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The Signal – Part 1

Q: The way I view the information I have processed so far, I think the psychosomatic event or whatever happened with UG is a distraction. I think what he speaks in different contexts with different people can also add noise. Whereas, the signal that is there is something that has a deep understanding of the way the human brain functions. The reason I come here to see you is because some of the noise, which includes UG’s biography, which includes what happened between you and him are not interesting to me. To me what is interesting is the message, the signal and its relevance to humanity at large. So, I want to pull that signal out and ensure that it is understood and communicated in a simple language. Because otherwise, one is going to get lost in all the noise. For a lot of people, for example, if they hear the whole story, they will think it is a cult. But that’s not the point. The point is, there is a signal somewhere. I am interested in empirically seeing in my life and from my understanding, how that signal operates. That’s why I want to go to the first principles where there is no vagueness, no hand-waving. So, what are those first principles? I want a generic understanding that applies to humanity, not just to me, because if it applies to humanity, it will apply to me.

Guha: It is the other way around too.

Q: Sure. Something addresses a human body’s well-being, and all human bodies are functionally similar all over the world, irrespective of caste, creed, religion, makeup, ideas, understanding.

G: Like, if a human body has evolved in a way that sun rays and oxygen are necessary for its growth, it will be true for all humans on this planet. Likewise, is there anything that I can assimilate by reading or practice or meditation that’s good for all of us? One group says this is good, another group says something else is. So, my mind got even more confused and lost. Basically, I wanted to filter down to a few principles, but it just did not work.

Until I interacted with UG, these questions would bother me. For example, when somebody is sick, they can give you the sickness, right? We call it transmission of disease. I wanted to find out if the reverse could be true, if well-being could be transmitted. I felt, unbeknownst to me, a principle of resonance began to take root in me that made me feel better and better. It’s like, somebody is infusing health in me, like something is picking up the signal and getting smarter by itself. My immune system got better due to the triggering of certain mechanisms inside my body. That was my empirical experiment and observation. The problem begins when I try to answer your question. How do I convey what was taking place in me, which was addressing a general wellbeing in me? I am nobody special. I’m just an ordinary human being, picking up the signal. It’s like somebody who was not breathing good air, not eating the right food, suddenly found a place where he got right nutrition, good air and then without any effort, his health started improving. I find it difficult to translate, that’s why I am giving an example.

Q: I am asking the questions in a bid to get the translation. 

G: When an island surfaced in Galapagos, animals from distant lands, even though they couldn’t see that far, started coming there and began to thrive. Some instinct drove them there. I’m giving this example to make a point. There are these kinds of signals in Nature. Can our brain put together the exact translation of the signals and the triggering mechanism? It is clear to me but it may not be clear to  others. That’s why I came up with the term Subject Specific Functional Reality. In was clear to me, because there was some signal behind UG’s words and their meanings, where my consciousness which processes the information, was getting affected.

Q: What I’m trying to state is that there are some fundamental principles …

G: The fundamental principle is the existence of life itself. The way life propagates, if you look at it, do you think the insects and bugs understand the meaning of life? They have this stimulus and response mechanism. That is the signal, the signal processing and the importance of the signal to a receiver. This is the fundamental principle. But is it clear to you that it can exist that way? That’s the question.

Q: A lot of it could be noise …

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Song – homage to Tagore

My mom wanted me to record this song for her on the occasion of Tagore’s 160th birth anniversary on 9th May 2021. This song was composed by Tagore in 1889. Music arrangement and keyboards by Venky.

Meaning:

In these torrential rains I can talk to you
In this dense darkness devoid of light, as the clouds rumble
I can open my heart to you.

No one will hear these words
It is desolate all around
Just the two of us facing each other, burdened with intense sorrow
The sky pouring down in incessant torrents 
There is no one else in the world.

The society and the world are false 
The clamour of life is meaningless
My eyes drink the nectar from your eyes, the two hearts feel each other
All else is wiped out in the dark.

