This Is Exactly What You Shouldn’t do..

Have you heard this song ‘Attention’ by Charlie Puth? If you replace the lady by the World and Charlie by the Mind. Interesting, eh? 

The world never lets a chance slip by in getting the mind’s attention and the mind is waiting to be swayed by the world. Aren’t they made for each other?

You know the thing with the mind, is that it wants to be in the spotlight all the time. And to make that happen it keeps on performing. In fact, we don’t even notice when the craving to perform an action hits us. 

I have been guilty of this most of the time. When I am mindful I could see that yearning but I am not being consistent in not acting on the impulses that aren’t necessary. 

I will tell you something interesting that happened yesterday. Why am I telling you this? 

Because the mind knows well that nobody sees its tantrums. And when you write about your thoughts, as I do, there is a temptation to make oneself look good. It irritates the mind when you make it look like an ass. But if it decides to behave like one then it’s going here. 

The Mind knows that nobody can see the real face

Anyways yesterday, I accidentally got locked in our balcony for hours when no one was home and the conversation in my mind was this:

Mind: Oh S***. The door got locked and I don’t have the phone on me.

Right Brain: Aah! There is a stick lying around. Let’s try using it as a key to unlock the doorknob.

Left-Brain: Are you crazy, the stick won’t do the job. Anyways let us try. 

Mind: it’s not working.

Right Brain: Okay, no problem. We can reach out for the knife block sitting on the other side of the kitchen window and then try opening with that.

Left-Brain: Dude, it’s gonna damage the door lock and moreover it wouldn’t work. But do we have a choice, let’s try.

Mind: Hopeless, you guys are. It is not working.

Right-Brain: Our windows have sliding doors. Why don’t we try lifting the body and try reaching for the window and jump in?

Left-Brain: Are you crazy? The neck or the back, worse still both can be injured in this process.

Left-Brain: I remember somebody telling me that a coin can help open the door. But f*** we don’t have a coin either.

Mind: Shut up. Let me see if I can find someone to help us.

Mind: It’s getting dark and I don’t see anyone walking around.

Left-Brain: It’s not pleasant. Aren’t we supposed to panic?

Mind: No, No. I am not the body neither I am you. I remember I am part of something whole and I am sure some help will come by.

A little while later, a lady was walking her child home and I called for help. She informed the community office and a carpenter came by. They had to break open the door before that he asked me if I can slide open the windows and jump inside.

Left-Brain: Gosh, careful. Try not breaking the neck or the back.

Right-Brain: There is a small empty bucket here in the balcony and a full cylinder. Pull the cylinder towards the window and with its help get inside.

Left-Brain: You are nuts. The cylinder is full.

Mind: I have to get in before it gets too dark. Let’s do what the right side is asking us to do.

And finally, without any injuries to the body or the door, we land inside the house. I go out and thank everybody profusely, especially the lady. Till here, it’s all good stuff, the mind behaved.

Then it got excited and wanted to share its story with the husband and the mother. It forgot all about not being the body 😉  Everything was under control, it could have waited till the husband is home but no. It knew it doesn’t have to and yet I called both of them.

See the theme? This is a great example. These are the times when I should put the theory into practice. I don’t have to act on impulses that aren’t necessary. The desire to unnecessarily act is also a disease.

If you are thinking, where is all this in Gita? Chapter 4, verses 19 and 20 is on this. Nirashraya Nityatruptah..

I understand, as social beings, there is a strong compulsion to feel appreciated by the group that we belong to. But as seekers, this is one of the many things that need to be tamed.

So try not being a puppet when vying for somebody’s attention and surely don’t be a puppet of your own mind.

Header Image credit:Internet

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Should I not just attain nirvana? Does it need work?

These are a few interesting things that you may notice if at all you are on this journey.

First,

Mind is a great talker but a bad listener

It can talk us into anything if we allow it to. Don’t go with the talk, it will quieten a bit and let it enjoy the silence. Poor thing, it has never tasted it, trust me, it will like it.

