Being active, not reactive. The power of silence

How many years does one spend being reactive to the constant noise of external stimuli and mistaking that for hard work and activity. And then looking back and wondering why what was achieved was either not enough or not satisfying enough ? The mind becomes a whirlwind of thoughts, ideas, doubts and contrary messages. The ego becomes an instrument of the search for affirmation in other people’s eyes. Not even a clear idea of what other people think of you, but just what your mind imagines they think of you ! We mistakenly start to think that we are responsive and responsible to the world – but actually we are just responsive to the whirlwind of what sometimes becomes our greatest enemy. Our own mind. So how do you discover ACTIVITY rather than Reactivity ?
Silence. …..


To take myself away from the the noise and be in solitude. Where if not in meditation, then at least in thoughtful awareness. And if not that, then atleast in a conversation with oneself, allowing the mind to throw out all it’s own arguments, it’s own quarrels with itself and settle. And then out of the silence ….
Passion. To discover the true sense of who I am. Then let that evolve. For who I am will define what I do. And vice versa. And then allow that passion to bubble every moment and drive you. You do not have to create passion, just discover it and express it. Be fearless with it and you will find that world will be fearless with you. Passion has that effect not only on other people, but also on the Universe.
Discover your emotional self. Do not deny that fundamentally we are emotional and mythic beings. That we are defined not by our compartmentalized, structured, separate and pigeon-holed identities like father, mother, son, daughter, friend, worker, boss, but by an emotional and mythic beingness that encompasses everything. Otherwise we go through life creating a myriad short term and long term identities in relationships and situations to other people/stimuli. Even on a bus, for example, we are creating identities with (say) the bus conductor, the passenger sitting next to you, and so on. And finally…
To allow yourself the luxury of the moment so completely that you are both completely focussed and completely free at the same time. There has much been said about the ‘power of now’ in the modern interpretation, but essentially it is a way to focus so clearly on the moment that you become free of being a creature imprisoned by a finite mind.

32 Responses to “Being active, not reactive. The power of silence”

  1. Saurabh Garg says:

    Wow.
    Shekhar, this is probably one of the best pieces of advice I have ever read.
    If I could add a bit, one should follow and practice individuality. More often than not our thoughts and actions are outcome of what people around us are doing. We tend to be reactive as you mention. Moment you detach yourself from external stimuli of envy, greed, jealousy, we can become active.
    And thanks for sharing.
    Regards,
    SG

  2. DQ says:

    Congratulations Shekhar
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    You’ve said it!!
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    Be fearless with it and you will find that world will be fearless with you. Passion has that effect not only on other people, but also on the Universe.
    Discover your emotional self. Do not deny that fundamentally we are emotional and mythic beings. That we are defined not by our compartmentalized, structured, separate and pigeon-holed identities like father, mother, son, daughter, friend, worker, boss, but by an emotional and mythic beingness that encompasses everything
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    Accept thy unique individual self and let not the conditioned factors deform you or perform!!.
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    Truly You!
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    Hugsss ayaaaaaaaaa ye loo
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    Psst Brush nahi kiya huh!!
    Wink!!
    Lall dunth manjan khatam eeewww!

  3. rohit mehrotra says:

    Shekhar
    You are coming up with these gem of a thoughts and whats scary is the timing…! Thanks for these words..like them and needed them at this point a LOT
    Thanks a lot

  4. Himanshu says:

    Dear Shekhar,
    Thanks for the post and your words of encouragement. We all need to live life by being active as then only we can reach our true potential. We only find this deep self when we are in silence and listen to that inner voice and start acting on it. Some quotes on Encouragement and being Active can describe better what I am trying to say:
    “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”– Mark Twain
    “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” Jim Rohn
    People who exercise their embryonic freedom day after day, little by little, expand that freedom. People who do not will find that it withers until they are literally ”being lived.” They are acting out scripts written by parents, associates and society.
    Stephen Covey (1932 – )
    The truth is:
    If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you have to fear?
    The answer is: NOTHING!
    ~ Susan Jeffers
    Fearlessness leads to immortality.
    Atharva Veda quotes
    Fearlessness is the gateway to success. One should therefore shun all kinds of fear.
    Rig Veda quotes
    I have tried to understand all these quotes in my own way and practice them. Since all our minds are unique we need to use fearlessness and courage in our own unique way to pave the paths to fulfilling our destiny. We find our ways by doing things and also find ourselves in the process.
    Best Regards,
    Himanshu

