Many of our blog posts address specific topics in the practice of Spirituality in our daily life. Here is a brief review. We end this essay with a comprehensive model for evolution in leadership (see figure at the end), which can be practiced from child hood to old age, for education, at home, work place and everywhere!
Philosophy is an in-depth study of any subject. The purpose is to develop an analytical understanding of the subject in a manner and outcome consistent for all situations and context. It is exploration of the “truth” pertinent to the subject under study.
In Sath Sangh, we explore the “truth” as it pertains to life. The expected outcome is a manner of living that is free of perturbations and the moment to moment disturbances created by our emotions and attachments. This non-attachment as an undercurrent or basis for life and its activities is considered as the “liberation”. Reference: Sathsanghathve’ …… Bhajagovindam, by Saint Sankaracharya.
Life is a product of our experiences:
Life is a collection of experiences. These “experiences” are unique and personal to each of us. They determine the differences recognized between each of us. These experiences also create a sense of “I” as an individual distinct from “you” and others. (e.g.):
- From birth we are conditioned to look at ourselves through these experiences – name, parents, family, education, work, accomplishments, friends…
- My parents, children, my property, my education, etc. (even though everyone has parents, possessions and knowledge gained from their education)
- I like this, I don’t like that, I love her, I hate him, etc. (even though all materials and people co-exist as part of the universe at large)!
If we can understand how these “experiences” are created then we should have a good handle on what is life? In that case, managing our experiences also become the tools for managing our life.
Tools to understand the basis of our experiences:
Life is also a collection of activities. No one exists without engaging in some activity or other. This is true for a fully active family man or a mendicant sitting under a tree or a home-less in street corner!
Every activity is an engagement of our body, mind and/or intellect in the world around us. Engagement of these three tools in every activity results in a connection with the inner person (I) – the soul or consciousness. This connection is the perceived experience (Vasana) resulting in our sense of individuality.
The inner person can be thought of as the “Resident” and the external (which is recognized as the individual) as the “Residence”. As an analogy we identify the driver of the car with the car (e.g.) the man in the red Porsche. As long as you are inside the car, you move and travel with it. The car and you are part of the same journey. You are the driver and the car is the driven.
The inner person – consciousness – is the driver and the external person (identified through body, mind and intellect) is the driven. The nature of connection between the consciousness and anything other than that, creates our experiences.
In any electric circuit, the bulbs glow in various shapes and in different colors enabled by the electrical energy and governed by the laws well known to physicists, electricians and electrical engineers. Similarly consciousness is the enabler and its role is reflected through our experiences. Consciousness is an aspect of nature. Just like electricity, consciousness has no identifiable properties. No one has seen the “consciousness” independent of living objects just as no one has seen “electricity” on its own.
A droplet of water is merely part of any body of water. Our consciousness is merely part of the larger body of the universal consciousness. The gravitational force on an apple is no different from the force pulling us towards the earth. The consciousness enabling our life and its activities may be no different than the life force enabling a worm to exist or a bear to survive the cold polar winters. This consciousness which has no properties and it merely exists through all identifiable objects and living beings, we identify that as Universal Consciousness.
Laws governing our experiences:
The laws governing the connection between our consciousness and its reflection as our experience is described in detail in Chapter 14 of Bhagawath Geetha. Following is a brief summary.
At any moment we exist through a collection of activities
For each activity
- Our consciousness is connected to the external through three connectors:
Knowledge, Bias (attachment to the belief that partial knowledge is the whole) and Ignorance.
- All these three connectors (Guna) co-exist ALL the time. But one dominates over the other two.
- The dominant connector determines our “experience” with respect to that activity at that moment.
- Life can be subjective – driven by impulse, opinions and lack of coherence – when viewed only from the experiences without comprehension of the connectors and their roles.
- Life can become “Objective” – driven by reflection, logic and coherence and hence with a larger perspective and in harmony with the world at large – when the connectors and their roles are explored.
- Such reflection of the connectors and their roles is called Yoga (union with the self).
- Reflection of the connectors is intimate and personal (While there can be dependence on others for teaching or guidance no one can serve as a substitute!).
- Objectivity in turn leads to a steady and tranquil state of mind, while actively engaged in the many facets of life.
Your effort should be to understand the above laws and apply them even in small incremental efforts.
Do not get overwhelmed by them or over analyze them. Are you subjective (driven by feelings and opinions and desires that change from moment to moment and perpetually)? Through the application of above laws can you find a steady and stable frame of mind in anything small and discrete? Can you step back and check your impulses? Can you follow it up with some reflection and analysis based on the above laws? Then you will begin to see the distinction between subjective and objective frame of mind.
- Objectivity is enhanced through the recognition of the connectors, their co-existence and treatment of all three connectors as equal in weightage.
- Ignorance is accepted, bias is not underplayed or knowledge is over stated.
- Such equal treatment of all three connectors is called Sagunathvam.
- In due course even the connectors are seen as irrelevant (since any and all activity is understood as mere reflection of the laws of nature). Such state of mind is called Nirgunathvam.
- Such progressive evolution in objectivity in any person is also the evidence of divine nature in him/her.
Objectivity helps us to listen more and speak less. Listening and reflection makes us less judgmental. The speaking that follows is helpful and not mere words that fill the time. Reflection leads to “living in the moment”, with a genuine sense of gratitude for what we have and a desire to help others (not as matter of benevolence but merely as the right thing to do) for the given moment and as the situation calls for.
- Several features are described to identify such a person of divine qualities. Few examples:
- Equal to friend and foe – the reasons and factors are understood for friendship and enmity. These are not seen as the permanent marks of any person.
- Equal in treatment of clay and gold – each is seen as objects of nature, with their appropriate role and place.
- Such a person lives like a lotus plant that thrives in a body of water, but is not wetted by it!
- For such a person life is like a breeze (an object of nature that merely exists and by its movement spreads the fragrance for all to enjoy).
Relating our life experiences to the connectors and their evidences:
- Details of the connectors – their definition, features, observing connectors before an activity, during and activity, at the end, at any moment of decision making – are all described in Chapter 14 of Bhagawth Geetha. See Table provided for details.
- Any aspect or activity of life is amenable to reflection and analysis to observe the role of the connectors. We have discussed a few. For example:
- Giving gifts
- Food habits
- Work place events
- Impulsive response – just as getting angry – which is regretted afterwards.
- Events during vacation or holidays
- Reading scriptures
- Hinduism is full of symbols and symbolism. They can be used to remind us of the connectors, their role and their inter-connectedness. (e.g.):
- The symbol Aum can be seen as:
3 – to remind us of the Body, Mind and Intellect through which we exists, the hook as an extension away from these three to look at the connectors at work and the “o” which completes the Aum, but is not physically connected to the rest as the soul, Athman or Consciousness. Together Aum signifies the entirety of our existence.
- The lamp can be seen as a symbol:
Lamp has three parts: The changeless earthen pot (Body), the volatile oil (Mind) and the wick that transforms the oil into the flame (Intellect) AND the glow which merely exists creating illumination. The glow has no properties of its own (Consciousness) and it exists as witness to our body, mind and intellect.
We need to learn to connect the frequently used symbols in any religion to the basic principles of philosophy. Hope the above two are your starting points.
Sep. 17, 2017