09 September 2010

A Waste of Time

Keep tidy
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Before one can answer what is meant by waste of time one needs to ask what is meant by time itself? Time is a means of measuring change. If there were no change there would be no time.
If time can be related to change, then waste of time could be related to spending time such that it leads towards a change that is wasteful. This could be through unfruitful effort, undirected or wrongly directed effort, or even due to lack of effort. To prevent “waste” would mean to use time to arrive at a desirable outcome through the progression of change. How then that time is spent which is not considered a waste? What may be considered as a desirable consequence of expense of one’s time?
Given that we all desire happiness as an end goal – consciously or subconsciously – of all our activities anything that does not lead us towards it may be considered a waste. And time spent in pursuits that either do not abet joy or serve to bring sorrow could then be considered as a waste of time.
One must also consider the question of pleasure or fleeting happiness – that which promises and often delivers happiness and excitement in the short run but has a tendency to bring pain in the long haul. We all have experiences to share in this realm – driven by our tendency to give into impulses relating to anger, lust, jealousy, or greed.
There is also the case of spending time on activities that do not bring about any immediate pleasure or gratification – some may even be painful or difficult – but bring better quality of life down the road. Regular exercise, for those not particularly inclined towards it, can be one such example.
These observations raise the interesting question of how is one to know whether a given action or indulgence will lead to happiness in the long run or not a.k.a. how to determine whether this spend of time is waste or not? This is where the inner guiding compass comes in, which, if one observes carefully, is the experience distilled through the ages in form of one’s consciousness. Some call it the inner voice others call is the voice of one’s conscience. It is that faint whisper that is there at the beginning of every action, which we ignore at our own peril. When we are jealous we experience suffering then and there without even acting on its impulse. When we are whole-heartedly generous, we are in joy then and there without fulfillment of any expectation or reciprocation. To not pay attention is to miss these connections and consequently walk down pathways that eventually become blind alleys.
One could also rely on the experiences passed down as ‘text’ from those who claim to ‘know’. But this borrowed knowledge which was crafted to show the path towards lasting joy can in itself become an impediment to it, and hence a time waste, if abstracted towards application without understanding or if pursued as mere entertainment. A good example would be the edict to ‘be in the present moment’. Very few of us understand what this means or how to actually be in the present moment. To even think of this idea is to have moved away from the present moment. However, we all keep reciting it in our minds, chastising ourselves for thinking of past or future while caught in the conflict of trying to be in the present. The knowledge that was supposed to deliver us from suffering is now only serving to add to our misery and confusion owing to our applying it blindly to be rid of our suffering without putting much effort into attempting to understand what it means to be in the present moment, whether it truly can alleviate one’s suffering, whether coming to present moment can make the suffering go away or is deviating from the present moment the very cause and basis of all suffering. In absence of such inquiry we turn all medicine into poison.
It is important that one know how to spend time rightly. One barometer for assessing whether one has spent one’s time wisely is to realize that when the time’s been spent in accordance with one’s inner compass one feels energetic and peaceful at the completion of the effort. If such is not the case one can know that one was very likely working on the wrong thing, in the wrong way, or is resting at the wrong time – either chronologically or psychologically – marked by the absence of the feeling of gratification and the joy that accompanies having spent one’s time rightly.
Another aspect to consider is that of the transient nature of things. Everything that one knows is constantly changing, coming and going, beginning and ending, flowering and withering away. How is everlasting joy to be found in pursuing that which is transient? If one’s joy is because of an outer phenomenon then that phenomenon has to last forever for the joy to never diminish. But since all outer phenomena are ephemeral and transient then surely they cannot be the source for eternal joy.
Is eternal joy then a myth? Does it really exist? Or is it another invention of this mind that is ever-indulgent in seeking ways to fulfill its pursuits of pleasure? One would need to find out. Not through books, not through organizations, not through another but through one’s own inquiry.
Through centuries man has searched for eternity in the transient – be it in family, in prestige, in wealth, in power, in fame or in organized religion. And for centuries man has allowed himself to be fooled – by another or by oneself. Through the entire known history of mankind there are only a handful of people who have managed to come upon that state of eternal bliss. However, in our ignorance we either follow them blindly or become skeptical of and denounce or belittle their state of being. How ironic that those whom we follow in search of their destination never followed another to come upon that which they found and what we so desperately seek. How ironic that they did not come upon it as long as they were following or seeking. How ironic then that we should choose to depend on another to walk the path to our happiness. Any wonder we live our lives in sorrow and suffering?
If one were to understand the grave significance and the utter urgency of this realization then one would also realize the severe implications that this awakening has towards how one lives one’s daily life. One would then realize that none of one’s daily pursuits – of power, of ambition, of position, of things – will ever lead one to that place where one seeks to reach. It is only then that one can realize the utter waste of time that an unexamined existence makes.
Some would take this realization as a call against the material world. However, the material world is neither to be denounced nor to be renounced. There lies no greater consequence in renouncing this world than there lies in pursuing it. Fundamentally both of these lifestyle choices are two aspects of the same quest – to come upon a state of uninterrupted joy either by means of acquiring all that is possible or renouncing all that can be renounced. But neither by itself can lead one to the sought. The material of this world is to be used wisely and to the same end as one would use one’s time – in understanding what would bring about that never-changing state of being that is devoid of suffering in oneself and in another.  One can then live a life of acquiring materials essential to comfortable contemplation of this issue, to find the means to joy, to come up on a state of peaceful joyousness that does not depend on anything at all. And in such contemplation and inquiry one can then sincerely determine – for oneself – whether one is using one’s time wisely or is it all just a big time waste.

