Emotions Are Totally Rational And Reliable

Any good engineering system has a robust reliable feedback loop built into it so that the user of the system may get an easy view of what is going on inside. When you type ‘a’ on the keypad and ‘a’ shows up on the screen, that is also a feedback loop of a good engineering system at work. It tells you ‘a’ has been saved and it tells you where this ‘a’ has been saved. It tells you that the system is working fine, or whether you should adjust your actions (eg. change the cursor position).

Our emotions are excellent feedback loops built into our system, a feat of fantastic engineering that is totally reliable. And since it is engineering, it is rational. Super rational. Superbly designed and executed engineering systems that we are.

So what do our emotions give us feedback on? Our emotions give feedback on how we have been performing with our thinking.

There are primarily just two emotions: love and fear. ‘Peace’, ‘joy’, ‘ease’ are other words for the primary emotion love. ‘Anger’, ‘sadness’, ‘dejection’ are other words for the primary emotion fear.

When we are thinking in alignment with truth, in alignment with what truly is, we feel peace, joy, love. When we are conjuring up all kinds of stories, figments of our imagination, stuff that does not exist at all, we feel fear, anger, sadness. Fear indeed is looking at a rope as a snake.

Thinking what is not true induces fear precisely because we are such excellently built engineering systems. We have been built to live with joy and love. We have not been built to be mired in a web of illusions. Joy and love is what we inherently want. It is intrinsic to our being. We have been built to bring beauty forth into this world. We do that with the power of our mind, with the power of our thoughts. When our mind is not being used for the purpose of joy and love, it means our mind is malfunctioning. Since we have been built to live joyously and since we are excellently built engineering systems, when we are not living and thinking joy and love our system responds by giving feedback, causing discomfort and fear, like a red alert error notification that something is wrong in the system.

This is kind-of like the hot-cold game I play with my niece sometimes. Player 1 has to look for something in the room and as Player 1 approaches the assigned object Player 2 gives clues by saying “warm” or “hot” for being on track and when Player 1 goes off in a wrong direct Player 2 gives clues by saying “cold” or “chilly”. Similarly our emotions give us clues of whether we are thinking in alignment with truth or not. Feelings of ease, love, gentleness when we are on track and feelings of fear, anger, low self-esteem, anxiety, racing thoughts and all other varieties of dis-ease when we are off track.

Any good manager, who runs her system well, looks properly at her management dashboard with all its charts and data. Observing and honoring our emotions dashboard and taking corrective action when required is one of the best things we can do to live our life joyously, to manage and use our mind like a cool dude ninja.

If we are feeling love, peace, joy then everything is hunky dory. Nothing need be done other than enjoy the moment, admire the beauty of your charts and management dashboard and your exquisite engineering system, pat yourself on your back for being such a cool dude manager and feel grateful to your team members and boss for working in such a superb world.

If we are feeling anger, sadness, fear then alert attention is required. A seasoned manager will pay careful attention to every red alert notification he receives, be it in big bold letters, or in tiny font. The clumsy manager will callously ignore tell-tale signs of malfunction, or if it is too huge for her to handle, she will unthinkingly just offload it to another person (eg. shouting when angry). The thing to do is to go forth into that error notification, into that discomforting emotion, rather than turn away from it, distract ourself, push it under the carpet or unthinkingly offload it to another person. ‘Engaged in wrath, stay so.’ says my favourite thin spiritual book Vigyaan Bhairav (The Science of Shiva). As we gently go forth into the discomfort, with as much attention and awareness we can muster, we experience all the movement of that emotion within our mind and body. Rather than trying to analyze it with our ineffective logic and analysis, rather than trying to figure out who is to blame for this, ask the question gently in your mind, “Is there another way to look at this?” and let the answer come to you. That is the best question we can ask – “Is there another way to look at this?”. It is the first step to breaking habitual thinking patterns that have served us no good but have only brought the same pain again and again over years and generations.

The slightest curiosity that comes in the mind, that may not even be clearly articulated “Is there another way to look at this?” sets the ball rolling onto the track towards truth, towards gentler, healthier feelings. The same engineer who created our fantastic system, does answer as our internal guide. It has answered me every single time that I have asked. The internal guide gives a totally fresh perspective to the matter, a perspective that we had not considered at all before, a perspective that is in alignment with truth. It is such a beautiful experience when that happens, when we get that fresh perspective. When we are able to change our mindset from fear to love, the system gives immediate feedback. The palpable sense of ease that we feel is immediate. When we remain fixed within our perspective, convinced that that is the only way to see the issue at hand, we make zero progress and conflict continues.

