On Men And Women

I have written this article on the request of a close friend. She asked me if men and women are equal and if not, then why are we trying to make them?
(This article is a mixture of socio-politics, spirituality, and metaphysics).

I get where she is coming from but the words of her question could be better.

The fact is men and women are equal in their capabilities but they are not the same.

In the words of Elliott Hulse, “We are equally beautiful but beautifully different”.

In my opinion, movements like feminism and anti-feminism rise when the power balance gets skewed too much. In the previous century, feminism gained a lot of momentum and it has worked towards the betterment of women by working for their freedom and equal wages. It was good in the beginning but every good thing is subject to eventual devolution(cycle of life).

Somewhere along the line, the movement lost its true purpose and shifted its focus against men.

The problem that I have with political movements like this is that they don’t have space for the individual. They all want to mold you into a specific structure. That is in their best interests, not particularly yours.

How do they do this?

They create shame in you for your own nature and then they offer salvation for it. Much like the software security companies creating the viruses for which they offer
anti-viruses. I will touch on shame in a later post.
For now, I want to point out my biggest issue with feminism (as it is today).

It shames men for being masculine and more importantly it shames women for being feminine.

We should stop defining people in binary terms. It is a common spiritual belief that every human being has both, masculine and feminine traits. Nobody is purely masculine or purely feminine all the time. Of course, there are such moments, but they are just that, moments. In our day to day lives, we move around in the masculine/feminine spectrum. If people are behaving according to their true nature (a rarity), then men tend to have a masculine nature and women tend to have a feminine nature. This is because we are designed that way, our bodies are designed that way. We have different bodies with different body chemistries. We are naturally inclined towards different things. I’ll get to the masculine and feminine nature in a little while.

You can be a feminine man or a masculine woman, or any combination in between. Stay true to what is true for you. You use both of these natures when you need it.
Material success (or rather competitive success) requires you to channel your masculine nature. I don’t care if you are a man or a woman, if you are in any sort of leadership position you have channeled your masculine nature. On the other hand, if you have been caring/loving to someone, something or even some cause, you have channeled your feminine nature.

Now on to the masculine and feminine nature. This is the spiritual/metaphysical part. Even if you are not inclined towards those areas, I invite you to read the following section for gaining new perspective.

The masculine nature. We think that the masculine man is the brash, macho guy who drinks alcohol, wears leather jackets and rides motorcycles or some variation of this.
Completely wrong. Our disillusionment is majorly the fault of societal conditioning in the form of movies, TV shows, news, music, marketing and what not.

The masculine nature is of the observer, of stillness, of clarity, of assertiveness. The masculine nature is like a sword which cuts through all abstractions, straight
to the truth of the matter. Assertiveness does not mean being loud or abusive. Assertiveness just means to know what one wants and move towards it with clarity and
purpose. The masculine represents rigidity, discipline, and structure; at the same time, it is not abrasive. There is an edge to it. This masculine edge is required for the clarity and purpose which are inherent to the masculine nature.

On the other hand, the feminine nature is of creation. If the masculine is rigid, then the feminine being its polar opposite is fluid. It is always in motion, it can not remain fixed. A whirlwind of emotions. Since it represents creation, the feminine is accordingly a nurturing, loving, healing, accepting energy. The feminine is also much more expressive than the masculine. This is why women find it easier to express their emotions while men struggle with the same.

A good example of both the natures is a river with its banks. The river represents the flowing feminine while the masculine banks represent the structure that stop the river from flooding everywhere.

It should be fairly obvious to you now that we all need a balance of these energies on an individual level as well as on a societal level. A highly masculine society runs the risk of becoming a tyranny while a highly feminine society runs the risk of running itself into the ground because it can not efficiently handle its resources.

None of these natures is better than the other, they are just what they are and they should be appreciated for what they are. There is no need for one to bash the other.

The feminine requires the grounding of the masculine and the masculine requires the love and support of the feminine.

A truly successful person lives a balanced life in accordance with his/her true nature. And accordingly, a truly successful society maintains a balance between the two.

Now, I’m not completely free of my shame as of yet but I’m on that path. You should be on your own path too, if you have not started as of yet, stop waiting for utopia.

Walk on the path to your freedom where you be who you are unapologetically with complete ownership and responsibility.

Till next time,
VR.

Fear

What is fear?

Fear is the perceived pain of a possible future. Fear is a very powerful emotion with a very simple and important function.

