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The Spiritual

"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


"If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation"
J.Krishnamurthi


"From the first, nothing is"
Buddha


"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey"
Sufi Proverb


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life"
Thich Nhat Hahn


Random Thoughts

A Glimpse into the Human Soul

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The concept of "soul" as an eternal, indestructible, pure and imperishable entity residing within the human body is deeply ingrained in the philosophy of many religions. The New-Age spiritualists have exploited it for their commercial gains by churning out books after books on body-soul bedlam. Yet the idea of something eternal and pure that is not defiled by worldly anomalies fascinates people. Hindus have always believed in Karma and reincarnation. Krishna in Bhagavad Gita says, "Just as a man discards worn out clothes and puts on new clothes, the soul discards worn out bodies and wears new ones." (Chapter 2). The concept of Soul, or "Aatma" in Hindi, has thus created "Dev-aaatma", the divine soul or demi-god and "Param-aatma", the supreme soul, considered to be the God almighty. Fascinatingly, Hindus also believe that since all the aatmas are manifestation of one Supreme Being, worshipping any of the forms is same as worshipping the Parama-atma. As a result, the Hindu society is inundated with various Gods and demi-gods under different names and forms. However, the underlying principle of oneness is still revered. That is because the God, or the Param-aatma, is seen as a manifestation of three entities, Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver or the protector) and Shiva (the destructor or the esoteric). Mythological figures, Parashurama, Ram, Krishna and even Gautam Buddha are considered to be the "reincarnations" of Vishnu. Hindus believe that worshipping any of the three manifestations, or their reincarnations, is essentially worshipping just one Supreme Being.

The Hindu concept of trinity is not far from the Christian belief of Divine Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. The Catholics believe in resurrection of Christ, in the similar way as Hindus believe in reincarnation. However, most of the Christian institutions do not believe in reincarnation of ordinary human souls. Some people, however, believe that the notion and the references to reincarnation were expunged from the Bible by the Church with an objective to keep focus on one single entity - Christ - as the only divine figure capable of such miracle (wilipedia.org). John (3:3) says, "...Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God". The different interpretation of this passage has prompted various evangelistic movements. However, the Catholic Church interprets "born again" as a mean of "conversion" or "baptism". Islam rejects the idea of reincarnation all together but believes that all the dead will be risen to face the day of the judgement in front of God. Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) reports that some of the verses from Quran are interpreted differently by some branches of Islam such as Sufism. "From the (earth) did We Create you, and into it Shall We return you, And from it shall We Bring you out once again." (The Quran, 20:55), is interpreted by Sufis as a reference to reincarnation. The Jewish mystic sect of Kabbalah points to various references of reincarnation in the Hebrew Bible although the traditional Jewish belief does not directly endorse the notion of reincarnation. Similarly, there have been various examples of the use of the term reincarnation throughout the history in various traditions, invariably associating it with some sort of "entity" that reincarnates life after life, many like to call as "soul".

In the spiritual (non-religious) domain - and the word "spiritual" can also be interpreted in various ways by various individuals - the notion of soul is often associated with words such as consciousness, energy and higher self. There is, however, an underlying problem in attempting to "understand" the subtle concept of soul logically when spirituality in general is concerned with "knowing" the things through self-realisation - the wordless, sensitive, knowledge (Prajna) that dawns in the enlightened state of brain (note, not Mind). Zen masters referred to the mind as made up of thought-based perceptions, a logic-based sense of personality that tends to "define" a person, which is illusory in nature and does not have a physical existence. Some people confuse the physical brain with mind. While some Zen literatures refer to the brain as pure Mind, they actually mean brain devoid of the perception of ego or "I".

