I was watching this Bruce Willis movie “16 Blocks” on Prime TV. In the movie Bruce Willis plays a cynical cop whose almost dead conscience suddenly wakes up when he is assigned with the task of taking a key witness to the court. Several cops are conspiring to kill the witness since his statement can be dangerous for them and Bruce Willis becomes the protector trying to take him to the court that is 16 blocks away. The witness is depicted as very talkative with a positive outlook who has gone the wrong path by mistake. He mentions about seeing signals everywhere and not recognizing them at first. Initially when an attempt to murder happens and is foiled by Bruce by chance, he thinks that Bruce is the wrong person to transport him and he was a reason for the mishap and all the signals(signs) are negative. Later as the movie progresses, the witness acknowledges that Bruce was indeed the correct person and god was indeed giving him the correct signal. You can watch the movie to know the complete story.

The movie made me think on signs (signals) from the universe. With signals as I notice there is a clear division – you are either a believer or you are a cynic, and it is difficult to prove conclusively that either one is right or wrong. Signals are very personal in nature and this is the reason it cannot be proved or disproved. Personally, I am the believer and I think signs are always there on one’s path. Owing to our mind remaining preoccupied, we often fail to recognize them unless these signals turn loud and or in your face kind.  Then again, the habits that we cultivate as we keep aging also makes us discard or ignore an otherwise loud enough signal.

The best example of this is our body signal for toilet. Even if you have forgotten your past, just observe a child of 2 or 3 years old. The child is on the verge of learning toilet manners. Naturally he or she has not yet learned to hold the urine till it reaches the bathroom. In the initial phase there is a struggle and rush to reach the toilet when the body gives a signal. By age 5 usually most children know how to hold and manage to go to the washroom without having to run. By age 10, we have become adept in keeping it on tight leash and go only during select time (for eg: tea breaks and lunch breaks of school or in morning after waking up). As we started working in office, due to office pressure several time we may have unconsciously ignored signals from the body to pass urine. An uncle of mine who was temporarily hopitalised and bed ridden, was asked to provide urine sample when he was lying in hospital bed. My uncle asked to be lifted and kept in standing position for helping him pass urine and mentioned that it is impossible to pass urine in a lying down posture. Such is the nature of cultivating that we have done on ourselves over time that we forget what came naturally to us as a child.

The above example just indicates how our preoccupation and culturing can lead to us ignoring signals that comes from our own body. So, what happens to signals from the universe?? If you are living in a metro city like Mumbai, you may have even grown accustomed to loud vehicle sounds by learning to zone out all the noise. However, this filtering of the noise has come at a cost- you have also learnt to ignore signals that the universe is sending your way.

People who learn to recognize signs, are prone to be more at peace with the world than those who run their lives without looking at signs. That is because when one begins to recognize signs one adjusts the day-to-day activities and lives accordingly to harmonize with the rhythm of the world. It is not that signs help one alleviate pain or help one bypass the challenging trails of life. It is just that the signs helps one to be at peace with the decisions that one takes. When one follow signs, it often feels like the neighbourhood kid of age 3 walking with careless abandon under the watchful eye of a hovering parent. The kid also stumbles and indeed falls several times probably hurting itself in the process sometimes, but it just quickly gets over the fall and starts moving again as if it knows that it is moving in the right direction.

Ever ponder on why do we often remark children are so innocent?? What really is innocence? The Cambridge dictionary states that innocence refers to “the quality of not having much experience of life and not knowing about the bad things that happen in life”. Miriam Dictionary defines it as “freedom from guile or cunning” and “lack of worldly experience or sophistication”. Now these definitions are as interesting as they are also telling. The child is considered innocent since it is blissfully unaware of bad things that can happen or it is innocent since it lacks worldly experience or sophistication and is incapable of being cunning to get what it wants. What these statements presume is that as adults we begin to get these traits automatically.

How do we end up imbibing these traits during our growing up? We often get punished for no fault of ours due to cunningness of other grown-ups. We also feel pain in various situations that are seemingly uncontrollable. As the inquisitive child, we begin to define this pain as punishment due to either verbal or due to the unconscious body language of the world around. When we keep getting punished often, we as the growing child wise up and learn to ape others and erect a barrier or invisible shield around us to protect ourselves from unwarranted punishments. This protection also takes form of cunning as offence or defence and soon we end up becoming a grown-up losing innocence in the process.

The primary reason for us losing our innocence is not the regular punishment, it is in the losing our faith or trust that someone is watching over us. When we keep getting punished, we often wonder why the watcher is silent and allowing this to happen. Usually for the child, the watcher happens to be parents not God. Not every pain is a punishment, however often children grow up to learn that every kind of pain is a punishment, and one must learn to fend for oneself to avoid such punishments. Parents fail to explain to a growing child what the pain is about because parents themselves have taken the explanation of “all pain is punishment” for granted. The lack of faith that is a trait of a parent now automatically transmits itself to the child during such difficult situations.

This according to me is where the start of losing a connect with universal signals originates. We lose our faith on a guiding star watching over us. Did you ever wonder why all the great masters kept saying “Be like a child”? It is in this primary quality of “Trust” or “Faith” that with every step that one takes, universe is out there ready to guide us should we choose to open our eyes and see. Pain is often a necessary element to bring out the strength within and for doing an alchemy that transforms one to be a force of nature rather than the selfish clod that one tends to become in the absence of guidance. In the name of protecting oneself or fending for ourselves, we close ourselves from faith or belief. Naysayers claim that if we keep ourselves open, world will take advantage of us. Indeed, that is possible. I like the adage that says, “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is not”. By choosing to close ourselves to trust, we do not alleviate pain instead we also invite suffering that prolongs the pain. On other hand when we become open, we may get pain, however the associated suffering can get dispersed quickly. We are in a position to release our fears due to which the pain is short-lived.

Suffering happens when we keep lamenting on the reasons for the situation and when we keep thinking on how to avoid future pains. When we hand over the trust to a guiding light (by looking for universal signs), we do not worry ourselves with the past or the future and hence pain does not become suffering.

Alas – Does knowing this makes me wise? Answer is no. I am just another lost soul trying to correct and connect myself to the universal signals. Probably, I have learnt to find my signals (and path) faster than many others every-time I sense the pain within. My insight allows me to quickly disperse sufferings that follow the pain situation. I share my experience and my insight hoping that it turns as an insight for you as well that can usher welcome change for good.

Today is 25th December and “I Wish everyone who has landed on this page a Merry Christmas with lot of hopes and goodwill for the New Year!”

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Satish R

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