Varanasi……. and the differing Realities

“Enlightenment, and the death which comes before it, is the primary business of Varanasi.”
Tahir Shah, author – Sorcerer’s Apprentice, 1998

If you are born in India, as I was, Varanasi, that immortal city of Lord Shiva and his consort Sati, slowly but surely becomes a part of your psyche.
Varanasi - that eternal city
My first visit to Varanasi with my mother continues to hold vivid memories for me even today. In my teens then, it was possibly the first time when I faced the confusion of how the same ground situation occurred so differently to my mother compared to me.

What occurred to me as narrow serpentine alleys, overcrowded and difficult to breathe places showed up as a delectable array of holy shrines, temples and ashrams to my mother.

What occurred for me as slippery, dirty steps to be avoided at all costs lest I fall into a smelly cesspool, showed up as venerable ‘ghats’ of the holy Ganga river, promising salvation and nirvana to my mother.

What showed up for me as a city bursting at its seams with the old and the dying, sickness, leprosy and burning funeral pyres, seemed to show up as life’s final destination and a passport to heaven for my mother.

As is the norm, come sunrise, I accompanied my mother for the holy dip in the Ganges. When we reached the ghat, the place was already thronging with hundreds of people, some already in the flowing waters, others taking an oil massage as a prelude to the dip. A motley crowd of beggars, tea sellers, urchins, saffron clad ‘sadhus’ and devotees jockeyed for space and spiritual advantage.
Sadhu at Sunrise

My mother urged me, “Come, take a dip. Doing it is so holy, it would cleanse you of all your past sins.”

Now that was no doubt tempting. I could recall sins a plenty that I had committed over the last few months itself. But what held me back was the sight of raw sewage belching into the river with a dull roar. Not to speak of what appeared to be floating dead bodies and the vultures above. I had also heard sordid tales of unclaimed bodies, which no one came to cremate, being tied to a rock and sunk to the river bottom. I had this scary vision of stepping onto a body and being possessed by an angry spirit thereafter. The net result was that I refused to take that holy dip, much to my mother’s chagrin and embarrassment.


Whenever I have mused about that visit subsequently, I have wondered what was it that created the almost diametrically opposite reality about Varanasi for my mother and me.

Coming as she did from an overly traditional, semi agrarian Bengali household in suburban Calcutta and growing up in a joint family, my mother imbibed strong elements of religious and ritualistic ‘Dos and Don’ts’ apart from a conditioning to not question the collective view and mindset. I suspect this is what would have made her take to Varanasi and its ethos like a fish takes to the water. For Varanasi is all about the occurring of a collective mind. That collective mind which through centuries and millennia, has read the Gita, quoted the Upanishads and chanted the vedic mantras on those very ghats.

I on the other hand, born and living in a nuclear family and receiving a liberal education, had very little exposure to the traditions, rituals and collective beliefs coming down the ages. So where my mother could selectively ‘see and tune into’ the devotional hymns, the fragrance of the incense and purity of the saffron colour all around her, I was left struggling to come to terms with the sludge and the floating trash, the smell of feces, the sickness and the poverty on physical display.

Today, when I look back to that Varanasi visit, I can see how the differing realities of the city effected us. My mother’s occurring of reality brought her great bliss and fulfillment. My occurring on the other hand brought in trepidation and doubt. I begin to realise how both the realities were illusions, anchored as they were to how the situations occurred to each one of us.

Like the above, do we see how most conflicts in society and the world can be traced back to the aspect of reality illusion? An illusion which makes us erroneously conclude that what shows up for us as a result of our own world view and frames of references is in fact the only reality and we refuse to accept any differing perspectives. Merely holding the awareness that differing realities can and do occur for each of us, and this is but normal, can lead to significant lowering of conflicts…….

