The Path of Awakening
Some of us are lucky enough to experience a wake-up call in this life. The timing of this call varies with the individual. Very rarely one may experience it soon after adolescence as with Ramana Marhashi. Most of us get the call around middle age or the mid-life crisis. After graduating from school or university, one starts with a job or many jobs and raises a family at the same time. Between forty to sixty years of age after a successful career, the thinking person will start to ask this question: “Is that it?” Where is the paradise? The next frequent question is “Why am I here?” “Why am I born at all?” At this early stage hardly anyone will ask this famous question “Who am I?” This question will arise only after some practice.
Quite often the wake-up call is triggered by some tragedy like a death of a loved one, personal financial crisis, or ill health of the seeker or a breakdown of an intense relationship. Sometimes it comes after retirement or in women after menopause. Rarely, the call just simply arises without any triggering factor, and in this instance it may come at any age after adolescence.
The first step the seeker does is to turn to a faith for support. He will grab at any faith or religion that is introduced to him by friends or relatives. Or he has seen the religion advertised in newspapers or TV programs. Normally the religion encountered and accepted is accidental without previous thought or analysis. After that the seeker may move on to other religious groups, depending on what fascinates him or her. After tasting many dishes on the menu, he has now some knowledge of spiritual practice, he may stick to one religion or practice. Willy-nilly he would have come across some form of meditation, be it Buddhist, Hindu or Zen. If he reads avidly with his meditation and is guided by a proper teacher, he may come to realize that spirituality and not religion will be his true path. He will come to a realization that a U-turn in his life is mandatory. This spiritual path will be hard work, as he has to start letting go of all his previous ideas of acquisitions, desires, concepts and goals. It is the opposite of what he has been taught all his life. Now he has to add the element of ‘Service’ in his life. “What is happiness and how do you achieve it in a movement or religion?” My answer is that you cannot achieve it with one stroke or with any religion. You must go beyond religion. It is a painstaking, tedious and lonely task of meditation, mindfulness and personal cleansing. There is no substitute for this hard work. It may take this whole life or many more lifetimes.
My wake-up call came to me about 30 years ago when I was 43 years old. This is a time when I was the busiest with a job of running a laboratory and I was involved with about 8-9 charitable committees. There was no time to reflect what I was doing. I only knew that there was no peace of mind.
I started to learn meditation from an abbot in a monastery in Northeast Thailand. The lineage here is Theravada Buddhism. Then I started to read voraciously on meditation and Buddhism. After several years I started to teach meditation in a small way to some students in a Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhist temple in Singapore. Then a Tibetan center called me to do likewise. I taught in the Tibetan center for 8 years. My Sri Lankan teaching impressed one of the students so much that when he started a Buddhist Library, he invited me as a first teacher of meditation in this library. My career as a meditation teacher was established.
Teaching behooves me to learn more about the subjects of meditation and religion. After accumulating about 28 lectures, a student of mine very kindly offered to post these lectures as a website with a homepage. One can see from the articles that I have been quite a pedestrian crossing quite a few frontiers. However I hope that finally, the menu in this homepage will suit the palate of many seekers of various religions. These essays are for those who want to embark on a spiritual journey, but do not know how to go about it. They have a widespread of mystical paths of several religions.