Who are we: A perennial question

Who are we?

That is a perennial question asked by all philosophers and seekers of life. The question can be best answered at two different levels.

Who are we - two levels.png

At one level we are all Pure Being, the unbounded absolute infinite Consciousness that pervades the universe. At another level, we are all discrete and unique beings, differentiated by mind, body, ability, DNA, ethnicity, and so on.

  • At the first level we are pure unbounded existence while the second level we are doing and thinking machines or entities clothed in our physical bodily existence.
  • At the first level we see ourselves as living in bliss consciousness, while at the second level we seek happiness in exchanges of mental and physical products with other entities.
  • At the first level we are eternal spirit – unborn and undying. At the second level we are born and then we die. At this level, we can become afraid of death. So we worry about many things, become greedy, and save resources to better guard against death.
  • To live at the first level, we transcend our mind and senses using any of many techniques such as meditation. Living at the second level seems simple and easy, as we can access our mind and body through the use of our ordinary senses and supporting instruments.
  • At the second level we are all separate and each defined individually by our ego- consciousness, while at the first level we are all one together as nature and defined by our eco-consciousness.

This is a primary distinction in life. Ignorance of this basic piece of knowledge of who we are is a source of many challenges in living life properly. How we see ourselves depends upon our state of consciousness. From an ego consciousness, we appear to be this body and mind and others, just as others too have their own body and mind, and we interact with them to exchange materials ideas and so on. However, we all have a higher self. Not knowing it is the first and biggest fallacy. There are techniques to learn about the higher self just as there are techniques to learn the bodily and mental self. Our trained and disciplined mind is the biggest instruments for learning about the higher self. What we pay attention to grows in our consciousness.

However, this distinction may be of little interest to the poor who do not get even two pieces of bread every day. Meeting their basic physical needs becomes their primary challenge in life, and they do not have the time or energy to transcend. Similarly, this knowledge may be of little interest to the super rich for whom material abundance and physical pleasures have become intoxicating, and who do not believe in the transcendent. This knowledge is perhaps most useful for the middle-of-the-roader , the seeker of a blissful life, free from pain and miseries.  If interested, one can learn more at tm.org.

“Don’t give me this bliss s**t”

A good friend recently said,”do not give me this bliss s**t”. It is all a mind game, he said. Another good friend said, “you say you live in bliss, but I don’t see you so.” Both of these people are longtime friends from India, intellectuals with PhD degrees, who are comfortably settled in the US.

To the first friend, I said that there are over 700 scientific published studies that show the benefits of meditation, and that one can enjoy good health, happiness and bliss. That did not convince him. So, I spoke from personal experience, and how my moksha experience led me to write my book ‘Moksha’. That did not convince him. Come to our town and if you do not feel peace in your heart, I will pay you a substantial sum of money. That got him going. In essence, he said that Moksha is a very big thing, and it cannot be achieved by a simple process. He said he had been meditating off and on, and he did not get any benefit. His mom meditated all life and did not reach anywhere near there. I said it also depends upon the strength of desire, and one cannot will the desire. He said that desire alone cannot produce anything. So, I felt best to let go of the argument, and let him take his own time to be ready.

To the second friend, I said that bliss is an intensely subjective experience, and there is no way another person can experience it. One just have to believe it or feel it. Also, that bliss experience can come and go, depending upon continued practice of meditation. I also said that I was given the Maharishi award recently for bringing bliss to the community. I could see that he did not believe my story on Moksha and therefore had not bothered to read my book even though he had it.

Moksha book cover

I feel that most people are completely conditioned to no-pain-no-gain theory. If bliss is that good, it must take a lot of time and expertise and effort, they argue. However, bliss is an effortless accomplishment. Bliss is our true nature. One does not need a complicated process to achieve it. However, one does need a strong desire for it, which would overshadow other worldly desires. I feel that not everyone has the desire to escape the stresses of modern life, and reach out for  their god-given gift of bliss. The book is an attempt to inspire that desire in others.

 

Conversations With God: Bernie Sanders

A really enlightening but imaginary conversation.

