Tag Archives: Mind

Behind a dream

I had a strange dream last night. There was this girl in the dream who was possessed and I was there to exorcise the spirit. The dream was set in a kind of somewhat unfamiliar environment – there was a building with many houses in a row and we were doing this in one of the rooms on the first floor. I remember having done the exorcism (with some reluctance); but cannot recollect anything post that as the dream ended somewhere there.

A friend of mine had rung me up in the evening – he had wanted me to talk to his 7th standard daughter, who seemed to have become uninterested in anything. I advised him to take her to a child psychologist – but he pressed me to have a conversation with her first. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this – at the same time I could not refuse his request.

Reflecting on the dream, it was evident that this incident was what lead to it.

But what I could not figure out was the part with exorcism- where did that come from?. As I was pondering about it during my drive back home in the evening, the whole thing dawned on me and I couldn’t but be amused at what’s going deep inside the mind.

This is what had happened behind this dream:

In the evening, I had watched some part of a film called ‘Resident Evil- Part 2 apocalypse’ on the television for about half an hour while I was on the treadmill. I saw the part where the character Alice escapes from the ‘Hive’ and is caught again and to the point where ‘Operation Alice is activated’. I didn’t quite get the whole story, but sort of figured out that Alice was being programmed to be evil – something like that. Alice’s daughter appears in multiple scenes and there was this scene where she asks Alice if she would be alright again.

Now in the dream I connected these two together. And what was the connecting link ? – The child, that was common between the incident and the dream.

And why these two specific incidents – because both of them were sort of incomplete. In the case of my friend’s daughter I was in a dilemma whether to do it or not and in the case of the film, I did not understand the story.

Imagine something like this – everyday while you are asleep, all the unresolved / incomplete things precipitate in to the unconscious mind (who obviously do not like anything unresolved) and it tries to make sense of them.

If that’s what dreams are made of, then what’s it that this world is made of?

Naughty Children Meditation

Compulsive thinkers have a tough time meditating. Better you are at thinking, harder it is to let go off it.

I have had this problem ever since I started meditating. What typically happens is something like this: I sit down to meditate and watch my thoughts. There are thoughts running and as I watch them, I come across that brief interval between them. For a moment, it looks like I am getting it. Wrong. Unobserved, there is this voice at the back of my head that says ‘It’s working, the gap is there’. Then there is another part of the mind that’s watching this and he says ‘Not yet, that’s a thought there’. Now there is another part that is analyzing the whole situation and says something like this – this isn’t working for you.

Then I remember something I read about meditation in a book and a part of my mind commenting that it’s not all that correct. Then I realize that I am again caught up in thinking. I let go off thinking again and again get back to being the ‘watcher’. And the struggle goes on and on, with some success after few iterations.

They say during meditation, you have to be like a gatekeeper. Watching every thought that comes in. But I realized that my mind was something like a house with several doors and windows. While I am watching the front door, there were thoughts entering through the backdoor and windows. They just needed that split second where my attention was elsewhere. While these sessions did help me get some insight in to the working of the mind, it has always been a challenge to be free of thoughts.

In olden days, people had not-so-much complicated minds as we do and it would have been easier for them to watch the mind as a single entity. But people like us whose primary occupation is thinking, have much more complex minds with several distinct faculties. Most of our lives are made of thinking and it’s hard to drop it – it’s like dying.

Over a period of time, I could see that these thoughts were not just random, but had some specific purposes behind them. For example, some thoughts were about planning, somewhere concerned about making sense of something happening in life, somewhere concerned about some dreams in the future etc. So it was like there were some little entities in the mind with certain purpose/objectives and they were responsible for specific thought patterns. They together made up the mind.

So if I were to really watch my mind, I should be watching each of these entities first and when each of them becomes quiet, I would be a step closer to a silent mind.

But how do we do this? I devised this meditation technique – Naughty Children Meditation- which is an improvised version of existing technique of watching the thought stream.

