When we experience divine freedom, power, and bliss, to become a walking, talking expression of the Divine in this body, we have earned our liberation, says Shivi Verma
The ultimate goal of human life is to attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death—moksha.” Having heard about it repeatedly from my elders and intrigued by it, I asked my grandmother, “What would happen once we get liberated?”
“After we die, we will merge with God, and always be at peace and joy,” she said.
“Then why did God create a world where people came to suffer?” I enquired.
“Because human beings have to reap their karma on this plane.”
“Was there no possibility of being freed from our karma while in the body?” I wondered. I was given to understand that there was not, and this mysterious thing called liberation came to us only after we died. The idea of earthly life as a prison term for delinquent souls depressed me infinitely. And the concept of attaining liberation after death was uninspiring. I thirsted to find the actual meaning and experience of liberation.
To my dismay, earthly life was filled with bondage. One was enslaved by time, limitations of the body, and circumstances. Misunderstandings, missed goals, and betrayals made life very undesirable. When everything I tried failed to work, I sought divine intervention. And from then on, a subtle grace and guidance entered my life. With the Divine as your guide, there were fewer chances of making grave errors of judgment and then reaping their sorrowful consequences.
Gradually, it dawned on me that unless one attained freedom from suffering while in the human body, liberation after death was difficult to come by. As I progressed on the path of seeking the truth, I underwent all the hardships I was karmically supposed to, but I soldiered along. I extensively read spiritual literature, meditated, and learnt valuable lessons from within myself. Most of all, I let go of expectations, pride, and attachment. I learnt to take full responsibility for my well-being, became vigilant of my thoughts, speech, and actions, and surrendered to the Divine Will.
After I met my guru, grace began to shower abundantly on me. I developed the ability to witness my own life like a spectator. As awareness increased, my ego-self became muted and so did my tendency to feel hurt. There was a distinct rise in my power to love and appreciate. Turbulent thoughts would no longer plague me. I became immensely contented with whatever I had; inner bliss became my regular companion. I began to enjoy a life of no worries, which came with the knowledge that everything that has to happen would happen at the right time. Though I am still away from the experience of totally merging with the Divine, I am sure it’s only a matter of time before I would be granted that experience.
What is liberation?
According to the late Deepa Kodikal—a mystic, and the author of Teachings Of The Inner Light—as sparks of the Divine, souls are pure, blissful, all-knowledgeable, and all-powerful by nature. But we forget who we truly are in this earthly realm. Our divinity gets concealed by our ego, and we often get entangled in self-defeating patterns, thereby creating karma for ourselves. We constantly fix the blame of our unhappy state on our luck, people, or God. But that does not mean that it is impossible to experience a liberated state within the human body.
The Divine has bestowed people with free will to choose their experiences. And the more they choose consciously, the more they enjoy the freedom to create their lives as per their wishes. The more they choose unrighteously, or egotistically, the more they plunge into the meshes of endless cycles of karmic suffering. Free will is meant to make us realise how the abuse of power eventually leads to our downfall, while its judicious use leads to liberation and boundless joy.
According to Dadashreeji, the master and head of Maitribodh Parivaar, all movement of life on earth is a movement towards liberation. “In this journey, all those traumatic breakdowns are like eroding layer by layer of ignorance, releasing the true Self, just like an ice-cream candy exposed to heat,” he says.
Moving towards liberation
The meshes of illusion are such that souls can take innumerable lifetimes before they actively begin to seek liberation. Paul Herer, a seeker from America, says, “The West has every material comfort and luxury, but it has not been able to give us peace and happiness. I came to India to seek the truth, and what I got over here can never be traded for any fame, wealth, or comfort.”
Mallika Shastry Chandrashekhar, a psychologist and an ardent seeker of truth, says that it was the heart-wrenching rejection from her immediate family that compelled her to look for love, acceptance, and completion from within. “Once I knew I was not me—the self-deprecating, self-defeating me—and that I am actually a part of the entire phenomena, my search began. Right now, I am a speck. I must be the whole star and then the cosmos.”
Liberation is the result of both human effort and the grace of God. Rajini Menon, a jnani (a realised one) and the author of Face to Face with Reality, says, “Grace delivers liberation only when one reaches the brim of purity through one’s own efforts. This is similar to the titration experiments in chemistry classes. Each drop counts and is important for the transformation. But it is the last [one] that brings in the final change; that is Grace and you never know when it would happen.”
Geetika Krishnan, a mother of two, who was depressed due to oppression by her in-laws, was introduced to spirituality by a friend, who told her that people would treat her the way she allowed them to and that it was up to her to take back her power.
Following her friend’s advice, when Geetika dropped expectations from her in-laws and learnt the art of responding instead of suppressing, the behaviour of her in-laws changed. Enthused, she intensified her study of spiritual truths. “ I yearn for merger with God. I have not yet reached there but my commitment is total. I have stopped eating non-veg foods, I meditate regularly, and keep a strict vigil over my mind.”