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Albert Einstein

In Learning…….. Shakti Ghosal

Author: Shakti Ghosal

* A PCC Credentialed Executive Coach mentor and trainer for leaders & performance. * A qualified engineer and a PGDM (Faculty Gold medalist) from IIM Bangalore. * Four decades of industry experience spanning Engineering, Maintenance, Projects, Consumer durables, Supply Chains, Aviation and Tourism. * Top level management positions to drive business development, strategy, alliances all around the globe. * A visiting faculty at the IIMs. *A passion to envision trends & disseminate Leadership incubation globally. , * . +91 - 9051787576

48 thoughts on “Varanasi……. and the differing Realities”

  1. WOW.
    Deep and abundantly interesting.
    I am praying that most people SEE your “Reality.”
    This way ***WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD.****
    Wonderful Read.
    Thank you.
    PS. your mother sounds sweet and kind!!!


  2. A most interesting read, Shakti. I think it’s important to respect other people’s beliefs and rituals, even though they may be very far removed from our own, or what we would feel comfortable with.


    1. Hi,

      Sorry for the delay in responding to your comment.

      I agree to what you said. The question that we really need to engage is, ” What practice do we need to adopt to remain conscious of other beliefs and our acceptance of that?”

      I truly appreciate your taking the time to visit and comment.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello,
    I am one who loved my parents so much I hated to disagree with them. Had my Mom or Dad asked me to go into the water I may have done it despite its awful smell and contents. If they would feel blessed and enriched by this experience I may have done this. I also liked how somehow you refused and your mother still speaks to you and loves you so it all turned out okay. I liked how you examined the familial background and it’s impact. Our belief systems take a lot of what our parents say (forgive this slight joke) as “Gospel.” Take care and best wishes, Shakti.


  4. Very aptly put Pratap Srivastav Sir,

    The same is the felling that welled in me while walking up the stairs to the Kamakhya temple , which i did almost every day at 4 in the morning as a form of penance (self ), and also to please the lord to quickly end my exile to NF.

    Walking up the steps , away from the path taken by vehicles ( most visitors), through the streets leading up and upto the temple was full of shit (mostly human ) and filth, started the thought as to why such a powerful God allowed it.

    The court yard of the Temple was littered with bird shit , thrown out flowers from yesterdays garlands adorning the deity, dried blood which i fervently hoped was animal (sacrificial block was nearby ) and huge amount of litter from yesterday.

    The scene at the Temple changed when cleaning and washing started , bucketfulls of water scrubbing and sweeping of the whole PARISAR, and the serene beauty of the early sunrays presented a divine experience..

    A certain peace seemed to descend upon me and for a moment all seemed clear all worries melted away , all questions answered, in that moment the thought was that every thing was as SHE desired and ( real or unreal ) was necessary, the absolute filth and the purest pristine beauty together made a harmony not heard by me before .

    The same was with Varanasi , the floating caracasses , human corpses , dead flower filth and the opulent GANGA AARTI hosted by the Oberoi Hotel ( i forget the exact hotel) presented the same dichotomy and the same insight.




    1. Sanwal,

      Your experience, or shall I say your occurring, at the revered Kamakhya temple, was eerily similar to mine at Varanasi. I suppose the difference was that you had the wisdom and awareness to selectively tune in into the Divine experience, as it presented itself with those early sun-rays.While I, in my teens, surely lacked those qualities as I allowed my mind to get cluttered and bogged down with the visual negatives that confronted me.

      Thanks pal for the lovely comment. I am copying it to me blogsite too.


      Shakti Ghosal


  5. Shakti,

    I read your article on Varanasi. The conflict is natural and to find an answer ages have passed. Millions have tried and still trying. You also keep trying, that’s the best.
    Once in my much younger days, I got a chance to read Hindi Novel- CHITRALEKHA. by Bhagwati Charan Verma. The conflict between PAAP and PUNYA, ( Good or Bad), gets well attempted to be analysed but remains inconclusive at the end in the novel and has remained inconclusive in me even today.

    But, good to see an article on Varanasi in The Forum. Thanks a lot.

    Another thing, ‘ only a Banarasi can to some extent understand Varanasi.’!

    Sent from my iPhone
    O.P.CHAUBE SCA 73 ( In the Lounge Session forum)


    1. Dear Chaube,

      Delighted to see your mail. I do regret the delay in responding as I had been travelling and came back only last weekend. Since then, have been wading through my mail boxes and could reach this one only today!

