Sunday, July 26, 2009

Taming mind

Fixing the mind at any place or on any object is a difficult task. I have had my troubles with it. It is the first and perhaps the final task we need to be good at to achieve anything in life. We all have certain leanings in us. Some like music and gets easily absorbed in it, to some others it might be some other things. But everyone has the talent to concentrate on the things that they like in exclusion to everything else.

Yet to gain control over the mind one needs to fix it on the most uninteresting of things. It would resist like hell every time you try to make you do it. But this is how you tell your mind who is the real master, who is in command and in the driving seat. But before I go any further with this I would like to point to an important difference in the concept of the mind among the western and the eastern systems of thought.

In the west the mind is taken as a part of consciousness, that is, part of the self. Thus mind is considered as a sentient entity. This makes it absolutely difficult to control. For how would you control the self which is the real controller!

But in the east, especially in India mind is conceived as Jada (inert). It’s an object in the phenomenal world. It appears sentient only because of its proximity to the self. This is an important difference and a very helpful one. An object can easily be controlled and made to do whatever the self wants it to do. There is whole philosophy on the subject, that is, how the world evolves into what we see now before us, but it’s not necessary to learn all that for our purpose.

I would talk here of a certain practices I used to follow to gain such control, to some these might look very insignificant and simple techniques, but don’t let the simplicity deceive you. This is the biggest step that you are going to take in your life, make no mistake about it. By adopting complex procedures you can easily deceive yourselves that you are making progress, not with these ones. You would know for sure whether you have made any progress at all while doing them.

Take up any tiny object, any uninteresting object will do, let it be a small pebble, a hook, or a button or anything you can find, hold it in front of you and look at it steadily, all the while thinking about it. Force your mind to think about it in isolation to everything else. Everyone would have their own method of thinking, so it would be unwise to outline it for you. Yet for the sake of illustration let us outline one. Say you are thinking about a button-

Well turn it in your hand, notice its shape, color, design, any flaws you can find in it, its material, its size, whether it’s smooth or rough to the touch, the way it is to be attached to the dress, where it is produced, how it is produced, the place you obtained it, its function, and so on to everything that you can think about it. These are not instructions to follow one after the other, these are only suggestions and you can improve on them.
You might believe that you know all about them even without consciously taking note of their features, or that they are trivial, but remember that you are not trying to check the extent of your knowledge or trying to expound your philosophy of life. You are trying to put your entire mind at work on an insignificant thing. The only way to keep yourself interested in it is to think about it without allowing your eyes and mind to wander.

Try doing this for five minutes every day. You will soon find how tiring it is to keep the span of attention for more than a minute or so. If you succeed doing it for five minutes the world would look very different to you from then onwards. You will start to observe the minutest details of the things that you see around.

Another technique is to try to follow a thought to its end. Some think we need a wealth of knowledge to do that. Again we are not trying to prove how knowledgeable we are. It doesn’t matter even if we know next to nothing about it. Keep it simple. Take up any word or idea, the less complex the better.

Any word will do. Day, road, sky, wild, summer, wind, you know it can be any word. Think of anything and everything on it, but keep at it for five minutes. This would make you hold a thought for a longer time. It helps you focus.

You can devise any number of such exercises yourself, but if you the above two regularly it would be enough to get you on your way to your final conquest of mind.

in fact there are only two methods to do that, practice and dispassion as Pathanjali terms them . Let us take up practice first.....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Try it Sometime

I have often wondered why people run after a kind of knowledge which is never attainable. It’s a waste of time. We ask so many questions about world and ourselves and falsely believe that their answers would make us aware about what we are. But such analysis is never going to get us anywhere.

Just think for a moment, do we know what happens inside our own body which is more near to us than anything else? We don’t. Even if you are the most brilliant of all medical experts you would not be able to know it at any given point of time. May be there could come a time when we can do so with the help of the tools we might develop as we progress.

But that time is not yet here. At present we are left with what we have and that is not enough to tell us about ourselves in any clear manner. So struggling against the impossible is not an option for us.

The only thing that we can rely on at this moment is the knowledge of our ‘existence’. No one that we know of would deny that they exist. It’s the only thing that they are ever certain of, this constant in all the changing phenomena that they observe.

We all know that we are not physically the same person that we were once, several things have altered, but the only thing which remains invariable in all these changes is this certainty that we exist. You are pretty sure of that. When you say “I” you mean something of which you are sure of. This ‘I’ don’t change at any time, it is to this “I” that things are added and from which things are removed either knowingly or unknowingly.

