The Gita is emphatic that a person of deluded intelligence, who mistakes his/her real Self to be the agent and the enjoyer, understands the truth of neither the Self nor the action.  ‘A person who is untrained in understanding, looks on the pure Self as the agent, that person of perverted intelligence sees not.’ He becomes bound by ‘the threefold fruit of action, – evil, good, and mixed.’ But, ‘The one who is free from egoistic notion, whose mind is not tainted, … s/he is not bound.’ To such a person work is a medium for creative expression. The self-space defined by the Gita in this discussion is based on psychological detachment from desires generated by a ‘small self’ and not mere giving up.  The Gita notes, that ‘not by abstaining from action do you win actionlessness, nor by renunciation do you attain perfection’ (na karmanam ca sanyasanadeva ysiddhim samadhigacchati).  

And also, ‘none, verily, even for an instant, remains doing no action; for everyone is driven helpless to action by the energies born of Nature’ (nahi kascit ksanamapi jatu tistatyakarmakrt).  To act, promoted by the goals and priorities that are defined by social, psychological, and cultural values, is considered a normal process and in this sense ‘selfishness’ is a natural disposition of human mind, according to the Gita. Nevertheless, to see the constant change that is happening in the field of objects and experience is significant to keep in align with the processes of detachment. When Gita speaks about freedom what is emphasized is not freedom from action by its non-doing, but freedom in action whilst doing.  Freedom is presented as the very essence of the Self.

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Healing through Love, Debate and just Being

The tradition of Indian philosophical thinking is to be looked at from two standpoints with equal importance. The different processes of self-analysis and introspection together with an objective rationalisation of metaphysical issues give significance for the role of self-healing. The two standpoints--of a rational enquiry, and a spiritual enquiry--both are based on the healing of the self through different modes of expressing and being.

The different parables from the Upanishads which are at the same time symbols of a subtle rational process (based on negation) and also the strength of steadfastness and patience indicate the foundational nature of these narratives as relating to continous healing caused by an inner space. Healing relates to the brusies caused by the thorns of alientaed rational processes as well as false pleasure points of the mind caused by homogenous views about self-realisation.

More In: Menon, S. Healing through love, debate and just being: Instances from Indian traditions 
Invited Lecture at the national conference on Indian Psychology, Pondicherry, 9-13 December 2004.

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Rasaanubhava and Aatmaanubhava: Relishing the spirit through Naatya

Naatya or total enactment of rasa is a spiritual experience. The detachment and intensity needed in the transferrence of a rasa and the corresponding bhava requires a mind which is focused at the same time ready to renounce. The technique of rasa follows the structure of a spiritual experience and hence results in ecstacy. Bhava and rasa are the two key concepts according to Bharata.

Though he considers naatya to be effective as a result of performance, he makes a detailed analysis of how the performance which is not realistic and identical with the world of reality for both the actor and spectator is made real in a virtual manner. Intensity, total abandonment, sense of fulfilment and formation of new 'selfs' will be some of the features which will be discussed in the context of a rasa-experience and a spiritual experience.

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Binding Experiences for a First-Person Approach: Looking at Indian Ways of Thinking (darsana) and Acting (natya) in the Context of Current Discussions on 'Consciousness', Lecture at the international conference on "Mind and Consciousness:Various Approaches", Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India, 9-11 January 2002

More In:
Menon, S. 2003, Binding experiences for a first person approach: Looking at Indian ways of thinking (darsana) and acting (natya) in the context of current discussions on 'consciousness'
In: On Mind and Consciousness, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla and Department of Humanitiees and Social Sciences IIT Kharagpur, Eds. Chhanda Chakraborti, Manas K Mandal and Rimi B Chatterjee, pp 90-117

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Selfish Meme and Selfless Atma

arrowThe major discussions on altruism today, particularly in the area of sociobiology, give exclusive attention to altruism as an act that favors evolutionary or social benefits. That altruism is a phenomenon exhibited by a selfis almost neglected. To understand altruism it is also important to look at the nature of ‘self-space’ that constitutes various levels of altruism. Self-space, as presented in the Indian philosophical literature, refers to a reified self-identity that would reflect ethical and spiritual concerns.Because of the emphasis on selflessness as a state of beingthe Indian philosophical literature offers a different perspective on altruism than sociobiological renditions.  Selflessness is connected with transformation of consciousness, influencing compassion, empathy, and social good and hence could be described as having a spiritual mooring. In this paper I introduce and coin the concept of ‘spiritual altruism’ and juxtapose it with sociobiological altruism in order to emphasize the spiritual underpinnings of altruistic behavior, in contrast with sociobiological causes.“Those who eat without sharing, eat veritable poison” (Bhagavad Gita: 3:13).

More in: Menon, S. 2002, The Selfish Meme and the Selfless Atma
Sophia: International journal for philosophy of religion, metaphysical theology and ethics, Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 41(1): 83-88

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Spiritual Healing

arrowConsidering a person to be a whole being, what Indian spirituality offers is integrated health. In Indian traditions the ideas and values behind 'spiritual living; are those which support the role of personal growth, ecological awareness, empathy, intersubjective transactions, emotional wellbeing, efficiency in expressions and creative living. The distinct feature of the psychological traditions of Indian thinking is its spiritual openness, by which I mean, not just a liberal philosophy, but the facility to integrate new experiences and new understanding into an evolving scheme of ideas and lifestyle all leading and pointing to self-exploration. The individual and her experience is the key. but the significance for experience is how experience could help achieve a certain degree of transcendence -- by going beyond personal, social and spiritual limits -- through transformation in ones worldview, by seeing yet another point of view and thus being open minded, with more self-reflection, sensitivity to oneself and others.

More in: Menon, S. 2005 "Heal Thy Spirit",
Heritage Amruth, Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions, Vol1. Issue 1, (April 2005) pp 38-40
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