I was reading a few decades-old journal entries this morning. Writing as a twenty-something, these are notes about what I did, some work, some thoughts, some ideology, some record of events or movies I’d seen. I seem happy, hopeful, occasionally anxious… it brings back sharply how I used to be. There is a sense of… how shall I put it… smallness? It’s all very small. Puny. And pathetic.
Now, if you asked me how I feel about myself, I’d say Regal. Yes, I feel Lordly. Less work than before, certainly less income, fewer activities to do, a shrunk social circle, a diminished presence in the world, and I feel more potent.
हाथ में खूंडी, बगल में सोटा,
चारो दिशा जागीरी में ॥
A begging bowl in my hand, a staff by my side,
And all the world at my feet
If you had told me when I was in my twenties that the spiritual process was about being less of yourself, I’d have told you that someone out there was trying to con you. When intellectual people hear that the spiritual process is about dismissing the mind, they become very threatened and extremely suspicious. Why do they want me to put my mind aside? What am I without my mind, my biggest treasure? If I did silence it, then wouldn’t that leave me vulnerable to whatever insidious plan you have?
Having been there, I sympathise. But it isn't like that. You are not required to become an idiot or lose your faculties. It just needs you to look beyond what you have labelled as yourself. And it needs you to accept help from those who have already done it. It requires trust, I understand that. Indeed, you must only trust someone who has earned your trust. Someone you have judged to have the highest integrity. Someone with very clean hands.
But the quest IS to find out who or what you are. The gnanis tell us repeatedly: “You are NOT the Body, You are NOT the Mind”. Then, the question occurs, “Who am I?” First indignantly, and then with greater and greater depth and genuine seeking. Yes, if you accept those two exclusions, then Who ARE You? It is a question worth pondering. The ONLY question worth asking.
Which is why, I suppose, the basic requisite for the process is a certain thirst. You must arrive at the question. Repeatedly.
Looking back, this has been a fairly ordinary life for me. Enjoyable but moderate in all ways – middle class, middle of the road. And then, I stumble upon my Guru, who tilts my head to the stars.
Shankara says of the Satguru’s padukas: “Nripatvadabhyam nata loka pankteh…” Surrendering to these padukas raises those who prostrate to the rank of sovereigns.
I’m rising through the nobility ranks and will settle at nothing less than Sovereignty.