W e would have ourselves and the whole world believe that we are hapless beings caught in the throes of one dilemma after another. Life, we are often ready to declare, and the supreme force that directs Life, are in all probability our opponents in this largely unfair game where we are kept practically in the dark all the time while they are fully aware of the entire scenario.
Well, if life is a game, it could well be ‘blind man’s buff’. No doubt we are blindfolded, no doubt we could make a ‘wrong call’ while trying to figure out whom we have caught, and then we would have to get blindfolded all over again! Nonetheless we have two options. If we happen to be the one who is blindfolded, the first option is that we should have all our other senses on absolute alert, be vigilant to every move of our opponents, even to their very breathing if possible, in order to catch one of them. Then having ‘caught’ them, we need to carefully investigate their identity and not be fooled by the seeming truth.
To win the game called ‘life’ therefore, Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi points out that enquiry is the one infallible weapon, enquiry that automatically implies continuous and total vigilance. For vigilance alone will reveal to us the presence and the nature of our opponents. Who are our opponents? Where are they hiding? Are they hiding right behind us perhaps? How to recognise them? Are they outside or are they within? These would be of utmost concern to us if we are aiming at winning our round and coming out of the darkness of the blindfold.
There is of course another option that we simply enjoy the game, whether or not we are blindfolded, because we are playing in the first place only because we wish to play and because we like the game. When we enjoy the game entirely there is no opponent at all for we would be equally glad to play the catcher and the caught, it would then be fun all the way. We would not bother in the least even if we get ‘caught’ any number of times or if we never get ‘caught’ either. Thus the ‘other’ path that bhagavan throws open before us is the path of surrender to the supreme with a willingness to accept every aspect of the game called ‘life’.
The ‘paths’ are in truth not different from one another, because one can be truly vigilant only when one is enjoying the game so thoroughly that its outcome becomes insignificant. On the other hand, when one is worried about the outcome, this worry itself becomes the major focus of one’s attention. How then would one remain alert to the surroundings or to any other factors? And in this case the converse is also true. When one is fully vigilant, then one automatically enjoys the game by enjoying the very vigilance. Thus, surrender and self-enquiry go hand in hand if they are to be seen as ‘two’ at all. In actual fact, they are two sides of the same coin, two perspectives to a single trajectory of grace that draws us within to the bliss of our own nature. Ramana says we must remain ever tuned to grace through continuous self-enquiry leading to steady abidance in the self. Thereafter the beginning or the middle or even the end of the game will cease to be of any consequence. Only the power that is the substratum will shine forth uninterrupted.
Dr Sarada, editor, ‘The Ramana Way’, Monthly Journal of Ramana Maharshi Centre for Learning, Bangalore