Saturday, 2 February 2013

The Puzzles of Life – Can they give us a push towards inner serenity?

Author: TC Gopalakrishnan

Human beings are caught in the habit of thought-running as they face problems in living.  This externalizes the awareness; so much so, they lose contact with their inner being.  As a result, complications arise in their lives and they are unable to face life's challenges squarely.  A healthy avenue to step out of this scenario is available through paying attention to the puzzles of life.  If people are not wedded to some belief system, they have the opportunity to apply themselves to the puzzles with the freedom to discover what lies beyond the apparent.  Such an approach augments the non-verbal understanding of the undercurrents of life.  Thus, one does not fall a prey to the inclination "One believes what one wants to believe."  It is like the approach of a scientist – eager to find the truth rather than look for evidence to prove one's belief.  However, the difference here is that while the scientist has to rely on the verbal knowledge, the soul searcher (SS) banks on direct awareness assisted by intuition.  No doubt, the scientist too uses the intuition but he or she has to fit everything to the bricks already laid while the SS can fly free towards the truth.

The closer the SS is to his inner being, the deeper the serenity.  It is a progressive evolution.  Thus, the serenity is not a matter of completing the journey but being on it and sensing the serenity with increasing intensity.  This does not decrease his interest in worldly matters because the puzzles he faces are, indeed, intertwined with his mental disposition and his worldly interactions.  Hence, it is a harmonious blending of both spiritual and mundane movements that leads to vibrant living.  Primarily, it deepens the spiritual awareness by bringing the SS ever closer to his inner being.

So, let us consider some of the puzzles that can help us take the inward journey.  They can arise as pensive questions from one's life situations, from watching a movie or reading a story and the like.  The SS applies himself or herself to the puzzle and let the deeper intelligence reveal the hidden truths.   There are many issues in our lives that can give us a push in that direction.  They serve as guide-posts and keep us focused on the intriguing puzzle of the inward journey.  Some of these arise as questions in the following manner:   
1.  Why is it that, even after practicing a religious system for years, freedom from fear, attachment and hatred does not take place?   The practice only puts a lid on them and makes it appear as if they are gone.

2.  Why are the ‘non-believers' too – the atheists and agnostics – who put themselves against the ‘believers', do not find that freedom?

3.  Can the philosophical content of mortality serve as an affectionate guide into the unknown?

4.  What roles do joviality and cheerfulness play in the inward journey towards self-discovery?

5.  Is the beckoning of sorrow in life an invitation to visit the hidden corners of ourselves?

6.  Unknowingly, we build a psychological wall around us through thoughts of ‘I', ‘me' and the ‘mine'.  Are there pointers in our daily life that can alert us to that fact and, perhaps, open a door in that wall?

In Chinese philosophy, Tao is considered the Ultimate Truth or Divinity and Taoism contains the associated philosophic tenets.  Their book ‘Tao Te Ching' deals with Taoism.  There is a poem in it that has puzzling questions for the reader to reflect on, somewhat along the lines of the puzzles above. Some of them are given below:
  1.  Can you go beyond the habitual mind, hold to the One and never depart from it?
  2.  Can you bring down your breath to a mellow state, the breath of a baby?
  3.  Can you purify your esoteric vision and wipe it until it is spotless?
  4.  Can you be like the female and allow passivity to govern the response to life?        
  5.  Can you love all beings on Earth and govern them without being known?
  6.  Can you be aware of the four corners of the Earth and not interfere with them?

Similar issues are discussed in this website on spirituality.  It would be good to apply ourselves to such puzzles as above and lead a life of intensity that is intrinsically spiritual rather than practice a discipline to reach a predetermined, ego-satisfying end.

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About the Author
The Author: T.C. Gopalakrishnan was born in Madras (now Chennai), India, in 1941. He received his doctoral degree in Coastal Engineering from the North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA in 1978. He served on the research and teaching faculty of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, the North Carolina State University and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Kuwait. Aside from his professional involvements, he was interested in the philosophic issues of life for the last forty years or so. This led him to the messages of Ramana Maharishi, Lao Tzu, J Krishnamurthy, UG Krishnamurthy, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Eckhart Tolle, Marcus Aurelius and similar Masters. His book entitled "In Quest of the Deeper Self" is the outcome of his reflections on those and his wish to share the outcome with others.
Gopalakrishnan is a member of the International Association for Near Death Studies, Durham, NC, USA. He presented a paper at the 2011 conference of the Association on the theme "The spiritual content of near death experiences". Functions as a freelance counselor for peaceful living.  Lives in Kodaikanal, a hill town in south India, with his family.  Now he and his wife are both retired and currently involved in developing a fruit farm at a village 20 km from their residence.
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