Are You Enlightened?
“I am already enlightened” I replied with serious face, hiding my laugh.
“What?” his shock was evident from his croaked voice. So far he had an artificial softness and slowness in voice. That act of being calm disappeared from his face. The real he was visible.
“I said I am enlightened” I repeated.
He gave me a blank stare. Then, touched the turban that he uses to cover his bald head. And nodded his head as if I am totally gone nuts.
“Do you have any problems with that?” I asked.
“No…No…But, you see…” again, the artificial tone came back to his voice: “Enlightenment is a very serious, big, deep thing…you don’t understand…”
“Oh…come on…It is the simplest thing under the sun. You don’t understand” I replied.
He nodded himself in disagreement. Only a close watch would make out the anger that splashed in his eyes. “See brother, you don’t look like an enlightened person.”
“Really? …then, please tell to me, how an enlightened person should look like?”
“Oh…Is there a dress code for an enlighten person? Is it casual, party wear or formal?”
“Are you serious or pulling my leg?” his eyes were narrowed while asking this question.
“I am very serious Sir. I am an enlightened person, you know. But I didn’t know that there was a dress code or uniform for enlightened people.”
He didn’t answer for a while. Sometime back, when I started talking to him during a trip to Bangalore in the train, he introduced himself as a high-grade assistant to a famous spiritual guru. He is among the privileged second-man-in-command. In due course, based upon his seniority and performance, he can even be a guru, he said. We both were sharing same coupe. There were no other passengers in the coupe that had four berths.
“It’s not like that, you won’t understand…”
“You are a Guru-in-waiting. So could you please explain to me, so that I will learn?” I asked.
“You should dress like a detached person…”he said.
“What do you mean by detached?”
“Aha…You don’t even know about detachment…And talking big-big things about enlightenment….” he laughed loudly as if he won an argument. Abruptly, he stopped his laugh and put on a serious face.
“Sir, what is detachment? And what is dress code for enlightenment?” I asked again.
“Detaching from the worldly pleasure…detaching from the family bondage…the freedom comes from detachment…happiness comes from detachment….then we will lead to enlightenment…you still have family and want to enjoy worldly pleasures, right?”
“Of course, yes…worldly pleasures are important for me, but without exploiting others…Now you said, detachment means freedom from bondage, right?”
“This means, your concept of freedom is limited to detachment. Your concept of happiness is limited to detachment…” I said. “But as far as I am concerned, freedom and happiness have no fixed borderline…I am happy when I am attached. I am happy when I am detached too. Similarly I am free in detachment and free in attachment too…”
“That’s kutharka…” he said. (Kutharka = malicious reasoning on the part of those who do not understand the real significance of the scriptural texts which are substantiated by logical reasoning)
“No Sir, it is vitharka…” (Vitharka = has a meaning close to argumentative mood with reasoning, understanding but clarifying too) I said: “I have an open mind towards happiness and freedom. You have a conditioned mind, and you propagate that concept, I am not…now, please tell me about the dress code…”
“I mean…the dress should be like that of vairagyi’s (detached man)…like saffron or white…”
“Like yours? Imported silk cloth stitched by branded tailors?” I tried to tease him.
“No…I didn’t claim I am enlightened…”he snapped back…”And you are arrogantly say that you are enlightened and wearing flashy t-shirt and cargo jeans…Haha!”
I told him a story. While I was doing my graduation, I had a sickness of writing short stories and poetry. I have been selected as the best short story writer in the university. So I was invited to attend a three-day “literature camp” in a remote forest resort camp. I travelled all the way down there. There were three people in the front-desk reception. Looking at me one of them asked: “What can we do for you?”
“I came here by invitation”
“Are you a sponsor or something?” the receptionist asked.
“No…I am a writer…”
All three of them gave me a strange look.
“You don’t look like a writer”
I asked why.
“No…Most of the writers had a pattern of dressing. Pyjama, Kurta, Beard and a cloth-bag with long strap…”
“Some of them are smelly too…” one person cracked a joke.
“You are in T-shirt and jeans…there is no beard…” the other one said.
This is a popular misconception. A perception. We believe in that concept. Our mind wouldn’t allow it to go wrong. If something goes against our long-standing perception, we will feel like dying by suffocation. Nobody wants to break such conditioning, even if we have chances.
“I am enlightened…the only difference is, I didn’t have a rigid concept of how an enlightened person should be. But you have a strong concept, in which I don’t fit into. Is that my problem? “
“You mean to say you are right and I am wrong?”
