The stage is like a frightful monster and I am afraid, very much afraid that your best bet is to beat it!
To have an insight, try being out of sight! Out of mind will double the vision!
I wondered whether to title this post ‘Part 2’ or ‘Final’. Part 2 could point to the possibility of yet another part, which I didn’t want. And ‘final’ sounds like I reached my destination. Which I haven’t. Obviously. But it begs the question – is there an end to this journey?
My outer journey will most definitely end one day. But now that I am aware of the timeless and deathless realm – why do I refer to and treat my inner journey as though it has an end? Awakening is a process and I am now for the first time, considering that maybe, there is no end to this process. Perhaps it will turn out to be as eternal as my Self. How do you reach the lengths, or depths rather, of infinity? Just the idea of experiencing limitless truth, joy and love is enticing. And it is liberating since there is no goal – the further I go, the farther I can go! How beautiful!
To make a long journey short, Eckhart Tolle came into my life and taught me a million things. I mentioned in Part 1 that my life did not change dramatically enough because I probably have a billion things to learn. Or who knows, the next thing may dissolve everything for me since grace is not a mathematical progression. The illusion that the mind carries is huge indeed, but it is no match for the unbounded truth.
Returning to the source of this thread, how do you know you have found your guru? Simple. You don’t google anymore. Not for gurus, certainly. Not for teachers. Not for inspiration and definitely not for enlightenment. You will be absolutely open to other teachings, but you will always return home to the one.
The most significant thing I learnt from Eckhart Tolle is not to live my life in compartments. I so vividly remember yelling at my (then) 6 year old daughter, when I sat down for meditation once and she wouldn’t leave me alone! I didn’t know at the time, that it is not about what you do, but how you do what you do. Every situation and every relationship in your life is best suited to take you to the next post!
The Bhagavad Gita, amongst other things talks about Karma Yoga, the path of consecrated action. I never liked the word ‘consecrated’ – just a personal prejudice, I guess. I used it here just to tell you that I don’t like it! I love the word ‘sacred’ though. It has a beauty and depth, perhaps because of the symbolism associated with it. Anyway, getting back to the action, how do you make your actions sacred? The answer seems so obvious and yet it took me a lifetime to get it.
How do you treat something that you consider sacred? What would your attitude be? Would you give it attitude? Nah! You give it respect. You give it your attention and you give it it’s due. So why did I not get it in the first place?
karmanyevadhikaraste ma phalesu kadachana…
B. Gita, Chapter 2, sloka 47
Invariably, the translations I came across all said that you should perform your work without expecting anything in return or you do your work but you have no right to the result. I somehow could not relate to these translations and interpretations. A slightly attractive version was that you should not be attached to the results of the action, and therefore perform your work with detachment. This too I could not implement. Detachment is dry business, unless you know what it’s all about. If I work, I certainly have a goal in mind. If you tell me I have no right to the result of my action, I wouldn’t even be motivated to do most of the stuff I do.
So how do you reconcile this? The answer could be simple. You shift the focus from the result to the action. If you focus on the result, your attention will be divided and you will self-sabotage. Take a simple example: if your child has to take a test, what would you tell him or her? Please focus on the result and the test will take care of itself? Not at all! What you would suggest is, give all your attention to the test, and the result will take care of itself. Extending this example, when you prepare for a test, you will not focus on the test itself, but the preparation, the study, the practice or whatever. So, every action is like a test. If we focus on the action, the result will take care of itself. Too simple? Maybe, but works for me! And I owe this understanding to my teacher.
The Journey to the Infinite Depths starts with one question: Who am I? Ramana Maharshi is famous for this teaching. Before I ever got to this level, I asked a different question and not of myself.
When I was 16 years old, I casually asked my mother, not “what will my future be,” but what was in the book she was reading. I had seen her read the same book for several years, but never stopped to really notice, much less to ask her about it. She replied briefly, “Why don’t you read it and find out for yourself?”
