The difference between I and This

How many times have we been in a situation and thought “I can’t do this” or “I hate this” or any of the other “I…” sentences. Why does it always have to be an “I…” line? Why can’t it be a “This thing is” or “This situation is…” or any other “This …” line. It is important to understand that we are separate from the situation. Yes we are involved and impacted by the situation but it does not define us. The person who we are, cannot be fully described or understood by any one situation’s impact on us or our response to it. So why make statements that describe us and not the situation.

Also more importantly, what would saying “This is..” do for us that “I..” can’t? The answer, if we look carefully may perhaps be in the previous sentence itself. Being able to look at something from the outside and understand it clearly as something that is happening, without being prejudiced or influenced by our own self-image gives a bit of space between us and the event. The space can then give us clarity, flexibility and freedom to think about “What can happen” next rather than “What am I doing” now. Most times, the “What can happen” gives possibilities, one of which we can choose as the option we would like to have by performing the action that gives us that outcome.

These are very subtle differences in how we can deal with things and if we over-generalize, then it all looks meaningless and same. It is more about how we can experience the difference by trying this new perspective. Keep the “I” out of the way and see how things look with a different pair of eyes.

Positively Violent???

We live in an age that highlights violence.  Not just physical violence, even simple things like perspectives can be violent. “War” is especially one of those violent ideas that is thrown around with no regards for context.

There is a thought that war is bad or violence of any kind is bad.  Seems like a simple binary answer right?  But only if you look at it superficially.

We need more than ever now to look deeper within ourselves to find the real feeling of the things that we perceive.  Lets suppose someone asked you “Is War good?”, your first thought might be “No, never” or “Violence is never the answer to anything”.  But without even knowing you have already slipped in a million assumptions about the blurred scenario that is playing in your mind and making you arrive at this conclusion.

What if you were then told “I mean this war we have going on poverty/climate change/discrimination”?  Suddenly you find yourself blaming this person for not clarifying this earlier and misleading you to make your stand against this statement.  In reality its only you who did not ask the right questions to get more clarity before jumping to an answer.

Anyways now you are going to do a 180 and probably say “In that case it is important to fight these things”.  Again so many assumptions about right and wrong and stances to be taken and judgement to be made. The human mind is amazing at bringing out the most mundane aspects of conversation into the spotlight just so you can avoid delving deeper and investing yourself in finding reality.

Among many such thoughts and ideas that have been in my mind over the last few months of crazy world events, there are some things that stood out.

Instead of asking whether War/Violence is good, shouldn’t we focus on why it is happening or why its need is felt?  Even here there is a possibility that you can fall into the trap of saying it is for fighting against injustice or oppression.  Not to say that these things should be condoned, but these should not be the reason to start fighting.  A good reason to do anything should be to reach a goal and not to run away from a situation.

Here it becomes real and very important to know the difference between “We are fighting against…” and “We are fighting for…”.  In recent days there has been a mass spawning of “We are fighting against…” slogans.  What I fail to see with these kind of battles being fought is what people are expecting as the resolution for the situation.

Lets look at this differently.  Let us say we treat the unacceptable situation as a place we would not want to be in.  Just for kicks imagine it is a physical place, a city.  And lets define “We are fighting against…” as a million people wanting to leave this city and head out.  If you imagine that people just start walking out from this place (visualize as “Yay, we are winning this battle”), do you see them all heading in one direction or do you see a mass exodus in a thousand different directions?

Do you see the problem here?  No one has defined what is the place to head to after they leave this place.  How will you know the new place is better than this?  You need to find such a place and band together in a bid to get there.  That would be a solution to most problems.  Because then you would be heading towards an actual “Solution” and that would be a positive thing to do.

Mother Teresa once said “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

There is wisdom in those words.  You need to know what you are fighting for, with great clarity and vivid detail.  Otherwise, your will to fight and hate can be directed to serve the needs of those who see through this fallacy of your own righteousness.

So if you want to fight climate change, ask for what will solve this problem and work towards it.  If you want to fight poverty, find things that will bring abundance to the people and stop thinking it is about fighting rich people.  If you want to fight discrimination, find the places where you need to establish equality and ask for those rights to be given.

