Tuesday, December 25, 2018

What is enlightenment ?

It is possible to alter the state of our consciousness with meditation and psychedelic drugs. We have this illusion of self which seems as if it is directing the things we are doing. It is the thing which identifies with the thoughts and actions we do. But if you see clearly and question who this self is- Is it the thing in our head ? Is it our body ? If you think carefully it is not any of these but it is an artifical construct created by the brain to have an easier understanding of the world. So if you medidate, you can see this clearly that there is nothing different between us and the trees and the people infront of us. Everyone is part of the same consciousness that is part of this world. So that means there is nothing to worry about. You suffer only if you identify with the self and the ego. Once you realize that it is all just a story that your brain has created, you will not identify with your thoughts. Thoughts arise and go on their own. If you realize that the real you is different from your thoughts and feelings and there is nothing different between you and others, there is no expectations and no suffering. This is enlightenment.

But for this truth to be evident and be present, we have to practice meditation.

Also once you are enlightened nothing changes. You still have to work for living and have to be with people and do most of the things that you have been doing. The only difference is that now the real you is not caught up in the illusory self that identifies itself with the passing thoughts and feelings and suffers. You will have that perspective and hence you will respond to things more thoughtfully. Also when we know this, you will realize that there is no race to get anywhere. What is needed is all here and you will do what you have to do with full presence without rushing. And you will be free as you not bonded to your thoughts, feelings or your body!

Then what is the point of this life?  It is just this it just is. There is no specific point to it. Still you can't argue that the life of human is better with modern technology than without. It means you can still have some intention and work towards that, but understand that we are not bound to that intention and just work on it without judgement. But if you don't want to do anything and have the means to be that way, that is fine too.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Presence brings peace

If you are working on something and you are constantly distracted with something else, you will still have nagging doubts as to whether you missed something in the work you're doing. You will have to check and double check to make sure you did what you set out to do. Even after all this you will still feel that you were not as productive as you could be. You will still feel that you and your work is inferior to someone's who is focused when even though that feeling may or may not be true.

Now contrast that working with presence. Instead of feeling you're missing something, since you're fully focused on the work you're doing and you have already taken everything into account, you feel more confident of your work. Since you're fully present with your work you have considered everything without rushing, there is no need to check it multiple times. To top it all you know that you were as productive as you could be and that there is no anxiety as to whether a focused person could have done it faster or better, because - you have been focused. 
This my friends is why presence brings peace 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

How to develop a practicing mind

When you are learning something, if you cant seem to learn well, blame it on your mind. The mind seems to be perfectly built to be always in the past or in the future. It compulsively tries to avoid staying in the present, but being there itself is the key to a fulfilling life says Thomas Sterner in his book - The Practicing Mind. 

In this book he forcefully argues that there is a right method of practicing anything. The expectation of achieving the goal makes us always think of the goal and hurry along to reach the goal. But the real thing to think about is not the goal but the journey.

Most of the anxiety we experience in life comes from our feeling that there is an end point of perfection in everything that we involve ourselves with.

He argues that there is no endpoint where everything is perfect but that we are always perfect. He brings forth the point eloquently with the question about when  is a flower  perfect. And this is the thing that spoke to me.

It is always perfect. It is perfect at being wherever it is and at whatever stage of growth it is in at that moment. It is perfect at being a seed, when it is placed into the ground. At that moment in time, it is exactly what it is supposed to be: a seed. Just because it does not have brightly colored blooms doesn’t mean it is not a good flower seed. When it first sprouts through the ground, it is not imperfect because it displays only the color green. 
When you develop a present-minded approach to every activity you are involved in and, like the flower, realize that at whatever level you are performing, you are perfect at that point in time, you experience a tremendous relief from the fictitious, self-imposed pressures and expectations that only slow your progress.

When you let go of your attachment to the object you desire and make your desire the experience of staying focused on working toward your goal, you are fulfilling your desire in every minute and you are patient with the circumstance. There is no reason not to be. There is no effort or “trying to be patient” here. It is just a natural response to your perspective. This shift in perspective is very small and subtle on the one hand, but it has enormous freeing power. No task seems too large to undertake. Your confidence goes way up as does your patience with yourself. You are always achieving your goal and there are no mistakes or time limits to create stress.

Another important thing he talks about is to not judge anything as good or bad, but be like a good instructor, who observes the student and if he is going in the wrong path, gently guides him on to the right path. And that is what he asks us to do in his DOC method. Do what you want to do, Observe how it is going, and if something is not to your liking or there is something you need to improve, just Correct it without judgement and emotional involvement in that thing. That is the path to progress.

In summary, creating the practicing mind comes down to a few simple rules:

       •  Keep yourself process-oriented.
       •  Stay in the present.
   .  Make the process the goal and use the overall goal as a rudder to steer your efforts.
       •  Be deliberate, have an intention about what you want to accomplish, and remain aware of that intention.
Some other quotes that have stayed with me.

Experiencing impatience is one of the first symptoms of not being in the present moment, not doing what you are doing, and not staying process-oriented

Nature knows what works because it does not have an ego to deal with. It is our ego that makes us create false ideas of what perfect is and whether we have reached it.We realize that, like the flower, we are just fine or, rather, that we are perfect when we are where we are and absorbed in what we are doing right at that moment.We realize that, like the flower, we are just fine or, rather, that we are perfect when we are where we are and absorbed in what we are doing right at that moment.

