Windmills of the Mind
|Kavita A. Sharma
|Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd.
|8.0 inch X 5.3 inch
Windmills of the Mind is born out of trying to make sense of the puzzle called life and attempt to deal with it. As we go through the ups and downs of life, we tend to blame circumstances and ill kinds of factors outside ourselves. But if we are thinking beings we realise that the more we try to change these external factors, the more things remain the same. If there was one thing that irritated us earlier, it is something else now. It is the same when dealing with people. The cause has to be found elsewhere.
The realisation first dawned on me around thirty years ago; and as the belief is in Indian philosophy, when the Student is ready, the Teacher arrives. This is when I started to practice meditation, sceptically at first but needing assistance and help, I was willing to try anything. It worked wonders. Things started to improve. Why, I asked myself. Probably because my mind was more relaxed, my attitude towards circumstances and people gradually began to change. And hence two things happened. A calm mind makes better decisions and is able to face things with greater equanimity. Also, with better interpersonal relationships and a more positive attitude towards people and circumstances, the outer dynamics too began to change for the better. Whatever may be the actual circumstances, the ability to cope and accept gained in strength.
But human beings are fickle. Once they get comfortable, they tend to relapse into old ways till another crisis, another jolt, comes along. That is why adversity and suffering are an essential part of growth. The moment we forget, something happens that reminds us that we have once again forgotten the lessons that we had learnt and it puts us on the right path. Or something occurs that we don’t like because it is essential for something else to take place which may ultimately be for our good. After all, we have limited vision which is restricted to the present and do not know what the future holds or how it will work itself out.
But to face life with this kind of equanimity there has to be an acceptance of both the good and the bad that life serves up to us. This only comes through faith and surrender to some power higher than us. It is not superstition, inaction, laziness or shirking of duty. It is to work to the maximum and fulfil all our responsibilities, but with an unshakeable conviction that all that happens must have a purpose. We can argue about what the purpose can be in disease, death, physical disabilities and the like. But higher purposes are not centred on an individual and his wish fulfilment. They are to be viewed in terms of the larger good and progress. It is a mystery that no one has been able to pierce. This leaves us with two options. One is to be angry and frustrated at the apparent injustices that we have undergone and which are obvious in the world around us. Or, alternatively, to try and ameliorate them to the best of our ability with the faith that we ire participating in the work of the divine and are only its instruments. The latter takes away the frustration and also the burden of responsibility that seems to crush the do-gooders leaving us free to work with joy in our hearts.
However, these realisations are not easy to come by and not ill are willing to look squarely within. There is a popular story that shows how few try to search inside themselves for answers to problems and challenges that lie outside. God created the universe and all the creatures within. He then decided to come and live with human beings as man was the acme of his creation. But the moment he did that he was beset by demands from all sides, usually contradictory. Harassed to no end, he tried/ to escape but there was peace nowhere. Fatigued, he asked a wise seer about where He could live so that He could be at peace. The sage thought for a moment and then replied that He should go and live in the heart of man. Seeing the amazed expression of the Divine, the sage explained that man will look everywhere but within and hence the Divine will remain undisturbed. Since then, man has continued to look outward while the Divine sits within.
To look within means both to take responsibility for our own happiness and unhappiness, and to acknowledge that we need to deal with ourselves before we deal with others. This is the most difficult thing to accept and to work on. But contentment can only come from within. Therefore, it is an ongoing process to keep cleaning the mirror of the heart. Everyday some dust settles on it and blurs our vision and everyday it has to be removed. Hence, the windmills of the mind in the process of dealing with ourselves we learn some valuable lessons from our spouses, families, friends, relatives, colleagues, workers and all those we come in contact with. Apart from that, we need observation, contemplation, study and analysis. As for me, I have tried to learn from all. Apart fro interpersonal relationships which are great teachers, there have been the speeches, talks and writings of many masters like Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Swami Chinmayananda, Acharya Rajneesh, Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Thich Nhat Hanh. Indian epics like the Mahabharata and texts like the Upanishads, the Gita and the Dhammapada have not only given me psychological insights but also shown the way to self- improvement. Others that I have turned to are psychologists, counsellors, spiritual teachers, writings and articles on the internet and in newspapers and periodicals. The Gnostic Centre in Gurgaon provided direction and friendship at critical times in the last few years. (In a different form, these articles were published in their newsletter, The Awakening Ray.) My grateful thanks to my very dear friend Alka Raghuvanshi who read these articles and persuaded me to bring them together in the present form. Writing these articles was therapeutic in more ways than one, a process of dialogue with my own self. The effort is to stimulate self-awareness and understanding which alone are the key to calmness of mind and peace of heart.
Back of the Book
Look within and follow a cleansing process, is what the author says as she points to the dust that settles on the mind and blurs the vision. In this very reflective and introspective text, Dr. Kavita A. Sharma dives into the deep avenues of human consciousness and probes the depths by asking pertinent questions; by raising the doubts that traumatize each human mind; and by exploring all explanations.
Understanding our fears and insecurities and letting go of the past, go a long way towards opening the window to self-realisation. Are we helpless victims of our destiny? Is the ‘hidden plan’, according to which our life appears to move, the machinations of a puppeteer who pulls the strings, or is it remotely possible that our own mind, and the path we wish to traverse, ensures that the plan is well worked out? Spirituality has often been caught in the rigidity of ritual and outward ‘religious’ connotations, from which modern men and women tend to turn away. Not many have seen the connection of the outer and inner life. Listening to the cry of the spirit is the only real calling that makes complete sense as we try to take control of the windmills of the mind.
Kavita A. Sharma is the principal of the prestigious Hindu College in Delhi. She is one of the most distinguished and versatile academicians in the country today, with distinctions in the field of English Literature as well as Law.
Apart from teaching, Kavita Sharma is also an accomplished author. Her first book, Byron’s Plays: A Reassessment, was published in 1981. Subsequently she published Ongoing Journey: Indian Migration to Canada, which has received significant acclaim. She has also been a prolific contributor to leading publications in the country on subjects ranging from education and literature to women’s issues and religion.
|The Hidden Plan
|Dealing with Crisis
|Letting Go of the Past
|Spirituality in Daily Life
|Opening the Window
We Also Recommend
The Original Programme of The Theosophical Society And Preliminary Memorandum of the Esoteric Section