Taking care of our real self – the body v/s the soul
If we want to be happy we need to rise beyond the influence of the modes on our minds. That means we need to first recognize our real self as beyond this body and then care for the self’s needs.
The Vedic wisdom books, especially the Bhagavad Gita (in the second chapter) explain that we are essentially a pure spirit soul that is eternal in nature and we have an existence beyond our present bodies. Yet the soul, trapped within this temporary body, now manoeuvres it the same way as a driver manipulates his car on the road. Plato in his best known work, Republic echoes a similar thought, “have you ever sensed that our soul is immortal and never dies?”
One may feed the car petrol but the driver’s food is different. Likewise, we may exercise or eat or dress ourselves nicely but the real self – the spirit soul – who resides within this car like body needs a different kind of nourishment. Only when we can satisfy the needs of the soul do we really find lasting contentment. Daniel Defoe, a leading English writer of the seventeenth century, most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe, put it poetically, “the soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond and must be polished, or the lustre of it will never appear.” One may polish the golden cage but starve the bird within. In the same manner, many people are unable to nourish their souls due to an overwhelming absorption in bodily issues. To compound their misery, the three modes of nature disconnect them further from their real self.
What are the real needs of the soul, and how do we fulfil them even as the modes pull us in all directions?
To recognize the soul’s needs, we need to first situate ourselves in sattva. When you pause, you connect to yourself. If your life rushes at a break-neck speed, the only voice you hear is in your head; the mind’s rant is unending. But when you stop, breathe and relax in nature or just slow down, you’d likely connect to a sphere of existence beyond your body and mind. That’s when you can hear a voice within that’s beyond the mind’s diatribe.
To be continued…