Right from my school days I have been puzzled and perplexed by life and death. I would read various books and biographies trying to understand the meaning of life and death but couldn’t find anything substantial. I realized be it any Emperor, Alexander the Great, the greatest of warriors, scientists or the lowliest of the workers or criminals— everyone dies. And everyone goes through hardships and sufferings during their life leading to death. So what is this life? Is it only some time-pass, waiting to die, that we fill with our achievements and successes and then die with a dream to leave behind a legacy. However nothing remains. Death kills and ends the life. So what’s this game of life all about?

I started reading the spiritual masters like Vivekananda and even attempted to read the Vedas and the Upanishads but couldn’t understand much. I turned to great scientists and philosophers who had written reams of pages on life and death. Still there was no answer. Meanwhile I had passed out of college and life in its varied hues had started to give me jolts in form of various hardships and losing loved ones. It was like a cloud of suffering had burst over me and I couldn’t cope with it.

Soon life turned a spoke and I got my dream job of working as a journalist with The Times of India, the largest English newspaper in the country. I was excited and thrilled and worked to give my best. Here, I was introduced into a Buddhist practice where they chant a mantra to fulfil your desires and unwind the bad karma. The first few months were good as I met a lot of senior people who explained to me all about the practice and we used to attend meetings and gatherings and even prayed and chanted for the welfare of others and for peace and prosperity of the whole planet. It was like I had found a new family and I would chant with them for hours but I had many questions that were still unanswered. Slowly I grew disoriented and read most of their books but didn’t understand whatever I was seeking.

In this, one of my friends introduced me to a Reiki healer and I did a three level course of Reiki with her. So I am a certified level three Reiki healer. It was again something new that was used to help others and to connect with the higher power. I questioned and questioned the Reiki master and she pointed me to a Master who could answer all my questions, Meher Baba. I was on guard that here’s another fraud Baba and I don’t even want to go near him. I got to know that Meher Baba had already passed away and there’s only his Samadhi in Ahmed Nagar ahead of Pune. I visited the place as a tourist and picked up a few of his books to prove that he’s really a fraud.

When I started reading his books, I found all the answers I was seeking and suddenly I felt a deep connect with him. Through his writings, I realized that the only purpose in life is to connect with God or the higher power or universal intelligence and realize your own Self. This life is like an incubator wherein a premature baby is kept to develop its bodily functions fully. Similarly, the hardships and suffering in our life work as an incubator of our soul and help us connect with our deep Self.

As I started on this journey, I became more aware that I am not just this body. In fact, I have this body, mind, thoughts and there’s something else that’s aware of all this—be it my breath, my thoughts, my sensory perceptions and everything. This awareness or the observer is our Self or it’s known by various names like, prana, aatma or you can also call it the God within us. The whole game of life is to connect with this Self which is pure stillness, awareness that only observes and is aware of everything. The mind is filled with thoughts, plans and strategies that create a shell of ego that prevents us from connecting with our deeper Self.

The life within us yearns to connect with the Self and devises ways and means to break this ego, which in turn results in suffering, hardships or diseases. The whole game plan is to make yourself realize that your mind is a slave to your Self. In a sense the entire purpose of this life is to realize your Self. This can be through whatever work you are doing or through Yoga and if you are fortunate enough by coming in contact with a Perfect Master.

In a sense this life is like a classroom where we are given various tests, situations and problems to reach the next level. Sometimes life gives us a tight slap to awaken us to the great possibility of life by acute suffering. The whole idea is to develop the right attitude and understanding that life is always for us, for our good and never against us even if we are diagnosed with a terminal illness, because life chose that exact things to awaken you. Remember that each hardship is sent by Gods for your benefit and not to torture you. The body and mind might feel pain and suffering but it’s the Self or the soul that’s getting polished with each rub. It’s like the polishing of a diamond that requires a lot of pieces to be discarded and go through intense heat, pressure and scaling to shine into its true nature.

Some religious texts have talked about finding heaven, the place of everlasting peace, beauty and happiness. Heaven is not a place but a state of mind where nothing excites you, nothing troubles you, there’s no suffering as you have realized that all is happening for your own good.

We are all rough diamonds that have to go through this polishing. Try to surrender to this almighty power and let it help you and guide you to your highest Self. 

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Mahendra Jakhar

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