Monday, May 31, 2010

You are always with You

A life is a journey. places, time, people, events all move past. we participate in all of these. various stages pass by.

We like certain places. We like certain people. We associate with them all. When we are near we are happy, when we are far, it seems to hurt. All experiences are just observations. though there is a complex series of interactions in this world, if we break it down to the ultimate then all we see is we are simple passive observers.

When I question about the world, and the things in it, and the source of happiness, I discover I am at the center of it all. All things are in relation with me. and this happiness is a property or the very nature of me, which I get in touch with with the aid of various things. I wrongly associate happiness with these tools as the source.

When I move from one place to another, it is not quite clear if the place or the world is moving or I am moving. all that can be said is there is relative movement. a mere change of scene. a change in perception. all are just experiences. when I laugh, when I cry, if I don't associate with the emotion, I can see I am not those emotions. events in the world make me emote. these are mere thoughts rising. sometimes there is a violent stream of thoughts. sometimes there is serenity. sometimes thoughts rush by almost knocking me down. But whatever it may be, I am clear I am not those thoughts. I am simply observing them.

The body is also a thought. its actions again are simple perceptions.

When I see myself reading a book, as I break it down into finer details, the books and the words and my sight and all the thoughts melt away into nothingness. materially they all are atoms, in a complex sequence of interactions. It is the intelligence which assembles it all together and associates a body and object and so on and gives it a meaning.

In all of this there is a constant companion, as the world and life in it moves past in space and time, there is this one constant voice, which is absolutely the same, ever since I remember. It is always awake, always alive, always aware. It is this companion, or the self, that is at the center of everything, trying to give interpretations to a world that presents itself and constantly changing.

This I is the one which interprets the experiences and observations. It is the one which gives reality to an endless random flux of matter and energy.

As things, places, people and time pass by, the one which paints this picture and is the source of all that was, all that is, and all that will be,is always with me.

The moment I realize this truth, I am free, I am liberated. I enjoy the beauty and mystery of this amazing illusion, which is pure magic that is painted on an infinitely large canvas.

Friday, May 21, 2010

What Time is it?

Time is a timeless concept. The flow of time. The flow of events. Diving our experiences into the past , the present and the future.

Clocks tell us what time it is now. seconds, minutes, hours, days and so on create boundaries that seem distinct and absolute.

The periodicity of events such as day and night makes time all the more a real and absolute thing. One can say the whole experience of life is a sequence of events. and time is nothing but an interval between events. So we can say the interval between two sun rises constitute a day. Similarly we can specify the position of the sun across the sky at certain locations and define them as events, the intervals between them being hours. We can similarly define finer or courser intervals of time. How absolute is this measurement or definition of time?

This will lead us to abstract this further and define time as simply the interval between states of the Universe. The universe simply moves from state to state. The state being the totality of all things in the Universe such as the diameter, or luminosity or some such property of a star. Or it could be the position of all things in the universe with reference to an origin etc. And any change in the state constitutes movement of time. we could arrive at some particular event which has an apparently independent periodicity and use it to define a uniform movement of time.

All of this implies there are concrete absolute events that occur. let us say we define time as the interval between two sun rises. and if for whatever reason the sun's apparent movement stops for 5 seconds and then resumes, will the suspension be noted? If for instance the entire Universe 'stops' for a certain period of time, will that suspension be noted? No. because we define time as the interval between such events.

This leads us to the question, how do we know the state of the universe has changed? How do we know that the next event has occurred, so that the universal clock can make a tick. The state of the Universe is a set of attributes. and in order to say that this has changed, one has to observe it! Unless the state of the universe is constantly observed, there is no way to figure out if it has changed or not. It could be in suspended animation of 'ages' and yet we will never know.

This implies that if we cannot observe anything at all in this Universe, then it is impossible to talk about time. So, if it was the case that I loose all my power of perception, including the sense of touch, then there is no sense in talking about observing anything. and hence I cannot observe any change whatsoever in anything, and hence there can be no meaning for time. The perception, or observation of the Universe is a must for the very concept of time.

The observer is an important factor. If there were no observer, then there is no observation and hence no Universe. And time is something that happens entirely based on this observation and has no absolute existence. This relativistic view of time thus collapses our notion of years, millennium etc. entirely into our own cognition of the world, without any absolute existence. time is after a sequence of events.

The sequence is a result of our ability to remember. memory creates sequences out of random events. A following, B following C. If I do not remember, then there is no sequence. If we investigate what memory really is, it is just a thought occuring NOW. we recollect the past, but we do that always in the present. We talk about the future, but we do that always in the present. We talk of a hundred years. But we do it only in the NOW. Again, all that we are talking are about sequence of events. the longer this sequence is, longer the time is.The mind using this quantum of events creates its own sense of scale for time. So it is really meaningless to talk about what time it is now.

