Dr. Vijai S Shankar MD.PhD.

India Herald

Houston, USA

12th September 2008



“Life has such an extraordinary texture when there is understanding of its play.”  Peter Julian Capper


Man complains either overtly, sarcastically or subtly. It is deeply embedded in his psyche and is considered essential to keep things in order, to ensure smooth running of families, society and the national machinery. It is strange that complaints keep things in order, harmony and peace. Order, harmony and peace just cannot seem to exist in their own right; they seem to need the help of complaints - how ironical.


Children’s behaviour is shaped and maintained by dictums, rules, culture and religion. This gives ample room for complaints to flourish if the expected behaviour is not forthcoming. Complaints seem to harness and refine behaviour. Man is of the belief that if you do not complain children will not behave as they are expected to. But why have complaints not been effective? Children do become adults and somehow adults do not wish a finger to be pointed at them, yet they are not free from complaints. If the complaints did work, and they would if they were real, then adults should be free from them. If they are not real, one has to ponder seriously what point there could be in complaining. 


Daily complaints between siblings get under the skin of parents. The ever-sharp mother- in-law’s tongue is no secret. The proverbial nagging wife makes good humour, but definitely not to the husband. The complaints of an over-burdened, crisis-ridden, budget-deficient, abused wife are a tragic story. The drone of everyday complaints that greets the breadwinner on return from work, which is by no means complaint-free, is legendary. Complaints are present even in a smooth-running home.


Complaints reach the teacher, the principal, the dean, the chancellor, the business bureaucrats, the houses of parliament, and no man or institution is free from them. Legal systems honed to perfection pass judgments over complaints. International, cross-border incursions of any sort are a complaint between nations. No man is perfect and one can see why; how can he be, when no man is free from complaints? Man tries to be perfect and, as yet, it seems that no man is perfect, for all are complaining.


Relationships are fine until complaints make their presence felt. It is ironical that complaints are more prevalent in a relationship that has stood the test of time. In fact, understanding rather than complaining should be the hallmark of a long-standing relationship. Complaints are either from the start, in the middle or at the end, which ends the relationship. This means that love too is not free from complaints. Friends complain too and any man, who perpetually complains, is not friendship-material.


Respect, devotion and love are all dissolved by a complaint - a complaint, which man believes is real, even though he is not the doer, the thinker or the speaker. It makes one wonder how real the respect, devotion or love could have been in the first place. The religious and the spiritual both succumb to complaints and no man is immune. Only the enlightened being is free ‘of’ complaints, though he is not free ‘from’ them, nor can he be as long as man and mind is around him. 


Places of worship, the abode of God, are not free from complaints either. The behaviour of those who lay down the rules of good behaviour and are the bastions of God come under scrutiny and all hell breaks loose with complaints galore. The manner and mannerisms as to how the religious ceremonies are to be conducted come under the hammer of complaints. 


Every dining table at home or restaurant has its share of complaints served, no matter how subtle. The service, the taste and the presentation of food and drink have their daily stories of complaints. Every aspect of public service is not without complaints. They are required, and this point is not disputed, but have they produced the desired results? 


Where did man learn to complain? Who taught him to? Who was the first man who complained? How did the phenomenon of complaining spread like cancer into every man and woman? Man is proud of his sophistication and yet he complains. Is ‘complaining’ a mark of education and sophistication? Logic apparently justifies complaints, but a much more serious thought is needed to understand why it does exist. God has manifested it in His creation and therefore it is necessary. Maybe it is just necessary to understand that it is not necessary. If the world were illusory, as the sages proclaim it is, complaints too need to be illusory. They are necessary for the drama of life to operate, which makes them illusory and not real.


It cannot be determined with any accuracy where man learnt to complain, who taught him to or who the first man to complain was. To complain is obviously a function of a sophisticated mind, yet it cannot be determined with any accuracy where complaints started. It is only obvious that they did. They did start and this was part of life’s sophistication-process to make its illusory nature more real.


It is equally difficult to determine who could have taught man to complain for the teacher needs to be taught too. So, the first man who complained could never have been taught to: complaining just happened to man, as does everything else. It happened and will continue to happen. Initially, man believed that the other is capable of doing as instructed. He used to instruct relentlessly without any expectations. The instructor himself completed the work desired according to his satisfaction. Man never expected that the other ‘should’ do as instructed. 


Later on, as the mind sophisticated, man expected the other to follow instructions as to what ‘should’ be done. When they were not done to specifications, the first man complained. Complaining was the moment he expressed his displeasure. Displeasure made its ground within his psyche. It has mushroomed to such proportions that man complains for no reason at all - all part of the drama however.


