My submission for the May edition of AZIndiaTimes. I've been doing a bit of meditation and reading, and those thoughts manifested into this post.
Only Karma is real
Living so closely with machines, that are phenomenally good at one or two things but completely useless at other things, we’ve come to believe that a human being is also something like that. We choose specializations because they make us more certain of our opinions and biases. But we cannot confine ourselves to just that because we are more complex than that, way more ignorant of our real motivations, way more marvelously designed and built. Sadhguru says deep inside all of us have a longing for the infinite. Love, money, fame, power, happiness are some of the many manifestations of that feeling. We choose to work towards the thing that we are most deprived of with the belief that it would lead us to our salvation. Yet, even when we clearly see no matter how much we accumulate it isn’t enough, we don’t stop chasing. If only we could sit still (both mentally and physically), for even a moment, won’t all this confusion clear up and we will see ourselves and, as an extension, the world clearly.
“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion” -Rumi
All this, of course, makes sense intellectually. We understand these things and at some level, deeper than where language and logic can reach, we know it to be true. Why does this not then turn into experiential reality? Yogis say it’s because of our Karmic residue. We are driven compulsively by effects of the stuff we did in the past (lives). That would raise two questions: 1. Why did we do “bad” things in the first place then? Were we built that way by a malevolent God? 2. If I’m forever tied to the effects of my previous actions, it’d get easier and easier for me to keep doing the wrong things and go deeper and deeper into the abyss. If there is no free will, because my current actions are decided by my previous ones, how can I change my life?
I’ve been grappling with these questions for years and I seem to have stumbled across some form of an answer. The first state of acceptance was to see that logic, and thereby language, are just one mode of thought. They’re wonderful tools and we’ve built so much in the world because of them but they are not powerful enough to help us understand our inner reality. Secondly, though I don’t know why we are here and if there is a God, I see that there are no “bad” things per se. I call an action bad if its effect leaves me with an unpleasant feeling now. By definition, that is time-constrained. A lot of my judgement depends on what mood I’m in right now; It tells less about the world than about me. The question of free will is just a parlour game because I can choose either option and still win an argument. It is not a contributor in making my life more joyous. A major, major reason for a lot of my problems with life is my romance with my mind, my weakness for intellectual tricks. The more complex theories I formulate to arrive at the conclusion that this is life, the more burdened I become. And it’s not even like the formulae are useful. Life never ceases to surprise me.
Where does all this gyaan come from now? How do I know this isn’t transient? These are questions that would have bugged me till about a month ago. Now, I don’t really worry about the expiry date of an idea nor am I enamoured by complex theories. The truth is here and now for me to see. All I need to ask is if I’m physically and mentally ready to see it?
If all this is so important and seemingly true, why doesn’t my mind know this instinctively, naturally? (Come to think of it, what is the guarantee that my mind isn’t playing another trick with this faux-epiphany? Can you see it- There’s no way I’m winning any argument with my mind. I should treat it like a very smart friend, not an all-knowing god.) All things that we consider natural now, brushing our teeth, driving a car, giving powerpoint presentations, are, when you think of it, the bizarrest things in the world. The mind treats all new ideas warily, as foreign intruders. Only if we give it enough time and explain it experientially, will it learn and adapt.
“People have fallen in love with words and lost the world. It’s time to regain it.” -Sadhguru
I know this sounds a lot like the New Age, quasi-spiritual conversations that we are surrounded by but I’m learning that the answers really are inside. We don’t need thousands of books or hundreds of hours learning a skill or watching innumerable Ted talks to learn how to live. All we need is the ability to sit quietly and listen.