What is Meditation

Meditation Techniques

Spiritual Inspirators

 

Western  Mystics


CONSCIOUSNESS & AWARENESS

I. Consiousnes & Evolution

II. Defining Awareness & Consciousness
III. The Mystery of Awareness

IV. The Enigma of Consciousness
V. Consciousness in the East and the West
VI. What Can be Said About Consciousness
VII. The Ouroboros Consciousness
VIII.  Ouroboric Super-Awareness

IX. The Super-Awake Flow
X. Fields of Consciousness

XI. Group Meditation
 


THE INNER AND THE OUTER PERSON
The inner and the outer Person
Integral Suffering and Happiness
Modern Forms of Suffering
 

THE BUTTERFLY OF THE SOUL

The liberation from or of the Self
The Glue of Love
God wants to be Human

CIVILIZATION & CONSCIOUSNESS
Civilization and Consciousness 
Civilization and Consciousness Part II

 






 























































































 




 

 
CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE EAST AND THE WEST

East is East, and West is West, 
and never the twain shall meet
.
R. Kipling

Thanks to the scientific breakthroughs in the West we were able to bring more food to the table than other cultures. However, there was a trade off. We became spiritually drowsy.
 
The West's philosophic and scientific elite, as seen through Eastern eyes, has confused the content of consciousness with consciousness itself. This becomes evident in Descartes' famous statement:

Cogito, ergo sum - I think, therefore I am.

Here, consciousness is made identical to the thinking mind. In contrast, the wise sages of the East, particularly those from India, would assert:

Non cogito, ergo sum - I do not think, therefore I am.

The Indian sage Sri Ramana Maharshi would smile indulgently at Descartes and pose the question:

What is it that observes the thoughts?
What is it that remains when the stream of thoughts quiets down?

In the captivating world of Indian philosophy, the thinking 'I' is seen as nothing more than a veil shrouding our true nature - Consciousness itself. The renowned Indian mystic, Sri Aurobindo, beautifully expressed this idea:

True knowledge is not attained by thinking. It is what you are.

Decartes's statement is based on introspection. However, it stops with the observation of the thinking mind. A pointer from the chain-smoking Indian shopkeeper, Nisargadatta Maharaj would have helped Decartes go a little further in his quest:

Watch your thoughts and watch yourself watching the thoughts. 

Interestingly, Descartes's famous statement still holds true when viewed from the perspective of the ego.

During a soul-searching journey into the hidden realms of Indian wisdom, I engaged in a thought-provoking discussion with my friend and mentor, Bhaharadwaj. With a knowing smile, he suggested a more profound question to ponder:

What is it that witnesses the thoughts?
What remains when the mind is still and the senses are silenced?

With a twinkle in his eye, my ever-joyful spiritual mentor brought up James Joyce's famous book, "Ulysses". Bhaharadwaj had been a lecturer in philosophy and English literature at the University of Lahore before the partition in 1947. In his youth, he was captivated by this literary masterpiece.

Years later, his Consciousness underwent a sudden and profound transformation, expanding in both intensity and quality. It was then that he saw the irony in the title of Joyce's iconic work. He explained with a smile, "There is no stream of Consciousness. There is only ego-fuss in Consciousness. Consciousness is the primordial essence, existing beyond the mind's movements. The title of the book should have been rephrased to:

Stream of Thoughts IN Consciousness.


Bhaharadwaj IN consciousness

At the time the picture was taken, he was 90 years old. Bhaharadwaj was one of the most loving and joyful people I have ever met, and on top of that, he was incredibly intelligent. He knew western philosophy and litterature better than me, not to mention Indian philosophy.
 
India, a land of wonders, mysteries, and paradoxes, captured my heart and soul as I spent years there on a quest for self-discovery.
 
What did India have in store for me?

In essence, nothing... But I wasn't disappointed.
As Meister Eckhart once said, If a man who seeks nothing finds nothing, what has he to complain? After all, he has found what he sought.

Indeed, I found precisely what I sought, and Bhaharadwaj was not the only 'nothing' that guided me towards understanding something profound.

In the eyes of this enchanting woman from Punjab, there's an absence of anyone or anything on the left, while on the right, there's the presence of someone and something. She was a friend of Bhaharadwaj, and in the photo on the right, I knew her as Sita.
 
