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Enduring Autism Through Vedanta
Courtesy: The Vedanta Kesary, English monthly from R K Math, Chennai
Strength comes from reading Swami Vivekananda's Jnana Yoga
lectures because it takes our mind away from this dreary, miserable world. This world is governed by Time, Space and Causation. These three have a built-in suffering potential. Things decay in time which causes untold misery by the death of dear ones. Separation in space also of loved ones can give us suffering. Causation is the most insidious because of what we might have done in the previous births. Let me illustrate the last by my own example.
I was born autistic and autism affected me in four ways. I was tense and was unreasonably fearful because my senses did not function properly. My senses distorted inputs. For example, my hearing was hyper; I could hear even the softest voice—normal sound was loud noise for me. An Ice cream Van's bell would drive me up the wall. I was hyper in touch also. When I was a child, a haircut caused me unbearable pain; I could not even be cuddled. Close proximity to people was difficult. In those early years, I did not enjoy variety in food; only cereal was enough.
Second, I could neither talk nor write. So communication was nonexistent. How can one live in this world without communication? I could not ask for anything nor could I converse. I could not play with children of my age and was thus friendless. One can easily imagine my life without communication.
Third, I had poor eye-hand coordination. Performing simple tasks requiring eye-hand coordination was very difficult or almost impossible. For example, I could not write, nor catch a ball nor hit a ball with a bat nor put a bead in a string. Thus, daily life was miserable and I could not even play as a mute.
The very thought that this body and mind and also this world may not be as real as we think, mitigates my suffering....
Finally, worst of all, I had twenty-six bizarre behaviours. These included chin tapping, weird noise making, funny finger movements, aimless running in circles, etc. These made me look insane, though, in reality, I was not insane but looked like one because of these unwanted behaviours. Since the world hates insanity, I was heaped insults and ridicule. When I walked into a restaurant, all eyes would rivet on me. They would laugh or giggle if I made any funny movement. I was deeply hurt as I was normal in intelligence but helpless.
Thus, this saga of autism ruled my childhood.
My mother waged a war against autism in my childhood and my father joined later. War it was for years; relentless it was. We conquered many battles but the war is still raging. That challenging war is chronicled in my first book 'Wasted Talent: Musings of an Autistic'. I cannot outline it in this short essay. Rather, I would focus here on how Vedanta has helped me, and continues to help me in this struggle against autism.
The utmost important lesson of Vedanta for me is that one takes full responsibility for one's suffering. One does not blame God or others for one's miserable life. This total acceptance of responsibility frees the mind from negative thinking of blaming others or God. It was indeed very painful in the beginning; and still is because it is easy to blame. Moreover, taking responsibility gives one strength that one can change the future. I am not saying that it can be done overnight, but it definitely can be changed. After all, my real nature is Brahman with all its power and so why cannot the future be changed.
Of course, someone could ask how do I know that I am Brahman. Though, I am not yet a fully realized soul, I can feel that there is a higher power and I am not just this body and mind. This body and mind vanishes in deep sleep.
Who am I then? When I get up in the morning, I feel refreshed and energized. Why? I feel great in the morning. Why? It shows to me that there is a higher power beyond body and mind existing in me. This vanishing of the world and the existence of a higher power is very soothing to me. Why? I suffer from this body and mind through autism. The very thought that this body and mind and also this world may not be as real as we think, mitigates my suffering. If this world is not so real, then there is hope for me.
About the author
The author of this article is an unusual writer. He suffers from autism, a brain development disorder. Overcoming all handicaps that an autistic has to face, Krishna, thanks to the care and dedication of his parents, has a B.Sc. level Electrical Engineering degree.
EXCERPTED FROM: http://living.oneindia.in