The Enigma of Deep Sleep – 16
The Fourth Quadrant – (A Taste of) Awareness (Contd.):
Maybe you have already heard this delightful story about why people speak loudly when they are angry. But it is worth retelling it in the context of our discussions here. We will then be able to appreciate the deeper implication of the story in the light of our understanding of what “Love” is (vide Part 15).
A Saint along with his disciples as per their daily routine reached the river Ganges in the serene early hours of one morning to have a bath as part of their ablutions and prayers. But on that day, they found a group of family members on the banks, shouting in anger at each other. The Saint turned to his disciples, smiled and asked:
‘Why do people, when in anger, shout at each other ?’
The disciples thought for a while and finally one of them said, ‘Because we lose our calm.’
‘But, even if you lose the calm, why should you have to shout when the other person is just next to you? You can as well tell him what you have to say in a soft tone,’ said the holy man, prodding them to think further.
The disciples debated within themselves and came up with some other answers but none satisfied the Master.
The teacher then explained from his perspective the reason as follows: ‘When two people are angry, their hearts distance from one another a lot. To cover that distance they had to shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the greater is the distance to be covered and the stronger they shout to hear each other.’
The Saint continued. ‘What happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but talk softly, because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is either nonexistent or very small. What happens when they love each other even more? They don’t even speak, but only whisper as they get closer to each other in their love. As the bond grows, they need not even whisper to each other. In true love they converse in silence. That is how close two people are when they love each other.’
The Saint concluded his sermon in these words of wisdom:
‘So when you argue do not let your hearts get far-away, do not say words that distance each other more. Otherwise, there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find a way to retract. The schism becomes unbridgeable.’
Of course, the Saint’s explanation is right in its own way. He is talking in terms of relationships, do’s and don’ts, in order to guide people in their behavior towards one another. However, all this teaching and preaching has its value and usefulness in the wakeful state – that is the realm of the First Quadrant of our Four Outcomes Model. That is the business that religions mostly occupy themselves with, i.e. relational matters. Managing relationships is a major concern in the domain where more than one exists.
But in the philosophy we are dealing with in the Fourth Quadrant, Love, as we have already said, is not a relationship management device. Love indicates an absence of separation. Absence of separation in turn means that there are no “two things” separated by a distance. What all present is Oneness, like a Bose-Einstein Condensate, if you will, where separate atoms do not exist and the entire substance behaves as though it is one single unit.
In the awake state when the mind is present, it creates a wall of separation of a ‘me’ from the ‘other.’ The sense of a ‘me’ circumscribed by walls of separation is, in popular terminology, the ‘ego’ of the individual. The stronger and impenetrable the walls, the stronger and the more isolated the individual becomes. The ego creates the separation and distances one from the other. In deep sleep the mind is absent and hence the encircling walls do not exist. As a result, Oneness prevails. When all is one, there exists no “other” to be desired. Absence of desire is ‘absence of lack.’ When there is nothing lacking, what is, is Happiness!
Thus deep sleep is happiness because the ‘walls of separation’ are dissolved. Somewhat a similar sort of happiness is there when the love between two persons is consummated in a sexual act like “when the man, fully embraced by his beloved wife, does not know anything at all, either external or internal” at the height of his orgasmic experience when the walls of a ‘me’ as a separate individual have collapsed. [Note: I used the phrase ‘somewhat similar sort of happiness’ in the above sentence for a reason. Please see here, if interested.]
‘Pain’ is nothing but the struggle we go through in preventing the collapse of the delimiting walls we artificially erect to define a distinct “me” in order to perpetuate the sense of our separation. ‘Suffering’ is nothing but our effort to shift the walls to infinity so that the ‘me’ can expand to include everything into itself. Chasing happiness, we spend away our lifetime in pain or suffering. Instead, happiness shines automatically the moment the walls of separation collapse!
Just as we have been misunderstanding what true love is, we have been also misinterpreting what true beauty is! We try to see beauty in an object out there – maybe a piece of art, a sculpture, a painting, a song, a scene or even a person.
The clearest explanation of what beauty is comes from Rupert Spira, an accomplished artist and inarguably the most popular teacher of Non-duality in the Western world. I can hardly express any better than what he says. Therefore, I would like to present here what he writes in Vol I of his book titled “Presence” published in 2011. (I was fortunate to be associated in a small way with this work; he has been very kind to magnanimously acknowledge me).
“Look outside the window. What is there, in that timeless moment before thinking has time to rise and call it a street, a building or a landscape? Take some time to answer this question from experience rather than thought.
What is there, before thinking has time to call it perception, perceiving or simply experiencing? What is there, before thinking has had time to rise and locate our ‘self’ in a body?
That fraction of a moment of time is not, in fact, a moment of time. It is the only and ever-present now. That is what Pierre Bonnard was trying to give form to.
When we truly see, or indeed experience, there is no room for thought. In fact, in pure experiencing there is never any room for a separate inside self and a separate outside object, other or world. And all that is known is pure experiencing.
This timeless, thought-free experience of pure perception is what is known as the experience of beauty. When thought reappears and again divides perception into two parts – a separate inside self and a separate outside object, other or world – it imagines that the inside self experiences the beauty and that the object, other or world is itself beautiful. In other words, thought imagines beauty to be a property of objects.
However, beauty is, in fact, simply one of the names that are given to experience when it is relieved of the dualistic interpretation of thought.
All perception is made of beauty just as all feeling is made of love. In fact, beauty and love are identical – they are the essential nature of all experience – only ‘beauty’ tends to be the word that is used when perception is relieved of superimposed beliefs and ‘love’ tends to be the word that is used when feelings are relieved of superimposed beliefs. Likewise, ‘understanding’ is the word that is used when thinking is relieved of superimposed beliefs or doubts.”
In a nutshell, it may be said that Beauty, Love, Happiness and Awareness can all be considered to be the words that are pointers to that One Universal quality which is present like the luminescent space in the Terracotta lamp shade (Figure. 1 in Part 15). That same one light shines through the small portholes which are comparable to the individual minds. That one light illuminates a world each for every mind.
[Note: In addition to several of our own scriptures and other sources, what I have been able to present in the Series of articles posted thus far is based on my understanding obtained from many many knowledgeable people and teachers both from the East and the West. I sincerely acknowledge the kindness, patience and affection with which all of them communicated with me. In turn, I request the readers to feel free to pose their own questions so that I can attempt to clarify the issues to the best I can. My e-mail ID is: vemuri dot ramesam at gmail dot com]
(To Continue …… Part 17)