9/01/2008

India-Taoism-and Me: an even more subjective mid-term evaluation


The previous evaluation was subjective - and superficial. It remained on the surface, described various activities as if they were isolated, non-interfering, non-interacting. This is certainly not the case. Likely the most important feature of my first three months in India has been interaction. Or the lack of it. Or where to draw the line between me and non-me. Where and when and how to say no to interaction. Where and when and how to become angry, sad, depressed, mad for facing walls not allowing me to interact. And finally, can I not interact with myself? Can activities where I have been involved in be non-interacting if I, per definitionem, am interacting with myself?


If you want to disappear, go to a country which is huge, diverse, crowded. Go to India, for instance. If you want to meet yourself without any chance to escape from yourself, go to India. For instance.


I had known, before I came here, that I shall be meeting myself. Noone, even myself can prevent me from that. I had wanted that.


Now, it has happened. I am facing myself. I see myself from the outside. I am dissatisfied. This me has nothing to do with any of the personae attributed to me.


This three months gave a stage for many of my personae. The physicist. The human rights defender. The poet. The user/survivor activist. The teacher. The colleague. The philosopher. The friend. The lover. The cook. And so on... The cured mentally ill foreigner.


Each persona has a justification and a legitimacy to exist. Thus none of them, no superposition of them, no masala of them can barely approximate the one who is staring at me. Almost wrote: the real me. Be cautious, this is already dangerous.


None of them and no combination of them can describe GG who has been constructed on illegitimacy. Whose deeper identification has been rooted in being an illegitimate child. Whose birth was welcomed only by two people. One committed suicide. The other died much later, as a victim of an involuntary medical experimentation.


Illegitimacy demands for justification. Illegitimacy cannot be justified.


Do I want to be myself? If yes, why do I pretend to be some of my personae? Why do I, who values autonomy stronger than anything, want to behave according to others' expectations? Why am I telling lies instead of truth when hiding my emotions? When making secret of very simple and good feelings? To comfort others, why? How can I speak truth to power on the rights of persons with disabilities then?


Why can I not go with the flow, if I understood and learned through painful lessons that it is the way to go? Why do I want to do and to have things instead of just being? How can I teach about the healing power of being with the other if I cannot be?


Why do I hate myself when I know that this is destruction? That I cannot love anyone if hate myself?


Why do I want to do something with my wounds instead of letting them be healed?


Why do I internalise those people's hatred who collected money for an abortion to prevent my birth?
How can I advocate human rights if I do not believe that I am entitled to them?


Why can I not exercise wu-wei? Of which I had already written as a physicist.


Wu-wei is: "The writings of the legendary Taoist sages, Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, furnish us with specific principles as a guide to attaining this state of oneness. Through understanding these principles and applying them to daily living we may consciously become a part of life's flow.A key principle in realizing our oneness with the Tao is that of wu-wei, or "non-doing." Wu-wei refers to behavior that arises from a sense of oneself as connected to others and to one's environment. It is not motivated by a sense of separateness. It is action that is spontaneous and effortless. At the same time it is not to be considered inertia, laziness, or mere passivity. Rather, it is the experience of going with the grain or swimming with the current. Our contemporary expression, "going with the flow," is a direct expression of this fundamental Taoist principle, which in its most basic form refers to behavior occurring in response to the flow of the Tao.The principle of wu-wei contains certain implications. Foremost among these is the need to consciously experience ourselves as part of the unity of life that is the Tao. Lao Tzu writes that we must be quiet and watchful, learning to listen to both our own inner voices and to the voices of our environment in a non-interfering, receptive manner. In this way we also learn to rely on more than just our intellect and logical mind to gather and assess information. We develop and trust our intuition as our direct connection to the Tao. We heed the intelligence of our whole body, not only our brain. And we learn through our own experience. All of this allows us to respond readily to the needs of the environment, which of course includes ourselves. And just as the Tao functions in a manner to promote harmony and balance, our own actions, performed in the spirit of wu-wei, produce the same result.Wu-wei also implies action that is spontaneous, natural, and effortless. As with the Tao, this behavior simply flows through us because it is the right action, appropriate to its time and place, and serving the purpose of greater harmony and balance. Chuang Tzu refers to this type of being in the world as flowing, or more poetically (and provocatively), as "purposeless wandering!" How opposite this concept is to some of our most cherished cultural values. To have no purpose is unthinkable and even frightening, certainly anti-social and perhaps pathological in the context of modern day living. And yet it would be difficult to maintain that our current values have promoted harmony and balance, either environmentally or on an individual level.To allow oneself to "wander without purpose" can be frightening because it challenges some of our most basic assumptions about life, about who we are as humans, and about our role in the world. From a Taoist point of view it is our cherished beliefs - that we exist as separate beings, that we can exercise willful control over all situations, and that our role is to conquer our environment - that lead to a state of disharmony and imbalance. Yet, "the Tao nourishes everything," Lao Tzu writes. If we can learn to follow the Tao, practicing non-action," then nothing remains undone. This means trusting our own bodies, our thoughts and emotions, and also believing that the environment will provide support and guidance. Thus the need to develop watchfulness and quietness of mind." (Taoism - The Wu-Wei Principle, Part 4 by Ted Kardash, http://www.jadedragon.com/archives/june98/tao.html)


Why can I not be a whole? Why do I want to escape? Why am I so weak? Who will stop me?


Is there a meaning in these at all?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear gabor,
touched by the existential cry that I seem to sense in this rumination viz 'am i /am in not?'
thank you
ahmed

monishaa said...

Dear Gabor,

this writing has triggered a personal response. i have felt why am i here? am i needed here? given a choice i would rather not be here becuase there is so much hurt and lack of caring here.
then one day there was this: whatever i am, whereever i am, whoever i am, whatever my station in life, i am because i am. since i live and breathe and exist, i have every right to exist, to live, to thrive, to find my answers the way I want them, to live my experiment: read life the way i want to, to experiment as i want to, as long as i take responsibility of people who depend on me in anyway and see that what i do does not reduce or curtail their choices, their freedom to be in any way.
and if i have a right to be and exist because i exist, why should i be answerable to others? i also have this right to be and exist till the last breath within me. the Universe/ God gives me this right by virtue of the life breath within me. if i had to go i would be gone. because of being a soul, a existence, comes my respect for myself. i am important no matter what i am at right now. no matter what i am facing or going through right now. no matter how much i struggle right now.

namaste

monisha