(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal
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The Speaking Self
Krishna Kumar Agrawal
Yes, this is a formula, which if considered and followed in a true spirit, can eradicate the sufferings of mankind. It is based on the philosophy and the saying of the enlightened saints of the past and the present. It was expounded by Swami Ram Tirth, an eminent professor of Mathematics and the renowned saint of the 19th and early 20th century. Like Buddha, he says: “Be not a slave and bondsman. Believe not in a dogma or an ideal, howsoever lofty. Believe not in the person even though he be the most high souled. Obey only the dictates of your own conscience/ inner voice. Be not guided by the wise counsels of even the great luminaries of mankind like Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Shanker, etc. If you are convinced to the core that what they preached is truth and truth alone, then act to their theories. If their dogmas go against your own experiences, throw them overboard and judge for yourself. That is the true spiritual path.” Hence, here is the formula:
The human tendency is to focus himself on the Numerator in the mindful pursuit of fulfilling desires. As soon as one fulfills a desire, more desires pop up, thus increasing the denominator, and the happiness is reduced. When you shift your attention to the denominator— reduce desires, the happiness increases. Eradicate desire and you reach Infinite Happiness. This is because of the mathematical formula that whenever the denominator increases, the quotient-decreases. However, when the denominator decreases, the quotient increases. When the denominator is Zero, the quotient becomes infinite (¥).
It does not depend on the numerical number of the Numerator. For example : 1/o = ¥, 5/o= ¥ and so on.
How to reduce the desires is the important point and is the main topic of this write up. Mindful awareness in every activity of life is the key to it. Remain mindful and aware of every single movement of your hands. If you do it, you shall soon find yourself in that state of alert and specious calm that is meditation. You can bring meditative awareness to eating, washing dishes, reading, writing, walking, resting, etc. There is no excuse for ‘no time’ or ‘wrong place’. Every day things and actions can offer us unusual moments of holiness and peace. Expectation brings frustration. If you expect to get ten lac and receive five lac only, you are frustrated. But if you think that you had nothing and you get five lac, you are not frustrated. The latter is a positive thinking whereas the earlier one was negative.
Buddha taught three roots of virtues to attain this objective—
(i) Non attachment i.e. renouncing selfish desire,
(ii) Non-hatred i.e. loving kindness towards all,
(iii) Non-ignorance i.e. power of special insight into emptiness.
But Yoga says — enjoy your desires, do not suppress them. However, there is a warning attached to it— sail in the ocean of life but do not sink in it. Be like the boat which is in the water, but the water is not in it. It sails in the ocean. Now there is another attachment. When you get attached to your breath, you listen to your breath, want to feel your breath. This attachment can give you enlightenment as it gave it to Siddhartha Gautam to become Buddha. If you can use the power of attachment to get attached to your breath, you will never lose time, like a yogi who only lives with his breath, you will always be fully present. The idea behind this attachment is that we should learn to live with consciousness.
