Contemplation of Solitariness
Our soul exists. It exists eternally and it exists alone. Yet, every single day, we draw our sense of identity and self-worth from our associations with people, objects and activities. These associations offer the comfort of familiarity and attachment which, in turn, only further perpetuates the myth that all of us are interminably entwined with one another in one large, enduring web.
In reality, the web does not endure. All these associations are wholly separate from us. We go about our lives alone, suffer our destiny alone and depart alone. Even identical twins, born the same day of the same mother, look like each other but do not share the same destiny. This is practical knowledge that we avoid acknowledging and imbibing.
We crave the security of family and friends so that we do not feel alone. In fact, all our relationships are essentially selfish in nature even when they do not overtly seem so. Over time, our mind distances itself from people we do not interact with frequently or those we do not need. E.g. we could not live without our parents till a few years ago; today we may not even meet them regularly. A similar situation will unfold when our children move away from us and theirs from them.
On the face of it, the idea that you are all alone is frightening. But the same thought can be liberating when you contemplate the words of our Sadguru. Param Pujya Bhaishree tells us. “Potentially, each one of us has a soul that’s as powerful and as pure as that of Siddha Bhagwan (Tirthankars).” Param Krupalu Dev Shrimad Rajchandra has elaborated on this profound knowledge in his writings. The only, and critical, difference is that our Tirthankars have realized their inner bliss whereas we are works-in-progress.
When we contemplate the magnificence of our soul thus, we see our soul as it is - a magnificent powerhouse that can tide over all obstacles, fears and attachments. Our soul is intrinsically free but is waiting to be freed. It has achieved this body through an intricate manifestation of karma; now it’s time to achieve our soul through our exquisite sadhana and practical contemplation.
Internal reflection and rumination can equip us to appreciate the fact of our solitariness. Once Indra Dev approached Nami Rajshri in the guise of a Brahmin. Nami Rajshri had renounced the world and was living in the blissful awareness of self. Indra told him his empire was burning and needed him. Nami Rajshri shook his head and responded that what was burning anyway never belonged to him.
Indra then implored him to return to his kingdom to build forts to protect his people from attacks from outsiders. Nami Rajshri replied that all forts would be destroyed sooner or later. In this manner, Indra kept baiting him to return to his kingdom but Nami Rajshri, whose vision had been cleaned of the cobwebs of worldly existence, did not waver even once from his clarity of thought that nothing in and of the world was his. He knew that one’s mind was the real destroyer of his true interests and advocated freedom from the vices and weaknesses of the mind.
We can withdraw little by little from objects we do not need. Similarly, on the subtle plane, we can detach ourselves emotionally from people and objects who are not close to us, widening the circle of detachment gradually but surely in what will become a ceaseless spiritual expansion and a source of great inner joy.
While we cannot visualize our formless soul, we can certainly visualize the form of an enlightened soul: Bhaishree. By mulling and internalizing some of his attributes – serenity, stillness, calmness, gentleness, generosity, strength, selflessness, blissfulness, compassion, and, above all, purity - we internalize the attributes of our soul.
When informed of his wife’s demise, our native bard, Narsinh Mehta, did not grieve. Instead, he felt free. He sang, “Bhalu thayu bhangi zanjaar; sukh thi bhajshu Shri Bhagwan. (Good that my shackles have broken; now I will freely sing God’s praises.”
Shrimadji was devoted to his mother, Devbai, and took loving care of her during her illness. He handled his business efficiently too before seeking solitude in the dense greens of Gujarat. All the time he conducted himself in sansar, he did his work diligently. Yet he remained unattached to whatever he did. Vachanamrut, the copious compilation of his letters, is dotted with references to his sublime detachment from the world. He saw the world merely as a karmic obligation. The truth about our independent existence echoes in his famous words: “I am not this body; this wife, children, etc. are not mine. I am a soul that is a pure bliss and eternal consciousness.”
Let’s join him in the celebration of our inner freedom from the shackles of this birth. The solitariness that appears to be disguised as loneliness in the mind's eye is in reality a solitude that enlightened souls crave for.
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