“No. I am saying, according to me, I am enlightened. And, I don’t have to convince others that I am enlightened. But you will need to…”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I am not in the business of enlightenment. You are. Your service area is meditation. And your final product is enlightenment…” I said: ” You have a deep conditioning of how an enlightened man should look like…Even the shape of beard should fit into that concept.. And you people dress like drama artists to satisfy public’s wrong concept on enlightenment…you wear a uniform to show others that you are spiritual gurus…your dialogues and voice modulation are also scripted accordingly. And you make money out of it…”
“You are talking non-sense…” he has got angry. He raised his voice.
I smiled at him: “See, I am not angry at you. I am enlightened…”
“You never get angry?”
“Of course, I do. I get angry. I have all emotions…I become happy. I feel sadness….”
“And you call yourself as an enlightened man…”
“Yes – I am normal. That’s why I am enlightened. I seldom hide my emotions or feelings…I feel my feelings. I observe my emotions. I experience my life as is without pretention…hence I am enlightened…I am an ordinary person…I don’t show to show any miracle…So I am enlightened…”
“So, you mean to say, the enlightenment is for all – for each dick and harry in the street? You need lot of-years of Sadhana. And you say, it is so easy?”
“Yes, coming to that, even you can be enlightened?”
“Even me?” he raised his eye-brows. His face again turned red.
“Just joking…Seriously, you are already enlightened. You may not be aware about it. It is as if we are just closing our eyes and we are crying, “I can’t see the light.”
“Please continue, sir, very interesting” he said.
“All I can I say is: “Just open your eyes and you will see that the light is here.” In fact, even “open your eyes” may seem to imply some doing. But I have to use some words, right? Enlightenment is very easy”
“Yes” he said. Now he is using his real voice. No artificial soft and slow tone.”So you have a different approach towards enlightenment and life?”
“No…I don’t and can’t claim anything…” I paused and winked at him and continued: “Except the claim that I am enlightened. I just say that I am a living person, an ordinary living person, almost happy with my life. My life too is with all the ditches around, with all the ups and downs of the roads around, struggle and miseries, comforts and enjoyments, with all the moments of change around, with all the pains and problems around…”
“So when it comes to miseries, struggles and hardships of life…how did you face it?”
“When I face miseries, I think of Lord Ram…Lord Ram is incarnation of the supreme cosmic entity Vishnu. Still, how much he did suffer in his life? Did he have a happy married life even for one year? No. Ravan has snatched his loving wife…He struggled his way out in the forest…Compared to Him, what have I faced in my life? Nothing…He is supreme lord for me. Still he has suffered a lot. What does Life of Ram teaches us? Life is full of miseries and struggles…and we should be happy that we got such life. And that’s the real happiness of life…knowing that life is all about struggles and sufferings, is really enlightening…”
“Hmm…You are talking sense; life is full of sound and misery signifying nothing…”
“Sorry, it was his quote… brother….Yes, that’s true…our problems are trivial…” He nodded himself…”but how did you get really enlightened?”
I laughed out loud. “Just now, when you put on the switch in the compartment, tube-light lit and I got enlightened, thanks to you…”
“Brother, I seriously want to know. I know that you know many things and just making fun of yourself…Nobody has told me such things – they all talk high funda philosophy of things… You talk normal things. Please answer my questions…”
“I don’t have answers for your questions. You have to find your own answers. Nobody’s answer is your answer. Everybody has to find his or her own answer, because the problem created by life is a unique problem for you. And life is offering you the answer for that problem in that uniqueness. By just understanding this simple fact, I have begun my journey.”
“Did you have a Guru?”
“Yes – thousands of gurus…Everything – every person I meet on the road, every experience I get, every incident of my life- everything is my Guru…- everybody I meet is my guru. Now you are my Guru.”
“Me? What did you learn from me?”
“Even so-called higher spiritual people have deep conditioned, closed mind filled with concepts and perception…” I laughed.”No… Just joking…”
He passed it. “You mean to say, you didn’t have a guru that lead to enlightenment?”
“Nothing, nobody or no teacher can help cause enlightenment to happen. Only you, repeat YOU, can do it…”
“Ok, if there was no Guru, how did you learn it?”
“How to get enlightened? Who taught you to meditate for enlightenment?”
“Brother…Guru will teach his concepts of enlightenment…if that suits you, you can follow…I didn’t have such guru – maybe I was not lucky enough to have one… The first thing I understood that knowledge at information level won’t transform me; and intellectual or logical understanding won’t liberate me. Knowledge adds to my ego only. So I began the process of unlearning. Then I found that my mind is deeply conditioned with wrong concepts and perceptions…”
“Then what happened?”
