Wednesday 19 July 2023

Dropping out – a quest for liberation

A few weeks ago, I quit an organization I love. I let go of the colleagueship of professionals who had exposed me to the poetic side of life. Although a voluntary act on my part, the sadness of deciding to move away from the horizon that brought smiles lingers. While the overarching sensing is liberation, the heaviness in the heart remains.

Intellectually, for a long time, I have resonated with the thought – ‘one must remain inside to bring about the desired change’. However, in this instance, I was unable to be at peace by continuing to remain inside. The inability to influence and the difficulty to be a bystander meant a high level of energy spent on coping with difficult emotions. Locking up my time to be a mere observer of decay and/ or wasting my energy was also costing me other pursuits. Therefore, a sense of liberation in quitting.

I must share, that liberation comes with costs – in my case, the costs are sadness and heaviness  -- (a) Moving away from a place that brought several moments of merriment & growth that brought sadness, and (b) letting go of the opportunities to pay back & pay forward created heaviness. I’m no stranger to these feelings, having made multiple career moves or having parted ways with clients & partners on earlier occasions.

I have noticed a perplexing phenomenon across a range of organizations; be it the Associations managing housing societies, elected members of an elite Club, NGOs serving a social cause, or professional bodies -- good-hearted volunteers who fight intending to rid the organization of ‘the power lovers at the helm’  themselves become politicians who cling to power with vengeance.

There’s a strong rationale and reasoning offered by the ones who have fought their way to power. In "Zen: The Path of Paradox", Osho says, “We have built a world around thinking and it has failed, failed utterly. In the world of logic and reason, the politician becomes very important …Reason is ambitious, it wants to capture power. Why does it want to capture power? Why does it want to possess power? Because deep down it feels impotent. At the bottom, a great inferiority complex exists…”. He argues, that the world of feelings is different. “Poetry is a feeling… it means looking at life with wonder, looking at life as a mystery and celebrating… it is approaching existence with love. …Poetry is so powerful in itself that it needs no other power as a substitute. It suffers from no inferiority complex.”

Osho finds a ‘man of feeling’ to be non-ambitious who loves tremendously but neither hoards nor competes. “Because he is non-ambitions and non-competitive, he befriends existence”. He reminds us that when two persons fight they become alike. One becomes more like their enemies than their friends because to fight they end up choosing the same strategy & techniques. Therefore, he advocates, “Choose your friends foolishly but never choose enemies unwisely” and, “Friends don’t transform you, but enmity goes deep. Love seems to be momentary while hate is permanent. …Enmity continues for years, for generations, sometimes for centuries.”  He further argues that the real fight cannot be a fight; one has to drop out and courageous people must drop out. For,  the real revolutionary is not fighting anybody, he sees the absurdity of things and drops out.

I couldn’t but resonate with Osho’s wisdom on this count. My disheartening experience in this organization included seeing many a fighter-revolutionary turning themselves into politicians obsessed with power, perpetuating the very things they had set out to reform. Hence notwithstanding the difficult emotions, the decision to quit felt liberating. As if, an elephant decided to break free from the rope it was tied to as a calf. Hopefully, he is free and set on a new path, albeit with a heavy heart that slows the pace for the moment. Hopefully, I will soon find a pep in my step to dance, perhaps with an elephantine clumsiness.

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