Emotions are a very powerful force. Even if we push them away their power does not diminish. If we do not use it expertly, with awareness and acceptance, they will cause havoc due to their inherent power left unattended. Emotions are not bugs. They are an inbuilt fantastic feature we been manufactured with. They are reflective of our own power. Emotions are totally rational and reliable. Being aware of our emotions and honoring them is all about managing our life deftly. It is about living an authentic life.

It is about having fun while we are here – for every time we are able to get a fresh perspective on programmed age-old patterns of struggle, it gives an immense sense of self-belief, success and gratitude all rolled into one. The power of emotions, especially when they seem to be sweeping us away into tsunamis can be extremely challenging, but challenges are fun! To whatever extent possible, the thing to do is to try and remain aware of the movement occurring internally with the knowing that there is wisdom hidden in there.

We do tremendous dis-service to ourself by considering emotions to be irrational embarrassments, an inconvenience. They are not.

All that I have written here, I learnt from my favorite fat spiritual book – A Course In Miracles. I have only re-expressed it in my words.

We are so deeply programmed to think from a mindset of fear that it requires learning (or un-learning rather) to think from a mindset of love. This book taught me how to make that switch.

It is possible to change our perspective from fear to love.


Image credit: Pixabay.com

They Speak In Silence

Spring speaks using words
(also known as flowers)
Winter speaks in silence

The day speaks using words
(also known as birds)
The night speaks in silence

I honor my night,
when it comes,
(also known as sadness)
I turn inward, to silence

I honor my night,
when it comes,
every month
(also known as periods)
I turn inward, to silence

It happens there,
The true work –
In winter, at night
In silence

It happens with a tool called
Awareness –
The way to hear the silence

~ vani murarka


Image credit: Photograph by Melmak from Pixabay.com

Honoring Our Personality – Honoring Our Uniqueness

I perceive this world and universe through the filters of my unique personality. Same goes for you. You perceive this world through the filters of your unique personality. That is the way it is for all of us.

Grand teachers of all ages and races say that our true self is exalted, beyond any limits and definitions. Beyond our unique but limited personalities. Maybe my truth is beyond my limited personality – unlimited, infinite. I do at times get glimmerings of being connected to and being at one with the vast energy force field that permeates our whole universe. However, I do not experience that all the time. Not yet. I am operating in this world through my personality. Sometimes when I am frustrated with myself, I find that personality limiting, exasperating. Feeling hemmed in and frustrated with myself, I wrote once –

शरीर का सीमित आकार
व्यक्तित्व में गिरफ़्तार
भटकती फिरती इधर उधर
कहाँ है कहाँ है मेरा घर
(a limited body, imprisoned by personality, I roam about cluelessly – where is my home?)

“Imprisoned” was just that sad feeling at that time. I wouldn’t say I’m imprisoned by my personality, but rather that it is the unique vehicle I am riding as I navigate this world and life. We all, each one of us, is riding the vehicle of our unique personality as we navigate this world and life.

Our personality is not an inconvenience to be endured through life. Not something to make snide jokes about as veiled self-criticism. Our unique personality is the unique vehicle we ride as we navigate through life and this world. And it serves us well to know, understand, and love the vehicle that we ride. It makes the ride that much more enjoyable and smooth.

Ask any car rally enthusiast or wise practical city-dwelling man, he will tell you – it is important to know the car you drive. Want to earn your father or husband’s approval? Here’s a way to crack it – become a super-knowledgeable-your-hands-dirty-with-grease dude with your car. (Better still, don’t try to win their approval. Live your joy).

So while I navigate this world, with my limited personality-filtered perceptions, it is important for me to know, understand, honor and love my personality, the unique vehicle that I ride, so as to better navigate this world and life and have some fun while doing it.

When we do not know, understand, honor our personality we are just passive passengers “riding” our personality – letting God or the devil do whatever crazy they wish to do at the driver’s seat. When we take the time and effort to know, understand, honor and love our personality, we get to sit in the driver’s seat (sometimes) with God as the navigator. Yay! Himalayan Car Rally here I come!

Knowing, understanding and honoring our personality, the unique vehicle we ride while we are here, enables us to function better.

Two things have helped me tremendously in getting to know my personality better.

