Q. 353 – Witness to the boredom

Q: I have a problem with the boredom of everyday life. Nothing seems to satisfy me. I just find it so difficult to be just here in the moment and be content with that. You say: go through life and work etc, but as a witness to it all.

Am I living in moment as I should? Should I give all my attention to each action, so that the ego is absent or should I just be the witness of everything every action on a moment to moment basis?

Maybe if I understand how to live in the moment better and had some clarification, that would help me stay present and focused on just living. My mind lives in the future.

(Note: I have reworded the question slightly but some of the replies quote from the original question. Apologies for any confusion!)

Answers are provided by: Sitara, Ted, Ramesam, Martin and Dennis.

A (Sitara): “…the boredom of everyday life, nothing seems to satisfy me.”

 Whether it be the struggle of everyday life or the boredom of it, the fact is that everyday life cannot be satisfying… ever.

 “I don’t really have many desires in my life. I lead a simple one. I suppose this desire is so strong because of the Darwinian principle going on.”

 Even though biology is powerful it will lose its power with age and/or declining health. The real problem is deeper and it is universal. You do have one big desire, which you have to face up to; otherwise you will not progress. The desire is that somehow, despite everything you have read and know, satisfaction should be provided by this life. You have to drop this idea; it is one of the last obstacles on the spiritual path.

 This does not mean that there is no joy in life – there certainly is; but satisfaction, lasting joy, is beyond life. Satisfaction is only in discovering your true nature as fullness. As long as fullness is sought through outer circumstances you will remain dissatisfied.

 “go through life and work etc but as a witness to it all.”

 This is good advice but it is not the end of the rope. If you remain with this sAdhana you will end up in a kind of a desert – everything being kind of okay but lacking joy, lacking colour, lacking love.

 “Should I give all my attention to each action, so that the ego is absent or should I just be the witness of everything every action on a moment to moment basis? Maybe if I understand how to live in the moment better and had some clarification, that would help me stay present and focused on just living. My mind lives in the future.

 The mind cannot but live in the past or in the future, and there is no problem with it. The only problem is whether you are identified with your mind or not. Let it live wherever it wants, it is not you, as you are beyond time. But this has to be fully understood. Without this understanding samsara continues.

 You seem to be influenced by some Buddhist ideas. What you describe may be a valuable sAdhana for a while but it will not make you understand your true nature. There is no way to avoid the need to complete your understanding. In the end, even trying to be in the moment and be the witness to it all is a doing. And any doing can prepare you but at some point you have to move from doing to understanding, otherwise you are bound to get stuck.

 Now, how to deepen your understanding? You say “I have taken on-board all the pearls of wisdom”

Sorry but no, you have not. It does not suffice to just read through all of those answers and appreciate the pearls of wisdom you find. Reading the posts once or twice, you may come away thinking that you have understood what has been said. Go through them slowly. Chew on them. Ask yourself with every paragraph, whether you really understand the argument and the implications of what has been said.

 This is how you move from an approach based on action to an approach base on understanding. Words are more than words. Their meaning needs to be absorbed fully. You are free to turn to any blogger to probe him/her with your questions or even just making sure whether what you understood is what the blogger intended to say. Please take the opportunity.

A (Ted): The idea that you find everyday life boring is an issue worth contemplating.  Why do you think the luster has gone out of life for you?

 It essentially boils down to one or both of two reasons. 

