When you are listening to somebody speaking, the speaker’s very first sentence triggers off some conversation within you. You are constantly agreeing or disagreeing with the speaker. Have you ever wondered whether you can listen without any thoughts or pre-conceived notions in your mind?
Students listening to an hour-long lecture in a class are able to grasp only a part of it. Increasingly, even that grasp is diluting — attention deficiency syndrome. Only if there is alertness and presence of mind in the entire society will business prosper.
Perception, observation and expression are three important aspects of life. Those who perceive things better have balanced observations and expression. Recollect how much enthusiasm and joy you had when you went to the primary school as a child. Wherever there is life, there is enthusiasm. Someone without enthusiasm is like a corpse. But as you mature, the enthusiasm curve declines. And as enthusiasm declines, we stop communicating; leave alone formal lectures, even one to one informed talks hold no interest.
Have you any enthusiasm left? See, we look at everything but we do not look at our own faculties. Life has many faculties — body, breath, etc. Are you aware of your body? You become aware of your body only when it aches. Just as a child throws tantrums when it is not given attention, your body throws tantrums when you don’t attend to it. If you attend to your body constantly, it won’t throw tantrums. And attending to the body is not just about food and exercise; it is taking your attention to each part of your body and loving it consciously. Your body is the closest thing to you, it is the first layer of existence.
The second faculty is breath. What makes the skin different from leather? It is the breath. Even shoes have some value. But your body, when it is not breathing, has no value. Our first act, when we came to the world, was to breathe in and the last act will be to breathe out. But we ignore this primordial function of our life. Know that your breath holds many secrets; every emotion has a corresponding rhythm of breath. Attending to the breath helps regulate emotional disturbances.
The third faculty that we possess is our mind. This is the faculty through which we perceive and yet this is the faculty that we know the least about.
The fourth faculty, which is our memory, functions in a very funny manner; if you receive ten compliments from someone and one criticism, it is that one criticism that will cling to your memory. Basically, memory feeds on interest. It retains only those situations and subjects in which it feels interest; if you enjoy astronomy, your memory will also treasure it.
The next faculty is intellect. Even as you are reading now, your intellect is saying something. It is passing some sort of judgment, it is accepting or rejecting what is written, questioning my words. All this comes with intellect.
Then there is ego. When you are happy, something in you expands. That something is ego. Ego brings happiness, it brings creativity, shyness, grief. If you are shy and timid, it is because of your ego; joy and pride are also due to ego; behind every fear, there is ego. We know very little about the function of ego. Knowledge of your ego can strengthen you, it will eliminate your vulnerability.
The next faculty is something that does not have tangible boundaries. Sometimes when you are relaxed or you are in love, you feel a sense of wonder, that there is something more mysterious in life than we are aware; it may happen when you are watching a sunset, when you are reading the Gita, when a baby is born, when you are taking a cold shower or when you are sick with fever. That something is the self, the consciousness, the atma. You may hardly notice it, but those few seconds give you so much peace and tranquillity. Preserving those moments will enrich your life.
Meditation is a conscious experience of that aspect within you that enriches all other six layers. Nowhere, neither at home nor at school, are we taught to deal with our minds and emotions. Has anybody ever taught you how to cope with depression, anger, jealousy, tension? Nobody taught Thomas Edison how to make a bulb either. He did it on his own. When you learn something yourself, it is great. You should always be open to learning; if you don’t learn from your own intuition, take advantage of someone else’s intuition.
You may feel ‘‘It is my mind; why should anyone else teach me how to control it?’’. But while it is your hands and feet that operate a car, while the steering and accelerator are fitted in the car, you still have to learn to drive. Someone has to teach you. Of course, if you know or learn on your own, then there is no problem!
Emotional problems do exist in schools and colleges but nobody is taught how to handle these emotions. It is startling to read news reports of brilliant children, with bright futures, committing suicide. There is a connection between your breath and emotion. When you are angry, your breath moves in one rhythm; when you are upset, your breath moves in another rhythm; when you are jealous or depressed, your breath moves in yet other rhythms. You need to be aware of this and how through the rhythm of breath, you can handle your emotions and your mind. It is very simple, just keep an open mind.
What is that you can do for eternity? Definitely not anything that is big or great because it needs effort, and effort tires. So, it is a temporary state. If you can think of one thing that is below your capacity to do and agree to do it, that becomes Pooja. The readiness to consciously do trivial things for eternity unites you with eternity. This is an antidote to ego.
Ego is always ambitious and wants to do the toughest job like climbing Mount Everest, etc. Whereas in a simple act like watching a butterfly, watering the garden, watching the birds or the sky, can bring deep relaxation, and relaxation connects you with your source. Not that you do trivial things all your life, but consciously agreeing to do the trivial actions for eternity, opens a new dimension and brings in immense peace and restfulness.
To find rest in activity, choose an activity that is far below your capacity and agree to do it until eternity. Doing a job far below your capacity and being satisfied with it will make it possible to do a job much beyond your capacity. And to get rid of stress, do something really simple and silly, like taking a walk. Just come out of your little shells and feel free. Let anyone think what they like; do not be a football of other people’s opinions. If there is love in you, enthusiasm, sense of belongingness, that is real success.
Know that all actions are born out of infinity and that which is born out of infinity can take you to infinity