There’s a Celestine conspiracy to make you better, stronger and wiser!

Everything that’s happened to you, is happening to you and will happen to you is part of a Celestine conspiracy. A Master Plan, if you will. And it has NO flaws.

We label events as good or bad based on expectations, assumptions and conditionings we have. If someone we know dies, we believe it is a bad, a terrible, thing to have happened. If someone is born, we believe it is a good, a great, thing to happen. But in reality, nothing’s good or bad. Almost everything is going to a plan __ and that plan is to make you, make me, make all of us, stronger, better and wiser through this journey called Life.

The house where Ramana Maharishi was born in 1879
About nine years ago, even as I was grappling with finding inner peace, I started the practice of ‘mouna’. Of practicing silence periods. It was a struggle. The practice required me to be silent __ and not strive to work on making the environment around me silent. After almost eight weeks of intense trial and error, I completed my first 21-day cycle of observing an hour of silence each day. The next morning, I had to take an early flight to Madurai for making a day-trip to a place called Tiruchuli, that I had never heard of. I had no knowledge then of why Tiruchuli was significant historically nor did I have an inkling of the profound impact it would have on my Life. I arrived at Madurai and my cabbie drove me up to Tiruchuli in about an hour. I found Tiruchuli deserted at 8.30 AM in the morning and it looked every bit a one horse town. My meeting here was not due to start until 11 AM and so I asked the cabbie suggestions for ‘killing time’. I asked him this more out of making polite, aimless banter and not out of any serious intent. He, however, responded enthusiastically. He declared that Tiruchuli was the birthplace of Ramana Maharishi (1879~1950), the revered 20thCentury saint from South India. This came as a pleasant shock to me. I had heard of Ramana Maharishi. I did not worship or idolize him as many did. But I thought it only sensible to invest the couple of hours I had free, to kill, on me, to “look up” sites of historical importance. The cabbie took me to the house where Ramana grew up and to the ancient Siva temple where Ramana occasionally mediated in the years preceding his move to Tiruvannamalai where he eventually set up the famous Ramana Ashram. Like at any heritage site in India, worn out boards told the story of Ramana Maharishi and his connection with this place__of his birth and early years. My two hours were spent even without my realizing it. I even spent quality time practicing ‘mouna’ at Ramana’s house! As I got ready to leave for my meeting, and got into the car, a man rushed out from Ramana’s house. I recognized him as the caretaker. He thrust in my hand a badly produced pamphlet extolling the Life and times of Ramana Maharishi on one side. A quote on the other side read:

“Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen, try as you may. Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to prevent it. This is certain. The best course, therefore, is to remain silent.”
― Ramana Maharishi

I must have lost that pamphlet somewhere on the flight back to Chennai that day. But the learning from that message I continue to carry even now. I needed that lesson perhaps very badly that day. My Life was heading into a dark abyss then. I had leaned on to ‘mouna’ hoping to find solace. After some strife I had made its practice a habit. And here was a cosmic sign, through a “messenger” of one of the greatest seers the modern world had known, that I was on the right track! I didn’t immediately realize the import of the experience I had been through that day. I do realize it completely now. My problems have not been resolved as yet. I find my Life in the same abyss and it continues to be very, very dark. But I have no fear, no anxiety, no guilt. Because I have learned to live in acceptance. And have learned to remain silent__especially in times of extreme provocation and intense turmoil!

This makes me believe that there is a Celestine conspiracy that is working overtime__pushing us, nudging us, elbowing us, often to our chagrin, towards our destinies. This makes me believe too that when the student is ready, the teacher, always, does appear!

Choose not to remain stuck with pain

You have two options in your Life and with it! Either to learn from your suffering and move on, finding in the process the true essence and meaning of Life, or you live your Life remaining stuck with your pain and misery.

Think about it this way. Just as you cannot control the seasons, or the sunrises and sunsets, or the rain, or the rainbow, you cannot control Life. Nor can you control what happens to you through your lifetime. So, pain and pleasure are both inevitable. Pleasure you never have a problem with. Because who will say no to pleasure? But when pain arrives, you have a huge problem. You wish it weren’t there. Whenever and wherever there is a wishing, an expectation, agony and suffering is assured. So, in effect, nobody can escape suffering the first time you are afflicted by pain. But surely you can learn not to suffer when pain strikes the next time!

Intelligent living is to learn, appreciate and accept the nature of Life as being so uncontrollable and to understand its essence. It is to know that if you are born, you will be subject to some pain, some time or the other, in Life. It is also to know that you have the choice to learn from Life’s painful episodes and moments, and move on, by choosing, therefore, not to suffer. On the other hand, if you cling on to your pain, or the sources that cause you pain, you will be stuck with it. You will then be wallowing in a cesspool of suffering, misery, agony, accompanied often by low self-esteem and self-sympathy!

Only those who know that freedom from suffering, and peace, comes only when you stop fighting Life, will be able to move on. And unless you discover this truth about Life, you will remain stuck.

Ramana Maharishi by Henri Cartier-Bresson April 1950
The great Indian guru Ramana Maharshi (1879~1950) eventually died of cancer. It was a very painful end. There was no way even a seer like the great Ramana could escape it. Many doctors came, and they were very puzzled because while body seemed to be writhing in pain, there was no sign of any pain in his eyes. His eyes remained the same – as serene as ever. Through his eyes only the witnessing Self arose; it was the witnessing Self that looked, that observed, reported people close to him at that time. The doctors would ask, “You must be in great pain?” Ramana would reply, “Yes there is great pain, but it is not happening to me. I am aware that there is great pain happening to the body; I know that there is great pain happening. I am seeing it, but it is not happening to me.

Again, the fickle human mind will argue one of two ways. How is it that a sage like Ramana Maharishi can be afflicted by cancer? And when he himself could not avert any pain, what is the point of all this – how can you or I, lesser mortals, escape pain then? The answers lie in the questions themselves. Nobody can avoid or evade pain. None can. Your awareness, like Ramana Maharishi’s, can, however, help you understand that whatever is happening is not happening to you, the real you, but to the body or to a world that you are only visiting! That understanding is the way out of suffering. This is the truth! The other truth, though paradoxical, is also profound – without suffering you cannot understand Life!

Examine your Life. Refuse to remain stuck with pain. Use whatever is causing you pain__and suffering__as a means, a channel, to understand Life. And liberate yourself through that understanding.