VUNERABILITY- how we got it all wrong, by Nirav

When I recently came across a quote by B. Brown, where she says that “vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you, and the last thing I want you to see in me,” I stopped for a moment and inquired, especially into what it means for me as a man. Because that is not how it is for me anymore.

If vulnerability is certainly the first thing I look for in you, it is also the first thing I want you to see in me. Why? And how did I get here?

As for most people growing up in this society, I learned very early how to be tough, harsh, critical, independent, even threatening. As a boy, I learned that to be a so-called real man I had to take on this tough guy image and show the world only certain parts of myself that the culture I live in has defined as manly. I also learned that protecting myself was necessary in order to survive.

In the emotionally unstable family where I grew up, I very soon worked out an impressive collection of strategies to protect myself, close my heart, space out, dissociate, and be on guard at all times.

My dad never cried, never talked about his feelings, never showed any pain or emotion. He was and still is as impenetrable as one can be. My Mum, on the other hand, was an emotional bomb, exploding regularly, especially when you least expected it, and usually right in your face.

However, and in the midst of it all, when I was still very young I had a sense that protecting myself in that way meant that life could not really be lived fully. Of course, I didn’t understand it intellectually then, but I feel that I always knew deep inside that being open and real was the only way to be a full human Being.

I have been a spiritual seeker for as long as I remember, at least since that day, as a 4-year old, when, crawling on the bright green sofa, I suddenly stopped and stared at the adults… looking at the dramas going on. I knew that this was a show adults were lost in, and that reality was something else.

Vulnerability is my most innocent and authentic state. It is being open and able to receive life in all its dimensions.

Vulnerability feels like an immense asset, my greatest gift, and as a man the source of my intrinsic strength.

Our current values and ideals in society portray softness as undesirable and dangerous to our well-being. In reality, the opposite is true: our vulnerability empowers us to love deeper and grow stronger.

I spent many years opening and closing, moving between trust and fear, experimenting with being vulnerable and being protected. I had lived my life with the belief that exposing myself without any mask would somehow get me hurt and isolated.

Embracing vulnerability totally, one hundred percent, did require an in-depth experience that permanently terminated my embedded concepts that being vulnerable is dangerous. I had to experience in my very marrow that I had it all wrong and that the exact opposite of what I feared the most would be what actually happened if I exposed myself, naked.

This experience can only happen through grace. For me, it happened in an intensive meditation process. There, by pure miracle, I experienced that the more I opened the more I touched people, even strangers. The more I exposed myself without any mask, the more people opened their hearts. The more I revealed my shadows, the more love was showered on me. The more I was vulnerable, the more I was alive. This was one of the most life-changing and extraordinary inner phenomena I have ever encountered. I had it all wrong, for so long.

From that moment onward, what I always intuitively knew became natural again; since then vulnerability is my way of life and my greatest resource. And as a man, I would say that vulnerability is real strength, one that bends without breaking and that touches people where they most need to be touched. It is my most reliable friend, one that is always available and more intimate than my own breath.

Vulnerability creates connections. It is the source of all connectedness and without it, Oneness can never be experienced.

Meditation

For almost 30 years MEDITATION has certainly been the one word running continuously through my daily life. Combined I must have spent a few years “in meditation”. Satori groups, meditation retreats, 10 days Vipassana courses, 5 and 7 weeks retreats in complete silence and isolation, and the daily routine of at least 3 hours of different meditation techniques. Meeting Osho I discovered active meditations. His famous “dynamic meditation” became my favourite one, and for years I woke up at 5.30 every morning to be in the hall ready to breathe, jump, cathart, dance and fall into the centre of the cyclone in utter silence. Dynamic meditation was a simple formula for a great day ahead.

After 20 years in Pune following that incredible and juicy regimen I one morning found myself in Mumbai at the feet of Ramesh Balsekar. He told me something I had never heard before and that would change my life forever. There was according to Him no need to meditate, but if you felt to, just taking a few minutes in the evening looking back at your day and investigating one event that you obviously did was enough. “Dissect that event and find out if you REALLY did it”. That was a puzzling proposition, but that investigation again and again, every single time showed the same result: I was not the doer of any action, not even that one. Actions happen through this body mind organism. There is no doer whatsoever.

For years afterwards that specific investigation did run inside like an undercurrent until one day I realized that the understanding had settled without any doubt and that the inquiry had dropped by itself.

Today I would simply say that Meditation is remembrance. Remembering who I am. Osho’s last word is SAMASATI. So is Buddha’s. “Remember who you are”.

