Tag Archives: #witness

Those Were The Days

I just watched the Netflix Series – ‘Alma Mater – Inside the IIT dream’. It was a trip down memory lane – nostalgic, and I did not want it to end in some ways. So much packed in those days, just like peeling the layers of the onion.

I did my engineering and then did my MBA. Both of these experiences were only four and two years long, but a lot happens in those years at a rate that you cannot process.

In the series, they had a section on on-campus placements. I kid you not, my body constricted watching them go through it. I could relate at a visceral level. This you have to experience to know what I am talking about. The anticipation, shortlist, quant or aptitude test, interview. Your life up till then has been one thing after the other or, as Churchill said about history – ‘One damn thing after another. You study hard to get good grades in 10th to get into a good stream – science/arts. And then you study hard so that you can get into a good engineering college. And then you study hard so that you can get into a good company and then it switches to marriage, kids etc. But the pressure builds on.

And nobody – no one person is doing this to you. I do not ever recall my parents putting pressure. In my case, it was all self-inflicted, unknowingly. The world I created ended if I did not get placed. I still remember the very first company I interviewed with. I did not get the offer. I went nuts – I holed myself in my room and studied like crazy. Now, I wonder what I studied for an interview, but at that time, it was necessary. I remember my mom bringing me food to my room. And the actual day, we were there on campus for the entire day. I was such a bundle of nerves that I could not even eat. Everybody in my building knew. All my neighbours knew that I had my campus interviews. It was a big deal.

And I remember late in the day they announced the list, and my name was there. It was relief followed by a tug in the heart when some of my friends did not make it. I remember calling my mother, and the relief was palpable even on the phone.

All this drama, and when we showed up for work the first day, they had no idea we were joining – hehe!

At that time in my life – it was necessary. The drama, the stress, friendship – the experience was significant. It made me who I am today. It creates a bonding experience with others. I probably learnt a lot of life lessons in those situations which I cannot even articulate. Isn’t this what life all about – experiencing life situations. What has changed is now I am not as identified as those life situations. There is an understanding that this will also pass.

Enjoy what you have NOW as it will pass, but you, the watcher – remain the same.

Thinker or Observer?

“I certainly do not think. Hence, I hear the words that come out of my mouth at the same time as you hear them. This means that there is nobody teaching anybody here.”

This is what Eckhart Tolle says to his audience in one of his retreats. It is funny when you hear it the first time. Here is a great spiritual teacher, and he is saying, ‘I have no idea what is going to come out of my mouth.’ 

Isn’t that scary? Imagine going to a meeting and not being prepared – the agony of not knowing what you are going to say next. How will you prove you are smart unless you can give a more intelligent answer or retort in a conversation.

We do not exist because we THINK – wary of the quote if you are looking for inner peace.

Eckhart’s answer to this is – If he is still, and indeed present then a better quality answer will arise. He has a strong belief that words will arise when he needs. Most importantly, he is not uncomfortable with silence. What does he mean by being present? 

We have two modes of operation – a) thinker and b) observer. For most of us, we are so engrossed in the thinker that we never observe. And if you are always in that mode then you are not truly present to what you are hearing/seeing/feeling – hence it will be a reaction and a lower quality one. 

Watch the thinker and you are operating at a higher level of consciousness

But if you are in the observing mode of operation, then you are in tune with the reality as it is. You hear the words, listen to the sounds, see without any interpretation or labels. As an observer, you are positioned to take the right action if any is needed, and it will be of a higher quality.

How will this play out in real life?

  1. You are with a group of friends talking about guys. Your friend comments that the guy likes X person. You also like the same guy. 
    1. THINKER: Man! I knew it, X is annoying why cannot she keep away that guy. She is much prettier and thinner – I stand no chance.
    2. OBSERVER: She said, ‘Guy likes X.’
  2. You are talking to somebody at the office. She is going on and on about how exciting her new role is. She just got a promotion, is expanding her team by 50%. She got a full-time admin.
    1. THINKER: She is so lucky! Nothing ever works out for me. Why don’t I get promoted? Maybe I am not good enough. Will I ever succeed in life?
    2. OBSERVER: She is telling me she has got a promotion, is expanding her team.

NOTE: As a thinker, you can think positive thoughts as well, but regardless you are creating a story in your head.

Can you see how as a thinker, your actions will be driven by baseless (unreal) thoughts or stories? And as an observer, there is no need to do anything – listen to the words and let them pass.

This practice is not easy because if we identify with the observer, thinker feels threatened, and he comes up with ‘Important’ thoughts.

REMEMBER: Nothing matters absolutely – all thoughts are a bunch of letters put together. They arise and always pass away.

Who Are You?

Imagine you have gone to watch a fantastic play in a lovely theatre. The actors are supposed to be so good that it’s almost life-like. It is a very engaging drama with all the trials and tribulations of human life that we all go through in our real lives.

Now, let’s suppose that the drama is so real that you completely lose yourself in it – especially in one of the characters. You identify with her 100%. You are upset because you (she) cannot get the love of her life. You try with might and vain to solve your (her) legal problems, and you fail. You weep when your (her) close friend dies. In short, you have become the character. And let’s say now you watch the drama all the time because you have become the character and you replay the same drama over and over. In the end, you forget who you are, and you carry out the same character even when the drama ends.

What would you call that? Silly, Stupid, Crazy. Now, what if I told you that we are all like that. We are the actor and the audience. But we have forgotten that we are all the audience of our life where the actor in us plays different dramas.

I was cleaning my room a few weeks ago and came across some of my old diaries. And I quickly glanced through them – it was scary and eye-opening in some ways. I quickly realized that there is always some drama in my life – love, exams, career, parents, family… The story might change, but the drama is constant. And I play the part of the actor with gusto – I weep, rejoice, cry my eyes out for weeks, go on a diet, meditate. I forget that I am also the observer of my own life – because I get caught up in the acting so much.

Why is this important? If I am identified with the actor, then life will be very challenging or as Buddha said – it will be suffering. Because I am suffering whatever the actor goes through. If I remember that I am the audience, then I will applaud the great performances and move on. I will make better decisions in my real-life if I remain rooted as an audience and not be carried away by the whims and fancies of the actor I am portraying right now.

Imagine a Jar which we are filling with sand/stones and other items. What matters is the space in the jar, which allows things to rise, not what we fill the space with. It is the same with our lives – we have to remember that we are the screen on which the various dramas arise and pass away, but the screen remains constant. If we are rooted in this truth and connected with the screen all the time – life would be a breeze, and we will enjoy it like a play.

Who are you, the actor or the audience or the screen?