Sunday, December 15, 2013

Why You Shouldn't Read This

It was a day, a day like any other day. A day when the sun shone in the east, and the wind blew from the west. A day when crocks hit the garden of disgust and roach stood aghast for the next nuclear war. A day when the life of the imprisoned became unbearable, he held his hand towards his neck, he held his throat towards his hand. A day like any other day, for many, and not for so many.

He stood there in the light of truth, he stood there. You know what - I am here, ah I am here. I said so many weird things in this life. I said don't hammer that rock, it too will feel the pain. I said mercury is not red in color, because the red for me may not be the red for you. I stood there, looking at these plays, looking at them, never even touched them, never even spoke to them, ust looking, glancing like a baby. When the baby glances at its mother's eyes, what the baby would be thinking? Yes, you know. Once you too glanced at someone. Who is that, who is she, what is that, some movement, Mom? Yes, something abstract, - abstractness that is the rhetoric of life.

You walk on earth with so much confidence, with the might that would pierce your shoulders. Ah, you never thought that you don't walk at all, Earth spins around the Sun, Sun spins around something, and we walk on this Earth. What minute steps we take, and yet we say we are the most adventurous. Your backpack, yes that backpack which you carry along the road, filled as if it has everything to sustain, what O' man O' woman - you think life is such a short ourney.

For instance, I don't have a key in my keyboard, and yes one is missing. Those nasty ants had eaten it for food, and I struggle for a syllable in life. Go back and see, which key is missing, and I am sure you will not find it in this sentence.

I took a break, and I asked myself - what was the purpose for all what I have written. It wasn't for good, it wasn't for bad, perhaps it was ust (there goes the missing key) to wheel my imagination. Perhaps to steer my boredom away to insanity, above all I do not know why you read this.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Pleasure of Pain!

As the breeze blew beneath my arms,
I stood elate in the cool of shade,
Never rejoicing for the heat of sun,
I left myself in the gloom of mood.

Then there came a man of truth,

Left his home in search of truth,
He stood beside to trade his words,
With a little slump I could pay him back.

He knew my pain in a single look,

My eyes were craving for the cool of shade,
My arms were sweating like the eyes of elephant,
Rogue, impatient for the crave of lust.

He held my arms with his skinny words,

"O' man of faith listen to my words,
The pain of heat is not in heat,
The joy of breeze is not in breeze!"

"Your mind is all that counts the truth,

Your mind is all that counts the lie,
Go, and think that the heat is good,
Go, and think that the pain is pleasure!"

"Thou shall not feel the heat any bad,

Thou will crave for more heat to come,
Thou shall not feel the pain as bad,
Thou will crave for more pain to come!"

"The breeze will  be a breeze of guilt and grief,

The pleasure will be the most abominable want,
The pain of heat is not in heat,
The joy of breeze is not in breeze!"

"O' man of faith listen to my words!"

Craving for the heat I went along the shore,

Craving for the pain I pursued the heat,
Craving for the crave my sense got lost,
Craving, ah that abominable crave!

Shun that crave, for the need of good,

Tears in my eyes for the guilt of crave,
Crave, the word I could not resist!
I buried the crave in the shore of evil.

Dug, deep inside the sand,

Dug again deeper in the sand,
Burying the crave deeper and deeper,
And sealing with the motherhood of faith and peace!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Are we mere atoms?

On a beautiful day, alone in the midst of one of the busiest streets in New Delhi, Pahar Ganj, I roamed frantically in search of meeting someone new, someone entirely different from me, or perhaps someone who would have enough tolerance to answer all my questions. I went to a coffee shop, and there
was a polite English man sitting alone. He was lean, like most of the westerners in the street who were intoxicated either by drugs or spirituality. Since all other tables were occupied I chose to accompany him.
Jim, who introduced me to Vipassana

As we initiated the talk, we directly jumped into the topic of the purpose of life and all those philosophical matters of discourse that we generally shrug off unless we are in some self destructive mood. He is a psychologist by profession (though initially I felt that he must be a pauper seeking a royal rescue in these relatively cheap Indian streets). As we continued to talk I could feel the compassion hiding inside his ascetic life. It was hard for me to learn that he had a disturbed life a few years ago, and was having a terrible time because of some sort of addiction. 

I was curious to know how hi life transformed from a disturbed individual to a compassionate and selfless person. I came to know that, he was influenced by an ancient Buddhist meditation technique known as Vipassana, which made him realize the 'truth' and eventually he got out from all worldly addictions. I thought, "one lucky Indian spiritual guru would be rejoicing for getting a new client".

To confirm if Vipassana is a kind of practice that has the essence from Buddha (which I learnt from F.L. Woodward's book, some sayings of the Buddha), I asked him whether there are idols in those ashram? Usually I ask this question while screening an ideology. Perhaps I use such a screening methodology because of my Muslim upbringing, but at the same time I feel it is not a character of an elite in religious ideology to fall for the sentiments of idol worship. He said that not a single idol is found in the Ashram (which was in fact true from my observation in the ashram later). That was a surprise for me, because I have been to a few Tibetan Buddhist temples where statues of Buddha are given all the prominence even though it is totally against Buddha's teaching of reality, truth and impermanence. Our conversation lasted for hours, in fact he even dropped me to the railway station while I left New Delhi.

