Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy New You!

The easier and most effective way to change the world, is just to change yourself -- and not, as many ineffective and destructive people think, to change everything and everybody else -- while thinking that changing themselves is impossible and much more arduous and difficult. The world one experiences is largely a projection of the person they are. The healthy person is a person who views the world as one that works -- while those in poor health and condition, thinks nothing in the world works and is beautiful. And so they are constantly trying to change what is into something else rather than accepting the reality of what is -- first.

That will always be the source of their unhappiness -- this attitude that they ought to be changing themselves and the world into something other than it is -- without first discovering what it is. Maybe in that discovery, they will understand why they, and things, are as they are. That is the bias of the destructive force of ideological history -- that things are not fine as they are, that there is a reason things are as they are, and what needs to be done is to first understand what they are -- before trying to change it into something else!

It may be, that things are better than one could conceive and design them to be already. And if not, the very understanding of the actuality of the situation, has more value than one’s wishful-thinking of what he would like them to be, how they should be, which often sends one off on a wild-goose chase one may consume their whole lives in -- before realizing at the end,” I chased the bird in the bush (to no avail) and threw away those I had in hand (one‘s health).”

In this way, many will sacrifice their health and well-being for an idea of “happiness,” they think they should be pursuing -- with the obvious effect on their lives, that it is destroying their life, health and happiness. Still, the culture and institutions around them seem to be encouraging them on in their hysteria to continue in hot pursuit of power, fame and fortune without end. So always, there is simply the unsatiated need for “More,” that keeps them spinning their wheels, and trudging the treadmill of endless striving. They have convinced themselves, that no matter how much they already have, it is not enough, and there will never be enough.

In contemporary life, complacency is not as great a problem as the absence of contentment and fulfillment that can be -- when there is the recognition that too much energy is going towards what can never be satisfied and no energy is being directed to that which would be highly beneficial and productive -- which is what one already has and has going for them. The focus is only on the cup not filled, which grows increasingly infinite -- while the cup full is never allowed to be tasted and enjoyed.

That is the disease of contemporary life -- that no matter how much one has, there is only the need for more, what is not, and never the understanding and appreciation of what is.

That is where one should begin the year, and each day of one’s life, beginning with the present moment.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Being in The Moment

On October 22, 2005, I wrote of the One-Minute Workout,, which consisted of bending the legs while lifting the knees to the chest immediately on waking up in the morning and still lying down, and holding that position with one's arms and hands -- as in a bearhug for a minute. That was described as the single most essential movement/posture to adopt if one did nothing else. It's actually an easier exercise when one adds the movement of the head -- to the left and right, as a counting device -- each turn to the left and right marking the passing of seconds.

Otherwise, without any movement, it is more difficult to gauge the passage of time -- but a 50 count marking a definitive movement obviously is not a subjective and imaginary achievement. The mind can play tricks of delusions if there are no definitive milestones by which one can assess verifiable realties. And that is why mental exercises should also have a physical component to gauge the effectiveness of that exercise.

One of the most unfortunate dichotomies of contemporary life is this fragmenting and compartmentalizing of experience so that mental exercise is thought to have nothing to do with a physical activity, and physical exercise is often derided and even prescribed as a mindless activity -- so one can get on an exercise bike or treadmill, and work the body to exhaustion while one’s mind is entertaining exotic destinations and activities other than the drudgery of the treadmill/stationary bike.

Any really beneficial experience however, is when one is fully there, in what one is doing, with total focus and engagement. That is the growth stimulus -- and nothing else is. To be distracted and diverted in a thousand different directions doesn’t allow for that concentration of energy that enables one to break through to a higher level of effectiveness and actualization. And that is probably why growth is most noticeable in the young -- because they are less distracted and preoccupied with the many ways it is possible to do so.

Frequently when one gets to know another for any depth of purpose, he will note how much the other stays only with the reality of the moment and circumstances -- or whether their focus is a year in the future or a lifetime in the past. It is very difficult to convince a person who thinks a past life is more important than the present life and moment, that that present reality and moment is the only thing that really matters and makes a difference. They may even have an ideology that supports and sustains them -- “History always repeats itself,” or, “These newspapers will appreciate in value the longer I hang on to them.”

In the past, a large part of the function of the human mind went into the cultivation of memory and storage -- which are performed immeasurably better by computers. In fact, that is what computers do much better than the human mind -- access and retrieve the total and collective memory, and storage of human experience. That frees the individual human mind to stay fresh in the possibilities of the newly created moments of which memory is a hindrance.

