"One cannot solve a problem on the very level of understanding with which it was created." - Albert Einstein

We live in a constantly changing world. The external situations, environments, people, our own body and mind are constantly in flux. The turbulence is all over and it can be quite overwhelming at times. How can we expect to be peaceful in this world of chaos, how can we be tranquil in this world of turbulence is the subject matter of this blog. We can't escape from our present situation and run to a peaceful place to experience peace. And even if we are able to manage to do it still, our constantly changing, restlessly moving and aimlessly wandering mind will accompany us. What is the way out of this matrix? Let's see...

Bhagvat-gita starts with Arjuna experiencing a state of great turbulence within his heart. His heart was being torn apart between duty and family attachment. In this state of mental turbulence, he surrendered to Lord Krishna and begged for His guidance. The first teaching that Lord Krishna tells Arjuna is that, he is a spirit soul and not this body. One might wonder, why is Lord Krishna speaking spiritual knowledge when Arjuna has a practical problem? Because, Lord Krishna knows that until one is situated on the spiritual platform, one cannot peacefully navigate through the difficult waters of life. As Albert Einstein said - "one cannot solve a problem on the very level of understanding with which it was created". One has to solve it from a higher level of operation. That is exactly Lord Krishna's style for dealing with the crisis in Arjuna's life. Therefore, spiritual life is not a hobby or a luxury but a necessity. As long as one is anchored to the bodily and mental platform, one's life will always be unstable. Stability and peace is only possible when one is anchored to the spiritual platform. The only peaceful place in the storm is the eye of the storm similarly, the only peaceful place in this stormy world is in being situated in the spiritual platform. That is the only constant in this world of variables.

Here are few simple analogies and meditations to appreciate, how coming to the spiritual platform will help us be sober, view life from a neutral point of view and thus experience peace amidst flux and chaos.

The River
Just like a river is constantly moving and the art on it's surface constantly changing similarly, this world is constantly changing and constantly moving - it is never stable. If someone enters into the water of the river, he will also be caught up in it's turbulence and experience agitation but if he chooses to sit on the banks and silently watch the river, he will not only be peaceful while watching the chaos in the river but can also hope to gain some wisdom from it and make sense of it all. This is one of the best way to live in this world  - as a neutral observer. Our situations, body and mind are part of this river of time - they are already in the flux - we don't have much control of them. Our control is to realise that we are not in this river - we, as spirit souls are outside this river. We will not be affected by these changes provided we don't identify with our changing situations, body and mind. Our soul is always peaceful, it is only this mis-identification with changing matter that makes us loose touch with our inherent peace. Whenever we feel agitated, we just need to give up our mistaken identification and be situated in our original state and we will experience peace.

The Movie
All of us might have surely watched a movie in a theater and experienced deep emotions during it. How do we experience the same emotions that the actors on the screen are displaying? Simple. It is only because we get so involved with the movie for the time being that we forget who we are and start identifying with the movie characters as ourselves. We forget that we are not the active actors in the movie on the screen but a passive observer of the movie outside the screen. Life too is a movie, a drama in play with our body and mind as active actors. But, we as spirit souls are not the actors but the silent witness to this drama of life. Just like a movie contains varied situations similarly the movie of life will go through various situations - good, bad, ugly, sad, tragic and so on. If we identify with these situations, our life and our state of mind and heart will be controlled and manipulated by them. What we need to understand is that we, not the movie or the situations in the movie or the characters in the movie - we are just a silent spectator to this drama. This is the formula to experience peace irrespective of what the movie of life is projecting at us now.

The Moon
The Srimad-Bhagvatam gives another brilliant example to explain this point. This is a fascinating analogy. It mentions that in the night we may see the reflection of the moon in a lake and the nature of the reflection is such that when the wind blows, the shape of the reflection changes depending on the direction of the wind and the ripples in the lake. But the fact is that the moon is unaffected and peacefully fixed in the sky. It does not change. What changes is - the reflection of the moon and not the moon. Similarly, it appears that we change and get affected by the changes and movements of the time factor but in reality nothing happens to us, we are untouched and unaffected being always above all these dualities. Our only problem is our attachment to our reflection in this world as our mind and body. It is this false attachment to our illusory self that makes us vulnerable and disturbed by the changes of this world. If we just give up this false ego, we can at once be at peace even amidst chaos.

We can use these meditations from time to time to pull us out of our current of life and gain some clarity and calmness.

