A great deal of our life is wasted by living on the surface of our consciousness. As we grow up from our young days, the compelling psychological atmosphere around us keeps us arrested on the surface. Unknowingly we all get caught in this whirlpool and, by the time we come to sense this, the habit has already gone very deep. The present human condition may be described as one thoroughly lost in the jumble of thought. Most people spend their whole life within the vortex of conditioned response and never go outside the confines of a narrow, thought created cage.
This is the fundamental cause of unhappiness in life on this planet. An externalized state of mind provides the basis for depression, boredom, persecution complex, vindictive attitudes, loneliness, fanaticism and many other undesirable mental states. Those who are somewhat reflective realize this with a shock and wonder how to release themselves from the tyranny of this mental state. Simultaneously, they feel that the externalized state of mind has made them move away from their deeper self. In other words, there is a sense of impoverishment of the soul. Sadly, the externalization continues in the field of religions too. That is why the ego plays a significant role in those practices and there are the exclusivist attitudes, divisions and conflicts in the name of religion.
The process of releasing ourselves from the tyranny of the above state of affairs can be interesting. It is clear from the beginning that no institutionalized approach can help in bringing about the transformation in the individual. What is needed is a strongly reflective attitude guided by the eagerness to understand oneself rather than becoming a conformist to a system. We embark on a return journey into ourselves. With the patience to understand ourselves non-verbally, the journey becomes quite interesting. Further, we see the transformation taking place along the journey, instead of at the end of it. We would ask: What are the factors that augment the inward travel? We may cite some of them as below, but finding them is itself a part of the journey!
Listening to the Enlightened Masters’ talk or writings: The Masters do not indulge in preaching. So, one soon understands that practicing Dos and Don’ts cannot help. Reflecting on what we hear leads us on to self-awareness, the great teacher that it is. The Masters’ talk serves only as a catalyst augmenting our inward journey.
Observing one’s own and others’ reactions to life circumstances: These reactions are from our mental content and so they can show how our responses have become mechanical over the years. To be alive in our human interactions, the mechanical response has to undergo dissolution. Discovering how it happens is part of the inward journey.
Awareness of the constantly chattering mind: The externalization of the mind takes place because of the noisy mind and its constant chattering; it has the momentum of centuries because human beings have lived that way and we have added our own share of momentum to it by our inadvertence and unawareness. Fortunately, it does not need centuries to dissolve it. Interest in this direction brings about several salutary byproducts such as stable pace of mind and empathy towards all.
Synthesis of destiny, karma, reincarnation and self-awareness: Understanding the relationship between these four factors harmonizes the relationship between them and the associated insight dissolves our inner conflicts. One becomes interested in leading a well-ordered and useful life. In this connection, the presentation by Edgar Cayce can bring about good clarity in the matter [Ref 1].
The esoteric side of life: Merely being embroiled in mundane matters and belief systems cannot bring about spiritual transformation. At some point or the other of the inward journey, one would see the need to be interested in the otherworldliness. This is where explorations on paranormal phenomena – such as the near death and out-of-body experiences – can be quite helpful. By understanding the messages from the vaster consciousness, we bring about deeper perspectives into our lives and move on to higher levels of our spiritual being.
Understanding the need to release oneself from the crowd: Many people would feel lost if they do not belong psychologically to a group. The emotional attachment to a group and its philosophy becomes necessary for their mental wellbeing. They cannot understand the value of aloneness. In that sense, only if we are bold enough to release ourselves form the crowd, we can embark on the inward journey. This does not mean that we should become isolated or adopt a recluse’s attitude. We can enjoy the company of friends, relatives and others as much as we like but we would not depend on it for our spiritual wellbeing. We may be physically in a crowd but inwardly out of it.