Meditation diaries – Guru Bhakthi

I have been practicing a science called ‘Kundalini Gnanam’ for the past 8 years and it never ceases to amaze. What is thought as relevant yesterday lies in tatters today. What I thought was right is no longer right. Right is not relevant anymore.

Recently I had the chance to visit my Guru for 3 uninterrupted days and that helped me clear a lot of air. First and foremost I was increasingly losing my sense of direction in the last couple of months. My sense of discipline and my understanding of what I should do were both suffering. Days in and days out, I was increasingly getting frustrated that I was not doing what I wanted to do and I was getting further perturbed by the course of events. It was a negative loop and I suffered further due to my habit of not speaking to my Guru in such phases. Then it happened.

Arun, one of my buddies, called me out of the blue and told me that he was done with it (metaphorically and meaning of ‘it’ does not matter) and he had made up his mind to visit our Guru for a whole week. He wanted to meet and asked me to plan. Cutting a long story short, I was there for 3 days with my Guru. All kinds of things happened in those 3 days.

First and foremost, I understood the importance of Guru – Bhakthi. While in popular parlance, it would mean thinking about the Guru and worshiping him, for me it took on a deeper dimension. For me it meant understanding what he wants his students and disciples to do. A Guru wants nothing less than all of his students becoming a Guru themselves. This is a unique aspect of ‘knowledge’. It is one of the few assets, which makes the one who possesses it, want to share with as many people as possible. If one has to become a Guru then one must want to teach. For one who wants to teach, one must possess knowledge. To possess knowledge, one must research. The word research is beautiful isn’t it?

You have to re – search. The way I understand it is that you must probably abandon all that you hold true today and start from the beginning. The way I see it, religious people are not truly spiritual. Particularly the ones deeply embroiled in symbolic rituals and everyday ablutions. This has nothing to do with what they do and more to do with their outlook. They have accepted that this is it and have left it at that. The spiritual aspirant’s foremost quality would be to accept nothing as it is and question everything. Because they day one says this is it, he or she stops learning and is for all practical purposes, non-existent. Life is energy and energy that stagnates is more or less dead. As Vivekananda once said, the atheist is more religious than the Brahmin who unerringly performs pujas everyday.

So to me Guru – Bhakthi would also mean to tirelessly pursue the knowledge which will help me understand things better. The Spiritual Masters say that there is a knowledge which will be sweeter than forest honey. There is a knowledge which is ageless and timeless. There is a knowledge which will change the whole plane of existence. To me Guru – Bhakthi would mean to seek it with the same sense of urgency as a deer which just escaped from the hunter’s nest. It would mean to search it with the same emotions as the desert nomad who is thirsty and sees a mirage for the nth time.

This would take time and ceaseless effort. But like Lao Tse said – ‘The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step’. Please start, my friend. Start today. Start now.

Meditation diaries

I had written a post sometime back, on a particular observation during practise of asanas and meditation. Interestingly I had a comment by a gentleman talking about the a very sweeping description of meditation.

It was a very good description and I would like to agree with him on a lot of aspects. But if I look back and pick up something which had left an impression on me, it was his statement which can be equated with logic.

‘A wise person is intelligent, but an intelligent person is not necessarily wise’

How true?

One thing which I have noticed as a change during the past few years spent in meditation is that there has been a change in my maturity level (a.k.a wisdom). I would strongly attribute this to that fact that I am able to move away from my selfish self. I take myself less seriously and even so others. Can this really be called maturity?

Somebody I know recently said,

‘Let me be myself’.

I asked,

‘What are you, that you want to be yourself? You are but a mixed bag, predominantly composed of your parents and close friends,….and bits and pieces of all the people that you have met since you were born.’

I reflect upon it and isn’t it true that we are all clowns, imitating other in everything starting from the language we speak, body language to everything else. We talk like others, eat like others, think like others. The society seems to be a collective bag of largely identical units walking and talking in a mundane symphony. It as even perfected the art of sustaining itself through generations?

So there is no you as such. So why take yourself so seriously?

My husband, my work, my life……

So much of tension because of these thougths that you are responsible for everything and it is your headache to turn things around.

Is it necessary?

You have no control over why your were born by the collective union of two specific individuals in this wide Cosmos. If you have no control over this fact then you have no control over all the parameters that have influenced you ever since. Everything from your first teacher to the icecream vendor on the street.

