Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

Vairagya Satakam, and detachment

April 2, 2012

In my philosophical pursuit, I came across Vairagya Satakam of Bhartrhari, which literally translates to mean ‘100 verses on detachment’. Personally, I find it to be a very powerful statement of disillusionment and detachment.

Detachment and disillusionment is something that always fascinated me right from my childhood. It is probably easier to practice in absolute renunciation as in Sanyasam but hard to practice in day to day life of Grihasta. Yet it is not impossible as story of Janaka, as explained in the context of Ashtavakra Gita indicates. Again, as I look around, I believe there are quite a few people who lived in the same spirit in recent times, and are living now as well.

An interesting verse from Vairaagya Satakam’ is:
Bhoge Rogabhayam Kule Chyutibhayam Vithe Nripaalaat Bhayam
Maane Dainyabhayam Bale Ripubhayam Roope Jaraayaat Bhayam
Saasthre Vaadibhayam Gune Khalabhayam Kaaye Krithaantaath Bhayam
Sarvam Vasthu Bhayaanvitham Bhuvinrinaam Vairaagyamevabhayam

It roughly to mean (in my knowledge):
When we indulge in pleasure, deep down we run a fear of missing it. When we belong to a socially respected group/family, we are afraid we might loose it sometimes. When we are rich, we are afraid of (too concerned about) money being apportioned by authorities. When we are a respected person, we are wary of situation which compromise respect. When we are powerful, we fear defeat (from someone more powerful or deceitful). When we are young and smart, we are afraid of aging. When we are scholar, we are afraid of being defeated in debates. When we are well off, then we are afraid of vandals (bad elements who are out destroy your peace), When you have good health, you are afraid of death. Fear is associated with everything and only detachment is the refuge.

This may sound too negative in the first reading. On a closer reading, it should be obvious that what is denounced not riches, knowledge, health, position etc but rather too much of attachment to these. Such attachments prevent you from enjoying the very moment now as well as the true joy. As a result, we end up in a self defeating a rat race.

It is clear in the lines:
Bhogaa Na Bhukthaa Vayameva Bhukthaah
Thapo Na Thaptham Vayameva Thampthaah
Kaalo Na Yaatho Vayameva Yathaah
Thrishnaa Na Jeerna Vayameva Jeernaah

That is:
We have not consumed worldly pleasures, they have consumed us (our life). We have not done any Tapas but we burned out ourselves. Time has not gone but we are gone. Desire has not been reduced but we are reduced.

Defining ‘success’

December 21, 2010

Success is a magic word. It is a word that inspires, motivates everyone into action. But then, what is success? Can success be defined? It is very abstract and generic level but takes on specific meaning in a context. Success is different for different people. It differs depending on the context. Then, does it make sense to define and discuss on a generic note? I think, Yes and I am discussing it here at a very generic level.

My intention is to bring out certain subtle points which often get overlooked. These points related to how everyone of us look at success. There are certain patterns, irrespective of context, and it helps to understand these patterns.

Success has two dimensions. One external and another internal.

Success from external perspective: External World around defines your success, and that of everyone else. This is often done in comparative than absolute terms. In this perspective, success is defined and measured in terms of certain key parameters. These key parameters are wealth, power, influence, and knowledge.

Wealth is usually considered as amount of money and other assets. These helps to acquire other necessities and luxuries of life.

Power indicates your potential on effecting changes in your own life and that of others. These changes may be positive or negative. That is, it may lead to a pleasant or unpleasant experiences for self and others, as the case may be

Influence, on the other hand, is how others can effect changes in your life. These changes also may be positive or negative, and may lead to a pleasant or unpleasant experiences for self as well as others.

Knowledge holds potential to generate wealth, power and influence. Other parameters are also inter-dependent but not to the level that of knowledge. Again, potential varies depending on the nature of knowledge itself. That is, certain knowledge helps better than others.

Success from internal perspective: Haven’t you seen people hailed as successful yet burning within? More often that not, it is the result of a rat race. Point to ponder is, how dear and important is the goal for you. It is a very personal question. It can be answered only the individual concerned, and it must be. True success, can be (and, must be) defined only from that perspective.

Traditionally, Purushardhas are used to measure success, from internal perspective. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha constitute Purushardhas.

Dharma is from philosophical, social and spiritual standpoint. It stands for righteousness and value based living. It is founded on love and compassion towards others. It is, sometimes, said that world has become too competitive to afford such a living. But my personal experience is that nothing can equal joy coming out of value based living. One does not have to forgo everything else for it. The key is to strike a balance.

Artha is from materialistic and financial perspective. It stands for wealth and related assets. Many philosophical and spiritual discussion slight importance of wealth. Yet the fact remains that it plays a major role in daily life. You need money to acquire knowledge as well as to help others. One needs to work for acquiring and retaining wealth. Yet, it is equally important to realise that money is not everything. That is, money, in itself, cannot buy everything in the world.

Kama is a word used synonymous to lust, especially, in sexual context. But, here, it has a larger meaning. It pertains to all from sensory desires. I have seen many philosophical and spiritual discussions deriding Kama. But its role in life of a common man mandates every serious discussion to accept its influence . It is often these desires that helps one to set goals and work towards it. The real problem is not desire itself but rather too much of attachment to it.

Moksha is a state beyond all these. It is spiritual bliss when one rises above all these.

