Archive for July, 2010

Give your best to the time NOW

July 30, 2010

Perhaps I got the best of my lessons from my friends of college times.

It does take time for message to actually sink in, and nor I realized its value for long. But I find it invaluable because, I keep coming back to it.

I was perceived to be of very studious nature but, somewhere during my college days, I started taking my studies in a very casual manner. I took a very casual approach because subject of studies did not interest me. It took me sometime but I surely did notice that there were amongst my friends who studied hard though subject of studies did not interest them either. They did because they felt it was their duty, to themselves, to do so at the time NOW

Not necessarily in so much words but message I got was:
It does not so much matter where you came from
It does not so much matter where you want to be
It does not so much matter what you are doing
We have the time NOW, only the time NOW

Give your best to the time NOW, because this precious moment taken from the finite collection of seconds of our life, never comes back. Time lost, is lost for forever

My experiments with self realization!

July 29, 2010

As we seek to work with, control, and enjoy the big world outside, hardly ever take time into introspect and see a bigger world within; fiefdom of deceptively simple but deviously complex entity called mind. All attempts to reach towards self realization that I know of are attempt to go even beyond the mind, principal perpetrator of the great illusion.

My initial attempt, in all its childish innocence, towards self realization started at a very early stage of pre-teens with a fascination for Sanyasayoga, a path of renunciation. Years of guidance from my friends and mentors influenced me to agree that path of renunciation is tricky. That is, dividing line between escapism and true renunciation is very thin. I accepted that it is probably inappropriate to detach even before attaching!

Since then, my experimentation revolved around Karma yoga, Jnana yoga and Bhakti yoga. Common experience across my various attempts is a realization that the force that stops me from the realization is myself.

On the path of Karma yoga, what I found as deceptive is the pride about my possessions, and about ownership of action and achievements, works deep within me as motivator for further action. It continues till it reaches a point of trivializing my actions and achievements; it comes to a point none of it, by itself, is of any consequence! Hard lesson that I learned over a period of time!! Not exactly a new learning but surely a realization in itself!

On the path of Jnana yoga, what I found as deceptive is the pride about my knowledge! It works deep within me till it reaches a point of trivializing the very knowledge that I struggled hard to attain; knowledge, by now, has become a commodity or rather I made it a commodity! Possession like any other possession!! Another hard lesson that I learned over a period of time!! Not exactly a new learning but surely a realization in itself!

On the path of Bhakti yoga, what I found as deceptive is the pride about my devotion, with and without rituals; Bhakti yoga inexplicably taking shades of Jnana yoga! I am yet to seek out as did on Karma yoga and Jnana yoga but I can foresee the patterns of entrapment and I am almost back to Karma yoga on the lines of Zen

Caution: These notes are written from the perspective of curious, perpetual learner that I am rather than from the perspective of a practitioner or Guru; I have no claims of being either

Layers of intricate details in life, and Mahabharata

July 25, 2010

I am fascinated by Mahabharata, ever since my childhood, and fascination is only increasing as times goes by.

I have seen the best of ideology, philosophy, story, movie, etc that I came across taking a perspective on life; the closer to life, the more appealing. But, typically, it amounts to projecting multidimensional life to one dimension.

I have not yet come across anything even closer to Mahabharata in capturing layers of intricate details in life. Therefore, time and again, as I seek to understand life better, I get back to Mahabharata

Living through the great illusion!

July 24, 2010

I came across a couplet in the epitah of N N Pillai, while scanning through you tube videos recently. Words from those couplet are echoing in me: Did the world create me, or did I create the world in myself?

I have heard, and read, from many spiritual sources that the world that I live in is Maya, a great illusion. But that is hardly convincing because I am experiencing it; I refuse to believe that what I am experiencing is not real.

If the pleasure and pain, the day and night, the heat and cold, the birth and death, the win and loss are not real, then what is real? If colours of rainbow, heights of mountain, depth of ocean, are not real, , then what is real? If warmth of summer, cool breeze of winter, drops of drizzles are not real, then what is real?

I believe that the world around is real, and the Self that experiencing these is also real; denial amounts to denial of my own existence and any related thoughts thereof.

What I find is, the mind is a deceptively simple but deviously complex device. Self in me is almost led to believe that the whole world is created for me! It makes me believe that everything and everyone in the world is created for me! and in the process of controlling everything and everyone, I loose the precious moment NOW, and it is lost for ever.

Let the sun rise or set, let the clouds come or go, oh my mind, stop your interpretations for a moment; let me see the world in its full glory!

Choosing a way of life

July 22, 2010

I have often wondered why I am as I am. World has a unique way of answering my questions.

Whenever I go to beach, I watch multitudes of waves hitting the shore; many look alike, many come together but each one is unique in its origin, path, shape and end. Likewise, I think, each one of us is different, each has a different but related role to play in this world.

Let me elaborate it further:

Traditionally, we define four ways of life: Karmayoga, Jnanayoga, Bhaktiyoga and Sanyasa. Emphasis on Karmayoga is on Karma (action), while Jnanayoga is pursuit of knowledge and Bhaktiyoga is a case of absolute trust and devotion; of all the four, Sanyasa stands apart as a case of renunciation.

