We spoke yesterday of the two worlds that we apparently live in. The outer world of people places things; and the inner world of feelings, of emotions; of our thoughts. And that we spend most of our lives in understanding the external world. In fact, we look for all our happiness in the external world. We look for happiness in things, in possessions, in achievements. We certainly look for happiness in relationships.
And we think that being in a place, at a time with a person will make us happy. As we grow, we realize that no matter what we are possess, no matter who we are with, no matter where we go, we are not quite happy. The sense of contentment that we seek, forever seems to be elusive. It’s just not there.
Often if takes an event in our lives, to pause this search for happiness in the external world and start to investigate the very medium through which we perceive the world, our mind. And when we delve into the layers of our mind, we realise that we are not quite sure how the thinking process evolves. We are not quite sure how our emotions move through time. On some days, in fact in some moments, we feel light, in others we feel heavy. On some days, an event can cause great grief to us. On others, the same event could have no impact whatsoever. It’s very peculiar.
The scriptures will tell us that the ultimate reality of existence is that we are all essentially One. That who you perceive to be is no different from the world that you operate in. And that we are just something called pure consciousness. And because it is so subtle and encompasses our entire universe, we are unaware of it in a conscious manner. Just like a fish is unaware that the water is its entire substratum.
We are unable to understand that this pure pulsating consciousness is self-aware. Modern science now tells us that when you go deep into an object, you have things called cells which break down into things called atoms. And atoms can be further broken down into different nuclei. And then you have protons, neutrons and electrons orbiting around the proton. Even deeper, you have quarks, leptons and all kinds of labels ascribed to objects that are harder and harder to perceive. In terms of what we have been able to establish in the scientific world, so far as I am aware, is that when you look deep into matter, it effectively ends up becoming nothing other than energy. There is no such thing as gross matter. it is just energy pulsating, vibrating at a multitude of frequencies.
And the matter and energy we can visibly identify is a tiny part of the energy within the entire universe. So, within a nucleus of an atom you have a proton and then around it you have an electron and the space between them is almost infinite when you measure in gross physical terms. We are empty vibrating space. That goes for the chair, the tree and all beings. At its depth, there is nothing other than live space vibrating at a certain frequency. The next time you visualize a distance between bodies, the space between, realise that the space is alive.
The Indian scriptures also confirm that everything is sound, vibrating at different frequencies. That the world we inhabit is nothing other than a programed existence, that comes out of our depths of your thoughts. We think and then we play out what we think. And what we call thought, is nothing other than sound vibrating at a certain frequency.
When you learn to meditate, you will start to observe that a series of thoughts are simply individual points of existence that the mind has placed together into a movie. That there is in fact a gap between thoughts. And that it is impossible to predict what our next thought will be. We have no control over what we will think in the next instant. Ironically, therein lies the key to our happiness.
If you are unable to predict what you will think in the next instant, what control do you have over what happens in your life? Life unravels itself to us. The future comes to us. What will play out is largely uncertain. If you investigate the source of your own sufferings, you will realize, that it emanates from this very simple misunderstanding.
A situation or an experience comes to you; instead of living that moment and experiencing it for what it is, you want to be somewhere else. You don’t want to be part of that experience. You want a different reality. You were expecting something else. And so, you are unhappy with that moment. You connect a dead past and an unlived future into the present moment. The future is nothing other than an altered version of the past, which is nothing other than pure imagination. And we consider all of this to be our life. We forget that the only moment that we can experience is this one moment right now.
Instead of experiencing this moment fully, we are either in the past or we are in the future. We have no control of what happened in the past. And it is dead. It’s gone, its finished. We certainly have no idea what the future is going to look like. But still we have an expectation of what this future should look like. If the present moment is different to that we had expected, we become anxious. We become upset. We are unhappy.
The only time you have is now. There is no other time that you can be in. And if you can experience the now for what it is, and experience it completely, you will have all that you need to see who you are and what this world is all about. Now it’s not easy. We are habituated creatures. We have come to behave and think in a certain way.
You will find no matter how much peace, wisdom you have attained when you are sitting at Shreyas, when you go outside, you will start to behave in very predictable patterns because of these deep-seated habitual patterns.
Yoga is a means of breaking those habits. Yoga is a systematic process and practice that allows you to investigate your mind, slow down the pace of your thoughts so that you can start to become aware that “who you are” has nothing to do with “what you think”. I will say that again, “who you are” has nothing to do with “what you think”. You have nothing to do with your mind.
This truth is also expounded to the scriptures. There is a concept in the Indian tradition called Shraddha. Shraddha sometimes is loosely translated as faith. I would like to say that Shraddha is untranslatable into English language because it is about accepting the words of the scripture and the gurus pending self-discovery. Until such time that you have discovered it for yourself, you accept the word of the guru and the scripture.
With that in mind, you work towards that goal. So, you must accept the truth. And then you must work towards it.
