Friday, December 27, 2013

Let my questions be cleared!


Here is an excerpt from "The book of secrets" by Osho:

Bertrand Russel remembers that when he was a child he thought one day, when he is mature enough to understand all philosophy, all questions will be answered. Then later, when was eighty, he said, "Now I can say that my own questions are there standing, as they were standing when I was a child. No other questions have come because of these theories of philosophy". So he said, "When I was young I used to say, philosophy is an an inquiry for ultimate answers. Now I cannot say it. It is an inquiry for endless questions."

Russel's statement connects with me so much. That is exactly why I started studying psychology, philosophy and other spiritual literature: to get answers. My questions started by an inquiry into the universe, galaxies, stars, black holes, etc. I wanted to study astrophysics.  And when I did read a lot of physics, I was amused by the vastness and greatness of the universe while being curious about the tininess of our own existence.  It bothered me for a very long time that how come in such a vast universe we are the only seemingly important beings. Is this entire universe, where we don't event account for a millisecond on universes life scale, just created for us? If we are so important, what is our purpose? If we do have a purpose, are we really fulfilling it? Am I fulfilling my purpose? What is my purpose? What is the right thing for me to do?  I always felt good when I found some answers only to quickly find myself entrapped among many other questions.  After a long stretch of questioning phase, my questions started creating a lot of suffering and agony.  Agony because the questions turned towards morality and everything that I did had to pass through a self-created moral filter.  I din't want to do wrong things.  I was confused as to how I would know what is the right thing to do unless I question?

Years of reading hundreds of books left me in a state of continuous thinking. Problems were no more real to me. They were only mental. When others suffered, I could not really empathize, because to me the problems were not real. They were only puzzles that were supposed to be arranged in a logical sequence so that they make sense. I had to dig into every problem, every decision, every action such that it made sense, such that it gave me purpose, such that they made me comfortable.   I was finding logic, attributing intention, and deducing meaning but I forgot to see the reality as it is; without judging. For years, I believed that being judgemental is about complaining and cretisizing. So, I did the opposite. I used my mind to embrace everything. But it somehow din't feel right all the time.  In my quest for happiness, I denied reality.

My life became a carefully crafted series of actions. Of course, it felt good to be in control and thoughtful. I also have to admit that this approach brought me many things which I am extremely grateful about. However, it left me longing for a sense of spontaneity. I did not want to scrutinize all my thoughts and actions. I did not want to ask if this is right or not.  I wanted to feel free.

I made the decision not to think that much and act freely. Well, as it were, it was not so easy.  I had perhaps hard-coded lot of thought patterns into my brain that it was impossible not to find myself in loops of thoughts (I intend to write a separate blog post on this loops, later).  I started Yoga but could not continue for long stretches of time as my mind was more focused on questions about Yoga instead of being able to focus on breath and awareness of the movements and posture.  In a few seconds' time, my mind goes into amazing labyrinth of my unconsciousness and keeps pulling thoughts like the rabbit out of a magician's hat. Thought patterns and associations I din't believe existed!



Here is a glimpse at just 60 seconds of non-stop thinking while I am performing an asana:

Am I doing it right? Should I be actually seeking the help of a teacher? Where will I find the right teacher who is of pure intention to teach me. How can I go to Bihar School of Yoga and learn for months together without working to support livelihood. I have enough money to sustain four months of training; but since I am a freelance contractor once my pipeline of projects is diverted, it is very difficult to regain it. What will I do then? I should not let this client go away. I have to work and deliver on time. Oh yes, I have to fix that bug which I have been postponing from a week because I was feeling too restless to work.  But working makes me long for Yoga. Oh god, let me complete this session quickly for today and work on that bug. Once I finish the pending things, from tomorrow, I will be able to better focus on Yoga.

Well, there is more to it, but the above thread is enough to give jolt to my own self as I write.

Once I realized the bombardment of my thoughts, I became more agonized because I seemed to have no control whatsoever on them.  I wanted to get rid of them. However, being on the path of intellect I questioned as to why those thoughts are occurring so that I can solve the root problem such as completing my work so that the concerns of work don't arise during my Yoga practice. To my amazement, the concerns never stopped.  If I thought of addressing one, there was another in the pipeline. I was just pulling the ribbon out of the Magician's pocket which never seemed to end.   I kept pulling this ribbon for years!

Very recently, I realized that that ribbon is a self creating one triggered by the act of pulling. So, the more I pull it the more there is to pull. The more I ask, the more questions there are. While taking a walk after visiting a beautiful temple and asking for guidance, I received the message that my approach is not very useful. Intellectually, I knew this for long time. But there is something about messages and insights. When they come, they just pierce through you leaving no more dilemmas about the topic concerned.

Practice! The message said, Practice! You spent way too much time trying to ask why this is happening. What is the cause. How can I eliminate the root cause of this problem. What are other issues that are influencing this, and so on. Well, sit down and meditate. All your questions will be cleared.