  5. koizen says:

    One thing missing is
    “Goal”
    silence, passion are means be proactive and not reactive…some of the means for sure!
    Good thoughts again Shekharji! and have a great day!
    my warm wishes and regards to all 🙂

  6. :) says:

    Hmmmm………so did you find what you were looking for…..? did the contemplation settle your mind…..? got a clearer idea of what other people REALLY think of you rather than what your mind imagines they think of you ? was passion the outcome of your journey in silence ?
    solitude is needed when you want to think things over ……….or for enhanced creativity……
    yet , to get a better idea of what other people really think of you rather than what your mind imagines they think of you…..? for clarity in that area…….i would rather BE with those people and check out the expression in their eyes ( eyes rarely lie ! ) and spend quality time with those people to figure out what they think of me…….not wander about on my own and speculate about things that involve another , besides me !
    as for the core of our emotional selves…..shekhar…….it remains the same, whether i interact with a bus conductor or my friend or even on my solitary jaunts…….with me ! …….what i am is how i will be…….:)

  7. ruchi says:

    i feel compassion not passion has that empact on self, others and universe. compassion and silence are the greatest virtues one can have. observe the moment in silence and surrent your self to the secerets of universe.

  8. Hi Shekhar,
    I have followed through your thoughts for a while. Many of which find a strong echo in how I have perceived my experience with time and its passing.This post particularly seems to draw on some strange kind of clarity on your part.You seem to have moved away from questioning as you have done in your previous posts.You seem to have answers for some of the questions that you seemed to have lived with.
    As an extension to the aspect of ‘passion’ that you mention, I question if its ‘love’ that you need to find in yourself? Is it the purity of love for the thought and action that one needs to be in search off? Such a thought and its resultant action which start with no bias, with no fear or attachment for the result,is pure love.It is passion.
    Keep sharing your discoveries with your mind and time.It makes for very interesting reading.
    And thanks for your passion in ‘Masoom’.I saw it when I was 9, I was touched.I saw it again last year and it moved me still.
    Thanks
    Deepak

  9. DQ says:

    “KOIZEN”
    One thing missing is
    “Goal”
    Hiya Koizen…
    .
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    The journey to achieving that goal is yet another journey of goals
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    Hence
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    Life itself is a GOAL!
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    Each breath, each thought, each movement, each expression etc is a Goal in itself!!
    Cheers!!

  10. Himanshu says:

    Director Sidney Pollack, one of the finest filmmaking talents of our time, is no more. I had the pleasure of meeting him and famous architect Frank Gehry briefly, on whom he had made a documentary and presented it at the Toronto Film Festival I attended in 2005. The documentary is one of the mast amazing stories about an architect who became one of the most celebrated ones in America.
    I also saw Tootsie last year, which was nominated for 10 oscars, at the Monday Night with Oscar screeening they have each month in Manhattan at the AMPAS theater. It is a truly amazing film and of the greatest roles done by Dustin Hoffman.
    May he rest in peace after a wonderful life.
    Best Regards,
    Himanshu

  11. koizen says:

    DQ
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    .
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    Hi there DQ!
    Goal! sab gol mal hei! heh heh heh
    Today’s youth have all the possible avenues but what I read from Shekharji blog is too deep and thought it (goal) talk would give sense of direction.
    Anyways, may all realize their goals and be proactive!
    Regards

  12. DQ says:

    Hiya Koizen
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    I understand!
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    In today’s date, youth have all possible avenues, alas! All that is left is pushing oneself in this ocean of life, higher goals after goals …the very essence the very meaning of life in this journey gets choked, alas!!
    .
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    Sach! Sab Gol maal hi hai!!
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    Take Care
    Smiles~~~

  13. Harb says:

    Being active is in fact being reactive…
    Krishna exhorts Arjuna that a Kashtrya should fight for his rights, for his hounour etc etc. Which means even when Arjuna is apparently asked to act he is actually being aksed to react to a situation in which his honour is at stake or his rights are being usurped.
    Only Krishna acts…and conveys the same in the words that Arjuna should not expect results according to his actions(because He does not act according to them and which actuslly means is that He does not react to them).
    What one must also note here is that the result will create a new set of situations.
    Now what this realy means is that in our actions we only react to situations while the real action is done by somebody, some Scheme of Things beyond us which creates those situations. (For example, we have no say in our growing from being a child to being a youth. We cannot even resist it. And nor have say in the situations of emotional entanglements it creates. We can only then react to them, either by trying to getting invovled or tryng to resist etc).
    It happens through the agency of the primordial superforce of the big bang at the level of the universe and through the agency of what is called kundlini shakti at our individual levels and which is only an apportioned part of the same original superforce by us relevant to our level. As we pass throgh various chakras in the course of our growth and evolution we create different situations and then react to them, in the process suffering and eventually outgrowing them.
    So much of zen for you lol.

