Is Religion Serving its Purpose?

Is Religion Serving its Purpose?

As a meditator, my meaning of religion would be very different from the general audience, because I see religion from inside, not from outside. Usually, we see religion from the outside. What it offers is the comfort it gives us and the identity it gives us. It’s very deep, you know. It’s not just about the practices and rituals of religion. It’s part of your life; your name, your habits, the food that you eat, the clothes you wear, the kind of friends you have, the moral framework you have. In a way, everything comes from religion, whether you want it or not. It’s very rarely that an individual takes birth and grows up as an atheist without any beliefs. In fact, atheism is a very individualistic choice you make much later in your life, when you begin to develop your own understanding of life, when you are able to compare different experiences, and compare different moral philosophies. You come to a conclusion whether you want to believe in God or not. But for most, during the early childhood and growing up years, you believe in something. Either you believe in the God that your parents are worshipping, or you believe in something that you’ve come to connect with. It’s a very important connection, and religion offers all that. 

As a meditator, I have always been very critical about religion. They seem to have absolutely diverted away from the main purpose. What is the point of religion? What is the point of spirituality? What is the point of meditation? They seem to be doing something else, but we cannot dismiss the impact of religion on our lives. Religion is a reminder that there is something beyond logic; there is something beyond science, beyond 1+1=2, beyond the mathematics and mechanics of life. There is something beyond making money, living, and dying. That unknown zone that we cannot grasp, we cannot immediately understand, is what we collectively designate as religion. Religion is that semi-conscious space where we know there is something here, and yet we don’t understand it fully; you have to approach it with the sense of belief, with the sense of trust. If you’re too logical, if you’re too systematic in your approach, you would throw religion out very quickly, because the purpose is not logic or reasoning, but to help you to connect with something inside which is beyond all this. In a way, it is a way of connecting with the spirit. 

There is the mind, there is the body, and then there is something more to us. We can understand the body and mind scientifically. We can systematically study them. We can see what they do, what they don’t do. Emotions, feelings, love, connection, all these things are beyond the realm of science. Our subjective experience of life, our perception of beauty – some of the most beautiful things in the world cannot be grasped by logic and science. That space is always empty in us; nothing can enter that space. Our sophistication, our achievements of life, our lifestyle, relationships, whatever it is that we do in this world, even if we do it very successfully, there’s a part of us that can never be touched by any of these things. 

Religion promises to fulfill that space. The most important thing to remember is that it promises. Whether it does it or not is a different matter, because it completely depends on the individual and has nothing to do with the religion. Religion only reminds you that something like this happened at some point in time. This is the message, this is the teaching, and this is how we understand. There is no religion without scripture; scripture is fundamental to religion. You might think today that in Hinduism they just worship idols, they go to temples, where is the scripture? If you will pay attention, you will see the whole setup of the temple, the idols, everything is based on certain scriptural understandings. You might not know the scripture, but the people who are dealing with those things – the priest, the religious people – they are always doing things according to some theory, some concept of religion. They are not just doing it randomly. That scripture is the foundation of every religion: Religions that worship idols, religions that hate idols, religions that worship something else altogether, whatever it might be. If you look at the three major religions; Christianity, Hinduism and Islam, they are fundamentally different in their approaches. Hinduism really doesn’t have any one single set of philosophies; it’s a mixture of ideologies and beliefs with multiple gods. Christianity is belief in one God, one son, and one Holy Spirit. Islam is also pretty similar; it’s one God. Again there is no form. They’re fundamentally different in a sense that all of them are believing in something beyond; one something, but the way they connect with it is very different. 

This is where religions get separated. The belief with which you approach that Oneness changes religion. In Christianity you approach that Oneness through Jesus. In Islam you approach that Oneness through a formless being. You simply call him God, or Allah. But, it’s a formless being, a formless presence. Of course there’s a prophet, there is Muhammad, but what you are worshiping is the formless thing. That would seem to be approaching through multiple teachings, but ultimately the objective is to connect with something beyond. Although all three of these religions fundamentally seem to be doing different things, they are talking about a collective memory of something. That collective memory is what we identify as religion. If we take away their collective memory, then we have no connection to our past. 

If we completely take religion out of our lives, what do we fill it with? What do we replace it with? In a way, mindfulness, meditation, spirituality, searching for the self – enlightenment, it’s all part of that religious realm. We don’t understand it, but it’s all connected. It might be distorted, but it’s all connected. Religiousness is much beyond just worshipping an idol, just reciting of a few verses, or just believing in something your parents or a priest has told you. 

