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!

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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.

Quick bites on meditation

I have also noticed that a lot of people do not start off with any pro-active process, like let’s say exercise or for that matter things related to their diet for the reason that there is no immediate need for it.

But some to think of it,…by the time you realise the need for it, it could be well past redemption and all you can do is take things lying down.

The issue becomes more difficult in the case of meditation as an activity because the results take time and the results are not necessarily evident on the physical plane.

Thinking about it.

Meditation diaries

I have noticed many a time that I would like to express myself, but it turns out that the subject has already been broached by a different author in a different medium. This is particularly true for reflections in the spiritual space.

Just to give an example, I have heard of a Tamil song, one portion of which goes on like this

‘ Thathuva kuappaiyai marandhuda cheyvai nee..’

To explain word by word,

‘Thathuvam’ means meaning or moral attached to a story or preaching

‘Kuppai’ meand garbage

‘Marandhidu’ means to forget

‘Cheyvai’ means to make something happen

‘Nee’ means you

This song is part of a devotional hymn sung during prayer in Tamil households, particularly devotees of Lord Murugan.

I have found this thought flashing through my mind many a time. This particularly comes to the fore when life in general is being dissected on the logical plane.

I can come up with a few arguments in support of my opinion that life cannot be dissected on the logical plane. But I would be contradicting myself.

Then the question is about how to go about this subject. The fact remains that some questions are never going to be answered by dissections on the logical plane and to move ahead in this search of this ethereal knowledge, faith helps a lot.

I do not why, but I have faith.

Faith that there are some unanswered questions in life and that I need not search externally, but I can get all the answers from within. One simple reason for this faith was the fact that I could see within myself, every grain of emotion that I had seen or heard of. I could just go through all these emotions at my whim and fancy.

I could feel like a sinner and saint. I could feel them all. When I went through this, I knew that the mind is the panoply of a lot of things that I need to explore and learn.

This same faith brought me in touch with my Guru. I never have a logical explanation of why I have spent about 5 years in meditative practices and a bit of yoga thrown in. From an outsiders point of view there are a few things which seem interesting like my ability to exert immense control over my habits, but they seem irrelevant to me. I can observe that my decision making abilities have improved immensely, but they again seem irrelevant to me. This puts me in a situation very similar to that of some of my colleagues. This does not help me answer the simple question, why am I they way I am?

Now I would like to agree with the Tamil adage that I started this write-up with. And I want to write about it. But some intellectual had realized it eons back and had written a poem about it. Here I am trying to expand the essence only to realize that there is nothing new in it.

Come to think of it, have ( Humanity) we really changed the way we think we have? It is a very interesting question. Think about it.

@Ashok

I was asked a question on this forum a couple of weeks back and I had always wanted to write about it. This is probably the first time that I have taken notice of him in the time that I have known him. This reflects more on my relationship with him rather than on him in singularity.

His questions goes as thus.

“…..is exercising control over mind and making urself a better person comes only through internal concentration? Or is it internalizing the external world?”

To star with, the question needs a context. The context is that of me telling him once in a while that he might want to spend more time in collecting his thoughts through meditation.

In response he more or less responds that he needs to do it and probably will, but the question is when?

And probably the more important questions is about how much he wants it? And also the kind of questions that he had to internalise, in this process.

On one fine day he popped this question. And I feel there is a nice point to be brought out here.

Let us look at the typical day when I get up. Now let me fast forward to the point when I am about to sleep. Now let me look at the sheer number of people I meet. It goes without saying that I have very little control over the number of people I meet, the kind of circumstances in which I will meet them, the kind of interacions which happen between us and the outcomes.

Let me put it in a simpler fashion. I eat rice on day x. Let us look at the sheer number of people who are involved in getting rice to my table. Farmer, thresher, transporter, wholesaler, retailer and mother to me. This is simplistic, but it brings across the point about the sheer number of people involved. Again very little predictability.

If this is being a bit simplistic, let me try to cpature the point in a differet fashion. If I get up today, I cannot control what my mother will tell me.

I set out to think. I cannot control what others will say/ do in my day to day life. Then I look around and sit down.

What can I do in this world of apparent turbulence and chaos?

What do I do?

Ah! Yes…I can control my mind. I cannot control others actions, but I can control my reaction to it. That is what I can do and it will make a hell lot of difference to me.

Now it is my world.

To get back to the question, I am not answering the question about making oneself through a better person as I am of the opinion that the objective if meditation is not to make oneself a better person. Rather I am quirked by the second portion of the question which talked about internalizing the world.

And I think that collecting one thoughts in trying to handle one’s life involves internalization of the world. It is about taking a global view of the world. It is quite close to the philosophy of trying to find that ‘one’ which explains everything else.

It is about internalizing the world.

Music at my earstep:

I look around me and I dive into my daily routine of work and other chores. Move along in silence with my work surrounding me. The silence of my mind is no different either and I feel pure silence in all it’s melodious self. It has been many a time when this sojourn is interrupted with a brief melody. By melody I am paying more attention to the fact that I am exposed to music rather than the style of music. So the term ‘melody’ is superfluous here.
In these brief instances of exposure to vibrations there have been different kinds of ripples created in the lake of my mind. To start with, there are memories related to music. This is particularly the case when I listen to a piece of music that I have listened to previously. This might be sometime in the near past or probably in the distant past. The more distant they are in my memory, the greater is the magnitude of ripples created in my mind. This is probably because of the greater misfit between my present sate of affairs and the past. This in turn creates a great sense of nostalgia in my mind about the memory raked up by this piece of music. The examples that most commonly create this would be a Tamil song from an old film which I would have listened to maybe 15-20 years back. Add to this the fact that I have been travelling the most part of my life due to the nature of my father’s job and my job prospects. Interestingly one thing leads to another. The song reminds me of those years and those years remind me of a thousand different things. It is something like sitting in the middle of a pile of cinema reels and I randomly pick up a reel and all those reels are interconnected in myriad fashions. In short there is music which is nostalgic.
Then there is music which instigates unique emotions. Just to give an example, there is a very peculiar music which is played during ‘Jallikattu’, the bull-fight festival in the Indian State of Tamilnadu. This music has a very interesting nature of instigation and adds to the overall aggression of the bull which is further accentuated by other actions like spraying of chilli powder/ lemon juice into the animals eyes. Interestingly, the same music is played when people suffer from bouts of hysteria in Tamilnadu. To close your eyes and listen to the music intently will help one appreciate the effect of this piece of music. Emotions-so on and so forth.
If you look at it closely, memories are by themselves cobbled up emotions. Then You would be placing before me a fundamental question, why all this small-talk? I have a question for you my dear reader,…what purpose does this serve? Why do we keep thinking about the past so much and for so long?
I have a few answers, but they do not seem good enough.

music

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.