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.