People today are interested in learning about the outer world. We spend billions studying the ocean bed, space and outer space. But at the same time, we do not strive to understand what is closest to us—our inner world. Today, many people prefer large-screen televisions.
However, we can see that the larger the TV screens, the smaller the screens of our mind. It is our selfishness and ego that are shrinking the mind. We have created vacuum cleaners that can remove the tiniest specks of dirt, but many are not aware of the need to remove the filth in their minds. What makes life beautiful or ugly is the mind. It is the mind that we need to beautify first.
A long time ago, the devas (celestial beings) and asuras (demons) were constantly fighting with each other. They were living in two different worlds. But by the time of Lord Rama, the asuras had come closer to the other world. Lord Rama was in Ayodhya, and Ravana, in neighbouring Lanka. Later, the asuras entered the families of the devas; Kamsa was Lord Krishna’s uncle. And now, the asuras have gained entry into our minds. Only when we defeat these enemies, residing in the mind, can we attain real victory.
The enemies include egoism, jealousy, greed and hatred. If we want peace and contentment we must be ready to fight a big battle. But this is not an external war to be waged with guns and bombs, but an inner combat to be fought with weapons such as love, faith and self-sacrifice. There will be no bloodshed in this battle, only the flow of love and peace.
No one can live without tension. There will always be tension in life, but we should not let ourselves become unnecessarily tense. We see birds flying in the sky. No one can stop them. Similarly, we cannot change many situations in life. Trying to do so is akin to permitting birds to build a nest on our heads. There is no danger whatsoever from being in a boat floating on water.
It is when water enters into the boat that it becomes dangerous. Similarly, we are living amidst problems. However, we should see to it that these problems do not enter the mind. This is what is meant by spirituality. Today, there are many who walk around with pacemakers. If we have a ‘peace maker’ in our hearts, there will be no need for pacemakers. Spirituality is this ‘peacemaker’.
If we understand spirituality, we will be able to witness problems from a distance. No one else would have faced the kind of obstacles that Lord Rama and Lord Krishna met. However, they saw all those circumstances in the same way that a playwright sees his own play. The dramatist knows which scenes are filled with sorrow, and which will elicit laughter. In the same way, one who knows the nature of the world need never cry and become upset when he encounters adverse circumstances. He will be able to look on them with a sweet smile. One who understands the nature of the world is able to regard both joy and sorrow, honour and insult as an unaffected witness.
The ability to stand apart and witness the vicissitudes of life is what is called sakshi and bhava. One of the aims of spiritual practice is to cultivate this stance. Often, life will present more sorrow than joy. The ability to stand apart and witness things will help us immensely in regarding pain and pleasure with equanimity, and in transcending them.
The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader