Comfortable in Misery
To a caged bird, captivity is the usual way of life. And similarly for us human beings, living in a world of impermanence, change, life, death and deceit has also become the usual way of life.
The nature of this world is such that happiness here will always be diluted by fear, comfort will always be severed by distress, and life will forever end in death.
Yet, we conveniently turn a blind eye to the truth, and try to make the most of what life has to offer us - thus trying to live comfortably in our misery. Rabindranath Tagore has beautifully said:
He whom I enclose with my name is weeping in this dungeon. I am ever busy building this wall all around; and as this wall goes up into the sky day by day I lose sight of my true being in its dark shadow.
Gitanjali - Song Offerings
When we look at a walnut, all we can appreciate is its shell. But the real essence of the walnut, the real fruit, is the kernel which is enclosed in that shell. Similarly, our reality is our soul and not the body or the mind, which enclose it and keep it bound to this creation.
Our soul has been held captive in this creation for countless ages, lulled into believing that this is what our existence is all about. No doubt some of us may be actually happy under the given circumstances, but that does not change the fact that we are still prisoners. Maharaj Charan Singh explains our predicament when he says:
Worldly achievements can never give you permanent happiness. From a C-class prisoner you will become an A-class prisoner.
Instead of iron chains you will be bound with golden chains. All the same, you will remain a prisoner.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
The mind has actually settled down quite well in this prison, and continuously endeavours to make it a more comfortable place to live in, but the question is, for how long can we camouflage the pain of our soul?
Tucked away deep within us there is a longing for permanent peace, happiness and the comfort of our true ‘home sweet home’, and no matter how much we ignore, disguise or anesthetize this feeling, the truth is that we will never be able to escape it.
If it wasn’t for the Masters who re-introduce us to the concept of freedom through their writings and who inspire us to seek it through their own living example, we would have continued to live comfortably in our misery.
We know now that life does not have to be an aimless shot at finding happiness; it can instead become a concrete and well-directed endeavour to attain our goal provided we are ready to work for it.
It is easy to follow trends and do what everyone else in the world is doing; it is easy to find things to keep busy with in order to ease the pain. But it takes courage to face the reality, it takes courage to accept it, and it takes even more courage to take the steps to fix it.
Compromising with misery is undoubtedly the smooth ride down the slope, and fighting for freedom the difficult up-hill fight. The first will keep us drifting in this labyrinth of birth and death, while the other will lead us to union with God.
Maulana Rum says:
All worldly people are prisoners, awaiting the stroke of death; save for that rare brave one, who in the prison hath his body, but in heaven his soul.
Mysticism, The Spiritual Path, Vol. II
We have wasted enough time ignoring the plea of our soul, giving in to the dictates of the mind. It is now time to break free from our bondage. Master has confidently unfastened the doors of our prison-cell and is offering us his help; all that is left for us to do is escape.
If we do take the plunge, then we must also have faith and believe that with our Master’s grace, true comfort will no more be a distant hope but a forthcoming reality.
God has planted in your heart the desire to search for him. Do not look at your weaknesses but focus on the search. Every seeker is worthy of this search. Strive to redouble your efforts, so that your soul may escape from this material prison.
Rumi, A Spiritual Treasury