Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The three states of thinking: an insight from Bhagavad Gita

After writing a wide range of blogs on the Middle Eastern business scenarios, the author now attempts to write something right out of the realm of spirituality. This blog deals with the “Gradient of Thinking” and has been greatly inspired by “Inner war and Peace”, a book by Osho. “Inner War and Peace” is an insight from “The Bhagavad Gita”, wherein Osho has tried explaining the conversations between the reluctant Arjuna and his enlightened master Krishna. Through the conversation and the explanations that follow them, Osho has elucidated the root cause of pain and anguish of the Contemporary Man.

The blog elucidates on the three states of thinking: Thoughtlessness, Thinking state and No thought. The blog will give a general introduction to the given states along with an overview about how the characters of the Grand Epic Mahabharata fit into them.

Thoughtlessness: This is basically an animalistic way of thinking, where an individual is unable to judge between the right and the wrong. He is blinded by his burning desires and something that we refer to as “the darker side”- ego, arrogance, lust and vengeance. He loses his power to think. Instead of being thought-oriented, he is simply driven by his instincts. The actions taken by such individuals are generally dissimilar from the usual thought process, which is often implemented by normal individuals. A notable point here is that, though definitely a state reflecting animalistic thinking, thoughtlessness is a state of peace, since individuals do not go through the usual trauma of thinking and analyzing, it is devoid of customary anxieties and anguish which thinking brings. In the Mahabharata, the character of Duryodhana is a classic example of a thoughtless person driven by a deep desire to destroy the Pandavas.

Thinking state: This state lies between the state of animalistic thoughtlessness and the divine state of no thought. Moreover, this is not a state; it is rather a bridge between these two. From this state of thinking, man can either fall down into the chasm of thoughtlessness or he can move up the ladder of no thought. This is a state of anxiety and restlessness, because, from here man does not want to go back to the state of beastliness, but he is also unable to transcend  the given state and conquer the state of thoughtlessness. This state, which is somehow a state of dilemma, is very much rooted in a man’s ego. Though it may not be state of egomania, a thinking man’s state of mind revolves around his ego and he tries to decipher every situation or every act in relation to himself. The reluctant Arjuna before the battle is a perfect example of a thinking man.

No thought: On the gradient of thinking, this is the ultimate state, a state of pure consciousness. In this state the individual transcends the state of normal human thinking and goes beyond the chimera of self. Unlike the thoughtless state, in this state the absence of redundant thinking does not arise out of some ignorance or illusion, but out of the self consciousness and enlightenment. Such state is guided by spontaneous actions, without the prying of mind. Here, in this case, lack of thinking means complete freedom. Often our thinking is not free and is influenced by n number of factors such as habitual partiality, surrounding, upbringing, mood etc; but in the godly state of “No thought”, it is just an outcome of pure consciousness. Nothing else has an influence. Though every individual has potential to get into the shoe of no thought, it is very tough to attain. It requires a lot of deliberation, meditation and practice. Krishna, the incarnation of the super power himself is an symbol of “No thought”.

One important point to be noted over here is that that every day as individuals we pass through all the three stages of thinking. There are times when we are pure beast and instinct driven thoughtless creature, whereas at times we struggle with our individuality, with our angst, anxieties and frustrations and, there are times when life moves as effortlessly as pure consciousness.

Now in the following part the author will be placing various characters from the epic Mahabharata across the various parameters of thinking. For better understanding a graph had also been plotted below:-

Duryodhana: King Duryodhana is a perfect exemplar of a thoughtless individual. A symbol of sightless ambitions, Duryodhana was so obsessed with his hatred towards the Pandavas that he just wanted to obliterate them. Even when lord Krishna offered him the proposal of offering five villages to the Pandavas, instead of having a war, he rejected. In spite being a king, he hardly ever gave a thought to the large scale of imminent destruction, which the war could have brought. Hence he had been put at the lowest position of thoughtlessness.

Bheema: Bheema was the counterpart of Duryodhana. A man known for having strengths of many elephants, he was a pure brute force. Like the thoughtless Duryodhana, he had taken the oath of killing all the hundred Kauravas. For Bheema war was a passion, where he could have proved himself. The thoughtlessness of Duryodhana and Bheema gets reflected from their predilection for war. War always brings a large deal of bloodshed and destruction and ends into myriad individual tragedies. Only thoughtless individuals, devoid of the ability to comprehend such destructions, find them engaging.

Karna: The symbol of philanthropy, Karna was without doubt one of the greatest characters of Mahabharata. But the reason of placing him next to Duryodhana and Bheema was his vengeance and deep desire of taking revenge from Arjuna. Sometimes as individuals, we are so obsessed with our hatred towards that one single person, that our power of judgment is lost. The same happened with Karna. He wanted to prove his superiority over Arjuna at any price and in order to fulfill this, he didn’t think of the cosmic destruction that the war would incur.

Arjuna: The great archer Arjuna is perfect exemplar of a thinking man. A man filled with anxieties and anguish arising out of his attachments to the materialistic world. Arjuna’s anxieties before the war were quite natural, given the fact he was going to engage in a war against his own relatives. The war of Mahabharata seemed to be a part of the divine will and stopping it was beyond Arjuna’s capacity, but as an individual he had the freedom to resent, freedom to show his reluctance and this was the source of anxieties in him. Like the other three characters mentioned above, Arjuna was insulated from any kind of deep prejudice or blind thoughts and hence as a normal individual, the entire war seemed merciless, brutal and bloody. He was foreseeing the massive tragedies that would follow after the war.

Bheesma: Having divine origin, Bheesma was one of the characters close to the no thought state. Bheesma was also not in favor of the war, as it was known to him, that it will create a lot of bloodshed. Moreover since he was very attached to his family, seeing his own family members fighting with each other would have given him great trouble. But at the same time, he knew that the war was evident and cannot be stopped. Hence, he accepted it as a part of the divine will and agreed to fight the war on his conditions. He was somehow detached to the final outcome of the war and was just fighting it as a call of duty.

Krishna: Krishna is the perfect symbol of divine consciousness. In contrast to other individuals discussed above, Krishna had gone beyond the state of thinking and reflection. Being a person of pure divine essence, he existed as a completely detached and egoless individual, understood the futility of thinking and hence, believed simply in pure action without being involved in meaningless thinking and reflection. Krishna’s actions were never a reaction, In fact, in a no thought state, one never prefers reacting, because reaction arises out of attachment. When someone is hit hard at his point of attachment, he reacts back. But for someone like Krishna, having the understanding of the whole universe, reaction can never happen. Such people just prefer responding to different situation, without getting attached to them. For Krishna, the war of Mahabharata was not a war for fulfilling some inner desire, nor was he worried of the outcome. For him it was just a normal activity, where he was suppose to deliver his duties.

1> source of the image: bcswami.com

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