Monday, January 13, 2014

Recognizing your Natural Flow: Answering a few questions raised by a reader

What if meditation is an act of self reflection, an act of remembering and acknowledging the self?

What would be the extent of importance of TECHNIQUE in art? How can the artist know/accept/realize that s/he is an artist?

After reading my blog entry titled, ‘Praying and Meditating are Waste of Time’, one of my readers asks the questions quoted above. Before I take up those questions one by one to answer or explain my stance, let me briefly tell you what I have said in that blog entry. I said, praying and meditations are waste of time. People adopt various ways to pray and meditate. I have seen people silently standing in front of idol/s and praying for something or just trying to calm themselves down. I have also seen people reading from scriptures. Some people do yoga in order to keep themselves physically fit or mentally focused. These are various techniques that one applies to achieve certain objectives; here it is calmness and happiness. In spiritual terms one could say that people pray and meditate to achieve the state of bliss. Or they do it to realize their selves. Yet another way we could put it as a way to annihilate ego and become one with the eternal soul. Whatever be the case, praying and meditating pre-supposes a search therefore a fair amount of troubled thinking. Some people pray for the wellness of their being and that of others. That itself shows that something has gone wrong with their wellness or that of the others. If they are already well, then they are becoming a bit ambitious by asking for more. Some people do yoga to become one with the universal soul or physical fitness. That itself shows that they are not one with the world or they are not physically fit. Considering this pre-given condition, to which most of the people are bound, we could say that as techniques, praying and meditation are good. But the question that I raised in the article was about the lacuna between the acts of praying and meditation and the desired results. Had praying and meditation been effective, at least those number of people who have prayed enough and meditated enough would have stopped doing it. Once you achieve calmness, bliss, well being, then what is the point of meditating and praying. If you are continuing with it, then I would say such states are temporary because they do not give any permanent solutions to any of the human problems. If praying and meditating are temporary solutions then there are several ways of achieving such kind of temporary solutions; drinking alcohol, smoking weed, injecting hallucinogens, watching television, swimming, eating, having sex to name a few everything is a temporary solution to the existing problems. What I suggest in my article is simple thing; just do what you are good at. That is the ultimate form of praying or meditating. And that is the only way to be natural. That is the only way to be one with the universal soul. And that is the ultimate way to be free of all the worldly woes.

The reader asks, why can’t we consider prayer or meditation as self-reflection? If you are really serious about doing some self-reflection, in my opinion, you do not need any materialistic conditions to do so. You could do self-reflecting while cooking, eating, bathing, walking, while decking up yourself at the dressing table, in a train, bus or right in the middle of a street. Self-reflection is one thing that you could do with any other mediation or situation or condition. What you need to do is to become silent and delve deep into what you are or what you are doing. You can be silent while walking, cooking or cycling or while doing any other deed. But never ask yourself what happens to yourself when you are silent. The moment you ask this question you start speaking to yourself. The moment you speak to yourself so many things you tend to tell to your own self. Then you will be filled with silent noises. These silent noises are called thoughts. But how can you be silent without being self-conscious? For that thinking itself should cease. But if you deliberately try to kill your thinking, you would be violating your own naturalness. So the best way to be silent is to let the thoughts flow till they flow out and become dry of thoughts. When you let the thoughts drain out themselves you will know about yourself completely and you will be become light and free of burdens. But the moment you try to stop your thinking and meditate upon your process of thinking, then you are lost. Externally you may be silent but internally you will be crowded by noises and voices. The best way to self reflect is to let the thoughts pass through you, in you and around you. You will not even come to know when they have gone out. Once you are thoughtless (because most of the thoughts are useless) you are clear about yourself. Again I am telling you, to be in that state of thoughtlessness, you need not go to a temple or church or mosque. You can be doing your daily chores and still be silent and self reflecting. But one condition, the moment you feel or think or take pride in the fact that you are self reflecting, you are lost. You are again back in the crowd.

The reader asks further, can’t it be an act of remembering? Remembering is a forced act. The opposite of it is being aware. When you are aware you need not remember. Any human being who has lived on this earth for a few years is expected to ‘remember’ certain things. Remembering is an act against forgetting. But if you are forgetting certain things those must be insignificant things that have not got registered in your memory. Then why remember them? My contention in the article was that you know only what you know. Similarly you can remember only that you know. If you know well you need not remember. If you have forgotten or if you don’t know, even if you try your best you do not remember. Most of the people remember things through associations. When you see someone in the street, suddenly you remember your friend because that person looks faintly like your friend. But you remember your friend because you know him/her. If you don’t have a friend like that you don’t remember him/her at all. In some other cases you get a feeling that you know the place, person or even you have gone through the similar situation once; it is called déjà vu. It is a sense of mirroring the situation with so many similar situations that makes you feel not remember things in that way. Remembrance cannot be avoided. But you can remember only the things that you know. You cannot conjure up memories that you don’t have. If you do, you are lying to yourself. Prayer cannot be remembering; prayer can only be an act of expressing gratitude. For expressing your gratitude you don’t need to be in particular place or ambience. Your life itself could be an act of expressing gratitude to yourself and to the world in which you live.

