Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tracing back to the Oldest Life Form

(Image from

What is the oldest life form which comes to your mind? Here, even a google search might send you off-track…..

There is no harm is starting with the obvious though – a google search. This leads us to the page titled  Timeline of the evolutionary history of life. The article tells us that the earliest evidence of simple life was around 440 million years after the Earth was formed (around 4.54 billion years back). We, modern humans have been around for a very small fraction of Earth's existence. It is an interesting account on we have managed to trace our origins from the earliest forms of life.

The universe fascinates us, everything about it - it's origins, history, evolution, purpose…..However, many a times we lose perspective of our relation with the universe. As we look around us, the universe is all around us, and we are within – an outer protective covering, much like our houses, only so much bigger. The universe appears to be a physical entity enclosing the only significantly intelligent life form we know of – us. Let us imagine for a moment that someone tells us that a building has given birth to a child. What would our reaction be? - we would regard this as absolutely ridiculous isn't it? It is life which spawns life!

Isn't the oldest life form the universe itself? Why have we come to regard the universe as a totally physical entity? Is it because we hold ourselves as the ideal reference point? We picture the universe as something like a balloon, expanding as balloons do with we having found a place for ourselves inside. The universe is very alive though; sustaining itself, spawning life, creating matter & energy, and changing all the time.
“In the older view the goddess Universe was alive, herself organically the Earth, the horizon, and the heavens. Now she is dead, and the universe is not an organism, but a building, with gods at rest in it in luxury: not as personifications of the energies in their manners of operation, but as luxury tenants, requiring service. And Man, accordingly, is not as a child born to flower in the knowledge of his own eternal portion but as a robot fashioned to serve.”
― Joseph Campbell
Considering the universe as alive is a far richer and profound view. It changes our perspective on our relation with the universe. We and the universe are one – we started as one, and we remain one in purpose, very much like a wave is part of the ocean.
“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.”
― Alan W. Watts
As a wave is indistinguishable and shares identity and purpose with the ocean, we share the same relation with the universe. We carry the responsibility of aligning to the universe as waves with the sea.
“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.”
― Joseph Campbell
“There is force in the universe, which, if we permit it, will flow through us and produce miraculous results.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

In your minds do you think of the universe as being alive?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Addition and Subtraction

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These are basic skills, are they not? Yet, are we sure we are good at it? Do we accord both the right emphasis?

Well, I must admit that the title is misleading as it is metaphorical, but clarity will come as you read on. Success, as we see it, is largely a matter of (quantum of) addition – adding to the bank balance, adding skills, adding more friends (on social media and in real-life), adding to places travelled, adding business contacts, adding to gadgets owned, adding property, and so many other things. In fact it is addition which preys on our mind all the mind. Success in the world view is all about addition! In fact our self esteem depends totally on our ability to add! Happiness in the view of many is addition at a steady and never ending pace.

There are rare cases when subtraction surfaces in our thoughts, but gains priority only if it threatens to take away something from us. A case in point is weight – there are many who take up weight reduction once it is clear that it could impact health or self esteem. Weight, as in turns out is not the only thing we need to think of subtracting. Subtraction lends balance and true purpose to our lives.

Subtracting a little of our bank balance for charity helps others and provides great satisfaction. Subtracting from our pride helps us understand others. Subtracting our stereotypes and biases helps us see the world as it is, instead of our warped view of it. Subtracting our sense of uniqueness allows us to see the essential oneness of everything in the universe. Subtracting meaningless effort allows time for reflection and creativity.

If we subtract the past pains and future fears from our thoughts, we are in the “now” - truly living the present moment. There are a number of other things we need to work on subtracting as well – stereotypes, biases, overindulgence, false sense of identity, overconfidence, pleasure seeking frenzy, and others.

Enlightenment is a demolition project. It simply shows you that everything you ever believed was true isn’t.
- Adyashanti
“If the past was the age of adding to one's mind, now is the age of subtracting what is in his mind. A person who subtracts his minds in this time will recover his original nature.”
― Woo Myung,

You have probably been asking yourself every day “What did I add today?”. Don't you think you should also be asking “What did I subtract today?”.