Free Press Journal

Do not scowl, Smile like a baby

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Humans are unable to demolish the false glass ceilings of attachments, entanglements, lust, obsessions, greed, jealousy, anger and arrogance that shroud the mind, writes RAVI VALLURI

“Smile in the mirror. Do that every morning and you’ll start to see a big difference in your life,” wrote the celebrated Japanese multi-media artiste Yoko Ono. A singular and unparalleled characteristic feature of a baby or even a toddler is its smile. The infant or toddler seems girdled in a continuum of cheeriness. The aura of a child spreads waves of joie de vivre, much like a breath of fresh air. It is like the first shower of monsoon on arid lands, which then spring to life bringing a broad smile on the scowling face of a debt-ridden farmer confronting an agrarian crisis.

A close scrutiny of the breathing pattern of an infant is extraordinarily amazing. The infant breathes, inhaling from all the three sections of its body. The breath is cavernous and unplumbed. The trajectory of the breath appears to enter a bottomless pit and the abdomen or belly bloats like a balloon. And when it breathes out the stomach caves in, consequently all skittish trepidations and mousy emotions are expatriated. This is the dexterity of a proper and correct breathing technique.


However, when the mind of an individual is plagued with Sisyphean and nugatory thoughts the reverse happens. The breathing pattern is leaden. It is either rapid or shallow or worse, both rapid and shallow. Such breathing patterns could and very often do lead to psychosomatic, physical and mental imbalances in the body. Consequently, the three doshas – Vatta, Kapha and Pitta (as per Ayurveda) get pronounced. So, there is a deep connect between our breathing patterns and the possibility of hosting pestilence in our mind and body.

Thus, it would be perspicacious and sagacious to observe minutely the breathing patterns of young children. However, the adult mind is too self-conceited. We are not observant or mindful to the play of nature and children around us. Nature swings effortlessly from sounds of cacophony to blissful symphony. Similarly, a child with effusion goes about his or her daily activities. The irreproachability and chastity of nature and child are striking which make them authentically hollow and empty.

Humans are unable to demolish the false glass ceilings of attachments, entanglements, lust, obsessions, greed, jealousy, anger and arrogance that shroud the mind. As a result, we sport a scowl, not a smile and view the world through the narrow aperture of tunnel vision. Separating the chaff (of negative tendencies) from the grain is the Holy Grail to become truly hollow and empty.

Aeons ago lived a Zen postulant who was quite keen to become proficient in various techniques of Zen.

It may be noteworthy to mention that had the path to spiritual enlightenment been simple and straight forward, the Sakhyan prince would have metamorphosed into the Buddha overnight. However, it took years of mental wedging and grappling before Prince Siddhartha transformed into Gautama and eventually evolved into Buddha – the Enlightened and Compassionate One. The neophyte indulged in some spiritual shopping and eventually landed at the doors of a temple of knowledge.

Being an exhibitionist, he attempted to impress the Zen Master with some newly acquired information about being hollow and empty. The gifted and precocious Master presented his favourite mentee to advance arguments on the techniques of becoming hollow and empty. The novice proclaimed that the mind, Buddha and sentient were all transitory and illusory in nature – in actuality nothing exists.

He was to further add, “The true nature of the earthly and extra-terrestrial experiences – the phenomenon is merely emptiness (unavailing, pyrrhic and bootless). In the long haul there is no realisation, no illusion, no delusion, none is sagacious or perspicacious, there is no one enlightened and nor anyone mediocre. All animate and inanimate objects are merely terminological in exactitude. As one traverses the path of spirituality and attempts hollow and empty meditations, one realises that no one is imparting knowledge and wisdom nor is anyone receiving anything.”

The assembly of monks appeared incensed. However, the enlightened Zen Master was unruffled. Abruptly, he lifted a bamboo stick and whacked the greenhorn with it. The tutee expressed his indignation at the wounds suffered from the hiding. “My dear boy, if there exists nothing where did this anger spring from?” enquired the Zen Master with a deep guffaw. The gathered tutees and monks who had been stung by the irascible behaviour of the mentee, laughed in a state of spiritual reverie. The youngster was ashen faced and begged for forgiveness. The Zen Master gladly forgave the youth and granted him permission to join the temple of knowledge.

It dawned on the ossified mind of the youngster that he had to traverse zillions of miles on the spiritual path in order to truly become hollow and empty, so that he could sport a genuine smile like that of an infant. It is said that the fulcrum of science is the repository of the knowledge of mathematics. If an individual does not have faith in mathematics, science would be stuck in the cesspool of the sands of time. Mathematics and scientific knowledge fuel growth and sound economics. But if a successful person remains tense, worried and miserable, what would be the use of such a triumph?

An individual would luxuriate if he learns to smile like a baby and not scowl like a lumbering individual. Otherwise success or wisdom would remain a burden, which would better be cast away and or bury in the depths of the ocean. So, one should smile like a baby. Testimonials indicate that a baby smiles 400 times a day, an adolescent sports a smile 17 times in a day while an adult under the deluge of burdens (real and imaginary) does not smile at all! Human life has four distinctive characteristics. It exists, evolves, expresses itself and finally extinguishes. So, while on this planet earth it is profitable to smile.