Otherwise you are just a problem monger and not a solution maker.  In effect you are just a “fighter”, fighting for the sake of fighting and not really invested in finding a solution.

So instead of defining War or Violence as good or bad, the focus can be shifted to what needs to be achieved, how it benefits everyone, and how effectively to make it happen.  Every option is then just a tool (even War), it is your intention that gives it meaning and purpose.

Human Nature

Nature is something that is not separate from or different from or from us humans.  This is something that seems quite a no-brainer but this thought does not reflect in our daily lives as the house-keepers of our planet.  This is the lesson that we have learnt in the past few years.  Though we “talk” of how nature/environment or the world in general is important and that we should protect it, we seldom stop thinking to see how this is so.

In reality as someone once said “It is not the world that needs saving, but humans.  The world existed before us and will do so after us (perhaps…)”.  So we are working… or should be working to save ourselves!  But why do we need to do this?  Is the planet out to kill us?  It doesn’t seem so.  We have existed through a million years without any technology protecting us and the planet had enough power to wipe us out.  Now why do we speak of saving?  The only thing that has changed is us.  The way we look at things and the way things are, these differences or similarities shape our future on this planet.

Coming back to less intense thoughts, everything we see on the planet (other than the man-made stuff) was designed to co-exist and survive, including us.  So it stands to reason that we were a part of a larger system of balance.  This balance includes everything that we consider good (the good food, the great weather, etc) and bad (disease, drought, etc).  The balance however is not between the good and the bad but between the different forms of life on this planet.  How the connections play out decides good and bad for each species.

We should strive to play a role that is more active in, not the designing of new things but the use of nature’s design to drive a better bargain for our survival.

 

Consciousness and Awareness

A spirited discussion about these two ideas triggered off a few thoughts today in training. What I realized is that there are two different meanings for the word consciousness, a western and an eastern one. The western freudian inspired idea of it kind of sounds like this:

Consciousness is defined as a state of awareness, or of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. Awareness, on the other hand, is described as the state or ability to perceive. Awareness is the ability to feel, to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns.

Whereas the eastern idea is the one that I had been using in the context of my words and it goes something more like this

Consciousness is not the mind or the senses. Consciousness utilizes the mind, heart, and senses to perceive, but can perceive levels of existence that are beyond our mind, heart and physical senses.

In some ways, awareness, shows intent, a direction, a focus, a need for a response. When you ask “Are you aware that/of….?”, you are expecting something that indicates readiness to respond to something, someone or an idea. You would never ask “Are you conscious of…?”. But you might say “I was conscious of ….”, indicating a state where you can perceive a situation, idea or circumstance but without an immediate intent to respond. Consciousness has a kind of latency to its need for your response. This is not to say you will not respond. When you want to indicate urgency to act or react, you would rather say “Beware (be aware)” than “be Conscious”.

In many ways consciousness is extending beyond your own physical and metaphysical self. It can be used in a context much larger than factually comprehensible. You could talk about “universal consciousness” as a state of connectedness that allows awareness of things that are beyond immediate perception. Without this consciousness, the corresponding awareness would not exist.

It sound like awareness might be more settled in the realm of the mind and consciousness in the realm of the heart.

Or perhaps the definition of consciousness used here is not really what can be totally agreed upon in the context of words available in the languages of the west due to the linguistic inconsistencies that are presented by diversity of culture. In that case we might be better off using a more eastern term… perhaps “sthitha prajna”.

The Whip and the Snap

The world around us is ever changing and there lies hidden in the rifts of time, the invisible whip of what we might call luck, destiny, fate, serendipity, etc., depending on how we look at things. This whip is ever shifting and ever changing in its influence on the world we see around us. How much of it do we really see? The only things that really stand out to the vast majority of us the vast majority of the time are the final bits of the snap that the whip creates when it cracks the sound barrier. How many of us look back from that point? How many of use trace it back to its source?

