‘Sir, Are you happy in your current life?’
You are into your deepest slumber on Sunday, the only day you get to rest. You hear a knock on your door. You ignore that and try to get into your sleep. The knock persists. You try to wish away the knock that it was only a dream. A couple of minutes later when you are re-entering your sleep, you hear the knock again. You get real and pounce towards the door, adjusting your night dress, and suddenly feeling that it has dawned already.
Upon opening the door, you hear the first sentence and see an elderly man and a twenty-ish fashionable lady.
‘Sir, Are you happy in your current life?’ You hear that again.
You are really confused as to what the world has come to. You don’t want to get angry seeing the elderly person. At the same time you don’t want to look like a fool seeing the twenty-ish thing.
‘When I am not allowed to sleep on a Sunday morning how could I be happy Sir?’, you say.
The above incident happened not one but twice when I worked in Mumbai, India in the mid-nineties.
Soon after, you are confronted with philosophical questions like ‘Why is man un-happy?’, ‘What makes the after life?’, ‘How does one not enter the fire in Hell?’, ‘How to get prepared for the ‘Day of Judgement ‘?’. and the like.
I looked at the elderly person. He should have been about 60 years old. He spoke English with a slight Marathi accent. But the girl was an Anglo-Indian whose English did not contain any trace of any oriental language. Her diction was perfect. For a south indian, I was able to align with her language than the elderly gentleman’s as I was still not comfortable with Marathi then.
‘How come many who have been pious and good-mannered suffer while those who are ill-mannered live a life of joy?’, she asked.
Having had a grounding in the Vedanta philosophy, I had been accustomed to this. But said,’Yes, I have this question lingering in my mind Miss. Could you possibly explain?’
‘Does your religion not answer this question, Sir?’, she inquired.
‘Well, I don’t know. Hence could you please explain?’, I said.
‘Excellent. That is because they are not in Jesus yet. If they would have been in Jesus, they wouldn’t have had to undergo this ignominy of having to suffer while there is perfectly nothing wrong with them’, she said and elaborated further,’ that is precisely why we are here today, to invite you to be part of Jesus and experience happiness in this life’.
My Vendatic background awakened. I knew what they were for. I invited them inside and offered them tea, much to the consternation of my friends whose sleeps were also getting disturbed. By virtue of we being bachelors(then), we shared an apartment in Mumbai.
They obviously did not like my Tea. That showed. However the discussion continued.
‘Madam, let me ask you something. Let me ask you some questions’, I proceeded.
The duo seemed prepared.
‘Why do you think I am not happy?’, I said.
‘Because nobody is happy in this world. Everybody is pained at something or the other’, he said.
‘No, my question is Why do you think that I am not happy in this life?’
‘That is the general rule. Nobody is happy unless he is in Jesus’, he said.
‘Sir, I am a product of my mind. Even in difficult situations, one can be happy if one wished. It is just a matter of the mind’, I reasoned.
‘But why is there suffering in this world?’, she asked.
‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This suffering of a person is a result of some past deed’, I said.
‘Why do some perfectly reasonable and well-intentioned people who have done all good deeds in their lives suffer?’, he asked.
‘That is because of past actions. By past I mean the past lives. That is explained as ‘Karma’ in the Indian thought’, I reasoned.
‘No, that is not acceptable. Indian thought is pagan thought. And that is not the path of God. So that cannot be true’, she said and added ‘so you believe in superstitions such as previous lives?’, she inquired.
‘Madam, what is superstition becomes a fact. But what is a fact is still considered a superstition like the earth being the center of the universe’, I said knowing that I was touching a raw nerve here and continued thus :
‘Your assumption that I am not happy is fundamentally wrong.I am happy within the limited means that I have. And I believe that what I possess is what I have been destined to possess and there comes my sense of equilibrium. My perceived sufferings are the result of actions that took place in my previous birth and therefore I am not going to blame anybody for that. That is how the sense of equanimity is brought in into the Indian life. But that does not mean one should not strive to be better. One should keep working on doing one’s duties without hindrance to others and that will ensure that the society is at peace. ‘Do your duty and I shall provide the results’ – That is the essence of the Vedantic school of thought’.
Continuing further, I had touched upon the Israel Palestinian conflict, the Irish Republican Army’s then efforts to destroy the UK despite following the same religion, the Catholic Protestant diatribes and the like and tried to show that not everything was rosy on the other side as well.
Looking back now , those might not sound scholarly or erudite anymore. But I evolved from then on and started paying attention to what the Indian Schools of Thought provided, what the great seers had said, how the missionaries had evolved in India, how the Indian society was exploited by them. how the then East India Company’s colonization of India and later the British empire’s rule followed by left-leaning socialist leaders’s regimes squandered and continue to squander the nation of its intellectual and spiritual farsightedness.
And that is the essence of this series.
Let me know your thoughts. Your words mean much in this effort.
My earlier posts on this when I was ‘visited’ in Singapore are below :