Uncoloring the Filters

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This is a continuation of the previous post Seeing the World Through Filters.

We discussed about how we perceive the world through the mind lens and we have some filters in front of the lens that provides meaning and context that affect on how we interact with the outside world.

We touched on how some of these filters were products of human evolution. Having a stand of either liking or disliking to something was crucial to survival. Humans survived by knowing what to like, or attracted to, and what to dislike, or repulsed to. Attraction towards sweet food – because it is a source of energy (important during hunter-gatherer times). Repulsion towards decaying things – because it potentially could bring disease.

This like-dislike, attraction-repulsion is called raga & dvesha and is two of the five kleshas. Klesha is often translated as mental afflictions, is described in Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2:3. The other three kleshas are ignorance – lack of awareness (avidya), I-am-ness (asmita), and clinging to life (abhinivesha). Kleshas prevent us to see things as they really are, and bound us to endless cycle of suffering (samsara). They are like filter in front of the mind lens, afflicting the way we understand the world.

Attempting to end this endless cycle of suffering can be done by reducing the intensity and eventually destroying raga & dvesha. It’s like reducing the coloring of the filter until it’s clear. How?

The first step is by acknowledging them, realizing that it’s all perception. It is us that attach value to things in order to understand the outside world. Things in themselves don’t have inherent value. Good/evil, beautiful/ugly – they all are, literally, in our head. Like the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – change the word ‘beauty’ with other adjectives and ‘eye’ with ‘mind’.

Everything has two extremes – negative/positive, too much/too little, black/white, yin/yang, light/dark, hot/cold, heaven/earth, good/evil, and so on.

But is that true? Is that reality? Or is it perception? Our perception? They way we perceive things?

The weather is just the weather… We attach our perception to the weather. When we say “The weather is hot today” – actually it is more correct to say “I’m perceiving the weather as hot today”. I may perceive the weather as hot, but someone from different environment may perceive the same weather as cool. So it’s all in the experiencer’s perception. And the weather is just the weather.

Because we forgot about the “we perceive” part – we are making a shortcut. Because of this shortcut we forgot that it is us that perceive… and then we forgot that we always have the option how to react on that perception… and then we play victim. This is difficult to explain…

I remember one scene from the movie Instinct – Anthony Hopkins’ character were sitting in the rain with the gorilla. The gorillas were just sitting there, Anthony Hopkins was using a big leaf as umbrella. Then he realized that he doesn’t need the umbrella. So he put down the big leaf and sat there getting wet just like the other gorillas. That’s when the gorillas accepted him as part of the family. In the context of what I’ve been trying to say here, when he uses umbrella he was still thinking in the duality mode.. eg rain is bad for me so I should take shelter. When he let go the umbrella he no longer think about rain as negative. Rain is just is.

From my personal blog post Duality & Perception (2012)

With understanding that it is all perception, we stopped reacting and start responding to the outside world. This is crucial in the uncoloring process. If we keep on reacting, the color of the filter gets more and more intensified.

To be continued with more on how to reduce the coloring.

Picture: Orange sky as it is (no coloring nor editing) – Pelabuhan Ratu, 2005

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Surrender

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When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. – Rumi-

 

Only today I know what surrendering feels like for me. I used to think that to surrender is to believe that whatever happens is for the best. Leave it at that and move on, next.

And not until I am faced with great difficulty, only then I come to realize that I haven’t been doing any surrendering at all. All I did was to take the easy way out and hoping that it would turn out the best it could.

I was somehow taking life for granted, did what I thought was right and made decision based on what I liked and disliked. I was so much in control. Only later that I became conscious of the fact that to surrender, it requires the absence of control.

To surrender, we have to let go of the driver seat to life, sit on the passenger seat and enjoy the ride, like it or not, we have to learn how to bask in the view in front of us. The bump, the crash, the smash into, the run into as well as the charm, the magnificence, the loveliness and the blessing.

When we start to glide with life, the right thing and the right people start to appear in our life. For me, it was my attraction to take the iRest Yoga Nidra training. At least two things I learned from the course if not too many, to allow and to welcome every single thing and every single person who comes our way. And every single situation in our life. Be it hard, easy, impossible or enjoyable.

And yet, I was not there yet. I long to be in that state of complete surrender and I know something was still missing. There was still something I did not get. I have been practicing the allowing and welcoming, day and night, everyday.

And one day, which is today, I feel something so surreal, it was unearthly. But I know this is what absolute surrender feels like. It is the shiver running through my body, the tingling, the buzzing, radiantly shining out and in, up and down, front and back.  It is like I finally let go of myself and just be.

 

It is just like what Rumi said: “ When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.

Seeing the World Through Filters

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We function like a black box. There are inputs from the external world, get processed, and there’s an output. Example: I saw a something long, coiled, on the ground (input). In my mind (manas) I compared this image with thousands of images stored in my memory (chitta) and concludes this is potentially a snake (process), recalling that snake is potentially dangerous (process). I steer clear of that long, coiled thing (output).

Mind takes input from the outside world through the senses (sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste – also called the jnanendriyas). Imagine the mind like a camera, the lens is the input receiver.

If the lens is clear without anything in front of it, the mind will see the world as it is. With the snake example above, there is a filter of aversion to snake and filter of survival that may have prevent me to see the long coiled thing as it is – probably a rope. This filter color the way we interpret the world.

The snake/rope example above is an oversimplified example and relates to survival. The point is we receive input from the world the world through the mind lens, with many many filters in front of it. These filters color our understanding of the external world, and make us not see things as they are.

The mind often err on the side of caution because evolution favors those who are paranoid and steer clear from potential danger. The ancestors who weren’t so paranoid may got bitten by poisonous snake before finding a mate, have children and passing on the genes. These filters are part of evolution and survival in the past, and humans can become as they are now because of the filters.

Another example of how this filter works. I meet a person from a certain race. Growing up with parents that went through times where they were strongly discriminated by people of this certain race, I have a filter of race preference installed. This made me not act the same way to this person. Of course it is subtle as I have to consider my social status as well – I don’t want to be called racist. But there are internal processes that are different – eg more cautious, less trusting, less friendly, and so on.

This filter of race preference color my view of the world – not seeing every person, every human being, as what they are, another human being.

Yoga is a process of reducing the intensity of the filter – until it becomes clear – and then the mind lens can see things as they really are. In Yoga philosophy, this filters are called kleshas. How to make it clear? To be continued in my next post.

Image source: Color through lens filter by Ryan Haddad

Every Now and Then

Every now and then

I encounter this unknown feeling

It is so strange, it is bizarre

Yet presumptuous, it is common

So real

I think it comes from right inside my chest

In my dominion

I can feel a tingle of thrill

Buzzing under my skin

Marking its presence with a buoy

Raising me up above

The way red wine does

Carrying me high, slightly beyond this world

I wonder

If it would go on being this way

Probably morphing into 3D reflection

Something I can see

Maybe touch