“A disciple should not ask for anything other than Lord Himself from Him” — this is an often quoted viewpoint in most spiritual discourses that preach bhakti marg and surat shabd yog. Loving Him for His sake seems impossible to achieve for me. My remembrances of Him are sporadic and short-lived. When free I sometime ask myself: what is it that makes me remember Him? Digging deeper, my mind finds only selfish desires to be the reasons that make me remember the Lord. Whenever I think of Him it is always for asking, begging — regardless of whether I’m asking for an earthly object or some higher spiritual blessings. Even if I try to ask Him from Him my asking is fake, this I always know in my heart. It is fake because such longing for Him arises out of my occasional disenchantment with existence on this plane or curiosity of what lies beyond. It is almost always a rebound from the world that pushes me towards Him and never my own conscious desire to be with Him. In this desire to be with Him too there is my selfishness because it is me who is looking/hoping for some Joy that they say comes from being with Him. There is always this sense of me and Him as separate entities. Anything I try to do to remember Him seems driven purely by my selfish desires. Remembering Him truly for His sake is impossible unless and until something happens to me that makes me Him. Then there will be no me, it will be He remembering Himself. May be eliminating me is the way to remember Him truly for His sake. Ah … that’s why they say get rid of your self to be with Him.
Our actions bring us face to face with situations both pleasant and not so pleasant. Our life is kind of an endless cycle of: facing a choice then choosing and acting on it and then facing action’s results which again throws some choice before us. At least at gross physical level it continues like this until we die. Remaining stationary probably won’t bring choices.
After a recent and quite anxiety filled experience of missing a flight my mind would not stop examining the emotions I went through during that experience. Today when those stupidly anxious moments are over and I’m comfortably sitting in my study, I thought it will be interesting to rewind the film and try examining various dimensions.
Whenever I face a somewhat difficult situation following three paths are possible to go through the experience:
- I may not have anticipated the situation and when it arises I become anxious. In this case going through the situation will very likely be stressful.
- I anticipated the situation and am mentally and logistically prepared to navigate through it. It is likely to be less stressful, at least emotionally.
- I just live in the moment, concerning myself with taking right (right and wrong are again all relative terms) actions and remain detached from the outcomes that they may produce. I have not been able to follow this path all the time.
Most of the time we go through path #1. After going through this path sufficient number times some of us learn and move to either of the paths 2 and 3. Some of us get stuck in #2 for a long time. Those who are blessed move, by His Grace, to the third path. I generally read and hear the Mystics say that eventually all of us move to third path.
Last week I traveled to Kanpur for some work. While returning back via Lucknow I had a stop over of about 3 hours at IGI airport in Delhi before the departure of my flight to Chandigarh at 3PM. At the T3 terminal I ran into one of my professors who was also waiting for his next flight. We got into a conversation about few general things. I ended up missing my flight despite being present inside the security hold area — partly due to my carelessness (I was engrossed in our conversation over the coffee) and partly because they recently made T3 a “silent terminal” with limited announcements. Spectacular stupidity I did! I was annoyed at myself, more so because my dad was on his way driving 45KM to pick me up from Chandigarh airport, and now he had to either wait for me or return back from midway. Anyways, I called him up and told the story and he cutting short his drive returned back from midway. I tried in vain to request the JetConnect supervisor to put me in the next flight to Chandigarh. She wanted me to buy a fresh ticket worth Rs. 15000 (which was out of question). It was already around 3.45PM and it was clear that I had to quickly take either a bus or train to reach home in time.
