I heard someone say : ‘Everything that starts as fun in my life, turns into a reason for my sadness later’. She, like most of us, thinks based on the most basic model of happiness and its opposite passed on to us over years and generations. The model that has been created by us. Graphically it would look like a simple sine wave – with crests forming our happy moments and troughs forming the unhappy ones. As children we seemingly go through the model as well, however we don’t analyze it much then and just move on very quickly without dwelling on our “troughs” for more than a few moments. As we grow up and turn into full-fledged adults – the ones paying EMIs, stuck in jobs they don’t like, watching years pass by, watching closed ones die etc – we start obsessing with this model a lot more.
So then most of us want to spring out from the low to the high as quick as possible, like 2 minute instant noodles. Getting drunk to escape office blues away and waking up with a hangover back to the same reality – falls in that category. So does the obsession of checking facebook on phone every 2 minutes waiting for a coffee, getting bored. No one has the time or patience to slowly slip out from pain to pleasure – we want instant relief, instant gratification, instant mood elevators. A paracetamol for the mind, even if it only brings the fever down temporarily and makes us forget the underlying infection. Or sometimes we don’t even want to do that and just cling to our so called problems and celebrate them as much as possible, waiting for better days to come.
Now here’s something I’m going to say to that – that roller coasterish, sinusoidal model of ours is totally flawed. In fact it does not even exist. It is yet another figment of our own imagination, while trying with our tiny intellect to understand the workings of life. A child wonders, and an adult tries to figure everything out. And that is where it goes wrong. As adults, we have seen a lot of life externally, so we have a set map in our minds on how it should act out. And it doesn’t. We try to overpower it and we fail. We don’t accept the “what is”. The now. We have a hazy picture of the what “should be” – which is defined by millions of impressions of the world that we see through our eyes. The conflict between “what is” and “what should be” is the only cause of pain. If I were to acronymize it, PAIN would be : Proceeding Against Intrinsic Nature. The intrinsic nature of anything external that we expect to act in a certain way, or of our body or our being. So whenever we lose awareness to this intrinsic nature also known as the dharma or dhamma, or when we try to change and not accept it – we invite problems. So there isn’t really then any up and down model defined for our mind. It is all just one continuous stream, and we are supposed to just flow along that, like a witness or a watcher of drama. Pain, pleasure all the same. We invite the former and then look for ways to get away from it. Pain isn’t the only bad cop here. We need to detach from both of them. Both make us grow, one branches us out making us taller and the other deepens our roots.
The only way to do that is to understand that we are a composite of three things – mind, body and soul. Most of the times we associate with only two – mind and body, with mind being the supreme authority that loves to create problems and be engaged in solving them. The third one that defines who we are – is our soul. The one that actually needs to be in the driver’s seat to direct the mind. But unfortunately it stays undernourished, while the other two are constantly overfed. The Upanishads say this beautifully – there are two birds sitting on a tree, one enjoys the fruit of pleasure and pain and the other simply watches. It is this very watching that we have to do. Realize that we ARE a soul and we HAVE a body and a mind, and not the other way around.
The sweet fruit will have a bitter aftertaste and the bitter one will have sweet. And hence whatever starts as so called “fun” defined by bodily or mental faculties, will indeed always turn into sadness later. Like a ping pong game, ball going to either side every moment.
If we get out of this ping pong game and only sit in the audience to silently watch it, we will be in a state of bliss, out of the duality. Flowing steadily, shining brightly. Like that other bird – unaffected, above and beyond everything, absolutely free.
(Image courtesy : De La Soul)