Friday, September 19, 2008

Conditionings or Crutches

During my piano class this week, I had an interesting discussion with my teacher. A brief history of my piano skills: I started a couple of years back and I find it reeeeeal hard to coordinate my left and right hand when it comes to some complicated compositions :)

Anyway, this week, I was trying one such composition. I was struggling hard to sustain certain notes on my left hand using one finger and then using the other fingers on the same hand, I had to play different notes. And then I had to play another set of notes with my right hand simultaneously. Don't bother if you did not understand it. All I can say is it was really difficult. I spent some 10 ten minutes trying to figure out how to move my hands and fingers to play just one bar; one bar basically has a set of notes, in this case just 8 notes :)

On seeing my struggle, my teacher told me, 'I can understand the problem you are facing. As adults we cannot play both hands together. Children can do that very easily. Our right brain and left brain find it real hard to coordinate with each other. The same is the case with reading notes in a increasing order and decreasing order. We can play increasing notes fluently but decreasing notes, our pace is reduced because our mind takes longer time to process the next note. Same is the case with telling the alphabet in the reverse order. For children this coordination is not a problem at all."

This sounds familiar, isn't it? Very scientifically, she applied the concept of conditioning to music. This is so true. We are conditioned so much from childhood that we cannot do many things which we were able to do before. I have seen some people who cannot hold a tumbler of water using their left hand because they are conditioned to be right handed.

Every little thing, we have been conditioned in one way or the other by parents, teachers, elders and society. Paramahamsa Nithyananda says 'these conditionings are the major obstacles in the path to realize your true potential.'

Many a time, we do not do things because we are conditioned to believe we are not capable of doing them. Volunteers from Nithyananda mission take up variety of jobs like transcriptions, editing, program management, website development, teaching etc. etc. Each one is loaded with different things, sometimes one needs skills that are diametrically opposite the other. But still we do; sometimes we make mistakes but we learn and move on.

This is possible because we all follow Paramahamsa Nithyananda's message, "Not to sit cozily in the comforts of our conditioning." We do not explode and explore our potential because we like to hold on to our conditionings. We do not want to break open from them. That is the reason why we keep on doing the same things again and again.

Our very belief that we are good at one or some specific things is a conditioning in itself. When the Master sees that we are holding on to something and sitting and relaxing in our comfort zones, He blasts us with a new challenge to break our conditioning and get us out of our crutches. That is the job of the Master and Paramahamsa Nithyananda is tooooo good at it :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stubborn frog in a well

What is your immediate reaction if you were to watch a documentary showing what happens in the distant space out there, far far away from Planet Earth? Galaxies dissolving into each other, the stars born as nebulae, expanding to become red giants and finally dimming and dying as black dwarfs, the multiverses spanning across infinite space, the big bangs and black holes, the light from the stars we see today are emitted by them thousands of years ago...

For most of us, it a sense of awe, wonder! at how much that goes on and we are not even aware of them. Or it could be a sense of feeling insignificant, again which makes us wonder. Today, scientists cannot barely point out where the Universe ends, simply because there is no end! In this massive infinite space, our earth looks tinier than a microbe. On that microbe-sized planet, we are one tinier than a speck, so you can imagine! We are practically nothing in the macro-cosmos.

Have we ever wondered why we feel that awe or another dimension open up inside us when we listen to these things? Simply because at that point in time, our ego drops. We suddenly realize we are part of that vast energy around us which is operating the entire Universe. The millions of planets, stars are moving in harmony without any traffic policeman. They know what to do, without us having to tell them.

The irony is we think we are the most important of all! Our problems, our worries are of the highest priority. Where did that feeling of awe disappear? We return to our solid identity that we have built for ourselves which makes us close our eyes to seeing the bigger picture of things.

The same holds with the microcosm. When we hear of scientists performing experiments using proton chambers, particle accelerators, theories that at the particle level we are energy, again we feel 'wow!'. Today science has clearly proven that matter is energy at the atomic level. And we are nothing but a big bunch of atoms together. So we are nothing but energy then! But why aren't we fluid then? Why are we rigid in the way we think, behave, expect others to behave etc? Once again, the same answer: the rigid shell we have build around ourselves called the 'ego' stops us from seeing things in perspective.

Now, what makes an enlightened Master different? Whatever awe, wonder we felt during those moments when we are exposed to truths about the microcosm and the macrocosm, the Master feels it all the time. He sees things the way they are. He knows that His body is nothing but an instrument which that vast energy uses to express itself. He knows that He is energy. He knows that His entire life is temporary, which is going to dissolve into that same energy one day. He has nothing to hold on to. He has nothing to fear. He has nothing to lose, because everything is His. He knows He is a wave in that ocean of energy, which will one day dissolve into itself. He has no barrier stopping Him from seeing the reality. He has no ego.

