A Different Way of Living

Part- 2.

Yesterday we discussed the way we live, and we came to the realization that the way we are living is a blind’s way. That we are deluded. And we have made some delusional ideas the foundations of our life. And then we asked: is there any other way to live? 

[Here is yesterday’s post: Part-1]

You must have realized by now why this question even comes. We live by desires, you see. Our whole life is based on desires; shaped, guided and defined by it, no? So, that’s the way of desire. We follow this way of living. Is there anything wrong with this way of life? Not necessarily. But I would say, this is a foolish way to live. Foolish because desires are a trap. Where there is desire, there is attachment; and where there is attachment, there is bound to be suffering. So, we are actually choosing suffering. Is that what you call an intelligent choice? We don’t know any other way to conduct our lives except to live by desires. And that, I think, we need to look into deeply. 

So, is there a different way to live—an intelligent way and one which does not bind us in suffering? You see, just any other way can’t be accepted. Living carelessly or too seriously, for example, is not an intelligent way to conduct life. Living the life of a renunciant, too, is another extreme. However, when you have freed yourself from the obligations of material life, you can adopt that way of living. And in the olden days, that’s what was the norm—after fulfilling the duties of the grihastha-ashram, one would go out to live in the forest (vanprastha) and finally would renounce material attachments completely by taking the vows of renunciation (sannyas). It was a harmonious way of living, exploring each stage and living a full life. That was an intelligent arrangement, I must say. But, in today’s times, there are hardly any forests to settle into and very few take sannyas. Anyway. 

That was an external arrangement of life. But what I’m going to propose is an internal way of living. By ‘a different way of living’ I intend to mean living without any compulsion, consciously, out of freedom. That’s really my quest. You see, if there was freedom and no suffering in the desirous way of living, this question might never occur. If it was the right way, then nobody would have ever sought to find a different way. When someone is taking sannyas, it shows—the way we live is not the way to mukti. It has pleasure, security, certainty, but not freedom. But then again, leaving everything behind is not everybody’s cup of tea, and not necessary either. So, how to live then? You might start to accuse me of complicating things at this point. So, let me propose my view. 

There is nothing to renounce. Because nothing is yours, at the first place. First get that. You don’t own anything in this universe!—That’s the first thing to realize. Once you realize this, the longing to cling will go. That’s the end of suffering! Until we let go of this longing, there’s no way. Till you don’t realize that there is nothing to hold, and by nothing I mean absolutely nothing, there’s no different way for you. You’ll live by your same old desires. This longing to grasp—things, people, relationships, ideas, or whatever it is—is at the root of human folly.

The opening verse of the Isha Upanishad states: 

“ishavasyam-idam sarvam yatkincha jagatyam jagat.

tena tyaktena vunjita ma gridha kasya-svit-dhanam.”

Translation: This whole Universe ( jagat) is pervaded by the Supreme (Isha). Therefore, sacrificing everything, enjoy; don't be attached to anything; (because tell me) whose wealth all this is? 

Once you let go like this, you are truly free to live. You continue to live in this world, fulfill all your duties and responsibilities, but always knowing, all this is to be sacrificed. There is nothing to be attached to, not even to this body and mind. Thus, you live like a lotus—in water, but above it. And that’s the way of life I propose. 

I must clarify that sacrificing doesn’t mean leaving everything behind and living the life of a mendicant. No. That’s only the outward discipline. But, sacrifice must happen within. That’s real renunciation. Sacrifice what‽—you may ask. Because in the external world we can at least say, someone sacrificed his home, family, property, every personal relationship. What to sacrifice within? The desire to have! That’s it. 

Now, is it practical? Practical as compared to what?—I ask you. You want to live in a certain way, then you ask this. Please don’t do that. But if you ask, is it possible to let go like that? The answer is yes! Only if you realize the truth about it. 

With this, I’m ending this inquiry. I hope you have got a new perspective to look at life.

May Shri Hari show us the way. Jai Shri Hari! 

Thank you.
Image Credit: istockphoto.

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