Monday, June 30, 2014

Will the real man please stand up?

Here are some instances. Together they make a very deep impact on me -

1. Ecological damage
2. Violence - south sudan, Iraq, so on ,
3. Rape of women
4. Growing number of divorce
5. Women challenging traditional assumptions and seeking to redefine themselves and their roles.
6.  2 cases of older women (50-60) approaching consumer court for damages from travels company and winning despite their husbands telling them it is not worth it. They sought to teach the companies a lesson.
7. Bhartiya mahila muslim andolan - a grass roots muslim women's group drafting Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act by talking to muslim women while the All India Muslim Personal Law Boards and religious institutions are quiet
Several more, these are just from today.

Once upon a time when we faced threat from wild animals in the jungle - women held kids while men safeguarded - against wilderness and sometimes other tribes. They hunted and brought meat, women collected fruits and more as they took care of the children. Men led and women contributed to decisions involving collaborations, strategies - to hunt, fight and organise the community. Men led with power, women held together with love.
Agriculture came, men organsied and fought each other; women cultivated. Men also contributed and made decisions for cultivation. Patriarchy developed as men became the 'protectors' and their 'protection' defined which family or group it was. Xyz' family - protected by Xyz and sons. Each person of the family thus gets identified by the lead male of the group - Xyz. Except in those rare communities where identity was defined by who you were born to - the mother. Identity, organisation (system for governance) and further political power emerged as a responsibility and prerogative of men. Clash of communities, religious groups further lead to intensification of the condition for the in-group and out-group. What is mine needed to be defined and ownership marked aggressively. Women along with land and produce became property to be safeguarded and owned.

With industrialisation, the role of the man got extended to working in the industries with skill and knowledge to bring the food to the table. This and managing the company, the economy and government in which this happened. Essentially continuing the previous roles with modification relevant to what was the governing system, what needed to be secured. Women who were actively farming but not making decisions were left home. Possibly because land needed to be farmed and the machines were perceived to be physically more dangerous. Then like previous times, wars were fought. Men went to fight leaving the industries to women, who proved that they could do it just as well as men.

After the war, there started a new era of feminism, women in the west feeling equal and demanding to be treated equal. Women in colonized countries felt equal as they fought alongside men to gain freedom. Along with this worldwide questioning of domination and equality of all humans started. Women started breaking in into male dominated roles and proved they were equal. Men watched, many slowly conceded. If this happened in the last few decades, Gen x & y face a further twist.

Here are women continuously questioning roles, exploring and understanding who they are , what they want, loving the freedom and growing init. Each challenge of the system led to reflection and strength in women. In one generation suppressed women gave opportunity to their daughters that was unheard of in their own times. Age old beliefs are still deeply ingrained, but desire for liberty to be who they are and who they want to be was felt and striven for. Clashes were there, these were met by developing ability to juggle, multi task and so on.

But today, we , the Gen X and Y women stand feeling deserving of liberty, capable by ourselves, earning and caring for family and questioning the role of men in our future lives. This is in the context of violence on women.
There is a vicious backlash by men. Stripping us violently, shocking us with ferocity of resistance. Not as one system to be fought with but several individual small actions. But we feel the pain. As children die, nature suffers, ethnic cleansing happens, water becomes scarce, where is the governing system. Women have redifined themselves, but how about men? Have they looked at their roles, questioned, grown? As we need a better system of governance that promotes the growth of all humans , suited for a modern day, will the men step up or do women take it up alone?

I am going by the idea of innate archetypal masculinity in men and femininity in women being more than the contrasexual other. ( i.e men being more masculine and women being more feminine but also possessing the other). Masculine includes in it thinking, developing systems, protecting, analysis, etc.

If men, dont access the higher form of masculine, women will. They will build a society in which there is safety and growth for all. The question is will the men standby or step up to their roles as partners in this?

While writing this, I acknowledge the emotional charge that I carry from the news of the day. That colours depiction but does not change facts. Post the world wars, attempts at this better governance were made with the UN coming into existence. But its inefficacy is evident. More such effort is needed.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Building a national identity - a solution for ethnic violence?

Ethnic cleanising and ethnic conflicts are still commonplace on parts of the world. The pain and cost of it is not at all commonplace. The UN estimates 8 million children to die out of lack of food in 2014 if any intervention is not made. In some other parts of the world, a single death is the cause of an uproar on governance. I dont need to speak more about the condition of poverty because of ethnic violence. It is a horrific data we cannot bear to comprehend and hence better left unsaid and undealt with. ..syadly.