For undiluted happiness, it is imperative to live in the present. Past is a grave and the future is unknown. Living in the present moment is what can yield positive results. The choice is ours. In human mind about 50000 thoughts come in a day. Do not engage them. Let them rise and fall, be at peace. They will go just as they have come. Look at the mind like an ocean and the rising and falling of thoughts and emotions like the waves. Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with joy, peace and serenity. We need only to be awake and alive in the present moment. Raman Maharishi says: “There is neither past nor future. Yesterday was the present to you when you experienced it, and tomorrow will be also the present when you experience it. Similar is the voice of R.W. Emerson, the great spiritual philosopher of America, when he says: “With the past I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now”; whereas Gautam Buddha rightly articulates: “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past,not to worry about the future, and not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
But the moot question that is being asked frequently is as to what is ‘happiness’? This word is neither defined in the Holy Scriptures, nor has it been defined by the seers of the past and the present. It is in fact a state of mind at a particular moment of a human being depending upon the thoughts prevailing in the mind at that moment. If something happens to a person against his likings, he is unhappy and vice versa. It may be either of the body or the mind. If there are positive thoughts in the mind, the person feels happy and vice versa. The positive or negative thoughts may arise either on account of physical ailments or depression in the mind due to some happening, good or bad. It has been proved by science today that the matter is convertible into energy and vice versa. This equation -E = mc2 holds good in human life and its happiness as well. Here ‘E’ denotes ‘Energy’, ‘m’ denotes ‘mass’ of the matter and ‘c’ represents the ‘velocity of light’. What an enormous energy is produced when the matter is converted into energy? The reverse is also true. ‘Thoughts’ are energy in the mind and the ‘body’ is the matter. A recent study by the WHO in 2002 revealed that 82% of our physical sickness is caused by the emotions of the mind. There are about 100 trillion cells in our body which constantly renew and multiply creating a new series of cells every mono second that later become a part of our biological system and our whole being. Constant repair and growth of the body takes place at its own pace in perfect rhythm. A constant renewal system occurs in the body causing it to undergo a balanced seamless change in a definite time period of 7 days to one year, year after year. The capacity to heal spontaneously lies within each cell. As a wheel of cart rolls around one point of the tyre in its movement, it rests only on one point in resting; so also existence of a living being lasts only as long as a though lasts. If a thought has ceased to exist, that means the being has ceased to exist.
Now we can see scientifically as to how the meditation helps the mind and body in a state so as to feel happy. The 2008 Noble prize winer, French scientist Luc Mantagnier, held that in deep meditation, the mind produces EM waves called theta and Alpha waves mostly in the range of 7-8 HZ which helps in replicate the transfer of DNA strands from one test tube to another. The body is repaired, rejuvenated and kept healthy by production and replication of good DNA. Deep and regular meditation helps in rejuvenation of the body by helping replicate good DNA. Patanjali says that by deep mediation on the elements, a yogi gets a perfect body of beauty, grace, strength and hardness of a thunderbolt. Scientific studies have shown that mediation helps in delaying the process of ageing by increasing telomerase (an enzyme which repairs the DNA). Every time cells divide, their telomerase shorten, which prompt them to stop dividing and die. This results in ageing process. Telomerase enzyme stops the shortening and meditation helps in increasing the activity of this enzyme. Another Harvard University study showed that meditation directly affects genes by Switching them on and off to combat the bad effects of free radicals which are produced when we are emotionally and physically stressed. Thus “MEDITATION is like on ELIXIR of Life” (able to prolong life indefinitely). It is taken from Greek ‘xerion’ (powder for drying wounds).
However, good or bad, high or low, our emotions are intimately connected to our breathing. The way we breath affects our experiences and the way we process our emotions. Breathing well is most important thing we can do for our health. There is a connection between the tempo of breathing and that of imaginative faculties. Yogi sees a powerful medium in reducing and strictly regulating his breath to bring down the intensity of life in the world and to create peace in the midst of its gloomy movement. If and when a person knows the mystery of breath, he finds his God. This approach is based on Sahaja Karma, that is, the Karma which is with the being since birth and operates without effort, this is the breathing action. Its mystry is simple to understand, the Yogis say. It is only to be watched and slowly the great secret will get unraveled. Buddha says: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. This is an eternal law and every thought in the mind is strongly related to the breath and the sensations in the body.” For example, when anger comes in the mind, the breath loses its normality and there is heat (burning sensation) in the body. Thus if a person is happy, it is because he dwells in happy thoughts. If he is miserable, it is because he dwells in despondent and debilitating thoughts. If circumstances had power to bless or harm, they would affect all men alike. But the fact that the same circumstances will be good to one and bad to another demonstrate that good or bad is not in the circumstance but only in the mind of the person who interprets it.
