Category Archives: Psychology

Carl Jung’s experience in New Mexico with the Pueblos Indians

Picture : Taos Pueblos – By Luca Galluzi at http://www.galuzzi.it/

Suggested Reading:

Memories, Dreams, Reflections  by C.G. Jung,

In this long passage, there are two distinct but yet related stories. One is about how the Pueblos see the white man who has colonized them and is about to destroy their ancient culture. The second story goes into the mysteries of Indians ways of relating to nature and in particular the sun: “After all,” he said, “we are a people who live on the roof of the world; we are the sons of the Father Sun, and with our religion we daily help our father to go across the sky. We do this not only for ourselves, but for the whole world. If we were to cease practising our religion, in ten years time the sun would no longer rise. Then it would be night forever.”

Please let me know how you feel and what you think about this passage !

On my next trip to the United States I went with a group of American friends to visit the Indians of New Mexico, the city-building Pueblos. “City,” however, is too strong a word. What they build are in reality only villages; but their crowded houses piled one atop the other suggest the word “city,” as do their language and their whole manner. There for the first time I had the good fortune to talk with a non-European, that is, to a non-white. He was the chief of the Taos Pueblos, an intelligent man between the ages of forty and fifty. His name was Ochwiay Bianco (Mountain Lake). I was able to talk with him as I have rarely been able to talk with a European. To be sure, he was caught up in his world just as much as a European is caught up in his, but what a world it was! In talk with a European, one is constantly running up on the sandbars of things long known but never understood; with this Indian, the vessel floated freely on deep, alien seas. At the same time, one never knows which is more enjoyable: catching sight of new shores, or discovering new approaches to age-old knowledge that has been almost forgotten.

“See,” Ochwiay Bianco said, “how cruel the whites look. Their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think they are mad.”

I asked him why he thought the whites were all mad.

“They say they think with their heads,” he replied.

“Why of course. What do you think with,” I asked him in surprise.

“We think here,” he said, indicating his heart.

I fell into a long meditation. For the first time in my life, as it seemed to me, someone had drawn for me a picture of the real white man. It was as though until now I had seen nothing but sentimental, prettified colour prints. This Indian had struck our vulnerable spot, unveiled a truth to which we are blind. I felt rising within me like a shapeless mist something unknown and yet deeply familiar. And out of this mist, image upon image detached itself: first Roman legions smashing into the cities of Gaul, and the keenly incised features of Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus, and Pompey. I saw the Roman eagle on the North Sea and on the banks of the White Nile. Then I saw St. Augustine transmitting the Christian creed to the Britons on the tips of Roman lances, and Charlemagne’s most glorious forced conversions of the heathen; then the pillaging and murdering bands of the Crusading armies. With a severe stab I realised the hollowness of that old romanticism about the Crusades. Then followed Columbus, Cortes, and the other conquistadors who with fire, sword, torture and Christianity came down upon even these remote Pueblos dreaming peacefully in the Sun, their Father. I saw, too, the peoples of the Pacific islands decimated by firewater, syphilis, and scarlet fever carried in the clothes the missionaries forced on them.

It was enough. What we from our point of view call colonisation, missions to the heathen, spread of civilisation, etc., has another face – the face of a bird of prey seeking with cruel intentness for distant quarry – a face worthy of a race of pirates and highwaymen. All the eagles and other predatory creatures that adorn our coats of arms seem to me apt psychological representatives of our true nature.

