Philosophy

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The Three Levels Of Consciousness {Sanaatan Dharm Series}

Published August 20, 2017 by vishalvkale

This is the next in the series on Sanaatan Dharm; these articles are my reflections as I attempt to understand myself, my religious affiliation, and the world around me – it is the chronicle of my path of self-discovery… I make no assertions on a collective scale


WHY DO WE PRAY?
This is one question that has come to my mind only very recently; it is one of the triggers for penning this article. Why do we Humans pray? For what purpose? I can make no assertions for you – but I can examine and analyse myself, and try to determine why I pray. What is it that drives me to prayer? In my case, I can truthfully state that prayers started as a means, an effort, to get divine assistance to smoothen my rather difficult, or rather uncertain life and its attendant problems. That is how it started out – and it would probably have remained at that level, had life not had other ideas.
That is the best way I can put it – for I can find no other reasons for the sequence of events that has lead to this deep self-examination that I subject myself to in writing this chronicle of self-discovery. Being a person with deep seated, strong belief systems based on values – Integrity, Honesty, Loyalty and so on; living in a world which thrived on “gamesmanship”, selfishness and materialism – not having a coping mechanism meant I had to build one of my own. My response – building my mental ability to disconnect; my hobbies, which have enabled me to keep afloat, even achieve a lot despite being rather strict in my values, was one aspect; but, in difficult times – the answer I had usually had was a combination of my hobbies and being able to disconnect, and prayer to deal with the resultant stress.
FEAR
That brings me to what I can call the first level of consciousness – Fear. Fear is can be said to be a driver of action – this is well accepted by science. Fear is also what drives humans towards Prayer, as uncertainty raises worries, anxieties and stress levels.  That drove me increasingly towards Prayer – something I almost never did right till my late 20s, despite not having a Job, or any career clarity. I wasn’t built that way. Well-wishers, family advised me and directed me towards Prayer – thus, Prayer is also a learned response, it would seem. One does need a Guru, a Guide to set a person on the right path. Praying kindled hope, it also kindled action, as somehow I acted much better with the confidence of a firm hope behind me.
DESIRES
Life went on; I advanced in age, in my career, in my personal life; this kindled in me my desires. Initially, these desires were materialistic in nature. However, it needs to be noted that Fear outpaces, outdistances Desire; fear is a far stronger emotion. Desires and ambitions lie dormant, and are drivers of longer term action, whereas fear-driven responses are shorter term, in my experience. These never drove me to prayer; Desires and Ambitions spurred me to action – in my life, in my career.
These operate at two different levels, as I have observed keenly over the past 2 years – fear is always on the top of the mind, whenever present; and desire lies dormant, together determining life choices and decisions. In good times as well as bad, this hold true. These drive what you are today, what you want to be tomorrow… not what you will be tomorrow, which is the result of a combination of your actions & your circumstances and your decisions. Understanding how, why to take these decisions is a life hunt for each individual. The gap between what you want to be and what your direction is taking you towards stress, kindling, once again – fear and desire, taking you back where you started. Fear keeps you on your toes in the real world, while desire enables action and response mechanisms, together leading towards your life materialistic goals. These are thus two different levels of consciousness!
TOUCHING DEEPER INTO YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS
Most of us go through life in these levels of existence – fear & desire. So far, we are in safe territory even from a perspective of psychology and known science. And yet, I have always looked out into the sky at night, wondering why we are here; why we are alive; who am I; what is life; and having a deep dear of dying – as long as I can remember. I have no idea why I had these thoughts. I have always wondered who is God, how did this Universe come about – maybe all Humans do have these thoughts. Assuming that is so, I, like other humans, did nothing about these except suppress them.
THE THIRD LEVEL – SELF CONTEMPLATION AND EXAMINATION
I have no recollection or idea what drove me towards reading The Bhagwad Geeta in several translations, The Upanishads, or The Vedic Texts; but it was connected to my habit of reading, when I came across an excellent book – What India Should Know, the 2nd half of which was based on The RugVed and YajurVed. I have always been a voracious reader; so that wasn’t a surprise. But till this day I have no answer to why I picked up my first Bhagwad Geeta translation, or my first Upanishad. Maybe it was God’s hint; I don’t know – but I was lucky to pick up the one by Geeta Press.
And it is through studying these scriptures, which I have been doing for 3.5 years now, repeated alliterations of the same, that I can arrive at a faintly glimmering look at the 3rd Level of Consciousness, a level deeper than these above 2. From a perspective of Psychology – fear & desire cant answer your value system, which is the core of human personality. Lying dormant, but the determinant of all actions as well as deep thoughts is your core value system.
What is the connect? Simply this : I have always wondered how I can stay cool, calm and reasoned even under extreme stress and difficulty, of which I have seen far more than my fair share? This isn’t my observation, by the way – several friends have observed this in me, and it is they who brought my attention to this factor. If fear & desire are the two levels, then there has to be a third level of consciousness that determines your behaviour, attitudes and your actions, which has to be the bedrock of your nature & your personality.