Hui-Neng (We-lang), Zen's sixth patriarch, commented on the Self-Nature or "hsing" also described as Self-Knowledge, "In the Original Nature itself there is Prajna knowledge and it is because of the Self-Knowledge. Nature reflects itself in itself, which is self-illumination not to be expressed in words." (Suzuki, 1972). Our modern world, today, is dominated by logic-based theories, concepts and ideologies that keep influencing the way people think and perceive the world. The problem arises when a "thinking mind" tries to interpret meaning of a spiritual phenomenon in a logical sense. Similarly, the perception of so-called "soul" as something divine, halo, pure and of higher self, creates a distinct division in the psyche that gives a mental impression of a separate and holistic entity not touched by the worldly indulgences. There seems to be a general tendency in people - especially in those who have taken up spirituality as a new belief - to objectively differentiate between the "body" and the "soul" as two separate entities. Same as in any other belief system, they inadvertently start "believing" that there is a higher self of oneself and a targeted spiritual practice can "connect" one to this higher self. That creates a lot more problems than solutions. One cannot possibly connect or disconnect anything without first "knowing" what those connecting entities are. The question then becomes, "who is connecting with whom?". It is same as making a distinction between body and soul. For someone to say, "I am not the body, I am the soul", creates complex enigmas. There are actually not two but three entities involved in that statement. The speaker, or the thinker, plus the body plus the soul. Thus, a thought-based perception of soul is generally erroneous. The investigation, if at all, should start from "who is that who wants to know the answer". That would start an enquiry into self-nature - "Who am I?". The temptation to stamp the "soul" as "real me" is great because it provides a refuse from all confusions and adversities in life. It also provides the ego with a false sense of "divine". Ego thrives on such thought-based sensations. At best, we can eliminate the erroneous views of duality and multiplicity by saying "I do not know". Let the process of self-realisation take place. The soul business is a bit tricky. It cannot be understood, it can only be known. It cannot be explained, it can only be experienced. By assuming the existence of soul beforehand, we pre-empt ourselves with the process that could lead to self-realisation. If we have already assumed the existence of something beforehand, we have inadvertently negated the possibility of knowing it in its original form and existence. We will mostly find that people do not really want to "know". They only want an answer, rather a piece of information that they can pin on their collars as an achievement. Such are the propensities of the thinking mind. The thinking mind, or ego, does not really want to "know" anything because it will be detrimental to its own existence. If the awareness or discovery of so-called "soul" leads to elimination of ego, then the ego will do anything to keep itself from it. Another interesting fact is that those who profess the existence of soul as a separate entity, do almost nothing to reach out to it. Just by virtue of actually and wholeheartedly believing in soul, all the materialistic and worldly indulgences should drop by themselves, for the soul food is not Chicken Soup or Lamb Vindaloo. That would be something extraordinary. Instead, what we generally see is an attempt to find "information" about soul that can satisfy our intellectual curiosity.

The spiritual masters always warned the pupils about mental baggage. My guru Rao Maharaj from Mumbai once narrated the story of a devotee who was in service of a sage known as Dadaji. He spent many years with Dadaji observing his routines and daily tasks. Sensing that Dadaji was up to something divine, he always used to asked Dadaji to "give" him something (e.g. bestow some divine knowledge) that will put him on the path to enlightenment. Dadaji always replied that he was not yet ready. That man came from a Hindu Jain background - staunch followers of non-violence and vegetarianism. The Jain monks wear a mask on their mouths because they want to minimise the inhalation of bacteria in the air. Most of the Jains do not eat anything that grows under ground because they are produce of bacterial process. After a many years the man was starting to get impatient. During one idle afternoon siesta, Dadaji suddenly pointed to a train of ants close to his kitchen and said to the devotee, "I am getting irritated by these ants. They invade my food and clothing and come into my way all the times". Can you get some ant-killer and get rid of them once and for all?" The man was astonished to hear that and coolly told Dadaji that killing the ants would amount to be a sin. Dadaji smiled and replied, "Where is the origin of such judgement?. Find that out and you can you be ready for a journey into the unknown?" The man understood that it was only a test.

In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, each Dalai Lama, before his death, declares where and when he is going to be re-born. It is very interesting to note that in spite of such knowledge, and endless reincarnations, Dalai Lamas have not done anything outstanding or radical. They have not displayed the wisdom that is becoming of someone capable of controlling the life-death continuum. If we consider reincarnations and rebirths to be true, we will have to consider the existence of "something" that carries on in the next life as in the case of Dalai Lama. Interestingly, the Buddhist doctrine states that brain, in its thoughtless and sensitive state stores memories. Words that we learn over our lifetime are stored in our brain cells and can be recalled instantly. We have flashes on past events from the static pictures of events stored in the brain cells. The problem starts with the "thinker" and the "re-caller" - one who "thinks" that it is in charge of the body. So the spiritual text is not opposed to the thoughts or the thinking process as such. It is concerned with the creation of a thought-based illusory personality that starts thinking "I am" and develops itself into a perceived reality of "me". Theoretically, that "me", in its non-physical existence, cannot possibly provide any true or natural experience. It just cannot connect to the reality as it itself is not real. Imagine that "me" talking about the soul. As Zen master Sosan said, "When thought objects vanish, the thinking subject vanishes, as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish. Things are objects because of the subject: The mind is such because of things." Soul is a very distant prospect. One must first engage in the process of self-awareness and observation without any pre-conceived ideas, objectives or goals in mind. The thinking mind always has the tendency to compare and divide things. As long as there is a perception of higher and lower levels, higher or lower selves, distinctions such as body and soul, the true spiritual awareness will remain elusive. The question remains, "Who is it that wants to know?" Back to square one.

References:

  • Bhagwad Gita
  • Rao, M. 1998, Grey Matter Revolution: A Journey Within, Self-publication, Mumbai
  • Suzuki D.T., 1972, The Zen Doctrine of No-mind, Samuel Weiser Inc, New York
  • Wikipedia Encyclopaedia - Online at http://www.wikipedia.org
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