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God: Welcome to God’s house. What do you want?

Bernie: Please make me the democratic candidate for President.

God: That is a good idea. But why do you want to become President?

Bernie: The country is up for sale. All politicians are corrupt. They are busy filling their own pockets. We have to save the country. We have to give hope to the people.

God: That too is a good idea. But do you really want to become President? It is a tough job.

Bernie: I have been a mayor. I can run the country too.

God: Ok. How will you run the country? The entire political establishment is against you.

Bernie: This is a political revolution. It will throw up new leaders. The Constitution does not give any political establishment the right to power forever.

God: Logically you are right. But your revolution will create a lot of uncertainty. Who knows what will happen. Even we Gods see a danger in this.  People may even refuse to follow us.

Bernie: People power is absolute. Anything is possible.

God: What if robots take advantage of this power vacuum? They can snatch power from the people!

Bernie: Right now, there is little chance of that happening. But you are right. Anything is possible.

God: Will have to think some more. Meanwhile ask for something for you personally.

Bernie: I have heard these days you are easily giving away long life to people. I am already 73 years old. Give me 30-40 more years, so I can take this revolution pretty far.

God: So shall it be.

 

 

Transformation of Self-Identity: Imagination and Transcendence

Transformation of Self-Identity: Imagination and Transcendence

Identity (of the self) is a fundamental concept that one develops about oneself that evolves over time. A fixed identity composed of name, relationships, and belongings keeps one locked in small self.

How can one proactively evolve or transform one’s identity? First step would be to locate and unfreeze the current identity. Research has shown that there is a part in the brain that is responsible for one’s memory and identity. That part is hippocampus (seahorse-shaped) in the middle of the brain. To transform one’s identity is to change the flexibility of that part of the brain.

Yagyas such as AtiRudraAbhishekam when done properly are a great way for self-transformation. Ashwamdetha yagyas are another way to achieve that. Coming from the Vedic tradition, the Ashvamedha is a ritual used by great Indian kings to expand their imperial sovereignty. A stallion would be released to wander for a period of one year. Whatever area the horse would cover in a year, unless challenged, would belong to the king. Then the horse is sacrificed.

There are two ways to explain the change in identity: Imagination and Transcendence.

Ashwamedha yagyas lets the king’s horse roam freely to as far as it can. Similarly, if the mind is free to imagine itself in the most expansive terms, it could be the broadening or expansion of identity. All of that territory becomes the mind’s. That is the way to understand it from an object-referral method.

Ashwamedha yagyas is also seen as the sacrificing the horse. Sacrificing the specificity-oriented mind to give way to a wholeness-oriented self, is the self-referral way of explaining self-transformation. That identity of specificity has to be erased and identity of wholeness has to settle in.

Transcendence is the forgetting of specificity and stepping into wholeness.  Transcendental Meditation is an effective and proven method for self-transcendence. While both are complementary concepts, Self-transformation through transcendence may be more desirable than self-expansion through imagination.

 

Clash and convergence of paradigms

There are multiple paradigms of knowledge of reality. How can everyone be right?

The answer is that there is a dilemma in the waking state of consciousness. One can continue discussing from different points of view and be correct in some vital way, without being able to refute the other points of view. Only when one transcends the waking state that some unified realities become available and acceptable. From the transcendent level of consciousness one can experience the connectedness of the entire universe. Eventually one can potentially experience the Vedantic non-dual reality of ‘tat tvam asi’, or ‘Aham Brahmasmi’. From the waking state of consciousness these look like absurd words. Even reading the Vedas from a waking state of consciousness is meaningless, and brings no power. Vedas have to be experienced from a state of transcendental consciousness. After all the Vedas were cognized by the seers from that state of consciousness.

Another question often asked if body is hardware, and mind is software, what is soul?

The answer is: the soul would be like the natural laws of electromagnetism and computation and information theory. There are three fundamental gods: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Lord Shiva represents form, or space, and thus the body. Lord Vishnu represents energy, or function, and thus the mind. Lord Brahma represents logic, the knowledge that binds form and function in the service of a purpose. This trinity together make up the entire universe. Consciousness is that which is aware of itself. Thus it is the knower, the known, and the process of knowing (the subject, object, and the verb, all in one). Thus the soul is the knower, the mind would be the process of knowing, and the body will be the known.

