Windmills of the Mind is born out of trying to make sense of the
puzzle called life and attempt to deal with it. As we go through the
ups and downs of life, we tend to blame circumstances and ill kinds of
factors outside ourselves. But if we are thinking beings we realise
that the more we try to change these external factors, the more things
remain the same. If there was one thing that irritated us earlier, it
is something else now. It is the same when dealing with people. The
cause has to be found elsewhere.
The realisation first dawned on me around thirty years ago; and as the
belief is in Indian philosophy, when the Student is ready, the Teacher
arrives. This is when I started to practice meditation, sceptically at
first but needing assistance and help, I was willing to try anything.
It worked wonders. Things started to improve. Why, I asked myself.
Probably because my mind was more relaxed, my attitude towards
circumstances and people gradually began to change. And hence two
things happened. A calm mind makes better decisions and is able to face
things with greater equanimity. Also, with better interpersonal
relationships and a more positive attitude towards people and
circumstances, the outer dynamics too began to change for the better.
Whatever may be the actual circumstances, the ability to cope and
accept gained in strength.
But human beings are fickle. Once they get comfortable, they tend to
relapse into old ways till another crisis, another jolt, comes along.
That is why adversity and suffering are an essential part of growth.
The moment we forget, something happens that reminds us that we have
once again forgotten the lessons that we had learnt and it puts us on
the right path. Or something occurs that we don’t like because it is
essential for something else to take place which may ultimately be for
our good. After all, we have limited vision which is restricted to the
present and do not know what the future holds or how it will work
But to face life with this kind of equanimity there has to be an
acceptance of both the good and the bad that life serves up to us. This
only comes through faith and surrender to some power higher than us. It
is not superstition, inaction, laziness or shirking of duty. It is to
work to the maximum and fulfil all our responsibilities, but with an
unshakeable conviction that all that happens must have a purpose. We
can argue about what the purpose can be in disease, death, physical
disabilities and the like. But higher purposes are not centred on an
individual and his wish fulfilment. They are to be viewed in terms of
the larger good and progress. It is a mystery that no one has been able
to pierce. This leaves us with two options. One is to be angry and
frustrated at the apparent injustices that we have undergone and which
are obvious in the world around us. Or, alternatively, to try and
ameliorate them to the best of our ability with the faith that we ire
participating in the work of the divine and are only its
instruments. The latter takes away the frustration and also the burden
of responsibility that seems to crush the do-gooders leaving us free to
work with joy in our hearts.
However, these realisations are not easy to come by and not ill are
willing to look squarely within. There is a popular story that shows
how few try to search inside themselves for answers to problems and
challenges that lie outside. God created the universe and all the
creatures within. He then decided to come and live with human beings as
man was the acme of his creation. But the moment he did that he was
beset by demands from all sides, usually contradictory. Harassed to no
end, he tried/ to escape but there was peace nowhere. Fatigued, he
asked a wise seer about where He could live so that He could be at
peace. The sage thought for a moment and then replied that He should go
and live in the heart of man. Seeing the amazed expression of the
Divine, the sage explained that man will look everywhere but within and
hence the Divine will remain undisturbed. Since then, man has continued
to look outward while the Divine sits within.
To look within means both to take responsibility for our own happiness
and unhappiness, and to acknowledge that we need to deal with ourselves
before we deal with others. This is the most difficult thing to accept
and to work on. But contentment can only come from within. Therefore,
it is an ongoing process to keep cleaning the mirror of the heart.
Everyday some dust settles
on it and blurs our vision and everyday it has to be removed. Hence,
the windmills of the mind in the process of dealing with ourselves we
learn some valuable lessons from our spouses, families, friends,
relatives, colleagues, workers and all those we come in contact with.
Apart from that, we need observation, contemplation, study and
analysis. As for me, I have tried to learn from all. Apart fro
interpersonal relationships which are great teachers, there have been
the speeches, talks and writings of many masters like Maharishi Mahesh
Yogi, Swami Chinmayananda, Acharya Rajneesh, Sri Aurobindo, the Mother
and Thich Nhat Hanh. Indian epics like the Mahabharata and texts like
the Upanishads, the Gita and the Dhammapada have not only given me
psychological insights but also shown the way to self- improvement.
Others that I have turned to are psychologists, counsellors, spiritual
teachers, writings and articles on the internet and in newspapers and
periodicals. The Gnostic Centre in Gurgaon provided direction and
friendship at critical times in the last few years. (In a different
form, these articles were published in their newsletter, The Awakening
Ray.) My grateful thanks to my very dear friend Alka Raghuvanshi who
read these articles and persuaded me to bring them together in the
present form. Writing these articles was therapeutic in more ways than
one, a process of dialogue with my own self. The effort is to stimulate
self-awareness and understanding which alone are the key to calmness of
mind and peace of heart.
Back of the Book
Look within and follow a cleansing process, is what the author says as
she points to the dust that settles on the mind and blurs the vision.
In this very reflective and introspective text, Dr. Kavita A. Sharma
dives into the deep avenues of human consciousness and probes the
depths by asking pertinent questions; by raising the doubts that
traumatize each human mind; and by exploring all explanations.
Understanding our fears and insecurities and letting go of the past, go
a long way towards opening the window to self-realisation. Are we
helpless victims of our destiny? Is the ‘hidden plan’, according to
which our life appears to move, the machinations of a puppeteer who
pulls the strings, or is it remotely possible that our own mind, and
the path we wish to traverse, ensures that the plan is well worked out?
Spirituality has often been caught in the rigidity of ritual and
outward ‘religious’ connotations, from which modern men and women tend
to turn away. Not many have seen the connection of the outer and inner
life. Listening to the cry of the spirit is the only real calling that
makes complete sense as we try to take control of the windmills of the
Kavita A. Sharma is the principal of the prestigious
Hindu College in Delhi. She is one of the most distinguished and
versatile academicians in the country today, with distinctions in the
field of English Literature as well as Law.
Apart from teaching, Kavita Sharma is also an accomplished
author. Her first book, Byron’s Plays: A Reassessment, was published in
1981. Subsequently she published Ongoing Journey: Indian Migration to
Canada, which has received significant acclaim. She has also been a
prolific contributor to leading publications in the country on subjects
ranging from education and literature to women’s issues and
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