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Posted on: Jan 03, 2015
He Waits Behind the Veil of Duality
When I am with You, I lose myself
When I am lost in You, I find myself
I wrote these words when I was lost in my thoughts about Swami. It was one of those moments when everything in life made perfect sense. In my heart, I knew that these words were inspired by Swami, but at that moment I hadn’t understood the depth of these lines.
It has now been over three years since Swami’s physical withdrawal, and a lot has happened in my life. My life has turned literally on its head, changing me and my equation with Swami with it.
Earlier Swami was my Agony Aunt, so to speak. I would share everything with Him (in my mind) and my life would appear beautiful no matter what as soon as I caught a glimpse of His beautiful form. Everything became blissful whenever I saw Him. When I was with Him, I lost myself!
But that was only the first phase of my life’s journey. I now had to lose myself in Him, to find my Self – and that wasn’t easy in the beginning.
After Swami’s physical departure, I initially had to struggle hard to keep myself positive. I had to make continuous efforts to feel the inner connection with Swami. And, to be honest, there have been many times, when I literally hung in there only with faith and surrender, for the inner Swami would remain mum.
On many occasions, I would miss Him and feel His presence at the same time. There have been times when I have cried missing Him, and felt happy that I cried for Him. There have been times I have loved Him more, and there have been times I have loved Him less. And when I actually sat thinking about my journey with Swami, I realised how beautifully He was teaching me the lesson of duality and helping me transcend it. And that is the inspiration for this article.
Life is a Bundle of Contradictions
The moment I started accepting Swami’s physical absence, something in my awareness shifted. I cannot say exactly what it was, but merely accepting the 'death' of Bhagawan’s physical form helped me shift my focus to His true form – the all-pervading formless one.
While I had always felt the invisible presence of God in all things beautiful, I had now started feeling so with more awareness. For example, I felt more present while watching, admiring and internalising the many shades of orange in a sunrise. I drew energy from nature, animals, music and all things that struck something very deep within me. I was slowly releasing Swami from the confines of His physical frame and expanding His presence to all things beautiful around me.
Almost a year had passed since April 2011 when I had this very beautiful dream of Swami. By then, I had made my peace with His departure and had built on my inner connection with Him. In my dream, when Swami came near me, I told Him that I was very happy and I thanked Him for that. Swami smiled and moved past me. My dream ended and that morning I woke up feeling absolutely rejuvenated!
But very soon life took a few difficult turns. I lost a child due to miscarriage, and everything that seemed to have been going as per God’s plan in my life, suddenly seemed to have gone disarray. But while I went through life’s challenges, I somehow did so in a detached manner. I was, I don’t know how, in a state of mind to accept life (and death) as it came to me. I drew on some inner strength I never thought I had. My logic at that point in time was – If I can survive Swami’s physical departure, I can survive anything. And I did!
It’s pretty interesting how human minds work. I had very dutifully attributed all things good in my life to Swami, but the bad ones were left orphaned. They happened to me on their own, I reasoned. Why would Swami want me to go through unhappy times? Well, as I have learnt since, pain is an essential part of pleasure, and is very much in Swami’s scheme of things for us.
If I didn’t go through tough times, how will I appreciate the good times?
If I didn’t know what hatred is, how will I identify love?
If I didn’t know what ill-health is, how will I be grateful for good health?
And, if I didn’t know death, how will I learn to value life?
The moment I latched on to this school of thought, I saw lessons in duality everywhere! The very sunrise I had always admired, taught me that the sun sets so that it can rise again. Mundane things like breathing had duality at its core. We exhale so that we can inhale. There is light because there is darkness. There is beauty because there is ugly. There is war because there is peace. There is hatred because there is love.
And as if to encourage me in my line of new thought, I came to read what Swami had said about the Bhagawad Gita.
“Bhagawad Gita begins with the words – ‘Dharma Kshetre' and in the final chapter appears the phrases – ‘Sarva Dharman Parithyajya’ (give up Dharma).
The significance of this, is that through Dharma, we have to transcend Dharma.”
This meant that we have to live in duality, at its extremes at times, till we find the balance that’ll teach us to go beyond it.
