Aeons ago lived a tutee in a Temple of Knowledge, under the tutelage of several monks now close to fifteen years. He had been unflinchingly practising mindful living, quotidian practices of gaining awareness and a wide range of meditation techniques. However, his inner-self felt that he was hardly advancing in his understanding of the vast repository of Buddhist knowledge. Everything appeared to be a trope.
Know your perspective
One day in a state of utter spiritual ennui he accosted his Master and remarked, “Oh holy one, I have been diligently listening to your sermons for several years now. Unflaggingly, I have been practising the meditation and breathing techniques imparted. Yet I cannot understand basic tenets of Buddhism. Can you explain the concepts of Buddhism in one single phrase?” The entire place reverberated with laughter, hearing what was perceived to be a rather frivolous query.
But the perspicacious Master mused on the request for a while and remarked, “Everything changes. The only permanent thing in life is impermanence.” A stock individual, a perspicacious sage, a seeker or a savant is in a meditative state through the practice of mindful awareness. However, his or her attitudes are prone to alter with changing circumstances. It is only a verily enlightened one who overcomes the dreary ho-hum of life and becomes truly stoic. But these are Divine souls, not quotidian or wonted people.
Unceasing change of thoughts
Individual behavioural patterns, contours and shades of the mind, geometry and architecture of our thoughts, and our emotions, and feelings keep transfiguring. Humans form opinions and develop attitudes that keep changing. Thoughts, emotions, feelings and attitudes keep generating in the turbine of our minds. It may be conforming to a rigid pattern but need not be permanent.
The discipline of attitudes
Social psychology is that discipline or examination of psychology which examines how the environment affects you and in turn how you affect the environment. It investigates and systematically analyses human behaviour. Human deportment and attitudes are intricately woven with the behaviour of individuals and is impacted by external factors to a large extent.
How outlook is formed
Life is so much simpler when we stop explaining ourselves to individuals and live and act on things which operate for us seamlessly. In reality, our actions are determined by our attitudes which are formed and more than often get solidified in the alcoves of our mind when we get fazed by what others purportedly think about us. We spend, quite unnecessarily, sleepless nights on what person X or Y may have remarked about us at some point in time and accumulate stress in our minds and body.
We even design and formulate ways of thinking about certain topics and people based on this. This gets constructed in the amphitheatre of our minds. As social beings we incessantly develop impressions about persons and individuals we come across in our daily lives and attribute various motives to their actions and non-actions too.
All these lead to gargantuan strain on our system. It begins harmlessly enough, but over a period of time gelatinises in our system. It is quite mystifying why humans embark on this rather pointless investigative expedition which only accumulates tightness in our brain and consciousness.
Human behaviour and attitudes gets impinged and constrained by people they encounter. Attitudes gets established in the cranny corners of the febrile human mind and consciousness by our readings, what we see, perceive, gizmos, social media, political moorings, work of NGOs among others. Certain situations trigger positive pro-social and pro-people attitudes. Our heart melts and we embark upon assisting the distressed and disturbed without any expectations. This is authentically an altruistic approach on part of individuals.
The reverse may also occur
The reverse too could happen and individuals may resort to mayhem and violent, wanton acts because of what one witnesses. A human may rather tragically lose a close one in a bomb blast or in a case of rioting. In rather vengeful manner the person could develop a self-righteous attitude and adopt an ideology which is rather destructive and antipathetic in nature.
A quick appraisal
Psychologists have zeroed in on the fact that attitudes get established and formed and become a part of the cognitive system. These impressions are formed from a variety of subjects and topics. They may be ephemeral or may last a while. However, they are never permanent in nature.
Attitudes are acquired through events, experiences and relationships and bear a muscular imprint on the mind and human consciousness. Humans are constantly on the learning curve. By and large humans form attitudes through association, punitive actions, tragic events in life, but many a times efficacious occasions too. We may model our thoughts on the success stories of talismanic figures.
Human attitudes also get established through group and cultural moorings. Individuals are also exposed to the vast vista of information through the plethora of gizmos available, associating with the family, mates, school and college environment. The pedagogy employed has a bearing on the political philosophy espoused by individuals. The impact of peer groups and personal encounters apart, there is always an X factor.
Why bear the cross?
Humans can attain suzerainty over attitudes and conquer the mind. They can change the attitude through the practice of Vairagya, conquering nature, developing supreme faith in the superpower of divinity. Meditating on one’s inner strength, annihilating ignorance, practising Tapas by giving up sensory attachment, maintaining a daily spiritual diary (it would be prodigious to make out our daily balance sheet) and living in the present moment are other eminently suitable techniques.
“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be the happiest,” said Gautama Buddha.