And this is how it goes:
The landscape of your childhood
goes first; then those who shared it.
Your own memories turn transparent
And one day, you go too.
A gravestone – a name, two dates –
marks your passage till rain and sun smooth it
into bald-faced anonymity.
The gravestone becomes a rock again,
the body becomes earth again,
the grasses sway in the breeze.
And this is the lie that never lets you see this:
this picture you are seeing just now –
of this field with swaying grasses.
As if the mind can show you
what will remain after you are gone.
One of the most beautiful and unknown gems in Eastern non-duality, whom I recently discovered thanks to my mentor GD, is Wu Hsin. Born a hundred years after Confucius, his name literally means ‘no-mind’. And true to his name, there is no trace of him available – no profile, no wikipedia entry, one single image. This is just how he would have liked it I suppose – after all, what is the value in deliberating over the life story of someone who says our life story is a dream?
‘Behind The Mind’ is a collection of his short daily discourses, some of them literally just a few sentences long, at the end of which he tells students to ponder over the words till the next day. Like the recent and better-known Nisargadatta Maharaj, Wu Hsin’s words are stark, unsentimental and powerful. “Listen to Wu Hsin,” he says, “but do not expect to benefit in any way. Who is there to be benefitted? Any seeming benefit is only another stitch in the tapestry of the personal narrative.”
A few timeless pointers from this must-read collection:
An imagined entity desires to become an enlightened imagined entity. What’s the point? It is like trying to measure space. Yet, this will continue until such time as the distinction is made between this that I am and that that I appear to be.
Dismount the pendulum of fear and desire. That ground beneath you is the Source and Support.
See that you create the space in which the world moves, the time in which it lasts. Come to realize that the world is only sand. You may play with it, you may walk on it, but don’t build your house there. There is no journey, as such. It may not seem so, but we are always back where we started. What we were in essence, and what we will be in essence, is what we are in essence.
All thinking is imaginary because the person talking to you is imaginary. There is no self talking to yourself; in fact, there also is no “yourself”. Stay a time in silence. Do not accept these words; look for yourself for “yourself”.
The two great delusions are that life is controllable and that there is an entity, me, who can exercise said control. But if we cannot even control the thoughts that appear to us, how can we possibly believe we can control what occurs to us?
Wherever you go, you carry with you the sense of here and now. This is what distinguishes any present experience from memory. It reveals that space and time are in you and not the other way around. Most people are not acquainted with the sense of their being but only with the knowledge of their doing.
Enlightenment is one more concept to add to your collection, yet another idea regarding improving yourself, discovering yourself, or obtaining peace and happiness.
Don’t take life personally. The sun has no care for what passes through the sky.
Last month, by chance, I found out that movie stars are not the only ones blatantly misquoted. Here’s how it happened: for a few weeks last year, as my signature on email, I had used this Buddha quote – ‘when you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky’. Reading it every day, it struck me as odd because Siddhartha Gautama wasn’t exactly known as a laughing into the sky kinda dude. On a hunch, I tried my luck on Google.
Thus, I stumbled upon an amazing website called www.fakebuddhaquotes.com run by a light-hearted Western Buddhist Bodhipaksa. Turned out this quote is a total fake. As are the following common ones that I betcha didn’t know were fakes too.
1) “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” A quick 0.27 sec Google Search tells me this quote has been circulated at least 102,000 times online. But it’s a fake – unless the Buddha suddenly spoke these words privately in the late 1990s.
2)“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” This common one, according to Bodhipaksa, is from page 112 of Jack Kornfield’s “Buddha’s Little Instruction Book,” where Jack “distilled and adapted an ancient teaching for the needs of contemporary life.” Some readers mistook Jack’s yarn as ol’ Siddhartha’s homespun wisdom.
3)“What you think, you become” This is actually similar to something the Buddha did say: ‘whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking and pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.’ But there is no record of the Buddha saying this current crisp version. Maybe because if you think about Lady Gaga, you will not become Lady Gaga, no matter who says it.