It was indeed very true. I spent a lot of time finding out which path is the right one for me. I spent lot of time getting proof of the path that I wanted to pursue. I wanted to ensure that the cake was tasty before I ate it. At the same time, I din't believe others' narrations for I knew the transmission of experiential knowledge is logically impossible.

In continuation to that message, a few days later, I got another message: It is not necessary that you get answers to your questions. It is much better not to get questions at all.  That is a state of bliss. Enlightenment, contrary to popular belief, is not when all your questions are answered.  It is that state when no questions arise whatsoever. It is a state where the reality is just perceived. There are no questions to be asked for there are no doubts. The entire existence of questioning and reasoning is based on our discriminatory powers. When you transcend to the state of oneness, there is no discrimination (the power to discriminate still exists, but the need to discriminate does not).  This leads to a state of no questioning.

Here I take a bite of the cake! The taste is not what I expected it to be. But that's the point, if it were like anything else, why eat this cake !!!

I eat and I pray - Let my questions be cleared!

(PS: The entire journey of years of questioning was not a waste. It was absolutely a prerequisite to the realization that questions need not be answered.)


Why is idleness such a drudgery!


It's a long drive, let me pick up some music to listen while I drive.

It's a long journey, let me pick up a book to read on the train or maybe I can carry my DSLR to capture some good photos.

I have to just wait in the hospital room, let me load up my kindle with some recent books to catch up.

I have nothing to do while I am waiting there, let me copy some movies to my phone to watch.

Let me check Google news and see what's happening. What's happening with my friends on Facebook?

What am I going to do alone at home over the weekend? Let's see if there are any new movies on Showcase.

These are all my recurring thoughts when I think of idleness. Like many of us, I am afraid of being idle. I don't know if it is fear, avoidance, or sheer unpleasant feeling that makes being idle a difficult option to choose from the plethora of other stimulus of entertainment.

It is not as if I am worried of not being productive being idle, for in any of the alternatives I choose from, nothing is productive per se. They just help me get lost in some other realm. Music takes me to a different plain; books put me in a serious philosophical battle, movies captivate my senses and push me between past and future, and online chatter keeps me engaged without having to think of any purpose. I am not saying there is anything wrong with any of these. Just wondering how come idleness is such a drudgery.

It is one of my recent insights that we avoid idleness because it has the potential to bring many unconscious conflicts to the surface. Conflicts which we don't want to resolve; which seem too overpowering upon us, or the ones which we do not have the resources to solve (or so we think). It is also possible that the idleness is an antidote to the rush that is created by our mind in its script of survival and mind does not like this antidote at all. It is very difficult for the mind to accept that sometimes, its services are not required. The mind keeps all its resources on toes to deal with all kinds of situations.  There is lot of counter pressure from the intelligence of the body to this kind of bossing. To justify this bullying, the mind has to come up with some strong overdoes of logic that it needs to do what it is doing. It is like our politicians, perhaps, who create a crisis to keep themselves important.

So, in light of such a crisis between mind and body, it becomes difficult for us to make a decision in favor of our body.  You may ask, why? I don't know. But I think the most probable reason is this: we are not sensitive to the messages from our body.  We are way too much in our mind and don't know when a message from our body knocks on the door. We don't pay attention to the body, till it knocks us down! Even when it knocks us down, we seldom take the message. We treat the symptoms and move on in the glory of our victory.  So, the result is that we are more sensitive to the messages from our mind than our body.

Think of this situation; we broadcast a message which is in the ultrasonic range to a large group of people. No one responds but their pet dogs are going bonkers. The dogs are sensitive to hearing those messages; we are not.  Fortunately, unlike ultrasonic sound, messages from the body are in a range which we cannot become sensitive to.  In fact, originally, we were sensitive to them but that faculty just got clogged with the constant hammering of messages from the mind. Imagine a traffic junction of a major highway and a small village road.  For every 120 seconds of highway traffic, 30 seconds of village traffic is released.  Again, you might ask, why consider body messages village traffic. If it is important, why does the body not send more powerful messages.  Unlike our mind, which is a fully dependent manager, our body organs are self-sufficient groups.  By and large, they do their work with commitment and try to get things done and don't keep raising false alarms all the time.  So, there are fewer messages from the body.

Well, I have come a long way from idleness to complicated entangled thoughts.  The point is we try to avoid idleness because we are not trained to become sensitive to other inputs.  So, without any inputs our sensory system does not know what to do. It sits and counts the stars perhaps. Meanwhile, the mind goes into internal loops which bring out the hidden conflicts to the surface which are not very pleasant.  Most likely these conflicts push us to take actions which we do not want to!