If it eases my burden, whom will it hurt?
During the rains in a quiet corner 
If I whisper a few words to you
Who would care?

The winds are restless today 
Flashes of lightning criss cross the sky
What I wanted to tell you all my life, yet couldn't
Can be said today, in this downpour.


Excerpts from my diary

14th May, 2018
Pune, India 

He’s coming to India again just two months after his last visit! Just two more days to go! I feel electrified already! My bags are packed and I’m ready to fly. I have exhausted all my leaves in office and I’m ready to resign if my boss doesn’t approve my unpaid leave for 1.5 months or more. I have enough savings to sail through a year or more. G tells me everyday, “I am getting worried about you. What are you going to do?” What do I know? I can’t comprehend what is happening and I don’t want to attribute any cause to it. Simply because I don’t know! All I know is being with him is the most important thing for me now. I said to him, “I was waiting for the storm, and now that the winds are blowing strong, can I keep my doors and windows shut?!” He loved it! 

To love him is so easy. It’s all simple. So simple that sometimes I feel my head will burst with joy. He says, “What you see is all that is there, nothing more. There’s nothing to get from me and there’s nothing to understand.” I can see what a profound truth that is. The living energy cannot be captured in any way whatsoever. If one tries to relate to it using words and images, which is the very nature of knowledge, it ends up creating an illusion, an experience, which is second-hand. And the demand to experience never ceases. 

In my case, I don’t know when and how the pulverising attraction for him took over and swallowed up my ideas and desire to understand him. It was not self-created. This focus and attention didn’t come through meditation or any other practice. In fact all my previous attempts at meditation were a massive failure. G never ceases to point out that there’s nothing one can do to acquire this one-pointed attraction. If it happens it happens, that’s all. I knew nothing about it, but it became operational nonetheless. It does not depend upon one’s knowledge. 


Excerpts from my diary

12th March, 2018
Pune, India

I never knew of anything like him and will never ever know of another. Everything else is tasteless. He has taken up all the space in my mind and I’m helpless. His face and words flash in my head all the time. My only desire is to run to him. I have no relationships, no friends, nothing. I have a very good job but I am just not interested in it. I’m not rich and still very young. I have no clue about what I’m going to do in future. But I know this much, that his coming into my life is the most significant thing that could have ever happened and everything else pales in comparison. My life may never be the same again after his pure fire touched it. 

I often tell him that there is nobody like him in this whole wide world as far as I am concerned. He laughs it off most of the time, joking that I am blinded by my gullibility or I have cataract in my eyes, and I should wake up from this illusion! He once said to me, “Every lock has a unique key and that alone works for it, others don’t. It is true for you and not for others.” It is my subject specific functional reality. So, I don’t try to convince anybody about this. I never tried to bring any of my friends or family to see him. 

My house is filled with his memory. I wake up thinking of him, see his videos and photos, then get ready and go to office. I talk to him 2-3 times from office. I have little interest in my work and keep looking at his photos on my computer. I come back home in the evening and see him again on a video call. I have a poor appetite these days and can eat very little. I rarely feel hungry. He has asked me to try oats and bananas. We have very simple conversations over phone. No fancy spiritual discussions or lectures, never! For him it is all so simple and one can see it in the way he lives. After meeting him, my ideas about spirituality, freedom and enlightenment have crumbled. To see him is enough, no understanding is necessary. How can I describe the pulverising attraction I feel for him? In his presence, I cannot take my eyes off him even for a second. My body freezes and becomes immobile. He is like a giant magnet. Sometimes I don’t even know that I’m staring at him. None of this is intentional and I don’t have any control over my behaviour.

With so much attention on him and so many people around, he is unaffected and unfazed. He constantly negates what people project on to him. He needs no labels and is incomparable, radiating his own glory! He rarely talks about the effect he has on people. He says, whatever happens is their functional reality and he has no hand in it. Once I told him emotionally, “Who can understand you? It is impossible.” He immediately said, “Only a very few will get a glimpse of it.” He never trashes a genuine outpouring, never. But he is merciless if anybody tries to show off their love for him or demand his attention. 

