Pratiksha’s essay about the meaning of her award-winning painting.
We all want happiness and pleasure in life even at the cost of forgetting the basic ‘mantra’ that one cannot separate ‘pain’ from ‘pleasure’ – the two sides of the coin. There will hardly be any disagreement that our approach towards life is very selective and fragmented, and we want only happiness, not sadness. If someone rejoices in pain or sadness, I am sure in today’s world, people might call that person a madman because we are not supposed to welcome pain with open arms. Our whole effort is to avoid pain. Just shut the door when there is even an inkling of arrival of sadness or pain in life. This despite the fact that life is full of extremes, and there is no possibility of living in the middle. One has to remain available for the opposites.
The secret as expounded by great mystics is to enjoy the moment in its totality by witnessing everything in life – be it happiness or sadness – like an outsider. Sages say that the balance in life happens just by witnessing pleasure and pain which they have also described as beauties of life. The seventh Shloka in Bhagvad Gita’s Chapter six gives ultimate glimpse about this state: “Jitatmana Prashantasya Parmatma Samahitah, Sheetoshnasukhdukheshu tatha Manapanamayo” (The godliness enters the heart of a human being, who accepts Happiness-Sadness, Respect-Insult and Heat-Cold, in its totality and with complete peace.) Krishna tells Arjuna that there is no complaint; the person is at peace and enjoying all these opposites with the same enthusiasm, with the same spirit. And, this state comes when balance happens in life. The togetherness of these opposites – Cosmic Balance – keeps our existence alive.
Osho often talked about tightrope-walkers who constantly move from left to right, from right to left. Whenever he realizes that he has shifted too much to the left side and there is fear of falling, he immediately balances himself by moving to the right – just opposite of left. He continuously moves from left to right with a few movements when he is in the middle. But, the moment he loses the balance, he starts moving towards the opposite. Osho called it the secret of balancing, a dynamic process where one has to go on moving from left to right and right to left, to remain in the middle. One has to accept the extremes for balance in life but it has to be choiceless and you just need to remain available for both the extremes. Happy and Sad – both the states have their own beauties.
There is a story about a man seeking help from a Zen Master to avoid heat and cold. One can say the person is talking about avoiding two opposites – Pleasure and Pain, Respect and Insult. The Zen Master gave a simple and short answer: “Just be hot, be cold.” To avoid pain, the pain itself has to be accepted in its totality just as you accept pleasure, and the process has to be natural.
Laughter cannot be without the tears, day cannot be without night, heat cannot be without cold, and birth cannot be without death. Just witness both these extremes and balancing in life will start to happen on its own. You will find a state which has been beautifully told by Kabir – “Jaha nahi Sukh-Dukh, Sanch-Jhuth nahi, Pap na Pun Pasara, na hin Din-Rain, Chand nahi Suraj, Bin Jyoti Ujiyara”– (In that Palace, there is no happiness or sadness; there is no truth or falsehood, there is no sin or virtue, no day or night, no moon or sun, but yet, the palace is illuminated without light.) You just need to accept the polarities – death and immortality – to understand the music and dance in life. Whatever you have, just accept it with totality. There is nothing in your life which is meaningless. Live this life in all possible ways but don’t choose one thing for the other. The secret of balancing is – don’t try to be in the middle because balance is not something that can be produced by staying in the middle. Balance will come by itself, only by accepting and witnessing all the dimensions of life and it will happen naturally, but not through your efforts.
Stop living your life with rules, just live in its totality. If there is bitterness, there is also sweetness, and experience of bitterness will make you appreciate the sweetness of life. One, who knows how to cry, will fully understand how to laugh. The totality and continuous movement from one extreme to another will bring grace in your life and it will also prepare you for the state that Krishna and Kabir is talking about. When unhappiness comes, you will know that it will pass, and when pleasure comes you very well know that this too will pass. The only thing that remains is your witnessing and that witnessing triggers cosmic balance in our existence. In fact this witnessing of opposites is the very balance.
One has to accept that life is interdependent and not independent or dependent. There is a misunderstanding that you are sometimes dependent on something and completely independent at other times. You are not only dependent on trees for oxygen but trees are also dependent on you for carbon dioxide. Male and female are interdependent on each other for their own existence, and life cannot exist without this phenomenon.
Humanity nowadays is hell-bent on destroying ecology by cutting down the forests. But we cannot survive without trees and neither can trees exist without us. One has to understand that our very existence is interwoven with nature, the eco-system, and if humanity is to survive, this interdependence has to be understood in totality and respected fully. Ecology doesn’t mean only the environmental aspect but the elements closely linked to one’s inner spiritual world as well. If you just witness this interdependence quietly in every routine thing that you are doing, you will realize that life is a deep interdependence. If a person acknowledges that there has to be certain balance even in negative and positive, the sutra of existence unveils itself, reveals itself, expounds itself….
National Artist Award for Pratiksha
Pratiksha Apurv – www.pratikshaart.com
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