Religiousness is a feeling; it’s an emotion toward something beyond. For example, you would think a man like Einstein should have nothing to do with religion; he was the definition of scientific temperament. He approached everything through science and logic. He was a mathematician, he was a logician, he was a physician – a completely different being. Yet he said, “I am religious in a sense that there is something beyond the grasp of our immediate mind and body. There’s something beyond us, and I believe in that. I thirst for that. I long for that, and I see that in the world. In that sense, and only in that sense, I am religious.” He made it very clear, because usually when you say, “I’m religious” people tend to think Okay, which religion? What Einstein was saying was something different. He was saying, “I am religious, but I don’t follow any religion.” It’s something completely different. Religiousness is a different phenomenon altogether. In fact, it’s one of the most beautiful sensations to have: To believe in something beyond. If you take that feeling of religiousness out completely, you feel very empty and hollow. Life seems to be pointless. It seems to be meaningless. 

But look what religions have done – major religions of the world, including the smaller ones: They have become too obsessed with the idea of taking this message to as many people as possible, while the actual purpose of religion should be making that one single individual deeply understand the purpose and meaning of religiousness. That is the hard part. You need a teacher for that, you need a guide, you need somebody to spend time with you to teach you, help you, which is the hardest path. The easiest path is to say, “Here is the idol. Just go worship. Come once in a week. Get some water sprinkled on your head, go on a pilgrimage at least once in your lifetime, or do prayer four or five times a day.” I’m not ridiculing these practices, all I’m trying to say is it’s an easy way out. Religiousness is such a deep, transformative process, and yet religions offer it as a freebie. You are a part of our religion; do this, do that – as if that is enough. That’s another big flaw of religion; that it promises something unimaginably spectacular for such little effort on your part. It tells you, You be greedy, you be materialistic, you continue to do all the things that you do in the worldly sense. You don’t have to transmute your mind or your body, you don’t have to fundamentally change the way you live, you only have to believe in these things. They make it easy, they make it convenient, while religiousness is the exact opposite. 

It’s much harder. It’s about changing your thoughts. It’s about changing the way you think. It’s about changing your perception of reality. It’s about understanding yourself better, and understanding people. It’s about love and compassion, and so many other things. It’s about real things. Religiousness is real transformation, which takes time, and it happens over a period of time. What religions have done is they seem to promise it without any effort. All you have to do is all of these rituals, and what you are searching for is promised to you – when? At the end of your life! If you do these things, at the end of your life you will go to heaven. If you don’t do these things, you will go to hell. It’s a childish way of persuading somebody to transform their lives. In fact, religion is not even telling them to transform their lives. Religion is just telling them to do the very same thing, but they are in a way diverting people’s attention away from something real; that real transformation is possible. It is possible to go beyond anger in reality. It is possible to gain control over your thoughts in reality. Tell me, which religion talks about these things? Which religion talks about self-transformation? Which religion talks about using the knowledge of the past to understand oneself deeper, so that we can become something better? That is not what religions are occupied with now. They’re more occupied with beliefs and ideas. Beliefs that were given to us as teachings, as guidance, as signposts, have become slogans now: That’s the difference. What was supposed to be used as a signpost, as a guide, has replaced the path. Instead of the signpost saying left – go left, they’ve removed the path and they’ve put the signpost in the middle and it says, Pray here. 

Some people have no sense of direction. They go to God, they worship, practice the rituals. Of course, all these things add tremendous meaning to us as individuals. It gives us a sense of identity. It connects us to our past, that’s for sure. Without religion, you feel more lost. There is no denying it. Let’s say you’re a part of the Hindu religion and you feel connected to hundreds and thousands of years of history. You see yourself as a part of those people, as an extension of those people. There is a satisfaction knowing that you are a part of this ancient, rich, vibrant, culture. There is no denying it. 

But, does that take away your anger? Does it take away your uncertainty of who you are? Does it take away your fears and frustrations? No. In a way, it only hides them. Real transformation takes time. It is a process. That is what religiousness is: To keep striving for that something beyond. To look for that beautiful space within us, not somewhere outside. It is still beyond our reach, and we need to keep striving for it. This is how religions start. If you look at the starting point of all religions, there’s always a teacher, an individual, a living, breathing, normal, conscious, alive human being. There is no Islam without Muhammad. There is no Christianity without Jesus, and there is no Hinduism without hundreds and thousands of enlightened beings. You cannot imagine the entire landscape of religion by taking away the individuals who actually lived a certain kind of life. That’s what a Buddha, a Jesus, or Muhammad represent.  They lived a certain kind of life and people wanted to emulate that form of life. They wanted to understand it. So, those who wanted to follow Muhammad became Muslim. Those who wanted to follow Jesus became Christian. Those who chose to stay away remained Jews. 

