The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: growth (page 1 of 2)

A Ripe Love

It was a love like none other I had ever experienced.

It began with stories of love itself, longing embedded within. Longing for a sense of purpose, a deeper meaning to life, direction. Stories of intense sorrow and pain, alleviated by a look, a touch, a word. Stories of miracles, large and small, inexplicable phenomena, familiar figures, comforting and loving. Stories of death averted, life transformed, birth and rebirth.

I longed for a story myself. I thought that if I wanted it bad enough, it would happen to me.

Did it? Perhaps it did.

Finally the day came, and I had the opportunity for a meeting. It left me miserable. All those beautiful stories dissolved into nothingness. There was no chemistry, no meeting of eyes, no significant glances or words.

Wasn’t I worthy enough? Why others, why not me?

I languished in self-inflicted misery a short while, then resolved I’d do better. I’d prove my mettle. I wouldn’t give up. I’d stick to my promise. I’d prove my love, devotion and sincerity.

I wish I could tell you that it worked. It really didn’t. I tried, then tried again. Finally I mustered up the courage to ask a question, hoping for a life-transforming answer, the word of God, just for me. Sure enough, the answer came but I was unimpressed. It did nothing for me! Was this a joke? Were all the stories mere fabrication? Was I missing something? Was I a fool?

Give me full marks for persistence because I did persist. I stuck along, confident that things would change. I would be deemed worthy to join the ranks of those who got special time. I would be soon sharing my own stories of miracles and supernatural phenomena.

And thus the saga continued. On and on, year after year.

I dropped my hankerings eventually. It was too darned exhausting. My fevered cravings morphed into a resigned acceptance. I started to experience a sweet kind of love, a puppy-like devotion and adoration. Somehow it seemed enough because my life actually felt sweeter, more melodious. There was a sense of dynamism, purpose and meaning. I was going somewhere, maybe not where I’d imagined. But somewhere… No, I wasn’t among the elite few who exchanged knowing glances and shared secret stories. But I was there, trudging along amid the masses, occasionally feeling both lost and found.

Then one day, it all began to change. The flavor of my love changed. It felt like it’d matured, gained in ripeness and understanding. Looks didn’t matter any more, neither did glances or words. Distance ceased to make a difference. Physical presence felt unimportant.

What was happening to me? Had I gotten completely lost? Where had I landed up? Why was I alone? Where were the elite, special ones?

I wondered long and hard. About what I’d lost, what I’d given up, if I had gained anything in the process.

The Sun needs no illumination. It is self-illumined. Perhaps I had become the Sun? Or a sun?

For years, I had watched from a distance, learning and growing. Over time, my inner wanderings finally led me to an orbit of my own, far away from the teeming masses, large and small planets, shining stars and dust. Finally I was on my own, lit from within, growing in light, brilliance and confidence.

Perhaps he would be proud of me today.

(Thank you, Gurudev, for setting this heart ablaze.)

Independence and Community

TeaI have been thinking some strange thoughts about friendship lately. Or the way we define “friendship” typically.

Everyone cherishes a good friendship. It is comforting, full of good vibes and warmth and understanding and bonhomie, and it makes us feel loved and wanted. Knowingly, no one will let go of a good friendship (whatever one defines it as). But I wonder — can a strong friendship rob one’s freedom? In order to keep the friendliness and good cheer intact, do we compromise on our independence? Yes, I think we do. Yes, I have.

I once commented to my meditation teacher, “It feels to me that either everyone is a friend or no one is. Either everything is personal or nothing is.”

Friendship isn’t unconditional, as I have come to realize. It certainly comes with strings attached. Even the most generous and understanding friend may find judgment creeping into the relationship. Suddenly, the ties that bind feel constraining. Now I yearn to break free. Oh, what about my friend? Their feelings? Should I risk the lessened warmth, the sudden strain and unsaid disapproval and frostiness? Will they continue caring for me? Well, did they actually care, or was it pure happenstance? Does anyone really care, unconditionally?

Herein lies the rub. How does one maintain an even balance between community and independence? A community is based on some kind of a shared commonality — be it culture, values, ideology, what have you. Even the most open communities likely have some unsaid customs. You cannot flout them, really. No one will necessarily tell you off, but you get a clear sense of having crossed a line somewhere.

Sigh.

(This may be an uncomfortable situation but it is, by no means, painful. I find it an exhilarating conflict. To me, this discomfort signals growth and expansion. It forces me to confront my individual truth, all trappings removed, plain and bare.)

That girl from Xavier’s

Girl-Woman

Girl-Woman

During 8th grade, I had the opportunity to represent my school at an inter-school science exhibit competition hosted at St. Xavier’s. It was two days of fun and freedom.  V and I went to St. Xavier’s, spoke knowledgeably to visitors about our school’s entry to the competition, wisecracked around, gawked at other boys/girls, and had a good time, generally speaking. Then I saw her.

Long wavy hair loosely bound, a nicely fitting school uniform, slim legs and slender waist… guys hanging around, smiling and laughing and talking. She was perfectly poised between girl and woman — graceful and beautiful and feminine. I couldn’t help feeling envious. Imagine a flat-chested girl, stick thin, shy (yet outwardly confident), gawky and awkward… Hmm, that was me.

How things have changed…

The other day, as I stood before the mirror washing my face before bed, I suddenly thought – Oh, I have turned into that girl.

Longish hair loosely tied, slim and slender, poised between girlhood and womanhood. Life does bring us what we wish for… if only twenty years too late! No, it cannot be too late — it is perfect timing.