By Roohi Saluja March 2005 The key to balancing the spiritual and the worldly lies in living them in tandem. When you lead your daily life consciously, the two become one. Until this delicate equipoise is won, however, enjoy the see-saw ride of ups and downs. ‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.’-Albert Einstein When Dr Renuka Singh, Director of the Delhi-based Tushita Mahayana Meditation Center and Professor of Sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), expressed concern at finding little time to meditate, Lama Zopa Rinpoche smiled and said, ‘This is your practice.’ Recounting this episode with nostalgia, Dr Renuka explains the balancing act as, ‘If I can perform an action with full awareness and pure motivation, then I am already meditating.’ Anand Sharma chose his family over diksha (initiation). Today, he’s a counsellor at the Chinmaya Vidyalaya, teaching bhajans to school students, and an active spiritual member of the Chinmaya Mission, New Delhi. Does he regret his decision? ‘Not at all,’ he replies, ‘My work is my sadhana (spiritual practice).’ All of us are constantly seeking to balance our spiritual and worldly lives. Few have learnt the trick – some are close, but many are struggling. Father Bento Rodrigues, Rector, Father Agnel School and Polytechnic in New Delhi, explains, ‘Life is not to be understood in terms of time. For the sake of understanding, the spiritual and the worldly can be understood as separate, but in reality, there’s no difference. Life is just a single, continuous stream, and we must go with the flow. Acknowledge this fact, and all questions of balancing dissolve.’ Living life from this standpoint enables us to reach a harmonious level, where our inner values naturally line up with the worldly. Swami Dharmadas of the Ananda Sangha concedes, ‘This is not the time to go to the Himalayas or withdraw into caves. Today’s ashram is the city.’ Osho Siddhartha, one of the founder members of Oshodhara Acharya Trivir, clarifies, ‘Without periphery, there is no center. It’s only a dot. While a worldly person is constantly pulled outwards, a seeker seeks the inner realm. However, what one must learn is to bounce back – from the inner to outer, and back into the inner, as and when the need be.’ But what decides this transition? Swami Dharmadas explains, ‘When the balance wavers, my natural feedback mechanism informs, cautions and provokes me to take a remedial step. It’s a natural demand of a pause that comes from within. The mind, in an almost reflex action, withdraws from the outer world, gets centered and assumes a higher awareness.’ What you then enter is the subtle, yet vibrant zone of silence – the milestone of self-introspection and supreme awareness. Osho Siddhartha offers a sneak peek, ‘The inner world is an effervescent world of feelings. Go deeper into it and you’ll find a more private, profound space of consciousness, which is beyond space and time. It’s a space where you are in touch with eternity. It’s a space beyond feelings; only bliss reigns supreme.’ Swami Dharmadas interprets this as his private space for meditation that empowers him to achieve an inner balance. This is his powerhouse of energy that protects, guides and helps him to put up with the daily crash and noise of the city. In his own words, ‘Silence acts like a point of reference that you can refer back to when questions, problems and complex situations besiege you.’ And once you come to terms with yourself, the natural balancing mechanism directs you to bounce back into the world. What you then experience is only an expansion of the world within. ‘Involving myself in social activities helps me to share the joy that I experience within. Adopt a festive attitude, and you’ll find yourself enjoying not only the silence but also the noise,’ advises Osho Siddhartha. Dr Renuka Singh admits, ‘All of us are connected. My development happens due to others and vice-versa. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, identifies this as being wisely selfish.’ If one understands meditation as being mindful of what you do, then every action, committed in complete awareness, is meditation. Anand Sharma delivers his duties with a sense of seva and fulfillment. ‘When I’m focused upon my work, I tend to enjoy it that much more, and do my best to bring it to completion. For me, this is my sadhana.’ Dr Renuka Singh adds, ‘You can’t shirk responsibilities because you are spiritually inclined. First, one must try to manage time effectively. But if that still doesn’t work, then adopt a meditation technique that suits your lifestyle. ‘After a busy day at work, I practice the calm-abiding meditation that soothes my senses. But in the morning, I prefer analytical meditation.’ Father Bento Rodrigues spends two hours in the morning and half-an-hour in the evening in the chapel. For Swami Dharmadas, a meditation session in the morning sets the tone for the day. The secret then reveals itself. Allow your spiritual goals to suffuse the worldly goals, and balance between the two is naturally won. ‘What is the point of experiencing ecstasy in the inner world, when you can’t translate it into the outer world?’ questions Swami Dharmadas. He continues, ‘Being an affectionate parent, a loving son, an efficient boss or even a responsible citizen expands your sense of selfhood. Give a reason to others to smile, and see how happiness grows on you.’ Meditation is not just limited to sitting in the lotus posture. If you feel love for yourself, for God and all his creatures, you are already meditating. Osho Siddhartha explains, ‘A sage is incapable of not loving. For him, love and service is unaddressed; it simply happens.’ And then, every life that touches you teaches a new lesson. Dr Renuka Singh says, ‘Meditation trains you at many levels. One of these is endurance. When you learn compassion and humility, you learn not to be rigid about your desires, and forego the ego. All our dealings with the world are testing times that help us to gauge our spiritual growth.’ But what if you falter? Swami Dharmadas offers an explanation, ‘Failure sharpens the mind. It analyzes better, and is more careful in future. The very fact that you’re aware of yourself and know what you need and when, is enough proof that you are growing.’ And if the scale is still not set, take a retreat. Father Bento Rodrigues looks forward to his stimulating reading sessions of the scriptures and guided spiritual practice. ‘Retreats straighten you out. When imbalance spins you over, such experiences help you get centred.’ Dr Renuka Singh prefers to meditate and study during her retreats. ‘Going on a retreat is just like spending time with yourself. Only the hours are extended. At times my home becomes my silent sanctuary,’ she adds. As children, all of us have enjoyed the see-saw ride. The more you push yourself against the ground, the higher you go. And the higher you’re up in the air, the more blissful is the downfall. And then, you’re not alone on the plank. Your pleasure depends upon the partner on the other end. So the next time the balance wavers, enjoy the see-saw ride. And when balance happens , enjoy that too!
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