I’ve been training myself to eat more consciously without distractions, trying to taste what I relentlessly cooked. It went well until the day when a good movie and hunger arrived at the same time. My mind said “why don’t we eat while watching television, only for today” and we did that. After that, for the next couple of weeks, we ate with the tv or the computer on.
The mind argued; it’s not a big deal. I am still eating. With or without the distraction, the food is going to the same place.
Have you come across such silly reasoning? Here are a few 😉
- I can afford to pay the bills. So I will have the air conditioning on even when it is raining.
- I am not going to be there when the Earth goes out of the water. So, I will have the faucet on while I am brushing and thinking for good 15 minutes every day.
- What will my friends think if I do not have a paper dispenser in the kitchen? My mom’s gen used reusable kitchen towels. Our’s don’t.
- Housework is not my thing. But I do not mind spending a lakh for my gym membership.
- I am putting 20 hours at my work each day and I don’t mind trading my sleep for more money. I’ll take a pill to shut my head, for a couple of hours, if it needs rest.
- We do not have the time to cook. So, the family eats processed food.
- I am a spiritual person but I still have a long list of requests waiting for God’s approval.
- I know, my people and I come with an expiration date but I will take care of it when the day arrives.
I guess this is a concomitant of a dumb society heading south. Today we have vitamin deficiencies, global warming, restless and uncoperative mind, unhappy lives and fake gurus…
We have more money than our parents but we aren’t any happier. And if we continue being this, then we are preparing our mind for more pain.
The mind is like a child, if we act upon its every need then it wouldn’t be able to take a ‘no’ for an answer. You can make your way with the machines and technology but can you get your way with another human? Maybe not.
You will get more ‘no”s than ‘yes”es. Well! Then you would have an inadaptable Mind and an unwilling Human to deal with. But the truth is, we humans can bring realistic change any day- if we have a guiding intellect and a reasoning mind.
Bhagavad Gita says in Chapter 2 verse 41, that uncultivated Intellect is many-branched and is useless but those of the yogis are focused. How do we understand this shloka in this context? If we want to be a yogi, we need discipline in life. Though a large part of society is conforming to a popular way of life, we still need to walk the right way. It might be popular and common practice but it might not be right. So, we need to cultivate the intellect with the proper knowledge to guide the ever confused mind.
Vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana
Bahu-sakha hy anantas ca buddhayo ‘vyavasayinam//
Image: the internet
Naiva Kincit Karomiti Yukto Manyeta Tattva-vit
The human body is home to trillions of bacteria and viruses but they aren’t harmful until they find the right breeding ground. In the same way, the concept of attachment is already embedded in our system, waiting for the right time to develop.
For it to develop, it doesn’t need a human on the other end. It can be your smart phone or an operating system, like the movie ‘HER’. Watch it if you haven’t. Maybe our future gen is heading there.
Alright, so what is the problem with ‘attachment’?
Side effects are the problem. To name a few – possessiveness, controlling, sorrow, aversion, frustration, anger, hatred etc.
Some say what the heck, attachment makes life worth living. Few say attachment is the root cause of all our miseries. Others say it is impossible to live without it. Whatever is the thought process, we still do not have an antidote for the adverse effects.
Besides, the scriptures are not talking about attachment towards a person, in particular, but are addressing us to stop clinging to our beliefs, ideas, identities & thoughts.
We can make an argument that those very identities drives us and how are we to be without them? I agree. All that we need to do is to realize that whatever drives the body is not us but are just a series of memories. This understanding will slowly weaken the attachments we have towards them.
Why do we have to do this?
If you truly understand whatever you have here is been loaned to you for a period of time including your body, would you not live with that knowledge. Or would you prefer living in willful ignorance?
I know it is easier said than done because we do not even realize. This is how I practice. Starting from my body to the people I live with – I am always thankful that I have them and they help me experience this world but I remind myself that they are there ‘now’ and that they have a life too.