Something else that Ochwiay Bianco said to me stuck in my mind. It seems to me so intimately connected with the peculiar atmosphere of our interview that my account would be incomplete if I failed to mention it. Our conversation took place on the fifth storey of the main building. At frequent intervals figures of other Indians could be seen on the roofs, wrapped in their woollen blankets, sunk in contemplation of the wandering sun that daily rose in a clear sky. Around us were grouped the low-built square buildings of air-dried brick (adobe), with the characteristic ladders that reach from the ground to the roof, or from roof to roof of the higher storeys. (In earlier, dangerous times the entrance used to be through the roof.) Before us the rolling plateau of Taos (about eleven thousand feet above sea level) stretched to the horizon, where several conical peaks (ancient volcanoes) rose to over twelve thousand feet. Behind us a clear stream purled past the houses, and on its opposite bank stood a second pueblo of reddish adobe houses, built one atop the other towards the centre of the settlement, thus strangely anticipating the perspective of an American metropolis with its skyscrapers in the centre. Perhaps half an hour’s journey upriver rose a mighty isolated mountain, the mountain, which has no name. The story goes that on days when the mountain is wrapped in cloud, the men vanish to perform mysterious rites.

The Pueblo Indians are unusually closemouthed, and in matters of their religion utterly inaccessible. They make it a policy to keep their religious practices a secret, and this secret is so strictly guarded that I abandoned as hopeless any attempt at direct questioning. Never before had I run into such an atmosphere of secrecy; the religions of civilised nations to-day are all accessible; their sacraments have long ago ceased to be mysteries. Here, however, the air was filled with a secret known to all the communicants, but to which whites could gain no access. This strange situation gave me an inkling of Eleusia, whose secret was known to one nation and yet never betrayed. I understood what Pausanias or Heredotus felt when he wrote: “I am not permitted to name the name of that god.” This was not, I felt, mystification, but a vital mystery whose betrayal might bring about the downfall of the community as well as of the individual. Preservation of the secret gives the Pueblo Indian pride and the power to resist the dominant whites. It gives him cohesion and unity; and I feel sure that the Pueblos as an individual community will continue to exist as long as their mysteries are not desecrated.

It was astonishing to me to see how the Indian’s emotions change when he speaks of his religious ideas. In ordinary life he shows a degree of self-control and dignity that borders on fatalistic equanimity. But when he speaks of things that pertain to his mysteries, he is in the grip of a surprising emotion which he cannot conceal – a fact which greatly helped to satisfy my curiosity. As I have said, direct questioning led to nothing. When, therefore, I wanted to know about essential matters, I made tentative remarks and observed my interlocutor’s expression for those affective movements which are so very familiar to me. If I had hit on something essential, he remained silent or gave an evasive reply, but with all the signs of profound emotion; frequently tears would fill his eyes. Their religious theories are not conceptions to them (which, indeed, would have to be very curious theories to evoke tears from a man), but facts, as important and moving as the corresponding external realities.

As I sat with Ochwiay Bianco on the roof, the blazing sun rising higher and higher, he said, pointing to the sun, “Is not he who moves there our father? How can anyone say differently? How can there be another god? Nothing can be without the sun.” His excitement, which was already perceptible, mounted still higher: he struggled for words, and exclaimed at last, “What would a man do alone in the mountains? He cannot even build his fire without him.”

I asked him whether he did not think the sun might be a fiery ball shaped by an invisible god. My question did not even arouse astonishment, let alone anger. Obviously it touched nothing within him; he did not even think my question stupid. It merely left him cold. I had the feeling that I had come upon an insurmountable wall. His only rely was, “The sun is God. Everyone can see that.”

Although no one can help feeling the tremendous impress of the sun, it was a novel and deeply affecting experience for me to see these mature, dignified men in the grip of an overmastering emotion when they spoke of it.

Another time I stood by the river and looked up at the mountains, which rise almost another six thousand feet above the plateau. I was just thinking that this was the roof of the American continent, and that the people lived here in the face of the sun like the Indians who stood wrapped in blankets on the highest roofs of the pueblo, mute and absorbed in the sight of the sun. Suddenly a deep voice, vibrant with suppressed emotion, spoke from behind me into my left ear: “Do you think that all life comes from the mountain?” An elderly Indian had come up to me, inaudible in his moccasins, and has asked me this heaven knows how far-reaching question. A glance at the river pouring down from the mountain showed me the outward image that had engendered this conclusion. Obviously all life came from the mountain, for where there is water, there is life. Nothing could be more obvious. In his question I felt a swelling emotion connected with the word “mountain”, and thought of the tale of secret rites celebrated on the mountain. I replied, “Everyone can see that you speak the truth.”