The purpose of fear is survival and nothing else. In our hunter-gatherer days, fear in the face of danger (these were actual life threatening situations like a vicious predator on the prowl) heightened our sensitivity, energy levels and abilities for a short duration to survive the danger. And then the fear went away.

But nowadays fear has devolved into a general anxiety and attached itself to everyday situations which are laughable in comparison to the original dangerous situations which required the edge provided by fear for survival. Now we are afraid of things like public speaking where the worst possible outcome is the audience booing you.
That is nothing in comparison to imminent death.

A similar concept is nervousness, which needs its own post, but I’ll touch on it here. Nervousness is a phenomenon where you don’t know what to do.  You have this built up energy in you from the excitement or the fear and you don’t know where to direct it. You may know what to do on an intellectual level but you have not actually done the thing before. So it is all in the head and not in the body. It takes practice to know it in the body and when that happens, then you won’t be nervous anymore.

Should you be fearless?

No, you should not and you don’t need to be. Moreover, you can’t be. You can’t rid yourself of all fear. But you can use your own fear as a guidance mechanism. In most of the cases, your fear will show you the thing that you must do (with obvious exceptions). Beyond every fear is the person you have to become, that is how you grow.

How do you deal with fear?

I give this advice from personal experience; I have not read any books on the subject. The next time you face a situation where you start to feel fear, imagine the
worst possible outcome and accept it. Accept that it may happen. Then accept that you’ll be okay. You’ll still be breathing on the other side and if you’re still
breathing then you can manage. Trust in your abilities to handle yourself will help you sail through the situation.

Let the situation show you your own strength.

This was the intellectual part. Then comes the other part. Action. Go do the thing. I don’t care if someone has to push you to do it or if you can make yourself do it on your own; just go do it. With repetition, you’ll desensitize yourself to the pain and the fear will go away.

Imagine this if you live in a city. You cross busy roads every day. This could actually be life threatening. A car may run you over. But are you afraid to cross roads? I don’t know about you, but I’m not afraid of doing that one single bit. Why? Because I have been doing it so long, I am completely desensitized to it now. You can apply the same principal to any activity you fear.

Emerson’s quote will be of help here.

“Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

I’ll leave you with this.

Accept the fear, trust your undiscovered strength and do the thing.

Till next time,
VR.

Silence

Silence is a very powerful and a very underrated aspect of our lives.

When you need clarity, silence is the key. Only when you can become internally and externally silent, you can let the dust settle from your eyes. If you are not silent from time to time, you will always go on reacting and never be able to respond. There is a subtle difference.

When you are reacting, you have lost all control and are running on your survival mechanisms. On the other hand, if you are responding, you are consciously choosing a set of actions with an intent other than mere survival. This means you can see the bigger picture and act accordingly. These are the traits of a good leader. And you have to be a leader even if you have no followers but yourself.

Strokes of insight occur in silence. I’ll share a personal anecdote with you. This happened in the last year of my schooling. My final exams were going on. I had this Maths paper. I was decent in Maths back then. The paper started off well. But nearing the end, there were two questions, one of six marks and one of four, that I could not figure out for the life of me. Now, this may or may not sound like a big deal to you, but given our education system, it was to me. So, what did I decide to do. I had maybe half an hour left. You would probably think to start fervently working on the question, trying a myriad of ways. I forgot all about the question started looking out the window. It was spring time, I was on the first floor in the window seat and the view outside was beautiful. The comfortably warm sunlight falling on the trees. I remember this one tree. I don’t know what happened but I was transfixed on it. Around fifteen minutes passed and I was still looking at it. It brought me a strange silence. It was comforting. Then seemingly out of nowhere, I had insights to both the questions. I ended up solving both of them. I got 98/100 ;P.

What actually happened? The thing is when you are anxious or stressed, your mind tends to close. You end up performing on a sub-optimal level of your capabilities. When you are silent, you relax. This allows the brain to activate a bigger portion of itself, enabling you to see patterns and find connections which were previously unknown to you. I didn’t know all this back then; I guess I was just lucky.

Silence can also be powerful in your day to day interactions with people. You can show your disapproval with other people by looking them in the eye and shutting up. The key here is to not be fidgety, then you just come across as afraid and nervous. From the times of Cicero, silence has been extensively used in public speeches to multiply the intensity of the message.

