Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No Hurry!

"How often do you read Gita?" quipped Hannah staring at the book I was holding in my hand. I smiled back at my co-passenger on the train and replied "I try to read it everyday. But usually at least two days in a week for sure."

And her curiosity did not seem to stop there. She was quick to ask "Why do you read it?" I smiled and replied back saying that I enjoy reading it and that it answers a lot of questions that I seek answers to.

The next question really startled me - where are you going after this life? Hell of Heaven? WoW! I tried not to show my surprise and smiled back saying "I do not know!"

It felt very eerie that the only phrase I was using for the next barrage of questions from her was " I do not know!" The fact was I really did not know!

I guess she was exasperated with my constant mono-dimensional "I do not knows" and it showed up when she said "does it not frustrate you that you know so very little about this life?"

I smiled back and said " I want to know... But I am not in a hurry!"

I do not know why I was smiling all through my answers! May because those troubled questions regarding life have bothered me enough all through my childhood. I remember troubling everyone with those questions very early in my childhood. It was even more difficult for me to understand "life" specially during the phase I was an atheist. With out the framework of God, it was extremely difficult to grasp the essence and meaning of life! And now in front of me is someone who is questioning my "curiosity" (or rather lack of it) towards understanding life!

Its not that I understand life. Its not that I do not want to know about it. It is just that at this stage of my life I just am willing to persevere and wait till I understand what it is. I am not talking about intellectual definitions here. I want the answer to come from within me - I cant really explain what I am searching for... but the quest is on!

Now that is something which did not go well with her. That I was willing to wait for the answers! She mistook "waiting for the answers to arrive" to "no interest in knowing the answers!" And she quickly said "what if you die before you know the answer?" Well, what if I die? I die! There is nothing much I can do if I die before I know the answers... and I just put the question back to her "yeah ... so what can I do if I die earlier?"

The most interesting question she asked me was what I meant by living life to the fullest? That was an answer I had given her for one of the million rapid fire questions she posed! And now she needed an explanation!

That really set me thinking.... she prodded me and asked if "fullest" for me meant "pleasures". I did not answer... i was still contemplating what exactly living my life to the fullest meant to me. Was it fun, pleasure, recognition, fame, success? I did not know. But I was sure it was none of them.

I want to live a life where I can really live the way I know is the right way to live. A life where I truely internally realize that all life springs from God and be compassionate towards every life form. Now saying that intellectually is one thing and practising it is other.

Practising by deeds is tough. But try doing it even at the thought levels, and you will know the challenge it is posing me every day! Can I forget and feel no animosity for anyone? Can I wipe out all the anger in me at a subconcious level? It is one thing to 'talk' about love for all creatures, it is another thing to restrain your actions to show that. And it is yet another thing that even at the level of your subconcious you harbor no ill feelings even to people who have been unfair. Can I ever get to that state of empathy? I do not know... but I will try ...

As I thought further, Living life to the fullest also meant that I contribute and do justice to all the intellectual gifts that God has bestowed on me. I realized that intellect breeds arrogance. I also learnt that intellect with out ability to empathize with other people's needs leads only to the downfall of the self. I have lived most of my life in the past as if I was the Sun and everyone else revolved around me like the planets. I would consider that I would have lived my life to the fullest the day I sincerely, from with in, bring in a realization that I am just a tiny spec of dust on the periphery and if I can put others needs at par with my own. Its easy for me to speak all this at an intellectual level, but to do it and to do it consistently before I die is what I would seek.

Living life to the fullest? Does it also not include the courage to accept the mistakes I did and then with determination and grit work on correcting them?

and ... and....

Now so much was going through my mind, but I did not want to scare a stranger away... so I smiled and said "a life where I live to my full potential!"

And then she came to the original question ... "now tell me... you do not know most of the answers that you are seeking for. Why do you read that book then?"

I was a little baffled and I said "thats exactly why I read it!"

"So you have all the answers there?"

I said "May be! I want to find out!"

Then she was back again "do you know where you are going to after this life?"

For a second, I wondered if she was sent from the other world to deliver me away from earth! I got a little curious and I responded with another question... "do you know where you are heading to after your life?"

Pat came the answer - "Heaven!"

Why? Because Jesus will take her to Heaven. Because she has faith in Him.

I was happy for her. And I honestly admired her for the conviction and faith she had in God. Here I was, at a stage of struggling to understand God, Life and nuances of karma - and in front of me was a girl who seems to have understood it all!

I smiled.

But she had more to say... "Please go and get a bible.... read it and you will find all the answers!"

"Sure! When I get time, I will definitely read it", was my response. She did not seem to be happy about it. She insisted that I read it with out fail and subtly indicated that it will clear things that Gita could not answer for me so far.

