What I learnt chasing Foo Dog figurines

Superstition always leads to fear and worry. Or just the opposite may happen too.

The other day a friend visited us. The conversation hovered on Vaastu and Feng Shui for a while. Then we talked about the merits and demerits of following rituals and believing in superstitions. After my friend left, I reflected, with amazement, on how I had grown out of “investing” in Vaastuand Feng Shui. I have nothing against these practices – I strongly believe they are sciences in their own way – or those who follow them. To be sure, I was, until a few years ago, very superstitious and heavily reliant on Vaastuand Feng Shui to determine how – where and with what – I must live.

Once, while on a three-day trip to Bangkok, Vaani and I spent over three-quarters of a day, in Chinatown, searching for Foo Dog figurines. Foo Dogs are the ancient sacred dogs of Asia who guard Buddhist temples – our Feng Shui consultant had advised us to get those figurines so that our home could be “protected”. Imagine, hunting for Foo Dog figurines in Bangkok, when there are possibly so many more entertaining, enriching, energizing things to do in that amazing city?!


Over time, with the practice of daily silence periods, I realized that relying on “external reference points”, however scientific they are or may have then appeared to be to me, are signs of a weak mind, one that is not self-aware. The ones with courage, I discovered, are the ones that know themselves. And if you know yourself, I soon learned to ask myself, why do you need to lean on a crutch __ a talisman, a figurine, a ring or a number? All these crutches are ostensibly to help you navigate better through Life. But Life is not the issue. It is your fear which is weakening you. And the best way to deal with fear is to look it in the eye and face it! These crutches cannot possibly help you face your demons, your fears. Never!

My evolution and learning has also taught me that what scares you often has the power to liberate you. Almost all of us have a good luck charm, a lucky number, and believe in something, often absurd, that we have been conditioned to. Nobody wants to do anything with the number 13 for instance. Or we prefer our favorite colors or numbers. There’s a view some people hold that if you bang into a piece of furniture when you are leaving to get something important accomplished, you must treat that as an early warning sign of something terrible that’s on its way. People that champion a scientific temperament will reason against this, intensely. And which is why those who want to believe in superstitions and premonitions will resist all rational arguments, however reasonable they may be. But here’s a simpler take. If everything is an event in this lifetime, a mere data point, including your birth and your impending death, and since the soul is imperishable, eternal, then what consequence does a furniture that comes in the way or a cat crossing your path or a mere number have?

In anyone’s Life, three things are absolutely inscrutable:  birth, death and soul. Now birth is without choice, death is unavoidable and the soul is not visible. What else is important when these three dimensions of your Life are beyond your control? When I look back, I feel that being superstitious, being ritualistic and being wedded to mere methods does make you fearful. And lonely. When I let go of whatever was controlling me, I felt free.

Enjoy being liberated. It’s a beautiful world out there. A stumble here, a fall there, a number here and a cat there, nor Foo Dogs figurines at your door, can make no difference to you, if you choose to feel the air in your lungs, being present in this – the only certain, happening, available, magnificent, miraculous – moment of your Life! 

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