The biggest challenge is to cement the idea that you are not the body

The mind after much probing would admit that it is not the body but it takes time to digest the idea. It has to identify with something. Its job is to make sense of things and if we leave it without identity, it’s gonna go crazy. That is why the scriptures or seers or Gita tells us to believe that we are Atman. 

Now it thinks it is Atman, so it tries to understand what this ‘Atman’ is. Then it learns a little more about it- that it exists everywhere and in everything. I mean, we are building a thought process around something Whole & United. 

If you keep with it and keep at it then the old habits will drop, new wholesome identities will form. In everything, it will see itself. For example, when it sees another person, it will see itself (the mind) operating behind that person. When it sees a piece of wooden furniture, it will see the wood more clearly now; water in the ice more clearly.

Mind looses all its learning when in Love more than in Hatred

They are right when they say we lose our mind when we are in love. It forgets who it is; all the new habits go out of the window. All discipline is out, it acts like a teenager.

Yeah, that is all nice but it is important for it to remember who it is even then. How can that happen? It only happens if we constantly keep feeding that idea and trying to see that mind operating behind whoever we are interacting with.

So when it goes crazy, it will remind itself and will try to get some hold before it goes haywire 😉

Detachment does not mean being mean

Just because we are not the body does not mean that we have to suppress its needs. I have seen people do that but we can go easy on that. Don’t overdo it.

The idea that we are not the body does not mean to demean it. Our body is like another belonging; it is not us. Try to strike a balance. 

Exercise as normal, dress as you do, do whatever chores you do regularly with it. The Guru or Gita is not preaching the body but the mind. The mind has to adorn fewer thoughts around the body- that’s the point.

Mind resists familiar societal ideas when building new ones

It is something that we have to keep in mind that it will resist what it is changing. Let me give you an example, I was trying to see reform in my old ways, one being God is not someone to be afraid of. Like many, I have been raised with the idea that idol worship makes God happy and vice-versa. 

Then I met somebody who asked me if God had no other business other than punishing the ones who don’t follow him. He said God is everywhere and being respectful to everything here is respecting him. And I wanted to practice that but out of fear and habit, I used to still bow down in confusion. Please don’t read me wrong, I’m not saying bowing down is wrong but out of fear or by habit is meaningless. 

And, what he said made sense; God cannot be like us, right? So I decided to practice it and I started saying a prayer anywhere, not necessarily before the prayer room. Also, I replaced my silly prayers with a Shanti mantra instead. People will notice and you’ll get an eye roll and all but that’s okay. What I am trying to tell here is this- when the mind makes a change, it is going to look drastic initially, later it will learn to be that within and perform things outside. Till then give it time.

Just saying “I am Atman” will not make us one

It is all contemplation and practice. We are not trying to prove a point to anybody here, neither are we trying to put others beliefs down. 

We are experimenting with the truth so we got to flow like a river. Everybody here is trying to do the same in some fashion or the other. We are not here to judge them. If we are not a river we will never learn and we can never flow to the ocean. So the mind should keep flowing in that direction and it will find its way to its source.

Should I not just attain nirvana, when I am under a tree or on a rock? Does it need work?

No, it doesn’t need work. But when the mind is only focussed on the world then shifting its focus might need your attention.

We generally ask questions as to when and where have a seeker attained samadhi. But what we should be asking is what his journey was like before he attained that state. What was his state of mind? That particular rock or tree hasn’t spoken to him neither is it going to talk to us, it was his mind which attained nirvana. That state of mind is what we should be interested in. 

Knowing that would do us some good. Nobody attains anything just like that. Their journey should have started when the world alone left them empty inside. And that’s more riveting than when and where 🙂

“I am doing this Only for You”. Really?

We have said this at least once, whom are we kidding? Not once but many a time- “I am doing this only for you.”

Really? Ask yourselves whether do you do something for anybody here other than for yourself? Think of an event where you thought you went out of your way to do something for somebody and then drill down and drill through till you reach the rock bottom.  Who do you see there at the bottom? Is that you or that somebody? It will always be you.

