Monday, July 31, 2017

A Balancing Act

There is much to be discovered about life, perhaps even more so about the unknown echelons of the mind to which we pay scant attention. Any discovery adds to the knowledge bank of human civilization. Directly or indirectly, we are dependent on the intelligence and persistence of scientists in various fields. They are the visible hands of the divine in our lives. It is through their persistent efforts that modern day life has become one with great potential for comfort and happiness. For these comforts to percolate down to everyone and become a universal reality, the world would need to come together as one big family. Although technological advances have given us a great deal of comfort, it has brought in its wake unintended consequences. We are now more sensitive to the maintenance and upkeep of machines and gadgets than to the needs of our fellow human beings. Although the far corners of the world are getting more closely networked through the internet, a great gulf remains to be bridged between people’s hearts. Technology may be thought of as a glue that binds the mind. But old fashioned feelings and emotions which cannot be replicated by machines, is what truly unites the hearts of people from all parts of the world. When we forget the bridge that exists between the “ancient” heart and the “modern” mind we confine ourselves to the island of individuality or “I”, and operate chiefly through the mind. Within the confines of the mind, the resources available to us are relatively limited. Once we cross the bridge from the mind into the heart, we open ourselves to the greater instruments of expansive awareness.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Exercise in charity

Physical exercise is generally about the individual self, where the “I” factor predominates. Some of the reasons people exercise include” feeling and looking good, staying healthy, relieving personal stress etc.” Each of those is prefaced by “I desire…”. There is no doubt that regular physical exercise has great benefits, but it can turn into a selfish action when the focus is purely on the body. Physical activity may be transformed into an act of giving when undertaken as a platform for raising money for a cause, such as running, biking or walking for charity. This however, is more of a ceremonial activity as it is generally not done as a daily routine. Exercising, like breathing cannot be done away with, and must be practiced regularly to keep the bodily engine humming in optimal condition. By changing our mental attitude towards physical activity, we can use it to reshape the “I” into a bigger or smaller version of its current state.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Expansion and dissolution

Expansion and dissolution are certainties of human life, which hangs in the balance between these two phenomena. Equity between the two is rarely, if ever achieved from the perspective of our limited, individual existence. An imbalance between the contrasting forces of expansion and dissolution, especially in the mind, is more common and is a major cause of stress in day to day life. At the physical level, these forces crest and fall, processes we call growth and ageing. The first half of life is a period of growth and expansion of the physical frame. Once this process peaks, the forces of dissolution gradually set in. In the mind, there is a more rapid turnover of these two processes. They happen in every thought. Desires result in expansion of the mind. Along with this there is dissolution of the awareness of our inner reality. Most people spend their lives moderating an ever-expanding mind full of desires. What little happiness that is obtained comes only through the fulfillment of a small fraction of a large bank of desires. When there is complete dissolution of the mind and awareness is set free, immense bliss floods in. Dissolution is the great leveler, especially when it comes to the human body. However, when applied to the mind, something which is rarely done, it can expand our awareness.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Opening the eye of meditation

It may seem surprising, but the biggest barrier to achieving a state of meditation are the eyes. The power of sight is the major portal through which we interact with the world, so it is reasonable to think that by closing them we can enter meditation. Unwittingly we have turned these small and delicate structures into a de facto boundary between the world within and without. Light falling on our eyes and creating images in the mind offers a convenient distraction that keeps our awareness locked onto the phenomenal world which is constantly changing. Thoughts are ever present, and this thought stream goes into overdrive the moment we close our eyes even for a few seconds. The sensory experiences that the eyes provide are invaluable to our mental wellbeing. Just imagine how restless we would be if we were made to sit in a dark room for even an hour or two with nothing to do. Although it is said that the eyes provide a window to the soul, what is more immediately apparent from the eyes is the state of mind. When the mind is tired, the natural response is to close the eyes; In a state of boredom, they are kept open for business hoping for a change in the inner scenery. Sometimes the thought of meditating comes when the mind is troubled, especially so when we are under a constant barrage of stressful situations.  When the mind is joyful, we don’t usually think of meditation. However, it would be highly advantageous to meditate when we are joyful rather than making it an escape from a mind fatigued from stress of daily life. Meditation isn’t an escape from the world. It is a transition to who we are, being one with the world. As a gatekeeper to the mind, the act of closing our eyes has become a metaphor for meditation. However, achieving and maintaining a state of meditation is not dependent on whether the eyes are open or closed.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The concept of 'The Guru'

A Guru-disciple connection is one of the most sacrosanct relationships, especially in the Eastern traditions, going back thousands of years. Every religion has this concept, such as the Prophets in the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions. A Guru literally means ‘dispeller of darkness’. Traditionally a Guru is a person, but it need not be so. A Guru can also be in the form of right guidance that emanates from within, what is also called the voice of our conscience. However, it is easier to relate to a Guru in person, as the chatter of the mind drowns out the subtle suggestions of the conscience or the inner Guru. Furthermore, any message from the inner Guru is spoken only once. If we are not alert, the message is easily missed. It then ricochets through the mind and we hear several different versions colored by our logic, reasoning power and thoughts. A Guru in physical form embodies virtues such as patience and compassion and repeats his or her message till we get it. It then becomes a battle between the Guru’s message and our mind. When it comes to the mind, there are only two ways it can go. Either it comes under our control or we are under the control of the mind. Desires are the vehicles through which our self-mastery is ceded to the mind. Desires and the pursuit of them creates a veil of darkness through which we can neither see inwards nor see the pristine beauty of the world. Our awareness then becomes centered on the dark patches of unfulfilled desires in the mind.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Birthday: A day of gratitude

Birthdays are a rite of passage for all of us. Although that special day means something different to everyone at each stage of life, there is one thing in common. We would not be here to celebrate birthdays were it not for our parents. In addition to separate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, would it not be great if our birthdays would also be celebrated as Parent’s Day? That day would turn into a day of togetherness, day of giving and not getting.
Expectation builds as we approach every birthday, from “Who will send me wishes?” to “Who will buy me gifts and what will they be?” These expectations are also ingrained into our children. Instead, we ought make it a day on which we thank our biological parents for bringing us into the world, our teachers and mentors for shepherding us through school and college and last, but not the least to an unseen divine energy that pervades all life including ours. Without the gift of breath and life we would not be celebrating a birthday, whether ours or others.