Respiration is an object of attention which we all breathe from birth to death. Awareness of inhaling and exhaling helps to take us to experience the ultimate reality as it acts as a bridge between the conscious and the unconscious mind. It helps us in becoming free from craving, aversion and ignorance which are the root cause of our negativity in the mind and consequent unhappiness. Breath is such an object as we cannot have craving or aversion towards it because it is a reality and not an illusion. Thus fixing the attention on respiration develops awareness of the present moment. There is no unhappiness in the present moment. Unhappiness lies in thinking of the past or the future. This technique was practised by Buddha himself and he got enlightened. He went into Nirvan by a similar meditation. The text states that ‘He spends the rainy season in appropriate and joyful exercise of the vigilance on inhaling and exhaling’. Thus awareness of inhaling and exhaling (known as ‘Anapan’ in Buddha’s teaching) is a practical method, taught by Buddha, of ‘Art of Living’.
The importance of breath in making the life peaceful and happy is beautifully explained by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk as under:
Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with joy, peace and serenity. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment. The source of a true smile is an awakened mind. Breathing in and out is very important, and it is enjoyable. Our breathing is the link between our body and our mind. By concentrating on our breathing IN and OUT, we bring mind and body back together and become whole again. Just breathing and smiling can make us very happy, because when we breathe consciously we recover ourselves completely and encounter life in the present moment” The present moment is devoid of desires, hence the denominator of the quotient decreases.
You will always find that the present moment is peaceful when your mind is not distracting you away from it by dwelling in a fearful future or lingering on a past of regret. This technique can be used anywhere and anytime that you claim a moment of peace for yourself. Whenever you feel yourself under stress or in depression for any reason, focus yourself on your breath. Take slow, deep breath with awareness and exhale it in the same way. Give a pause of ten seconds and then again inhale and exhale consciously. Repeat it three times naturally and you will become relaxed. Do this every day and see if life begins to go better. Do not try to search its evidence in the scriptures; your own life itself would be evidence. However, there is also praise for it in the Hindu scriptures as you will find in the paras below:
The oft quoted scripture Yogavasistha and Srimad Bhagwat have praised the importance of breath (Pran-Apan vayu) by putting it in the mouth of Kagbhusund (crow) and Narad (the saint) respectively. On being asked by Rishi Vasistha about the path to eradicate fear of death from the minds of living beings, the former replied that he is always following the path of inhaling and exhaling the breath which are known as ‘Pran-Apan’. It is cool in inhaling and warm on exhaling. The follower of such breath is happy in mind (pure mind) and is free from the fear of death and birth. Such a person remains equanimous in all the ups and downs of life.
In the Srimad Bhagwat, it is stated that when a person meditates by keeping its attention on the tip of the nose, his mind becomes pure and he is free from craving, aversion and ignorance. Then through the mouth of Rishi Narad it was stated that he knew the ultimate Truth only when he practised the breathing exercise inside. It is further stated in the Chhandogyoupanishad and Brahadaranyka Upnishad that when the gods meditated through the medium of Breath, the demons were unable to create craving and aversion among them.
If you practise awareness, you become very rich, very happy. Whether or not you are happy depend on your awareness. If you sit down and practise— breathing and smiling, you can be very happy. You are unhappy not on account of your toothache, you may be unhappy when you do not have a toothache. Happiness depends on our way of looking things. We should not see anger, hatred, and greed as enemies we have to fight or annihilate. If you do it, you do violence to yourself. Anger or irritation is a destructive energy. We cannot destroy the energy; we have to convert it into some kind of energy that is more constructive, because without anger you have nothing left. That is the work of meditation. First of all produce awareness that “I am angry, anger is in me”. Since anger is born from ignorance, how to convert it into a constructive channel is more significant. Buddha says that you cannot see the ‘anger’ as ‘anger’ because it is an abstract one. However, there are two occurrences during anger. The breath becomes harder and faster and there is heat/burning sensation in the body. Both of these you can observe. Try to observe the breath for a while without any exercise on it and also the heat sensation on the body without making any reaction. In a short while the breath will become normal and burning diluted. Anger will dissolve. The only thing is that with every breath we take, we need to be aware and alive in the present moment. Take slow and deep breath when you are under stress and you become relaxed. It is also based on the personal experience of this author even at this ripe age.
