Befriend the unknown



October 2015

By Shivi Verma

The unknown is the most creative and thrilling space in your life, since it streams from the Divine, urging you to become a co-creator with God, says Shivi Verma

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Priya Krishan Das, an artist based in Pune, loves travelling. During one of her trips to a vanilla plantation last year, she would go out into the thick foliage late at night to view the fireflies light up the surroundings. The first time she had to venture at night with a dim torch light, the sounds of insects, rustling of leaves and dancing shadows conjured scary images in her mind. But then a little girl who lived on the plantation said, ‘I am a friend of the darkness, come along’. Priya realised the profundity of her statement.

Wise words from a little girl made Priya realise the power of embracing the unknown.Wise words from a little girl made Priya realise the power of embracing the unknown.

Whatever you are scared or fearful of, befriend that very thing. So the next time Priya went with the girl to see the fireflies, she went with a different outlook and instead of being on her guard all the time, she opened her eyes to the beauty of the night. Thousands of fireflies had lit up the trees creating a magnificent sight. “It was as if the stars had descended. With the fragrance of the nocturnal flowers and the moonlit sky and the shadows which now had acquired a beautiful shape in my mind, it was almost surreal!” she exclaims. “The unknown is probably something which we haven’t experienced yet. I believe in befriending the unknown and trusting that if it is not safe, my inner voice will guide me. The experience taught me that everything was part of us. I take one moment at a time and open myself to be awed by the Universe,” she adds.

Such is the magnetism of the unknown that man has been drawn to it since eternity. Anything which is beyond his power and ken, both scares and invites him. While familiarity gives comfort and solace, over time it becomes boring. The unknown, on the other hand, beckons with the promise of newness, thrill and excitement, so necessary to feel engaged with life. Everything related to growth involves stepping into the unknown. The greatest of discoveries and inventions happened when man stepped out of his comfort zone and courted the unknown.

What is the unknown?

The unknown stands for the untried and untested zone in your trajectory of life. It is a place both within and without yourself. And since it calls for courage, it is a springboard for evolution. All human advancements have sprung from those who ignored fear and plunged into the sea of the unknown to emerge with glittering treasure. When the first man set sail in search of faraway lands, he was stepping into the unknown. When he trekked to snowy peaks, he was courting the unknown, when he dug deep under the earth he was excavating into the unknown. When he set foot on the Moon, he had taken a daring step into the unknown.

Whenever a person toys with a new idea and attempts to realise it, he is in the zone of the unknown. When the call of safety cannot deter you from following your dreams, you become a pursuer of the unknown. From taking your first baby step as an infant, to your first day in school, college, or job are significant leaps into the unknown. Everything from falling in love, to getting married, to meeting new people, going to a new place, starting a new venture, speaking the truth or trusting a stranger, is a step into the unknown. When you step into the unknown, and chart the untried and the untested, you become a co-creator with God. Through your courage and initiative, He opens new channels, and creates new pathways for humanity to walk on.

Amit Raheja took a daring leap into the unknown by agreeing to set up a factory in farway Guwahati, by trusting his inner voice.Amit Raheja took a daring leap into the unknown by agreeing to set up a factory in farway Guwahati, by trusting his inner voice.

Says Amit Raheja, a Mumbai-based entrepreneur, “I had the experience of stepping into the unknown when my father decided to set up a factory in Guwahati, Assam. One of my customers was setting up a factory over there, and wanted a vendor who could supply the raw material. It was a different state, with different people and a different culture. We toiled very hard to construct the infrastructure for the unit, but failed to get the power supply. During that time I came across the tool of Access Consciousness. I tuned in to my inner Divinity to clear my blocks. After that I personally went to each and every person connected to the electricity board who were sitting on my papers. And I got power in seven days for my unit whereas I had been struggling for months to get it. It was so amazing. Now my plant is running at 100 per cent capacity.”

He continues, “My biggest learning was that everything is possible and that fear is simply a construct of the mind. Now I feel very close to myself. When you are in a state of beingness you can create anything you desire. After that I went to study in a four-day class of Dr Dain Heer, one of the principal trainers of Access Consciousness, in the USA all alone for the first time. It was a moment of discovery for me. I had gathered courage to go abroad alone, and returned empowered.”

Mother Teresa knew nothing of the challenges that would befall her when she set sail for India as a young nun. But through her sheer dedication to Christ and his message of serving the poor, she left behind a legacy of selfless service to humanity.

Swami Vivekananda, as well as many other Indian gurus like Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Ramtirth, and Swami Satchidananda, had nothing to back them when they left for America to help spiritually thirsty people. They battled hundreds of odds to emerge victorious.

