Anatomy of our experiences – Understanding the source

It was stated in the earlier essay:
“We have two avenues to answer the question: “Who am I?”
• I am Consciousness!
• I am a product of my experience (or Vasana).
Our evolution in spirituality depends on the clarity and understanding of these two pathways and their interconnection. Anatomy of our experience helps us greatly in such understanding and clarity”.–-the-source/

A large body of philosophic writings focus on describing the axiom “I am consciousness”. The person who is clearly and totally aware of the consciousness is described as the enlightened person. This ideal entity is also referred to as God. Hence the mission in this approach is to acquire God-like or divine qualities as the natural aspect and as a manner of living. For example it is said that such a person lives like a lotus leaf, which remains untainted by the body of water in which it lives and thrives! It is living like a breeze, which by its mere existence spreads the fragrance for all to enjoy, with out itself being aware of the fragrance, spreading of such fragrance or the joy it creates to all those who enjoy the sweet smell of fragrance.

If you feel you are loosing interest or the subject matter is too abstract, please do not despair. It is very natural. Not every one of us have the aptitude or disposition to work through these nuances and subtleties

in understanding what is consciousness and how it serves as the substratum of all our experiences. Very few, if any can live permanently in this state of mind. Instead, let us consider this – I am Consciousness – as an avenue to explore as and when our skills and aptitude permit. It is suffice to accept the view that everything exists enabled by “something”. That something is consciousness. This is not too difficult to accept or understand. To help such understanding, here are a few examples:

Each of us can comprehend or relate to the laws of nature. Water flows from a higher elevation to the lower level. Apple falls from the tree. Planets rotate and stay in orbit governed by the laws of gravity. Chemicals react to create new compounds. When atoms collide we get a large release of energy.

We may not know in-depth the true nature of all these laws of nature. But, we know they exist. We also learn constantly and thus discover new laws, which have been there for ever! We also know that all these laws act exactly the same way, independent of time, place or circumstances. Such laws do not have any property of their own. They merely exist! They are represented by the physical effects and evidences that are cognitive to us. More scientific you are, in a given field, better you become aware of the laws of nature pertaining to that field. Indeed the laws of nature enable the lotus leaf to remain dry or the breeze to exist the way it does, as described above.

We have myriads of laws of nature for so many aspects of the universe. It is then conceivable to envision an enabler – the Consciousness – as the summum bonum that represents all these laws of nature. We may never fully understand all the laws of nature and hence the consciousness they represent. Indeed it has been said, that one who truly comprehends consciousness is well aware of his/her limitations of such knowledge!

Now let us look at the alternative axiom: “I am a product of my experiences (Vasana)”.

This is the thesis of all the myriads of books written on self development, behavioral studies, guide books for daily living, etc. But, these books are more like recipes, means to an end. They are very helpful. But, they can not be the end by themselves. Here are a few examples to convey the point:

In these books on self-development and better living, we are told to avoid negative tendencies such as hate, anger, passion, jealousy, etc. Don’t be driven to get what ever you want, we are advised. But, then you see the one next to you, may be your friend, your colleague at work or your neighbor or your relative get away with results and effects totally unacceptable under normal circumstances. Should you not get angry or at least feel the upset?

After reading the essay on the Rules of the Road–-the-source/
one of my good friends asked me: There are two rules here:

  • Honor only the favors that are truly earned — Yearpadhu Igazhchi (in Tamil Language)
  • Indulge in your consumption only after sharing with the needy — Iyam ittu Unn

One rule implores every one to seek out and help others, while the other discourages any one from seeking or getting help! Aren’t they in contradiction to each other?

We are advised that in order to avoid such contradictions, “Always Be objective”. What does being objective really mean? Should I be frugal or cautious in praise or favor to my child as I am for my neighbor’s child? If not, am I being objective? How can I be harsh to my child, and be objective when my neighbor is being generous with favors and readily forgiving of her child under similar situations and circumstances? Am I then unfair to my child in a false notion of objectivity?

My mind is in an endless treadmill, like the mouse running hard on the turning wheel, but going no where! I am not sure I like this axiom: my life is a product of my experiences!

We can put all these valid analytical gyrations to rest, if we step back and take a closer look at the definition (i.e) “When consciousness gets connected with anything external to it, an experience is born”.

In this definition, the key to understanding the “experience” is not a thorough comprehension of the Consciousness or a total understanding of our behavior in the cognitive universe (anything external to the consciousness). Both these avenues are open for life long exploration.

Instead, what we seek is a clear and comprehensive understanding of the “connectors” – Gunas – and the nature of such connections, with any event, which can be as brief as a moment or for any duration longer than that.

These connectors – the ropes – are like the screws, the rivets or the glue that hold the pieces together. These connectors are the same, independent of the specifics or the pieces they hold together. The pieces may be people (like my child vs. my neighbor’s child), places, circumstances, means, situation, time frame, etc.

By focusing on the connectors we become less focused on the specifics and their details. This in turn leads us to be less subjective (not driven by specifics). Instead, our reflection is based a common frame work, an essential requirement for objectivity.

As we are focusing on the connectors, we are also deliberately keeping in mind the two essentials – the consciousness and everything external to it – as the two ends of the connectors and the separation between the two. This understanding of the separation between the two, in due course creates a non-attachment, much similar to the breeze and its mere existence. Hence, that which appeared abstract and intangible earlier becomes tangible and a way of life.

To be objective is no longer the end product. Instead it is part and parcel of our thought process, our observation, reflection and analysis. This is an aspect of evolution in Self – realization. Such analytical view of the connectors, accomplishes our basic goals (i.e) we are consciously aware that our life is also representation of the laws of nature – consciousness – in some form or other and that we see ourselves as a product of experiences only when our focus shifts away from the connectors (Gunas) and their nature at play. This evolution of knowledge occurs, with out us even realizing the same! These are the end effects of the anatomy of our experiences.

We shall explore these connectors and how to recognize them at play, shortly.

As the wind blows by, the scent or fragrance from the flowers are spread around for all to enjoy. The wind itself neither recognizes the fragrance, spreading of the fragrance or the effect of the fragrance all around. An enlightened person participates in the activities of life and causes results which are perceived by others, without him /her recognizing either the activity or its results.                                       B.G. 15.8.

Any person who perceives the “connectors” – Guna – stands apart from the long term traits and the short term effects or reactions to events. Through such separation and analytical view of “experiences” lives an enlightened life and the joys associated with it. The rest struggle through the events of life as a burden and the emotional pains associated with them. In this manner of living, they miss the opportunity to realize the potentials for a larger purpose in life and the joy associated with it.                 B.G. 15.10

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1 Response to Anatomy of our experiences – Understanding the source

  1. jayanthi says:

    Thanks for connecting the two axioms in such a meaningful way.


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