We don’t have to give up active living to turn inward. This is what the sages say.
Everybody wants to be Happy! No matter what we do, good or bad, right or wrong, we only do it to be Happy. Most of the times, we mistake pleasures to be Happiness. But when we understand that every pleasure seems to have nine pains following it, we want to know how to get true happiness. We need HELP. So we turn to God, Gurus, Scriptures and Wise Ones.
Everybody is afraid when they hear the word God, Religion, Guru, Scripture, Meditation etc. The so-called experts of any religion – they all seem to tell us to give up life as we know it, consider ourselves sinners, give some money or do some special worship or confession as atonement or punishment for our sins. There are good followers and good people in any religion who tell us what is really good for us. But there are also some who tell us to be phonies. Sometimes they are not to be blamed, because they are placed in positions for which they are not qualified. The inadequate and immature followers of religions and scriptures misinterpret the sacred scriptures and confuse and brainwash people for their own wealth and power. The power of being “holy” is the most dangerous power because the people who know they have been bad, want to get a quick cancellation of their wrong doings and buy a “ticket to heaven” and so they listen to these “holy” people who promise them that.
However, if we are fortunate enough to come across Masters, Gurus or Their Teachings, who are qualified to teach us about Life because they are living what they are teaching, then we will know that the phony religious teachers are bluffing. On the contrary, these Great Ones tell us the Truth as they see it. If we don’t spend the time to understand it correctly, how can we blame them? Swami Chinmayananda once said that if the radio is defective and produces noise instead of music, you cannot blame the station from where it is transmitted. Meaning, the Guru is telling you the Truth; if you don’t follow it correctly, then you cannot blame the Guru. He also said that the longer the beard of the religious guru, the more careful you have to be about him! He had a great sense of humor! All the Great Ones have.
The fact is, these Sages never tell us we are sinners. Sri Ramana Maharshi said that there are no good or bad people; just good or bad thoughts. How simple, yet how refreshing! Once an American devotee called Dr. Henry Hand told Maharshi during a discussion, “Maharshi! Do not think we are bad boys!” Maharshi replied, “Do not tell me so. But you need not think you are bad boys!”. By hearing that we are sinners all the time, the negative notion is further reinforced in our minds. But if we hear that we are only good, but due to ignorance we have bad or unwise thoughts, then that reinforces the positive notion in our minds and encourages us to fix the mistakes we make.
These Sages tell us that we should live our lives in the world according to our nature and “Dharma” which here means “duty”. Everyone has a purpose for being here and the purpose will be fulfilled whether you will it or not.
Mr. M. Oliver Lacombe, a Frenchman asked Sri Ramana Maharshi:
“D: “How is work to be done ordinarily for an aspirant?.
M: Without self-identification with the actor. For instance, did you intend visiting this place while in Paris?
R: You see how you are acting without your intention to do so? The Gita says that a man cannot remain without acting. The purpose of one’s birth will be fulfilled whether you will it or not. Let the purpose fulfil itself.”
The Great Ones say, you are an actor playing a part due to desires and attachments. Act to the best of your ability using the talents and skills that you have. But don’t get carried away and get deeper and deeper into the mire of delusion and attachments and desires. Understand that your basic need is to be Happy, which is your Real Nature. You have just digressed from it temporarily. Get back to it slowly and gradually. Swami Dayananda in one of his discourses gave an example. He said, to identify too much with our activities and the world, is like an actor who refuses to give up his role and his costumes even after the play is over and continues to play the actor in his life too! Great example.
The point is, Sages only tell you to lead your life happily, but wisely. Even in ordinary life, this is what everyone says! Only some people don’t know how to do it. So the Sages are sought. When someone wanted to go to a cave to meditate, Sri Ramana Maharshi said, “Solitude is in the mind of man. One might be in the thick of the world and maintain serenity of mind; such a one is in solitude. Another may stay in a forest, but still be unable to control his mind. He cannot be said to be in solitude. Solitude is a function of the mind. A man attached to desire cannot get solitude wherever he may be; a detached man is always in solitude.”
So it is very clear to me that we can live an active and happy life while turning inward and learning how to handle problems and acquire peace of mind. I call the little time I try to quieten my mind, “My Happy Hour”! I also call it, “charging my batteries” to prepare for the rest of the day! These Sages are My Best Friends!