Indians, until recently, possessed a remarkable ability to transition between deep depersonalization and full human engagement. Their unique form of depersonalization, unlike the detached expressions often seen in Western public spaces, delved much deeper, as evidenced by the gaze in the left image above. At any given moment, they could switch into a zero-mode. Sadly, this fascinating ability has largely vanished in modern India, with the growing middle class losing this conscious zero-mode to the hypnotic pull of their smartphones and fancy clad TV- and social media gurus.

The Indian Witness of Consciousness ... & Meister Eckhart
The Western traditions of science and philosophy have largely overlooked the wealth of ancient Indian mystical traditions.
 
In ancient Indian philosophy, it is posited that Consciousness, not material objects, forms the foundation of everything else. They view this Consciousness as separate from the world of objects and senses, taking the form of a detached witness of experience.

Two birds, inseparable companions, perch on the same tree; one eats the fruit, the other looks on. The first bird is our individual self-feeding on the pleasures and pains of his deeds; The other is the universal self, silently witnessing all. - Mandukya Upanishad 3.1.1

However, hidden keys for understanding Consciousness can also be found in Western mysticism. The same understanding of separation is present in Meister Eckhart's works:

... there are in everyone two men: one, the outward man, is his objective nature; the man is served by the five senses, albeit he is energized by the power of the soul. The other, the inner man, is man's subjective nature... Take an illustration. The door goes to and fro upon its hinges. Now the projecting door I liken to the outward man and the hinge I liken to the inner man. As it shuts and opens, the door swings to and fro while the hinge remains unmoved in the same place without undergoing any change.

To be unmoved is to be free from experience, as experience is what moves you. Consciousness makes experience possible in our brains, but it is, in itself, like the hinge or a mirror detached from experience.
 
So how can we come closer to the phenomenon of consciousness? Precisely because consciousness is the primordial foundation of everything, including itself, there can never be a satisfying scientific, positivist-based explanation for the phenomenon of consciousness.

That, however, does not mean that we should not try.
 
One of my favorite spiritual inspirators, Papaji, once said:

My whole life, I have wanted to kiss her, but I have never seen Her.

He was speaking about consciousness and his passionate relationship with 'it'.

The Mirror and the Reflected

As images are seen in a mirror, so the universe
is an image in the mirror of Consciousness.
Tripura Rahasya XL verses 53-54

Let us again return to western understanding of consciousness reached through observations of phenomena. Figuratively speaking, it is like trying to understand a mirror based on a description of the content reflected in the mirror. In the West, we have fundamentally not discovered the mirror itself but have focused on examining the reflected object.

The Indian perspective on existence is far wiser: You are NOT what is being observed, neither thoughts nor external objects. You are much closer to the observer itself. You are NOT an experience, either a thought or an emotion.
How did the Indians discover this deeper mirror like layer of consciousness. They discovered the mirror discover the mirror in detachment from the world.
 
Spiritual Indian Aid
Let's face it. It doesn't take much experience in meditation to realize that since ancient times, Indians have been far more advanced in exploring consciousness. Only rare pre-plague pearls from the West like Meister Eckhart can be counted along in this treasure trove. We need spiritual Indian aid when it comes to discovering deeper aspects of the enigmatic phenomenon of consciousness. 
 
HOW THE INDIANS LOST THE WORLD TO GAIN NOTHING
However, the Indian discovery of consciousness came with a huge price. The Indian survival strategy, not changing the surroundings, but changing oneself, resulted in a reenforcement of a vicious circle of lack of responsability in external affairs both on an individual and collective level.

Depersonalization as a survival strategy

The traditional Indian defaitist zero-mode can still be glimpsed in the faces and postures of the less fortunate.
Even in modern India, in spite of the huge progress made by the middle class since the 80'ties, one can observe this ancient illusive survival strategy reflected in the phlegmatic Hindu face, a fractal-like presence encountered repeatedly while navigating through the masses of poor people. This face seems to wordlessly convey: When the next unexpected blow comes, it won't matter much... I am not truly present, for why should I be in this illusory world?

