Saturday, January 26, 2013

Awareness

When I was conversing with a friend what 'Listen to the heart' really meant (Yes I don't have better things to do!) , it triggered me to read and discover, that what people really meant by that line is to listen to one's own intuition. I've considered myself intuitive for long, but it has always seemed like it comes in flashes and I couldn't really invoke it whenever I wanted to. There was a period of time when I believed also that intuition was nothing, but trouble.

My research showed me that intuition works best in dreams and thus it's important to remember our dreams (Many people suggest sleeping with a note-book and pen by the bedside for this reason). About two days after I had read about how intuition and dreams were connected, I had the most vivid dream that I have ever had in my life. (Maybe it was vivid, for I was conscious about having to remember every single detail of it)


The cast of characters in my vivid dream were a varied lot. There was a relative who's long dead now, a close friend at work with whom I confide a lot, Sachin Tendulkar, Superman and another friend and his father. I'll spare the details and cut to the end, for that was the most significant part.

A death had happened, but people were actually hosting a function that was scheduled to be held. The friend's father with my friend was questioning the need for such a function at the present time very vociferously and very aggressively. Lots of people were trying to convince them that things happen, but life goes on, but they weren't quite in the listening mood. Seeing the proceedings, I venture towards the group and was just about to say, "There is no right/wrong. What people believe is only the right thing." and at the moment the words were to come out of my mouth, I woke up.

I didn't have a notebook or a pen handy, but I didn't need them. I was quite awake and I vividly recollected the whole dream in complete crystallized clarity (not the eastman color types of yore!)

Little did I know then, that simple message would prove to be the corner stone of a big transformation within.

I was discussing the dream with a spiritually minded friend and his immediate remark was 'Fancy you saying there is no right/wrong!'. It was true. I've always lived my life with a strong sense of what was right and what was wrong and the slightest deviation from that was enough to trigger anger in me. This was not any mild anger, but pure destructive rage. Rage, which sets my blood boiling, muscles to contract, eyes to shrink, teeth to grit and my face to assume massive ferocious contortions.
I've written a lot of posts about people jumping queues, about people jumping traffic signals, people not doing their work properly - all these used to trigger that rage within me and over the years, quite a few people have fallen victim to this rage. My close friends and family would also vouch for this rage within me. It is this in-built sense of right/wrong that prompts me to question the Maha-bharata too, as to why things happened the way they did. I've been trying to figure out that reason for a really long time and I never thought the answer to that perplexing question would be so simple.
For a background, read All is fair in love and war?,

In the Kurukshetra war, the Pandavas are quite apprehensive about the kinds of trickery Krishna asks them to do, but they eventually do it. Why would Krishna do such things? Weren't they wrong to do? This question has stumbled me for such a long time and to understand the answer to this, one must understand what awareness is all about. One must understand what enlightenment is all about. Of course neither am I enlightened, nor am I aware, but I can see my own transformation within once I see that there is nothing that absolute as right/wrong. We all know that murder is wrong and yet there are situations am sure that we could justify that it would indeed be the right thing to do. How could we have such contradictions in us? How many more of these contradictions do we have within us?

Krishna was not wrong in doing what He did. He did what He had to and in his heightened state of awareness, anything that He did would have been the right thing to do... We can also get to this state of mind by practicing awareness.

What is awareness? Different people call it by different names. Deepak Chopra calls it the gap between thoughts. Eckhart Tolle calls it the stillness of the mind. Buddhists call it nirvana. Some call it moksha. Some call it just awareness, 'to be aware'.

What I've come to understand about it is to be mostly conscious of what's happening outside and within us. Be conscious of your feelings, your emotions, your thoughts, your actions, everything that you do with the body and the mind. Just be aware of all these without having to classify them. For instance we get a thought, just be aware of the thought and when you are aware, you realize that there's a choice on whether we really want to act out that thought. This was a huge revelation to me for it meant I could control my anger quite easily, effortlessly. All I had to do was be aware of the thought that led to the rage and once I was aware of that, I noticed that it never came out as rage. All this time I had led a very robotic conditioned response to situations. Shit happens. So does my anger. It didn't need to anymore. There was a choice and strangely enough once I became aware of this choice, it seemed to always come out in much more loving terms. There was no violent repulsive action, there was just a calm sense of being. This is what prompted me to write the earlier line about Krishna. "He did what He had to and in his heightened state of awareness, anything that he did would have been the right thing to do."

How aware are you?

