choices

Choose Wisely

Choose Wisely

Choose Wisely

With so many spirituals paths, yoga centres and double the number of religious organizations it is understandable if a novice is confused about who is the right seer and which would be the right path to follow, for one’s spiritual/ personal growth. The plethora of options available trap the unaware fledgling and before he/ she can be any wiser about the path, purpose and goal, the journey would have already reached a stage where the person may feel like there is no turning back, or is afraid to restart elsewhere, or thinks they are all the same anyway, how different can the other paths be, let me continue where I am. This is not the case at all, because every path or any path one chooses to walk upon has to answer only one crucial question, which is: ‘what is it that you are seeking?’

Every path, spiritual or religious, offers only, and I reiterate, only what we ask for. So, I repeat, what is it that you want? For example: if it is purely physical fitness, the obvious choices will be, Ramdev Baba, of Pathanjali Yoga institute, or Guru B.K.S. Iyengar of Iyengar Yoga, from Mysore. I am mentioning only yoga with the surmise that we are going to get interested in the inner self too, someday in the future. Else, the world is over burdened with Gyms, Aerobics, Pilates, and many other only physical fitness centric institutions which I have deliberately refrained from mentioning. Yoga within itself has 8 steps (Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) and somewhere at the top comes meditation, which is the first step towards self- awareness. Hence, only two renowned names are mentioned above, with the hope of veering in the direction of meditation.

Now, like I already said, the key question we should always ask ourselves and pretty much, reiteratively is, ‘what do I seek?’ ‘what is it that I am searching for or wanting to get out of any path or practice that I intend to follow or am currently practicing?’ The second question as per me would be, ‘Has the path/practice brought about any change in me?’

To answer the question, ‘what do I seek’? I started with peace of mind, and anger management. Coming from a very religious family and having entered an even more ritualistically religious family, post marriage; religion is where my education commenced. My personal experience reveals that religion has benefitted me to the extent that I knew where I was going wrong, and that I was still missing something. Thus, peace of mind remained elusive. This augmented my sense of failure and thus I progressively became an irate person.  What I was seeking; none of my ritualistic, religious practices could answer nor appease my curiosity.  Swami Vivekananda rightly said; It is very good to be born in a church (Religion), but it is very bad to die in a church (Religion). It is very good to be born within the limits of certain forms that help the little plant of spirituality, but if a man dies within the bounds of these forms, it shows that he has not grown, that there has been no development of the soul. – The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda: Volume_2: Bhakti or Devotion

If the seeker is happy within the purview of religion and ritualistic practices, then perfect. I guess the journey for that person ends here, whatever else any seer might have said differently. So, if we are not seeking anything beyond a regular happy life, basic comforts, and we don’t mind coming back again and yet again to lead the same life, with a few variations; our journey of the Self remains stagnant or dormant. We have no need nor the desire for self-enquiry; hence religion is what we identify ourselves with.

But, for me; Swami Vivekanand’s words have a veracity and appeal. I seek more than just the rigmarole life.  And for seekers like me I guess the next step is to seek a path which is more than ‘only religion’, or beyond religion. This search naturally led me to meditation and through meditation I understood spirituality a little better. Meditation enables change through repeated introspection. In meditation too, the important question remains the same, ‘what do I seek?’

Meditation helped me manage my anger, be at ease and at peace with myself.  My journey did not end with these changes though, change is continuous and the nature of questions changes, the questions themselves do not come to a halt. Life for a spiritual seeker is one which is constantly uncomfortably comfortable, if I can put it that way. Restlessly at peace is the key feeling. Today, I strive to emulate my Master and be/ live like Him, and someday become one with Him.

Which path we choose to walk on is very seeker dependant. Between us siblings, all of us are on a different path and attached to a different organization. Understandably, we are asking different questions, questions individually unique, and we are getting the answers wherever we presently are. For me, I practice Heartfulness Meditation (Sahaj Marg Meditation) because this path has the answers to my questions. I am a better person today; and I am inspired to improve myself with each passing day. Heartfulness Meditation enables me to make possible both my aspirations; a. I do not choose to be a disciple all my life, I somewhere along the line, with practice, learning and meditation aspire to be self- realised, like my teacher, the role model of my life. b. Serving without the feeling of servitude, being a master of Self and a servant only to the One, the creator, is the final goal. The Master teacher on this path leads a householder’s life, and yet is a realised soul. He, his way of life is balanced, suited to the present times and fills me with hope that if He can achieve it all in one lifetime, so can I. This path has a guru who encourages the aspirants’ world over to imbibe the craving to become a master of Self. My persona should reflect my inner Self, as is, simple and devoid of duplicity. I should transcend every barrier of the mind; learn to introspect and be discerning enough to aspire for spiritual Oneness. God created one world; and meditation enables us to acknowledge this Oneness, and accepting the many disparities.

