Turning Within : Taking the Plunge to Find One’s True Self

Journal of a Meditator

A lone egret of pale white hue flew across the grey sky just above me as I sat meditating on the terrace at night. The soft glowing white was a heavenly sight and I could not help wondering if it was a good omen, a blessing for me from above. The constant insect bites seemed to bring me back to my petty little existence with struggles galore.

My heart was in turmoil in the same manner as it was a quarter of a century ago when I stood on my terrace with tears of doubt and unclarity flowing incessantly. Today, after so many long years I seemed to be standing just where I was then, bared of all certainties of what I am and what I am to be. Each effort that I had put at so many points of my life to build the walls of knowledge and surety had crumbled down each time. I returned to my weak self every time having discovered the falsity and fragility of all that I had built. The books of knowledge, the ideas and ideals, the scriptures and the psychology books, each one that I looked up to and tried to assimilate sincerely, failed just when I needed it as an armor to face life.

Where, o where do I look to find that contentment and fullness in my heart. Is it within me? Haven’t I looked deep enough? I see nothing but petty thoughts incessantly chattering which I can only wish away for taking away the pleasing silence. Do I look up to the Lords of certainties? Which ones, those who revel in the knowledge of God or in the love of God? Who is my Lord? How do I reach out? Like Arjun, I stand in the midst of the war of my life, seeking the right direction. Not wishing to build a false hope again. I stand with prayer in my heart, not knowing to whom, to find that fullness that has eluded me forever. I will not stop my seeking. Ready again to walk on the path that lights up in front of me, to find that which I seek so dearly and yet know not the form of. The self will be recognized and the fullness will be felt soon, I am sure.

My Responses

Anurag : Quite poetic I should say. You mention that each time you tried to find something to face life, you failed. Have you ever thought why? The problem is, faced with an uncertain world, where things, people, situations and circumstances are constantly changing, we are trying to create some form of certainty or security. There are various ways in which we do this. Through objects, work, relationships, name and fame, entertainment, achievements, knowledge and ideals. You, yourself have listed a few of your attempts. Most people spend their entire lives, filling up their lives with these movements. The whole of life is defined by this search for fullness and security. But, you say that despite all your searching, you never found this fullness.

You say, “ Where, o where do I look to find that contentment and fullness in my heart. Is it within me? Haven’t I looked deep enough? I see nothing but petty thoughts incessantly chattering which I can only wish away for taking away the pleasing silence.”

Anurag: Not having found the security through outside objects, you tried to look within and see whether you could find something secure inside. But you see the same situation inside : a chaotic mass of thoughts, with no order. You wish that their noise stops and you catch some moments of silence. Isn’t this chaotic chattering of thoughts that we are all trying to escape through our myriad outer engagements? We fail to find anything in the shifting sands of thought, so we try to create an outer order in our lives through our work, our entertainments and our rituals. But the outer order that we build is ultimately a product of thought, a product of this chattering that is going on inside. So the outer and the inner are the same like the ebb and flow of waves.

You say, ‘Do I look up to the Lords of certainties? Which ones, those who revel in the knowledge of God or in the love of God? Who is my Lord? How do I reach out? Like Arjun, I stand in the midst of the war of my life, seeking the right direction.”

Anurag: I presume you are talking of the two Yogas – the Jnana Yoga and the Bhakti Yoga – in your poetic language. Not having found anything in objects – both in the inner mind objects and the outer physical objects – that can give you permanent sense of security, you are now turning your mind to spirituality. You have likened your situation to Arjun who in the middle of battlefield is perplexed by the moral dilemma that war with his own kith and kin brings about.

While, this may appear to be a ‘horrible’ place to be in, no person comes to spirituality if not confronted with a crisis. Arjuna too did not receive the eternal truth from Krishna till he did not come in a crisis in the battlefield. I have written an article on this at Arjuna – Krishna & The Corona Virus Crisis

It takes great honesty to allow any crisis to precipitate voluntarily in our lives. We are in the control mode all the time because of our fears and desires. We have two options in our lives. Either we keep chasing our desires and escaping our fears, or, we turn around and face them. Most live out the entire course of their lives with the first option, a rare minority turns around and decides to confront the mind. This finally brings us to the topic of spirituality.

You write at the end, “Not wishing to build a false hope again. I stand with prayer in my heart, not knowing to whom, to find that fullness that has eluded me forever. I will not stop my seeking. Ready again to walk on the path that lights up in front of me, to find that which I seek so dearly and yet know not the form of. The self will be recognized and the fullness will be felt soon I am sure.”

Anurag: In your earlier lines, you have talked about your uncertainty of following either Bhakti Yoga or Jnana Yoga. You were talking in terms of God and reaching out to him. In the last line, you have used the word “self”. I am not quite sure, which “self” you are talking about, but it’s sure that you are not talking about your normal day to day self but some other self which you feel shall give you permanent satisfaction, which you have failed to find anywhere so far! Since you have expressed two metaphysical entities – God and self and what I am presuming to be paths of Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga, let me talk a little about them.

Bhakti Yoga is a path of faith and belief. You first believe in a creator, then you create a certain form of him in your mind. You can’t love something or someone till it is not having some form. God is one such form created by our mind. Have you seen God? When you don’t see something, you have to create a concept and believe in it. You never construct a belief out of something that you can perceive clearly. For exmple people don’t have to believe in the existence of tables and chairs in a modern society.

So, the first reason for us to construct beliefs is that we are not having a direct perception of the object that we are believing in. We can another question, a little deeper and a psychological one. Why do we need to construct a belief like God in the first place? Isn’t this belief born out of our fear to face the uncertainty and insecurity of life. You can see this in the progression of your own thought so clearly. Not having found any security in the outer life or inner mind, your mind has turned to create a concept of a Supreme Person/ The Protector/The Benvolent Creator, who is going to take care of you? What if we see through this process of construction of belief based out of our fear and insecurity?

Then we can see that the concept and belief in God was just out of our incapacity to face fear and insecurity of the impermanence of our lives. If we drop all our beliefs, what happens? Then our minds would come in a crisis. The mind always loves the comfort of the known. Crisis is a new sitaution. The mind does not know how to respond. It is trained since childhood to act always in the known. Those who come to the point of saying that they are prepared to meet this crisis, they come to Jnana Yoga. For in Jnana Yoga, you are not relying on any belief, any comforting supernatural presence of God in your life. Here you are alone and responsible for facing life on your own with your own mind. When you come to Jnana Yoga, you don’t start out with a belief but with a fact. Jnana Yoga is a process of deconstruction, of stripping off all falsities. You don’t depend on anything whatsoever. No Gods, no ideas, no concepts, no theories, no philosophies. You don’t need any of this if you are ready to meet the fact of ‘what is’ in your mind. Only when I am unable to face the fear and insecurity of life, do I create a God – an image, a symbol, a concept.

In your last line, you used the word self in a way which is different from your common Self. In Jnana Yoga, one inquires into what is one’s true Self, which is beyond all change and deconstruction. There is no belief involved in all this. It’s a very tough path because in it one has to be ready to face the mind, without any preconceived notions. It’s a process of penetrating inquiry, where the real is separated from the unreal. But I cannot and should not say more than this. Let me know, after reading all this, whether you are ready for the path of self inquiry through Jnana Yoga.

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