By Neelam Mehta
Like any ‘normal’ human being, I grew up secure in the belief that I knew whatever there was to know about life and living.
I came from a viewpoint that there was right and there was wrong, and even if I did not always operate from that knowing at least I knew the difference. But underneath that pretentious bravado was a lurking doubt. Was this world indeed a creation of a rewarding and punishing God? I was questioning and debating the very existence of God when I attempted a very interesting topic for an essay exam. “If there was no God, there would be need to create one.” I wrote, “God did not create man, man created God…”
So life went on through college, university, marriage, mothering my two children – I was somewhat of an agnostic – not emphatically so, just a fence-sitter.
Then, tragedy struck! One Sunday morning, without any sign or symptom, without a moan or a groan, my husband died of cardiac arrest. Just like that – one minute he was laughing and talking, the next minute his head was on his shoulder, and he had stopped breathing. My world came crashing down in the blink of an eye. Since I already didn’t have a God that I could blame or fall back on, I began to try to understand life, to make sense of it.
Is it just a random phenomenon, without any significance or meaning? Do we have any control or choice in the matter? What, if any, is the point of existence?
Those questions became like the backdrop of my consciousness. They formed the context of my life. I read voraciously, attended workshops – Landmark, NLP, Enneagram, and learnt various meditation techniques. Slowly, life began to unravel. I began to get some glimpses of a new perspective, a new reality – one that made me see for the first time that we human beings live life by default. That we never think to question and then choose our beliefs and thoughts. We just retain the beliefs from our early conditioning and programming. That there is need to examine our unchosen existence and the repetitive unconscious behaviour patterns which run our lives.
One of the most catalytic events for me has been reading The Power of Now – a simple yet path-breaking book by Eckhart Tolle. I practice present moment awareness, and being the non-judgmental ‘watcher’ of my life as it happens. It is a meditative way of life as opposed to meditation practices. The reward of this practice is the gift of acceptance – the realisation that there is power in letting be rather than in controlling. I practice being aligned with universal design rather than personal will. When one gives up imposing all one’s shoulds and shouldn’ts on life, and becomes present to what is, then there is a deep-seated peace. I experienced this when I got diagnosed with cancer last year. I went through the surgery and the treatment without any resentment, panic or any kind of emotional drama. In fact, I was able to utilise the period as an opportunity for staying conscious.
Another book that advances my new perspective is I am That – conversations with Nisargadatta Maharaj. He reiterates over and again that holding the intention to attain realisation is sufficient condition to get you there – just stay conscious and the rest will unfold.
Currently, I am going through a period of regression in my spiritual growth – but I try to see it from the perspective of the universal order of things, and not resist it. There is a thin line between acceptance and resignation – it is just a frame of mind, a mental context. The following lines of Eckhart Tolle form the crux of my understanding of spirituality:
“You are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold.
That is how important you are!”
Neelam Mehta is a writer and trainer, and lives in New Delhi
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