'The trouble is, you think you have time,' said the Buddha
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This week's newsletter is a touching reflection from Dr Tejinder Walia (Teji), a long term associate, student and friend of VimalaThakar. A psychologist by training, Teji's life took a turn after her first meeting with Vimala ji in 1993. A strong bond developed between the two which continues beyond the dissolving of Vimala ji's form in 2009.
Teji has edited and published Vimala ji's commentaries on Kathopanishad and translated the same from English into Hindi and has a deep understanding of the essence of the teachings. At present, she spends her time in quiet study and reflections on the inner life at her home cum retreat centre in Panchgani and seeks a meeting point between Education and Spirituality.
Many a times we had heard Vimala tai sing these words of Mirabai in complete abandonment "Nahin aisa janam varamvar re". These words inviting an urgency to live take me back to my first meeting with her.
I met Vimalaji at a time when I was going through a particularly difficult phase of life.. While questioning my personal relationships and the meaning of work, there was no break from pain. Tiruvannamalai was a refuge but I needed a living presence of a master whose loving but tough lessons could loosen the grip of conditionings.
I had just read her book "Mann ke uss paar" (Beyond Mind) and sought an appointment with her, which she graciously granted. As I entered her room and settled in, her voice cut through the silence as she asked me: “ Aap jeena chahti hain kya?” (Do you wish to live). Even before the words could register their intent on me, the reply was, “Kaun nahin jeena chahta”? (Who does'nt wish to live). This reply deserved the brushing aside it got and was followed by “Aap ko jeena hai kya”? (Do you wish to live). After a pause the reply was “Ji han”.(Yes). The lines of concern on her face cleared and she said “Bas yeh hi sunn na tha aap se”! (That's all I needed to hear from you)
Over the years, one recognized that through her Teachings and her life, this Teacher poured her Being into reminding others to Live. She helped clear all that came in the way of living. To those weighed down by the burden of hurts and defenses she cajoled to come out of withdrawal. To those caught in the games of ambitions and aggressiveness she reminded of the beauty of action born of love and respect. To the arrogance of being judgmental, she reminded of the diversity of life. Those wanting to escape in the name of Sadhana were told that ‘Sadhana ke liye Himalaya jana padta hai kya’? (Do you need to go to the Himalaya's for inner work?)
While she loved the Himalayas and underlined the need to retreat occasionally, she warned against the tendency to escape from the challenges of relationship with life. Thus she told me on a a couple of occasions, “I will not allow you to escape, the time for the Himalayas will come to be lived decently and without having to escape from the challenges posed to you.” The emphasis was on living what the life has put in front of you and not to indulge in some preconceived notions of living spirituality.
From her experience of having lived in a cave, cut off from everything and all, she shared that it was like ashes in ones mouth. Thus she gave the Moola Mantra –“ Sambandhoon se bhagna nahin hai par un me bandhana bhi nahin hai”. (Do not shy away from relations, yet do not be bound by them). She would say that the middle path of neither escape nor indulgence was like walking on a razor’s edge and only a courageous one dares to live this challenge.
In all humility, while warning against making anyone an authority there was gratitude towards those who have walked the path of truth. Just as all relationships were valued so was the one that nurtured the flame of enquiry. But she warned against dependence on the beauty of the one who urges you to live the life of awareness – the only tool such as her offered on the pathless path.
Lyrics and translation:
Nahi aiso janam varamvar re, aiso janam varamvar re | ka jaanu kachhu punya pragatyo manusa awatar, Janam varamvar re, nahin aiso janam varamvar re
This opportunity (human birth) does not come often - only to those of merit
Badhat pal pal ghatat chhin chhin jaat na laage vaar | Birachh ke jyun paat toote, puni na lage daar ... Nahin aiso
It (life) seems to expands every moment, and yet is over in no time. Like the leaf that withers off a tree, and does not come back.
Bhavsagar ati gahan ghor unchhi iski dhaar re | surati ka nar bandh bedaa, vegi utare paar ... Nahin aiso
The ocean of identity (bhav-sagar) is deep and its waters will swallow you. Only the flame of attention/remembrance (surata) shall take you to the other shore swiftly
Sadhu sant mahant jogi, karat chalat pukar | Daasi meera lal giridhar, jeevana hain din chaar ... Nahin aiso
The wise men have said it all the while. And so have servant Meera and her love Krsna, that life is momentary.