It would not be a great insight if it just ends with more explanation of the problem instead of a solution. The solution is mindfulness and meditation practice. Both these practices train us to turn our senses inwards as well as experience the bliss of doing nothing!  So, I recently made a choice that I will embrace idleness and do meditation or practice mindfulness instead of take the cover of other stimulus.  Of course, I will read when I feel like; but when I don't have anything else to do.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

You are neither the creator nor destroyer

you are neither
the creator
nor the destroyer
nor the subject
or the object
you are not
the catalyst
nor are you
the secret ingredient
you are but a carrier
of earth and ether
of spirit and air
and the endless fire

Creators of nuisance

creatures of nuisance
perhaps god's musings
frowned clowns
drowned twigs
hungry pigs
greedy dicks
running hares
snoring bears
free thinkers
full mind tinkers
logical bakers
reasonable fakers
creators of nuisance
the so called humans
perhaps god's errings

learn to love

learn to love
oh bloody fucking bastard!
learn to love
for thousands of years
learnt many things
sought power
fought for land
took pride
climbed high
called yourself
civilized
but dry you are
like the desert of thar
courteous pretentous
terrified petrified
you die, or
learn to love
oh fear-clad! before you die

Thursday, May 30, 2013

fears, deep and hidden


the denied demons
let gone memories
restless, nostalgic thought-forms
fears, deep and hidden
of gone-by years
jump at once
for even tiny tremors
of ego-quake
wearing masks and hats
of protection, oh dear!
calling names
and speaking tounges
causing pain
and raking wounds

promises and words
given and taken
are they so weak
to stand facing
fears, deep and hidden
close your eyes
and seek but one
love thy self
and love a little more
when you are flooded
give out some love
and then, give a little more
disguised, disgruntled
come what may
seems fear doesn't stand
a second in love's way

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Doing or Being, or Being and Doing. or Doing and Being


One of the core conflicts on the path of spirituality that everyone faces is the question of whether to accept things as they are or do something about it. One path says let things happen the way they are happening - accepting that it is the will of a greater power and is directed towards a greater good. Another path says, we have a short time given to us and we have to stand up and do what is right and what is good. Do not accept injustice and suffering; do something about it and make things better.

I do not know about others but this has been a long-time conflict for me. It is only very recently that I found out the reality about this conflict; that there is no conflict. There is only awakening, acceptance, and being. The problem with letting things happen by themselves is that mind will not allow you to be at peace. For the reality is not always happy; there is insecurity, there is crime, there is injustice, there is inequality all around and a mature mind will not simply show its back to such reality. Even if you do not really take any action against any of those issues, mind will experience severe cognitive dissonance which can manifest as other unidentified emotions such as frustration, irritability, depression, impulsive nature, etc.

On the other hand, if you have to stand up and fight, the whole experience becomes very judgmental  At the same time, deciding what is right and what is not becomes tougher and tougher as one learns more about the ways of the world. Furthermore, as you start asking questions, you see that the negative virtues are so overwhelming part of reality that you will not know where to start and where it can end. It only gobbles up the mental space with stress and anxiety.

So, why are these two contradicting things part of spiritual journey. My understanding dawned, perhaps, as a result of lots of philosophical thought and little experience.  Most of the time the qualities mentioned, the discipline prescribed, and the methods suggested on the spiritual path are not totally clear. This is more so in today's world where most spiritual journeys are happening without the direct presence of a Guru. When it is said that let things happen the way they are happening, it does not mean that you do not oppose injustice. At the same time, when you are told to stand up for what is right, it does not mean you change the whole world. It is a call for a very fine subjective state. What is truly required is to be not judgmental about what is happening; yet know what you need to do. The question of right and wrong, good and bad does not arise here.  If you are really trusting, you have to trust that your inherent qualities are capable of following the true path if not hindered. No one needs to teach a river, or make way for the river so that the river meets the ocean. Just don't stop the flow and it will by itself, by its own virtue, meet the ocean. Now, to ask if it is right for the river to meet the ocean or if it is right to construct a dam to improve agriculture is the game of the mind and ego.

Once you achieve this state of acceptance where you are no more judging anything, you just live! Now, that you have so many years to live, you have to choose to do something with this life. Now, that choice should be made in the direction that feels right to you in that realm. This is very important. Nothing is right or wrong from a higher spiritual realm; so it really does not matter what you do. But within this realm our actions are going to have consequences and we should be prudent to choose them. I would like to reiterate that, again, here you should not do something because you think that something is not right and needs to be changed. That will be judgmental  You should choose an action because you have to do something or the other in life and you better choose one that seems to have positive consequences within this realm. Realizing that everything is being guided by a higher power, allows you to move ahead with the confidence of doing the right thing.  Knowing that your actions and choices are irrelevant; yet choosing the right path is the true art of living and the path to awakening.