1. Astrology
2. A “Know Your Strengths” Exercise suggested by Marie Forleo

What??? Vani you love science! You are so logical and analytical. And you turned to the silliness of astrology? I am disappointed in you!

Simmer down. We’ll talk about astrology in another post sometime. Let’s tackle the second first – a very simple Know Your Strengths exercise. Rather, know your Unique Awesomeness.

Know Your Unique Awesomeness

Marie Forleo in New York / New Jersey, the creator of MarieTV, runs B-School – an online course for wannabe entrepreneurs and already-at-it-and-wanna-rocket-to-the-sky entrepreneurs. The most heartening thing about what she offers is how to do business while aligned with your soul, your inner truth. That is at the core of her message – honoring our true self. She, so very kindly, gifted me a fully-paid scholarship to her B-School program a few years back.

The first week of the B-School program is the deepest. It is about acquiring clarity about our own self and about the ideal customer of our business. One of the “classes” in that first week is “Leverage Your Uniqueness” and Marie Forleo recommends that we go out into the world with our UAP “Unique Awesomeness Proposition” (not just plain bland USP, Unique Selling Proposition)

uap

It is all about, to quote Marie, “finding that sweet spot: that purposeful, joyful, clear place where your greatest gifts meet your customer’s needs”. And this is not just about business. It is about living our life.

Conventional (read, hackneyed) wisdom tells us to work on “improving” our self, work on identifying and acknowledging our weakness and then working on improving ourselves in those areas.

As we work and work and work on improving our weakness (mostly just by beating ourselves up in our private admonishments) we wilt and wilt and wilt – while all the time our strengths that are automagically (yes, that is a word) God-given to us are sitting tapping its fingers, waiting to be used, still as fresh as day one, despite all the self-flagellation.

So the wise thing my dear devoted reader (I do hope you are my devoted reader. Subscribe if you want to become one.) is to consciously know and honor your strengths and leverage that!

Ok Vani, how do I know my strength? I am so hopeless…

You are not hopeless. The instant you accept that, you shall become hopeful! Magic!

Here are two simple ways that worked superbly for me. Suggested by Marie Forleo, I now pass them onto you-

#1. Now Discover Your Strengths book

nkys
This book includes access to a personality test. People play with all kinds of funky personality tests on their way to office and share on Facebook – but this is different and good. I am different and good am I not? Ergo, it is but logical – what I recommend is different and good. (Btw, you are different and good too. Same pinch!)

I found the personality test in this book to not only be good, but for me, rather accurate. After you answer the questions, it gives you your five topmost strengths, in decreasing order of impact.

My two biggest strengths as per this test are –

Connectedness
Quoting a bit what the book implies by Connectedness: “Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it. You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our judgements, possessing free will, but we are part of something larger. Some may label it spirit or life force. Whatever your word of choice, you gain confidence from knowing that we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it.”

Intellection
Quoting a bit what the book implies by Intellection: “You like to think. You like exercising the muscles of your brain, stretching them in multiple directions. The theme of Intellection does not dictate what you are thinking about; simply that you like to think. You enjoy your time alone because it is your time for musing and reflection…”

Man, for the personality called Vani Murarka, this is bulls-eye accurate! Ever since I fully understood and acknowledged these aspects of my personality, (by observing my thoughts and emotions), I committed myself to sharing this strength with you on a consistent basis (Every Saturday and Tuesday. Have you subscribed yet?) via my blog “vani expressions”. I decided to consciously channelize and leverage my strength. But that became possible only after I explicitly recognized and acknowledged my strength. Not just because this personality test said so – I found, out of self observation that it was indeed so.

The same goes for you my friend. There is something about you that is so absolutely beautiful and comes so automagically naturally to you. Please find out what it is and love it and honor it and live it. Don’t wait for your spouse or parent to acknowledge you. Even if they do, it won’t help much. It will help a bit, but not much – unless you must find out and acknowledge and live your beauty.

There are many ways that beauty manifests itself. There are many basic strengths the book has identified, 34 to be precise. Give it a shot to find out what they think about you. Borrowing a used book might not help because to take the personality test, there is a scratch patch with a number at the end (kind-of like a password) which gives you access to the test online.

They seem to have a direct online (paid) version too – Gallup Strengths Center. I used the book.

Note: I have no referral association for the sale of this book or Marie Forleo.

