Sunday, September 26, 2010

Life: Gross and Subtle

Life is complex, its nature is duality, it's complicated, unpredictable, and it's multi-dimensional. But more than that, life is a combination of the subtle and the gross. The gross, though easy to comprehend, has its own set of problems and the subtle is difficult to comprehend.

For example, the body is gross, the mind is subtle. Again, the mind is gross in comparison to the soul, or being. While moving from thoughts to words to actions, we are moving from subtle to gross. Actions and words are such that anyone can understand and control them, but thoughts are difficult to control or understand. Emotions, feelings, and intuition belong to the subtle world, while doing is usually of the gross world. Even in emotions, anger, jealousy, greed, and worry are gross and easy to acquire, while love, patience, honesty, forgiveness and altruism are subtle, and difficult to cultivate.

The gross elements in life are useful, but without the subtle elements, their use is limited or is accompanied by much pain and sorrow. For example, any medicine that doctors use to cure an illness is a gross thing. While medicines do their job quickly and efficiently, they also cause a lot of side effects, and can even prove fatal. The same effect or cure can be achieved by going deep into the mind, using positive thoughts, energies, emotions and feelings to boost one's own immunity and fight the disease. This subtle level treatment is without any side effects, but takes time, and is not possible for everyone. Only those who are highly meditative and who can see inward, can harness their subtle energies and bring them together in a strong manner, to achieve this. But one can at least combine both, to get better results.

Once we are aware that life has these components, we can literally feel the days when the body is loaded with negative energy, and is feeling unmotivated, lethargic, tired, listless, and futile. Such are the periods when you need to sit quietly and meditate, go deep into your inner recesses, and find your innermost being or soul, which is a powerhouse of energy. If we don't, then these frustrations will eventually act on our appetite, sleep and our immunity, making us victims of disease — stress, acidity, hypertension, insomnia, diabetes and cancer.

A rose is the gross element. Its fragrance is the subtle element. A flower is incomplete without fragrance. Similarly, human beings can exist as physical bodies for 70 or 80 years, but they can be fruitful, or life can be meaningful, and they can be existentially successful only if they are able to discover their fragrance. A human being is declared as being alive or dead only on the basis of the presence or absence of his sukshma sharira or subtle energy. Apart from this subtle energy running through us, there is no difference between someone alive or dead.

Our aim should be to acknowledge and get in tune with this subtle force or energy, what is known as prana, or soul or atma. It is by connecting to this that we get an inkling of the subtle elements, and can harness unlimited potential and energy, to live our lives with joy, happiness, good health and peace. Otherwise, we will go on living at the gross level, finding life only good in phases, often finding life meaningless and frustrating.

Read more: Life, gross and subtle - The Times of India