Unfortunately, the conversation was soon interrupted, and so I did not succeed in attaining any deeper insight into the symbolism of water and mountain.

I observed that the Pueblos Indians, reluctant as they were to speak about anything concerning their religion, talked with great readiness and intensity about their relations with the Americans. “Why,” Mountain Lake said, “do the Americans not let us alone? Why do they want to forbid our dances? Why do they make difficulties when we want to take our young people from school in order to lad them in the kiva (site of the rituals, and instruct them in our religion? We do nothing to harm the Americans!” After a prolonged silence, he continued, “The Americans want to stamp out our religion. Why can they not let us alone? What we do, we do not only for ourselves but for the Americans also. Yes, we do it for the whole world. Everyone benefits by it.”

I could observe from his excitement that he was alluding to some extremely important element of his religion. I therefore asked him: “You think, then, that what you do in your religion benefits the whole world?” He replied with great animation. “Of course. If we did not do it, what would become of the world?” And with a significant gesture he pointed to the sun.

I felt that we were approaching extremely delicate ground here, verging on the mysteries of the tribe. “After all,” he said, “we are a people who live on the roof of the world; we are the sons of the Father Sun, and with our religion we daily help our father to go across the sky. We do this not only for ourselves, but for the whole world. If we were to cease practising our religion, in ten years time the sun would no longer rise. Then it would be night forever.”

I then realised on what the “dignity,” the tranquil composure of the individual Indian, was founded. It springs from his being a son of the sun; his life is cosmologically meaningful, for he helps the father and preserver of all life in his daily rise and descent. If we set against this our own self-justifications, the meaning of our own lives as it is formulated by our reason, we cannot help but see our poverty. Out of sheer envy we are obliged to smile at the Indians’ naiveté and to plume ourselves on our cleverness; for otherwise we would discover how impoverished and down at the heels we are. Knowledge does not enrich us; it removes us more and more from the mythic world in which we were once at home by right of birth.

Carl Jung’s experience in Africa

Suggested Reading:

Memories, Dreams, Reflections  by C.G. Jung,

This post can be read along with the post titled Carl Jung’s experience with the Pueblos Indians. It relates Jung’s experience during his trip to Kenya and Uganda in 1925, one year after the trip he had in New-Mexico.

The two passages quoted here are also from the autobiography of Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections, recorded and edited by Aniela Jaffe.

I am planning in a next post to share with you what these two experiences of Carl Jung in Africa and New Mexico evoke in me. I will speak about the loss of containing myth for the modern human being in the light of History of religions and Jungian Psychology. I also will point out the differences between Jungian psychology and the teaching tradition of Vedanta/Non Duality with reference to the purpose of human existence .

Before that, I would love to have your feedback on these excerpts !!

From Nairobi we used a small Ford to visit the Athi Plains, a great game preserve. From a low hill in this broad savanna a magnificent prospect opened out to us. To the very brink of the horizon we saw gigantic herds of animals: gazelle, antelope, gnu, zebra, warthog, and so on. Grazing, heads nodding, the herds moved forward like slow rivers. There was scarcely any sound save the melancholy cry of a bird of prey. This was the stillness of the eternal beginning, the world as it had always been, in the state of non-being; for until then no one had been present to know that it was this world. I walked away from my companions until I had put them out of sight, and savored the feeling of being entirely alone. There I was now, the first human being to recognize that this was the world, but who did not know that in this moment he had first really created it.

 There the cosmic meaning of consciousness became overwhelmingly clear to me. “What nature leaves imperfect, the art perfects,” say the alchemists. Man, I, in an invisible act of creation put the stamp of perfection on the world by giving it objective existence. This act we usually ascribe to the Creator alone, without considering that in so doing we view life as a machine calculated down to the last detail, which, along with the human psyche, runs on senselessly, obeying foreknown and predetermined rules. In such a cheerless clockwork fantasy there is no drama of man, world, and God; there is no “new day” leading to “new shores” but only the dreariness of calculated processes.