#2 Ask Your Friends

Another method Marie suggests for knowing your strengths is to ask your friends. Mostly we are so conditioned to focus on what is wrong with us that we have no visibility left to see what is right and good about us. So it is good to ask. It can give us visibility about some aspect of our self which we were not aware of. So the method is simply to ask your friends – “What are my 3 best qualities?” Email them, or whichever other method you want to use, but I suggest you don’t just ask publicly on your Facebook timeline! 🙂

Ask at least 25 people Marie suggests, and I agree with her. You will see a pattern emerge in the responses that people give. There may even be just one clue that you get which is crucial for you at that point in time. When I did this, when I asked people I thought I could ask, I did get some pattern. However one feedback from one friend really stood out. At that point in time I was in a position to consciously acknowledge and leverage that strength. She said I have the “Ability to say ‘NO’”.

Those days, after having left the corporate and academic world, I was at a loss for what to do with myself, my time, my life. I realized that while I did not yet know what to do, I clearly know what I do not want to do. I also recognized what exactly happens inside me which enables me to reach that clarity. If I continue with an activity or engagement that I do not want to be engaged in, I feel a strong sense of being coerced, of my arm being twisted so to speak, by the person or system or whatever imagined ghost I am struggling with – and my being protests against that and I reach the clarity that I must *not* do this. I even feel a strong distaste in doing or continuing with that activity. Ever since I have explicitly recognized this aspect of my being I have learned to honor it and trust it as a guiding force whenever that kind of feeling arises. As I know that feeling clearly now, I can also differentiate it from other tendencies to say no that I may have, either out of fear or because I just want to take it easy, or whatever other reason. Hence I have the faith that this strength of mine will not misguide me.

So dear devoted reader (I know you have subscribed by now) – go on, write to 25 friends and ask what your 3 best qualities are.

Whether you use these methods or not, do honor your personality. Recognize your strengths and honor them. Maybe you’ve heard this thing that is said, “love yourself” and maybe it did not make much sense. Well recognizing, acknowledging, honoring your unique personality is one place it starts. The beginning of seeing the beauty in you. The tender, sweet, absolutely gorgeous, luscious grand beauty in you.


Image credit: BBC TopGear Magazine India Car Gallery – Volvos in Himalayas

Success Without Money

Ironically, just when I left the job world, along with it came the desire to earn money. Before that I had never really bothered about money (or success). I had always just moved towards whatever was intellectually satisfying. In the process work, education, earning had happened as a by-product.

When I left the job world, I did not know what to do with myself instead. This not-knowing, utter confusion, no clarity, no direction gave me a sense of failure. There was one thing that I was 100% clear about though – that the choice I have made, to leave my job and career as a software developer was not an incorrect one. I knew that this is the only option I had. I knew that continuing in the field any further would cause me serious harm. No, that does not mean that software development is a harmful field. It is a superb fantabulous field. It is exhilarating. Yet, everything inside my being was telling me that this is not what I am essentially meant to do. I am not meant to be here anymore. My time here is up. If I continue any longer, for the sake of practical wisdom – one needs to have some job, some regular stream of income, financial independence… if I force myself to continue due to these reasons, in opposition to my inner being, I knew it will harm me such that I will become a grotesque, disfigured ball (mentally). This I knew in every fiber of my being.

That’s it. That’s all I knew. If not this then what? I had no clue about that.

When I could not contain the utter despair of not knowing what to do with myself, and all the howling raving-mad depression it brought on, I used to unload to my friend. It is obviously not a very pleasant experience for anyone, to be the recipient of such a gift – a woman howling away in despair. In frustration and utter helplessness my friend sometimes said, “You are wasting your life.” This compounded the sense of failure.

My dad never gave me a sense of failure. He knew there is some other way in which I am seeking to express myself. However, time to time he would gently remind me, “50 thousand rupees per month. You should arrange this much for yourself. Then you are free to do whatever you want.” I used to be thankful to my father. Thank God, in the middle of all the cluelessness now I at least know how much I need. One tiny bit of clarity.

It is not that I did not have money in the bank. I did. Yet, I believed it to be extremely parasitic, lethargic, not-very-nice-at-all to not earn my expenses. All that Vani Murarka had earned had been used up. Whatever was left, a good amount to take care of a few years at least, was money that dad had saved for me. Originally for my marriage. Now maybe for some day when I would buy a house, or some such substantial expenditure. That money was not meant to just to “live” on. I sure did not want to simply just exist that way.

Of course I wanted to do something with myself. Something tangible, meaningful, concrete. Just that I used to think that things become tangible, meaningful, concrete if it brings in money. Money makes it official.

