• http://www.amazon.com/The-Thomases-Road-Realization-ebook/dp/B009BATQUA/

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Arriving at Freedom (Equilibrium 7)

I was frantically searching, asking, looking for something. I didn’t know what because I probably was afraid of what I knew I would find. When we reach a long desired destination then we still by default go on searching. It’s like the dog who turns round this side and that side frantically many times before finally sitting down. Reaching the most important goal of life, feels like that; not able to accept that we have arrived, that we will have to search no more, go nowhere, sit now, ..for ever!?

So I decided that what I was searching, was a meditation that could lead to centering on oneself, to thoughtlessness, as thinking too much is the door to madness!.( But in my eyes “I AM thinking”, so was I searching how not to be me? How to put an end to myself? That was already disturbing my equilibrium!)

'What you are searching for is already there’. I usually take a book to read as I wait for my son's school bus. That day I grabbed a book in random, hurridly glanced at it: Oh no! J Krishnamurthy” It was one of a set of books my husband had brought months ago which I had abandoned after the first two pages. Titled “Beyond Violence” Something I had thought was beyond me! Shucks; no time to select another book, I thought and took the book anyway. At the stop I decided to read as I usually prefer..in random. And there it was! My husband had, as alway, brought to me the right book!

There it was the chapter- ”Meditation! To Meditate is to be Aware. It told me that one cannot stop thinking, but that one needs to distinguish thinking from awareness. To think is to use past memories and data to process current data. Thinking can breed pleasure and fear. Awareness on the other hand is seeing and comprehending the truth without judging, without fear, without pleasure.

It is difficult to write when you have to include the name Krishnamurthy. I will try anyway. Well, going by Krishnamurthy’s (ahem) ‘thoughts’ (He would have sneered at that word 'thoughts'!; by his ‘analysis’?, no he hates that word too, heck 'thoughts' it is!) I realize that in ‘awareness’ (the only word he seems to like…uh huh ‘like’?) there would be no conflict, no movement, just a standing still.

Do we know “no movement”? We only know movement! We know what the feeling is of 'conflict', of the pull to reach some where, or the polarity of good bad, right wrong, past future;a movement from what is, to what should be. But really, what is it to have reached the ultimate destination with nowhere to go? Can we handle what it is to have arrived. To arrive means ‘not trying to escape anything and not trying to move towards anything’.

This is a painting I made six or seven years ago describing which I wrote a poem in 2009.


Dreams fly and soar,they are wings fluttering free
Truth grounds and floors,it is earth rooting me
Am I free am I rooted, or ‘conflict’ in entirety!

Oh the sky has its pull, but the earth has its hold
Yet mind is never still, though the past put in mould
Yes, there are the wishes....then there is the practicality!

I move to a future, then move back to a past
I am pulled, I am held, I am tearing apart
Oh I stop the striving, ‘Pull apart to a rarity!’

The light shines on me, but darkness doesn’t leave
In my hands there is joy, but inside there is grief
Bright.. the ideals, untouched...reality.

We are fed into a particular view from our childhood but reality seems different. So we are confused, we are in conflict; like the plant rooted by the earth and also reaching towards the sky. As long as we depend on something, as basic as the earth to stand on, as basic as beliefs, we are conflict. As long as we are searching for the sky, for understanding, we are conflict; for we stand on some beliefs which don't free the mind as it strives towards freedom of thought. As long as we are thinking we are conflict as we are interpreting ‘what is to know’ according to our limited collected “what we know”. How can we learn just to observe with freedom, to be aware, to be free of conflict even as we walk through this mysterious journey of life?

'Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me' Psalm 23;4 seems very comforting. How beautiful I used to think to be shepherded by The Lord to the destination. But infact this verse 4 in the psalm 23, also means a path of darkness, and possibilities of straying and so descipling, using the rod and staff to keep the sheep, from wandering! It can mean a lot of pain when we don’t realize when to let go of a past and walk towards future.

I have seen that whenever I hold on to a place and do not want to leave it, everything I valued there quite visibly starts to deteriote and then I become more willing to leave it. Sometimes despite the signs we may still hold on until it becomes unbearably painful. Or when I run from something that I should confront, then I find I have only run into the same situations repeating, and I realize I have to stop running and confront. Rod and staff indeed!

I sometimes wish I shouldn’t want anything that the "Shepherd", the Lord doesn’t wish rather than be hit so painfully. But I also realise that to "let go" has a certain strengthening factor, it develops independence, to enjoy the grass and yet leave when the rod gently taps. With time trust also develops; that this tap is for my good. The tap then becomes comforting, a sigh that I am watched over. Learning thus not to become dependent on any pleasure, learning to enjoy the new path, trusting the shepherd to know the right way and letting go with that faith over any personal desires.