What is a complaint? Displeasure of any sort is a complaint. The slightest displeasure is a complaint. When displeasure is at a maximum it is termed ‘complaint’. Is any man satisfied, contented, in harmony and at peace? By the look of it no man is, neither the spiritual nor the religious. It only means that man is displeased, in displeasure and in complaint-mode until he passes away. 


But what is it that makes man complain? When an action does not conform to how it ‘has to be done’, when an action is not done when he expects it ‘to be done’, when an action which he expects to be done is ‘not done’, basically, when life does not happen the way he thinks it ‘should’, man complains. Now these various aspects are just concepts within man’s mind which he believes are the only way any action should be, for they are real to him. The other man’s concepts of how life ‘should be’ are not real to any man, whereas it is real to the one concerned.


Now, could what man expects be possible? Could his expected life be possible? If his expected life were real, then surely only his life would be possible for every man? Would this make life feasible for every man? Would not every man complain, including the one whose expected life is common to all? Life would be impossible to comprehend. God or life is just too intelligent to allow man’s expected life to happen.


Even relatively speaking, man’s expected life cannot be a reality, for every man’s expected life is sans mishaps. If every man’s life were such, would he be able to recognise life? He would not, for such a life would not be dual. Man needs duality for the mind to function. If duality were absent, the mind itself would not exist. If the mind did not exist, then man would never transcend into Godhead. He would just be as an animal, an animal incapable of thinking. Since man is an animal capable of thinking and this thinking-process is based on duality, the mind projects an illusory world which, when understood, reveals Godhead or enlightenment.


Life is a singular flow of energy, which transforms from one form to another spontaneously, uncontrollably and unpredictably. This transformation-process happens in the timeless and thoughtless ‘now’, and what happens in the ‘now’, which is life, is a play of light and sound. The light and sound, ‘Bindu’ and ‘Naada’, project an optical and auditory illusion, which is the mind and its drama of illusory words and meanings. You cannot fit life into the mind. You cannot make life happen according to your concepts as to how it ‘should’ happen and complain if it does not. It is life that makes man think that life ‘should’ happen as he expects, so that an understanding can happen that it is just not possible.


You always know what has happened in life only after it has happened. A perfect base upon which thoughts of what ‘should’ happen and what ‘should not’ happen appears, and man expects and waits to accept what ‘should’ happen and complains when what ‘should not’ happen happens. Understand that what ‘should not’ happen can never happen - only what ‘could’ happen happens, which is nothing but a transformation of life. What is ‘meant’ to happen always happens and what ‘should’ happen, which is an expectation, happens in your mind as thoughts as well. Neither is present in life, and cannot be either, as life is timeless and thoughtless. Similarly, what ‘should not’ happen always happens in your mind as thoughts and not physical actions, which ‘should not’ happen, because action is an optical illusion of light and thoughts are an auditory illusion of sound. 


It is foolish to insist and demand what ‘should’ and what ‘should not’ happen and later complain that it has not. You always come to know what has happened only after it has happened, for it happens as thoughts in the mind and not as reality in life. This is why the waking state is illusory - a ‘Maya’. Even the thoughts that happen in the mind are never identical to what you expect to happen, if it happens as expected. Life happens and so does the mind. The mind gives you the opportunity every moment to understand that the mental world is illusory. The only thing which happens is an aging process and this happens in the timeless and thoughtless ‘now’. You never know that you are born when you are born; neither will you know you are dead when you die.


Who would or could man approach to complain if he were not born? Would he be able to complain at all that he is not born and wishes to be born? Who would or could he approach to complain about his death? Would he be able to complain at all that he is dead and does not wish to die? On both counts of birth and death man cannot take his complaint to God or life: it is only the in-between that he complains about. This in-between is his mind and not life, wherein he or she is alive. Man complains about his thoughts and thinks that he is complaining about life. This is what makes the waking state illusory. 


It is good fortune that you are in this magnificent world of God. You have not done anything to God that he should reward you with life in this world and also do everything for you, which he does anyway, no matter how illusory. You reward God for his kind gesture of keeping you in his world by complaining. This too happens so that you may understand how ungrateful the mind is, no matter how illusory. 


To complain is foolish for you are alive and kept alive for no reason on your part. Every moment is a gift from life that you are alive. Everything you come to know has come your way; everything that you have has come to you and everyone you live with has happened to you. Thinking, speaking and doing happens to you and you are complaining about the other. Complaint happens too to remind man that he does not trust life. Life happens to the other just as it happens to you. Listen to the illusory world of the mind, which man thinks is real. Live the wonderful world that life manifests as light and sound, ‘Bindu’ and ‘Naada’. This understanding is enlightenment.


© Copyright: V.S. Shankar, 2008



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