 The more likely of the two given the comments you make later in this email concerning your mental preoccupation with the future is that you are mired in a state of existential angst and riddled with feelings of incompleteness and inadequacy, which prevents you from accepting and enjoying both yourself and your circumstances as is.  This is the essential plight of all who find themselves cast in the grand drama of life in the apparent reality we call the world.  Because we are conditioned to believe that we are a separate, individual, autonomous entity cast adrift in a sea of separate objects – i.e. people, places, things, and experiences, both subtle and gross – and by all appearances this belief seem to be true, we naturally feel limited, lacking, and unfulfilled.  We seek, therefore, to complete ourselves through the acquisition of objects, sometimes in the material or external form of money, relationships, possessions, professional success, status, power, etc., sometimes in the subtle or internal form of particular emotional states, intellectual knowledge, positive self-image, spiritual experiences, etc.  Though there is nothing wrong with any of these pursuits in themselves, they invariably fall short of our expectation that they will bring us lasting peace and happiness.  No matter how many objects we acquire, therefore, we never feel completely satisfied and are always focused on the next false promise looming over the horizon.  Rather than resting in the joy of the present, we fester in feelings of regret or desire engendered by past actions and enjoyments and/or engage in the constant plotting of our next move and experience continual anxiety over what the future might hold.  Either way, our minds are always, to a greater or lesser degree, agitated and, thus, disengaged from and unable to attend to and appreciate the events unfolding around us at the moment, not to mention enjoy the inherent satisfaction that is our true nature as the self.

 The second and more fundamental – though, quite likely, unconscious – reason for your boredom is rooted in the essential emptiness of objective joy.  Since all objects and actions – both subtle and gross – are phenomena that enjoy only a limited “life span” or “shelf life” within the time-space continuum that defines the parameters of existence in the apparent reality and, therefore, are inherently mutable, (which is the defining characteristic of the apparent reality, and undergoing constant change), no object, experience, or action is capable of providing or producing perpetual joy and permanent satisfaction.   In short no action we execute, nor any object we acquire, can complete us.

 Frustrating as it is initially, this understanding denotes a level of spiritual maturity that enables one to begin actually to address the underlying cause of one’s dissatisfaction rather than continuing to allow extroverting desire-based tendencies and pursuits to distract oneself from it.

 I just find it so difficult to be just here in the moment and be content with that, which leads me to a question.

Dennis, you say go through life and work, etc., but as a witness to it all. My question is “Am I living in the moment as I should?” 

 What does “should” mean?  “Should” in terms of what?  “Should” is only relevant in terms of a desired end.  Granted, dharma, or the ethical/moral law that governs the apparent reality, prevails and should be observed (provided, that is, that you seek a life that is free of unnecessary pain and is in keeping with the harmonious functioning of the whole of creation).  Assuming you are not an axe murderer, child molester, Ponzi-scheming scam artist, or other such perverse deviant, however, the only “shoulds” you need to follow are dictated by your goal.  If you want “enlightenment” (i.e. moksha, or freedom), then karma yoga is the key.

 What is karma yoga?

 Karma yoga is the most fundamental spiritual practice of all.  In fact, until one has karma yoga in place, none of the other spiritual practices will bear fruit.  As you have experienced, unless neutralized by the practice of karma yoga one’s binding desires will agitate the mind, extrovert its attention, and thus make it impossible to recognize its true nature as whole and complete, limitless, actionless, ordinary, unborn, ever-present, all-pervasive, non-dual awareness.

 Karma yoga is essentially an attitude that one takes with regard to action and its results.

 Karma yoga says that one has the right to act – indeed, action cannot be avoided, for even doing nothing is the action of doing something, which in such a case is simply a passive action being referred to as nothing – BUT one has no right to the results.

 The reason one has no right to the results of one’s actions is that the results of one’s actions are not under one’s control.  Though we tend to think that we do play a determinative role in the outcome of our endeavors, such is not the case.  A simple analysis of the myriad factors involved in determining the result of any action clearly reveals that the one executing the action has no more than a sliver of input in the overall scheme of how any given action plays out and what result ultimately manifests from it.  The individual can act in an appropriate and timely manner with regard to his or her desired outcome and, given that the apparent reality is governed by a predictable and impersonal law of cause-and-effect, can have a reasonable expectation that such action will lead to the desired end, BUT there are far too many variables beyond the individual’s control for the individual to think himself or herself solely – even chiefly – responsible for the result that ensues.