Just before the COVID pandemic, I was walking through the bustling Main Bazaar in New Delhi and witnessed a scene all too familiar from my years in India. An impatient, overweight middle-class man, stuck in traffic on a cycle rickshaw, began berating and striking the rickshaw driver. With no means of fighting back, the driver withdrew into depersonalization, becoming a lifeless puppet, enduring the blows without even raising his hands in defense. In times past in Europe, one might have said, "He bears his cross." But in reality, he wasn't suffering; he had simply vanished from the stage of life, retreating into his own timeless inner sanctuary. It was India's low caste people, the Dalits, who taught me the true essence of meditation: the unfortunate man's survival strategy, an escape into Consciousness detached from the body.

In this context, the rickshaw drivers residing in plastic tents with their families along the Yamuna River agree with Elon Musk. We exist in a simulation. Many of these Dalit individuals often have expressionless faces, yet unexpectedly, some radiate with a mysterious smile and a peculiar sparkle in their eyes. This is observed even as they navigate their rudimentarily built rickshaws through the city's accumulated plastic refuse.

This scenario presents a world that seemingly does not require order or cleaning. After all, if our existence is merely an illusion or a simulation, the necessity for such upkeep might be questioned.


Nowhere is timelessness more apparent than in a traffic jam in New Delhi.
Here, a group of cycle rickshaws in the stoic center of the cyclone.

Throughout India, from Kanyakumari in the South to the Ganges River in the Himalayas, folk tales, poems, and philosophical writings are found that all share a common theme: the impermanence and transience of life. The moral is: Do not become attached to your wife, your children, your house, or broadly speaking, to your life, because before you know it, it will all be over. Let go of life before it lets go of you. Life is fleeting like a dewdrop in the morning.

The argument in these teachings about the illusory nature of the world is that anything that changes is not real. Only that which is unchangeable is real. Based on this reasoning, it's clear that no phenomena in time and space can be real.

In contrast, the self's all-pervading perspective of consciousness is portrayed in its timelessness and immutability as the only reality.

On my way to India in 1992, I experienced a unique moment aboard an Air India flight where the bathroom door was precariously hanging on one hinge. Settling back into my seat, my gaze nervously shifted to the jet engine on the wing. Fortunately, both the engine and wing were securely in place. I whimsically wondered if Air India's mechanics had borrowed a bolt from the toilet door to keep the engine attached. India is full of impromptu, here-and-now solutions. I call them "chewing gum solutions," named after an incident where I discovered electrical wires under my hotel TV cabinet 'fixed' with a large blob of chewing gum. Holding this blob in my hands and standing barefoot on the marble floor, I was jolted like a lightbulb, sparking one of my most significant spiritual experiences.

At the five-star hotel Clarks in Varanasi, the handle for hot water broke off in my frantic attempt to adjust it while standing under the shower. In another five-star hotel, scalding hot water came out of both taps in the bathtub. It wasn't the first time that door handles, light switches, and faucets came off in my hand in this wonderfully fantastical land full of dreams and illusions.

Once, on a motorcycle trip in South India, a tailor sewed buttons onto my new Indian shirt, which, after just a month of wear, was ready for repair. As he worked, the tailor sang songs honoring his God, pointing towards the eye of the needle leading to heaven. When I got the shirt back, I discovered the new buttons were sewn on the wrong side!

A tailor! That's where the fun stops.

All these wonderful craft performances were executed by the same illusive Indian who doesn't quite see the point in being present in this world. This perspective stems partly because the world is seen as an illusion and partly due to the disdain he faces for engaging in manual labor. Naturally, this also affects his ability to take responsibility for the quality of his craftsmanship.

If one views the world as Maya, it becomes Maya.

In its absence of presence, marked by freshly painted house facades, well-paved roads, and uninterrupted power supply, India has actually found a charming solution. It's called serenity - stoic calm and acceptance of every situation. This attitude springs from the idea of illusion combined with the belief in fate, which makes each individual 'karmically' responsible for all details and events in their life.

Vishnu - The Upholder of Universal Balance
In 1989, I witnessed an astonishing Vishnu temple ritual in Karnataka in South India. A ton-heavy statue of the god Vishnu is carried around on two long, arm-thick poles. Accompanying him on the cart are two smaller statues representing Vishnu's consorts.
 