      I never saw the aspect showcased in my post as a conflict really.In my teens, it occurred as a confusion and the way I had resolved it then in my mind was by simply accepting the perspectives and thoughts of my mother as ‘that is how it should be’.It was much later that I could gain some understanding of why the same situation occurs differently to different folks.

      It is interesting you bring up the conflict between ‘Paap and Puniya’. Is there a conflict between these or is it our failure to appreciate the universal polarity between and co-existence of opposing aspects? The so called GOOD and BAD is an example of this. Like the front and back of our hands which can be never be separated. Awhile back I had mused on this aspect in a post, and I am providing the link here, should you find that of interest.

      And yes, I agree, it requires a ‘Banarasi’ ( like you!) to understand and appreciate the myriad, fascinating shades of life which is Varanasi.


      Shakti Ghosal ’74


  6. There is no conflict in my view, both are realities. It also depends on how much one can see. Hindu thought process manages to see more than the obvious. It is able to see another river Saraswati at ‘Triveni Sangam’ of Allahabad. It recognises that we are influenced not only by the objects and events around us, but also by those which have occurred in the distant past. The deity in the temple is not just a stone idol; it is in effect a divine presence.

    Likewise there is a Benaras as we see it as well as an ‘invisible Benaras’. The filth and squalor is very much there, it is present in all our cities- in Benaras more so because of the densely packed crowds. If we are overwhelmed by it, we learn nothing new. But if we are able to put it out of our focus, we may see something more.

    This city makes me feel that I am watching a grand theatrical performance. The unending stream of thousands of pilgrims to the hundreds of the temples, their chants and visible faith creates a spectacular display of the delicately embroidered imagery of our mythology developed over centuries. Its veracity ceases to be of importance as its effect is very real. The pilgrim goes back convinced of having had an audience.

    The ‘Banarasi’, as a result of the enormous influence the city exercises on him, is also a somewhat different species. He thinks he sees both the greatest power in the Universe, Lord Vishwanath as well as the humblest wretch of the Earth all the time. Material wealth is useful and necessary but is not the most important aim. Any flashy display is a big no-no. The most important thing is to be at ease with your own personality as a part of the society without dominating it. The Benarasi is very social. He comes out of his house, not only to go to work, but also to have tea, paan or lassi, or to read the newspaper at the tea stall, constantly interacting socially on all these occasions.

    I do not know if this is the ‘oldest continuously living civilisation’ in the world, but it is perhaps the one nearest to the description as an ‘eternal city’; a city beyond history.

    That, in my view, makes this city called Benaras, Varanasi or Kashi unique and you, Sir, are fortunate to have been born in it.

    – Pratap Srivastava ‘65 ( In the Lounge Session Forum)


    1. Dear Mr. Pratap,

      Loved your perspective.

      Indeed it is all about differing realities as they occur to each one of us. The difference occurs based on the context we might have chosen as also the ‘models of reality’ created in the mind by our World View and Frames of reference, which in themselves are based on our process of socialisation and life experiences.

      The conflicts occur when we get stuck to our reality and assume that the same reality occurs for others too.

      With your permission Sir, I would like to shift your reply to my Blogsite for it to get more eyeballs that it deserves. Trust that is okay.

      Kind Regards

      Shakti Ghosal ’74


  7. Another wonderful posting Shakti. I can feel your own trepidation as to taking a dip in the Ganga River. And such memories I am sure would stay with me for a long length of time..

    I see what you are saying, how we each through our perceptions of upbringing, through our teachings past down to us hold various views about the self same thing. Your Mother’s belief you would be cleansed and blessed, while you held the fear seeing the river for what it truly held in regards to pollution and death.

    The world is indeed full of these illusions of perspective, each believing their own view point to be the right one.. Yet it is but one View.. One version of our reality.. Such is life is it not? My own view of life can only be from my perspective.. from the memories, the ideas imprinted within me when growing up.. Its not to say they are right or wrong.. It is just how it is.. Learnt behaviour patterns, customs, etc…
    So too when we judge those with opposing ideas.. be it religious beliefs or political.. neither is right or wrong.. Its how we each interpret them Each holding the belief they are following the correct course..

