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When life is first give to us, we are unable to operate the body or the mind. The energy of life is not under our control. Our powers of perception are minimal, and our awareness and consciousness is extremely short-lived and fragmentary. We are each stricken with a kind of amnesia, with no history, no background, and no memory. Even more unfortunate, we do not even have the consciousness of the amnesia victim, who is at least aware that something preceded the beginning of his memory.

Out of this rather sorry plight, man's consciousness and potential greatness must develop. The fact that it does develop speaks strongly of a pattern and source hidden from view and not even suspected by most people. Man slowly emerges from the unconscious state and is able to piece together the early fragmentary consciousness into one of relative continuity. Even then, expect for those whose development becomes deeply profound, man's consciousness continues to be broken and fragmentary throughout his life. It is broken by forgetting, by unconscious repression, and by sleep. In each of these phenomena man's consciousness changes and he is aware of what goes on during substantial periods of time.

In developing consciousness, learning how to operate the body and how to survive in this world, most of us are so busy that we may never ask, "Who am I?" We are constantly diverted from this question. Over and over we are caught up in experiencing our physical machinery - in tuning it up, healing it and keeping it functioning. Even more compelling we are experiencing the pleasure of the body and the senses. These concerns tend to divert us from the important question of who we really are.

We confuse pleasure with lasting happiness. It takes a long time to realize that pleasure is not long lasting and is replaced by displeasure or discomfort. We are not taught that everything gives over to its opposite. If we experience happiness, and then it is replaced by unhappiness, we think that something is wrong - getting that this is part of the natural flow. Our thinking is caught up in being linear. Any break is surprising, yet the world functions in linear fashion only in short segments. if one takes the long view, sees the bigger picture, one finds that those seemingly straight lines are actually parts of a curve. Everything expresses an ebb and flow, coming and going, repeating over and over again.

For example, if we feel pleasure in a relationship, at some time something will happen to bring displeasure into that relationship. This happens as a matter of course, not because someone has a neurosis or does something wrong. Similarly, wet years give rise to dry years, and back to wet again. A full stomach is followed by hunger. Night follows day endlessly and season follows upon season. The shortness of our view, the limitations of our vision, break each of these into smaller parts. When we experience spring for the first time, it would be easy to assume that the days would continue growing longer and longer and would go on forever. Eventually we learn that darkness increases again. The problem is man's limited consciousness, which comes and goes, and plays tricks on him.

   
  Questions
   
  1. (a) Why are we unable to operate our bodies or minds when we are born ?
    (b) Comment on our powers of reception at birth ?
    (c) How are we even more unfortunate than an amnesia victim ?
       
  2. (a) How can you feel that there is a hidden pattern and source ?
    (b) How is man's consciousness broken and fragmentary throughout his life ?
    (c) What do we lose when learning how to operate the body ?
    (d) How is pleasure different from happiness ?
       
  3. (a) How did we react when a period of unhappiness follows a period of happiness ?
    (b) What example does the writer give to the changing between positive and negative ?
    (c) How, according to the writer, should we see the changes ?
       
  4.   For each of the following words give one word or short phrase ( not more than seven words ) which has the same meaning as it has in the passage.
      i.   extremely   v.   segment
      ii.   plight   vi.   ebb and flow
      iii.   profound   vii.   endlessly
      iv.   diverted   viii.   eventually
       
  5. The writer discusses how we fluctuate between positive and negative experiences. summarize his thoughts on this including his examples Write not more than 160 words.
       
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  Answers
       
  1. (a) This is because we have no control over our bodies and mind.
    (b) Our faculties are at minimum power.
    (c) The amnesia victim at least knows that he has been somewhere before this, while at birth we do not know where we had come from.
       
  2. (a) Man is able to piece together what has happened to him and sees a pattern.
    (b) We forget, repress thoughts and sleep and hence our consciousness i broken.
    (c) We lose the faculty of asking who we are.
    (d) Pleasure is not long lasting and happiness is.
       
  3. (a) We react by thinking that something is wrong.
    (b) The example given is about relationships. They go from pleasure to displeasure.
    (c) We should see them as natural.
       
  4. i very
    ii difficulty
    iii significant
    iv distracted
    v pieces
    vi constant fluctuation
    vii continuously
    viii finally
       
  5. At birth man is even worse than an amnesia victim who knows that he had something before he lost his memory. His potential must develop from such a beginning. that it does mean there is a pattern. It is broken by forgetting, sleep and through repressing his thoughts. Man fluctuates between positive and negative experiences. He is confused that pleasure is not the same as happiness. He is surprised when pleasure gives way to discomfort and that everything gives way to its opposite. he is confused when unhappiness replaces happiness and thinks that something has gone wrong, when the truth is that this is the rule of nature and the flow. He needs to see that everything has an ebb and a flow and that this happens again and again.

An example is in relationships. we drive pleasure from a relationship and then it turns into something unhappy. This is as natural as day following night and night following day. ( 160 words )

           
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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