Pratiksha Apurv says her painting, ‘Beyond Greed’, portrays the liberation of an ecstatic singer-seeker.

Published in ‘The Speaking Tree’, Delhi, India, 16.8.13

In spirituality, the term ‘liberation’ has been used to explain the ultimate objective of sadhana –freeing oneself from human life-cycle, attaining a stage where the soul is liberated and merged into Ultimate Reality. The stage is known as moksha, where everything ends, even the very thought of liberation. However, the beginning of this spiritual journey and the idea of liberation is often mixed with greed.

The moment we take the first step in meditation or into our spiritual journey, the desire for the ultimate is sown. This is interesting because the idea of moksha is born out of desire to put an end to rebirth. Now, this desire makes no sense when we talk about liberation because desire is fickle and liable to change depending on the situation. And this desire is scary. It is the only obstacle between a meditator and the stage of liberation. But our conditioning is so strong that we add more desires, raising more obstacles in the journey.

Tomorrow Is Another Day
Today, you have a certain desire, but it is inconsistent because tomorrow you will have another. The desire will keep changing without transforming your inner Self in the true sense. With a new desire, you may get an idea that inner transformation is likely to change, but unfortunately, that is only leading to deeper bondage.

Total liberation is possible when there is no desire. When the great master Naropa became enlightened, someone out of curiosity asked him, “Naropa, have you achieved liberation now?” Naropa said, “Yes and no. Yes, because there is no bondage now, but since there is no bondage, liberation has also disappeared, that is why I say ‘no’.”

Beyond Greed, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 2012

Beyond Greed, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 2012

Naropa was the disciple of the great Indian Master Tilopa. He thought for a moment and added, “Both were part of it and now I’m beyond – neither in bondage nor in liberation.”

Your spiritual journey has to go beyond desire. One has to be careful of the tricks the mind plays in enforcing desire and greed. The moment you drop desire and greed for moksha, transformation becomes possible. Try to understand the trick the mind plays as it goes on desiring. One should use the awareness to transform greed and desire into trust in existence. One should express gratitude for what existence has given.

Once, Narada, a great Indian sage, was on his way to see God. His meeting with God used to be very interesting as Narada was also a great traveller and full of information about what was happening around the world. In true sense, he was like the first mythological journalist, bringing peoples’ news to God and informing people about what God had to say on certain issues. So while playing God’s hymns on the veena, Narada came across an old saint sitting under a tree.

The old saint told Narada, “Please ask God one question on my behalf. I have made all the effort needed to last me three lifetimes, now how much more is needed? When is my liberation going to happen?” Narada assured him that the next time he meets God he will ask this question.

As he crossed another forest, he came across a young man dancing and playing on his musical instrument —ektara. Just to tease the young fellow, Narada asked him, “Do you have any question for God, would you like to know anything from him?”

The young man behaved as if he had not heard what Narada said. He was totally immersed in his song and dance.

Narada returned after a few days. He told the old saint, “I asked God about you. He said three more lifetimes.” Narada’s reply got the old saint into a rage. He threw away the beads and books saying, “It is absolutely unjust, three lives more. This is not what I expected from God.”

Convey My Thanks
Narada laughed. He then went to see the young man who was still dancing, singing and playing on his ektara. Narada said, “Although you did not have any question for God, I asked him about you. But after seeing the angry reaction of the old saint, I’m scared to to tell you his answer.”

Again, the young man behaved as if he hadn’t heard Narada. He continued with his singing. Finally, gathering some courage, Narada said, “When I asked about you, God said ‘Tell the young man who is singing my prayers that he will have to be born as many times as there are leaves on the tree under which he is dancing.”

Listening to what Narada said, the young man started dancing and singing even more ecstatically. He said, “Don’t tell me, it’s unbelievable, so fast? There are so many trees in the world and so many leaves… only this tree and these many leaves? When you next go to God, give him my gratitude, my thanks.”

And it is mentioned in the epics that the young man became liberated that very moment. Liberation happened under the same tree in the presence of Narada. If totality of trust arises inside, time becomes meaningless. It is not needed. However, if there is no trust, even three-four lifetimes are not enough for liberation.