Often, we are asked to know ourselves and we feel proud in responding that I know myself as a soul and not this body, because this body is temporary and perishable. The soul is immortal and it keeps changing body one after the other. I feel proud of this spiritual entity and awakening which seems to make me head and shoulders above others around me in my social circle.
But another question that troubles me is whether others, of course people around me, are not souls like me or whether they are all mortals or whether their living is qualitatively just different or superior or inferior and so on. I am a bit perturbed but that lets me search for the answer from the experience of meditation and spiritual learning that I have been imparted over the last few years. We all accept that no two persons or souls, for that matter, are identical and alike.
But in the present living and in this society what makes spiritually inclined people different from those with faith in the material bliss and happiness? To begin with, it is their interpretation of the purpose of life and its ultimate goal. Some people believe, including some well-known intellectuals and writers like the late Khushwant Singh, that life is what appears to us on the surface and what can be visualised and experienced through sense organs. May be they also believe that future is uncertain and does not hold any good. So, for such people, life is the accumulation of more wealth and sources of joys and luxuries and enjoying them in the present.
However, people who seem to be spiritually awakened believe that life is much more than what meets the eye. The few years of material living are no more than a tip of the proverbial iceberg.
In brief, one may say that hedonists treat life as a bundle of few years lived and enjoyed in material goods and pleasures. Often these people do not believe in the philosophy of re-birth.
However, people who seem to be spiritually awakened believe that life is much more than what meets the eye. The few years of material living are no more than a tip of the proverbial iceberg. Man has lived a similar life before he came into the present existence and will surely lead another such living once he quits the present surroundings. In other words, the present life is just one out of the many that a soul is given to lead. They are inter-connected and their fundamental connection is through the deeds or actions generally called ‘Karma’ in philosophical terms. It is this quality of the karma in this life as well as in the previous ones that determines my joys and sorrows, bliss and sufferings and so on in the coming days. Naturally, this hope of future bliss inspires one to be good and inculcate virtues and divine qualities. Moreover, such a belief also helps one to undergo the suffering as the penance for the past sins and the sufferings remain no longer painful as otherwise they would be.
Such a knowledge, call it godly knowledge or wisdom–if you like–helps one gain joys and peace in the present life also, since their knowledge lends them a special type of contentment which may not be found in all material comforts and wealth. To the non-believers, it may be cynicism or the whim of superstitious people, but if you apply the same argument to their pleasure is it also not their being whimsical in feeling happy in gathering the pebbles of wealth and acquiring a lot many buildings while they may not be able to utilise even one, fully and completely?
Of course, that is the question of one’s choice. Some may be happy with the world, wealth and wine, while others love god, grace and goodness. However, someone should be there to decide whose peace and bliss is more lasting and qualitatively more appealing. Would you like to be the arbitrator?