Through the ages, so much has been written about the spiritual seeker – ranging from yoga journals and self help books to religious scriptures and deep and insightful literature from legendary philosophers. The seeker’s journey has been charted out and explained in great detail. Guidance from various sources is available to those who are looking for enlightenment, or simply a better way to live their life. Seekers sometimes undertake long, arduous journeys from all corners of the world to find spiritual guidance and wisdom. There are organizations dedicated to the cause of helping spiritual seekers, which offer countless practices and approaches for achieving the goal of life. We are all seekers of the ultimate truth, investing considerable energy into learning how to refine our process of seeking.
Imagine for a moment that we don’t have to go anywhere, or to do anything except simply sit wherever we are, and allow ourselves to be found? Imagine that heavens are waiting to enter our heart, right here and now! What a powerful concept! How do we make this a reality and allow ourselves to be found? How do we create such a state where the higher presence naturally settles within our hearts?
The answer possibly lies in cultivating the seeds of contentment within our hearts. We will come back to this idea, but to understand its significance, let us contemplate the type of environment that would attract the Ultimate.
Think of the innocence of small children who content themselves with their toys and games, with the implicit confidence that their parents are taking care of all their basic needs. Food, shelter, clothing, education and even entertainment – in whatever form these are available – are blissfully taken for granted by children till a certain stage is reached. One can say children enjoy a state of ‘independence in dependency’! A child’s heart is free from any burdens – it is simple and pure. Innocence is its natural condition, making such a heart an ideal abode for the divine. What happens as we grow older?
As young adults, we start seeking our own version of life. Actually, the first part, the youthful days of life are spent mostly in pursuit of pleasure, satisfying the senses and building our intellect. The ego develops and we transition into a state of ‘dependent freedom’ – we like to make our own choices and think we are free but our happiness depends on so many external factors. We become proud of our accomplishments and tie our happiness to them.
As we proceed through life, in most cases, this progresses further into a state of complete bondage internally and externally. We become slaves of our desires and are bound by external conditions, while breeding discontent and frustration internally. Even in old age, though there is apparent wisdom backed by life’s experiences, we often find people pining for their prime years that have passed, or expecting a glorious afterlife based on the suffering they are going through. The desires have not left, but have merely transformed from pleasure-oriented desires in youth to ego-satisfying desires as we age: the desire for praise, recognition, fame, a legacy to leave behind, and so on. It's a complex gamut of existence where desires run underneath when the body cannot cooperate, and on top of that the legacy of fulfilment! Often it is a regretful situation where one has spent the whole life waiting for such an old age in anticipation of devoting life for the fulfilment of the higher purpose.
Where has the state of innocence gone? If a state of innocence and a desire-free heart are the ideal abode for God, it would seem that our early childhood is our best chance of experiencing this! Perhaps this is actually the case, and the higher presence does dwell in the innocent hearts of children, only to be hidden or refused an abode as a person grows more complex and grosser.
Consider this situation of a warm, comfortable, familiar home changing into a uninviting, foreboding place with strange, fearful characters. Would you like to stay in such a place? Would the Lord like to reside in a heart that is pulled in different directions by various desires, which contains the thorns of pride and jealousy, and has become a warehouse of complex emotions? This is why a sad, discontent or angry heart deflects sublime grace, to the extent that we are unable to believe that God is seeking us!
How do we restore the innocence and purity of our childhood, when life inevitably draws us into situations that demand difficult choices, competition for survival and self-preservation? How do we cultivate the seeds of contentment in our heart, which flower into a state of desire-free innocence and purity?
It starts with a simple suggestion that everything we need is already present within us. All the love of the world, the beauty of life, the seed of perfection is present in our heart represented as a source of light. This suggestion is strengthened through actual experience in meditation, as the idea of light leads to a feeling of an inner presence. This inner presence becomes a reality as our consciousness expands, and we become aware of a wholeness of being. When we begin to experience this state of wholeness and perfection at our core, the clouds of discontent and ignorance start to dissolve. The heart regains its light and innocent nature.
Under such circumstances, the egoless heart, the humble heart, automatically draws the heavens towards itself. Such a heart is perfectly adjusted to its external circumstances. It creates heaven around itself.