The kitten attitude


How many times do we worry about lack of clarity in our understanding of reality and about our purpose in life! How many times we wonder why we are put up in such miserable circumstances! We try hard to find out the cause of our misery whenever we go through bad times, as if by finding the cause we can set things straight… (curiously, we never try to find the cause of our happiness, we just go about enjoying the happy times). Can we really trace down the cause of whatever happens to its very origin?

The truth is, we can never precisely find out the cause of everything that happens. We may satisfy ourselves with different astrological theories, scientific theories, but none of these is infallible. At a particular time or a particular circumstance a theory may seem to make sense, but at some other time, it looks incapable. That’s because the field of human perception is very limited. What we see, what we hear, what we perceive as the world is only a tiny fraction of the totality of what really is. The moment we think we have figured out the secret of all life, something totally unexpected happens and we are baffled.

Then, what is the way? The way is to accept that we can’t know everything, and then accept things as they are, drive away all our worries and do our best according to our current level of understanding.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says,

Well, give God the power of attorney. If a man entrusts his affairs to a good person, will the latter do him any harm? With all the sincerity of your heart resign yourself to God and drive all your worries out of your mind. Do whatever duties He has assigned to you. The kitten does not have a calculating mind. It only cries, ‘Mew, mew!’ It lies in the kitchen contentedly if the mother cat leaves it there, and only calls the mother, crying, ‘Mew, mew!’ It has the same feeling of contentment when the mother cat puts it on the soft bed of the master of the house.

(The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, chapter 32)

The reality is too big for us and we can’t know all her secrets. A calculating mind only ends up in frustration. So it’s better to resign yourself to God (or nature or reality or whatever you call it) and drive all worries out of your mind.  If there is anything you need to know, it will be revealed. Be sincere, enjoy all that happens. All that happens, just happens.

Also read: The entire universe is yours!

(Photo by Malingering)


The illusion of reality

Entering Hyperspace

What in fact is the past? The past is not a reality; it’s just a concept. The future corresponds to projections, anticipations that do not have any reality either. The past has already occurred; the future does not yet exist. These notions affect us as realities, although they have no substance. The present is the truth that we are experiencing here and now, but it is an elusive reality that does not last. We find ourselves in a paradoxical situation in which the present constitutes a border, a limit between a past and a future without any concrete reality. The present is that elusive moment between what no longer exists and what has not yet happened.

These notions that we take as “reality” are pure intellectual fabrications that do not involve an independent reality, existent in itself. According to the Buddha, perceived phenomena exist only from the standpoint of their designation—that is, the names and concepts we attach to them. The functioning of phenomena does not reveal a palpable entity that is uniquely theirs. You could compare phenomena to a mirage: the closer you get to it, the farther away it gets, until it disappears. Similarly faced with the mind that analyzes them, phenomena vanish.

— Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

(Photo by Éole Wind)

Inception, multi level dreaming, and Advaita

“As there are hundreds of dreams uncontrolled till the end of life, so there are hundreds of waking states also in the gross ignorance of the unliberated.”

— Yoga Vasishta

Inception is a film that’s both fascinating and enlightening. In Inception there is this interesting concept of entering into someone else’s subconscious mind and planting an idea into their mind. But we are not concerned with this now. What we are more interested in is the concept of multiple levels of dreaming.

The movie Inception shows four levels of dreaming, a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream, and one level of waking. Now, consider this… instead of just four levels of dreaming, what if in reality there are infinite number of levels of dreaming upwards and downwards? Right now the state you experience as waking is also a dream from the perspective of higher states. Only your assumption that this state is real makes it real, otherwise it’s just a dream. A dream is as real to you as the waking state when you experience it. Can you deny this? So, if there are infinite number of levels of dreams upwards and downwards, then there is no absolute waking state. It’s all just dreams and nothing else.

Here’s a little extract from a non-dualistic text that gives a very similar idea and explains it better.

