Stories For Youth in Search of A Higher Life - An Ordinary Seeker

An Ordinary Seeker

An Ordinary Seeker

I am a seeker; I have been obliged to become a seeker by the pressure of all that is around me and my circumstances, external and internal. I am by any standard an ordinary person. I am not a thinker/ but I think; I do not have an oceanic heart, but I feel and sympathise; at times, greatly and deeply; I am not heroic, I must confess; often I act because I must; often I lose courage and feel ashamed; even when I dream, I do not act strenuously to realise my dreams.

I have been living much on the surface; I have heard that there are depths and widenesses of our being, but I am ignorant of them. My psychological existence is simple. A small but clamorous company of desires and some imperative intellectual and aesthetic cravings,-these constitute the empire that I survey; I have some tastes and a few ruling or prominent ideas amid a great current of unconnected or ill-connected and mostly trivial thoughts. I have a number of vital needs, some of which are urgent and imperative. I am not strong but not unhealthy, and I have alternations of physical health and illness. My life has been a succession of uneventful joys and griefs, frequent minor disturbances and vicissitudes. Twice or thrice I had spells of strong, searchings and

An Ordinary Seeker

An Ordinary Seeker

upheavals of mind. On the whole my life has had some tolerable disorderly order.

I am about thirty five years old. My life-partner is almost of the same age. We are fairly happy with two children, both of whom go to school in the neighbourhood. We are both working in private firms. I am a junior executive; my life-partner is also similarly placed. We are both science graduates, but our knowledge of science is out-dated and it has not much relevance to the kind of responsibilities that we are expected to shoulder. We are fairly attached to each other, but I remember those early days of our union and of perfect happiness. Is love a mere flower destined to wither away? Occasions are multiplying when we find strangers to each other. Our life has become a routine, and while there is much hurry for everything, the routine seems to be as stable as ever. Not being insensitive, I try to observe my thoughts and actions rather mercilessly. I have discovered many parts of my being, my intellect, will, sense-mind, heart, desires, and my body. My most disconcerting discovery is that every part of my being has its own complex individuality and natural formation independent of rest; it neither agrees with itself nor with others, nor with my ego, which is itself a kind of mystery. For the ego wants to remain what it is and yet wants to be different from itself!

Frankly, I find that I am composed not of one personality but many personalities, and each has its own demands and differing nature. Besides, I find myself besieged by battery of suggestions and ideas that seem to be pouring on me from all sides.

An Ordinary Seeker

An Ordinary Seeker

I am open to new ideas and when I catch at them I hurl them about in a rather confused fashion. The contemporary world is spinning fast, and I am obliged to run faster and faster even to keep myself in the present position. I know that I have to think about ethical problems, social problems, problems of science and religion. I watch political developments and form my shaky judgments. I try to look with as understanding an eye as I can attain to at all the new movements of thought and inquiry and action that chase each other across the modern field or clash upon it. I read poetry and fiction, but I have no clear ideas about art and aesthetics.

What baffles me is the torrential rain of news and advertisements that fill the chambers of my mind. Newspapers, radio and television invade with such a speed that I have no time for quiet reflection. I try to take interest in theatre and cinema; and science, too, —my own discipline, —whispers to me of its new knowledge and discoveries. I feel overwhelmed and even crushed by the explosion of information and unprecedented speed of communication.

I feel depressed too. At a time when advancing knowledge has the potentiality to serve the highest aims of civilisation, we seem to be drifting in directions that might bring about fatal disasters, notwithstanding the cessation of the cold war and bipolar world. Budgets of nations show rising graphs of expenditure on arms, and they are engrossed with developing new equations between economic change and military preparedness.

An Ordinary Seeker

An Ordinary Seeker

I also feel distressed to think that at a time when the world is shrinking, the gulf between the rich and the poor is widening, the sharp disparities of development and asymmetrical relations among nations are impelling disadvantaged countries to seek unattainable goals. These are bound to create vicious circles of dilemmas and predicaments from which it seems impossible to escape.

Nearer home, I find myself in a crowd of human beings who are jostling with each other in search of proper focus in their lives which is constantly eluding them. All around me there is competition and appetite to devour last morsels of pleasure. There is too much of elbowing each other to find a place under the sun. Human relations have become brittle and veils of decency are being lifted away rapidly. Ambitions are mounting, and even noble men of yesterday are found yielding themselves to the temptations that had corrupted Macbeth. And what about jealousy? Jealousy in professional life; jealousy in domestic life. Increasing number of lagos are found wandering about in their blind hunt for victims of suspicion and doubt. I shudder to enter into my own heart lest I may have to confess to myself the presence of Hamlet and his tragic dilemma to be or not to be.

I want to believe, if I can, that however imperfect and dim the present forms, the strivings of love, in the domestic and social life, will not end in self-destruction but insist on discovering their divine absolutes. I should like to see the triumph of the absolute love of man and woman, the absolute maternal or paternal, filial or fraternal love, the love of friends, the love of comrades, love of country, love of humanity. I should like

An Ordinary Seeker

An Ordinary Seeker

to see the economic development of life succeeding in getting rid of the animal squalor and bareness and in giving to human beings the celestial ease and leisure. How much I wish that politics ceases to be the game of strife and deceit and charlatanism so as to become a large field of absolute idealism! I love the virtues of courage, energy and strength, however weak I may be in my present state.

