I call my dad a few times every day, via video or audio. Each time we speak for at least half an hour. After exchanging our customary, warm greetings, we usually discuss mundane things, such as weather and food – breakfast or lunch or dinner – depending upon the time of the day – followed by our respective enquires about the welfare of our other family members and the extended family members, and then our friends, neighbours and relatives. This is the Covid-19 time; so every day is important and concerning. However, no sooner we have shifted from discussing all those routine and mundane things than we invariably start discussing more pointy public issues – local and global. Expectedly, being opinionated and judgmental, thanks to our so-called ‘formal education’ and complex life experiences, we freely express our uninhibited individual opinions; make judgements; and cast aspersions on this and that, people and matters, and all that rubbish. In a nutshell, we talk nonsense most of the time, without any purpose or direction.
When we talk, we invariably argue before finally exchanging our cordial, customary parting greetings, only to argue again the next time when we talk. Despite both being experienced civil engineers, we carry diagonally opposite social, religious and political thoughts. My father is an orthodox traditionalist (leaning on mythologies) and I am a relatively more modern realist (leaning on pragmatism). He believes in a non-existent glorious past of humans and expects the future to stay closer to the past, but I believe the past must give way to the future and move ahead, in the direction of the future.
We both may not be the best of our species but we both are indeed humans, in flesh and blood, complete with angry emotions, compassionate feelings and humanistic empathy for one and all. We are both also loaded with all normal human imperfections — ego, arrogance, pride, selfishness, greed and what not. We may not have the best of a father-son relationship, but we indeed have a genuine and healthy relationship; we never stop talking or let our individual ego or self-respect or pride or anger to get the better of our prudence and common sense.
Being cognisant of the devastating effects of the current Covid-19 pandemic, I call him frequently because I want to know if he is alive and well, and also let him know that we too are well and safe on this end, so that he does not unduly worry about anything. We live more than 11,000 km away from each other. Thanks to the pandemic, we have not visited each other for over 18 months now. I feel I am a little fortunate that he has so far, gratefully, been taking extreme caution and enduring lots of inconvenience to stay away from Covid. Our chain of conversations will continue till life permits. After that, the other person will have one person less to argue with.
I summed up my aforementioned life experience in a post, which I shared around. A friend commented: “Mind is a strange thing, seeks security out of fear. Conquer mind, conquer fear.”
I replied: “In my post, there is no mention of fear, there is only honesty and reality. It contains acceptance of who we are. Most importantly, it illustrates the strength and depth of a father-son relationship despite their individual human fallacies and imperfections. No one can ever conquer mind, except perhaps robots. Yes, we do hear imagined or concocted stories of some people controlling their mind, which their believers and other religious bigots propagate.
Human mind is infinite, like cosmos, much extended and deeper than the largest and deepest oceans. Mind is best left unfettered and not contained within religious bounds. There is a difference in stupid idealism and pragmatic realism. Idealism always loses because it is blind.”
My friend immediately clarified: “I know. I was not referring to your article but just, in general, how ideas become inflexible.”
I replied: “I guessed that but, yes, thanks for clarifying. Sometime, my engineer’s brain fails to connect an analogy with the reality, despite frequently using analogies with ground realities of life and engineering. My unbound mind has seen no particular limits to its existence. But, yes, meditation has helped me to steer it carefully with more purpose. But controlling mind is entirely a different thing, much beyond the ability of most humans, if not all.”
I have been practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) for over 30 years now, after being formally initiated by an experienced, authorised Master of the TM, and trained under his personal supervision. The very technique of the TM forbids the meditator from ‘concentrating on anything’ or ‘controlling one’s thoughts’ while meditating. The core technique of the TM allows the mind to settle naturally. It is one of easiest and most effective techniques but, as humans are not used to simplicity, some people complicate it unnecessarily, without benefiting much.
Bill Koul [Perth, Western Australia. June 11, 2021]