Tag Archives: presence

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.”

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The origin of fear

 Where does the fear in us come from? Does it come from knowing or from ignorance?

Sounds like a very philosophical question and most of the philosophers would pick ignorance.

Let me narrate my experience. I usually take a walk in the evening in park near to my residence. I typically go late in the evening to avoid the evening crowd there, so that I can walk briskly without bumping to people. It was around 8.30PM yesterday that I was in the park. The park was mostly empty and I was walking briskly. Suddenly, I thought something touched my leg and in a reflex, I leaped forward. When I turned back, to my horror, there was a huge cobra trying to cross the jogging track. I very narrowly escaped being bitten. Needless to say, I didn’t continue any further.

I made it a point to go early today and the park was somewhat crowded. I was very cautious keeping a close watch on either side and paying attention to the slightest movement. After while, I realized that it was only me who was being so cautious. All the others were walking freely and carelessly. Of course they didn’t know there was a Cobra around. But when I thought about the risk, they and I had almost the same risk of being in danger. And then how come that only I had the fear?

Where does the fear in us come from? Does it come from knowing or from ignorance? I sat on the park bench thinking about this and watching some kids play. Then I started thinking about whether children have fear. I think they do. But then it struck me that there is a big difference between the fear that children have and the adults have. We are mostly afraid of something that might happen and children are afraid of something that’s happening. Try to make a child understand what ‘risk’ is, you will understand this.

But then does the fear come because the knowing is limited or is it a different type of Knowing that the philosopher is talking about? Perhaps.

Perception with no mind

We are often so caught up with what is going on inside us that we pay very little attention to what’s around us. Scientists say the human mind looks for some basic details to figure out what the object is and usually we are trained to notice differences. May be in the compulsive need to label / understand the object, we compromise on the quality of perception.

I am reading a book titled “Krishnamurti’s Notebook”. This is a diary written by Jiddu Krishnamurti (the famous philosopher, popularly known as K) in the sixties. K is said to have had a mind which was thoughtless. The depth and richness of the perception has an indescribable beauty and majesty. If you ever want to get a feel of what it means to perceive without the mind (without thinking) look at the one page I am reproducing below:

November 17th

The earth was the colour of the sky; the hills, the green, ripening rice fields, the trees and the dry, sandy river-bed were the colour of the sky; every rock on the hills, the big boulders, were the clouds and they were the rocks. Heaven was the earth and the earth heaven; the setting sun had transformed everything. The sky was blazing fire, bursting in every streak of cloud, in every stone, in every blade of grass, in every grain of sand. The sky was ablaze with green, purple, violet, indigo, with the fury of flame. Over that hill it was a vast sweep of purple and gold; over the southern hills a burning delicate green and fading blues; to the east there was a counter sunset as splendid in cardinal red and burnt ochre, magenta and fading violet. The counter sunset was exploding in splendor as in the west; a few clouds had gathered themselves around the setting sun and they were pure, smokeless fire which would never die. The vastness of this fire and its intensity penetrated everything and entered the earth. The earth was the heavens and the heavens the earth. And everything was alive and bursting with colour and the colour was god, not the god of man. The hills became transparent, every rock and boulder was without weight, floating in colour and the distant hills were blue, the blue of all the seas and the sky of every clime. The ripening rice fields were intense pink and green, a stretch of immediate attention. And the road that crossed the valley was purple and white, so alive that it was one of the rays that raced across the sky. You were of that light, burning, furious, exploding, without shadow, without root and word. And as the sun went down further down, every colour became more violent, more intense and you were completely lost, past all recalling. It was an evening that had no memory.

Patterns and mental commentaries

Driving in Indian cities is tough. Ever since I started driving in Bangalore, it had been an extremely stressful thing to do. I would get irritated when people overtake from left, honk unnecessarily, drive rash etc. In an earlier job, I used to drive about 15 kilometers during peak hours and would reach office almost out of my mind. I remember, it used to take me at least half an hour to be back to my senses. My strategy at that time was to avoid the traffic by changing my timings.

The intensity of the problem gradually reduced as years went by, probably because I was becoming more aware. But still the problem existed. Driving was stressful. I would get tensed up at the slightest wrong doing or provocation on the road (they are plenty in India).

