An Awakening Print E-mail

Guest Article by Vibha Kagzi

And then it hit me, with the softness of a thousand rose petals. The plain, simple truth stared me in the face. It shook up my premise of existence, attacking, questioning its very foundation. A foundation built of complexities and confusion. It disentangled my thoughts, as I resisted, relentlessly relinquishing my past convictions.


This was my first encounter with spirituality. Sure, I've visited various religious institutions over the years and sat through many rituals restlessly awaiting the prasad! However, my initiation to the teachings of Vedanta at the Vedanta (SF)2 Program with Jayaji was my first interactive discussion on spirituality.


I believe there comes a preordained moment in our lives when we stop existing and start living. This was the veritable turning point in my life.


Vedanta stresses the discovery and pursuit of your ‘svadharma' or purpose in life. It advocates focusing on your journey in conjunction with your final destination so that you live each day to the fullest. I started re-evaluating my ‘svadharma' and ruminating over my existence became an obsession. It was a paradigm shift in my perfunctory existence – a unique consciousness crept in that compelled me to look inside me to find purpose and direction. Upon introspection I felt I had a lucid understanding of myself and could identify my core strengths, weaknesses, predilections, goals, characteristics etc. As I delved into my aspirations, I realized to my extreme horror, that my world was confined, restricted to my personal success. Vedanta emphasizes the need for a higher ideal or goal, to extend and reach out to the world, a goal that encompasses society as a whole. Indeed, my family and close friends are a huge component of my existence but viewed through a larger lens, my world was minute – a meager fragment.


The contradiction was baffling. Through the years, my focus had been on self-development, education and work experience. I was voraciously ambitious, hungry for success. But my definition of success was fairly generic - a great business, wealth, fame, proud parents and friends. Philanthropy figured on my list of ‘things to do', but was to be dealt with when I was 50 or so. To put it succinctly, I had configured a plan that endorsed my selfish existence and permitted me to live in oblivion for the next 25 years!


Sri Aurobindo defines spirituality as follows: “Spirituality is in its essence an awakening to the inner reality of our being, to a spirit, self, soul which is other than our mind, life and body, an inner aspiration to know, to feel, to be that, to enter into contact with the greater Reality beyond and pervading the universe which inhabits also our own being, to be in communion with It and union with It, and a turning, a conversion, a transformation of our whole being as a result of the aspiration, the contact, the union, a growth or waking into a new becoming or new being, a new self, a new nature.”


I felt an urgent pang to immediately reach out to other people and contribute in someway in enhancing someone else's life and in doing so ‘awaken the inner reality of my being'. Instead of dismissing community service as a “future project” I decided to start working on an endeavor immediately. Gandhiji points out, “Man should earnestly desire the well-being of all God's creation and pray that we may have the strength to do so. In desiring the well-being of all lies his own welfare; he who desires only his own or his community's welfare is selfish and it can never be well with him.”