The unknown is unconventional because its call emerges from your heart and does not listen to the rationale and logic of mind. Pulled by this call, people thwart customs, norms and rules only to rewrite them.

When Rosa Parks refused to vacate her seat for a white passenger in 1955 in Montgomery she was risking her life, since the ones she challenged were powerful, but she could no longer subdue her inner call for justice. The rest, as they say, is history. Her peaceful and dignified campaigning made her one of the best-respected figures in the civil rights movement.

Unknown and the Divine

“Part of stepping into unknown areas of our lives requires submission to God’s calling. Sometimes we know that God is telling us to do something but hesitate to respond in obedience because of fear or doubt. This is when the Lord is requiring us to trust Him, release our fears to Him and submit to His direction. Submission to God is often a result of trust,” says Lisa Hallahan in her blog, A Lovely Calling.                  

This is true. The unknown unravels its full beauty when the conscience or the Higher Self becomes your guiding light. When we realise that the purpose of life is not to destroy us but to help us evolve and that uncertainty is meant to strengthen our relationship with the Divine, the unknown becomes a place of creation and discovery. As you step into the unknown deliberately and mindfully, taking chances, and trusting the invisible hand of the Divine, you take a quantum leap in evolution.

Very often in the course of living our lives, we are led to a point where we will have to choose between life as usual or poise ourselves for a daring leap into the unknown. Often, we are given to understand that perhaps our marriage is over, or that we are meant to follow a new livelihood. Sometimes, it may be that a friendship has reached its expiry date or we are meant to move into a new house. Only our comfort level with the unknown will determine whether we will heed these inner promptings, or continue to live with the tried and tested. Only if we choose the unknown will our life unfold the way it is meant to.

Says Osho, “Take action. Be courageous. Live in the moment. Release all fears of the unknown. To accept the challenge of the unknown is courage – in spite of all fears. The fears are there; but if you go on accepting the challenge again and again… slowly, slowly, they disappear. Because the experience of the joy that the unknown brings – the great ecstasy that starts happening with the unknown makes you strong enough; gives you a certain integrity; makes your intelligence sharp. For the first time, you start feeling that life is not just boredom, but an adventure. Then you are always searching and seeking for some adventures. Courage is risking the known for the unknown; the familiar for the unfamiliar, for some unknown destination. One knows not whether he will be able to make it. It is gambling. But only the gamblers know what life is.”

She who befriends the unknown will not rest on her laurels. She will forever extend her boundaries, her potential, the possibilities that lie tantalisingly outside the realm of the known. If in business, she will follow one venture after another, not arbitrarily, but in obedience to her inner voice. If an explorer, she will venture into newer and fresher territories. If a mountaineer, she will take on every challenge that comes her way. She echoes Helen Keller’s statement when she says, “Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing.”

Roshni Rai, a young woman from village Pedong, Darjeeling, decided to move to Mumbai to create a new life after suffering a heartbreak. “I decided not to do anything negative which I would regret”. In Mumbai she made a successful career for herself without having a family to back upon. In the year 2011, she was overlooked for a promotion she had been expecting. When she asked for the reason, it was attributed to her poor communication skills. She joined the Landmark Forum to improve her abilities. Over there she realised that her poor communication skills emerged from her lack of confidence in her Gorkha origin which was synonymous in the city with security guards and her mother tongue Nepali, which made others consider her a foreigner in her own homeland. She decided to launch a campaign, Run with Roshni, to eliminate the identity crisis of Gorkhas. She and her teammates participated in the Mumbai marathon and many marathons with the T shirt-‘We are Gorkhas and Proud to be Indian. Jai Gorkha, Jai Hind’. Their unique label attracted the attention of media and the cause of Gorkha alienation got national coverage. Surprisingly, Roshni had never been a runner of any sort during her school days. So far Roshni and her teammates have run 38 marathons nationally and internationally. She believes that her runners have the power to win international marathons with proper coaching and guidance. “Darjeeling has received enough dead bodies of her sons with India’s flag on their chest, now she should start receiving sons with India’s flag on their shoulders, the way sportstars return home after winning Olympic medals,” she says.

Roshni’s faith and courage helped her create a positive identity for Gorkhas, who were either known for laying down their lives or for their agitation for a separate Gorkhaland.

“Whenever I have had a breakdown of any sort I have focussed on creating something positive out of it, instead of moping about. And the universe has been kind to me in my pursuits,” says Roshni.

