Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Marathon of Life

Recently, I was catching up with an old high school friend of mine. He was asking me the standard questions: - 'so how is work?', 'how is married life?', 'how are studies' and so on. Naturally, when these are the only thoughts we are living in, can we think beyond? All our lives we have been carving an identity for ourselves - our career, our personal lives, our parents, our job, new house, new car! Isn't there more to life I thought. My friend then went on to tell me about his new job, the pay hike, the complaints with the new job, the boss etc.

Nothing wrong about this, but it led me to wonder. Are we ever really enjoying and celebrating what we have? If so, great! Most often than not, we are blindly running the race. We are so busy making 5-year plans, 10-year plans and what not. We slog in office, run an extra mile to make an extra dollar till we drop tired each day. Why are we doing this to ourselves? Are we really enjoying this process from within or running out of fear and greed? Let's ask ourselves honestly.

Are we switching jobs because we are not happy with our current job or because the new one offers a higher pay? Is that higher pay going to make us happier? Few months after we join the new job, will we stop looking for other companies that pay higher? What happens now if our friend gets a better job than us? Will we be as happy? Is there a 'finish' point to this race that we are running?

Have we ever given a thought to what lies beyond this running race? Whether we like it or not, we have to say 'goodbye' to EVERYTHING that we believe is us and ours. Then what happens? Is our bank account going to save our lives? Maybe it would help to pay the hospital bills and delay this farewell process. But one day we must leave. Have we ever sat down and wondered why then did we run so foolishly, without stopping even for a brief moment to ask 'why' and 'what lies beyond'? As Swamiji says 'Only if we have 'lived' well, we can 'leave' well'.

Swamiji quotes a beautiful story about a man who was granted a wish - whatever land he could cover by running before sunset would be his. He ran and ran and ran, ran out of breath, but still ran. He covered large fields enough for his entire family for many generations. But he didn't stop. He covered buildings, temples, all the land he could see. The thought of having it all, the greed ran for him. His throat parched, body begging him to stop, but 'No', he wouldn't stop. He ran till it became dusk, almost falling apart. When he saw a stream he thought he would stop there. By the time he reached, he dropped dead into it.

Till such time it dawns on us that everything we see is temporary and transient, we take life too seriously and never enjoy what we have. Let us celebrate what we have and be grateful. We don't even know whether we are going to breathe our next breath!

-- Ma Nithyananda Arpana


Naveen said...

Well this is a little tough to answer.

When I was little I enjoyed a cup of icecream with the kind of pleasure that made me long for those moments.

But now icecreams don't give me that joy.

Objectives always keep getting redefined. The basis of which is based on opportunity, satisfaction, ambition, age etc. and 'what one wants to do with life?'

Whether any person can find perspective amidst the many moulding, changing objectives is a question. Whether every individual has the power to control it is another.

As for me, doldrums associated with having this option is what makes life a possibility rather than a predefined course.

Ma Nithyananda Arpana said...

It's a nice point you brought up. About how the 'sources' of our happiness change. That is because we associate our happiness with the external sources, when in reality it is internal.

Just think about it. When you longed for your ice-cream, what is happening within you is a set of thoughts, desires, disturbances.. saying 'I want it'. When you actually get it, it gets silenced, and hence that peace, that happiness, that calmess for a few minutes when you are absolutely enjoying that ice cream.

We slowly start associating that happiness with that external happiness. You yourself said it, after a while it stops to give as much joy. Why? Because the source of happiness is not that icecraem It is within you and not outside.

Your true nature is that blissful state, that state which you temporarily experienced when you used to have you icecream. It's like a constant fountain of bliss which we have learnt to stop. Meditation is all about "stopping the stopping"

Naveen said...

It's quite possible that the blissful state within, that you describe is the source of happiness.

For now, I am satisfied with the knowledge that it's not the external source that's giving happiness, but it's only a state of mind.

But it's quite a wonderful thought to hope that this setting of happiness on a changing object is indeed a path to something. Seeing it as a path to somewhere progressive.

Perhaps having control might be the better option, not sure about that.

prabhu.i.am said...

I love ice creams, even now! But if one cup of ice cream makes me happy, how about two? what about three? will my joy keep on increasing?

yeah, its not the external source that makes us happy... So where does the happiness reside?

Does it reside in a specific movement of neurons in our brains? If at all you think that way, is it possible to bring about that movement without any external cause? If so, then who is it that is bringing about that movement? WHO? Keep pondering... someday, you will hit the jackpot, after which, everything else will feel cheap! You would then have transcended ice creams! Until then, have both options open, while keeping in mind that one leads to the Ultimate, (say) 10000 "Volts" of Happiness, the other to 2 "Volts"! :)

Ma Arpana - I have a blog posting on the same topic -- "To the Job Hopper"


Rishi said...

Hey guys

this is my first visit to this blog. I have not read through the whole thing, but can't seem to resist asking you one question. Why is there a divine loyalty to a master? I honestly believe, a master was the only source of information a few hundred years ago. But in the current day, if a man is sane enough to think for himself (probably not everything a master can impart) i believe quest for knowledge is what takes him to find answers to these questions.

IMO i feel that surrendering to someone is not a solution. That only salvages one thing, accepting that you cannot do it on your own, and having a reference to lie on or rather blame when things are not going fine.

I dont know if i am making sense to anyone tht is reading..but spare me some time to read through a few more articles.

Hv a nice day!

Ma Nithyananda Arpana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ma Nithyananda Arpana said...

Hi Rishi,

Thanks for visiting the blog! You are absolutely right. It's the quest for knowledge that leads you to find solutions. And the true Master lies within each of us giving us those answers.

But the problem is, most of us are so confused ourselves. We do not know how to find this true Master within us. A living Enlightened Master facilitates this process, that's all. You see, unfortunately, spiritual knowledge is not like our high school maths which can be picked up from a book. It needs the being, not just the brains or even the heart.

The vibrant silence that is experienced in the presence of an Enlightened Master is just opening up to our own selves.

And what may come across as blind devotion is just a mark of gratitude to someone who has been showing us the way within - into our own selves. Nothing can be a bigger gift for a thirsty person other than water.. so it's gratitude to him for silencing that quest that happens from deep within - a churn so to say.. asking the question "Who Am I?"

Ma N'Arpana

prabhu.i.am said...

Nithyanandam Rishi.

Thanks for passing by.

Please understand that surrendering to the Master is not same as surrendering to one's spouse, boss, the world in general, nor to one's own mind! In your surrender to the Master (also called gratitude), you actually gain more than what you can offer... Doesn't it look like a good business bargain? No, it's not a scam... It's called Grace!

Without tasting the mango, you can write a more convincing thesis on why it shouldn't be called the King of fruits... From the outside, a pineapple might look more elegant... but it's the inside that matters!

For some taste, why not undergo a Life Bliss Program (aka, Ananda Spurana Program) workshop? Details are available at dhyanapeetam.org website!

Hope you too start feeling the bliss, and the joy that goes with gratitude towards the master!

In Nithyananda...

Nirmala said...

Enjoying your blog so far. My first visit today!
The story you related is similar to Tolstoy's that I remember reading as a kid. Check it out!

Nirmala said...

It was actually "How Much Land Does a Man Need" by Tolstoy.

Arpanananda said...

Hi nirms,

Cool to see you here. Yes, that is the story by Tolstoy. Swamiji quotes parables from various sources as we relate easily to stories :)

Arpanananda (Ravi)