    Maybe herein is the truth of it.. maybe we need our various paths.. Would we learn anything at all in our Earth life if all were to think and do the same… How bored we would be.. If all agreed.. We need contrast.. Such is the Light of Day and Dark of Night.. we live in a world of duality where by we need the opposites in order to grow..
    As much as we dislike conflict.. Conflict has to be in existence in order that we may appreciate Peace.. And the deeper I think on the differing realities Shakti.. the more I see there is No right or Wrong path.. Some roads are just harder to travel on than others.. but whose to say the turbulent journey is not more fulfilling than the one which is smooth..
    Do we not learn greater lessons from our mistakes? And do we learn even more when we forgive ourselves and others for making them?

    A very thought provoking post.. One I know I am late upon visiting.. but one I so appreciate reading and all the comments..

    Blessings Sue


    1. Dear Sue,

      Thank you.

      As always it is such a pleasure reading your comments and the wealth of thought that you bring in.Indeed, our reality is shaped and coloured by our upbringing viz. our childhood socialisation but also the myriad life experiences which lead to models of reality getting created in our minds. The purpose of these models is to efficiently respond to similar situations, as and when they arise in future.

      But over time, these models take the shape of Perceptual Constraints within our minds and in fact restrict our thoughts and responses in predetermined ways.These constitute our Worldview (model of reality) and frames of reference (mindsets) – that is,our network of unexamined ideas, beliefs, biases, prejudices, social and cultural embedded-ness, and taken-for-granted assumptions about the world and whatever specific aspect of the world with which we are dealing, that limit and shape the way in which the world, others, and we ourselves occur (show up) for us.– including its structure and operation, and our perception of ourselves when dealing with that situation. Our Perceptual Constraints are invisible to us. As a consequence, when being with and acting on what one is dealing with, one cannot take into account what is hidden or distorted by these Perceptual Constraints. Secondly, our Perceptual Constraints distorts our own ability and thereby limits our own opportunity set for being and action.

      In effect, it is our perceptual constraints that shape our reality of what we perceive.In the post, I have tried to delve into this aspect by looking at the differing situations of my mother and myself.

      Cheers and blessings to you too and yours Sue.



  8. This post is beautifully written and thought provoking. I’ve never visited .Varanasi but your prose paints a powerful picture of reality illusion.
    I really need to give this subject some more thought…


  9. Shakti

    Your post brought back memories and triggered thoughts……

    As you know, I studied Chemical Engineering at IIT BHU located at Varanasi. Having spent my life till then at Pune and Mumbai, the city of Varanasi was the back of beyond. The campus mercifully was a verdant haven and the student crowd was very cosmopolitan. I learnt my smattering of Bangla from those endearing Mad Bong friends of mine 🙂

    Most of us never visited the ghats. We went to the city only to take in a movie and dinner on weekends. I did it maybe a few times to the Ghats for my annual thread changing ceremony at Avaniavittam. I scooted very quickly unable to bear the stench and grime.

    I visited Varanasi again after so many years for our 25th year reunion but still was repelled by the sights and sounds barring the very elevating Ganga Aarti.

    As we all dabble into spirituality as we grow older, I have my own take on visiting temples, holy cities etc. While I recognize that these places do have energy in them as all those visiting are suffusing it with their respective faith related positivity, in my view the best place to contemplate is within.

    The hordes that descend on temples and temple towns cause irreversible ecological damage and to my mind is a most unholy thing. I used to visit Sabarimalai regularly and on one of the visits, I decided enough is enough. I am not going to burden the fragile eco system further. I have since stopped but still maintain my communion with Ayyappa.

    In summary, I think there is no better place to seek solace than in yourself. No more Kashi Yatra for me. But I do hope to extinguish my share of sin in adding to the ecological damage by deeper contemplation.


    1. Hi Subbu,

      Loved reading your memories and perspective of Varanasi.Yes, the Ganga Aarti in the evenings is a pleasure to witness. So much so that it finds increasing mention as a major tourist attraction and a reason to visit Varanasi.

      And I definitely loved your summary in the end!



