When we understand that desire is all a matter of degree, and the same matter occupies the ant as well as the elephant, we will attain divine wisdom and insight, writes Ronjoy Bordoloi.

A  few months ago, when the corona pandemic was at its peak, a particular group of people were blamed for the whole outspread, and many outrageous comments inflamed social media platforms. Going with the flow, I also posted a comment, and as expected, there were comments and anti-comments regarding the same. All was well until a debate ensued with a close friend, which did not end up well and I was vehemently trolled by my friends, which made me delete the comment immediately. I was actually stunned by their reaction, as a small comment on a particular sect was taken as an attack on the whole community.

Tolerance has been an integral part of Indian culture, and its depletion in recent times, in the name of caste, creed, and religion, is a matter of serious concern. Even within communities and belief systems, there still exists various caste-based divisions, and each divided creed has an innate rivalry with every other division. These divisions have dented the strong communal walls of the Indian edifice, and are threatening to annihilate a rich legacy of mutual respect and brotherhood.

The Facebook incident made me reconsider many of my old beliefs, and innumerable questions arose in my mind. Was it wrong for me to exercise my right to freedom and expression? How can any community be intolerant against other communities or religions? Was it not a moral responsibility to raise voices against fanaticism and/or bigotry? In fact, why are there so many religions, communities, and separatism in the first place? Why this obsession with God, Allah, Yahweh, etc.? Where is this God? Why do various religions claim their way of life to be better than others? The massacres and mob lynching cases in the name of caste, class, politics, and needless to say, religion… is India becoming hollow inside? Why does a particular class of people claim more privileges than others, only because they belong to the ‘upper class’, and claim to have more knowledge and education, power, and money? The list is long and answers are few. Hopelessness engulfed me and made me sick, morally and intellectually.

But then, as if by divine intervention piercing through the darkness, rays of light, in all its glory and grandeur, soothed my eyes. I found the answer – I had touched upon the truth, the one, whole and sole truth! It was a moment of profound realisation. My lost soul was groping in the darkness, searching for answers, whereas the very essence of that grand understanding lay deep within me, in my own self! All divisions and delusions vanished, and I saw the Supreme Being in everything, in every atom, in the sun, in me…. everywhere!

Apparently, the solution lies in the Vedanta philosophy of ancient India. All great saints and seers had preached the profound truth embedded in the Vedas and other scriptures, right from Gautam Buddha to Adi Shankaracharya, from Patanjali to Vivekananda, and many others, thus becoming beacons for lost humanity, showing the right path amidst darkness.

Desire is the seed of all miseries in the world. From desire, which, in Indian philosophy, is termed as maya, all unhappiness and sorrow originates, for when that thing which we desire or are attached to is taken away from us, we feel sad. This creates an apparent void in our souls, resulting in bondage – we become slaves of our senses. Different desires of our minds activate different pleasure centres in the body and we feel good, thinking it to be a permanent state of mind, thinking we can remain in that sense of enjoyment for eternity. We forget that change is the very nature of this universe. It is inevitable. Nothing remains the same in this world. Good times will give way to bad times, and vice-versa. When we are faced with troubled times, pain grips our senses, which, in turn, controls every aspect of our lives. This slavery is what has been termed as maya.

So, what do we do? We cry out for our miserable lives and approach regrettably towards our doom? No! There is a way to remove the impregnable cloak of maya. And, that way lies within us. We are the solution!

When we start understanding that the ‘infinite’ is within us, that we are all different manifestations of the same Supreme Being, witnessing itself in and through us, all divisions, all ignorance will collapse and the whole world will be seen as One Complete Whole, expressing itself in billions of ways. We will become masters of our senses and by controlling them, we shall discard all desires and attachments and regain our lives.

According to Vedanta philosophy, we are all just going through different stages of evolution until we find our ‘ultimate liberation’; for consciously or unconsciously, we are all thriving towards the same freedom – freedom from bondage, slavery, and senses. Doing our duties, without falling prey to any kind of attachments and/or without any desire for the fruits of our actions, we fall out from the wheel of karma and maya, and attain salvation, which is unification with the One Infinite Supreme Soul!

When we understand this, we will be calm and composed under all circumstances, because nothing will have power over us. When we understand that it is all a matter of degree and the same concern occupies the ant as well as the elephant, we will attain divine wisdom and insight.

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