Over a period of time, we become so attached to the form, the image of the person, we forget the essence. We forget the actual message. We forget the actual teaching, because to actually follow teacher is a lot more difficult. To really understand his mind, to understand what he’s trying to teach and to actually practice those teachings, takes a lot more effort. It takes a lot more than just praying. It takes a more dedicated, focused, approach. Religiousness is very individualistic. When I choose to meditate, to sit quiet, I’m choosing to be religious; not following religion, but I’m choosing to connect with that something beyond. 

As a meditator, one part of me will always be very critical about religion; in fact, extremely critical, because they are supposed to be guiding people toward their inner self. Instead they’re guiding them in the opposite direction. The fundamental difference between religion and spirituality is that spirituality is about you, it’s about your mind, your body, understanding who you are from inside. Religion is about that thing we have glorified, whatever that might be. It could be emptiness, it could be silence, it could be a formless god, or it could be a man hanging on the cross, or a stone idol. Whatever it might be – something else has become more important than you. That is the fundamental issue a meditator will always have with religion. It’s the same issue Buddha had with Hinduism. It’s the same issue Jesus had with Judaism. It’s the same issue Muhammad had with the prevailing religious customs of his time. 

Who are these people? These people are revolutionaries. They were able to see what people are missing, what is keeping people in bondage. It’s their beliefs, it’s their ideas. Something has to set them free. All of these teachers speak about the very same thing: There is something inside you. If you’re able to connect with that, it sets you free. How do you connect to that if you are totally bound to your religious systems, rituals, and practices? The first step is to become critical of the religion that you are bonding with. Not to discard it, but to understand it. There is a big difference. 

I’m not talking about atheism. I’m not talking about being non-religious. In fact, I’m talking about being more religious. True religiousness is to understand your religion: What is it? What is it that I’m being given here? Is there some value in it? That is why it has been passed on. That is why so many people practice in believing it and look for the real value in it. People are getting some benefits from religion; that’s why they’re bound to it. What if there is something more to it? Let me explore it. Let me understand it. That is how the life of a Jesus, of a Buddha, a Muhammad start: They begin to inquire deeper. That mystical dimension of religion is what they became fascinated with. 

Jesus became fascinated with the mystical realm of Judaism. He was part of a community – a group of people – called the Essenes, and they belonged to a larger group called the Nazarenes. Look at the word Nazarene. It comes from the ancient Hebrew word “nazara” which means “the Truth”.  These were the people who were seeking the Truth. You can pray to God with your eyes closed, but when you’re seeking, you have to keep them open. These were the group of people who were seeking, who were searching. It was a part of Judaism, but it was the mystical part. It’s the same with Muhammad. He was part of a deeply entrenched religious belief system, but he wanted to be alone. He wanted to spend time in silence. That is why he used to go to that cave and spend hours and hours. Of course, the Koran doesn’t give the details of his meditation, but it very clearly says that he spent a lot of time in silence. Then he began to hear the voices. When he began to recite the songs that he was hearing, that became the Koran, or the voice of God. 

In a meditative sense, what the Koran is trying to say is, when you are silent, when you are empty, when you are alone, when your mind is not clouded by thoughts, something happens to you. You experience a transcendence, what Buddha called nothingness. Buddha called nothingness the ultimate experience of life. When you’re not thinking about anything, when you’re not desiring for anything, when you are empty and hollow, you experience something. The central space of all religions is that individual and his meditative state. There is no Jesus without a meditative state, and there is no Christianity without Jesus. So there is no Christianity without meditation, and yet Christianity looks at meditation as something very alien, very different. In fact, it looks at meditation as Buddhist. Christians don’t meditate. Well, if Christians don’t meditate, then why are they following Jesus? He was a meditator for about 10-12 years. He was in the deepest possible meditation. That is what he shared with the people after he came out of his meditation. If you listen to his words, it’s like he’s another version of Buddha; same love, same compassion, same unconditional love for his people. He’s saying the exact same thing, but was telling it in a way that his people could understand. Buddha spoke in a way that Hindus could understand. Jesus spoke in a way the Jews could understand. 

