Man has devised various mantras, which if vigilantly followed, can help him cope with the hard core competitive materialistic environment quite efficiently. Intelligent following of the famous four P's– 'Product', 'Price', 'Place' and 'Promotion' of marketing are looked upon as a success mantra for having good sales and hence earning huge profits. On a similar note, for producing six-sigma quality products, a company has to carefully plan its four M's– 'Material', 'Manpower', 'Machine' and 'Management'. Likewise, today there are various winning tips that can help humans to explore the outer world. But, the dark side of these corporate mantras is that, they have added four happiness-curbing traits in our personal and professional lives. These four evils can be termed as ABCD– 'Anxiety', 'Brashness', 'Cunningness' and 'Dullness'.
Well, this time let's go for that success mantra which can help us lead a life of happiness… No! A life of eternal happiness! This mantra guarantees a 100% success because it caters to the nourishment of our roots, i.e. our inner world. And the most amazing fact about this wholesome success-giving principle is that, this mantra was devised long before by our saints, which can be called the four W's– 'Who', 'Why', 'Where' and 'When', unveiling before us a 'WOW' life!
'WHO' - WHO AM I?
This is the very first 'W' that needs to be discovered, i.e. 'Who' am I?
“Ah, it seems to be a simple question! 'I', I am 'Mr/s. X'. Every day when I stand in front of a mirror, I see this physical body and this is what I am: a physical being, having eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin, hands, legs and various other body parts!” Many people will identify themselves with this statement. In fact, in this seemingly glamorous life, we are actually living with this identification. Every now and then we are running after our unending physical demands.
But, is this our real identity?
Once, a learned scholar invited four guests at his house on some occasion. Since their arrival they were all busy in discussing about their outfits and appearance. One of them boasted of his costly watch which he was wearing. The other one was getting jealous as he was feeling low because of his simple attire. The third one was sarcastically commenting on the physique of others. The fourth one was busy in surveying the expenditure made on the outfits by everyone. However, amidst all these talks and gestures, the scholar sat somewhat unhappy. Immediately then, something clicked his mind. He got up from his seat, went to the kitchen and brought five empty cups of different styles and coffee in a glass pot. He requested everyone to help themselves with the drink. When everybody started drinking coffee, he said, “Did you notice that you all tried to get the best looking cup? You all were busy in choosing the cup and no one was bothered with the taste of coffee at that time. But the fact is, at this moment each cup contains the same coffee in it. How silly, isn't it? We were focusing on cups but it was the coffee that actually mattered. Now, just contemplate on your conversation and ponder...Were you not doing the same?”
True indeed! Today, we are busy in comparing ourselves on outer physical appearance, ignoring the value of our inner wealth, the essence of our life contained in our precious breaths.
Therefore, dear readers, now again stand in front of a mirror, and ask yourself– “Am I just a physical being?”
Did you get some other answer this time? Probably yes. This time, our mind must be saying something to us– “Oh look dear, you are a physical being run with my power. And 'I (the mind)'can prove myself!”
Reflect upon this incidence– A man went to a forest for hunting. But somehow he could not get out of the jungle during day time. At night he was afraid of being alone in a place where ferocious animals lived. All of a sudden he heard some noise. He looked back and saw a lion standing. In order to save himself, he quickly took his bow and arrow and shot the lion. The arrow hit the lion. He kept standing at the place to observe whether there was some movement in the lion or not. But, to his good fortune, the lion did not move, indicating that it was dead. He then ran at his fastest speed and reached home late night. The next morning, to see the actual result of his powerful act, he again reached the same place. But, what was that? To his utter amazement, he found that his arrow had actually pierced through a hard rock, which appeared a lion to him because of darkness. He felt proud of his powers. To test them again, he took the same position and hit the rock one more time with his bow and arrow. But, alas! This time it bounced back. He tried again and again to pierce the rock, but all in vain. At last he went back home disappointed.
Why the man was not able to pierce the rock again? Reason is, the night before he was shooting not just from his physical being, but also from his mind level. In fact, it is actually this power of the mind which regulates our decisions and plays a crucial role in our survival.
You must have observed that sometimes when you are upset, then even after wearing your most beautiful dress if you look into the mirror, the immediate answer that comes is, “Ah! I am not looking good.” This is due to the reflection of your thoughts. We see not through our physical eyes but from our state of mind.
However, many a times, our thoughts take our life towards hell. And, the power which can misguide us, how can it be our true self? Therefore, next time when you stand in front of a mirror, ask yourself– “Am I just a physical body with mind power?”
The Hindu philosophy guides us further– Consider a number of water-filled pots placed on earth. A luminous sun is effulgently shinning in the sky above and showers its radiant light on all of them. As a result, we find a wholesome image of the Sun reflecting in each pot. This example analogically directs us towards the most fundamental reality of our existence, which is beyond body and mind. The Sun, here, symbolises the Divine Element (param-tattva), the Supreme principle governing all that Is. A pot symbolises the finite creation bound by a physical frame i.e. the Body. However, within the limited dimension of this gross body shines forth the supremely radiant Sun of Life, Parmatman, which manifests as Atman (Soul) in a confined identity of an individual.
The Holy Bible (1 Corinthians Chapter 8) also throws light on this fact, 'There is one God for us, from whom all things exist and through whom we exist.' And this is the real 'I' that I am.
Thus, “I am Soul– a spiritual embodiment having a physical experience with mental/ intellectual power.”