  10. Thanks Shakti, for taking time to comment on one of my recent posts, which in turn facilitated my reconnect with your enlightened world. Between you and your mother, I would say that hers was a much higher level of perception; it was not that she was blind, and her olfactory nerves blunt to the squalor and stench around the precincts and polluted waters of Ganga, it was more that her values and religious ethos enabled her to transcend the immediate reality of Varanasi. In taking you with her on that pilgrimage, she was, probably without realising it, also opening your eyes towards greater realisation and awareness of life’s many dimensions. Since very much contextual, let me also mention about another pilgrimage center in southern India; the forest shrine of sabarimala, situated atop sabari hills, on the banks of river Pamba (considered to be as holy as Ganges), is visited by millions of pilgrims during the November – January period every year. I have been to sabarimala just a couple of times during my school days, with my father. Before climbing the hill, pilgrims take a dip in the holy Pamba, and then embark on the long climb to the temple. I recall doing so in those days of half a century ago, as the river was clean. Fifty years down the line, Pamba is polluted with waste materials and grime of millions of pilgrims, from all states of India, fouling it beyond description. Yet the influx of pilgrims continue, but I have not taken my sons to sabarimala, as they are simply not interested to jostle through the milling crowds amidst dust and grime. There is a ministry now dedicated to the task of cleaning up Ganges; let us hope the holy river regains its pristine glory and remains so for later generations. Till such time our best option may be, as Hariod puts it, to meet such situations with a reality altering smile…best wishes… Raj.


    1. Dear Raj,

      You embarrass me! It is a privilege to have you come visiting and leave your enriching thoughts in this space.

      I loved the way you have brought in meaning to my mother’s behaviour and actions. While I can definitely not claim to have reached the heightened levels of values and religious ethos you speak of, I can sense what you are saying. Clearly, it is all about one’s ability to focus on specific aspects of one’s immediate environment in a manner that other aspects get dimmed or even blanked out. I suppose such ability arises out of one’s belief and passion. In discussions I have heard folks calling this ability a kind of self-delusion but I remain unsure. What would you say to that Raj?

      Beyond hoping that our rivers like the Ganges regain their pristine glory, I would say that each one of us need to stand in the Cause of the matter in someway.

      Thank you Raj for your great comment.



  11. This reminds me of when I refused my father’s request that I have a bar mitzvah ceremony. The difference between him and your mother is that he had rejected the traditional beliefs. Yet he felt an urge to observe the traditions on this occasion. Knowing my father, it was not because he wanted to put on an ostentatious show (which is sometimes the case, unfortunately). It was something deeper. I was very sarcastic in my reply (“Why don’t we just sacrifice a goat?”), which I later regretted.


    1. Hi,

      Thanks for bringing this interesting episode from your life here. As you have rightly pointed out, while the perception and the consequent behaviour in the two cases arose from diametrically opposite influence of traditional beliefs, interestingly the outcome and the external engagement were similar.

      Great example! Thank you for taking the time to comment.


      Liked by 1 person

  12. Shakti … I agree with Albert Einstein’s observation: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” For me, perception is reality. But, when we open ourselves to other points of view, our perceptions can change. In retrospect, I’ve looked at some conflict or disagreement I’ve had and realize how differently I might feel if I were to consider the opposite point of view. That was illuminating.

    In the moment that you describe, that had to be difficult for both you and your mother. I, too, would have been reluctant to walk into that river.


    1. Dear Judy,

      We do get conditioned through life to hold onto what is reality for us. We create complex models in our minds as part of our Worldview and frames of reference to improve our response time to external inputs and stimuli. All of it great functions of our brain to help us survive. So yes, you are right when you say that ‘perception is reality’.

      But as we gain the awareness that there are differing perceptions out there, creating different realities, we open ourselves to accepting these, even though we might not agree with them. This new awareness supports us to be less dogmatic, open to new possibilities and less hardened in our stance. The latter recipe leading to less conflicts……

      Thank you for the comment.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. We used to have an expression that was popular in America: “Let’s agree to disagree.” Unfortunately, it seems some are so entrenched in their view that they cannot allow room for any other point of view to be considered.