Ten sweating and groaning men struggle to maintain their footing under the weight of the stone deity. Vishnu, Lakshmi, and Mahadevi are splendidly dressed dolls with masks made of several kilos of pure gold. They wear heavy gold crowns on their heads. Leading the entire procession is a uniformed constable with a drawn baton, his serious face and raised truncheon guarding the precious god amidst an ecstatic crowd.

The ten bearers and their divine burden now stagger around the ritual and universe's center, a large stone pillar representing the procreative phallus of the god Shiva.

Electric wires from numerous colored lamps dangle from the ceiling in the huge ancient stone temple. As the procession passes beneath them, the gold crowns on the deities are nearly knocked off, and each time, the ten bearers must strain to bow deeply to avoid them. Occasionally, the gods are close to toppling.
A ten man orchestra of drums and shehnais, dramatically accompanies each close encounter with the wires, almost as if the Indians find amusement in the ordeal.

It's somewhat ironic to think that it's precisely Vishnu's duty to ensure the balance of the universe is maintained, yet here he perilously sways in his own temple. The low-hanging wires are accepted by the worshippers as divine obstacles, akin to sacred Indian cows on the road.

No one, except me, seems to consider the simple solution of raising the wires slightly higher.


I don't have a photo of the temple scene in Karnataka.
However, these tangled wires in Main Bazar in
New Delhi can serve as an illustration.

When the Tree Falls, it Falls in its own Space
When I lived in Lucknow in 1994, some locals cut down a tree that ended up falling onto the road outside the house I was renting. It lay there for months, causing traffic jams during rush hour and several minor traffic accidents, especially after dark. Why didn't anyone move the tree to the side?

Why didn't I remove the tree myself? It would have taken just 10 minutes of work. However, by then, I had become part of the phlegmatic calm that flows with or around what is, without changing it.

This context lends meaning to the Indian invention of meditation. Unable to overcome external challenges, Indians would instead sit down, adapt, and/or change themselves. The image below illustrates how this mental strategy  has permeated India, even influencing Indian road construction:


Only in India can one find this type of road marking.

The Indian escapes into himself to depersonalize himself into nothing. When you have deconstructed yourself into a pure zero, external obstacles or disasters do not matter. In the East, the searchlight was thus directed inward. Even today in India, this difference is clearly observable. Every time an obstacle arises, the Indian does not remove it. He adapts. One can observe this zero culture in the faces of the eternally destitute rickshaw man in the streets of New Delhi. He is not really present in his facial features, for if he were, his life would be unbearable.

In India the denial of the reality the world has taken many forms. In 1995 I met a remarkable individual, named Capt. Lal Chand.

Lalchand9.jpg (13058 bytes)

Captain Lal Chand, a World War II veteran in the British army, displayed exceptional bravery against the Germans and was awarded a medal for his courage. Yet, he revealed to me that he retains no memory of these wartime experiences, having learned about them from others. His recollections are instead dominated by profound blissful states experienced during deep meditation. These spontaneous spiritual ruptures of ecstasy began for Captain Lal Chand following his initial meeting with Baba Faqir. While physically present on the battlefield, like a sleepwalker, his soul ascended beyond time and space. His Surat, or ultimate soul, later reintegrated with his body, reconnecting him to the worldly dimensions. This extraordinary story illustrates the profound disconnect that can occur between body and soul.
 
Another example of a profound Indian relation between body and soul can be observed in the photo below; A young ascetic keeps his arm up in the air day and night. After some years it will fall off due to the lack of blood flow. What the young man demonstrates by such an act is a synthesis of extreme body control and denial of the same.


Young sadhu from Rihiksh holding up his arm day and night

In India, I once read in a local newspaper years ago that a baby conceived at a hospital in New York had screamed: "Oh no!... not again!" The Eastern notion that human life is fundamentally suffering creates a longing to escape it. Hence reincarnation is a curse and the aim is to move away from the strenuous physical life. This can be achieved by meditating oneself out of earthly existence. Through a spiritual cleansing process, where the body's thirst for life is neutralized, the evil repetition of rebirths is transcended. The spirit is now free from physical existence.

