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September 10th, 2005

10 th September 2005


I have been watching the way in which dividers are being laid down across major roads in South Mumbai . I personally find them hazardous. But what is interesting when I watch dividers coming about is the thought about tendencies of action and reaction. Some days ago, news spread about ban of plastic in the city. Nowadays, we read about the after-effects of the ban – workers’ livelihoods threatened with the closure of the plastic bag industry; milk prices may increase because milk will now have to be packaged differently, etc. There will be more problems that will come up. I am not saying that a ban on plastic was not required, but let’s just examine the way in which this ban was brought about. It was an almost emergency situation which required the bringing about of this ban. What kind of action is this then? Similarly, is laying down of dividers on the road a matter of ‘pro-action’ or simply ‘reaction’?


While at the Vipassana course, Goenkaji used to talk about the philopshy behind Vipassana. We react to pleasant and unpleasant sensations. We crave for pleasant sensations and want to avoid unpleasant sensations. We are constantly reacting to our sensations. When I bring this philosophy to the everyday situation, what immediately comes to my mind is the practice of ‘activism’. ‘Activism’ can also be laced with a lot of reaction – we react to injustice in society, to problems around us. But is reaction the answer? Peter Senge, in his book ‘The Fifth Discipline’ talks about the notion of ‘pro-action’ saying that we believe we are being proactive, but in reality, we are only reacting. Reaction involves us and our emotions. We are unable to see the situation clearly because everything is painted with the colours of our emotions. Vipassana teaches us to observe our arising and passing sensations and to watch our reactions. As we watch, we become external observers. And that helps us to remove ourselves from the situation. In ‘activism’, we also tend to bring our personal baggage in our fights against injustice, poverty, inequality, etc. This baggage is our past, our personal relationships, our own difficulties, etc. Separating our reactions from actions is very tough, I believe. But when we do, then that action is action taken for the sake of taking action and not of reaction.


Thus, laying down dividers or banning plastic bags are tendencies of reaction. Are there other ways in which we can deal with these situations?


P.S. Check out www.ishmael.org for essays on legitimizing drugs in countries …


  1. September 10th, 2005 at 03:36 | #1

    yes pretentiousness can be a plague at times. now that you say it, i realize that I am most comfortable in spaces where i don’t need to be pretentious.

  2. September 12th, 2005 at 01:07 | #2

    I’m enjoying reading your blog. You ask some interesting questions about spaces and our place in space.

  3. September 13th, 2005 at 01:58 | #3

    hmmm…… i smoke some weed when i like 2 get an external view o  my actions, but thats just me.