It is the only factor that is steady and reliable. So it follows that we need to follow this stable part to know ourselves, all else is unimportant because everything that we learn about them would open up other areas for investigation. That is, knowing about what happens within the body at any given moment may in turn necessitate the knowledge of the forces influencing them and in its turn the forces influencing those forces and so on. It’s a never ending process.

That’s why Ramana Maharshi advised, question yourself( “Who am I?”) at all times. That is the only way you would reach truth. In fact this “I” is the truth.

But this is not going to happen with an intellectual realization of it. Unless it becomes an experiential reality it’s not worth having.

That is why even the Vedantins advice the process of Sravana, manana and Nidhidyaasana and in that order.

Sravana or listening or hearing about the truth is the first step. This is necessary because we are normally very confused about what truth is. We may know that we are this “I”, but we are not sure whether all else is part of this “I” and without this knowledge you would never achieve peace.

Peace is the only quality worth trying for. If you don’t know it to be so yet you would very soon.

There is no point in going after something which is not sure to bring this state in you. So you need to be sure you would achieve peace by following a particular path before venturing to follow it. Unless someone tells us so we are never really sure about it.

That is the whole point of Sravana or hearing of the truth from one who have achieved it.

Next you think about what you have heard (Manana). This is not the ‘thinking’ that you do normally. That is called analysis, and that would not be of help here. You have passed that stage before approaching one who has experienced it. Once you have heard him/her your doubts have been dispelled.

So Manana or thought in this sense is constantly repeating the truth to yourself. If the knower has told you that you are the truth itself then you repeat it to yourself with firm belief. Unfortunately this is also not enough to get you where you want to get.

That is why Nidhidyaasana (Or meditation) is prescribed. In nidhidyaasana you sit somewhere and meditate on the truth you have listened to.

But most of those who follow Vedanta, mistakenly meditate on the words that they have listened to. Closing your eye and repeating “I am Truth “is not going to make you that. Words are only pointers; they are not the truth itself. Truth is the “I” that you know yourself to be. While meditating, in any practice, you look for this “I” and realize it for what it is.

It is the only trick that there is.

You achieve this by stilling the mind, which is ever active otherwise. When the mind is stilled the life force which runs everywhere from you would also become controlled, if you can control both you will see truth.

There is place where the mind sits quietly within you. It’s the place between the eye brows. When the mind merges at that place prana or life force also does likewise, then there are no obstacles to see truth in its entire splendor.

Try it sometime!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Storming Of The Fortress

(This is the story of a tramp that I know of)

A poor tramp once heard of a great fortress somewhere.

It was a period of terrible famines and desolation. It hadn’t rained for a long time in his land, fields did not yield anything, lakes, rivers and water sources had gone all dry. There were rich and powerful people in the land but they were all hoarders. They had amassed great wealth by stock piling what they could obtain for a long period of time.

None gave anything to those they did not know.

Everyone was looking after their own interests. People had lost faith in humanity and barely smiled at others. Every new face was viewed with suspicion. They were seen as infiltrators, enemy agents to sow seeds of disharmony within the near and dear.

So the tramp had gone hungry and thirsty for some time. Whenever he approached anybody for assistance they would drive him away.

You lazy bum, first learn to till the soil, learn to weave clothing, learn to fight the enemy, learn to draw water from wells.

They would say.

Hence the tramp did not get anything. He did not have the soil to till. All soil was taken up by the powerful, he did not have the cotton to weave clothing, all the cotton fields were under privet ownership, he couldn’t fight the enemy, for he had no enemies, he could not draw water from the wells, only the tax payers could use wells and he did not own any wells. He was penniless. He had never felt the need for any.

So the tramp subsisted with what he could obtain from around him and that was not much. All the while he had been hearing in hushed tones about the siege of a great fortress somewhere where there was immense wealth.

He had nothing to gain by staying where he was, so he trudged towards the great fortress everyone was talking about with awe. He had no grand aims in this, he only wanted to appease his hunger and thirst if he could.

He was hearing the noise of great battles going on from afar, the air was cloudy with kicked up dust and the smoke from mighty guns, great battle cries were heard, giant machines were roaring, new recruits were arriving every minute to join the various armies.

Now he could see the fortress, it looked inaccessible, impenetrable and inviolable. Giant armies were lying in siege to the fortress, there were unending raids going on, all the sides of the fortress was covered, ladders had been put up on its sides and soldiers were seen crawling upwards on them. Maps of the fortress were being studied, underground tunnels were being dug. Strategies were being discussed. Fights were even breaking out between the armies, all laid claim to the best action to overcome the fortress.

