It has been over five months since I blogged.
Was it the virus, or the winter or just my self-induced lethargy that pushed me into inaction – not sure. All of us have had our moments this year – of frustration, anger, sadness and confusion. Many of us managed through a process of patience and deduction to reach a spot of acceptance, kindness with the acute feeling that someone somewhere was worse off than us – with no family, friends, money, or a job; someone somewhere was ill, sick or dying. In all this somehow the miracle of life, happiness, birth and laughter has continued with mask or otherwise.
I revisited Prof. Gurcharan Das’s book ‘Difficulty of being good’ which I had come across during another difficult year for me both personally and professionally. This book reminded me that it was not enough to be good during moments in time, but be good more as a conscious way of living, thinking and staying ‘good’ – akin to a state of mind and consciousness of self even if you are led astray by your own motives and values.
The book’s publishing house Oxford University Press elaborated in advertising this book – “Most of us spend our lives wrestling with day-to-day questions of right and wrong and these remain either unanswered or have no easy answer. This book turns to the Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata, in order to answer the question, ‘why be good?’ and it discovers that the epic’s world of moral haziness and uncertainty is closer to our experience as ordinary human beings rather than the narrow and rigid positions that define most debate and discussion today after 9/11.”
I read each page more than once in an attempt to internalize the messages in the book.
In a deeply flawed world how does one stay authentic and true to ones values? All of us do go through moments of moral haziness and uncertainty as ordinary human beings and are often coerced into or choose to take narrow, rigid positions on what is right and wrong, or good and bad. We see evidence of this in the tweets and posts that abound in social media and how we allow ourselves to be swayed by what we choose to see and hear. The word ‘FAKE’ pops up everywhere but no-one is talking about what is the opposite of that. In an era of instant tweeting and posting, is being ‘AUTHENTIC’ no longer in fashion?
I believe that despite an uncertain and crooked pathway, there is a common thread of decency and altruism among human beings which makes us reach for a better version of ourselves.
As awareness sets in, an individual’s state of mind passes through what the sufis refer to as a maqamat or stages or degrees along the path to illumination.
A maqam is a stage that can be achieved through human effort, as opposed to hal (grace), which is a gift from God.
As we countdown towards 2021 I wonder whether this world and by extension I have attained a better level or maqam from a year ago? One that is much more gentle, genuine and authentic?