Therefore, the highest human ideal is to be free from desires. The desire-free person can even triumph over god. The Puranas say: There is nothing the gods fear more than a person who desires nothing.

The paradox is that the spirit can only become free from the body when it has disciplined the body to no longer follow its natural instincts. This is the project of the young man protrayed above.


THE BLACK DEATH OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE DECLINE OF THE INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION

There's a Sufi adage: "When the ego weeps for what it has lost, the spirit rejoices for what it has found."
 
Ever since Napoleon's era, we in the West have held a deep admiration for ancient Egyptian culture. As an introduction to exploring the Indus Valley civilization, let's first make a detour through Egypt. Both Egyptian and Indus cultures thrived along rivers. Yet, a significant contrast existed in the reliability of their water supplies. The Nile was consistently reliable, unlike the ancient Saraswati River, which eventually dried up. How did this steady supply of food influence the religious beliefs in Egypt? Essentially, the Egyptians envisioned the afterlife as a continuation of their already prosperous lives. In this context, I perceive a lack of transcendence in Egyptian religion. Why seek to transcend something already perceived as ideal? Could the experience of loss have been a catalyst for the Indians' conceptualization of zero?
  
The Blessings of the Black Death

In the West, our spiritual understanding hasn't always been as lacking as it is today. This overlooked ignorance started with our technological transformation of the world after the Black Death in the 14th century. Following the devastation of the plague, Europe saw a significant material advancement. It began with increased wages for the limited workforce and the subsequent adoption of automation, ultimately leading to Europe's scientific and technological breakthroughs.
 
Post-plague, we managed to ensure food on our tables, but in the process, we became somewhat akin to the Egyptians. As the English adage goes, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." In this exchange between spirit and body, we didn't achieve both satiation and wisdom. Bloated and complacent, we arrogantly considered ourselves superior to other cultures to the extent of believing in our right to colonize them, thereby spiritually dozing off like well-fed pigs.
 
Before the Black Death, however, the West had its share of spiritual beacons comparable at any time to the Eastern sages. After the plague we got plenty of philosophers while the rare breed of enfringed mystics wanished. To put it starkly, one could argue that the plague decimated our Western tradition of profound consciousness understanding and instead replaced it with people like Decartes with their academic worship of the thinking proces. Therefore I refer to our own pre-plague mystics. A fitting starting point to rediscover the lost Western thread is in the remarkable world of words of Meister Eckhart. Hence you will find his words all over Meditation.dk.

Indian non-existence
Since the inception of their profound culture, the Indian civilization has delved into the realms of nothingness and non-existence, contrasting the ancient Greeks and subsequent Western societies who focused on defining and materializing 'something'. This dichotomy is symbolized by the Western focus of the numeral and the Indian discovery of and reverence of zero.

These two distinct philosophical stances can be seen as survival tactics. In Western culture, we typically confront problems head-on. In contrast, Indian philosophy often approaches issues by challenging their very existence, suggesting that they are mere illusions or akin to dreams from which one must awaken. This perspective shift reduces the urgency for direct action, viewing the world as void and problems as mere fabrications of Maya.
 
India is filled with anecdotes highlighting this focus on transcendent non-existence. For instance, an Indian yogi was once giving a lecture on the top floor of a multi-story building in Tokyo, Japan. Suddenly, a small earthquake made the entire building tremble. People fled in panic, but the yogi remained motionless in his lotus position, eyes closed. When the tremors subsided and people returned, they asked him why he hadn't fled the building. He replied, While you were fleeing out, I was fleeing in.

What led the Indians to react so differently? There are mainly two factors of geopolitical nature. As a result of these, India has been one of the most catastrophe-prone regions for the past 4.000 years. 

1) The caste system's extreme fragmentation of Indian society.
When Muhammad Ghori, the Islamic invader, and his army encamped outside the walls of Delhi at dusk, he noticed numerous small bonfires within the Indian army camp. His advisors explained that these were individual cooking fires, necessitated by the caste system which prevented the Indians from sharing meals.
 
Ghori's realization was sharp: "Then I have won the war!" He understood that a people divided by such rigid social structures, unable to unite even in basic acts like eating together, would struggle to present a unified front in battle or in overcoming societal challenges. Long before the wave of islamic invasions, ancient Persians, Parthians, Schytians and Macedonian Greek benefitted from the weak military protection the fragmented India society was able to organize.
 
