I grew up in a small town in the coffee growing mountains of Coorg, at a time when we were lucky if we had electricity for more than 10 hours a day. I spent a lot of time either reading or with friends with whom I went foraging in the woods for wild mushrooms and berries, and wading through streams hunting for crabs that hid under rocks and crevices. Those were simpler times, where the highlight of my day was to find spare coins in my Papa’s pockets in the morning; to be delighted to hear the clink of that coin as it fell into my piggy bank.
One of those nights that we didn’t have electricity, I sat in our verandah and looked into the hills around me. In that darkness I noticed fireflies, a gazillion of them blinking in the darkness in a rhythm, like an orchestrated symphony! I stayed there for as long as I could, just being engulfed in that moment, frozen! Finally, when my loving Amma came and called me in, I went in knowing that this was perhaps the most profound thing I had witnessed in my life.
Perhaps, that night was the moment of epiphany when I recognized that there is something about life, something beautiful that you discover as you go. It is like connecting the dots and coloring the numbers to reveal that beautiful picture of a butterfly. All my life I have endeavored to connect these dots, and with every passing moment, I realize that my life is connected by these dots. Every heartbeat, every wink of my eye, every breath, every face, every memory is another dot to be connected!
What does it mean to be Zen?
In my quest for answers, I ended up learning a bit of Eastern non-dualistic philosophy, or what is known as one of the many Tantras. I have to digress here, and use up a few words to say that, Tantra has very little to do with Sex, or black magic. Tantra isn’t just one school of thought; it applies to many such schools of thoughts including Chinese, Japanese, Persian, Javanese and Tibetan to name a few. The core philosophy being that there are no accidents or incidents in life, everything happens for a reason. This is a philosophy that has helped me wade through life.
I like to have this very approach towards whatever I do. It is not so much a philosophy of pessimism that Schopenhauer propounded, but rather an interesting philosophy that I found much closer at home in the works of Sri Abhinava Gupta and other great masters of Kashmir Shaivism. On the surface, the world might seemingly be irrational, but there is perhaps a rationality to it that we are not able to comprehend.
Take for example, the shuffle feature on your music player, seemingly it plays out music in a random order, but deep down there is a computer code which is asking it to do things in a certain order. Since we are not able to see this code, we can only naturally assume that it is happening in a random irrational way. The art of Zen would be then, to acknowledge that there is a reason for everything that is happening and to make peace with it. The sooner you realize this the better you will be able to cope up with the seeming unfairness that life doles out to you more often than what you like!
The reason I am calling this website as ‘Zenning My way’ is because, neither do I believe that Zen is a state that can be achieved immediately nor is it a permanent state, it is a journey without end!