Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bicycle Dreaming

Dreaming within awareness is really like riding a bicycle. The balance required, at least initially, is one between mind and Self. In the beginning the mind must remember its newfound truth, overcoming its old beliefs that have worn themselves so deeply in its fabric as to be articles of faith. This may actually involve the mind picturing its understanding of formless Reality in some metaphorical form. In essence, this is the first act of surrender.

The second act is in an active meditation, a Self-Enquiry on the run so to speak, in order to rest in Awareness, the Self. In doing so the intellect is surrendered to intuition, and action follows, one called non-doing, for it does not originate in the egoic self but the Real Self.

Then rinse and repeat as often as needed, like pedaling a bike, and holding one’s balance with mind and Self, until this new way of dreaming becomes as deep as Faith itself.


  1. Two years back, I re-learnt cycling after a period of more than thirty years.

    These are the issues:

    1. You power with your legs, steer with your hands- but you need to sit still. The tendency when the cycle falls left is to push in the opposite direction with your hips. Not right. Steer the handle of your cycle towards the side to which the cycle threatens to fall, even as you gently keep pedaling. And another tendency is to look down directly in front of the wheel. Wrong again, you need to look straight forward if you are to keep your balance (my cycling master told me to focus at a point on the wall ahead of me at some distance on the road)

    Looking at this intellectually, advaita and the art of cycling teaches us thus:

    1. Attention is what powers vichara,like the legs of a cyclist, and introversion is the direction to which it flows, like the wheels of the cycle that are steered.

    2. When your mind extroverts towards objects, don't react to it and say, "Oh, I should bring it back to self". Just like the cyclist, who steers towards the falling side even as he pedals, don't slacken your attention, but let thy gaze go at the gazer of objects, and not against him.

    3. Like the student-cyclist who sits still, be you still. After you become a master, you can do as you please and no questions asked.

    4. Most important: the student should not look at where his front-wheel goes- he should sit erect, his gaze directed straight ahead. similarly, you should not occupy yourself with what changes, but your attention should be locked with that which remains unchanged.

    Sorry, long comment. Be free to delete it immediately.

  2. great comment! better than the original post. I love the analysis of the physics of balancing a bicycle. beautiful.

    but i would still say an issue involves handing over the handlebars to the mind. not bringing back to self, so much. there are times, and many they are, when you have to hand things over to the mind. unless you head off to the forest or a cave.

  3. Thanks a lot- this comes out of experience!

    I am not setting up an argument, but the issue of whether we should go on with introversion or let the mind tangle with objects comes up only when there is a contradiction/ obstacle, not when there is flow.

    We can do vichara even as we go on with our work- it is difficult, but not impossible once we realise what is at stake.

    I recently read an article at Tricycle, "Appreciate your life" :

    Where I found this: ""Do not be dualistic. Truly be one with your life as the subtle mind of nirvana. That is what subtle means. Something is subtle not because it is hidden, nor because it is elusive, but because it is right here. We don’t see it precisely because it is right in front of us. In fact, we are living it. When we live it we don’t think about it. The minute we think about it, we are functioning in the dualistic state and don’t see our life as the subtle mind of nirvana."

    That article is a good one.

    Thanks for your response.

  4. Sorry, i omitted to include this quote from that article:

    ""Another way of asking that question is, “Who am I?” “What is this?” These inquiries are the fundamental, most important koans. Like all koans, we must answer them out of our own life. What is our life? And knowing what it is, how are we living it? How can we experience the life that we are living now as an infinite, literally limitless life, as the subtle mind of nirvana?"

  5. No argument; just clarifications! I think we are saying the same thing for the most part. But as a beginner in self-enquiry on the run, the mind is still letting go.

  6. Thanks for being considerate about this.

    I forgot to mention one other thing. You know what the student-cyclist does? He grips the handle tight, and wants to make his wheels go on a straight line. But cycles, in the course of nature, hardly run straight- a look at the tracks of the expert rider reveals that. The student needs to free his arms, give slack to the wheels: he needs to direct without dictating, guide without restraining.

    Similarly in vichara, the student has to relax himself, and not force the mind to go on a straight line. The mind's nature is to wander, the student who tries to repress it is sure to fall- the best course is to let the mind wander: but as long as the self-awareness is there in the mind's eye, it will not wander far, in fact, the wayfarer will make healthy progress on his road.

    I hope you do flesh this out, even if for fun, and make a hefty post of it. You have the poet's gift of words, if i may say so.



  7. Something just now came to me as I was meditating. Like you said, I allowed the mind to wander for a moment. And the balance I was speaking to, of mind and Self in the dream world, can also be called one of devotion and wisdom, bhakti and jnana. So that when the mind is handed the reins, the handlebars, it does so in a state of devotion. I'll need to meditate on this some more. Thank you for helping me pedal further.

  8. Thank you, too. I am learning a lot from this.


  9. Here's something I found at "Tricycle": (Tricycle!)-

    "Although we spend countless hours behind the wheel, we often overlook the excellent opportunity driving presents for the practice of mindfulness. Trucker Paul Conrad tells us how the road can be our teacher.

    Think about it. You’re hurtling down the highway inside a three-thousand-pound metal box, surrounded by other speeding metal boxes and immovable objects. Delay for a second or two in stepping on the brake, or let the steering wheel veer off by twenty degrees for as long as it takes to draw a breath....

    Driving provides continual opportunities for us to wake up, to be mindful. There is no other daily activity for which moment-to-moment awareness is so important, or the consequences of inattention so immediate and potentially catastrophic."
    - On the Road.

    Reading it reminded me of your post.

    Thank you.