Do you remember the paralysing feeling you get in a dream when you desperately need to run away from a disaster but your legs won’t move? This unsettling existence is how best I can describe my life until I met her.

To begin with I didn’t even know what I was looking for. To the close ones around me I named my search as looking for the deeper meaning of life. The stuff we millennials get flak for.

School was a breeding ground of a turmoil between obedience and the urge to express my quirks. Obedience won hands down. Those growing up in Asia would know that until recently uniqueness wasn’t celebrated in schools. Instead competition was revered. This exact trap made my school life suffocating for me in a way that I didn’t realise back then.

As soon as I finished school I was willing to experiment with my life. I was driven, rather dragged, by that inner voice that did not let me settle down at the periphery itself, even though the general conclusion was that settling down is the answer to every restlessness.

Obedience made me a people pleaser and seeking made me audacious. Living this seesaw of obedience and rebellion eventually backfired when my ‘happy-go-lucky’ attitude was perceived as being irresponsible and unaccountable. But the seeker in me was willing to risk looking like a fool for the sake of my curiosity. At least till I found my ground.

My path began with non-conformity during which I suspended following religious rituals blindly. I wanted to know their depth first. This thirst for depth cost me humiliation from self-proclaimed righteous members of my community. For being sensitive, I think the only thing that kept me seeking, despite the vicious mental attacks, was my sheer rebellion to know God, Love or Life on my own terms.

I don’t come from an orthodox family. My family may have been uneasy with my choices but they nevertheless gave me the space to explore.

Although I was born and brought up in Mumbai, it was too intense for me. The cut throat shrewdness, that comes with the desire for success, overwhelmed me. I could not relate to it. Neither could I give in to it. To the world I may have looked like the court jester but to me I was constantly redefining my comfort zone. Already during my architectural studies I learned Vipassana and Zhineng Qi Gong. Later I learned Sadhguru’s Inner Engineering and a few other techniques that deepened my connection to the spirit. But practically living this wisdom everyday still evaded me. I was hungry for it.

After graduating as an architect I refrained from jumping onto the job bandwagon. Instead, I travelled—to Russia, Spain, Brazil, Nepal and Bhutan while also travelling to the interiors of India extensively. This helped me connect with architecture personally in a humane and sustainable way.

On the way, I met pioneers like Manish Jain and Edgard Gouveia, Jr who confirmed my suspicion that you can lead a successful life of non-conformity. As result I co-founded the bio-architecture firm Put Your Hands Together.

This exposure and knowing was deeply healing for me. It gave me many outlets and opportunities to become comfortable with ‘being different’. But being different isn’t enough as we millennials find out after much ado. Being different successfully. Being different peacefully. Being different meaningfully and being different contributively is crucial.

I longed for a mentor, who would hold my hand towards my own independence. Does one exist? Wounded by a dogmatised belief system I ran into the arms of the inevitable experience of Gurudom, where your surrender is exploited. Thankfully I did not become bitter like many who experience similar exploitations. In fact my search only deepened.

That’s when I met my Guru Udumbara Gesu—a calming blend of profound inner stillness with material intelligence. Different and audaciously successful at it.

My understanding of dreams, actualisation and engagement with life leapt to a whole new level when she taught me the value of knowing my own inner Guru. Through her I learnt the crucial difference between surrender and submission. She said that while the seeker must surrender to their quest, submission to the teacher is not a truthful path.

(The title and article are from the writer’s forthcoming book.)

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  • ShivShera

    Bio Architect, Visual Artist & Personal Growth Facilitator

    ShivShera helps millennials, especially men return to living life with innocence, vulnerability and love successfully. He is a positive disruptor. “I belong to an emerging world where we don’t hang up our dreams to survive reality. Instead we build a reality that nourishes our dreams.” He has brought his signature Cathartic Art to mainstream organisations like TISS & UWC Mahindra amongst others. He co-founded ‘Put Your Hands Together’; now a leading sustainable architecture firm. Mid-Day newspaper reported ShivShera (officially Azeer Attari) amongst the 35 young people to look out for.