Meditation techniques are a way to bring that remembrance to the light. Meeting Osho has been the greatest blessing in my life and meditating in His garden under his guidance was fun, juicy and the gap between the outer and the inner was bridged every single time.

I still enjoy sitting in silence with closed eyes. I still enjoy active meditations. In the same way I enjoy cooking, painting, walking, making love, having a talk with a friend. Whenever I remember who I am I am in meditation.

Most of the time I am in my centre, connected, present and enjoying the play of life. Sometimes I am identified with this body mind organism and believe I am the doer of those actions and thoughts and emotions. Now I know the way, I know the space, I know the knack. I could say that I know who I am…and yet I do go astray once in a while, and I am okay with it. The idea that staying in my centre is a greater thing, deeper and more holy is also falling apart. In fact all the ideas of who I am and who I should be are all falling apart. Something is happening which is beyond all my ideas, beyond any doing, beyond any description, and that something looks more and more like nothing.

I have been a spiritual seeker since as long as I remember. Finding out who I am was the single most important drive inside. Meditation was the motor, the main tool.

Today as the seeker is dying and the seeking is giving way to something beyond doing, meditation is also changing. I don’t quite understand what is happening and I am okay with it. Trying to understand is not important. Accepting the new unfolding is clearly all I need to let go into.

This new happening isn’t always comfortable. I often feel pregnant with something I don’t comprehend, something I can’t push nor do anything about, something that by nature I absolutely cannot name.

I am washing some dishes in the communal kitchen this morning and my friend asks me if I could write something on meditation, and I go “yes, of course”. I know that words will come in spite of me and that whatever comes will be perfect. There is complete trust. And here I am and words are flowing. Meditation is presence, meditation is spontaneity, meditation is life running through this organism called “Nirav”, through this laptop and through the birds singing in the garden. Meditation is love, meditation is freedom, meditation is easy…as easy as the wind moving through the autumn leaves.

Meditation is no mind, meditation is openness, meditation is all there is.

Meditation is remembrance.

Samasati.

 

 

When I lost my balance

Nirav shares a recent event in his life where he had to overcome an unexpected challenge and find his way back to the present. A help was this quote, “Be the person who breaks the cycle. Vow to be better than what broke you – to heal instead of becoming bitter, so you can act from your heart, not your pain.”

full article on :

When I lost my balance

Tribute to Meera, part 1

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Few people have influenced the course of my life the way Meera did. 

As I look up and around right now, I see my walls full of amazing paintings, filled with leaves and trees and mysteries; filled with the taste of the unknowable. So much beauty and love and movement and silence in every stroke, so much depth, so much of the divine shining through. How I became the painter that I am today is a story that started in 2000 in Osho’s commune in Pune, India.

I was a bodyworker then. I was working in the Commune giving individual sessions, and I had spent basically every day of the last decade in bodywork and therapy trainings. Meera was a unique character in the commune, she was obviously full of Osho and she was around every winter leading her creativity workshops and trainings. I had often stopped by to watch her incredible demos in the Multiversity Plaza, and I had been to many of her exhibitions which she organized every year at the end of the season.  But really painting was never my thing and to be honest I had never held a paint brush!

One day in November 2000, Meera was about to start her yearly two and half months painting training in Pune, and one of her participant had requested a French translator. I was finding myself in a gap then; I was going through a heartbreak and was getting tired of giving so many sessions. I was still very involved in the commune but sensed a wind of change. I approached Meera and we had a little chat. She explained that she never takes someone on the staff who hasn’t first participated in at least one of her groups, and that maybe I could do that. I replied that I had never painted and was not that interested, and clearly if I seemed to have unlimited money for heavy therapy and inquiry groups, I was not ready to spend a cent on something like a creativity workshop.

I remember that moment when she paused and looked so deeply into my eyes that time simply stopped. It seemed that she was seeing something I had no clue about, something like a hidden diamond I could not even dream of considering. I had often experienced this feeling of being seen so deeply and so totally, but right now it was something different. Meera was looking at something beyond my depths, something beyond everything I think I am, contemplating a potential I had no mean to comprehend.

Meera took my hand and broke the silence:  “Wao… yes, come and join, this participant will only do the first part, it lasts two weeks, and it is Primal Painting! You will like it. Come. I will make an exception.”

We never talked again about this very first meeting. So much had transpired, so much had been said, and yet…all what remained was a mystery that left me deeply shaken.