Unlike today, people were deeply entrenched in their religion. Two thousand years ago, religion was everything to an individual. There is no way you can connect with an individual by negating their religion. You have to somehow convince them that your religion is trying to say this. What I’m trying to say is the very same thing religions are telling us, but we have misunderstood. That is the only way people can understand, because that’s the fact. Their religions are not false, they’ve become way too diluted. They’ve become very convenient. The Truth is there, but it’s so diluted that they’re not getting the real taste of it. That is where, once in a while, a Jesus, a Buddha, a Muhammad, steps up and says, “You are searching for it, here is the direct path.” This is exactly what the scriptures say. If you go back and read the Koran, the Gita or the Bible again, and read it from a meditative point of view – from the point of view of the individual who was trying to transform himself, then you will see a completely different narrative flowing in the scriptures. You’ll be amazed as to how simple the messages are and how complicated we have made them. 

Religiousness is the highest possible thing that you can search for, but religion is stuck with certain ideas and ideology. As an individual, if you are able to understand your religion better, if you’re able to go a little deeper while enjoying all the comforts that religion gives you, you don’t have to run away from it. You don’t have to change your name. You don’t have to change how you dress, and you don’t have to change your food habits. It’s all a part of your religion. In fact, that’s the beauty of it. You don’t have to let go of any of that, and still make religion something more by inquiring deeper into it. When you inquire deeper, you start experiencing something of whatever religion you are.

Atheism is also a form of belief. There’s nothing superior about believing in God or not. Both are belief systems. What is superior is to understand the nature of believing: Where does this come from? Why do we need to believe in something? What is the necessity for, and how do I fully understand this landscape of belief? Religion is nothing but a landscape of belief; it’s not logic, it’s not time. It’s just believing internally, and if you can use that to transform yourself then you get the best of both worlds. You can celebrate your holidays and festivals, you can be a part of your community, you can enjoy all the religious rituals, customs, and traditions, and yet at the same time you can walk with the certainty of knowing that you understand your religion better. You understand the true purpose of it a little more than most people around.

Your Greatest Desire is your Greatest Obstacle

Your Greatest Desire is your Greatest Obstacle

Desire is not just limited to the mind and body, but we have become so obsessed with the idea of our minds and bodies. Since our entire identity is built on this life – our life – then desiring becomes just a way of fulfilling the already-existing desires of the mind and the body. All kinds of desires simply become extensions of one fundamental desire, which is your body and your mind. That desire is your obstacle; it’s your biggest obstacle, because it blocks out your existential desires. It blocks out your deeper questions. It blocks out solutions, while only projecting problems. That’s why our desiring process is so deeply connected to our day-to-day problems. We desire to go beyond our daily problems and our obstacles. In a way, the entire process is trying to find solutions for imaginary problems which appear to be tremendously real, while real problems are not even addressed. What if you cannot find peace of mind, certainty, or happiness before resolving the fundamental questions of “Who are you? Where did you come from? What is life?” What if these deeper philosophical questions are the basis? If you don’t solve those questions you will never be able to find certainty. What if existence functions that way? Then, you’re not even scratching at the surface of your problems. You’re not even looking in the direction of solutions. You are simply obsessed with the mind and body.

Existential Desire

So, our desires are our biggest obstacles. Without the very process of desiring, you would not be able to ask fundamental questions. There’s got to be a desire inside you to know, to explore, to understand. That existential desire is a part of us; it’s already there, but we rarely acknowledge it. We rarely give it space, because the mind is so crowded already. The conversations are set. The mind has already decided, These are my priorities, these are the things that I want to think about. What is it based on? It’s not based on you, it’s based on what’s happening around you. Many of our desires are simply mental projections of the desires of others. 

Where are we Going?

Think about it: Many times you cannot even make the distinction between your desire and a desire that is being imposed upon you; a desire that you just picked up subconsciously, unconsciously. In fact, the whole world is gripped by this collective desire to go somewhere. If you ask you – the individual, “Is this going somewhere accomplishing something?” Becoming successful, striving for something that you’re not, is not a part of you, because there’s a part of you that knows that your happiness does not come from that; it’s just a mental projection. “If I’m not able to find my happiness here in this moment, with whatever my mind is capable of now, whatever my body is capable of now, by fully acknowledging my limitations, by fully realizing that this is my life, it doesn’t matter whether I’m rich or poor, successful or a failure, my happiness is independent. It is not connected to any of this.” 

