Balance Of Intimacy and Independence

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

This difficult balance of intimacy and independence is what the great Lebanese-American artist, poet, and philosopher Kahlil Gibran (January 6, 1883–April 10, 1931) explores with uncommon insight and poetic precision in a passage from his 1923 masterwork The Prophet

 

Credit: brainpickings

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Are ‘You’ The Seer, The Seen or The Seeing?

Gullible conversations between Calvin and Hobbes do keep us hooked, don’t they?

This one was featured yesterday in the DC’s coffee-break section. While I went through it, I found Calvin very relatable and naive and the answer of Hobbes had a striking effect on me. For a minute, I found the conversation between them to be that of a seeker to a saint.

BTW, who do you think is the Real Person?

  1. The person in the puddle (or)
  2. The Person looking into the puddle

Which is the truth/reality?

  1. The Ripple-less Puddle reflecting the person the “truth’ (or)
  2. The reflection of the person the ‘truth’ (or)
  3. The person himself is the Truth

The Vedic philosophers would say that the “person’ should be the reality; for only in the presence of the Person, the Reflection and Puddle can be known.

Okay, Let us assume

  • the Clear Puddle to the Mind/Drik/Seeing,
  • Calvin to the Seer/Drashta/Subject and
  • the Reflection of Calvin to the Seen/Drishyam/Object

Like a learned person, Hobbes goes on to say that if you were the reflection then the minute the reflection of the world moves from the mind, the world too should disappear. Or is it the other way round?

If you see any truth to that, then a new set of questions should arise:

  • Can the Mind survive without the reflections?
  • Will the Observer disappear too?
  • Does the duality of the Trinity(seer, seeing & seen) really exist?

Let me ask you this: Can we call someone an observer when he is not actively observing something? Can the observer be separated from the act of observing and the observation itself? I think so. As the act of seeing & the seen only comes when there is a seer who wishes to see a thing, right.

The seer with or without the sight could exist but the act of seeing and the seen is dependent upon him. Like the saying, we only see what we wish to see and not the reality. So, I believe we can safely say that seen and the seeing are because of the Seer.

You might wonder so much for that fictional comic characters. Yeah, I am guilty of that but when you are interested in a subject that kind of streamlines your thought process. It is all good as far as I believe my way is not the only way to seek the truth 🙂

Longing Will Only End…

Longing for a thing will only come to an end when we finally understand that the ‘Thing’ is neither us nor it is going to last forever. That ‘Thing’ can be our body, our people, our wealth, or whatever vapid that we are pining for.

Until this gets into our head, neither will the longing stop nor the desire to amass things will end. We can talk and write infinite things around it but we can never put a step further from where we stand.

Worry Not, for the mind can still operate without attributing ‘IT’ to be whatever it has been falsely taught it is. In fact, it can guide us better when ‘IT’ realizes that it is not the one who is performing the feats. Really, you have to experience that to believe it.

The problem with us is that we keep running as if there is a finish line. But do we see one? Has anyone who ran before us seen it? Nevertheless, we keep running and panting till we crash.

With racing, we conveniently stopped thinking and thereby adding layers of personalities around one poor mind. It now carries a lot of baggage of varied characteristics that not only commands its attention but also consumes its energy while protecting them.

But what if we could take a moment and think whether we are as complex as we made ourselves to be. Is there another way of running the race? or Are we really in a race?

Why do I not see a finish line? What am I running for? How much ever I run and whatever trophies I had won, had it made me happy? Has that happiness lasted?

I think sometimes it is better to stop and ask these. We are so consumed in this run that at times we end up destroying others dreams on the way. All because of our wrong identifications and blindly conforming to whatever we were told.

It is really something that we should ponder upon….

And, an Interesting chapter in Gita on the same subject:

śhrī-bhagavān uvācha
Idaṁ śharīraṁ kaunteya kṣhetram ity abhidhīyate
etad yo vetti taṁ prāhuḥ kṣhetra-jña iti tad-vidaḥ//B.G 13.2

O Arjun, this body is termed as kṣhetra (the field of activities), and the one who knows this body is called kṣhetrajña (the knower of the field) by the sages who discern the truth about both.