I turn to my children and ask if I shall have the capacity and skill to foster them and provide for them the inspiration and guidance to enable them to grow into heroic humanism. Is it the fault of the time or of my circumstances that prevent me to be what I want to be for myself, my life-partner, my children, my neighbours, my country, my human family?

There is, I feel, a deep crisis, and I cannot attribute it entirely to all the factors outside myself. The crisis is within myself, as I find arrested and bewildered and can no longer find way. My external life is but a thin fibre of the huge structure that is becoming so huge that it can no more be managed even by our highest physical, vital and mental capacities. The crisis of that life is perhaps acutest and unimaginably unmanageable. But what about my internal life? Is there in my inner heart and soul a breath that can stand against the chaos of the external life?


The other day I noticed those weaknesses rising in me for which I felt ashamed. I noticed without pity those appetites that are in the wretched and wicked. Alas! I was falling in the

An Ordinary Seeker

An Ordinary Seeker

abyss of darkness, when I was awakened by the clamour of the complaint of my children. They were fighting with each other; they had beaten up each other; they were crying, and each was complaining that the other had torn away and destroyed the books that were lying on my desk.

Filled with my own sense of shame, I could not feel angry. A deep compassion arose in my heart, and I embraced them both with an unknown feeling of love and sweetness. The children felt the magic of my embrace, and their quarrel and complaint vanished. I simply smiled, and they returned to their room comforted and recompensed.

When I reached my desk, I. was horrified to see the state of my torn books. I lifted these books to put them in good order. These were my favourite books,—books of Tagore and Whitman, of Shakespeare and Kalidasa, Ramayana and Mahabharata. And beneath them all were a few torn pages of the Gita. As I took these pages in my hand, I tumbled and sat down in my chair. I felt exhausted and, in no time, went to sleep.

I do not know how long I slept, but when I woke up I saw two compassionate eyes of my life-partner that were pouring soothing tenderness on my torn spirit and body. I understood love behind love; I realised that there was here a fragrance that can never fade. There was complete silence, and I was put into my bed with the hands that balmed all my limbs.


The next day was like any other day, and yet all seemed to have changed. A new resolution had

An Ordinary Seeker

An Ordinary Seeker

emerged in my being. Even an average human being like myself, I said to myself, can overcome a crisis. There is something else, and I wanted to find it out.

When I was alone at home in quietude, I turned to those torn pages which were still on my desk in the same condition in which I had left them on the previous night. As I began to read them I saw a new light. I felt drawn to them as never before. Previously, I had looked upon them as leaves of a religious scripture, and to my mentality, religious dogma had lost much meaning and value. But these pages,- the last portion of the second chapter of that Great Book-came to me in a new aspect. Here was the goal that I was in search of, and here were the steps described with logical and scientific rigour. I read them again and again and found a solution to my crisis. I awoke with a fresh vigour. Later, I discussed all that I had learnt with the learned and devout. And, in order that I might not forget the lessons that I had derived, I jotted down the notes, which are given in the Appendix.


There is a need today not only to have self-knowledge but also to have the methodology by which that knowledge can be attained. I felt grateful that the study of this knowledge has uplifted me and I feel that the grip of the crisis has been loosened.

I have now an insight into the nature of my personal crisis as also of some aspects of the crisis all around in the world. Our civilisation is a huge attempt to organise life; but the principle of

An Ordinary Seeker

An Ordinary Seeker

organisation is mechanical; it does not take into account the freedom of the human spirit.

Our civilisation looks upon man as an economic being; even the mental culture that it develops is being put at the service of the demands and needs of the economic being.

Our civilisation does not deal with the problems of egoism and vital indulgence; it has developed the science of material life but neglected the science of self-control and self-discipline. As a result, it has no remedy of the uprush of forces and violence and of appetites that come upon individuals, societies and nations from time to time.

We may find solutions to many problems that we are facing today; we may find an answer to the threat of nuclear power or of global pollution and environmental disturbances. But even these solutions will not solve the basic problems of the human passions and egoistic assertions that are bound to take serious forms of violence. It is these problems that we need to solve.

Our personal lives are conditioned by the general organisation of life, and we are gradually becoming dehumanised. We do not have the leisure to grow inwardly, to express our inner concerns and share our deepest affection or to purify it. We need a lever to uplift us. We need the knowledge of what is within us, beyond our economic being, beyond our physical, vital, mental and intellectual faculties. We need to know if there is a source of peace and tranquillity, a source of true creative and effective activity free from turbulence of hurried struggle in which we are obliged to elbow out our fellow beings by a competitive machinery.

An Ordinary Seeker

An Ordinary Seeker

The crisis of our personal life is that while we have become capable of high dreams, we have at the same time become incapacitated to find the right means to realise those dreams.

But in the few pages that I read that day, the knowledge that they provided awakened me to a new dimension. The learned and the wise with whom I have since discussed have enriched my understanding. These pages, I am told, is the first foundation of the teaching of the Gita, and it contains in seed all the knowledge that the Gita means to give us. It is, we might say, the first indispensable practical unity of knowledge and works with a hint already of the third crowning element in the soul's completeness, divine love and devotion.

More I hope to learn a little later. For the time being, I have the delight of finding the way and the aspiration to implement what I have learnt. I want to walk on the path.

An Ordinary Seeker

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