What was more shocking to me was that Bodhipaksa’s site lists over50 such fake Buddha quotes which are doing the rounds of the net. So when I see one now, I put Buddha’s teaching of discernment into practice before passing it on!
Connecting with non-duality always feels like a homecoming to me. A return to a restful and nourishing womb from the dazzling chaos of sensory perception. But sometimes, the words and conviction of someone who is ‘being that space’ of oneness are really helpful to find one’s way out of the mind.
Here are some powerful words my mentor GD said to me one day when I was temporarily lost in a jungle of self-doubt, depression and anger.
I had spoken to him after many days because I had also been holding the story that he was somehow blocking my creativity. Beneath it was a fear that my old ‘solid’ life was slipping out of grasp and the way ahead seemed less and less visible. With my clever, commercially-calculated creativity, I believed I could hold on to my old ‘secure’ life. But he did not seem to encourage it. So I was mad at him and mad at life.
When we finally did talk, GD did not mollycoddle the ego. Instead of offering temporary fixes, he went straight to the root. He did not tell ‘me’ what to do, he spoke on behalf of Me.
Speaking from the space where he and I were not two separate entities, he offered a paradigm-shaking view of ‘my life’ – it was like the voice of my own Soul speaking to me. Here is the distilled essence of those words:
“I who am Consciousness, have nothing to do with success and failure, but sometimes give reality to thoughts of success and failure.
I who am Consciousness, have nothing to do with happiness or sadness, but sometimes believe the stories of happiness or sadness.
I who am consciousness… am whole, complete and fulfilled. Except… when I start playing with thoughts of incompletion and scarcity.
I who am Consciousness, who am already love, peace and joy, have bought into the story that happiness must come from outside, and I am waiting for something to fulfill this story.
I who am Consciousness am the life in your body… and the light in your mind. All your thoughts, feelings, desires and emotions are non-existent without me.
Forget about aalif. It will get taken care of.
What you are calling ‘I’ is just the sum total of your memories. You are simply Consciousness being aalif in this moment.
Aalif is the hand-puppet – Consciousness is the hand. The hand-puppet was never meant to be taken so seriously.
You have abandoned 99% percent of yourself – which is Consciousness. And embraced only 1% of yourself – which is the thought-sensation called aalif.
The question for you is simple: Are you willing to live from the standpoint of Consciousness? Or do you want to continue being a conflicted flow of memories and desires?
You say you want to be free. But freedom actually means – freedom from the illusion called aalif.”
My little teacher is unwell, his face crumpled into a little ball. His voice a croak as he struggles to say ‘no’ even to all his favorite things. His dulled eyes uncomprehending what is happening. Such a change from his usual chirpy self. As we begin the business of doctors and medication, here is an unforgettable lesson he taught me last week.
My little boy walks Through incense smoke curls Giggling. Turns to do it again. Holds. Bites. Nothing Remains. Beaming: “Papa, look!”
I see my own life, Curling into nothingness As I move past every moment Just like vapor. And I wish I got the giggling part right.
Seeing the response for The Illusion of Ownership, here’s another GD ‘on the rocks’. I love putting up these posts as I am constantly amazed by how much GD conveys with such few words. A note of caution from my experience: don’t speed through, connecting catch-words and key phrases. I find it reveals much more when I go slow… sip… savor… allow it to sink in… and repeat. There is more hidden in here than meets the eye… 🙂
The mind works hard to make everything mean something.
It is always trying to connect the threads
of every thought, every emotion, every event that happens.
That is how the mind has created the entire story of ‘my life’.
It has woven innumerable threads of perception to create a pattern.
A logical and linear pattern that makes sense to us,
and to others when we narrate it.
Someone else in the same life situations may have focused on completely different threads, and created a completely different pattern with a completely different story and meaning.
No matter which threads we have chosen, and which pattern we have created, the story of our life is more about creative perception rather than truth.