 

Web Of Illusion

There was this story from a book by Sudha Murthy that I was reading which was thought-provoking. While reading this, it also reminded me of a shloka from the Gita which addressed the same problem wherein  Krishna acknowledges that it is indeed difficult to overcome his web of illusion(Maya) unless we surrender our mind unto him/Truth.

When this comes from the God himself, it just goes to reinforce the gravity required when dealing with his illusion which is spun by none other than God himself. This should break the shackles of ignorance of knowing it all. The idea of ‘knowing it all’ is itself rutted in avidya, isn’t it?

Daivī hyeṣhā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā
Mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te// 7.14

Anyways, let’s get to the story. Will try to make it as short as possible.

So, it begins with Sage Narada being reprimanded by Brahma for poking his nose in common man’s business and advising them to become a sage like him.

Brahma thought this wasn’t right as Narada had no understanding of mortal life. However, this didn’t go quite well with Narada and therefore he approached his mentor Vishnu for some advice.

As always Vishnu had that mischievous smile on him which Narada couldn’t understand. While Narada went about explaining his stance, he was interrupted by Vishnu for a glass of water. Now he didn’t have any water left in his kamandalam so Vishnu advised him to fetch some from the nearest lake.

While Narada dipped the pot into the lake, he saw a series of white steps below the surface of the water and he couldn’t resist going down the stairs. He went deep under the water and came across a beautiful maiden.

Their eyes met and they got talking. They had a lot in common and what swept him off was her deep devotion towards Vishnu. By the end of it, he had fallen in love with her and they got married.

Decades went by, and Narada became the father of sixty children. Life was utterly blissful. But one day, a terrible storm destroyed all that he cherished. One by one, he saw all his children die before him. He and his wife wept bitterly at their helplessness.

Suddenly, a big wave emerged and his wife was swept away by it too. Still holding on to a tree he cried and remembered Vishnu and chanted with all that he had.

And then he felt someone tapping on his shoulder. He opened his eyes and found Vishnu with the same mischievous smile. Narada couldn’t understand where the storm disappeared and still sobbing he told Vishnu what went by.

Vishnu chuckled. Then he finally admitted that he was the one who created that Maya for Narada. For Narada had never tasted attachment-he absolutely had no understanding of the illness(attachment) and yet he advised medication(detachment) to the common man.

So, Vishnu said to Narada that if an accomplished sage like him can get caught in this web of illusion, then how hard it is for the men to stay detached.

Web of Illusion

So, that is the story and poor Narada had to go through all that to understand what it means to lose whatever he gained here living. The only way out for Narada or for anybody is total surrender. The moral of the story is to remind us of the impermanence and to seek refuge in him who is busy spinning 🙂

As much as we think we understand Maya- it further fools us into believing that we are in full control. Just like the storm, it comes from nowhere and hijacks our mind into illusions of fantasy. Without any difficulty, it can keep us occupied with it for decades together.

We all have an experience of how our thoughtless state can be swept into a never-ending wreck of drama with a simple idea of either raga(love) or dvesha(hatred). I am sure no one is devoid of this experience. I believe from this experience should arise the knowledge that Vidya and avidya are two faces of the same coin. If we understand one, we will eventually understand the other.

Religious/Spiritual Advice & Scrutiny

Every advice should go under scrutiny, whether it is religious, spiritual or life advice. Perhaps the word ‘scrutiny’ sounds a bit negative but trust me when not practiced, it will reflect in our personality and can make us stand out even in a crowd(of course, for all the wrong reasons).

When we are not taking pieces of advice then we are busy copying others. Besides, Copying is not a coping method.

If something worked for someone does not mean it should work for us. And maybe it just worked because the time was right. Haven’t you heard: the story of a bird which sat right on the branch that carried the ripe fruit?

Bird is not only responsible for the fall, the fruit was ripe anyway

The ripe fruit would have landed on the ground anyhow as it reached its prime stage even if the bird decides not to sit on it. And, no two people are alike and do not believe that someone, who promises to help you more than what you could do for your self.

But yes, there can be terrible times when the mind is troubled and we just can’t listen to that inner guide.

Then, who should we listen to?

