My body. My mind.
Who is the owner of these? Is that master whom we really are? Or is there something more?
When you are not angry, sad, jealous, impatient, or fearful, what do you feel?
The answer to these questions is the same.
Pure love. Love is our true essence, and when we remove the overlying stains of other emotions, we unveil our core, which is love.
This sounds nice. We want to believe it, but how do we really know it? How does it make sense? Taking it a step further, how does understanding this truth impact our perception, our sense of self, and even our health?
Let’s try to understand by delving into the Ayurvedic conception of the machinery of the mind — antah karana.
Imagine an assembly line. Sensory input (prana) creates thoughts and emotions (manas). These thoughts and feelings pass through memory (smruti) which colors the input to the intellect (buddhi,) whose function is mental digestion, discernment, and understanding. The intellect passes the information back to memory for storage and also sends the information forward to your sense of self or ego (ahamkara.) Ego then evaluates the experience as good or bad. (see diagram above, positions of smruti and citta vary)
All of this is happening with every sensation and thought. With all these steps, I hope it is apparent that there is so much room for clouding of a perception.
Your sensory capacity (maybe you need glasses), your feelings on a given day, your memories, whether your mental digestion is optimal, and whether something makes you feel better or worse about yourself, all influence how you perceive reality!
So what is reality, other than one’s own individual creation? I have my reality. You have yours. He has his.
We are indeed very powerful. You create everything you perceive in your world. We create our own micro-worlds. This creation is constantly happening internally regardless of what is happening externally. A classic example of this is dreaming, but it is also happening while you are awake. Also, just because two people agree on something or have the same perception does not make it fact or real, as we know to be the case when whole groups of people perceive something one way or another.
Everything in your head is transposed on the world around you. The vector of perception actually begins with the Self and pushes outward, rather than the reverse. Therefore, nothing can exist outside of you that is not inside you. The false reality created by a reverse vector, where environment, thoughts, feelings, and memories create your micro-world, only serves to nourish your ego and separate you from everything and everyone. Your true Self, your soul, is connected and can know connection, if you keep your ego and its creations and illusions in check.
Ok, so what does this mean practically?
If you see anything other than pure love all around you and in everyone, you need to take a look at where within you these thoughts and feelings are coming from. It’s often unpleasant to do so, but if you allow yourself to dig deep, you will find parts of yourself that you have rejected or blamed.
It is these same qualities that you reject and blame in others, because nothing can exist outside of you that does not exist within you. The external world is just a mirror of the internal world. The external world could disappear. You could lose one of your sensory inputs, become blind, but the internal world would persevere.
Let’s take an example. You are suspicious of other people’s motives and fear due to a prior experience of being cheated, that your new business partner will try to cheat you. Undoubtedly, if you fear this, it will color your perception and may make you confront your partner in an instance where their motives were completely pure.
Now let’s look further at this fear of dishonesty and selfishness. Yes, these traits may have existed in your prior business partner and may exist in your current one, but you can also find them in some form in you!
Where in your life is it possible that you are being dishonest and cheating yourself or others? If you search openly, without fear or reprimand, you will find it. When you do, work on it. Then, you will no longer be able to perceive dishonesty in your relationships because you will have cut off the breath that was giving the perception life.
My first inclination was this is stupid. It can’t possibly be true.
I’m working on it though, and slowly opening myself up to this truth. The common construct of reality only leads to judgement, separation, and ebbs and flows of joy depending on the satisfaction of one’s ego. Why not entertain the possibility of a counter-creation of reality, where we take responsibility for our perceptions?
I’m learning that this shift in perception is the path to know and love oneself. Discover all the ways in which you have been denying and hiding away from parts of yourself. Use your perceptions of others as mirrors to show you where you have closed your heart to yourself.
This applies to all relationships – business, romance, family, friendships, etc.
So why then do we discriminate at all? Why don’t we love the person holding us at gunpoint?
We have an intellect whose purpose is to discern and see things clearly and take appropriate action. However, just like all our defenses, such as our immune system, there is the potential to misread messages and for overcompensation.
A sense of self and self-preservation is a biological necessity for survival. However, this same defense applied psychologically only serves to fragment us individually and separate us from others. It drives us into always positioning ourselves as better than other people because we are (blank) and others are (the opposite of blank.) Once you start noticing, you will begin to see how every thought and action only serves to nourish a good self-image. The ego has an insatiable appetite.
However, if we acknowledge that what we don’t like in others is really also in some form within ourselves, we can start to open our hearts to ourselves and others and stop fragmenting. When we realize that we indeed are the creators of the reality we experience, the film (citta) that separates the inner workings of the mind from whom we really are (atma) will dissolve, and the light of our souls will permeate our entire conscious experience.
To me, this is what it means to act as an instrument of the divine. You are no longer in service to your ego, but you are in service to your soul, your divinity, and the divinity in others.
That sounds amazing, right? There’s more.
The body is crystallized mind. So everything you think not only colors your experience of the world, but also shapes the health of your body. This is also a difficult pill to swallow. How can my back pain be caused by my mind?
Ailments have a lesson in love to offer us. The back’s intrinsic function is one of support. So the question in this example could be: “Where in my life am I not supporting myself?”
I did this exercise today with some minor menstrual cramps. I started by describing the pain’s quality as constricting. Then I asked myself openly for the message or lesson this pain had come to teach me. I welcomed the pain, and instead of hunching slightly, I felt my posture open and my abdomen and pelvis relax. I tried not to superimpose my mind’s versions of the answer and tried to clearly listen to the message.
For me, the answer was that I often try too hard to obtain something I want or think is good for me, and don’t relax enough into the flow. That’s why I’m experiencing this constriction, because I’m not letting myself flow enough in my day-to-day experience.
The pain vanished! However, I know I’ll still have to do the daily work to make sure it doesn’t return.
Thoughts are indeed powerful and will shape your reality and manifest in your body whether you believe it or not. Thoughts are also cumulative and collective. Disease can manifest from childhood or even ancestoral thought patterns. So be mindful about what you let out your head, and whom you let in your company. The body will perish, but the residue created by thoughts lives on.
The only way out is love. Love. Love. Love. Where you don’t feel it, tenderly open yourself to why not. Decipher the map of your body and your relationships and it will lead you to who you really are. Pure love.
–Nisha Khanna, M.D.
© 2015 Nisha Khanna. All rights reserved. Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.