You only know it at the end

If I were to journal all my insights every moment, it will be a stack.  Great insights are always after everything has happened. They might carry a lot of meaning at a moment, but their beauty is in what has already happened. Of course, like a stack, more insights build on top. So they are not totally inconsequential.

But they do not remain great forever. Otherwise, there won’t be any future greater insight. Would it?

And yet, there is no absolute beginning or end. These are just relative points. Does it mean there is no meaning? Not at all. There are meanings. Stacks, piles of them. We cannot survive without meaning/s, however personal/short-lived they might be.

Stay with loving attention to your experiences (moments), and allow the meanings to unfold.

Living without an attachment to a center

Meditative practices usually involve using a reference or an anchor. This helps experience everything else in perspective. The center could be your breath — the simple involuntary act of breathing in and breathing out. Or it could be the point of contact, a sound, a combination of these.

This center is useful for calibration, especially when we are teaching or communicating these techniques to another person. It can be useful even for a seasoned meditator to calibrate every now and then. But the idea of this center is just a reference point. The center is usually neutral, and there is nothing to get attached to it. In fact the center might change, with practice and situations. We all have our own preference for a reference point, as we evolve with these practices.

And yet we do at times get attached to a center in real life. We can get attached to feeling a certain way. We can get attached to achieving certain results. Either in meditation practice or in real life situations. Reality is fluid. It does not stay a certain way for too long. The center might not remain what it was yesterday. We as individuals do not exist independently of what is around us, what is inside us. The boundaries are not as demarcated as we assume. There is a continuum.

Again, there is nothing to force yourself to learn. This comes from awareness and real life experiences. Ego can form structures around everything. And there will come a point when that structure becomes limiting. Loving attention to the present experience, and the moments flow. And there is a new reality and renewed stability. The process goes on.

We are creators

We are creating. Every moment, every interaction. Now we may not have control individually. But we choose, hence we create.

We do not create so much by trying to create. It is the opposite. We create, when we allow ourselves to create. Our experiences are the greatest asset we have. If we can pay loving attention to our moment to moment experience, yes we will have beautiful moments and sad moments, but by paying loving attention to it, we can exist separately from the ups and downs. Our intuition learns. Every difficult experience adds a new invaluable skill, if we allow ourselves to come out of it.

With experience, we learn that it is all us. Even those other people. We can choose to see reality as divided pieces working against each other or as a synchronous musical composition that goes together. We can come to the conclusion that seeking is futile. What we want is already here. Every moment. Flowing into another. Those difficult emotions and physical sensations that come out time and again are helping us learn, if we can pay loving attention to them. These can be from our own experience, when we were less prepared and more traumatized. Or from our ancestors’ experiences, inherited. But it is all helping us. Allowing the moments to flow with loving attention, these too shall pass, and we will learn and have a new reality going forward.

Enjoy and co-create!

Why do we go up, and then down

The natural flow of life alternates between happiness and sadness, excitement and dullness, moments of creativity and several moments of the opposite, contentment and dissatisfaction, and yet it is possible to experience this with loving attention. This is what meditation is about. Witnessing the experiences with love and kindness.

Being able to witness the vast range of experiences from a kind/loving standpoint is what makes one realize that they are not their thoughts, they are not their emotions, they are not their physical sensations (body). They can witness all this, just like they can witness the sunrise or their immediate surrounding, including other life.

So why then do we have such range of experiences? We go up and down. There is no absolute answer to this question. It can depend on how you want to answer it. Just like why is there water? It just is. You could break it apart and say water is made of molecules, and smaller constituents, and try to explain the properties. At each level, you can still find something deeper. How you want to see it, changes what you see.

From one perspective, what you call as ‘you’ goes up and down for no reason. It just does. Just like the wind blows. Or just like you add meaning to experiences. But looking from another perspective which we as humans would appreciate more, there is an order, direction to things. While in the grand scheme of things, this order or direction is inconsequential, but each constituent has some order/direction. Now that if you have an order/direction, naturally you will seem to go up and down, side and side, and all possible ways. ‘You’ cannot exist separately from the rest of this moment, including other human beings, other forms of life, wind, sun, or the cells inside the body.

What is this order/direction that we so appreciate as human beings.  It is the natural flow of things within the whole. Now from a human perspective, going up and down, seems to create a story, that we can relate to, and that adds resonance to our experience, if we can witness it with loving attention. Regardless of the cause and effect, going up and down is like the notes of music. You cannot create good music with a monotone. That is the music of the rocks. The music of humans and living things has more complex notes. Notes are synchronous and yet different parts of the sequence have contrasts. You cannot appreciate a particular note in the absence of a contrasting note in another part of the sequence.

