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Ganesha: Replacing ignorance by wisdom and unconciousness by awareness

The symbolism behind Ganesha got me interested while walking past this statue today. I wondered why  it has the head of an elephant. Apparently Ganesha’s dad, Shiva, shopped his previous head off, because he was in the way but he did not realize it was his son. So when he realized he found the body of his sun a new head and so Ganesha was born.

Often these Indian legends have a big meaning behind them so I started to read into this one. Apparently one of the meanings/ symbolisms of this story is that ignorance has to be overcome by knowledge. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge. On Wikipedia the word ignorant is described as an adjective that describes a person in the state of being unaware, and can describe individuals who deliberately ignore or disregard important information or facts, or individuals who are unaware of important information or facts. Aren’t we all like this in some aspect of our life? For example towards how we treat the environment, towards our feelings, towards what we eat, towards relationships? Often we judge ourselves or others because we do not understand or don’t have the information to understand. We go back to concepts (ideas in our head) of what is going on based on what happened in the past, instead of directing our attention to the full scope of the here and now. 

Especially when something is difficult we prefer to go into a state of not allowing, self protection, in the form of a coping strategy that makes us able to stay comfortable on the short term at least.

In addition to this there is the tendency for a self confirming bias, in other words we select information, memories, interpretations and pay attention to things that confirm our previous views and experiences. This can turn into a cause for regret.

For change to happen and to have compassion for ourselves and others we need to get in touch with new and wider perspectives and educate ourselves with study, introspection and becoming aware of and questioning our own behaviours and truths. At the same time investing in a deep understanding of those around us.

In other words we need to learn to pay attention to and open up to the here and now fully. That means to be fully aware of our body’s, feelings, thoughts and what is happening around us, even if this is sometimes uncomfortable or painful.

To become wiser we must listen more and talk less. Accept more (on an experiential level) and resist less. In this way we can become more conscious so that we can make better choices.

No mud no lotus ?

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