Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A feeling like never before!

I am back to what I love doing after a ‘small’ gap. Writing, or rather expressing myself. I have been getting calls from few friends asking the reason for not posting regularly. They seem to imply that I am turning out to be very lazy. Now why did it take me so long to update my blog? For one week I pondered on that question, seriously. I admit I would not totally blame my hectic work schedule but definitely it was not laziness. There were tensions outside work. Like, I was expecting my new year to start off with something really special. Did it really start with a bang?

Oh no it didn't, in fact all my hopes went down in the drain. I am at the moment, totally distraught and sad. Sometimes, expectations can really reduce joy. It was not like I actually believed in the teachings of “Art of Living” (AOL). I mean no one would ardently believe on something and do the exact opposite, right? At least I would definitely not do that. The only sad part is that after seeing all my hopes crash, I could very well relate to the first teaching of the Art of Living Ashram.

‘Expectation reduces joy’.

Art of Living Ashram, beautiful isn't it?

Back in college, neither did I like the teachings of the Ashram nor the attractiveness of the place. When I was there, I totally was out of place and never felt attached to the Ashram though many of my classmates did. Compulsion from the college authorities to attend the three day seminar (basic course) as part of the orientation program witnessed me joining the others in the 1.5 km march towards the ashram. I remember the dean promising that he would definitely not award MBA certificates to all those who would escape from the basic course of the AOL, even if they end up being toppers. Hmmm, but later the attendance of the AOL course was never really an important criteria when the convocation actually happened. The course was tiring, that was what I felt during the first day. I mean waking up early in the morning at 4.45 and assembling in the terrace of the ashram to do the Surya Namskar and then on till 11 pm in the night, attending lectures, yoga, meditation, pranayamas and Sudarshan Kriyas made me feel like I was in a totally different world. Of course, the gates of the ashram campus were bolted in order to shut the desires of outside world. Everything was a big NO in the ashram. No tea, coffee, chocolates, ice cream, eatables, cigarettes, drinks were served in the ashram shops. The food served was really bland. The reason elucidated was that all of the restricted food and spices increased the level of toxins in the body.

The person who took the lectures surprised us when he revealed that he was earlier a successful entrepreneur, IIM A pass out who left his business in order to serve the ashram and to propagate its teachings. He mentioned his profit he used to earn during his entrepreneur days roughly in one of the lectures, an amount close to 40 lakhs per month. Both he and his wife had donated their savings to the ashram and now stay there happily. The three days food itself was a torture for me and I really used to wonder how anybody could stay there for more than that. The only part I liked in the whole of the course was the ending of the Sudarshan Kriya session, wherein you end up lying on the bed in a resting position, eyes closed for a few minutes. I used to just sleep off till somebody actually woke me up, since it was considered a relaxing position. :)

The Satsung was another fun moment, wherein all the people danced to the ragas and bhajans sung by ardent devotees of the ashram. My batch danced like as if it was a dance party and not like devotees in any way. Then there was another hilarious moment, which everybody enjoyed equally. At the end of one of the lectures, the full batch was asked to hug and say to each and every other person the following line, “I belong to you and you belong to me”. This exercise was thoroughly enjoyed by the boys since they could loaf around saying it to each and ever girl around, without getting bashed up. :) The girls too enjoyed it since it brought in a comfort feeling and helped them to come out of their coyness.