  14. Chethan says:

    Perfectly presented Shekhar, such peices have made me a regular visitor of your blog!
    Passion is undoubtedly the key to success in life… professionally, personally and spiritually. I totally agree to it and my dad is a living example for it…
    He never comments on other people’s lives. Doesnt lie. Just be himself and look after his family, Do some charity work as much he can and then pray to god for hrs together everyday. Thats called life. And not whats happening especially in Delhi. Dad killing daughter, helper killing owners! Ridiculous… Human race is losing its civilization part and falling below other animals enrouting to the dark

  15. Angela Lewis says:

    Hello Mr. Kapur,
    My name is Angela. I am supposedly descended from Henry VIII and so was very excited to watch Elizabeth, the Golden Age recently [on DVD]. I’ve been addicted to work lately so I missed the first movie but will seek it out. Anyway, I was wondering if you would have any interest in discussing this history with me. Here is the story. I am descended from Richard Edwards, who is supposedly the son of Henry VIII with a mistress named Agnes Blewitt. She met him at his hunting lodge. I’m an American with the last name of Lewis. I have a family tree showing the line going up to Henry VIII and Agnes Blewitt. I would also love to know if they really had a child. It would make sense, since the Lewises were granted a farm stretching from what is now Wall Street to Bleecker Street in Manhattan, and it was a specific land grant from the Crown. In other words, there was a favoritism shown there. [This was pre-Revolutionary War] I am inclined to believe that there is a reason that this has been swept under the rug — after all, if we are the only direct descendants of Henry VIII, that makes us claimants to some important part of royal history [albeit not through wedlock]. And to be honest with you I think it is on purpose that there is so little mention of this in the “official” history. Even the website for the 500th anniversary of Henry [exhibit in a castle in England] does not mention it.

  16. kedar says:

    dude,
    we have all learned in school that positive integers have identical negative integers…
    e.g. 9 is an inverse of -9 and vice a versa…
    but 0 is inverse of itself…
    🙂 there is no confusion or alter ego to ZERO
    But when Zero TRIES to reach ZERO all the numbers evolve till eternity…till ZERO realizes that it is ZERO…(this is what all the scientists are doing in physical world)
    so,
    infinity=zero is the simple mathematical equation of consciousness…
    Zero in a state of realization that it is Zero is in an active state and when it is TRYING to find its INVERSE is in reactive state…
    but it can not be applied in physical world because the base of physical world is confusion!
    Finding Inverse!
    🙂
    kedar

  17. Neeta says:

    yes, mind can be a great resource for expression, but usually it drives itself unstable when not reined by the self. I find asking simple questions like ‘what is it?’ brings me to the present with ease.
    Not sure about emotions, it can be a bottomless pit in no time. Maybe you mean emotion that arises out of one’s awareness and not ego..yes, that could be sublime, though I would still not call it an emotion.
    Being aware in a crowd is a great challenge when even doing it in solitude is difficult! Awareness senses the world around us while the mind wanders in it. Haven’t been able to reconcile the two as you so aptly describe “To allow yourself the luxury of the moment so completely that you are both completely focussed and completely free at the same time”

  18. justbe says:

    there do exist possibility to be active without being reactive – that is: to be responsive. In other words – acting out of silence, out of awareness, out of totallity in the moment, out of higher Self, closely attuned with the universal scheme of things(like krishna of course). a response falls in the realm of a creative phenomenon than a reactive phenomenon.
    Simply Reacting is sort of an outward attack to the situation, falling in the realm of being a victim of some self emotion, possibly a repressed emotion or an immature surrender to the ego, personal need or greed. isn’t it!

