When life takes us from Seeking to Searching!
Life is a constant seeking for happiness and contentment by all (no exceptionso) in the following fields:
- Securities (arthA)- wealth, property, better paying jobs, etc.
- Pleasures (kAmA)- luxury car, mansion, exotic vacations, expanded friend circle, etc.
- Religion (dharmA)- accumulating brownie points through worship, good deeds, etc. to take us to a Heaven after death
In the quest for preferably uninterrupted happiness through all transactions, all the time, everywhere and through everyone and everything we come in contact with, the early part of life frantically engages us in secular actions one after another mainly in the fields of pleasures and securities. As age and maturity catch up, some discerning peope start failing to see consistent happiness in material objects and relationships and slowly turn towards God and devotion, still seeking happiness there though! This shift now drives them to indulge in more sacred actions than secular like social service, pilgrimages, fasts and other austerities. Many don’t feel complete even after having sought Religion. They might have everything in life and yet continues an unexplained, nagging itch in the heart which wants something more. That itch may turn to questions– “Why do I seek relationships to make me feel loved, complete and happy?” “Why do I need the world(which includes situations, behaviour of people, etc.) to be a particular way for my happiness?” “Is this ever-changing physical body the real “I”?” “Why am I not comfortable with the idea of death and losing people I love?” “What is God?” “Is my purpose here just to eat, sleep and procreate or is there a greater meaning to all this?”
This seeking process doesn’t follow a specific linear order of progression for all but is an average blueprint for man’s general behavioural progress!
Even though we’ve technically been ‘seeking’ (happiness) all along, only when we are ready to give up frantic acting for deep questioning/enquiry within do we actually get dubbed ‘seekers’. Seeking has not yet ended but a shift in direction happens. One begins to start having a firmer sense in the possibility of happiness not being inherent in objects and situations outside. That leaves only one choice, ‘happiness must be within’! Consequentially, the next question that arises is, “How do I find happiness in myself?”
Spirituality now presents itself in the form of articles, speeches, teaching, etc. which guides us to turn from ‘seeking outside’ to ‘searching within’! Through deliberate searching employing systematic spiritual study, one becomes convinced that we are completely free from emotional and psychological dependences on the world of people and objects for our happiness. We are free and happy in spite of situations and not because of them! That is real happiness that we have been looking for all along and once we discover this, all seeking and searching end once and for all. That is true, total freedom (mokshA)!
My journey began with many questions, mostly pertaining to myself and some on God. Thankfully it led me to my Preceptor (gurU) and spiritual teaching in the form of advaita vedAntA began. advaita vedAntA is the core vision/Philosophy behind sanAtana dharmA , the Religion commonly known as Hinduism. Even within a short period of study many questions about ‘self’ got answered. But the bonus was, it taught me about the nature of God and the world too. That leaves one with nothing more left to know anymore, for what else remains in Creation apart from oneself, God and world? This study has been one of the most intellectually and emotionally invigorating processes I have ever indulged in. This is not in terms of an ego boost or mere intellectual expansion, but one that has been life and personality changing all together!
The study of advaita vedAntA encompasses in it only 3 subject matters:
• The essential nature of the individual (jIvA)
• The real nature of the entity called God (IsvarA)
• The true nature of the world around (jagat)
Equipped with this new knowledge of oneself and everything around, one will never ever be able to look at Life the same way, ever again!
Love, devotion, compassion and kindness are all really varied expressions of one emotion which we can call Universal Love. Only a wise saint abiding in the quality of Universal love can truly and selflessly emulate all the above qualities equanimously towards all.
The expression of Universal Love towards lower beings is termed compassion/kindness; love towards a peer and devotion towards a higher ideal. No matter what it is called, the emotion necessarily is directed towards an ‘object of love’. For example when one says, “I am in love”, there necessarily has to be “someone/something I love”. Similarly, to say that one is devoted necessarily means that there is a higher ideal that the emotion is expressed towards. Especially for love and devotion to be true in a complete sense, it would be fair to say that the object be known well. Afterall, is it possible to love a complete stranger? The intensity of any emotion deepens as we get to know the concerned object more and more!
It is not exxageration to say that most of us go through much of life practising Religion without wholly understanding the nature of the entity called God. Religion introduces us to a God with some attributes like timeless, spaceless, omnipotent, omniscient, etc. and requires us to be devoted. But what does our intellect truly make out of these high sounding adjectives for we know of absolutely nothing in the Creation even closely relatable? But before we charge Religion of demanding our blind faith let’s take a minute to see where complacency really lies! This a verse which is part of a beautiful prayer belonging to vedic tradition. It reads:
Clearly, even while it is demanding faith, Religion is gently giving us clues that the nature of God stands to be known or probed into. But we choose to ignore all the signs and remain steadfast exactly where we are, sometimes through our entire lifetime too! Our elders and conditioning taught us how to look at ourselves and how we relate to God. We have simply accepted all teaching and conditioning as is, never stopping to question or probe into anything!
To say that man knows no contentment is a lie for, in the areas of devotion and understanding ourselves, we are beyond content! Have our ideas about God or ourselves changed through the course of our life? If only this contentment applied in our secular life, how joyous and peaceful it would be! But no, in that sphere we are constantly looking for upgrades, be it home, job, wealth, relationships, etc. It is time to bring that enthusiasm for upgrade and change here! It is time to question and revaluate our understanding of ourselves and see if we can deepen the relationship that we currently have with a God, by getting to know Him (the pronoun is used only in the lack of better word and not denoting gender) better! In fact, in order for devotion to be of highest quality, it is our duty to enquire into the true nature of God! Through Scriptural study/Philosophy when God is understood for what He essentially is, devotion takes a whole new turn in the eyes of the devotee! Let me try by explaining it with an analogy:
Devotion without complete understanding of God is like watching a movie in a language that is completely foreign and ununderstandable to us. By the end of the movie one still might get a gist of what the movie was all about. But even so, one misses the total picture in terms of understanding intricacies in dialogues, jokes, lyrics etc. Study of the core vision is comparable to that process of learning the new language in order to get the total picture! Without it God is only vaguely understood. True, total understanding of the entity called God stems only after systematic study which again results in the most beautifully redefined devotion. Having said all that, let us in no way undermine the devotion we currently have towards God! The point to take away only is how to make our relationship with God better, nothing more!
Join me in this life-changing, explorative series of blogs where we will go on a journey, learning that new language by which we will see ourselves, God and the world in a whole new light all together! That changed vision brings with it a certain peace, joy and love which is unmatched and beyond all cravings of the heart!