We are content to keep looking at the aftermath of the little spectacle that we witnessed, never delving or bothering with the depths of circumspection it would take to go beyond what is easily seen by our eyes. The little whip on the other hand, keeps moving on, never stopping, never wavering, for it is not subject to our scrutiny or judgement. Whatever we may think of it or perceive it to be, it is already far ahead of us in our timeline to look back and offer a reaction.

Ironically in this situation, we are neither in the past looking at the source of this sonic ripple, nor are we in the future looking toward the next crack it is going to deliver. We are firmly rooted in our present. A zen monk would be proud of it if this presence were real. However in reality we think so much about the past and the future, that it is almost looks like a contradiction to the above statement. Why is it that we are looking to both the past and the future and not seeing either? What is clouding our vision?

It is the nature of our perception of the world around us. We tend to look over the surface of the ocean, look at all the waves breaking, look at the water rising toward the sky and each time come crashing down with force. It takes courage to dive under and look from within. Can we hold our breath long enough?

Follow the snap of the whip down its length to the source of its affect and you might be surprised to see that the hand that wields it is not from another all-powerful being but rather your own. But the you who is holding the whip is different from the you who is watching it. For everyday, every second, we change… subtly but surely, we change into another person, who looks and acts very nearly the same as his predecessor but who with no degree of uncertainty moves ever so differently in the same world.

We are the makers of our own universe, for the universe in us (and each one of us has our own), exists only in our own beliefs and perceptions. We are as much a part of the universe, as it is of us. It is not a sum of parts making the whole, it is the whole that sums up to each part. The real power is in controlling yourself from within and changing yourself by controlling your understanding of the things that make you you. If you could reduce the number of things that define you, you would be sufficiently outside the confines of such definition to be perceived in any form or factor that the universe can be made up of.

Transcend The Ineptitude Of Words

Let not the images, visions, sounds, ideas and feelings in your world be shackled in the dominion of words alone, for words are the lines bounding the free lands. The light do not fear trespassing the province of words bygone;
They are not burdened by the need to be reigned through its hands.

Enlightened and freed, they venture deep into the realms unknown. On the paths they tread, words cannot fathom the scapes presented. Words are mere specks of sparkles in the sky, no longer relevant when the sky is lit; they thrive when darkness is rampant. Like stars, they present a mere glimpse of distant suns, but none of their warmth or life.

Transform into the highest self, the soul that connects with the universe and its rhythm. See beyond the stars…

Transcend the ineptitude of words.

Edge of Knowledge

Knowledge is a ledge. It is a ledge that defines a fixed point of your understanding. It is limited by the extent of your knowing. If you go beyond this bound area of your “knowledge”, it is a drop into nothingness. Knowledge does not present a path to let you down gently. It has no function but to provide that one fixed foothold on the sheer cliff face of existence. If this is what you base your ascent on, then be aware that the limits of this support are lines you cannot cross. You may painstakingly expand the ledge, build it brick by brick, but it will never stop having a boundary. It may be farther away but it is there. You can also build ledges above you current levels of understanding and so get higher and higher. However the higher you get with this, the more the risk of crossing the boundary.

On the other side of this wall is another surface, it is not a sheer drop, it is a gentle slope that tapers down into the horizon. It presents no boundaries to cross or shapes to hold on to. It has no need to. It is a dome that you can explore. It is driven not by how much you “know” but how wise you are in treading its paths. It is the dome of wisdom. In the beginning it is a tough climb but as you get higher it gets easier. So the higher you get here, the lesser the risk.

So which is the better way to the top? Why not use both? Circle around to each side as you go higher so both “paths” are familiar…

The way of the mountain

In your way you see the heavenward rock,
Your forward march it stands to block,
As the sun melts the morning haze,
You stare the mountain in the face.

Towering to its insurmountable height,
It bears testimony to its own might.
Mounting on this courageous task,
Sheer persistence is the only ask.

At the summit when breaks the last light,
You will realize the victory of the fight.
Then shall it dawn at the time of dusk,
That the mountain was you and you were the task.