These ups and downs are in some ways helping you grow (in one perspective). In another perspective, they are helping you feel resonance in the different notes of the sequence.

Experiencing darkness

We like to talk about happiness, connection, and positive experiences. But negative experiences, even if it is merely gloomy weather, or a dull week, or moments of feeling lost at points of change in life, are unavoidable. If life is an art, then negative experiences can be the difference between clutter and masterpieces.

Negative experiences are challenging. They are inviting to our egos. Ego helps in survival. But in other situations, it replaces one problem with another, when there was none in the first place. These experiences are robust learning grounds for the awareness. Can you pay loving attention to the ego trying to come out and take control? Trying to blame. Trying to play victim. Trying to dominate. Trying to run away. Trying to mask the difficult moments by seeking temporary moments of pleasure that will not solve anything (as they are not in the flow).

A true artist can accept being lost with loving attention, and allow moments to take their course. We are talking about the only artist there is. That which we can never be free from. That one thing we are all part of. We can call it the present moment, we can call it the universe, we can call it ‘that’ that can only be pointed to — thatness ‘Tathātā‘ in Sanskrit. Everything is part of that, and playing its role in ‘that’.

Do not force it — Continued

Nature plays a playful hide and seek game, when we try to understand it, and take control. There may not be anything visibly magical about it. But that is your ego center observing.

The ego center is all about cutting pieces from one continuous sheet. This moment (which is flowing to another moment) is a continuous membrane, which we are all part of. Ego, when taken out of proportions, misses this continuous membrane. That ego center itself is a part of the continuous membrane, but does not understand it. The ego center has a role. To help our survival. You don’t have to bring it out, it will automatically jump out and take control of you when needed.

But that is all ego center is meant for. If you live all of your life in the ego center (even when survival is not at stake), you will fragment your existence into so many pieces that one day, it stops helping your survival. It suffocates the life out of you.

So after a certain limit, and a certain level of awareness that you can build by paying loving attention to your experience, the fragments that were created by that sniping scissor of yours will soon start to fade. It won’t be as you want it to though. Hence saying this to someone will not directly change their reality. But with awareness and with the flow of moments, unnecessary layers of ego will peel of. Ego will resist, it will bring despair. But the awareness knows too much, and eventually the despair brought about by ego’s layers will be revealed to be futile and it peels off. And then a new reality. But ego has several unnecessary layers. They will peel off just like this in time.

Do not force it

When you force something to happen, nothing bad might happen immediately. But eventually you will hurt yourself. No one else will hurt you. If you are wise enough, you will realize what is going on. If not, you will burn out.

There is another way. Loving attention to this moment. Allow this moment to flow. If you are having doubts about that, bring loving attention to that doubt. Remember, your thoughts, what you think you know, never has 100% resemblance with how reality will pan out. It might coincidentally match reality, but that’s it. Doesn’t mean you wage a war on your thoughts. Pay loving attention to it. While your thoughts may not be accurate, they have come up, they are part of this moment. Allow them to come up.

Always remember the bigger picture. We tend to get lost in detail. I need to solve this specific problem and that specific problem. There are a 100 problems and another day you wake up and realize they are no more, and then there are a dozen more.  Doesn’t mean you don’t approach your situations, but remember to draw loving attention to it. At the end of the day or at the end of your life you are not getting anywhere in particular. As Alan Watts said, life is more like a musical composition than a road trip. The ending is not as important as you think.

Musings on life, oneness, and towards a more loving existence

The fact that our Earth could be habitable was only true by so many preceding fortunate factors, that we or any other life form had no control over. But here we are. Generations after generations of living things evolving. And now there are self-aware living things that can study their own existence.

Fortune (series of natural events and circumstances) granted us the ability to be able to make good short term predictions into the future (to some extent most living things have this ability). But humans with their ability to build tools, conceptualize, and communicate took this to another level. Hence the birth of ego. A sense of you, me, us separate from everything else, and a concept of future and past. This might have played a significant role in making our lives measurably more comfortable compared to before. We did not have to rely on the ability to fight physically or fly naturally or sprint or run long distances to survive as other species had to. But as is true for all evolutionary layers of life, ego has its limit. Beyond that limit, ego does not make life better. It actually makes it worse. Result, we are living in a world where despite all the comforts and safety of human existence, we are full of stress, anxiety, and we ourselves are our worst fears. We do not have to fear a tiger or even a flood as much as we used to. But other humans.