But why is this such a problem? The answer came accidentally sometime last year. I developed this habit of listening to audio books / tapes when I drive. I used to listen to them intently. Then I observed that whenever something went wrong during driving (which I did not approve), I missed a brief part of the talk  I was listening. It was not much, may be one or two sentences,  but it was as if I closed my ears for a while.

I began to further analyze this. I found that during those small intervals, there was a quick brief dialogue going on deep in the mind. It was so quick that it was hard to see what it is. But over sometime, it became clearer.

This is what was happening. Whenever there was something unacceptable happening, there is a short mental commentary going on in the sub conscious mind. The commentary is something like “it is his fault”, “why is he driving like this”, “can’t you see the red signal” etc. But they were not clear like a thought, but were like a fast-forwarded tape, almost imperceptible.

Then the question was, what were these commentaries doing?

They were subconsciously feeding and strengthening my perception about driving. They were feeding the resistance and also in way feeding my belief that I was right. But since it happened so subtly and over a period of time, it was almost impossible to see such a thing happened unconsciously.

Like all other subconscious patterns, the moment I caught it and started to watch it, it lost its grip and slowly began to fade away.

This is what happens in the case of any subconscious patterns in our mind. Every time people smoke, there is a subtle commentary feeding in to the subconscious mind and over a period of time, the habit becomes so strong to break. The same thing happens with the ego. When ever one says “I have done it” or “I don’t like it” or “it is mine” etc, there is an unconscious strengthening of the sense of “I”. This is built gradually over years and it hard to break it.

The key is always to catch it and watch it without resisting. The mental patterns will soon disintegrate and then there is no more need for the commentaries.

There is an old saying – what comes in the way is the way

Spontaneity in Children

My daughter’s school opens next week. The bus will pick her up at 6.50AM, and to make it she will need to rise by 6.00AM.  My wife is extremely tensed about this because she thinks this is impossible and also because she will need to rise by 5.30 or so.

We were discussing this last week over dinner when I suggested to my wife – why don’t we practice getting up early for next few days so that we can get accustomed?

It was my daughter who responded – why should we practice? can’t we just get up when we want?

I had no answer. It left me again thinking about the complex adult mind. As our logical minds become more and more dominant, we tend to do any thing twice. First in the mind and if that goes well then externally. The problem here is that at the mind level there are numerous reasons why something should be / can be / cannot be done, depending upon how complex one’s thinking is. Where as in reality, there may be very few options: for e.g something is done or not done.

More logical we are, the more we are caught up in the process of analysis, judging, processing, rehearsing etc. But for children it;s really simple. They do something or don’t do something. And for either, that might not have a reason. And more importantly they do not create an issue out of it.

Someone said, when a bird flies from one branch of a tree to another, it does not go though a thinking process evaluating different options. It simply flies, because it is part of it’s being.

The voice of the gods

Most of the temples and other such religious places in India traditionally have Oracles who are considered to be representatives of the gods.(See the pictures http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3235/2396067808_2e3cc10f71.jpg and http://www.wiki.indianfolklore.org/images/thumb/3/3a/NilaMarch2009_195.jpg/250px-NilaMarch2009_195.jpg ) I can vividly remember, as a child watching them with fear and awe as they would dance in trance.

The oracles participate in special rituals in the temples in their special costume ( red dress, anklets, bells, sword) accompanied by drums. The ritual normally consists of some kind of dance, walking barefoot on fire and wounding themselves on the forehead with the swords. As the rhythm of the drums progresses, they enter in to a trance and what they talk in that state is supposed to be coming from the gods. Even today, these oracles command lot of respect in the villages.

It was only after the incident described below, did I realize the brilliance of this whole thing. Anything that typically comes from the human mind is conditioned and limited by the logic. A true revelation or insight comes from a dimension beyond the logic.

 But for this to come, the logical mind need to be silenced, which is extremely difficult. But then the ancient people have invented lots of methods by which the logical mind can be temporarily gotten out of the way and in that gap an unconditioned thought can arise.

One such method is ‘pain’. When you can consciously endure pain, it brings the mind to the present moment, which means the mind stops, which means suddenly you enter the realm of unconditioned space. This is what happens here. The Oracles walk on fire and wound themselves and when they do this consciously, they come to the present moment. The other paraphernalia and the drums just set the atmosphere for this.

And once they are completely drawn to the present moment, what they say comes from beyond and has a quality that’s beyond the logical human mind.