On the other hand, lets explore what helped some countries/communities emerge strong and stable. In 15th and 17th centuries, many of the developed countries of today emerged as a nation from being a bunch of fragmented comminites - tribals, peasant communities, settlements or communities with conquestorial interests. In nearly all cases, there are hereoes/heroines, a major movement - peaceful or violent which develops a sense of what it is to belong to that nation. 
The above makes sense when you look at examples - Germany was united under Bismark, French by the wars with Britain, Napoleanic wars and French Revolution, USA as a land of promise from settlers with roots in Free Masons, UK from accession agreements with Scotland and Ireland based on understanding of commonnality and differences in culture, India, China and several other countries with a struggle for independence from colonial powers.
Another major factor has been renaissance, industrialisation, freedom struggle, etc
Factors I call to attention in increasing order of importance -
- conquest by stable monarchs, under whom a common identity is felt
- legends, hereoes and heroines that form the common binding culture
- historic struggles that question status quo, cause churning and bring meaninfullness. In this process, they also establish new legends, heroes and heroines.
- Renaissance, industrialisation, freedom struggles, communist movements debunked the beliefs of fixed places for individuals in society based on their birth.

All this together helped developed a unique national identity that gave the people an identity and cemented them as a community. This is what we have come to identify as a nation of people distinct from a country (country's definition is limited to being citizens of a politically defined region.). The development of this identity heralded a common vision in which everybody finds a stake and this provides a stable environment in which this vision can be pursued.

This is effect an Organsiation Development perspective developed from applied psychology for small groups and organsiations.

Now by extending this model, can we examine what processes can be set , communication to be developed that can help small sub saharan, western african communities to develop national identities in ways that allows them to retain a tribal identity along with a national identity like India has language, caste, ethnic, regional identities co-existing with national identity.

What are the legends, struggles which are common in communities. The communication of challenges in such ways that it brings communities together to face them in a struggle that develops national identity.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A mango - Breaking invisible boundaries

Yesterday, I went to a store to buy some vegetable. Seeing beautiful mangoes, on a spur I bought a few. A gentleman before me literally looked at every mango before selecting about 6 of them. After waiting for 5 min, I decided to quickly pick up the mangoes that 'felt' right. If these were not good then I would change them. So 4 came up quickly. Then there was one, which I realised I did not want, nevertheless 'felt' like picking up. So 5 mangoes came up with me to the cashier!

This is the story of that 5th mango!

After I came out of the store, I was debating within myself whether to go after my husband shopping in another nearby store or wait in the car. As I stood there unsure of what to do next, I noticed a girl of about 13 looking at me. She was part of a small family at what seemed their old paper mart / kabadi shop. ( For those who cant figure what it is - it is about 10ft x2 ft shop stacked with old newspapers bought from ppl like us and sold for a few rupees profit to recycling orgs). In her seemed to be an old, empty jewellery box from some jeweler, no doubt discarded by somebody better off. She was caressing the velvet where a necklace would have been. Her father and younger brother around busy with other 'junk'.

Seeing me and touching the velvet, she seemed to be looking at a fantasy .. She was seeing me right in front of her. Yet I seemed to be a fantasy just like necklace she would never have. I seemed to be a metaphor for the person she could never be. Short hair, jeans, confident walk, in a car....

I was a bit uncomfortable under her gaze. At that time, I was aware only of a young girl staring at me. A thought stuck me of giving her a mango from my stash. But then the pros and cons followed. A debate raged in me ...

She will be surprised... It will seem like charity...She might be offended....Am I trying to help her or what .Really, a mango? Whats that going to do for her?... Career guidance, coaching all that is helpful, but mango? What are you going to achieve?.....Well this is what I would be doing to a friend's daughter - Share a delicious mango..... She did look a bit like a friend's daughter.....She could have been one had she been born in in diff circumstance. .... But how do I go up there and do it. .. It seems wrong..I will seem like a weirdo...What will I tell Sampath.... Oh I wish Sampath would come back soon, so I dont have to deal with this....What is he doing there for so long! .....He ought to have come by now!....

Thought cycles in which our minds run - based on Patanjali

On a normal day this conversation would have gone on with no action happening. Today, before I could debate and decide within, I found myself stepping up to the girl, picking a mango  and offering it to her.( you guessed right the 5th mango!). No words flowed in the beginning. Only eye contact! All that was there in me was a wildly beating heart! She was startled. Obviously so. She looked around at her father for direction. While he was busy, she knew she could take the mango from me. She turned around and smiled. Took the mango.

I almost ran.( I ran in my mind, on the outside, I was carefully keeping up the pretense of a strong, confident woman). I went to the shop where Sampath was still there. This time thankful that I can be somewhere other than the car for sometime. Then after a couple of min, as we walked back, we passed her again. We exchanged smiles. As we drove off  , she waved at me with a cheerful smile and I waved back.
This time it was the wave of a friend. No charity here. It was acknowledgement of being lifted to hope, wonder and something different in operating in both of us now.