To an outsider observing us, it will seem bizarre that we are not happy, we are not grateful for what we have, and we are separate from each other despite living so close to each other, and we haven’t yet developed fully the ability to be compassionate to each other and other life forms, despite our comforts compared to other species. This is where ego no longer plays a role in making existence of life better. We need egos to survive, but it alone cannot make our existence better. We will be lost in stories, cultures, religions, or our own personal individual tales, without seeing the bigger picture.

Being a self aware species however, there is no wonder we will evolve. We already are. Awareness is what life has always been. There are moments when conditioning takes over, we suffer, and then awareness kicks in. Next big step for life would be a self aware species that learns that ego is just a layer. In fact, in reality, ego is just a concept. There is no such thing as it on a permanent basis. But to get to that level, you will have to practice awareness. You cannot outlast ego by ego. You cannot control your way past ego. That is like beating your drums hoping to find a fugitive, as the popular lore goes.

You can only get to that point through life experience. Awareness. Trust and loving attention to the present. Eventually you will realize that we are not really in control, beyond our circumstances. This present moment is real. Those thoughts you have in your head are also in this moment. And you can exist as awareness. In fact the concept of ‘you’ will fade. The only thing that exists is this moment. What you call you, are the layers of life that are branches/twigs and leaves of this moment. Hopefully you will learn to be loving to this moment.

The often overlooked link that connects us all

Have you noticed how everything happening around us has something in common? Regardless of whether it is a person walking, or a bird flying, or a breeze blowing, or distant sounds of vehicles, or the whistle of the wind.

All of this is happening in the now. You can add things happening inside you to that list — insights, judgments, emotions, sensations. Have you ever considered for a moment that everything is connected by this moment? In this moment, someone had to drive, a bird had to soar up, and thoughts had to bubble up. If you take away the moment, you take away the link between a gazillion things.

What if all that you know, see, hear, experience, all that complexity is just layers of complexity on top of something really simple. What if that bird soaring above you or that car passing by you, or that thought bubbling up in your head are deep down just this moment. What if all that is just the ripples on the surface of a common ocean. Or branches, twigs and leaves of a tree. At the surface those ripples have variations, character. Those branches and leaves have forms. But it all came from the root.  If you can observe the synchronicity in everything with their own character, you can see how they are all connected by this moment.

Could we simplify our lives by reminding ourselves of this ocean or tree which we are all part of? This moment. Loving attention to it. Instead of remaining in the complexity at the surface. After all, everything is deep down fairly simple. This moment with a gazillion layers of character on it. Those gazillion layers of character are just for the collage, and the real thing is this moment.

Why meditate?

Over 2 and a half years of practicing meditation regularly, in its various forms, I have moved from the initial excitement about this practice to a moderately experienced practitioner that can talk from experience.  First let me clarify that I practiced a few different types of meditation in this duration — vipassana (mindfulness style meditation), yoga, chanting, journalling. But the core aspect of every meditation practice is to connect with the present moment, with kindness and love.

Also I would like to point that my experience may not directly relate to yours. It is a constantly evolving process. In fact, it is nearly impossible to write in words what meditation is about. It is intuitive.

So why meditate?

First and foremost, to connect with the present moment with loving-kindness. This is not the motivation for practicing meditation for many people in the beginning, but as you do it over a period of time you will see the value of each — present moment, kindness and loving intention. This helps navigate every aspect of life, once you get a hang of it. It will become your guidance in everything you experience and do.

Second, to manage stress. You will feel on an average less stressed. More calm and peaceful. But be aware that life will happen, and you won’t be calm and peaceful all the time. But you will be able to find calm and peace more often, regardless of external situation.

Third, to get in touch with your true nature. Growing up as kids, we transitioned from our true nature to being conditioned by society to think, believe and behave a certain way. This in my experience takes some time to get to. Just openness to present moment and intention of being loving and kind, starts a process within you that will help you gradually separate the conditioning from who you really are. And who you really are will also surprise you. You are not even the authentic emotions you always thought you were. There is even more underneath those emotions. But don’t obsess over this. It will reveal naturally in time and experience, as you continue your practice.

Fourth, to appreciate life. Not just your own, but life in general. You will find that you are compassionate to people, to animals. Again this will come with practice.

Fifth, to learn how life functions. Not in a dissecting, science class way. But from an intuitive perspective. Life evolved by itself. It didn’t need dissecting and understanding organs/tissues/cells. You might also get more in touch with your intuition and get an inkling of what it is, how significant it is. It is the most underestimated aspect about life in our modern society. As I remember Jon Kabat-Zinn saying in a presentation “the wisdom does not lie out there, in the east, in the Dalai Lama. It lies in our DNA”.

There might be more. I would love to hear from you.