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Elephant in a dark room

Perhaps, no other analogy comes so close to real scenario of life as the famous elephant in the dark room explored by different people. A similar analogy with slight difference in some cultures in elephant being explored by 6 blind men. In either case, each one is experiencing something different and hence considers “it” to be the “truth”. Someone experiences the leg says that this is a giant pillar, the one experiencing the trunk says that it is a huge pipe and so on.

Everyone is stating their own truth which is true and yet it is not the reality or the actual truth. I really don’t have words to differentiate or grade truth but I will rely on your common sense to make sense of what is being written.

My truth appears so much real that I feel others truth is not a possiblity at all. This breeds all the so called differences and conflicts.

Nevertheless, the reason I wrote this post is because recently I shared an experience with some friends on whatsapp and it was so intriguing and interesting to see the responses. To the same message or story, each one responded so differently and each response was coming from their personal truth. The response holds the key to their personlity, their world views or scenarios. Here is the original message followed by some of the responses I recieved. Enjoy …

Message : The Elephant

Today an 80+ year old (estimated guess as he didn’t know how old he is) man walked in our farm and we chatted long on various topics. It was a beautiful learning experience just to hear him out.

I specifically wish to share an anecdote he shared , few days back as he was walking back from nearby town to his village (9km one side distance) , the local govt officer spotted this old man and said , “How come you are walking like this ? Where is your mask ?” Old man said, ” Saheb, I don’t wear it for I feel suffocated, I am an old man not used to these new things…” Saheb said, ” exactly, because you are old , I am asking you to put on the mask for the young is not dying but the oldies are dying of Corona”.

To which this old man replied with absolute certainty, ” Tell me one thing Saheb, when God has already decided everyone’s exact number of breaths. How can it be lessen or increased ?” “Something has to become cause of death when it’s the time ! It could be Corona or just a slip of leg…but its just an excuse…” Saheb replied with a smile, “Dada, you are just speaking some high wisdom and not understanding simple thing..”

To which the old man said, ” It’s not some high Gyan Saheb, it’s my truth and if you want I am right now willing to come with you sit next to a Corona patient for I know….

“Jab likh di prabhu ne gin ke sans, kam badh kaise ho ?” (When God has written precisely how many breaths will one take, how can it be decreased or increased ?”)

The responses :

  1. Hmm. We like some people. Then we like what they say… liking someone is very good. Offers hope😊

2. I feel good reading it ..
To hear from some one who has seen life .. these lines of common knowledge appear real and alive..

3. So true!!!

4. Yes absolutely. That’s the way ordinary indian who is still uncontaminated by modernity thinks. The British realised long back that the threat of death did not work with indians so they resorted to torture. Death for Indians is a forgon conclusion. It is predecided

5. Is this a true story?

6. Like Steve Austin the WWE wrestler famously said…fuck fear, drink beer…cheers mate👍

7. A true devotee..

8. Very true indeed as we forget to live our lives in dread to death. But we forget that death is what we cannot decide but living life is what you can enjoy.
I met someone like this old man in madai almost similar experience but different format. Yeah i can feel it is complete bless to have such insights by oldies who have lived life for decades and that too in style

9. Wah wah

10. true
This attitude is much needed now than ever

11. 👍👍👏👏

12. hmmmm
Baat to sahi kahi unhonay

13. Faith is a such a beautiful thing

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Beyond Money : The Currencies that Matter

Lemme admit it shamelessly and unapologetically, I am still not financially sustainable and yes I depend on various other sources of income outside of my farm for my sustainance.

One of the most common questions of idealists is “Are you able to sustain yourself from farm ?” . There is a certain disappointment and looking down on us if the answer is “No”.

Then questions continue, is it not possible to make money from farming ? Does this sustainable farm living means living in poverty ? Is it fair to earn from cities while criticizing their lifestyle and boast simple living ? Is it okay to borrow money from friends and families ?

The paradigm of Multiple Currencies :

To understand how I look at things (which many would rightly see as a justification of my stand or laziness to not earn money), we need to look at the very existence of currencies.

What is a currency ? Currency is something that has value for you and for others.

For example money (printed notes) is a currency which you value and others value. Thus money has some power and influence. It enables exchange of energies for your whims, fancies and desires.

That way there is nothing wrong with money. What screws up the system is when one currency gains undeserved priority over the rest of currencies.

What are the other currencies ? What are other things that you value and others value ? Health is one. Relationships is another. Being useful to society is yet another. Healing and not destructing planet is yet another. So on, there can be multiple currencies based on different time, space, culture and circumstances.

