Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Courage to experiment

Paramahamsa Nithyananda recalls one of His childhood memories in His biograph and many discourses. Very briefly, He was just 9 years old when he went for a discourse that was being given by an enlightened master named Annamalai Swami, a direct disciple of Ramana Maharshi. He says, 'That night Annamalai Swami was talking about how we are not body, we are not disturbed or we do not have pains. We are beyond body. We are beyond sufferings... All these high Vedantic ideas. I was surprised to hear those words. So I went home and took a knife and cut my thigh. Of course I had pain; I was taken to doctor and also got two from mother.

'After few days, I went back to Annamalai Swami and asked Him, 'What did you teach me? I tried this after listening to you and now I have pain.' Annamalai Swami says, 'Son, don't bother about the pain. Try to see where that thought is coming.' He taught me a technique to find the source of thoughts and finally said, 'The very courage to experiment with the truth will liberate you. Don't bother about anything else.'

The whole point of having so many of His discourses on youtube is to inspire and encourage people to experiment with the truths He is talking about. All enlightened masters had one thing in common. They were daring enough to experiment with the truth. Paramahamsa Yogananda in His Autobiography of a Yogi also talks about how He used to experiment with the ideas of intention or sankalpa. Similarly, another enlightened master Nisargadatta Maharaj comtemplated on the idea of 'I am' that was given to Him by His master as an experiment and eventually it became a meditation for Him.

Most of us read, listen or watch some discourse of Nithyananda or any other master and we either forget about it or brush it aside for the time being. As long as we listen to the discourse, we say, 'wow, this is awesome; this is so true.' Once the discourse is done, all the enthusiasm also goes down. We are back to our normal lifestyle with the same tensions, same worries and same stress.

Why do we do this? If the discourse was so awesome and answered our problems, why don't we practice them? The simple answer is we do not have the courage and strength to experiment and go against our engraved memories and emotions. We choose to be in the same state. That's the word - choose. We choose to be in the luxury of the known worries, tensions and stresses. The great truths by enlightened masters seem like unknown territories and we dare not to venture into those areas.

We forget one thing in this choosing process that what we think as unknown and what we are scared of is actually leading to our own self, the bliss of realizing our own true potential.

Simple techniques like watching breath or laughing out, being in a blissful mood etc. should be experimented; only then we see the truth behind them. In our meditation courses, we keep reminding people, please go back and experiment and know for yourself.

Nobody can force anyone to do a meditation. Only when one experiments with himself, can he really see the true potential of the great truths from the master. Let me end this post with our Masters own words in this video titled: The courage to experiment.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Relaxing in the present moment

'What is our idea of relaxation? After work, we generally say, 'let me go and relax.' What do we generally do to relax?', I asked these to a group of people who came for an introductory talk on meditation. Some answers were: sleeping, doing nothing, watching TV, gardening ...

Different kinds of answers but everyone agreed on one thing, 'when we are not working, we try to relax...'

Now the question is, 'are we really relaxing?'

General notion of relaxation is comparative, i.e. if I am an accountant, during the office hours I am busy looking at accounts, some numbers etc. After the office hours, I go back home and sit in front of a TV and spend some time watching something. I call this after-work process where I am not doing any accounts, relaxing. If the same evening, I spend meeting some client and discuss accounts, that again is work and not relaxation.

So if we are not working on something which we associate it with our profession, we call that relaxation.

The point that I am trying to put forth is - we are simply changing our object of thought process from one to the other but our mind is still busy with thousands of thoughts. At office, our mind was busy fiddling with thoughts about accounts, at home our mind is busy absorbing and working on horror and action that comes on TV.

What is relaxation supposed to do? Why would we want to relax? So that we are rejuvenated. Relaxation should refresh us. It should boost us with energy.

But after so-called relaxing by watching TV or by going for a movie or by partying, are we really energized and rejuvenated? The answer most of the times is - no.

All we are doing is just changing the place and object; that's all! Paramahamsa Nithyananda says, 'when you are at office and thinking, you call it work; when you are sitting on a beach and thinking, you call it vacation.' If we are thinking everywhere and everything, where is the relaxation happening?

