“For, to be aware and to be are the same” – Permanides, Greek Philosopher
Well Being: Being rather than becoming
In an earlier article, I had introduced the Mindful Talent Leader. This piece will take that thought further and discuss the concepts of well being, which is not new, but gaining traction in recent times. My contention is that Wellness begins with simple Awareness (of self) and awareness focuses on “just being”. The greatest indication comes from the fact that we call ourselves “Human Beings”. Only as babies, are we afforded the luxury of inhabiting our being, but once forced to figure out who we want to be in life, most of us are so anxious about just becoming – becoming big, becoming famous, becoming rich and so on….
In our rush to arrive at who we want to become, we flee from the joy of our purely being. The ambitious mindset requires that we outgrow every earlier version of ourselves and endure the pressures of changing ourselves into something else all the time. Most people have often heard or uttered the phrase, “The only constant in life is change.” Around 500 B. C., the renowned Greek philosopher Heraclitus proposed that all things are becoming with his legendary quote:
Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.
You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters and yet others, go flowing on.
In the above, Heraclitus seems to be affirming the reality of transience and primacy of the present.
A generation or so later, Parmenides proposed an opposing thesis:
There remains, then, but one word by which to express the [true] road: “Is”. And on this road there are many signs that What Is has no beginning and never will be destroyed: it is whole, still, and without end. It neither was nor will be, it simply is—now, altogether, one, continuous…
Parmenides affirms the reality of permanence.
Even though these two may sound conflicting, they are not – in fact, they emphasize the reality that everything around us – the times, the trends, the methods, the styles, the core of our being is energy and that is permanent, even changeless. The wise have referred to it as” consciousness” and this consciousness holds the key to our Well Being.
The Significance of Four
One of the oldest civilizations known for living, teaching and celebrating well being is India. In fact, International Day of Yoga, is celebrated annually on 21 June since its inception in 2015. An international day for yoga was declared unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly. Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice, which originated in India. Speaking about India, the number four is one of great significance in this country. For instance, there is a metaphor – Dharma, meaning, Righteousness or Good, is said to have four legs. It is said that in each epoch since the start of mankind, it loses progressively one leg. Thus in the first epoch, dharma walks on four legs, in the second on three, in the third on two and in the last, which is the current epoch, on only one. The world will come to an end before the fourth leg is lost. Similarly, there are other popular models around four:
The stages in life are four: the stage of studentship, the stage of householder, the stage of mentorship to others and the stage of renunciation.
In this article, we shall look at further aspects of well being in groups of four.
Four is the number of human equipment – The body, mind, intellect and spirit. Let’s look at each of them from a Well Being point of view.
Body: Body is the foundation for life and means for action. A Sanskrit word for the body is Shareer, which literally means “subject to change and decay.” It is immutable and transitory, however, it is the abode for the fourth equipment – the spirit. Therefore, it is regarded as armour which protects the indwelling spirit. Body is a moving temple and Spirit resides in it. The senses (Eye, ear, tongue, nose and, skin) are very powerful and are a double-edged sword. If they are not controlled they could divert the mind and intellect of an individual in an improper direction. When the mind is controlled by senses the downfall of an individual follows, declare the holy scriptures. Therefore they say, all of the senses must be controlled and used only for self-transformation and to reach the Supreme Goal of life (Self-Realization).
Mind: Mind is referred to as a bundle of thoughts, a memory bank and a means of cognition. However, it is very restless in nature, turbulent, powerful, stubborn and hard to control. However, the mind is the master of the senses and it could be one’s best friend or worst enemy that could lead one to either a lower or a higher self. One must lift himself by himself and not degrade himself. Mind is an enemy when it develops and continues to manifest bad thoughts – Negative/bad thoughts lead to disturbance within oneself and in the society. Mind is a friend when it develops good thoughts: Good thoughts lead to Pleasant Speech resulting in Good Action, causing Inner peace bringing good health finally creating Peace in the society and in the world. Hence it is oft repeated – It all starts with one’s mind.
Intellect: Intellect is the means for discrimination and decision-making. The Sanskrit word for Intellect is Buddhi. Buddha, the term for the awakened one, has its root in Buddhi, viz the intellect. There is a beautiful metaphor – The human body is a chariot, the sense organs are the horses, the mind is the reins and intellect (Buddhi) is the charioteer. The chariot (Body) may be beautiful, however it depends on the horses (Sense organs), the horses depend on the firmness of the reins (Mind), however, they all depend on the charioteer (Intellect). Inner voice is another name for the intellect. Man is guided by this inner voice in the conduct of his life. The intellect is said to be very close to the spirit and therefore directly receives 90% of the spirit energy and illumination. The mind derives its energy from the intellect, the senses from the mind, and the body from the senses.