2 weeks ago, during our Life Bliss Program here, one of the participants told me 'Don't tell me about the cosmic intelligence, it has no relevance to me today. What is real to me is my family, my worries, my salary, my job'. Fair enough, we feel that way because we are seeing the narrow perspective. It's like a frog saying 'I know there is vast ocean out there, but to me my well is real. I don't want to jump out and explore that ocean because I am very comfortable inside my well. I have problems, worries in this well and you tell me that once I see the ocean the problems will disappear, but I am too used to my well, so I dare not venture out'.

Once we gather the courage to jump out and explore that ocean, it's a different game altogether. What is there to fear, the Master who has seen the ocean is calling us, giving us reassurance. Let us not waste this chance. Let us not waste our time in doubting the Master, because He doesn't lose anything. Only we lose out on the golden chance. Let us come out of our wells and experience the ocean. After all, the ocean is that of bliss.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Exploring the Scientist in Us

Today, 10 September 2008, is going to be major day in the history of planet Earth for Science. At about 12.30 pm (IST), the historic 'Big Bang' experiment is going to be conducted at Geneva based CERN lab in a 27 km deep tunnel beneat the French-Swiss border. CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) is the advanced lab in the world for nuclear physics which boasts of having the fastest and longest particle accelerator where matter smaller than protons and neutrons are made to collide with each other at speeds equal to light (the fastes possible speed that can be achieved).

What is the purpose of this experiment and why is it so special that the whole scientific community is talking about it? Because, top nuclear physicists for 80 countries all around the world have joined hands together to find out what actually happened after the Big Bang (the collision that happened billions of years ago, which is believed to have created the Universe as we see it today). The scientific community spent billions of dollars (6.4 billion euros more specifically) to develop the equipment required for the experiement today.

What they are going to do today is to simulate exactly the same thing (in a controlled manner) that happened billions of years ago. They want to find out what are the matter and energies that are generated in this process that eventually resulted in the Universe today. This experiment is going to last for years as atleast 100000 DVDs of results will be generated every year and scientists have to wait for atleast 5 to 10 years to see anything significant. It is believed that if this experiement fails, the scientific community has to change its understanding of matter and energy completely.

Why am I talking about all this? What I am going to say now is an objective understanding of science and intellect as I see it. This experiment shows that people around the world, top-notch scientists from different corners of the world are still trying to find the very basis of existence. They are experimenting now to find why and how this Universe came to into existence. The theories about matter and energy, which have been published in hundreds and thousands of books, which we intellectuals believe is the truth and nothing else is true, is still questionable.

Top scientists agree that science has its limitations and that they are expanding the reach of science into the unknown realms. The irony is that the 'unknown realms' are basic, fundamental questions of existence - how did the Universe start, who are we, what is mind etc. etc. If we see the basic research which gets published in top scientific journals is all about theories and hypothesis about these basic questions.

The problem is those of us who believe science is the Ultimate are fooling ourselves because the top scientists themselves are still questioning it. Most of the top scientists, if not all, atleast agree the limitation of science because they truly know about science. They are searching newer possiblities in their own way through science. But we, sitting in our house or office, only think we know everything about science and use that as a excuse not to extend ourselves to newer possibilities.

To us who can't be at CERN or any such lab, enlightened Masters have created various laboratories and experiments. Ashrams or monastaries are the laboratories; meditation techniques are the experiments. Let us not close the door to possibilities which are in our reach to seek the truth of our very existence. These laboratories and techniques are available to each one of us, a youtube click away, as Paramahamsa Nithyananda says :) Scientists are doing their bit to answer the same questions which have been answered by enlightened masters thousands of years ago. The Advaithic literature is pure science and this has been attested by Einstein, one of the greatest scientists the world has ever seen. He says, 'where science ends, spirituality begins.'

Nithyananda says, 'science eventually will tend to the great truths expounded by enlightened masters.' We can be the same scientists as those at CERN. They are daring enough to go behind what they have in hand. Let us also have to courage to experiment and see the truth for ourselves, especially when Masters are delivering the experiments at our doorsteps.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Intensity + Awareness + Enthusiasm = Beauty + Grace

Paramahamsa Nithyananda says, 'Beauty and grace happens in us because of three things - intensity, enthusiasm and awareness.'

And we can clearly see that in His body language. One thought that 99% of the people get when we see Him (either we are seeing Him for the first time or we have seen Him hundreds of times) is, 'What a beauty and grace?' Not just with Paramahamsa Nithyananda, the same happens with Masters like Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Vivekananda, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Sharada Devi, Lahiri Mahashaya. If you see the videos of Ramana Maharashi in youtube, you just fall in love with His silent grace. The pictures of Ramakrishna show that beauty of devotion; the pictures and words of Vivekananda show His strength; the potraits of Sharada Devi show that simplicity and the smile of Lahiri Mahashaya and Yogananda are worth thousands. In every movement of Paramahamsa Nithyananda who walks and talks to us in flesh and blood, we see that beauty and grace pouring out.