Ugly is Beautiful Too
I was awed with the expansiveness of thought this awareness brought me. It made me accept the downs, in anticipation for the ups. But in doing so, I was still limiting God to all the ‘good and beautiful’ things only. Obviously, my lessons were far from over.
Swami is a reflection, reaction and resound of our beliefs about Him. If we see Him as a friend, He is friendly with us. If we see Him as God, He behaves like God with us. Just to drive the point home - I have a friend who believed that Swami did not like her. And true to her belief, even if she sat in the first row, Swami would find a way to somehow not look at her! It’s not as if Swami did not like her, He was merely reflecting her core belief about Him!
This meant that if I limited God to only good and beautiful things, I was denying myself the pleasure of seeing Divinity in bad and ugly things! After all, if I truly believed God created everything, why will He deny Himself to things I labelled as bad and ugly? And thus started some more soul searching from my side.
I started appreciating the beauty in the ugly and the ugly in the beautiful! Death suddenly did not seem bad. Death became beautiful, life became ugly, and ugly became beautiful!
I Lost Myself
I felt liberated. I wasn’t anymore bound by my own limiting thoughts. I wasn’t labelling things in life, I wasn’t judging myself and others anymore and I have never felt so free in life before. I wasn’t what and who I thought I was anymore. I was losing my identity, my self.
I now just had to lose myself in Him in order to find my true Self! All in good time…
“Your duty is to abandon. Abandon all your plans, even the best ones. Abandon all the theories you cherish, the doctrines you hold dear, the systems of knowledge that have cluttered your brain, the preferences you have accumulated, the pursuit of fame, fortune, scholarship, superiority. These are all material, objective. Enter into the objective world after becoming aware of the Atma. Then you will realize that all is the play of the Atma.”
These words of Swami started to make sense in my Universe. I was slowly opening up to all of life’s possibilities, and life responded with equal gusto. I am not anymore happy. I am not sad either. I just am.
And what’s really amazing is now when I re-read some of Swami’s discourses, they bring out a completely new essence of spirituality that reflects the core of my new understanding of life. With every step I take in the direction of my inner Sai, my understanding of Swami grows and arrests, as much with equal measure.
While I don’t know what other lessons I have to learn in life, I draw inspiration from a Sufi saying that says that there are only two rules on the spiritual path – Begin and Continue! I have begun and I will continue…
My Spiritual Quest
I want God I thought to myself,
And it sent a blissful shiver down me.
Happy that it had fuelled my spiritual desire,
Began my quest to find God in everything I see.
The journey was beautiful,
As it ought to be.
I revelled in God's glory,
With each passing day in my 'meaningful' spree.
I was living my love story, I realised,
And it made my insides gloat with joy.
When I find my love, my God that I idealised,
Life will be beautiful, and I can enjoy.
There was magic all around,
Love was in the air.
I knew God was near,
I could feel His benign stare.
Many a moments passed, still no activity.
And doubts began to creep, what was taking so long, had God forsaken me?
I cried my heart out,
It was only Him that I seek!
I reminded Him of His promises,
Imploring Him to accept me, I was unique!
I cried till I could no more,
God had forsaken me, it slowly dawned.
I was now hollow to the core,
And for this, my whole life had I pawned?
I then found an uncanny courage,
To find Him no matter what.
He needs to accept me, the whole package,
Doesn't matter if I was good or not.
God then appeared before me
Smiling, in all His glory.
For He had driven home a lesson,
That there were no judgements in His story!
We spoke for a long time,
About love, life and sundry.
God's energy was sublime,
It was only about love in His country.
Why did you forsake me, I asked,
My earlier hurt having resurfaced.
To teach you a lesson my child, He said,
That there is love, even in my disinterest.
God is perfect, He explained
No matter His silent spells.
For it is in silence that He guides
Pushing us into realms, beyond heavens and hells.
God is in the Now, He added
Live your life to the full.
Every moment is precious,
Enjoy every mouthful.
I came back, happy and content
God hadn't left me high n dry.
He had taught me to live in the present,
To bid my past and future a good bye.
My life's journey had come a full circle,
I came back to where I had started.
But this time armed with awareness,
I was living in each moment.
- A Former Student of SSSIHL, Anantapur Campus
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