If you were not actively living in 2015, chances are you were writing a memoir. And to understand the over simplified mundaneness of my daily life and to infuse it with some much needed excitement, I read them all – those of the living, some of the dying-in-the-near-future, and some already dead and famous.
See, I don’t have to hunt for and gather food. I have a roof over my head and the relative comfort that my kids and I will return home without mortar shells ripping through our heads when we step out of the house in the mornings. So, there must be something else that makes life worthy of living? And, that’s where my existential distress creeps in.
Let’s face it. I can’t talk to my good friends at lunch about this. “Hey, what do you think? Have you tried exploring the meaning of all this? Isn’t life a sham?” I simply can’t risk looking like a nut. But, I realize what I might consider a private and silent struggle for a few of us, has proven to be a well publicized literary one.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Hunger by Knut Hamsun
The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
The Diary of Anne Frank
These books, to name a few, have all explored some basic questions that one should be asking oneself in order to live a meaningful life.
Impressing others was easy in those brief transient moments I was in company. But I live with “myself” all waking hours. So, I decided that self approval was one of the first steps to self transformation. But, where was I to begin? A temple, or maybe some form of a worship place?
After all, some ministries at our local churches offer unconditional love to exotic pets, cats, dogs and menagerie. “Leave them our special altar on a leash or in a carrier for safety of others.” Wait, there’s more. “If your pet does not travel well or enjoy crowds, bring a photo and he/she will blessed ‘in spirit’. A Certificate of Blessing is available for purchase.” When I saw that poignant flyer for an Animal blessing session, I decided it was time to intervene in my own destiny.
Without sounding like an obnoxious and hallucinatory God woman myself, I will briefly rant. (While reading this, picture Radhe Maa, the jeans clad Godwoman of modern-day India, with a stuffed teddy bear in her arms posing for a group selfie.) Setting up a temple or a parsonage is very easy. Churches and temples are defined by the IRS with just 14 loose and vague guidelines. John Oliver himself said so in one of his Last Week Tonight shows.
Godmen can be predatory, they con you with seed faith, they can live tax free, not to mention there have been an unusually high number of “Hindu” temples that have popped up around Atlanta in the last 24 months. Yogavilles, Mindfulness centers are being offered everywhere. School backpack blessing sessions? Some folks are covering those too.
As I ponder these questions, I feel like I have a slight advantage over my Western brothers and sisters. After all, I belong to India, the leader of the Eastern spirituality, where science has been long taught as religion and misunderstood for hardcore ritualistic practices for centuries until modern science and the Yoga revolution have come to its rescue.
Enter, DIY. Self help gurus. America’s gift to mankind. So, why not? I decided to self treat myself and get closer to the ultimate truth, by searching for answers – read intense YouTube watching of the likes of Joel Osteen, Ram Dass, Les Brown and many others. The place where I regularly outsource my contemplation and reflection to these yogi monks who promise to have answers on their finger tips. Thanks to the medium, I even have my own Spiritual guidance playlist that I listen to while I wait for Taylor Swift to release another video.
The flip side of self taught spirituality is that you can be overwhelmed easily. “Change your thoughts, change your life”. Sounds simple enough for a lesson. The catch is, if you are not programmed for spiritual leanings, this stuff can be worse than Greek and Latin. If you hear about Neuroplasticity, believe everything that’s factual and stop researching on your own. You are not the brain scientist here.
Literal word-word translations of Vedic literature are available by the tons.
“Bhoga (Enjoyment) is followed by Roga (Disease), not Yoga. This results in Viyoga (Sadness).”
Okay, great. I totally get it. Ironically in the same way, I think that is the journey of self realization is taking something that you are already aware of and make it acutely self evident and painfully obvious.
It’s real life, so I cannot add any lines that can heighten the drama further. I would gladly, if its fiction. I rationalize that because I can’t invest in the memory of my colorful childhood, I might as well fabricate a lustrous future. Where I walk you with this body, you will be able to see, but where my soul lands its footprints, it’s difficult to fathom. So this is an attempt to show light on that journey.
There, I touched my own eyes in respect after touching a holy idol I have as my screen saver. Forgive my mistakes Cosmos. This feels divine and I am a mother. That must make me a divine mother already.
To write this memoir, I gave up a little hope. To one day become a stand-up comedian.
Donations (in the form of writing material) solicited.