When we let go with faith, some day we realize what we were looking for we already have, for what we look for comes with us, travels with us just as we travel with the Lord and leave everything our dreams our wishes with trust in him. 'My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.' John 10:27 What is really ours is always with us and is never separated by birth, death,or eons.

Could the moment of trust be a destination? But what is the feeling of having arrived at the destination and having nowhere to go, nothing to pursue.How do we recognize it and what happens after? Where to from nowhere! ? Would we be frantically looking this side and that side, turning round and round, not sure how to sit down! Could Krishnamurthy help us sit?

From Krishnamurthy what I basically take away is the intent to free each moment from the past experience and the future experience and arrive at the present experience. I know all intellectuals say that but he explained why we hold on to a past or move towards a future we would like. And why even love as we understand is in fact violence!. According to him it is fear that makes us hold to past pleasurable experiences because we are afraid of losing it, we want to recreate it in our future Love brings pleasure and the dependence for pleasure and then this pleasure brings the fear of losing it, it brings in the violence of jealousy. These are thus all interconnected. Love and violence are the same energy, the energy of division. A movement from what is to what is wanted, desired.

He gave a very powerful example, simply stated; If we saw a wild animal say a lion, we recognize it as danger and would we not as a result try to get away from it? In the same way if we really saw that love is in fact violence, a danger, we would not want it anymore!

Krishnamurthy takes repeated readings to understand intellectually. It takes many more days to understand experientially. It takes confronting. We have to confront our fears or pleasure (if u confront one you are confronting the other too!). Lets confront then - If my thoughts are producing fear, it means I am running away from something? What? Loneliness? Let me look at all around me, Is anybody going to stay with me for ever and ever. I will die, they will die. Then? I, my spirit is alone, all are alone. Nobody carries anything or anybody.

How long will any person be with you can you tell? Who can u say will be with you for ever and ever as long as ur spirit is? Not any earthly body surely.

I accept loneliness as the truth of me, of all mankind. Nobody is there for anybody eternally! That is what I knew and was running away from, afraid of accepting. There is nothing to what is generally called love and togetherness!

When I finally confronted, I felt liberated, joyful. I am lonely! (yeahee) I had feared I would be shattered by the truth that was knocking at my consciousness for acknowledgement for a long long time. "Confronting" I realized is the process that helps move from 'thought' to 'awareness'! The worst moment is just before we confront our fear. The truth on the other hand, is indeed liberating. The truth made my heart laugh in its realization! Everything there is, is just me. My whole universe is me, for ever and ever and ever! I am complete in myself?! Life is ephemeral, everything any man may seek, love, fame, success is all ephemeral; then why seek it? Seek something that is for ever and ever and ever. Seek the self, one's own eternal soul, one's own only companion.

Filling our life with love is evading the truth of our completeness, by ignorance we see completeness as loneliness and so we try to fill our lives with love as an attempt at running away from the truth and then this love brings in fear of losing it (it never was a part of 'everlasting' and our heart knew it), that brings in efforts to preserve it, brings in jealous anger.

The escape from this lion, towards freedom is only in confronting the truth that love and togetherness is a lie. That nobody can be there for anybody for ever. We are our own universe .

Loving is merely loving oneself, but centering on oneself is not selfishness.When we realize that nobody can be there for us, we have only one option, of being there for others. Devoid of the need for another, the need for pleasure, the need for words, comfort, support, such a complete person relates to others in fact in a much better way, ‘without expectations’. When our cup is full, it flows out, when we arrive, we become the channel. Jesus said “I am the way”.When we become fully aware to Jesus, as he shepherds us, we arrive. When we arrive, 'sitting down' means becoming the way, the passage, the channel for the Divine Love that is the Shepherd Jesus.
There is that lovely Hymn “Make me a channel?

The last stanza
“ Make me a Channel of your peace.
It is in forgiving that we are forgiven
In giving to all that we receive
And in dying that we are born to eternal life”

Whatever you do to others good or bad, you do to yourself. Don’t we see, If we cannot forgive ourselves small things, we cannot tolerate others either. When we can forgive others big things we can forgive ourselves too. When we support we get support by default, two people holding each other. When we see no purpose to anything in the world, we stop pursuing, we arrive. When we rise above our fears, give up that which we think is a requirement for our happiness, we get happiness, the freedom from fear. When we give up searching, we find, the truth alights on us. When we embrace the sorrow we are running from we are freed of it. Giving up the ephemeral world, we get freed of its conflict and gain the eternal self. When we are neither held to the ground nor trying to reach the sky, when we are as blank as the space, we are free. When we desire not this way, nor that, we are free of the pull on either side. When we stop resisting, stop reaching out, when we are still, we arrive.