We might move out of our comfort zone, do things for others and the reasons can be many however, if we look closely then all the reasons will point straight at us.

You Do Things For Others Because

After taking a good look at the image above, can we still go around telling others that we do things for them? And it is okay, that is how we are and that is why we as a race are still existing. Our mind is designed in a way to support our existence. Whatever it thinks that we are, it’s job is to support that. And it does a brilliant job at that.

But we were also socially conditioned since childhood in believing that good people are those who help others and selfish ones are those who help themselves. So there is an inner conflict, your mind is driven to helping you but it is also afraid of being judged. So it smartly sweeps anything damaging to one’s reputation under the carpet. Even the knowledge that it is there to support you first before others also goes under the carpet.

Therefore we stop accepting this fact and start believing that whatever we do for ourselves are also to help others- our (close family members or friends or peers or religion, or society or nation). Over time, this becomes a habit, now our unconscious mind drives our thought process as well as our habits. 

Thus, we not only lost that knowledge but also take false pride in helping others while whatever nonsense we are doing is only and only to support our existence. With this false pride, comes flared-up ego and when people don’t reciprocate, frustration builds in and we wonder why others aren’t seeing our selfless nature. God, what foolish false bubble do we live in?

While I write this, I can’t stop thinking of those times when I refused to accept that I am solely responsible for my actions and that I have no one to blame. We all been there, right. It’s easy to blame others than take responsibility.

This small knowledge sets me free of many social prejudices and helps me appreciate others way of living. There is no right or wrong. If there is anything wrong then it is us working like machines, we stopped questioning our thoughts, habits and conditioning.

For me, spirituality is this. Bhagavad Gita for me is to question my fears, prejudices, habits, false pride and basically to question whatever I think I am. Spirituality is like having a good bath, purifying your self of all the impurities you have claimed and gained through this journey called life.

Bhagavad Gita is not asking us to look at others but to look within. Our contemplation should start and end with us. And the verse below is saying exactly that.

manaḥ-prasādaḥ saumyatvaṁ maunam ātma-vinigrahaḥ
bhāva-sanśhuddhir ity etat tapo mānasam uchyate//17, 16

Serenity of thought, gentleness, silence, self-control, and purity of purpose—all these are declared as the austerity of the mind

A Yummy Vellappam To A Seeker

Made Vellappam and kadala curry for breakfast. To all the non-Keralites, Vellappam is a yummy coconutty breakfast dish which is accompanied by another coconut ground curry. Yeah, you are right! our love for coconut knows no bound.

Vellappam is a simple dish if you have the right ingredients ground to a right consistency and a well-seasoned iron skillet. If you are anything like me then the coconut in the batter still makes its appearance in chunks and the skillet is not greased enough. So the appams were adamant to get off the skillet.

Once I fished those chunks of coconut from the batter, fixed my skillet and Viola! Delicious perfect looking Appams were ready to be devoured.

Along with these appams, something else was cooking in my mind. The memories of the Appam.

#Vellappam

  • I, as a kid eating away 10 appams at a time. Didn’t know then that it took time&skill to make these.
  • Sometimes stealing from my brother’s plate.
  • Adding loads of sugar into the batter when my mom wasn’t looking and Dad complaining of sweet appams.
  • Wondering how Mom managed to have 2 iron appam skillets and feed 3 hungry stomachs at the same time. Here struggling with one, my husband who really don’t have an appetite that I can boast of.
  • Remembering that day when I tried making an appam when mom wasn’t around and having burnt the palm of my hand. Oh, the pain is still fresh in the head.

With the remembrance of pain, came flooding all the memories related to it. Now its HastagPain and not Appam anymore.

And this is how our memory works. We all have an experience of this- thinking about a thing makes us oscillate from past to present and somewhere in between we switch from the thing that started this journey to something else.

For me, it was a switch of memories from the appam to pain. There is nothing to worry about because this is how it just works. Although if you are a seeker, you should know the pattern building and smile away from it. A seeker neither strengthens a memory nor weakens it but he just uses it whenever necessary.

