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Sunday, April 14, 2013

‘Vishu’ and the art of witnessing

In brief spells of awakening, we become witnesses. In those spells we do see Life for what it is. And not for what it once was or what it should be. If we can learn the art of being mere witnesses of our lives, all the time, we can be free from all bondage and therefore from all suffering!

Today is the festival of ‘Vishu’ – a celebration of abundance and prosperity that all people with roots in Kerala observe. I have become non-religious and non-ritualistic over the years. Even so, I love ‘Vishu’. Because the festival calls for a true celebration of abundance! When you wake up, you are escorted with your eyes closed to the prayer room or to where a special arrangement has been set up. You are to open your eyes only in front of this arrangement of fruits, vegetables, flowers, rice, pulses, coins and everything beautiful that the lady of the house will have set up overnight. To me, the festival is not only a gentle reminder that there is so much abundance in our lives, that we are blessed to be waking up in a home, where our basic needs are taken care of, but it is also a reminder that we can perhaps choose to always be witnesses – just as we are when we are in front of this resplendent arrangement. ‘Vishu’ asks for nothing from you. All you are required to do is to just be a simple witness. Just observe. Drink in the sight that fills your soul with peace and joy!

Being a witness is blissful. Because a witness has no role. A witness just watches. Observes. There is no analyzing. Therefore no judgment. Therefore there is no suffering, no misery. Witnessing means being minus the mind. The mind is the source of all interpretation. When you are witnessing, you have disregarded the mind. This is what happened to me when I saw the ‘Vishukani at home today. I did not analyze. I did not question. I did not opinionate. I simply saw, with bleary eyes and amazement perhaps, how bountiful Life is.

This is the quality that is missing in our daily living. Witnessing brings us to perfectly focus on the now. You obviously can’t witness either the past or the future! So, when there is no past, no future, what you are left with is the present. As witness, you have no role in the present. It is unfolding in its inscrutable pre-ordained fashion. And you, you can only merely remain a witness. Witnessing takes you away from all your suffering, into a realm from where you will never want to come back – bliss!

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