Thursday, June 23, 2011

You are alive only because....

Whenever someone dies, people saying something on the lines of 'God calls those people to his abode whom he loves most.' Makes the bereaved family feel better.

This is especially repeated when someone meets with untimely death.

Recently somebody on posted an interesting twist to this saying.

It went something like this.

"God calls those he loves most to his abode. So, if you are alive, it means there is someone on this earth who loves you more than the God loves you."

We are all alive because there are people on this earth who love us more than God. Hmmmm....

Interesting perspective. Made me think. Still thinking.


Btw: If you have account on, you can go and search for it. It generated quite a discussion there.

Powered by Qumana

Mind's restlessness

Mind is like a monkey which has had a lot to drink. After that it's been bitten by a scorpion. On top of that some demon has possessed it.

Can there be anything more chaotic than the above monkey? Likely not. By it's very nature, monkey is always on the move. Additionally if you introduce 3 extras, it will become so restless that no monkey tamer can handle it.

Several sages have used above simile to convey the restless of our minds. At the best, it is a decent monkey which has been trained quite well. At the worst, you have monkey on extras.

Another beautiful simile is - mind is like a restless trunk of an elephant. Always reaching out to this or that. Grab this here. Grab that  there. Once whatever is grabbed, put it in it's large mouth and that's the end of it.

Elephant trainers have a simple technique to manage the restless trunk of the elephant. Before they take the elephant in a procession through streets, they simply give bamboo stick and ask the elephant to hold it in its trunk. Since the elephant has been trained to obey its trainer, it does what's asked of it and then the procession starts. Since the elephant knows that it has to hold the bamboo stick in it's trunk, it does not move it's trunk here and there. Thus the stores along the street, which stock goodies like fruits and nuts that elephants like very much, are spared from the elephant grabbing them for free.

So is our mind. It needs something to grab on to. If it does not get something to grab on to, you know what it does. It will grab a bad movie here, a violent song there, some gossip somewhere else and so on.

So, what do we give to our mind? Hindu teachers from ages have asked us to choose a mantra (holy name or holy word) and repeat it all the time. It does not matter even if you repeat it mechanically. It's going to serve the exact purpose of that bamboo stick and help steady our restless mind.

Of course, elephant's trunk is nothing compared to our mind in terms of restlessness. Mind is not going to repeat 'mantra' as sincerely as a well trained elephant holds on to the bamboo stick. It's going to 'forget' repeating the mantra and we have to consciously bring it back to repeating it. It takes time and lifetime's effort.

Great sages have guaranteed from their personal experience that after a long time, sincere aspirants get to the state called as 'ajaapjapam'. In that state, the person does not repeat the mantra, it repeats by itself and delivers tremendous benefits in turn. It's a goal worth shooting for.

Now choose a mantra and start repeating. It's good for you and more importantly good for everyone around you. One less monkey to worry about. Just kidding! :)

Cheers to a calm and quality mind!

Powered by Qumana

Mindfulness & Surfing

Mindfulness - Buddhist way of dispassionately observing the mind using the mind. There is plenty of information about the process and practice in books and elsewhere.

Recently while reading a book, one point the author made caught my mind because nobody else had helped show mindfulness in that way.

Paraphrasing the author - mind is like a rough sea. Topsy and turvy. Raises many waves. It is long before we can quiet the mind. In the mean time, we have two choices. One is, we can act as victims and get thrown up and down by those waves of the mind. Other is to learn to ride them. As surfers like to do, we can learn to ride the mind waves. In this way, we will welcome the ups and downs and enjoy them rather than being tossed around by them mercilessly.

Made sense.

Of course, even to get to that state of riding those mind waves, it takes a lot of time and practice. But, seems worth it.

Mind is very funny. Start consciously observing what the mind does. What do you see? It acts like a small child caught in the act of doing something naughty. It is embarrassed and stops what it was doing.

Just try it. As soon as you say to the mind 'I am going to simply watch you', it will stop its assembly line. Junk production stops for a while.

It's a different matter that you lose your intent to observe after some time. Mind is a tough cookie. It's hard to nail it. It will come up with some other ploy.

That's one of the reasons Buddhists ask you to focus on breath and ancient Hindu teachers asked aspirants to choose a holy name or phrase (mantram) and repeat it every second you find a chance. That is to give mind something to hold on to. If something is not given to the mind, it will find and grab what it likes. In many cases, what mind likes is not what we want. So, we can proactively give it something good to hold on to.


Powered by Qumana

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Einstien and Vedanta

In a letter to a friend who had lost a young son, Albert Einstein described the experience of self as somehow separate from the rest of reality as an “optical delusion” of consciousness, a delusion he likened to a prison. He said that to break free of this prison would require “widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Above excerpt is from Pictures of the Mind: What the New Neuroscience Tells Us About Who We Are by Miriam Boleyn-Fitzgerald

It is very impressive to see how Einstein's views closely match with the views expressed in our scriptures.

I have made specific words bold to highlight their relevance.

Reality ( as we see it) is an 'optical delusion'. This is really classic. 100% match.

Our mind  which is part of the overarching consciousness (i.e. Brahman) manufactures the "reality" as it finds appropriate.

