There is a tendency that many of us share and it is that, when faced with difficult circumstances, we respond by rushing out into the world, looking for solace. When events in life make us feel miserable and unhappy, we seem to have trained ourselves to respond by looking for solutions that may well take us further away from our goal and objective in life.
In this context, it may safely be said that the event itself is quite unimportant, compared to our reaction to it. It could be that we are feeling lonely, we could be stressed by events at work or at home, we could be suffering physical pain from illness or injury, or we could be disappointed in our relationships with others. The list is potentially endless. The important thing is how we react and why.
Whether we are aware of it or not, over time we have learned to react to certain events in the way we do. What we are trying to do is identify the things in our life that are hurting us and find ways to eliminate them. Our habits may well drive us into the world, looking for comfort, and our attention goes down and out and we act accordingly. And where our attention goes, our actions follow. This may have negative consequences: chief among these is that we incur still more karmas.
The general wisdom of our worldly peers seems to be that we should “eat, drink and be merry, for who knows what tomorrow will bring!” So there are many who might blindly rush out into the world, perhaps even engage in wanton debauchery, to distract themselves from the reality in which they find themselves. But we do not have to throw ourselves down into that pit. After all, who is accountable for the actions that we perform? Only we are.
We have to think about the consequences of our actions before we perform them. We should consider whether our actions will have a good and positive outcome or, at best, provide us with momentary solace. In the long term our actions might either make no impact or have a negative result. The traditional response to feeling miserable has frequently been to indulge in sense pleasures.
If we go down that road, however, will it provide us with anything resembling a solution to our misery or unhappiness? The more honestly we approach this issue, the more likely we are to realize that it is not possible to solve any problem in this way. It becomes increasingly obvious when we realize that the basis for our feeling miserable or unhappy has little to do with the apparent cause.
This may seem strange, but consider this: if you were able, at will, to be in your Master’s presence inside, would you actually care about these situations that are making you feel bad? Probably not. If you could be in his presence at any moment, would you even care about anything out here?
This tells us about the true nature of this misery we sometimes feel. It is not because the circumstances in which we find ourselves are negative. They are just circumstances – they can always be translated into practical problems for which we can find practical solutions.
We react this way -we feel miserable and unhappy -because of another type of problem completely. We are unhappy because we are in a state of separation from our Beloved. Whether consciously or unconsciously, this is the root of our condition. This is the primal cause of our dissatisfaction with life. Our attempts to find solace in the world and in sense pleasures are doomed, because they are utterly unable to address the underlying cause of our condition.
By going out we can never properly address a situation that has arisen within. We need to redirect our attention to the reality that lies within us. This is the only possible solution to the situation in which we all find ourselves.
So how do we do that? When a feeling of melancholia hits us, when unhappiness strikes, what do we do if we are to avoid going down the same old road that we have always taken, and which has never given us any lasting solution? We need to think of our Master. This is the first thing that we need to do. This establishes the correct focus. This brings our attention to the one hope of a solution. Our Master is the one being who has given us the method and the means to resolve this situation once and for all.
Having remembered our Master is the first step. Then we should do simran, because no matter where we are, no matter in what circumstances we find ourselves, we can always think of our Master and do simran.
If at all possible, it would be even better if we were able to retire from the world, go to our room, close the door and draw the curtains, and then sit and meditate – pouring all our emotions into it, directing that deep sense of separation into the contemplation of our Beloved. This is what will draw us closer and closer to him and bring a lasting solution to our worldly problem.
This practice, once established as a new habit, will ultimately put us beyond the range of the negativity that we now experience in the world. This is what will bring us into the presence of the Master within, which in itself is the ultimate panacea for all ills and the gateway to eternal peace, love and bliss.