The first challenge was to identify all those little entities. I listed them down and gave them unique names so that I could identify them easily. Here is the list with names and some descriptions for you to easy understand

Thinker – One who keeps thinking, random thoughts, who keeps the thinking process going

Commenter – One who makes those subtle commentaries in the head as you carry on with your daily chores (e.g.’I am cutting this pasting it here..)

Planner – One who plans the next activities (e.g. ‘Oh, I have to send a mail to my manager’)

Reactor– One who reacts to situations, people (e.g. How can he behave like that)

Watcher– One who is watching what is happening in the mind (e.g. My mind is very clouded)

Analyzer – One who is analyzing what is going on in the mind, in a life situation and in your whole life (e.g. if the situation continues like this, I will be stuck in this job)

Rememberer – One who remembers events, people, traces of memory, something you forgot to do etc. (e.g. remembering a conversation with a friend this morning)

Dreamer – One who dreams about the future, situations (e.g. riding a Porsche or becoming famous)

Worrier– One who is worrying about things, situations either at the moment or in the future (e.g. what to do with my irresponsible son?)

Wanter – One who wants things or thinking of desires, things to be achieved, pleasures etc. (e.g. beautiful house, I want to live in such a one or I need to have a coffee now)

Whiner – One who is complaining about situations, people (e.g. why is that I am held responsible every time)

Competitor – One who is competing with others, comparing, wanting to be better than others (e.g. he thinks he knows everything, let me show him)

Sensor– One who senses or feels (e.g. he is being aggressive)

Fearer – One who is afraid, fearful thoughts, anxieties (e.g. what happens if he shouts at me)

The Bear – This is an odd one in the lot. This is that entity that tightens your body when unobserved.

The first thing to do is to familiarize with each of these entities. Each of them have a specific purpose and all the thoughts that arise can be traced to one of these. (It’s likely that you may want to add your own entities in to the list – like Regretter – One who regrets some actions in the past.

This is how the meditation can be done

Imagine that each of these entities are like little naughty children in a class room. They are sitting in front of you (visualize), and you are simply watching them. They are so naughty that they will talk the moment your attention is not on them. But if you catch them, they remain silent. At the same time, they are small little children and if they are caught, you are not going to punish them. You are going to simply laugh (or chuckle or smile) when you catch them talking.

So this is what you do. Sit in your favorite meditation posture and imagine that you are watching these little naughty children, who are sitting in front of you. Now when a thought comes, identify the naughty entity behind it (compare it with children taking). For e.g. if the thought is regarding something that you need to do, then it comes from the planner. Notice it (look at him) and laugh (or smile). The next thought, say is a commentary about what just happened in the mind. You know it is from the Commenter. Just watch him and laugh and leave.

Just keep doing this. When you look at them, they become quite.

You might also sense some tightness in the body – this is the work of The Bear. Just watch him and smile and he will let go off his grip.

Very soon, a these naughty children will become quite while your attention is placed on who is ‘talking’.

Then something profound happens, the whole mind stops or vanishes and you transcend the mind, so to say.

Meditation is supposed to be effortless, while there is some effort involved here. But that effort is only meant to overcome the initial difficulty that you face. You are watching the mind not as a single entity, but as different entities that does different things. This helps because then the thoughts cannot enter through the backdoor, unnoticed. Once a these entities are silent, the whole mind is silent and then onwards it is effortless.

Remember, playfulness is the key here. Visualizing these entities as little naughty children is extremely important; it’s like a game that you are paying with them. And you do not react, you smile at their naughtiness. Laughter or Chuckle or Smile creates that little gap that you need not to get caught up in the thinking, but to be able to watch it.

One problem that you might find is to identify these entities precisely. Do not worry about it, start with a few that you can figure out. Read through the list carefully again and you should get it. It does not really matter if you make a mistake, the whole objective of meditation is to transcend the mind and it does not matter what the content of the thoughts are and where they come from. Let this not deter you from making an attempt.

Initially you will need to do some sitting practice. Once you get a hang of it, you will catch those little ones in your daily lives. When you get angry at someone in traffic you will know that the ‘Reactor’ is talking and that awareness is enough to silence him and that smile is enough to transcend it.

