Learning From Gandhiji’s Experiments

nāsti buddhir-ayuktasya na chāyuktasya bhāvanā
na chābhāvayataḥ śhāntir aśhāntasya kutaḥ sukham// 2,66

But an undisciplined person, who has not controlled the mind and senses, can neither have a resolute intellect nor steady contemplation on God. For one who never unites the mind with God there is no peace; and how can one who lacks peace be happy?

We might have heard this adage “You can do anything you set your mind to” but he observed this with all his heart, his entire life.

He pretty much experimented on everything before he imbibed anything into his life: food, diet, religion, morals, principles, God, ideals, celibacy- you name it.

But one aspect of his life was much frowned upon, his experiments with celibacy. 70 years have passed since he left his body yet the most talked about or published work today is this grey side of his life.

Is it really grey? All our lives are lived in this grey, isn’t it? Although we don’t want to admit it to ourselves or others but that is the truth. But I think he cared less of what others thought of him or his experiments.

It looked like he wanted to prove it to himself that he had that self-restraint necessary to control his body and mind. Although he realized the body-mind connect well.

śhaknotīhaiva yaḥ soḍhuṁ prāk śharīra-vimokṣhaṇāt
kāma-krodhodbhavaṁ vegaṁ sa yuktaḥ sa sukhī naraḥ//5, 23

Those persons are yogis, who before giving up the body are able to WITHSTAND the forces of desire and anger; and they alone are happy

What do I admire about him?

  • He cared less about any titles that were bestowed upon him
  • He rejoiced when he overcame his weaknesses. He worked on himself.
  • He penned down most of his thoughts, wild or otherwise.
  • His book revealed an ordinary person with vices, who was bent upon converting them into virtues.
  • He stood as a role model for many, for his ideologies went through severe grilling.
  • He was not a Conformist. love, love that 🙂

What I failed to understand is this? (from his book and other works on him)

  • That why suppress an urge; restraint is fine and that too should come comfortably with understanding. (for example, it only becomes easy to handle a teenager when you have the knowledge of how it is to be one, right? With that knowledge you could take control )
  • Why was he bent upon making the body work against its mechanism?
    When we think of tamarind, our mouth salivate. It is a natural phenomena with all body fluids.
Image result for when we think about tamarind your mouth salivates

When we think of tamarind, our mouth salivate. It is a natural phenomena with all body fluids.
  • In attempts to suppress, he unknowingly gave it more room and energy. Overthinking can make them surface more often than not.( for example ‘don’t think about a pink elephant’ phenomena)
  • Why didn’t the idea “You are not the body but the Spirit” relieve him of his anguish. That every thought instills peace in a layman person as me. Maybe that is because I am playing it safe without taking any risks. Possible possible 😁
Now Your mind is focused only on this Pink Elephant
Now You can only think about this Pink Elephant

Bhagavad Gita on Ironic Rebound

Indriyāṇāṁ hi charatāṁ yan mano ’nuvidhīyate
tadasya harati prajñāṁ vāyur nāvam ivāmbhasi//2, 67

Just as a strong wind sweeps a boat off its chartered course on the water, even one of the senses on which the mind focuses can lead the intellect astray.

However, like any other Indian, I am in complete awe of this man who let his heart lead his life. Who showed us how difficult yet necessary it is to restrain our worldly senses. Who successfully implemented concepts like ‘Ahimsa’ in utter chaotic situations. He was and is a leader that are rare to come by.

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Attraction can be to a Beautiful thing but Attachment doesn’t discriminate

Yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmāṇi Saṅgam tyaktvā dhanañjaya
siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṁ yoga uchyate //BG 2.48

Have you noticed that we are attracted to things which are beautiful versus our attachments could be towards things which are outrightly ugly? (Attractive or ugly again, depends on the way we see things..to each, his own)

But Attachments are deep and they don’t care for labels which makes them inflict the most excruciating pain in any person. It leaves you punctured  with a hole in your heart.

We can get over attraction but attachment gets us emotionally invested.

If you think why is one more hurtful than the other? One of the reasons are most likely because of the number of times we replayed the episodes of the ones we are attached to. Remember ” dyayate vishayan..” from Bhagavad Gita.

Although attachment is a progression yet it is deep and emotionally charged
Imagine that you have been thinking about a 🌵 over and over again in a good way. Then someone comes around and describes a lotus flower to you but now you are comparing your love for cactus with this flower. Trust me, you will be rooting for Cactus over Lotus.

Even if you are truly attracted to a lotus flower but if you can encircle your thoughts around a cactus, you can very well be attached to it. You can argue with the best of the best about how the cactus is more beautiful than the lotus flower itself.

For Attachment, lotus or cactus are all same

Although attachment looks unavoidable & dangerous but knowing that we have no control over the things/people we are attached to- should make us tread this territory with care.

Don’t dive too deep to a place from where you may not resurface. Also, recognize other people don’t see the 🌵 as the same way that you do 😉

A Thought to Carry While Travelling

While travelling, we all have a checklist of things to carry and that may differ from one person to another. But when it comes to packing our mind on a travel, we all pray that we somehow stay in the present-be able to capture all the beauty that we get in that short trip, isn’t it? At least, that is true by me.

