Holistic Living - Fun On The Run
by Chitra Jha
Do seekers have fun? To the outside world, it would seem unlikely. After all, the stereotypical image of a sadhak is of someone immersed in holy pursuits, marching off to a meditation camp or a retreat, full of purpose and piety. While everybody else is cheering loudly for India at the start of the cricket season, the seeker is hardly even aware there is a match on. Indeed, more often than not, television watching is not on his radar screen. As for partying, the loud music and smoke in a disco sends her screaming out for fresh air, and party conversations simply don’t appeal. And while everyone else is chomping into juicy morsels of chicken and swigging beer, the seeker will munch on a lettuce leaf while sipping louki juice.
While other colleagues gather around during lunch and bitch about the boss, the seeker will usually mildly put in a good word for him, making her pretty much universally unpopular. What’s worse, don’t spiritual people routinely hop into bed at 10 pm, and wake up at some unearthly hour in order to catch Brahma muhurta? Not exactly a barrelful of laughs, one would think.
The seeker, however, knows otherwise. The less fun he seems to be having on the outside, the more fun he is having on the inside. When life itself is joyous, you don’t need to set aside a certain part of your day or life to have fun. Says Dr Hemant Morparia, a well-known cartoonist and seeker, “I don’t need to take a holiday because every day is like a holiday.”
When duties and chores become experiences to relish, you don’t need to get away from it all to a disco or a party.
Says management consultant andfollower of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Anita Vasudeva, “I spend my time in working out, meditating, writing, just being, while earlier I would read compulsively. Socialising is much less than earlier. The desire to ‘party’ isn’t there. If I go out, I have a good time. If I don’t, I have a good time!”
Adds Arpita Gupta, a reiki master and past-life regression therapist from Hyderabad, “For me, life is for enjoyment. I choose to enjoy every moment of my life. After I have discovered spirituality, I have become more vibrant, positive, and joyful.”
Ramesh, an administrative manager with IBM, Bangalore, seems to have distilled fun to their essence. He enjoys solitude more than anything else. He is altruistic and tries to help others, in order to experience the effect on his own soul. He finds great thrill and fun in watching life take its own course. His favourite refrain is, “Enjoy the moment.”
However, there are several activities that one could grade as leisure-time, that have a powerful hold on the seeker. Most seekers tend to be drawn to the arts with even greater passion than earlier. Spiritual practices tend to open up creativity, and also help develop a more refined taste in the arts. There is an automatic movement away from grossness and vulgarity. Books or movies celebrating sex or violence cease to appeal and more humanistic themes replace them.
Art of living
Many also actively practice the arts. For the first time in their lives, they find that they have something to say. Often, there is a strong need for self-expression. Even those who never wrote a line, start spouting copious amounts of (usually bad) poetry. Many find fine art to be a powerful mode of self-expression and come out often with original and wonderful art works. Says healer Dinaz Dastur, “Being an artist I am very much drawn to create spiritual art work. I am totally into oil painting, sketching, ceramics, stained glass, and foil embossing.”
Adds Marita Nazareth, environmentalist and workshop facilitator, “I used to play the piano and accordion, and quite liked music but rarely listened or appreciated it. Now I dance, and feel myself becoming part of the music. Also, I am very conscious of what type of music raises my “spiritual energies”. I used to walk through art galleries bored to death. Now the appreciation comes from the heart, and I actually vibe with certain paintings.”
Almost everyone takes a shot at writing articles or fiction. Says Akila Jaikumar, who had a powerful experience in a past-life therapy session and subsequently went on to become a therapist, “I am open to doing things I have never done before. Writing articles is one such activity.”
Vijaya Sinha, a theatre director from Dehradun admits that she devotes all her time and energy to her love for theatre. She calls it her ‘labour of love’. She feels that she gets paid to have fun. Though she also likes to read Osho before going to bed, her peace comes from accepting things as they are. She thinks of life as an unfolding drama, just like the plays that she directs.
Others may not actively produce art, but nevertheless develop a greater capacity to enjoy its more rarefied forms.
Chaitanya Agarwal, professor and head of Computer Science & Applications Department, MCRP University, Bhopal, who was initiated into spirituality by Osho at age 13, says, “My leisure time is spent in listening to classical music. I love to dance. I get connected to the Higher Power through dance. I also read spiritual New Age books. I cannot watch TV. Earlier, I used to read fiction and enjoy gossiping, but now all that has surprisingly vanished from my life. I feel far more contented, blissful, and relaxed. I celebrate life and enjoy myself.”