The Divine Spirit is installed in the temple of the body therefore; one should make the body a pure shrine for the divine. It must be pure internally and externally. Spirit is also referred to as the Soul, Atma, Pure, Super-conscious, Absolute, Truth, God. Spirit is the driving/divinity force of the body. The invisible Spirit is eternal, say the scriptures.
As mentioned earlier, a person is made of Body, Mind, Intellect (Buddhi) and Spirit (Atma). All these are required for a man to function properly and lead a wholesome life. Therefore, these must be connected with each other to experience divinity within (Higher self, Self–Realization/Supreme Goal of life). Any disconnection from each other will lead to degradation of a man to animal level (Lower-self). “The working senses are said to be higher than the body; the mind is higher than the senses; the intellect is still higher than the mind; but Atma (Spirit, Self) is even higher than the intellect”. (Geeta 3.42)
When one’s mind is full of doubts, negative emotional conflicts, anger, fear, attachment, ego, greed and desires etc, he loses his memories, his discrimination power between good and bad; and right and wrong, and he is unable to make any proper decision. He becomes extremely distressed. He cannot even listen to his inner voice of intellect and looses the touch with his spirit. His judgment is tarnished and his actions are impure, and thus the down fall in his life and journey to hell starts. Human mind, under lot of stress gets overwhelmed and confused. Conversely, the human mind which is calm and composed, is most pure and capable of achieving miracles.
The “Being” Formula: Spirit > Intellect > Mind > Senses > Body
Leo Tolstoy’s Three Saints
There is a wonderful Leo Tolstoy’s story about three saints that lived on an island surrounding a lake that was in a remote part of Russia. These saints made the lake famous. People were very excited about the miracles these saints were performing. There was a buzz going around all of Russia. Hundreds of folks were coming from all over Russia, to see these saints and witness the miracles. The saints seemed to be completely unperturbed by these developments. They went about their simple life, as usual, which was a life of prayer, sitting on the shore of the lake.
Eventually the high priests of the Russian Orthodox Church became concerned about these ‘rumors of saints’ at the lake. They’d not been declared saints by the church, so who was giving them this title? How dare they assume this title! The high priests sent a team of three priests to the lake to investigate the matter. The team of three priests had to take a rowboat to the small island where the saints lived. When they finally located the three saints, they saw three poor men in simple garbs, just sitting at the shore of the island. It was clear that they were poor, but indeed they were very happy. They were putting their toes in the lake water and delightfully giggling.
When the team of three priests approached them, the saints jumped up and bowed down to the priests in great admiration. One priest angrily expressed, “What are you doing here?” Another said, “Some people foolishly claim that you are saints.” The third priest said, “Do you even know how to pray?” The three saints looked at each other, and one said, “We are sorry, but we do not know the prayer of your church.” Another saint said, “However, we have a prayer of our own; may we demonstrate it?”
One of the priests angrily said, “Go ahead, what is this prayer that you say.” One of the saints said, “We came to this prayer when we thought of God as a trinity – ‘God the father’ … God the son … and … God the holy ghost”. Another saint said, “So we came up with this prayer.” Then all three saints chimed in, “Oh God you are three, … and so are we. How about if we three and you three team up and then there are six of us working together!”
One of the priests became enraged. He shouted, “This is nonsense; it’s blasphemous; you are not saints; you are stupid fools!”. The saints simply said, “Please sir, then teach us the proper prayer, so we may communicate with God.” One priest immediately went into dialogue and uttered the official prayer of the Russian Orthodox Church. It was long and it was filled with big words. The three saints looked at each other. How could they possibly learn that? One saint asked, “Sir, will you repeat it again so we can try to learn it?”
A second priest repeated the dialogue with pomp and circumstance. There was a pause, and then one of the saints asked, “Please sir, just one more time.” The team of three priests looked down with scorn at the three saints, and briskly walked back to their rowboat to travel to the mainland and report back to the high priests that these three men were nothing more than stupid fools; they certainly were not saints. As the priests rowed off in frustration … when in the middle of the lake, they suddenly heard the voices of the saints behind them. When they turned around, they could not believe their eyes. There were those three men, that they’d call stupid fools, running across the top of the water toward their boat; one of them shouting, “Please sirs, tell us the prayer one more time; we’ve not yet quite got it.”
The awestruck priests fell to their knees in the boat and one said, “Please forgive us, for we know not what we do.” Another priest said, “You continue with your prayer!”
What the three saints had achieved through solitude, silence, simplicity and sincerity was far superior to what the priests portrayed through officialdom and stressful complexity of words and rules. The body, mind, intellect and spirit of each saint were in perfect alignment and that enabled them to manifest miracles. While the world was obsessed with becoming, the three saints were very happy, just being! Wellbeing is simple and makes no fancy demands. Wellbeing is the alignment of the four human equipments – the body, mind, intellect and spirit.