I have seen these four ways being discussed as four different approaches. They are indeed distinct but not necessarily watertight compartments as they are often made out to be.

By and large, approach to learning in recent times has been to divide complex subjects into manageable compartments of knowledge. Perhaps, this has influenced the attempt to understand these different approaches as well. To me it looks like, compartmentalizing human life into four compartments is too much of a simplification of reality. Key factor here, I believe, is accepting that each of us similar in many ways but distinct individuals at the same time with different aspirations and inclinations.

Therefore, you might align to one of the four ways of life but more realistic approach would be to identify your inclinations and aspirations, understand different shades of yourself and align to one or more from the four ways of life described.

I have heard that sculptor visualizes sculpture in the stone first, before he removes extraneous elements from the stone to create the beautiful sculpture that we see. I think, each one of us is sculptor of our own life. That is, we identify our true self and remove extraneous elements to see the Self in harmony with the Self and the world around.

That is my interpretation of ‘Swadharme Nidhanam Shreya, Parodharma Bhayavaha‘, from Bhagavat Gita. That is, life as per individual’s belief systems is better, rather than living on borrowed identity. It is a matter of realizing the Self, and accepting self accountability.

I find the same spirit embedded in Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali as he says:
Where the mind is without fear and the head held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

It echoes in the famous Buddha quote ““Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

So near but so far

July 21, 2010

As a philosopher, I seek truth; almost like an obsession.

What intrigues me is a realization that the force that stops me from reaching the ultimate truth is myself. At one moment, I feel I am almost there, I feel proud having reached but then is a realization that truth is much beyond.

This reminds me of a story that I heard, during my childhood days, about Adi Shankara; it goes like this:

Adi Shankara was on the way to Kasi Viswanatha temple. Chandala, a person of a “lowest caste“, was coming on the way and that person was asked to move to make way for Adi Shankara. Then, chandala asks Adi Shankara, in return, who should move; the Self within me or my body? Further on, Adi Shankara is said to have prostrated himself before Chandala, composing five shlokas known as Manisha Panchakam

This story is often explained on mythological lines and, therefore, what is highlighted is that, this Chandala was none other than Lord Shiva of Kashi Viswanatha temple. What I find interesting in this story is the message that how much does our pride, and other petty emotions, come in the way of realizing truth which is so near, if only we could break beyond confines that we have created for ourselves.

It is not a message for devotees alone. It is not message for a Sanyasi in far away lost in the heights of Himalayas but something for everyone of us to reflect upon. What we long for is so near, if only we care enough to look around, with an open mind

Chaturvarnyam: Getting it right!

July 6, 2010

Chaturvarnyam refers to a social system which was entrenched in India in the past but broken down in the process of evolving a modern democratic society. The word Chaturvarnyam finds reference in Bhagavat Gita as ‘Chaturvarnyam Maya Srustam Guna Karma Vibhagasah’ which translates to mean ‘Chaturvarnyam was created by me (Lord Krishna himself) as per Guna (nature) and Karma (work).

Any social group, be it a nation, an business house, or even a home, requires a leader around which it moves; symbol of authority and power. This power may come from sheer command, position of bestowed authority, money or even a combination of all. Whatever that be, such a leadership is required to get things done and progress. This is responsibility of one of the varnas: Kshatriya; it is symbol of authority and power

Any one who has led a team for a few years would agree that getting a team together in a civilized society to deliver consistently requires more than just power; it comes from moral/spiritual inspiration, ensuring that nott only we progress but we process in the right direction and in the right way. This is responsibility of another varna: Brahmin; it is symbol of knowledge and high moral standards

No wonder Chanakya has said: contented kshatriya and discontented brahmana are bound to perish quickly

Business and mercantile life represents yet another aspect of social existence, and that is responsibility of another varna: Vaisya. It represents the bulk of social interaction, and is symbol of business, trade and money.

What we rarely pause to appreciate is, for all the comforts we enjoy, someone somewhere has worked hard. In any social grouping, no progress can be made only when many people put their heart and soul, and collectively work towards the common goal. This group represents workers, in general, and contribute the majority. By no means, this group is meant to be inferior just as an ordinary citizen is, by no means, inferior to head of state, in a civilized society, so long as both do their duty right. On the contrary, it is duty of other varnas to protect interest of this group. Remember words of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, first president of India: “They call me the Prime Minister of India but it would be more appropriate if I were called the first servant of India…

Unfortunately, Just as many other great ideas, even this was corrupted overtime in the hands of bigots. It corrupted so much so that it was used as a tool for perpetuation of self interest as well as a tool for discrimination. The very fact that it persisted as a foundation for a social structure for centuries, even in a dynamic society like India despite political and cultural invasions of those times, goes to prove strength of the system of Chaturvarnyam.

I believe it makes sense to study Chaturvarnyam in details, stripping it off corrupt practices that came out during its implementation, as we evolve into a modern society, both for world at large and India in particular

Conditioning, Entrapment and Consciousness

July 3, 2010

Being happy here, and now!

July 3, 2010

Ashtavakra Gita

July 3, 2010

An interesting lecture introducing Ashtavakra Gita