This is a critical factor in the failure of the human mind to function efficiently and effectively only in the present moment -- in which it is vitally necessary to do so. Just to luxuriate in one’s past memories of a life lived long ago and that accumulation of knowledge and memories, detracts and is a diversion of living presently -- which creates the failure of the mind that measures its competency as memory. The new mind is born fresh of its past knowledge each day -- and is learning from moment to moment. That is what is important and not brain function as memory -- the standard of brain function in the past. That is the great transition as well as transformation of consciousness in these times. That is also the paradigm of modern information processing.

One only needs to learn something once and then move on. He does not need to spend the rest of everyday, reinforcing past lessons learned. The past can be stored and forgotten -- to be retrieved when and if it needs to be. But usually, some greater moment in the present, makes reliving a past one, less necessary, enjoyable and fulfilling.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Need to Improve

Some people would have us believe that nothing ever changes -- and in fact, every day is like every other that’s ever been before -- proudly proclaiming and finding disciples who will chant, “History always repeats itself,” or, “Those who don’t abide by history, are doomed to repeat it,” or other similar inanities. The evident truth of reality is that there is always change -- but the mind can be conditioned not to see it, and to deny it.

Much of our education, is actually of that type of conditioning -- requiring what is being presently taught, to be regarded as an absolute truth -- mainly because the instructors would not have the moral and intellectual “authority,” if it could not be presented in that manner. Then, instead of merely indoctrinating that truth unchallenged, they would be challenged and have to justify how it is, that the truth they proclaim, is in fact, what they say it is. And rather than that being a distraction and diversion from learning -- that is really the essence of an inquiring mind and attitude -- which creates a lifelong predisposition to learning, understanding and improvement.

However, that does not benefit the “teaching” professional, so that manner of learning is not encouraged. If one wants to do it, most teaching professionals will admit that it can be done that way, but that should be done only by licensed and certified professionals also -- and not that that should be done without strict supervision by the properly designated authorities. To these people, that’s what truth is -- that which comes from the duly-certified authorities and hierarchies, and not that it is the essential human drive to understand and improve the simplicity of life and existence.

Such people think one must be “forced” to understand or improve -- rather than it is the nature of the human being, and anything else, is a deviation from the natural path. People want to understand, want to improve -- unless early on, in their formative years, they were discouraged and punished for doing so, and indoctrinated with those deviations that served another agenda beyond the individual’s inherent drive to understand and improve.

One can be conditioned to believe they should never trust their own judgment and instincts but must only rely on the wisdom of the properly-designated edicts of authorities, of whom the person advising them, is the local representative. Even if not the properly certified authority, many will assume that position anyway, realizing that most people, are not trained to detect any differences from the authentic and the self-proclaimed, if one uses the appropriate buzzwords and familiar-sounding jargon. Advertising, journalism, mass communication disciplines exist for this purpose. Instead of actually being the authority in the field, one can merely seem like the authority in the field -- which will fool 95% of people -- but the 5% will be the true authorities, one cannot.

Many will grow up entirely in this culture of the false -- never knowing a moment of the true and actual. Because they have been taught to distrust their own minds and judgment, they are entirely dependent on others to do their thinking for them -- and the thinking of the others, unfortunately, is that they remain ignorant, powerless, and hopeless, rather than becoming more independent and stronger all one’s life. That is not an option, the controllers will insist.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Thinking Clearly

The previous discussion on energy and what limits it, is important because the objective of an optimally fit and functioning person is not to waste energy, no matter how much that is the orientation of much discussion about exercise -- that it is the ideal way to burn calories. Exercise is a relatively ineffective way of attaining proper weight control and balance, in itself. In this matter, the best that can be said of exercise’s role in the caloric balance, is that while one is exercising, they are usually not eating -- concurrently.

Usually, the cause of obsessive-compulsive eating is boredom and disinterest in what one is doing. When one is really engaged and interested in what they are doing, they are more likely to forget to eat. A reliable guide is to eat when hungry -- and not to eat when one is not. Eating as a recreational activity, or entertainment, should be avoided. If weight control is a problem, something other than “fine dining,” should be one’s favorite activity. Or eating of any other quality -- even organically and supplementally. One needs to de-emphasize the importance of eating in one’s life. Obviously, that is not the deficiency in one’s life -- but the lack of other, more compelling and absorbing interests.

The popular culture in this country, as it is around the world, discourages depth of interest while providing many distractions from a focus in the study of anything -- as though understanding was simply an assault on our sensibilities -- rather than the freedom from it. This latter is the control over one’s own programming, rather than salivating at the carefully designed stimulus of others.

Often in these discussions, it is presumed that understanding is perfect, and only more effort needs to be applied -- rather than that it is the understanding that is deficient and defective, and when that is sufficient, extraordinary effort and discipline is not required. The proper understanding results in its own right effort. It is what it has to be -- not hard, not painful, not unpleasant -- but exactly right. So just in listening to the conversations people have on exercise, it is easy to gauge their understanding, experience and results.

