Friday, September 02, 2011

Dealing with the Ganeshotsav noise

i wanted to earlier title this post as "Dealing with the Ganeshotsav menace" but wiser counsel prevailed.

When Ganesh Chaturthi approaches, i am filled with irritation - due to the impending noise pollution i have to put up with. Several buildings nowadays in Mumbai have their own Ganeshotsav to flaunt. i say flaunt because keeping a Ganapati idol and worshiping it doesn't seem to be the main purpose of inviting the Lord. The event is mainly a social one and to flaunt one's wealth ("my idol bigger than yours"). Even this is okay with me - after all i am not affected. What i cannot stand is the NOISE. Blaring louspeakers playing stupid songs full of apasvara. (though i must confess when Lataji's bhajans are on, my irritation coefficient is low). Irritation build further when a call to a resident of one of the offending (and offensive) buildings met with a "C'mon - it's just 10 days in a year". can't these people understand that there may be infants, old people, sick people around. Or simply  people who want to be just left in peace?

Lord Ganapati is a symbol of omkara. Contemplation on this can happen only in silence. But obviously, circumstances are not in our control. The police will not help. And like demonstrated above, the neighbors don't care a dam for your peace of mind. So what does one do? I wish i were away in an ashram in the himalayas, i think. And at this juncture, great advice comes in. From: "Zen: Meeting of East and West" by Philip Kapleau:
"In my experience, there was little solitude or "peace and quiet" at monasteries and meditation centers where the training was rigorous. Only in romantic novels about the East, or in their movie counterparts, are monasteries set i lush valleys aglow with heavenly peace, the white-bearded sage with flowing robes, his staff in hand, gently saying "My sons..." to the sweet-faced disciples gathered round him while gems of wisdom tumble from his lips and a magnificent sun sinks into the horizon behind him. The reality, believe me, is far less romantic."
 (p. 44. emphasis mine)

And then Roshi Kapleau goes on to give his experience in Burma and Japan. In the former case, meditation students had to share their huts with packs of dogs who kept fighting. These dogs found their way to monasteries to escape death from the government who had declared a no-canine policy. In the Japan case (dogs again), dogs used to be left abandoned in the monasteries by villagers. Invariably during meditation time, the place...
"...erupted into a cacophony of yelps, yaps, howls, growls, barks, snarls, whines, meows and hisses [...]. With a strengthening of concentration, after two or three months of zazen, this jam session, surprinsingly, often acted as a spur instead of a hindrance, for the strong effort to transcend the disturbance unlocked energies not usually available. When one succeeded in focusing on one's practice, the clamor, through some mysterious alchemy, became a harmonious chord."
 (p 45. emphasis mine)
So basically, if i want peace i have to find it right here, right now. Can't wait for ideal conditions. In my case, what compounded the issue was the irritation caused in thinking "why can't these people be sensitive to others" or "what is the mentality of the public".  This is of course my problem - a problem of expectation. Here's another great excerpt on this account:
"Would you get upset at a small tree in the forest for not being tall and straight like some of the others? This is silly. Don't judge other people. There are all varieties. No need to carry the burden of wishing to change them all."
Ven.Ajahn Chah quoted in Living Dharma, Teachings of Twelve Buddhist Masters (p.48) by Jack Kornfield

This Ganesa Chaturthi, i promise Lord Ganapati that i will try and implement the above pieces of advice.

2 comments:

Sandeep said...

Insightful and thought provoking, as always! I miss our Juhu walks...

SIVAKUMARY RAMANATHUPILLAI said...

Wise conclusion recommends that one cannot change surroundings but, of course, one’s own approach of acceptance. God Bless You.

astuteabode.blogspot.com