The reason why we get tired is because we dissipate large amounts of our energy thinking about our past and future. That is when we look for relaxation. We believe that by changing the place, the object of work to another, we can stop the thought chain. We seek the help of external world to keep our attention diverted from something that we believe is taxing us. But the next object that we take up, the next place that we go to comes with its own set of thoughts and our mind is happy again. It has food to eat though we think we are relaxing and calming the mind.

Sleeping is another activity which we believe relaxes us. It is true to an extent but not always. Even after sleeping, we continue our thinking process through our dreams. And if we notice carefully, we feel tired and sick after we wake up dreaming all night. There are few moments of deep sleep (without dreams) that we enter into which helps us to relax and energize.

So the question still remains, 'how do we relax?' Paramahamsa Nithyananda says, 'Get a break from the inner chatter and experience deep relaxation.' Only when we are in the present moment, when we are completely within ourselves, we can be completely relaxed. Total relaxation is not obtained by changing the external environment like the work or the place. It can be obtained by changing the internal environment. Even while working, we can be in complete relaxation only if we are in the present moment and enjoying the moment to its fullest and with extreme enthusiasm. That is the reason why there are many people who feel relaxed and fresh after gardening and such activities because they enjoy every moment and where they focus only on gardening and nothing else.

Meditation helps us to experience great sense of relaxation in a conscious manner. It helps us to fall into the present moment and thus into low-thoughts zone in a conscious way, i.e we go into that state of relaxation being completely aware of it. The number of thoughts decrease drastically at the end of the meditation. When the thoughts decrease, the energy dissipation also decreases and we relax. In Nithyananda's monastery in India, we undergo hours of meditation and get hardly two or three hours of sleep but throughout the day, we are fresh and energized.

Meditation is the greatest tool for real relaxation. Try it and see for yourself :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ashram... spiritual laboratory

Recently one of my friends decided to join Swami Nithyananda's ashram (monastery). This decision of his became quite a bit of news amongst his relatives and friends. Many people ask a common question, 'why do we have to join the ashram to grow spiritually? Can't we progress by staying out?'

A very valid question indeed and a debatable one also... Anyways let me jot down some points what Swami Nithyananda says about this. First of all we must understand what the purpose of an ashram is. Only then can we really see the reason for someone joining it.

As soon as we step out of our house, or even inside the house when we switch on the TV, we are continuously filled with three base emotions - fear, greed and lust. Everywhere around us, the society tries to instill one of these three emotions inside us. If we see carefully, even the ideas of peace and love that the society promotes is based on fear and greed. Every hoarding, every advertisement, everything that happens and exists outside us constantly feeds us with these emotions.

With these around us, our unconscious mind that works million times faster than our conscious mind picks up all these without even we knowing. We think we are not getting affected or influenced by any of these but the truth is our unconscious has already registered it. We are constantly adding ourselves with these three emotions knowingly or unknowingly (most of the times).

Swami Nithyananda says, 'Ashram is an energy center, a spiritual incubator, where inner science can be studied, experimented with and experienced.' An ashram provides conducive environment for one to fill oneself with love and peace and nothing else. That is the purpose of an ashram... to help one be in the constant thought of enlightenment, in the continuous contemplation of the truth.

This is the reason why an ashram is ideal place for spiritual growth.

Now, coming to the next question, 'Can't we progress by staying out?' We can but we need to be sure that we are not affected by these emotions that surround us in our day to day life outside. We need to answer to ourselves honestly, 'are we totally unaffected by the society and its conditionings?' If the answer is true, then we can very well be living outside and progress in our spiritual journey. Unfortunately, for most of us, the answer is in the negative...

And the second question we have to answer to ourselves is, 'can we maintain the intensity of seeking while staying out? Can the quest of seeking the truth be constantly intensified in us?' Swami Nithyananda says, 'when the question becomes a quest, when the urge becomes urgent, enlightenment just happens...' An ashram creates the intense atmosphere for seeking the truth. If one can stay out and keep the quest burn constantly in oneself, he/she is truly exceptional...

We sit outside and pass judgments about people in there; we evaluate them... All I am saying we have no right to comment on them or talk about them because they are more courageous and bolder than us to go in there for the truth and enlightenment...

Before ending, I would like to say that I am not asking everyone to go an ashram. That is not the point. Infact Swami Nithyananda turns down many requests of joining ashram because He knows when a person is really ready to enter an ashram. All I want to convey is we are in no position to question or doubt or evaluate or talk about people who have taken the gutsy step going all out for the Ultimate...