05 September 2010


multitouch 2.02
Image by martingautron.com via Flickr
Is competition necessary to improvement? How does one know in absence of competition how well one is doing? Is there a need to know such a thing?
We first need to understand what is meant by the word competition. What is competition? Competition is the act of pursuing an activity driven by an end result, whose accomplishment is believed to be possible, in light of one’s actual ability at accomplishing or exceeding this set target.
A sense of competition does not kick in until one actually believes in the possibility of surpassing or being surpassed. An Olympic runner fears no competition from a desk worker who rarely exercises. Similarly, this desk worker sees no competition in competing in a race with this Olympic athlete. One is a sure win while other a sure defeat.
This implies that where competition exists it can bring about incremental progress as people strive to do better or out do another. However, one must not ignore the restless mental state that goes with it. This inner battle of the mind is as much an inner struggle, perhaps even more so, as the outer victory. Competition does not have to be externally focused. One may, and many do, compete with oneself, one’s own ability or one’s own last score.
All competition is based on comparison and all comparison is made possible as a result of measurement and measurement itself is an outcome of the mind. Without the mind there could be no measurement and consequently no comparison or competition.
Is it possible to achieve a state of mind in which the mind exists but its measuring faculty has been consciously put to rest against competition? Can such mind exist that can consciously choose to not indulge in psychological comparisons? For with psychological comparison comes competition which brings along the associated restlessness of anxiety, desire, fear, ambition, disappointment, jealousy, and the like. These impulses may drive one to excitement but they also take away the energy of this mind which could otherwise have been put to creative engagements and output. Only a mind free of psychological comparison is truly able engage itself completely and holistically in going beyond incremental progressions to a realm of innovative leaps that take the progress in science and thought farther by light years in a single jump of creativity. Great scientists such as Edison, Einstein stand as testament to this truth – the inventions and discoveries that one can come up on when one can totally engage in one’s pursuit regardless of another.
Competition then may bring about incremental progress but true innovation is made possible only by a mind that is not caught in psychological comparison. For only such a mind is free to fully engage the problem at hand, leading to a brand new solution as opposed to making incremental improvements on an existing set of answers.
Only a mind that is free of all measurement can be at rest, can be still, can admire and acknowledge another and oneself for who they are, without comparing, without judging, without competing. Only such a mind is capable of love, of creativity, of creating something new, and only such a mind can bring a total transformation in the human psyche.

Life and Punishment

“If life were a crime, loneliness would be its punishment. If life is a gift could loneliness be its wrapper?” Such is the thought that came to mind today. One can easily tell what triggered this thought – loneliness of course. The next step would be to recognize it as being painful and also as an inescapable part of life. Then of course that raises the question of why life would put something so painful at its midst that almost feels like a punishment. Is it a crime to be born?
But then seeing everything around – one’s self, the beauty, the splendor, the nature in all its glory, the amazing music marked by unmistakable silence, one finds it hard to think of life as a crime. So then, if life is a gift, it still does not alter the fact of loneliness and the pain of its sting. So one wonders what place does loneliness has in the beautiful gift of life.
It occurs to one that perhaps the core of life is not revealed to us, its beauty untouched, until we have managed to go beyond loneliness. And it is only then that one can get to the actual gift and realize it for what it actually is.
One is almost afraid to pose the obvious next question – what is loneliness? Surrounded by hundreds of people, millions of means of entertaining oneself, myriad relationships of various sorts, a society formulated on escaping from oneself, why is one still lonely – either on occasion or often or always? So what is loneliness?
At the deepest level of all loneliness lies an unquenchable search. A search for something that is not entirely clear. Almost as if this search exists independent of everything else. The nature of this search is to make a seeker out of us and so we give in, acting as slaves to this impulse.  Thus we bring great victories and gifts to the doorstep of this master, be it in terms of money, power, position, relationships, charity, contributions or acquisitions.
With some gifts this hard task master would play for some moments, leaving us at peace but then it inevitably and always would put it aside and ask anew – “So what else you got?” And the subservient slaves that we are we immediately get busy again attempting to fulfill the demands of this inner master.
A part of our being, however, becomes weary, grows tired, feels forlorn at always seeking and never finding, coming upon, or managing to create or invent something that would lastingly quench the thirst of this master that can seem akin to a monster at times. No matter how much it is fed or for how long it is always hungry for more.
As long as one is excitedly busy answering the call of this inner quest with a belief that this next victory of ours will satisfy our inner master one remains engaged and exuberant in life. However, as life goes on, if one is fortunate or unfortunate enough to become aware of this never-ending service to oneself and all of its ensuing frustrations and sorrows, this is where disenchantment sets in. This is the beginning of loneliness, the pain and longing of it. For the master is still there – shrieking and demanding – but the slave has now started to defy, has now started to seek freedom even at the cost of great pain. This is also the advent of spirituality.
Some may postulate that this inner master is essential to outward action and progress. Why else would we be propelled forward towards achievement? But such proponents are ignorant of the possibility of an action so complete that it is an end unto itself; an action that is driven not by inner impulse but an outer need; an action that is an appropriate response and not an unwarranted reaction to a given circumstance. But since for most of us neither such action is understood nor experienced most of us remain bound to our master and continue our service, oscillating between bouts of excitement and loneliness.
Some of us set out on a search for freedom but such are few. Even rare are those who have something to show for such search. Those, however, who have managed to reach the end of this search for freedom shine in such bliss and luminosity that it becomes impossible to deny surrendering to this one ultimate search – the search to be free of all seeking, fee of all search, to be ensconced in one’s home within oneself.

