Existence – A Palette Of The Universe – An Integration Of Nothingness.

Since childhood I always felt that Existence as such was weird. Here we are on this Earth, isn’t that odd?Well, of course it’s odd. Now the question comes , what do I mean by odd? Well, that’s different from even. What’s odd stands out and what’s even lies flat. But we cannot see the outstanding without the flat background. Here we are standing out , it’s odd. Each one of us is odd : strange, unique, particular, different. How do we know what we mean by that, except against the background of something even, that is not differentiated, like space or universe?

I get this curious itch in mind and I start to think why is that so? After a while I think that is a meaningless question, but the curious mind takes me to science and other investigations to find out about the unexplained how of everything.

I want to know what it is, this happening, this thing called existence. I have asked this question to myself long enough and it suddenly hit me that if I could answer it, I wouldn’t know what terms to put the answer in.

When we investigate the properties of nature, we do get some answers. All the answers are in terms of particular structures, forms, patterns; and these can be measured and their behaviour can be predicted.

But when I ask myself, what are these forms and patterns made of, like what is it really? I cannot think of anyway in which I could answer the question. Because I would have to have a class of classes.

It is like saying, are you an animal, are you vegetable, are you mineral? Are you male or female? Are you Christian or a Jew or Hindu etc? We always classify ourselves to give an answer to the question, what is it?When we classify we distinguish an inside group from an outside group.

So what we want to know is, what is the group of all groups? We  cannot imagine what the outside would be, so we cannot answer the question what is it?

Even the physicists have finally abandoned the quest for stuff and they gave us the description of the universe entirely in terms of form, the pattern, not the stuff. Now what’s the pattern made of? Surely there must be an answer to that. When we look at the stuff through the microscope, all stuff turns into form, it becomes articulate. A piece of cloth looks like some sort of stuff but when we look at it under a microscope, we will see the crystalline structure of cotton, or whatever it’s made of. We wonder what these crystals are made of? We magnify the microscope further, we find molecules. We magnify further, we find wavicles. The wavicles must be of something, but they are not. 

We find that substance or stuff totally vanishes as we try to understand it. 

How does it matter?  What does this mean? Is it important? Or in other words, does it measure upto anything?

Matter comes from a Sanskrit root ‘Matra’, which means to measure. From this root ‘Matra’ we get another word ; Maya. Maya is generally translated as illusion, although it also means magic, creative power. The word illusion switchover, we get that from Latin, and that comes from the Latin ‘Ludere’; to play. So are we trying to measure the play of this creative power by still remaining a part of it? It is like I am trying to bite my own teeth.

The world is a musical phenomenon. Good music never refers to anything except the music itself. We cannot ask a musician what do they mean by music. What is it intended to express? Listen, that’s the meaning.

Trees are treeing, stars are starring, clouds are clouding, rain is raining, and if you don’t understand ,look at it again.

We notice that all these suchnesses, appear and disappear, they keep changing, they come and they go. But if we get hung up on our particular form, it creates a duality, whereas we are our form, we are what we are doing.

Existence to me is nothing but an integration of everything that exists. We are a pattern or a form which is drawn from the palette of the Universe. We are just a mixture of certain elements which is sustained by another mixture of elements; whose existence is not traceable.  We are that vast thing that we see far off from our telescopes. We are all as much continuous and rapidly changing with the universe as the waves with the ocean.

This may be the meaning of existence ; or maybe the meaning of our existence is actually not within the scope of our understanding.

Yoga – An Evolution Through Union – An Unabridged Self

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः – मन अर्थात् चित्त की वृत्तियों का सर्वथा रुक जाना योग है । 

yogaścittavṛttinirodhaḥ – Yoga is hindering the Chitta from taking various forms(Vrittis).

Scientific development may help us in materialistic achievement but it may not be able to achieve the eternal peace. The ancient yoga may help to get rid of turmoil, hazards, and so. Practicing yoga is very much helpful to maintain peace, to lead and to uplift the human being. But the so called types of yoga may not help alone in evolution. Sri Aurobindo integrated all sorts of yoga to achieve the ultimate aim. He believed that the integration of all yogas mentioned in the Gita helps the human life to be transformed into a celestial one. For the total development of an individual he stressed on integration among all the areas of yoga, not on any one. He formulated three main stages, a ‘Triple transformation’, in the progression of the Integral Yoga: the Psychic, the Spiritual, and the Supra- mental. Therefore, the Integral yoga i.e. the synthesis of physical, vital, mental and spiritual being takes us from lower level of existence to higher level and to the highest level.