Friday, January 11, 2013

walking past twilight


i look at the moon and the stars
and wonder what they are writing on my cards
i nod my head left to right
and focus on the darkness of the night
as the mind refuses to sit still to meditate
i take a random walk just past twilight
the restlessness refuses to rest
the sleep is still far far away
sometimes the dreams talk gently
yet other times they elude and tease
for the unknown inside
no teaching and wisdom seems to please
the clock is too loud to bear
and the master is not to be seen anywhere
all the paths look welcoming
and all promise a destination
i am still trembling and fumbling
for i don't know whats my hesitation
faintly i do hear the calling
but the ego's strength is too ruling
the crossroads seem unending
and the walk and talk is still pending
i learned the rules of the game too well
and so i can't really play
yet i cant seem to sit and stay
to break free seems to be the only way
the ego is looking at me
like i am its prey
to break free seems to be the only way

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Intellect, Conflict and Self-realization


For years, I have been an intellectual and trying to reason everything out to find the truth and to know what is the right thing to do. I cannot claim that I found out the answers all the time; nevertheless, deep contemplation and logic have been my tools in life to solve problems and resolve conflicts.  Soon after I became aware of my cognitive processes of logic and reason, which started becoming all-encompassing and taking charge for almost everything in my life, I started wondering if I am becoming too methodical and logical that I am not able to do anything spontaneously or intuitively.  The thinking became faster and hence even the high-alert situations were becoming easy to respond to with thought instead of reflex. Of course, there are still some biological reflexes that are more hardwired to overcome.  In any case, the point I am making is that I was becoming worried that maybe I am moving away from experience and just processing everything like a computer; more mechanical.  Osho says "be spontaneous" - and the funny part about being spontaneous is that if you think that you should be spontaneous that itself is self-contradictory for you have already become pridictable (osho himself points to this contradiction- such a cunning guru he is)!

In recent times, with my emphasis shifting more to eastern style of spirituality I began to focus on learning through experience rather than through books and intellect.  One thing that occured to me about intellect is that as we hone our intellect (knowingly or through time), we not only start reasoning out everything but also start accessing our unconscious world more readily.  It is a long known fact that we do not readily have access to the information present in the unconscious part of our mind, which only becomes accessible in dreams or through symbolic repesentation and is not always clear. However the unconscious mind is effecting our every decision in life. My insight lead me to believe that as one starts reasoning out more and more, they will be pushed to become more aware of all the parameters involved in any situation. The more parameters one sees as contributing factors to any situation, the less the possibility of attributing the causation to any one particular thing. This leads to the realization (realization - not assumption) that everything happens like an orchestra and not just because one thing or person caused it. This is great learning in itself for it takes away the possibility of becoming angry or upset with any situation or person.

Coming back to the point, I believe that once the degree of intellect reaches a specific point (I don't have any rating here but it should definitely be far far above mediocre thinking), it starts accessing information from unconscious mind also. More importantly rather, unconscious mind starts trusting the cognitive process and reveals the information (read the previous line again as that is the key). This might happen primarily because, by then, reasoning is ready to believe that no one can be solely attributed with any causation. So, the unconscious does not fear about any acqusations and feels okay to share some stuff, which it will not do otherwise for the fear of guilt, ridicule, disgust or meagre judgement.

Since unconscious thoughts also become to surface, more and more actions look like they are becoming thought-out rather than spontaneous.  I learned it is okay! For when we become aware of our unconscious and start using that information as well, we are slowly becoming aware of who we truly are! Without that knowledge and acceptance of who we are, self-realization will just be a feel-good term.

The other side of the coin is that becoming so aware of ones unconscious mind will initially be a very daunting experience.  For it takes lot of time to realize that one is accessing information from unconscious as it actually manisfests in different forms that may not be easily readable. So, to identify that the conflicts one is experiencing in life are actually communication from the unconscious itself takes some time and that time is very traumatic. If one learns to be patient and hold oneself together, they will move past this stormy phase and realize that all the conflicts were actually very useful.  Sadly, many people just get trapped in this stage and do not come out of it. They become keenly aware of all the congnitive processes but don't reach the phase where they can accept them as they are. They fight! Irrespective of who wins in the conflict (mostly between mind and heart as people famously know it), the soul is left with wounds and scars. And then people blame that thinking too much will lead to moving away from reality and experience.  Yes, that will happen if people get trapped in that initial phase and refuse to accept certain facts. But if they do, and move on, the deep cognitive process will eventually lead to liberation as it will show to a person that in the end of everything it is just a great, beautiful, mystical, exhilerating symphony of the universe! Perhaps, such is the path of Gyan Yoga :-)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

streams of blurred consciousnesses

somewhere deep in the valley
amidst lost souls and
streams of blurred consciousnesses
i swim to find a shore
desperately, so badly

the places are all familiar
but they don't belong
earth and the breath
are all but borrowed on time

searching for that which
i have never known
knowing that i may not know
when i find

the water is cold
and it's burning my feet
walking in the water
is not that easy either

the rocks and sand are smooth
it's the water that's piercing
looking from up above
it moves like a tear drop
easing its way out
and floating untamed

the burden is too high
not letting me step by
pinning down to the bottom
with rumbling sounds of wind
escaping through the gaps
a stillness of the doom

where is the lighthouse
and where is the hairpin bend
even if there is a chance
i don't know what to mend

i might as well have been here
again and again, round and round
but the lender is pushing for interest
the elements are all in transit

i realize i am going to the ocean
but alas, i carry nothing
what should i gift to the mighty
from all this journey and the flow
what shall i show when i go home
no twig to hold and the water is so cold