Otherwise, we would surely arrive at the destination but with an unprepared and an absent mind.

IMG_20170212_105137417.jpg

Have you noticed people staring away at their cell phones while holidaying? Their work laptops switched on when Mother Nature is at her best.

yes, I do know work follows us home, in fact every where. We are 24/7 now but a weekend getaway can be without the work, right?

The only thought I packed my mind with, this time was to be in the moment and admire the one lady(Nature) who never failed to look pretty. I was excited to see her as she is, without a makeover.

Without filters

So, this post is to share the joy that we experienced by just packing that ONE THOUGHT.

God & I are Different

As soon as I hear someone say that, my head automatically shuts off from the conversation and starts singing ‘la la la la la la’ but outside I will be nodding my head.


That conversation is not worth listening to because they contradict the same qualities which they say are the attributes of the Divine. Whenever someone does that, I am like, in my head, thinking, “Really? Are you kidding?”

Okay, if you see in Gita, alright..I am not a Gita addict but I strongly believe I need to know my self more than anything in this world. And for someone like me, Bhagavad Gita is a gift.

So in the Gita, the divine says that the whole universe is him and every inch of it is he. And that includes you and me as well. Arjuna, after much questioning ultimately admit that the Divine is indeed One and he permeates every inch of known the unknown(chapter 11, 37-40). If we believe in his omnipresence then it would be foolish to think or say any of the below,
  • That my God and your God are different(When he clearly says there is ‘One’ that encompasses all. That means, there are no TWO GODS. Now, let the fight not shift towards putting a name to that ‘One’.)
  • My way is the only way in knowing him(If he is the whole universe then you and I are not separate, meaning there is this divinity that is common between us. So, that negates the above statement and there is no ‘my way’ business here.)
  • God and I are different( If the divinity is everywhere then we are within him and he should be us. If someone says otherwise then it would as stupid as to listening to that person saying that his leg does not belong to his body, unless that someone is suffering from BIID)

Every chapter in Gita is not just hinting but it literally puts it right on our face that there are no two things here. Everything that we perceive here is that one entity alone(Chapter 10,verses-6 to 8). 8th verse is just that.

” Ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māṁ budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ”

I am the origin of all creation. Everything proceeds from me. The wise knowing this worship me with great faith and devotion.

Although Bhagavad Gita gives us options to choose our path(Sankhya/Bhakti/Jnana/Karma) it still reminds us to know that understanding Divine is understanding our Self, and vice-versa.

If we believe, that our sense of being is tied only to our body then how can we be fooled into believing that we can own a fake limb// rubber hand illusion.

Anyways, that was a little insight from science, about how easily our brains can be tricked into believing something so fake, as our own.

Okay coming back to Gita, the one word in the text that keeps coming back to me is ‘Ananya’. I understand Ananya as Not Anya(Other). We are united is what he is saying when he says Ananya. The bhakti should flow knowing that I am him and he and I were never separate or different.

Image: Bellur. If God resides in that temple. So does he reside in us as the sense of ‘I’

How Religious Are You?

If anyone were to ask me how religious am I, I would say- I am not religious enough, that I don’t follow it to the core.

And then they play this song ‘Namo Namo ji Shankara’ and you see me grooving along with complete faith and devotion 😉 Although I just said I am not much into any religion but my actions say otherwise.

What we’re really saying when we say we are not religious enough-
(pun intended)

  • That I don’t know if I am religious or not.
  • I think I am not, but I love the God that I was introduced to more than the ones that I am alien to.
  • I am not aware of the soft spot for my religion. So don’t finger it.
  • I am not like my parents-I don’t advocate my faith but you don’t dare say, your God is the only God.
  • I am not religious enough to go on a killing spree in the name of religion but again don’t tell me, my God doesn’t exist.
  • I don’t have religion on my priority list. But don’t say anything stupid about my religion, you might end up being on my list.

So, that’s what our head is saying when we think we are not that religious. If someone corners me and puts my faith down, can I still walk past that without getting affected? Not always.

Then again, I am not religious. Why am I getting affected?

Perhaps the problem is in assuming that we know ourselves too well. Do we? Don’t our thoughts and actions surprise us?

Today, if I see my faith painted on a doormat, it irks me. But what should ring an alarm in my head is when I don’t feel the same when I see other religious figurines on a doormat.

We do terrible things in the name of God and religion. And who does these things? People like us.

  • People like us who are unaware of our religious conditioning.
  • People like us, sceptics, theists & atheists, are only brainwashed into thinking that no faith or one faith is superior or different from others.

Breaking religious conditioning or being Cynical are good places to start but that road should lead us somewhere.
What If we do not Evolve? We will continue being the question mark.

Jeez! Frightening, I meant…

So, the next time we size up our religious quotient, we should keep in mind that we are equally conditioned and ignorant like others. That will help us ignore the religious triggers coming our way else we become dangerous to our own species.

If we get too sensitive or do not articulate our beliefs well then we will go extinct fighting for our religion.

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

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 suggests us to believe that we are Atman, for want of a better word. 

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 🙂