Agarwal’s experiences are echoed by several along the line. Meher Castelino, a former Miss India, and follower of Meher Baba, says, “My entertainment revolves around TV and movies, but only the fun kind; I don’t like gruesome stories. I love music, lots of music, and dancing. I watch yoga programmes and try to do the asanas that suit my body and my needs. I read only spiritual books. Right now it is Paulo Coelho’s Like the Flowing River. I have read The Secret several times! I keep spiritual books by my bedside and like to read them last thing at night. I also like humorous books like the ones by PG Wodehouse. Earlier, I used to read fiction, but now I don’t like it.”
Says Aekta Kapoor, an editor at Marie Claire, “I have started loving music; I listen much more now. I linger in the beats, no matter what it is, FM or a classical performance. Sometimes I feel my heart beating faster. And I cry more, and more openly through films or songs!”
Dance appears to be an activity that many seekers actively enjoy. As one tends to know and like oneself better, inhibitions drop and the spirit surges within one, inspiring one to dance and sing with abandon. After all, bhaktas like Mirabai and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are well-known for their ecstatic music and dance. Indeed, all great art in India is inspired by the love of the Divine.
One has only to look at the dancing that breaks out on the sideline at satsangs to see how aligned spirituality and dancing are. The Art of Living satsangs are particularly noted for their exuberant dancing. Since it has more than an average presence of youngsters, one could almost conclude that satsangs are the satvic equivalent of the disco. Good music, great dancing, and at the end of the day, brownie points on your spiritual progress chart as well.
Relationships, especially with the family, become another source of great joy and satisfaction. Spirituality opens up feelings and enables us to connect with others at greater depth. We find a new appreciation and delight in the company of others, and take a keen joy in cultivating them to greater and greater depths.
Dr Kalpana Upadhyaya, a senior lecturer in English, from Yamuna Nagar, Delhi, finds fun and relaxation in playing with her three grandsons. She calls them her dolls. She loves reading New Age philosophy, and lives by it. She believes in accepting everything as it is. Her acupressurist husband, Rajkumar Upadhyaya, believes in living life to the fullest. His favourite leisure time activity is bonding with his family. Home-maker Aruna Ravi from Yamuna Nagar, finds her fun in her family. She believes that her husband and her children are her ‘personal gods’. She invents ways to keep her family as fulfilled as possible. She loves giving things away. In her words, “I like to keep giving whatever I can give. That creates space for more to come into my life. The more I give, the more I get. And the more I get, the more I have to give. The cycle continues, and I have fun deciding what to give to whom. I enjoy this game of giving and receiving.”
Akshay Kaushik, a textile designer from Nagpur, and a believer in Asaram Bapu’s philosophy of being contented with whatever one has, is another family man. He spends all his free time in bonding with his only child, his teenage son. He feels that these days are not ever going to come back, so he wants to make the most of it. Says he, “It is a pleasure to watch the chemistry between my son and myself.”
Joe, an NIFT, Kolkata student, is an identikit seeker. He loves to be alone. He spends his free time in reading authors like Richard Bach and Aldous Huxley. He loves listening to ‘soul’ music. Jim Morrison is his guru. He wants to experience true freedom. He plans on spending his summer vacations in a Buddhist monastery in Bodh Gaya, learning meditation. He also wants to volunteer his services at Auroville, Pondicherry.
My teacher and spiritual scientist, Dr Newton Kondavati of Hyderabad, has a simple charter: “Dance for your body, music for your mind, and meditation for your soul.” I follow this dictum to a T. So my fun activities are dancing, singing, and meditating.
For others, spirituality becomes the glue that welds the spiritual and the material, enabling them to enjoy everything with discrimination. Special Educator Pratibha Kang of Jalandhar is an Osho fan. She finds no dichotomy in enjoying all material comforts while practising spirituality. She says, “Just as you can’t separate the body (matter) from the soul (spirit), you cannot separate the ‘material’ world from the ‘spiritual’ world. Everything that has been created in this world must be experienced. That experience enriches us in all respects. I love socialising as much as I love solitude. I love sipping wine as much as I love drinking milk. I live life and let life live me.”
That, perhaps, is the last word. From neti neti (not this, not this), we move into iti, iti (this too, this too).
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