The Tree of Knowledge
The Wisdom Perspective
that leads to inner peace
Next week we will be celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, one of the important Hindu festivals celebrated throughout India (and in the Indian diaspora) with great devotion. Lord Ganesh is the symbol of wisdom. So we are devoting, as a prelude, this week’s Tree of Knowledge to the wisdom perspective.
Now keep everything aside and just look at your own life. What is that you want from your life? Have you ever sat and thought about it, ‘What do I want in my life?’ Life, its substance and purpose, is an enigma, difficult yet not unknowable. With our progressive thinking, we are daily solving some of its secrets. The minutely and scientifically calculated devices of this modern age are certainly remarkable. The proliferating discoveries of physical science are creditably giving us a clearer vision of the ways by which life can be improved. But in spite of all our devices and strategies and inventions, it seems we are still playthings in the hands of destiny, and we have a long way to go before we can be independent of nature’s domination.
To be constantly at the mercy of nature, surely that is not freedom. Our enthusiastic minds are rudely seized by a sense of helplessness when we fall victims to floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes; or when, apparently without rhyme or reason, illness or accident snatches our dear ones from our bosom. It is then that we know we really haven’t conquered much. In spite of all our efforts to make life what we want it to be, there will always remain certain conditions introduced on this planet infinite and guided by an unknown Intelligence, operating without our initiative which preclude our control. At best, we can only work and make some improvements. We sow the wheat and make the flour, but who made the original seed? We eat the bread made from the flour, but who made it possible for us to digest and assimilate it?
In every department of life there seems to be, in spite of our instrumentality, an inevitable Divine dependence without which we cannot get along. With all our certainties, we still have to live an uncertain existence. We do not know when the heart is going to fail. Hence comes the necessity of a fearless reliance on our true immortal Self and on the Supreme Deity in whose image that Self is made — a faith that acts without egoism, and plods on merrily, knowing no trepidation or constraint. Exercise absolute fearless, surrender to that Higher Power, and never mind that today you make the resolution that you are free and undaunted, and then tomorrow you catch the flu and become miserably sick. Don’t weaken! Command your consciousness to remain steadfast in its faith. The Self cannot be contaminated by sickness. Don’t behave like a cringing mortal being. You are a child of God! You are made in His image. You cannot be violated or hurt by stones, nor bombs, nor machine guns, nor atomic bombs. Remember, the best shelter is in the silence of your soul. And if you can develop that silence, nothing in the world can touch you… You can stand unshaken amidst the crash of breaking worlds. Place your heart with God. The more you seek peace in Him, the more that peace will devour your worries and sufferings.
View the spectacle of life as a cosmic drama
The rishis of ancient India, having penetrated to the Original Cause of Being, declare… that this world is God’s lila, or divine play. The Lord, it seems, like a little child, loves to play, and His lila is the endless variety of ever-changing creation… God created this dream universe for entertaining Himself and us. The only objection I have to God’s lila is this: “Lord, why did You permit suffering to be a part of the play?”
Pain is so ugly and torturing. Existence then is no longer entertainment, but a tragedy. That is where the intercession of the saints comes in. They remind us that God is all-powerful, and if we unite ourselves with Him, we will no longer be hurt in this playhouse of His. It is we who inflict pain on ourselves if we transgress the divine laws on which He rests the whole universe. Our salvation is to unite with Him. Unless we attune ourselves to God and know thereby that this world is but a cosmic entertainment, we are bound to suffer.
It seems that suffering is a necessary discipline to remind us to seek union with God. Then, like Him, we will be entertained by this fantastic play. You have come on earth to entertain and to be entertained. This is why life should be a combination of both meditation and activity. If you lose your inner balance that is just the time when you are vulnerable to worldly suffering… Awaken the innate fortitude of the mind by affirming, “No matter what experiences come, they cannot touch me. I am always happy.”
Watch life as a cosmic motion picture, then it cannot work its delusive magic on you anymore. Be in God-bliss… He has made you already what He is. That is what you don’t realize, because you acknowledge only that you are a human being; you do not know that this thought is a delusion. God’s dream creation was not meant to frighten you, but to prod you to realize finally that it has no reality. So why be afraid of anything? Jesus said: “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” John 10:34 (Bible). You are immortal and are endowed with eternal joy. Never forget this during your play with changeable mortal life. This world is but a stage on which you play your parts under the direction of the Divine Stage Manager. Play them well, whether they are tragic or comic, always remembering that your real nature is eternal Bliss, and nothing else. The one thing that will never leave you, once you transcend all unstable mental states, is the joy of your soul.
Live in unruffled equanimity
The saints have found that happiness lies in a constant mental state of unruffled peace during all the experiences of earthly dualities. A changeable mind perceives a changeable creation, and is easily disturbed; the unchangeable soul and the unruffled mind, on the other hand, behold, behind the masks of change, the Eternal Spirit. The test of man’s wisdom is his equanimity. Little stones that are pelted into the lake of consciousness should not throw the whole lake into commotion.
Life is a show; don’t take it too seriously
Why take the surface details of life so seriously? Be drunk with the inner peace of divine realization, whatever your earthly lot. Whether man be agitated or calm, life will pursue its own strange course forever. Worry, fear, discouragement only add to the weight of daily burdens; cheerfulness, optimism, will power bring about resolutions to problems. So the best way to live is to take life as a cosmic game, with its inevitable contrasts of defeat and victory. Enjoy the challenges as you would in a sport, no matter whether at the moment you are victorious or vanquished. Give greatest importance to cultivating through daily soul-awakening meditation your relationship with God and your inner happiness. When you are in the perfect calm of soul awareness, you see God moving in all creations. You do not see the world anymore as a nightmare of troubles, but as an entertaining spectacle to be enjoyed. Then you shall smile from the depths of your being, a smile that can never be destroyed.
Practice meditation and God-communion regularly, and you will taste the wine of joy and pleasantness all the time, no matter what your outer circumstances. Drinking the nectar of inner peace from the angel hands of your silent realization, you will drown the distractions and sorrows of your daily life. God is present on the throne of peace within you. Find Him there first, and you will find Him in all that is good and meaningful in life: in true friends, in the beauty of nature, in good books, deep thoughts, and noble aspirations. Finding God within you, you will know that whatever in life gives you enduring peace is declaring to you the eternal presence of God, without as well as within. When you know God as peace within, you will realize Him as peace existing in the universal harmony of all things without.
Extracts from “Inner Peace: Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda”
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