Chasing Desires

The moment you realize that, you will see the futility of all your desiring process, and that’s when you realize these desires did not come from you; they were added on to you. You picked it up as a child, as a process of growing up, as the noise of society. In fact, your individual desires more often than not are simply society’s noise constantly buzzing in your head: You have to be there, you have to be that, you cannot be this, you cannot be that. You’ve got to be sensitive. You’ve got to be caring. It doesn’t matter whether these desires are good or bad, if it is not yours it can never be good. It can never satisfy you, because even if you find a solution, even if you’re able to satisfy all the desires that you have, you will still feel empty and hollow because you have not acknowledged your desires. You have only been trying to chase desires of your images, projections, of people, and experiences. 

Drop your Desires

If, for whatever reason, you decide that I’m going to stop desiring for a few minutes – just remember that it’s only temporary, and you can always go back to your desires. You’re not going to lose them; they’re always floating around. Make a conscious decision and say, “For the next ten minutes I’m not going to desire anything.” If you’re able to stay in that zone of no desire, you will hear your existential desires loud and clear: The desire to be, not to become. The desire to experience and not just entertain. The desire to feel life pulsing through you and not just contemplate on it. The desire to accept yourself without any judgments, because all judgments come from the mind – comes from the thought process, That’s when you realize there is something beautiful happening right here. I can recognize it as life, as aliveness, as consciousness, as my being. Maybe that is the solution to all my problems. Maybe my fundamental desire is simply to be. What else can be the objective of life? If being is not the objective of life, then why are you perceiving yourself as a being? Why do we call ourselves human beings, and why do we call existence exist-ence?

Don’t be a Ghost

The whole purpose the game of life is about being and to move in that dimension, experiencing a few other things. But the fundamental purpose is to be. You can be an artist, you can be a dancer, you can be a cook, you can be a mom, you can be a friend. Being is the most important thing. You’re not trying to become those things, because becoming is an illusion. Becoming is a desiring process gone wrong. Becoming is desiring for the sake of desiring; Not to find yourself or find something meaningful, but desire for the sake of desire. Just like any other process of life; when you forget the fundamentals and when the periphery becomes all important, when your desiring process becomes more important than you, then that desire is an obstacle, because desire has taken over you. Buddha said, Desire is the root cause of all suffering. He was absolutely right. Where is suffering without desiring? 

As simple as it may sound, it is actually that simple: Drop your desires and you will experience peace. Peace and desires cannot coexist, because peace is a state of not desiring. In fact, peace has the very opposite definition of desire. This word desire is a very cunning word. It’s actually another word for disturbance. If you think about it, there cannot be desiring without disturbance. What is desiring? You are trying to become something that you’re not. You are trying to go somewhere where you’re not. You’re trying to do something that you have not done. You’re trying to experience something that you’ve not experienced. That is what desiring is. Desire is an emptiness that you’re trying to fill. By its very nature, it’s got to be disturbing. How can you experience peace, certainty, serenity, or bliss when you are all the time desiring? You have to come to the conclusion that peace is a real thing; it’s not some ephemeral magic stuff that can be here, there, everywhere at all times, irrespective of what you’re doing or thinking. 

Peace is a physical thing, literally like a desire. You can only accommodate one thing on your plate at a time: You can either have peace or you can have your desires. Once this becomes clear: I cannot accommodate both. This is life. When I’m desiring, I’m just desire. I am no being, I am no mind, I am just a desire. Desire has no existential root. A desire is a ghost. It has no home, it is trying to find something, and it is just floating around. That’s what a desire is. So when you are desiring, you’re not you. You’re just a ghost. How can you find peace and certainty when you’re a ghost? The very definition of ghost is that you are not there; you’re not a being. I’m a human being, I’m not a ghost, because I have some basis in existence, in reality; I have a body, I have a mind. You are a ghost because you don’t have anything real. You are just a desire floating around. 

Hard to Let Go

Fundamentally, you have to come to the conclusion that peace is very physical, it’s a real thing. Once you understand that it’s a real thing, then you have to make a choice: What do I want this moment? I’m not even saying that you have to only be desiring for peace. But at this point in time your desires have taken over you so completely that you’re not even able to accommodate peace, even for a few minutes in a day. If you tell your mind, For ten minutes just stop desiring and be peaceful, your mind goes crazy because it has identified itself with its desires. Once that identification breaks, once you

realize that desiring is happening to you, you are acknowledging it and you don’t have to become that desire. You can have control over it. You can choose. So that’s what gaining control is. To say, For the next ten minutes I want peace, which means I cannot have any desires. So just sit and drop your desires and try to find that peace. It’ll take a few days, it might take a few months, it might take a few years, it doesn’t matter. 