Online ticketing was closed for both the evening Shatabdi trains to Chandigarh. I decided to try my luck in current booking so I took the AirportExpress to New Delhi station and went straight to the ticket counter on Ajmeri Gate side. Luckily the queue at ticketing window was just 8-10 people long. It was already 4.30PM and train was to depart at 5.15PM. The booking clerk told me that there was nothing available on 5.15PM train, and the current booking for 7.15PM will open after 30 minutes. In the humid July heat in crowded New Delhi railway station my anxiety grew further and I became even more mad at myself for missing the flight and now almost missing the trains as well. Lately, I’ve become reluctant to traveling by buses. I thought of just boarding the train without ticket and hoping to find some seat. I was prepared to pay fine for travelling ticketless. I went upto the next booking clerk and asked him how much was the fine in case I boarded without ticket. In the noise he didn’t get what I was asking. He signaled me to give him my reservation request form that I was holding. After keying something into the computer and told me that there was only one ticket left that too in executive class chair-car in 5.15PM train, and asked whether I’d like to buy it. It was almost double the cost (Rs. 1100 approx.) of regular chair car (but with almost same facilities). I happily bought the ticket. It was 5.05PM. Gosh … I needed to go all the way to platform #1 and I might miss this train as well because walking from Ajmeri Gate side of the station to platform #1 may take more than 10 minutes in rush hour on a Saturday! I tried to run as fast as I could jostling with the crowd standing on platform over-bridge.
Sweating, I was finally able to get into the E2 coach just in time. What a relief! That stressful 1 hour 45 minutes from 3.30PM to 5.15PM with so much conundrum and anxiety in my mind was over. It felt as if suddenly a lot of weight was lifted from my mind! The annoyance of missing the flight in a most stupid manner was replaced with the joy of finding a seat in air conditioned train. I called up home to let them know the new arrival time and coordinates. My dad, whose enthusiasm to receive the kids at airport, train or bus stations has never faded even by an iota over the past two decades, was quick with his “ਤੂੰ ਪਹੁੰਚ … ਬੱਸ ਮੈਂ ਆਯਾ ਲੈ ਤੇਨੂੰ ਲੈਣ” (you just reach over … I’ll be right there to pick you up).
Next day I was thinking about what would be the Higher Purpose in making me miss the flight. Normally, I’m a kind of person who is very very careful about time. Perhaps I had to settle some karmic accounts, perhaps He saved me (or my Dad) from some unpleasant situation. Looking back, I was laughing at myself, especially for my mental state that existed during those one and half hours until I got into the train. At physical level, just the mode of travel was changed for me from one to another with little difference in comforts. I stood in the ticketing queue for just about 15 minutes. But the amount of anxiety caused by all of this was high. Thinking about it now it seems as if these events were pre-planned and I just had to go through. That I travel in comfort was ensured by Someone. I think most of our life experiences are pre-decided with us having very little control. We unnecessarily worry about the future and the outcome of events that happen in our lives. How nice it will be if we just flow with things. But it is not easy.
Lately, when I’m not too engrossed in day to day affairs the following thought has been gripping my mind.
Why there is always something running in the mind?
For couple of decades now I’ve been hearing and reading about mind and how its tricks and lures keep us entangled in the earthly life. They have been telling that mind always needs something to chew on etc. Nevertheless, for my mind it was the above questions this time 🙂
In order to find answers, I tried to observe the generation of thoughts in my mind. I tried to trace the root of thought trains that arose in my mind at different times of the day. I didn’t set any timetable for this thought chasing exercise, it’s just that the above questions have been bothering me much, and they would spring up at random times often in the middle of a running thought train. Exactly then I’d try to unfold the stack of my interrupted run of thought train. It was like debugging a program by injecting a breakpoint into it in-flight. When the breakpoint is hit then I examine the stack — all the way to its bottom.
In all these thought debugging exercises I do not know if I’ve reached the absolute bottom of the stack i.e. the seed thought which put the program into running state. I could only manage to identify the triggering desire for a given thought train. Almost always the trigger has been a desire for some kind of joy or pleasure. Now, in this exploration I also noticed that the concept of joy or pleasure is sometimes equivalent to preventing/avoiding/eliminating pain or fear of some kind whether existing or perceived in the future.