So the girl who had never really bothered about success and money before, now having left the conventional career world, wanted to be successful, wanted to make money.

As I kept searching for answers, even as there would be times of joy and happiness, when I would be feeling good about myself, this bunny rabbit would hop along and come and sit and say with blinking eyes, “Ya… but money… “. Money is not a source of security, I have always known this. It is not something that I needed to learn. Even then, this bunny rabbit would come – “Ya… but money…”. On mild, more-or-less-ok days I felt unsuccessful. On days of utter despair, I felt like a complete failure.

Vani Murarka still does not have a regular source of earned income friends. In fact the one source of regular earned income that she had the past few months, Rs. 10 thousand per month from her brother, for helping with his company website, she has let go of even that two days back. Anyway that did not really count for success did it, getting money from your brother? Even then, it did feel good, that earned income after several years of none. I bought clothes with a sense of freedom last Diwali. And it was money for services well rendered. I am glad and satisfied with myself for whatever I did officially in that capacity. I know I made significant positive contribution in the company’s technology trajectory. But now I have freed myself even from that engagement.

Once I figure out what I am meant to do with myself and start doing it and then it brings in money I will be successful. That is what I thought, but it did not happen that way. I already feel successful.

Huh! How come? You can’t do that. That is not as per the rules of the game.

Well, sorry. What to do. It happened. I already am successful. I already feel successful.

That’s all that success is. A feeling.

I feel successful because I feel joy in my being.
I am successful because I washed away resentments and hurt that I had towards family members. Once upon a time I used to feel I do not belong. Now I know I do belong.
I am successful because I now understand my personality better, I have learned how to honor it and I know what I have been cut out to do.
I am successful because I am no longer lonely.
I am successful because I am now living with the one I love – which is what I always wanted.

I am successful not for any of the above reasons really. I am successful because I simply feel successful. The feeling of success is a by-product of joy, a by-product of being free of hassles we carry within. A lot of the things that were sitting heavy in me, preventing the lightness to be experienced, have been removed. Hence, I can now sense the presence of what was already here, what has always been here.

It is possible to feel successful, it is possible to be successful, without money. It is possible not just for me. I am not anyone special. It is possible for each and every one of us.


Image credit: photograph by Mircea Ploscar from Pixabay.com

अगर सुनो तो

in the silence - michael z tyree

तारे जड़े हैं ज़िन्दगी में
अंधियारे बिछे हैं ज़िन्दगी में
और साँसों की लहर
सहला जाती है …
अगर सुनो तो

~ वाणी मुरारका

इस कविता का अंग्रेज़ी में अनुवाद (मेरे ही द्वारा):

stars are studded
in our life
darkness laid out
in our life

and the gentle flow
of breath,
ever soothing…
if you hear it

Image Credit: In The Silence – pastel painting by Michael Z Tyree. You can view the full painting and purchase prints here.

My Niece Unlimited

A conversation transpired with my niece recently. She was pulling at my swimming goggles.

“Don’t. It will break.”, I said.

“It’s elastic.”, she replied.

“It is rubber.”

“But it stretches.”

“Sure. But everything has a limit.”

“What is my limit?”, she asked.

“You would have to find that out.”
Then I added, “Actually you are infinite.”

“What do you mean by infinite?”

“Unlimited.”

“How is something unlimited?”

“When it has no beginning or end.”

“So I will not have an end?”

“No. You are unlimited.”

“So I will not go to heaven?”

“Why not? Of course you will go to heaven. But you do not have to end to go to heaven. To go somewhere you just have to go there. To go to Bhopal you just go to Bhopal. You don’t have to end to go to Bhopal.”

“I didn’t know I am unlimited.”

“Now you know.”

“Then you too are unlimited.”

“Yes. Indeed I am.”


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Image credit: Pixabay.com

Best Words Any Friend, Family Has Said To Me

63228143-gmail-wallpapers

Once upon a time, a wonderful kind loving man sent an email to a sweet silly scared girl.

She was upset about something, and in the middle of that upset she blurted out, “if that happens, I will lose all respect for myself”. Whatever that “that happens” might have been.

He did not interject and say anything while she was busy being upset. The next day he sent her an email which contained the best words anyone has ever said to me. Yup, that sweet silly but not-so-scared-anymore girl happens to be me.

I generally prefer to stay away from claiming that this is the best or that is the best. There is so much around that is so wonderful in so many different ways. However, I truly feel, in all the years of my life so far, these are indeed the best words any friend, family, fellow human being has ever said to me.