Methods for liberation
Although the masters agree that each person’s path to liberation is different and there is no single method, they give a few crucial tips for starting your spiritual journey.
Dadashreeji says, “There is no step-by-step method fixed by anyone. Carry an open mind, a passionate heart, do your duties, and embrace the Divine. All of you are unique beings and must follow your own path. Don’t try to follow what others did.”
That said, there are some signposts on the path that hold true for all. Being intensely aware of one’s thoughts, speech, and action is one of them.
Mohanji, a guru and the founder of Mohanji Foundation, says, “The first step is being aware of all our activities. This is a kind of perpetual meditation. Be aware of your every word. You will realise how much you talk! Also, we will stop looking at the world with judgmental eyes. We know there is a cause for every effect, and we silence our mind with the awareness that it is worthless to pursue the causes all the time, and accept the effects gracefully. The last stage is being aware of our thoughts. As we become aware, they decrease spontaneously, and when the mind becomes still, liberation happens.”
Guru Naushir lists a few critical components necessary for attaining liberation:
• An empowered, enlightened spiritual guru
•An unflagging determination to achieve your spiritual goal
• The highest level of mental purity
• Daily sadhana or spiritual practice
Below is a distillation of a few necessary steps on the path, without which karma cannot be voided:
Inner purity is the key to liberation. Listen to your conscience before you say or do anything. This prevents guilt from taking roots. Giving up your anger, retaliation, feelings of vengeance, and resentment will allow you to enjoy the present moment. Seek forgiveness and forgive others. Cultivate positive thoughts and be in the company of elevated souls to purge yourself.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras outline eight steps to liberation, out of which yama and niyama are meant for purification. The five yamas (don’ts) are non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy, and non-covetousness. The five niyamas (dos) are cleanliness, contentment, austerity, self-study, and surrender to God. Talk to Him and make Him your close confidante; He will lead you to the ultimate.
Accept life, expiate karma
We get only what we have created. Therefore, being too resistant to pain and too eager to leave unpleasant situations and people in your life, without learning the lessons they have for us, would result in more karmic entrapment. Be patient with difficult people and situations to see a change for the better. Slowly, when the karmic give and take is complete without any bitterness from your side, and you learn to be unconditionally loving and forgiving, the iron bars of karma will weaken and fall, releasing you into liberation.
Avoid being obsessed with unfulfilled desires, temptations, or greed at the cost of your health and overall well-being. grabbing what is not yours, a need to control people, and immodesty and lust are all temporary highs with long-term negative consequences. Keep a strict vigil on your thoughts and seek guidance and divine help in case the self-sabotaging desires become too strong.
Develop patience and perseverance
Be aware of the consequences of quick reactivity. By all means, express your pains and discomfort, but do it non-reactively. Pay more attention to the voice of awareness rather than your ego; take responsibility for your life. Even if you err, forgive yourself and resolve to be more mindful in future.
The Divine is the epitome of selfless giving. It has created all that which exists, without stamping its name anywhere. Our real nature too is to give, selflessly. But because of insecurity, we either become tight-fisted or give for the wrong reason such as self-promotion. Give whenever your heart moves you to be generous, without trumpeting about it. Giving has many forms. You can give your time, your effort, your talent, your compassion and your wealth as and when the need arises.
The more you stay in alignment with your higher Self, the more unconventional your life might appear to the world, but the inner peace you would feel thereby would be independent of the world. See God in everything and everyone, do good for the sake of doing good, and surrender the results unto the Lord. In the end, surrender your desire for liberation too. Believe that you are already liberated. The moment you realise that you are not a hapless victim but a creator of your life, your liberation begins.
Slowly, there comes a time when an individual begins to strongly feel that the net sum of their karmic ledger has become zero. It is a completely natural and peaceful state, where you have nothing to fear anymore.
Dadashreeji explains: “There is a feeling of being released from the layer of ignorance towards true knowledge and awakening. With every release, the influence of the past reduces. You experience yourself as having ascended to a better state of life.”
The final state is when the individual becomes one with all that is. This state is almost impossible to describe in words. There is a total dissolution of the self in the Absolute.
Rajini Menon elucidates: “The functioning of the body and mind happens absolutely naturally. You are prior to witnessing, prior to consciousness. There is no doer left in the person anymore.” Rajini herself reached this state by constantly monitoring her inner world and never repaying ill-will by ill-will. This was not easy, but only through this inner churning did she begin to see the light within herself. Everything dropped from her. “I would feel like a royal king moving around as if everything was under my control. My circumstances were the same, but there was a sea change inwardly,” she says.
Dadashreeji explains: “As you grow towards higher states of liberation, you experience that all is just happening, you are not doing anything actively. Eventually, one is liberated from all wants as he has no self to have any desires.”
Guru Naushir adds, “Such a person is called a jivanmukta. Post-liberation, one becomes a perfect master with immense powers, one of which includes remaining in a state of universal consciousness or bliss.”
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