Yoga means union. It integrates our body, mind and thought process. Yoga is both – a path and the destination to a superior consciousness. This unifying power differentiates the human being from an inferior animal. Yoga is the exchange of an egoistic for a cosmic consciousness lifted towards or informed by the supra-cosmic, transcendent un-namable who is the source and support of all things. Yoga is the passage of the human thinking animal towards the Cosmic-consciousness from which he has descended.

Yoga is the union of that which has become separated in the play of the universe with its own true self, origin and universality’ and ‘the union of the soul with the immortal being’. The essence of yoga is the contact between the human being with the divinity.

The integral yoga is the way of a complete Self-realisation, a complete fulfilment of our being and consciousness, a complete transformation of our nature-and this implies a complete perfection of life here and not only a return to an eternal perfection elsewhere. The object of this Yoga is not to liberate the soul from Nature, but to liberate both soul and nature by sublimation into the Cosmic-  Consciousness from whom they came. 

Evolution is the process of liberation. Consciousness is the basic element to be transformed into higher and wider level and at last greater perfection occurs. Life is the first step of this release of consciousness; mind is the second; but the evolution does not finish with mind, it awaits a release into something greater, a consciousness which is spiritual and supra-mental. The next step of the evolution must be towards the development of Super-mind and Spirit as the dominant power in the conscious being. For only then will the involved cosmic activity in things release itself entirely and it become possible for life to manifest perfection.

The truth of existence is it’s ‘becoming’ and evolution gradually unfolds the truth. Evolution is not the evolution of ‘matter’ but evolution of ‘consciousness’. Consciousness is the life force, the energy, the motion that creates everything in the universe, from the ‘microcosm’ to the ‘macrocosm’; evolution step by step from mind, higher mind, intuitive mind, over-mind, and super mind.

The method we have to pursue, then, is to put our whole conscious being into relation and contact with the cosmos and to call Him in to transform our entire being into His. Thus in a sense cosmic force, the real Person in us, becomes the sadhaka of the sadhana as well as the Master of the Yoga by whom the lower personality is used as the centre of a cosmic transfiguration and the instrument of its own perfection. In effect, the pressure of the Tapas, the force of consciousness in us dwelling in the Idea of the cosmic Nature upon that which we are in our entirety, produces its own realisation. The cosmos and all-knowing and all-effecting descends upon the limited and obscure, progressively illumines and energises the whole lower nature and substitutes its own action for all the terms of the inferior human light and mortal activity.

The supreme truths are neither the rigid conclusions of logical reasoning nor the affirmations of creedal statement, but fruits of the soul’s inner experience. 

An Un-Familiar Brain – Finding Optimism Of Childhood

Time plays an important part in our lives. I always wonder as to why does time speed up as I grow older or why do I think it does? Why does it feel like time was much slower when we were little kids? It has always interested me that how a summer break in school would feel like an infinitely long duration and how the college years felt amazing! Everyone kept on saying to me that those college years would be the best years of my life and after that it would feel like a blink of an eye and I will suddenly be 60 years old! At that time I felt that my life had already peaked out and nothing more adventurous or fun was left in my life. Right from the college days till today I have always been thinking, that, are these the best years of my life? Thoughts kept coming in, have I peaked out? Am I too young to peak out at this age?

I spent my twenties figuring out what I am best at and had many experiences working with multiple people and organisations. After sometime I realised that I am turning 30 and as an adult I was supposed to know who I was by then. In my 20’s I realised that I liked traveling a lot on my motorcycle and especially in hills, but I also had a new beginning towards my career. I was seeing myself work my way up the chain of that career. But a continuous thought kept clouding me all the time . Do I want to do this forever? Would I regret having been in this career and when I turn 60 would I realise I never rode my motorcycle the way I wanted to? Never doing the thing that I always dreamt of? I would regret that for sure.

So I started to plan out travel plans with my better half and took the ways which mattered most to both of us every day. We travelled extensively from easternmost Uttarakhand till the Northernmost Himalayan territory in Ladakh and J&K. All these years that we spent traveling felt like an entire lifetime, like a new childhood. My motorcycle is all that I own in this world and traveling with all that I own, along with a person that matters the most to me is an experience that cannot be conveyed by 26 alphabets.

Travelling to a new territory which has a different language and culture, activated a curious learning mode in me which I had missed since childhood days. I was learning new things and looking at new landscapes, turning my brain into an optimistic mode. I was discovering this world again and I felt like I was learning to speak again. Trying to speak the native languages of the places I travelled made me feel like a toddler trying to speak up new words for the first time.I experienced this amazing stretch of time changing, I saw things that I didn’t know existed and I just felt wonderful again just like a kid.

