By Suma Varughese
In order to penetrate the supreme mystery of life we need to understand its laws, which alone govern our health, wealth and happiness, says Suma Varughese
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
This excerpt is taken from Macbeth, when all his schemes had fallen apart and his wife had committed suicide. His honour gone, his friends gone, betrayed by the witches, ambition thwarted, his monologue is full of despair, hopeless rage, and an inability to understand life. We can all resonate with him, can we not? There are moments when we feel the same. When a friend stops talking to us for no rhyme or reason. When an accident rips out a limb and tears apart our life. When the person we love does not love us back. Life seems so baffling, so hard to control, so impossible to figure out.
The thing with life is, nothing makes sense. The smartest people don’t necessarily end up getting the best marks or the best jobs. Bad things happen even to good people. And injustice is everywhere. You may work your butt off, but the promotion may go to the person your boss likes. Your favourite aunt gets struck down with breast cancer at 40, while thugs and goons seem to be bathing in the fountain of youth. Some are rich, others scramble to cars at traffic lights and stick out a grimy paw for a rupee. Some are geniuses, while others contend with cerebral palsy and autism. Some are lucky, others can’t even seem to get out of bed without suffering an accident.
Random. Totally random. How do we get a handle on this puzzle, this mystery, this baffling conundrum that is life?
Most of us go to our graves without understanding life’s profound mystery. After all, we are not given manuals to understand it. But the fact is that life can be understood. We can penetrate its mystery. The purpose of all religions and spiritual texts, including the Bhagavad Gita, is only to highlight this one thing: What is life and how can we live it?
If we can but understand life, we will realise what the Landmark Forum founder, Werner Erhard, once said, “This thing called life is meant to work.”
So how can we understand life?
Laws of life
Just like the physical world has its laws which help us to not just understand the universe but also to use its laws to better our lives, life has its own set of laws which we need to understand. And then to abide by. We may not understand the law of gravity but if we do not abide by it, we will hurt ourselves. Similarly, even if we do not understand these laws, we will hurt ourselves when we flout them. In fact, all the misery of life happens when we flout these laws.
It is as the Vedas said it. Aham brahmasmi (I am God). We are amritasya putraha (children of immortality). The Universe and its Creator are one. We are not separate from God. Indeed, we are God and so is everyone and everything in this Universe. We are made of Divine stuff. Pause a minute and let this understanding sink in, if you do not know it already (I am sure most Life Positive readers are familiar with it). Unlike what science once stipulated, we are not fragments floating in space that somehow got assembled on an astonishingly coherent planet. We are here because we are meant to be here. Not only that, the whole design of life, including the tiniest detail, is deliberate and here for a purpose. Far from being a stellar accident, the Universe was created. Or, if you want the absolute truth, the Universe is the Creator. Not only has God created the Universe, but He is the Universe. This means we are connected to everyone and everything, which includes the furthest atom in the outermost reaches of the universe.
What does it mean in practical terms? it means that we affect everyone and everything and they affect us. If we think good thoughts and emanate good vibes, others get it. If we think bad thought and emanate bad vibes, others get that too. And we get the vibes of others too. So there is no question of us being an island. We are deeply and intimately yoked to the other and our fate hangs on it.
Thus no matter how much we wish to be happy, we can never get there by causing unhappiness to others around us. On the other hand, the more we focus on the happiness of the other, the happier we get. Mothers are the prime example of this. They honestly get more happiness out of seeing their offspring eat a delicacy than out of eating it themselves. As we grow in refinement, empathy and sympathy, we too will become capable of this feat. What stops us from experiencing this all the time is the ego or ahamkara (I-maker, as Sanskrit succintly puts it) that draws a veil between us and the other, and prevents us from recognising that we are just one! This understanding also has positive implications for the environment and for society.
We cannot hurt others without injuring ourselves. We cannot destroy the environment without damaging our own health or the health of our children. We cannot give bribes and destroy the system without weakening our own welfare. In our own best interests we need to focus on the larger good. Instead of making choices that conflict with the larger good, such as manipulating the law to do business, or putting our interests ahead of our wife or children, we need to do what works for all.
Like attracts like. Whatever we draw into our lives is here by the vibrations we put out. Negative thoughts, words and deeds have a lower, grosser vibration; guilt, shame and fear are right at the bottom; positive emotions have a higher, more subtle vibe, with peace, love, gratitude and joy emanating the highest vibration.
So if we want to know what our vibration is, we need to look at our lives. Lots of relationship issues, difficulties, struggles, unhappiness, scarcity and ill-health? Well, perhaps we are going through a negative phase. Lots of happiness, great health, opportunities coming your way, booming career, a sense of peace and expansion, wonderful people coming into your life? Your vibes are high.
This brings us to the basic spiritual truth of life. We create our own reality. Not a malignant fate, not the genes we inherited from our parents, not a black cat crossing our paths, not the manipulations of our family or colleagues. We have drawn everything into our lives by our own thoughts, words and acts. The agents of our destiny are the thoughts that we think, and we think 60,000 of them everyday! If these thoughts are self-condemnatory and reflect low confidence, self-doubt, poor self-esteem, anger, fear or hate, our destiny will be difficult and constricted. If our thoughts are confident, positive and reflect a love for life, our destiny will have an upward trajectory.
We are not the victims we thought we were. In fact, we could potentially be victors. Because if we change our vibrations, we can change our destiny.
Now this is not easy, despite what The Secret tells you. Because your vibration is a part of you just like your genetic makeup or fingerprint. To change it needs deep inner work, where you literally unmake the grooves of your mind and conditioning and recreate your attitudes and behaviours. It takes a lot of work. But it works!
Karma again repeats the same message. It says what we sow, we reap. All our thoughts, words and deeds have consequences, and each one of these consequences will be visited upon us. No matter how minor. Karma says we get away with nothing. Karma says everyone always gets their just desserts. Karma says life is perfectly just. All the seeming randomness of life can be attributed only to karma. So if we break a leg, lose a job or girl friend, or win a ticket to go round the world, it is because we have deserved it. Life is not unjust. If things do not work out in our favour, if finances have not worked out despite our best efforts or our relationships have floundered even though we have worked on them, well, perhaps karma is the spoiler. We have reaped the fruit of our own actions, if not in this lifetime, then in another.
But even here, there is hope. Karma means the consequences of our action. So if bad karma has closed some doors to us, maybe good karma will open them. More important, when bad karma visits us, we need to learn the lessons it holds for us and bear the difficulty patiently. For instance, if our busy and frenetic lifestyle has brought about high blood pressure, we need to learn to slow down, change our diet and soothe the frantic mind. If we sincerely apply ourselves to learning these lessons, sooner or later we will be free of the high blood pressure. Sooner or later, our karma will spend itself out and we will be free.
This is a scary one. The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain. We live in a phenomenal world. Nothing is guaranteed. We may fall ill, break a leg, lose our job, or our marriage. There are simply no guarantees. We cannot expect anything from anyone or anything. Because no one owes us anything. This is terribly frightening and we can face it only when we learn that we can cope with challenges. Moreover, we will get only what we draw (as the Law of Karma tells us), so we do not have to go through life wide-eyed, fearing disaster at every turn. Also, the more we work on ourselves and become progressively evolved, the less impact this law will have on us. Finally, surrender helps defuse this law completely. Whatever comes to us is sanctioned by God and is therefore in our highest interests. So why worry? Why not just let go of all concerns for the future into the hands of God and live in the moment instead?
Grappling with this law dissolves all the sense of entitlement an indulgent childhood may give, and its final reward is the joy of gratitude. For in accepting this law, we will be freed of expectations, which in turn causes deep gratitude. Without expectations, all of life becomes a great blessing. This law has the potential to take us to enlightenment if we master it.
You can get what you want only when you give it. If you want love you have to give love. If you want money, you will have to be generous. If you want appreciation, you have to give it. It is paradoxical, but true. The more loveless you feel, the more you need to love. The less money you have, the more you need to give of it. The less energy, the more you need to expend it.
This law is the secret of all abundance. The more we shrink into scarcity, the more scarcity we attract. If we can courageously rise above them and give generously of what we have, whether it is time, money or love, we will attract them wherever we go. Look at babies. They have absolutely nothing of their own and yet their joy, innocence and love attracts us irresistibly.
What you resist persists. Whatever you don’t like will keep showing up in your life. This is one of the most powerful laws and the main reason why life can seem so baffling and uncontrollable. The more we resist being in poverty and strive to rise above it, the more entrenched we become. The more we hate cockroaches, the more they seem to proliferate. The more we resist traffic jams, the more often we find ourselves exposed to them. This can seem perverse on the part of the Universe but the reason is very simple. We are meant to flow with life and not against it. We are meant to eliminate every ounce of resistance to everything that comes our way and move into surrender. We need to transcend all our everyday aggravations as well as the bigger stuff. Disease, relationship breakdowns, divorces, deaths of others. This of course requires deep spiritual work but we can begin with the small stuff. And work our way up.
The more we free ourselves of resistance, the more the natural fabric of interconnection reveals itself. Without resistance, we flow with silken smoothness with life. Everything comes to us without even us asking for it. Our ego dissolves because it is resistance that keeps it alive and therefore we experientially realise that all is one. Life reveals its true beauty and potential. Our own potential become endless because without the ego to block us, everything flows in play.
Once we understand these laws we will understand the nature of life and our purpose in taking birth. We are here to grow, to learn our lessons, realise our potential, eventually void our ego and return to the Godhead of which we are made. The law of unity and divinity gives us the vision, the other laws set the rules for us and as we master them, they lead us home!
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