This fragmentation, more profound than typical class divisions, meant that the Indian society had inadvertently weakened itself from within, making it more susceptible to external domination. The adage 'divide and conquer' took on a new dimension here, where the division was self-imposed, easing the task for conquerors.
 
2) Drought
Drought's role in Indian history is linked to a mix of weak state formation, the erratic nature of monsoons, and radical climate shifts. The lack of substantial state-backed infrastructure like water reservoirs, drainage, and irrigation systems intensified these challenges. Interestingly, early Indian civilizations, notably the Indus Valley culture, had the expertise to construct and manage such systems. However, after its collapse, only during the brief rule of the Buddhist Mauryan Empire was state-organized water management implemented for public benefit, to mitigate the impacts of these natural calamities. Consequently, periodic famines, occurring roughly every ten years due to either excessive rain or intense droughts, have been a persistent issue throughout Indian history. I perceive this deficiency in organizing state-constructed protective measures for the populace as a consequence of the caste system's extreme fragmentation of Indian society.
 
Interestingly, it appears that Indians might have developed a physiological adaptation, often referred to as a "starvation gene," which enhanced their ability to endure prolonged periods of hunger more effectively than other populations. This genetic adaptation causing a more lean body mass can be seen as a response to the recurring famines.
  

In the ensuing discussion, I aim to present the notion that Indians, through enduring catastrophic events, unearthed profound insights into consciousness, essentially finding their version of the holy grail in this realm.
 
To win is to lose - To lose is to win  
This connection implies that our grasp and investigation of consciousness are significantly shaped by our historical and environmental contexts. Japan is another illustration of this influence. In Zen there is an adage as follows: "To win is to lose - To lose is to win." Like India, Japan was susceptible to disasters such as volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and devastating wars. Consequently, despite its material success, Japanese culture never lost sight of the transcendental aspect, here manifesting in the  adoration of the ephemeral blossoming cherry tree moments before an abrupt demise.

In this regard, even consciosuness is shaped as a prisoner of our geography, of the lands where we have dwelled for generations.
 
MEDITATION ORIGINATED AS A CALORIE SAVING SURVIVAL STRATEGY
Meditation wasn't solely the domain of yogis; it was also a practice embraced by ordinary Indians. Intriguingly, in India, meditation has always been a practice for both rulers and the impoverished. This societal reversal is illustrated by the numerous destitute individuals wandering around India, claiming to be sadhus who have renounced worldly life.
 
During my travels in India, I frequently encountered everyday people who incorporated meditation into their daily routines. Below is a small video recording of such individuals I captured in Punjab about 30 years ago:

 

While exploring the literature about the renowned Indian saint Ramakrishna, I was particularly struck by the accounts of his impoverished parents. During periods without food or water, they would simply sit down with closed eyes. Remaining in this state for days without caloric or water intake, they spontaneously entered higher states of consciousness, often accompanied by visions of gods and goddesses. This practice was common in rural India. In times of drought and famine, people would sit in meditation, waiting, perhaps to outlast the crisis. This raises a question about survival strategies: Who is more likely to endure longer with a greater chance of survival? Is it the person who depletes their limited resources of water and food in frantic efforts to improve their situation, or the one who enters a survival trance, conserving resources by minimizing their use?

One of the most crucial meditative survival adaptations is the ability to survive on minimal resources, with food and water being the most important. During periods of scarcity, Indian people would sit down for thousands of years, close their eyes, and enter a low-calorie mode. What were they doing there? They were waiting - waiting for something they could not control. They were waiting for the rain. In this state, they prolonged their chances to survive to see for better times or they reached a point where they embraced their destiny as a dream, not to be taken seriously. In this near-death state, as an incidental discovery, they unveiled what a full belly is too drowsy to recognize: the deeper layers of our enigmatic consciousness.
 