Whatever I do, I engage in it with total involvement and that is when I enjoy the role I play. Just like how we play a video game, we know that it is neither us nor ours but we still give everything to that.
I am still in the process but I am convinced that everything I thought I was is not me. When they(mind, body, identity, roles) are not me, the things or people that come along cannot be mine either.
By doing every activity with this knowledge of who is doing, makes me more human. Giving credit where it’s due, for example – Mind is thinking, Sumi is working etc ;). It may sound funny but if you think about it, you would realize that it is true.
And if you practice, it will make things easier for you and for others living with you. The whole thing would make you more inclusive, happy, livable, prepared and mindful. Try it but always start with self-study.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita:
Kayena manasa buddhya kevalair indriyair api
Yoginah karma kurvanti sangam tyaktvatma-suddhaye//
The yogis, like all of us, perform their duties with the help of the senses, body, mind and the intelligence but only for the purpose of purification and not for attachment.
Naiva kincit karomiti yukto manyeta tattva-vit
pasyan srnvan sprsan jighrann asnan gacchan svapan svasan//
Pralapan visrjan grhnann unmisan nimisann api
indriyanindriyarthesu vartanta iti dharayan//
‘I do nothing at all.’ thus should be the knower of Reality.
In YOGA, contemplate, even while sleeping, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, walking, sleeping, breathing, speaking aloud, eliminating, receiving, opening the eyes, closing the eyes, the knower of Reality understands that the senses are operating in the realm of the object of the senses.
If you have a teacher who knows when and how to impart knowledge to the students then indeed you are truly blessed.
Being spiritual is not being serious or being uninvolved. It is about balance and being consciously & completely involved. Only when you are consciously and truly involved, you would notice the transient nature of life. And with that knowledge, you could ensue satvic Vairagya and can practice Udaseenatha in your worldly affairs.
“Anapeksha shuchir daksha udaseeno gatavyataha sarvarambha parityagi yo mad bhaktah sa me priyaha“
Three stories that changed the way I think. All of them were told to me to address the questions at different times.
This is my life, how can I not stress?
The First is the story of King Janaka who calls his counsellors for an impromptu meeting at an unearthly hour because he dreamt being a beggar. His questions were
“Am I a King or “Am I a beggar? which is true ?”
“Is this dream state true, or is the waking state true?
Both the states are pretty convincing, isn’t it? When dreaming that seemed as real as life itself. He was confused as he had everything that he has in the waking state( I mean, in his dream, he had a body, sensory organs, mind, a story line, emotions, vulnerability, drama, feelings, people, ego etc)
We also dream but we never question. If that seemed real then maybe this also holds the same prominence as the other one. Perhaps the dreams are the way of Nature to shake us from the very shackles that we build around us by being so serious about this life here. We live as if we are here forever. I am not asking to be reckless but we don’t have to be dead serious. what if this life is nothing more than a dream?
If this is a more like a dream, then how do I live it?
The second story is that of a monk who refrains from even looking at a woman, carries a beautiful girl and helps her cross the river. Once they are on the other side, he puts her down, she thanks him and leaves. After a long walk, he reaches his hut only to be questioned by the other monks.
To that his answer was “I left her there itself. But it looks like you are still carrying her in your mind.”
If everybody could read the other person then we might stop looking for each other. We carry so much filth in our mind and turning spiritual is to clean that first and then learn to be in the “now.” Everybody has an offbeat drama unfolding before them each moment, nobody can teach us how to live them. There is no code, no norm, no structure but what matters is our “Intention” behind our actions.
Where am I stuck?
The third story is that of a holy river which confronts a huge obstacle in its path which splits that river into two separate streams. One branch flows towards the right was considered “holy” and worshipped by people. The other abstained and was considered not so holy.
