the big questions

books choosing you spirituality

Near, where I live, there is a donations and recycling centre with bins, each for depositing various items… clothing, newspapers and magazines, and books. The book donation bin is often so full that it is overflowing. Although the books are all to be donated to charity, I can’t help but have a look. Each time I venture inside the treasure trove that is the book donation bin, I am in awe of the amazing coincidence that the book waiting there for me seems to be just the book I need, the right title to answer a question I’ve been musing on, a book with just the information I have been seeking. And then there are those surprises… topics and titles that I never knew would grab me that open my eyes to something that perhaps was missing from my life.

My most recent visit resulted in a first pull of a book titled The Perfection of Yoga by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. This small, 56 page, easy to read and understand book attempts to cut “through the commercialism that now clouds the real meaning of yoga”. In it, the author brings to light some of the main lessons from the Bhagavad Gita in an attempt to show us what yoga truly is and how we can call upon this knowledge to live a life of peace. While the method put forth in this tiny book may not be for everyone, there is certainly much wisdom within it’s pages.

One passage in particular grabbed me instantly, not because there was an answer, but because there was a great question posed to my mind. The passage says, “We must always remember that we are in a material circumstance wherein at every moment our mind is subject to agitation. Actually we are not in a very comfortable situation. We are always thinking that by changing our situation we will overcome our mental agitation, and we are always thinking that when we reach a certain point, all mental agitations will disappear. But it is the nature of the material world that we cannot be free from anxiety. Our dilemma is that we are always trying to make a solution to our problems, but the universe is so designed that these solutions never come”. How many times have you found yourself in a situation that you would do anything to be out of? Did you grapple with the difficulties and the questions, search endlessly for solutions, talk to as many people as you could to see what they would do? So how does one overcome the mental agitations? Are they overcomable (I like to make up new words)?

After reading this paragraph the main question in my mind was, how do we overcome the challenges of our day-to-day lives? And in posing this question I realize that I am actually asking some part of me which is connected somehow to a higher being. Call it soul, call it God, call it Banana-rama-ding-dong. But I found myself asking this question to the place within that has no location. Listen… hear it?… you have it too. It’s that place where we go to ask our deepest questions and to find our most profound truths. We go to that place, whether we realize it or not, no matter to what degree, when we feel we need answers. Even the least spiritual and non-believing people find themselves asking someone or something for help when in dire circumstances, for example, when a loved one is dying. At least for a brief moment we turn within, to our divine guidance.

What happens next is the clue for where we are along the path of living a life of peace. If you are like me, usually after a moment of profound clarity, my mind… that monkey of a mind… goes a’swingin’ through the trees. “I know! What if I just do this?… Oh! I haven’t tried that before!… You know who has a lot of experience with this? Bob! I’ll ask him!… That seems too difficult, better try something else!…” and on and on it goes, calling on our past experiences and knowledge base to try to “help” us solve the puzzle. This puzzle solving capability is a great tool for perhaps making a sandwich… “right, first bread, then cheese.. no no… meat first, THEN cheese… yes, that is it…” or for keeping us alive, “yes, the light is green, which means go, but I see this car has run the red light and I’d better wait”. We are great at solving the puzzles of day-to-day life! Yay for us! But when it comes to the BIG questions like “What should I do with my life?” or “What is my purpose?” and “How can I invite more love, compassion and abundance into my life?” we need to realize that we cannot solve these questions with the same brain function that we use to make a sandwich. What then are we to do?

I would very much like to write this special formula with which we can all figure out the answers to life’s great questions… but alas, I cannot. Did you get a little twinge of disappointment in your gut? Yeah, me too. Wouldn’t it be great if it were that simple? Perhaps the answer is that simple; the path could be labeled as difficult, but no less difficult than continuing to get blown about by the gusty winds of life. So let us go within to that simple, quiet space that is spirit residing within us and spend some time learning to unlearn how to “solve” our problems using conventional knowledge. Let’s make that leap of faith that we are indeed eternal beings and in our human form we are grappling with the material world and that these struggles are yet another opportunity for us to choose to go within.

When I get to the end of having read an article similar to this one I’ve just written, I usually say to myself, “yes, well that was all good and true and resonated with me, but where is the answer?” So I am going to spell it out in black and white. The answer is within. Find a method that works for you to lead you to that quiet space of knowing. Whatever method that is, do it, and do it often.

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