For instance, I’ve observed a negative thought train where my mind was contemplating ways to make a colleague realize for his/her unkind behavior. How did mind arrive at this point of contemplation involving that colleague? It’s ego had felt hurt by the colleague’s behavior and now it desired for the pleasure of asserting some kind of supremacy. At another instance I have caught my mind drifting in a thought train about some technology innovation. Here too, unfolding the stack of thoughts revealed that it started with a similar desire for joy of some worldly attainment.
So it seems that at the root of all thought is a desire. Desire is always for some kind of sensory or mental joy. Even this pursuit for solving the mystery of thoughts and mind and finding the self is driven by a desire of joy.
मीरदाद की किताब में एक ख़ास संदेश बहुत ही सुन्दर है. उस संदेश का मूल अकसर में अपनी ज़िन्दगी में अनुभव करता हूँ … मेरा ख्याल है बहुत से और लोग भी ज़रूर करते होँगे. उस संदेश का एक भाव है कि बिना किसी बुलावे या आमंत्रण के कोई कम ही जाना पसंद करते है किसी के घर. अब यह बुलावा जो है वो ज़रूरी नहीं है की एक फोर्मल लैटर भेजा जाये. बहुत बार केवल एक सूक्ष्म इशारा मात्र ही काफी होता है. जिस वक़्त आदम हव्वा के उकसाने पर सेब का आनंद ले रहा था … वास्तव में उसी वक़्त वोह एक निमंत्रण भी लिख रहा था — निमंत्रण उन सब अनुभवोँ को जो अदन से बाहर निकाल दिए जाने के बाद उसकी ज़िन्दगी में आये. इसी विचार को मैं दूसरी ओर से देखना पसंद करता हूँ … जो की मेरे हिसाब से थोडा सकारात्मक है: उस मालिक की मेरी जिंदगी में हमेशा मौजूदगी अगर नहीं अनुभव होती तो इसका मतलब है कि निमंत्रण नहीं भेजा गया है उसे. बंदगी में बैठने पर अगर ख्याल मालिक की बजाये व्यर्थ के शक्लो में जाता है … तो साफ़ है कि निमंत्रण अवश्य ही ग़लत जगहो पर भेजे गए है. मालिक कहाँ से आएगा?
It has been raining intermittently since past few days here. The track marks left by trucks and tractors on the softer ground near few construction sites here are filled with rain water. While walking back from the mess after lunch today I noticed a construction worker washing his hands and filling some plastic container with the rain water that was collected in one of the track marks. My hygiene-conscious mind pops the thoughts like ‘why is he risking his health by using that dirty water…’. The analysis had started — “Perhaps he is not aware of the health risks posed by such dirty water. Otherwise he would not be using that water.”
I too had done something similar long long time ago. I used to play and even wash myself with rain water from the village pond when as a 7 year old I lived in a village in Punjab. I wasn’t aware of the real “risks” then 🙂 May be, I also didn’t care back then.
If I try to relate this behavior to numerous other actions and thoughts that most of us do and think, we are not always sure of the real implications of our thoughts and actions. Particularly, if someone does something wrong to someone, it is highly likely that the individual doesn’t know what he/she is really doing. Knowing at times can be painful — it can slow you down. At times you just want to be in a state when you do not have to act or think anything — just be still be detached.
Another related question that arises is: what is knowing and being aware? At the worldly level, aren’t all these things outcome of our conditioned mind? I often find myself saying (or rather judging) “I know such and such thing is good/bad“. How did I know what was good or bad? Aren’t such concepts defined by the conditioned environment I have lived in?
It is heartening and immensely reassuring when Someone tells us that at the thread-bare level everything here is a thought and a concept. ਸਬ ਕੁਛ ਬਸ ਇੱਕ ਖ਼ਿਆਲ ਜੇਹਾ ਹੀ ਹੈ … ਉਸ ਤੋਂ ਵੱਧ ਕੁਝ ਨਹੀਂ. I sometime wish there were more people around me who could really understand all this. Or may be I’m a bit eccentric.