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One of my friends asked me what spirituality is. What I think about it may differ from the concept of many. I believe that harmonizing with the Universe is being spiritual. Most of us associate it with the number of times we go to pay our obeisance at our respective places of religion. This may offer some kind of solace. However, I feel that spirituality is not measured by one’s trips to pilgrimages in the outside world. It is totally an inward journey. Spirituality, to me, means a perpetual state of joy, Bliss or ‘Ananda’…a happiness which is not conditional or dependent on outer sources and does not cease to be, even when the catalyst is removed.
Broadly speaking, we recognize living at three levels of our existence- body, mind and spirit. Mind is the extension of body. If we continue to live at the first two levels i.e. body and mind only, we remain suspended between the pendulum of happiness and sadness. As long as we indentify ourselves with our mind and body, we continue to suffer. It is only when we come into alignment with our ‘Spirit’, which basically is our true nature; we rise above the dual quality of life and come to embrace unending state of everlasting Serenity. Otherwise, we keep on shuttling between joy and Sorrow, between beatitude and agony. If we learn to live at the third level, that is the level of the Spirit, we dive deep into the ocean of Eternal Bliss. Achieving that state of mind does not require vigorous ritualistic practices. On the contrary, it means becoming totally effortless and in total acceptance of who you are. I gathered all this from my interactive sessions with the ‘Guru’ now that I see it retrospectively.
As I described in my last anecdote, when I went to Reverend Saint Sukh Sagar ji (the name of the ‘Guru’), for the first time, I had no idea of the importance of having a Spiritual Mentor. Although after my first tryst with him, I had understood that he was remarkably knowledgeable as far as my Spiritual or even worldly queries were concerned, yet, I was not completely convinced with the idea of following a ‘living Guru’. Reflecting back, I consider myself to be fortunate that I have had many fruitful opportunities to learn from his ancient wisdom.
To carry forward my story, I would like to confess that my mind was doubtful as to whether this Master was indeed Enlightened or not….There was no way of knowing the real truth, as I mentioned earlier, he looked as ordinary as any other person around. A constant conflict was going on inside me. Like Hamlet, I was in a dilemma, “to be or not to be”. There was, however an honestly about his face, which was appealing. He definitely looked more calm and peaceful then anybody I had met before. His smile came straight from is heart and was not fake. There was an aura about him, the positivity of which could not be missed. I made my choice. I would regard him as my Spiritual teacher and ignore my doubts for the time being….after all, I told myself; I was not a child and could not be misled. The option of surrender put me at ease…I found myself in a receptive mode.
I had expected that ‘Swami ji’ (as he was addressed by most of his followers) would give me some instructions like following some rituals and offering prayers as part of my newly found path. Swami ji wanted to talk about the cultivation of “Self” which was not comprehensible to me. The name of ‘God’ sounded more familiar to me to explore. He tried to convince me that knowing ‘Self’ was more relevant…but my mind insisted on knowing the fancier concept of God only. He gave in smilingly and said that after all it was not a ‘name game’. To my further surprise, he told me that chanting ‘mantras’ or singing holy verses in whatsoever way, I had been taught since my childhood, was not going to help me in any way in knowing Him. He said,” If you want to know Him, you have to experience Him vividly. You can never find Him by repeating His name mindlessly. Singing of hymns would not enhance you spiritually.” The example he gave me was wondrously convincing. If you are hungry, you will have to eat food…just uttering the names of different dishes or their recipes would not satisfy your hunger!!! Repeating the word “water, water, water”, would not quench your thirst. You will have to drink it actually to satisfy your urge. How very logical!!! How can the mere repetitions of the myriad names of God, bring you closer to Him? Like water or food, you will have to practically taste godliness to satisfy your need! I asked him if he had ever experienced God himself. To this, he replied that he had, but, it was not going to help me in my personal quest…my experience would have to be mine. Just as the parents want their children to become self-sufficient rather than being fed from their hands forever, a similar sincerity could be felt by me in my Guru’s insistence of my learning to disentangle the knot of God myself…
Agreed…but how to proceed further? Now my curiosity about God and my faith in Swami ji was suddenly picking up. He again smiled and said that every journey starts with a single step. He also told me that God alone is not the destination. In fact each move towards Him is a goal in itself. Each moment must be enjoyed and lived fully in complete awareness, each step would be an encounter with God then….
Seeing confusion on my face, he reassuringly emphasized, “Do not feel lost in the maze of words and ‘names’…I told you earlier also. When small children go to school for the first time, they are not taught about the final degree they would obtain after the completion of their education, they are just introduced with the alphabets of a language. They are not even aware of what the outcome of their learning would be. Following the steps one by one, they find themselves equipped with degrees one day. Just go on observing little steps and you would find yourself knocking at God’s door….”I was totally bowled over. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude. Here I had someone, offering to teach me right from the scratch, just as a mother teaches her child to balance its wobbly steps while learning to walk. Never till today, had I been guided like this towards the attainment of God. So far, I had been asked to attempt PhD assignments regarding divinity and the divine, while I was unfamiliar even with my nursery stuff in the subject!!!
My first objective was to learn to be unconditionally happy. He told me that I could know myself and subsequently God, only if I were in a joyous state of mind…no matter what my worldly situations were.( Later I learnt that, being happy was one of the four conditions he preached, in order to follow the spiritual path, which I would discuss in future write ups). Millions of questions popped up before me. How can one be buoyant when there are endless reasons to be sad? If you do not have a job, you are depressed…if your relationship is not working well, you are far from being cheerful…there is a death in the family, you are drowned in tears…He listened to all my doubts and without being the least perturbed, asked me to make a list of all the things which made me sad, so that I could be taught to work on them…
I decided to enlist all my possible causes of unhappiness and discuss it with him. Was it easy for me to remain happy all the time or were there obstacles? Well, there were many hurdles in my way, as was expected and will talk about them soon…
(To be continued)
I look forward for your feedback!