I love to go on Internet rabbit-holes. There is great pleasure in letting the monkey-mind run especially if you have a looming deadline. I have tried countless ways of avoiding distraction but often the mind just runs, like in a zig-zag or a tangential way – like a kid who finds an open field (I have seen cows do that as well, in case you find that visual appealing).
However, this day was different. Swamiji was talking about Self-purification and as usual I was typing at the same time. Note-taking has become a habit of mine – firstly so that I could internalise it, and then to use it to develop my own latticework of mental models to refer as and when required. I was chipping furiously on the keyboard – missing out on few words, until Swami ji started talking about a poem written by Adyashanti. The poem is titled The Spiritual Master and talks about how we are looking, but not listening. And I thought – wow what a profound poem narrated beautifully by Swamiji.
One thing led to another as i began my Internet pursuit, having faith in the serendipity of SEOs and backlinks, until I reached an article called – How to stop thoughts. This article hit home on how awareness is the key thing in spirituality and how most of us even though religious are often unconscious. To quote the author,
The key to stopping compulsive thoughts is remaining aware, and the key to remaining aware is the astonishing discovery that you normally are not aware.
When I read the article, I realised that this is what Swamiji means when he talks about mindfulness, when he talks about what Buddha meant when he said “I am awake”.. – I had a lot of connect-the-dot moments.
The article seemed like a shortcut to me of being connected to the Source, to Swamiji and have an instant Grace, if you will. I realised that even though I might not have hours of meditation under my belt, I am still holding the hand, so to speak.
To quote from the blog again,
You’ll begin to see that thinking and awareness are polar opposites. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other. At one end of the continuum, you are lost in thought. At the other end, you are aware.
You can learn to move voluntarily between Thoughts and Awareness, but most people remain lost in thought during almost all of their waking hours. They never notice that the aware state exists.
Real meditation is remaining in the aware state.
Over a period of time, I started researching on the author of the blog and his Guru Ramana Maharishi. I have been to Tiruvannamalai a couple of times. I have felt the gentle peacefulness of the mountain, the serenity of the Ramana Ashram and the vivacity of the Arunchala Shiva temple but I had always failed to grasp the path of self-enquiry evangelised by Ramana Maharishi.
I would start with “Who am I” question and often would hit a mental road-block. My mind would race to the final question as an intellectual outcome indicating we have already figured that out. It was like watching a suspense movie time and again, even though you know who is the killer. Until I realised, a key component that I had been missing in the path to self-enquiry.
The ‘Who am I’ question is not a question, but a state to be in. It is not an intellectual pursuit, but a state to be aware of the Self, because it is in a state of deep awareness that we lose the sense of the ego. To recognise that there is a Self and to be aware of that Self is the utmost essence.
Normally, people refer their realisation to some future time. They also feel guilty, victimised and hypnotised and in fact question their belief that they are the Self. It is for this reason that Bhagavad Gita says that few out of millions realise the Self.
Paul Brunton, the famous British traveller made notes of what Maharishi said and in one of the books, Conscious Immortality says –
There is a unity really, but intellect makes the differences. Yet intellect is a power (faculty) of the Self. But the principle which lies behind the intellect cannot be known by the intellect.
To me, this quote summed up bhakti yoga as well as jnana yoga path. It encapsulated both surrender and devotion in one sentence.
And you could only imagine my happiness when I found that we have the Mindfulness Meditation in the Black Lotus app. Having realised the essence of mindfulness and keen to practice it again, I took the course the second time. (I did not let my curiosity get the better of me to try another meditation). Whether this path is really a shortcut to enlightenment is yet to be seen though 🙂
Well, I have quoted from the blog, and I have quoted Ramana Maharishi, and I would like to end this article by quoting our beloved Swamiji on what I feel is the best quote on Mindfulness.
“Mindfulness is not just a state of mind or a feeling, instead it is your interaction with the world around you, It is your primordial energy mixing and interacting with the energies around you.”