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Vedanta and Game of Ladder

The basic tenets of Vedanta can be summed up as: 1) That there is only one Reality as Absolute Consciousness, Existence, and Bliss, but 2) one perceives multifarious realities of 'name and form' due to inexplicable Ignorance (also called Avidya or Maya); however, 3) it is possible, nay, it is the goal of human birth to perceive the Reality as it is.

This is made possible by:

A) Repeated practice of discrimination between real and unreal, renunciation of what is perceived to be unreal, and intense desire to know one's true nature as Absolute Consciousness and Bliss.

This path is known as path of Jnana Yoga. It is best suited for only a few persons with philosophical bent right from their early age of life. Here due to high level of growth of spirit and reason, the aspirant does not require any preconceived belief in personal God, nor he has to engage in or follow any worship, prayers, or rituals. Factor of grace is alien to such aspirants. Their faculty of reason and intuition is too sharp for faith to have any place in their search for the Truth. These are rare gifted personalities, like Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, and Raman Maharshi.

B) The second path is path of devotion or selfless work. Here, many a times the goal is not told in advance. The aspirant realizes the goal in graded fashion during the course of his spiritual practice as a result and culmination of his sincere, honest, and one pointed discipline. A factor of grace is usually added to encourage the sadhaka to keep trying. Obviously faith is also necessary.

For most aspirants like us, the second path is best suited to realize spiritual bliss. Inch by inch, we have to proceed to cover the hard ground.
Two doubts come in our mind for accepting and attempting this.

First, we do not see people around us practicing or leading their lives to experience God as the main aim in life. Vedanta talks of the need of renunciation of sense enjoyment and practice of austerities and simplicity in life. But all around, we see more than 99.99 percent of people busy and happy in pleasures of senses!

Secondly, what is the guarantee that one would succeed in his attempts at sadhana and obtain or experience the Higher Bliss!

Both these questions are valid. It is indeed almost impossible to convince anyone about the 'usefulness' of vedanta practice, practice to seek one's higher Self. Try as one may to lure the fellow in higher bliss therein, the person refuses to get convinced! It is almost a hopeless attempt.

On the evolutionary ladder only an occasional soul reaches the highest rung from where he can see "The City of Bliss" on the other side. He climbs further and jumps in the Blissful ecstasy, never to return! Thereby, the people supporting the ladder, and waiting for his return, are disappointed. They fail to get anticipated message and description of expectant joy.

Another gifted and adventurous fellow now climbs the ladder and reaches the top. He also sees the joyous lights and delights, merriment and laughter: Ecstasy of Atman! Forgetting himself he also jumps, never to come back. He has also become one with the Bliss.

His bewildered associates lower down are confused and intrigued. What is there on the other side that is holding their friends? Why do they fail to bring the news of the other side? Where are they lost?

Disappointed and defeated, many sadhakas return back to their routine life as they think it futile to attempt to reach "The City of Bliss". However, the curiosity and expectation of new discovery propels another one to ascend the ladder.

In this peculiar and novel sport of ladder climbing, an occasional soul happens to stay at the threshold. He is aware of the Bliss on the other side, but is equally alert and concerned about his waiting friends below.

He shouts and exhorts his friends to come up to his side and participate in the blissful fun and fare of Atman. He occasionally even climbs down to lift someone up. His compassion, love, and concern for all his friends below is praiseworthy.

Sri Ramakrishna is such a rare soul.

He is beckoning us to go up the ladder.
C S Shah
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