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This is a very nice article which came in last sunday’s Indian Express (Oct 23 ,2005).

Feeling Lost?
(click here to go to the website)

Sri Sri Ravishankar

Teen-age” years are the most confusing years. You are no more a kid who can be pacified with toys and sweets, but you have also not matured enough in emotional terms. A new world has just opened up in front of you and it’s such a difficult time. On one hand, there are big highs! On the other hand, there are so many lows including loneliness. A child doesn’t feel lonely, but a teenager does. Not only that, there are also so many hormonal changes taking place in the body of a teenager. He/she is becoming familiar with his/her own body, mind, emotions, urges and difficulties. Suddenly teenagers begin to feel that nobody understands them because what parents say from their standpoint as parents – good or bad – doesn’t appeal to them. Long-term plans don’t exist. Teenagers want immediate solutions, immediate gratification, immediate, immediate… Everything should happen now! Instantly! Teenagers feel that adults do not understand them. And on the other hand, they can’t connect with small kids either. They have reached a stage where they find all the toys, all the simple games that they have outgrown, meaningless.

During these complicated years, teenagers need to have hope. They need to develop an understanding about life; what they want to do, how to cope with their wants. There is an old saying in Sanskrit: ‘When your son or daughter turns sixteen, behave with them like a friend’. Don’t be their teachers; don’t tell them what to do or what not to do. Just share their difficulties with them. Be a friend to them; a friend who is at their level. A friend understands them, moves with them, empathises with their emotions and difficulties. If you relate as a friend with them and not as a parent, they will open up to you.

Usually teenagers open up to their friends much more than to their parents; it’s a common phenomenon. This also goes for teachers. A teacher should also be a friend – should behave as a friend, talk as a friend. Then the gap gets bridged. Once the gap is bridged, love flows; communication happens. And once communication happens, virtually all the problems are solved. The biggest problem is lack of communication.

Dealing with emotions

How to deal with our emotions? Big problem! Although we have grown older – beyond the ‘teenage’, we more often fail to grow beyond ‘teenage’ mentally. You know, our body grows in a particular sequence. In the first seven years, the physical body grows but the intellect does not grow; then up to fourteen years, the intellect grows. The period from 14 to 21 years is for emotional maturity. So the general belief is that you become physically mature, then intellectually mature and finally, you become emotionally mature.

However, many do not grow to that maturity at all. Lack of emotional maturity is always worrying about your emotions – feeling as though you are a victim of your own emotions: “Oh! I feel like this! I feel like that! What to do?” What will you do? Who cares about your feelings? Why do you worry so much about your feelings? Your feelings keep changing. Sometimes you feel bad; but the bad feeling doesn’t stay with you forever. It changes and you start feeling good once again; but even that ‘good’ feeling does not stay forever. Nobody can feel bad or good ALL the time; the good and bad feelings come like waves. You can’t stop a wave that has already arisen; nor can you make a wave rise just like that. Just as waves come and go, clouds come and go, so also emotions come and go. Waves of different emotion come. And they disappear. But we make it such a big issue: “Oh, I feel good! Oh, I feel bad! I feel this way, I feel that way, nobody cares for me…” – all these complaints keep bombarding our minds. This emotional garbage is so useless; and it is also a sign of emotional immaturity.

Emotional maturity, intellectual maturity, physical maturity; you need all these three ‘maturities’ to be a complete personality. Are you sharp and focused? Are you interested in learning and in growth? If yes, you have matured intellectually. And once you have matured intellectually, do not let emotional immaturity cloud your intellect. By the age of 21, you’re supposed to be emotionally and physically strong, and intellectually sharp. Hence, you acquire the right to vote, because you are supposed to be mature – an adult. But this seldom happens!

But what is the big deal about your feelings? I tell you, bundle them up and throw them into the ocean! Once you are rid of your ‘feelings’ you can be happy, in good spirits. Just examine why your spirits go down? More likely than not because somebody said something stupid to you. And why did they say a stupid thing? Because they had some garbage they needed to throw out; and you were there, ready to catch it. And once you have caught it, you hold on to it so passionately! Come on! Wake up! Don’t let your smile be snatched away by anybody!

In this world, everything cannot be perfect all the time. Even the best, the greatest of actions, performed with the noblest of intentions, will have some imperfections. It is but natural. Unfortunately, the tendency of our mind is to grab the imperfection and hold on to it. And in the process, we end up making our moods, our minds imperfect. Our souls reel with this nonsense.

It is imperative to get out of these cycles, and to become strong and courageous from within. And that which gives you that strength, that courage, that smile and that helps you to become unconditionally happy and loving is what is called spirituality.

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This is an oldie, to which I got hooked up today, excellent song…. listened to this some 50 times today

Artist: Barry Manilow; Title: Can’t smile without you.

