Monthly Archives: November 2011

On dreams again

I had this dream today early in the  morning. I was living in Germany. In the street where I was staying, pillars were being erected for a flyover or overhead railway line. I was enquiring with someone if the prize of the apartment I was staying would go up if the construction was complete. There were two small restaurants nearby and I vividly remember choosing between them and picking some specific stuff like juice from one of them. Then there was a room, where there were two Indians apparently changing their cloths. I had picked up some conversation with them, but can’t recollect. I woke by then and was out of the dream.

 Though it looks like one of those common strange dreams, I was amused by the complexity of it. Last night I was watching a film depicting the struggle between an Indian King and the Britishers. There were many English men in the film and only when my wife pointed out, it occurred to me that this had probably triggered the dream. The last time I was in Germany was 2004, but the memories were still intact. The image of the pillar erection comes from Bangalore itself, where the metro rail project is going on. Yesterday afternoon, I had been to a shop right outside the office campus. The place was extremely crowded as I waited in anticipation for the shop keeper’s attention. The shop that I saw in the dream, resembled this shop (the way it was designed). The place I met the two Indians probably (this I am not really sure) came from a movie I watched last week where two Indian medical students turn in to serial killers in the US. They were staying in a similar room in the film.

 All these events had taken place at different points of time and seemingly not related at all. Why the mind tried to connect them in to a dream? Was it just a trial and error going on in the mind to see if it made any sense? Or is there an underlying connection between all these things?

 My experience is that mostly the dreams are triggered by something very recent; something that’s caught the attention. But then what is the mind doing with it during sleep? Is some sense making process going on? And can’t the mind do any sense making without connecting those things together?

How does the mind choose what memory to be recalled in connection with a particular trigger?  Is there a logic that the mind uses or is it just random firing of neurons? Is the mind trying to resolve something? So in reality what is unresolved? The current trigger or some thing unresolved in the memory? In other words is the mind trying to make sense of the current trigger using stuff in memory or is it the other way?

 I happened to catch the dream because I woke up in the middle. But I am sure this must have been happening several times during the night, just that I wasn’t aware or I cannot remember. Is there a result out of these dreams, something like a conclusion, understanding etc, that gets stored in to the mind. In that case it’s very likely that the mind is being programmed without our awareness.

 In the east they say, in deep sleep activities are absorbed in the root ignorance. Probably there is a point.

Action and Reaction

What’s the difference between acting and reacting? – This was our topic of conversation over the morning coffee yesterday. Do we ever act or we only react?  We tried to think of some activities where we were only ‘acting’ without responding to anything outside/inside. Here is an example how the discussion went:

 I drink water when I am thirsty. Obviously I am responding to the thirst. But if I am filling my water bottle so that I would be able to drink water whenever I am thirsty, is ‘filling the water bottle’ an action or reaction? Though at first sight it looks like an action, am I not reacting to the thought of ‘needing water’ in the future?

 Soon it became more and more obvious that there is actually nothing like pure ‘action’. Whatever we do is actually some sort of reaction; either to an external stimuli or to the stuff in the mind. The only difference I could think of is that there is an element of ‘choice’ that distinguishes between action and reaction. But then the choice was only influencing the quality; the basic idea of reacting still remains.

 Though it’s well known that most of our action are in fact reactions, it is really scary to think that we only react. Because in order to react, I need an ‘environment’ around me to react to and I need time that separate the two acts. My mind that reacts has also come in to existence as a result of reacting to the environment and time. So, if there was no environment to react to, there would be no mind, no action and no me. This means when I say I exist, that’s not completely true. It’s the environment that exist and I am just a byproduct of the reaction to it. If the environment does not exist, I too do not exist.

 Now shift your perspective a bit. The environment is not one entity, but is rather made of people, their thoughts, objects, events etc. Extending the same concept, each of these entities only exist because they react to their environment. For these entities I am also part of the environment.

