If we are not calm and get caught up in desire, anger, greed or fear, we then take ourselves away from Atma, the true self
I studied biology and amazing activity in each individual cell led me to think how human body coordinates the activity of trillions of such cells. How do my brain cells produce dreams, and smell, taste and touch sensations? Is it only molecules reactions that cause it? But why would a molecular reaction generate the feeling of happiness or sorrow? Although all our molecular reactions are the same at cellular level, our thoughts and perceptions are not the same. If so, how do these chemical compounds alter and produce happiness, sorrow, anger, desire, greed and attachment?
The functional MRI demonstrates activity in specific areas of brain cells during thought process. But what is consciousness? How do we see dreams? How are thoughts generated in cells? These questions remain unanswered.
Our activity starts with the formation of thoughts in mind. Approximately 68,000 thoughts appear in our heads every day.
Still we do not know how and why these thoughts are produced. The thoughts that are based on one’s knowledge, experience, culture and upbringing.
According to the Gita, what is changing must always be unreal and what is constant or permanent must always be real.
The Atman or the eternal, all-pervading Self is the only Reality. This phenomenal world of names and forms is ever changing. Names and forms are subject to decay and death. Hence they are unreal or impermanent. Thoughts are always changing and so also unreal. He whose mind is not shaken by adversity, who does not hanker after pleasures, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage, says Gita.
We can differentiate different types of thoughts when we are in a meditative state. Like, when the water is still, one can see the reflection of the clouds without even touching the water. In the same way, when we are still and quiet and try to perceive those thoughts as it originates in our mind, we can know if they arise from outward consciousness or inner soul consciousness.
Those from outside arise out of desire, greed and fear. If we can control this consciousness we can experience original state of our consciousness. But if we are not calm, and allow ourselves to be caught up by desire, anger, greed and fear, we gradually take ourselves away from Atma.
Gita also says he who is everywhere without attachment, on meeting anything good or bad, who neither rejoices nor hates, his wisdom is fixed. The incessant mental noise prevents us from finding that realm of inner stillness. It also creates a false state of mind which casts a shadow of fear and suffering. We possess two selves: the inner self, which is calm and eternal, and the outer self that is subject to birth and death.
The greatest obstacle to experiencing our inner self is our mind, which generates compulsive thoughts. Dwelling in the past or thinking of the future creates illusion. Thus, to be calm we need to make it a habit to be in the here and the now. This connects us to the true self.
It is not so with the ego in which only past and future are considered important. In the ego mode, the mind becomes dysfunctional as it is concerned with keeping the past alive. It constantly projects itself into the future to ensure its continued survival and to seek some kind of release or fulfillment. One day, when this or that happens, I am going to be in peace and happiness, the ego tells us.
Thus to be with the inner self one has to be in the present. The present moment holds the key to liberation. For this we have to meditate. To paraphrase from Gita again, he attains peace into whom all desires enter as waters enter the ocean, which, filled from all sides, remains unmoved, but not the man who is full of desires. The man attains peace, who, abandoning all desires, moves about without longing, without the sense of ‘mine’ and without ego.
So when you listen to a thought, you are aware not only of the thought but also of yourself as the witness of the thought. A new dimension of consciousness opens up. As you listen to the thought, you feel a conscious presence. The thought then loses power over you and quickly subsides, because you are no longer energizing the mind. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking.
According to Hindu philosophy, the moment you are with the inner self you will experience everlasting happiness. The Vedas reinforce this idea. The mantras of Vedas make us concentrate on one thing and one point so that we can be in the present moment.
Brahmans, another section of Vedas, teach us the ways to control our recklessness and to be calm and focused. When we wake up, take shower and pray, the whole process teaches us to be happy, calm and peaceful. The entire process gives us a focused day, happy mood, calm and peaceful state of mind. Brahmans teach us not to lie.
The Upanishads discuss true human nature. They say that happiness is a journey not a destination. You have to enjoy every moment; to do this you have to be in the present.
We sow thoughts in our mind, which becomes action, which then becomes habit, which then turns into character which leads us to destiny. So be true to you and others and always live in the present.