 My old Pueblo friend came to my mind. He thought that the raison d’etre of his pueblo had been to help their father, the sun, to cross the sky each day. I had envied him for the fullness of meaning in that belief, and had been looking about without hope for a myth of our own. Now I knew what it was, and knew even more: that man is indispensable for the completion of creation; that, in fact, he himself is the second creator of the world, who alone has given to the world its objective existence without which, unheard, unseen, silently eating, giving birth, dying, heads nodding through hundreds of millions of years, it would have gone on in the profoundest night of non-being down to its unknown end. Human consciousness created objective existence and meaning, and man found his indispensable place in the great process of being.

Further in this biography, Carl Jung explains what is the ‘destiny’ or the ‘task’ of human existence:

“Our age has shifted all emphasis to the here and now, and thus brought about a daemonization of man and his world. The phenomenon of dictators and all the misery they have wrought springs from the fact that man has been robbed of transcendence by the shortsightedness of the super-intellectuals. Like them, he has fallen a victim to unconsciousness. But man’s task is the exact opposite: to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious. Neither should he persist in his unconsciousness, nor remain identical with the unconscious elements of his being, thus evading his destiny, which is to create more and more consciousness. As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. It may even be assumed that just as the unconscious affects us, so the increase in our consciousness affects the unconscious.”

The brain from top to bottom

Among the subjects which are indirectly connected to the vision of Vedanta and therefore worth exploring are the brain, the human behavior, the emotions and the nature of consciousness.

I found the following website to be an amazingly rich source of information on these subjects. It is called ‘The brain from top to bottom’ and is an initiative affiliated and funded by the Canadian Institute of Health, Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and addiction.

It includes different subject matters from the most recent ‘The emergence of consciousness’ to ‘Emotions and the brain’ and ‘Pleasure and pain‘ to cite a few of them. What is remarkable is that the topics can be explored at different levels of explanation (beginner, intermediate and advanced) and organization (social, psychological, neurological, cellular, molecular).

As an illustration, one can go to the different sub topics for ‘The emergence of consciousness’ at the psychological and beginner level : What is consciousness, Philosophical positions on consciousness, Theories of consciousness in cognitive sciences, Flaws in classical model of consciousness.These sub topics can be explored at an intermediate or advanced level.

To know more about the sense of I, the self, the unconscious and consciousness according to Vedanta, you can view and download the pdf article ‘Psychology in Vedanta’ by Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

TED Talk: The neurons that shaped civilization, VS Ramachandran

Another fascinating TED video from the neuroscientist VS Ramachandran about some particular neurons in the human brain called mirror neurons, which he jokingly calls ‘Gandhi’, ‘Dalai Lama’ neurons or empathy neurons. According to VS Ramachandran, these mirror neurons might hold some keys to understand better seemingly unconnected subjects such as imitation and emulation, empathy, self-awareness and the ‘big bang in human evolution’ which took place some 40,000 years ago.

…the mirror neuron system underlies the interface allowing you to rethink about issues like consciousness, representation of self, what separates you from other human beings, what allows you to empathize with other human beings, and also even things like the emergence of culture and civilization, which is unique to human beings. From TED talk, The neurons that shaped civilization, VS Ramachandran

To know more, two articles from VS Ramachandran available in Edge

1. The neurology of self-awareness, Article in Edge [1.8.07]

2. Mirror neurons and imitation learning as the driving force behind “the great leap forward” in human evolution, Article in Edge [6.1.2000]



Am I the body? How real is the body?

I am so identified with the body that the attributes of the body are taken to be mine and I conclude that ‘I am tall, thin, blond, 40 years old, etc.’. In other words I am confined to this body, subject to birth, aging and death, sorrow and joy. How true is that conclusion?

