In The World But Not of the World


All human beings seek happiness. But, under the influence of ignorance, avidya, they seek for it in the external world of the senses. They enjoy a little bit, then lose it, and crave for more, while the real bliss, the permanent joy, a million times more blissful than the short-lived joys of the sensory world, is right there in the centre of their being. In the hearts of all human beings is the Atman, the reservoir for universal bliss and being.

Kabirdas illustrated this tragedy of man very well with the analogy of the musk-deer, which catches the odour of musk when the wind blows and searches for the source in the thorny bushes until its snout begins to bleed, not realizing that the musk is right there in a pouch under its own tail.

All that may be true, but you say that you can’t live in the world and yet be unattached. Your mother, our father, your wife, your children all care for you. They are so attached to you, how can you then remain unattached? What is overlooked here is that nobody cares that much for anybody else unless the link is spiritual, like that of a true master and true disciple. No one, for instance, would like to take your place and go instead of you when death strikes. This is the ultimate test.

This does not mean that one should run away from the world and climb mountains or live in a forest, or become a sannyasin. Sannyasa, certainly, is a great stage of life, and some say even he greatest. True, can everyone become a sannyasin? How many true sannyasins can you find these days? Are all people who wear ochre robes sannyasins? Many wear the robe as a means of earning a living. Many become sannyasins on the spur of the moment, and regret their rashness throughout their lives. They don’t have the courage to give it up, throw out their hypocrisy. There are others who merely wear the robe and live a more sensuous life than even the ordinary householder. Rarely do we find a true sannyasin, a diamond in the dung-heap.


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