An Ancient Buddhist Site in Nagarjuna Sagar

It was a seed of Vipassana laid in my heart, and since then I couldn't resist nourishing that seed from growing any further. Finally I went to the ten days course in Nagrarjuna Sagar. I had to live the life of a Buddhist monk over there, which means - no phone, no books, noble silence (that is, shouldn't talk with anyone for ten days!), eat food only through alms (the entire course was free of cost including food and accommodation), simple dress (it didn't affect me much, no Buddhist robes), and above all meditation from morning 5 am to night 9 pm with one or two hours break for breakfast and lunch (no dinner).

Well, what was it like? You may find a lot of information on Vipassana in a lot of websites. But here I attempt to write a critical analysis of the entire program. And that is why I chose to write after almost two months from attending the course, so that I will be free from any mental bias towards the technique.

Vipassana is a meditation intended to observe the reality and to understand the truth. And what is truth? In Vipassana first we are trained to observe our breath carefully. This exercise is meant to focus our mind entirely on one thing, without any disturbance. This exercise lasted for three days (when I say three days, it means three entire days just concentrating on our breath!) I observed a very strange feeling on the second day, which intensified on the third day. I could feel air entering the nostrils in small quanta as we breathed slowly. It was like small packets of air coming in, just like our heart beats. I cannot find any scientific justification for such an observation. I tried to formulate many theories during the meditation (which I was not allowed to, because all what I was supposed to do was to observe breath in whichever form it was). I thought that, it could be due to pulses but the packets of breath was faster than pulses, also it did not have a fixed time period like a regular pulse. It is a very strange observation indeed. After the third day we were asked to observe the whole body, and slowly I started feeling some kind of mild vibration all over the body. The strange thing is that, I did not know in prior that someone who is meditating would feel such a vibration, so the feeling was not psychological. It was real by all means.

After ten days of course I was back to my normal life, and I seldom practiced Vipassana ever since. But sometimes that dismal feeling of Vipassana flows in my nerves for a while. And during such instances the thought which naturally comes to my mind is "are we mere atoms?" 

Buddhism (according to Vipassana, though Vipassana shuns all -isms including Buddhism) is a peculiar religion in many ways. It is utterly materialistic yet spiritually superior to many religions. Believing in reality through realization of our senses, and then observing and feeling the reality closely and deeply. In doing so we start feeling those strange vibration, and eventually leading us to the quest known as truth. This quest is not through any beliefs, but just observations. Essentially there are no doctrines (though there are like Karma, reincarnation etc.) in Vipassana but it induces our brain to perform the keenest observation possible by humankind. Vipassana allows us to be in a world of a billionth of a second, to be in total darkness which is filled with so much of activity (vibrations) - atoms bouncing hither and thither, and to be in a perfect balanced mind where pain and pleasure are ignored in reality (one one side there is a severe pain from our long static sitting posture, and on the other side there is a pleasure experienced by the ever moving vibrations) - we are constantly advised to ignore both the pleasure and pain. There lies the wisdom, in reality, in the middle-path, and thus there lies the belief of Vipassana, and who knows what the truth is!

(Shri. S.N. Goenka (founder of Vipassana Research Institute) passed away day before yesterday, would much appreciate if you watch one of his discourses here).

I also encourage you to watch the below TED talk on Vipassana.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A small note on Agnosticism

Many times I have thought myself to be a man of faith. In fact there were periods of time in my life when I used to regularly pray, fast and meditate. Those practices definitely had a lot of positive impacts in my life and I still carry some of them with a lot of respect. As time passed by, my thoughts have inclined towards agnosticism. Many people think Agnosticism means 'doubt', but in fact for me it seems to be an epitome of humbleness and helplessness in the quest of truth.

As you go on thinking about God, the voyage begins from basic pagan polytheistic beliefs. What I mean by a pagan polytheistic belief is that, our fears and hopes are balanced with natural elements like fire or an idol or a snake. Many times people consider snake as a god just because they fear them, nobody in history seems to have made the mistake of calling  slug as a god. As you climb through the hierarchy in the quest of truth, polytheism is overthrown by monotheism. Monotheism seems to be a very practical and ultimate approach, where the fears and hopes are relied on an ultimate invisible God. In fact many polytheists also have some kind of monotheistic belief hidden inside. But if you still think more deeply in the quest of truth, you might reach a situation were materializing God as mono as in monotheistic religions will look like a man made representation of an unrepresentable God. Unfortunately you can not climb higher in the staircase of the above said hierarchy because it might reach zero or in other words atheism. But there are a few people who resort in the gap between atheism and monotheism. A good example of such a belief is Taoism. In Tao Te Ching it is written 'The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging TaoThe name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.'. It might imply that if we name God (or Tao), then it is not the God that we ultimately think off . In other words we can not imagine or name God, because when we imagine or name, we represent God in some way, and since God is ultimate and unrepresentable, we can not imagine or name God. 

Yet apart from atheists, Taoists, monotheists and polytheists there lies a small group of people who say 'I don't know because... I don't know'. I find that answer extremely honest and humble. A true agnostic wouldn't be biased on any side, they are just true to themselves. I feel that at least a few people would not be having a concrete proof from their memory for the assertion of their interaction with God, and the most honest, humble and truthful way for them is to say 'I don't know'. 

I myself is not a true agnostic. My brain is always inclined towards monotheism, perhaps my brain was wired that way or I have certain reasons (proofs) to believe so.

But above all that, every man/woman should have honesty and braveness to decide up on their own conviction, and wisdom to change their mind depending upon their experiences without any shame. Yet the cessation of the quest of truth in this modern world would be a great mistake, since the voyage through the thread of spirituality seems to have begun from the dawn of human intellect.

Verily, by all means honesty will overcome hypocrisy.