Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Paradigm Shift

Decades-old Asthma and complicated relationship issues were a cause of immense misery, suffocation and great fatigue. My self-esteem was at its lowest though I was not doing all that badly in life. I felt my life was a chaos. At thirty six I wondered when will all this end finally. I tried psychiatrist, I toyed with the past life regression therapy and tried religion as therapy. I attended Landmark Forum out of hope and curiosity. I hoped that Landmark Forum would offer me some insight and show me some ways of dealing with this suffering. I had longed for some drastic paradigm shift in my life and Landmark did not let me down.

I always knew that my past was painful, but the Landmark taught me that I was responsible for it. I clung to it in the form of serious grievances and suppressed anger. I discovered that I had serious complaints and veiled anger beneath every single relationship. The blame-games (` racket’ in LM terminology) drain us of our vitality, joy and sense of freedom. The blame-games, Landmark revealed to me, were ways of evading responsibility.

Responsibility, here, is not in the sense of ` blame’ or `guilt’, as can be misunderstood. In fact, this is how I looked at things. I blamed myself and felt miserable about almost anything I did. This, Landmark Forum taught me, was actually a way of evading responsibility. One needs to reconsider the meaning of the word `responsibility’ here. The compact Oxford Dictionary defines responsibility as ` responsibility • noun (pl. responsibilities) 1 the state or fact of being responsible. 2 the opportunity or ability to act independently and take decisions without authorization. 3 a thing which one is required to do as part of a job, role, or legal obligation.”

I discovered that taking responsibility was not a way of blaming yourself or saying sorry to everyone I knew but to recognize my role in the mess I have created in my life. It means taking charge of your life which actually is extremely empowering. Blaming oneself or someone weakens you, taking up the responsibility makes you feel powerful. I was blaming everyone including (most importantly) myself for my miseries. Instead of blaming myself, I learned to owe up the suffering as my own creation and I have started doing something about it. I owe the sense of being in charge of my life to Landmark.

The Forum taught me to separate `what happened’ from ` what I made it mean for me’. For instance, my mother used to be very bitter and quarrelsome most of the time. I had extremely bitter and rancorous fights with her and then I kept feeling extremely guilty about it. My relationship with her was that of extreme anger, fear, revulsion, pity and guilt. I discovered that her behavior was due to her own disturbed life and I was actually adding to her unending sorrow. In some ways, I was responsible for her misery. And this was because I interpreted her behaviour to mean, ` she doesn’t love me or care for me’. Hence, during one of the assignment, I called her up from Mumbai and apologized to her for making her life miserable. I discovered that the wall I had created around myself to protect myself or rather avoid my mother was the wall I had created to avoid the whole world. I did the same with my father, Ashwini, my sister and even with my five year old kid. I felt the great burden on my back falling off, much in the way it falls off Christian’s back in the Pilgrim’s Progress. I felt incredibly light. I felt huge surge of energy flowing through my life once again. I was no longer dragging my life but was actually driving it.

The Forum’s philosophy that nothing has any meaning apart from the one that WE give it can actually be extremely powerful and liberating. I had given so many `meanings’ to asthma, incidents in my childhood and relations and these things actually had no ` meaning’ apart from the ones I gave them. Asthma is just a disease like thousand other diseases. But I had made it mean something. Like for example, that I was `unfortunate’ or that it was because of my parents or because of my nature and the things like that. It dawned upon me that asthma was nothing but asthma.

The Forum’s philosophy distinguishes between the choice and the decision. The term `decision’ like its etymological relative `incision’, involves cutting out the alternatives. The Forum sees `decision’ as being based on ` reasons’ rather than on responsibility and as being based on the past. I learned that choice is not dependent on reasons and life has no real alternatives from which we can select. You don’t decide upon your father or your disease or your being. I learned as asthma means asthma and nothing else I have learned to choose it. I have learnt the significance of the position which says ` I choose asthma because I choose asthma’. I no longer cling to it or make an issue out of it. In the same way I choose my distress and anguish because I choose my distress and anguish.

Thanks to the forum, the environment at my home has changed for better and the life appears in a new perspective. Once you realize and accept that it is you who are holding on to your past, past is no longer holding on to you. They equip you to change your rigid and ossified ways of thinking and behaving which are limiting you. These constraints fall off. You realize that you have wings and the earth is simply not interested in holding you down…


MuktaSunit said...

Thanks to your Twits , I ended up on your blog. It is delightful to read through your posts. (My this reply is more about my first impression of your blog , rather than this particular post.)

It feels almost embarrassing for a common-joe like me to write "critically" about someone who is well-versed with the Theories of Criticism and the works. So this is obviously a reaction of a literary naive and should be taken exactly such.

More than the diversity of the subjects , the easy style of narration and , I was stuck by the thought as to how well , a person with immense literary interest and acumen is getting attuned to the reach and effectiveness of the ever-evolving tools and techniques of the cyberspace. The element of "NOW"ness exists not only in the subjects and style but also now in the newer and newer platforms chosen to express.

But then again, it should not come as a surprise to anyone , as your almost-decade old collection of poetry had the title "Live Update" : A terminology clearly derived from the world of computers.

Now a little about the latest postings about Landmark Forum. I think it is a fascinating account of a platform which always held a great deal of promise and has been a subject of curiosity bordering fascination in the general public. I liked that you could derive a major "take-away" (if not the BIGGEST ever takeaway in your entire life !). Have already read about other people's accounts of it - some of them leaning towards negativity.

Have a question. After reading through a very comprehensive account of someone like you that gives out almost every aspect of your experience there in a fair amount of detail, why would you recommend anyone to go and spend their time and money at the forum (besides , of course the most obvious reason of you contributing to the Landmark's marketing campaign and thereby helping their business ) ?
Please do not get me wrong. I am not suggesting the platform's futility. All I am saying is : thanks to your detailed account , it is extremely easy now for me to imagine what exactly I would expect at the forum and what my takeaway should be. In that case , why would I spend some money (that I can spend with relative ease) but more importantly my time away from my business and family (something that is far more expensive than the monetary part) ?

Sachin C. Ketkar said...

Thanks a lot for the comments.I dont consider you as naive or common joe or something like that. I am not surprised that many people have not been benefited by this educational pro gramme. We want a magic wand or short cut solutions or injections for our misery and if we don't get it we feel deceived. We want SOMEBODY OR SOMETHING to solve our problems. The Landmark Forum DOES NOT `solve problems for us'and please keep in mind that NO ONE CAN, except you. Landmark Forum points out how our fixed ways of thinking, looking at life are source of our suffering and provides us ways of moving away from them. Its up to us if we want to abandon our habitual ways of living or not. People obstinately stick to older points of view because they are scared of the change and transformation and because it ALSO INVOLVES giving up WHO YOU ARE- YOUR EGO which is a conglomeration of one's fixed habitual way of thinking and looking at things.

dare said...

Hello sir,

After a long time , I could get time to read your blogs. It is interesting to read them and what was more important that I came to know what is happening in your life. After reading blogs I can say that I know more about you and I am also thinking of starting to write regularly. I think there are lots of things going in my life nd lots of things took place in these 2 years nd 6 months in Australia. Perhaps I feel that I am a changed person why and how I need to introspect.

I would talk to you more about Landmark forum but can ask you more when I plan to come to India.

Have a good time and do not stress yourself too much.