How a constructive energy could be converted from a destructive energy by living in the present moment, which is always pure, is beautifully explained in the story of a thief who asked Swami Ram Tirtha the way to give up stealing. Swami ji asked the thief with a smile not to think of leaving the profession of theft and he must go for stealing. However, Swami ji warned the thief to do one thing. ‘As soon as you begin to steal, be aware that you are stealing this moment. You should be aware of that moment of stealth.” The thief came to the Swamiji next morning and informed him that whenever he thought that he is stealing, he could not steal. He tried hard to steal but due to the presence of mind on that moment he could not steal. This shows as to how a destructive energy could be converted into a constructive one.
The body is the servant of the mind. At the bidding of unlawful thoughts, the body sinks rapidly into disease and decay; at the command of beautiful thoughts it becomes clothed with youthfulness and beauty. Thoughts of fear have been known to kill a man as speedily as a bullet. However, whatever arises in the mind is accompanied bv sensation. When a pleasant sensation arises, without knowing its true nature of impermanence, we react to it by developing craving and clinging towards it. This leads to suffering. Thus craving is the origin of suffering, not only the origin, it is suffering itself. This craving is nothing but attachment to the desire. Actually the ‘desires harboured’, mentioned in the denominator of the quotient of ‘Happiness’ expressed earlier, are not the desires itself but the attachment/craving to it. This is beautifully expressed in Gita Chapter 2(62-63) as under:
In a man musing on objects, attachment to them is conceived; from attachment springs desire, from desire springs wrath; wrath breads utter confoundedness, whirling memory and the memory ruins the understanding and from loss of understanding, he perishes.
Hence, whatever sensations one experiences in the body pleasant, unpleasant or neutral inside or outside, all are suffering, all are illusory, all are ephemeral. Wherever there is a contact in the body, sensations pass away as soon as they arise. A person well established in this truth becomes liberated from the habit of craving and clinging towards sensations and reaches the stage where there is no more sensation. But no sensation, no experience is good or bad in itself. It is good if one remains balanced, it is bad if one loses equanimity. This is what is called ‘NIRVAN’. Extinction of craving, extinction of aversion, extinction of ignorance— this is called ‘NIRVAN’. Thus, the highest Qualitv of mind is equanimity based on full awareness of reality. What is real happiness was once told by Buddha in the following words:
When faced with all the ups and downs of life,
still the mind remains unshaken,
not lamenting, not generating defilements, always feeling secure;
This is the greatest happiness.
In other words, when in every situation, pleasant or unpleasant, wanted or unwanted, one has no anxiety, one feels totally secure, secure in the understanding of impermanence. This is the greatest blessing.
The Gita in verses 14, 15, 57 and 70 of chapter II speaks in an identical way:
O noblest of men! the wise man who is not disturbed by the contacts of the senses with their objects which bring cold and heat, pleasure and pain because they come and go and are transient, who is unmoved by pleasure and pain, he is fitted for immortality. Who owns attachment nowhere, who feels neither joy nor resentment, whether good or bad comes his way- that man’s understanding is secure. He in whom all longings subside, even as the waters subside in the ocean which, though ever being filled by them, never over flows- that man finds peace; nor he who cherishes longing.
It may be noted that Meditation is not concentration but awareness of breath and the thought within and without in a detached manner like a witness, thus being free from the binding effects of thoughts. In early 1940s, somatic researchers found that stress begins with a physiological response to what your body mind perceives as life threatening. In response the adrenal glands located above the Kidneys secrete catecholamine hormones which act upon the autonomous nervous system. Heart rate, Blood pressure and muscle tension are increased. The adrenal hormones cause metabolic changes that make energy stores available to each cell and the body begins to sweat. The body also shuts down the systems that are not a priority in the immediacy of the moment, including digestion, elimination, growth, repair and reproduction. Common to all stress reduction techniques is putting the body in a comfortable position with gentle attention directed towards the breath because body and mind are connected. Scientists found that individuals be taught how to slow down their breathing during anxiety in order to bring down stress. Emotional illness plays an important role in about all illness both directly and indirectly i.e. it makes arteries constrict and clot blood faster. Thus breathing techniques are important part of it. (Says Dr. Dean Orrish in his ‘heart friendly’ program).