Why is that so? Simply because they are/were aware of every single movement, every single thought and every single breath that they used to take. We on the other hand are hardly aware of what we are doing. We move our hands, legs and body every where without even being aware of them. We would have done thousands of things in a day but in the darkness of unawareness (most of the times).

We do things, we speak, we move or rather we live not with intensity and enthusiasm but in the shackles of our engrave memories (engrams) or samskaras or past experiences and emotions. Paramahamsa Nithyananda says, 'We keep doing the same things over and over again. We keep making the same mistakes again and again. In fact, we have the same thought patterns at specific times of the day even when the situations are different on different days.' This is simply because most of the times we operate mechanically.

Everything that we do is either because of our fears or because of our greed for wanting more and more. These two just take the beauty away from what we are doing. That awareness brings that beauty to our movements, thoughts and actions. If we see Paramahamsa Nithyananda in His discourses, every movement of His is hand is graceful. There is a sheer beauty that radiates from every movement of His. There is no unnecessary or violent movement or word.

He is blissful inside and hence the beauty, grace and bliss on the outside. The blissful smile of Lahiri Mahasaya and Yogananda is an expression of their bliss inside. The thousand watt gaze of Vivekananda is a manifestation of His strength of bliss inside. Meditation techniques and Nithya Yoga that Paramahamsa Nithyanada keeps talking about in all His discourses are meant for us to build that intensity, awareness and enthusiasm so as to realize and radiate our true nature - bliss.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ganesha Chaturthi: Towards the formless & eternal!

Yesterday was Ganesha Chaturthi - the birthday of the famous elephant God, Ganesha. Just for this day, hundreds of thousands of idols of Ganesha idols are made with clay, metal etc every year and worshipped with all grandeur. Apart from the Ganeshas in every home, huge Ganeshas would grace almost every street of India during this period for about a week. Ganesha, being the God of beginnings, is worshipped by all segments of the Indian society - starting from businessmen to farmers to householders; starting from the followers of Shiva to Vishnu, practically every home has a celebration for Ganesha Chaturthi.

There is a very interesting way in which this festival is celebrated. At the start of the festival, Ganesha is welcomed in a grand manner, taken very good care of, fed well, protected with utmost care, entertained with dances, shows and what not. After building this beautiful relationship with Ganesha for that period, on the last day, He is bid farewell and immersed into the neighborhood pond, lake, wells etc.

This may make us wonder for two reasons. One: about how deep idol worship has penetrated the masses of India, and two: what is the point of building that relationship for those days only to say good bye to the idol, that too by immersing it in water once and for all.

Paramahamsa Nithyananda very beautifully unveils the significance of idol worship. We, as humans have started associating our identities to our body-mind entities, so much so that we have forgotten that we are actually the vast universal existential energy. The solid identities we have carved for ourselves about ourselves, the world around us makes it difficult to connect to this energy directly.

Once a man goes to Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi and asks him how to get enlightened. Bhagavan says "just see the source of I, you will realise who you are". The man came back after a few days saying "that is too difficult for me, can I meditate instead?". Bhagavan said "sure". Again the man is back after a few days saying "this is also too difficult for me, can I chant the name of the Lord instead?". Bhagavan said "sure". Again he is back saying "this is also difficult for me, can I do puja/rituals instead?" Bhagavan said "sure"...

So, directly connecting with existence as energy is something that does not happen very easily. That is why the inner world scientists have hence created a system of idol worship where we first start by giving a form to that energy, a form that we relate to. Ganesha, whose very nature is that of bliss, joy, dance, prosperity is a form that is lovable and easy for most to connect to.

Now, as Swamiji says, when we intensely pray to a form that we feel deeply connected to, the form itself will take us beyond the form. The reason Ganapathy is put into the water is exactly for this reason. He shows that point of transition from the form to the formless. When Ganesha dissolves into the water, He becomes the formless. After building that beautiful relationship with Ganesha, if we able to still continue that relationship without the form, then we have grown.

Ganesha also reminds us that everything in this world is temporary. We came from the five elements (panchabhootas) and have to return to it some day or the other. He reminds us of the impermanence of everything in life. Our possessions, our so called career, family, friends.. everything has to go one day. This very remembrance can make us let go of our transient identity and merge with the permanent and eternal.

I would like to end this post by sharing a video in which Swamiji speaks about the significance of the form of Ganesha, including each of the weapons he holds in his hands. This was delivered on Ganesha Chaturthi 2007. EnjoY!