Try it for yourselves. God bless.

Concepts

What you see in the picture is a dust cover of a book lying on the floor of my living room.

IMG769

It’s such a trivial thing to attach any importance to. Even I did not, until this evening, which was the third day that it had been lying there. It caught my attention when I returned from work. The irritation I felt lasted only a brief moment and gave way to amusement as the complexity of what lead to it unfolded in my mind.

I should give you a bit of background first. My wife, my 10-year-old daughter and I live in this apartment. A very clear division of responsibilities exist in our house, which has evolved over a period of time. My wife takes care of all matters at home (though with lot of complaining). I take care of my office work and things outside of home. My daughter lives in her own world of books, games and TV, never crossing her self-drawn boundaries.

My daughter and I are extremely unorganised. We love to scatter things around and literally litter the house. My wife loves to keep the house neat and tidy and we now take it for granted that it is her responsibility to put things in order. This works most of the time, except on few occasions where she feels she has had enough.

My daughter and I are voracious readers. I keep buying books for both us and the result is an overflowing library at home. My wife thinks I am wasting money buying books and keeps gives me a nasty look whenever I do.

Now back to the dust cover lying on the floor. It had been removed from a book and kept in the book shelf.  It must have fallen down (most probably) when my daughter was taking a book out of the shelf. She must have never bothered to put it back, for she considered it was mother’s job to put things in order. My wife must have had enough of this and decided to leave it where it was (books belong to father and daughter and they better learn to take care of it). I come home in the evening and notice the dust cover lying on the floor, but do nothing about it (who ever let it fall should put it back).

No questions asked, no words spoken. All of us went about with our regular affairs; except that none seems to take notice of the dust cover lying on the floor. The next morning I left to office and my daughter to her school. When I return in the evening, the cover was lying there still. Our maid servant was on leave for a few days and I assumed that the house wasn’t vacuumed or mopped.

Another night passed with the dust cover still lying there. I think each of us now where expecting someone else to lose their patience and do something about it.

On the third day I returned home to find the dust cover still lying there and I also saw that it was deliberately left there (the floor was vacuumed and mopped !).

It was when the whole drama dawned on me and I couldn’t help being amused at the complexity of it. I picked up the dust cover and put it back in to the book shelf.

Everything around us, whether important or trivial, in order or out-of-order, on time or delayed, isn’t there or there without a reason. They have complex human egos with hundreds of concepts, playing elaborate games behind the scene.

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, said Prospero in Tempest. But I am sure our lives are made up of such concepts that we are not even aware of.

Shiv Linga and Black Hole

Manesa, my friend today sent me some photographs from her visit to ‘Koti lingeswara temple‘, about 100 KM south of Bangalore. The literal meaning of the name”Koti lingeswara’ is the ‘lord of 1 crore shiva lingas’ and the temple boasts of the largest Sivalinga (108 feet) in Asia.
Shiva Linga
Shiva lingas are worshipped as representations of Lord Shiva and considered very sacred by the Hindus. The literal meaning of ‘linga’ is ‘phallus’, which has lead to some scholars attributing a sexual meaning to it and even referring to the Hindu civilization as ‘phallus worshippers’.
Like most Indians, I too had no idea what a Shiva lingam actually meant. In yoga, Siva (the masculine energy)is the epitome of consciouness and when the feminine energy (called the Kundalini) which resides at the base of the Spine rises and merges with Shiva, one transcends Time and Space. This is what is termed as Samadhi in yoga, a state of nothingness that every yogi tries to achieve.

Few months back, I was reading the masterpiece ‘A brief History of Time’ by Stephen Hawking. The chapter 6 gives a brief account of blackholes and even horizons. In simple terms, when a blackhole is formed, it does not even let light go out until a point where the light begins to bend. And here is the representation from the book.
Black_Hole
A blackhole represents the ‘void’ or ‘nothingness’ in Space. As I read this, I could not help wondering; if the human mind where to reach a state of ‘void’ (the state of Samadhi when one is merged with the higher consciousness or in simple words there exists nothing in the mind), how would the mind look like.