How does one operate from this spiritual position on a day to day basis? Is it practically possible to experience this stage of consciousness given our past, deep-seated conditioning and misgivings? All the holy scriptures and all the great saints of every tradition unequivocally voice that the best and the easiest way to reach this spiritual platform is by chanting the Holynames of God. The chanting of the Holynames at once transports our consciousness to our original spiritual state and gives us a glimpse of the truth. We can now see the world, our life and life situations from the vantage point of truth. Because the Supreme Lord is transcendental, being in connection with Him puts us also in a transcendental state, at least as long as we are in connection with Him. Here are few simple, real life stories that show us how application of this principle of chanting can give us the experience of tranquility amidst turbulence. These are my all time favorite stories from 'The Journey Home', the memoir of Radhanath Swami. 

The Confluence
Once Radhanath Swami was caught in a quicksand on the bank of the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna at Prayag. Somehow with great difficulty he managed to extricate himself from this mire and entered into the rivers. Now, all he had to do was to swim across Yamuna's mild current. But it wasn't as easy as it seemed because he was challenging the mighty current of Ganga. No matter how hard he swam, Mother Ganga kept forcing him back to the quicksand. Overtaken by exhaustion, he could no longer fight against the current. Trying feverishly to survive he prayed for mercy. Suddenly, hope appeared. About two hundred feet ahead, a small fishing boat passed. On it stood a fisherman. Still chopping against the current, Radhanath screamed out for help again and again. Finally, the fisherman spotted him, smiled, waved his hand in the forward direction and glided past him, leaving him to drown. Radhanath's final hope drowned with this. 

Then something wonderful happened. Submerged under water, on the verge of death, the Holynames of Krishna awakened in his heart. Silently reciting this mantra, he resigned to die in the holy Ganga. The mantra of the Holynames bought a state of peace beyond fear. Suddenly, a thought flashed his mind, "Why did the fisherman wave his hand in the forward direction? What did it mean?" It dawned on him that the fisherman was telling him to not fight against the Ganga but to flow with the current and slowly maneuver out. Radhanath Swami survived this episode but with a lesson learnt that the chanting of the Holynames can not only give us the experience of peace amidst chaos but also give us insights to the solution out of our chaos.

The Snake
Another time in the holyland of Vrindavan, Radhanath Swami suffering a bout of dysentry squatted in the bushes to the screaming call of nature (the Indian village style of evacuation). Out of the blue, an enormous snake crawled out of the bushes and slithered towards him. It was about six feet long and two inches thick, yellowish with greenish spots. It's triangular head showed that it was poisonous. The reptile fixed it's stony stare on Radhanath, crawled on top of his squatting bare feet and rested it's chilly body on him. "What an inglorious way to die", he thought. This world is such that at the least expected moment, calamities strike. As during the episode with Ganga, he chanted the Holynames with all his heart and soul. Then, exactly as his previous experience, he gradually began to feel peace through the inconceivable power of the mantra. He could now see the snake not as an enemy but as a brother. He rejoiced in this state of mind. Minutes passed while the serpent kept staring into his eyes. Then, slowly it turned it's head and slithered back into the bushes. Humbled by this experience, Radhanath Swami reflected : 

"Today the Lord has revealed to me what a tiny child I am on the spiritual path. When a child is in danger, his only means of protection is in appealing to his father and mother. And today the Father and Mother of this tiny child have come in the form of Their Holynames to give me shelter."

These stories show us the power of the sincere chanting of the Holynames to award one peace, shelter, hope and protection. The Holynames of God are our only shelter, the only constant in this world of change, the only absolute truth in this world of relative truths, the only reality in this world of illusion. The best way to deal with the problems of this world is to transcend it by chanting His Holynames. That's precisely what spiritual life is about. It is the art of "being in this world but not of this world". We think that peace is achieved by solving all our problems but the truth is that, achieving peace is the solution to all our problems. In fact, we can't even begin understanding what our problems are without coming to a peaceful platform. And the only way to achieve peace is by being situated on the spiritual plane. There is no other alternative to it. Whenever we are affected by the dualities of this world, we can see it as sign for us to be reinstated in our spiritual platform. I will end this article with an apt extract from a letter written by Srila Prabhupada. This will sum up the thought process of a spiritualist in dealing with the chaos within and without. 

"Physically and mentally we may be disturbed sometimes, but we have to stand erect on the spiritual platform. I may inform you in this connection that I am at the moment physically unfit; I am having always a buzzing sound in my brain. I cannot sleep soundly at night, but still I am working because I try to be in my position of spiritual platform.'' - letter to Yamuna, Harsarani - 15 January 1968

Wishing you all the best in your effort to be situated on the spiritual platform.
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of ISKCON Desire Tree | IDT to add comments!

Join ISKCON Desire Tree | IDT