Unknown Unknowns

Unknown Unknowns. Those mystical and mysterious ideas or things that we do not even know and cannot even imagine to be able to know that we do not know. The realm of the un-conscious of the un-i-verse. The little blind spots in our “world-view” of “our” universe. How do you start to find answers to questions you do not have an idea can be phrased? You do not even know that you don’t know such questions can exist. Yes that last sentence was not a typo. It was an intended assertion of a double negation of the point; meaning you do not know that “you do not know the questions exist”. So does it matter. How do we know that such things can exist that we cannot even know that we do not know exist? Does it even matter? Is it even real? Is it all just a play on words? What constitutes this great expanse of missing knowledge that is so beyond our comprehension that we cannot begin to be aware of our own unawareness of it?

Is it real? Well sure. Let’s look at it this way. There are things we know and there are things we dont know. Like we know that atoms have electrons revolving inside them but we do not know how much an electron weighs (unless you are a physicist that is; most normal people would not be bothered by this). The point is that we know that the electron has a weight, but we do not know what it is. In other words, we know that we do not know this. And we know that if we search for this information, we can find it (on some site or whitepaper or someone’s experimental report). How about life on other planets? We know we do not know this. Can we be sure that we cannot find it? Well this might be a case of a known unknown where the answer may also be not available.

Now let’s take this one step further. Since we know that there is a question that we have asked, for which we know that we may not find an answer (let’s assume it is so), we are aware of this. The question is what makes us aware of itself. But how did we know to ask the question? There is obviously some shred of evidence or hoax or imagination or myth that has put the question’s essence to the task in our mind. Now what if let’s say take this evidence/hoax/imagination/myth away from a person’s brain. What happens then? He will never be able to ask the question itself as it will never exist for him. He cannot question something that he is not aware of. To him this is an unknown unknown.

Now take such a person and provide him with the awareness of the premise for the question. There is then a possibility that he can start to form the question. If not for the awareness, there is a certainty that he will not spawn the question or even move in its direction. Why should he ask a question for which he will not find an answer?

Maybe in trying to look for an answer, he will try to make the question more clear, more elaborate, more detailed. Maybe he will try to fill in gaps, in the question, not the answer. Maybe this will lead him to more ideas, which may lead him to more awareness. In so far as the journey continues, he will only become more aware of that which he does not know/understand. But this is still a transcendence of his previous state of universal oblivion. The quest to create more questions is what fuels the long arduous voyage through the ocean of wisdom.

Wisdom, not knowledge is what you get from awareness. Knowledge is knowing, and knowing that you know. Wisdom is knowing that there are things that you dont know. As such wisdom is therefore far more encompassing than knowledge. Knowledge by its definition is limiting and bound by a barrier to the universe that we do not know. The universe however is like an open savannah, danger and beauty lurks there that you are aware you don’t know about. Wisdom however will be your companion through the long walk and support you when you falter. It is the walking stick, while knowledge is the backpack.

The backpack, you may feel, contains what you need to survive. But it also weighs you down and slows your progress. The more you add to knowledge, the more you need to carry. The more you add to the bag of knowledge tricks, the longer it takes for you to pull something out of its depths.

On the other hand, the stronger your wisdom becomes, the more support it will provide. And whatever its state, wisdom is always at hand when you need it. It is there to support when you need help taking the next step. It is there to protect when unknown dangers attack you. It is a great simplification of needs and exemplifies the connection with the universe.

Wisdom is the connection to the universe that the universe provides naturally (nature + ally).

The depth of lightness

The intensity of the dark
only reflects the depth of the lightness
For the night can never leave its mark
where the day stands in witness

As the strongest wind blows
the resilience of the tree it shows
For the tree shows not its true strength
that, in its roots it hides at length
Says it to the axe with its head raised, hack away
For where my heart rests, your blade can never lay

See not what it is that is visible
But feel that which is never seen
Like water, over the rock it does trickle
But it loses never its sheen

The harder the clouds will rain
The stronger the stream shall run
Gleaming in the light of the dawn
The dew drops reflect the sun
In a chorus of voices they proclaim
The dark of the night is done