It will be no surprise to you that what the “world is not” is quite easy to figure out intellectually.
As we discussed, what appears to be gross matter is not gross matter. It is empty vibrating energy. And we have heard from famous scientists that energy and matter are convertible. In fact, they are basically the same. And we have also been told that there is no loss of energy in this world. And that energy is effectively just transforming from one form to other. If that is indeed the case then everything that exists in this world doesn’t die. It just stays, it just changes shape and form.
When I say, I am born, I live and I die, it is all apparent. Because at the substratum of all existence, nothing is really changing, other than energy. So, “what is not” can be understood with a little bit of scientific investigation. What the world “is”, is much more difficult to understand. Because modern science has not been able to develop an instrument that is able to perceive the world in its absolute form of stillness.
To investigate reality, you require an instrument which is subtler than the finest microscopes and more powerful than the strongest telescopes. This instrument is called the mind. And through the mind, you access the layers of your own personality. Instead of the trying to find the truth in the outside world, experiment on yourself. Yoga will explain that a perfect replica of the macrocosm (the world) lies within the microcosm of this limited mind-body individual.
You may have seen visualizations of this, the Chakras. They are known as the vortex of energy patterns. The different astral channels or nadis are nerve centers. The Chinese use these for acupuncture. We use Ayurveda. The Japanese use Reiki. There is something to it. We know it works, we are not quite sure how or what it is. There is something more to life than meets the eye. To dive into your mind, dive into Yoga. Yoga is not just a systematic set of physical processes but is a deep study of the science of the Self. There is also access to the spoken words of the seers and their writings over at least the past three or four thousand years. These are available to a practitioner today.
Admittedly, some of this is requires cracking the base language, in this case, Sanskrit. But much of it has come to be translated by masters. So, it’s not like in the olden days, when you needed to understand scripture in its traditional Sanskrit or Pali (for Buddhists) language. Today its available to us in many forms.
If you look at your own lives, I would say that majority of us continue to look for happiness and blame the world for our sadness, in the world around us. We want the world to change a little bit so that “I” can be happy. “I” want you to do what “I” want so “I” can be happy. If I am unhappy, it is because somebody else took that happiness away from me.
There is a proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, only one pot of gold & I must get there before somebody else gets there. Because if that pot of gold disappears, then I will be poor and I will be sad. That’s the way we operate our lives. We get up and we run. We run even though we realize we are running on a treadmill and not going anywhere. We are too scared to get off the treadmill in case we lose the race. We know how to run. But we don’t really know why
When you are spent, when you are tired of running you may pause to reconsider. When you realize that your mind creates the sense of lack which is largely responsible for the drive to fill that lack with things, achievements or people. When you realise that its fruitless keep moving from one relationship to another, or from one job to another, or from one place to another, because we take that confused mind with us.
There is a part of the problem which is always with you. You start to try and understand what this mind is about. This is nature. Older people are generally wiser and tend to interfere less than younger people. Young children believe they can change the world with a little bit of effort. Middle aged people tend to be more disillusioned, cynical and bitter because they realize that they cannot. But as you get much older, you tend to let go because realize that’s just the way it is. Yoga is an accelerated form of maturing and learning so you can optimize how you live life.
You also come to realize that there are rules to this game called life. That life is a projection of the thoughts in the mind. And, this life, it’s like a movie. It’s like a drama, and in this drama, you are the principle actor. But you are also the director of this drama. And if you don’t like this play, you can change the script. But it will take time, because you have got to create a new drama. And this takes time.
And that when I am upset with the world, it is because of the spectacles through which I perceive my world. An event can be viewed by 5 different people in completely different ways. There is an old Japanese movie called Rashomon where several people view an incident differently. Life is not quite what you think. Someone you hate and consider to be evil is love of someone’s life. You can’t quite make a judgement about anything or anyone. Because you cannot see the totality of it.
Once you realize this, and that you don’t have control on what happens outside of you, but that you do have some semblance of control of how to respond to a situation. You cannot control the experiences or circumstances are presented in front of you. But you do have some semblance of control over how you respond to it. If you react impulsively without considering the repercussions, you can really damage a relationship.
If you impulsively react angrily with a closed love one, you can hurt them considerably. That relationship can break down, for a while. You can’t just mend it. It’s like glass that shatters. And even when you look back in time, you will remember not what was said, but the feeling evoked by way it was said. What is said is less important than how it was said. These are all simple things that you will come to realize. You will then become a little bit more aware of how you could respond in situations like that.
Life has rules. Like you are not in charge of this world. You have no control over what will come in front of you. Another rule is that every action, every thought, every word you utter has a consequence. It just doesn’t disappear into ether.
