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 :-)