Saturday, August 6, 2011

melody in the air

I sat down to meditate
trying to clear my mind out
pushing away all things unnecessary
to go deep, meditate, experience joy

a distant song, melody in the air
reached my ears, and stuck my heart
the sound is good, but the time is not
my mind again pulled itself, ready

perhaps it was the song of morning flock
birds flying out of their nests
to start another unprecedented day
but right now, i have to meditate

it could be the birds exchanging
morning pleasantries to one another
or the orchestra of wings flapping together
i better close the windows, i thought

just then, my teacher walked in
asked what i was fighting for
and why i was sitting there

in meditation, master, i seek
to experience deep joy and bliss
but my heart keeps following
sounds from here and there, feather and flock

what joy can you experience, he said
that is not in that distant song
what bliss can one seek
that is greater than the melody in air

look around and open your heart
joy and bliss are right here, right now
joy is where your heart is
the heart is in that distant song
in the melody in the air

Monday, August 1, 2011

I am sitting here alone in the dark room

I am sitting here alone in the dark room
looking everywhere, and alert
my mind aware and afraid
engulfing dark forces all around

I close my eyes to escape
the fear darkness elicits
moving deep and deeper inside
stumbled upon another darkness

this time, the heart was afraid
finding within my mind, darkness so dreadful
my heart flapped its wings hard
to fly out of those unknown corners

I opened my eyes and sat unmoved
the darkness outside now looks
more illuminated, more perceivable
can't close my eyes while conscious anymore
have to wait till sleep takes over

I am waiting for my teacher
to come and hold my hand
take me back to those corners
and lighten them up with his love
oh! teacher where are you
I am sitting here alone in the dark room

Saturday, July 30, 2011

oh dear, seek what you need

when you are suffering, seek joy
when you are in the dark, seek light
if you see no hope, seek faith
don't panic and don't ask in haste
oh my beloved, don't seek explanations

seek your purpose, and wisdom
you shall be shown the path
seek strength and courage
the angels will fly by you
oh dear, seek what you need

ask not, why this has happened,
seek not, the dreadful, why me?
to show you the causes,
the pandora box has to be opened
oh dear, don't go there

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Looking behind, and moving ahead...

She looks behind, only a glance
Dark and desolate the path
With melancholy and deep longing
But she can see where the light is coming from

Thousand memories pacing, racing, seeking attention
Each one afraid of oblivion, of losing
Selling themselves and binding more
Building a fabric, with threads of pain

A voice from deep inside rises
Stands up and demands to be heard, followed
The feet move forward, one step and then another
She knows where the light is coming from...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My heart is weeping!

Is it all happening according to your plans,
Killings in the name of supreme God,
Or, are you testing us when we will take action?
Should we wait for Peace or fight for Peace?

Should we pity the wrong-doers and pray for their wisdom,
Or, fight like Arjunas of this Yuga?
Are we ignorant or are we submissive?
Show us the path, throw some light

Shall we believe that all the victims had their destinies,
Or, should we stand up and say, 'this is wrong'?
Can we say, birth and death are, but passing seasons,
Or, rise like Kali and do asura-samhara!

Oh! Lord! Give me wisdom; Give me strength.
Wisdom to know what is right,
Strength to do that that is right!
Oh! Lord! My heart is weeping
Is it part of your plan, or are you testing?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Daybreak

It was hot and humid even at four in the evening. The scattered clouds here and there were not able to hide the midday sun's rays. The bus stopped and an elderly lady with a two bags full of biscuits to sell got on the bus. There is no seat free and she kept her bags next to a pole and stood holding the seat's arm-rest. When the conductor came, she gave three rupees and asked for a ticket to the next stop, which was two kilometers away. It was a tiring day so far but time to go home. The conductor gave a cynical look and said, "don't you know maaji the ticket price has increased from today, to seven rupees". The woman suddenly gasped for breath but managed to ask the conductor if she could get the ticket just for this day for the usual three rupees. The bus was crowded and the conductor irritated. "i don't own this bus maaji; please give the change, i have to tender more tickets, or you get down the bus". The lady could not process much but helplessly asked him to stop the bus. "Why do you come to eat our brains, i fail to understand", screamed the conductor and tapped the cealing of the bus with his ticket-holder indicating to the driver to stop the bus, and rushed the lady to get down quickly.