This video gives us some insights into how Vedanta inquires into the nature of the body. Is this body real? Can I find a tangible substance that I can call the body?

The inquiry leads me to see that it is mithya in terms of reality; it has an empirical reality but not an absolute reality. It is only a name for different forms within forms which are put together and changing all the time. It also shows that I cannot be the body since I, as a subject, is the one who objectifies its changing conditions.

With all our warm thanks to our friends Elodie and Dino from Paris, who shot this video in Rishikesh in September 2008 on the banks of Ganga, during one of our intensive retreats.

To know more about this inquiry, some links to our website

[1]. What is satyam & mithya?

[2]. if I am not the body, what is the nature of I?

Interdependence : On becoming a contributor

The fact is that we live in an interdependent world. We take so much from different people so we have a responsibility to give and become contributors, not just consumers.

How we can contribute depends also upon our unique place in the scheme of things and our scope of influence.

Everybody’s contribution is important, no matter how small it is, as it is shown by a short story which is taking place in an Indian village and which is told at the end of the video. If we play our part, big things can be accomplished…

With all our warm thanks to our friends Elodie and Dino, who shot this video in Rishikesh in September 2008 on the banks of Ganga, during one intensive retreat.

TED Talk : The profound journey of compassion

A TED talk on compassion by our teacher Swami Dayananda Saraswati

http://www.ted.com/talks/swami_dayananda_saraswati.html

A transcript of the talk can be found at the same link. Do not hesitate to share your comments on this video and your views on what compassion is for you !

You can see more videos on the theme of the Charter for Compassion at http://www.ted.com/themes/the_charter_for_compassion.html and the Charter for Compassion website at http://charterforcompassion.org/

Global Oneness Project : What Would It Look Like?

What if the world embodied our highest potential? What would it look like?” This film is the brand new 25-minute retrospective of Global Oneness Project. It  “asks us to reflect on the state of the world and ourselves, and to listen more closely to what is being asked of us at this time of unprecedented global transformation.”

For more videos from this organization on “how the radically simple notion of interconnectedness can be lived in our increasingly complex world“, you can visit their site at http://www.globalonenessproject.org/

Some thoughts which came from a discussion Neema and I had after having watched this film are enclosed in this post. Do not hesitate to share with us your comments !

On ‘What would it be like ?’ of Global Oneness Project

Comments from the perspective of Vedanta

It is an inspiring film with powerful images and well chosen speakers. It is about time that people recognize the fact of interconnectedness and act on it. The present state of our planet is a truly global challenge and it needs increased awareness, across cultures, religions, etc. In that respect, this film contributes in making us see how different people from different cultures are committed to bringing about this change, based on a larger perspective of things.

As the movie explains strikingly, it is not an impossible task as it may seem at first sight. Many breakthroughs like going to the moon, or breaking an atom to use its energy, which seemed totally out of our reach, have been achieved in human history. Not only scientific achievements, but also social advancements have been made possible in the recent past like empowerment of women in different domains and equal rights for black. The fact is that societies are evolving, hence things can potentially change for better. This means, to believe that when you and other like- minded people do act for a social cause, we can definitely bring about a change.

Action is a power given to human being

I would like here to make a few comments on these ideas from the perspective of Vedanta. Indeed, among the three powers all human beings are endowed with, the power to desire, to know and to act, the power to act is very significant. We are placed in this universe not only to witness or watch what is happening but are meant to act and interact with the universe. We have been given a capacity to bring changes in certain situations that are unfolding everyday in our lives, at an individual or global level.

Dharma : the framework of action

When we act, the more we incorporate in our decisions the order of dharma or universal values that binds humanity together, more considerate and responsible our actions are. When we base our decisions not on a narrowly defined self interest but  on universal values of preservation of life, environment and diversity of cultures, the global state of affairs will certainly improve.