 This now takes the problem to another dimension. This means that the environment also does not exist in reality; it’s also a byproduct of reacting to its environment . So everything exists through responding to everything else. Then in reality what exists?

 This is what the Indian mystics call Maya or the illusion…

 It may be far easier to imagine that we are actually ‘acting’ and not ‘reacting’ and live with that belief. It’s going to be an ‘action’ because I am going to choose it. Great me!

Identifying with thoughts

People say, identifying with your thoughts is the problem. But what does that really mean? When I think, it’s not that there is thought out there that’s different from me. I am that thought.

Here is a beautiful story (by Osho from From Unconsciousness to Consciousness, Talk #19) that I came across that illustrate what this means beautifully. He talks on what it means to be to a ‘watcher’ than to be identified with thoughts

A man who has gone out of his town comes back and finds that his house is on fire. It was one of the most beautiful houses in the town, and the man loved the house. Many people were ready to give double price for the house, but he had never agreed for any price, and now it is just burning before his eyes. And thousands of people have gathered, but nothing can be done.

The fire has spread so far that even if you try to put it out, nothing will be saved. So he becomes very sad. His son comes running, and whispers something in his ear: “Don’t be worried. I sold it yesterday, and at a very good price  three times…. The offer was so good I could not wait for you. Forgive me.”

But the father said, “Good, if you have sold it for three times more than the original price of the house.” Then the father is also a watcher, with other watchers. Just a moment before he was not a watcher, he was identified. It is the same house, the same fire, everything is the same , but now he is not concerned. He is enjoying it just as everybody else is enjoying.

Then the second son comes running, and he says to the father, “What are you doing? You are smiling and the house is on fire?”
The father said, “Don’t you know, your brother has sold it.”
He said, “He had talked about selling it, but nothing has been settled yet, and the man is not going to purchase it now.” Again, everything changes. Tears which had disappeared, have come back to the father’s eyes, his smile is no more there, his heart is beating fast. But the watcher is gone. He is again identified.

And then the third son comes, and he says, “That man is a man of his word. I have just come from him. He said, ‘It doesn’t matter whether the house is burned or not, it is mine. And I am going to pay the price that I have settled for. Neither you knew, nor I knew that the house would catch on fire.'” Again the father is a watcher. The identity is no more there. Actually nothing is changing; just the idea that “I am the owner, I am identified somehow with the house,” makes the whole difference. The next moment he feels, “I am not identified. Somebody else has purchased it, I have nothing to do with it; let the house burn.”

Knowing and Happiness

I was standing on the balcony in the 11th floor of my office building. It wasn’t raining yet there, but I could see the rain advancing towards us from far off (see the red arrow in the picture). I estimated the rain to reach us  in about of 10 minutes. In a moment my mind was busy with several thoughts.

Rains are never welcome in Bangalore as it makes the ever chaotic traffic more messy. I was debating whether to leave quickly before the rain arrives. But then I had something to finish; would it be good idea to do it tomorrow?  Or should I wait till the rain is over? What happens if the rain is going to last long?

My attention was then drawn to some loud cheer from below. There were people playing football in a ground (see the red circle in the picture). They couldn’t see the rain coming and were completely involved in the game.

Rain

Rain

I was disturbed, because from that height I could see the rain coming and I was already planning what to do. But the footballers, who had no idea that it was coming, were least affected.

The rain arrived shortly and the footballers did what is needed to do when it rains – took shelter. And I was back to my desk and back to my work. I had to wait because I had work to finish and all that planning was of no use to me.

It’s generally believed that strategic thinking, higher perspectives, ability to perceive risks in advance etc are very important qualities that make us successful and need to be cultivated. But seldom we realize that they simply take away the fun from the present moment. We are definitely capable of doing what is needed in any situation. Knowing things in advance only feeds the stupid planning mind. 

No wonder CJ Jung was extremely jealous when he met those native american tribes. They were extremely happy, though they had nothing in their possession.