We had visited Poomparai near Kodaikanal. It’s a beautiful place with a very very spiritually significant Murugan temple consecrated by Bogar. We had lots of discussions and one of the questions asked was “How much spirituality should I pursue in my life?”.
In fact, this is so very important for people who enter the spiritual path – how much of spirituality is correct or right? And this is also important for those in corporate lives. People talk of work life balance. So how much of work is correct, or right? So basically how do we attain to a sense of balance in our lives? Generally people evaluate it with respect to outer parameters.
Many people who get on to the spiritual path, imagine – “Okay I need to meditate three hours a day, four hours per day, six hours per day.” And they project it forever – not as a niyama to be followed for a certain period of time – but forever. When you project something forever – when in your mind something is forever, then you create a very artificial construct. It is just in your imagination. You are not giving room for your own growth. As you grow, you will see that your thought process, everything evolves, and as it evolves, you will see, even your ambitions and many things change. So when you start work, or enter into work, you might project linearly – ”I am working this way, I will get this much. Then, I will work this much, I will get this much.”- in bigger and bigger measures. In whichever area we take up, we do this projection. It is a projection, it is not wrong. But you will see that as you actionate on that projection- the key thing is action- when you actionate, you will see that everything evolves.
After some time a few years, you realize that you have grown and hence what you started out with, what mindset you started out with, projections and ambitions you started out with – now you seem to have outgrown those projections. It is a very valid experience, and for almost everybody this experience happens. As a child I used to project, “I like playing basketball, so lifelong I will play basketball, daily I will play three hours in the evening.” Now my son wants me to play basketball with him, and I look at him, “Ah yes yes, I will play.”[Laughter] Not that I don’t want to play but I have other things to do, but still, sometimes if I play it is okay. So the projection I had as a child, now it has changed, many things have changed, and hence what is the right dosage of anything, for oneself?
So What is the Dosage?
That is a key question. The right dosage is always to do with your inner nature, your current inner quality. This is very critical to understand, because others around you, your parents, your friends, nobody might be able to exactly understand this, only you can, if you closely follow your own movements, thought processes, you will understand that there is change. And hence generally it is said in the spiritual path of what we call as the purushartha – what is the purpose of human life or what gives meaning to a human life – you would have heard of Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha. You will see that initially, many people assume that on the spiritual path – “I should meditate, but I keep getting distracted, I have temptations, I want to eat this, I want to do that, but no! I should meditate.” And that creates a big inner conflict. That is why it is recognised that, pursuit of Kama is also a valid thing. But you would see that initially, when you are a novice, your orientation might be such that, the approach towards pleasure is higher, but at that time, there is also Guru seva, there is also Svadhyaya or study of shastras – but these would be a lower dosage.
As you grow, as you grow, you would see that you would come to a point where you feel, earlier what used to give you pleasure, has become monotonous, it has become repetitive, you know what to expect, and hence there is no fun, then you get that dispassion, also called vairagya. Raga means attraction, attachment. Viraga or Vairagya means that the pleasures of old no longer hold you so much, your mind gets some fluidity, it is no longer rigidly holding on to the pleasure aspect. That is an automatic process of growth, that is why it is stabilised by Dharma or Guru seva and swadhyaya, or study of the scriptures, which will give you vairagya, dispassion. Then you will see that your orientation towards pleasure also changes. The same masala dosa, does not elicit the mental response that it used to earlier. That is when you realise, “Ok I have gained some degree of freedom.” As you keep up with that, you will see that you can increase the dosage of swadhyaya, or meditation, and decrease the dosage of pleasure. Over a period of time, you would further find, that actually the objects of the senses don’t hold any attraction for you. They just don’t matter. Many Mahatmas display this behaviour – they are indifferent to the objects of the world. Then everyone starts getting a question, they start feeling guilty -“Oh I am not like that, oh no!” It is not meant that way, it is a natural progression. You don’t need to compare yourselves with anybody else, but when you understand yourself, your own heart, you would regulate the dosage appropriately. So after you get vairagya, with the progression of time, as you increase the dosage of swadhyaya and Guruseva, the dosage of pleasure automatically goes down. You will see that you are no longer interested in the various sensory stimulations. And as a natural progression, you will see that the mind, comes to a stage of equanimity, where it does not seek pleasure. It will just be. It will be calm and deep as the ocean.
Mahabali and Virochana
It so happened, the great Mahabali – day after tomorrow is Onam, so we remember Bali with fondness – he was a great asura raja. After so many years of ruling the kingdom wisely, ruling the asuras wisely, he came to a point where he started feeling -“What is all this? It is just repetition. There is pleasure, and I have access to everything that anybody would require. But it all seems repetitive, what is the whole point?“ So when such a process of enquiry started happening, he remembered his discussion with Virochana, his father. So Bali asked his father “Father, what is good for me? Please tell me.” For which Virochana responded “Bali, you are a great person, you rule wisely. You split up your activities into four parts, now you might be engaged, say out of four quarters of your time and energy, two quarters in the pursuit of pleasure. But one quarter devote it to Guruseva – Sukracharya, who was the Guru of the asuras – and one quarter of your time and energy you spend it on swadhyaya, study of the shastras. Then as you proceed, you will see that, you will find everything repetitive, and that is when you will get vairagya, then you spend one quarter of your time and energy on pleasure and wealth, two quarters of your time in Guruseva, one quarter of your time in swadhyaya, study of the shastras. Then again with time you will evolve to a stage when pleasure will not make any sense to you, that is when you are free, while being in the body and hence two quarters of your time you spend in swadhyaya and two quarters of your time and energy you spend in Guru seva. You are liberated while living”.
So Bali remembered this and hence sought the feet of his Guru, Sukracharya, who instructed him on Atma Vidya, Brahma Vidya, and Bali went into deep Samadhi, that lasted for a 1000 years and only after that, he got blessed by Vishnu, in the Vamana avatara where he was pushed into rasathala, but in so doing, Vishnu actually blessed him and became his protector. So that is where we need to always look at ourselves, be sincere with our own quest, look deeply into our own hearts and see what is appropriate for us at this juncture. One does not need any sense of guilt or shame- these need not be there at all. Life is wonderful!