I got asked why I have a screensaver of Hanuman sitting in meditation, on my phone. I laughed it off. I was definitely flustered by the question at that point. I’ve now had some time to think about it
Because I wasnt prepared for the question. The picture moved me. That was all I could say truthfully. After that, whatever I said, would be a rationalisation. The question was not asked out of malice. It was genuine curiosity. What business does a doctor educated in modern medicine with a Christian name, have with Hanuman?
We see millions of images on the net. But only the ones that move us, take a special place in our environment. Earlier, those pictures or idols used to occupy the center of our residences or workplaces. It is only fitting that they now occupy our mobile phones as screensavers. To people like me, the phone is my lifeline to the external world. Having a filter between me and the external, helps remind me of what is important.
Having a constant reminder of what he stands for, helps me stay on the straight and narrow. Maybe that’s why. Why Hanuman, why not some other deity? I don’t know. Maybe it was because I’d been swinging clubs and maces religiously for several years by then. Note the use of the word “religiously” in the preceding sentence. I don’t think it means what you think it means. Or, does it?
I love the images that have been produced by the culture of the land that nurtured me. Amar Chitra Katha was more appealing to me, than the Bible. Judge me, how you will. The Ramayana and Mahabharata seemed to be more relatable than the stories in the Bible. Don’t ask me for reasons. I don’t know myself.
There’s something weird about the way the music that comes from this land moves me more than what comes from the west. My playlist is filled with songs sung in English. But the ones that fill my eyes are Tamil, Hindi, Punjabi, Telugu, Kannada, Sanskrit or Malayalam. I might not even understand the words, so it’s not the meaning of the words that are moving me. It is something else. Maybe it’s the sound. Maybe I haven’t heard moving music that comes from the west. Maybe.
Why is that? At a point in my life, I could barely speak Malayalam. All I could speak was English. I thought in English. I still do. But, what moves me, is the language and the sound of this land. That’s weird. I’m not complaining. I just can’t explain it. That’s all.
On the other hand, when it comes to words, I’m moved by books written in English. My lackluster skill with Indian languages do not give me the ability to get into flow and be moved when I read through.
What moves me is deeply personal and I struggle to explain it. I guess it is the same with everyone. We all have art, music, experiences and landscapes that move us.
What is important is that we be moved. That we’re not stuck. That we’re able to experience more about this world than what meets the eye.
And, to be moved by the world, or by art and music, we need to accept that there is more than what meets the eye.
Being moved, in a plane other than the physical, isn’t essential to life. But it does add richness to life. The lack of that depth, colour and light is what seems to be causing the rising nihilism, depression, and rage we see these days.
What moves you?
Not a rhetorical question.
Maybe there’s a scientific/psychologic reason for being transformed by an image. Maybe there is a reason. Maybe this is what is meant by internalising the sage. The sage is to the adult, what the adult is to the child.
It is easy to grow, as a child, the mind is open and trusting. And they have a lot to look up to and aspire to. They never stop trying. They’re single minded in their determination to explore and see further, to know more. As we become adults, we lose quite a bit of that. We’re less gullible , true, but we also become less able to experience, curiosity, awe and wonder. Because we have lost the open mind of the child. The stuff we already know, starts to limit us. There is less willingness to explore. We get stuck. To continue to grow as an adult, one needs the open mind of a child, but the skepticism of an adult. The skepticism that arose from the learning of several hard lessons.
To continue to grow as an adult, one needs the sage. The sage, needs to be internalised. There needs to be a constant dialog between the sage and the adult who wishes to grow and know. Just like children who wish to learn, pester their favourite adults with never ending questions.
The images we carry around in our phones and in our hearts are an attempt to internalise the sage. The longer you are in dialog and interaction with this internal sage, the stronger the sage becomes and the stronger you become. The image of a deity as a means to effect change in self and to achieve a positive transformation, is a proven psychotechology. If the results are positive, why should I pass it up? If you have the urge to grow and develop as an individual, if you want to rise above the mundane existence of a 9 to 5, shouldn’t you be trying every means available?