When we lead a life centered on ‘my enjoyment ‘ and ‘my goals’ we eventually hit the road block of suffering. What we ‘enjoy ‘or exploit in this world comes back with vengeance- a minimum double amount of suffering awaits us. At such times, we feel clueless and pained.
When we are helpless and the solution is beyond us, we could humbly read and hear Ramayana or scriptures. While doctors and scientists are struggling to find out the solutions for the virus, we could do our best and stay humble.
Chanting and hearing the Lord’s pastimes attracts solutions from a different realm- beyond what our tiny brains can fathom. There is the paramatma guiding us from within; a force, which many seers have called by different names- God, energy, cosmic force, super soul etc. The idea is there is help that descends from ‘above ‘ – it is revealed, just as Archimedes or Kekule discovered their formulas when they were not thinking about it. It’s a gift of the universe.
When we sit silently and meditate or hear scriptures or pray or simply breathe, we begin the inward journey. And you’ll be surprised that this journey is beyond the mind’s thinking. It is the space of being.
That’s why many saintly leaders prescribe silent and submissive aural reception to wisdom books.
We see this principle in play in the Ramayana.
Sugriva had promised to help Ram find his wife Sita. Ram had already helped Sugriva win back his kingdom and now it was Sugriva’s turn to reciprocate the Lord’s benevolence. However, Sugriva immersed himself in Carnal pleasures and forgot his duty. After Lakshmana’s chastisement, Sugriva apologized and resumed the search party. In this section we find wisdom pouring out from both Lakshman and Ram.
Lakshman warns Sugriva that lust is not as much a sin as ingratitude. And the problem in his licentious and lusty pursuits is it made him forget the favors he had received from the Lord. And that ungratefulness is our real sin; it is our disqualification.
This is the modern predicament as well. By Lord’s amazing grace we are blessed with so many gifts. Yet, unmindful of this blessing, we revel in pleasures and become ungrateful. And that brings suffering. Ram also gives a sermon to Sugriva, gently but firmly about the need to balance enjoyment with religion, economic growth and spiritual quest. He says all four are important and when we focus exclusively on enjoyment then we are like a man sleeping on the branch of a tree. Suddenly you will fall on the ground and break your limbs. But the advantage is you will at least wake up from your slumber. when we blindly enjoy, we are bound to suffer – fall and ‘break our limbs’ but the benefit is at least we will ‘wake up’. So Ram instructs us through Sugriva that it is time we ‘wake up’ to gratitude and stay grounded.
The modern crisis is nature’s reminder to us to practice gratitude and balance.
Later when the monkey soldiers are distraught at their inability to find Sita, they contemplate suicide and sit on a fast unto death mission. To spend time during their fasting, they sing Ram’s glories. Meanwhile, a giant vulture, Sampati anticipates a feast of monkeys. But suddenly he overhears the monkeys speak about Jatayu and he is now intrigued bcoz Sampati was Jatayu’ s older brother. Sampati then befriends the monkeys and helps them find Sita. In this pastime, the pain the monkeys experienced was due to their inability to find Sita’s whereabouts. But when they heard and chanted Lord’s pastimes, they got help from a source beyond their tiny intelligence. Similarly, if we now humbly study scriptures we will feel shelter and connection to a source beyond what our tiny mind and intellect can fathom.
Let us humbly recognize this force and receive its blessings with gratitude.