These words have stood by me and have been a source of strength at some of my most testing times – when I was in the midst of stuff that did not make sense to any of my near and dear ones, including myself, including that kind loving man himself. During those times these words gave me the strength to plod on, even if the plodding on seemed aimless, clueless. These words gave me the strength to keep faith in the choices I had made, keep faith in myself, despite dark dank depression.

This is what he wrote:

In our conversation yesterday, I did not say this explicitly. You would have tried to give an instant reaction. I wanted you to consider it at length later.

You said that if certain events happen, you will lose respect for yourself. Even in the worst case, never, never, lose respect for yourself. Personally, with my unshakable faith in life and God, my own respect for myself is not negotiable. I may fail, I may be stupid, I may be insulted, but I am a creation of God. I must have a role in this grand design of universe, so I must be what I am. Similarly my approach to life is that I have a right to want and ask, but whatever life gives me, I accept it with gratitude. Since I can express myself best in poetry, I wrote a poem on these convictions a few years ago. That poem is attached.

~ Vinod Tewary

.

I put in the italics to highlight the words I now pass on to you my friend. Consider it, make it yours, use it if you wish.

Even in the worst case, never, never, lose respect for yourself.

Personally, with my unshakable faith in life and God, my own respect for myself is not negotiable.

I may fail, I may be stupid, I may be insulted, but I am a creation of God.

I must have a role in this grand design of universe.

So I must be what I am.

I have a right to want and ask.

But whatever life gives me, I accept it with gratitude.

.

And dear friend, this is the poem he attached with the email. It is in Hindi.
This is the English translation of the poem.

If you feel these words may be of use to someone, please share this post with them too.

Love,

Vani


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Image credit: fungyung.com

The Science of Shiva – My Favorite Thin Spiritual Book

कहें न तुमसे तुम्हारी बात तो किससे कहें हम?

Shivji is one heck of a cool dude. You see, I have a teenage crush on Shivji that endures. So when he says, “O Beloved, put attention neither on pleasure or pain but between these, I feel this warm glow all inside.

He’s addressing me as beloved! Oh how nice!

What are you talking about Vani??

My favorite thin (ultra-thin) spiritual book. It’s called “Vigyaan Bhairav”, which means “Science of Shiva”.

The original is in Sanskrit, but hold on, don’t go away yet. We aren’t going to get all high brow, scholarly and stuff. In fact it’s because of its utter simplicity that I love this book – and there are many kind and sweet ways that it is accessible to us without having to bother about the Sanskrit.

Shakti (Durga, Parvati, The Supreme Feminine Force) poses a question –

“O Shiva, what is your reality?
What is this wonder-filled universe?
Who centers this universal wheel?
How may we enter it fully, above space and time, names and descriptions?”

Essentially she is asking him to spill the beans. She is asking him to tell us “the theory of everything”, the one final answer to all questions anyone may ever have.

And then Shiva answers –

He gives 112 short simple ways whereby we may know the answer ourselves by experiencing it. In short, his answer just boils down to this –

Be aware. Experience completely. Receive fully.

He does not directly answer the question ‘What is your reality? Who centers the universal wheel?’ – for if we just heard that, bereft of experience it would just be information and theory to us. He tells us ways in which we can enter his reality, ways in which we can arrive at the center of the universal wheel – above space and time, names and descriptions – and thereby we can directly reach the answer experientially. Nowhere in the book does he say, “I center the universal wheel. This is my reality. Worship me (or anyone or anything for that matter)”. I told you, he’s a cool dude.

.

Observe. That is the bedrock of science. Observe as much as you can, as minutely as clearly as you can. On a personal level that converts to – be aware, experience completely. Be as acutely aware, of as much in you, around you, as you can.

Scientists use various instruments to observe – be it the grand Hadron Collider at CERN or the hapless rickety Voltmeter in the school lab. We too have been bestowed with superb instruments to observe with. The grandest, big daddy of them all being – our mind. And a plethora of other superb instruments too – eyes, ears, skin…

We just have to tune our instruments and use it completely. When we do that, we directly reach the reality of what is Shiva, along with resolutions to life problems required enroute.

To solve a problem, we have to know the problem. To know the problem, we have to observe the problem. And that applies to whatever hassle we may be experiencing. And even if everything is hunky dory and you are filled with wonder at our wondrous universe and want to know what drives it all – the ultimate question of science, “the theory of everything” – Shiva tells us how you can straight away, bang on, arrive at it. At the center of it all. Not only do you get to know the theory of everything, you get to directly connect with everything, you get to become everything.

