Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sinbad’s Afterlife Blues: A Poem by Sachin Ketkar

Sinbad’s Afterlife Blues
Sachin Ketkar

Ocean is an old discarded myth.

I hear the leisurely blue songs
Of the whale swimming
At the back of my mind
I view her sprout jets of love
As she dives and crashes
I thought she was an island
On which I could live
But she fled.

I have gone down under the waves of sleep
Waters as voluptuous as death
Have engulfed me

When I open my eyes
The world turns its back upon me

They say
She is just a blue apparition
On an inky night

Her songs are the merely moving ridges
Tumbling over one another

Plug your ears they say

Now that I am just a pallid corpse
Floating like a weed under the sea
I will reach out to her

And let her secret songs
Run like silk through my veins

12 August 2010                     12 pm

Monday, October 11, 2010

Transformation of Communication and Communication for Transformation

I did the 'Communication for Access to Power' course from the Landmark Education from Mumbai on 2, 3 and 5th October 2010 and it was awesome! It revealed to me the hidden patterns that controlled my communication and the blockages it created. There were two main reasons I wanted to do this course. The first was the personal and the other was related to my occupation. I had discovered that I was unable either to 'open up' emotionally as a person to people close to me and that I was not able to remain 'present' with the people communicating with me. This resulted in me appearing as evasive and uninterested and hence ultimately insulting. I could see how I communicated 'first hand' when I attended the Tuesday completion evening of this course in Ahmedabad. A powerful exercise exposed 'how I looked' when I communicated and was shocked. I would not myself have loved to interact with such a person. So I knew before hand that the course would be terrific and obviously it did not let me down. The other reason was that I am a writer and teacher and hence my bread, butter and chicken is dependent on communication!

The course used the distinctions we learned in the Landmark Forum and offered us some crucial new distinctions. The course enabled us to distinguish between the 'inherited'(default) old model of communication and the 'invented' or new model of the communication that this course provides. This distinctions is parallel to the default or inherited model of 'being' and living and the invented model of 'being'  provided by the Landmark Forum which brings forth 'a new realm of possibilities and the new possibility of being calls us powerfully into action'.

Like in the Landmark Forum what we need is to 'distinguish' this limiting and restrictive model before we can do something about it. In the Landmark philosophy what it means to 'distinguish' is explained by an analogy: The fish in the water doesn't know what water is unless it takes a jump out of it. Until it knows that there is something like 'non-water', it wont understand that it has been living in what is water after all. Hence unless the fish 'distinguishes' and gets the 'distinction'- water, it has no idea what and where it is living. Hence until we are exposed to the non-inherited and non-default model of 'being', living or communication, we are not able 'to distinguish' between the default and the invented models.

The 'default' model of communication all of us inherit is built on the assumption that the world 'IS' 'out there'/'in here' and the function of language is to 'fit' the word into the already existent world. The function of language basically to 'describe', 'command' or 'express' the pre-existent world out there or in here ( in our mind).

In this model we realize that we are 'small, separate, weak and alone' in this gigantic world which exists irrespective of our existence. Hence within this default paradigm we are constantly trying to 'survive and fix' things, people, circumstances, people( including ourselves).In the default model we are constantly doing things needed to survive and fix like avoiding, withholding, controlling, manipulating, forcing an outcome and so on. Hence 'survive and fix' life is all that we have. As our coach Nirav Vyas put it,' Even when we get used to living in the dark and get expertise of living in the dark, we are still living in the dark.' Most of us live within this model and we don't even know that we are living in this model.

In the default model, we are revealed how 'the sentence' we have passed on ourselves when we were very young runs our life. This sentence is usually a statement like ' I am not x, I am y' which we said to ourselves when we were not even seven years. This 'sentence' is still active when we just look beneath upsets we experience in the day to day life. In my case I discovered that my sentence is ' I am not wanted, I am unwanted.' Hence, to use the coach's words again, if hundreds of people told me that they wanted me with thousands of flowers and even wrote it in the skies with an aeroplane, I would still not believe them because I was living from the context of' I am not wanted, I am unwanted' and looking at the world from this point of view. The coach also pointed out that this was not just 'A point of view' but I WAS  that point of view and so if someone offered an alternate point of view it would be read as a threat to my survival ( as I WAS that point of view). Once I could distinguish this, I was able to give up this point of view. It also meant, in the words of the coach, ' a five year old upset child' was running my life till date.

In the default model of communication we also tend to ask, 'one unanswerable question' beneath ALL our communication. This unanswerable question could be ' Do you love me?' or 'Do  you want me?' Once we can distinguish this question , we are able to see how absurd and meaningless this question is.

The new model of communication is simply exciting. It is based on the assumption that the world 'IS not simply out there or in here ( in our minds), it is created out of words. For instance, the sentence ' I am not wanted, I am unwanted' shaped my life and determined how I look at life and the world. What was the sentence but a speech act?The older model which was designed in order to survive and fix was also based on the hidden contexts which were purely linguistic ( e. g the unanswerable question). This means that the world is CREATED from our words. What we see, how we see, what we think or how we think is determined solely by our conversations which we have with ourselves and the others. The function of language in this new paradigm is no longer to 'describe', 'command' or 'express', but to 'create' the world. This new language is language of transformation and usually takes the form of 'declaration' ( e.g Declaration of Independence or ' I have a dream' speech of Martin Luther King). The power to create can come only when we honour our word ( the distinction known as 'integrity'- not to be confused with morality or ethics).

The new model of communication comes into existence when we bring forth  'listening from nothing', that is, listening from a space rather than listening from the older conversation ( 'already always' running within our mind). In this model, there is no need to 'survive or fix' anything. The communication is no longer controlled by the past discourses and concerns which are put aside. Hence the moment we put the internal dialogues about people aside and be present to the person's current communication, we bring 'everything' into our communication. The person gets freedom and space for expression in our listening which has come from nothing.  The communication becomes a 'dance' and we can sense love and affinity running in the background.

This listening also allows us to enter the world and the point of view of the other. We can get to look at how we look from the other's point of view. And often what we see is not very flattering!

Some of the other very significant distinctions I got was that communication is not 'content' but 'intent'. 'Intent' not as purpose but in the phenomenological sense of 'intentionality' , the space where the self and the other are related and that communication involves creating 'being-in-communication' as against 'talking'.

During the course I called up my dad and told him how much  I love him and how he is the most important person in our life. After good 38 years of life. I told him that it was because I used to live from ' I am not wanted, I am unwanted' that I did not open up my heart to him. I told my sister the same thing. I told them I give up this point of view. I told Amogh and Ashwini the same thing. After the Landmark Forum, I discovered the negative stories I was running and thus destroying my life, after communication course, I discovered what lay beneath these negative stories and blame games.

The Advanced Communication course teaches us how to dismantle and get rid of habitual modes of communication. It teaches us how to alter not just our communications but also the communications of one person in our life with another. It also teaches us how to resolve multiple concerns in a single conversation! The course starts November 20th and I am so very excited about it.

Parallel to these communication courses, I am also participating in the Landmark Action Seminar series which takes place on Thursday evenings. Each session strengthens the distinctions we have got in the Forum by giving us an opportunity to get them once again and practice them. Hence almost a year after doing my Forum , I am 'back in conversation' ( though I was never really out of it).