Unhealthy people are preoccupied with their health -- and not healthy people, in the same way that really intelligent people are not obsessively-compulsively measuring their intelligence against all others. Their intelligence is a well-established fact, and not a matter of opinion -- for endless conjecture and argument. No intelligent person would spend all their time competing against others to prove how intelligent they are -- just as the world champion in anything is not always competing against every fast-gun just because they are challenged. So proving one is fit or intelligent is not necessary to establish that in one’s own mind and the minds of others.

Once one clears away all these distractions and bogus considerations, the mind is clear to attend to the simplicity of purpose. As in so many things, what is required is not more -- but less. One doesn’t need more theories and explanations -- but when the mind is free from these ideas, it is aware, and that awareness invariably produces its own right action.

Monday, December 05, 2005

What is Energy?

“What is this energy we all have? This energy is thinking, feeling; it is interest, enthusiasm, greed, passion, lust, ambition, hate. Painting pictures, inventing machines, building bridges, making roads, cultivating the fields, playing games, writing poems, singing, dancing, going to the temple, worshipping -- these are all expressions of energy; and energy also creates illusion, mischief, misery. The very finest and the most destructive qualities are equally the expressions of human energy. But, you see, the process of controlling or disciplining this energy, letting it out in one direction and restricting it in another, becomes merely a social convenience; the mind is shaped according to the pattern of a particular culture, and thereby its energy is gradually dissipated.

So, our problem is, can this energy, which in one degree or another we all possess, be increased, given greater vitality -- and if so, to do what? What is energy for? Is it the purpose of energy to make war? Is it to invent jet planes and innumerable other machines, to pursue some guru, to pass examinations, to have children, to worry endlessly over this problem and that? Or can energy be used in a different way so that all our activities have significance in relation to something which transcends them all? Surely, if the human mind, which is capable of such astonishing energy, is not seeking reality or God, then every expression of its energy becomes a means of destruction and misery. To seek reality requires immense energy; and, if man is not doing that, he dissipates his energy in ways which create mischief, and therefore society has to control him. Now, is it possible to liberate energy in seeking God or truth and, in the process of discovering what is true, to be a citizen who understands the fundamental issues of life and whom society cannot destroy? Are you following this, or is it a little bit too complex?

You see, man is energy and if man does not seek truth, this energy becomes destructive; therefore society controls and shapes the individual, which smothers this energy. That is what has happened to the majority of grown-up people all over the world. And perhaps you have noticed another interesting and very simple fact: that the moment you really want to do something, you have the energy to do it. What happens when you are keen to play a game? You immediately have energy, have you not? And that very energy becomes the means of controlling itself, so you don’t need outside discipline. The man who is seeking reality, spontaneously becomes the right kind of citizen, which is not according to the pattern of any particular society or government.

So, students as well as teachers must work together to bring about the release of this tremendous energy to find reality, God or truth. In your very seeking of truth, there will be discipline, and then you will be a real human being, a complete individual, and not merely a Hindu or a Parsi limited by his particular society and culture. If, instead of curtailing as it is doing now, the school can help the student to awaken his energy in the pursuit of truth, then you will find that discipline has quite a different meaning.

Why is it that in the home, in the classroom and in the hostel, you are always being told what you must do and what you must not do? Surely, it is because your parents and teachers, like the rest of society, have not perceived that man exists for only one purpose, which is to find reality or God. If even a small group of educators were to understand and give their whole attention to that search, they would create a new kind of education and a different society altogether.

Don’t you notice how little energy most of the people around you have, including your parents and teachers? They are slowly dying, even when their bodies are not yet old. Why? Because they have been beaten into submission by society. You see, without understanding its fundamental purpose which is to free the extraordinary thing called the mind, with its capacity to create atomic submarines and jet planes, which can write the most amazing poetry and prose, which can make the world so beautiful and also destroy the world -- without understanding the fundamental purpose, which is to find truth or God, this energy becomes destructive, and then society says, “We must shape and control the energy of the individual.”

So, it seems to me that the function of education is to bring about a release of energy in the pursuit of goodness, truth, or God, which in turn makes the individual a true human being and therefore the right kind of citizen. But mere discipline, without the full comprehension of all this, has no meaning, it is a most destructive thing. Unless each one of you is so educated that, when you leave school and go out into the world, you are full of vitality and intelligence, full of abounding energy to find out what is true, you will be smothered, destroyed, miserably unhappy for the rest of your life. As a river creates the banks which hold it, so the energy which seeks truth creates its own discipline without any form of imposition; and as the river finds the sea, so that energy finds its own freedom.”

Think on These Things