My quest to find the power who is running this entire circle of life started when I was around 10-11 years old. Being a sensitive individual, from start I was very moved by sorrow and problems of other beings. I kept on asking the reason for it, from myself and whosoever was willing to answer. I did not get any rational and satisfactory answer. The most common answer which I got was the Karma philosophy which I could never bring myself to terms with it because my counter questions were never answered. Some of the questions which I had were, if it’s all karma then what about the start of all this when every soul or whatever you wanna call it was free from any karma. If all the souls were free from Karma then why did God started all of this? Was it just for his/her amusement or was there any higher goal?
I kept looking for an answer and kept on enquiring from the individuals who claimed they knew. I couldn’t understand their logic because it required me to accept their assumptions first. I wanted an answer which was clear and free from assumptions. No one was able to provide me with a satisfactory answer which I was looking for and eventually I gave up on the idea that there is a higher power who can help. I concluded that the concept of God was coined to give mental solace and peace to distressed individuals. The idea that someone is looking out for everyone provides an individual with an assurance that there is someone to fall on to if the things don’t work out the way they desire. Since everyone is distressed at some level or the other that’s why masses subscribed to this idea of a higher power looking out for them.
I don’t know exactly when I became an atheist but the pain of others were too much to bear and I was tired of hoping that it will all get better by a miracle. Life went on and years went by and my focus shifted from God to other things. The pain of others still bothered me but since there was no remedy at hand I remember growing numb towards it.
The quest started again after I faced a major turn of events in my life not because I was looking for a miracle of some sort but because a very learned man pointed out that the life has given me a second chance and I should use this time to understand the real meaning of life. The fire to know the truth was always there in my heart and his words rekindled that fire again. In my journey to find the knowledge, I came across four learned teachers who showed me the path in its entirety. Let me briefly share the story of how I came to know about them.
I consider my first real spiritual teacher to be S.N. Goenka who taught me that everything is cause and effect.
It all started after the kind words of the learned man. After I came home from the hospital I had trouble falling asleep. I would stay awake for the whole night. Some nights I would watch TV to pass the time. One night, while browsing thru the channels I came across a channel broadcasting a lecture by Goenka Ji. A simple man without the paraphernalia of a typical Indian guru, simply sitting and talking about life. His words still echos in my mind.
“Don’t believe in a past life or future life if you don’t want to but you have to agree with the fact that there is suffering in this life”.
Don’t believe in God if you don’t want to but rather focus on elimination of suffering in this life”, Goenka Ji said in one of his lectures.
It felt like someone has removed a big blockage which was stuck in my mind rotatory motor for so long. I could feel that my mind was processing his words at it’s highest RPM (rotations per minute) while listening to his lecture. He explained how everything is cause and effect and it cleared so many of my doubts. I attended my first 10 day Vipassana course which completely changed my outlook on life.
My second teacher became the Bhagwad Gita. This teacher too came to my life by chance. The accident had caused damaged to my arm and leg due to which there was a limited range of motion. I was getting the physiotherapy for it but a family friend suggested yoga. On his suggestion, we hired a yoga instructor who would come to our place for an hour in the evening. I started doing yoga. My yoga teacher told me that he is well versed in Sanskrit. I was always inclined to read Bhagwad Gita but whenever I had tried I would not get past the first two chapters because of the talk of devotion. I could never bring myself to believe in the concept of God. I thought to myself that maybe he can read that to me while I do yoga and maybe this way I wouldn’t stop and can finish the whole book. After few days of yoga practice when I was familiar with the whole yoga routine, I hesitantly asked him if he will be comfortable to read the Bhagwad Gita to me during our yoga sessions to which he agreed. The Bhagwad Gita which I bought was the Bhagwad Gita published by Gita Press, Gorakhpur written by Swami Ramsukh Das JI titled ‘Sadhak Sanjivni’. I don’t think there are better translation and explanation available of Gita in Hindi other than this book. It is translated as it is without adding even a little bit of bias. I found that Gita too explains everything is cause and effect. The whole teaching resonated with me. I choose not to believe in the concept of God while reading it but took the teachings as a way of improving life.
I met my third teacher in Australia. I studied in Australia and was working there before I decided to come to India and live with my family. After spending a few years in India I decided to move to Australia again. I guess once you live in a place which is better than yours the comparison in your mind never stops. I wasn’t very satisfied with my overall happiness in India. Moving back to Australia turns out to a really positive decision and I was fortunate enough to find my third teacher there.
While looking for a spiritual event or spiritual gathering on the meetup website I came across Bhagwad Gita classes. A young white guy named Andre was conducting those classes. I was a bit hesitant at first thinking that how much of Gita would a young white guy like him could know but went to his class anyway. I thought I knew Bhagwad Gita but his talks added so much clarity to it. I attended several of his classes over a period of time and gained so much perspective and clarity from it. In my heart, I truly believe that Andre Vyas is a liberated soul and I was fortunate enough to have known him as a student and to receive the teachings under his guidance.
There used to be two pictures pasted on the wall in the room where Andre conducts his classes. One was of James Swartz and another was of Neema Mujumdar. When I asked Andre about them, he told me that those are the pictures of his teacher from who he had learned all he knew about Vedanta. I came home and checked their YouTube videos. I got equally impressed by both of them. The command they have over the subject was exceptional. I thought to myself that would I be fortunate enough to learn from either of them. Later that year I came to know about Neema’s Retreat in Rishikesh, a quite beautiful town on the bank of Ganga river. I felt like my wish has been granted and I rushed to register myself to attend it. It was an opportunity which I would cherish for the rest of my life.
Those 15 days in Rishikesh proven to be the most fruitful time in my spiritual journey. I think I had the ideas about spirituality but Neema’s lecture helped me marry those ideas to form a crystal clear picture. My concepts are clear now and I know the whole path to Nirvana.
I will reveal the knowledge of the path in the next article. Stay tuned.