  19. kedar says:

    Harb,
    i think what Shekhar means by reactive in his post is the state in which Arjun was before Krishna told him Geeta…
    am i right in judging or guessing Shekhar?
    Harb,
    what you say in last para is what i am saying in different words in my comment…
    kedar

  20. Dear Shekhar,
    I was on a road trip all these days..
    tryin to find myself…. looking for life..looking for people…looking for answers
    I came back with a bag full of memeories and kodak rolls but no answers!!!
    But Now i find them right here in your words…
    Thank You:)
    My best regards and love
    Anku

  21. Dear Shekar
    Namaste I bow to your infinite wisdom and would like to commemorate you on your profound work that you have put out in the universe.
    Of late I have been pondering like a human gerbil. I feel like I’m walking endlessly in my wheel. It is your blogs that sometimes that generate sparks. A space created where you are allowed to think outside the box. Thoughts unrolling from the carpets of our minds.
    I am in the midst of working on my Multimedia Water Project..The topic of water has such great magnitude and let us remember water has no boundaries. I have some what drowned in my own research. Coming across your blogs pulled a heart string and inspired me to move forward this project. I feel I must break through my walking of the wheel and bring this project into light and life. To Activate that very spark and share the light thus to create awareness.
    As we all know water is life sustaining and is used in everywhere sphere of our life. For survival environmentally, for industrial and economical use. Basically it is essential for survival of all living beings. We need to raise awareness that we have become oblivious to this source of life and educate ourselves on how to stop water from depleting and how to use it more resourcefully. No matter what walk of life you are from we all need to educate ourselves and eco consciously evovle….
    It is stepping stones for all of us if we can share our thoughts and then put these words into action. We need to accept now that water pollution is a global problem. We need to then raise awareness and motivate the masses and act and implement new policies.
    I would like to send you further information once it has been set in stone. I would be deeply honored if you could be apart of the project in some way.
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom. You are light of the world
    Pyar & Shanti
    Shelley

  22. Gopi says:

    Hi Shekhar
    I was being fearless and emailed you…but you didn’t even reply or acknowledge it 🙁
    Gopi

  23. Gagan says:

    Shekhar
    Why not a spiritual movie? When I watch a movie like Shawshank Redemption or Pyaasa, it inspires me as a seeker, I believe we need more of movies like these. What if Buddha is not there, you can still make one of your own.
    Thanks

  24. Harb says:

    Justbe, yes, true. Then we flow with the flow as they say. Being and Becoming, Shiva and his dance have both become an un-nameable One.
    Kedar, you too are right, and in fact so obviously is Shekhar. Like day and night, like white and black or yin and yang parts of the yin-yang figure, the game of life (our individual life as well)too comprises two layers. In the first, white/day layer we have to respond, have to keep the others in mind, in the second we are then left in peace to discover our own real selves and act according to them.
    For example, as soon as we begin earning we will first have to respond to the wishes, desires, expectations of our immediate family, our extended family, our relatives, friends, our society, community, at least to the extent that they will then stop nudgng us one way or the other or leave us to us in peace. Only then we will be able to think about what we really are and what we really want to do ‘on our own.’
    In fact at so-called middle age crises we shift gear so to say from the first layer to the second. We suddenly ‘die’ to the outer world and begin going deeper and deeper into our own selves to come up both with the knowledge of our real selves as well as of the work we are really made to do. It is an other matter that not many are yet ripe enough to go to those depths. What this means is that they are yet only shallow men, men of reactions only so to say and finding that they have yet no inner self worth recognising they just witheraway in the remaining years of their lives.
    Harb

  25. brahmastra says:

    @Harb,
    Nice post. Thanks. Adding my thoughts..
    At an analytical level, it might be coherent to categorize events into actions and reactions. However, to escape the grip of mental patterns, it is necessary to give up all concepts and intellectualisation (if that is even a word), and reside in the simplicity of beingness which has always been there. And from thereon, be a silent witness of all the patterns that play out through you, each and everyone of which are universally significant. This is by no means as easy a task as is preached by the fluffy sugar-coated “gurus” of late, but is within grasp of the ones who are ready to accept non-duality and dispassion.
    Effective teachings on this lie in the ancient texts such as the Yoga Vasishtha, Ashtawakra Gita, etc. which focus less on colourful stories and more on Self realization.

  26. shekhar says:

    Yes Kedar, and everyone.
    Arjun was looking for structure
    finding comfort in the known morality
    which really was a construct of the mind
    addicted to a self congratulatory mode
    that indeed was reactivity
    but to understand the idea
    that separate from the direct results of your actions
    lie the event that has it’s own karma,
    it’s on existence
    and the bond between action and result
    is only as strong as your ego
    to divest yourself fo
    and look only at the purity of your actions
    does lead to action

  27. Harb says:

    brahmastra, absolutely true. But sometimes you fall from that high and come to the blogs lol. And then you cannot escape from falling into the trap of concepts even if those be of ‘beingness’ and ‘simplicity’ and so on. I am working on it though. Thank you for reminding.

  28. Harb says:

    Shekhar, there is a way of seeing things from the human perspective and there is a way of seeing things from the ‘prior human’ perspective, in fact from the prior humans, prior apes, prior animals, prior plants, minerals, clay, right down to star’s dust from where the universe in my view has begun.
    From the human perspective indeed even when you divest yourself of the ego you are the actor doing pure action. But from the latter perspective you will feel as if the action is being done through you, you are no longer the actor, you are simply a pawn in the hands of the event, or possessed by the event. Then, in J.Bronowski’s word “ideas(event) discover you rather than the other way about.”
    To understand it further: From the perspective of the seed of a tree the seed is right in saying that it has produced the tree, even if in the process it gets destroyed along with its ‘ego.’ But from the perspective of the prior seed, something from beyond the seed, – free energy of the earth – destroyed it and in the process produced the tree through it. In that case it can as rightly be said that the event or rather a long chain of events – of evolution from clay to minerals to plants to animals and so on – took hold of the seed and produced a tree through it.
    Harb
    PS: Of course, such abstract approach will not interest many. Human beings dont like to lose the sense that they are actors. Even though human race gets repeatedly destroyed because the action really takes place beyond them.

  29. kedar says:

    Harb,
    nature manifests itself through us…from the perspective of prior seed something from beyond the seed destroyed it is what you say…but the seed can be destroyed only if it has the potential…
    now again that potential is the gift of something from beyond…
    but does the game end there…
    no…
    the seed has to reach to the core bottom of its MIND and destroy it only then its true potential comes up…and only then that something from beyond steps in to destroy the seed…
    the question is whether we want to get destroyed with our eyes closed or when they are wide open!
    gene of freewill is still a mystery for the scientists…
    we exist because of nature…nature exits because of us…
    at every given point in physical time we have a CHOICE…till we keep making choices, nature guides us with out our knowledge…but the moment choice less awareness creeps in nature dissolves…
    kedar

  30. justbe says:

    thankx brahmastra for introducing me YogaVashistha in one of your earlier post – it just came around at the right time. And to Astavakra who simply broke all shakles during the last few days. my thirst for affirmations has almost:) quenced
    thankx harb for your flowing responses. and here it comes when u said – one has to fall from that high and come to the blogs!! i sometimes ask this to shekhar as well.
    but whatever the case maybe – its all in the universe’s plan, and thankx shekhar for this wonderful blog.
    thankx Universe for revealing.

  31. :) says:

    hi shekhar,
    was going over the diff topics on your blog to check out some new interesting posts if any…….
    i went through this one again, and was struck by this particular passage in retrospect…..
    ” the ego becomes an instrument of search for affirmation in other people’s eyes. not even a clear idea of what other people think of you, but just what your mind imagines they think of you ! “……..
    shekhar, the rest was very much in sync with the way you would be if you are a thinker…..but why on earth would you be SO bothered what ‘other people think of you ‘ ?? hey…..except for the FEW people who care for you genuinely in this world……..the rest get stomach cramps if they have to admit anything superior or good about you ! i am a silent observer of human behaviour and see that the only situations people are comfy opining on are the hypothetical ones where the topic does not touch either known people or acquintances or even people they only have a nodding relationship with ! ……..you ask them to say something good about real people and they would have a whole list of …… “yeah…but….” NOBODY is spared…….believe me ….NOT YOU…….. NOT ME………( neither to the face though ! )ha ha !
    the rest of what you wrote was so beautiful….. just what a soul search involves…….but it is ‘you with you’ dear shekhar…….. never what other people think of you. take care 🙂

  32. Lori says:

    As we grew up my mother always told us that our feelings were as much a part of us as our arms and legs. Still, I have constantly struggled to repress any negative (and yes, at time, positive) emotions, often to avoid questions and strange looks from others. I am also continually struggling with not caring what others may think of me; I sometimes tend to keep relationships shallow because I feel that the “real” me would cause them to end the friendship. I also find it much easier to forgive others for big things, yet if I make one mistake, or say one wrong thing, I rehash it for weeks. Reading about others’ ideas and struggles with such things gives me hope that perhaps one day I can embrace my true self, eliminating the need for all the vices and petty distractions in which I now take part.
    Peace and Light,
    Lori

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