Suddenly I realised that an invisible barrier between two worlds were broken. You could look at this in different ways - 2 classes, 2 patterns within both of our minds.
For both of us, it was a shift from what was to what can be. I was no longer fantasy, I was real. Somehow, it seemed to bring back her confidence as if now she knew that she could be what she wanted to be.
For me too, I was no longer a prisoner of notions I held within, I could do, I could act on what I truly 'felt'.

I do not know whether they fought over who would get how much mango, or whether she should have accepted it or ......
But I know it changed her and it changed me. Boundaries built deep into us by unknown, unseen people was broken by a mango. Boundaries so deep , that they cannot be known by us, only their impacts on our decisions understood when we are out of them.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Challenge of Living Life from Self

Finding the inner self and operating from it continually is at the same time a very easy and a very difficult task.

Easy because, the person you are trying to be is actually you. You do not need to acquire anything new. On the other hand the bounty of nature becomes more available to you when you are yourself. Just think of the times like first time seeing your new born - the moment, feeling its magnitude, the miracle of having been part of creation and holding something whose potential future is a mystery ... All this can be felt by us with no effort from our side in terms of acquiring skill, planning. It is there for us to feel whenever we wish to. 
Even a young puppy can evoke love in us, strong enough to make us commit to take care of it through thick and thin, rain and sunshine, work and vacation!
The beauty of nature, the twilight sky, the flow of water  -- their capability to mesmerise  us is because we have the ability to fall in sync with our inner selves in their presence. 

By the time you come to this line of text, a portion of your mind, will be calling this idea bull s***. Birthing a baby is no easy task, neither is raising it. It does require a hell of a lot of work. Nature is fine, but getting to  a place of nature needs a lot of work! All that joy is only to be wished for, practical life is to work hard to make it even. Exactly! The impossibility in Living from the Self starts coming in the minute we use this critical mind to dismiss the possibility of living from the Self.  And this Critical Mind is also very much part of us, just like our Self. Our critical mind (you can use different names for this, our Ego mind is one ) can bring out hundreds of reasons why not to think of living like this. It says it is IMPOSSIBLE. Loose weight? IMPOSSIBLE! Find Love? IMPOSSIBLE! Be joyful all the time? IMPOSSIBLE!

Well without it life loses its point! There is no point to live life without these. There is no point in life if you dont live out in the external life the richness of the inner Self. It may be tough, but in the struggle for it, becuase if its toughness if you loose sight of this  Inner Self, you loose sight of the Beautiful picture that is your life's attempt to create. 

Thus the challenge always is to keep in touch with the Self within, even in the most depressing times, and then to keep alive the beautiful vision that the Self has given us even while we navigate through the business of Life  to manifest this vision.

This is the task we approach in our program  - Finding the Inner Compass in Bangalore from June 3rd to 6th 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Announcing - Finding the Inner Compass from June 3rd to 6th at Bangalore

WE are announcing the module one again to be done from June 3rd to 6th at Aikya Centre in Bangalore

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Workshop on Shadow and Self, Bangalore

We are organising a workshop - Light from the Dark - Shadow and Self in Bangalore from February - 25th to 27th

Link to the website with details - Click here

Working on this topic and this project has been a great energy giver to us. The topic is deep and demands that we are alert, active and we persevere.

Designing a program which help participant experience it has been very tough. But the first program was a reasonable success.

One of the thoughts after the program has been not to associate ourselves and the program with Shadow alone, but to Self also. The way to deal with Shadow is to get centred with the Self. If we associate very closely with Shadow, we are running the risk of introjecting shadow elements from outside us also. Associating with Self on the other hand brings us closer to achieving our purpose. Hence this time the title of the program includes Shadow and Self.

Welcome to the program! This is an opportunity to experience it, not just talk about it!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Young girls - the knights of Queendom?

Just took a image from a facebook post of a friend! This seems the reality now! The knights of Queendom! 
Just think of the number of people whose consciousness she has touched by an action in line with her internal sense of what is right!

Young have always been the harbingers of change at every generation. They have always been more open to the change of the times. Now the women seem to be particularly potent in it. Their stance seems to indicate an intuitive knowledge of a different kind. Like a new born's sense of right to air and loud assertion of it through a cry, it seems they know something that is not yet clear and visible in the world outside. They may not be fully aware of it themselves, yet they are intuitively sure of it and it seems to reflect in their stance. An action from this sense is almost unavoidable to them and capable of challenging the foundation of the fundamentalism that is an anachronism in Queendom. Queedom here is a land whose psyche is inspired and powered by the great divine feminine, nothing more to it in terms of gender or feminism.

Women seem to be more quickly intuiting it. Other than this I think it is quite inclusive of men and women. It is just as easily accessible to man who has put effort to know his Self and be open to intuition. 

It is happening and inspiring fear in fundamentalists wanting to hold on to the values of an era that is vanishing.