The fact is we are in the present. and the time is NOW.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hurdle to Happiness

Happiness. everlasting, undiminished and unlimited. This is the pursuit of all of us. Each one of us have our own means to it. Sometimes acquiring a thing gives happiness, some times getting rid of something gives happiness. sometimes this thing could be the very same object.

Things seem to be all nice and quiet and suddenly something brews up, it disturbs the peace and removes the happiness. a remedy to such situation results in happiness. A pain creates unhappiness. removal results in happiness. A void creates unhappiness, filling it up with activities, people and events creates happiness.

A doubt creates unhappiness, clarity gives happiness. Thinking of the past brings about unhappiness to the present. A sudden event of liking brings about happiness and makes us forget the past.

A disagreement creates unhappiness, understanding or agreement results in happiness.

Certain things result in long lasting unhappiness. certain things appear to be perpetual and never ending.

When we see our desires fulfilled we become happy. an unfulfilled desire is a cause for unhappiness.

In all of these, if one were to investigate, we can find that the object, event, person, etc. do not have an absolute part to play in either bringing about happiness or in removing it. Ice cream is NOT an happiness producing object. we can find that out after having a few scoops. the mouth will reject it after a certain point. Money is NOT an happiness producing object. Anyone who has more than that is needed will instantly agree. The process of safe guarding, ensuring its growth, and the desire for more will remove the happiness producing property of any object.

Further investigation reveals that , the happiness is not an INHERENT property of any single object in the world. If fact the world is incapable of giving us happiness on its own.

The happiness is our true nature. the unhappiness is nothing but the clouded stream of thoughts in the NOW. removing such unhappy thoughts is happiness.

Happiness is not something that is acquired. Rather it is the removal of the unhappiness.

Due to conditioning of the mind over ages, we come to identify ourselves wrongly, and result in a very limited and punitive interpretation of ourselves. This causes us to desire certain things and dislike certain others. If only we know there is nothing other that our self that ever exists, then there is nothing to like and dislike. We do not envy anyone in our dream. Do we? Of course within the dream we might. But wouldn't it be a joke if we wake up and start worrying about events inside the dream. There was no actual event, no actual people, no actual YOU within the dream to experience either the desirable or the undesirable.

Knowing the truth that the world is an illusion, and identical to a dream, the mind learns to interpret the world correctly. A slow unwinding of the predefined rules for happiness will result in the mind staying in its original and real state. Which is a state of unclouded Aura. When the domination of Matter and Energy subsides, and the clarity of Aura begins to shine, and the fact that life is but one big movie emerges strong, the notion of happiness itself disappears.

The realization occurs that happiness is nothing but absence of the thought "I am unhappy".This instantly results in independence from things, people and events. Sounds like a mere play of logic: Negating the Negation of A thing to arrive at it! But this is a fact which we learn over a period of time.

This is Freedom and Liberation.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Magic, Miracles and Enlightenment

Enlightenment or Self-Realization is commonly associated with extraordinary phenomena.

"I felt completely light, unaware of the body and was floating in air"

"I was able to see the past , present and future all together"

"There was a unbearable brilliant light surrounding all around me"

"I could see God in all his glory"

"My body was shuddering, and I was breathless"

and so on.

Initially such experiences seems extraordinary, and simply impossible. And such impossible events are assumed to be necessary in order to believe we have transcended our limitations and have become realised.

An enquiry into ordinary and extraordinary phenomena puts this in order.

Any event that is not properly understood will baffle us. If I bring out a rabbit out of a hat, it baffles. If I can make someone float in air it baffles. If I could make a ship disappear then it baffles. These are impossible things to happen, based on the understanding of the laws of nature, and when it seems to be broken it appears magical. That is in fact what Magic is. A seemingly impossible thing happening. But since the magician is similar to us, and is able to repeatedly and consistently perform it, we can learn it to be a mere trick. An illusion. There is only an apparent breaking of the laws of nature.

Similarly something miraculous happens. Something which clearly breaks the laws of nature. such as a feather falling at the same speed as a stone, light bending around a star, particles moving around in a liquid by themselves for no reason, someday this could include people walking on water, curing the blind with a touch. These events clearly are abnormal, extraordinary, and impossible. But if we look at the very manner in which we define it, we say so only because it has never happened before, or never observed before. More accurately we have not understood the laws fully. The laws are there. But we know only a subset of them. and the unknown laws will reveal only through such miracles. and once known they fall into ordinary.

So, all phenomena appear baffling only as long as we don't know their mechanics.

Just like it gives a blind man a great amount of joy after getting sight through surgery, any such extra ordinary phenomena will eventually become ordinary. when something is possible then one cannot say a impossible thing is possible. mere play of words and simple contradiction. These experiences are only relative.

