Managing our life in this modern world all too often means managing a virtual avalanche of activities, responsibilities, decisions, information, and “stuff”. We have more on our plate than we know what to do with. Although we take on so much in the hope that it will bring us real happiness and fulfillment, very often we end up feeling overwhelmed, frazzled, stressed out and burnt out. Ironically, we experience relatively little peace, happiness, and satisfaction for all of our sacrifice and endeavoring in the pursuit of it.
If we are feeling overwhelmed by the fullness of our busy lives and yet we do not feel full and happy in the core of our hearts, then it is clear that something is out of balance. It is not just that we need less stuff in our lives, rather we need to be able recognize what is actually fulfilling for us and what is not, so that we can reorganize our lives accordingly.
In order to do this, we need to know very clearly who we are and what the actual purpose for our existence is. If we do not, then it will be impossible for us to discern what will be truly beneficial to have in our lives and what merely drains our valuable time and energy.
So who are we?
When asked this question, many of us will automatically think of features that have to do with our mind or body. I am a woman, man, young, old, Italian, Asian, American, a wife, a husband, a parent, student, teacher, musician, waiter, salesperson, entrepreneur. I am artistic, intellectual, witty, energetic, ambitious, creative, mellow, and passionate. But all of these labels and identities are not who we really are. They may be features of our mind or body, but we are not these material coverings.
According to the ancient yoga scriptures and other bonafide scriptures of the world, we are not the material body or the mind – we are eternal spiritual beings temporarily wearing the material mind and body. The gross physical body can be compared to outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body can be compared to under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either.
When we are convinced that we are the material mind and body we are wearing, we base everything in our lives upon these superficial conditions. We spend our lives endeavoring to satisfy the demands of our mind and bodily senses, searching for happiness and fulfillment in all the wrong places, people, things, and circumstances. We erroneously believe that we need prestige or wealth or the admiration and respect of others to be happy. Or that we need a beautiful body, an important job, a nice house, or an attractive spouse in order to be happy. We believe we will never find the happiness that we long for if we do not have the material objects and circumstances that our mind and senses crave and so we fill our lives with that which is not actually fulfilling. We utilize all of our time and energy thinking, planning, hoping, dreaming about and striving for fulfillment through material means – completely unaware that we are not made of material energy. In this way, our lives become full, but we are not fulfilled.
As we are eternal spiritual beings, we cannot find fulfillment through a life based on our temporary material identity. If we want a life that is full with real meaning and purpose, with deep and heartfelt joy, we must seek to understand ourselves in terms of our spiritual identity and align our lives accordingly. Through directly linking up with our spiritual Source, our consciousness becomes purified and our true nature – our spiritual nature – becomes revealed.
In the ancient yoga system, the recommended method for consciously linking up with our spiritual Source is mantra meditation. A true mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This uplifting spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears and chants or sings this spiritual sound and thus is directly relating with the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.
Through mantra meditation, we begin to taste the deeply nourishing sweetness of spiritual connection – and with sincere, daily practice, our hearts and minds are gradually purified of material misconceptions. As that which is artificial falls away, who we truly are, is increasingly revealed. When it is very clear to us who we are and therefore what our true purpose is, it becomes very easy for us to recognize what is actually in our best interest and what is not, what is actually fulfilling and what is not. So the more that we come to realize our true identity, the easier it is for us to free ourselves from the unnecessary clutter in our lives and actually become happy. Not just superficially so, but profoundly happy and fulfilled, within the very core of our being.
When we try to simplify our lives through external action only, through trying to reduce mental stress and physical clutter alone, we are not able to achieve our goal – because our consciousness remains cluttered. When our hearts and minds are clouded with material misunderstandings and misgivings, we cannot be free of that which weighs us down. However, when our consciousness becomes purified through mantra meditation, even if our lives are outwardly filled with busyness and complexities, in our hearts and minds we are clear. When we are solidly established in our true identity – inspired from within and knowing at all times who we are, what we are doing and why – life is simple and naturally very wonderful. Life in this purified condition does not weigh us down, it uplifts us.