And yoga gives you the science behind it. It’s called the science and law of Karma Siddhanta. When you say, or do something, few things happen. First, there is an imprint in your own mind of what is being said or what has been done based on the feeling behind the action or thought. There is an immediate imprint. If you lie, that lie will immediately sit inside your own psyche, your own memory.
Secondly there is a consequence or effect. The effect of what was said or done will come back to you in time. That time could be instantaneous. It could be lifetimes. If you do something negative and an instantaneous response occurs, that’s probably the best solution for you, no matter how painful or embarrassing. Because, if the effect situation comes back in a couple of life times, it would have rolled up a lot of energy. It will come and hit you like a tsunami.
Even in your own experience, Karma is evident. If you have done good, good has happened. If you have not done good, bad has happened. It’s as simple as that. You may not see this when you see all the apparent evil around you. But in your own life, that should be evident.
So, there is nothing that you can escape. Everything that you say, you think, you do, has a consequence. It is extremely important for you to think, say and do things in a conscious, aware, reflective manner. You cannot hide from the consequences. If you break the moral code, if you hurt someone, if you lie, if you steal, you can never get away with it, because its inside you. It will create anxieties within your mind.
Knowing this is a liberating experience. Because then, you can consciously live your life aligned with the natural order of things. You don’t hurt someone, because there is no difference between you and them. By hurting them, you are hurting yourself.
Sits important to realise that life is a game and this game has rules. And if you can learn these rules and apply them, you can experience a better life. You can get more contentment, more happiness.
If you also come to realise that the source of your unhappiness is the perception of your mind, you can look to change the way you perceive the world. Rather than attempt to change the world, which is impossible. And you come to this understanding that if to understand the world, you must understand yourself first. Because understanding your world without understanding you is impossible.
Whether you are a banker or a doctor, a teacher or a student, you must understand yourself in order of you be able to succeed completely in the external world. Once you apply these principles, you direct your energies inwards and aim to become a better person, a better human being. Because that is in fact what you are designed to do.
So, the first part of life is when you don’t know life a game and you just play it. You have ups and downs. You blame the world when you are sad. You are too scared to live life with accountability. Life is too scary without the ups and down.
The second stage is when you realize that you are in mays ways “alone”. Not lonely, you are alone. You realise this world is a perception of the mind. You start to fine tune your mind rather than attempt to influence the external world, which you come to realise, is impossible
The third stage, the ultimate stage, is when you not only realize it’s a game, you know the rules of the game, but you decide you don’t want to play the game anymore. This is the path to self- realisation.
Most people in the modern world, associate Yoga or spirituality with the final stage. It doesn’t have to be like that. You don’t need a profound spiritual experience that alters your entire mind body experience to realize that you are a spiritual person.
The more you practice your Yoga, the greater the unfolding of subtle truths daily. You don’t need a profound experience to recognize your spiritual soul.
Why can’t we do this? God is asking you to release the apple so he can give you the world. You are saying I will give up the world when you give the world. You are too scared of letting go of what you apparently have. The word God is interesting. It has eloquently been described as the (G)overnment (O)f (D)ivinity in India. We have 33 odd million different gods. God is peculiar to everybody. Everybody has their own relationship with a personal god. These gods are spiritual energies vibrating at different levels but are aspects of pure consciousness.
This consciousness has the attributes of pure existence. It has the qualities of pure knowledge. It has the quality of bliss. Sat Chit Ananda. The self-aware pure consciousness vibrates and pulsates to create the illusion of individuated subject – object experience. The metaphorical ocean moves to create waves. Each wave then sees other waves and forgets it’s the ocean
So that was a mundane, dense, scientific explanation of something which is quite beautiful.
If you explore your life and consider your life as an experiment, you will find that you are in fact complete. You are the whole. The source of happiness lies within you.
In the material world that you live in, carry on doing whatever it is that you need to do, to fulfill all your desires. But with the realisation that the satisfaction of material needs will not give a permanent sense of contentment. You want to be happy, all the time, 24/7/ 365 not Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.
These are simple truths, common sense. But as my teacher used to say, common sense is very uncommon these days.
Regardless, Life is a journey. A journey of self-discovery. Make the most of it. You have one moment that comes in front of you. You have one little life. Live it completely. If it is a sad moment, be sad, be completely sad. If it is a happy, be happy, stay light. There must be a lightness in your heart and deftness in your feet as you go through life. If you are not lighter on a day to day basis, if you are not a little bit happier than you were yesterday, I say you are headed in the wrong direction.
Ask yourself that one simple question. Am I living life the way it has been designed for me. You don’t have to go anywhere. Life will unfold in front of you. You can plan as much as you want. But what will ultimately play out is going to unfold in time. And as long we are stuck in this space, body, time continuum called a human existence, you must experience life for the way it is shown to you. Live it completely. You will find that you can be happy even in the saddest moments of your life. Because you can completely experience that sadness. And then you can move on. It is your inability to move on to next moment which is the root cause of all our problems.