03 September 2010

What to do or why to do?

How does one overcome regrets, resentments, and accompanying anger and hatred? How does one truly forgive – another and oneself? It often feels much easier to forget than to try to forgive.
The idea that another caused me harm takes away all peace of mind. The heart then harbors anger and the desire to hurt back. It wants to shriek and scream at the perpetrator and also at itself for being stupid. How is one to heal the heart of its sorrows? Does one move away from those that caused us hurt or does one move towards feigning love? What is one to do?
Why is one trying to fix things? Why is it so difficult to be with the discomfort of things as they are? Why are we such slaves to comfort – whether physical or psychological? Why do we need to keep changing things? Could we actually keep them from changing?
Is it then a matter of patience – give the situation enough time and persevere in the meantime until the hurt is healed and the heart is whole again? And to remain cognizant, compassionate, and understanding in the meantime to not add to the hurt through actions that are born from a place of confusion and ignorance? Can one be at peace with one’s inner turmoil?

01 September 2010


Vers le bout de la "mer de poche" (L...
Image by Flikkesteph via Flickr
Is man boring or is life boring or is man’s life boring? What is boredom anyway?
Boredom is a state of restlessness, a desire to escape from that which is, an inability to be with the present, a state of disenchantment, a feeling of heaviness, of stickiness. But above all boredom is restless energy seeking an unavailable or invisible engagement that would channel it into forgetfulness through its excitement.
Boredom is the state of a mind that is seeking excitement outside of itself while Love is the state of a mind that has settled within itself and found joy there.
So an unsettled mind will sooner or later find itself peeking through the window of boredom. Boredom, in which case, becomes a precious window into the mind itself. Boredom is the end result of every activity that was undertaken with an intent to escape from boredom because a restless mind will sooner or later become bored with its new stimulus, new excitement and find itself at the same place where it had started – bored of and restless about that which is and seeking fresh stimulation.
For the most part we have sought to dispel our boredom through external means – relationships, entertainment, work, etc. And these venues do work to dispel boredom but only temporarily. And since we know no other way we keep moving from one activity to the next as a way of overcoming boredom. But if everything around us will go on making us bored sooner or later then should one continue to change the outer ceaselessly or is there another way out? Does boredom become exciting if one takes an interest in it? Or would that be too ironic given that boredom quintessentially is a state of disinterest, a state of inattentiveness.
Those who seem to know, the enlightened so to speak, claim that no outwards pursuit can ever bring lasting joy and that it is only in “going inwards” that there exists the possibility of this magic.
What is meant by “going inwards” anyway? One may call it – among so many other names and forms – as meditation. This essentially is to shut off one’s senses, which are one’s window to the outer world, and to settle down “within one’s self”, not seeking anything from the outer world.
This is an exciting idea but not fool-proof, for one may have stopped seeking in the outer world but now the same quest has started within. Mind has invented another pursuit, this time in the inner world, with the same intent of experiencing excitement and ending boredom. And the cycle continues.
“Meditate more” we are told. We try to but we fail – not in finding but in truly meditating. Our minds continue to seek outside of themselves for everything. In fact, few things hurt as much as turning away from the world and going within. This is so because for most of us going inward is a reaction to not finding any peace or joy outside, so we turn inward in either frustration or in bitterness but rarely out of love or out of wonder. And consequently this effort, like the search in the outer world, ends up being the same search in the opposite direction. But the search itself continues unabated, unparalleled, and unchallenged.
In the outer world one can still come up on tangible outcomes to one’s search but searching within provides no such tangible items to hold on to or to demonstrate. Hence the need to “have faith” and to persevere with patience, believing that one would come up on something if one persists long enough.
However, whether one searches outside on within, as long as the mind is searching it is restless, anxious, bored, seeking excitement, in confusion, in misery, and suffering.
So what can bring a cessation to this search? Either one finds what one is looking for – uninterrupted and endless joy – or one realizes the futility of the search so completely that the search itself drops but until then, as long as one is seeking one thing or another, whether outside or within, that which is sought is not to be found. Such is the great paradox of life.