But there is always something that the surrounding is trying to teach us to better ourselves in the process of knowing who we are. Vellappam also has something to teach, only if we are ready to listen.

So, here is what the Appam has to say: no shortcuts; put the work; patience- put the heat on med; the rice, coconut should come together with none trying to steal the limelight for a perfect appam. Give it time- the batter needs to be proofed and perfected.

Hahaha, it was fun to write it down. Let’s see how much of these learnings is going to mould me to a better me. Only time can tell 🙂

Image: Internet

Do We Get Jealous?

Yes.  We all do, right?

The next question invariably would be if it is right to be jealous. Who taught us to think like this?

I mean, in terms of right and wrong? Everything needs to be either right or wrong.

What if, somebody says it is wrong? Would we stop feeling it? Or worse, would we deny it? What would we do then?

We all should have a sense of which emotion to entertain but it is unhealthy to think one to be good and the other to be bad. At times even jealousy had helped whip my lazy bum to get up and do something than to remain in self-loathing. So how is it bad? It is how we see it?

When I keyed in the title of this post on the internet, the first thing that appeared in the results was this:

“Certainly each of us has felt an uncomfortable jealous twinge at some point in a relationship. We feel jealous in such moments because of our sense that a cherished connection we have with another person is threatened, and our fear that a loved one may find someone else to replace us.”

This is not a random post but I am writing this because I felt a twinge of envy and this is not the first time I have felt it.

And with whatever experience I have of feeling “It”, I can assure you that it is never because of the other person. But because of the feeling of personal inadequacy. Insecurity, fear is all a byproduct but the root is the feeling of not having arrived, not fully.

It is strange that we have no idea of who we really are, as the idea of what we think we are keep changing. And yet we keep comparing that false idea of us to every random thing/person and invite undesirable emotions and wonder where they came from.

Nothing enters our mind without our invitation. It’s just that we weren’t paying attention to how and who that damn invite went to. And maybe that is what is worthy of our time- in knowing the invitees and more importantly to know that never changing inviter.

Never changing Inviter because the Ever-changing one will never arrive. Nothing can make that latter one happy. So try to know the former one as everything they say has sprung from him. And the least of our time should be spent on labelling emotions “Good” or “Bad”. We don’t have to judge them.

Image: Internet

 

Love?? Hate??

Love and Hatred had kept me awake at many a night. I had felt them strongly or should I say that they followed me like my own shadow. I failed to understand the hold they had on me but nonetheless, they were with me all the time.

You know when something calls your life shots, however young you may be, that you need to probe further to understand the dynamics of what you feeling. Well, that’s exactly what I did – I tried to make sense of why they kept me company. First, I blamed myself and that wasn’t helping and then I blamed my sun sign and that was stupid and at last, I thought I made peace with it- I thought maybe I am allowed to feel them with such intensity.

Meanwhile, I reasoned with my mom, friends or just anybody that I could talk to, to see if they felt as strongly as I did towards these dualities(L/H). All the advice I got was to ignore these emotions- how are you to ignore them when you are under its spell? I think that is the worst advice that you could give a kid.

It is like this, I either fell for a thing or it never existed for me. I never really knew the middle ground. For me, all the other emotions were by-products of these two.

But you would all agree with me on the idea of being in love. There is a reason why they say “Love is God”. When you are in love, even the cold winters seem like spring, everything and everyone around you is beautiful.

But when the same love begins to turn sour then it gives way to hatred(the other side of the same coin). Growing up, I never understood this, in fact, neither my parents knew this- that the Love/Hatred that you feel is not because of a THING/PERSON/SITUATION. Yeah, they might trigger the feeling but it is not coming from them.

It is exactly like how Oxytocin makes you feel good, trustworthy just by getting a hug or a kiss. Now, would you say, the kiss alone is responsible for you feeling good or maybe that the person(who gave the kiss) triggered it but it is the hormone that’s making you bond better?

