From the Temporary to Eternity – Part 1

“Living like an animal, not understanding the goal of life, one foolishly thinks that there is no eternity and that his life span of fifty, sixty, or, at the most, one hundred years, is everything. This is the greatest foolishness.”

– Srila Prabhupada (Purport, Shrimad Bhagavatam 6.5.19)

In our inner world, we have a natural attraction to ‘belong.’ We want to feel ‘safe’ and ‘sheltered’ – at home. This is commonly understood as peace.

Just as a young boy and girl get attracted to each other – there seems to be no logic behind it; it just happens. They fall in love just like that! Likewise, in our internal world, it’s natural for us to find peace and shelter. It’s innate to belong to someone or something higher than our own selves.

Just as a child feels safe in the arms of her mother, when we grow up, we look for that same experience through varied pursuits, possessions or relationships. Yet, a troubling void stares at us. We seem to be never totally satisfied. That’s because we are seeking peace in things outside of us.

If we make the search inward, a little effort can help us fall in love with a higher sense of self – known differently in various traditions. In Vedic culture this is called ‘Atman’ and there are even higher levels, known as ‘Paramatma’ and ‘Bhagavan’ or Krishna.

But guess what, somebody comes in the way! And it’s you! Our lives are full of ourselves – our fleeting daily worries of house, finances and relationships make it extremely difficult for us to go inward to an eternal reality. If you keep a ten rupee coin close to your eyes, it can block your vision of the sun. But how many quadrillion times bigger is the sun compared to a small coin? Our ‘ten rupee’ issues could blind us to the beautiful reality of the ‘sun’ like God or universal goodness or a deep sense of peace that’s abundantly available, and it’s eternal and free!

Yet, it all seems so distant and vague because the ten rupee issue engulfs our consciousness. If we can spend a few minutes daily disidentifying ourselves from all our material designations, we’d ‘fall in love’ with this higher, spiritual reality, and it would happen naturally, and soon.


The baby steps

Pranay, an old friend of mine once showed me his old family photographs – his grandfather and great-grandfather and their siblings graced the frame. As he pointed to one of the elderly men, he shared how this man had won an award from the British government and the impact it had on civil society then, around one hundred fifty years ago. As we conversed and skimmed through his various collections, he abruptly stopped and said, “I realize it’s all about my family and I’ve been babbling on for such a long time. But I see you are so present and happy to hear all this.” He seemed surprised at my interest in a family that didn’t mean anything to me.

I told him I was relishing this discussion because I was not simply seeing his great-grandparents. I was trying to enter the Mumbai space of a hundred fifty years ago – the day and times when the British crown ruled our country. “Your narration of your ancestors is connecting me to people and places who had their own stories and challenges,” I said. “But the people you speak about are all like us; there’s something common to them who lived a hundred years ago, and us, struggling in the twenty-first century. I am seeing oneness here.” The legendary Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said, “What we do in life ripples in eternity.”

This is the key to entering an eternal space: choose a time and event, and when you are there, just be present, and let go of the mental resistance to judge. As I heard about his great family, I decided this was my time to find peace and shelter and my ‘Home state.’ I wasn’t comparing or analysing his family; I was simply basking in the presence of the sound – of what he spoke. We need to let go of our mental world, and release our biases and prejudices when we hear or see, and receive the eternity that speaks to us.

To be continued…