The second step in creating patience is understanding and accepting that there is no such thing as reaching a point of perfection in anything. True perfection is both always evolving and always present within you, just like the flower. What you perceive as perfect is always relative to where you are in any area of your life

If you think There is some place other than where I actually am now that I need to be. Only then will I be happy.” This is totally untrue and counterproductive. To the contrary, you are exactly where you should be right now. You are a flower.

Another excellent book that has something for anyone who wants to learn without feeling rushed and be happy in the process. The Practicing Mind - Thomas Sterner

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Great advice on practice

If you're trying to master something difficult and the practice is very difficult, how will go about doing that ?

To a person's question on how to handle formula and proofs in maths, a person answered it the following way in mathexchange and it is a advice in mastering anything. Read it.

Source : https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/33656/whats-better-strategy-to-handle-tons-of-formulas-definitions
Answer link : https://math.stackexchange.com/a/33987/338003

You can read every book ever written on chess, but if you never play you will still be, at best, a middling player. Even if you memorize every rule in every book on chess you still won't become a particularly good player. You must play!
The same is true of math. You must solve problems!
I was always a natural with math, and I almost always grasped concepts the first time my professors covered them. For a long time I believed that this was enough. But as the topics became more and more abstract and more and more complex, I started to fall behind. It didn't feel like I was so good any more. I had developed the belief that practice was somehow beneath me. But practice is exactlyhow you get good at math.
Understanding is enough at a basic level. You can hold everything in mind and, if you understand it, you'll see the solution. But math continuously builds on itself. As layer upon layer of complexity is added, nobody in the world can hold all the pieces in their mind at once. Nobody! If you practice enough though, you no longer need to think about it. If you've practiced every layer below the one you're working on to the point that it's pure instinct, you don't have to hold any of the lower level stuff in mind anymore. You can focus all your attention on the high level content.
That's exactly like chess. You may understand basic tactics. You may have memorized all of them. But if you still need to look for forks and pins you have a long way to go. Put the books down and go play a few hundred games. Eventually, seeing the basic tactical elements will become as natural as breathing. Now you're ready to begin seeing the deeper elements of the game.
You asked whether you should focus on memorization or understanding. I'm saying neither. You didn't memorize your native language. You don't need to memorize math. Immerse yourself in it. The remembering will happen automatically. In terms of understanding, unless you completely master each step by practicing it until it's instinct (you really just need to get 90% of the way there; as you reuse the concepts down the road you'll go the last 10%), you'll never see the deeper elements of the game. The understanding you get from reading the text is shallow. The understanding you get from practice is deep. It's fluency.
Do not be seduced by the apparent superiority of problems over exercises (if you know what tools you're going to use from the outset, it's an exercise; if you have no idea where to start and need to puzzle it out, it's a problem). Problems are great, and, ultimately, you should definitely test your knowledge on them. But exercises should be the bread and butter of your training. Sure you know how to do them. They almost seem demeaning. But if you regularly work your muscles on these seemingly trivial tasks (like jogging or weight lifting), the challenging, novel, exciting tasks (like climbing a mountain) will get easier and easier.
Do not read the chapter a second time until you've attempted most of the problems at the end. If you solve several of them you'll find that the chapter makes way more sense the second time around. Go back and solve the rest of the problems and if you read it a third time it'll seem painfully obvious. If the book has all problems (at the freshman level all of your books are probably chock full of exercises, but in a year or two you'll start seeing books like this) and no exercises you must find as many problems with solutions as you can from other sources. Many high level texts have a handful of challenging high level problems at the end of chapters (frequently without solutions). Each problem will be unique and be solved in a different way. The lack of repetition means that it's very difficult to attain the "instinct" level. Find more problems elsewhere and solve them. As much as possible, only work on problems you have a solution to (the feedback is essential).
If you can't get additional problems. Just solve the ones you've got over and over (this works good for proofs, just make a list of proofs you want to know and work through it once every night or two with a blank stack of paper). In fact, if you couldn't solve a problem the first time, always re-solve it after you've seen the solution. Keep coming back to it until you can solve it without even a peek at the chapter or the solution. If you get stuck on a new problem for an hour or two, go back and solve similar easier problems for a little while and come back to it.
This may sound like rote memorization, and, beyond that, like a heck of a lot of work. It's not about memorization. Just try it for a while and I guarantee you'll find that your understanding goes through the roof (even if you think it's pretty darn good to begin with). And, well, yeah, it is a lot of work. But maybe less than you think. Doing one-hundred problems is not ten times as much work as doing ten. Problems eleven to thirty probably take about as much time and effort as the first ten. So, probably, do the last fifty. At the beginning new tasks are often unpleasant and frustrating, but with practice they become, if not fun, at least satisfying. Just like jogging. Most people stop practicing just when the learning curve is getting steep (that's the good part, even though it sounds like the bad part).
That's probably more than you expected. I've made my way through a lot of math though, and this is what I've learned. Meta-learned would be more accurate I suppose. If somebody had explained this to me clearly when I was a freshman, I'd probably have gotten quite a bit more out of my education.

Excellent advice.