You know I can’t smile without you
I can’t smile without you
I can’t laugh and I can’t sing
I’m finding it hard to do anything
You see I feel sad when you’re sad
I feel glad when you’re glad
If you only knew what I’m going through
I just can’t smile without you

You came along just like a song
And brighten my day
Who would have believed that you were part of a dream
Now it all seems light years away

And now you know I can’t smile without you
I can’t smile without you
I can’t laugh and I can’t sing
I’m finding it hard to do anything
You see I feel sad when you’re sad
I feel glad when you’re glad
If you only knew what I’m going through
I just can’t smile

Now some people say happiness takes so very long to find
Well, I’m finding it hard leaving your love behind me

And you see I can’t smile without you
I can’t smile without you
I can’t laugh and I can’t sing
I’m finding it hard to do anything
You see I feel glad when you’re glad
I feel sad when you’re sad
If you only knew what I’m going through
I just can’t smile without you

It’s a festive time now. Navaraathri (nine nights) or Dusshera or Durga Pooja, is one of the most celebrated festivals in India. There are a lot of myths and stories associated with the Navaraathri celebrations. It varies from one place to the other. All these stories are from the hindu culture, and it is very difficult to authenticate any of these as the true navaraathri myth.

After coming into IIT, my life has changed a lot. Navaraathri has been looked into as holiday, where I can sit back and relax a bit. This relaxation is offered by my weird collection of songs like Dylan, Floyd etc, which I feel, doesn’t relax me at all. I have been silently observing the Tams, Gults and Digs going to their samajam, for some special pooja as a part of Dusshera. Today Vimal told me about Navaraathri. This word, which I had conveniently forgotten for the past 4 years, rushed back some memories into my mind. I ran back to my room, to enjoy the nostalgia in solitude.

I am going back by 10 years now. I am a young boy, in my 5th standard, staying in an Agrahaara. Talking about my agrahaara memories, those are the most colorful memories so far in my life. I have reserved a very special place deep in my heart for those memories. There were a lot of friends for me all day. We had a very big group, who used to go to places together. The houses in agrahaara, though are very small and congested, offered me much better life than all other places I have been so far. We shared the wall with the adjacent houses. The houses unlike our present day apartments, where people wait for the guests to go out so as to close the doors, are always open. Anyone can go into any house; there is absolutely no need to ask permission to enter the house. Usually children will be running around from house to house. I remember getting into house through the back door and coming out through the front in lot of houses. Moreover, we will be given food at most of the houses we go through while we are playing. There is a big bondage between the families which made the life very memorable.

For festivals, the whole community will get together at the Brahmana Samooha Madom (BSM, this is my own abbreviation.. they never made one). On the first day of navaraathri, all the different families in the community will bring kolus (idols) to BSM, where they all will be arranged in rows. After this, there will be pooja for these idols, and mahishasura mardini sthothram by the ladies of the community. I can still recollect the peculiar tune in which they used to sing this sthothram.

During all these times, we will be playing some hide and seek or thottukali (someone translate daa) at BSM. These games will go on till the ladies are done with their prayers. We will be running around the whole place. By the time we get back to our houses, we will be tired, just having the energy to have dinner and go back to sleep.

Then during Durgashtami, me and my friends will be going to the temple with the book packets. My friends will come and call me at home, my mom will give my packet and some dakshina. Thus start our journey to temple. After this, starts our real celebration. Now that we cannot read anything, our parents won’t force us to read the class notes. So we will be playing day in day out. (Those days watching TV used to be the last choice). The playground used to be the BSM where we all will be running around. After the two days which will go like a lash of lightning, comes VijayaDashami. We will take the books back, and will start reading a page from the books and do the harishree for the coming year. This is done at our own houses. Our parents will be forcing us to read the books as they know that we have not read a single page for the past 9 days. This is very interesting. I will be making quick glances to the entrance (The rooms are on a line. So we can see the front door from anywhere in the house), to see any of the friends have peeped in. The moment I spot a friend coming running to save me, I will start pleading to my mom to let me free. Then back we are to celebrate the last day of our holidays.

That night, all of us will be very sad, as we have to part and go back, as we have loads of homework to do and submit the next day. Thus the celebration ends in a sad note.

Those times have gone. My dad got a transfer (he was working in SBT then), gone we are packing our bags to the next destination. The life I had there gave me the best days so far. From the innocent kid who had no other aim in life but to play around with my friends, I have evolved to the present state, a big guy, who likes Bob Dylan, Syd Barrett, never remembers God at any moment of my stay here, never does sandhya vandan, watches incest movies, reads incest books, eats non vegetarian, tries to bring artificiality in things I do. Moreover, I look to friends with suspicion, watch him out to see what he /she upto is next. Too much evolution! Earlier I used to listen to my parents, think about the ethics that they have taught me and after all God, before doing something. Now I rely only on my logic for decision making. God knows if I have a perverted logic or not! I think even my friends out there also have changed like that. Our Gang leader Deepu; is somewhere in UAE now I guess. Divya his sister, the one to whom I was closest, I don’t know where she is too. I still remember her once in a month or so! Anand, my good friend, where are you? How about Shyam? Radhika and Shanthi, the siblings are in Hyderabad now (My mom keeps updating about them as their dad is our family friend and my mom’s colleague). And Divya (this is another one!) is the only one at the same place I guess.

So every time I go through that place, I will get down at the station, and look for them at the platform, and shout in my mind.. Hello hello hello… is there anybody in there??