On the path, the journey is the reward…
A young man asks me this question: “While I find great conceptual clarity with regard to intelligent living as a key to happiness, I am somehow, never able to practice any of what I learn. I am always unsure of where to begin. It is not about the why or how, it is about where and when to begin. Can you suggest a method that can be easily mastered and practiced?”
A large part of the young man’s question is in order. He loses the plot towards the end though. He seeks a “method” and one that is “easy to master”!
The most fundamental truth is that there are no mantras, no methods to live Life. Intelligent living comes from awareness, from your inner awakening; it cannot be boxed into a standard operating procedure! And nothing that requires mastery is easy. Simple. Period. If you must master something, you must keep at it again and again and again; no matter how good you are, each time you start, you start as a novice!
Now, let me answer the young man’s question. My answer is most likely relevant to many others who ask similar questions or who are confronted with similar predicaments. The reason why many have a “starting problem” is because they think too much, they analyze too much. A true seeker dives deep, unquestioningly, once they gain conceptual clarity. They don’t need any analysis. They don’t demand guarantees. They believe in the process, they trust the source, the teacher, and they dive deep. Once on the path, there is no looking back. And the non-starters remain where they once were – debating, analyzing, arguing.
I lean heavily on my understanding of The Four Noble Truths that Gautama Buddha taught:
- Life in our world is full of misery
- All our misery comes from our attachments and expectations
- We can let go of – or overcome – our attachments and expectations
- There is a path – others who have been on it have found peace and happiness; so, if we really want to, we too can embrace that path!
This understanding helps me keep it simple. When I started seeking, I didn’t question or analyze for too long. When I realized how futile any analysis of Life is, I simply looked to the evidence that lay in front of me. There had been, obviously, seekers ahead of me who have embraced the path that Gautama Buddha talked about. If they can, why can’t I – this logic is all that I needed to get going.
Now, having been on the path, for almost a decade now, I can tell you that it is beautiful. Here the journey is the reward. Because there is no attachment to where you started or to what you left behind nor any expectation of any destination to arrive at nor of anything to be attained or acquired! I am reminded of Vaali’s beautiful lyrics from a great song that features in the forgettable Tamil film “Azhagiya Tamizh Magan” (2007, Bharathan, A.R.Rahman, Vijay): “Nee Nadhipole Odikondu Iru.” It means, “You keep flowing like a river…!” And that’s really all we need to do to live intelligently! Not analyzing too much and getting bogged down, but to simply keep flowing!