For Pressure!

Mercury column to measure pressure, scale in m...

What pressure levels can we take?

When I was a kid I used to occasionally hear Queen’s famous “Under Pressure” song. At the time it was just a catchy tune that my friends and I could link to the good old days. Little did I realize the significance it would have when I heard a snippet of it recently; in particular the word pressure. It began to boggle my mind…pressure! Pressure seems to be more relevant now then it was say 10 or 20 years ago. Pressure seems to be prevailing in almost all areas of a person’s life. They say that change is the only constant, but I think they should rephrase it and add that along with it comes pressure, free of course!

What is it with this phenomenon called pressure? Some revel in it, bringing out their best, even in the most crucial or fatal of situations in their lives. Others become its victim, often becoming paralysed in their attempts to resolve the problem. Whatever the case may be, pressure is here to stay, whether it is an invited guest or not.

We face pressure from so many people or acquaintances; be it family, your close friends, your peers and co workers, hell even the government sometimes! We face pressure in numerous social and mundane facets of our lives- such as the lifestyles we exhibit; the way we come across our friends; the money and bling we can acquire; it even can go to the most ludicrous such as how many pies you can eat at a particular contest! What’s the need for all this fuss of pressure? Is there something to gain from it all? Yes, maybe the odd push would be good once in a while, or like they say to get the old kick in the butt so we attain the high life we all supposedly strive to achieve (or so I think)! But even pressure has its boundaries, something that I only really realized last year when I received tragic news that a former colleague took the fatal route of ending his life. He obviously had some form of pressure so much so that its intensity must have been too much to bear. You then ask where’s the fun in this all Mr Pressure?

Each of us has received pressure from many points or persons in our lives to varying degrees. Sometimes you might feel the pressure is a master crafter, supposedly moulding you into this perfect being for your audience, the audience you serve throughout your life. Pressure will sometimes unexpectedly announce itself, sometimes catching you cold in your track! At other times the forms of pressure can be idiotic and immature…so much so that I label such pressures the ‘waste of time’ pressures. Sometimes such pressures occur in agreement with Murphy’s law, and then you roll your eyes wondering why this had to happen to you at a particular point in time?

There is a solution to it all I think.  Just be indifferent. Not cold, aggressive or any of that stuff. Just indifferent. I discovered a greatness in being indifferent to pressure…there’s nothing you are looking to gain or lose…you are just on a level playing field. Some might say that is running away…absolutely not! You are still present in the moment of pressure, but now it’s no longer that enemy that just creeps up behind you without you realizing it. You are aware of it but your indifference becomes a barrier to it. I wonder sometimes if sports persons who revel in pressure situations actually adopt the mindset of indifference…it makes perfect logic to me. They have nothing to lose or gain personally (sure there is the achievement of victory which is part of the bigger overall picture)…they just know that what matters is being present in the ‘now’ of the pressure point. If they get through it with their indifference, there will be no major after effects to their psyche.

Halfway through Queen’s song there is a line that goes insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking…maybe Queen knew back then what was really going on. All this about pressure…Life should never be that way; it should never really be for pressure!

Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved

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A Golden Journey!

A photo of Harminder Sahib (The Golden Temple)...

The Golden Temple basking in the sun

The anticipation was high! After a sleepy five hour train journey from Delhi that commenced early in the morning the moment lay in wait. I was on my way to the city of Amiritsar, located in the north west of India’s bread basket state Punjab. As the train embarked at its final destination, that monument was all I had in my mind. It was a race against time for I was alone and took upon this spiritual quest to find something without any distraction from family, any new meaning if there was any. The heat of the day was evident with the slight greasiness I could feel on my brow and forehead. That didn’t matter though to me. I was near my destination now.

As I caught a rickshaw (in India these are three wheeler scooters that are common modes of transport for the masses) I began to ponder about and re-call the countless stories my grandparents told me about this rich state and this bustling city of Amritsar. Punjab is the closest state geographically to Pakistan with Amritsar being only a 30-40 minutes drive to Lahore, the capital of Pakistan Punjab (most of Pakistan was formerly known as Western Punjab before partition of India took place in 1947). There was evidence of the bustling alright! Countless shop keepers shouting for supposedly attractive bargains worth a buy and tourist guides offering their services for a tour of this monumental city and the popular border point between India and Pakistan known as Wagah. Much as I was tempted to try one of the touristy options, I was staying focussed on reaching my destination that I now longed for in this testing heat!

