Saturday, January 12, 2013


I was having a conversation with a friend recently. We were talking about the feeling of utter helplessness that crucified many of us when we heard about the brutal rape and the subsequent death of this young girl in Delhi last December. We were discussing if it is at all possible to function in this world without that feeling. Even after I came home, the topic continued to play in my mind and here are some observations.

The feeling of helplessness that one goes through is not an atomic emotion. It is more the result of the interplay of many complex emotions within us. This amalgam of emotions shows up as helplessness in some, anger in some others and cynicism in a few others. I feel, if we can dissect this amalgam into more finer categories of emotions through self-knowledge, we may have a chance of facing up to such complex situations that life keeps throwing at us.

Lets take the case of helplessness and try to partition it into finer categories of emotions. For starters, definitely there is a lot of compassion / empathy towards the young girl. Next, there is a lot of frustration / anger / shame at the way our society is. In addition, they may also be there at ones own inadequacies. There is a also a lot of intense motivation to work in the society and move its overall character into more desirable shades. All these are indeed most wonderful emotions that one needs to carefully guard and nurture.

Then, on the other hand, there are a few not so desirable feelings. First there is a lot of fear born out of the thought (conscious in some, unconscious in some) - 'What if it were me or a near and dear one'? Second the issue of frustration at our society and the desire to change is affected by the fact it is 'my' society. It is questionable if either of these emotions will be of the same intensity if the same event had happened in a far away country. Then there is the surreptitiously built up thought of 'me' the individual whose life is somehow spectacularly significant. As everything is viewed through it, ones perception of reality is drastically affected. Lastly, there is also the not so mature masculine nature (that which wants to 'do' things in the world) which refuses to accept defeat.

One really effective way to deal with these negative components is to find, recognise and identify them correctly when they are the lead emotion in the mind. Though the overall feeling of helplessness is a mixture, at different times, different components are manifested more strongly than the rest. If we continuously introspect, then all the components can be identified easily and we can clearly know when which component is dominating. As we do this and develop ourselves through the practice of Yoga (am referring to all aspects and not just the external aspects), then the masculine nature will develop fully and will remain constantly as an efficient instrument at the hands of the divine. It will stop going behind ones own egoistic pursuits and instead develop oneself and be moved by something very deep from within. As this development happens, the notion of the 'me' being significant gradually diminishes. Instead the 'me' dissolves into the eternal and divine (if you may will so) process of evolution of form in a manner that is most suitable for the being. All the energy in the individual is directed into the process. Lastly, the fear of death / pain also recedes. They will be reduced to small amounts.

The being that has accomplished this indeed has the greatest chance of facing up to such a complex world skilfully. As the mind is freed up of negative qualities, the positive qualities grow and occupy the space vacated by the negative ones. The individual then works hard to make hir life count by fully manifesting ones potential and contributing to society. That the ugly manifestations we see outside are connected to the unconsciousness almost all of us harbour within is understood and earnest effort is taken to root it out from oneself. This may take time and may involve a few fortuitous circumstances. But, if one is diligent and sincere, such circumstances are bound to arrive soon. After such development, then gory events such as this will certain move the individual out of compassion but will never leave one paralysed. The individual can respond in meaningful ways.

PS: These thoughts are only on how an individual may respond and is not about how social / political response to such events should be. Whatever they are, they can be manifested better when there are more individuals around who consciously choose to work on themselves on these lines.

No comments: