It’s been a very intriguing and different kind of experience. The last weekend, that is. I’d been to the Art of Living Basic Course in the Art of Living campus in Bangalore (Kanakapura). We went through a range of activities/experiences like morning exercises, some yoga, breathing techniques, group sessions, bhajans (referred to as satsangs), meditation through imagination, wisdom to lead a practical, stress-free and happy life, and even learning to eat a simple food. I am feeling good. It may be euphoria but I sure hope it lasts forever. Have been getting up early - it’s been a long time since I did that – and exercising a bit. It’s all about discipline I guess. So, I am looking forward to being more disciplined. I don’t know if I can share all that I learned on my Blog as it is advised that people take the training from qualified trainers rather than just hear the end-results from beginners/students. But here are some remnants of the experience.
Applying each one of the maxims (referred to as sutras by the Art of Living Gurus) can lead to a perfect life. A perfectly happy life. I do think it is not difficult to apply these principles if one is dealing with ‘moderate’ people. But if one is dealing with completely unreasonable or eccentric or fully ‘mad’ people, it will be extremely challenging indeed. But the upside is that the more the challenges, the more the opportunities to master this art - The art of living. I may not be able to share the maxims and too much of what was taught, but here are some things that I can. These are things that I made a note of during the course and are in no particular order. (Herein are some of my favourite paradoxes. :-) )
- To experience happiness, one has to experience pain. (no pain, no gain)
- To know that everything is changing, we must have something that does not change – and that is the self. Like that of an axle in a wheel.
- Ego is the biggest cause of misery
- There are 7 levels of consciousness – body, breath, mind, intellect, ego, soul, and self. One has to traverse from the gross to the ultimate to conquer life and enjoy it.
- The art of living course is a journey from the head to the heart – from the intellect to the self – it is the discovery of self
- Be natural
- Enlightenment – is graduating from being somebody to nobody and then nobody to everybody
- Use of Intellect alone, destroys innocence. There should be a balance between the two levels. The ability to be wise as well as child-like.
- We can have our own choices, but our choices should not be our limitation
- Art, music and dancing – these things are blissful – perhaps because it makes us concentrate on the present and neither the past nor the future. One needs to be totally absorbed and engrossed while painting/composing etc
- Stop complaining – the process drains you
- There is no peak without a valley
- Stretch your hand first – especially if it’s your ‘enemy’ on the opposite side
- Don’t get angry. Just show anger. Example – dealing with a kid who’d picked up a knife. You have to coax the kid to return the knife and then warn him/her in a friendly way
- Spirituality is not sitting in one place and meditating. It is dynamism. It is taking responsibility and being active.
- The amazing thing is that the course, as most spiritual philosophies indicate, doesn’t talk about being passive. It points towards being active. It talks about acceptance and then action!
- To reiterate, innocence and intelligence can co-exist.
- The way to enlightenment is through Sadhana (Meditation and Yoga), Seva (Service), and Satsang (Worshipping the lord and singing his praises in good company). The bonus S that one gets on following these three is a Smile. :-)
- BTW, the course comprised of people of all sorts and from various backgrounds – the youngest was perhaps 21 years old and the oldest 65+
The process of summarizing my learnings from the course reminds me of my other post on 3 ideal ways to live. And the philosophy of flowing like a river post which takes off from a post on Nipun's Blog.
Some more experiences:
On the third day of the course, I got to witness something amazing. The sunrise. J They way the sun showed up was a visual treat. I was in the main ‘mantap’ in the campus and on the 2nd floor. The view from there was one of vast tree-filled land dotted by houses. The horizon was lined by majestic green mountains. When I first laid my eyes on the horizon, I saw a just the tip of a circle that was fierce orange in colour and extremely attractive, peeping out from between two mountains. In a span of about 3 minutes, the circle started moving up and the fact that it was moving was quite visible. Before I knew it, the entire circle had come up and was continuing to make its way in the upward direction through the clouds. Emanating from the circle was a narrow but widening V shaped stretch of light – slightly orange in color. That looked beautiful! I can see it in my mind’s eye even now.
The other pleasant experience I had was that of dancing to the tunes of some wonderful bhajans and instrumental music. I have rarely danced (in public or private ;)) and have never thought in the wildest of my dreams that I would be able to dance. But it was a nice feeling to dance. With closed eyes, I invited the moon over to dance with me. No prizes for guessing whether the moon accepted my invitation.
I also realized that a meal after a hard day’s work (I rarely exert myself physically in office- it is only mental work) is any day tastier than even rich food eaten after a lazy day. So, go through the rigor to enjoy the fruits of the effort.
And, yes, for those who know me - of course, I bought a lot of books as well. Found a subject that I’d been searching for quite a long time - a book that collates the significant principles and values of all religions in the world…
Okay. Let me stop here and connect you to the Art of Living in case you want to know more.