Unfortunately today, we only value one currency of money. Both for ourselves and for others. Who would you consider rich ? One with a billion dollar bank balance or one with a half a dozen really amazing friends ? One with a mansion in Bollywood street or one who has saved or planted thousands of trees ? Is one with Merceded Benz richer than one who is helping society in various ways ?

At first, it may appear that we are comparing apples and oranges because we are so totally convinced and sold to the idea of money. If you hold on, you might appreciate the idea.

Lemme give you more personal example to make it more clear. I am constantly asked this question about money and how much I make from farming ? I do earn money from farm but it’s not enough for all my expenses. Immediately people discard my model or life as “failure” in many senses. This is the lens of money.

If one had the lens of multiple currencies, he would see how I am contributing to society by producing quitals of organic food, how I am working with nature to nourish the ecosystem, how I’ve helped in making my own parents, family healthier , how I am able to spend so much more quality time with my wife and children, how I am slowly posing a question to the society around me about what is good life, challenging the existing norms in numerous ways ?

I may be deprived of currencies as per standards set by society, but I am amongst the richest as far as life’s currencies are concerned.

Have we all not seen and known people with opulence but deprived of smiles ? Or people in poverty also living it so joyously ?

Ofcourse I am not saying money is totally useless or unimportant. All I am saying is that we need to expand our definition and understanding of what true currencies in life are !

There was a time when I’d get crazy amount of money just for warming up my seat in an AC chamber. However, my health, my happiness, my contribution to the society and nature – all stood in question.

Today, I am happier than ever, I am healthier than ever, I am contributing at least in some way to a better world (i hope so 😉 ) , I am able to give time, love and support to my parents, my children, my family. I travel across the nation and I’ve made such lovely friends and relationships that I don’t spend a penny and yet the travel, stay, food is taken much better than what if I’d booked an expensive holiday. To me, this makes me truly rich.

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Corona Times and Farm Living

The flipside of growing understanding of life and how things work in life is the demotivation that comes with it to engage with many things. Writing is one such activity which calls for dragging myself into it.

Nevertheless, I thought I must write a short blog updating our readers about what’s up at farm. We were freed up at farm, while the world was locked down by corona ! Corona times, have been a big blessing for us to once again cherish every little joy of farm living.

As we hear our friends in cities and other places complaining how lock down is making their lives miserable, we felt hesitant to share that it’s exactly the opposite for us. Corona totally removed any reason for us to move to city and hence allowed a deeper immersion into farm life and it’s activities. Otherwise, we do move out of farm at least once every month. This time the immersion was deepest so far and each small joy took shape of huge luxuries which not even the richest were capable of affording.

We had plenty supply of amazing organic cow milk, organic vegetables, grains that we grew. We hardly needed anything from outside. The lockdown frankly meant nothing for us. If at all it meant was more joy and gratitude to life, farm and the people in our lives.

A lot of my friends who thought otherwise, called us , saying that “Dude, you are the luckiest one right now !” You took the step well before corona, what many wish to take post corona, if the sanity survives.

Even for us, a lot of things were becoming quite ordinary. Farm life was losing its glamour to some extent. Thanks to Corona, we were taught a lesson by life on how fortunate we were to be where we are. At one point last year, I went to the extent of taking up some projects outside of farm, in a city. Looking back, I can only laugh at my madness.

Deeply grateful to corona, life and every little thing at farm. Thank you!

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What I learnt with Jinan ?

I’ve known Jinan ever since I got interested in education. My first interaction with him was in Bangalore while I was working with an alternative school and he was holding a talk. I walked in with excitement and came out disappointed. Then, I found him quite a snob, someone who’s very rigid and frankly just knows how to critique without giving any solution. Perhaps, I was also influenced by peer reviews of him – which stated just what I decribed above.

Few years later, we happen to work together again on a project at Sanchi University. Again, nothing much happened. I was already biased against him. We soon departed.

It took sometime for me to realize that I am not seeing Jinan, I am seeing a picture of Jinan -which is not allowing me to meet him as a person and really hear what he is saying.

We were almost not in touch with each other for quite sometime, till I became father. Now, I was hungry for wisdom about children. I was knocking every door, reading every book, watching every Ted talk on children, pregnancy, fatherhood, education etc. Me and Jinan again started talking and he gave me couple of strange personal advices. One, don’t have gaps between two children more than 2 and less than 1 year. Two, he said – have at least 3 children. I still remember how hesitant he was while sharing this with me. But, at that moment – I heard him. I wanted to understand him. Why he’s saying, what he’s saying !

