Meditations on The Journey Home – Lesson from Chapter 2
Inspirations from ‘The Journey Home ‐ Autobiography of an American Swami’
In the inner depths of the Himalayan forests, Richard met a powerful, well built, six foot tall yogi, dressed only in a loin cloth covering his groin. Mahavirdas Tat Walla Baba had left home as a child in search of God and since the age of sixteen lived in these caves. Years of rigorous, solitary meditation had given him supernatural powers. With the ability to read Richard’s mind, Tat Walla Baba spoke in a deep, compelling voice, addressing his deep concerns. The Baba spoke about maya, or illusion as forgetting our identity in relation to God. He explained we needn’t search for God everywhere. If we are sincere and call out to Him sincerely, He shall reveal to us in our own hearts. We may wander through the jungles our whole lives yet not find Him, because He resides in our heart, and if we can find Him there, we can see Him everywhere.
Radhanath Swami often narrates a story to drive home this point. Once a rich man left a huge treasure for his son, but he died before he could give it to his son. The son, on knowing that his father had left him a fortune, began a massive search. He searched the whole world but couldn’t find the treasure. Eventually he too became old, and died. His family members buried his dead body at the back yard of his house, and lo and behold what did they discover on digging the ground? The treasure!! He searched for it whole life, but it was lying at his own backyard. Similarly there is a huge treasure of love of God right in our hearts. However we search for it through more money, fame and material success. These ephemeral pursuits can never give us happiness. Tat Walla Baba cut through Richard’s selfish conditionings by his sword like words, “People are chasing after the temporary. Do you not see they are on the road to death?”
Almost all the Babas Richard met lived a simple life, satisfied with whatever Mother Nature provided. “He who is content is rich”, said the wise Lao Tzu. When we lead a God centered life, with a culture of prayer and service as the basic foundation, a sense of serenity fills our lives. The pushing of the restless mind to ‘get what I want, when I want’ is replaced by a desire to improve the quality of our offering to God. The mind’s primary function is to ‘like’ and ‘dislike’. Constant acceptance and rejection by the mind ensures we are never peaceful and happy. The connection to God however helps us ignore the various material allurements, and transcend the petty wrangling of the mind. How does this science of God connection work?
Radhanath Swami answers this beautifully, “A devotee practicing a God centered lifestyle fills his or her heart with loving remembrance of God. This absorption in chanting God’s holy names and hearing about God gives us an experience of spiritual happiness that helps one transcend the constant battering by the mind. To the extent we are connected to God, our happiness only increases with the passage of time, and simultaneously the craving for material possessions wanes away.”
Tat Walla Baba invited Richard to join him and spend the rest of his life in the caves. Richard thought deeply:
“His words reverberated in my mind while I pondered the seriousness of the decision I had to make. One morning, I came out of my meditation and thought: It would be a blessing to live under the guidance of such a holy man in this sanctified forest. Still, if I dedicate myself to following a guru, I should never disgrace him by changing my mind later in life. I wish to find a master and a path that I can dedicate my life to”.
Richard humbly declined, not because the Baba wasn’t qualified, but Richard wanted to be sure he wouldn’t disgrace his guru. Radhanath Swami shares his internal meditation, “The behavior of a disciple can be an ornament for, or a scar on the reputation of the spiritual master.”