Thou art that

We have for some reason placed too much stake on that elusive beast called success in our lives. If someone wins an election, he is successful. If they win a cricket match, they are successful. If they get first rank in the class they are successful. If they are able to buy expensive clothes, travel anywhere, dine at exotic places, they are successful.

What is not successful then ? Anything that you can’t make a display of is unsuccessful. If you lead a normal life, helping people around, paying your taxes, doing the job you have to do, keeping yourself healthy and happy, you have nothing worthy to display or get accolades for.

Counter intuitively, if you are very happy with your life, then you don’t need anything much from others to make you happy. So you are successful as it is. Not by the judgement of the world.

But humans have always measured themselves in the eyes of others. Suppose you are the only human being living here on earth (don’t know if such a day will happen), then there is no one to seek feedback or likes. None to look at you. This can be simulated if you go and stay in the mountains without any gadgets. If you do this what will happen to you ?

Initially you may be finding it very hard, especially if you are the attention seeking kind. But there will be a point in time when you no longer have any craving for display. Everything will quieten down within you. You will find the meaninglessness of most of our actions. The layers and layers of misery we have created just to conquer the peak called success that can be displayed.

Life can’t be easier than ever when you have reached that silence inside. The root of everything is the ‘silent you’. That thing that simply is there without any judgment, without expectation, without the need to display. Everything emanates from that. It can be physically within the brain or spread across the body. You can call it consciousness or soul or whatever. But thou art that.

That’s what happened to Svetaketu, a brilliant scholar in ancient India when his master asked him to go to the forest with some cows and return back when it became thousand. He was filled with knowledge, a great potential to do things and of course the pride that comes with it. When he returned to his home after the years spent learning with his master in the ashram, he said he has mastered all knowledge that is ever to be known.

His father sensing there is still something left to learn asked him to go back to his master and that’s when his master sent him to the forest with cows. As the cows multiplied, years passed by and Svetaketu had no one to talk to or display his knowledge. What he thought of as successful had no takers. There was no need to display anything in a forest, alone with cows. As time passed, his mind quietened down. He realized his silent self.

He even forgot who he was and didn’t bother to count the cows if they reached thousand and had to be reminded by the cows, just to tell how silent he became. He had no need to even count. If he had been counting, then it would have meant he is his same old self waiting to display his knowledge to someone. The cows are probably smart as well. No one has tried this with a bunch of cows in a forest to see if the cows will come back and remind them of something.

But to get the idea behind the story, Svetaketu walked back after several years to the ashram with the thousand cows.

The disciples announced this to the master ‘Sevtaketu has come with the cows’.

Master asked ‘How many cows’

Disciples said ‘thousand’

Master said ‘Count properly, it should be thousand and one’.

The idea here is that the master doesn’t mean to equate Svetaketu to a cow. But he knows that a brilliant and obedient student like Svetaketu would have definitely accomplished the task. Of becoming silent. Of realizing his self.

Just imagine how good knowledge will be in the hands of such a realized person.

He wouldn’t be a slave of the knowledge he got. He wouldn’t try to make himself look better with the knowledge. He will use it like a tool for the right purpose with the right thinking.

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Thalapathy Krishnamurthy

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