Our life is comprised of two kinds of energy conscious and unconscious. This unconscious energy is common to all living beings as we are connected to cosmos through breathing. The pool of the conscious energy is common and we are given our share rhythmically as determined by the rules of the cosmos. Unconscious energy is multitasking and the conscious is uni-tasking. That is, it cannot do more than one task at a time. You can, on your own, see the speed and variety of thoughts in your mind at any time. Many of us shake some body parts while doing or thinking something else. This non uni-focussed state of an individual’s conscious energy demands additional energy which is stolen from the unconscious domain which in turn cuts short the share of energy of unconscious parts and builds up stress in those inner organs. The most valuable exercise for reducing stress is “stand quietly, do nothing. Relax your body, close your eyes and observe your breath.” With just three conscious natural breaths in and out we can release tension in our body and mind. In a busy and unaware day, try to pause a few seconds and try to observe in-breath and out-breath thrice with awareness and we come back to our true self and become aware of the present. So try to eradicate the emotional stress (caused by the unwanted behaviour of near relations towards us) in a very calm and quite manner by applying the above method which is also based on the personal experience of the author.
In view of the discussions made above, it is crystal clear that in the quotient stated in the beginning of this write up, the Happiness is dependent upon the increase or decrease of the Denominator. When the Denominator becomes ‘Zero’ by the method of meditation discussed hereinabove, the Happiness is ‘infinite’ which is called NIRVAN or the state of Brahmn as pointed out in verses 71-72 of chapter II of the Bhagwad Gita.
Before putting his pen to close this write up, the author feels his duty to give below a brief note, from his own experience, for the persons/readers who wish to live a peaceful happy life.
Whenever you are tired or want to rest a while, sit on a chair or lie on a sofa or elsewhere. Try to forget about other things and focus your attention to the awareness of Respiration and the sensation in the area below the nostrils and above the upper lips. Give importance only to Respiration and Sensations and nothing else. Practise it daily patiently in moments of leisure and at night on bed before sleep and see if life becomes happier and peaceful after a practice of a week or so. Look only at the natural breath coming in and going out. Do not have an exercise on breath, only natural breath short or long as it is. It can be performed at any stage of life young or old, or the body is sick or otherwise.
If you have a habit of walking in the morning— say for one kilometer or more, then stop after every walk of 200 meters or less for a minute. Have a deep slow breath from the nose and exhale it slowly through the mouth. Do it three times and then start walking again. This practice be repeated after every 200 meters walk. This practice be made a routine of your daily life. Isn’t it a Secret of Art of Living for a Happy Life?
About the Author:
Author, critic, translator and journalist Krishna Kumar Agrawal (K. Kumar), born on Nov 16, 1927, is a graduate in Science, M.A. in Economics and LL.B. Being an Income Tax Advocate since 1969, he has deep interest in writing articles on Income Tax published in the ITR, the Taxman and its associate journals such as the Current Tax Reporter, the Taxation, the Economic Times etc. He had adeptly translated a number of short stories of eminent foreign writers writing in English into Hindi and written marvelous sketches of Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr Radhakrishnan, Vinoba Bhave among others, which were duly published in several newspapers and magazines of Hindi language and later on compiled in his popular book— Manavata Ki Jhanki (2014). His books— Bhagavad Gita— Vipassana Sadhana Ka Darshan Hai (2008) and Bhagavad Gita— Vipassana Ki Chhaya Mein (compilation of published articles on Bhagavad Gita and Vipassana, 2012) have been widely acclaimed by the scholars of Indian philosophy. His another book in English— Journey to The Inner Peace (2016) is an adaptation of Bhagavad Gita— Vipassana Ki Chhaya Mein. He resides at 35-8B/A-1, Near LIC Office, Rampur Garden, Bareilly-243001 (U.P.) and can also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.