Like a moth rushes into the fire without caring about the outcome, each one of us is attracted towards light. This attraction is innate. It propels us to constantly act towards a greater sense of fulfillment. Regardless of how you want it and whether you like it or not, the truth is you can’t run away from the two most fundamental elements of human life. The pursuit of happiness and the quest for freedom. From a sinner to a saint, a beggar to a billionaire – each one of us is working towards acquisition of happiness and freedom. And why not, for to be happy and free is immensely empowering.
Everything we do and most things we think are ultimately geared towards feeling happier and freer.
Every act of ours is aimed at avoidance of suffering. And yet, the harder we work towards our fulfillment, the more shackled we feel. The Vedic view and my personal observation is that our suffering results from a lack of harmony in our being. When what we want from life or others is not aligned with our actions, speech and thoughts – we feel exceedingly restless and dissatisfied. To this effect, I’m reminded of a beautiful tantric legend I heard from an adept during one of my travels. It was a good story that has remained with me and I am paraphrasing it here in my own words.
Legend has it that there was a time when Shiva – the first meditator – roamed the earth with his consort, Devi. Just as a beautiful moon softly dispels the darkness of the night, the fair- coloured Shiva walked through the streets leaving footprints of his divinity behind. The great yogi took in the decadence and the poverty that gripped the village.
They stopped by the home of a poor farmer. His body was aching from the day’s hard work. The crop
had practically no yield in the last two seasons and he was mad at his wife for not serving him any meal. She was arguing that there was nothing to cook in the kitchen and they were fighting like they hated each other. The man went ahead and hit his wife.
The Devi shook in pain and disbelief. She was about to manifest and slay the man, but Shiva stopped her.
“Things are not what they seem, Uma,” he said. “Nature must run its own course.”
Just then the woman in a fit of rage took the sickle that she used everyday to cut the grass and hacked her husband’s hand. Unable to bear the pain, he howled and fell down unconscious.
“This man had usurped his brother ’s land,” Shiva explained, “his own karma is coming back to him.
And the lady, she had also earned today by selling hay. But, out of attachment, she gave it to her good-for- nothing son who’s currently sleeping with a prostitute.”
Devi knew that nothing was hidden from Shiva. She said nothing and simply followed him.
A few blocks down, they saw a bookkeeper tossing and turning in his bed. Suffering from severe insomnia, he was unable to fall asleep. Angered and helpless, he got up and downed half a bottle of alcohol so he could sleep. There was a depressing energy in his home. There was his wife, there were kids, they had resources, and yet the basic fabric of happiness – a sense of belonging – was missing altogether.
“Surely, this man doesn’t deserve sleepless nights,” Devi said, “he donates to the temple every month and he calls out to you every morning.”
“Things are not what they seem,” Shiva said benevolently.” He falsifies the financial records for his
clients so they evade taxes. In turn, they pay him more.”
At Devi’s insistence, they visited numerous homes, even the palace of the king. Some were lonely, others were sad, some were quarrelling and some others plotting. Very few slept in peace, even fewer
were awake in peace. Everyone was suffering in some way. Distraught at the sad human condition, Devi asked, “Why is man so unhappy, Lord? Is it because they always want more than
“Evolution is the dharma of Nature,” Shiva said, getting into his meditative posture. “The desire to grow is ingrained in all living entities – from an ant to elephant, from a tiny seed to the giant banyan.”
“What good is this desire if they spend majority of their lives unhappily?”
“The desire in itself is not the problem. Man suffers because he’s too scattered.”
Devi sat quietly as she didn’t quite understand what Shiva meant by the word ‘scattered’.
“His consciousness is directed elsewhere and prana, life force, is directed elsewhere. His thoughts are going in a direction opposite to his actions. His mind wants one thing while his heart is striving for something completely different. His energy is invested in endeavors conflicting with his emotions.
The reason man is unhappy is because his thoughts, speech and actions are not in harmony,” Shiva continued, “Anything that is not in harmony in the play of nature is either eliminated completely or forced to align. Suffering is alignment.”
“Forgive me for pressing on, Nath,” Devi said, “but I feel it’s pivotal for human welfare. Are you
About the Author
Om Swami is a monk who lives in a remote place in the Himalayan foothills. He has a bachelor degree in business and an MBA from Sydney, Australia. Swami served in executive roles in large corporations around the world. He founded and led a profitable software company with offices in San Francisco, New York, Toronto, London, Sydney and India.
Om Swami completely renounced his business interests to pursue a more spiritual life. He is the bestselling author of Kundalini: An Untold Story, A Fistful of Love and If Truth Be Told: A Monk’s Memoir.
His blog omswami.com is read by millions all over the world.