I have often wondered why I am as I am. World has a unique way of answering my questions.
Whenever I go to beach, I watch multitudes of waves hitting the shore; many look alike, many come together but each one is unique in its origin, path, shape and end. Likewise, I think, each one of us is different, each has a different but related role to play in this world.
Let me elaborate it further:
Traditionally, we define four ways of life: Karmayoga, Jnanayoga, Bhaktiyoga and Sanyasa. Emphasis on Karmayoga is on Karma (action), while Jnanayoga is pursuit of knowledge and Bhaktiyoga is a case of absolute trust and devotion; of all the four, Sanyasa stands apart as a case of renunciation.
I have seen these four ways being discussed as four different approaches. They are indeed distinct but not necessarily watertight compartments as they are often made out to be.
By and large, approach to learning in recent times has been to divide complex subjects into manageable compartments of knowledge. Perhaps, this has influenced the attempt to understand these different approaches as well. To me it looks like, compartmentalizing human life into four compartments is too much of a simplification of reality. Key factor here, I believe, is accepting that each of us similar in many ways but distinct individuals at the same time with different aspirations and inclinations.
Therefore, you might align to one of the four ways of life but more realistic approach would be to identify your inclinations and aspirations, understand different shades of yourself and align to one or more from the four ways of life described.
I have heard that sculptor visualizes sculpture in the stone first, before he removes extraneous elements from the stone to create the beautiful sculpture that we see. I think, each one of us is sculptor of our own life. That is, we identify our true self and remove extraneous elements to see the Self in harmony with the Self and the world around.
That is my interpretation of ‘Swadharme Nidhanam Shreya, Parodharma Bhayavaha‘, from Bhagavat Gita. That is, life as per individual’s belief systems is better, rather than living on borrowed identity. It is a matter of realizing the Self, and accepting self accountability.
I find the same spirit embedded in Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali as he says:
Where the mind is without fear and the head held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
It echoes in the famous Buddha quote ““Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”