This time around in Kochi, one day he was particularly animated while talking and there was a great power emanating from him, he was like a volcano! My body heated up, my head went blank and my eyes were almost popping out. I sat on the chair like a drunkard unable to move.

This is what we are

We were watching a women-oriented web series with G when something triggered inside me and I started writing this piece.

***

The misery of countless women is a result of their upbringing and conditioning powered by an oppressively patriarchal society. They have been brainwashed to put all their investment in building a happy family with a husband, offsprings and relatives. Such and such is an ideal life, so and so is an ideal husband, father, mother, etc. Women have been told they must be desirable and pretty to be accepted by the other sex. They must be dutiful, caring, faithful and selfless. Their primary identity is that of an object of pleasure. Period. In the Indian culture, the Goddesses with big breasts, rosy cheeks, long hair and heavy hips are the epitome of the ultimate male sexual fantasy. There are numerous temples dedicated to such idols and people don’t find it offensive. Centuries of such strongly enforced conditioning is now a part and parcel of the essential identity of women around the world. These images are jammed inside their heads. As soon as a little girl attains the age of 10 or 12, she starts picking up the cues from her environment and starts moulding herself accordingly. Dressing up, applying make-up to look pretty, believing that red or pink lips are more desirable, and that being fat is awful. Nobody has to force her, she picks up these ideas automatically as if the whole thing is running in an auto-pilot mode. She is impressionable and vulnerable and she wants to be accepted by her friends. Then gradually, she begins to get a taste of what we call “sorrow”, when what she desires to be doesn’t match with what she is.

Women struggle hard to match up to these ideals. The plastic surgery and cosmetic industry are open testimony to the fact that we can never accept ourselves as we are. Actually, we are taught the exact opposite. That we should be striving to change ourselves for the better all the time. What is “better”? Who defines it? We don’t question that. We neglect to look at what we are and inflict torture, both physical and psychological, on ourselves in an effort to become what we have been told we should become. More beautiful, more positive, more loving, more successful at home and work, a better mother, a better boss, a better friend. We want to go somewhere without knowing where we are now.

Women across different cultures continue to collectively fuel these illusory images and keep them going in their own communities. They inflict the same suffering on their sisters, girlfriends, mothers and daughters, of which they have been victims all their life. Anybody who doesn’t match these images are to be feared or forced into submission or trashed as a rebel. By the way, a rebel is no different from the one who conforms. The rebel takes pride in breaking away from norms and that becomes his or her primary identity. Then it is all about preserving that identity and projecting it to others. The rebels will be uneasy if their ideals are questioned. Just like a believer of God will be outraged if his or her faith is questioned. All of us knowingly or unknowingly seek approval from the society in some form. It is a bloody clash between what is real in us versus what has been imposed. The net result is we have surrendered to the demands of a society, that has no regard for the well-being of individuals, yet preaches about greater good. So, women want to feel desirable, want to be accepted, want to feel needed and loved. They want to please everybody. They crave for some kind of identity that will give them psychological security, whether it is of a mother, a wife, a lover, daughter or sister. The women’s magazines are filled with tips and mantras on how to make your man fall for you, how to please your partner, how to be positive 24X7, how to energize a relationship, how to raise children, etc. If any of these instructions really worked, why are we not problem-free, why do we still struggle? So, we keep shopping and keep reading and seeking advice from others. I feel all the feminist movements, irrespective of their country of origin, have only managed to repackage the old framework into a set of new goals, identities and modern ideas of perfection, that have done nothing to relieve women of the pressure to be and become. Whatever little rebellion they stir up from time-to-time, is like a small sandstorm in an endless desert. Everything settles down soon and the status quo continues.