Disciple (D.): Now, master, the dream is but the reproduction of mental impressions formed in the waking state and lying dormant before. They reproduce past experiences. Therefore dream-visions are rightly said to be only mental creations. Should the same be true of the waking world, this must be the reproduction of some past impressions. What are those impressions which give rise to these waking experiences?

Master (M.): Just as the experiences of the waking state give rise to the dream world, so also the experiences of past lives give rise to this world of the waking state, nonetheless illusory.

D.: If the present experience is the result of the preceding one, what gave rise to its preceding one?

M.: That was from its preceding one and so on.

D.: This can extend back to the time of creation. In dissolution all these impressions must have been resolved. What was left there to start the new creation?

M.: Just as your impressions gathered one day lie dormant in deep sleep and become manifest the following day, so also the impressions of the preceding cycle (kalpa [aeon]) reappear in the succeeding one. Thus these impressions of Maya have no beginning, but appear over and over again.

D.: Master, what was experienced on previous days can now be remembered. Why do we not remember the experiences of past lives?

M.: This cannot be. See how the waking experiences repeat themselves in the dream but are not apprehended in the same way as in the waking state, but differently. Why? Because sleep makes all the difference, in as much as it hides the original bearings and distorts them, so that the same experience repeated in the dream is differently set, often aberrant and wobbling. Similarly the experiences of past lives have been affected by comas and deaths so that the present setting is different from the past ones and the same experience repeated in a different way cannot recall the past.

D.: Master, dream visions being only mental creations are transient and are soon dismissed as unreal. So they are properly said to be illusory. On the contrary the waking world is seen to be lasting and all evidence goes to show that it is real. How can it be classified with dreams as being illusory?

M.: In the dream itself, the visions are experienced as proven and real; they are not at that time felt to be unreal. Similarly at the time of experience, this waking world also seems to be proven and real. But when you wake up to your true nature, this will also pass off as unreal.

D.: What then is the difference between the dream and waking states?

M.: Both are only mental and illusory. There can be no doubt of this. Only the waking world is a long drawn out illusion and the dream a short one. This is the only difference and nothing more.

(Advaita Bodha Deepika, Chapter 1, page 13–14)

Now the most important question… if all is dream and nothing else, then who is the dreamer? You may say, “I am the dreamer.” But who is that I? Who are you? Right now you describe yourself with certain attributes like a name, some age, certain qualities, certain abilities, etc.. But when you fall asleep and start dreaming, you forget most of these attributes and identify yourself with a dream personality who is totally different and who does things you can only dream of! When you experience a dream your waking personality does not exist, and when you wake up the dream personality becomes unreal. So when you identify your personality with certain set of attributes, then that personality should be unreal because the attributes vanish when you wake up to a higher state or go deep into a dream.

But it’s obvious there is some part of you that is witnessing through all the dreams. It is that part of you that remains when you strip off all the attributes, it’s the core you that’s common to all the dreams and all the states. It’s the witness consciousness within you that is silently watching through all your dreams, all your life, all of your experiences. Isn’t that witness consciousness within you the real dreamer? In fact the witness consciousness is the only reality, the real you, the real I. Everything else is just part of a dream and hence unreal, is it not?

The key here is to stop identifying yourself with forms and attributes. You have to look within to find the real entity that’s you. As the popular quote from Carl Jung goes, “Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”

Staying with the subject of dreams, you may be interested in reading these posts also: The dog chase, and the wise one and Taming Hitler, Gandhigiri style

The unreal never is, the real never is not (Bhagavad Gita 2.17)

The unreal never is; The real never is not. The truth about both has been seen by the knowers of the Truth (or the seers of the Essence).

— Bhagavad Gita 2.17

The unreal never is. The unreal was, the unreal would be, but the unreal never is.

