“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.
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?
I feel it is necessary to have difficult times in one’s life. Taken in the right spirit, these times have a profound spiritual impact and serve as a vehicle to makes us better human beings. All my learnings about ethics, morals, virtues and so on get tested only in such times. Mind just likes to feel good about the bookish learning that it has gained about leading a virtuous life and about practicing the faculty of discrimination between good and bad etc. Difficult times serve as the testbed to try out this learning. I can safely say that there is huge difference in knowing the theory and in practicing it. It’s very difficult. I often think that Lord doesn’t have any other way to ensure that we are worthy of becoming Him except by trying us in His parameters (what are those?!). He is all in all, omnipotent. Now someone like me with so many weaknesses of flesh and mind, how would One ensure that I’m worthy? Looks like the algorithm defined for the likes of me is to: first impart the theoretical knowledge, then continue to throw at me the difficult situations until the theory has been transformed into wisdom. It is like we test a product in repeated QA test cycles to ensure that the product is worthy of the market. The higher the quality the more stringent tests it needs to pass. This often reminds me of a particular show on Discovery where they showed how the high end cars go through crash tests and so on. Until they are confident enough about the quality of car‘s safety devices to keep the passengers safe, they keep on crashing the car in tests! So the only way out for the poor car from the crash testing is: to PASS THE TEST!! Failure is not an option for a car that dreams of being the Safest Carrier.
I’ve been living in a temporary home ever since I left my own home; first time when I went out for learning then afterwards whenever I moved to different jobs in different countries. I always knew that those were my temporary homes and one day I’ll go back to my own home. I never collected more than bare essential stuff in those temporary homes, and was never hesitant of leaving away the little I collected when moving to the next temporary home. I often missed my own home when in a land so foreign.
I still live in a temporary home, but I am closer to my own home than I was before and slowly moving towards it. Often the lyrics of American country artist Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home” come to my mind:
…This is my temporary home
It’s not where I belong.
Windows and rooms that I’m passin’ through.
This is just a stop, on the way to where I’m going.
I’m not afraid because I know this is my
A state during which my consciousness of my physical surroundings is suspended. Depending upon my experiences that I have during the state of sleep I may enjoy it or be discomforted. Often I’m not discomforted. Often the feeling — of either enjoyment or discomfort — is most intense when I’m about to wake up from the sleep. Often the sleep is most enjoyable when I’m about to wake up in the morning. My eyes are not comfortable with the brightness of the light around when I’m in the process of waking up. The light at times is unbearable to the eyes forcing me to open them slowly towards some relatively dimly lit surroundings.
Has anyone ever died of insomnia? Probably it’s the fear of dying that kills and not the lack of sleep.
Consider this view of a preacher: “When a moral person is confronted with contempt, immorality, disloyalty, or dishonesty, he is so repulsed by the offense that he turns away and in despair closes his heart to the offender. But the miracle of the redemptive reality of God is that the worst and the vilest offender can never exhaust the depths of His love.”
First part of the above statement reflects my own experience; and often I have seen this happenning to most genuine seekers of reality around me. I sometime try to think deeper about this phenomenon to understand why I act in this fashion. I guess the root cause is two folds: fear and weakness arising out of some worldly desires. To the earthly mind that I have today, the contempt, immorality, disloyalty, or dishonesty on someone else’s part towards me is a painful experience that I would not like to be subjected to. My mind, like most of us, too is conditioned to avoid what my mind has come to understand as pain and therefore the fear of the repitition of the painful experience makes me turn away and close my heart to the offender. Now the second factor I guess is more subtle to get. I thought about why we call something as painful or avoidable? When and where did I learn what is pain? Aren’t all these emotions and notions just the concepts that we (or the environment around us) have drilled into my minds? When a man is born into this world then he doesn’t know about all these concepts, all that he cries for in the beginning is only basic needs like food and shelter from heat, cold and bugs. If someone says bad things to him he doesn’t bother; nor does he gets puffed up in pride when someone praised him. Again, this too may just be another concept — what if he understands much more than us but cannot express or is unintetested in anything beyond the basics? Nevertheless, the “common wisdom” says that actually at that time he doesn’t understand these concepts like bad, good pride and so on. What heppens then? I think it’s not difficult to see where from all the wrong things (and occasionally good one too) he comes into learn.