While these are discussed here at a generic note, it would be meaning only if individuals relate it to their life, analyze and define their success, realign their goals and work towards them. These changes from individual to individual, context to context. That is, the same person may drastically change the relative importance of these over a period of time; say, in a span of ten years

Defining my world of philosophy – Thinking aloud

November 27, 2010

Many have asked me why do I think and write about these topics, which are generally referred to as ‘philosophy’.

Is it not sufficient just to live this life? Isn’t action more important than thought? May be true. Or, is thoughtful action better than mere action? Honestly, I do not know. Or, rather, I don’t care.

I have asked this question to myself, many times over. Why do I keep thinking about all these? Reply was ‘it is like asking a river why does it flow?’. Well, we could attribute flow of river to force of gravity. But then, why force of gravity? May be, because of gravitational field. Then, why gravitation field? At some point, we need to accept that it is so because ‘that is how it is’.

Why does a musician compose or sing a song? Why does poet write poems? Why does a painter paint? It is an urge, an irresistible urge from within. I write, not because I have all answers; probably, not even some of them yet.

I am not knower of truth but rather a seeker of truth. Of all I have read and heard what comes closest to my heart is Karma Siddhanta, as explained in Bhagavat Gita and Ashtavakra Gita, and notion of ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ of vedanta philosophy. That is, I am part of the infinite, indivisible, indestructible spirit, and I am that.

As a child I used to watch the sky above, and wonder about vastness of sky above, multitudes of stars. As I grew up, I learned about vastness of universe of which I am a very trivial existence.

In my early days of scientific quest, adventures of mankind to get smarter than his world made me believe in eventual success of man over nature. But, as man is getting closer to annihilating himself, I started looking at the world within because the actual threat to him is from within

A world that begins and ends with me, a world of emotions, perceptions and inspirations, a world illuminated by an all pervasive, all-powerful spirit. I moved from the notion that ‘world is a stage, and all of us are actors’ to ‘I am the stage where the drama is being played’.

I am the ocean in which waves of emotions, perceptions and inspirations rise, move, clash, join and fall, with the winds of change. Yet, it is an peaceful existence of quiet confidence and strength deep within, unattached and infinite

Lessons from history

September 7, 2010

This is in response to a discussion in Google Buzz on ‘what in life will keep you happy and satisfied forever as an individual?‘.

Can any thing achievable make any one happy and satisfied for ever? I doubt. happiness and satisfaction as states of mind based on some possessions can be but momentary, given the fickle nature of mind. Anything achievable implies that it is not with you now and hence external to you. What is external to you must be lost either from possession or in value, or both, just as it is achieved. Therefore, any feeling attributed achievement of anything external to you cannot stay with you for ever.

I am reminded of the famous anecdote about Alexander the Great.. Story goes like: Alexander had set out to conquer the work; towards end of his life, it is said that he instructed his people to put my hands outside his coffin; that is, he is leaving behind all his acquisitions.

Let me clarify lest I get misinterpreted. I am not vouching on authenticity of the story but seems plausible. I am not denouncing worldly materialistic achievements either. I respect every human effort behind every accomplishments in the world. I respect the human spirit that make things happen. I salute the indomitable spirit of Alexander, the great Macedonian King. I believe, what he achieved (what is that? may be, I shall write on my perspective on that at some other time) was far greater than what he sought to.

My reading of history tells me that he hardly ruled over the vast area that he conquered, in a true sense. Whatever he has done, was it right or wrong? Was he successful or not? I am not venturing into all that because I do not think it is right. I believe, every individual must choose their life and no one else has any right to comment on it.

I do not subscribe to the theory that every thing is Maya (a great illusion) and one should strive to get out of it. Yes, I accept the illusion and I prefer to live it, enjoy it, rather than running away from it.

What I am trying to practice, and advocate, is a holistic perspective. When what you do, what you work for, what you achieve is in sync with the person that you are, life is a great experience. Follow the role models of Maryadapurushotham Ram, Playful Krishna, benevolent Christ, …. but seek within to know yourself, choose a life in accordance with that, work for betterment of self, those around you and the world at large; let your actions be guided, and powered, by the force within.

Happiness and satisfaction if you find within self, and in the moment NOW (not attributed to anything external), shall stay with you.

Bandhura Kaanchana Koottilaanenkilum Bandhanam Bandhanam Thanne Paaril (Cage is a cage even if cage is made of gold)

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!

Limits of freedom

March 14, 2010

There are times in life when individual’s freedom gets in conflict with social norms. Should individual freedom be given importance over social interest? It is essentially a case of dynamic balancing.

Society is like matter and individuals are like particles of matter oscillating about their mean position. On higher energy levels, these impact neighboring particles moving them as well onto new energy levels. Consistent and continued oscillation at higher energy levels either leads to individual breaking away from the society or, if oscillation is powerful enough to influence other particles of matter around it, it leads to change of state in the society as well

Change, and resistance to change is only natural, be it change for good or bad. After all, goodness is a very relative term. It can be assessed only in the context of localized context but larger perspective. Both individual’s and social perspectives as well must be assessed to be fair. Decision should be taken by collective consciousness of society with clear and explicit consideration of individuals. However, a specific individual cannot be accorded any special treatment whatever be his/her position, qualification etc as it goes against the notion of social justice