Each 'Choose-day' we will investigate the process by which we can reassess our activity and interaction with the world of plurality and become more congruent within our personality.
In the next few weeks we will explore some of the points raised by HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda-ji in the publication of this name. Each of the chapters is short and concise and designed to prompt discussion, to raise questions, to bring out doubts… to kick-start appropriately analytical thinking. It is a book which lays bare all the basics of the mistakes which are made in spiritual understanding, it understands that there will be many who are sceptical and who, in defence of their established behaviours, will seek to argue the points.
As stated last week, the chapters will not be recited here. You are encouraged to access Chinmaya Mission Publications or if you prefer, the Amazon Link where a copy of the book may be obtained, or contact or any one of the local CM Centres (see sidebar).
For those who take up this opportunity, at first glance the book might appear extremely basic. Simple to the point of condescension. Remember, though, that these early chapters are intended to stimulate discussion, to shake folk awake. Almost always we spend our time in advanced states of confusion and information overload that we forget just how simple things really are!
In the first chapter, Freedom and Licence, Gurudev very clearly and precisely states that despite all technological advancements, despite all the comforts he has succeeded in bringing, despite having risen from primitive and barbarous living into so-called civilized and intelligent societies, Mankind still writhes in a mire of anxiety, dissatisfaction, and all other sorts of negative states. Can we deny this truth? Equally, as our historians and researchers of past civilisations are uncovering greater insights, we find that the 'state of man' has actually altered very little in the passage of time. Conditions of living and utensils with which we work may have changed beyond words; but the living of life in actual fact has changed very little indeed.
The great spiritual scientists (Rsis) pondered long on this matter and found certain factors contributed to this poor state of being. Later, Western researchers into the condition of man drew somewhat similar conclusions. Man wants everything his own way. He will do anything he can to ensure he gets his way. When he succeeds in this he is elated. When he does not he falls in a heap. Man permits his animal side, the lust and greed, the uncontrolled excesses, to dominate his desires. Absolute freedom is what he demands; the licence to live life with abandonment of self-control.
The Rsis and elders of society drew up plans of living; guidelines of how to live rightly in order to minimise the impact of such licentiousness. Man is not fond of such disciplined thought! It is perceived as censorship and 'against my right of freedom'. What he fails to recognise is that true freedom is based in the mind; it is built upon responsibility for everything he does and for living life with a higher purpose than self-gratification. The example Gurudev uses is that of the traffic management systems we have, without which there would be absolute chaos. This analogy falls down a little given prevailing traffic conditions in the major centres of the world! However, the principle still applies. We certainly appreciate that accidents are most likely when one or other driver breaks away from the established protocol, or when focus is taken for a moment from the road.
It is in our inability to appreciate the difference between correct freedom and the licentiousness we call as freedom which underpins the problems of daily life. The tendency to turn our backs on the wisdom of our elders, whether that comes from the church, the synagogue, the mosque or the temple - or the great philosophers - is said by Gurudev to be the root cause of our ignorance. The ancient texts provide grist for our intellectual mill; tools for rigorous analysis of our condition and methods to adjustment in order to rectify the problem.
What is interesting is the freedom of choice - yes freedom! - to follow a higher path, or remain on the one we have set for ourselves. Often we stay because we do not believe we have a choice. We throw our hands in the air and say it is the fault of this or that or them… a poem which has been given some airing of late, in different quarters, is a good one to end today's post as it points to a clear understanding that for there to be any direction in life, we must first be clear that we are in charge of ourselves.
INVICTUS; W E Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Readers! Yes you are there… consider what has been written here; if you have taken the leap and purchased Kindle Life, even better. Ponder on it (mananam) and write about the areas of your own life which you know to be undisciplined. Do this in your little journal books, which you were asked to make. Here begins introspection; an important and valuable part of spiritual training.
Don't forget that you can raise questions and doubts right here, through the comments box or via email.