 

Feel whole, feel blissful

Feel whole, feel blissful

Freedom of choice is key to joy and bliss. Loss of wholeness is the primary affliction. Choices made from a lack of wholeness can be wrong, leading to pain and suffering. However, that pain leads to self-correction in choice-making, bringing back towards balance and wholeness. One should return to the whole Self, and operate from there, i.e. “Yogastha Kuru Karmani.” (Bhagvad Gita, 2:40). One should be making fulfilling choices. These choices are all recorded at the level of consciousness. One can even overcome past karma by being wider and broader, and more wholesome.

Even the most evolved and enlightened person can occasionally ‘fall’ into specificity, and lose the wholeness. The feeling of ‘I am’ is that destructive specificity. Balance must be re-established at every moment. It is good to be energetic, powerful and growing. But it is good only when one maintains contact with wholeness. When that wholeness is lost, then that person becomes like a cancer cell. Healthy communication between human cells can inspire the development of healthier bodies, and healthier societies.

One should maintain a correct perspective for the experience of any objective reality. The perception and joy can be vastly different depending upon one’s state of consciousness. What we call ‘real’ is the three-fold dynamic interaction of the properties of the observer, the observed, and the process of observation. If the observer changes himself, there will be a different outcome in terms of experience. Even the experience of seeing a simple thing, such as an apple, in front of us can evoke a different structure of experience depending upon one’s state of consciousness. New connections in the nervous system and new patterns of consciousness emerge from new experiences, and they transform us.

Knowledge from the other fields can lead to progress in one’s field, and in one’s quality of choice-making. Nature’s intelligence is distributed across what we called ‘disciplines’. It is all one, and therefore applicable to all the fields, to some extent or the other. Instead of studying just one discipline, one should study the laws of nature, and operate from that level of wholeness. The Vedas embody that wholeness of knowledge, which can also be found in the body and mind.

The general principles of wholeness-based choice-making are applicable at any level and time. What is true at the individual level can also be true for the development of consciousness of countries and societies. Balanced development will lead to the evolution of societies in the right direction, towards greater happiness and prosperity.  It can take decades or even centuries for society to evolve to perfection. Ram Raj is the culmination of the evolution of societies into a perfect system of governance.

 

Indigestion: The Source of Maladies

Indigestion: The Source of Maladies

Undigested food in the body putrefies and leads to many ailments. Eating is easy and pleasurable. However, digesting all the ingested food is a task. Indigestion is the inability to reduce and assimilate all that food into the body. Ayurveda calls undigested food as ama. It is a toxin. Ama shows up on the tongue in the morning as a white coating. Removing ama with a tongue-cleaner is like removing ama (american medical association) from one’s life. i.e. detoxifying, and mitigating the possibility of disease and medical intervention.

Walt Whitman in his newly-found series on articles in 1860 on Men’s Health in the now-defunct newspaper ‘New York Atlas’ talks essentially about avoiding indigestion. Discussing “The great American evil: indigestion,” Whitman says, “It is doubtless here that four-fifths of the weaknesses, breakings-down, and premature deaths, of Americans begin.” Overeating, To combat this great evil, Whitman recommends eating “simple and hearty food, and no condiments” and avoiding “solid and liquid stimulants, artificial tastes, condiments” that have unfortunately become an integral part of the standard American diet.

(image source: stomachbloating.net)

Undigested food can also lead to increase in body weight. An effective way to lose weight is to eat early in the evening, as there is no undigested food in the stomach at the time of sleep.

Undigested information is the source of stress, confusion, and many mental maladies. Collecting facts and information is fun and pleasurable. However, analyzing and integrating all that information in one’s mind is quite a challenge. Mind needs deep rest, as in meditation, to rise above the din of random sets of information, to let the useless information float away and evaporate from the mind, and let one’s consciousness develop and expand blissfully with a greater integrated awareness of the Self and the world.