What if nothing really meant anything.
And all the meanings we have plastered are nothing but our own creativity.
How much time and energy gets spent on this imaginary story of ‘me’. We love it – we hate it.
We cling to it – we want to destroy it.
We want to share it with the world – and we want to hide it as well.
But what if the entire story of our life is just fiction…
Just a few thought forms still hanging around because we want them to.
What if we are story-less, past-less, personality-less…
absolutely undefined and undefinable.
What if we are just an open space
with infinite potential and possibility.
What if this story of ‘me’ that we love so much is actually our bondage…
a box, a fence, a jail made of flimsy thoughts.
Are you willing to taste the explosive freedom
that you are without ‘me’ and ‘my story’?
My 3-year-old son Nirvaan is at that age when “whys” are sprouting out of him like mushrooms in monsoon. A few weeks ago, we tried to turn the tables on him by asking him “why”. He took our question seriously. He stopped playing and arched his eyebrows and said confidently: “Because… agubudagah.” Which doesn’t mean anything in any language.
Since then it has become a game: the answer to every why according to him is agubudagah. Which stops any further whys right there, with a laugh.
But it struck me that when my mind gets stuck in the groove of trying to figure out the “whys” of my life, do I really know any better? Did an event happen because it was astrologically determined? Or did it happen because of karma? Did I subconsciously manifest it? Or was it unavoidably destined? Is it a gift, a lesson or a punishment from God? Or is it finally just a meaningless happening in a dream within consciousness?
My mind finds a certain story appealing at a certain time, and later latches onto another for the same event. It believes a painful story or an ego-gratifying one. Every answered why begets a further why ad infinitum. And the mind struggles to find the final answer. But after thousands of books and 39 years of life, I still can’t assert that any answer to the “why” question is the absolute last one. They all seem like plausible theories which are valid – but not true.
So henceforth, instead of struggling to the find the answer to my “whys”, I am seriously considering the option of agreeing with my 3-year-old: “Because agubudagah”. It is closest to the reality that I-don’t-really-know-and-my-answer-is-gibberish-anyway. And it’s way more fun!
I found this typed on the Notepad app in my iPhone yesterday. I had written it a few months ago during a work trip. It seemed to capture a momentary epiphany well enough that reading it brought back that space. Hope it does the same for you…
One is so involved in the pulling-pushing-fixing of this body-mind that one does not notice this effortless vastness that awaits. It’s like those moments when one is absorbed in solving a knotty puzzle and when one looks up, there is a beautiful sunset light flooding the room.
Who’s doing this? Who is illuminating this universe this second? And now? And now? It surely is not me.
And what is me – sensations, thoughts flowing in kaleidoscopic patterns? With nothing constant in them. Except for this space. This block in which ‘my life’ unfolds.
The mind has fallen silent now – this space does not need fixing. There is silence inside and there is silence outside. And what could be a more appropriate response to perfection?
When I was a teenager, I was so shy, I could barely say hello to strangers. As I grew within a global corporation, I picked up a way of speaking, an easy humor and bluff confidence. Meeting others with a giant company logo behind me ensured a comfortable starting point. And then one day, I left the corporation and realized that the teenager remains alive inside, still uncertain, still feeling lost without a definition.
It was only then I could see clearly that my job had become more than a simple transaction in exchange for money: it had become a crutch for my very identity. Without it, I felt I could not stand – it was painful. One weekend last year, during my transition out of a full-time job, I discussed this with my mentor GD.
“Who we truly are is absolutely un-definable,” he reassured me. “Our attempts at a ‘fixed’ self definition are like trying to trap the sky into a box – just not possible. The mind desperately wants to define oneself and one’s life story: I am a CEO – I am a millionaire – I am creative – I am a husband. But deep down, we know that all these definitions are only temporary. And being temporary, all self definitions inherently create fear.”
