By Purnima Coontoor
If I have to sketch the growth of spiritual awareness in my life, I can see three distinct phases of it.
The first phase of my search was driven by FEAR. This is when I had no idea about spirituality and my life was dominated by rites and rituals, given my traditional middle class South Indian background. As a child, I prayed to God for every goody I wanted from life. I dutifully chanted customised shlokas for every act during the course of a day – from waking to bathing to eating to studying to switching on the lights and for going to bed… not because I understood or appreciated them, but out of habit and training, and Fear! Fear of dire consequences and a vengeful God dogged me for most of my childhood. As a teenager and young adult, the extreme piousness left me, but I was still attached to traditional methods of worship for seeking the best for myself, still driven by the notion that God Has To Be Pleased to achieve the same.
The second phase was driven by GUILT. This was when I discovered the theory of karma, and understood the philosophy of action and reaction a little better. A personal tragedy launched me into a frantic search for answers, since I discovered painfully that my pious lifestyle hadn’t really protected me from anguish. I attended philosophical discourses, foraged for books, visited astrologers and browsed websites. And then I came across a book called Many Mansions (by Edgar Cayce – the sleeping prophet) which changed my outlook towards life. The message was simple – as you sow, so you reap.
I started to constantly evaluate my actions for the ‘bad behaviour’ factor, and I went slightly overboard with the ‘if only I had behaved better in my previous life/ two years ago/ the other day/ with the bus conductor/’ syndrome. I started believing I was a sinner sent here on earth to pay for my mistakes. As my spontaneity and zest for life started to fade, guilt and fatalism governed my thoughts; life seemed hopeless.
The third phase is about LET GO. Then I discovered Osho… a balm to my beleaguered life and soul. I chanced upon a book of his, charmingly called Ancient Music in The Pines and life hasn’t been the same since. Osho talks about the same things that the scriptures do – detachment, inaction-in-action, witnessing etc – but with disarming irreverence. I have tried to adopt his two mantras of Choiceless Awareness and Letting Go, which can help one sail through life irrespective of external factors. Life has no purpose, other than itself, Osho says. Let go, let go, don’t choose, not even good over bad. For joy exists only in juxtaposition to sorrow, health only against illness. Accept both as and when they come, because choosing one and rejecting the other is disastrous…you are rejecting Existence itself. Just be aware, and with awareness, you will transcend. Above all, accept yourself and others, love yourself, warts and all.
What a revelation – and how simple. You are unhappy when you want something other than what the Universe hands you. Aligning your will with that of the Divine is the only way round it. “Find first the Kingdom of God within you, and everything else will be added unto you,” said Christ, and that can happen only with absolute surrender. That done, all your material goals will be met too, without having to petition God with a wish list. Coming from that space, your actions and life choices will automatically serve your highest good and purpose.
Lately, things have been falling into place in the jigsaw puzzle of my life, mostly because now there’s less conflict in me between What Is and What Could Have Been. I’m learning to be in and accept the present moment – good, bad or ugly. I no longer have a Charter of Demands to carry to my favourite temple, and that’s a burden off my (and God’s) back. I have discovered that it’s best to accept life on an as-is-where-is condition, and that’s the best bargain I can get out of it.
Purnima Coontoor is a Mass Communications professional from Bangalore, freelancing as a writer, editor, translator and teacher, an Osho admirer and lover of life!
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