Eventually, you will get to a point where those ten minutes will be yours and yours alone. That is what we are searching for. We’re searching for that one minute where we have full control over our lives, which means we have full control over our thought process. We have full control to think or not to think, to be or not to be. Whatever you want to do, you will have full control. That’s what we’re striving for. That is what peace is. Peace is knowing that you are above your mind, you are above your thoughts, and you are above your desires. Disturbance is to not find you amidst all these desiring processes. There are so many desires, so much happening, but you are lost. Think about it: The world is a perfect example. Your so-called successful people, people who have made lots of money, who have become really famous, just look into their lives. You will see anything but peace. You will see anything but certainty. In fact, they’ll be more confused, because now they’re filled with so many desires and so many false self-projections and images. They are totally lost. A person who has fewer desires might be confused about life but if he decides to find himself at least he can find himself because he only has to navigate through those few basic desires:  How do I take care of my mind? How do I take care of my body? How do I take care of my identity? A few simple questions. But for a guy who’s built his life on his desires, his identity is built on that. Now if he tries to get rid of it, it’s like trying to get rid of something really big.

Silence, Peace, and Stillness

Imagine that you work all your life to become the president of the country. Here a meditator comes and says, “Even if you become the president of the country you will not find peace, because that is not your desire. That is still a projection of society that is gone into your head, taken root, and it has grown, and you’re trying to nurture it.” Even if you become that, you will still lose yourself. You will still not know who you are. That is when you start thinking, Okay, how do I drop this? I’ve worked all my life for this. So, you have a bigger problem than someone who just wants to be himself, who’s not trying to become a president. I’m just giving an example. We can get lost in any of our desires. That is why desire is an obstacle – is our biggest obstacle – because it’s a projection; it’s not a real thing. When projection replaces reality, the natural consequence is disturbance, lack of certainty. 

When we come back to the fundamental question, the fundamental process of desiring; which desire has nothing to do with our minds, which desire has nothing to do with society, it’s about existential desires. To listen to that existential voice that says, “Silence is what you’re searching for, not noise. Peace is what you’re searching for, not disturbance. Stillness is what you’re searching for, not movement.” Then you realize that all these things are abundant gifts of nature. You don’t have to run after these things. These things don’t belong to somebody. There’s no tax for these. You don’t have to pay to get these; it’s all right here. How stupid and how dumb I should be to be running behind these things all my life without realizing that it’s right here within.

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One Minute to Enlightenment

One Minute to Enlightenment

Listen to a voice recording of this talk on SoundCloud here

Is Language Good or Bad?

Is language our gift or is it a curse? Is language a boon or a bane? Is language helping us or hurting us? That’s a fundamental question because somehow we have assumed that language has to be good; language has to be beneficial. It helps us to communicate our ideas; it helps us to connect with people; it expands our understanding of the world and so many other things. But, if you ask a spiritual person, if you ask a meditator, an enlightened person, they will tell you that language is your biggest obstacle. In fact, my entire effort in trying to teach you silence and meditation is to help you go beyond the language that you are stuck with. Your teacher will tell you that you are nothing but your language. If you can manage to keep quiet, absolutely silent, for one minute – if you are able to not use language for one single minute, you will become enlightened. 

Just a Minute

The difference between an awakened state, an enlightened state, and a state of eternal confusion and chaos is language. Language would be a beautiful thing if we had control over it. If language controls us, then it is not our gift, but the chains that bind us. We are actually bound by the chains of the language that we use. For a single minute, we cannot be conscious without using language. You might find this surprising, but try it: Just sit in a corner somewhere and close your eyes. Tell yourself for the next one minute – not one hour, not one day, not one year, Just one minute I want to be quiet, I don’t want to say anything. I’m not just talking about verbalizing like saying it aloud, but even internally. 

What Controls Your Life

When you sit and try to be completely quiet and thought-free for one minute, you will realize the tremendous hold language has over your life. Language controls you completely. In fact, you are just a puppet of your language. The constant conversation that is happening in your mind is what is deciding your life, not the other way around. You’re not giving instructions to your mind; the mind is giving instructions to you. The mind is creating its own connections. It has its own language. It has its own ideas and expression, and you are the one who is being acted upon. That should scare you! As human beings, we believe deep down that we have control over our lives. We forget about what’s happening around us. We might not have control over somebody else’s life; that is a given, we know that. But, at least we believe that we are in full control of our lives. 