She got down the bus and stood there for a few seconds not knowing what to do and then decided she will take a walk. The walk was slow and preoccupied. She was calculating all the additional four rupees on tickets across the month and the provisions she can buy to sustain household, occasionally wiping the unstopping sweat off her forehead and cheeks with her saree. After a walk for about 20 minutes, she needed rest and sat on the pavement. A 20-storey five-star hotel stood tall and gave shade to the place where she was sitting. From a distance, the building looked very attractive with so many small box-like-windows for each room. Three storyes above where she was sitting, a businessman was rushing to a meeting. The waiter knocked the door and got the coffee the businessman ordered just a few minutes ago. He placed the tray containing coffee decotion, milk, and sugar on the side table and left the room. The businessman made the coffee in a hurry, buckled his belt, and sipped it. A frown on his face. What a waste, I don't know who taught this fellow how to make coffee. He poured down the 90-rupee special coffee down the drain and left the room as the door got locked behind him.

Down below, the lady got up and started walking again.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pens, pencils, paper & junk

i went to see this pond
where i have been told
the water is very clear
i longed to see my self
in the reflection with such clarity
i ran in hurry to reach there
bent forward to look into the water
pens, pencils, paper and junk
from my shirt pocket fell in
created ripples in the water
and the reflection was not clear
i could not perceive anything
i wanted to wait till the ripples are gone
but the sunlight has already withdawn
and i had to go and come back again
this time with empty pockets
with nothing to create ripples

Monday, June 6, 2011

Learning to unlearn and let go

For a long time, I have been treading a path which is not only unclear but also very uncertain. I have been seeking wisdom; wisdom about things that are clearly visible to us, and things which are mystic. It is amazing to realize that the most common, day-to-day things are as, or more, complex than some of the mystic things. Well, in my journey to seek wisdom, I have tried to find the source of right wisdom. I was seeking something which will show up as a thundering bolt or a dazzling stream of light and enlighten me with some esoteric knowledge about the dharma of cosmos and the secrets of karma calculation formula.

I have been praying and meditating to get that wisdom. And then one day, a thought occurred that turned my journey upside down, which I have to definitely owe to our ancient and mystic language: Sanskrit.

Let me elaborate it here: I have been seeking “Gyan” like a person in darkness seeks light. What is he actually seeking? He is seeking the lack of darkness. Similarly when I am seeking Gyan, I am seeking the lack of “Agyana”. However, for me, and perhaps for many people “Agyana” implied “ignorance”. But what if the word “Agyana” is interpreted like “Ashudha”, where “Ashudha” means that which is not pure? What if acquiring “Gyan” is not an act of acquiring right wisdom but is an act of getting rid of impure wisdom that is already present, that we have acquired through millions of years that have been spent under the watchful shadows of Maya?

This insight did not ring bells of joy or ecstasy, but made me little sad. The reason for that is, before this thought occurred to me, my journey was at least focused. I knew I was seeking something. But now, it requires letting go off all the unnecessary things that I acquired so far, intellectual, mental, and physical things. Unlearning is much complex than learning something new; there are so many sources of information to know new things, but far less to take you through the path of unlearning.

Nevertheless, I have to start treading this path now. I am now attached to the path of letting go until I let to off everything else…

The one step to liberation

Like professor Landgon says in Angels and Demons, "Faith is a Gift". My education lured me with proof of concept and snatched faith away from me long ago. Since then I have been fighting to find meaning through logical reasoning and intellectualization. I was offered the choice of red pill or blue pill during my "aksharabyasam" and force fed the red pill. I am just narrating the facts; no complaints.

All my questions came and ended in mystical reservoirs like all rivers go and meet the ocean. But the well-trained, red-pilled, logical mind is still struggling to understand the symbols of mystical nature. One question the skeptical mind kept on asking again and again was "Are these mystical experiences, so vividly narrated by the mystics, really true?"

If they are true, why are they not more common. Why are they limited to only such short number of people? If transcending the consciousness and diving into the super-consciousness is just a matter of elevated awareness, why is it not commonplace and why are the methods to do it not rather simple? If letting go of the ego is the only step required to perceive higher levels of existence, why is it so difficult for us to do it? It is so difficult that masters advice their desciples the fatal dangers of trying such feats without proper initiation and guidance. Why is it not common and why don't we see it more often?

Those questions lingered in my head for a long time until now, before writing this piece. Once again, ironically, a metaphor came to my rescue in answering these questions, and the answer is simple like my sir sings "Thats why, thats why, because it's the human nature".

Why do people smoke even when they know its harmful; why do we eat junk food even when we know it will spoil our digestive systems; why do we keep on complaining about problems but don't take up actions to solve them? Why do we show different kinds of caring and compassion to "outsiders" and "insiders"? The answer for all these questions is simple: short-sightedness. Believing that this moment is just this moment and is not connected or influential to our futures is perhaps the crux of the problem. This is the same reason for holding on to our egos so firmly, because of believing that this life is all there is, believing that our physical boundaries are the self and not knowing that the self is actually a projection from outside to inside and does not cease to exist when the boundaries of current self are broken. The self is not just in here, but "here" which does not have space-time boundaries.