The tramp walked around viewing the massive goings on and became aware of his own insignificance, he had no valor to join in the armies and in fact he was foot sore, tired and needed a place to rest. No one would grant him any, all the places were occupied. The soldiers drove him out from everywhere.

You bum, clear off, what has the cat to do where the gold is being melted. Go and ply your trade somewhere else.

But the tramp had nowhere to go. So he looked on the fortress with wonder, what is in there to attract so many, it seemed not resisting or fighting back. No guns were seen on the ramparts, no archers were seen anywhere.

The tramp had nothing to lose, he would die anyhow, he had no baggage and he carried no arms. The fortress had nothing to fear from him. So he decided to go and see if the fortress would have him, if no one else in the world did. He looked around for a path to get to the fortress by the easiest route and without directly coming under fire from the legions fighting it. He found an unoccupied path; it seemed to be the only path too.

He got on it and went towards the fortress.

There were laughter all round, everybody was jeering.

Look at the tramp; he is going to assault the fortress all by himself.

Hey tramp, join the armies.

The fool is on a path of self destruction.

The tramp did not mind, he had been called everything even before, but none had helped him, he had nothing to lose.

The path was uncluttered, everyone had carefully kept away from it because it was the most uninteresting of all, there was no valor in going that way, it was a smooth and clear path, there were no chances to show ones prowess on it and so it was kept out of the charts and covered up intentionally.

The tramp was not proud, so he went forward on it and reached the gates.

Wonder of wonders, there was no gate, there were not any doors, there were no sentries, and nothing obstructed his path.

He went in and looked around. Suddenly there was no fort anymore, there was no siege, there were no armies, there was no tramp, he realized that the fort is within himself and all that supposed to lie outside was also within himself, there were no barriers, nothing to conquer. He was the lord and master of everything.

He was no more a tramp.

He was at peace. He had no imaginary thirst to satisfy then, no imaginary hunger to appease, no imaginary places to rest.

He had become the truth, the consciousness and the bliss. He also knew that he had been so all the time and there was no one to take it away.

He stayed there a while.

Then he was drawn out by his tramp-body and thought, now that I have seen the fortress and knows that it is within me all the time, why not go out and play around for a while.

He again assumed the grab of the tramp and left the fortress. The legions roared with laughter.

Here comes the crazy tramp that went to conquer the fortress.

Oh ho the lazy pig was driven away; you see how the bum looks.

The imbecile thought it was easy. We couldn’t do it with umpteen forays.

The tramp laughed with them, called himself names, kicked himself for the foolishnesses he committed and begged them for food and shelter.

This time they did not drive him away, though useless he too had returned defeated from the assault of the fortress.

The tramp now placed himself on a knoll behind the field of battle and watched the proceedings. There were great heroes like Achilles and Arjuna in the fray. The assaults were on. He wondered at the great prowess exhibited by all the great warriors. Goose bumps would start down his spine when some great forays are made.

How brave and heroic these people are! They are relentless. The tramp would think with wonder.

Now and again he would leave his place and beg for something to subsist with. They were kind to him this time and would give him a morsel.

Out of gratefulness he would say to them:

You know, the fortress is always open; you can go in just like that, there you see, is the path to it.

The soldiers would look at each other and try to hide a smirk. They would say.

We know all about that. Now leave and keep out of sight, don’t let the great generals see you.

The moment his back is turned there would be an outbreak of uncontrollable mirth.

The poor crazy bum, telling us about the way to get into the fortress……..He became totally unhinged after his try.

The great generals would show their contempt for him whenever he was in sight.

Who is he?

The soldiers would cover their mouths not to laugh out loud.

He is the one we spoke to you about sirs.

Oh, the one who knows the path to the fortress?

Then they would all laugh outright. The tramp would also join in.

Anyway keep the nuisance out from the fields; we wouldn’t want to hurt the path finder would we?

Oh that’s difficult sirs; he is irrepressible, jumps into the middle of the fray from time to time.

Well a sad case it is.

And the generals would leave.

As they said the tramp would sometimes join with the armies that helped him and would run with them to the fortress throwing small stones at it. They would not go very far, but the soldiers would cheer him on:

Bravo tramp, you have the spirit.

Did you look at the distance he threw the stones, whew!

