Sunday, March 30, 2008

Imagined Realities

There was something un-smelt in the air. Till then. And uninvited, a galloping group of rose petals glided in the air. After their trailblazing effect, a blinding white glaze struck me. Now there was something human about this. Pious-looking men – not very tall, but with feet above the ground – walk towards me. I tremble with the stranger fear; my brain upgrades me to a chosen status. I feel a smug current within me – electrical impulses zigzagging my brain.

After this electrifying experience, I started freezing as these men neared me. I thought I’m in for a helluva crack-up. And soon, they just went past me. Hah! I wondered they were supposed to come to me and do something to me; I was daringly disappointed. But after few minutes, it struck me. Yes, they did do something to me. They raced up my heartbeat, warmed up my body and gagged me. Making all this happen, they just passed beside me. Neither did they appear to know me nor did I even thank them silently. On many occasions, we imagine that we are at the centre whereas we are most usually not. This kind of assumed importance about ourselves hits us hard when it’s proven to be wrong. Before such awkward assumptions backfire, better put off such guns.

Back to those uncanny gowned men who got me thinking. Called Sufis, they are best termed Muslim-like by their fellow Islamic followers. Because, Sufis indulge in un-Koranic things like idolatry, singing at graves, dance etc. But the cold claim against them is that they believe that they can discover God within our hearts (rather in our brains); albeit through mind-boggling whirling dances and heart-stopping music. Trance is what they enter into – a state where you dance yourself into higher levels of bliss. Trance is often misread these days as the outcome of a little neural knock-off on hashish or a sting of excess Vodka. Far from such artificial neural imbalances, a Sufi trance is a way to withdraw your brain for some time – to reorient it into a new mould where you assign it its primary function: guard your wellbeing. Instruct it – though groovy music and classy dances – that “either we must love one another or die.”

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