June 2016 By Shivi Verma When we realise our true Divine heritage, which is to experience divine freedom, power, joy and bliss, to become a walking, talking expression of the Divine in this body, we have earned our liberation, says Shivi Verma “The world is full of suffering, but it is also full of overcoming it”- Hellen Keller The ultimate goal of human life is to attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death. To never be born again, to merge with God, which is to attain moksha.” Being a Hindu I had heard this phrase ad infinitum since my childhood, from the mouth of my elders and grandmother. I often wondered what this so-called state of liberation was. “What would happen once we get liberated?” I asked my grandmother. “After we die, we will merge with God, and always be at peace, filled with joy,” she said. “Then why did God create a world where people came to suffer?” I asked, baffled by this explanation. “Because human beings carry a lot of karma, and they have to reap their karmas on this plane. Therefore they suffer. Even the avatar of God has to suffer over here,” she explained, while faithfully tending to the deities in her altar. Was there no possibility of being freed from our karmas while in the body, I wondered. I was given to understand that there was not, and this mysterious thing called liberation, with all its benefits, came to us only after we died. “That is why it is very important to chant the name of God at all times, so that when we die, we will go to God and attain liberation, instead of to Yama,” Dadi advised. I was far from impressed. The idea of earthly life as a prison term for delinquent souls depressed and discouraged me infinitely. And the concept of attaining liberation after death did not inspire me at all. Creation was too beautiful to exist only as a plane of punishment. I thirsted to find the actual meaning and experience of liberation. Human bondage To my dismay, normal life was actually filled with bondage. One was enslaved by time, limitations of the body, ailments, people, circumstances, unfulfilled desires, goals and the myriad emotions cresting and troughing within. Endless thoughts, misunderstandings, missed goals, soured relationships, lost opportunities, bad luck, expectations and betrayals, all of these made life very undesirable. When everything I tried failed to work in my life, I sought Divine intervention. And from then on, a subtle grace, protection and guidance entered my life even in the worst of phases. And it spelled hope of being liberated from temporal vagaries, because 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. This meant that it was possible to be within the body, and yet be free of the consequences of karma. 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, monitored my inner world, and learnt valuable lessons from within. Most of all, I let go of expectations, judgments, resentment, pride, greed, and attachment. I learnt to take full responsibility for my well-being, became vigilant of my thoughts, speech and actions, became open to good advice, became more tolerant and heart-centric while upholding justice, and learnt to surrender to Divine Will. Looking back, I was so intensely focussed on God that without my knowledge I was sourcing grace from Him at all times. And slowly, there came a time when I began to feel that the hold of karma had begun losing its grip on me. After I met my guru, grace began to shower abundantly on me. I developed the ability to witness my own life and enjoy its ups and downs like a spectator. I also began to notice the gap between stimulus and response and began using it to my advantage. As awareness increased, my ego self became muted, and so did my capacity to feel hurt or remember its intensity long after the incident was over. There was a distinct rise in my power to love and appreciate that transcended grouses and resentment. Turbulent thoughts would no longer plague me. I became immensely contented with whatever I had, and wherever I stood materially. Inner bliss, peace, calmness became my regular companions. I became centred in my breath and began enjoying its movement in my body. I also noticed that life was conspiring immensely to be on my side. 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 total merging with the Divine, I am sure it’s only a matter of time before I would be granted that experience. What is liberation? Ego, emotions and intellect conceal our Divinity and trap us in Maya, said the late Deepa Kodikal According to the late Deepa Kodikal, mystic, and author of Teachings Of The Inner Light, as sparks of the Divine, souls are perfect, pure, blissful, all knowledgeable and all powerful, by nature. The purpose of our lives is to marvel, to enjoy, to be free, to be peaceful and live a life of perfection. But to fully experience the marvels of life and God, there must be duality and a sense of separation from the oneness of God. For one to enjoy the other, there must be two. And for this reason we temporarily have the illusion of separateness from this Oneness. We forget who we truly are in this earthly realm. Our Divinity gets concealed by our ego, emotions and intellect. And in the pursuit of success and happiness in the outside world, we often get entangled in self-defeating patterns based on reaction to action, thereby creating karma for ourselves. Thoughts, imprints, habits, impulses, solidified beliefs and notions begin to govern our lives, and we rue its consequences, constantly fixing 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 wish; to have peace, joy, abundance, control over their situations and the backing of the Divine at all times, which is their birthright. The more they choose unrighteously, unconsciously, selfishly, egotistically, the more they plunge into the meshes of maya, doom, despair and endless cycles of karmic bondage and suffering. The free will given to us by the Divine 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. Ruzbeh Bharucha, author of the Fakir trilogy, says, “When we began our journey as a spark come forth from the Great Fire, we possessed only free will. There was no karma involved as we were in our pristine form. So time went by and most often we used our free will in a manner where there were reactions. Some good, most often not so good. Some filled with compassion while others mainly pregnant with self-centredness. As we passed various physical shells, our free will was used more and more, till eventually very little free will existed and the other side of the scale became heavy…the scale of karma.” And once this scale becomes too heavy, when nothing works in our favour, when all that we get is hurt and betrayal in return for love and loyalty, we start yearning for freedom from worldly snares, questioning human existence, and looking for ways to get lasting joy and happiness. And from here the journey within begins. When the whispers of the Divine within become your lodestar, and not the suggestions of the world, you have started taking baby steps towards liberation. According to Dadashreeji, master and Head, 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 from the dragnets of life. 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 is difficult for her to pinpoint exactly from where her desire for liberation started, but admits 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 grace of God. Says Rajini Menon, a jnani and author of Face to Face with Reality, “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 that brings in the final change; that is Grace and you never know when it would happen.” But thankfully such is the charm of the Divine, that once the journey begins, there is no
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