We as humans rejoice over the power of choice we have. But how many of us use those powers for betterment of society and our lot. Across the world we hear stories about violence and hatred; and whom do we hate? Someone who is not very different from you. Think about it, and you will realize that we are all same at our core. All of us get angry, feel lustful, happy, sad and the plethora of emotional states that defines our existence. We live a very isolated world, which we call our family, our state, our country, our culture. If someone fits into that fabric that defines “us” we open our doors, else our doors remain shut. But go one level deeper and you will begin to notice that our differences disappear, and we are all made in the same likeness.
In human society we have the “Haves” who have excess of everything and the “Have Nots” who are in dearth of everything. This discrepancy is created because of the fear that guards our very fabric, the fear of loss, the fear of death, the fear of shame. This fear is our survival instinct. This fear causes those who “Have” to do things in excess, by abusing their right and creating this discrepancy. As our greed grows faster we move towards a situation of turmoil and our animalistic instincts triumph.
Spirituality is not about meditating sitting in a cave somewhere. It is about understanding our animalisitic instincts and moving towards those instincts that define us. We do this not for ourselves but for betterment of humankind because spirituality is humanness.
One of my favorite movies is Good Will Hunting and my favorite part from the movie is when Will and Shawn are seated in the park overlooking the pond. Shawn tells Will “But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that”
This is beautiful moment in the film that I keep getting reminded of whenever I read yet another book on spirituality. Knowing and experiencing are two different things, and if the knowledge is used to experience something that is a good thing, else such a knowledge is an impediment. Again quoting from the Isha Upanishad, those who are ignorant will enter into blind darkness, so will those who are seeking knowledge. The gist here is that the knowledge itself does not lead to the ultimate, but can slow you down in the path. Knowledge is needed but not necessary to realize the self. I see this every day in a practical sense, when we hear what others are saying but rarely listen. If we can be aware and listen to ourselves & those around us that very experience will be fulfilling.
There are moments in my life where I want to get away from the world for sometime and be with myself. Those are difficult times because I know I cannot afford to do it, so there is a constant conflict. Knowledge comes in uncanny ways and one day I realized that this conflict is in my mind.
When we see a beach or quiet wilderness the mind goes there and it says to itself now that is where I want to be, quiet and peaceful. Only if??? Why is there a search for external crutches for inner peace? When the mind cannot find peace inside it looks for those crutches and hopes to find peace there. If you speak to someone who lives in Hawaii for example, they will tell you how stressed they are. While sometimes change in the external environment can make a difference (for a while) the peace has to be sought from the inside. If you, who live in the “real” world with its maya (illusion) can still be peaceful inside, will have achieved true happiness. Knowledge that if the mind is at peace, everything else will appear peaceful will allow you to make peace with yourself and the world. If Po the Panda can find inner peace so can you!
Ocean Pic: Source Flickr Free to use photos
Desires arise in everyone, and the spiritual quest is also a desire for freedom. Without the desire there is no goal in life since we would be going moment to moment without having anything to look forward to. What is desire? It is a tendency in the mind to achieve something. Desire has three phases, first from the moment when the desire arises, second fulfilling of it and third completion of it. Once the desire is completed, the mind expands & in this feeling of expansion you feel full, satisfied. This feeling of fullness leads you happiness, you feel good, you want to be nicer to people than usual etc.
Just like bubbles arise in a wave the bubbles of desire arise in the mind. Since it is a tendency of the mind to go from one place to the other, it is not satisfied in that state of mind and wants to keep moving. Think about it, your new job, your new degree, your new love, it felt so good during the initial periods and then slowed waned away. Why does this happen, because the desire is for objects of the senses and not for the self. When you (self) become full, life becomes full and problems become challenges. The spiritual journey is to desire for that fullness.
Tug of War: Source Wikimedia Commons
Think you are caught in the middle of tug of war, pulled constantly in both directions with no where to go, that is how it feels like when the mind is caught between opposites. This a sort of vacillation results in a disturbance. A disturbed mind cannot focus on thing at hand, is constantly seeking attention, is churning… trying to break free. When can it break free? When one of two things happen, the cause of disturbance is sorted out or you realize the disturbance and the source of it. While the former can take a while to happen, the latter can happen almost instantly. If you bring to your awareness the disturbed nature of your mind and put your attention on it, the disturbance vanes. This process may take many iterations before the mind can be brought to rest. So being aware is the first step towards working on your disturbed state. The second step is employing the breath along with awareness, this I will deal with in a later blog.
In some parts of the world where stray dogs roam freely in the street and you happen to be passing in your car in the night, they run behind the car at full throttle. Once they reach in front of the vehicle, they are confused at what to do? The go about their business, till they see another car and the cycle continues. Likewise in life we run behind certain things without knowing why we are doing it. In the process we trample all that comes in our way, hurt people, alienate friends, make foes and get tired. Once we reach the destination, we forget why we were running in the first place. Yes, it does feel good for a while but soon insecurities take over and we have to find another target.
While aiming for goals and achieving them is a good thing, if you stop and ask yourself why you are doing it, the journey to that goal will be far more meaningful. Otherwise you will keep running from pillar to post your entire life without reaching anywhere. So next time before your mind runs, stop and think for a moment how this goal can bring fulfillment to you and others.
What is it? So many books written, so many people talk about it, so many seers experienced it. It is a halo around your head? Is it magical powers granted to you by supernatural? What is it? I think it is for each one to experience, it is not a concept or a thing to be remembered. In essence it is freedom, freedom from what? Freedom from the senses, sense objects and the bondage of life. We have learnt a lot about freedom, about freedom of choice, but we rarely have choice in certain important matters in life. We don’t have choice over death, choice over the economy, the weather etc etc. While we can influence certain matters, not everyone can influence everything. We are bound because we are unaware of it and in this binding we talk about freedom. Being aware is the first step and being free is the next step. Most of us have experienced some form of freedom in our life, think when we were kids or young young adults in love and world was our oyster. As one master said enlightenment is a process of going from being a somebody to a nobody to an everybody.