It all boils down to tuning our instruments and using it. One simple way that Shivji gives to tune our big daddy instrument, our mind, is – be aware of your breath.

The first four verses of his answer are all different ways of saying, be aware of your breath. Here is the first –

1. Radiant one, this experience may dawn between two breaths. After breath comes in (down) and just before turning up (out) – the beneficence.

Whenever I do that, whenever I choose to become aware of my breath, I feel a sense of calm. Ok, relative calm. Things do not feel as overwhelming. I feel his presence. Be aware of your breath.

Imagine a rickety voltmeter gone rogue, jumping all over the lab. That’s what our mind is like most of the time. What kind of an answer to anything will we get using that instrument? What kind of problem solving will it manage to do? Even if someone is blaring the answer we seek at top volume, we won’t be able to hear it. Cause the voltmeter (which has a radio transmission receiver built into it) won’t be able to receive any radio transmission. We gotta tune the radio.

A way to do it – be aware of your breath.

Dear reader, I invite you – pause a second, become aware of your breathing – no need to close your eyes, take on a posture or any such thing – be aware of the movement in your chest, or your tummy – whichever moves more. Just five breaths. In and out.

Being aware of just five breaths, in and out, being aware of just one breath, has tremendous power.

Then Shivji, in Vigyaan Bhairav, gives some further ways to arrive at the center of the universal wheel, above space and time. Here are some that I particularly like. It all boils down to – Use your instruments! See! Listen! When eating something, taste it completely. When having sex, experience it so completely that the fire burns in you forever. Feeling like a rag doll? Well experience that completely.

16. In the beginning and gradual refinement of the sound of any letter, awake.

17. While listening to stringed instruments, hear their composite central sound; thus omnipresence.

22. Consider any area of your present form as limitlessly spacious.

27. When in worldly activity, keep attentive between two breaths, and so practicing, in a few days be born anew.

37. Look lovingly on some object. Do not go on to another object. Here, in the middle of this object – the blessing.

41. While being caressed, sweet princess, enter the caressing as everlasting life.

43. At the start of sexual union, keep attentive in the beginning, and so continuing, avoid the embers in the end.

45. Ever remembering union, without embrace, the transformation.

46. On joyously seeing a long-absent friend, permeate this joy.

47. When eating or drinking, become the taste of the food or drink, and be filled.

50. At the point of sleep when sleep has not yet come and external wakefulness vanishes, at this point being is revealed.

51. In summer when you see the entire sky, endlessly clear, enter such clarity.

52. Lie down as dead. Engaged in wrath, stay so. Or stare without moving an eyelash. Or suck something and become the sucking.

59. Simply by looking into the blue sky beyond clouds, the serenity.

62. In rain during a black night, enter that blackness as the form of forms.

67. Feel yourself pervading all directions, far, near.

79. Toss attachment for body aside, realizing I am everywhere. One who is everywhere is joyous.

82. Feel the consciousness of each person as your own consciousness. So, leaving aside concern for self, become each being.

91. Wherever your mind is wandering, internally or externally, this.

92. When vividly aware through some particular sense, keep in the awareness.

96. Devotion frees.

98. The purity of other teachings is as impurity to us. In reality know nothing as pure or impure.

100. Be the unsame same to friend as to stranger, in honor and dishonor.

101. When the mood against someone or for someone arises, do not place it on the person in question, but remain centered.

104. Wherever your attention alights, at this very point, experience.

108. Here is a sphere of change, change, change. Through change consume change.

109. As a hen mothers her chicks, mother particular knowings, particular doings, in reality.

110. Since, in truth, bondage and freedom are relative, these words are only for those terrified with the universe.
This universe is a reflection of minds. As you see many suns in water from one sun, so see bondage and liberation.

112. Beloved, at this moment let mind, knowing, breath, form, be included.

.

.

Did you sense a deep silence and wide expanse in those words?

There is tremendous transformative power in receiving our experiences completely. As we do it (even if just sometimes) over time it creates a shift, a transformation within. We start seeing the same things that have been in our life all along, in subtle but significantly different ways. There is power shining everywhere and every once in a while we are able to connect to it. A wide expanse opens up and our mind gets transformed in unimaginably gorgeous ways. We feel unlimited. We become unlimited.

