Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bonsai life

The Japanese have perfected the art of Bonsai. The first time I saw these miniature trees, I was taken aback by the beauty and often stopped to marvel at these unnatural works of art.  Although the trees look beautiful, I have often wondered how the trees must feel?   Their inner rootlets are cut and are not allowed to strike deep into the soil. Because they do not have deep roots they can’t shoot high into the air either. Hundreds of years old trees look like little shoots. Their growth is thwarted by cutting their roots!

We humans are the same. Often our growth is thwarted because we never really develop our roots fully. We allow ourselves to be influenced by the views and opinions of others. Instead of looking for answers from within we keep looking outside. We have never really learnt to trust our own inner guidance. We never allowed the roots to go deep. We allowed society, schools, colleges, governments and corporates to prune our roots and shoots so that we would never grow into our full potential.

Although many of us may look perfect on the outside, maybe our spirits have been thwarted to live a bonsai lifestyle.  We have all been made to believe that outward beauty and appearance matters more than what is inside. Our roots have been cut, so that we may never reach our full potential.  We have been made into little bonsais who are constantly looking for validation and approval from the outside world.

Only if, the bonsai cedar or oak knew its full potential? Only if, we all knew our own full potential. 

"The body is a treacherous friend. Give it it's due; no more " he said . " pain and pleasure are transitory ; endure all dualities with calmness, while trying at the same time to remove their hold . Imagination is the door through which disease as well as healing enters. Disbelieve in the reality of sickness even when you are ill; an unrecognized visitor will flee ." ( from the book - Autobiography of a yogi )


Your life reflects your most dominant thought. If you don’t like what you are experiencing , change your thought about it.

Often when something pleasant or unpleasant happens, we tend to share that experience many times over. We talk about it, write about it, think about it and dwell on it for some time. If it’s a pleasant experience, it feels great, but if it is an unpleasant experience we feel sad and tired. For example, when someone is diagnosed with some illness, the person speaks about that illness often. This keeps the illness alive for much longer. The attention tends to remain on the illness instead of the healing. Next time you experience something unpleasant; try and not speak or think about it. As Swami Yogananda said, “ An ignored visitor soon leaves”. But most of us seem incapable of ignoring something or someone that causes us pain. We keep that experience very close to our heart and at every opportunity give it unwanted attention.

Our life is a string of experiences and experiences are nothing but our interactions. Therefore if we want to improve our life we need to change the interaction between the subject (that is usually us) and the object (that could be a person or an event) . Changing the object may not be possible but changing the way we view the object is always possible.


Ramana Maharshi :

“It is in the mind that birth and death, pleasure and pain, in short the world and ego exist. If the mind is destroyed all these are destroyed too. Note that it should be annihilated, not just made latent. For the mind is dormant in sleep. It does not know anything. Still, on waking up, you are as you were before. There is no end of grief. But if the mind be destroyed the grief will have no background and will disappear along with the mind.

Question : How to destroy the mind?

Ramana Maharshi : Seek the mind. On being sought, it will disappear.

Question : I do not understand.

Ramana Maharshi : The mind is only a bundle of thoughts. The thoughts arise because there is the thinker. The thinker is the ego. The ego, if sought, will vanish automatically. The ego and the mind are the same. The ego is the root-thought from which all other thoughts arise.

Question : How to seek the mind?

Ramana Maharshi : Dive within. You are now aware that the mind rises up from within. So sink within and seek.

from (Be As You Are by David Godman)

Dont throw cold water on your child's dreams. Don't drill common sense in them. Don't take away their hopes, certitude and confidence in possibilities . Don't tell them how life is meant to be, because we have no idea how life is meant to be! If you really want to teach them something, teach them how to live fully connected . Teach them how not to be slaves to their senses. Teach them how to control the mind . Teach them how to reason, for life must be dominated by reason and not by impulses. Reason must then give way to faith and finally surrender.
An object may appear to produce happiness for a short while, but the object is only an instrument. An object by itself does not posses the faculty of happiness or sorrow, because the same object has different appeal to different people or different appeal to the same person at different times. The locus of happiness is ourselves. Therefore to find happiness, we need not search far and wide, as any search outside will take us farther away from ourselves - the locus of happiness. ( excerpted from Self Unfoldment by Swami Chinmayananda ) 

The above reminds me of an episode that happened when I was 7. When I was young, pencils gave me immense happiness. I used to collect pencils of all colors and shapes. At any opportunity I would try and increase my pencil collection. I had a suitcase full of pencils and every time I added to my collection I experienced immense joy. One day my suitcase was gone. During one of our house moves, my suitcase full of pencils was lost. I was inconsolable. My most precious possession was gone. I was all of 7 years old and all that mattered to me was gone. I cried for days and no matter how many pencils were given to me, I still wanted my own pencils back. After all I had collected them over 2 years. Today when I think about the incident, I laugh at the thought of, how attached I was to my pencils. 

What happened?

Something that gave me so much happiness when I was young does not even make me blink or smile today. The object is still the same, but my attachment to that object is completely gone. If happiness was in the pencils, I should get the same joy today as I got at 7. Sadly that is not the case. Today my attachment to pencils is almost non-existent, but I have other desires and attachments, that are probably more insidious. I need to now understand that my happiness lays deep within me and not in anything outside of me. Just as I have outgrown my love for pencils, one day I will outgrow all my out worldly desires and attachments. 

Till that happens- I am a work in progress a ‘Spiritual warrior in training ‘.

Myth of the body .

All our troubles stem from the myth that we are the body and when this body perishes, all our hopes, dreams and pains perish too. Such is not the case. 
We are eternal souls who have a body, mind and intellect. Through the body we experience the world of objects, through the mind, we experience the world of emotions and through the intellect, we experience the world of thoughts.

Sadly we have all bought into the myth that we are the body and therefore all our fears and aspirations arise from this body consciousness. It’s a bit like believing that our shadow is our body. If the shadow gets driven over we should feel the pain, but such is not the case. We would laugh at the person who would react in any way to his or her shadow. Because we accept that our shadow is not the real me, we do not feel any pain. Similarly the day we can understand that this body is not the real me, we will be able to go through life the way we are meant to. To experience life as a dance of the soul.