By Sanjiv Ranjan December 2013 When the mind releases its compulsive need to analyze, interpret, judge and fear, it becomes what it is meant to be – a witness to the panorama of life, immersed in bliss, one with the Absolute, says Sanjiv Ranjan Since you have been bitten by that black snake of self-opinion –thinking foolishly that ‘I am the doer,’now drink the nectar in the fact that‘I am not the doer.”and now be happy.Burn down the forest of ignorancewith the fire of understanding.Know ‘I am the one pure awareness,’‘The Witness,’With such ashes now be happy,free from distress. -Ashtavakra Gita Many have attained enlightenmentthrough the witnessing-consciousness, including the Buddha, and in the process, found joy which is eternal. It is a state where you transcend the thinker and the interpreter within you, and develop the ability to watch all internal and external phenomena as transient, and separate from the `Self`. It is the ability to watch your thoughts, emotionsand sensations, as though they are clouds floating in the sky, without getting attached to them, or granting them any significance. When you detach from what is happening around you, you become an observer, you become the witness, and you function through the faculty of pure awareness. When you observe, you become powerful, because you align with the force which created the universe by witnessing it into manifestation. Witnessing is a function of supreme intelligence. Witnessing is a faculty, just like vision, like hearing, like the ability to feel something when it touches your skin. The framework of this faculty is gifted to you at birth, but to develop it further, you have to learn to drop analysis. When you drop analysis, you simply watch, listen and feel. And it is only then that you can enter into the expanded state of being, known as awareness. Awareness takes you into a state of heightened sensitivity, and through this state of heightened sensitivity, an explosion occurs within you. When the explosion occurs, it lifts you high. You attain the peak of consciousness, and the moment you touch the peak of consciousness, your sense of separateness with existence dissolves. A simmering love affair with life Your consciousness cannot be contained within you now, such is its depth. Its force rushes out into existence, touches the farthest realms of the universe, and returns to your body-mind, enriched with the principles of unity. This is where yourlove affair with lifebegins, and the feeling of unity becomes the backdrop against which you live. Awareness and witnessing are the fundamental pillars of ZenBuddhism, where every action, whether it is chopping wood, or tending to a garden, becomes extraordinary, by virtue of it becoming a window to that which is infinite. When you have touched the Infinite, every act of yours originates from its luminous creative void, as opposed to the ceaseless mental chatter, or the endless worries within your mind. Words emerge from a silence beyond, action emerges from stillness, and love becomes an expression of eternal oneness. Through awareness and witnessing, you get a glimpse of what lies beyond, and sorrow is transformed into wonder for the magnificent mind-expanding process that life is. And ultimately, it is the witnessing consciousness which is the hallmark of human ‘be-ing,’ which differentiates us from animals. It is the essence of the grandeur of the human endeavour, a constant companion on the path which takes man closer to being God. ‘Witnessing’ is what makes us human “Man is a transitional being; he is not final. As it did not begin with him, neither does it end with him. He is not its evident crown, not its highest issue, not the last clear sum of nature. Nature has not brought out in man her highest possibilities; she has not reached in him the supreme heights of consciousness and being; as there was before him the infrahuman, the insect and animal, so there shall be after him the superhuman, the superman.” – Sri Aurobindo We are human, because we can rise above instinct, and function from a higher intelligence, known as intellect. We are human, because we can observe, we can witness, because we are conscious, and because we have an awareness of ourselves as being different, from the world we occupy. And that is our greatest benediction, as well as our deepest curse. It is a blessing, because through this awareness of being separate from that which we observe, we can move into a realization of the ‘Self.’ It is a curse, because this sense of separateness also gives birth to the ego. But nature has been kindest to ‘human be-ing,’ for she gifted to you a very subtle energy, which can transform the separateness felt by the ego, into the principles of oneness which integrate the universe, and take you into a deepest realisation of your ‘Self.’ And this subtle energy is the energy of laughter, the spirit of humour, which innervates the innermost chambers of the brain, and in a sudden moment, when you are ripe, when you are ready to explode, it takes you higher within you, and you hit the God Spot, hidden in your brain. Laugh your way to enlightenment There is a small story, which reveals to us the more spiritual dimensions of laughter. It is said that one day, towards the end of his life, the Buddha accompanied his disciples to a lotus pond. He reached into the pond, and pulled out a lotus, and held it out silently, displaying its roots, the dripping water and mud. The moment he did this, his disciples began interpreting the action, its symbolic meaning, by trying to understand how the flower fitted into his teachings. And while all of them were busy in this extremely intellectual activity, one of the disciples laughed. His name was Mahakashyap. The Buddha smiled and said, “What cannot be said, I have given to Mahakashyap.” In the moment when Mahakashyap laughed, a door opened within his mind, and he entered into enlightenment. Mahakashyap became the Buddha’s successor from that moment onwards. This anecdote is part of the Flower Sutra, an element of Mahayana Buddhism, which later on transformed into Zen, and the Art of Wordless Teaching. Even as it reveals to us the utter wordlessness of the phenomenon which is enlightenment, it also gives us very vital clues regarding the more spiritual aspects of laughter, and the phenomenon which is our human-ness. Enlightenment is simply a peak in the experience of being human, and it is inextricably linked to laughter. Laughter is spiritual At least once in your life, you must have used the phrase: ‘And I dissolved into hapless peals of laughter.’ I believe that language has a soul. Studying language, studying the origin of sentences and words, always leads to deeper truths, because language evolves out of life. It evolves out of the collective consciousness, and consciousness, whether individual or collective, always reveals something of the Absolute. The key word in understanding the spiritual legacy of laughter is the word ‘dissolve.’ When you move into hapless, uncontrollable laughter, when laughter is total and unbridled, you surrender to the moment, you dissolve. You cease to exist, because you forget yourselves for a moment, and become a part of something larger, which surrounds you. The ‘I’, the ego, dissolves, the veil lifts, for a few moments the curse does not exist, and you are free to witness benediction. You are on the threshold of enlightenment, and all you need is a slight push, a small draft of air blowing in the right direction, and you will enter. By virtue of your dissolution into the elixir which is life, your body renews itself, your mind moves into treble with vigour, and your heart becomes metaphorically larger, because you visited the City of Joy. Your compassion too, becomes deeper, because for a few moments you moved out of your own confines, you stood outside your ‘self’ and from there witnessed something profound, something divine. Dissolving the ego in laughter When laughter bubbles up from within you, you have communed with theGod within you. You have experienced the joy of togetherness, and known Him, through light-hearted camaraderie. You drop the awe, you drop all fear, you drop all guilt, you drop all doubts, you drop everything which can be dropped, and you align in friendship with the universe. Laughter makes you feel innocent and innocence makes you kinder to yourself, as you let go of judgment and all incriminating inner dialogues. It makes you feel as though you never knew sin. You may have noticed that people who laugh a lot, have kinder faces. They are more forgiving and less condemning, and they live from a genuine fellow-feeling. Your witnessing consciousness quotient There is a simple process through which you can find out for yourself, how close you are to living from the witnessing consciousness. Just answer the questions below, and add up your score, to see for yourself. The questionnaire is built on a scale from 1-10, 10 being the maximum points. How often do you find yourself dissolving into halpless peals of laughter? 1. Occasionally, every few days – 1 point 2. At least once during the day – 2 points 3. Most of the time – 7 points In your own opinion, are you someone who 1. Takes people and events very seriously – 1 point 2. Generally believes in giving people and situations, ‘the benefit of doubt’ – 3 points 3. Understands the futility of trying to interpret anything which is happening around you – 5 points 4. Is a keen observer of people and events, and to whom observation brings joy – 7 points Are you someone whose most used faculty is 1. Logic – you arriv
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