The vicious cycle of unfulfillment has created in us an ever-increasing appetite for pleasure and entertainment. We are easily bored and rarely satisfied. Men are not free from this onslaught either. They are equally burdened. How can they not be? Men and women both cohabit the social space and influence and affect each other deeply. Whatever we impose on the other eventually comes back to bother us. We keep acting and reacting within the same predefined framework of roles, trying to dominate and change each other. Living has become a tangled mess. And we are addicted to misery like the drug addict, who despite knowing that heroin is harmful, cannot give it up. As women we are scared to ask ourselves, “Why do we want what we want?” We don’t seem to be able to reflect on the nature of the demands that drive us and shape our intentions. It is acutely difficult for us to come to terms with our own delusions, to realise that we suffer from enormous self-pity.

What can we do to free ourselves, not from anyone, but from our own image of what we should be? Who can answer this for us? Nobody. Charity begins at home. It is a personal discovery. It is not about sisterhood or greater good.

“Your image about yourself is your controller. It does not allow you to be simple, normal and real.”

Guha

I cannot prescribe a path or a goal

Guha: I can’t say how I felt and why I was doing what I was doing years ago. If you ask me to describe my state of mind back then, it will be a misrepresentation. There are many things I didn’t know then, which I know now. But that’s not the story. The story always gets twisted and polarized by the present situation that one is in. If someone asks me, “You’re telling us all these things, but is it possible for someone who’s hearing you to apply them in his or her life?”, my answer will be: obviously not! You see, back then, I myself did not do any of the things I’m telling you now. Simple. So, what I’m telling you cannot be considered as an instruction for your living. In that light, I cannot give you any prescription for how you should live your life.

I don’t know where I am going, so I cannot give you a goal. Firstly, the goal determines what type of actions you’re supposed to execute to reach the goal and on the way find out what is happening. Let’s say, if you want to build a house, you first make a model of a house, then you start putting things together with the hope that it is going somewhere. If you start working without knowing where it’s going, you will not know what will come out of it. So, in that field a goal is necessary. But living is a different story altogether. I do not have a goal because I don’t know the purpose of life. I don’t know what is happiness. I can only tell you something about what I call “good health”. Every biological being which is an organized form of life, if it is able to maintain its organizational integrity, that is its optimum existence, its good health. And we are no exception. I feel that is the balance every single form of life is seeking all the time. I don’t know anything more than that. Somebody else might know. So, if I don’t know I cannot tell you what you should do. And most importantly, I myself didn’t know where I was going so I didn’t come through any particular path. It is not like I knew where I should be and accordingly I modified my actions to go there. I cannot say that! So, where does it lead you as far as your talking to me and gathering information from me is concerned? Nowhere! You might as well not waste your time here! You think about it. I felt the same thing when I was interacting with UG. Not one thing was appropriate for me to adopt in my living so that I could become a better social being. More money, more fame, becoming an ideal father, an ideal brother or an ideal son, nothing. I couldn’t find one instruction that told me how to become these things, not a single one. So, you tell me, is there anything of social value that can come out of this discussion?

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The Mechanics of Dreams

Guha: There has to be a biological basis of dreams. There are many biological functions going on in the brain which are very intricate and sophisticated. These are powerful mechanisms created by Nature. It is a superb intelligence and its innate tinkering. Intelligence means, it is functioning for itself, you know. For example, you suddenly get unparalleled energy and stamina to save yourself in a dangerous situation, which otherwise is beyond your normal capacity. Such an effort came to us through the evolution of life. Thought is a tool that came to our species to be utilized as a means for survival. We don’t have long teeth, we don’t have huge and tall body like a giraffe’s, but we have a tool which gives us indirect power to protect ourselves by enhancing the remembered present, to use a philosophical term. So, all these powerful ingredients are involved in creating a mechanism through which we function. But it is not going to work if it is overloaded, you have to clean it. Why do we need to sleep? Because it is important for the body to go through a different cycle for its own sake. Otherwise, it is going one way, you know, you’re just continuously acquiring things. It has to purge, it has to clean itself to maintain the rhythm of life. A major component of dreams is a result of this purging process, the purging of memory. It is phenomenologically similar to our digestive system. It keeps information that is important for its functioning and throws out the rest, some of which we experience as dreams. In the state of rest or sleep – and it’s not a state in which everything is inactive – a massive mechanism is going on. It is like the background processes in a computer that do self-cleaning and optimizing. We are a biological computer created by the magnificent workings of Nature. It created a function that is involved in producing thoughts and ideas which learn how to derive energy from the environment. It is so mysterious and it presents itself in so many strange ways that it is impossible for us to know.

