Book Reviews - Finally Some Practice
by Suma Varughese
Pursue Happiness And Get Enlightened, Author: Ramesh S. Balsekar, Published By:Zen Publications,Pages: 147 pages
It's good to know that Ramesh Balsekar, the advaitic sage, is finally advocating doing something. In a rank shift from his usual stance of telling seekers that everything that happens is through God's will and therefore nothing is in their hands, in this latest book he actually gets down to advocating the pursuit of happiness. It turns out that Balsekar got to his own stage of understanding through an exploration that began with wanting to be happy. His step-by-step process of reasoning went thus: Our true nature is happiness through peace of mind because that is what we experience in deep sleep. If we could experience that same happiness in the waking stage we would be home and dry. What stops us from doing so is our inharmonious relationship with the other which fills our waking hours with rivalry and competition. Therefore one needs to operate from a position of universal brotherhood. Searching for the key to universal brotherhood, Balsekar happened to read the Bible and was powerfully struck by the four words that are today the theme of his teaching, "Thy will be done." It hit him that the secret of happiness lay in surrendering human will to Divine will. It further struck him that since no thought, word or action survived deep sleep it must be concluded that Consciousness is the real doer and not man.
Enlightenment, according to him, is the total acceptance of this concept. He went on to prove it by practising it. When his acceptance became total, he found that pride for his achievements vanished as did guilt and shame for his misdeeds. Hatred of the other also vanished since he too was not responsible for anything he did. Ergo peace of mind and happiness.
But how does the seeker get to complete acceptance? Balsekar unbends enough to prescribe a modest practice which he calls personal investigation. At the end of the day, pick on one event that you are sure is your action. Investigate and you will find, he says, that a thought (which he says does not originate within us) or an outside happening generated the action. As one keeps proving to oneself that no action is ultimately caused by us, the acceptance gets deeper and deeper until it becomes total if, he hastens to add his ubiquitous primer, that is the will of God!
He makes a pertinent point when he says that although he pursued enlightenment for 40 years he got nowhere because he did not know what he was looking for. It was only when he got clear what he was looking for that he got enlightenment. So while his central point remains that God's will is all, at least the seeker has some direction to move in. This book is a refreshing change from Balsekar's earlier books.