Can Wisdom Be Bite-Sized?

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

We love to have information on the go. We want to be able to understand something as quickly as possible. We prefer to listen to a clip of a podcast or grab a summary of a book. We do all these things so we can somehow remain knowledgeable and aware of current events and most of all, remain relatable.

Who wants to go out with friends or spend time with family and not be able to talk about the latest viral clip out there or the book that transports us to another world? Or discuss that self-help book that taught us one good thing and has dramatically changed our lives. The new diet that has worked when all other diets didn’t work. That new Netflix show that we binged upon. We all want to remain relevant and when technologies and social platforms are taking us in all different directions, there is only so much time, therefore only so much capacity to learn about everything.

The same is with spirituality these days. It desires to be relevant. You can see popular gurus and wannabe gurus (mainly the self-help types) give small clips of 5-10 minutes to capture their new and existing audience and gain new adherents. They also want to gain popularity on social media platforms with reels and TikTok videos, going viral is the next best thing for the Gurus, who wish to put thousands of pages of ancient wisdom in 30 seconds clips. They most likely have a media team that works on this content and who knows how many bots may have been bought to get these gurus featured on Facebook or Instagram. Some disciples share the clips of their gurus and make them viral too.  Some gurus may be completely innocent of the fact that they are now featured on a social media platform. The impossibility of sharing bite-size wisdom somehow becomes possible but with massive disadvantages.

Spirituality requires time. There is nothing instant. The only way to climb up a mountain is to use your hands and feet. If you take a helicopter and go from the bottom of a mountain to the peak, you cannot claim to have climbed the mountain. Sure, it is a shortcut and although the destination is the same, the journey is completely different. The person who climbed up the mountain can talk about the terrain, the view from each side of the mountain, the wildlife, the vegetation and the difficulties faced during different weather conditions. They can talk about the whole journey with confidence and interesting tales. But someone who uses a helicopter misses out on all of these sensory delights. Similarly, the clips we hear of these gurus is never enough. We need to engage with their longer talks or their books to understand their philosophy. We need to know about their experiences and so in turn, we are inspired to apply the teachings.

But like the person who took the helicopter, we listen to the gurus and project their achievements as our own. This is only noticed when we carefully observe our own thoughts, intentions, emotions etc. Better to look within and see what has transformed than sing the glory of a god or someone that we do not know. Just because you caught that Guru featured on Instagram that doesn’t mean you know what it is like to be a disciple of theirs. Bite-size wisdom will not work because it doesn’t provide true clarity. It doesn’t tell us of the whole journey. We get a sneak peak and that is all. But who is satisfied with a movie trailer? We rather watch the whole movie. Same with spirituality, it is better to learn and follow any methods than to just glorify a path that we haven’t taken a step in.

I understand that I may sound ‘traditional’ but I have learned more from the larger books that I have read and the longer talks that I have listened to or watched. I love Swami Sarvapriyananda of Vedanta NY’s talks. His explanation of the Upanishads and other texts probably span over several days and I have deepened my understanding of Reality! I love Yog Vasistha – a thousand page book on Hindu philosophy. Or the 500 page Vigyan Bhairav Tantra by Osho. I remind myself of the thousands of pages of poetic wisdom in the Guru Granth Sahib and the 700 verses of the Bhagavad Gita. I am not saying smaller books and talks haven’t helped, they have. The beauty of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran is both delicate and strong. The high wisdom of Tao Te Ching is on many levels unmatched. I am not saying that the length of a talk or book measures how much wisdom is contained. I am talking about the thinking, the silent pauses you take when you pause a talk, or put down the book and you begin to ponder as you grab new insights, as you infer your own experiences to the words just heard or read. A verse from the Tao Te Ching cannot be read mechanically, it has to be properly understood. It may take less than a minute to read but it may need a good 30 minutes to understand and comprehend. Trust me, 30 minutes isn’t enough but you get my point.

Wisdom may come in bite-size pieces but eventually, we need to understand things deeper. We need to transcend the potentiality of something become superficial. Once something is superficial, it can become rigid as a limiting belief and we open the gate for ego to enter and expand. Therefore, if we must utilize this bite-size wisdom phenomena that has become mainstream today, we must not lose the art of contemplation so that this wisdom can penetrate us and complete us.

