No matter how hard I think about things I always walk into this familiar territory – about awareness, dissociation, identification, about comparison, and finally suffering because of all the items on those list. It appears as if my mind is slowly coming to a point of realisation that interfering with things and trying to control them or bending them to my will only leads to suffering. Nothing else. This entire idea has taken up so much headspace, it is sometimes difficult to think about writing about anything else at all.
The journey started off with Stoicism and ended up with breaking every notion I held about life. It was more like going at life with a hammer, rather than working with a chisel. With a chisel you shape things, with a hammer you destroy things. The old is now destroyed. What remains are the shards, the pieces. What I do with them is entirely up to me. I can make anything with them or I can even let them remain as they are. It’s as if my understanding of life and its many mysteries – for 36 years of my existence was a bluff. And I’ve called it now. Here, at these cross-roads, sometimes appearing cynical, I require a fresh start. To look at things with a brand new pair of eyes without rose-tinted glasses.
This approach has crept into my meditation practice as well. What started as focussing on one thing – mostly my breath in mindful meditation as it is called – has transformed into a session without any hinges. I sit and observe the monkey mind – watch what it does and where it goes. It’s a hard thing to do. Every now and then I forget my role as an observer and identify with my thoughts – and when that happens, its like focusing on one particular thing, which is exactly what I wanted to avoid in the first place. It’s going to take a lot of practice to get this right, especially for an hour. Imagine carrying on this mindset for the entire day – always being the observer, watching what the “me” does, and everyday for the rest of your life. This requires me to switch from being deductive to experiential, which is what awareness demands – because only when I am an observer I can be aware. When I am an enforcer, acting in the situation, I cannot observe. Then what of experience? Shall I let the experience happen and not give a damn? I think so. Yes.
As I grind these tenets into a fine paste to apply as a salve, I can’t help but ask myself another question – am I expecting too much? To think reality is all there is and it is the truth? Am I readying myself for another big bang event with these loftily held theories exploding? A stronger, more powerful explosion? I have no answers – but if that happens, then I must expect that also to be reality itself. Something I hold dear today can vanish tomorrow; for that is the nature of reality – to take its own course, and not my course.
Now that I’ve tried to poke holes in my theory of reality distilled from various individuals – right from the Mahabharata to D’Mello – everyone was shouting the same thing. It was I who couldn’t listen. It was not that I didn’t want to listen, but I couldn’t. There’s a universe of difference between the two – didn’t is not wanting to do something on purpose. Couldn’t is when you’re trying your best but you’re not able to get it. I was in the latter camp – I’ve read a good number of spiritual texts, but I never understood what they meant or said. Last year I read two books* that would encompass everything I’ve read till date and put them into beautiful context. It was as if I had the whole picture right there in front of me, but I was too close to it. I had to take a step back, zoom out to see the entire picture. I was seeing the pixels and trying to make sense of the image – that’s never possible. You’re only going to see squares – big chunky squares. I took a few steps back and now I begin to see the entire picture. It’s so beautiful. I’m a little sad that it was there all along and I couldn’t see it earlier, but like they say, better late than never. There’s considerably lesser anguish, more peace.
*Jiddu’s Talks with American Students, and Awareness by Anthony De Mello.
This post first appeared on “The Lighthouse“.