego-trippers, who will never find their way to the garden of Eden.
When a person falls/rises from being an ordinary worldly, he tries to follow the only other route to happiness; to be an other worldly. When he does finally make it to the club-med of Nirvana he starts by feeling very, very special, the chosen one. In fact he accepts the invitation to 'opening up' by one or the other of the countless Gurus in the market. And then the problem starts. What he calls 'the search' begins and he calls himself 'the seeker'. But then most of the story comes to an end here. Because usually that is where he stays for the most part of his initiation. As a seeker he keeps on going in circles. The rituals, the discipline and the commandments replace the worldly man's share of the same stuff. The 'path' just goes on and on. Many religions are still waiting for the second coming of their Messiahs. An event that cannot happen, except that the road gets further blocked by hope. This is the story of a spiritual seeker, the splendid mix of masti, magic and mistake.
The worldly, with their degrees on time management, and the other worldly with their poems on timelessness have so far been the only two available routes to happiness. Is there a third way out there? When your search for power ends, the world ends for you. And when your search for liberation ends, the other world too disappears. And when the seeking ends, you come back full circle to yourself. This seems to be your own way! My own way! Each one's own unique special way! In fact if the worldly person is really wise, he is free from the world yet operates in it. And if the other worldly is liberated enough, then he only follows himself. A child of three is free; she knows no God, no religion, really free. Dare to lift your frock in public? You may join the dance.
The Secret Law of Excess Wealth
A simple lesson about money came to me from an unassuming plastic dealer at Dadar. He told me, “More is for others, sir!” With a mischievous twinkle in his playful eyes he shared with me this extraordinary law of excess wealth.
More is for others. That means if you own more than you actually need then the taxman will take it, lawyers will loot it, insurance agents will indulge in it and doctors will deprive you of it. It suddenly rang a bell, and reminded me of UG's words “Anyone who wants more than the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter is basically neurotic.”
More is for others. That means – Malls will take it and multiplexes, movie houses and restaurants will make sure you share it with them. And then the slimming centers and dieticians will follow you to unburden you of your wealth and weight. Gurus of all kinds will eye it. All sorts of teachers, experts like the Vaastu Shastri, Feng Shui experts, designers, HR agents will surround you and expertly hog on your excess wealth. More is for others means a thief or a burglar is always shadowing you, your own temptations won't leave you at rest and your kith and kin along with your cook, your maid, your driver, your barber are always waiting in the wings to gobble it up.
More is always for others, sir, so get to know the right size of your pocket and the actual volume of your belly. In short, know your real needs and satisfy them because more will automatically flow towards prying strangers.