This is where we diverge from accepted Psychology so far as I am aware; and paradoxically, this is where Psychology and our scriptures also come together. As we shall see in the next part of this series, whenever I get around to penning it, this 3rd level is extremely hard to put into words, let alone understand. And yet – it is there, it is present, as you yourself have no doubt realized in the quiet contemplative moments of your life. This is a level that transcends fear, desire and existence; and goes to the core of the intersection of Psychology and Scriptures – as we shall see in the next part of this series of personal thoughts on Sanaatan Dharm…
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Life, And Death… The Unending Circle

Published January 17, 2016 by vishalvkale

Life, And Death… The Unending Circle
Another year… Another Month… and Another Day… Yet another tragedy strikes close to me and my family, leaving us behind…leaving my mind in a turmoil, with questions and observations crashing through my mind as I attempt to come to terms with the larger questions relating to the purpose of life, and the smaller questions of my response both to the path of life as well as my response to such seminally tragic events…
As of now, as before, when tragedy has struck and me & my family are in mourning, the one thought that literally flashes through my mind, crashes into my consciousness is the same thought I had on my Dad’s funeral pyre 9 years ago… at the end, the only thing that remains is a person’s thoughts, nature, words, and relationships with people…
Nothing matters; the worldly possessions we run after so mindlessly will pass on to some other owner, nothing remains that you or your memory can call yours. The house will be transferred to some other name; the shirts, pants will be donated to some needy; the TV will be seen by someone else; the car will have a new driver behind the wheel; the bank balance and investments will be bequeathed to someone else… and so on and so forth…
The world will cry a little or a lot – or not at all, depending on how close people were to you {that is critical}; those who cry will do so for 2 days, maybe three – or maybe longer. The only person who will retain your memory lifelong is your spouse – and if you are exceptionally lucky {and good}… your children. That is it. Life stops for not a moment after you pass away; not one moment. Mouths will need to be fed; children need to go to school; and so on and so forth. Nothing stops – not even your closest family, and that is a hard fact.
WHAT REMAINS AFTER US?
The one realisation that has come to me is that what remains after you is only the good deeds you have done; the happiness that you have spread; the pleasure you have given; your words & your memories, which people cherish in those rare special moments when the past comes back to mind; nothing else matters. The only other thing that matters is your Children : if you manage to give them a good education and upbringing – they will carry this and thank you their entire life.
And yet, paradoxically, we spend our entire adult lives pursuing worldly items  and possessions to the exclusion of the only things that will actually remain ours; the only things we will carry with us to the heavenly abode. I myself, who am penning these rather grandiose terms, am not too different in this regard.
WHY? A PRACTICAL LOOK…
It can be argued that each individual has desires and ambitions, and culling and curbing your desires and ambitions is not exactly the right thing to do; that it is my right to do as I please, as I am on this earth to live. Granted. But does the  pursuit of our individual goals and desires mean we forget the items listed above? Cant we try and do both?
Nothing on this planet is free of charge : you will need money to live, to feed yourself and your family. And it is further granted that food alone is not enough; you will need money for giving your family a good life, you owe them that. That is beyond argument; I am not advocating becoming a hermit, or proposing / recommending simple living – high thinking philosophy. And, truth be told, less than 1% of people will take freebies; it feels great to achieve something – and this sense of achievement rubs off on your loved ones and your family as well.
Thus, the daily grind of life really does need to be gone through-  frankly, you yourself wouldn’t have it any other way. But the question remains : if after I am gone – my worldly possessions wont remain mine; that only my deeds, my words, my emotions, my memories will remain truly mine : then what is the purpose of it all? And furthermore, this question leads to what I regard to tbe the keystone question, the vital question : what is really important – or what is the relative importance of each aspect of your life?
KNOWING I, ME, MYSELF
I found, during my 9-year journey on these questions which first assaulted me on my Dad’s funeral pyre, that you cannot answer these questions without answering who am I? For, when you attempt to settle and answer the questions above, all rationalisations of the real world fall by the wayside – and you are left naked, confronted with yourself : and your real priorities, devoid of anxieties, worries, desires and ambitions. What would you want to be known for and remembered as? The answer to that questions is a reflection of your true self, in my opinion…
The past 9 years have also revealed something else – these questions and their answers remain carved into stone; independent of the real world around you, and the challenges and tasks it demands of you. It matters nought if you are on a high note in your life – or if you are in a struggling phase. The questions, and their answers, remain as they were. They are resolute & unchanging…
Through good times and bad, the tiny voice inside you remains, always telling you wher e you are going wrong, or what your real priorities are. The difficulty, as I have experienced as well as am experiencing, is in isolating that tiny voice, that original voice from the other voices that emanate not from you, but from your desires & ambitions, experiences, successes and failures. I have not yet succeeded in overcoming the pull of these stronger pressures, and learning to listen to the real me that resides somewhere deep inside me, the me that is telling my mind and body what is right and what I should be doing…
The key seems to be isolating the desires and ambitions driven voices that originate from the passions, and my life goals and experiences – from that small invisible me. I am not my desires; my desires emanate from my real world needs and experiences, and are strictly external to me as an individual. My life goals – even they are not me, for the perfectly simple reason that these- all of them – have external dependencies, so they cannot be the real me.
Who, then, am I? Answer : as of now, I don’t know. While the real world desires and ambitions are important, for I am a constituent of my society, and need to fulfil my role; they are not me. That much I am sure of. I do know that my body cannot be me : for it will one day return to its real owner – the earth. My body cannot be me for after people die – they do live on in memories, and their good deeds. My body cannot be me, for the simple reason that through pain and joy, a part of me remains untouched, and above all.
Who, then, am I? My hunt continues…