The past and the future does not exist outside of our minds. What you think as past is nothing but stored up memories. What you think as past is nothing more than your own account of what happened. It can never be an accurate account of what actually happened. Even if you think it’s accurate, it exists only in your mind right now. It is not real. The past never is. You have the present, the reality in front of you right now, so why worry about the past? There is no reason to worry about the past, and there is no reason to bask in the glory thinking about some good that has happened to you in the past. It is no more.

Similarly, what you think as future is only your own imagination of what would happen, it has not happened yet. The future never is. The future is unreal. There is no reason to fear about something that might happen the future, because there is every chance your fears won’t come true, and you are only spoiling your present with your unnecessary and unpleasant imaginations. Likewise, there is no reason to be excited about something good that might happen in the future because there is every chance what you anticipate won’t happen, and by getting excited you take your focus away from the present and you are only heading towards disappointment.

Reality is now. This is the truth. Be real. Be in the now.

The dog chase, and the wise one

I was walking down the streets when I heard the sound of a dog barking behind me. I turned back and found that a dog, full of rage was running straight towards me. Immediately I started running away from the dog. I was running as fast as I can, but the dog was full of determination and continued to chase me. I tried to escape the dog by climbing on to the trees, but the dog too climbed on the trees. I jumped to the top of the building and the dog followed me wherever I went. That was one determined dog decided to hunt me no matter what. The chase continued and continued, every moment felt like whole ages. My being was filled with fear from top to bottom, I was sweating and my heart was pounding as I was running, the dog too was inching closer and closer and closer.

Just then I saw a serene person standing on the street, he looked like an old friend, he looked like a Buddha. I felt that he is the only person who can save me. I went to him, and tried to hide behind him. I prayed him to save me. This man seemed to have an effect on the dog the dog dare not approach me who was hiding behind him. I was still breathing fast, and the heart was beating fast, and I asked him why the dog is following me? “Why me? of all the people?” He smiled at me and told me something to this effect, “It’s all your own making. You don’t remember, you poured water on the dog and threw stones at the dog (!) and that’s why he’s determined to take a revenge on you. The law takes its course whether or not you remember your past actions. Nothing comes unwarranted. You reap what you sow.” Saying this, he disappeared leaving me all alone with the dog at a striking distance before me. The dog was looking at me furiously with clenched teeth. There is no use in running now. Yes, the Buddha was right, it’s all due to my own karma, I ridiculed the dog by pouring water and throwing stones at him, and he’s now chasing me to fulfil the law. I had no other option now. I gave up and let the law take its course. There is nothing more for me now. It’s all over, I renounce, I totally surrender. I gave up all hopes, and surprisingly the fears too left me. I was facing the moment, facing the furious dog, he was about to strike me, this is it, this is the moment…. just then, suddenly, everything vanished… the dream broke! Oh my God, was it a dream?… it was just a dream!!

But I was wondering what would have happened. Did the dog attack me? or did he let me go? While I was out of the dream, I was still lying on my bed with closed eyes, and now the same Buddha figure appeared in my mind and communicated to me, “Whether or not the dog attacked you doesn’t matter. What matters is that you woke up. The details of the dream doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you learnt your lesson.” Saying this he dissolved into nothingness and I got up from the bed for yet another day in the real world.

‘Real’ world? How do I know that this ‘real’ world is not just another dream? What is ‘real’? Can somebody explain this to me?

But I really don’t care. The dreams come and go, the objects of the ‘real’ world come and go, the experiences come and go, memories come and go. But the one thing that stays throughout the dreams, the one thing that survives the experiences of ‘real’ world, the one thing that is beyond all the fleeting existence is the feeling of ‘I Am’. The one pure existence, pure consciousness and bliss absolute, the one who witnesses the dreams and experiences of the real world, the one who sees through everything. He is the prime subject, He is the object too. He is the One, and I Am He. Satchidanandoham.

(Just for a record, this dream happened to me this morning (12 Dec 2008) just before I woke up from my sleep.)