We look before and after, and pine for what is not.
Our sweetest songs are about our saddest thoughts.
The British poet Shelley certainly seems to have summed up the human condition very well. Human beings always experience a vague sense of dissatisfaction. Last month, in Mumbai we were all complaining about how hot it was, eagerly awaiting the rains. A few days of rains and people are complaining how wet and flooded the city is. Looks like nothing will satisfy the human being. Since we experience dissatisfaction we try to get rid of it by the pursuit of jobs, money, wealth, power, relationships, positions - the list is endless. And some people who have decided that the normal will not help them will try abnormal things - various exercises, mind games etc in the name of challenging the norm.
None of this seems to be solving the problem because the problem is not with the situations that we face, the position that we have or the relationship that we go through. It has got to do with the way human beings perceive themselves as unfulfilled and dissatisfied. So, in the highest spiritual teaching in India, we say that the only question worth asking or answering is, who am I? This represents the journey of the human being, from a dissatisfied human being, to discovering oneself as fulfilled and satisfied. So, from unfulfilment to fulfilment, from dissatisfaction to satisfaction seems to be the human spiritual journey. It seems mystical, rigorous, difficult, full of strange exercises, weird lifestyles in the Himalayas. Nothing can be further from the truth. It's a purely cognitive pursuit. Once you gain a certain maturity in life, this is a direct pursuit for fulfilment which is right here and now. Discovering who I really am is one of the most natural and the easiest of pursuits, provided of course, one is fortunate to have a sampradayavit, a traditional teacher. In fact, the road to fulfilment can be as joyous as the discovery of fulfilment itself.
(The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org)