“BOOM…I am enlightened. The tube light lighted up above my head, Na? Thanks to the railways and you who put the switch on…”
“Sir…I am very curious…you are surprising me…please tell, how did it happened? What was your experience?”
“You mean to ask, did I hear bell ringing? Did I smell fragrance? Or did the heaven showered flowers? Come on yaar….those are all high melodrama and cinematic…”
“No, I understand we had some concepts on enlightenment – probably wrong. But that’s been taught to us for long period. But please, please tell me how did you experience? What method or technique you used?”
“It happens naturally when the mind sees the limitations of all techniques, methods or guidelines..,”
“Awakening is not even the effort to open your eyes. It is just waking up. It is as if you wake up from your sleep…Awaken your consciousness by being aware, and you will find that the divinity is within you. And you are part of the being, you are totality……and you’re a perfect person with all your imperfections.”
“Ok…I understand it in a conceptual level…But how did you reach there? How did you meditate? Some mantras?”
“Yes, I had a mantra…a big secret…don’t tell anyone…”
I looked around and said: “It was: Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu, Aayi rut mastaani kab aayegi tu, Beeti jaaye zindagaani kab aayegi tu, Chali aa, tu chali aa…”
“What?” he asked. I repeated.
He looked confused. Then he said: “I know that’s a Hindi song and you have made your point. There is no need of any mantras. I understand your point. But should we concentrate our mind to meditate? What’s the process involved in your meditation? “
“This is another popular misconception…I can’t afford to buy such luxury process that you sell to clients to get enlightened”
“No…I just asked…”
“See brother, those who propagate meditation as “concentrating mind” believe that meditation is a voluntary process. We sit with closed eyes in a corner of the room (in places of worship/Ashrams) in a particular posture. Then we chant a mantra or sacred stanza from Holy Books or visualize the form of a god or goddess. We may then try to control our thoughts, this is what they say. This is what you normally call meditation, right?”
“Yes, what else?”
“May be true…I am not an authority to comment on this. I don’t know. But as far as I am concerned, meditation is de-concentration. For me, it is not possible to concentrate on single object/thought for long…”
“That’s true. I also experienced. It is not possible to control the mind…”
“The gist of Bhagawad Gita, according to me, is a one-liner:- That which moves is mind. That doesn’t move is GOD or cosmic”
“That’s true. Beautiful… Mind moves. But we talk about concentrating mind…”
“You don’t walk the talk. I know. It is almost impossible to control your mind. Till this day, except in folklore or myth, nobody has ever done it – at least to my knowledge. Because, you are using your own mind to control it… Mind control or concentration has absolutely nothing to do with meditation…”
“It is only a temporary suppression of the mind. When the process – whatever process you use – ends the chaotic mind returns and things are back to normal….”
“So how are you meditating?”
“As I said, meditation is not a voluntary process at all. It cannot be invited. It is not the determined project of an isolated mind. It happens naturally when the mind turns within itself and is aware of its own movement. Meditation happens when we can see our desire and ego….When we see our own conditioning”
“So what technique you used?”
“There is no technique to be in meditation. I told you -it happens naturally when the mind sees the limitations of all techniques. Being aware is the only way to make meditation happen. Observe and be aware. In awareness there is no goal to be attained. Awareness is just opposite to controlling or concentrating the mind. To be aware is to be with the moment, as it is.”
“There is no struggle, as it is an effortless being in the now. Observing self would lead to awareness. Awareness is also a silent announcement to the divinity that I am ready for the grace to happen. So there is no process at all…”
“No process at all?”
“Nothing, but observing yourself. Observing thoughts – without judging or analyzing it – will lead you to awareness. As you observe you will know that you are not thoughts. Thoughts come, thoughts go, but you remain. As we observe, we would become aware of our thoughts, emotions and actions…You will stop trusting your thoughts which are product of your conditioning…You will become just a witness of your thoughts and you won’t chase thoughts…”
“Nothing…you are enlightened…” I laughed again.
“Please tell me…”
“Sir, enlightenment is not a goal of meditation. Don’t set any goals. Just be aware. By being aware, you will become aware of your life and love -and the divinity. You will take things as is. You won’t misinterpret anything based on your conditioning”
“How will I know I am enlightened?” he seriously asked.
“You will stop asking such stupid questions” I laughed.