Thinking Grooves into our Minds

When we dig a little deeper, we see the reality that we have no control over our lives. It is the mental noise, the voice in our mind that is controlling us, and we have no control over what we tell ourselves. That’s the scary part! Can you consciously dream? No. Dreams happen and you acknowledge it. Can you consciously generate a thought process and hold on to it? You can trigger a thought process, but you can never decide its course. If you think about it, it’s like you have a different range of emotions – happiness, sadness – and let’s say all these emotions have different colors in the form of different colored liquids. What you can do with your mind is simply pour that liquid into the grooves of your mind. The mind has ridges, it has grooves which have been created over days and months and years of continuous conversation. When you pour that, the mind will decide in which direction it should take that liquid; you have no control over it. The mind will move that liquid in the veins of the mind that are already created. 

Controlling the Triggers

The only thing you can control is the trigger; that is if you’re fully conscious, if you’re fully aware of what’s happening around you, you will be able to say, “Now this is creating anger in me. This can lead to happiness. This can lead to confusion. This thought process is leading me into uncertainty.” You can acknowledge it, but once it happens in your mind, you are a victim of its processes. Why? Because you don’t have control over your mind. 

We can predict nature, we can predict the weather, how animals act, the movement of the planets, our solar system – everything to a certain degree of certainty. You cannot predict what a human being will do in the next moment, because we are totally unpredictable. We are being driven, not by some central ‘all-important force’ that knows what we want, we are actually driven by our language. We are driven by the conversation in our minds. I’m not saying that there is no such central force; in fact, there is. The whole effort of meditation is trying to get to the central force which is responsible for positively controlling our lives; responsible for all the best of things that we are searching for. Instead, we are actually listening to the conversation in our head which has no purpose, no meaning, it is just a repetitive habit. 

Why meditation?

So, why do we need meditation? Why do we need spirituality? Why do we need a process which is so different from the usual things that we do? Instead of going about our lives in a regular fashion, why do we choose to be silent? Why do we choose to break away from things to sit quiet and put in the effort to meditate? The reason you have to do it is to silence that constant noise in your mind. You have to understand the language of your mind. You have to understand how it is controlling you. Only then would you be able to go beyond it. 

For only a single moment, if you can be totally quiet without using any language, you will know that single moment is the door: It is the door to certainty, it is the door to peace, it is the door to all the best of things that you’re searching for. Without that access, we are simply stuck in the world of language. That is why we have such a strong emotional association with language. That is why it is so easy to trigger an individual by simply using language. You don’t have to do anything physical. You can disturb an individual’s mind more using language than any other force because we simply live in the world of words and ideas, and that is our reality. If somebody disturbs our arrangement of ideas, that’s enough to trigger us. 

No Disturbance Without Peace

Reality is something else. In reality, we are so much more than our words, we are so much more than just the language that we’ve been using. In reality, we are the stillness and the silence that accommodates these words, that accommodates language. Without silence, there cannot be sound. Without stillness, there cannot be movement. If there is disturbance, know that there is peace that is accommodating the disturbance. If there was no peace, if there was only disturbance, then you would not even know how to recognize that disturbance. There are moments when you are peaceful, there are moments when you are silent, and there are moments when you are still. That is what keeps pushing you to experience those moments more and more. Whether you articulate it or not, whether you consciously express it or not, you are obviously searching for silence – inner silence. 

Self-talk

Because we are never silent, we are always talking to ourselves, we are always telling something to ourselves, and that is where our neuron associations are being built. That is where our habits are being created. That is where the foundation of our emotions are being created. Our fears, our frustrations, our understanding of the world – everything is created in those silent conversations. When you speak, you are only expressing what was already there. When you are actually using words and you are speaking out loud, you’re not creating anything. You’re just bringing out whatever that’s already there in your mind. When you are quiet, when you’re just taking a walk, doing nothing, those are the moments when what you call you, that identity called you is being shaped. From the outside, you are silent the majority of the time; when you sleep you are silent, when you are sitting in front of the computer you’re silent. Only when you’re interacting with people, when you have to get certain things done, when you feel like sharing something, do you speak. Otherwise, you are entertaining yourself all the time by talking to yourself, criticizing, arguing, complaining, cracking jokes. You do this all the time on the inside, and that is why even when there are no people around you, you are still sane, you’ve not gone mad. 

You have created these multiple personalities, these multiple voices with whom you can have your conversations, fight with, or you can even cry without any external input. You can just close your eyes, keep talking to yourself, and at the end of the conversation, you can actually cry. The source of it is right there. All you need to do is bring out a painful memory, start having a conversation with it, starting interacting with it, and you will cry. It’s the same with laughter; if you want to laugh, just access a nice, wonderful memory, a joke or whatever you would like. 

