Spirituality is not about religion. It is about the flowering of inner awareness in you – the one that tells you that it is what it is. And that you will do well to accept what is. So, over time, and from experience, all of us evolve. Some of us evolve through a crisis. Some of us evolve through resisting, fighting, avoiding and then learning to accept Life. Some of us evolve by understanding the scriptures and applying our learnings to real-Life contexts. Each of us evolves though for sure – at our own pace and time. The evolved person does not ever say no to Life! He or she is never looking for choices. Sadness comes and it is accepted. Tragedy comes and it is accepted. Opportunity comes and it is accepted. A moment to celebrate comes and it is accepted. This person does not impose conditions on Life. And therefore this person is happy and content despite the circumstances he or she is placed in.
The ability to see Life clearly is what leads us to be illuminated from within, to be enlightened.
A holy Hindu scripture, Brihadanyaka Upanishad, has a prayer with the line that goes “Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya”, imploring the Almighty to lead the prayerful from ‘darkness unto light’. From a state of existing to awakening. From being unenlightened to enlightened. This state, while salubrious to the soul when in prayer, is often, in all practicality, seen as unattainable. And this is why humankind fail to see the huge opportunity to evolve and awaken to this simple truism.
We think enlightenment is for the Buddha, for the fakirs, for the Himalayan Masters. And that those of us who are caught in the worldly web of action, emotion and desires, have to be content with just prayer which sounds pious on the lips but is listless in the heart! And so, we have concluded that several of us will suffer in the dark recesses of our existence. This need not be so. There is a way out. Interestingly, simply, practically, it is possible to lift ourselves from darkness to light. Instantaneously. All we need to do is to see Life with clarity.
Legend has it that when the Buddha was dying, and was about to embark on his ultimate journey, his disciple Anand, was distraught and was crying. He asked the Buddha, “What will happen to me? Who will guide me now? Who will show me the light?” Buddha opened his eyes and uttered his last famous words, “Appo Deepo Bhava”. (Be a light unto yourself!) “There is no one else on this inner journey. We are all alone. We need our own light to show the way,” was the advice the Buddha gave Anand.
Indeed, to find enlightenment, you don’t need anyone, you don’t need a venue, a tree or a religion. You only need yourself. You are the One! You are the only one who can be your own light. What is this light? This light is nothing but clarity in and about Life. To see things as they are. And not to interpret them or try to choose between them. There is always clarity in each moment. And you need not do anything other than just see it. For example, if there is death of a dear one, see it that way. Don’t avoid it or lament it. If there is loss in business, in love, see it as a loss. If there is birth of a child, see the new Life. Don’t reason, don’t justify, don’t exult, don’t gloat. When you see Life for what it is, as it is, choice disappears.
J.Krishnamurthi (1895~1986), the renowned philosopher, calls this choicelessness. This ability to see things as they are. When we have the clarity of this insight, it brings us freedom. Because we are no longer fearful of a choice that may lead to grief or are desiring success and witnessing the bloating of our egos because we chose right. This clarity, this freedom, is the light that can illuminate our souls. When we are illuminated from within, we are enlightened. We would then have passed from darkness to eternal light.
If you have no choice in Life, it is a good thing. Then you can just be, with what is!
The other day I was delivering a Talk to a group of young managers. I spoke to them about learning to be happy and content while living with whatever circumstances Life has placed you in. The Talk was autobiographical in parts as I shared anecdotes and learnings from my Life to illustrate how I had made the transition from running the rat race and earning-a-living to simply living – accepting whatever Life offered me. One of the managers, in his late 20s, observed that perhaps I had lost the “aggression” in me because of the experiences I had been through in Life. He said: “Maybe because you were left with no more choices, because Life dealt with you ‘unfairly’, you had to accept whatever came your way.”
Interesting point the young man made. What do you do when you don’t have a choice but to accept whatever Life offers you? Simple. You learn to live with what is there, whatever is available, and through this acceptance, you are happy and peaceful. Well, in reality, there are no choices. Our education, our intelligence, makes us believe that we have a choice over what Life offers us, over the way Life deals with us. So we keep on resisting or avoiding the Life which is happening to us. In doing all this, we end up suffering. What causes us misery is not what is but our wish that it wasn’t there in the first place.
It is only by being happy and content with the Life you have that you can anchor in inner peace. And, to that end, having no choice in Life, whatever be the context, is a great blessing. A blessing that leads you to bliss!