Tuesday, April 10, 2018

THE BICYCLE MODEL

Watch a person learning to ride a bicycle. The first day on the bicycle, he seems to be doing everything possible to facilitate falling off. He loses balance, seems to do things to accentuate and accelerate the loss of balance - so to say, positive feedback comes into play.

The second day, you find that he is countering the loss of balance by over-correction. You see him wobbling or jerking from side to side. There is a latent period between the loss of balance and recovery of balance: poorly timed or delayed negative feedbacks.

The next day he is seen riding smoothly. The latent periods between loss of balance and regaining it have been drastically cut down. It is this constant loss of balance with instantaneous recovery that causes a smooth forward movement of the bicycle.

Nagarjun Kandukuru

The student of the profession of self-realisation experiences the same sequences.

In trying to modify his harmful responses to situations that provoke what is termed anger, for instance, he will go through these phases:

1. He does everything possible to accentuate these responses raised voice, abusive language, breaking objects, hitting people, each feeding fuel to the fire and arousing him similar positive feedbacks in equally stupid people around.
2. Then he wobbles. He over-corrects himself, and overshoots to the opposite extreme. From shouting he lapses into sulky silence etc., and then back to violent rage, then to silence, repentance, remorse, etc.
3. Sooner or later, he learns to shorten the latent periods, and smoother, creative interactions become possible.

Some persons doing one or the other yogic sadhanas complain that even after years they get disturbed. They believe that the perfect yogi is an undisturbable corpse. On the other hand, the perfect Yogi is the most sensitive and most easily disturbed person. But this is not outwardly apparent, since the Yogi has learnt to instantaneously correct the disturbance by balance or satva. Ramana Maharshi said that the apparent immobility of the Yogi is like the apparent immobility of a fast spinning top.

The constant loss of equilibrium replaced by instantaneous recovery of equilibrium is the condition for creative interaction on the road of life.

G. G. Welling [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The first illusion to get rid of for the aspirant of self-realisation is the illusion that the object of self-realisation is some state of dead indifference, static peace. 

Some others, first want to learn balance and peace of mind and then go on the road. If the aspirant for bicycle learning were to first learn the art of balancing by sitting on a stationary bicycle in an air-conditioned room, and after six months of this intensive training, sat on a moving bicycle and then finally decided that the best way of not losing balance was by fixing the bicycle on a platform driven by others, you have the model of a man trying to learn control of anger reactions in a sanctuary for sadhus.

The object of trying to learn to ride a bicycle has been replaced buy the object of maintaining balance at any price, Undisturbable equanimity is not a goal by itself.

To say that getting angry is bad and that not being angry is a moral virtue completely misses the point at issue. It is, that in certain conditions the person is subject to a group of responses, like raised voice etc., which are hurtful to himself and to others, and that his own body does not heed his intention. In a given situation, a raised voice, may be necessary. In other situations, a scowl on the face may be very effective. A man controlling anger as a permanent moral virtue is like a man who permanently muffles the bell of his bicycle.

Personal autonomy and self-realisation have nothing to in common with teaching the art of making friends or moral preaching - though more solid moral action might result as a corollary to self-control.

You learn bicycling on a real bicycle on a real road. A few hours on a small, isolated stretch of road may be needed.

Self-realisation is an aim that can only be realised in a real body in real life. Special, temporary conditions may become necessary - but the object is not to make the subject a permanent inmate of a shangri-la, somewhere, It is in the self-consecration to one’s daily work that one achieves realisation, says Krishna.

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