I think the emphasis should be more on picking that right advice than the right person. What I mean is, the question should rather be- Which is that right advice?

According to our seers, we should only take an advice that is consistent, comes with the right objective and good reasoning. We should listen to it even if it comes from a little kid. It doesn’t matter who delivers it if it meets those three parameters.

However, we should learn to quieten that troubled mind which is hopping everywhere and destroying everything it comes in contact with. And only then we could use that God gifted intellect and free ourselves from blindly following someone else’s view.

Trust me, the intellect only gets better as we use it and we sure don’t want to hit the grave with that one left unused, do we?

we balance the scale when we take responsibility

On the way, if we err, let’s take responsibility and learn and move ahead. Because when we take responsibility for our actions, we tend to balance the scale better. We shouldn’t let a blind belief, person or a thing run our lives for us.

So take responsibility and let every action of yours be yours. And Live and Don’t Outsource Life.

Everybody is blind here, trying to understand life in their own way and therefore we should listen more to the ones which are troubled(body & mind) and work from there.

Images: the Internet

Be That Lucid Dreamer…

If you are a lucid dreamer then basically you would know you are dreaming while dreaming. Science would tell you that this has its benefits & disadvantages. But let’s look at the bright side of being one.

  • Jealousy and hatred cannot take you in as your dream characters are all YOU in different forms and shapes.
  • Fear cannot possess YOU as there is nothing to lose or gain in a dream.
  • You can steer your dream the way you wish.
  • You could take risks.
  • While the mind creates different schemes; you still will have control over the way you feel about it.

If you research more on this, they also tell you how to become one(if you aren’t one already 😉 ). But do we know this very life is like a dream?

We have to pretty much remember this when we are wide awake. We came in from something whole and we become something in between and we leave all our identities back here when we exit into which we came from(just like a dream).

Even while we are here we move from infancy- adolescence-adulthood-old age and finally to death. What we think we are is constantly changing, isn’t it?

Life is just like a dream and they say the time we spend here is the least/temporary compared to the eternal time. How can we say that this world isn’t real/permanent? Because anything ‘real’ doesn’t come with an expiration date. Nor would it change. Just like how a ‘fact’ remains a fact at all times.

Although we say we love Krishna and are ready to wage war against those who think otherwise, yet we don’t wish to be Him, do we? We treat him like a God because he lived like one. In spite of him giving away his secret, we still don’t ponder over it. What a shame.

Nāsato vidyate bhāvo nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ
Ubhayorapi dṛiṣhṭo ’nta stvanayos tattva-darśhibhiḥ// B.G. 2,16

Image: Internet

Does Your Dream Include Your ‘True Self’?

In your dreams, are you thinking or talking or being your True self?

What I mean is that our mental habits during the day usually continue in our dreams too. So if our thoughts were around investigating the characteristics of our Self and practicing it in our lives then it should flow freely into our dreams.

Have you been experiencing that in your dreams? Some dreams are vivid and you remember every detail. So, do they include your true self-other than the one that the world knows you for?

We aren’t interpreting our dreams here but we are trying to understand if our subconscious really believes what we believe in.

But if our dreams don’t include our self then maybe we aren’t practicing the right way. If we think we are not the body or the mind but something more subtle and that which exists everywhere then we have to be impartial with the ones we have wrongly identified with-i.e the body or the mind.

Moreover, just thoughts around the Self wouldn’t make us dream about it but the feelings attached to those thoughts would do the magic. Our objective is not just to bring our true self into our dreams but to make a strong impression of that in our minds. For example, if you think you are the ‘space’ that fills the whole universe then just going around telling that ‘I am space’ would do no good. But when the characteristics of  ‘space’ (invisible, experienceable, indescribable, immovable, invincible, unthinkable etc.) play in your mind then do you see them as they play and do you identify with them is the question.

So, let us go back to our question, “are our thoughts on the ‘Self’ flowing freely into our dreams?”

Note: Btw, the idea is not to turn hysterical or to hallucinate 😉 Take it easy. Go slow. Trust that whatever you are seeking is also seeking you. Have patience.

All you have to do is to decide whether to stay a bhogi or to turn into a yogi. If you decide on the later then stay determined and it will take its course.

Image: Internet