I only could really make peace with these emotions after I knew that there might require a trigger to discover these but in entirety, they always existed in me, as a part of me. And that puts me in power over what to choose and more importantly how to be when I am in their company.

Knowing that you have power over your emotions makes it easier to be with them. And Gita(7,27)seconds what we had discussed here- we are all born into delusion overcome by the conflicting pair of opposites(dvandvah) and the only way out of it is to understand it.

And this is what I was reading. Interesting thought, isn’t it? I wish I read something like this when I had these questions on my mind. It would have made things lot easier 🙂

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The Sage Meets The Seductress

I can still hear my husband(in my head) cautioning me on the title of this post, he thinks it is contentious for such a blog. Well, I answered him, saying, “This is not a made-up story; in fact, I borrowed it from the great epic Mahabharatam. So how can this title be controversial?” He is my in-house editor, you see! 🙂

But you know what? I think for our early ancestors, no topic of human need was either discountenanced or controversial. Every basic human need was explored carefully before they declared that indulgence in any NEED beyond the BALANCE point could turn even something pleasurable into a painful experience.

The real seekers don’t care about being judged. Neither do they deny themselves nor shy away from any basic need. Be that be sex, hunger or thirst.

Mahabharata itself is replete with instances of great men trying to keep them safe when the fire of need aroused. Just off the top of my head, I do remember reading 2 stories on sage Viswamitra willing to steal Dog’s meat to keep himself alive and Guru Ashtavakra being seduced by a beautiful woman.

Now did they mention these stories to belittle them? No. It was put there for all of us see that they were just like us, battling the same emotions and yet striking a balance.

Those snippets from their lives had encouraged many to achieve that BALANCE by looking into the eye of any distraction that came their way. By doing that they understood that pair of opposites/dualities/Dvandas can all be transcended because they are just so trivial and momentary compared to their own self. And that is why, Bhagavat Gita says “Dvandva-Atitah”, meaning Transcend the Dualities(4,22) and you will stay put in Yoga.

yadrccha-labha-santusto
dvandvatito vimatsarah
samah siddhav asiddhau ca
krtvapi na nibadhyate//

He who is satisfied with gain which comes of its own accord, who is free from duality and does not envy, who is steady both in success and failure, is never entangled, although performing actions.

Now, this is why I am so much in love with the Vedic literature.  It explores every aspect of human personality and looks at none with disgust. You have to learn to look everything with the same eye to keep your mind in place. And that comes with the knowledge of things that can draw you away from your own self. Else the mind will take you wherever it goes and you will have to partake in its guilt and pain.

So here it is, the story shared by Bhishma to Yudishtra about the Sage Ashtavakra meeting the Seductress Uttara.

Ashtavakra decides to marry Suprabha, daughter of the sage Vadanya. He conveyes his desire to Vadanya, who decides to test Ashtavakra.

Vadanya then asks Ashtavakra to proceed north to Kailash, greet Shiva and Parvati, and then go further north to visit the abode of the damsels, stirajya, and to speak with their ruler, Uttara. On the return, Vadanya promises to marry his daughter to Ashtavakra.

Ashtavakra sets forth and reaches the Himalayas, there he meets the King Kuber. He stays there for a year, watching the dance of the apsaras, and Kuber was both surprised by this Sage’s unusual behaviour and was equally happy to serve him.

Almost after a year with Kuber, he decides to continue his journer after meeting Lord Shiva. Atlast he reaches his destination and is greeted with seven beautiful women. He couldn’t but admire those beautiful beings but then takes control and asks for Uttara.

Uttara welcomes him and she tries her best to engage him in discussion revolving around love and erotica. Ashtavakra then prepares to leave but she begs him to stay back and marry her. Ashtavakra declines her offer but she tries in every way to seduce him. 

Ashtavakra then tells her of his conversation with Vadanya and how he is in love with Suprabha. Uttara then admits that she was asked to test his resolve by Vadanya. He takes her leave and then marries the lady he loved.