By M. Saxena
Recently our neighborhood was overwhelmed by a powerful storm. The storm was a unique combination of strong opposing winds, creating a powerful cell that brought down trees and power lines all across the area. Though only lasting a few minutes, the damage would take days to repair. But for those whose homes were destroyed, it might take weeks, if not months to rebuild.
How does this event pertain to our journey towards Atma Vidya, Realization of the Self? Our physical body is like the naked earth, which is either covered by the natural landscapes, or bulldozed over to make way for buildings and malls.
We decide whether to fill our bodies, our lives, with the true essence of our nature – which is striving towards the Paramatma, or to be enraptured by the pursuits and spoils of the material world.
However, be aware that whenever the chitta and vasanas, the mental agitations and impressions, enter our thoughts – our very body and minds can become as violent as the grounds of Kurukshetra, where the ceaseless battle between spirituality takes place against moha (desire), krodha (anger), kama (intense desire, lust), and lobha (greed).
At times we may feel full of devotional ecstasy, feeling divine closeness to Bhagawan and His leelas. At other times we can lose sleep over our innermost desires and worries.
Despite these vacillations, we must strive towards our goal – which is Atma Vidya, through Sathya (Truth), Dharma (Righteous Duty), and Prema (Love).
We must make sure we do more than pay lip service to Swami’s words, “Hands in Society, Head in the Forest.” For if we try to plant the seeds of virtue in the world, the storms of passions will try to violently, and may successfully destroy those trees, should they ever have the chance to grow that high. But if we plant the seeds of virtue in the strong and deep soil of earth, those seeds will have a much stronger chance to withstand the thundering cries of the storm, and will have a chance to mature to divine fruition.
And notice the destruction caused by these storms of passion. So much damage. Think of the heights a spiritual person ascends to, then falls down from upon giving way to their internal battles.
All the time spent in prayers, meditation, selfless service – all are of no avail if one is not deeply and courageously established in the Self. This is the only way to endure the mental afflictions that topples one’s spiritual growth.
So when you next observe the aftermath of a powerful storm – notice the damage incurred in the worldly sphere, then walk in a park.
Which trees are left standing? Which have fallen? Yes, though trees will fall in both places, those that are not rotted from the inside, and are strong, mature, and deep-rooted in the earth – those are the trees left standing.
No need to retreat to the forests! Stay in society. Fulfill your duty. But always remember to deepen the roots of your spirituality far beyond the grasps of the world, into the ever nourishing and rejuvenating depths of the Self. Sai Ram.