Chapter 14 - Groundlessness!
The thought of being groundless may scare a lot of us but it can also be liberating if we understand the importance of being groundless. I have been protecting my insecurities, nurturing my aversions assuming they were there for my well-being and safety but this new software of life that I have installed has taught me to enjoy groundlessness. To be groundless in my opinion is to have no conclusion, to have no permanence, and thus no judgments.
A lot of us are attached to our own stories about life, ourselves, and the world around us. Some of us are hard-wired to theories and conclusions that dictate that “life is unfair”, “life is hard”, “life is a struggle”. It is imperative to realize that life is just life, our perception about life is what makes it pleasant or miserable. I read a story that has left a profound impact on me. In my words, there was a man who went on a trip in a forest and was mesmerized to see the hypnotizing beauty of nature, the variation of colors, the soothing sound of a nearby waterfall, all of which brought a sense of calmness to him. He thought to himself that it was the best decision of his life to take a break from his busy schedule just to enjoy this beauty he was now surrounded by. A few minutes into the trip a bear jumped out of the bush! The breath-taking experience that this man was enjoying was inevitably replaced with fear and he cursed himself for taking this trip that was about to be the sole reason for his life coming to an end.
Turns out, it was just a prankster wearing a bear costume trying to record the reactions of people who come across an aggressive bear. The man went back home and shared this comical experience with another friend who had the same trip planned for himself. Now this second guy after receiving friendly advice from his well-intentioned friend was cautious of this notorious bear guy! He did not find any prankster on his way to the forest but on his way back, when he was completely defenseless, the prankster hopped out to scare this man. The man got surprised but within a few minutes, he realized that it wasn’t the bear. The intended moral of the story was; When you know that life is uncertain and you are prepared to tackle it like the pieces in the Tetris game, uncertainty will not be as scary as it was for the first guy who saw the bear. You may get shocked at the arrival of an unpleasant or unforeseen situation but it will be easier for you to get hold of your reaction.
So I am practicing to be groundless, to not have any attachments to the stories I’ve been piggybacking all my life about how there is a “this” and there is a “that”, wrong and right, true and false, and so on. It has brought so much relief and peace to me that I am able to see through the situation without trying to find a “ground” or a conclusion about it. It’s almost like being able to zoom in on a picture on our smartphones, to view details more clearly.
To put this in an example, a friend of mine recently contacted me to inform me that he has been diagnosed with Tuberculosis and he isn’t sure if he will be able to fight it. This was a good-bye call, he was making an attempt to thank all of his friends for the good times and apologize for the bad ones. Normally, I would react with something like: “Stop over-reacting, it is curable!”, “What is this rubbish you are talking about?” or the most stereotypical response “Don’t talk about dying. Do not say such an ominous thing!”. I did not stop him from talking, I let him talk because none of the other people he contacted did! The other people are not to be blamed, I myself used to stand on the same ground where talking about death is treated inauspicious especially when you are sick. It’s as though this is the time when the universe is directly aligned to your mind and whatever you say comes true. You die!!!
I questioned that conclusion, that ground I once occupied, and decided to just let him flush out everything from his system. For the records, he is showing good recovery and will be healthy as before in a matter of time. Not attaching any preconceived notion to life has taught me to believe that everybody is different, their way of handling situations matters largely on variables such as their place of birth, the culture they live in, their upbringing, awareness, or lack of it! It is okay for people to react differently, there is no reason to conclude that someone is a drama-queen or brag or anything that makes us build a perception about them.
Birds have played a vital role in teaching this concept. In my opinion, being groundless has allowed them to trust their wings more than the changing weather or a branch they sit on. As the quote says: A bird sitting on a tree is not afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not in the branch but in her own wings!
Happy flying ;)
~ Anila Andezhath