A thought like this helps you take yourself less seriously. Can this be called maturity? Can a thought which makes you ligther be called maturity?

Simon say ‘Yes, we can!’

Hah!

Knowledge and Spirituality

I was reading from a book written by guru

I stopped for a moment and started thinking about spirituality as such and the amount of material that one can find in this world. The sheer number of religions, sects and sub-sects. The number of Saints and Yogis and their followers in this world. Ironically each saint would have been written upon multiple times in terms of interpretations and translations. This presents a mind-numbing amount of content.

Is it possible to read all this in one span of life?

This brings a very interesting question to the fore and that is the relevance of information and the difference between information and Knowledge. There is only a certain amount of information that any human being can ingest in a lifetime. So we obviously have to be selective about the information that we ingest on a day-today basis. This can only be done by understanding the relevance of information to ourselves. The relevance of information now brings us to the difference between information and knowledge. When information is converted into something useful, by the application of our mind to syncretise a conceptual understanding of information and concepts that we have collected so far, then the information is converted into Knowledge. Knowledge helps us understand.

Now the question shifts to the more important question of how to differentiate amongst the information that we collect on a day-to-day basis. The straight forward answer to this question will be that it depends on what one wants to do or is doing. If you are doing business then the focus should be on information related to business. So on and so forth. But at the end of the day the mind is like a machine which needs lubrication, a kind of mental rest and this is where spirituality comes into play. Spirituality has only one goal and that is to give you peace of mind. While one’s ambitions and goals will leave us in a constant state of restlessness and anxiety about what will happen in the future, spirituality will leave us bereft of all these symptoms and tend to push us towards a more balanced state of mind.

For the beginners in spirituality, ingesting some bit on a daily basis will definitely help. While for the advanced practitioners (don’t ask me for the definition), again discretion is adviced. I have come to realise this because of two factors, one is that it is more important to syncretise rather than ingesting information. Sometimes it is better to understand 4 lines of poetry rather than read 100 lines. I have read the book by Guru once and I decided that I will not finish the book in a hurry. I will rather stop and weigh my thoughts over and over to be able assimilate the last drop of Knowledge before moving forward.

In the seashore of the collective knowledge of this world, there are way too many footprints and I am confused. If I follow every other footprint, I will end up in ‘Brownian motion’. I do not have ‘apriori’ information to be able to select any one. In this melee, I met my Guru and out of pure intuition, putting down intelligence and trusting my intuition alone, I follow his steps and I have never looked back since. I am not asking you to do the same as everybody might not have the good-luck of meeting with a Guru. What I am asking you to do is to prioritise your sources of information, syncretise rather than spend all your time in collecting ‘General Knowledge’ (which remains General) and lastly to spend sometime in spirituality for that balance in life.

And totally out of the blue, trust your intuition once in a while.

Meditation diaries

concentric_circles1There have been numerous interpretations for the word meditation. I am sure you would have a fair idea of your own. I have something to say with respect to my understanding of mediation. 

In my opnion, meditation is the ability to catch hold of a concept and delve into great depths to be able to arrive at a fundamental understanding of the subject at hand. Let me take an example.

I have heard of a chant or mantra-‘Neti neti

The translation of this goes by either

1. ‘Not this, not this’ or

2. ‘Neither this nor that’

I remember having read this while I was reading up a lot of books on spirituality as part of my preparation for CAT. Now during the past few years of meditation, I have undergone so many different changes in my conceptual understanding of things. To take an example, I was of the opinion that religion had a lot to do with symbolic worship of pictures and objects in various avenues. The worship meant prayer to an external God, represented by pictures, statues and umpteen number of rituals surrounding these pictures/ statues.

I saw these symbols of worship and tried to understand them at a slightly deeper level. I asked myself questions,…

1. What do these statues/ pictures represent?

2. What do the chants and mantras represent/ mean?

I got a few answers like the fact that symbolic worship of statues/ pictures are meant for the average person who might not be accustomed to concentration of mind and hence there needs to be an external object in the form of a picture or a statue onto which they can focus all their attention. I similarly got a few questions for some more questions.

But the critical part of the larning process was in saying ‘Neti neti’

The moot question was if this was the only answer to the qeustion. Another way of looking at it was if this is too simplistic an answer. Are there points that I am missing in trying to arrive at a simplistic answer to my questions.