Whenever I was on these trips, I always felt that time had stopped for me. Every time I returned from a long trip my friends told me why I was back so early, as I had just left a few days ago. I would tell them that It had been weeks since I have been on a trip. They had been so busy in their routines and life that they didn’t perceive what I had perceived; this incredible expanding sense of time. And this made me curious as to why this expanse of time is felt by me and not by my friends.

Past decade for me has been like living my teenage years again.

My curiosity led me to some research and I found a fascinating thing about fear; time seems to slow down when we are scared. Research states that time doesn’t slow down but what’s happening is, our amygdala (a part of brain) is over producing the memories, that is why in times of fear we have deeper and richer memories. Since we have deep and rich memories, our brain perceives that as taking a long time but it doesn’t. Why does our brain do that, because our brain marks important moments, it wants to study them. We grab onto these moments of fear and the interesting thing is it is also an existential fear; its fear of who we are going to become; it’s fear which the brain latches on to. It remembers every thing that was important in our lives like moving to a new city, first job, first relationship, first kiss etc.

The opposite of fear is routine and familiarity. Our brain doesn’t want to be scared and it doesn’t want to be turned on, because it is like our muscles: it likes being lazy. It wants to establish a way to check out. So once you find a way to fit in this world and not be so stressed, our brain tries to make a safe space just like a stagnant line which doesn’t like to be disturbed. It is not turned on as it was, and it comes at a cost of time slipping through your hands.

This reminds me of a return journey study that I read some time ago in which people were asked to travel from point A to point B and return from a different route which was equidistant. The people who returned from the same route felt they returned faster because their brains were not expecting anything new and the brain was not much active. While the people who returned from a different route found it slower and longer because of the expectation and optimism about a new road. Their brains were turned on because of the anticipation of a new hill or a valley after a turn. They were aware of the journey and because of this awareness they paid attention and because of this attention the time seemed to stretch. This study really explained a lot to me as to why I felt the same on my motorcycle trip.

Similar to travel, our life is also a journey and we remember a lot from 15 to 25 years of age because many things are new to us and we still look to settle for an identity. So the brain is completely turned on till we are not in a comfort zone of our identity. On my motorcycle journey I become a seeker who is wandering and my brain never gets to a zone where it stops getting amazed at the views and experiences. On my trip I accidentally do all these things that expand time; it is not about making the time to slow down, it is about expanding the time by making the experiences deeper and richer and making our brain produce so many memories that a life of 100 years feels like 1000 years.

Explore the Unfamiliarity in places as well as in your brain to find the Optimism which you might have lost in this well familiar-routine of daily life.

Society – A Genuinely Fake Congregation

After a long session of repetitive life from the past 30 years I suddenly felt, what made me act in a way that I never wanted to? What is this inbuilt response from the brain as a stimuli, which comes as an automated response when I am in a particular situation? Why am I conditioned in a way which focuses on matters that make no sense as soon as I am out of that so-called “Society”? Why am I forced to act, eat, sleep, dress up in a way decided by some person 1000’s of years ago? Can’t I be spontaneous and act the way I want? Are any of my ideas or responses my own or imposed upon and accepted by me unknowingly? Am I the prisoner of my own locker, making it stronger everyday by putting in new reinforcements or conditions, which make this trap rather stronger as life progresses? Or Is this society a big penitentiary and I am just a barbed wire which seems to be different but is a part of it, protecting it?

As children, we are made to believe that we are individuals and we have our own identity, free will etc. Our questioning mind learns, acts and talks the way we see other people around us. We start thinking ,talking and acting the way we have seen people around us in that society and start feeling that ours is the best way. We have been force fed with this ego-centricity. Other people teach us who we are. Their attitude towards us is the reflection in which we see ourselves growing up but that reflection is not who we truly are. But we cannot realise, rather we accept that reflection to be our true nature and keep acting as if we are programmed computers which will only give mechanical outputs.

The social environment in which we are born creates a massive impact on us. It acts as a mould which makes similar pieces that can only fit into themselves. We never realise that our most private thoughts and emotions are not our own. Our brain can only comprehend thoughts and images which are not invented by us. Everyone has a similar emotional reaction to a situation. We copy emotional reactions from the people of our society, never thinking there can be a different approach to a particular situation. Our minds are severely clouded with the darkness of the social environment we live in and we as individuals cannot exist apart from a society. This whole society is our own extended mind and body.

A child from infancy is socially indoctrinated in a way that he or she cannot resist that indoctrination. Society becomes a vicious loop which has no exit points. A child is taught to think freely within the limits set by the society. He is told to act the way someone acted a century ago and when he acts that way, he is considered the reincarnation and torch bearer of that society. When that child meets a child from a different society, his actions make him look foolish, because those actions are considered to be fools in that society. A child grown in such a social environment becomes permanently confused and grows up being the one having no thinking power of his own, because he has followed what was taught, having no thinking capacity of his own.

