Tuesday, September 27, 2016

AHAM - CHANGING THE WORLD OR CHANGING MYSELF

Capacity to change a phenomenon at will is the touchstone of true knowledge about the phenomenon. This is experiential knowledge; the rest is interpretative knowledge.

It is stuffy, the room is hot. I switch the electric fan on. It does not work. I fan myself. I get tired. I watch my friend who looks comfortable and does not complain about the heat.

I am curious. I want to know why some do not complain of heat, and why it bothers me so much.

I hear the Gita and other scriptures talk of equanimity or equality of reaction in the face of heat or cold.

Is there a mechanism in myself for controlling my reaction to temperatures, some sort of air-conditioning? I must learn about this and liberate myself from this bondage to the city electric supply.

I study my reactions. First I say it is hot and uncomfortable; I go on repeating this at frequent intervals; some others in the room reinforce this feeling. This annoyed feeling spreads quickly to irritation with the government, country and so on.

In this anger my blood-vessels open up further, respiration and heart rate go up, and the body is burning up more fuel, and the body gets to feel hotter and hotter. When sweat begins to appear, I curse further instead of seeing the cooling effects it is likely to bring in. I note that all my complaints about the heat are so many added instructions to my body to play the drama it has learnt over the years. I see that my friend who is not complaining, who is not supporting this negative drama, and is sitting smiling is not only looking comfortable but is not even sweating much.

I now see that my poor body is merely obeying the signals fed into it over the years, reinforced by the average persons around - ‘it is hot’ and the socially expected responses, a set of chain reactions come into play. I must learn more and more of this, and liberate my body from the grip of the command signals of the nasty grumbling ‘old man’ within me.

Someone might ask: ‘should we not try to actively change the world? Complain to the electricity chaps; write to the papers; go to the court? Go ahead; it is your headache and your privilege. Maybe, one day you will see how all these activities are affecting your own body. One can choose to investigate the mechanisms of real freedom from environmental threats; or one can, in the name of mastering the environment enlarge the area of slavery and bondage - first to the fan, then the electricity department, then the government and so on.

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