Seventy five per cent of snake bites are non-poisonous. But 75 per cent of the time, when a snake bites, people die out of fear. This observation by Swami Sukhabodhananda on day two of Goafest set the tone for his opening talk on the theme: ‘Uncertainty is also a part of life’.
He was referring to the role of fear in shaping our perception of uncertainty. Addressing a packed seminar hangar, he said, “Fear has its own structure and it pollutes uncertainty. What is the problem with uncertainty? Uncertainty is fun. But how are we relating to it? We mess it up with fear.”
Sukhabodhananda suggested a new meaning for the word ‘f-e-a-r’: fantasised experiences appearing real.
“Uncertainty in its purity is not experience – we never factually experience uncertainty. The translator translates it based on the programming (of the past). The ‘experiencer’ pollutes the experience,” added Sukhabodhananda.
He urged the audience to deal with uncertainty wisely instead - with alertness, openness and aliveness. The typical reaction to an uncertainty or problem is to exaggerate, underestimate or ignore it, he explained, and said one needs to treat problems as a challenge instead. Much to the amusement of the audience, he said, “Even if you don’t understand a problem, enjoy it.”
“Problems will continue. Your capacity to deal with them must also continue,” he surmised.
Recognition vs cognition
In the wake of problems, the tendency is to increasingly worry, whereas the focus should be on increasing awareness on how to solve them, he reasoned.
Thought is a representation of memory, and memory is a representation of the past, reflected Sukhabodhananda. So when one uses thought to solve problems, instead of intelligence, one gets trapped within a ‘box’ defined by the past, he said.
“Recognition is seeing what is in the light of what you know. You need cognition of the problem, not recognition,” he added.
Using the four parts of the brain
Solving problems or tackling uncertainty requires that we use all four parts of the brain, applying intelligence, planning, kinesthetics and intuition, he elaborated.
While logic has a place, it needs to be in context, he reasoned, and said, “When a stupid person learns logic, logic becomes stupid.”
On the importance of intuition, he added, “Walt Disney looked at a rat. The rest is history.”
“Listen to uncertainty. Listen to the problem. Uncertainty is not the problem. Your conclusion that uncertainty is a disorder is the problem. We will have vagueness in life. Enjoy the ambiguity. Create harmony in conflict; not conflict in conflict,” surmised Sukhabodhananda.