I was surprised but I was still smiling and said "If you ever read the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, you would realize that Gita was his guide whenever encountered tough questions in life. So it is not necessarily the book alone, it is ultimately the recipient who needs to be of a certain standard to receive the knowledge. And it is obvious, that unlike the Mahatma, I am just a beginner on this path and hence I do not find all answers yet! But, yeah... I am definitely open to read the Bible!"

That did not seem to make Hannah too happy. But I still should thank the girl to set me thinking on what exactly living life to the full really means to me!

While I was about to get off the train, she again said "read the bible and it will answer all your questions!"

I have not read the Bible yet directly, but I firmly believe ultimate realization depends on the sincerity and maturity of the recipient of the knowledge and not just the book - be it the Quran, the Bible , the Upanishads or the Gita! And I promised myself to strive to achieve that purity in deed and thought, so that someday I will resonate internally with what I read!


Brian said...

Nice posting. Do you know about this edition of the Gita?


Tys on Ice said...

:)...u changed the title of your blog!

those were great questions u been asked...i think u answered them patiently...

my definition for living life to the fullest is to be aware...aware of each action, each thought, each breath...in the beginning it is exhausting but later it becomes a part of you ( which too is dangerous), coz to be aware theres always a seperation between the doer and the observer...what iam trying to say is that, the observer is the observed..

then nothing escapes ur notice...each moment becomes a potential...thoughts becomes less, like it bubbles up to the surface only to sink back again into calmness...each action is with a reason...i think when u live life to the fullest, it means u become responsible for it totally...everything is observed; not judged or reasoned; just watched. Trick is not to confuse seeing things thru the filters of our perception with awareness....in awareness there is no you, the doer...u are not the participater...merely the observer..

am i making sense?...funny thing is iam getting this feeling that its time i just shut up...expressing this is so futile...so stupid...

loved this post

Raghu said...

no i did not. I read Eknath Eswaran's version of it for the time being. Thanks for the info.

Raghu said...


a very interesting observation.

For me observing myself - each and every thought has been quite natural and effortless.

But I confess, I judge (a lot more than an average man would). For me every act has to be "right" or "wrong". And that rule applies to even my own acts and not just for others.

And getting rid off my opinions is what my current battle is all about. I consciously ask my mind not to "judge" any incident that I see. It is so very tough... and I fail most times! :)

I understand the 'theory' behind what you just stated here... but I wonder when I can actually realize that :)

Tys on Ice said...

mock?...never my friend....i have seen and experinced hunger...its easy to to seek divinty on a full stomach....i know this...for a hungry man, the only divinity is his next meal...

if theres one thing i wud wish for this world is never to see a child thats hungry...for love and for food..being a father who is now alone, every child out there becomes my own...

iam fed up pal...sometimes i feel theres no light at the end of the tunnel..unless we lite one up ourselves...

rm said...

hi.i know its ur blog.its ur right to design....but would like u to know eyes pain to read white frm the black..maybe coz too much time in front of computer.

and u find what u search for .(anybooks). as u rightly said its not what u read its what u are ready to receieve frm it that counts.

Raghu said...

thanks for letting me know. white on black is how all the old terminals (before fancy colorful windows) used to be :) may be... thats the reason i never realized it. Will change it when I get sometime :)

And yes...i like that summary of "u find what u search for". And you got to work hard to earn that. there are no free meals :)

rm said...

what was this blogs previous title? just curious to know..

rm said...

those questions..i too thought to answer them..and then thought to share it with you.

Why do u read Gita?
To know whats there.How they justified things that long back. How it hopes to guide us.

( the best thing i like abt Hindu epics..is that every single person is justified in their action)

Where are you going after this life?
It dosent matter. Let me experience this life first.

Does it not frustrate you that you know so very little about this life?

No. it surprises me that I am aware of this fact.

What I meant living life to the fullest?
Try to fulfill all roles in your life. Understand each is important.From baby to old man u have duty and rights.Enjoy and fulfill all roles..child,spouse, parent. kid. friend. neighbour, boss, worker...everything..
Try not to get stuck. Be aware.
Gather wisdom on the way.There is no full stop. Its a flow..(it might be a circle)

Remember past, think future but dont forget to live in the present.
Understand that each knowledge is only part of the elephant.to get the full view of elephant will take time...continue the search keep on adding
Believe in simplicity .in thoughts in actions
just notted down my views.

Raghu said...

previous title was "Randomness Galore" - back then a few things seemed to be a bit too random acts for me :)

and i like your answers :)

specially the phrase "it might be a circle" ... that really has a lot of depth and significance to it.

thanks for sharing your answers. I enjoyed reading your views.