Looking back, I guess AOL was a good learning experience for the batch in a whole. It made all of us familiar enough to start slogging together in a very comfortable manner, devoid of stress and sadness till our Dean acted. I mean he totally believed in preparing the batch for facing the worst in life and constantly strived at increasing the amount of stress in all the students. Of course, the later part of the MBA even saw romances getting rekindled in the ashram. It was a place where the batch had free entry since my college was closely associated with the AOL ashram. The only reason my friends and me visited the ashram later after the AOL course was to enjoy the cool breeze and also to play hide & seek in the terrace of the ashram. If the devotees would have seen us like that, definitely they would have thrown us out. It’s interesting to even remember that we have had several sessions with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (founder of Art of Living), who actually knows some of my batch mates very closely. Later when there was some talk about AOL after I joined my work, I simply mentioned that I have seen him and used to visit his ashram in Bangalore, all of the listeners actually looked at me as if I have earned my salvation. It was very funny for me though. :D

Coming back to what I started off with, I am done with simply going on expecting and expecting and seeing all of them crash. It is sometimes hard to take the sadness frivolously when you know that inside you are heart broken. Nevertheless, I guess I am happy since I try to find happiness in small things especially my loved ones’ happiness.

Moral of my current state,’ Expectation reduces joy’. It really does!


Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Tsk, tsk, tsk... what were you expecting, anyway? And that policy of thrusting AoL course on all of you sounds really umm... shall we say, dictatorial? But anyway, I guess it will serve you its purpose now that you see it in a different light. Don't feel let down: there is a lot of life out there waiting to be explored and had fun of. You just need to poke the right rib ;)

Keep writing!

Art of Living said...

Seems you had a nice time overall, but were unfamiliar with the setting, food and accomodation. Everything can not fit everyone I guess, since I like the fresh food more, and spices are not that important to me, I actually long for the Ashram foodstuff, not being such a good cook myself. Good to hear your expectations are reduced, and hope you find your joy in life.

syrals said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
syrals said...

Sudipta- Thanks, really true. I am just taking it too hard I know. :)
Have a nice weekend. :)

Art of Living- Thanks for dropping by. :)

alpine path said...

Ha! Ha! Your experiences are true to the point… I went through a similar experience when in the first year of college. Also, how is it that almost all the ashrams have such entrepreneurs? ;) I have always wondered how they can give up everything life has to offer and take up an austere life? Well, every person has the right to decide his/her own life. Btw, I love the Savasana pose too ;) Good post yaar!!

syrals said...

Alpine path: Thanks :) Oh is it called the Savasana pose? I did forget that. :)

Well, my batch actually presented that guy with a gift. Though he initially refused to accept it, later he did. :))

Have a nice weekend!

Achintya said...

Quite surprising.When i was at the Ashram two weeks before you they were serving tea & coffee & the Divine shop had a stock of chocolates from around the world.This Valentine's day at the Ashram also chocolates & Roses were in abundant supply for people to buy & gift to their sweethearts (it's normal practice every year)& many people actually married on that day there.How did you get the idea of the AoL Ashram as a dry place,I really fail to understand.
Of course you did not like the course is all right.But seeing things from your pre-conceived viewpoint is certainly not "living life to the fullest".In my view it is being open to new ideas, exploring new things & places & learning something useful from them.I think that is taught in an MBA course too.

syrals said...

Achintya: I really had a good laugh reading your comment. I mean, the post relates to an incident which occurred in AOL Ashram almost five years ago. It also mentions how I relate and respect the teachings of the Ashram now. Whatever I have described about the Ashram was true way back then. Maybe things have changed now, that does not mean you generalize my ideas and criticize it.

I am very sure you did not read my post in its ‘fullest’ way or maybe you did not understand the reason for me even writing it.

So much for your preposterous comment. :)

alpine path said...

Hi, tagged u!! :)

syrals said...

Alpine Path: The 'dream' post shall follow soon. :)

Srini said...

Hey, Just came across your blog while I was searching for peoples views about Art of Living. I am presently writing this from the Ashram in Bangalore :) I know each one has their own views and life experiences, I hope you got something out of AOL that is useful to this day. I am an atheist and I have come here to AOl with no expectations, as I have been here (This kind of feeling - Spiritual) before in my school days,

Atlast, I would want to tell you something after reading your AOL experience, the lines that caught me was "Expectation reduces joy" Never expect anything from life. Life isnt fair all the time. Just my thought. No hard feeling.

Nice blog you got, will be back sometime soon.