Reflecting on the messages pouring in for 2020, the common era (CE) new year, two concurrent thoughts and feelings pulsate within me at the passing of one more CE year and decade, and beginning of another CE decade.
Past, Present & Future
First, I am transported to my childhood of the pre-email and pre-social media days. End of the year was about quiet time with family, friends and neighbours. But above all, it was also a moment to look forward to collecting stamps from all over the world and watching the varied types of cards that came in beautiful envelopes. I also recall the trips to the post office to dispatch off cards and letters and watching with fascination the postage stamps being franked.
From then till now — a time of no more than four decades — life has undergone a tectonic shift. Technology has become all pervasive and has transformed the landscape of our existence. Above all, I recognise that I have changed — sometimes through my own efforts — and more often than not, by a push from the other side that seems to somehow have a knack for meddling in the affairs of my life in a manner absolutely charmingly unique, and horrendously meaningful. Today, as I have learnt to respect the infinite wisdom of this ‘other side’, I look forward to welcoming the upcoming decade, of which the CE year 2020 is but a primer.
The ‘common’ era?
The second view that’s alive within me is the growing distance I feel from the common era festivities. Over the past few years, I find myself drawn more and more to nature and tradition based events. I feel happy in sending and receiving wishes for traditional festivals and ceremonies that punctuate the rhythm of nature and religious life. The common era events — like the calendar year (January to December), the financial year (which for India is April to March) the fiscal quarters (of utmost importance for stock markets and business operations) — do not carry any emotive charge or inner significance for me. Indubitably, they are important in the worldly reality we live in. However, in my own inner space, they amount to a mere change of dates. Additionally, they feel like a colonial imposition and alienate me from my traditional calendar — which I feel more drawn to now somehow.
Time and its measurements
Ancients the world over had two ways of measuring time. The Greeks differentiated between chronos and kairos — linear time vs. opportune time — highlighting the difference between its quantitative and qualitative dimensions, respectively. Likewise, in my own civilisation, kālam (or kāl) refers to sequential time, while muhūrtham refers to the moment when human intent has an opportunity to align with the cosmos. I have, over time, learnt that while ‘chronos / kāl’ is driven to a large extent by my ego intentionality, ‘kairos / muhūrtham’ requires me to have patience and surrender to that ‘other’, which also has a say in organising my life. While the former gives me surety in the outer world, the latter provides me with a steadfastness in the inner.
As we celebrate the common era linear movement of time and welcome 2020, I hope that may we find many moments of our own time filled with meaning, purpose and anchoring. May we have the grace and courage to align the chronos / kāl in all spheres of our life with kairos / muhūrtham that wishes to guide us from the other side. May kairos / muhūrtham move us more and more — towards our destiny…
Updated: March 25, 2020
Today marks the beginning of the new year as per a traditional Hindu calendar — the Vikram samvatsar. For some, the new year will begin 15 days later, post the full moon. For many, it starts post the festival of Dīpāvālī and for others, on other occassions. It is fascinating that each culture and era has its own method, and process, of recording and recognising time — for time is that which demarcates human life. It is that which imbues life with meaning, or at least propels us towards it. In its light, unfolds our significance — or otherwise.
Reflecting upon the recent events that have unfolded worldwide — in particular the pandemic and it’s attendant consequences at all levels — I have been reflecting on the following questions, and invite you to do the same.
What do the recent turn of events ask me to do? What aspects of my life do I need to relook and revisit — re-prioritise, re-envision and re-work?
What areas of my life still need expression and are calling out to me? Is this the moment to start being serious about them?
How have I seen myself and the various role(s) I have played over the years? Where did I fit in and where did I not?
From what seems to be unfolding, what is my understanding of the broad direction that nature is asking humanity (as a whole) to take?
What was (or has been / still is) my own personal desire / will / intention for the year and decade ahead?
Pardon my directness, but … if this pandemic was it for me, then how would I live life differently?
In just a couple of months, the starting CE decade has turned the world topsy-turvy. It is time to to ask ourselves the question, “What needs to be done (or not done) so that my desired kāl is in service of the muhūrtham that seeks to guide me?“