Reflections: Joan meets Devassia

“In my father’s house, there are many rooms.” John 14:2

“Stories are not about words. Stories are about pictures.”

Joan Erikson and PC Devassia, in a tete a tete

“Congrats Joan, both of you were born in 1902 but you outlived him by three years and added one more stage to his eight though I would not fully agree with you there. I lived to be a 100 and six months more and gave up my life because I had completed my work here. The last six months were my preparation to quit. I would not call it old age. What strikes me most about the two of you was Erik was very open in acknowledging your contributions to his work and admitting that it is impossible to separate who did what. You certainly will continue to be exceptional examples of family dynamics and professional growth “

“You don’t agree with our nine stages of man”

“I decided what to do with my life when I was nine and continued doing it for 91 years. So it is not the chronological age that matters but whether you take position in life as to the meaning and purpose of one’s life. Some might do this in their midlife and many will never even pass through the first of the ten transformative gates from the human animal to the human. The ten transformative gatesMost people are dead in their thirties and forties though they manifest some symptoms of life, going by the laws of motion. Another problem is time in the west is perceived as linear.  For us a 6000 year old story is as much in the present as it is 6000 years in the future. We have a different way of perceiving time.”

“What would you propose in place of our nine stages of life?”

“We resorted to an ingenious way of crafting stories to carry content. Our philosophy is packaged into stories and transmitted through generations and they are perennial.  We have two of the all-time best story tellers, Valmiki and Vyasa.  Valmiki gave us the Ramayana and Vyasa, the Mahabharata. Between the two stories, the stages of man are elaborated.  The two stories are complementary to each other, the first one is more about family dynamics and the second one has a global canvass. “

“Can you explain the stages of man using these stories?”

“Let us take the character of Ravana. Valmiki draws upon his own life prior to his transformation to create this character. Ravana has ten heads, is very accomplished and he is an immortal, a boon he received for his austerities for 10,000 years. The ten heads symbolises ten stages, avatars, of evolutionary growth. Yet he is considered a primitive, prakrit.  He is juxtaposed against the protagonist Rama, the icon of the transformed man. He has the qualities of a catalyst. In his presence Ahalya, a petrified woman is transformed into her completeness. Though he has passed through many of the gates of transformation he fails to do justice to his wife.

“Ravana despite all his powers falls to win over Sita.  Rama recovers Sita from captivity and Ravana is killed. Ravana is our man of the day.”

“I am more curious about what happened to Sita.”

“That part of the story needs a re-telling in our context.  We had female philosophers, like Gargi and Maitreyi,  but no female versions of Valmiki or Vyasa. In ‘The Palace of Illusions’, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, re-tells the story of Panchali, the central female character of Mahabharata, from a feminine perspective”

“Despite all this noise, silence and the feminine will prevail. Men are such empty drums devoid of their feminine. May be I will work on gender intelligence in my next lifetime.”

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. “

“The camel is in a better position.“

Aligning with the Unknown


1 thought on “Reflections: Joan meets Devassia

  1. Pingback: Meta: The post on posts | First Discipline

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