Journeying within

From Pratiksha Apurv's desk Media Watch

“A fine balance between the material and spiritual worlds is needed,” writes Pratiksha Apurv. Published in Times of India and Speaking Tree on December 26, 2020.

Times of India

Inner Journey, Painting by Pratiksha Apurv
‘Inner Journey’ by Pratiksha Apurv, 40″x30″, Oil on canvas, 2006

Several websites guide us on packing essentials before leaving the house. Some also run interactive pages on social media platforms like ‘ultimate packing checklist’ as well as ‘must have in your suitcase’ list. The Kaivalya Upanishad too had a checklist for a different yatra, to the inner world. On this inner journey of a meditator no suitcase or backpack is required instead, ‘Shraddha, bhakti, dhyana yogad avaihi’ – ‘Humility, devotion and meditation’ – are what one needs to journey from mind to soul, from the outer to the inner world.

But why do we need to take this journey towards our inner core? Because, a one-sided journey is like a tree but without its roots. As we grow into the outer world, the requirement to nourish the inner world increases manifold. But, because of our intense identification with the mind, our whole attention is focussed on the outer. We may spend our whole life wandering around in the outer world, without realising that our inner world remains an uncharted journey, and our presence there is much awaited.

The shraddha, as mentioned in the Kaivalya Upanishad, is about our attitude towards the master and indicates that before we even step inward, the guru’s guidance is required. And that is why ancient sages have advised that outer world journeys might be tempting, but to discover the centre of our life energy one must plunge within. It, therefore, hints that the inner journey is required for our holistic growth.

Neuroscientists and psychologists have been trying for decades to figure out the connection between the inner and outer worlds. In the 1930s, Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky had observed that our inner voice develops through absorption of outer dialogue. Some research studies on Lev Vygotsky’s theory also called it ‘Vygotskian Inner Speech’. This could be a reason why ancient Indian scriptures advised that before our commute to work, we must start with morning meditation, and before we call it a day, we should spend time in the evening meditation.

Guru Nanak has said that we have 68 pilgrim places in the outer world, but there are also 68 points within us. Suniye athsathi ka isnanu. Unless we complete the journey of these 68 pilgrimages within, real punya will not happen. Sant Kabir said in a doha: Tera sai tujh mein hai, tu jaag sake to jag – ‘Divine power is within you, awaken to this truth, if you can.’

In the Bhagwad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna: “There would be a moment when the mind can be trained to refrain from the materialistic world through meditation, and then the person can blissfully live in inner joy.”

According to Osho, each man is engaged in two types of journeys: One is of the world that is outside, his earthly destination. The other journey is within. “Our mortal life may bring success or failure. But it is of no significance, because when death opens its jaws man enters it alone, leaving behind all worldly awards and tribulations. The body is reduced to nothingness, to ashes. In the journey within, truth exists as an immortal element. It has no death because it is indestructible. The inner journey leads to the end of all conflict and to lasting peace.”

There are two dimensions to life and our being, and both need to be fulfilled for integrated growth to happen. So, a fine balance between the material and spiritual worlds is needed, having matter and consciousness in equal measure. In that balance comes a moment when the outer landscape disappears, the earthly destination is gone, but the inner journey within continues.

Quote by Osho from Early Talks, Ch 10

Pratiksha Apurv

Pratiksha Apurv is a painter and writer. She lives and works in Pune.

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