It is a privilege to be in good health — both emotional and physical. Proper bhakti and particularly meditation is very difficult when I’m sick or when my mind is agitated. A slight pain in the eyes is sufficient to spoil a meditation session 😦
Mind runs in all directions — it likes to imagine problems and solve them. Things that would probably never happen, it likes to imagine those and ultimately resulting in worry of some sort. I try to ‘watch’ the thoughts as they arise in my mind. Have you ever closely watched milk or tea boiling on a stove? Bubbles form so quickly that before you fix your eyes on one, the next one had already pushed it into the air and with a blup it vanishes. It happens so fast that you cannot see how a bubble forms and how it vanishes. If you record this phenomenon on a video and play it frame-by-frame at a much reduced speed, you’ll probably see what’s going on in the tea pot, how the bubbles form and vanish.
Mind is much like that tea pot continuously producing the bubbles of thoughts. I want to watch these bubbles as they form and eventually be able to stop and start their flow at will. Imagine, you are sitting in meditation and after a while your mind starts to feel bound and tries to escape, that is, it wants you to get up. You probably resist the initial few attempts of the mind. Unless you are highly focussed and attached to something within and are enjoying it, the disruptive thoughts keep raising their head. At some point you give in to such thoughts and you get up. Meditation session is over. This leaves you frustrated because you had set out to sit for a longer time than what you actually sat for! Now you slowly rewind the scene, and find out how did you exactly gave in to those thoughts that made you to get up? I need to find this out and fix the damn thing 😦
Visiting a hospital can be a very humbling and eye-opening experience in many ways. In recent past I have been visiting hospitals for one reason or another. Recently I went to Fortis Mohali for some consultations regarding my mom’s condition. While we were waiting to see the doctor, I would notice the patients. Most patients were elderly men and women and few were young adults accompanied by thier respective attendants. May be this was just a conincident, in the elderly group, I saw more men accompanying their unwell wives (how did I know if they were a couple — I’ll write about it another time!) than the other way around on the days I was at the hospital. Those elderly men and women showed utmost care for thier unwell partners there. Most couples were not accompanied by any other family members. Some were on wheelchair with the other partner pushing it.
I was moved to see one particular couple: a lean sikh gentleman of about 70 was accompanying his wife. She appeared quite worried while he was comforting her by explaing some documents which appeared to be some diagnostic test reports. On thier turn he very gently took her hands and walked her into doctor’s cabin. We were the next to see that doctor.
Most couples of my parent’s generation that I know have given thier enire lives to raise and nurture the families, with wives holding the fort at home and the husbands at work. Driving back home after the hospital visit I kept thinking about the life in old age. I had mixed feelings. It was pleasantly touching to see some elderly partners care so lovingly for thier unwell spouse. In some cases I felt sad to see the elderly couples struggle alone to deal with the hospital running around.
Knowledge — the material kind — makes me restless. Knowledge about some technical, business or arts topic, particularly when it is fresh in my mind is a great deal difficult to handle. It makes me charged with enthusiasm about doing something creative with such knowledge.
There also is the knowledge about certain things about some individual(s), especially when that individual may not know that someone else is aware of few things about him and are not hidden to his private thoughts alone. Acquiring this kind of knowledge is really an invitation to pain when you are somehow connected to such an individual. Primary reason for such pain is subjectivity, that is, our most carefully considered conclusions might seem misguided had we experienced a different past and conditioning. This follows from relativism in systems of value. This relativism even leads to doubt the basis of pragmatic arguments such as about what is good or what is bad since this presupposes a notion of good and bad. A beautiful example is in the fourth section of "The Great Happiness" (至樂 zhìlè, chapter 18), Master Chuang Tzu expresses pity to a skull he sees lying at the side of the road. Chuang Tzu laments that the skull is now dead, but the skull retorts, "How do you know it’s bad to be dead?"
However, this subjectivism is balanced by a kind of sensitive holism in the famous section called "The Happiness of Fish" (魚之樂, yúzhīlè):
Chuang Tzu and Hui Tzu were strolling along the dam of the Hao River when Chuang Tzu said, "See how the minnows come out and dart around where they please! That’s what fish really enjoy!"
Hui Tzu said, "You’re not a fish – how do you know what fish enjoy?"
Chuang Tzu said, "You’re not I, so how do you know I don’t know what fish enjoy?"
Hui Tzu said, "I’m not you, so I certainly don’t know what you know. On the other hand, you’re certainly not a fish ‑ so that still proves you don’t know what fish enjoy!"
Chuang Tzu said, "Let’s go back to your original question, please. You asked me how I know what fish enjoy ‑ so you already knew I knew it when you asked the question. I know it by standing here beside the Hao."
– Zhuangzi, 17, tr. Watson 1968:188-9
The bottom line is that we do not know for real about a whole lot of things around us and inside us, though we (our mind) may claim or even perceive otherwise. Basically we I don’t know, I just think that I know!
Company of a Kaamil Murshid (True Master) gradually changes the life of a disciple – howsoever lowly and dirty may be the deeds and thoughts of the disciple. The whole perspective changes – we slowly start seeing the true meaning of Master’s words! Masters of all times and cultures have said the same things. I recently read a book on Saeen Bulleh Shah who was a Kaamil Murshid himself (around 1700 AD in India). I’ve been listening to His poetry (popular in Punjab) and enjoying the most beautiful expressions of love and seperation I’ve ever seen. The depth and true spiritual meaning of each tuk of His powerful kalaam I could understand only now! I can not imagine how high would be His spiritual state by just intellectual reading of whose expressions itself has made me cry!
Everyday I come across three men. These three different looking men, though have something in common amongst them, stir different kind thoughts in my mind. These three men – all in the latter years of their lives – are homeless. At times I’ve heared one of them, who stands outside the subway station exit, murmering a feeble and barely audible “some change please“. He can be seen outside the station both in the morning as well as in the evening. The second one stands accross the road from subway station near the cafe, holding a placard that reads something which says he’s living with AIDS. And there’s the third one who has some strange serene glow on his face – perhaps because of his white beard. He keeps on holding out his cup with both hands and his head and eyes lowered and kind of lost in some deep meditation. My heart cries when I think about the pain each one these men must have gone through while their ego was crushed and they have to force themselves to beg. People move in front them as if these men were invisible. It makes me feel very sad when I think about such helpless people.
As usual, the Satsang this weekend was amazing. There’s always a personal message the we all bring home from such discourses. One of the point that hit me was “moving from expectations to submission”. I often struggle with my feeble mind to figure out what is His Will. I’m constantly on the lookout for a formula that can be used to evaluate any given situation to find out whether the situation is His Will or someone else’s. I’ve not been very happy with my life since past few years. Every day it seems to be aggravating. This forces me to seek shelter in Satguru’s teachings. In a way this is very good as it forces me to look inside me. Coming back to the satsang’s point of “moving from expectation to submision”, I think the need is to relax the mind. I try to counsel my mind that: “Look, you have done the best you could do for achieving happiness and harmony in your worldly life. You have taken every possible care under your control not to hurt anyone and keep everyone happy. Despite that if you do not get the peace and happiness, then perhaps this is what is His mauj. While going through it, you may clearly see that others may not be acting rationally or may be acting in very selfish manner, thus causing much pain in your life, but still the need is to overlook their failures and shortcomings. Perhaps this is what He wants them to do. However, at the same time do not keep lying like a doormat in front of them for ever. Move on and protect yourself. Keep your life objective, that Guru has taught, in front of you all the time.”