 

( part 2 …)

Creativity

Creativity has nothing to do with you. Creativity is the very heartbeat of the universe; it is that which is prior to all your ideas of what is right and what is wrong, what is beautiful and what is ugly. Creativity is what was bubbling before you came in, what remains when you are not, and what will be here long after you are gone. Creativity it the stuff that fuels every breath you take, every feeling and thought going through you, everything that happens within and without. Creativity is the beyond in action, every moment and forever. The starry night in a movement beyond the speed of light, or that magic in your heart, it is what keeps you not just alive but thriving. What this universe is about we have not the fraction of a clue. Creativity is the unknowable manifesting itself.

Teaching creativity is a contradiction in terms, and the concept of getting somewhere on the path of creativity is a fallacy. There is no path and nowhere to go. Some advertise “meditative art” but art is always meditative, because art only happens when you have disappeared. Anything else isn’t art. It is vomiting, and the modern art galleries all over the world are full of just that.

What I want to convey and share through painting is my experience of the divine, what I want you to maybe get a glimpse of is the space beyond who you think you are, what I can maybe point to is the magic of existence throbbing through your every breath

A taste of the beyond, the slightest disengaging with the illusion of being someone at all, and creativity shines in a million rainbows.

Forms and shapes appear and reveal the ever-present mystery of life and death. Explosions of lights and colours are bound to destroy your false identifications and bring forth the ecstatic nature of who you really are.

Tribute to Meera, part 8

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Meera always told me that having zero background as a painter and having never been to art school was a gift in disguise. She said that so many people coming to her were so loaded with ideas and concepts, had too much baggage, and that she spent so much time trying to free them from their knowledge. In that sense I was free already.

Today when I look at my paintings I recognize that, and I am in awe every single time. Meera taught us very little techniques, almost nothing really. And yet I see beauty all around right now, I see mystery and depth, I see the wild cyclone in movement and I feel the centre of it. I see both my aching and my silent heart, the joy and the pain, this whispering longing taking me to the unknown…

As years are passing and I am slowly collecting knowledge, I can see how right she was. Looking at paintings I did in her trainings when I knew nothing, I often stop in amazement at a certain freedom I had then. Many times I realise that today I would not be able to paint with that magenta next to that bright pink, or to suddenly enter a heavy stroke of black ink in the middle of a beautiful light flowery painting. Staying in touch and alive with that innocence and that freedom is a constant challenge. That freedom has a beauty of its own and the taste of the divine.

 Painting with Meera in Osho’s garden, listening to Him and meditating every day, was a happening hard to describe. Osho’s presence is tangible in every word Meera utters, in every move she does, in every painting she creates.  Osho’s vision is the connection between Meera and me.

( Part 9 coming soon )

Tribute to Meera, part 7

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After the first season helping in Meera’s caravan I finally got in touch with the creative fire within and I just wanted to paint. Meera had been right and now she wanted me to keep going wild into unchartered places. When I told her that I now just wanted to paint, had no juice for helping, and would rather explore on my own outside the training, she offered me to come in the group and do as I wanted. I could even have a corner in the room, and as long as I was around she was happy.

And so, I spent the last few winters in the painting training, doing as I please, knowing no limit and no boundary. I was officially part of the staff, but I refused to work and help, and would immediately leave if pushed. Meera wanted me in there and so kept widening the exceptional status I had. I was certainly the source of much admiration, but also envy and jealousy. Clearly I isolated myself and became a freak. During the days off there was so much work for the staff, so much to prepare, but as my friends were busy from morning to night gluing paper, mixing colours, cleaning and deep cleaning, I would just sit there on the roof under the trees and paint all day long, forgetting to eat, only having two or three breaks a day to meditate in the Buddha Hall.

We were painting on Krishna roof those days, an amazing open space in the heart of the commune, under magnificent ancient trees with amazing greeneries all around. During the evening meditation, when everything stops and everyone gathers together to meditate with Osho, I again had a special permission to stay on the roof and paint if I wanted; and sometimes I would miss the evening meditation and paint till midnight, alone in that huge space, with all the lights on and music playing.

Those are the days when my creativity took off. I was intense and prolific.

Meera could see that I was flowering and she kept supporting me. She was obviously aware that this situation was not right, that my entitlement was an issue, and my dramas out of place. Over the years she asked her closest friends many times “Should I kick out Nirav?” No matter the feedback she always chose love over fear. She always chose Yes over No. She always focussed on the light and the expression of creativity. Against what made sense and what was right from a therapeutic standpoint she always kept my potential in sight and did whatever was needed to support it.

 

( part 8 …)

Tribute to Meera, part 6

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My journey with Meera had just started. A glimpse at me had in a way been enough for her to see my unexplored potential, and very soon she was reconfirmed in her intuition. She gave me everything, let me do all I wanted, didn’t set limits and kept showering me with her love. She took me in the staff for five years continuously, and invited me to her trainings abroad.

