SIMPLY BEING | SIMPLE BEING

Tag: mind (page 1 of 2)

Pleasure/Entertainment

Yesterday, on a whim, I wrote: “When restless or bored, DO NOT seek entertainment.” A number of people responded: Then do what?

To reach for entertainment, to seek to be entertained—when you feel restless or bored—seems totally natural. What else is one to do? Watch a Netflix show, browse dance videos on Instagram, munch on a handful of raisins—all fun, harmless options that engage the mind and give a little bit of pleasure.

Here’s the thing, though. Pleasure and entertainment are entirely opposite in nature. To derive pleasure from an activity requires keen participation and active engagement. Entertainment only asks that you sit back and watch.

Does anyone pick gardening, or cooking, or dancing as entertainment options? I imagine not. These activities require YOU to do the “work.” Ask any gardener, or cook, or dancer… and they will probably tell you how pleasurable these activities are. We watch gardening shows, cookery shows, and dance shows with a lot of enthusiasm… because they are entertaining. (Not necessarily pleasurable, though.)

When I feel restless or bored, entertainment serves as a filler… but it doesn’t alleviate the boredom. And I am left feeling vaguely unsatisfied. In fact, I think seeking pleasure may be a better alternative… at the very least, I will be keen, attentive, engaged. The other option is to do nothing, obviously. Be still, silent, quiet and watching.

Pure Sense

Recently I wondered, are we truly capable of experiencing what the senses bring our way?

Because it seems that when we encounter a sensation—pleasant, unpleasant, neutral—the mind faculty steps in to intercept the pure feel of the experience. It then relates the sensation to a past experience, or a future expectation. Or, a scene from a book or film. Or, the mind itself is transported to a past time and place. So, a plate of sev puri takes you back to Andheri railway station, eating street side chaat. A whiff of petrichor brings to mind Kerala, monsoons, loneliness… or perhaps “Rimjhim gire saavan,” featuring a tall, lanky Amitabh Bachchan and a petite, adorable Moushmi Chatterjee. Or you are drawn back to your own youthful romance conducted along the Marine Drive promenade, tetrapods and lashing waves for company.

It doesn’t really matter what images flash across your mind, or where you are transported. You are someplace else, no longer here and now. The taste/touch/scent/sound/sight sensation is not important any more because its sole purpose appears to have been to act as a connector to an ever-expanding trove of memories, ideas, hopes, expectations, fears. And it makes a real proper mess with our idea of time because we are no longer sure… Am I dreaming of the past? Did this event actually occur? Or maybe I am day dreaming? Is this from a film I loved? Or is this something I wished for but it never really happened?

Ahh, it is a lovely mess.

This tendency of referring back from an immediate sensation to a story, an idea, a familiar concept is an old habit. These stories and ideas stand in for the actual sensory experience, and what we are feeding off are the stories, not that steel tumbler of filter coffee at MTR, or plate of rajma chaaval from Guru Da Dhaba, or a youthful Aamir Khan crooning “Papa kehte hain…”

(And this is a powerful habit… hence the inability to see that Andaaz Apna Apna is a silly, bad movie!)

And this is also why we sometimes continue to eat foods we don’t really enjoy, or watch films featuring our once-favorite actors, or wear clothes that don’t fit (literally and metaphorically). Why? Because of the compelling stories attached. (And we don’t even derive any actual pleasure from these activities.)

If these stories vaporized, we’d see the experience for what it is, and we could have a spontaneous response to it . “Oh, this sambar is too spicy for me.” “Sonu Nigam has a lovely voice.” “Why do I drink tea twice a day? I don’t really like it.” “I adore wearing my black skinny jeans, I just do!”

And we’d also be able to see that we are truly dynamic beings who can savor and draw pleasure from a variety of experiences… Unlike what the stories might have us believe.

Video: Ego and All that Stuff

You hear so much about how the ego isn’t such a good thing, and that it needs to be “destroyed,” and so on. Well, the ego is an inseparable part of human life, and trying to destroy it is a wasted effort. On the contrary, we can gain a lot from cultivating a healthy ego.

Mind. Watch. Aware.

Mindful. Watch. Awareness.

Sometimes it feels so darned simple. Like there is nothing to do except watch.

Watch what, you ask. Well, watch every thing. Watch the glorious, shining moments and the shameful ones. Watch the missteps and the graceful slide. Watch the faults and the formations. Really, just watch. Suspend all judgments, drop the need to step in and correct. Relax the idea of perfection and improvement.

Just watch.

How does this make me a better person? How does this help me improve my faults?

I don’t really know. I do think that it makes you less sensitive to the good/bad paradigm. It makes you less judgmental, perhaps? Maybe it takes the edge off our collective and constant desire for so-called perfection. It makes us kinder people, probably.

Becoming aware of becoming aware of becoming aware of… I am watching me watching me watching me.

But if all I do is watch, who is responsible for action? Or is that set into motion already? Is it beyond my control? Or maybe it is my watching that subtly alters my action, without directly seeking to influence it?

It feels somewhat like receding into the skin of a container, the outermost layer, the thinnest segment. And watching the contents of the container shift, transform, get replaced. And becoming aware that this container can hold absolutely everything? And sometimes nothing at all.