The river with time got two different names and identified itself to be separate and disremembered that it was One. (Just like the belief of goddess Lakshmi and Alakshmi)
We are just like that river, we identified with the common belief. We forgot what we were before we landed into our mother’s tummy. When we came out we were taught and told that we are this and that and slowly we got identified and attached. Maybe before the crash landing, we were one. All the identities in this journey can be ours but Can it be us?
Don’t you think we should take some time to dwell into these? What if we wake from this too and realize that it was only a dream? So much of sweat, agony, stress, jealousy, wrongdoings and all this for just a DREAM.
What if life is not a dream? We still came with an expiration date. And, trust me, we will not remember a thing of this life even if we come back. So witness the ride while you are here 🙂
Srimad Bhagavad Gita was delivered to remind Arjuna’s commitment to his dharma. Besides, it starts with the word “DharmaKshetreh”.
The title of this post is a part of a shloka and there are many interpretations of it. And the most popular should be the one which says Dharma protects the one who protects it and destroys the one who destroys it.
I am no expert but what I understand is that Dharma protects those who stay protected. Meaning you should perform your karma according to your dharma. I do not think Dharma or for that matter, GOD has any role in our protection or destruction and surely wouldn’t require protection from us either.
Okay please just tell me this. There are different types of dharma and how on earth would you know which is that Dharma that needs protection? It is much like the belief of few who lights a lamp only to present light to God. If God is light then why does he need your light? You light a lamp to remind yourself that you are to move towards the light from ignorance. If Dharma can destroy its destroyers then why does it need your protection?
Here we are unable to protect ourselves from our own thoughts. How are we supposed to be protecting something that we do not even apprehend?
So the questions that blatantly need our attention are:
How will we know what is our Dharma?
Is it the same for everybody?
Do I go with what others are supporting for?
Is it about changing the society?
If that was the case then why didn’t the world change even after it begot great leaders/thinkers?
Is Dharma the slayer or the protector or both or none?
Arjuna too had these questions and he consumed the whole of the first chapter ‘Arjuna vishada yogam’. Struck by grief, he was acting unlike him. Moreover, he was using dharma as an excuse and was simultaneously seeking advice. We should note that he was confused when he was talking about dharma. Confusion and Dharmic talk cannot go together.
When we are confused, we should find a way out, identify our dharma and only then should we make a decision. The key here is to protect yourself before protecting others or anything else. You should wear your oxygen mask if you wish to help your co-passengers.
So how do I protect myself?
Bhagavad Gita’s answer to this is to follow (your) Swa dharma. Although deep within we all are seeking happiness yet our ways of achieving them are different. Until we have a free flow of that we should act according to our innate nature.
Sreyan sva-dharmo vigunah para-dharmat svanusthitat
Sva-dharme nidhanam sreyah para-dharmo bhayavahah //ch 3, shlok 35
What is our swadharma then?
Gita in chapter 4, shlok 13 states that the whole of humanity is divided into 4 different divisions according to their Guna karma. Please do not read it wrong, these varnas or classes are not based on their sexes or birth or colour but are formed on the basis of their karmic baggage.
You can be a Brahmin by birth but deep inside you might be a Kshatriya or a Shudra. Gita is talking about that inner you. The whole of Gita is only addressing that Inner You. Just look at yourself, you might be earning a lot of money but do you drag yourself to work? Are you doing something that you love? Are you deriving any happiness by being somebody else?
That is why Gita is prompting its readers to dive in to understand their true self and act out of that. It is easier that way. So, therefore, find your dharma and let your actions be to purify your Self.
Image: Though this is from the Internet, I remember that is exactly how I was when I met my Teacher. When you meet with a huge blow and if you are receptive then the learning goes straight into your head. Always be thankful in adversity, it will teach you something that will remain with you for life 🙂
This post is an extension to my other post on how Mind tricks us into a state of mindlessness.
From then on, made a conscious effort to watch my thoughts- the thoughts that stole my concentration away from whatever I was doing. I was not always successful – it takes a lot of energy to process the things which have been to set to automation.