In fact any such experience , even the ability to say fly in the air by oneself without assistance, will become ordinary eventually, and cannot be equated with Enlightenment.

Enlightenment is knowledge. The truth behind ALL phenomena. All of the phenomena out there is only there for us to question, seek and then eventually to Know I AM THAT.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happiness - Whence?

It is often said from the teachings of Vedanta, happiness is not something that is "out there". rather it is something inside the self. The world as we know it, does not contain happiness producing agents or objects. But it is the mind due to ignorance that thinks the world, its objects and events to be the source of happiness.

It is often said that the source of suffering is due to the ignorance. The ignorance of the fact that we are not a limited being in time and space. and the ignorance of the true self, as to who we really are. The knowledge that will liberate us from suffering and result in absolute happiness is very simple and straight forward. That secret knowledge is that, "You Are That".

In simpler terms, I am the all pervading Single reality, and all that I observe and experience is an illusion. It is often shown that the world that we experience is similar to the dream that we have while asleep. various events, objects and people etc., are encountered in our dream, we also have an existence and participate in it as a individual. and it is very realistic and we go through all the emotions as if it was a reality. But once we wake up from the dream, we realize the illusory nature of the events in our dream and do not attach any importance.

The difference however is that , our current reality is similar to dream but that we know it to be a dream. Since we know this to be a dream, from "within the dream", we can encounter the world with this knowledge and hence we can enjoy the experience irrespective of what happens.
This fact that the world is an illusion is to be learn t, reflected and internally converted into doubtless knowledge, for us to actually make use of it.

But in practice even after understanding this truth without an iota of doubt, this does not result in removal of suffering. this does not result in enjoying every minute, in-spite of this knowledge.
We continue to be happy at times, based on certain events and conditions, and we continue to be unhappy at times. There seems to be no escape from the negative emotions of regret, guilt, anxiety, worry, fear, missing things etc.

Illusion or not, these emotions seems to be real, and they don't seem to go away any time soon.
Even if the world is an illusion, I still want to see certain things happen in the dream , and certain things not to happen in the dream, much like in a movie, even though I know it is just a movie, I do like and want certain events to occur and certain others not to occur.

What 'happens' seem to impact my happiness, no matter if the experience is an illusion, a dream or a movie.

So.. whats happening? what are we missing here ?

Let us analyze.

First stop is to understand happiness.

Vedanta says, happiness in my fundamental nature. In fact I "am" happiness.

I do agree that "at times" I am happy. There are certain conditions that seem to provide this happiness. I do also understand after sufficient study that these conditions don't 'always' produce happiness. But the common agreement is that I do experience happiness at times.

Now, I need to analyze such conditions and past experiences to further know about happiness.
If we inquire, we can see that the conditions that bring about happiness are subjective. what brings happiness may not bring it to you. so it is clear that it is based on our likes and dislikes. or in other words our preferences play a role in us interpreting any event or object as source of happiness. Our preferences, along with the three modes of nature, which changes in time and also the dominance which varies from person to person, causes various interpretations of the world, for happiness or the lack of it.

This is the reason why we feel suddenly unhappy, immediately after being happy. For instance when we buy a house and do the house warming, it might be the culmination of a life time of effort, and source for great happiness. While we relish that moment, the very next moment a unhappy thought arises. We might be missing some dear one, who might have also enjoyed this event had they be alive. etc.

So, it becomes clear that the interpretation of the world is the key to happiness.
Let us look further.

It is very common to hear and say that I had a sound sleep, and I was feeling very happy as I woke up. A sound sleep is one where we did not have any dream. It was a total sleep, where the thoughts were simply absent. No thoughts, good or bad.

The moment we wake up, thoughts start to stream past. the plan for the day, the anxieties at work, etc flow in, breaking our happy experience.

So, it appears that any thought can break the happiness experience. the happiness itself is a state where there are no thoughts. When we say we felt happy due to an event or object, what has happened is in fact a total absence of the cognizance of the world. we have forgotten everything including this world and hence felt happy.

There can be a thousand reasons for our happiness. But the experiencing of happiness is nothing but having a moment of thoughtless bliss. All these reasons, are nothing but channels that take us to that state.

Winning a million bucks in a lottery
Winning the Nobel prize
Making your parent mad by using a prank
Soaking wet in the rain
Three large scoops of ice cream with nuts, and honey and syrup

The trouble with these are that they do not get us into that state all the time, and also, other thoughts rise immediately, disturbing and destroying our happiness. Immediately after winning the lottery, the mind starts to worry about safe keep, investment, sufficiency etc.. the same holds for all kinds of such reason that seem to bring us to the state of happiness.

