You know, I was going to write on a topic I’m very passionate about: health. But then, I changed my mind (that’s what the mind is there for anyway, right?) and instead thought of sharing with you something about a book I’ve been working on.
Every chapter in my upcoming book on invoking Divine Mother has a story behind the verses and mantras shared therein. Except one, that is. The last chapter. It has no legends nor stories. Why, you ask? In response, I would like to put out the last chapter. Read on.
Sadhana is perhaps the highest expression of true love. For, I don’t think that love is just about having intense feelings for someone. In true love you make sacrifices, you watch out for each other and sometimes you do things not because you like them but because you know the person you love does.
Sadhana is no different. It requires discipline, sacrifice, responsible freedom and a degree of selflessness. Above all, it needs intense feelings. It doesn’t matter how small or big, arcane or mundane your sadhana may be, if it doesn’t have devotion, expect no results.
Then again, no sadhana is possible without divine grace. Or for that matter, nothing else is either. So when you have the opportunity to do sadhana, it is something to cherish and be grateful for. As you progress on the path, your devotion, focus, stamina, your posture, everything improves. If you are disciplined and you are devoted, I can tell you with absolute conviction that your sadhana will never go waste. It will yield results at some point in time. It always does.
In the preceding chapters, you might have realized from the stories of amazing sages that grace is unlimited, it’s constantly flowing and it’s up to you to tap into it. When a stream is gushing vigorously, and you take a vessel to collect some of the running water, you have to be careful at what point you enter the flow. The size of the pot and your placement vis-a-vis the flow of the stream will determine how much will spill out versus end up in the vessel. Sadhana is the art and discipline of collecting that stream of grace in a vessel so you may use it to elevate your consciousness and quench the thirst of others in need.
When the results of sadhana manifest in your consciousness, no matter how hard a nut [case?] you might have been, the shell cracks open, you become mellow and develop feelings of love and compassion for those around you.
On the gateway of my heart,
I wrote No thoroughfare.
Love came in, passing by, and said,
‘I enter everywhere’.
And such is the way of devotion as well, you need a pure heart. The purer the heart, the greater the intensity of the devotion. Otherwise empty vessels make a lot of noise.
The other important thing worth remembering when you look at the lives of the amazing sages who invoked the verses shared in the earlier chapters is that life does not always offer you a closure. Often a lot of us think, first I am going to tick off these three items on my to-do list and then I will immerse myself in bhakti and devotion. Or first, I will pay off this debt and then I will do some charity. Or, I am going to take care of these personal issues and then I will embark on my spiritual journey.
But there is no guarantee that life is going to offer you the passage to walk to the end of your journey the way you envisage. Everybody wants their story to end beautifully. A movie can be amazing but if it doesn’t end nicely, you say, what was it all about?
Everybody thinks I am going to tick off these ten things and then when I grow older, be free from familial obligations and have more savings, I will enjoy and I will sit back and relax. That’s when I will put my feet up. But kala, time, says I will drag you by your feet and take you away.
Never wait for that perfect moment in life, or take life for granted, or assume that such a moment will even arrive in your life. It’s ignorant to wait for certain things to finish before you express your gratitude to the Universe, before you do penance and charity.
यज्ञदानतप:कर्म न त्याज्यं कार्यमेव तत् ।
यज्ञो दानं तपश्चैव पावनानि मनीषिणाम् ॥
yajña-dāna-tapaḥ-karma na tyājyaṁ kāryam eva tat,
yajño dānaṁ tapaśh chaiva pāvanāni manīṣhiṇām.
O Kauntaye, one must never relinquish yajna, tapas, sadhana and dana because they purify you. They are the bedrock of human purification.
So if you think that one day you will grow old (read be free) and that’s when you will do the things that you’ve always wanted to do, it may be a little too optimistic, if not unrealistic altogether. For, there is no guarantee that you won’t have afflictions, or diseases of the body or the mind. There is no guarantee that you will be able to run or walk or sit or that your loved ones will still be around. And let me tell you that life will shake you, as is its wont, just how an unexpected earthquake turns everything upside down.
The wise, therefore, seize the present moment and make the best use of it.
Your story is going to be partially influenced by the events beyond your control. But that’s only partially. There is still a large chunk that is in your control. You owe it to yourself to contribute to your own story. That’s the most important story of your life. And the time to do that is now. If you are going to wait, nobody can guarantee what is to come, a divine sage like Parashara got devoured by the wolves. Vasishtha spent his life in sadhana, and yet his whole family was killed. (You will find these stories in the book.) If you just kept that in mind, I think you would look at life very differently.
You have everything within you that you need to be happy. If you choose to throw that away and not use those assets, that would be a sorry choice, in my humble opinion.
And, it’s very important to have the courage to applaud for yourself. Most of us hold ourselves in much self-doubt, we demean ourselves, deprecate ourselves and downplay so many good things we have worked hard for. We think, Oh I don’t deserve it. But it wouldn’t happen if you didn’t deserve it, good or bad. Love yourself with the same intensity as you would love somebody you deeply love. That’s all I would say.
There is no next chapter and there are no stories in this one, because now is the time to write your own story in the book of your life, something beautiful, something magnificent, something meaningful, purposeful, and helpful for humanity. After all, the ultimate purpose of any sadhana is to be able to write (or rewrite) the story of your life.
Go on now, grab that pen and scribble the story you always wanted to. If not now then when?
P.S. See you live on 26-Aug at 9:30 AM IST. Details on os.me/live.
A GOOD STORY
There were four members in a household. Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. A bill was overdue. Everybody thought Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it but Nobody did it.Don't leave empty-handed, consider contributing.
It's a good thing to do today.