Silence makes you much less reactive to other people’s comments and actions. They start to affect you less and less. There is no need for suppression and passive aggressive behavior, that just ends up hurting you in the long run. But what I am asking you to be is a little more silent.

If you are not silent by nature, meditate. Observe. When you are observing, you are silent. Even if you are an extrovert, you would still benefit from silence. Remember, you can be completely engaged in the world and still be silent on the inside.

Silent, Clear, Focused.

Till next time

VR.

The Stillness Meditation

Ideally, I should first talk about meditation and then you give the technique. But, this is not an ideal world, deal with it. ;P

What do you think of when you think of meditation? Perhaps you see people sitting in a cross-legged position with their eyes closed trying to quiet their mind by focusing their awareness on their breath. Well, that is just one type of meditation. Perhaps you have also tried it sometime. Perhaps you don’t get any noticeable results from it.

I’ll give you a simpler meditation. A variation of this meditation was extensively used by Gurdjieff with his disciples. This won’t take much of your time. There are two ways of going about this meditation.

First choice. Throughout the day, whenever you can, stop all movement. You don’t have to do anything else. Just stop. There should not be any gap between the thought of stopping and the action of stopping. If you wait or delay, then you will be caught up in the mind. Be committed to the process if you make this choice. You will be stopping at odd times and odd places. Practice. Practice with no goal in mind except to see what happens.

Second choice. Pick a time and a place; use this setting for your meditation practice. Now, all you have to do is sit, still. Cease all movement, not even your eyes should move. So, choose the position of your eyes accordingly because they are the most restless. In Zazen meditation, it is advised that you keep them half shut, so you are not trying to keep them open or closed.

What will happen? When you cease all physical movement, your attention will turn to your mind. It will come under a magnifying glass. All the voices in your head will be amplified. You won’t believe the amount of noise there is. Stay with it, listen to it, flow with it. With time, the voices will quiet down. Don’t try to stop them, just go on listening. Keep in mind, I said listening, not speaking. There is a difference. When you are listening to those voices, you disassociate from them.

Personally, I prefer the first choice. The suddenness of the practice takes much less time and is able to better create the gap in which you can disassociate from your mind.

You don’t need to sit in meditation for long hours.

Keep it short, keep it simple, keep it sudden.

You are not the voices in your head, you are the one who listens.

With love,

VR.

Live With An Open Heart

Even if it hurts.

The inspiration for this article came from David Deida’s book, The Way of the Superior Man. The message is simple, live with an open heart. What does this mean? Don’t unnecessarily put a filter on yourself because of the fear of offending someone or not being liked. At the same time, don’t go out of the way to insult or hurt someone.

The key here is vulnerability; sharing the feelings or ideas that are closest to our hearts. This is very fearful in the beginning (as it is for me right now). When you are vulnerable, you have the fear of being rejected/judged and this rejection would hurt deeply because in this moment you are defenseless. Realize this not everyone will like you and if they do, you’re doing something wrong. You are either being dishonest in your expression or you are one lucky person who found all the right people (it is easier to get struck by lightning). It is better to be liked for who you truly are than for the facades that you have created. These facades would have to change constantly to morph for different people and their expectations. Think about a more stressful job.

What happens when you do open your heart? You start pulsing with a vibrant energy. I know this from firsthand experience (this is the day that I told many of my friends about this blog and I am still high on that energy). When you start expressing who you are, you start untangling yourself. When you are untangled, you feel light and free. And freedom is the greatest feeling for me, which is why I write to you about it. As the old adage goes, “The truth shall set you free”.

The important thing to do before you start expressing yourself is to first accept yourself for who you are and all that you stand for. You don’t have to completely agree with someone else and no one else is obligated to completely understand you. This is how it is. When you accept your own truth and chose to live by it no matter what, a certain aura surrounds you. People might not agree with you but they will respect you for standing for something.

The following is the relevant text from the book:

The superior man practices opening during these times of automatic closure. Open the front of your body so your chest and solar plexus are not tense. Sit or stand up straight and full, opening the front of your body, softening your chest and belly, wide and free. Breathe down through your chest and solar plexus, deep into your belly. Look directly into the eyes of whoever you are with, feeling your own pain as well as feeling the other person. Only when the front of your body is relaxed and opened, your breath full and deep, and your gaze unguarded and directly connected with another person’s eyes, can your fullest intelligence manifest spontaneously in the situation. To act as a superior man, a samurai of relationship, you must feel the entire situation with your whole body. A closed body is unable to sense subtle cues and signals, and therefore unable to act with mastery in the situation.