Expectations with reference to results of actions

This movie inspires people by emphasizing the role of action. Here, we totally agree that with reference to actions, we must necessarily exercise our free will and make more informed decisions. But if one has to be totally objective, one has also to consider some facts about result of actions. Once we understand the exact scope of result and action, we can sustain our enthusiasm for actions.

When I perform actions, for example, in improving the environment, maybe as a result of these efforts, private enterprises would realize the importance of using more eco-friendly technologies and we can achieve some significant improvement in state of environment. However, there is also the other possibility that things may not go in keeping with my expectations. When things do not happen either to the extent or at the speed with which I expect, I may loose enthusiasm.

I will continue to persevere if I recognize that I have choice over actions, but results of actions I don’t totally control. If I were really in control, I would always be able to get the desired outcome, but it is not so. I do not always know nor can I intervene on all the factors that enter into play into determining the outcome of actions. Hence, sometimes we get more or equal to what we expect. There is also a possibility that results are less or opposite of what we expected.

If I don’t control results, then what decides the outcome? Results are governed by an order which connects my actions, the actions of others performed in the past and present, and connects them to bring about the outcome. This order manifests in the form of certain laws which are never failing.

Problems themselves are a result of interconnectedness

The various problems that we are facing are themselves a result of actions that are performed by oneself and many others. So many people have contributed in the past and at present to the present state of environment. The order has taken into account  actions of corporations, individuals, politicians etc, in the past and present to bring about the present state of environment which has reached such magnitude and complexity.

Things may have started small when few industries started polluting the air at the beginning of the industrial age. Then more industries came and additional wastage led to further deterioration. One cannot say these companies were not responsible or evil entities. They were all providing employment, and contributing to overall economic development of society. But the neglect of environmental impact over the years led to the present state of environment. We individuals made choices, and the order has combined all these effects to bring about the outcome.

Youth dreams of an ideal society

The understanding of this relationship between action and result is very important to sustain my efforts towards bringing about change. Many of us remember that in our teenage years, we wanted the economic system to change, people to be loving and responsible, we were rebelling against corruption, wished to do something against poverty. We had all kinds of ideals which were very noble in nature. But many of us were not able to sustain these ideas with enough momentum. Why? Because we often became discouraged when we discovered that things do not always happen according to our wishes. We then joined the mainstream against whom we were rebelling earlier. In some cases, change for better may still remain a dormant desire but we don’t actively pursue it any more.

A complex process at multiple levels

In our effort to change things for better, another expectation which may discourage us to persist further is the expectation that as result of our effort, all people will realize the necessity for global change and act with the increased level of awareness. This expectation is not realistic. When we observe any thing in creation, there are no identical things. There are differences. We all are born with a psyche with certain possibilities. Each psyche can expand but to anticipate that all individuals will operate from the same level of awareness is unrealistic. Human beings at any given time are not all going to behave or think in an identical manner.

To keep the momentum going: bringing in the order

I do not mean to say that as an individual you will not be able to change anything or anyone. And you have to remain passive or inactive. One can certainly make a difference and one must act to bring about a desired change. But if your expectations are inherently unrealistic, then what happens is that the momentum for action soon goes away when things do not happen your way. If your whole focus and commitment is on the expectation of a particular type of result, you will be often disappointed. But when you focus on your actions and  you recognize that things happen according to an order, an immense network of different laws and possibilities connecting all human psyche, actions and results, then you continue your efforts in spite of shortfall. Once the recognition of order comes, you do not loose trust even when things do not happen at the pace or magnitude you are expecting. You have trust in the universe and its order that sooner or later, five or ten or hundred years from now, any well intended action, will be rewarded. This is how you keep going.

Then, the realistic position is, maybe each and everyone is not going to change, but you continue to act. Your action can very well inspire a portion of humanity; as a result, those human beings will be able to do things differently and things will change at a bigger level. Each of your actions will produce a result. Each of those small acts will be included in the network of laws and rewarded, no matter how small they are because they are all inputs which are considered in the overall arrangement or scheme of things.

