Thursday, October 13, 2005

Silencing the Mind

Silencing the Mind

I need a moment of silence--here and now--to center myself again.


I've extolled the virtues of silence before. We often think of life as being filled with activities and neglect the "empty spaces" between them. We always feel that if we are not actively doing something or talking to someone, we are not being useful. How mistaken we are!

I've said it before in a previous posting: it is in moments of silence that wisdom arises. But why is that so?

We cannot talk ourselves into becoming a wiser person. There must a time when talking has to stop and the mind--both conscious and subconscious--are allowed to assimilate the information. The body regenerates itself when we rest; the human body in general is self-healing, we just need to give it the opportunity (by not stressing it further through rest and sleep) to allow it to do its work.

The mind works in a similar fashion. You can pump all the information in the world into your brain, but at some point it will tire. When tiredness is felt, whether mentally or physically, the mind and the body is telling us that it needs time to do housekeeping. The brain needs to subconsciously file, compare and assimilate the information received. Mental digestion takes place best when all input is temporarily halted.

The subconscious mind kicks into high-gear when all sensory inputs are minimized. All creative ideas arise deep from the subconscious. The subconscious mind, when fully developed, taps into the universal creative wellspring, into the collective unconscious. The silent mind tunes in to the natural frequency of the universe.

Monks regularly take vows of silence. The great Mahatma Gandhi during his lifetime, used to spend one day of the week in complete silence. People around him would communicate with him on that day through written notes.

The divine in all of us unfolds when we have successfully quieten down the mental noise inside. Sit down and start listening to that noise. How do you make it go away?

Well, you just let it go away naturally by not adding more noise to it.

Observe it: the noise is but residual thoughts, expressions of hope and desire, likes and dislikes--all running wild inside your head like an unruly class of students when the teacher is not around.

When you are able to see how "childish" these noisy thoughts are, then you will slowly let them go. Without the support you give them, they lose energy very quickly and die away. You must realize that they are all sustained by you--by the promptings of your ego.

Let them go. Let your mind reconnect to its creative wellspring. And watch how it blooms.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Why I Blog

Why I Blog

When you blog, you are actually adding another dimension to you life: you start a parallel "lifestream" in cyberspace. This lifestream serves to transform and counter-balance your life in meatspace, enriching it in the process.

One might ask: What's the difference between blogging and keeping a personal diary? In many ways a blog is like a diary but with one major difference--it is public. How you conduct yourself in public is very different from the way you behave in private.

In meatspace, you have a public life and a private life and they are firewalled from one another. Only close friends and loved ones are allowed entry into your private life. In cyberspace, you allow anyone to enter your "private" life but it is not exactly private because you are fully aware that it is publicly accessible.

So your blog adds a third dimension to your life--something that is private, yet public at the same time. It is something that is both outward-facing yet introspective. What occurs daily in your life is reflected, analyzed and resolved in your blog; the result of that reflection is then brought back into your real life, altering it in unexpected ways.

The effect is different from writing in a diary because your views and reflections do not only affect you, but also people who read your blog. Even if no one reads your blog, the effect is still there because you will always assume that you are writing to an audience. This extra element makes all the difference. You are always conscious of the fact that you are in interaction mode with the external world.

Blogging is like singing in the bathroom--it's a private affair but you put all the verve and zest into the act as if you are performing in public. Whereas writing in one's personal diary is like humming your favourite tune softly to yourself--you are not performing.

My style of blogging is generally formal, perhaps even dull. I also don't like to publicize my blog because I think my "bathroom singing" is too unpolished--like preliminary sketches that an artist makes before commiting paint to canvas. It is certainly not of publication quality. But at the same time, I don't mind other people perusing my rough sketches--if they are interested enough to do so. They might have something interesting to point out to me and help me improve both my writing and thinking in the process.

I am happy blogging in a quiet corner of cyberspace. It puts me at ease: I am neither obligated nor interested to comment on the latest political developments or issues. To me that area is already very well-covered in blogosphere. I am happy reading what others have to say and I reserve my right to agree or disagree.

I blog to develop my ideas further--exactly like the rough sketches that an artist makes. I have a few favourite themes which I come back to again and again--a bit like the improvisations of a jazz musician or variations on a theme that many classical composers like Beethoven produce. Each piece develops an idea further--there's always an intent to explore, to study and to understand.

To me, it is important to be spontaneous yet disciplined when blogging. This fomality prevents my blog from degenerating into an unrestrained platform for venting frustrations. I do have lots of things to vent like everyone else but I find it more productive to transform that need into something with creative possibilities.

There's another important reason why I blog--it gives me a daily sense of accomplishment. Every day that I am able to blog is a good day. It means that my day is not wasted. At the very least, I managed to leave a trace of my thoughts in cyberspace for posterity.

I blogged today--so it is another good day!