Also, when we are in a state of delusion with all thoughts making our mind dull and unhappy, we tend to think or recall other instances when we were happy. We might think of a person who we miss badly at this time. This is because we think the presence of that person was the result of our earlier happiness experience. and we wrongly think that person will bring us happiness again. and hence we "miss" that person. It is important to note that we miss them only when we are NOT happy now. As long as we are absolutely happy we do not miss anything or anybody or any place. The same applies for the past as well as future. We are anxious about the future only when we are NOT happy now.

We have identified what happiness is. It is the blissful state of no thoughts, where we do not cognize the external world, but experience our Self alone. and there are various apparent reasons that help us get in touch with our selves, and we wrongly attribute or equate happiness with such events or objects.

So, let us clarify one more time. All our troubles, source of suffering are only in thinking about the "glorious" past, regretting the past, guilty of the past etc, and the anxiety and fear and worry associated with a "uncertain" future. and as long as we are happy NOW we will not worry about these.

Now, having a clear picture of dealing with the past and the future, we come to the NOW.
NOW is the instant. It means the current. It is not an average of the few hours, or the average of the day. NOW is continuous. As long as I am happy in the NOW, there is no issue whatsoever.

So the solution is simply to ensure I am happy NOW, always.

Being happy simply means being in the Self. An experience of the self, with the absence of the cognizance of the world is happiness and bliss.

It is at this point that the illusory nature of the world and the absolute and only reality of myself comes into the picture.

A constant projection of the thought that this is an illusion, or rather, whenever the thought of the world arises, if we can be continuously aware of this truth, and it becomes second nature, then we always stay in the knowledge of the Self. When we are established in the knowledge of the Self, and constantly know that we are the only reality, then the NOW is filled with bliss. With the NOW in bliss always, we stay in absolute happiness in all of space and time.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How Unreal is this Illusion?

The ultimate truth about the reality is that the world as we perceive is an Illusion and that I am the only reality.

While conceptually , and at times for convenience, this explanation might be appealing, there are questions that make us think deeply about this explanation.

We see the world full of people, all independently living, thinking, interacting, progressing etc. Similarly there are so many other living and non living things, all in action, all in their own trajectory of life. We can easily see that we all do have a say in the happenings of the world. There is apparent ability to change the course of things. One can control another person etc.

Also more interestingly we see several people trying to understand the truth and getting enlightened. If the idea of enlightenment is to simply realize the truth that I am the only reality, how is it possible for several people to get enlightened? Absurd indeed. It is said in the Vedantic tradition one needs to surrender to a living Guru and help getting enlightened, and also that the Guru must himself be an enlightened one! If I am the only reality then the Guru must be part of the illusion. And if I am the Guru then the student must be part of the illusion.

All these seemingly difficult issues can be addressed if we consider three approaches to the illusory nature of the world.

(1) Many people exist: . All that we perceive through our senses, including our minds forms part of the relative reality. Within the relative reality, everything is real. My Ego is a real entity having its independent existence. so does all other people. This gives room to the existence and functioning of God. Here we can see people doing various things, and some trying to learn the truth. Some of them get enlightened. And we can see some becoming teachers, some other continuing their lives post enlightenment. All as real , as far as the relative reality is concerned. Much like one accepts everything within a dream to be real, as long as one does not wake up. After enlightenment, one continues to experience the world, and the relative reality, with a knowledge of the absolute reality. Similar to being aware that one is dreaming from within the dream itself. The ultimate truth, the enlightenment does not make the unreal world disappear, much like the knowledge of the mirage does not remove the mirage. The mirage continues to be perceived, and the individual entities within the mirage such as the reflection of a mountain, trees, water etc, will continue to exist and project individuals as though they are real. But the knowledge that it is a mirage will eliminate all sufferings that arise due to the events of the mirage.

(2) Only I Exist: The world is nothing but the Lokha. Lokha is all that is perceived or experienced. It includes everything , such as people, living and non living , etc. All events and happenings are simply experienced only by me. As long as I do not experience them they do not happen, or exist. people trying to learn the truth, Teachers who have learnt the truth, My won Guru, are all part of the illusion and they do not exist in reality. I exist as the individual and once I get the ultimate knowledge I am enlightened, and all other 'enlightenments' are simply part of the illusion. Probably they exist just to let me know about such as thing as enlightenment.

(3) Nothing exists and Nothing happens: The world is an illusion. and I, as an individual is part of the illusion. So such an I does not exist. Since I as an individual does not even exist, then so does all others and things. This means then there is nobody out there to actually learn and get enlightened. Nor anyone who is to teach anyone else. the whole world is an illusion, not existing in reality, and no events whatsoever happened or happens. The enlightenment that I get itself is illusory. All that exists is the only absolute reality that is I.

Taking either of these three viewpoints clarifies the doubts regarding the anomalies about a extremely realistic looking illusion.