Shhivpriya Harlalka, a seeker who conducts spiritual tours, discovered that faith in the other and her guru, gave her the confidance to tackle the unknown.

She says, “Once I decided to visit Mount Aruna chala in Tiruvannamalai in September 2014. I did not know anyone over there and found a local man from a social network to help me explore the mountain. When I met him for the first time he said that he would pick me up at 4 am in the morning from my hotel. I got scared at the idea. I called him up and said that since I had a headache I would prefer 9 am instead of 4am.

“I was in a dilemma. I prayed to Mahavtar Babaji and my Guru Naushir for guidance at 11:30 in the night. I began to feel better and at 3 am I phoned the man, telling him to pick me up at 4 in the morning. He came and we set off to Mount Arunanchala. All my fear for my safety had vanished and I was feeling comfortable with him. I went to several caves inside Arunanchala, with that man beside me but I felt perfectly safe with him even though I was alone. The man was friendly and respectful throughout.”

She adds with a beatific smile, “My greatest learning was that if I operated from fear the other person too would reflect those feelings and might want to harm me. But if I operated from love, it would affect the other person similarly. I realised the huge power of love, trust and faith in my gurus.”

The unknown can destroy you as well as create you, depending upon your motivation. While wrong motivation can lead you to narcotics, crime, temptations and indulgences, the right motivation can excavate the choicest of gems and jewels of life from the ocean of unknown.

I was once waiting in line at the autostand to go home after a busy day. Soon it began to rain and the autos gradually dwindled from sight. As the day darkened and people began to disperse, I decided to walk home. A man who was next to me in the line, asked me if he could accompany me since he too was going in the same direction. I agreed. In the meanwhile he phoned his brother to pick him up in his car. As we were walking together to our destination, his brother’s car came and halted next to us. He got inside and politely requested me to hop in so that he could drop me to my place which was on the way. I saw that there was one more man inside the car. Meanwhile a vacant auto veered into sight, looking for passengers. I paused for a moment. Horrifying images of attacks on women crossed my mind. But my Higher Self argued that the only way to end the mistrust between men and women, which was the cause of suffering in the world, was to make men feel proud of themselves. I refused the auto, listened to my Higher Self, and took my seat inside the car. Inside, I was praying fervently. The men chatted happily among themselves, and respectfully dropped me home. Once I got out, I thanked God profusely for helping me. Since then it has become my most efficient tool. I energetically and consciously focus on the Higher Self of anyone I come across, and mostly I see a change for the better.

In my case this step left me unhurt because my focus was less on myself and more on the happiness of those men. Had I done it to prove my smartness or daredevilry my action could have put me in serious jeopardy.

Changing lives

The unknown helps you meet yourself and discover new facets of yourself. And adversities play a crucial in pushing people to the unknown.

Says Patrick Overton, a poet and author, “When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.”

Dev Barrot recognised the creative power of the unknown after his parents passed away in quick succession, forcing him to face challengesDev Barrot recognised the creative power of the unknown after his parents passed away in quick succession, forcing him to face challenges

Says Dev Barrot, a social worker from Mumbai, “My spiritual journey started 18 years ago. Mostly I was thrown into the unknown against my will. My mother passed away in ‘97 and father two years later. My elder sister and I were left alone. This was my first tryst with the unknown. IT notices and pending court notices would come to me, and I would avoid looking at them because of fear. I was only 26 at that time. And there came a time when my house was attached by the IT department. Left with no choice, I gathered courage and addressed the issue at hand. I studied the papers and realised that I only needed to pay the small amount of Rs 50,000 to resolve the issue. I paid it and got rid of my reluctance and fear.”

Another time he faced the unknown was when he came down with deep depression in 2005. He left his business and took a break for a couple of years. In the meantime he met a person called Nitin Orayan in Ganeshpuri with whom he co-founded an NGO called The Learning Space, for the uplift of rural children. “I realised that the unknown is something which you are fearful of and are resistant to. The unknown is scary but if you shine the light of awareness on it, the darkness is dispelled. Once you know that the universe has your back, all your actions, whether you are aware of them or not would invariably contribute to your higher purpose,” he reflects.

A new world of alternative healing opened for Vijayanti Tejuja when she decided to trust the invisible promptings of the Divine.A new world of alternative healing opened for Vijayanti Tejuja when she decided to trust the invisible promptings of the Divine.

