Dance Of Death

It’s been a week of roller coaster emotions…I don’t know how many of my readers have seen the macabre dance of death…up front and close.

While most of India was celebrating Independence Day on 15th of August, I got a call from my Mom, telling me that my Aunt had a fall, lost consciousness and was in the ICU. I told her that I will fly out to be with her & Dad. My Aunt & I share a relationship which is like a mother – daughter relationship. She was the one who brought me up when my parents moved from one end of the country to another…this was because my Dad was in the army.

In the ICU I came across three kinds of patients. One set of patients who are fighting for their life, willing themselves to get out of the agony and take life head on. The other set, who have given up on life & are willing themselves to die. Then there is the third set of patients, who want to live, are looking towards you for help, but don’t have the physical energy to go on.

It’s the third category that makes me feel so helpless. My Aunt belongs to that category. There is something that is pushing her to fight..I don’t know what it is. Physically, she is unable to do so. What is gut wrenching is the silent plea in her eyes that I don’t want to give up…so help me!

How does one help? Watching the monitor flicker, the ECG go up and down creating patterns which even the doctors are trying to understand, hearing her breathe, her attempts at conversation and wanting to understand why is she in this condition… it’s only fair to share with her as gently as possible what her condition is.

The wait & watch situation can be trying on both, the patient and the family. In the last few days I have seen my own family trying hard to understand what is the next step as far as my Aunt is concerned. The human mind finds solace in concrete answers & situations where an individual feels he is in control. My deeper question – are we really in control or do we just feel secure when we have the feeling of being in control. My family wants to know when she will move out of the ICU, when can we bring her home, when is her heart going to recover… When her doctors don’t have an answer for all these questions, how can they give a road map?

We seek answers where there are none, we want assurances when they can’t be given by anyone…we hate the thought of being in the dark. We are ready to battle the dance of death any which way possible. I salute the human spirit that never wants to give up!!!


Life…A Cosmic Comedy

Religion has been missing one very fundamental quality: the sense of humour. It’s unfortunate, because it has made religion sick.

A sense of humour is an essential part of the wholeness of man. It keeps us healthy, young, and fresh. And for centuries the sad people have dominated religion. They have expelled laughter — from churches, mosques, and from temples. The day laughter enters back into the holy places they will be really holy, because they will be whole.

Laughter is the only quality that distinguishes man from other animals. Only man can see the ridiculous, the absurd. Only he has the capacity and the consciousness to be aware of the cosmic joke that existence is. It is a cosmic joke; it is not a serious affair.

Seriousness is a disease, but seriousness has been praised, respected, honoured. It was absolutely essential to be serious to be a saint; hence only, people who were incapable of laughter became interested in religion. And people who are incapable of laughter are not human yet — what to say about their being divine? That is impossible — they have not yet become human. Hence I have tremendous respect for the sense of humour, for laughter.

Laughter is far more sacred than prayer, because prayer can be done by any one. Laughter requires intelligence, it requires presence of mind, a quickness of seeing into things. A joke cannot be explained: either you understand it or you miss it. If it is explained it loses the whole point; hence no joke can be explained. Either you get it immediately or you can try to find out the meaning of it; you will find out the meaning, but the joke will not be there. It was in the immediacy.

Humour needs presence, utter presence. It is not a question of analysis, it is a question of insight.

To be able to laugh, you need to be like a child — egoless. And when you laugh, suddenly laughter is there, you are not. You come back when the laughter is gone. When the laughter is disappearing, when it is subsiding, you come back, the ego comes back. But in the very moment of laughter you have a glimpse of egolessness.

There are only two activities in which you can feel egolessness easily. One is laughter, another is dancing. Dancing is a physiological method, a bodily method to feel egolessness. When the dancer is lost in his dance he is no more — there is only dance. Laughter is a little more subtle than dance, it is a little more inner, but it has also the same fragrance. When you laugh…. it has to be a belly laughter.

Laugh so that your whole body, your whole being becomes involved, and suddenly there will be a glimpse. For the moment the past disappears, the future, the ego, everything disappears — there is only laughter. And in that moment of laughter you will be able to see the whole of existence laughing.

Lao Tzu had a sense of humour. Maybe because of that he could not become the founder of a great religion. He used to ride a buffalo. Now, couldn’t he find a horse? Anybody could have afforded at least a donkey — but a buffalo…? And that too, sitting backwards! The buffalo is going one way and Lao Tzu is looking the other way. He must have created laughter wherever he passed. Life is not a tragedy, it is a comedy!