One should also not forget that even when pursuing the Path of Devotion all Knowledge will become available to one post the Identification with Him and when the Truth is known through the Path of Knowledge, devotion will arise.
How does one begin this journey? Typically it starts with a normal mental quest to understand why suffering or the ups and downs of one’s life. The morequestions arise initially, the more confused one becomes. Then one will go in search of books and articles which expound philosophies or give the Truth from various perspectives. These will still be confusing till suddenly an understanding arises. This will be onlya Mental understanding and this would have been preceded by a deep and intense prayer to the Lord of one’s choice. This would have arisen because there is a quest for knowledge to understand how one can surpass or live with the suffering of this world. The next stage would be that the knowledge becomes more experiential and the glimpses of Happiness and the intensity of the same then reinforce the same very quickly and strongly.
One factor needs to be borne in mind i.e. once the Truth is understood then it is not necessary or even useful to read and understand about different perspectives to approach the Truth except for technical knowledge or for want of something better to do! What is more relevant or important is for one to spend as much time as possible in introspection (again not mental) to experience the Truth. This is what Ramana Maharishi means as asking ‘Who am I’. This quest leads one deeper and deeper. Even as this goes on, the mental doubts, fears and anxieties which arise will be answered by our intuitive understanding of the Truth. The best words to explain this again is in the TaitreyaUpanishad (Sri Aurobindos translation)
In the AnandaValli the reference is ;
‘for when the Spirit that is within us finds his refuge and firm foundation in the Invisible Bodiless Undefinable and Unhoused Eternal, then he hath passed beyond the reach of Fear!
This indicates that one will have fearas long as one does not realize and live the Truth that everything is Him. But even Mentally understanding the Truth enables one proceed in the path till the Truth is experienced. To finish this point continuing that line;
‘But when the Spirit that is within us maketh for himself even a little difference in the Eternal, then he has fear, yea the Eternal himself becomes a terror!
This knowledge once understood even mentally, makes one steadfast in one’s path or quest for permanent Happiness irrespective of the experiences one undergoes in the interim till that Happiness is experienced forever.
The Path of Knowledge will also lead one to a love of the Lord but not necessarily as a separate existence. In the Path of Devotion, the fear (referred to earlier) was extinguished by one’s total identification with Him. The faith and love led to unification. Here it is an understanding and subsequent experience of finding Him within us and everywhere which allows one to reach permanent Happiness.
To summarize, this Path also leads one to Happiness with the primary focus being on understanding the Truth from within. There is no struggle, doubt or fear; only a surrender to the power within which then reveals Itself as the All. But the initial quest is by the Mind and the effort is of the Mind till it reaches a stage of being ready. Being ready for what? Again these words (from the Adoration of the Divine Mother again!) summarizes this best;
“To break earth’s seal of Ignorance and Death; His nature’s might seemed now an infant’s grasp. Heaven is too high for outstretched hands to seize. This light comes not by struggle or thought, In the minds silence the Transcendent acts”
In the Path of Knowledge one becomes Bliss or Happiness himself by moving above the Minds (nature’s tendencies) limited efforts and that happens when one allows the Eternal (Self or Transcendent) who is within one as also within all to stop being the witness alone but to step forward and Will the action for the Truth to be revealed.Then a permanent Happiness or Bliss becomes one’s Nature Itself.
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(The writer is the Joint Managing Director of TVS & Sons Ltd., and MD, TVS Logistics)
Keywords: Joy of being