Alas! I guess just knowledge does not help, because we still eat junk food. Well, I decided not to, from now on...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why cannot we know the future? Or, can we?

Well, many people might have asked this question many times in life. However, this current blog post is triggered after my friend commented on my previous post “What is Life?” and then said that she “wished” to know some things. I might not be able to provide the answers for all her questions, but I will try to give some pointers. Here is what she commented:

Hey.. Welcome back.. Sateesh.. good post..! now, I understand the double-slit experiment of quantum mechanics.. coming to the core insights you have given here.. Convincing..!! but, why can not one organism know.. its next transformation? I wish to know… if possible.. :-) And, why doesn’t every organism understand what other communicates? How would it be if everything can be understood? How can one develop such skills? Hehe… all weird questions... right? but, I wish to get answers.. :-)

Of course, we can know the so called transformations and know the future. However, there are two complex problems with that. One, we do not have awareness about all the forces involved in any action. We just know about the four forces: gravitational force, electro-magnetic force, strong and weak nuclear forces. Even if we knew about all these forces, we need to evaluate the infinite number of permutations and combinations that are affecting a single system at any given point in time. Let’s say you throw a ball into air and decide to predict where it would fall, you need certain data regarding some of the forces affecting the ball.

1. You have to evaluate your strength with which you threw the ball
2. The weight of the ball
3. The surface structure of the ball
4. The angle at which you threw
5. The air resistance
6. The temperature of the environment
7. The gravitational force of your environment; if you threw it from moon ;-)
8. The composition of different gases in the environment because different gases have different fluid dynamics

Now, your ability to predict where the ball will fall will depend on the accuracy of the data you have regarding these parameters, and then, the formula that you have to apply to get to the solution. Very interestingly, these two aspects reflect two important elements in life. The accurate data represents Knowledge, and the formula represents your Understanding of the Laws of Nature: knowing what it is and then knowing how it interacts with what is.

In life, generally, we miss either one of these elements. Sometimes, we have the wisdom but do not understand “how things happen like that”. We all know that a cyclone or storm will bring lightning and thunder; this is Knowledge. But, how many of us know exactly why lightning strikes only when there are storms or cyclone? Simple example, but not many of us know the intricate details of it.

Sometimes we might know how things happen, but we do not have the data. For instance, while I was first trying to learn how to play flute, I saw others playing flute and I knew that if I blow into the embouchure, it will produce beautiful sound. I knew how the air interacts with the flute and produces sound. But I did not know how much air to blow or at what angle to blow.

Now, to make life more interesting, there is another element, which is the “Why” of it. Even when I know how much to blow and at what angle to blow, I do not know why blowing at that angle produces sound. Advanced physicist might explain me that when the longitudinal mechanical waves that are triggered from the vibration of the air touching the edge of flute, it creates certain vibration in the wood at certain frequency and amplitude and wavelength and it produces the experience called sound at our ear drums. Wonderful! But, why does such and such interaction produce such an experience at all? These kinds of questions, irritating as they might seem, lead to the cliff from where you will find a seemingly endless abyss. It’s your choice to take the plunge into it or not. No one can tell what you will find if you plunge, or what you will miss if you don’t. You will know, only by jumping. But, you know that jumping is a risk. We have been conditioned to avoid risks from childhood, and probably even from prenatal period.

This is where Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle sneaks in. Who can tell whether you will jump or not? If I have to predict about certain event which involves you, I have to also know whether you will jump or not. But I do not know that since your choice is totally yours and it may not have any reasoning; it might just be pure “Intent” to which I do not have access. Then, can I predict?

I know I started the answer by saying that “Of course, we can…” I still stand by that statement. You can know provided you have both the Knowledge and Understanding of the complex interactions, which many cultures have been calling as “Wisdom”. To know all the forces in the universe, you should have access to the entire universe. For that, you need to communicate with the entire universe. How will you communicate to someone without knowing their language? Do you know how your brain communicates to your hands when you are typing? You don’t know. But you know that it communicates. You take it for granted because you believe that your brain and hands are part of the “you” and hence it is no big deal. So, when you realize that you are part of this universe just like your brain and hands are part of “you”, you will know how to communicate. This realization cannot be in the realms of belief. It has to be your “reality”. It cannot be something that you hope, believe, or accept. It has to be something that you “Know”.

How to develop such skills? Well, there is nothing to develop or learn here. In fact, you have to un learn whatever our conditioning has taught us from centuries. You have to break the boundaries of your ego and stop believing that you exist independently. A star across few million light years is as much a part of yourself as your hand!

What is life?

I did a brief search on Google, (which happens to be my personal secretary) on what is the definition of life and here is what I found on Wikipedia:

Life (cf. biota) is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have self-sustaining biological processes ("alive," "living"), from those which do not[1][2] —either because such functions have ceased (death), or else because they lack such functions and are classified as "inanimate."