Suspicious Mind

The point I’m trying to make is that you are noisy. Inside, there is no silence. You are constantly talking to yourself. From the outside it might appear like you are quiet, but on the inside you are constantly engaging with your mind. If you don’t pay attention to this, how would you be able to gain control over your life? Just imagine that there are five or six people living in your house, and they are having a conversation. For some reason, you cannot understand the conversation. They are speaking in some gibberish language. When you look at them, you can see that there’s something suspicious. The way they look at you is suspicious. They are looking at you and they’re talking to themselves. How would you feel? Would you feel comfortable? Would you say, “No, it’s just them. I don’t have to be worried about it.” But they’re looking at you and they’re talking. 

This disturbs you. It’s the same with our minds. Our mind is looking at us and having its own conversation. It’s creating its own judgments about who we are. Your mind is secretly conspiring against you. If you don’t pay attention to it, then at some point in time, all the conspiring will turn into some action. Once your mind reaches a certain point it says, Okay I have enough information to conclude something. It will conclude you are useless, and because this thought process has been going on in your mind for such a long time, what if in a single moment you just accept that, “Oh yes, I’m useless. Yes, I’m dumb. My IQ is -10.” These are totally arbitrary ideas that have no basis in reality. It’s just your mind’s voice. 

Stop Searching, just be Quiet

Your personality can never be defined by your mind, but that’s exactly what we do. We let our minds decide our personalities. We let our minds decide our strengths and weaknesses, whatever they might be. Eventually, we let our minds completely control our lives. And then, we worry about our personal identity, finding enlightenment, when everything is right here. Whatever it is you’re searching for is already here; it’s just blocked by this constant conversation of the mind. 

So, what is language? Language is pain. Language is your enemy. You have to accept it. It has its uses though, when you are using it, when you are in control of it. When language is controlling you, there is no bigger bondage, because there’s no way to put your hand inside your head and grab it and throw it out. It permeates you fully. It’s so subtle, that even for you to recognize that constant language, takes some effort. That is why meditation is a challenge; it’s not easy. People find it hard to meditate, because What is it that I am trying to fight against? Who is my enemy here? What am I trying to gain control over? It’s language. 

Choosing when to Speak (and not)

Learning how to be above and beyond language, learning how to be quiet, that’s the greatest trick of life.  You can crack that code. The day you are able to get to that point where you can choose when to speak and when not to speak internally – not outside. Outside of course, we have control; we can we can decide whether we want to say something or not. Well, maybe not everybody, but a majority of them. When we are in a nice, peaceful, state of mind, we can control what we say on the outside, but the bigger challenge is: Can we control what we tell ourselves inside? An even bigger challenge is: Can we not say anything? Nothing. Not even say, “I’m quiet now.”  That is language. When you tell yourself you are silent, you are not silent. When you tell yourself you’re peaceful, you’re not peaceful. 

When there is nothing but the absence of sound, absence of conversation, absence of language –  Do you want to know what bliss is? Do you want to know what enlightenment is? Do you want to know what eternity is? Do you want to know what life is? Do you want to know where you have come from, where you are going? Do you want to know the secret of life? Become silent. As long as you’re noisy, you’re only listening to the language that is introduced to you by society, by the people around you. To listen to your own inner voice you have to become silent.

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What you can do with 20,000 breaths a day

What you can do with 20,000 breaths a day

What you can do with 20,000 breaths a day

Breath. It’s one of those things that you don’t really notice most of the time, sort of like the heart beat, but it’s pretty incredible that we do it, on average, 20,000 times per day!

Breath is our connection to life; one cannot live more than a few minutes without breathing. Breath also plays a major role in our attitudes, emotions, and health.  Have you noticed that when you’re upset or nervous that your breaths are more shallow and faster? On the contrary, when you’re asleep your breaths are slow, deep, and steady. 

Did you know that you actually have some control over your emotions and attitude by controlling your breath; if you’re anxious, breathe deeply and slowly. This will quickly calm your nerves. Likewise, if you’re feeling sleepy, speed up your breaths and breathe deeply. 

The most important thing to notice about your breath is that it is happening in the present moment. This is a wonderful tool! If your mind is taking you on a rollercoaster ride into the past or the future, simply closing your eyes and watching your breath for a few minutes works miracles to get your mind off the coaster. 

Today’s blogpost features a wonderful guest post on breath work from the folks at RespiratoryCram.com. The article is an in-depth discussion of breathing as well as exercises, tips, and techniques for using your breath in various ways. Enjoy!

                                                            

A List Of The Best Breathing Exercises To Feel Calm, Alive & Relaxed

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