The inner light

From Pratiksha Apurv's desk

Let life lead us towards our inner spiritual experience, suggests Pratiksha Apurv. Published in Speaking Tree, February 17, 2019.

All through our growing-up years, we were often advised to “gain more knowledge, accumulate as much as you can because it is never enough.” It sounds wise, but too much knowledge can have a negative impact. Knowledge can be a great deceiver, and could become a bondage if we go on accumulating it. It starts burdening our self, instead of liberating us. We presume that knowledge has helped us grow, but actually we remain the same. Eventually, with all this accumulated knowledge, we may become a scientist or a scholar, but there would always be darkness lurking within us.

Be a light unto yourself
Be a Light Unto Yourself, Pratiksha Apurv

Borrowed knowledge, by way of reading books and scriptures, does not help in connecting with our own being; there is no inner spark. Deep down there is a mist of gloom, a vacuum, an emptiness, and a realisation that all the pain endured in the process of gathering knowledge has been a futile exercise.

We should realise that the moment we drop the attitude of being knowledgeable, accept that we don’t know ourselves, and whatever has been collected has come from others and is not our own, we will attain redemption.

This insight becomes the first step towards living in the present with awareness, and not just knowledge. And slowly, as we live our lives in this awareness, something explodes inside, illuminating our being. Only then wisdom dawns in the true sense.

Accumulated knowledge and the baggage of information within us veils the lamp within; with the realisation of not knowing anything begins the process of the removal of the veil. One day, when everything is dropped, and we are totally in the present with spontaneity, we can feel the glowing lamp at the innermost core. According to Osho, at that very moment, you become a lamp unto yourself, just as the Buddha says.

A conversation is said to have taken place between Gautama Buddha and his chief disciple Ananda, just before the former was ready to leave his body. The Buddha asked Ananda why he was crying bitterly, and the latter said, “What are we going to do now since we followed everything in your light and felt safe and secure?” Ananda said that once his master was gone, there would only be darkness. To which the Buddha replied: “You walked with me for so many years and yet you couldn’t connect to your own inner light.”

His message to Ananda was simple, that despite following his footsteps for years, he couldn’t find his own light, and even if the Buddha was going to live for a few more years, Ananda would still walk in ‘borrowed light’. The Buddha’s last words to him were: “Appo Deepo Bhava” [Be a Light Unto Yourself]. It had tremendous impact on Ananda, and it is said that the very next day, Ananda became enlightened. When he opened his eyes, it had the same spark, same gleam that people saw in the Buddha’s eyes.

Osho says that if you surrender to life, you become a light unto yourself. Life leads you and you begin to live in enlightenment. “Be open, vulnerable, but remain on your own, because finally a religious experience cannot be a borrowed experience. It has to be your personal experience for it to be authentic. If I say something and you believe in it, it is not going to help. If I say something and you search, and you surrender, and you trust, and you also experience the same – then it has become a light unto yourself.”

Kabir also urges us to open the door within, instead of clinging to the outside world. In one of his dohas, he says, “Grah chandra tapan jyot varat hai”, meaning “look within and behold the moonbeam of that Hidden One that shines within you.”

Ultimately, everyone has to undertake one’s own spiritual journey. One has to seek, search and follow the path of the great masters like the Buddha, Kabir and Osho. The experience of the masters have to be experienced individually, and their truths have to be rediscovered by us individually by going through the same fire, sadhana; only then would the inner lamp glow. We must listen to the master in total surrender, because only he can guide us on that path. We should do it without clinging to his words, otherwise we will miss the hidden moon and merely cling to the master’s finger. We will miss the opportunity for that intense search towards our own inner light.

Our scriptures as well as the Buddha are very clear that a master’s truth cannot be the disciple’s truth; a master’s light cannot be our light. We can only absorb the directions, but the inner search has to be our own, so that we can kindle the light within us.

In the Bhagwad Gita, Krishna says that the source of light, the truth, the divinity, is within us: Jyotisam api taj jyotis, tamasam param uchyate, jnanam jneyam jnana-gamyam, hridi sarvasya visthitam – ‘He is the source of light in all luminous objects. He is beyond the darkness of matter and is unmanifested. He is knowledge, He is the object of knowledge, and He is the goal of knowledge. He is situated in everyone’s heart’. The words of our sages are like a strong light that dazzles us for a moment, and then it is gone. One has only to absorb that light and their words, and implement them in our lives to attain our own inner light.

We need not cling to anything, though we can learn from everyone; we need not blindly follow anybody, but let life lead us to the path created by existence, towards our own inner spiritual experience.

Quote by Osho from Ancient Music in the Pines, Ch 4, Q 1

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