I also read in my psychology course that children before developing the cognitive skills have a phase of life during which they believe in animism. Animism refers to the belief that everything is alive. That’s probably why my two-and-half year old nephew shouts “mama, the door hit me”.

For a long time, I was perplexed with this question as to what is “alive” and what is “not-alive”. Pondering over it for years, I proposed some axioms to define what can be called “alive”:

  • It should grow
  • It should cease to exist after certain time
  • It should have intent or the experience of being alive or the self-identity which identifies itself from the surrounding environment

I was very happy when I formulated these three axioms because they seemed to fit the bill exactly. Before you read any further, stop and test these axioms. Take any living organisms and see if they fit these three properties. Years passed in bliss until I went back to studying my favorite subject once again from fundamentals; Physics.

When you read physics in conjunction with philosophy and then read any literature on mysticism, your brain gets the same experience that a lump of meat gets in pressure cooker while it is happily blowing its own whistle. That’s when I realized the fallacy of the axioms I postulated in defining life.

Growth is not necessary in terms of the macro-world. Even a single cell division can be regarded as growth. Similarly, even nuclear fission can be considered as growth. If my basic physics is right, the basic principles behind cell division and nuclear fission are the same. There is an external catalytic source of energy which causes the cell or atomic particle to get charged and start splitting. So, there is a problem with this axiom as well.

The second axiom is even more complex. Yes, all living organisms cease to exist. What we call as the organism is defined by its characteristic features such as shape, form, structure, pattern, etc. But, these features cease to exist in anything under the sun (even inside the sun). Nothing in this universe remains in the same shape, form, size, or pattern. The time involved in transformation is different, that’s all. Humans take about 100 years to transform from one pattern of energy system to another; a star takes about a billion years.

Intent and consciousness are subjective realities and can never be detected by someone else unless expressed by the organism that is experiencing them. The expression requires certain apparatus like language, or gestures, or behaviors, or something else. What if the organism does not have any of the required apparatus to express its experiences? Let’s say there is an organism which does not have muscles, which cannot move, which cannot express what it is feeling if it is feeling anything. How will you ever know that it is alive?

However, if you observe the above drawbacks, the axioms do not fail in fitting with all living organisms. They actually fit for everything in the universe! Let’s explore how.

If you approve big bang theory, the universe as a whole is growing; from a point of singularity to an ever increasing entropic system. All the atomic and sub-atomic particles are continuously bonding and forming new relationships, and systems. A single-proton hydrogen atom acquires energy along with some more protons and electrons, and forms helium and grows henceforth towards higher states (or complex states).

All the shapes, forms, and patterns of all the things in the universe are constantly changing and transforming. Nothing exists as it exists in the “here and now”.

Coming to the last postulate, to understand this it might help if you know about double-slit experiment of Quantum mechanics. In a classic experiment to unravel the wave-particle duality of electrons and photons, a physics experiment was conducted where electrons were fired from an electron gun towards the other end of the apparatus where the pattern is detected on a screen. They placed a filter in between the source and destination which has a slit in it. When the electrons are fired, the electrons behave like Good Samaritan particles and form a single straight line patterns on the screen. Now, when the filter is changed and replaced with one that has two slits, the electrons suddenly behave like waves and show an interference pattern on the detector screen. This is interesting. But, there is something more which is bamboozling. When the experimenter decides to see what actually is happening at the filter and places a detector there, the electrons behave like particles when there are two slits and show straight line patterns on the detector screen. I know it is little confusing to imagine all this. So, I suggest you see this vide here to understand the exact scene. Click here for the video

Now, I wonder what makes the electron “aware” that it is being watched. There are physicists out there who argue that it is the existence of the additional apparatus that change the interaction between the particles and changes the outcome of the experiment. However, I fail to understand how the electron suddenly recognizes the observer? This experiment has been conduced thousands of times by thousands of physicists and it yielded the same results. This has swindled the western scientists and philosophers. But for us great souls in the east, it is easy to understand the concept because it has been long told in Vedas that everything is conscious and this is very much reflected in our culture, tradition, and rituals.

So, if all particles in the universe are conscious and have their intent, grow, and cease to exist after some time, is there any point in debating what is alive and what is not? Don’t you think this whole universe is one gigantic living system with so many organs and sub-systems? Can any one part be “living” and other “non-living”? If one part of my body can communicate to the other, and express its desires or despairs, don’t you think that all the systems in the universe also communicate with each other in languages not known to us at this level? Do we understand what our heart is currently talking to our left hand little finger? Why are we so fixated in this “dead” world? Is it our search for meaning as unique and special creatures in the universe? Or is it the restlessness to attribute value to our seemingly purposeless “lives”. For me, this understanding has changed the way I use the words “live”, “life”, or “alive”. They don’t seem to have the same meaning as they had earlier. Now, to me, “transformation” precedes “life”…