I remembered how the fear of losing the position and business card made me resist any change in my corporate lifestyle for years. Even if it felt like muck, leaving a full-time job was unthinkable. So instead, every weekend, I would ask GD how I could use spirituality to make the muck a little more livable.
Our bondage is this deep desire for self-definition, GD would often say. But I wasn’t ready to hear this until much later, until that weekend after I had quit.
“The mind,” GD explained that weekend, “is seeking certainty and stability. So it creates numerous definitions and gets very attached to them. These definitions become ‘me’. So when these definitions are taken away, it feels like a death of some sort. Our true undefined nature scares the hell out of the mind. But if you truly want to flow with life, you have to embrace the fact that you can never be defined. You are too big, too vast for any label.”
While writing this, it struck me that today, almost a year after this conversation, I rarely think about how I define myself anymore. I have developed a few stock phrases, which seem to satisfy most people who don’t really care about you anyway – they have too many problems of their own. I take the cue from my three-year-old son, who doesn’t care if he is called a gorilla or a genius – he is equally ecstatic to be alive either way.
And I try to remember GD’s statement: “When you cease trying to define yourself as ‘something’, you are suddenly free to be anything and everything.”
Of all the subjects I write about, there is no subject more real for me and more urgent for others than mastering of work. Real for me because it has been the most challenging arena for applying spiritual insight all my life. And urgent for others because millions around the globe, and many of my friends, are finding themselves at the same place where I found myself last year: at a major crossroad between continuing what they were doing and stepping into the unknown to perhaps discover something else. What that something else in life is, I did not know at the time, and my friends today don’t know either.
Another thing I did not see at the time, was that what was happening to me was not personal – I was part of a bigger planetary shift towards more consciousness in every area of life. As are you, if you are still reading this.
Right now, this is what this shift probably feels like: you are not sure what to do in life anymore, there may be anger at others and yourself because you are not certain who to blame for this predicament, you wonder why you are not excited about the very work that gave you a high in the past, there are moments of intense panic when you think about finances, there is a desire to explore alternative ways of eating, exercising and living. Right now, it doesn’t feel like you are part of what psychics and channels call ‘the greatest transition in the history of mankind’ – right now, it feels like being a confused shit.
That is also the real reason why this blog came into existence in the first place – to be able to talk about things which are relevant and sometimes painful. As they were for me. But fortunately, I had my brother, a psychic empath we call GD, to talk to.
For the next few weeks, I will be focusing on this subject which GD calls ‘The New Paradigm of Work’. I will be writing about all the things he and I have spoken about in the last one year. I will be sharing the insights which got me out of the stuck places, the processes which cleared the past issues and the vision which showed me where we are heading. (Hint: it’s not a place, it’s a state)
As I struggled with my own transition, we spoke about the clues to know when it’s really time to make a change, how to get through the dreaded transition phase, and the building blocks of your new life. I got to learn some really cool things like finding your personal frequency and tuning into the frequency of miracles, finding exactly where you stand at every point using the Universal Feedback Mechanism, and how to stay in the Flow where work (and life) becomes effortless joy, ease and fun.
I have been compiling these conversations and processes for a year now. GD informed me that the time has come for it to be shared immediately. As a spiritual therapist, he is getting more and more clients with the same complaint, the same symptoms, and no clear remedy in sight. So I am truly excited to share this with whoever needs it.
So here’s the plan:
Every Weekend for 11 WEEKS, I will put up a new blog post about a Major Insight. It will contain tips, tricks and processes for dealing with some aspect of this transition with an irreverent original cartoon thrown in. In later weeks, GD will be sharing some guided meditation audios specially created for transforming the quality of work. You can download them FREE from here.
During the week, if you have any questions, I will request GD to speak especially about those subjects – which may help others as well. I plan to also share my anecdotes around the major insight of the week and look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences.
Lastly, please pass this on to any friends whom you see standing at the same crossroads – this is a good time for them to subscribe by email for an easy weekend read if they feel inspired to do so. And this is a good time to begin to change one’s life.