Man wants happiness. He shuns pain. He moves heaven and earth to get the happiness he wants from sensual objects and, lo, gets himself entangled in the inextricable meshes of Maya. Poor man! He does not know that these objects are perishable and evanescent, finite and conditioned in time, space and causation. And what is more, he fails to get the desired happiness from them.
This world is imperfect (apurna) and there is uncertainty of life. A barrister-at-law talks on the telephone, ascends the staircase to take his meals and, alas, while ascending he dies on the staircase. Such instances are not uncommon.
There is not an iota of happiness in objects, because they are insentient (jada). Even the sensual pleasure is a reflection of Atmic Bliss only. Just as a dog that sucks a dry bone in the street imagines foolishly that blood is oozing out of the dry bone, whereas blood is really oozing from its own palate, so also worldly-minded people foolishly imagine that the happiness they enjoy in everyday life comes from objects only.
You can find eternal, infinite, supreme peace and bliss only in your Atma which shines in all its splendor and glory in the chambers of your heart. It is an embodiment of Bliss (Ananda Swarupa).
There is mental uneasiness, dissatisfaction, discontentment and restlessness even in multimillionaires and kings. Some kind of sorrow, misery or pain is invariably present even when they are in the height of enjoyment of worldly pleasures. Show me a man who is perfectly happy! When the marriage of his second son is being celebrated, the remembrance of the death of his first son who passed away only some time ago torments his mind.
Mind is so constituted that the rhythm of pleasure and pain is kept up like the rhythm of systole and diastole of the heart. You entertain the fear that the happiness will pass away soon, when you are in happy surroundings. This adds pain, when you are in the enjoyment of sensual pleasures. Even if you remove the pain by some means or other, it again manifests in some form or other such as loss of property, disease, death, hostility and disappointment.
There is no hope of immortality by means of riches. Such indeed is the emphatic and irrefutable declaration of the Upanishads: “Neither by rituals, nor by progeny, nor by riches but by renunciation alone one can attain immortality.”
Mere giving up of objects will not constitute real renunciation. Dear friends, remember this point well. True tyaga or renunciation consists in renouncing egoism, “I-ness,” “mine-ness,” selfishness, desires and cravings of all sorts.
For all beings a human birth is verily difficult to attain. It is said that there are three things which are rare indeed and are due to the grace of God: a human birth, the longing for liberation and the protecting care of a perfected sage. The man who having by some virtuous actions done in previous births obtained a human birth and a good intellect to boot is foolish enough not to exert for Self-realization verily commits suicide, for he kills himself by clinging to things unreal.
You will now ask me the pertinent question: “Why should I realize the Atman?” I say because Self-realization gives you freedom from the samsaric wheel of births and deaths with its concomitant evils. Hear the emphatic declaration of the Upanishads: “This Atman (Self) which is free from sin, undecaying, undying, free from sorrow, hunger and thirst, with true desires and true resolves–that is what is to be sought after, and which one must wish to understand; one who has sought after his Self and understand it, obtains all worlds and all desires” (Chhandogya Upanishad).
Hear again the forcible utterances of the same Chhandogya Upanishad: “The infinite (the Great) is bliss. There is no bliss in what is small (finite). The Infinite alone is Bliss. But one should wish to understand the Infinite.”
Every man in this world is restless, discontented and dissatisfied. He feels that he is in want of something, the nature of which he does not really understand. He seeks, in the accomplishment of ambitious projects, the rest and peace that he feels he is in need of. But he finds to his great sorrow and disappointment that worldly greatness when secured is a delusion and a snare. He does not find any happiness in it. He gets coveted degrees, diplomas, titles, honors, power, position, name and fame; he marries; he begets beautiful babies; in short, he gets all that he supposes would give him happiness. But yet he finds no real rest and peace.
Pious men, saints, sages, acharyas and prophets are never tired of saying that this restlessness of every man, this state of discontentment, dissatisfaction and uncomfortableness of being ill at ease with himself and his environments is solely due to the loss of the companionship of the partner of his soul, who is ever eternally shining in the chambers of your heart, who is ready to embrace you with outstretched hands, if you really care to see Him and if you are really spiritually thirsty and hungry.
One anna [one sixteenth of a rupee] of pleasure is mixed with fifteen annas of pain. Pleasure that is mixed with pain, fear and worry is no pleasure at all. If you carefully begin to analyze this one anna of pleasure also, it will dwindle into an airy nothing. You will find that it is a mere play of the mind. O man! Wake up. Open your eyes. Develop viveka. You cannot get the real happiness from finite objects.
Nitya, Nirupadhika, Niratisaya Ananda (eternal, infinite Bliss) that is independent of objects can be had only in the Immortal Spirit or Atma or Soul or Brahman, the Indweller of your heart. Therefore shun all external things ruthlessly and run to the feet of the Lord. Develop vairagya. Vairagya is the rock-bottom foundation for the spiritual path.
Why do men run after the sensual pleasures? What is their concept of happiness? Do samskaras force them to repeat the same sensual acts again and again? Is man a mere creature of environment or circumstance? Can he not obliterate his samskaras by effective and suitable means?