Then there in the distance I could see the entrance! At last I breathed with relief now. Here it was, the Golden Temple! The Golden Temple is the most holiest of monuments for the followers of the Sikhism religion, a religion that was formed and branched out from Hinduism. For many that often refer to ‘those people with turbans on their heads’, more formally known as Sikhs, it is for these very people that the Golden Temple monument holds such significance. It is their most holy of all the Sikhism temples worldwide! The main structure of the Golden Temple houses the oldest and original forms of scripture for Sikhism, known as the Guru Granth Sahib (similar to a holy book like the Bible). The temple is made of pure gold; yes I said it, pure gold! The full construction of the site was completed in 1604. The surrounding areas are built with rich marbles, evident in their sheen and hardness.  Around the main building is a lake, considered by many Sikhs to be very holy so much so that people bathe themselves in it as a way of receiving blessings and ‘cleansing’ themselves of any impurities. The site itself has endured many historical invasions ranging from the Afghans to old Mogul rulers in India, though the most notorious attack took place as recently as 1984 when an operation termed Operation Blue Star was ordered by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi . It was an operation that entailed the nation’s army to attack the holy site in order to seize and capture a terrorist that was hidden in the temple, a terrorist leading the revolution for an independent state of Punjab to be called Khalistan.

Apart from the invasions mentioned, the Golden Temple is such a famous historical site purely because people from all walks of life and religion are permitted to enter and visit the site. This reason alone could  probably be one of the greatest reasons that this site has millions of tourists visiting from all parts of the globe on an annual basis and is testament to the openness and love of the Sikhism religion. Though this encouragement is there, men and women still have to cover their heads when entering a holy place of Sikhism as a sign of respect. In addition, visitors need to wash their hands and feet before entering the holy site. Being a Hindu this has never been a problem for me. More so it felt like the material weights of this world were being removed from me, albeit for a brief moment of spiritual solitude.

This was my second trip to the holy monument in less than two years. The first one I could vividly remember because I was so taken by the significance of the area and the site, it just seemed too much to take in at the time. This trip  felt different though. Being alone I could take my time now and bask in the peace I could feel as I glided harmoniously along the white marble floors. There’s something about any Gurudwara (the term used to call any holy building of Sikhism) that just makes you feel utter peace and strength; this feeling just touches another level once you are in the vicinity of the Golden Temple. I often pondered about why this was so? I have visited many temples in my time but nothing comes close to the feeling that I endure when I visit the Golden Temple. I often felt it was because I was surrounded by the people, my people, who were known as the warriors of India and had both physical and spiritual strength to combat any battle that may arise; that too they were in the most holiest of sites in the world. Culturally as well the Punjabi people have known to be fighters since their ancestors endured many battles which empowered them as a sect of the country. This is most notable in modern times since in the army forces  many Sikhs and Hindu Punjabis form a majority of the nation’s army force. Even in neighbouring Pakistan Pakistani Punjabis occupy a majority of the army.

The Harimandir Sahib, known popularly as the G...

A magnificent monument at night!

 

As I entered the holy shrine I pondered over the achievements of my ancestors and the connections they may have had with this holy site. I felt the bigger purpose in me arising and my ancestors calling for me to do greater deeds in their honour. I could feel this overwhelming power arising in me, not of physical power or intimidation, but of the spiritual will to move on to greater heights. It was a feeling of blessedness and honour that I could walk amongst such significance. It was almost like I could stay there the whole day, focussing only on this site and forgetting all else that existed, even if it was momentarily before I returned to the real world.

Symbol of Sikhism, white and golden version.

The symbol of Sikhism

As the time drew closer for me to take leave, I turned around to look one more time at the golden structure. It beamed now with the sun’s rays amplifying the shine of the metal covering…It’s almost as though the gods from above were saying to me you have attained your mission; now go on to greater deeds and complete your Golden Journey!

Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved