||Aum Namo Narayanaya||
I failed to take a position on whether it’s my mind that has cajoled itself to the idea of the encroaching festivities like Diwali and Christmas or whether nature has also become receptive to it. The atmosphere feels so clean and chirpy with everything from the birds to the persevering weed suspended in joy and excitement. For those who follow the Gregorian calendar, the arrival of Diwali signals the start of winding down and rejoicing. It may have been a challenging year but it’s time to set aside the trials and tribulations for trifle and tea.
I was driving down from Ballito last week and took notice of a number of memorial points along the highway that have been solemnised with wreaths and bouquets in tribute to family members and friends who have died under tragic circumstances at those points. Now that I took notice of these along the M4, I noted on the following days that there are many along the other highways and freeways as well. Of recent, the province had to deal with the carnage of a runaway truck that left many dead, bus accidents and many others... yet it does not deter us from taking to the road. Where do we draw the courage and strength to get back on to the highways despite knowing at the back of our minds that anything can happen on the roads?
It is for the sake of wealth and pleasure that we override that fear and briskly navigate the treacherous network of roads knowing that it is these roads that take us to work; to places of recreation; to socialise with friends; and perform other activities. Even if the road is unlit, severely under disrepair or traversing along hauntingly secluded areas... it becomes okay as a means to enjoy the pleasures of life.
The irony surfaces when calamity strikes you personally... when someone close to you passes on and you breakdown on the highway of life - despondent, angry, full of fear and weak. Why can’t we saddle up again?
Last week on my birthday, I had the blessed opportunity once again to spend time with Swami Vimokshanandaji Maharaj. Despite recovering from His bypass surgery, Swamiji took the time to spend some quality time with me - a gift which you will agree is priceless. Maharaj’s words flowed with spiritual finesse as He spoke about the events leading to His operation, Through His account, He encapsulated succinctly some profound truths about life.
Life is nothing but 'maya' (illusion). Swami Vivekananda has told us that "we are all potentially divine beings". Our true nature is 'satchidananda" (truth, absolute bliss). With this inherent understanding that we are bliss, we try by all means to experience this bliss through our bodies. So long as the stimulus for joy is present we are okay. The moment that is removed, we become devastated. Like when you lose someone you love, fall very ill or there is breakdown in a close relationship. There are many people who have broken down this way on the highway of life and remain there dejected and refuse to summon the strength to move on. They may ask the question: From where do you get such strength? Like how we get the strength to travel the treacherous highways knowing that it takes us to work or our favourite destination, we must take strength from the knowledge that we are divine. Sri Ramakrishna said in the Gospel: "You are leading a householder's life. Why should you be afraid of the world? When Rama said to Dasaratha that He was going to renounce the world, it worried His father, and the King sought counsel of Vasishtha. Vasishtha said to Rama: 'Rama, why should You give up the world? Reason with me. Is this world outside God? What is there to renounce and what is there to accept? Nothing whatever exists but God. It is Brahman alone that appears as Isvara, maya, living beings, and the universe'."
Today, as millions all over the world will celebrate Deepavali - the festival of lights... we should use this festival as a mechanism to realise and understand the Master's words. This festival reminds us about who we are... the knowledge of which once known, no other knowledge is needed and we have access to a well of inexhaustible strength and courage to live in the world amidst all the calamities, strife and problems.
Deepavali means row of lights which signifies order and strength. If a number of little flames are placed together in a pattern, the intensity of the light is increased. With our obsession with the world and its pleasures, our mind has become dusty and dull. Hence it experiences nothing but the pleasures of the outer world. Sri Goswami Tulsidas explained to us in his world famous poem, the Hanuman Chalisa, that with the dust of his Guru's feet, he cleaned the mirror of his mind. By the grace of our spiritual teachers and God, we can remove the web of 'maya' that has settled upon our minds. When we make our minds reflective, it simply blinds the organs of sense and action with the brilliance of divine power,light and bliss within us. When this light of the 'atman' is aligned with your mind, actions and senses... your entire being becomes co-ordinated like the row of lamps and the intensity radiated from you will be like the brilliance of a million suns. The distinction between you and Sri Rama will disappear, you will become Him and He becomes you. Then like Master said above, you will know this universe is you.
With this knowledge gained, you become enlightened and no challenge or problem in life will have the ability to debilitate you. You will approach your challenges like a lion that has just been released from his cage for many years. Before going for His procedure, Swami Vimokshananda made this comment on one of my posts which illustrates this point very clearly: "Pinjaraadiva Keshari...like a lion (coming) out of a cage...(a quote from Swami Vivekananda). In concluding, I want to quote a beautiful line that one of the devotees of our Temple made this morning during our monthly Sadhana Camp. He said: "No matter how intense the darkness can be, it will fail at every attempt to dim the light of a single lamp." Dear readers, no matter how difficult your challneges may be, no matter how dark a path in your life you are travelling, look within for that light of the divine... because it is laden with positive strength, hope, love and bliss... and if we can reflect that light in every aspect of our lives then we will become divine and life will become brilliant.
On this ocassion of Deepavali, I pray to Master, Mother, Swamiji, Mother Sita and Sri Rama to help us enlighten ourselves. Happy Diwali !!!!!
Affectionately and lovingly yours