And the answer would be that it would look like a Shiva Linga.

There must be other explanations behind the shape of Shiva Linga. But I am inclined to believe that the ancient sages of India had experienced the state of ‘void’ and used the linga to represent it, and as there is no difference between what is inside and outside, the same representation holds good for blackholes too.

Do we choose the good or the bad?

The results of the assembly elections in the state of Karnataka (the state in India where I live) was announced today. The ruling party was voted out of power and a party that was not in power for more than a decade emerged victorious with an absolute majority. This is very typical in India. Any party that comes to power gets embroiled in corruption, scams, scandals and in-party power struggles and by the time of next elections people are fed up and look for a change. While it seems as if people chose a party to win, the truth is the reverse. People choose that a party should not win.

Last week, I met a friend of mine. Both of us had gotten out of our cars and were walking towards the lift. He told me that he was planning to change his car and asked me how my car was. I told him that it was good and it was the power (128 BHP is pretty high for Indian standards) that I really liked. He had not made up his mind as to which car to buy. So we had a short discussion around the topic while we were in the elevator.

‘Why don’t you look at Renault Duster’, I said. Renault has recently launched this SUV that was doing pretty well in the market.
‘Duster does not have the third row seats’, he told me.’So it is not really worth the money’
‘Ertiga (from Suzuki) is selling well’, I observed.
‘I am not happy with Ertiga’ he said ‘the third row is cramped and the interior is very plasticky’
‘You can have a look at Honda Amaze’, I said. Amaze is the first diesel car from Honda recently launched in India.
‘The engine is quite noisy’. he told me.
It was time for me to step out of the elevator and we had to end the conversation. I told him that there would be many more new models in the market by the time he decides to buy and wished him good luck in finding a good one.

As I was walking to my apartment, I was thinking about this conversation. I was really amazed by the fact that his choice was not really based on what is good, but rather what is bad.

It makes perfect sense logically. In a given set of choices, it we go on eliminating the ones based on bad qualities, we would ideally end up with the best. But then the problem is most of the good and bad are in fact pure perceptions that we carry in our head.

This process of elimination works in every aspect of our lives in India, from choosing a government to choosing a life partner.

While it might seem that we all tend to choose the best things in life, it could be far from truth. Our minds are actually choosing the bad ones to avoid.

Or is it that we do not know what we really want?

Deep seated problems

I was to attend a Conference in Mumbai last week along with a colleague of mine. We were to catch a morning flight to Mumbai and decided to share the same taxi to the Airport. To confirm the plans, I rung her up the previous evening and told her that the taxi would pick me up at 6.00 AM and she should be ready by 6.15AM.
I was somewhat surprised when she asked me if we shouldn’t be leaving earlier than that( We had a 8.30 flight and the Airport was approximately 1 – 1.5 hrs. of drive from where we were. Considering all this, I had booked the taxi at 6.00AM which would give us some buffer in case the Bangalore traffic throws up some surprises). I told her that we would be there well in time and asked her why she felt we should leave earlier.
‘I want to check in my bag’ she told me
That was ridiculous. We would be in Mumbai for just two days, and in no way I could imagine that someone would carry a bag that couldn’t go in as cabin baggage. When I asked why she was carrying so much stuff just for two days, she clarified that it was because she wanted to carry some perfume in the bag. That sounded a good enough reason, as liquids more than 100ml wasn’t allowed in the cabin baggage. Not wanting to change the plans, I suggested that she either carry a small bottle or buy one after we land in Mumbai; in case she was very particular.
She agreed to this, though I couldn’t help feeling somewhat puzzled at this strange (at least for me) conversation.
So we were there at the Airport the next morning and were about to board the flight. While at the queue, she requested a help from me. Once we were inside, she wanted me to help her put her bag in the overhead lockers (She was very short and couldn’t reach the lockers herself). I was happy to help, but then another problem arose. As per our allotted seats, she had to use the front door and I had to use the rear door. While I was about to leave her towards the rear door, she quickly handed over to me her bag and told me that she would collect it when we reach Mumbai.
So here I was carrying two bags plus my laptop bag, trying not to look like a porter. I was a bit annoyed. While I was happy to be of any help, this was going beyond the limits. Any co-passenger would have helped her put the baggage in the lockers or she could have asked the air hostesses to help her.
That moment everything connected together in a flash. I understood the whole problem. As I had told, my colleague was very short and apparently was very conscious about it. I realized that that was the reason why she wanted to check in the baggage in the first place; to avoid being uncomfortable while trying to stove it in the overhead locker. That was also the reason for her almost impolite behavior of handling it over to me.
I have come across several such instances where people (including myself) act in strange ways to cover up such deep complexes and fears and also to fulfill deep desires. I remember when I had purchased my first car in 2004; my father was the proudest man on earth. He grew up in poverty and had to toil hard his entire life to make a living. I am sure a Car would have been beyond his dreams. We drove to the market in my car. The weather was very hot and I wanted to turn the a/c on. But my father suggested that we roll the windows down to get some fresh air. Soon I understood what was in his mind – he wanted everyone to see him travelling in his own car. I saw him beaming and smiling at friends and acquaintances throughout.
These deep desires, fears and complexes create our lives and influence the way we think, react and make decisions. And most of the time we don’t get to set them right because we constantly justify our behavior and put in all our efforts to ensure that they aren’t threatened.
Note: I am just setting up my website ( http://sajeevvk.com/) which exclusively will contain my thoughts on mind and its working. I welcome you there and would be grateful for any feedback and comments.