Every society is trying to become permanent and rigid. I have realised that the more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.

I cannot live a life following the do’s and don’ts, which paralyses my power of thinking and acting spontaneously. No society teaches us to be spontaneous because if we become one, we won’t be indoctrinated into the past thoughts and future projections of it.

How can a society define terms and conditions for loving, living life and being natural? These all happen themselves as a spontaneous behaviour like a heart beat. We already possess all these qualities which cannot be put into certain terms and conditions.

Society teaches us by comparison and when we put that learning, to test, by looking at the stars at night, we are not able to make any comparison between the right and the wrong stars. Because the universe is spontaneous and always moving, not sticking to a similar pattern.

We are living in a society entirely hypnotised by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between the all powerful causative past and absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectations. We never realise that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than the present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked and described about, with what it actually is. We are sick with the fascination for the names and numbers; symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.

Life is very simple if lived spontaneously. Life is neither carelessly drifting into the future nor fearfully clinging to the past. Life is being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive always.

Living a life according to society is like going to sleep and never waking up and living spontaneously is like waking up and never going to sleep. You and I have slept a lot so try to be awake for the rest of your lives and become a torch bearer of a Cosmic Society.

Serendipity – An Un-Truncated Intuition- A Eureka Of Discovery

Serendipity is the ability to make fortunate discoveries accidentally. There is an art to finding something when you are not looking for it. It is one of those small things that make life worth living. In this modern day world, we have become monotonous to such an extreme extent that the chance of finding something accidentally has no probability.

We have become precise in every aspect and have developed softwares to give us the wanted results even for matchmaking, undercutting the Serendipity which comes out of finding something interesting while dating someone . Now, we plug a list of characteristics into a Web page in search of our True Love, more like ordering food from a McDonald’s menu. We do it all in the name of saving time. It is efficient, but dull. When you know what you want – or think you do – you lose the adventure of discovery, of finding something for yourself.

Everyone is trying to find fulfilment out of the activities which everyone else is doing, watching the same TV series, having the same gadgets, wearing outfits which are trending; doing something which is started by someone else and following it blindly; taking away the creative power of mind and restricting it to follow what others are doing. Can a mind find fulfilment out of copying someone?

Fulfilment is an expression of experience; experience unique to each of us, not tailor-made for someone else. Fulfilment in any case is a matter of experience and no amount of teaching, following or copying can express it. It cannot be described in a way that can really be understood by a mind that has not undergone the effulgent transmuting experience.

Serendipity has enriched my life with essential nutrients allowing me to harvest an abundance of life force, which I never knew existed in me.

For me it started with Motorcycling in the Himalayas. The silence contrasting with the soothing soundtrack of tires crunching on gravel. The unexplored places on the outside making me realise the unexplored places inside my mind. A far horizon acting as a line of division between sky and earth seems to indicate the different hemispheres of my mind; one side thinking that the earth and sky meet at the horizon while the other thinking that the earth and the sky emerge from the horizon. The beautiful vast valleys and the high peaks demonstrate how beautiful life seems with all the ups and downs. A stunning view after a blind turn makes me realise how life can be beautiful if we keep moving through the blind turns of life. The zeal of moving through the unknown places replenishes the will to keep exploring ourselves in whatever way we can. This continuous un-truncated intuition while riding, happens to be the Eureka moment in my life and I will keep riding till my mind ceases to be my mind and become something beyond it; till my life changes into a thing vast and calm, intense and powerful that can no longer recognise its old narrow self. With my mind, my body will undergo a mutation and no longer remain the animal of desire and petty impulses but instead become a conscious and radiant living form of the cosmic order.

An average man even now, is in his inward existence as crude and as underdeveloped as was the bygone primitive man in his outward life. We need to find that fine line between keeping our life routines completely negligent towards the chances of discovery and keeping it open in certain aspects where the joy of finding something accidentally can change the way we look at ourselves.

The modern world, it seems, is conspiring against serendipity. But we cannot blame technology.I have met this enemy, and it is us. We forgot that we invented this stuff. We must lead technology, not allow technology to lead us. The world is a better and more cost effective place because of technology, but we have lost the imperfections inherent in humanity- the things that make life a messy and majestic catastrophe.

We must allow ourselves to be surprised. We must re-learn how to be a human- to start again as we did as children- learning through awkward and bungling discoveries.

Just imagine – without Serendipity I could have missed all of this!