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For many of us, this time of year is a race to the finish. As we look to wind up our chores, an important item must be added to the to-do list, writes SAROJA SRINIVASAN
This year has been a watershed year for me.
Pujya Swami Dayanandaji has left us. His discourses and writings have inspired me and countless others all over the world for many years.
From his profound knowledge of our ancient texts, in his talks in simple English with everyday examples, Swamiji distilled for his students an invaluable way of thinking and acting in our everyday life that will continue to inspire and lead us.
On personal reflection, the most salient lessons I have learned from him are what I would like to share here, as a tribute to a great scholar and teacher.
Two of the most important lessons are: one, we must reflect on what we have listened to, learned from our readings or discussions and put it into practice; and two, we must start afresh with what is given at the moment.
Swamiji often used the word ‘given’ and as we reflect on that word, we realise that ‘given’ is not constant in our lives.
Every moment brings with it change and we need to incorporate the change in the ‘given’ into our thinking if we want to progress.
Yes, it’s that time of the year. It’s time to take a mental stock within ourselves.
An inventory of our positives and negatives, both in our achievements as well as personal qualities, needs to be drawn up.
Often we stop with tangible achievements, the bank balance, and creation of other wealth or acquisition of property, as a gauge of our success.
True success in life is when our personal qualities favour the positives such as kindness, forgiveness, compassion and generosity rather than the negatives such as anger, hatred, arrogance and jealousy.
We all possess both qualities but it’s important that the ratio between them is anchored in favour of the positives.
We often hear that someone does not have the time any more to do what they would like to do.
Many activities including work, and relationships with family and friends, seem to have become ‘meaningless’ as many complain of ‘a lack of time’.
We reflect periodically so we may correct our erroneous thoughts, words and actions, to bring back the joy of life.
When statements about lack of time are made, one cannot but notice the superficiality of everything that is attempted.
Many abandon meaningful activities for want of time, yet always find time for many trivial ones.
A lot of energy is invested, for example, in chasing elusive goals that promise ‘happiness’ in some uncertain future.
Meanwhile, valuable time that could give intrinsic satisfaction, like time with loved ones, dwindles.
There are two facets to time.
One is the conventional everyday time, the construct wherein man has divided the interval between natural phenomena such as sun rise and sunset, the seasons, darkness and daylight into tangible measures such as seconds, minutes, days, weeks and years.
The other is the limitless cosmic time with neither beginning nor end, a different construct that can only be experienced.
This cosmic time is hard to describe in words. Yet, at moments of pure joy, time seems to stop as we revel in the moment.
We become lost in time.
The ephemeral time is often experienced when we talk of ‘taking time to heal’ as in the context when there is a trauma or loss of a loved one.
The lack of time to truly reflect on what may be the more important aspects of our existence, often results in the flitting away of valuable time on needless ventures. So what tangible finite time we have is squandered on chasing elusive goals.
It seems imperative that just as we clear the gardens of our homes of weeds, our mind-garden also needs to be cleared of ‘unwanted thoughts’ periodically.
We need to rid our minds of the inner space junk that accumulates over the years.
Otherwise we have a mind that is clogged with irrelevant information or trivia, and the truly worthwhile thoughts are unable to obtain nourishment.
As the year nears its end, this might be a good time to start on this reflection.
Time is needed to enter solitude.
Taking the time to regain the capacity to contemplate and appreciate the ravishing beauty of the creation around us infuses the love for life that is so badly lost in all the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Enjoying the beauty of nature is an experience, something that is to be ‘tasted’ rather than described.
If we take the time to experience the true beauty of our existence in all its true glory, the reward will be far greater than we ever imagined.