The reader asks again: Can’t it be acknowledging the self? The idea of self that exists elsewhere or inside one’s body is an illusionary notion. Self is not separated from what you are. The rest is imagination. Self is not situated inside your body nor it is your body nor it is outside your body. Self is a totality and some people define it with body, some with soul and some with so many other romantic notions. But for me self is something that is integral to your being. When you live your life, that is the way you manifest your self. You cannot realize your self inside or outside your physical body and behave differently as a body. Your self is expressed in your action and your way of life. You cannot detach yourself from what you are. You could be a government clerk and at the same time you could be poet or painter too. But your self is not that of painter or poet because it is better than being a clerk. You are your self when your poetic sensibilities are expressed even when you are clerk or vice versa. There is no problem in being a clerk. But if you are bound by the clerk-ness of a clerk you do not realize or recognize yourself. You will be in perpetual pain. If you are a poet, you have to live the life of a poet. The clerkness cannot dominate your poetic life. Or when you are a clerk you cannot be overpowered by your poet-ness. It will put you into trouble. But your self is a totality, then you behave like a natural human being, who is kind, caring, loving and beyond any kind of corruptions. Then you do not need to sit praying or meditating. Whatever you do would make you feel you as a self and it will take you to your happiness.

Now the second part of the question does not have anything to do with the first part, apparently. However, I could see that this second part is also is an extension of the first part. The second part raises a question: What is importance of technique in art? Ask the same question in relation with the first part of the question. What is the importance of praying or meditating methods with the realization of self or bliss or other blah blah? Doing yoga is a technique to achieve something beyond that. So if someone stresses on yogic postures, it becomes a physical exercise. It will not take you to the so called realization of the self. If someone reads a prayer book for going near to God or anything like that, it is understandable. But if someone insists that reading scriptures is the only way to reach god then it becomes fundamentalism. Art is an expression of the human being that gives meaning to his existence. Most of the people express themselves in many different ways. They all use different mediums to express themselves. Each medium, over a period of time becomes traditional either because of overuse, or because it has gone beyond any kind of experimentation. Or else it has become too familiar to be called different. Mediums help artists to find a form. Form is the basic structure of expressions. Mediums help the artist to build the form either in two dimensional or three dimensional ways. In digital works or virtual works, software plays the role of the medium. Or even computer and other hardware become the medium in themselves. They are considered to be cutting edge mediums because they are no longer familiarized by over use or gone beyond experimentations. Possibilities are still abundant in those mediums. But if someone just revels in medium, then his expressions are going to be stale. Because an expression cannot be bound by a medium. When an expression goes beyond the medium, even while using it, it becomes art. When yoga practitioners go beyond the yogic postures they become yogis. Otherwise they remain gym instructors on a yoga mat with a different pack of words to qualify their practice.

German artist, Joseph Beuys once said that anybody could be an artist. Osho Rajneesh once said that anybody who does anything with a sense of involvement and rhythm becomes an artist. In that sense, in this world many people are artists and so many people are not. An artist becomes an artist when he/she comes to know that he/she cannot express himself or herself in any other way. Human beings have a lot of choices before them. They can become engineers, doctors, magicians, writers, runners, boxers, accountants, chefs, businessmen, property dealers, artists, singers, dancers and what not. The choices are too many. Out of that some people chooses to be painters, some become musicians, some become doctors, some become software engineers, some become yoga instructors. But anybody who does with utter devotion to what one does and to oneself, and feel that he/she cannot do anything other than that within the given context of too many choices, that person becomes an artist. A surgeon could be a great artist of human mechanism.  A motor cycle mechanic could be a wonderful artist in the field of mechanism of motor cycles, even he could be zen master, as they say. So there is no moment of realization for an artist to become an artist. He/she comes to know about it as a natural flow. Anybody who becomes artist by force or out of forced choice will not go too long in the journey of art. Being an artist is being in the natural flow of living. Nothing can stop it. Due to circumstances you may become a tandoori roti maker in a wayside daba. But if you are an artist there too you will make your tandoori rotis artistically because that is the natural flow of your life. Recognizing the natural flow is the most important thing to be an artist. But again, to know your natural flow, you need not sit in meditation or prayer. You just need to do what you are doing.