With the hope that the above helps the reader choose wisely, thank you.

 

Balanced Life

“There is an ancient Chinese saying, which says, “Every stick has two ends.” At first it seemed to be too simple, a mere statement of a visible fact which all can see. Who can, after all, deny that a stick has two ends? I wondered why an ancient Chinese philosopher had felt it necessary to make this statement at all. It appeared too superficial a truth to have merited any philosopher”s attention. Many years later, after several years of meditation, I realize what a profundity of meaning is hidden within those five words of that long forgotten philosopher.

First I learnt that our existence has two aspects, two areas, to it. They are the material and the spiritual realms of existence. There are not merely two sides to existence. The two sides have to be “balanced” if one is to lead a full and productive existence. This is the second lesson I learnt. All of us live, but few lives have real content, real worth in them. The bulk of humanity leads an animal existence motivated by lusts, inspired by fear and driven by lower urges and appetites unworthy of being called even remotely human. …Principles of Sahaj Marg, P.Rajagopalchari”

All the saints of yore and now have the thread of ‘Leading a Balanced Life’ culminating in a life full of love and self-realization as the common denominator. Looking at the present scenario though, balanced life seems to have lost its meaning totally; the scales are tipped heavily on one side. Before addressing the problems let us try and understand what the seers meant by leading a balanced life, and where exactly did we miss the bus.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has said, like a bird needs both its wings to soar high up in the sky, so does the human life need both its wings, the material and spiritual to lead a successful life. If any one wing is clipped or unused the flight of the bird is hampered; likewise mankind must maintain a balance between the spiritual quest and the material search in life. Mankind can reach the zenith of existence and success in all fields only by leading a balanced life.

Our country was the epitome of balanced existence up until we started aping the west. The way the role of human being was divided was a very balanced one leading the person from one stage of life to the other nurturing both the wings equally. During the days of Ramayana and Mahabharata people were very advanced scientifically, performing miraculous surgeries sans the present technology. Everyone was rich and content, adept in their skill or trade and very connected to the God within, by way of prayer and steadfast faith. From the time of birth unto death both the aspects of life were weighed equally important, more so the spiritual aspect than the material one. The Gurukul shaped the students to learn the skills of life alongside their spiritual pursuits. They lived with the Guru, ran errands for him, learnt skills and mastered scriptures. The education was all encompassing and complete.  When the students returned to the world they were very cognizant of their role and future course of life. Never did the scales tip to any side; both the roles were accomplished with equal sincerity and earnestness. Most of the vices of ambition, greed, hatred, and jealousy existed then also but the spiritual mind was so strong that the conscience never swayed towards the wrong side for very long.  A peaceful co-existence was more the norm at the cost of a little sacrifice and unbounded love in return.

The more we began to ape the west the lesser was our attention towards the spiritual side. In no time the soul was put to sleep and one wing was clipped off altogether. For some time we did postpone the use of this wing to a later date, old age or after we fulfill our responsibilities of youth and family life but very soon that casino pa natet wing was forgotten and replaced by an inanimate wing for more material gains. The flight of the bird was artificially maintained for awhile but very soon the flaws came to light and life’s journey became a very uphill task. This is how it is today, life’s journey for most of us seems to have become a Himalayan climb and we are grappling with the reason. We seem to be doing everything right, the way our forefathers did and yet we are unhappy and feel stagnated. The west has lost its glory and sheen and India unfortunately has reduced itself to a developing nation, struggling with illiteracy, unemployment and rampant corruption today! Imbalances are so many that counterbalancing them seems impossible and very daunting.

The west is looking at us now for inspiration and a way of life, learning from our scriptures and trying to lead a balanced life. One big reason why almost all the Gurus and preachers are so successful, well accepted and have amassed a huge following abroad, even though they are Indians by birth. What we lost has become their gain yet again, first the material wealth and now the spiritual elixir. The west has always looked towards East for every query, be it material or spiritual. We squandered away our spiritual wealth and looked towards them for all the wrong reasons and look at our plight today.

All we need to do is like Swami Vivekananda said, ‘Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is achieved.’ Go back to our scriptures and revive the spiritual wing, begin to nurture it and start leading a balanced life. It is a verity that a successful wealthy person comes with an expiry date, material wealth at the most maybe lasts 4-5 generations if it is not nurtured with spiritual roots. On the other hand spiritual wealth well nurtured  becomes eternal and like a Banyan tree gives shade for generations to come and spreads its roots below and branches above! It brings material gains with the spiritual contentment and life reaches its zenith in one life time of balanced existence.

So, instead of teaching our children to be competitive and comparative it may be a better idea to teach them introspection and self – discovery. The youth of today has a better chance of changing this nation and creating a better world for their progeny. We adults can take the small right step of steering this youth in the direction of a balanced life, soaring high using both the wings.