She was reading the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scripture that is like a Book of Answers to one seeking esoteric knowledge. If anyone asked me about a book I was reading, I would certainly jump to give them a summary, my interpretation or at the least, show off my own knowledge and taste. But not my mother. Her answer had a deep impact on my inner journey and I am forever grateful.
I took her advice, and read a few chapters that were her favorites. I was totally impressed by the lilting poetry of Chapter 10, and the powerful two chapters that followed. I stuck with those and read one each day. ‘Everyday’ is key to any practice, I suppose. Eventually I traversed all 18 chapters and became very familiar with the text and even memorized a lot of it. I used a translation because I was pretty good at reading Sanskrit but not understanding it and the rest of my learning was helped by listening to discourses.
My interest in spirituality deepened. I read many, many books and I learnt meditation from at least 4 or 5 different sources. I prayed desperately for a guru. But I assumed that gurus can only teach directly, so I pretty much thought that my only option was to go to an ashram. It didn’t seem practical and I wasn’t that adventurous – and there was no guru for a long time.
My spiritual practice was mainly limited to the confines of my puja room but I grew more and more restless, because my mind never came in with me. One day, I heard Eckhart Tolle – thanks to Oprah, he did a web series on his book, A New Earth. My sister had given me the Power of Now almost 10 years before that, but it went over my head. His teaching resonated with me and I subscribed to his online teaching. Life changed. But not dramatically enough.
(To be continued…)
I stumbled across someone who mentioned the importance of a personal trainer and then my mind drifted off into the past when I briefly had one. Since I haven’t been in the inside of a gym for a while now, this treading into the past is as much to motivate myself as it is to you.
If you are already a member of a gym and find it hard to be a regular, I suggest you get a personal trainer. Why throw good money after bad, you ask? This is probably the one place where it will work out well for you!! Contrast it with the stock market – even good money after good, sometimes turns bad altogether, doesn’t it? If you haven’t had a taste of that, you are quite lucky.
If you don’t go to a gym, I recommend that you do and get a personal trainer – you can live off of that experience for a while. I thought personal trainers were for the rich and famous, till my gym ran a promotion. The session was good and had me wanting more. I instinctively realized that you get what you pay for and I jumped to sign the contract. It was $100 for four half hour sessions.
If your nose is not too sensitive and hopefully if your trainer is not too sweaty, I swear you won’t regret it. A personal trainer is just that! He or she is your personal trainer. So you will start feeling good, right at home, before you even think of exercise. Your fitness is now a shared responsibility. When you talk to others, you can display your superior judgment, a sense of pride and that feeling of belonging to the inner circle. Hopefully, you don’t put off too many people with your self-righteousness.
You will go to the gym, because now you have an appointment and an obligation to show up. You pay attention because if you don’t, you lose money. Your trainer is invested in you, so he will tailor the workout to meet your needs. He will be there with a timer, encouraging you all the while, rooting for you and sometimes pushing you where you would never push yourself. On the flip side, they are the reason you won’t be able to walk normally for at least a week. You will discover muscles that you never had, and pain that you never felt before. My workout before the trainer was like a joke compared to the one with him.
Once he or she has served their purpose, let go of them and think of re-hiring them when you slack off, which is inevitable for most people.
As for myself, after enjoying a few sessions and feeling on top of the world, I quit because I was pregnant and the workout wasn’t working out well. The trainer didn’t know what was okay and what wasn’t, so I had to train him. And finally, if you ever need to get out of your gym membership, unless you are sick and have a doctor’s note, you won’t be able to outrun your contract!
The sun has set on me several times
In every life that I woke up
Many fingers pointed to the moon but
I was enamored by the fingers and
Gazed from one to the other
I traced the finger back only to see
Who was pointing and how
It never occurred to me to follow the finger
In the direction to which it pointed
For there was the Moon
That was Self-effulgent
Before the sun sets on me again and
I get blindsided by the breathtaking moment
I pray I can see the Moon for my Self!