Don’t get curious about what I did with his advice. Fast forward to 2019, Jinan and I start talking on few more initiatives and the Bhopal and Farm gathering was conceptualized. I happen to spend lot of time with him during session and off session during this time. We travelled together, lived together , ate together. This was perhaps the first time, I was able to see , hear and understand Jinan without my biases and opinions.

Alright, so much for the background story – Let me finally come back to the topic of this blog – what did I learn from him ? Well , I am still chewing on a lot of it and it’ll only become clear with time. But here is something that I can share with you as of today : –

  • We’ve focussed too much on “teaching” and have given very little attention to “learning”. Hence, we have made some very fundamental mistakes in the way we raise our children.
  • To understand learning, nothing is better than really observing a child.
  • There is a stark difference in how children are brought up in traditional , tribal societies and modern societies. A lot of traditional methods were very conducive for child’s growth, most of modern settings are quite detrimental to child’s growth.
  • Child learns the world while we get him to learn the word. This create major conflict in child.
  • Play is a natural way of learning not only in human but in all species. It’s a very precious, essential activity but we’ve not understood it and have undermined it’s importance.
  • Toys are a result of this not understanding child and her play. Toys thus turn out to be quite detrimental to child’s creativity and overall well being.
  • Television, mobile and newspaper are something that we need to really worry about , especially when it comes to child’s interaction with it.
  • Seeing is the core of learning. To see, is to learn.
  • Too much words, intellectualism distorts understanding and ability to see.
  • Schools are doing a lot of damage to child’s innate ability to learn, to be creative. Alternative schools, homeschools and the rest of it are no better in deeper sense. They might be superficially better.
  • We need to reimagine learning by realigning our understanding of children – not through books, some experiments, ideas or theories but by directly observing children.
  • Least interference is the best policy while being with children, for they are complete, intelligent being. Not what we imagine them to be empty slates or dumb young ones.

Well, I will stop here and will continue sharing more learings in different blogs as and when I feel ready.

Overall, I really enjoyed a lot. It exposed my own ignorance and misunderstanding of children and education. I had assumed I knew a lot while all I knew was very superficial. Now, I need to start learning.

I feel deeply grateful for this experience and learning in life. I really thank Jinan and all my friends (Ruchi, Sandeep (both) , Tapan, Kunal, Deepa, Priyamvada, Shantanu and Rekha) who made this gathering possible.

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We don’t know what to desire – that’s all we need to learn.

You always end up getting what you desire for. This is the unsaid , hidden law of life. Look around you, look within and if you see very carefully you’d know what I am saying.

What we are today is nothing but what we desired in past. I wonder if you’ve ever sat down and wondered – boy, I’ve got exactly what I dreamt of  long back ? It’s almost , always the case.

I can so clearly pin point even the day when I imagined a life that I am living right now. I have seen the same happen to many people around me.

We create a life that we desire.  Then why are we still miserable ? The problem is , we really don’t know what to desire.

We seek happiness but end up desiring for misery, mistaking it for happiness. This is the tragedy of human life. We desire for money, fame – seeking happiness only to realize that you are still unhappy. Then we wonder where did we go wrong. Why is suicide, depression and such issues so common in people who’ve almost everything one can desire ?

Once we have a deep desire, we think about it, feel for it, work for it. All our faculties are directed towards it and there is every chance that sooner or later that desire will be fulfilled. So, non-fulfilment of our desires is not what brings us misery. It’s the fulfillment of wrong desires that brings us that.

To be mature and wise means to know what and how to desire.

People who desire for right things end up getting the right things and hence are the happiest lot. One cannot learn the art of right desire unless one is in touch with one’s inner space. More we understand and know ourselves , better we become at desiring right things and hence our overall well being in life is taken care of.

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One thing that we all Hate !

Life has been kind enough to bestow me with insights and learnings that has helped me grow as a person, carry out my relationships better. One such recent learning has been about what we all human beings hate the most. Something that we all detest deeply. Something that is sure shot way to put someone off or even break a relation forever.

Any guesses ? Well, we have become so fragile and our relationships have become so shallow that the list may actually go quite long.

  • I hate being judged.
  • I hate being disrespected.
  • I hate being underestimated.
  • I hate being considered insufficient.
  • I hate being hated.
  • I hate being treated unfairly.
  • I hate when people consider me insignificant.
  • …and the list may go on for pages.

All of these are true but their root lies somewhere else. Hence , If I may submit to you –

What we hate most is – someone wanting us to change.

No brainer, I guess. Not worth all the build up , isn’t it ?

I wonder if it really comes out as an Eureka or a nudget of wisdom for you, but it certainly did so for me.

I saw what puts me off most of the times, I recollected why I gave up so many relations/ people in past, I remembered what did I say/do that created a deep hurt in the other. All the arrows led to one place.

