This is the fifth in a series of six essays on this topic: Anatomy of our experience.
Through a series of discussions thus far, we have converged on the following:
- Our ability to stay focused and remain composed and contended – whether we comprehend the laws of nature at play or not – is enhanced by our faith in the laws of nature at work and the singular source representing all of them, which may be identified with as the Universal soul, the Consciousness, the God. With such faith and understanding we remain in harmony and as part and parcel with the universe at large (Thath Thwam Asi).
- If we comprehend the laws of nature at play, then the observations, effect, and consequences are all clear. With such knowledge we can choose to become “observers” of our “experience”. When we do so, we see that our experiences are not a continuum, but discrete events, like the scenes in the hands of the movie editor.
- Everything happens governed by and as a consequence of, the Laws of Nature. We breathe and as a result we enjoy the sweet smell of flowers! Whether we understand the laws of nature at play pertinent to each event or not, we still remain under the influence of their invisible hands.
- There are times when such knowledge is overwhelmed by our bias; there are also occasions when we are overwhelmed by our ignorance.
- What we term as our “experience” is governed by our three connectors – Knowledge, our bias and our ignorance of the laws of nature at play. The specific nature of our experience is determined by these three co-existing connectors and the dominant role of the one over the other two.
Now the question arises: “How can I know, which connector is dominant?” Following verses are useful guides:
When tranquility and contentment is perceived in every avenue of the body and its functions, one can recognize that Knowledge has prevailed. B.G. 14. 11.
When bias or partial knowledge prevails, we see agitated activity. Greed or desires of endless nature are their source. They set in motion an end less chain of activities, each unable to meet the need or unease and longing. B.G. 14. 12.
When Ignorance prevails, we see stagnation or procrastination. The result is gloom or darkness, ineptness, lack of direction or lack of a sense of purpose. Their origins are attraction born out of illusion. B.G. 14. 13
It will require sustained and in-depth study of these verses to gain their full import. For example, consider from the above (B.G. 14.11) the phrase “contentment is perceived in every avenue of the body”. When total and complete knowledge prevails we are not only contented emotionally and intellectually, but we see the evidences of the same in the words we speak, in the expression in our eyes, the words and sound we hear, etc.
We can also learn about the dominant connector, based on how one proceeds forward at a time of crisis. Crisis need not be a calamitous event. Crisis can be thought of simply as a moment of decision making. If you think about it deeply, you will see that we are making decisions all the time. The more intense and calamitous the situation, the decision making takes a “crisis” proportion. How we make our decisions or how we make our choices is greatly determined by the connectors. Here are few more guide lines on the role of connectors at any moment of decision making:
At a time of crisis, higher levels of knowledge and hence tranquility transforms a person to a higher plane (of reflection and consideration of the situation as a whole). B.G. 14.14.
When the Knowledge is the dominant connector, the decision making process is focused on the laws of nature at play and their understanding. The emphasis is on the “process” of inquiry. This brings a consistent approach to all times, situations and circumstances. The details and specifics surrounding the decision making process are merely used as evidences. We call a person with such a state of mind as the “professional”. This may be a lawyer, doctor, musicians, teacher, etc. This is like an impartial judge or jury, for whom the process – upholding the law – is the only goal, no matter who is on either side of the case! Objectivity is second nature to a person or group of people or in a situation, where “Knowledge” has a dominant role over the other two connectors.
In fact most of the time we are at peace and in harmony within thanks to the laws of nature at play. But like a good meal, we enjoy it when we experience it, but we tend to forget that soon after! Make a list of all the things you do in a given day. Very likely you were engaged in scores of activities during the day. If you include your breathing, digestion, assimilation, brain functions, etc. you are indeed engaged in countless number of activities each day! Now make a list among them, when you felt agitated, perturbed or were at a total loss (lacking any direction what so ever). Very likely they are no more than a few, a handful at best! But, it is our bias to these few activities or events and the ignorance of that truth, which overwhelm us to see our life as a constant chore and misery! The few saints who realized this have exclaimed, “I am Happiness”!
At a time of crisis dominance of bias or partial knowledge (and attachment to it as the total truth) leads to turbulence or agitation, further resulting in an endless chain of activities (each unable to full fill the desires, needs and wants). B.G. 14.15
We find ourselves some of the time in this situation. We have a false belief that action is required here and now. Hence we fail to step back and reflect. Majority of the books on self-development focus on this aspect and provide scores of guidelines. One simple principle is enough: Simply take a deep breath, step back and ask yourself, “What am I doing? Why? What are the laws of nature at play here?” When you are unable to step back, call upon your faith – in God – to give you the strength and courage to step back and reflect. It is this capacity to rein in your horses that is called Yoga. The reflection that follows is the beginning of Self-Realization.
At a time of crisis dominance of Ignorance leads to stagnation or procrastination or inactivity B.G. 14.15.
Dominance of Ignorance is the most difficult for one to recognize on his/her own accord. If you are ignorant, you will know about it only if you permit some one else to point out that to you! But, if you are also biased and unwilling to let any one give you that information, then you will never get out of your ignorance. In that situation you are in a vicious cycle. You wish to make a decision or move forward, but like a frog in the well, you are stuck! On the other hand, if you are knowledgeable about the possibility of your being ignorant, then you open the door for others (with knowledge) to inform you on what you need to know. This is possible if and only if you genuinely believe in our earlier axiom: Knowledge, Bias and Ignorance – all three connectors – co-exist all the time!
It is said that Knowledge and tranquility arise as the result of proper or virtuous acts, which in turn leads to clarity and absence of blemish (purity). The result of partial knowledge is agitated activity in turn leading to sorrow. Absence of skills for analysis and discrimination (between right and wrong) is the fruit of Ignorance. B.G. 14.16
Knowledge leads to understanding and analytical skills; Bias leads to agitated activity rooted in greed; lack of direction and illusion as well as inactivity is the result of ignorance. B.G. 14.17
Higher levels of Knowledge through its effect on tranquility, contemplation, reflection and analysis elevates one to the higher level (of accomplishment of the intended goal or purpose); Bias, when it is dominant leads to agitated activity of end less nature (like a person caught in a swirl of water) with no end in sight. Preponderance of Ignorance sinks a person to the lower levels, loosing ground constantly. B.G.14.18.