He also used to get in the fray between armies, joining forces with the one which helped him. Calling names, throwing stones till his energy is exhausted with the effort.

He knows its all play and has no meaning in the real sense whatsoever.

Other times he would be back on the knoll, watching. He knew he had to kill time somehow till the body wears off………..

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Way It Came To me.

I had searched in vain for a solution to this chasm I found between myself and the world and was becoming hopeless of ever resolving it when I found the Sambavi Mudra.

Once I had discovered it I knew I had found the key. As I went on practicing it things began to fall into order.

And the realization came one night.

I had the veil removed then, saw the world for what it is. There was no grand awakening; there was no blitzkrieg of lights, no high voltage dramas, and no jet propelled journeys ……………

If anyone thought that I am sorry to disappoint them in that.

In fact there were no comings and goings anymore (where is one to go and where from should one come?), there was no ins and outs, just the awareness that I AM.

I saw myself in everything and everything else in myself, there were no divisions, no feeling of the ‘other’. I was only aware of myself.

I was existence.

Yet can it be called existence even? It goes even beyond that, it goes beyond the pale of existence and non existence. There is no way of explaining it, it is inexplicable, and it’s beyond words. The futility of trying to express it in words would only occur to you after you have been through the experience yourself.

One can only quote the beautiful words of the Rishi’s. There is nothing else to do.

“Where the words turn back
And mind does not enter”

Then again

“Words do not reach it
Neither the mind.”

This is the catch. Words are the creations of the mind or are only usable when there are ‘two’. I am talking of the ‘one’ or the indivisible and it can’t be talked of in the realm of names and forms.

How I used to laugh at this expression once, “names and forms”! It had its revenge on me finally. There is no other expression in human language capable of describing the experience from the perspective of the ultimate reality.

This world is nothing but names and forms, a play ground of shadows.

In the oldest of Upanishads the Eithreya it’s said

“Only ‘this’ was there
Nothing else was in sight.”

It then goes on to reveal the cause of the world.

“It thought
I will be many.”

The moment it thinks so there is the dual world. The one becomes two. And when there is two, two points of observation occur, two paths occur, time occurs. It’s as simple as that.

In true-realization all these disappears into shadows. The man who is being questioned, the others who are questioning him revert back to the shadows that they are they exist in relation to me alone.

But who is this me, is it the man called Chasing my shadow?

Chasing my shadow is only a part of me as everything else is, he has no special significance other than I AM evidenced in him at this time. It doesn’t make him high or low, it doesn’t change him.

If this does not teach us humility nothing else will.

But don’t mistake me,

Yogis do glitter, they beam the power of Kundalini through the crown chakra, they have the sidhis, and they have powerful minds and have refined inner vehicles.

But I was not after these, I never cared for those, they had always seemed spurious and expendable to me. And in the kind of realization I was after they were a hindrance rather than help.

I was not after the gradual evolution to the next world and to the next finer world and to the next and to the next………

I was not going to make a career out of it, whatever pretenses we invent for practicing it, like saving the world, assisting in the evolution of the universe, helping others, following gurus, deeming ourselves at lower stages of evolution requiring higher stages. No, I was not going for a sort of a spiritual careerism.

I wanted beyond, I wanted the final truth. I wanted to have done with this farce called Maya once and for always and never come back.

I even used to shudder at the thought of anything less.

In truth what you want is what you realize. If you want the final truth, you would realize that, if you want heaven, you would get there, if you want to be the Buddha, you will be him, you want to be the devil and you have become one.

You truly are the master of yourself and the world. I am not playing around with words here like they do in positive thinking sermons. Let me tell you this, the matter of liberation is so simple that, if you can hold on to the truth that you are liberated at the moment of death, there would not be any coming back.

I can guarantee you that. Let you be the worst devil in the world, hold on to this thought with unflinching belief. None would make you come back; there would be no further births and deaths for you.

But it is not as easy as you suppose. First you need to be sure that is the case. That is why it’s important to make it a habit of being with the final truth. Hence the need for Brooh Dhyana. It is the only way you can be sure of finding it for yourself.

But how can one be sure anyone else’s experience would be the general one?

I can only resort to an illustration.

Draw a circle with a series of dots. Take any one dot; every single dot can be the beginning and end of the circle at the same time. All dots have the same chance of becoming so.

That is, if one has experienced truth somewhere others would also experience it. All points in the world have the same prospects.

So my suggestion is:

Place the mind at the point between your eye brows


Place The Mind At The Point Between Your Eye Brows



And you will be liberated.