Know Thy Life, Know Thy Self

In our journey through life we confront good and bad times for such is the nature of life. Troubles arise from a whole range of issues varying from natural disasters, accidents, health, financial or legal etc. A very large proportion of our problems are due to other humans. While some help us forward in our journey through life or are just joyous companions, there are others who spare no effort to make it miserable.

One can move away from people who are not helpful or even evil but there are some one cannot move from in a hurry. These are people one works with in a job or members of one’s family if they turn out to be the difficult ones. The best one can do at such times is to cope with difficulties, the best one can, as they arise while hoping and working towards better days ahead.

Quite often humans add another dimension to the problem. When they are wronged by other humans, they carry with them feelings of hurt or anger towards such persons. While difficulties when they arise have to be dealt with, these latter are completely avoidable. It is best to forgive, forget or ignore and move on. Nature shall deal with the karma of such of those individuals in the best possible way and even punish them if necessary. There is no need for us to interfere.

My mother was a peace loving, cheerful, hard working and extremely social lady who made affectionate relationships with almost everyone she ran into in life. On the other hand, our father was a difficult stressed out personality of the type that is forever creating confrontations with almost everyone including the rest of his family. Undoubtedly this was difficult for my mother all through her life but she had the unusual ability to deal with difficulties as and when they arose and then revert to her natural cheerful self as soon as it was over. It is abilities such as these that help to make life happier.  If mosquitoes or other troublesome creatures annoy us, we just brush them aside and move on. We do not carry a grudge against them with us. If a storm damages our home, we fix it as soon as we can but we do not carry a feeling of anger in our heart against storms. A similar attitude towards other humans who create difficulties for us through our journey in life goes a long way towards making us more joyous.

When humans encounter injustice and suffering or see it elsewhere, some adopt an attitude that there is no God or else why the suffering? But this attitude is held by them only as long as the going is good. The moment trouble strikes they remember God again just as little children yell out for Mama the moment they get hurt while busy in play. 

There shall be good times in life just as there will be bad times. If one continues to remember and honor God even in good times, the incidence of bad times in life reduce, for as the Saint Kabir said in Hindi language (translation also given)

Dukh main simran sab kare, Sukh main kare ni koye,
Sukh main simran jo kare, dukh kahe ko hoye?

All remember God in times of sorrow, none in good times
If one remembers God when times are good, why would sorrow come?

One interpretation of this couplet is that humans accumulate most bad karma in good times and that is at the root of hard times that follow. However wise souls remain even minded in both good and bad times recognizing them as the changing seasons of life.

Saints have advised since ancient times that we must continue to work towards our evolution at all times and this can be done best when we are in comfortable circumstances not when we are dealing with difficulties. One essential task suggested by saints is Swadhyaya (Sanskrit) or:

Know Thyself

At the most elementary level this means to reflect on oneself, to know ones weaknesses and strengths and to work towards removing the weaknesses while using our strengths to make not just our own lives and that of family meaningful for even the lowliest of animals do that but also for others and the world around.

At a deeper level,

Be still and know thyself

When the mind is still and perception returns to the innermost self you realize,

I am not this skin, I am not this hair, this is merely temporary clothing for my soul, one day this clothing will wear out and the lord shall give me another one just as he gave me this one

It is then that you see the ups and downs of life with just as much detachment or relevance as one sees scenes in a play. The actors are not allowed to take the robes and gold used in the act when the show is over. An entire lifetime is just one day in the life of a soul. When night comes it shall go to sleep. It shall then wake up to a new day, when mother Earth and Papa Universe shall dress it in a new suit  and wave it to school to face the magic of a new day.


Vinod Khurana said…
Well said dear Ashok ji.

When times are good
who take it easy
and build no shelter
against the storm
that may be coming
they are blown away
or shattered into pieces
and envy those
who're ever on guard
however good
the times may be

with warm regards
Babaji Ashok said…
Thanks Vinod, always delightful to enjoy your poetry charged with wisdom.

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