To look at the question above, I see that the answer is not that simplistic. The fact is that the fundamental diference between humans and animals in the fact that animals meander in their basic urges, which are food and procreation. Whereas, humans are able to move much beyond these basic impulses. This is chiefly because of our ability to postpone gratification. This ability to postpone gratification happens due the ability of humans to concentrate their minds and hence exercise control over the mind when the body craves for basic needs such as food and procreation. To take this forward, the act of prayer is an exercise in concentration of the human mind.

Now all humans are not born with the same ability to concentrate and like there is different grades in school for children of different ages, ages being a surrogate for mental development, similarly religion has different systems to help people in concentration. For most of the average people who cannot focus on an abtract object, religion provided them with images and stories which have temples and edicts as physical manifests of these systems, to help them concentrate.

By saying ‘Neti neti’, I have been able to move from one level of understanding to another. This shift in depth of understanding by holding onto one idea and never stopping with any particualr understanding of a concept is, in my opnion, a very good understanding of this chant.

This ability to be able to catch hold of a simple concept which has barely two words and apply them to gain greater depth in understanding is, in my opinion, a very good explanation for meditation.

@Somebody I know

Somebody I know wrote thus in response to my points of view:

‘I think you are in a confused sttate right now and need to take some time off.

This is reflected in the rambling structure of your post.

I dont think that there is anything erroneous about a doctor observing a patient to study symptoms. Even if the doctor has the same desease.

Maybe you are realising this stuff late but all these concepts have been researched and written about by enough and more qualified people.

Just my 5 paise’

Since it is an open forum, I take the liberty to post and reflect.

Let me start with this portion.

‘I dont think that there is anything erroneous about a doctor observing a patient to study symptoms. Even if the doctor has the same desease.’

This concerns my opinion on the present state of affairs in psychology as a science, in the realm of allopathy.

I admire Vivekananda, a Hindu monk from the last 19th century. I still remember what I had read 3-4 years back. I do not remember it word-for-word, but I do remember the essence which basically put forth the view that pyschology is the ‘King’ of sciences. The reason being that psychology taught the understanding of the human mind. It goes without saying that for any thought process the instrument is the human mind. All science is based upon some form of thought process and the intrument is the mind. In such a case psychology which teaches the  ways of the mind is supreme over all other sciences. I cannot but agree.

Now to delve in this matter further, any analysis of psycology becomes a bit complicated by the fact that it is not a phenomenon entirely on the physical plane as is the case with illness of the body. Physical illness has signs and symptoms which can be observed and elicited. On the other hand, mental illness is very less on the physical plane and more on the mental plane. In such a case observations of an exernal mind can be deeply misleading. Couple this with the fact that most people with any form of supposed mental illness are treated with physical agents when the problem is not physical. 

Let me stop for a moment and chew the cud on something else. I am sure you would accept that a doctor os offered a degree when he knows the anatomy and physiology of the human body to a great degree. Any question on these basic sciences would elicit a response which will be very close to reality. But in the case of the human mind, I have never come across any conclusive piece of work regarding it’s structure or functioning. This is just to say that we do not even have the buliding blocks of psychology, to say the least. With this in hand, I am trying to understand how anybody can call himslef/ herself a subject matter expert in this field of science. Thus far said, I stand by my opinion about psychology in the method practised in the realm of allopathy. 

Let me comment on this now.

‘Maybe you are realising this stuff late but all these concepts have been researched and written about by enough and more qualified people.’

We, as a society give a lot of importance to age and qualifications in our society. I just have a simple question which has single-handedly driven innovation and radical thinking-So what?

Let me put it in a simpler fashion-So??!!

Now for the last and most interesting part.

‘Just my 5 paise’

This person has been a regular visitor to my blog and has been quite partaking in terms of thoughts and views. I never understand the Indian mentality about being sorry about everything.

I guess it’s ok.

Everything is in the seed-3

After my last post on this topic, I have been left fumbling trying to find some physical explanation for abstract concepts. I am going to make a sincere effort at rationalizing spiritual concepts. 

Let us take the structure of the nervous system. We have a sructure called vertebral column which supports the skull and the vertebral column contains the nerve bundles which are conneced to the brain, which in turn, is encased within the cranium (skull). Now we have a structure called the cauda equina at the base of the vertebral column. If we look at these three structures together then the cauda equina, spinal column and the brain appear to be like a tree with the cauda equina happening to be the roots, the vertebral column happening to be the trunk and the brain appearing to be the ever spreading branches and leaves. Isn’t this a wonderful metaphor to look a the nervous super-structures in our body? It might not be exactly the same, but anybody with a bit of imagination will definitely agree that the similarity is very striking.