      2. Judy,

        Let me try and convert what you said into mathematical equations to see if we can gain additional insights.

        Entrenchment of views = The way we are wound up being.

        The problem is really not the above equation but another equation which goes like this:

        We = The way we are wound up being.

        As and when we make the latter equation hold true, we get stuck on the rails with no new or alternate possibilities.



        Liked by 1 person

  13. Shakti, I completely agree with your last assertion. But the cart before the horse.

    Once again, I am reminded of the Enneagram, which designates three categories defining how humans perceive their world. Although we all possess a plethora of attributes, there is yet wisdom in this ‘system.’ Without getting too far into it, some are Image types, others are Head/Thinking types and yet a third group fall under Gut/Kinesthetic types. So as a Gut type, I ‘feel’ my world first. Rational thought comes later. I eschew Image folks as deluded (I’m just being honest about my judgment, not intentionally cruel).

    I would have definitely reacted strongly to the smells, visuals and feelings around me, much as you did. Your mother sounds like an Image type, and with those people, it’s hard to shake them from their idealized version of how things appear, because it’s based on an image they hold fast to. So I don’t try and delude those people in my life. (I might roll my eyes in private, though 😉 )

    What a virtual lifetime of off and on studying of the Enneagram has taught me is great compassion for our differences as human beings. I can no more tell a Head type to ditch the anxiety than I can tell an Image type that how they are perceiving the world is false; a dream. “Look at the reality, for heaven’s sake!” But just because I am tuned into nuance and underlying intent doesn’t make my ‘reality’ more right than theirs. As you say, I believe, perception is illusion. As Hariod infers, try an experiment by changing the response, even by putting a smile on the face. I can vouch for the fact that it does start to shift my perceptions and interactions with others.

    What a marvellous life! Aloha, Shakti! Blessings!


    1. Dear Bela,

      Loved the aspect of Enneagram you have brought into your comment. Reading about it took my mind to the different personality types we become ‘wound up being’ based on a mix of genetics and socialisation. I have recently been evaluated as a ” Fire over Air’ personality type which constitutes me as possessing “Directive, Animated, Entrepreneurial, Aggressive, Problem Solving, Results Oriented” characteristics as a primary personality type and “Imaginative, Vivacious, Artistic, Holistic, Social, Sparkling” characteristics as a secondary personality type. I am fascinated to think how this might link into the different Enneagram types you have written about.

      Indeed , holding the awareness that different folks, based on how they wound up becoming, perceive situations differently to us, does allow for greater compassion, more understanding, more compromise and less of conflicts. So what could be done to shift more and more people into this awareness space?

      Thank you for the great thought you have brought in Bela! Namaste.



      1. Shakti, what a lovely description of you! Fire over Air, and the adjectives describing it! If I were to attempt to construct a bridge to the Enneagram, I would place it primarily in the Thinking type category on first blush, with an Image ‘Wing.’ So that would be, in the Enneagram, a Five with a Four Wing (given what you’ve mentioned as the Primary and Secondary characteristics.) But oh, to suppose this without having known and seen you personally for a time – in this system – is folly. Yet since you asked, I venture … 😉 Fives (often termed The Investigator) prize themselves on their intelligence; stay safe (or so they believe) by amassing knowledge (which can be in a particular area or several). They can be physically stiff and socially awkward, though some learn to adapt. They would eschew social media, for example, as an invasion of privacy. The Four is often called The Artist, with all that implies. The keyword for their suffering is ‘melancholy,’ and their suffering is how they navigate the physical dimensions. While some of us try and alleviate suffering, for them it is reassuring. They exist because of it. Again, the is all very cursory.
        Thanks for sharing, Shakti – always a pleasure to read your discourses! ❤


      2. Hi Bela,

        Thanks again. I am fascinated by the Enneagram bridge that you have created about me and the adjoining descriptors. Based on the way I occur to my own self, your descriptors on the ‘Thinking’ aspect seem to be spot on. Less so the ‘Wing’ part I am afraid. But then this is my occurring, not the reality!