“I hated people who wanted me to change.”

“People hated me / got hurt whenever I tried to change them.”

Ofcourse this is not true when we are open to change – consciously, which are rare daring moments in our lives. Most of the times, we all hold ourselves so high in our own minds, we are so rigid  that anyone’s demand for change (right or wrong is immaterial) is seen as a direct attack and we either react voilently or we simply take it as a hurt inside.

Almost a decade back, I asked a Zen master (Kenichi San) – What is love ? and his response appeared so ordinary that I was not at all impressed but it makes so much sense to me today.

He said, “Love is accepting the other , as she/he is.”

Acceptance is love. Seeking change in others is at least voilent – if not hate. Seeking change in ourselves is equally voilent. This is not to say that we don’t change, improve, overcome our devils or we must bear all the shit coming from others. Action has to be practically wise and need based but the emotion behind, the deep intent has to be of acceptance. To accept ourselves as we are, to accept others as they are is fundamental of love.

To impose or expect change is voilent, to accept is to be at peace. Surprisingly, acceptance is the best catalyst for change.

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Nourishing Children and Plants !

For a long time, I’ve been wondering what can we do to make this world a better place ? I’ve given it a lot of thought, experimented with many options and tried various paths. Finally, it seems it has just dawned on me. And I was looking for a complex equation while the answer came as a nobrainer – Children and Plants. If we can nourish children and plants , they both have power to nourish rest of the world.

Unfortunately, both children and plants are facing some of the toughest times. Scenrios today, systems today  are not very conducive to their growth. Infact, most of the systems in place are quite detrimental to both of them. In both of these , lies the future, the hope.

On one side harmful schooling, incomplete education and ineffective parenting is affecting our children badly while on the other side our so called development, chemical farming, industries are badly affecting our ecosystem.

I think the way forward is to nourish both of them otherwise we are writing our own suicide note.

How do we do that ? Well, many rays of hope are already emerging in form of natural farming, sustainable industries, eco-friendly lifestyles, child friendly learning and parenting methods. We need to support them , take care of them, fuel them so that we can nourish both our children and plants who’d then be able to heal our sickening planet and our bruised people.

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Reports from the Ground

I wonder if anyone is reading these blog posts or not. We are slowly slipping into oblivion for the world. Boy ! We all are so busy moving forward, running the rat race , finding the solution to our own personal problems – that we have no time at all to stop at look at what’s happening with others. It’s true for us as well. We are no exceptions. We are also so damn busy making our own lives better in this small piece of land.

Is it enough to be happy alone ? Can one be happy alone or is being together a precondition for happiness ?

What positive action can we take while living a simple life at the farm  ? Is it not a positive action in itself ?

Farm is growing in its own speed. Things are evolving, lots of new trees are up and alive. Cows have increased. Soil appears stronger, biodiversity looks better. Human relationships remain an issue. Why is it so difficult to work together, live together ?

The Madman’s farm as of 2018 September.

Nevertheless, we still sleep with a smile on our face at the end of the day. Our health and happiness is growing, no doubt – it’s not as rosy as it appears to others. Most importantly, we do get a feel that we are definitely living a real life and this journey is so much worth. Every pain, every learning, every day is just such a blessing that we can’t be more grateful. 🙂

 

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Am I dead ? – No, I’ve gone Lazy !

I am sure when you come to farm’s website and see now new updates on timeline, no new posts, no new event announcements  – you may wonder, if we are dead already !

Well, farm is up. We are still living here. Our experiments and explorations are On , it’s just that we have become too lazy to come over the net, write an article about something. When we began years back, sharing our story was an important aspect of our lives. I would regularly take out time to update website and send updates. In fact, I almost rolled out a quarterly newsletter at one stage.  But things change, farm changed, I changed.

I slowly started seeing futility of the exercise. I was no longer moved by accolades that I would receive for the work we are doing. I was no longer depressed by strong criticism. To be here, to walk into forest, to spend time with my wife and my child, to water the plants, to spot a new bird, to escape a scorpion bite – such tiny things appear enough.

I no longer enjoyed receiving guests who would ask the same questions, throw back same compliments and then go back to their same old life. They’d talk great things about us, their own lives untouched. It makes me lose the very motivation to put efforts in spreading the word about what we are doing and justify our lifestyles. So, slowly I’ve stopped doing almost everything.

So, yes you can say – I’ve grown lazy. I’ve grown little indifferent. I’ve grown little cynical. I am just happy that I am growing.

Looking forward to seeing you at farm someday. We still await and cherish guests who can relate to true spirit of this place, of this journey. Come….