The movement that is allowed in the dream state is normally produced by inhibiting the motor neurons. The motor neurons control muscle movements which gives us the power to move. Without the activity of the motor neurons you cannot move or do anything. The neurons in the brain are connected through electro-chemical interaction. They start injecting very specific neurotransmitters which gradually inhibit selective circuits in the brain which are connected to the body. The motor neurons are completely inhibited during sleep. So, your hands and legs cannot move and even speech is mostly impaired. But vital organs like the heart, lungs, sex organs etc. continue to remain active in dream. Any movement that is experienced by the brain in dream is a smooth movement from place to place. You are either a witness of an unfolding scene or moving with the scenes as if gliding or flying. Without this inhibition you will suddenly try to run because you see something coming towards you in a dream and the visual cortex and the motor neurons get activated because you are seeing something. People who have a defective circuit sleepwalk. So, this is not perfect. There are always nooks and crannies in which defects exist just like our diseases.

The struggle in the brain for something desirable sometimes gives a glimpse of the various possibilities. And one of the possibilities could be a very good solution. For example, if I am working very hard on a problem and I am thinking about it continuously, I begin to dream about the aspects of the problem because my system is trying to work it out even during sleep. And I might find a most beautiful solution in dream. All dreams and thoughts are part of the many possibilities, some of which can actualize. You can never dream of anything that has no reference in your information world. It is a combination of different things and can form a story line of its own. The components are all part of the known. We know very little and the rest is speculation. Some speculations are satisfying to the play of intention and some are depressing as they go against the intention. One day you see yourself frolicking in a dream, another day you see yourself floating in the seventh heaven with eyes closed and the world’s glory being revealed to you! Then you end up writing Saundarya Lahari (The Waves of Beauty by Shankaracharya) or propound Advaita Vedanta!

Compiled from various talks on this subject during 2019 and 2020 in India and USA.


Nature will show what it cares for!

It was March last year and the national lockdown had just begun in India, when Guha saw scores of people, young and old, begging for food and money on the streets. He was almost moved to tears and uttered the following:

I remember UG used to say, "If there is a nuclear holocaust, we will all die but along with us we will take almost all the other forms of life. The only creatures that will survive are the cockroaches." I feel Mother Nature is a great equalizer. After we are gone, it will keep the people we treat like cockroaches, whose lives don't matter to our society, whose health, education, food, clothing and shelter are of no importance to the modern civilization. Those people have never used sanitizer on their hands, never had access to clean drinking water, unlike me, who has been using bottled water for ages. They are the ones who are going to survive. Some of them will die, but we have never cared for their death anyway. They die on the streets in the shanties and ghettos. But they are the ones who are going to come out of this onslaught. If there is a "survival of the fittest", if the theory is right, they are the ones who will survive. We, the so called protected ones, with all the modern technology and everything, are the ones who are going to go kaput in one shot. There is still time for us to ponder and find out what is greater, humanity at large, or our greed for advancement, our greed for knowledge of the universe, our effort to find the fundamental truth or our effort to be immortal. I don't know. But nature doesn't care at all. It'll show us what it cares for. I am in awe of the glory of Mother Nature.

Date: 27th March, 2020
Place: Kolkata, India