Each one of our prayers and situations are so unique that it is hard to compare with others. While some situations might be very similar on the outside, only the person experiencing the sorrow knows that theirs is different, isn’t it? We are often certain that ours is much more challenging and difficult than others’. We complain, “None can understand my plight!”
Every day we witness or read about so many different people suffering. Some close to us, and others distant. Some events tug close to our hearts and others not as much. Much of the news around us too is quite negative – disasters, terrorism, corruption, scandals, crime and what not! They all affect us.
Amidst larger world problems, we also face everyday problems in our petty individual lives – the lack of time, energy, health, money, love and so on. Our lives are a constant battle of chasing the never ending quest for joy, when the odds are stacked so high against it. Until the time we realize that it is not our chasing that is important, but that something else (death) chasing us is far more critical. And the latter is the only sure end of either quests. Our bodies will lose the battle. No one has ever beaten it – like the unending version of Temple Run!
When we go a step further, we see there are some in this world who have given their lives completely in quest for God – mumukshus (seekers). Their worry is so different from ours. They can’t seem to concern themselves with any of the above worldly problems – that are mostly centered around “me and mine”, or about the world at large. The seeker’s only concern is about how they can leave the cycle of births and deaths and attain the Lord. No one in the world can relate to them, many even relegate them as different, crazy, inert, or selfish. As for themselves, they are neither here nor there. Oh! What a state that is! They have not (yet) attained the Lord, which would rid them of all worldly clutches, and nor are they able to relate to the world and seek solace in it. Truly in the middle of nowhere.
Their suffering has got to be much worse than people of this world who at least have swings of joy. For mumukshus, yearning is the key that can open their doors to the Lord, and they need to become experts at it. That yearning needs to be like that of a fish out of water – without the Lord, they should die. That yearning needs to be matured. Alas! To train ourselves on the art of dying has got to be the most difficult thing to accomplish. In contrast, our worldly problems seem pale in comparison.
Moving a step further, what to say of the state of those jnanis (God-realized souls)? They have seen the Lord, and are in that thought always – forever immersed in the ocean of Bliss. And they suffer too. However, their suffering is unique! They pray to the Lord, “I need a life to just cry, for You!” Tears constantly roll down their eyes, filled with the prayer of wanting to be with their beloved Lord, unwilling to be separated from them even for a second. On one hand, they seem to always be immersed in that love, and on the other hand, we see them constantly praying and wanting to be with their Lord… begging, pleading, crying. Who can understand this paradox? Let us not even try, for this is outside the realm of normal human logic.
The fire of separation from their beloved Lord is what the jnanis seek… perhaps even more than the Lord himself, for it is that desire that keeps the flame fueled. Even attainment of the goal cannot guarantee the smarana (thought) of the Lord always, but the eagerness to want it assures them the state of constant remembrance of the Lord and His qualities.
Needless to say, the state of the jnani is incomparable to anyone, and it only makes our worldly problems or even the problems of the seeker infinitesimally lower in grade.
Above all of this, there is a kind of person, whose life is inarguably the most difficult. It is that of a Guru – a self-realized jnani, who takes the garb of a normal man, and owns the responsibilities of taking ashore all of his disciples, who are all swirling in their own worldly troubles. Not only are they consumed with their own sorrows that is unique to a jnani, (as if that is not enough!), they also come down to the level of the disciples, and assume all of their problems as his own. Worried and consumed about our exams, our marriages, our relationships, our health, our wealth, our jobs, our children, our houses, our lives, our seeking, they offer prayers and solutions – Not for one, but for thousands! The Guru is actually much more concerned about our welfare than we ourselves are. They rejoice in our happiness, celebrate our successes, and at the same time wail for our sorrows and losses as if a mortal.
The Uttama Guru is indeed the greatest in the world, and unenviably the One who carries the most burden of sorrows too! All glories to the Guru!
Sriram Ramanujam, Houston TX