When you are vulnerable with someone, you inspire vulnerability in them. If the person is ready to be vulnerable with you, then the interaction would lead to a deeper connection. Otherwise, the other person might shy away from further conversation. If this is the case, then don’t get disheartened. All this is not about the other person’s reaction but about you accepting yourself and sharing with an open heart.

Live with an Open Heart, Be Free.

Till next time,

-VR (I changed my pen name ;P)

You don’t have to be Happy

You don’t have to be happy all the time.

People now a days have become obsessed with happiness. This obsession would have been fine if they hadn’t also become so god damn afraid of unhappiness. It is okay to be unhappy or sad. People are people, not robots that can be programmed with one constant feeling.

Some days you’re on top of the world and some days you’re down in the dumps irrespective of the external circumstances. The poorest of people have great days and even Bill Gates has bad days. Keep moving with life, it’s in your getting stuck that the problem deepens. If only you were willing to accept what is and move with life, you’ll be much happier.

People get sad about being sad. How foolish is that? So you’re sad, its not a big deal. Go finish your work and go to sleep. If you feel sad, do some activity that is refreshing for you. Take a few breaths, with each successive breath gradually getting deeper. Then go for a walk in the park or to play some sport if the weather is suitable. I don’t know what works for you, but that does it for me.

Don’t ever be sad about being sad. That is a vicious circle to fall into. Come back to the present and get moving, literally moving. A lot of the time blood circulation can help with your sadness. A lack of movement in the modern society is a major cause of the unhappiness. The less you move, the more you recede into your head and away from the body and the present. Get moving, feel into your body and if you are still sad, call it a day. Sometimes it’s better to leave things to time.

Don’t resist what is, accept life and move in the direction that suits you.

Your man
-Vik

Freedom

If there is one thing that is closest to my heart, it is freedom. And it is not just me, freedom is close to every man’s heart. People have died for freedom, they still do.

This is the freedom to live one’s life according to one’s own heart. We don’t want to live with obligations or under the control of someone else’s will. We want the actions that we take to be the actions that we want to take not obligations. This is why a man works; to create more freedom for himself and for his family. The simplest type of freedom to achieve is physical freedom.

No matter your age or your current physical condition, there is always a possibility for creating more physical freedom. This is related to your body. If you are overweight, then eat to get lean. If you are already lean, then train for strength. There is no end to strength training. But, if you want to take this in another direction, then take up some dance style. Learning to dance creates a different sort of freedom, a kind of fluidity in your bodily expression. I wish to take this up soon. I would love to learn tango. I’ll get there soon enough.

Meanwhile, lets get to the next type of freedom: financial freedom.

The steps are fairly simple. Do some work you are good at, save some money, invest that money to make more money while freeing up your time. This same thing can be done in a million different ways but the template is the same. When your investments hit critical mass, you won’t be required to work anymore. You’ll work simply because you want to. Now, some people achieve this in a few years, some take much longer than that. Keep in mind, this freedom is also related to your living standards; what is and isn’t acceptable to you. Some people are content in a hut, some need a castle. Whatever it is, just make sure it is a conscious choice, not a desire for someone else’s approval.

The next type of freedom is emotional freedom. This type of freedom is achieved when you are free from the control of your emotions. They stop ruling you. Living with emotions is one thing but being ruled by emotions is something else entirely. Emotional freedom comes when you transcend your emotions. How do you transcend your emotions? With awareness. When some emotion arises in you, don’t run away from it. Feel it deeply, notice it. Don’t place moral judgments. If you are jealous, don’t say this is bad, just be jealous, completely. Then, allow it to pass. If you are happy, be happy, completely happy. If you are sad, be sad. Don’t run away. You just have to stay in the moment, focused. The emotion will pass. Don’t deny your emotions, with time, you’ll transcend them. No need to rush, actually don’t rush. If you try to rush, you’ll just be playing the avoidance game.

These are the three basic types of freedoms. One thing I’d like to point to you and to me (as a reminder) is that the more successful a man becomes, it is likely that he feels trapped. A successful man has the image of a successful man to protect. This will keep him trapped out of the present most of the time because he will be trying to protect that image. Remember this trap in your journey to your freedom and you will never feel stuck.

To our freedom.

Your man
-Vik