“The unknown came into my life through a health problem,” says Vyjayanti Tejuja, a Mumbai-based healer and counsellor who suffered from chronic asthma since 1983. She says, “All my attempts at healing it through conventional medicine failed. I had come to a stage where I would vomit fresh blood from my mouth. Moreover, I had other problems too. My uterus was surgically removed, and on waking up my hands would be double their original size. I realized that though the doctors were doing their job something was missing. I did not know where to turn. It was 1996. Desperately, I called out to God weeping my heart out to Him. I needed help badly. Immediately after that my daughter came up to me asking me to join the Surya yoga classes recommended by her friend’s mother. I joined it and was totally healed in three months. That’s when I realized that there was a power working in my life and if I reached out to it would always open a way. You have to drop into this unknown space, pause into it, go deeper into it and then it leads you into something direct and usually unexpected, pointing out your direction.”

“My biggest learning from treading the unknown has been to be there for myself and to trust my inner voice,” she says. “It is a space of creation, magic, and your prayers getting answered.”

Madhoo Sahoo, an executive in an MNC in Mumbai, overcame her fears of starting afresh when her sister asked her to relocate to Dubai where she lives.

“After having lived in Mumbai for 18 years, the prospect of moving to Dubai was both exciting and nerve-racking. I have lived in the comfort of my cosy home for 12 years all by myself. No one encroached on my space, told me how to live my life or manage things. But inside I was screaming for change. I handed in my resignation and shocked all my colleagues. My sister was ecstatic when I informed her of my decision. After I landed in Dubai, my sister and I once went for a walk at around 11:30 pm. Since we are never out so late in Mumbai, I kept looking around. My sister saw me and assured me that it was very safe over here. I then felt a strong sense of peace and safety and great sense of the Divine being there with me.”

Death and the unknown

It is said that the most fearless person is someone who has conquered the fear of death. Death epitomises the unknown in the most radical way. All that you are familiar with is snatched away in one moment pushing you into totally alien surroundings. The mystics say that the best way is to stay awake when death comes. Most people are unconscious at the time of death, but if you could stay awake, the process can become your gateway to immortality.

Bilva, a young, handsome and daring man, was courting an upper caste girl from his village. Bilva was fond of snakes and used to keep them as pets. Enraged that a low caste man had the temerity to woo an upper class girl, her family members conspired to kill Bilva. They attacked him unawares and tied him up to a tree. After that they let loose one of his snakes on him. The snake bit Bilva. But courageous Bilva decided to to die with dignity. Instead of convulsing and screaming in pain Bilva began watching his breath, and the way poison travelled through his body. As he began watching his last moments on Earth, Bilva breathed his last with unperturbed calmness like a true yogi.

This Bilva was none other than Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev in his previous birth. This story is recorded in his biography, More Than a Life, written by the well known poet Arundhathi Subramaniam.

By facing the fearful passage of death with calmness, Bilva’s soul was liberated and in his future birth on Earth he incarnated as a self-realised guru.

Apart from that there is no dearth of stories of people who kissed death’s threshold to return happier, more confident, and more blissful. A brush with the greatest unknown altered their consciousness and freed them of many conditionings. Their life on Earth became magical after that.

How to traverse the unknown

However, courting the unknown does not mean becoming reckless with your life and reputation. Many daredevils threw their lives away in their love of cheap thrills. Tempted by the thrill of pushing boundaries, young girls and boys often find themselves in the pitfalls of booze, drugs and promiscuity.

A successful voyager of the unknown is not whimsical. He is deeply in touch with his inner voice and listens to his intuition. Though Radhanath Swami, the famous ISKCON sanyasi, threw himself into the unknown as a young American searching for God, he never took leave of his sense of discrimination. He rejected offers of drugs, sex, necromancy, as well as fake gurus and disciples, and did not surrender to a guru until he was totally convinced. The unknown is a space of intense awareness. Though you listen to your heart, you never forsake your mind. You learn to weigh the pros and cons. You decisions encompass yours as well as the other’s highest interest.

How to prepare yourself for the unknown.

  • Breathe deeply for two minutes.
  • Connect to the feeling in your heart.Ask yourself
  • Am I restive with the stasis in my life?
  • Does my heart tell me to follow my long cherished dream? If the answer is yes then,
  • Prepare a plan and set your priorities
  • Make the Divine your confidante, and practise listening to your Higher Self at each turn of your journey.
  • Be ready for adventure, if the plan fails.
  • Enjoy the unfolding scenario as God takes over the reins of your life exposing you to thrill and knowledge.

When God sent his children into the unknown of the earthly realm, he sent them with a promise. Memorise it, and recall it before you step out for your trip into the unknown. You would forever be safe.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name;

You are Mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,

Nor shall the flame scorch you.

For I am the Lord your God,

The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” Isaiah 43:1-3.

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