The Road Less Travelled

Article  - The Road Less Travelled


When we try to achieve something pre-determined, we give rise to degrees of aggressiveness. Over time it becomes our second nature and we intensely crave for it. If, in every situation of life, we perceive clearly, we are offered two paths. In the first, we only feed our ego and self-love while in the second, we respond in a manner that dissolves our ego.

Then, when the self dissolves a little, what remains is love. This second path is the path of surrender. Unfortunately, humanity, almost entirely, follows the first path. It is very rare to see a person who works towards dissolving one’s own ego. This is the only definition of spirituality — using each moment of life to dissolve one’s ego.

A painful fact is that the ego itself has to decide that it is ready to die. It has the boon of voluntary death or “ichcha mrityu”. That is, it consciously has to choose the path of surrender. In the Mahabharata, Bhishma has ichcha mrityu. He is the symbol of our ego; the obstinacy of his pratigya is symbolic to the Bhishma within us. He himself reveals to Yudhisthira that the only way he can be defeated is to bring a woman in front of him in the battlefield. Woman is a symbol of surrender and so the great Rishi Vyasa is revealing the technique to dissolve the ego — become feminine, not female or male.

To work with our aggressiveness and obstinacy is a struggle of a lifetime. We always feel that it is some outer stimulus that makes us aggressive but the truth is that our unconscious minds are full of animal cells, waiting for some excuse to manifest as lower emotions. We are easily hurt, explode like volcanoes when criticised, always right, and of course never like to be told that we are wrong.We suffer from strong likes and dislikes and become touchy and violent about them.

Say, I come home tired and my wife tells me to put my things in order. Immediately I react, dislike arises from the subconscious, and I explode into aggressiveness. If at this point I pause, hold the aggressiveness, allow it to dissolve, then I will feel a freedom never experienced before. This sounds easy but requires uninterrupted practice. With each instance in life that I practice this, like Arjuna, I will have shot an arrow into my inner Bhishma and one day, he will be redundant on a bed of arrows. This is spirituality in its essence.

- By Rajen Vakil