That's the reason why Vedantists say life is only as real as a dream. We experience dreams as real as we experience life. It's just that dream lasts only for few minutes or hours where as the dream known as life goes over a few years to start off again.

It's no surprising to see this coming from some like Einstein who was all for coming up with an unified theory. He had unified so many disparate concepts into such a nice and tightly knit theory of relativity. Only if he had few more years, may be he would have included 'consciousness' also part of his unified theory.

As long as we do not see the unity in everything, we are under the spell of very strong optical illusion.

Knowing that and trying to get out of that is fun. Even if it takes multiple lives to get out of that, it is worthwhile.

As there is tremendous pleasure in solving puzzles and riddles, same with solving this complex equation which when solved shows us how this optical illusion results.

The book also a great read. It documents experiments run of some Tibetan masters in the hope of discovering the benefits of mindfulness.


Powered by Qumana

Desire to Destiny

"You are what your deep driving desire is.

As your deep driving desire is, so is your will.

As your will is, so is your deed.

As your deed is, so is your destiny."

Above verse is from the famous 'Brihadarnyaka' upanishad.

If we can desire anything strongly enough, we can get it.

That may be the reason they say " God does not give us dreams without giving adequate potential to achieve them."

If all this is true, why we find it hard to achieve some things? Others we seem to able to achieve very easily.

Einstein (I believe) famously said "Man can get all that he wants. Can he really will what he wants?"

"Willing to want" - this ties back nicely to the verse from 'Brihadarnyaka' upanishad. "Willing to want" is to DESIRE strongly.

Sri Eknath Easwaran ( uses a very simple but powerful metaphor to illustrate the power of desires.

When solar rays are passed through a magnifying glass which can make them converge on a single point, it generates so much heat to burn a piece of paper.

But without such a lens, scattered sun rays may nicely warm us up, but can not set paper on fire.

Our desires, all though very powerful, are very scattered. We are into getting a few pieces of pleasure here, another  few pieces of false-security elsewhere and so on. We have not managed to have all our desires converge to produce the effect we want.

Desire is neither good nor it is bad. It is another form of power. How we manage to transform it is upto us. Electricity can be used to light up a house or burn down the same house.

Similarly our desires can make us or mar us.

Desire is the vital fuel. There is only so much of it. Granted, we all have some extra fuel to let us experiment and experience things and know  for ourselves that they all do not really satisfy us. But, it is expected that we learn from such experiences and their limitations. If we do not but keep repeating same acts time and again, hoping for different results, we are simply wasting away our vital energy. Then when we really need all the fuel to undertake a long journey, we are faced with an empty tank. Let's not get into that situation.

There is another very important aspect to desires. Look at anything you really like. Or even better, look at those things which you used to like very much once and now do not find it  much appealing any more. What happened? Did anything change with object of your original liking? Likely not. Then what? It's your desire. The desire for that object simply vanished. Along with it took away the fascination for that object. Ask people who have quit tobacco or alcohol for good and ask them what changed. They are not able to explain it this way but are like to say 'something gave up.' That something is DESIRE. It's all in the desire. Tobacco is same as it used to be. Alcohol is what it has always been. You had desire for them. And that gave special fascination to those objects.

Success is not a result of some passive combustion. But, it is purposely setting ourselves on fire.

Desire is the fuel. Everything else including our destiny depends on it.

So, the question is - do we consolidate all our desires or let them waste away of thousands of useless pursuits?

Gandhi was known for his witty remarks.

Some reporter asked him "don't you have any ambition?"

Gandhi said "I am the most ambitious person. I would like to reduce myself to ZERO."

Reducing himself to zero was his desire. What he meant to totally remove his EGO. Worthy goal requiring every ounce of desire.


Powered by Qumana

Monday, June 06, 2011

Honeybee vs. Housefly

What do we want be like?

A honeybee or a housefly?

Honeybee always spots good things. It finds a nice flower full of nectar. It extracts the nectar without hurting the flower. In the process, gathers some pollen and thus helps in pollination. After this delicate work, it gets busy and creates fabulous honey for us.

Housefly, on the other hand, always focuses on what is disgusting, dirty and full of germs. Lousier and dirtier the stuff, better it is for the housefly. There is some real yucky, grimy stuff, house fly is there to squat on it. Grab all the dirt, germs, bacteria etc. and ready to go elsewhere and contaminate that using all the germs it picked up from the previous rotten place. Deadly diseases like cholera are spread mainly by houseflies.

Honeybee is attracted to what is good. Housefly is attracted to what is bad and rotten.

Being like honeybee means we focus on what's good in others.

Being like a housefly means we focus on what's bad in others.

Nobody is perfect.

Everyone has a good measure of good and bad.

But, we can make a deliberate decision to focus on any and every good in others. That way we can probably get some honey out of anybody.

Of course, we can become pessimists. That's akin to being a house fly. We focus on the negatives. That will frustrate us. We will take that frustration on somebody else. That will pollute the environment.

Honeybee pollinates where as housefly pollutes.

I do not want the stigma attached to the housefly.

Choose to be a honeybee!


Powered by Qumana