Living in this world, most things are like clockwork, people are born, they grow up, get education, get a job, get married, have kids, look after them and themselves, get old and pass away.
Have you ever wondered why most of us enjoy going out, watching movies, listening to music and socializing? Why do many enjoy being part of big gatherings, crowds and go to concerts etcetera? Society and evolution has conditioned most to seek their joy outside. Such external pursuit of happiness increases the distance, widens the gap, between who you really are and what you are projecting to be.
So, should one not pursue opportunities in the material world, or should one simply ignore their responsibilities? Not at all. On the contrary, I suggest there is nothing wrong in living the life of your dreams, especially if it involves helping others, but, my focus today is to help you gain a new perspective on many acts we consider natural and necessary.
If you spend time analyzing, you will find that all external acts make you forget about yourself. You no longer have to deal with yourself, the need to work on yourself disappears. While in the cinema hall, when watching TV, in a party, at a social event, amidst a gathering, you are connecting with an external source, you move away from who you are, the environment around you moulds your mental state, it gains control of you, it disconnects you from the source.
The other day, outside my hut, a green tree was swaying hard in the gusty winds, its leaves were fluttering constantly, as if playing. The sky was cloudy, the river was wild, mountains were lush green and at a distance could be seen cattle grazing. A great deal of activity was going on in the nature but it was still utterly peaceful and serene. I turned my attention back on the leaves. They were dancing, they were swinging hard, as if they were trying to detach themselves from the tree, they were seeking greater freedom outside, as if they knew that once detached they would fly far and high with the mighty winds.
Just then a leaf took off, it was with the tree no more, it was flying tens of feet high in the air before dashing to the ground landing in a puddle. The leaf that was green earlier would start to rot soon, I thought. Even though it got freedom but because it got disconnected from its source, it lost its ability to derive nourishment and strength. It lay there lifeless. When it was united with the tree, it could gain nutrition from water and earth. Now, even though both elements were still there, they could no longer nurture the leaf, only decay it.
No matter what you do in the world, feel free to enjoy, be yourself, but do not uncouple yourself from the source, the Divine, the primordial energy, the quintessential seed you have sprouted from. Any freedom you gain by disengaging from the source is short-lived and temporary.
How to find out if you are still connected to the root? Going to shrines, chanting the holy names are no indicators, they are mere activities, external activities in fact. The greatest sign that you are one with the source is when you are comfortable in your own company, at peace within, it means you have mostly turned inwards, you have understood and absorbed the essence of spirituality.
Once upon a time a king, accompanied by his retinue, approached a sage in his cave in the deep Himalayan woods. It had a small entrance. He bent down and entered the cave, there was pin drop silence inside.
“Oh, you must feel very lonely here, Master?” the king said.
“Now that you are here, I am lonely indeed,” the sage said, “earlier I was so enjoying my company. You are in touch with others, you are connected to them, so you feel lonely when they are not around, whereas I am in touch with myself and I feel lonely when I am not around.”
If you wish to find out how comfortable you are with yourself, in your own company, practice solitude for a few days and analyze yourself. You will begin to understand what I mean. I wrote on the practice of solitude a while ago. Once again, I am not suggesting that you stop enjoying in the material world, in fact, when you are connected to the source, when you are comfortable with yourself, any joy you get from any activity grows multifold, it gets magnified, you experience happiness and bliss like never before.
When you enjoy being with yourself, the whole world will find joy and peace in your company. The more at ease you are with yourself, the greater your inner peace remains unaffected by what goes around you. Like any leaf on a tree, when you remain connected to the source, you dance when it is windy, you gain nutrition from mud and water, once uncoupled though, the same wind tosses you around, earth decomposes you, the same water that irrigated the tree once is now disintegrating the leaf.
What you have inside is infinitely more important than what you do not have outside, what you have within gives you the perspective to see all that is without.