 I might, for example, wish to go to a rock concert.  If I go to the local pub in order to buy a ticket, I’m probably not going to get what I want.  I need to go to the local ticket outlet or the venue itself to purchase a ticket.  But even if I do go to the proper location, I won’t be able to secure a ticket if I go there in the middle of the night when the place is closed.  Moreover, I can’t be sure that even if I go the right place at the right time the tickets won’t already be sold out.  And even if I do get a ticket, I can’t be certain that I won’t lose the ticket or decide to sell it because I run into a cash flow problem or decide to give it away due to some spontaneous charitable impulse or be prevented from going to the concert due to some reason out of my control or that the band won’t be prevented from performing due to illness or some other factor, such as some extreme weather condition or bomb threat or who knows what.

 Rather than the individual, it is Ishvara, or the creator god, which is a personification for the dharma field, the field of experience, the macrocosmic mechanism of the apparent reality, or what Vedanta refers to technically as the karana sharira, or Macrocosmic Causal Body.  As mentioned, the dharma field is governed by an impersonal law of cause-and-effect, which means that it unerringly delivers results in alignment with the actions constituting the chain of events leading to them, in which, again, the individual is only one of many factors.  Such an understanding of the broader scheme of action frees the individual from the burden of doership and personal karmic consequence.

 The entire apparent reality can be likened to a vast self-perpetuating and self-sustaining organic machine.  It can absorb any action offered to it – i.e. executed within it – and, in accordance with the complex web of immutable physical, psychological, and ethical laws that govern it, reconfigure itself in a way that will maintain its overall balance and harmony and ensure the wellbeing of all the components – both sentient and insentient – of which it is comprised.  In personified terms, we might say that Ishvara, or God, is taking care of the whole of creation and delivers as a consequence of one’s actions whatever results are in the best interests of the total. 

 Imbued with such an understanding of the mechanism of the apparent reality, the karma yogi appreciates both the gift of life that he or she has been given and his or her complete dependency upon Ishvara or the dharma field for his or her sustenance.  The karma yogi, therefore, offers all his or her actions to the field in a spirit of sacrifice or surrender to the whole and gratefully accepts whatever results ensue from his or her actions, knowing that whatever happens – even if it does not accord with his or her personal desires or even, for that matter, appear immediately just – is what is ultimately best for the overall wellbeing of the entire field of existence.

 If practiced continuously and applied on a moment-to-moment basis to one’s every action, the karma yoga attitude is the most powerful means of canceling one’s sense of doership and neutralizing one’s binding vAsanA-s – i.e. the likes and dislikes, desires and fears, that extrovert one’s attention and compel one to act with a sense of individual volition and expectation of personal enjoyment.  Relieved of both the burden of sole responsibility for past actions and the distracting influence of a self-serving agenda concerning the future, the karma yogi is freed of any dependency on objective circumstances and is able to abide in the inherent peace and happiness that is his or her true nature as the self.

 If mokSha, or liberation, is your goal, then this is how you “should” be living in the moment.

 Though karma yoga itself does not liberate one – no action can do that for the reasons previously mentioned – it is the most effective means of purifying the mind – i.e. neutralizing its extroverting tendencies – and preparing it for effective self-inquiry and the ultimate removal of ignorance and assimilation of self-knowledge that constitute “enlightenment.”

 Do I give all my attention to each action I do so the ego is absent . . .

 Your ego will never be absent.  Nor is it necessary that it be so.  Despite the widespread notion in the spiritual world that the ego is some demonic entity that needs to be slain, the ego can be left as is.  Rather than being removed – which is impossible – it simply needs to be re-educated.

 In order to understand this point, it is important to understand that Vedanta uses two different words to denote the ego.

 The first word is jIva, which simply means “an embodied being.”  All sentient entities are jIva-s – plants, animals, and people.  All have both a gross body, which is comprised of the five elements, and a subtle body (i.e. the antaHkaraNa, or “inner instrument”), the components of which are the mind, intellect, ego, and memory.  The subtle body of plants and animals is rather rudimentary – i.e. plants have no more than the most basic instincts that support life, and the myriad species of animals have varying degrees of mental development that culminate in only the most elemental intellectual capability.  Only human beings are capable of reason and self-reflection.  It is this capacity in human beings that is denoted by the second word for ego.

 The second word is ahaMkAra, which means “the I-thought.”  The I-thought is the notion that one is a separate, independent, autonomous, volitional entity.  In other words, it is the belief that one is an individual doer and enjoyer endowed with free will and the capacity to consider one’s existential circumstance and make choices about both one’s present situation and one’s long-term aspirations based on a values system rooted in personal preferences developed from past experience.

 In either case, the ego is not something that needs be eradicated.  Obviously, were the jIva eliminated there would be no existential issue with which to be concerned.  And without the I-thought there would be no apparatus of apparent free will by means of which the apparent individual could exercise the choice to undertake spiritual practices to purify the mind, undertake and execute self-inquiry, and ultimately gain the understanding that ironically neutralizes the erroneous notion of separation, reveals the limitless self, and grants liberation.

 . . . or do I just be the witness of everything every act, action, etc., on a moment to moment basis?  Maybe if I understand how to live in the moment better and had some clarification that would help me stay present and stay focused on just living.

 You are already in the moment.  Or, to put it more accurately, you are the moment.  You as pure awareness are never not present.  You are all pervasive.  There is no place you are not. You don’t need to get in the moment.  Think about it, has there ever been a moment during which you were not.  Even in deep sleep when the intellect goes dormant and with it the apparent person disappears, you as awareness are present.  If you weren’t, how could you remember that you had slept without dreaming?  You can only remember something you have experienced.

 My mind lives in the future.

 The reason for this is because you are attached to the results of your actions.  You desire certain ends.  The way to neutralize these desires is through the practice of karma yoga.

 Also, which one of your books directly follows on from how to meet yourself as its one of the only books I have read that I can follow as a layman.

 In addition to Dennis’ books, you might also read “How to Attain Enlightenment” by James Swartz.  It lays out the entire scheme of the teachings of Vedanta in a logical progression and is written in language geared specifically for the Western layman.

A(Ramesam): Under the Question: 352, we have discussed the overarching conceptual framework of the approach of advaita in the pursuit of Happiness.

 You say that you have identified the real problem for you to be “boredom.”

Secondly, you find an innate ‘drive’ within yourself to avoid the ‘boredom’ and to seek happiness.

Thirdly, you are conscious within yourself that the path you are going by in search of that happiness is only a transitory ‘escape’ through porn and you would like to find the True everlasting Happiness.

 You deserve not one or two, but fully three cheers on that! Congratulations.

 Because the very fact that you observed these three points is a highly positive indication that you are already on the correct path.  What is needed is a little bit of fine tuning of the advaita understanding.

 So it would require us to go over the advaita teaching more slowly to identify the missing links.

 “I”, as you know, is a shorthand name for Happiness (the other two intrinsic characteristics being Consciousness and Existence). So finding Happiness is equal to finding ‘myself’ or what I truly am.  This  involves nothing more than a mere shaking off of the superficial patina that has formed creating a veil of obstruction to our ability to see clearly that I, myself, is already that Happiness which I am seeking. The Vedanta refers to this obstruction as “ignorance.”

 There is no “How to” method to obtain this clear vision. If you are already sitting on the sofa in the drawing room of your own house and ask a person to tell you a method to reach your home from where you are sitting, what can anybody tell you to do?  How and with what dagger can anyone chop off the extra head which I imagine to be present on my neck? The work is to be done by yourself in getting out of your ‘ignorance’ – the word ignorance is not used here in a pejorative way but to mean “ignoring your true nature” as explained above.

 The eradication of ‘ignorance’ has to begin with a critical examination of your present experience — which you call “boredom.” You have to also find out why you are trying to run away from it and what is that Happiness that you seem to chase.

 The negative feelings like boredom, anxiety, fear, anger, annoyance etc. actually consist of two components.  Rupert Spira, the British Non-dual teacher explains well their origin and where they exist. So I would like to quote him extensively here, (though may not be exactly in the same words):

 Rupert says:  Negative feelings comprise (i) a psychological element and (ii) a bodily sensation.

 The psychological component is a thought in which the separate ‘I’ entity is always present as a belief, either implicitly or explicitly. The bodily sensations strengthen the belief in separation and give raise further to the feeling that I am limited.