We then live not in some expectation some hope. We embrace each moment as a new gift without the burden of the past or of the future. When we accept our loneliness we are complete. Its in turning in, centering in onself, embracing ourself, that we embrace all

Monday, July 9, 2012

Receiving and Giving ... Criticism!

I, a Virgo by sun sign, know that it is easier to give criticism than to listen to a criticism! To my defense I would say as is said for Virgos, that it is not because we deny our faults (if we do see it! ) but because we already have our own finger so painfully poking at our worst faults that we can’t bear another finger on it.

So let me start with what is more difficult; Receiving Criticism. Accepting that there is a need to change is what is required and is half the battle won. My biggest challenge has been my occasional but volcanic temper (allow me to blame it on paternal inheritance) I saw and accepted it as my biggest fault. I am usually soft and loving but occasionally I am capable of erupting like a volcano, and then the lava becomes beyond my control and it has to exhaust itself. After that blind hour,it’s the huge mess left to clear, the burnt hurt feelings that are piercingly visible after the destruction, that leave me with a lot to reconstruct and a lot to be regretful for long, which brought in again and again a desire to change.

But as long as people still understood, loved and accepted me, I only 'struggled' to control my burst outs quite ‘unsuccessfully’. Some friends would joke on it (when they saw me read book on Anger Management), or call it “Full Power time” (when blinded to “Who” I blew out at). It was only when I was rejected for my temper that I put 'my all' to ‘managing temper' and realized that I could indeed overcome my insurmountable weakness. Managing did not mean I stopped being a critic or that I never lost my temper but it meant I took care to notice the building steam and accepted it to myself and so removed it before it became volcanic and more destructive than intended. That is, I learnt to notice and pour out my emotions at a level where I could manage it calmly, rather than ignoring it till it burst out; shocking me and others.

But in that process I learnt that sometimes rejection can be the greatest incentive to change and that we can even keep ‘rejection’ as a tool in our kitty to use in rare instances (for a short while only of course) where acceptance may have been the spoiler!

Rejection added to criticism is difficult to bear but there are a few things that experience taught me that minimized the sting I feel while at the receiving end of ‘due or undue’ criticism.

1. We can bear to listen to all types of criticism, if …..we don’t have a perfectionistic expectation from ourselves. That is if we can first accept ourselves as we are, and then accept others as they are (not expecting them to know how to criticize constructively)! Once we accept, we don’t feel (and cannot be made to feel) worthless for our faults.

2. We need to accept that perfection is impossible; quite plainly because what is perfect for one maybe imperfect for another! This does not mean we cannot or need not strive to reach our idea of perfection; but rather it means to realize that as individuals we have our limitations of the areas we can achieve perfection in. That is to say, we cannot meet every ones subjective ideas of perfection! (Well, even thinking that is exhausting!) What is important then is sincerity in all we undertake. We can only strive to do our best in whatever is a requirement.

3. We have to realize that perfection can never be a requisite for acceptance. In fact it is the little imperfections that set one apart from another and only a person who is incapable of truly loving, would demand perfection. We often fall in love with a particular character that either compliments who we are or is very like us, or is very like someone in our family and so has a comfort factor. Love is easier to understand if we remember that we develop a love for animals as well! I love dogs, I love cats! What does that mean? It means there is a particular character that we may be drawn to. Strength? You probably love Elephants. Loyalty? You love Dogs. Beauty? The cat family maybe. Energy? Squirell the cute busy body!. On the other hand if it is Smartness? You love intelligent Humans. Goodness? You love empathy in Humans. Perfection? Sadly you can only love God. Because like God, we can only imagine perfection!

But it is true that ‘good’ people are more often looked out for ,as partners. A friend recently told me about how people helped each other selflessly when the earthquake (plus tsunami and nuclear) disaster happened in Japan in March 2011 and wondered if the “civility” was as a result of their high average IQ as compared to other countries or it was their strict adherence to civil attitudes that resulted in comparatively higher IQ in them. (i.e whether “being good” was the cause or the effect of High IQ)

I realized then, why “goodness” is so attractive! Wasn’t civilisation itself the result of superior brain power in man as compared to animals! We instinctively look for the more civil the more “good”.
But it is quite observable that highly intelligent (smart) people can also be highly aggressive and selfish, not very capable of handling emotions and caring for others. So surely High Emotional Quotient (EQ) rather than High Intelligence Quotient (IQ)could be the cause of being a “good” samaritan.
And I also believe EQ can be both the cause and effect of Goodness. That “becoming civil or good” can also result in increasing the EQ. Of course all this is speculation with no tangible proof, but what I am leading to is that ‘a critic is a friend, who can help us develop our emotional quotient.’

