Yesterday I attended a talk by Sunandaji, daughter-disciple of Swami Parthasarthy. It was a 4 day lecture series, of which I could attend only day 3. But what I heard was exactly what I needed to. It clarified several questions in my mind.
I did not record the talk or take notes, hence sharing only a few of the points which really made an impression. First of all, Sunandaji described life as anubhavdhara or stream of experiences. To make a building, the unit required is a brick. Similarly, the basic building block of life is experience.
The question then arises – what is our experience of life and how can we make it better? Today, many of us enjoy a far higher standard of living than ever before and yet, we are only more miserable. Why is this the case?
Sunandaji went on to give the example of a boat. This boat has a rod at the centre to hold the sail – yet the boat holds steady in the water. This is because of the ‘keel’. The keel lies beneath the water which cannot be seen. But it is designed to keep the boat afloat.
The problem with modern life, she says, is that our standard of living may rise higher and higher. But we have no ‘keel’ to keep us steady. In the human context, keel is a set of values which guide our actions.
The current values, in fact, are mostly greed, arrogance, hunger for power, beauty, fame and money. Verse 12 of Chapter 16 of the Bhagavad Gita says as follows:
'Bound by hundreds of bands of hope, succumbing to lust and wrath, they strive to maintain hoards of wealth unjustly for sensual enjoyment'. (broadly – that sums up the headlines of our daily newspapers!)
Verse 13 goes on to say: ‘This today I have gained, this object of desire I shall obtain, this is mine, also this wealth shall continue to be mine in future’.
But nothing in this world is permanent – not dhana (wealth), not maana (fame) or yavana (youth). Living with these principles can therefore only create suffering.
Many of us wish to escape to the Himalayas to find peace but this too is a delusion. Change of dress or change of address does not make you spiritual. The dis-ease is within you and you carry it wherever you go (that is why there is politics and scandal even at ashrams).
You can find peace right here, in the midst of chaos. By using your intellect, creating strength of character and choosing to be a ‘better human being’. Not that you are superior but maybe you are contrarian. People say you are different or even odd.
You help others without doing elaborate calculations about what you get in return.
You take up work which you find interesting and not for money alone. Money is important to you but nobody can buy your soul.
You enjoy good things in life but you are not addicted. If those things are taken away you can still see yourself being happy.
I can vouch for the fact that whenever I have worked with this attitude, I have received the greatest rewards from the most unexpected sources. Lately, I thought I should become more ‘worldly’ or matlabi. That maybe people are taking advantage of me. And I found less joy and less satisfaction in whatever I took up.
Having learnt this lesson I go back to the old way. The unfashionable way. The path of giving your best and leaving the rest.
Trusting that I will be taken care of.