Is Self-realisation Possible in Present Times?
One oft heard excuse for not pursuing spirituality is that the times are bad. Pujya Gurudevshri unequivocally refutes this misconception and encourages us to attain the divine goal in the current times.
One who yearns to become free from all sorrows must seek the Self, embark on the inner journey and be Self-focussed. Even after knowing this, one may not feel the enthusiasm to begin. Or having begun, one may become dejected en route. ‘Times are difficult’ is one of the excuses given.
The Myth About the Iron AgeMany spiritual seekers feel that the lack of success is due to bad times and so soon lose enthusiasm and impetus. The present fifth era of Jain scriptures or the Kalyug – iron age of Hindu scriptures, why is it called difficult? Unless you rightly understand this, your pursuit will not have zeal. And the success is dependent on right efforts, not on time.
It is important to understand what is time. Like soul, kaal or time has an independent existence. They have no direct cause and effect relationship between them. You are independent of time. Just as you are free to draw curtains to prevent light from entering the room, you are free to pursue the inner journey and attain realisation even in the fifth era.
Both Exist in All TimesWe hear that there were good days in the golden age and the present time is bad. Sons back answer their fathers, wives do not respect their husbands, and disciples insult their teachers. Why is the present so bad? But the amazing thing is that the people living in those good times had the same thing to say about their present times.
You find the excuse of time because when you remember great Ones like Mahavira, Buddha, and Rama; you do not think of the people of those times, their lifestyles, the violence, falsehood, stealing, possessiveness, indulgence, etc. And so, that time appears good. In comparison, present appears bad. You forget that these Masters were one amongst millions, and there were thousands even in the presence of these great Ones who did not attain the divine soul. Characters like Ravan existed even in the fourth era and those like Rama are present in this era too.
Scriptures are the TestimonyThe teachings of the Enlightened Ones are always suited to the need of the aspirants. Like newspapers, scriptures reflect the society of those times. They are recordings of the instructions given by the Tirthankars, acharyas, and saints in the past. If the scriptures say, ‘One must not speak untruth, not steal, not gamble, not have infidelity or indulge in prostitution’; it indicates that these activities prevailed even during Bhagwan Mahavira’s times.
If the instructions about cultivating dispassion and tranquillity were given, it shows that desires and passions were prevalent then too. But we focus only on who has given these instructions and not on those to whom they were given. Only when that is deliberated upon, you will realise that even then, there were those who indulged in evils.
The Responsibility is YoursThe mind convinces you that ‘time is bad’, not you. So you take your spiritual responsibility off your shoulders and throw it on time. If you do this, you will continue to live in darkness. You will strengthen your belief that the iron age is unsuitable and freedom is difficult. You are responsible for creating the iron age for you. If you believe that you are helpless, you will become weak, impotent and a slave.
He is a master who accepts that he is bad because of himself. He knows that his unawareness is because of him and not because of the times. He alone is responsible for his mistakes, negativities, passions, indolence, lack of spirit. When you know that you alone are responsible for not giving your best, you will try to overcome and give your best.
You Have to Make the ChoicePeople say that because of the iron age, you have to work very hard. This may be true but also remember that the times will not change, you will have to change. And that can happen in any age. Even during Rama’s time, not everyone was good. If all were good like Rama, then Rama would not have become famous. Because there were many ‘Ravanas’, Rama could distinctly stand out like the stars shining in the dark night. Think! How many must be immoral for Rama to get the title of the most moral man.
The good and the bad are present even in the present times. There are the Enlightened Ones so also the objects of sense pleasures. You must choose what is desirable to you. Rama or Ravana, both possibilities are there in you. What do you want to connect with and what do you want to become free from, you are free to make the choice.
Dharma is to Transcend TimeThe ultimate seeking of dharma is to transcend time. He who transcends both the golden age and the iron age is a saint. He does not live in time; He lives in the eternal. He has moved out of the confines of time – good or bad, established within, resting in the boundless.
To attain Self-realisation in the iron age is like lighting the lamp in the dark night. The darkness has no strength to obstruct lighting of the lamp. The moment you light the lamp, the darkness disappears. Therefore, do not try to find the excuse of darkness and prevent yourself from lighting the lamp. If you really wish to attain the highest goal, do not find the excuse of time and deprive yourself of pursuing Self-realisation.
Pursue DiligentlyYour ‘smart’ mind may come up with two excuses. The olden days were golden and these are very bad days therefore, the path is difficult. Or the golden days are on their way. Both mean the same, today is not the best day for practising dharma. Either yesterday was good or tomorrow will be good but not today. But understand that the intention of saints behind saying ‘present time is difficult’ is that we must pursue diligently and not slacken.
The soul is eternal, present in all periods of time. In the fourth era, in the fifth era. In the golden age, in the iron age. The soul is beyond time. He who transcends time abides in the Self. So the pursuit is to get detached from the time and not wait for the right time.
The Mind is the SameDo you think that five thousand years back, when someone sat to meditate, he did not get thoughts? Yes, there were no thoughts of car, because cars did not exist then. But that doesn’t mean thoughts did not arise. Not about cars, but about bullock cart or horse. A car is different from a bullock cart but there is no difference between their thoughts. Instead of good brand of cars, those days, it was about good breed of horses.
The object of thoughts may change but the thoughts were present then and are present now. Where there is no abidance in the Self, nor there is importance of the Self, wandering in the non-Self is certain. There will be same ambitiousness, same jealousy, same attachment, and same greed, with absolutely no difference.
The Way OutThe Enlightened Ones give us a new perspective to look at the ‘time’. The golden age and the iron age have existed at all times. If you are in tune with the Enlightened One and the truth, you are in the golden age. And if you befriend darkness, you are in the iron age. Do not blame the times. Increase your awareness. Choose the age you want to live in. Begin the right pursuit.
Do not try to defend yourself or search for an excuse; instead, accept that the cause of not being able to attain Self-realisation is absence of interest in it. If pursued with zeal, it can certainly be achieved. Become the master of your self. You alone are the cause of attainment and non-attainment of Self-realisation. Accepting this fact will not discourage you, but will bring greater enthusiasm. Make the most of what you have. Do not wait for better time. Make your present the best.