Then, in the original Sanskrit, at the end of all his answers, Durga “कण्ठे लग्ना” – i.e. filled with gratitude, she embraces him, she hugs him tight.

That is exactly what happens. We are overcome by gratitude.

That sure is what happens to me. उनके बस गले लग जाना, ज़ोर से – और क्या चाह सकती हूँ मैं?

विस्तृत होकर मन मुस्काया
छा जाती नभ सी यह काया
मैं बस वाणी – मन भरमाया
मैं तो हूँ ब्रह्माण्ड समाया


Zen Flesh Zen BonesDear reader, the excerpts that I have shared with you here are from the book Zen Flesh Zen Bones which consists of four parts (it is not 4 parts as in 4 printed separate books – there are 4 parts within this one book Zen Flesh Zen Bones).

This, a very simple, extremely pared down translation of Vigyaan Bhairav is the last, 4th part of Zen Flesh Zen Bones titled “Centering”. 18 printed pages. That’s all.

There are other ways in which Vigyaan Bhairav is accessible to you too. There is a version available from Bihar School of Yoga / Bihar Yoga Bharati where the original Sanskrit is given with short explanations in English after each shloka. Osho Rajneesh has written a commentary on Vigyaan Bhairav where he has extensively expanded on each of the 112 shlokas and ways of going beyond space and time that Shivji gives. I have cursorily glanced at both these versions. Both are very nice. There are others too.

Sri_Vijnana_Bhairava_Tantra
Book of Secrets - Osho
Vijnana Bhairav - Lakshmanjoo

Personally, I am satisfied with these 18 pages in Zen Flesh Zen Bones and do not feel the need to delve into other more scholarly discourses. I really like the way the authors of Zen Flesh Zen Bones (with the help of a teacher Lakshmanjoo, in Kashmir), have pared down the verses to bare minimum words. It makes the spirit of the message that much more accessible to me. It enables me to stay near silence, near him – unentangled with words and form.

The Science of Shiva – Observe. Experience. Receive fully.


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Image credit: Shiv Shakti by Updendra Ratra

“Achieve! Achieve” But Why? – An Invited Article

human machine

Discussions on productivity just sound like another form of the litany “ACHIEVE! ACHIEVE” to me. This voice only grew louder and meaner as I found myself unable to continue in the corporate and academic world and was left wondering – “So then, now what?”

So what if I get 78 on 100, or 85 on 100 in a subject at school and not 92? “She is so intelligent but… “, that is what each teacher told my mom at the parent’s-teacher-meeting each year for ten years. “Can do better”, “Can do better”, every teacher wrote these same three words in the comment section of my report card. And I was left wondering silently, “So? So what if I did not get those few marks more? How does that matter?” I never got an answer. This standard feedback slowly translated into the litany inside “Achieve! Achieve!”, a gnawing sense of dissatisfaction with myself. Each time my inner voice demanded “Achieve! Achieve!”, my being with quiet innocence asked, “Why?” – and an answer was not forthcoming…

Dear Reader,

I was invited to contribute an article to an ongoing collaborative blog project called The Human In The Machine – articles on productivity written mostly by people in the software world. My article titled “Achieve! Achieve!” But Why? was published today.

The above was an excerpt from the article. Here is another –

“Work is love made visible”, says Khalil Gibran. That rings true in my being. However, to do that, one first needs to connect with the love within, which can then get expressed in the work we do. Some people know from early on which kind of work is “love made visible” for them. Maybe you do not know what it is for you. For the longest time I did not know. Now I sense that I am nearing the answer.

To find what you naturally like to do, which can be of worth to the world, can be a process of elimination for some people. It has been for me. This can be extremely harrowing and can batter one’s self esteem. You try one thing and find that is not the answer. You try another. That too is not the answer. And the only way you can know if something is or is not the answer is by doing it. And each time your self esteem dips a bit further. Self-doubt and the sense of failure tighten their grip. Nevertheless if this is the only option you have, then it is the only option you have. This search requires patience and faith. Even then, while being harrowing, this search can be exhilarating too.

Each doing and undoing leaves some clue in its wake. “Feeling” data points accumulate, the feeling that each activity, each engagement aroused in you. This “feelings database” that you create in your heart makes for exotic intuitive data analysis, if you let the pattern and answer reveal itself…

I invite you to please visit this project “The Human In The Machine” and read this human’s whole article here.

If you would like me to write for your publication, please email me at [email protected]