Wisdom of Vincent

“When I have a terrible need of – shall I say the word – religion. Then I go out and paint the stars.”
~ Vincent Van Gogh 
Via Creative Systems Thinking 

A Mind Map of Living

Our limited ideas about ourselves come from a kind of linear thinking which has been put in our minds from the day we started learning the basic building blocks of life. Linear thinking appears to make life simple, not only for us, but for the society as well. We are made to believe that we can achieve success in life when our goals are single minded, our approach is straight forward and our effort are more focused. How to define success and that it is an individual occurrence not a collective phenomenon is however conveniently ignored. Now if we look at nature around us it seems to be quite complex, at least at the first instance. Everything seems to be inter connected, there is stuff happening for no apparent reason and yet there are rules that govern the entire existence. It even looks like there is no goal or purpose and yet everything is perfect the way it is – cheerful and content. There does seem to be a method in the madness and that method sustains the entire universe and everything in it.

So how can we as inherent constituents of the same nature be in alignment with nature if we don’t do as what should be natural to us. It is a fact that like nature we exist in multiple dimensions, our personality has many layers to it and our source of joy & happiness, just like our source of misery & sadness stems from many different facets of our being. It is not a cookie cutter, one size fits all kind of a scenario, no. Imagine that our lives are a mystery or simply put a problem to be solved. Would you go with a linear or a multi dimensional approach ?

Mind maps are a great way to make sense of our lives. Just as they are used for iterative decision making in business they can be used to sort out the goals and priorities of our lives. Look at the below video where Jenny Blake tries to define her goals for the year 2017. Jenny is the Author of Pivot – the only move that matters is your next one and has been a career coach at Google. The key idea is to first define the different areas in which you want to succeed and then highlight what does success mean in each one of them.Making goals, sub goals and quantifying them can further facilitate breaking down and measuring achievement.

A Mind Map of Living is quite a  powerful idea which can help us to get better control of our lives. In the short term it can ensure direction and speed. In the long run happiness and satisfaction. 

Zazen & Smile

One of the tenets of Zazen Meditation is to keep a gentle smile on your face during your practice. They say that Zazen is all about enjoying your existence. To just sit quietly and be joyful of being there. 

What my teacher told me is that once you put a smile on your face your entire focus goes on maintaining that smile. All thoughts tend to stop automatically. It happens because we are so used to have a dull impression on our face that it takes immense effort and focus to smile without thinking about it.

I have found this to be absolutely true. It is an amazing little trick, a hack for the monkey mind. Even if you don’t meditate just try it. Do it for 5 minutes and see how quickly you reach the ever smiling, thoughtless state 🙂

बस यूं ही 

कई बरस बाद एक ग़ज़ल हुई है। कोई खास वजह नहीं थी बस यूं ही….कुछ तो मौसम की पहली बारिश की कैफ़ियत थी और कुछ इटालियन वाइन का सुरूर ! 

एक उन्हें दिल की बात बताने के लिए,

जाने कितने अल्फाज़ लिखे हैं ज़माने के लिए

घर से जो निकले थे वो न लौटे अब तक,

कितने बरस लग गए कुछ सिक्के कमाने के लिए

ए खुदा मुझे अपनी बाहों की पनाहें दे दे,

एक यही जगह मुनासिब है गुनाह छुपाने के लिए

ज्यों भूलने से लगते हैं ज़माने के ग़मों में तेरा गम,

फिर तेरी याद चली आती है “आहंग” सताने के लिए ..

पेड़ – the tree

कल रात मैनें एक स्वप्न देखा था। मैंने देखा कि मैं एक एक्टर हूँ एक मंझा हुआ कलाकार और मैं एक ड्रामे का हिस्सा हूँ जिसमें में एक पेड़ बना हुआ हूँ मूक, निष्क्रिय, निशब्द और संवेदनाहीन । मैं अपने रोल से खुश नहीं हूँ, मुझे लगता है कि ये मेरी प्रतिभा के साथ अन्याय है ।
डायरेक्टर साहब मुझे अब ये रोल नहीं करना है

कौन सा वो पेड़ वाला ? 

हाँ वही । उसमें कुछ हैं ही नहीं करने को। मेटे आस पास कितना कुछ हो रहा है लोग ठीक से अपना किरदार तक नहीं समझ पा रहे हैं और मैं बस देख रहा हूँ सबकुछ होते हुए।

अरे भोले यही तो खेल है । सबसे मुश्किल यही किरदार है । चुपचाप खड़े होकर पूरे ड्रामे को देखना । हर कोई नहीं कर सकता। तुम नेचुरल एक्टर हो। You know you are most well paid actor here. और क्या तुम्हें कम पैसे मिल रहे हैं ।

वो बात नहीं है । पर, पर करने के लिए कुछ होना तो चाहिए। कोई वजन ही नहीं है इस किरदार में । Does it even effect the story in any way ?

हा हा यही तो तुम नहीं समझे । अभी आगे आगे देखो क्या होता है । पेड़ तो सूत्रधार है इस पूरी कहानी का, its the central idea, the game changer.

सच में ?

और क्या मुच में ? अच्छा चलो अब अपना costume पेहेन लो जल्दी से । It’s Showtime. Did I tell you about this gambler in an old movie and what he says to his friend ? 

नहीं । 

He says never count your money while sitting at the table. You will have enough time to do it when the deal is done. 

तभी एक stream of consciousness जैसा कुछ शुरू हो जाता है । ठीक ठीक नहीं याद पर मुझे ऐसा महसूस होता है कि मैं सब कुछ हार गया हूँ , अपना costume भी । 

मैं बहुत डर जाता हूँ । डायरेक्टर साहब के हाथ मेरी ओर बढ़े चले आ रहे हैं । वो कह रहे हैं मैने तुम्हारे लिए क्या क्या सोचा था । But you are so dumb..Like a log of wood.


Philosophy of Life..

Below is a list of rules to live by that Zen master Soyen Shaku set for himself and lived by each day. We can have our own set of “principles” so when we fault we at least know that we must strive and come back. Monotony is a great tool to tame the mind and a rigorous schedule can put off the mind to the point of boredom. Remember, if you don’t put the mind to rest it will make you run after its demands which are by the way a hundred a minute..

1. In the morning before dressing, light incense and meditate

2. Retire at a regular hour

3. Partake of food at regular intervals. Eat with moderation and never to the point of satisfaction

4. Receive a guest with the same attitude you have when alone. When alone, maintain the same attitude you have in receiving guests

5. Watch what you say, and whatever you say, practice it

6. When an opportunity comes do not let it pass you by, yet always think twice before acting

7. Do not regret the past. Look to the future

8. Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child

9. Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep

10. Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes

Here is a beautiful explanation of the idea by Om Swami from a Zen Meditation camp I had attended in the Himalayas.