Saturday, August 23, 2014
Different spiritual and religious theories raise the question of the nature of man and his journey through life. Whatever the theory, there is an in agreement that a person is more than mere bones, brain, and flesh. Based on your personal understanding and faith, you probably often wonder the same question as everyone else. What else is there in life? In the face of suffering, despair, and depression this question pops up in our minds habitually. Life is not a cup of instant coffee and neither is self-discovery and inner growth. It requires work. Just as a gardener tends to his garden, a person must tend to his soul – with care, patience and anticipation for his fruits.
My grandparents used to always say to me during my childhood that: “life has big teeth and it bites.” When I was a child, I did not really understand what this meant, nor did I think much about it. I went on with my childhood carefree. Later, in our adulthood we actually comprehend the meaning of this. Yes, life is full of struggles, disappointments and heartbreaks.
Eastern religions view life as a constantly turning wheel of birth after birth, pain after pain with some brief moments of laughter and peace. Others believe that this is our only life here on earth and that afterwards we move to another plane of existence such as heaven or hell. Sometimes I think that these are only technicalities. Whatever the case is, we are here Now.
None of us are immune to the pains of life. Then again, we are also able to savor sweet moments basking in the sun, getting kisses from our dogs, smelling the salty ocean air just because we are here and alive. It is natural for all beings to strive towards pleasure and the escape of pain. This is when the art of living comes into play. We are all alive, but some of us move through life as though we are in a spiritual limbo. That is when depression, disappointment, and hopelessness set in.
Hinduism identifies three problems to suffering. The first one is the desire for wealth, fame, and power. As we acquire each of these, we realize that we cannot hold on to material wealth forever because everything has its limitations. The second is the drive for success that plunges us into overworking ourselves and missing the little pleasures of everyday life such as quiet walks, beautiful sunsets or the scent of flowers. Our drive to succeed washes away our objectivity and we become enslaved by our desires. The more power we place on worldly possessions, the more hungry and dissatisfied we are. We become discontent and want more and more. One car or a decent income is no longer enough. We crave to have more of what we think we do not possess. This leads to the last problem identified by Hinduism – the issue of hedonism. The more we busy ourselves with seeking pleasures and avoiding struggles to meet deadlines, escaping traffic jams, pleasing bosses and corporations, the less we please our inner spiritual self and the less energy we have to give genuinely to other beings. In the Essene Gospel of Peace Book I, we read: “And Jesus answered: Seek not the law in your scriptures, for the law is life, whereas the scripture is dead. I tell you truly, Moses received not his laws from God in writing, but through the living word.” The law refers to our lifestyle and relations with other sentient beings. The living word refers to the life source present in us and all around us. The further we get away from acknowledging our inner self, the unhappier we become. Even when we have things in abundance, we feel spiritually poor. When we feel that we are swimming up the stream in our life, we are most likely out of balance with the Tao or the ever-present God within.
Excerpt from: Guru in Jeans: Inward Journey to Psychospiritual Awakening.