        Liked by 1 person

      3. Glad you enjoyed my attempt at ‘typing’ you this way. Often it takes a great deal of study for some to determine the nuances of their Type. Others ‘get it’ right away. And once they do, I think it’s ongoingly helpful in understanding the complexities of human behavior.
        Aloha, and blessings, Shakti!


  14. Greetings Shakti….I have often wondered on this intense journey we have all been on, how we will ever be able to bring the world together when so many different realities exist for so many different people? If we all had one belief, one idea of reality we could change that together. But how pray tell do we change the world when every one of us sees life and reality through different eyes? Just trying to wake people up became such a struggle because nobody saw what I saw. It is the core issue of our dilemma I believe. How to bring together so many different states of mind. Hope all is well with you and btw, I would not have taken a dip in those waters. My eyes produce a stronger reality for me I guess. Like that old saying ” seeing is believing”. But is it really? Seems like a superficial way to believe somehow. Interesting…. VK 🙂


    1. Hi VK,

      Greetings to you too!

      You bring in a great question when you ask, ‘But how pray tell do we change the world when every one of us sees life and reality through different eyes?’ I cannot profess to know the answer but what I would say is this. We need to hold the awareness more and more that what we see, how things occur for us, is NEVER the only reality. There would always be other realities of that situation or event for other folks. As we train ourselves to hold such an awareness, we also shift from being reactive to responsive. To me, this is possibly the single-most important shift that can impact positively on the world and its multifarious problems.

      So my question to you is this. What could each one of us do to educate others regarding the Reality illusion each one of us live into?

      Thank you VK once again for bringing in your wonderful thoughts into this space.




      1. Shakti…
        That thought process of realizing we all think differently and to respect one another’s personal beliefs needs to become a movement, because you are so right. Somehow we have become trained to believe ‘how we see life is the only truth.’ When this occurs we spend countless hours trying to convince others to think like we do and ego certainly cements this process into place. It is time to become a self aware society rather than self absorbed. How does one start such a movement and make a difference? Beats me. If you think of something let me know 🙂 Be well my friend and have a safe summer.


  15. Thank you for this marvellously colourful and graphic article Shakti; it demonstrates so eloquently how we build our personal world based on past conditioning. We can bring the whole forward into our present circumstances too in noting how our own current emotional mood reflects how we perceive the world around us. Even more immediately, if we trace a simple smile upon our faces, then as if by magic and regardless of what our mood was, everything seems somehow more acceptable, pleasing even. Taking it one stage further still, then holding a genuinely felt thought of, say, loving kindness or compassion, renders the world utterly harmless and benign to us. With all best wishes, Hariod.


    1. Dear Hariod,

      I need to thank you for this wonderful perspective you have brought in here.

      Indeed that simple effort of bringing up a smile on our faces shifts how the world around occurs for us. Amazing, is it not!? I so loved that closing sentence of your comment that I am going to repeat it here.

      “..holding a genuinely felt thought of, say, loving kindness or compassion, renders the world utterly harmless and benign to us.”

      Your comment reminds me of what Mahatma Gandhi used to espouse in the last century. Somehow, somewhere, we failed to internalise what he used to say. I wonder if we could start now, with our own selves.

      Dear Hariod, I truly appreciate taking the time to visit and comment.



      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Shakti, the visit has been both a delight and a privilege; your writing is of a very fine standard in my humble opinion.

        With metta,



  16. Even in less obvious situations, it always amazes me how 2 or more people can be at the exact same meeting or event or whatever, and come away with varying accounts of what occurred … Love your story. ❤
    Diana xo


    1. Dear Diana,

      You are so right. And the fact that we are able to access such different occurrings and get to appreciate the fact that each is a separate reality in itself is itself a wonderful realisation, is it not?

      Thank you for your kind acknowledgement. I appreciate.


      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,

      When I think back to that time, I can only say that just as my mother was ‘blind’ to certain aspects, so was I to certain other aspects. Our selective blindness, as I have mused in my post,gets so based on our socialisation. Since we have little, if not no control on our upbringing, can we really be judgmental about the other person who ‘sees’ things differently?

      I can only say that as I have become more aware of other peoples’ occurrings, I have become calmer and more responsive.



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