Live Unsoiled!

Learn to live unsoiled by the world.
There are enough and more temptations and distractions out there. And we are not talking about materialistic objects of desire alone. Or of ruinous addictions like alcohol, tobacco or drugs either. While these are deterrents to intelligent living, most certainly, what we need to be wary off also are the myriad ways in which we get dragged into brooding or worrying on a daily basis. Think deeply about this. How often in a day do you worry about a future event __ someone’s terminal illness and impending passing, a child’s graduation, someone’s wedding or loans to be repaid? How often in a day do you grieve over the past __ having experienced someone wrongly, an irreconcilable loss, a mistake you made, a hurt you caused someone? How often do you lose your patience or temper or both daily __ on a child or spouse or subordinate or with just someone on the street? Each of these episodes takes us away from living. Every time we worry about the future or fret over the past or get dragged into anger spells, every single time, we die a death.
The ultimate goal and measure of success of intelligent living is notto change your external environment and make it incapable of causing you worry or making you feel guilty or angry. It is about engineering your inner space and insulating yourself from the vagaries of the world. This is what the Bible says ‘living in the world but not of it’ and what the Bhagavad Gita advises of ‘being in this world but being above it’.
The Buddha enlightens us, making this perspective simpler and easier to hold, using the metaphor of the lotus, “As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world.” Imagine being like a lotus. You too must avoid letting your soul be soiled and live, unsoiled, in bliss!
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Learn to live unsoiled by the world

Don’t be distracted by what’s around you. Look within and discover the way to live unsoiled!           
There are enough and more temptations and distractions out there. And we are not talking about materialistic objects of desire alone. Or of ruinous addictions like alcohol, tobacco or drugs either. While these are deterrents to intelligent living, most certainly, what we need to be wary off are the myriad ways in which we get dragged into banal situations on a daily basis. Think deeply about this. How often in a day do you worry about a future event __ someone’s terminal illness and impending passing, a child’s graduation, someone’s wedding or loans to be repaid? How often in a day do you grieve over the past __ having experienced someone wrongly, an irreconcilable loss, a mistake you made or a hurt you caused someone? How often do you lose your patience or temper or both daily __ on a child or spouse or subordinate or with just someone on the street? Each of these episodes takes us away from living. Every time we worry about the future or fret over the past or get dragged into anger spells, every single time, we die a death.
The ultimate goal and measure of success of intelligent living is notto change your external environment and make it incapable of causing you worry or making you feel guilty or angry. It is about engineering your inner space and insulating yourself from the vagaries of the world. This is what the Bible says ‘living in the world but not of it’ and what the Bhagavad Gita advises – ‘of living in this world but being above it’. The Buddha enlightens us, making this perspective simpler and easier to hold, using the metaphor of the lotus, “As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world, having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world.”

Strive to be like the lotus. The lotus grows often in a dirty pond but rises above it and lives spreading its beauty by keeping itself ‘above the muck’, remaining unsoiled. You too must avoid letting yourself be dragged into the petty squabbles and muck of everyday Life. And live, unsoiled, in bliss! 

Attain Buddhahood – by witnessing Life

Treat everything that’s happening in Life as not happening “to” you, but around you, and you will always be at peace! This is the witness state – Buddhahood, if you like. This way you will be in a perpetual state of equanimity within you, despite whatever turmoil that is going on in your external world. Just like the way it is at the eye of a storm. The storm is raging with all fury, all around, but at its eye, in the center, there is no turmoil. Through your witness-state you too can attain this level of inner peace.

Consider this: someone insults you. And you get drawn into that drama. This leads to an ego-play. He says something. You retaliate. He hits back. And you attack again. This goes on. And on. But what if you had let that insult pass? What if, like a lotus flower, you had not let the water (the insult) stick to you? What if you had continued to live in the muck (the dirty pond in which the lotus blooms, metaphorically, the turmoil-ridden world) but chosen to rise above it, untouched, unblemished?

This is true of, and possible, in every situation. Be it a conflict or a temptation or just a Life event__like a lay-off or a death or a break-up__happening to you! This does not mean that Life is to be resisted. But  means, in fact, that it has to be experienced dispassionately. Without getting embroiled or entangled in it.

Here’s a story from Buddhism. A bunch of drunk people picked up a prostitute and stripped her naked. They wanted to rape her. But they were so drunk they fell asleep – tired and exhausted by the high alcohol content in their blood. The woman escaped from their clutches by the time they woke up. Shocked at their loss, the men began to search for her. There was only one way out of the place they were in and on that way they found the venerable Buddha meditating. They did not know who this man was, but decided to ask him about the naked woman because from where the Buddha was sitting, there’s no way anyone could have gone past without him seeing her.

“Did you see a naked woman pass by sometime ago,” asked one of the men roughly.

“You are late. You should have come 10 years ago,” replied the Buddha, smiling, calmly.

The men looked at each other. Totally shocked. Is this man mad, they wondered? One of them even asked the Buddha to explain his “weird” reply.

The Buddha explained patiently: “Well, 10 years ago, I would have been distracted by someone walking in front of me. But now I have learned not to get involved. I surely saw someone go past here. But whether it was a man or a woman, whether naked or clothed, I did not notice, because I was looking for nothing.”

Buddhahood is not something sacred or the exclusive prevail of those who get to sit under a Bodhi tree. Buddhahood awaits you and me too. If only we can learn, through continuous practice, the art of choosing to simply witness Life, without getting embroiled in it, of learning to distinguish that events happen “around” us and not “to” us!