What's the benefit of 'the Goodness'!? “Being good” takes us to a higher plane of existence. Personally it can expand our aura to the seventh level. Socially it can take us to a perfectly civil and good world. But from there where?

The whole universe is said to work on the principle of Giving and Receiving,and I really believe that it is indeed the one basic principle! I imagine the play of the universe like a game with many levels(compare with a computer game). Life on Earth is one of the levels with seven levels (or heavens) above (just as we exist in several planes as well). There are many lessons to be learnt on this earth that help to perfect our game plan and escape to the next level. What's the use of winning this game? Each level leads us closer to perfect Bliss! We can expand to the seventh level from the first level. That's about all we can know, but once in the game we just have to play it to the end. There is simply no meaning of getting bored or tired with the game; no meaning to quitting!

Everything we do, all we journey with or meet along our journey are just mutual helpers in the learning. No man can grow much as an island. We all need each other. Whatever lessons our subconscious has been wanting to learn, another may be more equipped to provide us with and so they are the ones we meet in the journey. We may push them away but they stay or keep coming back into our lives till they deliver their lesson; on the other hand after having learnt a lesson, no matter how we try to hold on to someone, they are out of our lives, or become passive in our lives!

I heard somewhere that “those who come into our lives are like postmen who have come to deliver our mail’. We have to respect them as that even if it is a criticism they delivered. True, whatever the content delivered, how can a postman be blamed! We might at worst kill the postman, but in another time or in another lifetime another postman will come to deliver the same message until we learn it. It is always better to take it the first time around.
How? I once asked a friend how he is able to listen so attentively to a particular “boring teacher”. He said, “We only learn as much as we respect another” That was one valuable lesson! Indeed, the lesser our ego and feelings of superiority, the more the lessons we can learn from the other to guide our conduct in life that in turn earns us the higher plane of existence.

Now there can be times when we may have to serve as the postman and deliver a post no matter what; to do the role of delivering criticism! And that brings me to the sermon this Sunday. The topic was that we all have a purpose although we may not fully understand what it is. Some main points were- All of us are in a way prophets and priests; the names we have are god given names which point to our purpose and so we should search the meaning of our names. He further said that the prophet’s duty is of speaking the truth, whether he is listened to or not and no matter that speaking the truth always has severe consequences. John the Baptist (meaning of John is God is Gracious) was beheaded when he spoke the truth. That's often the price of speaking the truth. The priest continued saying that Prophets are also very human, they had their failings and weaknesses that they had to struggle with. St. Paul asked God three times to remove a particular weakness but it did not happen. When he realized he had to live with that weakness he said, "For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).The Priest explained it to mean that in our weakness, we rely entirely on the strength of God.

We all have our failings that we struggle with and which come in the way of our purposes. Sometimes our purpose is delivering a post against our weakness, say a weakness for love (I am definitely not going to be loved for this “dirty Job”of criticising!), despite lack of trust in its usefulness (it’s only going to spoil it for me and do them no good either!), despite fear of the consequences (wonder where I will end this time!). Indeed, when we do a deed because it has to be done in spite of all our weaknesses pulling us down, that is when we would have shown strength!

I have known that bitter truth, no matter how lovingly, tactfully and calmly presented will not fully lose its bitterness and bite and hence possibilities of a kick back! But then I also know that a critic, a teacher can only extend his hand full of the wealth of wisdom; whether the lesson is taken from the hand or whether the hand is spit upon depends entirely on the student; depending on whether the student can recognize it as wealth or only see it as filth.

I am reminded of something Jesus had said: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.’ John 15;20. It is really ignorance to be bothered about the result when we have to be the postman, because our first allegiance is towards our creator who assigns us a job and only after that to our own analytical mind that can never fully comprehend God’s ways. It is also ignorance to be bothered when we are ‘shown our place’ because how we are treated tells “not where we stand but rather where the receiver stands in terms of spiritual development”. No matter if we are not listened to, are insulted, rejected, hurt or even killed, we have to remember that there are no purposes in life greater than delivering what has been assigned (when it is our turn to deliver) and receiving as meekly as is possible for us (when it is our turn to receive).
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