The problem was that not only I didn’t believe in my potential as an artist, but receiving so much unconditional love was not possible for me. The more she gave the more I pushed her away. Those five years were intense, extraordinary in many ways, and also extremely painful. I frequently exploded into intense emotional dramas, freaked out in the middle of the groups, challenged her and pushed her to her edge. As her book “ReAwakening of Art” was about to be published, I forced her to remove my name from it. Obviously my name would have appeared in a beautiful way, and this is one of the most painful things I ever did. My name was removed and the book was published.

Today a dedicated copy is by my bedside table, and whenever I try and read Meera’s words to me on the cover, my eyes instantly fill with tears.

Maybe this Tribute is also an effort to complete something between us and ease the pain in my heart.

( part 7 …)

Tribute to Meera, part 5

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It is now 9.35 sometimes in December 2000, it is a beautiful misty morning in Koregaon Park, and Meera’s painting training is about to start. This part will last six weeks and has to be booked as one course. Over sixty participants will soon be picked up in the Multiversity Plaza and brought to the group room. In the last three days, Meera’s experienced staff had been busy setting up the space, mixing hundreds of litres of acrylic colours, gluing papers together to create huge pieces of canvas, sorting out brushes and watercolours, and organising so many many details. I had just been part of the crew for two weeks and I knew what a major happening it was.

I had decided not to join and obviously Meera could not force me, but something in my heart felt heavy as I wandered around the commune. I watched all those people arriving, excited and ready to embark on a journey that would change many lives.

Meera arrived in her black robe, smiling. The plaza was packed. “Where is Nirav?” she asked one of her assistants.

Here I was, sitting on a table at the back, partly in shock, partly sad, but also deep down knowing that something was soon going to happen and change the course of my life. There was a sense of urgency, a bubbly intensity, and magic was in the air. We were in the heart of Osho’s garden, between His Samadhi and the Buddha Hall where He spoke for many years, and there was never a doubt as who was actually running the show.

The group was starting in less than five minutes and there was no more time for discussion. Meera walked over to me “Nirav, did you find the money and are you coming?” “No, I am not coming, sorry!” I replied. “Oh, Nirav, this is not possible. Come! You join the staff now, I will find a way.”

She gave me a hug, took my hand and pulled me with her to the centre of the plaza. She gave me a list and a pen which I ticked as she called the names of the participants.

I was silent as we all walked together to the group room. I was hardly realising what had just happened, and how I suddenly found myself here; but obviously a match had just been thrown into my inner chambers and fire would soon engulf all my ideas and concepts of who I stubbornly believe I am. Most importantly my creativity was going to explode into thousands of rainbows and transform the very way I experience life.

 ( part 6 …)

 

Tribute to Meera, part 4

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I had not understood how Meera could have seen my potential as an artist during our short meeting the week before. How she could now see my untapped possibilities on this paper is something that will probably remain unexplained till my death. The fact is that this was not a painting but a dark mess; it was ugly and it made no sense whatsoever; it was an energetic expression of those dark and primal forces inside; black and white paints were basically just thrown, most strokes were done with my hands and feet rather than with brushes, there was no mind, no urge to create, no desire for beauty, no one to please, no goal and no ego.

The Primal Painting group went ahead, and Meera encouraged me to keep going, to keep playing and exploring, to be myself and be wild.

This first part was soon ending and the Swiss friend I was translating for was not staying for the rest of the training. Meera’s training was in two uneven parts that season, the first one lasting two weeks, and the second lasting six weeks. Part 2 would among other things include water colours, nature painting, self-portrait…

Meera explained that I wouldn’t be able to translate anymore and that she would not take me as a helper for the next major section of the training; the staff was already full and since I had never participated in at least a shorter group of hers, joining the staff was simply impossible. She wanted me to join as a participant. I understood her point, and yet I was clearly not ready to pay for a creativity group. I honestly could not see the point. Yes I was enjoying the process and had fun exploring and painting, but No I didn’t feel that painting was my thing and this idea that I was a born painter was completely removed from anything I could feel or understand.

I told her that I would leave after the Primal Painting part. She told me that No, I could not leave. I told her that I was not a painter and that I was not that interested. She told me that I was a painter and had to keep painting.

The Primal Painting part ended, my Swiss friend left, and there was now a three days break before Meera’s creativity caravan would keep rolling for the next month and half. I was ready to call it a day and an interesting experience and I was completely unwilling to join as a participant. Meera could not take me in her staff for numerous very good reasons and was absolutely not ready to let me go. In the heart of Osho’s garden in Pune, those three days had the flavour of an arm wrestling match.

( part 5 …)