To summarize, one is totally objective when one recognizes the scope of actions, the order governing results, and also the psychological order which make all our psyche different. Once we keep all these elements in mind, and focus on action, because this is what we can do, then we can really sustain all our efforts on a long term basis.

Recognizing our place of possible intervention

Another important element is the recognition of our place in the overall scheme of things. We all want to do big things. But we all have our own position of power and influence in the scheme of things, which determines our unique sphere of possible interventions. A politician, a scientist, a religious leader, a spiritual teacher, a school teacher, a house wife, a writer, a journalist, an architect, etc. do not have obviously the same scope for intervention in various domains. And within these groups, each individual will also have a different position of power or influence and set of skills from which he or she can intervene.  That position can of course change in the course of time and also with reference to the different roles we assume as a human being.

For example, even if you want to do something about global warming, you cannot as an individual change everything everywhere at all levels. Maybe world leaders can intervene in the current environment crisis as they have a much bigger sphere of influence than any other individual. Or a CEO of a company has a large domain of influence than what you have. Similarly concerted actions of groups, medias, advocacy groups and organizations have more influence than those of isolated individuals. However, the key to being a contributor is to identify what you can do realistically at any given point in time and take concrete actions towards achieving these goals.

The focus has to be on action

To conclude, in order to be effective in achieving some noble goals, I have to ask myself what is it that I can do tangibly at this point in time in each of the spheres of environment, poverty, religion, etc. given my position. In some spheres I can do a lot, in some I may not be able to do much but at the same time, I can definitely initiate things. I can identify some realistic goals for myself, work on it sincerely. For example, environmental goals for an individual can start by reducing usage of plastic, consumption of electricity or water, or walk instead of driving when possible etc. These small actions themselves are a contribution. The focus has to be on action.

Having performed these actions, we can have trust in the order. No good action gets unrewarded even if the results in the short run may not be what we expected. This is how we become objective with this idea of interconnectedness and make a contribution without loosing heart or momentum. When we have started in the right direction as a contributor, the order may keep providing us more and more opportunities to meet other individuals and groups who share our overall vision; and that has the power to make our earth a better place to live in.

Neema Majmudar & Surya Tahora

Rabindranath Tagore & the vision of Upanishads (2)

Two other poems belonging to the series of poems by Tagore. They express one of the essential themes of the Upanishads : the relation that we have with the world, with others. The first poem gives a striking image of the walls through which I close myself to what is around me. My subjectivity, fears, anxieties, arrogance, are indeed invisible but at the same time tangible walls that I erect between the universe and myself. May this narrow perspective of the world, which is only self-centered, disappear. The more objective I am to the presence of what is, the more clarity, transparency, openness I can enjoy.

How far should I go in this process of gaining objectivity? Should I disappear totally as an individual? Is it possible and even desirable? The poet replies in the second poem: ‘Let only that little be left of me, by which…’

Dungeon

He whom I enclose with my name is weeping in this dungeon.

I am ever busy building this wall all around;

and as thus wall goes up into the sky day by day,

I lose sight of my true being in its dark shadow.

I take pride in this great wall, and I plaster it with dust and sand

at least hole should be left in this name;

and for all the care I take I lose sight of my true being.

Rabindranath Tagore

Little of me

Let only that little be left of me whereby I may name thee my all,

Let only that little be left of my will whereby I may feel thee on everyside,

And come to thee in everything, and offer to thee my love every moment,

Let only that little be left of me whereby I may never hide thee,

Let only that little of my fetters be left whereby I am bound with thy will

And thy purpose is carried out in my life,

and that is the fetter of thy love.

Rabindranath Tagore (Gitanjali)


Go further with the following links to Discover Vedanta

[1] Maturity & Knowledge,  Becoming a mature human being

[2] The equation ‘You are that’, the nature of ‘that’

[3] Articles in pdf format; Bringing Isvara into your life, Bonding with Isvara


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