Only good thing that came out of this process is my understanding of some of the inessentials that I kept thinking. Or the ones that I taught my mind to be essentials by constantly thinking about them when not required. I mean, they are information but the only problem is that they were running unconsciously without me recalling it.
And my understanding about Mindlessness is to be a thought less state. We all experience that state in meditation or in deep sleep. But when the body is actively working the mind should be present there but unlike the body, it does multitask.
This is what I understand that we’re doing- programming it to slowly destroy us and then blaming it. We do not even know where is it localized and we are treating it. It can be numbed but it cannot be cured by medications alone. I think more than any kind of education, this is very important. We should know how to run it rightly. We are just doing it all wrong.
We should teach the kids. They haven’t yet accumulated all the trash that we have. We should teach them to employ mindfulness as an instrument to declutter.
Verses from Srimad Bhagavad Gita:
Chapter 2, verse 62 and Chapter 3, 40-42
Bhagavad Gita strongly recommends you to search the breeding grounds of desire. Desire enters us when we are attached to something. And attachment because of contemplation on sensory objects. We should remember that overthinking leads to a cycle of reactions.
My in laws and grandparents were home over the weekend. So, the day before they arrived, my mother said that she would help me to shop groceries so I could cook them lunch.
Accordingly, I shopped and made them a typical Tambrahm lunch. They stayed over the weekend and we had a good time.
My mother calls me the evening they left thinking they would be home. And, the conversation,…
Mom: Why did they leave so early? Did you not insist on them staying over?
Me: I did. But Thatha said he would be more comfortable there. We had a good time but it was both exciting and tiring at the same time. So, I am going to crash soon. I’ll talk to you later.
Mom: Wait. Did you make use of the things we bought?
Me: Yes, I did. They loved the food and Thatha said it was delicious. Full marks and happy.
Mom: Oh…is the happiness to do with the full marks? Sumi, I don’t have to remind you that your actions should never be to create an impression. (Expected and a standard question from my mother :-p )
Me: Yes Maa. That is what they said.
We spoke for some more time before I was reminded of the work waiting to be finished. I wished her a good night’s sleep and hung up the phone.
My Mother cautions me all the time because she thinks I over indulge in things more than what is required. Was not an easy child. The reason I documented the conversation is to point out that our spiritual outlooks are different. And, that is okay.
I do not think anyone can teach us how to manage our head because only we know what kind of demons we created. There is no moral code. And, we shouldn’t live like a dead fish in the name of spirituality. A dead one can experience nothing. Just being mindful of what is coming our way and how we take it is the first step towards it.
Also, do not override something that happens in your head. I think we should not tell people not to feel certain emotions or question them unnecessarily. It doesn’t matter; it is just another one among the other fleeting emotions or feelings. We complicate things by brooding over passing thoughts.
If something needs your attention, give it. Unnecessary ones will fall out with time and I do not think we need to be worried. Feel it and leave it. It is happening in the head.
Spirituality is about finding our way out of what we think we aren’t. All the things that we see, read or listen about spirituality should only be a guide and not a rule until it comes to our experience.
According to me, if we aren’t the roles we are playing then we should be something else. And, only we could find our way out. Be grateful and thankful to those who help you find yourself but tread your path.
Let me give you an example to illustrate this. I respect Bhagavad Gita and I look at it as my Teacher for guidance but I am not obsessed nor would I identify with it.
Identification is Our Mental Problem. From identification flow our likes and dislikes. We become rigid. All we have to do is to keep learning from our mistakes and experiences. Even if it means, learning to unlearn.
Tinnaga Vetagi Telusukontinayya Ninnegani Madinenna Jalanorula
After inner soul searching, I now see that YOU are in everything.
That is all we need to do..some soul searching 🙂
Credit: Written by Tyagaraja, in Carnatic composition by Mahesh Raghavan, love it..