‘Vishu’ and the art of witnessing


In brief spells of awakening, we become witnesses. In those spells we do see Life for what it is. And not for what it once was or what it should be. If we can learn the art of being mere witnesses of our lives, all the time, we can be free from all bondage and therefore from all suffering!

Today is the festival of ‘Vishu’ – a celebration of abundance and prosperity that all people with roots in Kerala observe. I have become non-religious and non-ritualistic over the years. Even so, I love ‘Vishu’. Because the festival calls for a true celebration of abundance! When you wake up, you are escorted with your eyes closed to the prayer room or to where a special arrangement has been set up. You are to open your eyes only in front of this arrangement of fruits, vegetables, flowers, rice, pulses, coins and everything beautiful that the lady of the house will have set up overnight. To me, the festival is not only a gentle reminder that there is so much abundance in our lives, that we are blessed to be waking up in a home, where our basic needs are taken care of, but it is also a reminder that we can perhaps choose to always be witnesses – just as we are when we are in front of this resplendent arrangement. ‘Vishu’ asks for nothing from you. All you are required to do is to just be a simple witness. Just observe. Drink in the sight that fills your soul with peace and joy!

Being a witness is blissful. Because a witness has no role. A witness just watches. Observes. There is no analyzing. Therefore no judgment. Therefore there is no suffering, no misery. Witnessing means being minus the mind. The mind is the source of all interpretation. When you are witnessing, you have disregarded the mind. This is what happened to me when I saw the ‘Vishukani at home today. I did not analyze. I did not question. I did not opinionate. I simply saw, with bleary eyes and amazement perhaps, how bountiful Life is.

This is the quality that is missing in our daily living. Witnessing brings us to perfectly focus on the now. You obviously can’t witness either the past or the future! So, when there is no past, no future, what you are left with is the present. As witness, you have no role in the present. It is unfolding in its inscrutable pre-ordained fashion. And you, you can only merely remain a witness. Witnessing takes you away from all your suffering, into a realm from where you will never want to come back – bliss!

Don’t intellectualize Life, just live it!


You can’t intellectualize Life. You can only live it.

And the best way to live is to see from your soul. From the real core of your being. When you open your soul, you will see the light.

You are really not what you think you are __ you are not your name or body or qualification or your job! You are the Universe’s energy that’s powering you, and is actually powering all of creation. This isn’t complex at all. Every thing that’s happening to you and has happened or will happen in the future, is transient. Which is why in Indian culture, we refer to Life as ‘maya’ or as an illusion. So, in the end, this entire lifetime will be over, this experience you have had will end, but you soul will go on.

All your problems, worries, anxieties, fear, suffering come when you intellectualize Life. I have no money, what will I do? I am starting a new job, what will happen if I don’t fit into the new place’s culture? I have cancer and I will die soon. All these are intellectual responses. You have been conditioned to believe that you need money to live. That you cannot survive cancer. That people are unkind and that you must be wary of them in general. The soul has no such issues. It is impregnable. Nothing can touch it. If you understand your true Self, and see from your soul, you will live Life. And not merely exist.

Swami Ramakrishna Paramhamsa explains this very well. He was asked: “What is the logical, rational support for your illumination?” The question really was to understand what as the evidence for Ramakrishna’s enlightenment. He replied: “I am the argument. If you can understand me, if you can feel me you will know my illumination. It is radiating but your eyes are closed. Now I am not responsible for your eyes. If you want to know me, open your eyes — and not only the outward eyes but the inward too, because my illumination is of the inner.”

So it is with each of us. Our souls are closed. We operate as if our excel sheets and smart phones and our decisions make our lives happen. The truth is that Life makes our lifetimes happen. We don’t! If we accept this reality, Life will be simpler and much, much, much more beautiful!

When you pause for a while and watch lazy raindrops fall rhythmically on water puddles, when you see a baby sleeping peacefully with no care about the world around it, when you hear the bleating of a goat, when you see the sun magically disappear over the horizon, when you reflect on your breathing…..in those times, your soul will be open. The key is to make this experience consistently repeatable. And that can happen ONLY when intellectualization stops and living begins!