Happiness and Creative Work

Attention and a critical eye is necessary for any form of writing, whether it will be for a blog, for a book or even for social media. Today, as fast as we scroll on Instagram or Facebook, it seems that we write just as fast with little consideration of what we have typed. Sometimes, what I read cannot be termed as poetry but for the sake of thinking art is evolving, I accept the few words on a blank space to be as great as Whitman. I read captions to a picture or to a video and sometimes I am impressed with the content that it makes you wonder and analyse your own life. In these moments, social media seems worth the time that it demands. Then I read some captions and I don’t know what I have read and wonder if the person has checked what they have written. It seems like that captions can be for the more attentive folk, and some write paragraphs knowing that nobody is really checking it. Then comes the story feature (which I like), however it dims our attention span even more. We click to the next story without any bother of what the person may have asked. I am completely guilty of this too so I am no saint here.

I recently thought about sharing more on Instagram and thought it would be good to write a couple of poems a day and as much as it is creatively inspiring and some poets on Instagram are impressive poets, who have words that make you think deeper about the subject in their poems, it just didn’t feel enough for me for my own writing. I found more joy in caption writing and sometimes I asked questions and only one or two people would respond and this saddened me a little. I would explain my point of view behind the poem I had written and it solicited minimal return. Therefore, I led myself to question how can I make myself happy with my creative work.

I can easily add that I am lazy too. To create 3 or 4 poems a day takes some effort and even though I could do that, I felt it took time away from doing the more sacred things for me like writing a book, writing on my blog that I love and often abandon, for the sake of hoping that I will get recognized on social media. Therefore, turning to the quick option of writing poetry on Instagram. To become the next successful Instagram poet is less about poetry but about working the algorithm but what makes someone different is who they are as a person. When I thought about how do I express myself the best then it would be through blogging.

So what do I intend to do? Write as much as I can on this blogging site, even if it means more than one post a day and maybe include one Instagram poem/post a day. The joy is in the mix of things and excelling in anything we do, not for the popularity but for the improvement of one’s own art.

We may live in a world where we want the fastest results done in minimal effort but I miss putting the effort into effort nowadays. The joy has to be more in just feeling that joy yourself. The moment you feel tired from something, it is best to take a break and question it’s validity and what it is doing for you and your whole life in general, not just what it is doing to your creative juices.

There are some great features on social media like IG Live or Facebook Live, even the stories are interesting for a snapshot of your day or promoting your awesome art. The ability to make short videos and just show your personal side is incredible. Things have moved forward and that has been awesome for creatives. However, at the same time, the element of mystery can become extinct and when this is extinct, we lose wonder. Sometimes, I want to look at a picture or read a caption and feel the same joy that I felt as a kid that looked up at the blue sky and wonder at it’s blueness.

Memories and Machines

I have often wondered about the nature of Existence and how great it is. From stardust to planets to human beings and possibly a hybrid of human and technology. In fact, the way phones are glued to people right now, it can feel like you are talking to part human and part machine!

The crazy thing about the human condition is that we were already machines in a social construct. We are fed what to think by everyone around us, the media, our job, our beliefs and they all made us into machines that kept going and going until one day, we are about to die and we feel that we have never lived before and in these last moments, we are feeling life, fresh and new.

Except for the mystics, who have this immense grasp on living in the present moment, loving each moment and living life as if it is a new day that has never been experienced, despite living in routine day in and day out. They have something amazing and it is worth exploring maybe another time.

However, our attachments to social media or our phones has really led us into not feeling connected. It is so strange but that human touch is so much more sacred, so pure that if it is ignored, it will be detrimental to that person and even society at large. Although, I now live in the USA and my parents live in the UK, I do miss them but to know the true depth of that connection is only going to be discovered when I meet them. When I touch their feet (it is a spiritual custom to touch the feet of others as the divine is in them too) and take their blessings. When I give them a hug, that joy cannot translate itself in pictures, no matter if I do capture that perfect moment.

The other part of connection is the awareness of our memories and as I live away from my parents, my memories of my parents gives me connection, it makes me miss them and love them as if I was with them. In fact, my mind can even visualize that I am meeting them.

The point is how can I capture those memories if I am not present, if I am not observing my surroundings? Have you ever heard anyone remind you of a memory when you was on the phone? Like a deep memory. Not really. I can count on that I have probably missed so many memories because I was busy taking out my phone and trying to capture it. Then never looking at those pictures again. I can’t remember when I went into my photos app on my smartphone to go through the memories. Memories are meant to be imprinted in the mind not on phones.

