Kishor pulled up his laptop and opened the mail.
Swami Abhayananda Tirtha’s reply was on his screen. Venky read it out.
“Dear Kishor, please accept my heart felt good wishes and blessings. Your sincerity deeply touches my heart. Yes we feel a vacuum in our hearts when we are disconnected at three levels.
In one of Shakespeare’s most powerful soliloquies, Hamlet struggling with his private thoughts, asks himself,
“What is a man, if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more. Sure, he that made us with such large discourse, looking before and after, gave us not that capability and God-like reason to fust in us unused.”
Prince Hamlet regrets that a man who simply eats, sleeps and carries on his life as an animal does no good to anyone. He reflects that God created us for a reason, and it’s up to each one of us to fulfill it.
We live, love and leave. We seek to live peacefully, in harmony with who we truly are. We also desire to love and be appreciated by others. And for more evolved humans, to leave a legacy- to serve, add value, and contribute to others’ happiness is as sacred a need. In other words we have three aspects to our existence; our relationship essentially is with self, others, and with divinity- also referred to as God in many cultures- that transcends our matter centered routine life.
Many work hard for their family and have good friends, yet feel a vacuum in their hearts. They wonder if they have chosen a wrong career or a partner. Thinking they are not doing things that truly represents their inner most values and purpose in life, they feel disconnected from their own self.
There are of course some who do what they want but realize over time that their relationships have suffered. After all we need to love and feel loved. Despite measurable success and money, it’s love that we seek.
Marilyn Monroe, one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950’s rose from a miserable childhood to Hollywood stardom. She always wanted to be an actor and she did become a legend. Yet weeks before her death, suspected as suicide due to an overdose of drugs, she confessed in an interview, “I never quite understood this sex symbol. I always thought symbols were those things you clash together. That’s the trouble; a sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing…” She got what she wanted, but her heart remained starved of love. She felt disconnected.
Few people do manage to live on their own terms, and they also get love from others. Yet an incompleteness stares at them until they seek a deeper relationship with their spiritual existence. A divine being, also known in various traditions as Bhagavan, Supreme Lord or the Almighty is at the core of our existence. Our spiritual reality is as inseparable to us as sunshine is to the sun. Yet we chose to be covered by the clouds of ignorance. Spiritual practices –meditation, prayer, chanting- help us dispel these clouds; they unravel the mysteries of our own identity; we connect to our eternal spiritual self and to God- our loving friend and parent. And as a byproduct we also bond with our fellow brothers and sisters on this planet. Spiritual practices flood our hearts with love and help us leave a legacy of love.
I have always seen you as a spiritual seeker and now you could chose to raise the bar, by seeking better connection to self and others. Your humility in expressing your limitations touches my heart deeply. I am happy for you because you are now deeply realizing the need to connect to self and others. Yes, as you slip, rise and march on in life, you’d make sense of it all.
Having lived in this monastery over the last thirteen years, you have the rare fortune of seeing life from different vantage points. Your own personal struggles, travels, reading and spiritual practices would help you empathize with others and appreciate what life has blessed you with. You could also see life aerially, from the viewpoint of eternity. I am confident you would feel more connected if you accept yourself as a unique, special soul, a wonderful child of God. Learn to be a little more kind and gentle on yourself; practice self-compassion before you ‘save’ the world.
I thank you for writing to me and giving me a chance to serve you and share with you my humble thoughts on this.
I feel blessed to have known you.
Swami Abhayananda Tirtha
The duo shared a prolonged silence while a few of the neighbors slowly moved to the common bathrooms. These monks rose early and practiced their prayer sessions much before the others woke up.
Venky felt sobered, “Do you realize it’s 2.30 am. You think it’s a good idea to catch up with some rest before the conch blows at 4.30 a.m. They are not going to delay the morning session just because we won the world cup.”
“Yes, good night”, said Kishor, “We shall churn this discussion more at some other time”