An Indian saint, Ramana Maharishi says very beautifully in this context, “The gross body which is composed of the seven humours (dhaatus), I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, viz. the senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell, which apprehend their respective objects, viz. sound, touch, colour, taste, and odour, I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, viz. the organs of speech, locomotion, grasping, excretion, and procreation, which have as their respective functions speaking, moving, grasping, excreting, and enjoying, I am not; the five vital airs, prana, etc., which perform respectively the five functions of in-breathing, etc., I am not; even the mind which thinks, I am not; the nescience too, which is endowed only with the residual impressions of objects, and in which there are no objects and no functions, I am not. After negating all of the above-mentioned as 'not this', 'not this', that Awareness (Consciousness) which alone remains - that I am!”
'WHY' - WHY AM I?
This 'W' deals with the purpose of human life. Life seems to be a tale of mystery. Everything that constitutes our life is relative, temporary and bound. And amidst all the odds, one often asks himself, “What is the purpose of this human life? Do I need to run for my whole life in search for the gains, which later turn into losses?”
To answer this, Aristotle drew four kinds of entities that exist in the world, depending upon the purpose of living–
1. Mineral: These objects are inanimate objects like rocks, metals and other lifeless things. The only aim which this category seeks is to stay at rest.
2. Vegetative: The second kind of existence comprises of plants and other vegetative life. Such kind emerges for serving the other living forms of the world.
3. Animal: In this category come all the creatures belonging to the animal kingdom. They are at a higher level than the vegetative kind because in this level, life emerges and pleasure is searched for. Happiness and sadness exist at this level.
4. Human: At the topmost position in the categorisation, Aristotle places the human beings. Animals eat, reproduce and struggle for their living. The same is done by human beings as well. Then what is that which makes a human being superior to the animal kingdom? Aristotle answers– The reason behind this is the 'wisdom power' which every human being possesses. That's why pleasure alone cannot make a human being permanently happy; delight is what animals look for, but humans have higher capacities than animals. Human beings can attain bliss which animals cannot. And, this contentment can be attained only when one perceives his true Self i.e. the Soul. In the absence of knowing our true Self, our life keeps on swinging between the extremities of sadness and happiness, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. As has been rightly said by someone that in the absence of the knowledge of our real Self, the state of our lives has become somewhat like this– 'Physically we move around with plastic smiles; mentally we are stressed; emotionally we are drained; and, all this is because spiritually we are dead!'
That's why the enlightened sages enunciate: “O' supreme creation of the Lord! Change your life's status. Wake up and see God to become awakened. The goal of the human life is not to get drowned in the ocean of materialistic desires, but to acquire that wisdom power which can make us cross the cycle of births and deaths, which can lead our convergence into God– our origin.” It is only after getting acquainted with our Soul that we are able to lead a life of happiness and contentment. And, this is the prime goal of our life.
In this regard, many people pose a question that by knowing our real Self, how can we lead a life of happiness? The following incidence answers this question.
A tensed and unhappy young man approached a Master. He said to the Master, “Revered Sir, I am living an utterly stressful life. Please help me. I want happiness.” In reply, the Master instructed the young man to bring a glass of water. When the man brought water, the saint added a handful of salt to it and asked him to drink it. “How did it taste?” the Master asked. “Terrible,” said the man. The Master smiled. He then took him near a lake of fresh water and added a handful of salt in it. “Now take water from the lake, drink it and tell how it tastes?”
“Good! I did not feel the taste of salt,” was the young man's answer.
The Master thus concluded, “Son, pain and troubles in life are like this salt. But, the amount of pain that we taste depends upon the capacity of the container. Remember, pain and difficulties will persist. But, the only thing that you can do is 'Stop being like a glass; instead, become a lake.' Here, the expansive lake symbolizes our 'real-Self', on being established in which even the greatest sorrow appears trifle.
'WHERE' - FROM WHERE CAN I ATTAIN THE PURPOSE OF MY LIFE?
In other words, this 'W' attempts to answer as to who can make us get acquainted with our real Self?
One day, when Narendra (Swami Vivekananda) visited Ramakrishna Paramahansa, he questioned– “Sir, I have read various scriptures several times. I even give lectures from them. I know eternal happiness can be attained only after knowing God. But, for that, do I need to seek help of a guru?”
Shri Ramakrishna didn't answer Vivekananda's query at that moment. After a few days, he asked Vivekananda to go to some village by a boat, to deliver a parcel to a person living there. Vivekananda acceded to Shri Ramakrishna's directions and left for the village. But, when he started, he realised that he did not know the way to reach the destination. So, he went back to Shri Ramakrishna and asked about the shortest route to reach the village.
At that moment, Ramakrishna smiled and replied, "Narendra (the earlier name of Vivekananda), this is the answer to the question that you asked when you came to me last time. Dear son, it's true that you can use a boat to go and you also know the destination of your journey. But, you need someone to direct you to reach your destination. Likewise, you are blessed to have a gift of human life and further you know the purpose of living. But, to achieve that, you need a Perfect Master who has already navigated the path so that he can guide you through the journey of your life and motivate you for not giving up."
In this context, Lord Krishna also says in the Bhagawad Gita (verse 4.34), “Learn the absolute truth by approaching a Spiritual Master. Serve him and question him obediently. The self-realised Master can impart wisdom unto you because he has seen the truth.”
'WHEN' - WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO START?
The fourth 'W' provides insight into the factor of appropriate time or moment, i.e. at what age or by what time should I begin my journey to the inner world?
A woman approached Saint Aristotle and asked him, “Master, when should I start training my child? Please direct me.”
Aristotle inquired the woman about the age of his son. The woman said, “He is five years old.”
At this, the saint replied, “You are already late by five years. So rush to your home now and start training your child.”
Dear readers, likewise, this human birth is like a bubble of water. You never know when it will get burst. Therefore, before the time and opportunity to meet God flies away, search for a Perfect Master who can help you achieve your goal of life by making you realise your real 'I'.