Cricket

Over lunch today, I was a mute spectator to a very intense discussion between my colleagues. The topic obviously was cricket.Cricket is like a second religion in India and there are on a handful of people (me being one) who has no clue about it.

The interesting thing about cricket is that the whole joy seems to come from discussing about it – speculating, commenting, arguing, analyzing matches, expressing anger/frustration, exchanging scroes, checking updates etc. Many of these enthusiasts do not watch any matches (except when there is a match when India is playing ofcourse) and most of them do not play cricket at all.

This is confusing to me. When someone loves a game, I am naturally inclined to believe that he would love to play it. But that not being the vase mostly, why so much enthusiasm about cricket?

I think the reason is this. Cricket is what most Indians use to strike a conversation and you could simply initiate a conversation with a stranger by asking the latest score. This is the most common topic of discussion in any gatherings. Any one who cannot discuss cricket is simply left out. I think it is the fear of being left out is what drives people to be crazy of cricket than the love for it.

Few weeks back, I walked in to the living room in my apartment to find this group of children huddled up together on the sofa. A young cousin of mine had come to visit us and had brought his portable Play Station with him. He was playing a T20 tournament in that and the enthusistic children from our apartment, including my daughter, flocked around him to be part of it.

Cricket

The children were cheering different players. My daughter was shouting ‘Sachin…, Sachin…’. There are also some arguments (minor though) on whether Sachin was better or Dhoni was better. As far as I know, none of these children had any clue about cricket (I am dead sure of my daughter). But each of them had to be part of the group and not left out. So they were sort of faking with the minimum stuff they could gather. And it was OK for them, they were just learning the trick. And for an outside it just looked like a great group of enthusiasts.

I am sure, this lesson about ‘being left out’ is going to remain in their hearts for their life and when they grow up, they are going to feeding on any news about cricket just to be able to be part of the discussions.

Putting numbers, targets and rules around the games was definitely a brilliant concept; it makes you indulge for longer times chewing on them. Otherwise the pleasure would have been there only while you ingulged in it. Prolonging pleasures beyong indulgance has been a great achivement for humanity as a whole. Because it has taken the pleasure from the body to the mind.

Indulging is fine, but feeding on it outside of it is what creates the problem. I think this definitely has influenced the psyche of the nation negatively. It is this mind set that creates the perpetual longing for indulgance. I am sure if a study is conducted, the sexual offenses in India would be much lesser during the cricketing season than rest of the year.