When my brother died, I didn’t capture the moment he died on my cellphone. I lived through it with him. I wanted to experience the moment my brother would breathe his last. I allowed all that memory to be stored in my mind. Likewise, this is what I value today, that I was with him. That I held his hand, that I prayed that he would merge with the One.

We will all end up losing our loved ones and it is such a sad but inevitable part of life but if we have photos captured as well as memories then we are true winners. My point is that the generation(s) that just believes in taking pictures on their phone at any given moment, or we are looking down on our phones without living each moment, connecting with each action and thought we take, we will lose this great opportunity of being human.

Again, I often wonder about the nature of existence and I am so happy to be alive and that if my next breath were to be my last, I am happy.

 

Poem – Swept Alone

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This pain calms down and settles,
You feel that it is still and grounded,
Suddenly you are swept away,
Struggling to think as a wave crashes against you.
Then you realise it is an earthquake
Everything is crumbling down,
A tornado vacuums all your happiness,
And then it all stops.
You would call this a time of disaster
But now nothing is happening,
And this nothing feels like a disaster.
Atleast the activity kept me busy,
Now all I have is myself
And I don’t know where I have gone.
I went out on a journey,
Travelling against land and sea,
Still my Beloved is missing.
I seek for those eyes,
I seek for that smile,
I seek for that embrace,
I feel lost without You,
I am all alone at sea,
No activity not even myself,
Enlightenment without You
Feels like I am all alone.

@rahulnsinghpoetry

Temptation – A Positive Approach

temptation_to_no_avail_be46Temptation is annoying. Damn annoying and the annoying thing about this is the fact that you are in control of your temptations. What is it that triggers the temptation? What then fuels this temptation? Obviously, thought always gives energy to temptation or to anything that we wish to remove ourselves from.

Being on a vegan diet is difficult as it is. I recently went into Waitrose (I am not middle class) and they do quite a bit for us vegan peeps. They had these ginger – chocolately biscuit bites and they are pretty yum. However, I have put them in the freezer and I want one. I could give in to temptation as I salivate about them now or prove determination over temptation. Today, I wanted to avoid sweet things and wanted a healthy day. Trust me, when chocolate is scarce already then all you can think about is chocolate.

Temptation happens in all parts of life. The temptation to look at an attractive woman or come across an amazing and beautiful woman on instagram or facebook, especially the ones you know and you have that desire to pursue that temptation and then reality sticks its nose in it and it is all over. You start thinking of reasons why it cannot and should not work. You think of the last time she rejected you and stopped talking to you and mentioning how hot she looks may literally be the last nail in the coffin to any possibility of ‘something’ later. What is this ‘something’ beats me.

When I am meditating, I feel like putting my attention and awareness on the occasional itch on my arm. The itch that never occurs otherwise but suddenly finds it amusing to happen now. You can’t take the intensity of the meditation and 5 seconds feels like 5 hours. How can one be still? The temptation to move gets stronger and stronger. However, your determination wins, your willpower is victorious because no way will you let anything stop you from your goal.

The times when someone ignores you and you just want to tell them that it isn’t cool. They have posted on Facebook, Instagram or whatever. Nowadays, snapchat easily shows someone opening your post thing and they don’t reply to it. Sad times! However, why should people reply? That is attention seeking. My existence isn’t worth the response of every single person. It is mad and I don’t respond to everyone’s and that is because I think my life is the best! Madness I tell you!

Temptation is crazy and yet, it is what makes you grow. Be happy that you are tempted because it shows that you can make your willpower stronger and stronger. It is a gym session for your willpower. Temptation can be made positive if you want it to. And if temptation wins then so what. Sometimes, eating that ginger biscuit chocolate bite thing may make you happy. Telling that one woman that you have secretly been attracted to her can be the beginning of a blossoming relationship. Scratching that itch may help you get back to meditation and moving may make your bottom feel less numb! Also, telling those people not to ignore you may create a conversation that will eventually change your life. I know it does sound incredibly ideal but let’s be real, whatever was once ideal has become a reality. I remember being a kid and thinking about cameras on mobile phones being revolutionary! So things can be done.

Whatever it is that tempts you right now and you see a spark of positivity in it then go for it. If it doesn’t work out then fair enough, their loss aswell as yours!

Love and blessings,
Rahul