He didn’t laugh. He thought for a while. Suddenly he asked: “Why don’t you try to rectify the public about their wrong understanding on mediation and enlightenment? We could plan something”
“You are a spiritual business man, so you think in terms of business…But I can’t think like that…This is not my business”
“But as a free social service…you should reach public”
“Not my job. I am not an orator. I don’t have any message to spread. I am happy with what I am…”
“But you have different ideas, concepts, perceptions, right? …”
“Number one -you don’t verify what I said. You didn’t experience if it is true. So, it is just another set of concepts or perception….You cannot generalize anything. Let other’s find their own concepts…”
“And number two?”
“Whatever I told you, are not my ideas. That belongs to my ancestors. They have given us everything free. I can’t cheat them. I know successful modern spiritual industrialists have marketed such concepts in a colorful package as branded products and services…Some of them have even patented it in America.”
“I understand what you say sir….spirituality is a big business now…But, you have a social commitment…commitments to your fellow human beings…”
“Yes. So, let’s share and care the way we can. Everything happens with purpose. Those who are destined to share with me, will come to me…I have met few people in my life and I have shared with them what I learned and cared for them…My social commitment is limited to that…”
“As I said, that is not my business. See, the popular concepts and perceptions about meditation and enlightenment were there in deep psyche of public for centuries together. People are deeply conditioned by such concepts. This conditioning is ego. Nobody wants to break the conditioning. The ego always needs security. Beating ego or de-conditioning is painful than death…They are comfortable with the concepts. And all they expect is to get an acknowledgement for their conditioning”
“Could be…I don’t know…I don’t understand…”
“I call it spirituality superstitions…Just like we live in a country with corrupt government-administration or political system; most of the people are OK with that conditioning.” I paused and continued: “So spiritual masters like you identify some basic concepts of meditation and enlightenment and decorate it, brand it, in different, value-added and colorful package. You don’t want to change the public by de-conditioning them- you just want to exploit them. Result? The public is happy, you are happy – both are benefited. Who will challenge the system? Nobody. So don’t talk to me about social commitments. I, at least, don’t exploit others…”
He closed his eyes. And remained in silence for few minutes.
“Hello…is there anybody here?” I patted in his turban and asked.
“Sir- that’s awesome. You are earnest and honest in perusing. I can’t say how much did I benefit from talking to you. Now I am seriously feeling guilty of what I was doing now…”
“Why should you feel guilty? It as your job. I am a vegetarian. I am biased to vegetarianism. But I am not fanatic. If I insist everybody should be vegetarian, what will a butcher or a fisherman do? Everybody is doing his/her work. You are in the industry of spirituality. I am in the media. We both do our work and earn money to live….”
“Do you think so?” his voice was bit shaky.
“Yes. I do. We feel guilty only when we do something wrong…you are a very good man. You have a good heart – otherwise you won’t realize so fast about your wrong doing… You are a better man than me…I felt the vibes…You have no reason to feel guilty…try to come out of what you do, if it doesn’t make you happy, that’s all…What’s the point in having guilt?”
I don’t know. What happened next was very touchy. His eyes were filled with tear and he hugged me. Tears came to my eyes too. I was teasing the poor guy so far.
I said: “Forgive me brother…I was pulling your leg and making fun of you…I am sorry about it…I am not enlightened. I am just trying to be a funnyman… I am a truth seeker, that’s all…I was trying to act smart with you to beat your ego…” I meant it.
“No sir…It is not like that. Today, I understood my flaws. I looked down upon people and I thought we were superior beings as we are “spiritualists”. People come to us when they face difficulties in life. And we make money out of the situation….I understand that”
“That shows you are very good human being…”
“There are thousands of enlightened people around me. Those who are enlightened won’t show it. Those who are not will act as they are enlightened. And only those earnest seekers with divine grace could see or understand the enlightened people. You are truly enlightened. Thank you Sir”
“You have got wrong ideas about me. I am not enlightened. I still have lot of conditioning. I have not come out of all concepts…As I said, I am just a normal human being and want to remain like that…I don’t want to be enlightened. My enlightenment is being with my loved ones. Let me live the life that comes to me. I am happy with the miseries and struggles in my life. I also have all tensions, stress and problems in life. But I just love it” I said.
“No sir, I understood you properly. I know there will be lot of people like you who don’t want to convert everything into business…”
“Hmm. It looks like you are absolutely enlightened now. An overdose of enlightenment. But I am fed up with being enlightened. So let’s put off the light, so that we can sleep…”
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