The similarity is even more striking for the fact that it helps us in the next part of the conversation which is trying to understand the root of our thoughts. If we continue our analogy of the ‘tree’, it is common knowledge that the tree receives nutrients from the roots and these nutrients are transported via the trunk to the leaves.The leaves use these nutrients and convert them into active ingredients (sugars) which help the tree sustain it’s energy needs and also grow in a continous fashion. So the origin is from the roots and the leaves are processing centres which aid growth. Both the root and the leaves complement each other. To put it in simple words, the energy comes from the roots while the leaves help to harness that energy.

Now applying this analogy to nervous super structure, the nutrients are in the region of the human genito-urinary system and these nutrients, in the form of thought energy are transported by the spine and harnessed by the brain. This harnessing of energy is what leads us to thought processes and it’s manifestations in our day to day life.

Without going into abstract discussions which cannot be proved in the physical plane, I can propound a vague hypothesis that there is some co-relation between the human genito-urinary system and the origin of our thoughts. Isn’t it interesting that the next generation takes root from our genito-urinary system and our thoughts also seem to take root from the same genito-urinary system. Now wouldn’t you accept that if ‘A’ is connected to ‘B’ and ‘B’ is connected to ‘C’, then then there is a high possibility of connection between ‘A’ and ‘C’?

Then in the same vein, I sugges that there is a high probability of a connection between our thoughts and our next generation. Now the relation between the human seed and human thought is something which has been elucindated at a macro-level. Now my understanding of Yoga is to control the human energy space. Given this the relationship between yoga and the next generation is sligthly clear.

Writing this has brought me immense pleasure. I hope you feel the same too.

Sex is the basis & Procreation the driving force

concentric_circles1I observe people and I can see that there are motives for every action. On a broad scale we have desires, ambition, likes, dislikes and other emotions on various scales. A few people will argue on the basic desires being food, clothing and shelter. But I would say that the very basic instinct would be that of survival. We all want to live in whatever which way we desire it to be. But is that the basest of our instincts?

We can also look at the biological apsect of it. We have a body which is unfit for survival when we are born. Our body develops and we learn survival tactics from our parents. What is interesting is that our body matures much faster than our mind. Either sexes attain puberty before 15 years of age while we ( in the present scheme of things) are authorised to marry/ earn/ lead independant lives much later. In the absence of any training in terms of education, our survival instincts would supersede everything else. Clothing and shelter are secondary needs to that of survival. They would be more about standard of living (at a crude level) than anything else.

Now the next question would be the need for survival. A casual observation on any social group (including animals) reveal that the requirement for survival is for the purpose of procreation. It is essential that an adult (irrespective) of either sexes survive until puberty for them to indulge in the act of procreation. There are certain species which even die immediately after mating. All other actions related to human achivement are at best transitory. 

The reason why I am going into such fragmented, loosely inter-related hypotheses is to propound a fresh hypothesis that there is only one action which underlies all action as the most basic level-procreation. This one motive has kept species of all types alive. This understanding is essential for us to be able to understand yoga. This understanding is the foundation stone for all knowledge of the mind and it’s motives leading to actions.

The reason why I am writing about this is because it is this instinct that yoga or particulalry ‘kundalini yoga’ tries to control. This is a straight-forward response to the oft asked question about yoga-‘Why should I control myself?’

It is interesting to note that all human progress is because someone decided to give secondary importance to the needs of his body and decided to focus all his attention on something else. This could be anything from the stars to the plants in the neighbourhood. The point is that all human achivement is because of control of the mind.

If this is clear then the next question is-‘Why do I need to control my sexual instincts?’ My response to this would be that there are different degrees of control and it is a matter of personal choice. Imagine that you are on the river-bed. a few would want to know if it is safe to drink water from this stream. Some more would venture into the stream and try to take advantage of the stream and probably use it for various house-hold and commercial activities. A few, very few would want to know the nature of the stream and try to ponder about it. The rarest of rare would want to know the enitre nature of the stream and go upstream to the very origin of the stream.

The control of the mind is exactly like that. For the people who want to go to the origin of the stream, the above string of reasoning would be very useful. For the rest there is limited take-away. Take your pick.