Watch the video below at least twice. (You don't need my prompting you to watch it twice, you'll watch it at least twice!)



Done with the viewing?

The moment we heard that a murder has been committed, we are immediately lost in thoughts. We weren't paying any attention to what was happening (at least I wasn't). To pay attention is to be completely hopelessly focused in the present, to live in the present.

Here's another simple experiment. Switch on the telly. Done?

Ok. Now think of the colour red. Done?

Watch the telly for one minute with as much attention as you can give this task and then come back here and read below.



Did you see the color red prominently feature on the visuals you saw on the telly? It's not just red. Think of another color if you don't believe me. The moral of the story is our thoughts cloud everything. To really pay total attention, one has to be in a zone of no-thoughts and that is not a easy thing to get into, for that's the state of awareness, that's the state of enlightenment.

When we grow-up, we are conditioned in all sorts of ways by parents, friends, schools, colleges, our experiences, beliefs that we see life through all sorts of thoughts, all sorts of filters. Education gives us a lot of these filters. These are what we call Knowledge, but sadly they don't allow us to see things as we are. J Krishnamurthy asks us to understand each of this, so we can discard them and eventually get to be aware. The moment we say this is right/wrong, we see the world through that filter of right/wrong, not quite conducive to seeing things as they are.
Isn't it interesting? Once you remove all these filters, you wouldn't have any thoughts and if you don't have any thoughts, you would be destroying the concept of the ego and then be enlightened.

Not by any means a easy thing to do. One will have to scruplously understand every little thought that one gets. Think of this one which everyone would have experienced at some point in time. "I Love her. I know. I do." Now watch the video below where Osho speaks about love.




Revealing eh?

Personally life's a lot more pleasant these days once I've been practicing awareness, discarding the in numerous mindless judgements that I have inflicted upon myself.

My initial experiments with awareness were simply to be more conscious of what I was doing. I was holding a cup. I was aware of how I lifted the cup and held it to it's current position. I was constantly aware of my breathing at least a 100 times in a day, something that I was not aware of at all earlier unless my heart was beating very fast. Even this much awareness was instantly rewarding. I was suddenly seeing new things in the sights that I have taken for granted. I was experiencing the car engine's vibration on the steering wheel in a more pronounced manner. Washing dishes turned out to be fun after all! So was ironing clothes. Life was turning colorful and when I researched more out of intellectual curiosity, I discovered that

Hinduism talks of 4 different ways of achieving enlightenment.

a) Jnana - Path of wisdom
    - The path of J Krishnamurty, Ramana Maharshi.
    Ramana Maharshi's teaching is really very very simple. The moment you get a thought, ask yourself to whom did this thought arise. The inevitable answer being "me", ask yourself again, "Who am I?". Eventually all attention will be on that singular question without any other thoughts and He says that too will dissolve in due time revealing the answer.
I see J Krishnamurthy's approach as more holistic. He asks us to understand the nature of thought itself, about how important it is to not subscribe to any guru, religion or school of thought including what He himself says as all of that would introduce more judgements and beliefs. Once we understand and discard all these judgements, beliefs, right/wrongs, thoughts, He says we'll experience the pinnacle of his teaching - 'The observer becomes the observed.", a state of being where we can observe ourselves independently and not have to associate us with our body or mind, a state of being without the ego.

b) Bhakti - Path of devotion
    - Surrender your ego to a guru or God if you prefer. This is what the majority of the population does today, followers of all religion, but sadly they are all lost in mindless rituals and traditions than following the true essence of what bhakti means - surrender of one's ego.

c) Karma - Path of Duty
    - Do your duty without expecting any reward thus destroying your ego.
Everytime you see A R Rahman speak you might hear, "Ella pugalum irivannuke!" (Loose translation: All credit goes to God - something like that)

d) Techniques like meditation, Japa, Raja Yoga etc
  - Osho and other gurus advocate this.

All these paths talk about destroying one's ego thus helping us understand who we truly are. The path of Jnana is supposed to be the easiest, but that's kind of subjective for me to say right now unless I am of course truly aware.

My mom used to tell me that to be a genuine person, one must speak out their thoughts as and when you get them. Well today I know that, that statement is as far away from the truth as it could ever be.

Have you noticed that thoughts are always about the past or the future and never about the present? I've been noticing my thoughts for some time and my automatic tendency now is to classify them as past/future. I couldn't classify them as present. The classification can't really help much and I need to learn to be just aware of them without any judgement/classification.

Here's to awareness!

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