It’s okay to get lost | Daily News


 

It’s okay to get lost

The terms appear and disappear linger in many forms. They have various layers of meanings both material or physical and religious and spiritual. In many a narrative, certain characters appear in disguise and some others disappear from the scene. As such, the term ‘disappear’ paves the way to various symbolic meanings. With the application, medicines prescribed by doctors, the bodily pains disappear. The sufferings that lingered on disappear.

Perhaps anger, ill will or hatred too tends to disappear from the attempts made by humans to elevate from their day to day existence to a better plane of living. With the achievement of a type of desired bliss, the cumbersome life led so far disappears, making that individual elevate his plane of existence from a lower stage to a higher stage.

Better climate of thinking

The reader of Ajahn Brahm’s work The Art of Disappearing (subtitled The Buddha’s Path to Lasting Joy) comes as a handbook of blissful interpretation of the concept, attempting to help build a better climate of thinking on the teachings of the Buddha. The contents touch on experiences drawn from Ajahn’s personal life in meditation, teaching and undergoing retreats of varying types under the guidance of his guru, Ajahn Chah. This readable guidebook or the handbook is written in the form of a series of lively episodes as interlocutions.

There are eleven episodes each interlinked as an unputdownable series of material that revolves around the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. As Ajahn Brahm informs, at the outset, this book does not tell you what you must not do to get enlightened. As he underlines, it is not an instruction manual like Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond as written by himself. But, he indicated that the approach and the attitude on the subject of ‘how disappearing happens in spite of you’.

Moreover, as he states, it is not just the 'outside' that vanishes. The entire 'inside' all that you take to be you also disappear. And that is so much fun it is sheer bliss. In each of the chapters that follow that underlined theme happened to be the concept of knowing and practising the letting off of everything. And not get more things like attainments to show others.

I felt that the two sentences that follow are worthy contemplation:

We lose it. All successful meditators are losers.

Outer and inner self

In the opening episode, The Big Picture, the reader gets the chance of knowing when the real meaning of the term disappears from our own outer and inner self. The Venerable author asks a series of questions that in turn ought to be asked from oneself. Like in poetic expression, the author states that when we contemplate is completely out of control. And whatever is out of control is none of your business.

At times worrying seems to be out of control. But given the thought of why one worries enable on to gauge that it is a factor that is alien and could be let off one by one. Then the author states:

“If you are sensitive to other people’s words and allow them to hurt or bully you, you should remember the Buddha’s advice to his son, Rahula, to be like the earth.”

People urinate and defecate on the earth. They vomit on it and burn it. All sorts of the rubbish get tossed on the earth. Then they plant gardens or even better, they build monasteries. But the wonder of the earth is irreplaceable, for the earth does not react no matter what happens to it.

Ajahn Brahm invites the people to be like the earth, for whatever people say or do, be immovable. If they blame you or praise you, it’s their business. There is no need to be affected by another person’s speech whether good or bad. Then the reader’s attention is drawn to Bringing the Mind into Present by explaining with examples the need to careful attention to the body and mind's problems. When a person cultivates the habit of being calm both in the body and the mind, the writer states that he or she achieves a special state of existence, denoted as 'Present Moment Awareness'. The worrying for worthless matters gradually is alleviated.

Mindful Communication

The state of the achievement is denoted as 'Mindfulness' as taught by the Buddha in Eightfold Noble Path. Today, the media practitioners or the communicators are taught in this area of discipline and it is broadly titled Mindful Communication. The communicator is aware of what he or she is doing. He or she is undisturbed by all the extraneous factors in the process. But the preparatory stage to mindfulness ought to be known.

This phenomenon of mindfulness is broadly discussed in episode three titled as developing mindfulness with reference to meditation. The subjects such as 'boredom', 'tiredness', 'relaxation' and 'negativity' are taken as commonplace defilement that disturbs the inner peace that is needed for the training of mindfulness. Most exercise as given by the learned writer to me looks like 'self-disciplined meditative exercise' that should be inculcated 'self-studies'. This book, I felt, is the proper teacher. As indicated in Episode Five we come across Wisdom Power that paves the way to an understanding of the concept of suffering (Dukkha) as taught by the Buddha in Four Noble Truths. The reader of Cause and Effect as explained in Chapter Six is interlinked. The learned writer monk underlines the theme of disappearing as a result of the gradual process of reducing the sense of self. The gradual easing off of the sense of passion known as ‘Me’, ‘My’, ‘Myself’, ‘Mine’ have to be understood in the proper perspective. The sense of possession overburdens the living conditions. They gradually disappear with the power of knowing the sense of ‘self’ through an inner power is achieved by oneself by devoting more ‘time’ than money and material welfare.

As such, the writer states that the factor known as time is at times a great torturer of human beings. But effectively utilised, the time factor cures most of the sufferings. This factor is denoted as ‘pacifying time’. Feel your way into stillness cooling down the senses and recognising the bliss of a still mind are the central themes discussed in Seventh and Eight episodes. Thus the achievement in one’s inner self is the appearance of a new self.

Happiness comes from disappearing is the theme in the conclusive measures of the explanation. As a wisecrack, the monk gives the reader just one sentence of vision that goes as: If you want true happiness, disappear.” Then an event ensues.

“Every year I go to the Curtin Medal Awards. I always enjoy those ceremonies. You hear inspiring stories about how people have served and helped our community. A few years ago, I was given one of those medals. I realised that as a monk the more you disappear the more recognition and awards you get. But because you are disappearing, there really isn’t any place to hang the medal.” 


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