In over 33 years of loving each other and 31 years of living together, Vaani and I have never cooked together. Which is, I have never attempted learning cooking. 😊
Now, with the COVID-19 lockdown situation, for the first time, I found myself hovering around the kitchen and asking Vaani if I could learn to cook from her. It sure was a bit unusual as I asked her that; I couldn’t believe that I was ready and willing, finally, to learn cooking!
But there has to be a first time for everything, right? Plus, apart from being my BFF, my soulmate, Vaani is also a great teacher! So, I told myself, “let’s go do this”!
I made half an adai last evening for dinner – spreading out the maavu on the tawa. And this morning I “understood” how a vegetable korma is made – I chopped the veggies, stirred up the gravy and basically soaked in the entire process. I even ran my understanding through our daughter Aanchal (who herself loves to cook) in Singapore and she signed off in approval!
I am very amused that I am doing this. I have always been the housekeeper at home. I find cleaning a deeply meditative practice where I engage wholesomely with the process of cleaning up, dusting and polishing surfaces, often doing the dishes too. Even so, somehow, I have always postponed the idea of learning cooking. I have learnt to make filter coffee some months ago. But being with Vaani in the kitchen and watching her cook, assisting her and learning from her – well, that happened for the first time today!
And I am lovin’ it!
On a spiritual plane, this “event” reiterates to me that everything happens in its own time and at its own pace.
There’s one more learning on offer here – from the overall COVID-19 situation. If you think about it deeply, it is forcing the whole world to sit down in one place and just be. You see, everyone has been so conditioned to running amok, imagining that if they don’t hurry, if they don’t rush and grab whatever they think they deserve, they are going to miss the bus or that something grave is going to befall them or that they will lose some thing. So, everyone has been on this spree, this crazy race to become. Become more visible, become richer, become more recognized, become more successful…which is everyone has been trying desperately to become someone else, to become better than the other…everyone, in some way or the other, has been on this becoming trip. In the past decade, social media has only fueled and grown this frenzy, this becoming angst. And then COVID-19 comes along and, in less than a quarter, shuts down the whole world and is forcing everyone to be.
Isn’t it amazing? Don’t you see what’s happening? The whole world has surrendered; it has been forced, in fact, to capitulate – to jump off the becoming treadmill, to being home, just being!
It is possible that many find the transition from “becoming to being” a very difficult one to make. But let me tell you this, from our own lived experience, just being is not complex. It is simply being present. It is all about bringing your full attention to whatever you are doing. It is only when you are present, in the moment, in whatever you are doing, that you are non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering. It is only then that you are happy despite your circumstances. Now, just being is an art – you have to train your mind to be that way; this is what Vaani and I have learnt through living with our bankruptcy for 13 years now. This is the quality that has helped us to live fully with what is – not complaining about what we don’t have, but celebrating whatever we have!
And it is this choice to just be, in this COVID-19 lockdown scenario that is expected to last for a long while, that led me to embrace cooking – a space that I have consciously avoided getting into for over three decades now. This gives me one more beautiful reason to be with Vaani and to learn from her. I hope to learn quickly. And I also hope to soon raise a toast to Life and to COVID-19 for giving me a new, immersive experience to thrive on!
Note: AVIS and Vaani are the happynesswalas. They believe their Life’s Purpose is Inspiring ‘Happyness’! They are going through a fascinating, Life-changing experience – a crippling bankruptcy!! If you would like to invite them to inspire your team(s) or explore other opportunities, please look up: www.avisviswanathan.in and www.avinitiatives.co.in.
‘Just being’ does not mean abdicating ambition or the pursuit of excellence.
A young man came up to me after my Bliss Catchers edition yesterday and asked me if “flowing with Life meant that we must ‘just be’?” “In that case,” he pressed on, “should we stop becoming, drop all ambition and allow Life to take care of us?”
Good question that.
First, let us understand that Life has been taking care of us all along. It is only our economic and social conditioning, our logical thinking, that makes us believe that we control Life or that we take care of ourselves. Learning to go with the flow of Life teaches us to appreciate the value of trusting the process of Life. Just being is not inaction. In fact, when you just are, when you just be, you are engaged in celebrating the moment. That is a lot of action. When you are in the now, in the moment, you are letting go of all that worries you or scares you. That means you trust Life to take care of those issues. Now, that again is a lot of action.
Second, you don’t have to necessarily be aggressive, competitive, and hyperactive all the time. This does not mean you must stagnate or vegetate. Be ambitious, work on your ambition, but do all of that with equanimity. By just being, by being calm, you are not going to become any less efficient or less focused on getting what you want or reaching your goals.
The thinker-philosopher J.Krishnamurti (1895 ~ 1986), has said, “Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased.” And he has also said, “The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” If you consider both of JK’s perspectives you will understand that in effect, in the so-called real world that we have created today, there is no more learning. We have lost all our learning ability trying to grow our earning potential. And, obviously, at the cost of not employing our intelligence, we have begun to love, and therefore cling to, things and use people, whereas, it should be the other way round!
Think of what the real world really is: a place where everyone is busy running a rat race, where the spirit of inquiry and learning is stifled very, very early on in Life and people are only keen on their GPAs and placements, where top draw salaries are a means to acquire all material comfort and where innovation and enterprise are sacrificed on the altar of quarterly earnings and wanting to be seen as the number 1 and not necessarily striving to be the best! Competition has become the very basis of Life. No doubt competition, like in sport, brings out the best in a person. But to obsess oneself with competition, with being street smart and constantly comparing with others can ruin the joy of living.
It is this obsession with comparing with others, with competing with a desire to vanquish others, that has made our world, this real world of ours, such a cold place to live in. Driven by the hunger to be successful you have stopped celebrating your uniqueness. Instead of just being, you are on this ‘becoming treadmill’ – wanting to become someone else or wanting to become like someone else. Running on a treadmill has an inherent pitfall – you keep running harder no doubt but, in the end, you are still at the same place! Comparison with others, being in continuous, endless, competition, breeds ambition. No problem with being ambitious. But when ambition makes you combative, restless and subconsciously violent – where you are fighting continuously with who you are because you are wanting to become someone else – then your inner peace and happiness are destroyed.
JK urged us to look at nature. He used to say that the flowers bloom for the joy of blooming; the trees don’t compete with each other, they simply enjoy each other’s presence and growth; the sun rises and sets because it simply has to – there’s no attitude to nature’s magnificence. Osho, the Master, went a step further to clarify: “All that is divine is non-competitive – and your being is divine. So just sort it out. The society has muddled your head; it has taught you the competitive way of Life…when you are non- competitive, only then can you be yourself. This is simple.”
So stop trying to become – something, someone. Just be. Then you will always be happy and at peace with yourself!