–by Vimala Thakar (Aug 03, 2018)
One does not select certain agreeable aspects of life and try to escape from the others that are not agreeable. One who can meet life choicelessly is committed to its totality. Let us examine this totality of life and how one lives in relation to it. Totality is not an abstraction, not a theory deduced from certain principles or tenets. It is a reality. Unless one has a true perspective of the totality it is not possible to live in relation to it.
The perception of life begins with the visible and the known, which we reach out to through the senses. We see through the eyes and we feel a presence. We hear sound, words, and through audible perception gain the feeling of existence. We smell, we touch and taste so our first contact with life is through the sense organs.
This visible world and its mysteries have been probed by humankind, so that much of the known is related to the visible, the tangible, and so on and while this may not be the foundation of totality, it is an organic part of it. Therefore the visible cannot be neglected nor ignored if one is interested in living.
The sense organs must have the energy to relate to the visible, health and pliability so that they can sense clearly. It is very difficult to see any thing as it is without the subjective reaction of preferences and prejudices that we have been accumulating all our lives, contaminating the process of perception.
Spirituality concerns itself with the health of the physical body so that the senses are not clouded. It is a joy to have a body vibrant with vigour and vitality and so be able to see things objectively. A non-subjective perception is the foundation of the spiritual life.
Behind the world that we see with our senses there seems to be an invisible world which is another aspect of totality. One can see water flowing in a river, lying placidly in a lake or in turbulent waves on the breast of an ocean, yet electricity which is derived from the energy in water cannot be seen. You can feel the coolness of water and the speed with which it flows on the river bed. You can see and feel its gentleness, yet the energy in water, even in the earth, is not visible.
The invisible aspect of totality is beyond the reach of the sense organs yet it is reached through the brain, therefore perception takes place through the brain not through our physical eyes. The invisible is still known – it is not unknown. Much of it has been discovered, analysed and put into different categories by humankind.
You and I contain the knowledge and experiences of our family and part of the Planet where we live and, surprisingly, carry in ourselves the totality of human knowledge and experience. We may not be aware of the contents of our consciousness, but the known is contained in the consciousness, the mind. It is a conditioned energy contained in our whole being, so the brain sees and feels the invisible. There is a perceptive sensitivity in consciousness which contacts the known part of the invisible, perhaps the unknown parts of the invisible also.
When one friend looks at another or a mother looks at her child, a wife at a husband, they can see and feel the love which is transmitted in a very subtle way. Nothing happens on the gross physical level, but love emanates through the glance and the other feels and perceives it. Hatred and anger can also be seen and felt that way. The energies contained in the universe and in oneself can be felt similarly. Is the perception and contact of the invisible possible through this conditioned energy, which we call the individual mind?
However, the totality of life Is not limited by the known or even by the unknown. The unknown is only that part of life which is yet to be discovered and analysed, which is still not available to the braln through the senses. Beyond that unknown, beyond the invisible, there seems to be vast life in the Cosmos. This is the unknowable infinite which cannot be reached through the brain.
The known, the unknown and unknowable, the visible. Invisible and infinite, together constitute totality. It is possible for a human being to be in contact with these three aspects simultaneously. That is the beauty of being born in the human body which has this immense potential. To be spiritual is to be so equipped that one can be in touch with different dimensions of life simultaneously and live with them in harmony. This is a great challenge.
Life is for living. It has no purpose outside the act of living, which is perception, contact and relationship. How do we relate to what is perceived and what we contact?
Our first sensual contact with reality makes us aware that there is constant movement around us – In the Earth and sky, the Solar System, the mountains, rivers and seas, the volcanoes; in the cycle of seasons and the process of birth, growth, decay and death. We are surrounded by an ocean of movement of immense variety, by innumerable energies acting and interacting with one another. We ourselves are part of that cosmic dance of energy. We must learn to move with the movement of life and merge with the Cosmos. It would be easy to learn this if there were only movement, the difficulty arises when we notice that, along with this incessant motion, there is another dimension to life which is motion-free stillness.
Motion and motlonlessness, stillness and movement, together constitute, perhaps, the wholeness of life. When there is no wind or breeze dancing through the branches of the trees and there are no clouds in the skies, have you watched the stillness in the evening or early dawn – everything is still, and when you come to a place like this here you feel an intense and deep peace. This peace, this motion-freeness, seems to be as equally an important dimension of life as movement is, so one may have to learn how to be free of all movement and commune with the stillness in the Universe.
There are now two things one has to discover in order to live in relationship with life – to be able to move when movement is warranted, and be relaxed, in motion-free stillness, when it is not warranted.
Speech is movement necessary for communication, for sharing. One has to learn to speak and to be in silence – sound and sound-free silence are dimensions of life – we spend so much of our vital energy in speaking. It is a most positive action to relax into uninhibited silence, to the emptiness within.
Life is thrilling – you open your eyes at dawn and you find a gift of another 24 hours with the whole Universe to meet. It is an adventure to live, to meet the pain and the pleasure, the beauty and the ugliness, to encounter humiliation and honours and live through them without being contaminated by any of them.
In order that one may move with the movements of life one has to be free inwardly. Life is for living and living implies learning. Learning keeps you fresh, knowledge makes you stale.
Another aspect of life is its functional human relationship. You are born in a family, in the midst of a network of relationships, father, mother, sisters and brothers. When you grow up probably, also, wife or husband, girlfriend, boyfriend and many more. That is one dimension – to live with another person without damaging that individual’s freedom or succumbing to domination. Humankind has to learn to live with others in freedom, equality, love and cooperation.
As these functional relationships are an aspect of life, there is also the dimension of solitude. One is not talking about loneliness as when your partner dies or you move out of your family. There is a sense of being deprived in that loneliness and desire not to be alone. The aloneness of solitude is when you enjoy being alone with life and in that you feel fulfilled.
So solitude and relationship, silence and speech, movement and stillness are not contradictory for together they constitute the composite wholeness of life, like birth and death.