Hats off to them...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Surrender? Err.. What is that?

The last two days, all healers in Singapore had a great opportunity to attend a 2 day program called - Living in Ananda Gandha. Apart from the many discussions and meditations related to the great gift of initiation by the Master, the much awaited discussion about "surrender" finally happened.

Each of us was asked for what we think is 'surrender'. Some said 'total acceptance', some said 'leaving it all to existence', some others 'doing whatever Swamiji says'. At the end of this, a deep understanding set within me about this subject.

What does it mean to surrender? Is it important whom you surrender to? Does surrender mean giving up what you hold dear in your life?

In one of the early discourses given by Paramahamsa Nithyananda, He says surrender does not mean renouncing what you have, it means simply renouncing what you don't have. What does this really mean? Let us take the example of a mother giving birth to a child. Along with the child comes the attachment to it, a baggage of worries and fears about the child's health, education etc, then a whole load of expectations from the child. If we see, only the child has physical and real existence, the rest is all created in our minds. They are a product of our ego - arising out of this solid identity with this body-mind entity. It is these we need to give up to live in reality.

Swamiji also says that it doesn't matter whom we surrender to - it could even be a stone or a metal statue! Now, how is this possible? Let us see what exactly happens when we surrender to someone. We should understand that in this whole process of surrendering, the person to whom we are surrendering actually is not even being affected. The matter really lies with us. How can we say so? It is because through the act of surrendering, we are actually liberating ourselves from those things that bind us.

The very readiness to give up something is enough, we do not really need to give it up. If I am able to live with my wealth, house, spouse, career etc with the attitude that I would remain the same even if they are taken away from me, then it means I have truly surrendered them all to the feet of existence.

Actually, however ironical it may sound, surrender and liberation are one and the same! One may think that by surrendering we are becoming a slave. It is the other way around. It is because of the fact that we are slaves of our desires that we cannot surrender them. They bind us so much so that our entire happiness/sorrow is ruled by them. We are not able to let go. They make us their slave. When we surrender them, we just let go - a total liberation!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How can it be so simple???

'Simple' is a word that has become quite alien us. Take anything, we want to make it look sophisticated and complex. If someone asks us questions that are simple, we just cannot answer them but we can answer all the complex questions.

Many a times during my under-graduation, I would bump into situations where I simply cannot explain the basic questions but I would explain anything complex. E.g. how the transistor works was not clear but I could explain how an amplifier consisting of some ten transistors works. I am sure many of you might have come across such situations. We can explain all complex scenarios but when we are faced with simple questions, we are stumped; a big question mark can be seen on our face :)

The problem is we have stopped thinking simple. We want to think complex things without even answering the simple questions or understanding the simple statements.

We, in the name of science and technology, are developing complex theories and systems but we haven't answered the simple questions - what is life and what is death - through complex intellect.

We boast of knowing everything around us but the fact is we do not know our own self. If we know everything, then why do we get stressed out; why do we give power to emotions like anger, frustrations, tension, worry and fear to rule us?

The answer is simple - we do not know ourselves. We do not have clue as to we have inside us. We do not know the unconscious baggage that we have within us. Even modern science proves that 90% of our decision making and actions are rule by our unconscious. Only 10% goes through a conscious process.

If that is the case, what are we boasting about knowing everything around us? We are being simply stupid by thinking we are all-powerful; there are no bigger fools than us if we think we rule our life.

Such simple understandings can revolutionize the way we look at everything. One such simple understanding that all enlightened masters including Paramahamsa Nithyananda makes is, 'You are God.' Our convoluted intellect and mind simply cannot take this because it is too simple. Paramahamsa Nithyananda says, 'you are enlightened. Just the acceptance of this statement completely will make you enlightened. Getting enlightened is so simple...'

But no! We cannot accept that the concept of God and enlightenment is so simple. Our so-called sophisticated and well-developed mind cannot even accept and experiment with such simple statements.

If we scan through the lives of most enlightened masters, they were simple people and they got enlightened while they were in deep relaxation. When they dropped the idea that enlightenment is complex, they got enlightened.

Meditation is a tool to understand these simple truths. If we just keep our complex minds aside for a while and meditate, we can experience some of the simple truths that all enlightened masters speak of... it is that simple :)