On account of ignorance man runs hither and thither to seek happiness in objects. A little gingerbread and some sweetmeats, a son and a young wife, some position and power and a little money in the bank to boot will fill his heart with joy and calm down his nerves. That is all he wants. Bliss of Atma, supersensuous ananda and peace, spiritual ecstasy and knowledge are unknown to him. He does not want them. Nay, he dislikes them. He hates people who talk about higher and sublime things. Believe me, man can obliterate his samskaras by Purushartha or right exertion. He is not a creature of environment or circumstance. He is the master of his destiny.
Amidst the din and boisterous bustle of worldly activities, there do come moments of tranquillity and peace, when the mind for the time being, however short it may be, soars above the filthy worldly things and reflects on the higher problems of life: the why and wherefore of life and the riddle of the universe. Man begins to enquire: “Who am I?” The sincere enquirer becomes serious and gets absorbed in his reflections. He begins to search and understand the truth. Discrimination dawns on him. He seeks vairagya, concentration, meditation, and purification of the body and mind and eventually attains the highest knowledge of the Self. But the man whose mind is saturated with worldly vasanas and materialistic poison is quite heedless and is irresistibly carried away by the two currents of raga and dwesha and tossed about helplessly hither and thither in the tumultuous samsaric stream of worldly concerns.
Ah! How uncertain is sensual life in this world! If you constantly think of the transitory nature of sensual pleasure and its concomitant evils–miseries, worries, troubles, tribulations, anxieties and premature death–then you will slowly develop vairagya. The vairagya that comes momentarily is due to the loss of either wife, relation, friend, son or property; this will not help you much in the spiritual path. What is really wanted is vairagya born of discrimination or viveka.
In the presence of sensual pleasure, spiritual bliss cannot exist, just as darkness cannot exist in the presence of light. Therefore show extreme contempt for worldly objects. Destroy all desires. Turn the mind away from the sensual objects. You will develop vairagya.
You yourself have made your life complex and intricate. You have entangled yourself in this quagmire of samsara. You have multiplied your wants and desires. Everyday you are forging an additional link to the chain of bondage. Simplicity has vanished. Luxurious habits and ways of living are embraced. No wonder there is unemployment everywhere. People are dying of starvation. There is depression in trade. There is unrest everywhere. There is wholesale devastation by earthquake. Divorce courts are also multiplying. One nation is afraid of another nation. One nation suspects that other nations are preparing for a big war. Life has thus become a matter of uncertainty. It has become a mass of confusion, chaos and bewilderment. It has become stormy and boisterous. It is full of under-currents, cross-currents, subterranean currents and mixed currents. Is there no way of escape from these troubles and difficulties? There is only one way. Lead a life of dispassion, self-control, purity, selfless service, cosmic love. Develop the habit of taking the right point of view, right thinking, right feeling, right acting, with right mental attitude or bhava. Practice devotion and meditation.
O Mohan! You have no real sustained vairagya. Your present mental state is due to pecuniary embarrassments. This will not help you in the spiritual path. The mind will be waiting to get back the object renounced, when it gets the first opportunity. No doubt you are a man of spiritual samskaras. But your vairagya must be of that type that is born of pure viveka, (Nityanitya-vastu-Viveka), discrimination between the real and the unreal. This is a rare commodity, a rare virtue, though many people feign to be in possession of the same.
Thousands of young graduates and young doctors come to me with earthen pots in their hands and attired in orange colored robes in quest of caves in Uttarakasi and Gangottri for deep meditation and practice of pranayama. And some young research students in science and some Rajkumars go to the Punjab and Kashmir in silk suits with stiff collars and ties in search of girls for marriage. Is there pleasure or pain in this world? If there is pleasure, why do young educated men retire into forests? If there is pain, why do young men run after wealth, women and position? Mysterious is maya! Mysterious is moha!
Try to understand the riddle of life and the riddle of the universe. Acquire viveka. Take recourse to satsang. Enquire into the nature of the Atman. Study the Yoga-Vashishtha and the Upanishads. Then you will have a comprehensive understanding of the innumerable problems of life. There is not an iota of happiness in this world. Seek the happiness within.
Is not a kingdom valuable to be owned? Is not a summer palace in Kashmir or a pleasant garden with sweet-smelling flowers of various colors nice to live in? Is not the company of young Mabaranis with tender waists and lotus-like eyes dear as life itself, very pleasing? Yet wise, dispassionate men like Bhartrihari, Buddha, Gopichand and others retired into forests kicking aside all these things as worthless as straw, to realize the Self which alone can confer infinite bliss, immortality, and eternal peace.
The spirit comes and goes. Therefore you will have to be careful always in nourishing and protecting your spiritual samskaras with burning vairagya, intense and constant sadhana and burning longing for liberation (mumukshutva). You will have to increase your good samskaras. You will have to develop them. You will have to multiply them.
Chapters for How to Get Vairagya
- How to Get Vairagya: Editor’s Preface
- Chapter One: Happiness Is Within
- Chapter Two: What Is Vairagya?
- Chapter Three: Miseries Of Mundane Existence
- Chapter Four: Body
- Chapter Five: Woman
- Chapter Six: World
- Chapter Seven: Essence Of Vairagya-Shatakam
- Lord Buddha’s Advice
- Selections From the Viveka Chudamani of Sri Sankaracharya
- Four Spiritual Gems
- How To Get Vairagya (Remember These Seven Vital Points)
- How to Get Vairagya: Glossary
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