 These two elements, the ‘I’ thought in the mind and the ‘I’ feeling in the body, are the two aspects of our ‘ignorance’ of who we truly are.

 The “I am separate” belief manifests as uncomfortable feelings and, more subtly, as the apparently innocuous sense of being located here in and/or as a body, sitting in a chair, looking out through the eyes etc.

 We have to investigate carefully the beliefs, at the level of the mind, that we harbor about being a separate individual and we should explore the feelings at the level of the body, that seem to confirm and substantiate such beliefs.

 To begin with, just observe the bodily sensations (the tingling sensation in the body) without giving them a name or trying to describe what they feel like.  Just notice the raw feelings. See clearly that by themselves, they are completely neutral.  They are neither pleasant nor unpleasant. They are just little vibrations of sensation appearing in you, not ‘you’ a body, but rather ‘you’ the Awareness or Consciousness that is seeing these words and experiencing whatever else is being experienced at this and every moment.

 These tinglings appear in you just like the sound of the rain or the traffic on the road. They do not affect in any way the Awareness or Consciousness in which they appear. That is, they do not affect you in any way. They have absolutely no power over you. They come, appear for some time and go – just like thoughts.

 Make the clear experiential distinction between the open, welcoming space of Awareness or Consciousness that you are and all that arises within it. Once this is clear, do not have any agenda with these sensations – either to arrest them, stop them or alter them. Allow them to appear, evolve, remain and disappear as and when they will.

 Simply take your stand knowingly as the Presence in which all bodily sensations appear. You are completely free and independent of all these sensations, although they are utterly dependent on you, that is, on Awareness or Consciousness, for their existence.

 A word of caution is in order here. Our egoistic mind can play tricks on us regarding the Non-dual teaching of Oneness.  We seem to understand intellectually that all is One, there is no separate me and hence whatever is happening is all the doing of One Consciousness. If I tend to relieve my boredom by resorting to porn, there is no real me acting there.  It is all Consciousness doing things, manifesting Itself as porn. Thus the mind may rationalize the behavior with pseudo logic, falsely claiming that it never left Awareness.

 So Rupert throws further light onto this sort of misleading and confused analysis.

 Rupert says:  Addiction of any sort, whether inappropriate sexual behavior, alcohol, drugs, smoking or any other, always has its origin in the belief that I am a separate and limited individual located in a body-mind.  The most common form in which this belief and feeling of separation manifests is in the subtle and not-so-subtle rejection of the current situation – that is, “I don’t like what is going on right now” and “I want something other than what is going on.” These two attitudes – the “fear” of what is and the ‘desire’ to change it to something I like – are the two faces of the apparent separate self.  In other words, they are the two most common forms of ‘resistance to what is.’ In fact, what we think to be three different things, viz., (i) the apparent separate entity, (ii) resistance to what is, and (iii) the search for happiness via various objects, substances or experiences, are one and the same thing! It is called ‘ignorance’ in Vedanta in the sense that we are ‘ignoring the true nature of our experience.’ 

 When ‘What is’ is deemed too boring, plain and uneventful, the separate self thinks of an alternative dream world into which we can escape from the boredom or discomfort of the moment. In such moments, Rupert recommends a simple physical ‘discipline’ to be followed.

 Every time you feel the impulse to watch porn, just pause.  Stop for a while.

 Even if, to begin with, it is only for half a minute, put a little space between you and the fulfillment of the impulse. As time goes on this period of time can be extended until you find yourself always as this space, as it were.  

 However, don’t expect this space to be peaceful to begin with – it probably won’t be! Most likely, the impulse (which is, in fact, the bare face of the separate self, the separate ‘I’ in its raw form) on finding that it is no longer relieved, will probably display itself in full force. It will rebel. 

 Be attentive not only to the thoughts that will try to persuade you that your impulses are perfectly OK, that you will only do it one more time, that it is all an expression of Awareness, that there is nobody there doing it, etc., etc., but also, more importantly, to all the uncomfortable feelings in the body that rise up, demanding to be acted upon and relieved. 