Meditation and Rain 
Across the Gangetic plain, in almost every small village, the villagers have constructed a modest temple, often featuring a small cave or a deep hole dug into the earth. These temples are usually unoccupied, but occasionally, a wandering holy man, a sadhu, passes through and is invited to stay in the temple for a while. During his stay, he might spend months in the hole or cave, engaging in spiritual practices, while the villagers take care of his daily physical needs. The underlying principle here is the firm belief that deep meditation performed by the saint will bring rain and prosperity. The association between rain and meditation dates back to ancient times. The belief holds that meditation, if conducted with enough intensity, will induce rainfall.

I imagine a scenario in ancient Indus Valley during a drought, where people had no choice but to sit in a low-calorie mode, waiting for the rain to come. This survival practice, as often happens in magical thinking, may have led to a reversal in cause and effect, creating a belief that meditation would bring about rain.
 
Building on the context of this discussion, recent research indicates that prolonged 100-year droughts were precisely what led to the downfall of the Indus Valley civilization around 3,600 years ago. Therefore, I am firmly convinced that these catastrophic periods were instrumental in leading the Indians to invent meditation as an integral part of their collective survival and cultural practices.

Later in history, under Mongol rule in India, there were ample reasons for these introverted practices to persist, primarily because the vast wealth of India was concentrated in the hands of a small Mongol elite. This elite, comprising only a few thousand individuals, held most of the country's riches, while the majority of the population lived with the bare minimum. This stark wealth disparity further justified the continuation of inward-focused societal survival practices. In this context, the Indian sadhu, or wandering monk, evolved into an expert at surviving with practically nothing.

Meditation in this low-calorie and water state leads to an expansion of consciousness in both quality and quantity. There appears to be an evolutionary link between brain optimization and calorie restriction, as in times of food scarcity, we needed to be smarter to survive. However, in the Indian version of meditation, this brain optimization is channeled into conscious passivity rather than hunting prey. This mechanism demonstrates how humans, through storytelling and intersubjective realities, can repurpose genetic programs in ways they weren't originally "intended" for. The yogi portrayed below is an extreme example of such cultural survival adaptations.

MEDITATION, MASTERY AND... MAGIC?
On my trekkings in the Indian Himalayas I sometimes observed hermits walking naked in the snow. These ascetics were able to control and rise their body temperature to such an extend that they could survive the icy cold climate at these altitudes.


It was my Indian trekking partner who took this photo. Out of
courtesy he only took a photo of the upper part of this naked sadhu.

Could it be possible that the Indian investment in introspection could open doors into posibility rooms we could not even dream of? There are many accounts from India and Tibet of yogis who could survive without food for extended periods, with some even asserting they lived entirely without sustenance. The famous Tibetan saint Milarepa is known for his extreme austerities, including meditating in various caves and undergoing severe practices that reduced his body to a skeletal state. As part of these practices, he lived on nettles only for several months, adhering strictly to the instructions of his Guru and developing various spiritual abilities​​.
 
Years ago in Hoshiarpur, I encountered Ramesh Giri, a retired government official residing quietly in a small town near Hoshiarpur. He had dedicated much of his free time since early youth to meditation, never acting as a Guru or accumulating followers. Only Bharadwaj and a select few were aware of his remarkable capability: to live without food or water.


Ramesh Giri

Whether these stories are true or not is not the main concern. What matters is that they emphasize the cultural and historical significance of surviving on minimal calorie intake.
 
Echoing the Zen Buddhist adage once more:

"To lose is to win, and to win is to lose."

During Freud's era, sexuality was repressed, relegated to the subconscious. Today, spirituality faces a similar fate, being marginalized and often viewed as contrary to rational thinking. Following this unconventional neural pathway, I encountered an unusual variation of the Freudian slip:

"The higher you fall, the deeper you fly."

This encapsulates exactly what the Indians accomplished.

Their contribution to global thought has been largely underappreciated. This is inherently characteristic of zero to be unnoticed, yet fundamentally significant.


Now it's time to revisit Rudyard Kipling's saying:

"East is East, and West is West,
and never the twain shall meet."

This phrase remains relevant in the context that numbers and zero represent two qualitatively different realities, and therefore, can never truly converge. However, their combined functionality has enabled the creation of technology, such as computers, which I use to write this text.

The Indian sage Data Dayal composed an addition to this line during his 1930s visit to the USA:

"East is East and West is West.
However, one day the East will serve
the West a grand Spiritual feast!"

You are invited!