[Published in Vicharasetu – Jan-Feb 1991. The author Ma Gurupriya was then ‘Ratnadeepa’]
Through the Waves of Samsaara
The intense enthusiasm and fervour I experienced in the initial stages of my saadhana, started receding amidst increasing worldly distractions. Till then, I was a student and a daughter, not having many responsibilities. But after marriage, I was faced with the responsibilities of a married life – setting up a household and managing it, social duties, obligations and demands. Moreover, I started working as a lecturer (Physics Dept., Vivekananda College, Calcutta) which brought in the additional duties and demands of a professional life. Suddenly, there was a drastic change in the life style. Attention had to be given to so many matters, minor as well as important – apparently non-spiritual but indispensable for everyday living.
From the little time available to myself, so much had to be spent on attending to material needs and worldly matters that the thought “I am getting away from the spiritual path” started burdening my mind. Both Aroopji and myself were perfectionists – too exacting and fastidious about everything. As if to teach us a lesson on moderation, most of our new articles and gadgets gave trouble, which meant considerable running about for getting the mechanics and setting things right to our satisfaction.
Conflict started in our minds. On one hand the mind craved for the uninterrupted quiet moments of meditation as well as reading and introspecting over the scriptures that we were used to. On the other hand the mind did not think it proper to be indifferent and insensitive about the environment, the people around as well as the society. When Aroopji wrote to Baba about our conflict, he replied: “Do not be disappointed. Everything is going on all right. All these conflicts are usual in the initial stages of jeevanmukta vyavahaara. Do all that is necessary in the world without any inhibition or fear. Enjoy everything as bestowed by Him. Things of enjoyment (Bhoga) give enjoyment; but that enjoyment can be of two kinds – one which brings happiness and other that brings unhappiness.”
“There are people who weep even while taking delicious food. Again, there are others who live happily on puffed rice, full of husk. There are men who enjoy the happiness of living in a palace while sitting under a tree; and there are others who, remaining in a palace, spend their day in weeping and lamenting. When the duties of life are performed with vichaara it will certainly bring happiness.”
But, the right vichaara did not come so easily. So the mind suffered disappointment and pain. All these worldly duties used to make my mind wander off to petty matters only to be reminded later that my Lord was not in my thoughts all the while. This remembrance would put me in deep sorrow.
I used to feel disheartened on two accounts: First, thinking that the intensity of seeking had reduced and second, seeing that I had very little time to be called my own when I could sit in solitude, diving deep into myself. In short, I felt that throughout the day I was engaged in matters, which were not only useless but also hindrance to saadhana.
On a Gurupoornima day, I wrote to Baba expressing my plight. He replied: “I am happy to receive your letter written on the occasion of Gurupoornima. Whatever you have written are the words of any saadhaka seeking Paramaartha (the ultimate truth). I know what your true aim is, but it takes time to reach that. You are quite on the right path – I have my watch on it.”
“Think of the effortless dead body floating on the sea. The waves of the sea sometimes drown it and sometimes push it afloat. Such are also the waves of this Samsaara (world). Those who swim against the tide have to suffer more. Difficulty is less for those who float with the tide.”
“In this world, one has to pass through both high and low tides. A jnaani (wise) experiences aananda even while coursing through sufferings, but an ajnaani (ignorant) is not able to do that – there lies the difference. Keep on doing the remaining ‘useless work’ with all sincerity. What you think useless is not useless indeed. To reach the Truth or to attain Parā-śānti, one must pass through and transcend all that appear to be against truth and peace. If we try to eschew the suffering amidst world-objects as something non-spiritual, then it will not be possible for us to attain the undifferentiated (nirvisesha) Brahman or Truth.
“So, receive everything as His loving gift. Do not consider worldly activities as botheration. Regard all these as part of saadhana and go ahead. All seekers progress like this. There is no other way. Do not worry at all.”
The seed of vichaara Baba had sown into our minds, always remained a true friend showing the right path, suggesting the right attitude. Following its light, we coursed through many a difficult situation. Whenever we were confronted with unfavourable situations, our attention would be directed more towards ourselves. We would think – let us accept these as austerities in the path of spiritual saadhana and be benefited and enriched by them.
This process of vichaara – the practice of looking into oneself with the aim of making oneself fit for the divine – also helped us immensely in being aware of our defects and impurities and enabled us to try to bring about improvements in our thoughts, actions and interactions.
The Lingering Void
As a river flows naturally towards the sea in spite of all obstacles on the way, changing route whenever necessary, I too was being driven on the spiritual path in nature’s own wonderful way. I had a happy married life, a very good husband treading the same spiritual path, a profession to my utmost liking with enough scope to learn through teaching and interacting with variety of students, and above all a Sadguru to guide me on the spiritual path. But, still beneath my mind the same old disinterestedness and the feeling of ‘void’ lingered on.
I was not fully happy. Neither did I feel contented. I aspired for something attaining which I would be happy forever. I understood that to attain That, my seeking, my love for God, should be more intense and exclusive. I wished I would remember Him always – during work, during rest, while walking, sitting or thinking. But in practice, I failed to do so. I found my mind often remaining away from the Lord while working in the household or in the professional front. Sometimes I wondered whether I was progressing at all!
I used to wonder what was wrong with me – why I was not remembering God all the while! Often I shed tears requesting Him to make me more sincere, to make my aspiration more intense. In pain and shame I would plead to my Lord, my Indweller: “Why are you making me forget you at times? Don’t you know that I become lonely and miserable when I don’t feel your touch within?”
I knew for certain that unless I felt and experienced Him within, my mind would ever remain empty – nothing else in the world would be able to fill up the ‘void’ within. This feeling grew more and more intense everyday.