Sunday, May 16, 2010

Seeing in the Light of Tao

When we wear out our minds, stubbornly clinging to one partial view of things, refusing to see the deeper agreement between this and its complementary opposite, we have what is called ‘three in the morning.’ What is this ‘three in the morning?’
A monkey trainer went to his monkeys and told them: ‘As regards your chestnuts: you are going to have three measures in the morning and four in the afternoon.’ At this they all became excited and angry. So he said: ‘All right, in that case I will give you four in the morning and three in the afternoon.’ This time they were satisfied.
The two arrangements were the same in that the number of chestnuts did not change. But in one case the animals were displeased, and in the other they were satisfied.
“The keeper had been willing to change his personal arrangement in order to meet objective conditions. He lost nothing by it. The truly wise, considering both sides of the question without partiality, see them both in the light of Tao [Dao]. This is called following two courses at once.”……………
The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton

This story illustrates the strong imprints that we create in our minds regarding how our choices are made in our life. These choices have their root in our perceptions which are at the sensory, temporal and accumulated knowledge levels. The holistic and realistic value of what we choose is relinquished to the minimal or non existent level and our preferences are dominated by almost purely to levels that have been derived from socio-cultural-religious conditioning of the individual mind.
The ways we pray or perform spiritual practice are always subject to a predetermined, non-rational and dogmatic path. The intrinsic value of any sadhana (spiritual practice) is always relegated to an abstract domain wherein a judgmental divine authority is the decision maker.

Rabindranath Tagore, whose 150th birth anniversary we celebrate this year, has beautifully captured what is the difference between the mindset of Greek philosophers and those of the Vedic Rishis in his opening chapter of the book “Sadhana”. He writes:
“The civilisation of ancient Greece was nurtured within city walls. In fact, all the modern civilisations have their cradles of brick and mortar. These walls leave their mark deep in the minds of men. They set up a principle of "divide and rule" in our mental outlook, which begets in us a habit of securing all our conquests by fortifying them and separating them from one another. We divide nation and nation, knowledge and knowledge, man and nature. It breeds in us a strong suspicion of whatever is beyond the barriers we have built, and everything has to fight hard for its entrance into our recognition.”

Immediate gain is the goal of our lives, just as demonstrated in the story. I had in an earlier post analysed the etymology of the word ‘Faith’. The Latin word ‘fides’ means ‘trust’. Had the monkeys trusted their trainer, they would have accepted his first proposal based on the fact that he would have the best of intentions for their nourishment. But through self belief, which most times lead to self doubt as we are limited in our capacity of holistic comprehension, the trust is lost.
Surrender to ‘Divine will’ means exactly this that we trust rather than believe in knowledge that has originated at a human level which is always subject to corruption through the action of the mind and ego.

Now let us analyse the trust building action of the trainer. He changed his position to accommodate the wish of the monkeys without compromising his own position. This is exactly the way of the Tao (Divine). The Tao operates at the level of uncompromising singularity yet for the manifest level there is duality due to the operation of the mind. To elevate our own perception to this higher level we need to comprehend the interconnectedness of all creations through elevation of our consciousness. As Tagore says: “Thus to attain our world-consciousness, we have to unite our feeling with this all-pervasive infinite feeling. In fact, the only true human progress is coincident with this widening of the range of feeling. All our poetry, philosophy, science, art and religion are serving to extend the scope of our consciousness towards higher and larger spheres. Man does not acquire rights through occupation of larger space, nor through external conduct, but his rights extend only so far as he is real, and his reality is measured by the scope of his consciousness.”

Love to you all


  1. Very inspiring to the core! I like the way you diffentiated trust with beliving. Conciousness is very important vehicle to move beyond our comprehension.

    Thank you.

  2. Thanks very much for your appreciation. Our mental comprehension is very limited due to the nature of our existence in the four dimensional space-time while scientifically it is proven that the forces of nature exists in much higher dimensions. This is the reason that intuitive approach through higher levels of consciousness becomes the only way to comprehend the Divine. If you want me to put you on my alert list for the bi-weekly posts I do, please let me know your mail ID. Blessings & peace of Christ!

  3. In the people's movement we normally say'All art and literature are for the people.'Gurudev has extended this slogan when he says all these are for a higher level of conciousness.Surredering to the plans of our Trainer without getting distracted by self is indeed the way to attain this upgradation.

  4. Of all your blogs this is the most inspiring one. Within our narrow domain we tend to dictate the almighty and bend Him towards our pre determined needs and feel elated when it happens or try to harress him more!
    all the best

  5. Please put my email id on your alert list for the bi-weekly posts you do,

    Thanks for your Blessings & peace of Christ!

    - Francis

  6. The scope of a man's intelligence is not measured by his knowledge, but his knowledge is measured by his intelligence.

  7. Subathra, any meaningful transformation in people's movement can be achieved only through elevation of individual consciousness. All the talks, seminars, workshops etc., can not achieve any tangible result unless the individual partaking is touched at the consciousness level. This the difference between powerful speakers and silent gurus like Ramana Maharishi. One touches the emotions the other touches the inner being or consciousness.

  8. SS. thanks for your high appreciation. What you have said captures how most people treat God in prayer. You should read the book "Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer" by Gregg Braden.

  9. Francis, you are now in my alert list.

  10. Leland, thanks for your succinct words capturing the essence of a small step in spiritual enlightenment. This is the reason that Vedic philosophy allots two distinct domains in the realization of Brahma "Beyond the senses are the objects; beyond the objects is the mind; beyond the mind, the intellect; beyond the intellect, the Great Atman; beyond the Great Atman, the Unmanifest; beyond the Unmanifest, the Purusha. Beyond the Purusha there is nothing: this is the end, the Supreme Goal."....Katha Upanishad Chapter 3:10-11