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Living beyond ‘Relief’ – part 1

“Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is” – Albert Camus

Travelling in the trains of Mumbai would give one a first-hand experience of what type of happiness is available for most humans?

During peak hour traffic, there are hundreds crammed into a small coach of a local train. People stand in all possible postures, hanging precariously out of the door, and smelling each other’s armpits. On a single seat, men clamor for space, and over a dozen men squeeze into each other and wait for a passenger to rise. The moment one of them gets up, many others dive into the seat, and almost instantly the one grabbling the seat, smiles. He’s just felt relieved.

In a life beset with miseries, interludes of relief mean a lot. It’s this brief respite that motivates men and women to watch movies, eat at fancy restaurants, and explore newer conjugal relationships. Despite an overabundance of pleasures available, the hearts yearns for more. ‘Relief’ seeking attempts leave us whining and fretting for more.

A spiritual activity of chanting God’s holy names changes the game plan. You no longer seek relief, but shelter. It’s not peace that goads you on to tolerate your miseries, but love that motivates you to work hard and be happy. Chanting God’s holy names is an expression of love. And love is a higher phenomenon than peace.

If a husband and wife are at peace, you know they are not fighting at the moment. It’s like moving up from the negative axis to zero. Most people are suffering so much in their lives, they just wish some peace. It’s like saying the domestic skirmishes between the couple has caused so much frustration to them that they just want peace. But expressing love to God and other living entities is seeking shelter; that’s moving from zero to the plus axis. It’s akin to a couple in love. The emotions are rich and dynamic. There’s action and tension in air but also love. Whereas peace is static, love is lively. Many look peaceful when not in a relationship, yet they wish to be in love and feel loved. That’s because instinctively one knows love is a great fortune, while peace is a measly substitute.

Unfortunately most lives are ransacked by incessant tragedies that even a momentary respite becomes rare. Therefore many are caught in a desperate attempt to seek titillation of senses, to somehow get relief. It’s like a hungry man, grabbing a stale bread when a huge twelve course feast awaits him. A person may be famished but he need not be blind. Similarly we may be starved of true happiness borne out of love, yet we can keep our eyes and ears open, and know it’s available in a genuine spiritual practice. A little patience and attention in our chanting would ensure we access a rich reservoir of love.

To be continued….

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