In the vast cities and metros where thoughts as well as the environment are being rampantly polluted, this book is a must-read, writes VV SUNDAR
Since the ancient times, the mystic appeal and spiritual charms of India have drawn seekers from many parts of the world. It is fascinating that so many from the west have come to India in their spiritual quest and for transformational discoveries that the spiritual traditions of this land have to offer. Radhanath Swami is one such spiritual figure who in his book aptly titled The Journey Within recounts masterfully his spiritual journey and summarizes the gist of the wisdom he has achieved in India while exploring the path of bhakti.
The book brings you face to face with some very primordial questions that we all must have asked in our lives at some point in time, trying to handle our own internal struggles and quest for finding meaning and purpose in our lives.
The book is a valuable guide for anybody who wants to build a bridge with their own inner self. The book helps you gain a deeper insight into the teachings of bhakti as it has been practiced for thousands of years and continues to be practiced today. The author includes the timeless wisdom of gurus, saints and sacred texts, along with contemporary anecdotes and stories from his own personal experiences.
The author in a refreshingly lucid way defines what is true wealth? ‘To be truly wealthy is to have a fulfilled heart, and that means to love and be loved’. But in today’s stressful times, we tend to forget our own spiritual potential and fail to recognize it in others. ‘There may not be anything you can do about what’s happened, but as difficult as it is, you still have the freedom to choose how to respond to it. How you respond now will determine your future in this life and beyond’.
In whatever situation we find ourselves, the spiritual guru says, “We have the opportunity to gain wisdom, adopt a spirit for positive action, and humble ourselves before the Divine. In today’s stressful world, people are especially vulnerable to depression. Depression can impede our progress, but with appropriate help, we can stabilize the mind, foster positive thinking, and awaken to our higher nature. The soul is divine; you are forever a beloved child of the Supreme. Nothing can ever change that”. The mind functions very much like that trouble-making monkey making it hard for us to concentrate on any one thing. The spiritual guru says, “Bhakti yoga teaches us that a dynamic life of devotional service, mantra meditation, and association with uplifting people creates a foundation for our spirituality that keeps the mind steady”.
He explains, spiritual practice begins with healthy engagement of the mind. One of the definitions of yoga given in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is citta vritti nirodhah: “Yoga is the stilling of the mind’s fluctuations” through asanas, pranayama and dhayana. When the mind’s fluctuations have been stilled, accordingly the self becomes “situated in its own true nature”. When we calm the mind and senses through yoga, prayer, or some other contemplative practice, we can feel God’s presence and, if the mind is very quiet, hear his guidance.
In another interesting chapter on the idea of God, the spiritual guru sums up the narrative prevailing in our times where ‘each is totally convinced that their religion has a monopoly on salvation’. He answers it with effortless poise, “it’s important to remember that the quality of a person’s faith isn’t measured by the apparent shortcomings in another’s. What matters is whether a particular expression of faith inspires and guides us in our evolution toward unconditional love of God. Sadly, the Supreme Being, whom most faiths exalt as the greatest, is often imagined to be petty and partial to one group to the exclusion of all others. This misunderstanding of God’s nature can manifest in every spiritual tradition, including my own”.
Recounting a personal anecdote,the spiritual guru narrates about the ‘dog’s wisdom’ he heard from a person he met years ago. “A dog will recognize his master in whatever dress he wears. The master may dress in robes or a suit and tie or stand naked, but the dog will always know him. If we cannot recognize God, our beloved master, when he appears in a different dress in other religions, then we have much to learn from a dog”, he writes. This simple but sobering analogy to understand unity in diversity, is worth remembering.
The book has very insightful and enlightening things to say on living spiritually in a material world. It offers guidance on how we can distinguish reality from illusion, practicing the dharma of bhakti, awakening divine life, growing through adversity, entering the state of grace to achieve the true wealth in our lives.
The writer is a communications and management professional with cross-sectoral experience
Writer: VV SUNDAR
Courtesy: The Pioneer