 See that all the thoughts revolve around a separate entity that is, when sought, found to be non-existent. It is necessary in most cases to carry out this investigation at a rational level thoroughly, in order to come to this conviction. If this conviction has not been reached, the apparently separate ‘I’ will still be very much alive in your thoughts and you will not have the resolve to explore your feelings fully.  

 However, once the mechanism of the separate self, both at the level of the mind and at the level of the body, has been truly seen through, its foundation has been removed, it will be only a matter of time before the patterns of behavior which depended upon its apparent existence for their survival, diminish and disappear. 

 One last thing: as we sit allowing these thoughts and, more importantly, uncomfortable feelings to arise, it is important not to have any subtle agenda with them, not to ‘do this’ in order to ‘get rid of them.’ That would be more of the same.  Just allow the full panoply of thoughts and feelings to display themselves in your allowing and indifferent presence. In time their ferocity will die down.

 It is this open, un-judging, un-avoiding, allowing of all things which, in time, restores the ‘I’ to its proper place in the seat of Awareness and which, as a natural corollary to this abidance in and as our true Self, gently realigns our thoughts, feelings and activities with the peace and happiness that is inherent in It.

 Finally, I may add a word of help.  Open air activity, exposure to a lot of outdoor fresh greenery and sun, in addition to association with like-minded people and frequent study of Non-dual literature will act as further enabling mechanisms on this path of exploration and Self-inquiry.

A(Martin):  Your questions bring out very important issues, such as dissatisfaction (boredom), attention, witnessing, and living in the present – “living in the moment”.

 1.  ‘Such is life’, one might be tempted to say concerning the first topic or question. But with experience and understanding life does not need to be like that – experience and understanding related to the spiritual life, that is, without which there can be no lasting contentment, no wisdom… no life. Life is large, all encompassing, and full, which means that there is a whole spectrum of possibilities, of ‘experiences’, as seen from a superficial, lower, contingent plane –  and  pain and frustration are part of it. However, only physical pain is inevitable. Frustration and all other negativities, which on the whole amount to ‘psychological pain’ or suffering, or mere  dissatisfaction and uneasiness — all these are not necessary components of life once one has understood what life and oneself are.

 In the teaching of Advaita Vedanta we are shown that our ‘reality’ can be seen from two levels: the empirical, contingent one, where the pairs of opposites have their play: good and bad, past and future, male and female, life and death, etc. –- this is called ‘dualism’. All our ordinary notions or concepts are embedded in this realm or at this level, in particular ‘life and death’, ‘time and eternity’, ‘mind and awareness’. All these concepts, however, have a, let’s say, metaphysical projection (or mystical, if you prefer): there is depth or fathomlessness in them. Spiritual philosophy, such as Advaita deals with these concepts, usually in a gradual fashion.

 Correspondingly, two kinds of knowledge are described in one of the Upanishads of the Vedic tradition, the Mundaka Up.: “Master, what is that which, when known, all is known? The master replied: Sages say that there are two kinds of wisdom, the higher and the lower… the higher wisdom is that which leads to the Eternal… that by which one knows the changeless reality. By this is fully revealed to the wise that which transcends the senses, which is uncaused, which is indefinable, which has neither hands nor feet, which is all-pervading, subtler than the subtlest – the everlasting, the source of all” (1st chapter).

 2.  “… attention to each action”

  Yes, but I would qualify that by adding: ‘relaxed’ attention, rather than effort at concentration, which may be, and usually is, associated with preoccupation, worry (always of the ego).

 3.  “… to be witness of everything every act, action etc. on a moment to moment basis”

 Again, I would say: (to be a) relaxed (not unconcerned) witness, which goes with confidence, serenity, and enjoyment (when the occasion allows!).

 This is an important topic in Advaita: witnessing consciousness, in relation to external or internal perception (thought, emotions or feelings, imaginations – pertaining to the ‘subtle body’). But there is a dimension of Consciousness which is objectless, as in deep sleep and some states of Samadhi (nirvikalpa samadhi). This is ignored, or denied, by Western philosophers.

 4.  “… my mind lives in the future… some clarification that would help me stay present”

 You pose the possibility of living “in the moment”, ‘In the Now’, as is often expressed.

 ‘To live in the present’ sounds as a common expression or notion; ‘to live in the Now’ suggests a deeper dimension, even a mystery, for what is time? One needs to understand what time – and timelessness – are, this being a bifid concept: not one without the other…  not an easy task.

 From one viewpoint (lower or empirical knowledge) time is; from the higher viewpoint time is not, only timelessness is, is real. One approximation to this conundrum is to realize that the present does not exist: past is continuously flowing into future – you cannot grab, detain, the present moment, not even by one second. Try to grab it… it is already past. Movement yes, exists, it is our perception; but, is there movement, time, in eternity, the realm of the Absolute (God, if you will)? This mystery ties in with the problem of predestination, destiny or fate, but we cannot cover all this here. For St. Augustine time was the most difficult problem to understand; I think he quoted Plato by putting it this way: ‘Time is the moving point of eternity’. It is beyond the rational faculty, “beyond the mind”… but not altogether – the Intellect (buddhi) is part of the mind, even though going beyond the mind as this last is ordinarily understood (also in Advaita).

 To understand these things, much work or study is required, the main prerequisite being an intense desire for truth.

 One pointer to ‘living in the present’ is, as we said, to witness; observe all actions, including thoughts, in a detached way. None of my thoughts are really ‘mine’ – they just appear in my consciousness, quite often, if not usually, as intruders, unwanted; but ‘I’ am not my thoughts… let them pass unattended except for the practical ones. With time one will also realize that my actions are not mine: ‘I’ do not act.

A (Dennis): The instruction to be in the moment (do what needs to be done without allowing personal desire into the equation, witness the activity and do not dwell upon the outcome, etc) is karma yoga and its purpose is to train the mind to be your slave rather than your master. But, in itself, it is not going to do any more than that. If you have come to the realization that the usual pursuits of life are ultimately not going to give you anything (other than transient pleasure or pain), then what you are really looking for is Self-knowledge, colloquially (and misleadingly) referred to as ‘enlightenment’ of ‘self-realization’.

In order to gain this, there is no alternative but to study. Ideally, as has been said so many times in these answers, with a qualified traditional teacher, but otherwise reading, discussing, asking questions of those more advanced on the same ‘path’.

I said in one of my early books that disappointment is the result of unreasonable expectation. I could have said this about boredom also. But what I meant then was that you act anticipating a specific outcome and, when that does not materialize, you feel let down. But, when it comes to boredom, it is much more than that. It is due to a lack of participation. Thinking that you simply need to sit there and fascinating experiences will come and find you. It doesn’t work like that. You have to go out and look for it! Take up photography for example! Whether macro – examining flowers or insects close up; landscape – the wonder of mountains, lakes and forests; or street/urban – the endlessly interesting behavior of fellow humans and their artifacts. Or reading; or writing. Or endeavoring to discover the nature of yourself, ‘life, the universe and everything’, by studying Advaita. Every moment is potentially interesting and fulfilling if you are alert to it – in the moment!

The bottom line, however, is that the only thing that can ever give you lasting satisfaction it the certain knowledge that you do not have to do anything at all because you are already perfect, complete and without limitation of any kind.

One thought on “Q. 353 – Witness to the boredom

  1. A seriously important question, that can play havoc to anyone..realized or not 🙂

    If we step back and look at it, …Boredom is an experience. Does boredom last for ever? Have you ever experienced a certain thing endlessly? If Boredom begins a perpetual existence it will loose its “Boring” nature. because you will have learnt to ignore it.

    There is suddenly lots of action, people visiting, talking, travel , some news , a new book or a movie etc.. and then there is nothing. If the Nothing or boredom were not present, the excitement created by the action would not be noticed.

    Suppose the temperature is always exactly like you want it to be, then the term “pleasant weather” would have to be dropped off the dictionary. Only a cool breeze after a scorching day makes one experience “pleasantness”. In other words a perfect weather control system would in fact make you incapable of experiencing a pleasant weather. strange but true. 🙂

    And I am most certain that the boredom you had mentioned had gone away and perhaps returned a few times, since the time you had posted.

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