We have another reader question from Sumit
You described self realization as a state when a person does not care about what society thinks . He does what brings him to peace with himself. But is this actually possible?
I am a Btech 1st year student (almost 2) in a reputed college. Sometimes i feel all this world is sham, all people want to do is earn money, everyone is greedy. Even i am .
But how can I not be greedy? Despite being from a weak financial background my parents sacrificed everything for me so I can reach this level. how can i just say all this was a sham ,the miseries they suffered will not end ,that I don’t want to be a part of the rat race earning money. This is no justice for them .
I want to change myself for the better but can i make any impact in the world? No one understands . Everyone is running after money , All we talk here is money, the expectations are high , very high, how can i just break the shackles of this dharmasankat? can we actually survive without money?? Is not money the major cause of our misery?
I know answering this is difficult . the question started somewhere and ended somewhere else? Thats what actually happens in life, one thought leading to another, to another.
It is indeed a very elaborate question.
First of all, let us understand who you are. You are a student, your family had a weak financial background and you are confused whether to enter the rat race or stray away. You also want to make an impact on the world. You have observed that everyone is running after money and wonder how is it possible to survive without money. You also wonder whether money is the major cause of misery.
All these questions are born because you are not aware of your Dharma, your own identity and the cause that you are tied to.
Self Realization Starts With the Observance of Dharma
The road to self realization has 4 stations
- Moksha (Self realization)
You are a student and at the same time you are a son to your parents. So you have two Dharma at this point in time
- To study and uplift yourself. To liberate yourself from the “Agyaan” that has covered your mind. To gain knowledge and expertise in some craft, to convert the ignorant mind into an intellectually alert mind. This is your principal Dharma. This is “Udhaar” – to uplift oneself. This is why you have worked hard and passed the difficult exam to enter your institution – to uplift your own mind.
- End the misery. Your next Dharma is to take care of your parents and uplift their situation. If their financial background is weak, it is your duty to work and improve that situation. You are in debt to your parents, since they have sacrificed so much for you and now you must work and pay it back to them.
- Give it back. Your next Dharma is to give it back to the institution and society which has provided all the necessary infrastructure to you. Your institution, your country, your society, your people, your teachers, your friends, relatives – everyone has helped you in some way or the other so you reach wherever you have reached.
- Choose between “Grihastha” or “Sanyas” – Your next Dharma is to get married to a worthy woman, start a family and produce a child so you give back a citizen to this society and help the society just like your parents did. This is optional though. You can choose not to get married or produce children. This will not violate Dharma. The choice of “Grihastha” or “Sanyasa” is on the individual but one must choose either of the two.
To summarize, here is your Dharma at this point in time
- To put an end to the ignorant mind.
- To put an end to the misery of the family.
- To put an end to the debt of help you have received by giving it back to the world.
Now let’s say you quit your college, run away from society and start living a very different life. Let’s say you become an ascetic and abandon this world with the logic that there is no point joining the Rat race and earn money. That way, you are straying from your Dharma.
If you do not observe and fulfill Dharma, you can never attain self realization.
Now to fulfill this Dharma, you will have to study hard, get a job, work even harder, earn money and then only you can uplift the situation of your family and preserve your Dharma. This is extremely hard and this is the test of Dharma.
Everybody has to go through this test and the difficulty here is that most people are carried away by greed and fail to realize what is their Dharma at any given point in time.
I don’t want to enter Rat race and earn money like everyone else is doing
But if you do not enter the rat race, you will not be able to fulfill your Dharma of uplifting your family’s situation. So your choice of “Not entering” the rat race is nothing but a non-observance of your Dharma. If you do this, you will not attain Self realization.
What is Greed? How can one survive without Greed
Greed is a selfish desire for wealth or anything that is just material.
Your choice of not entering the Rat race is also greed. It is a desire that you are breeding in your mind so that you can find an easy way out of your Dharma – no need to work for the man, no need to earn money and no need to provide for the family (observe my Dharma). That’s an escape.
Just think, aren’t you being selfish in choosing not to work and earn money? Is this why your parents sacrificed everything for you, so you choose not to enter “work life” and be dependent on this world for your needs? Isn’t this a selfish desire?
This is indeed a selfish desire my friend. Anyone who chooses not to work or make a living for himself is selfish, for he is depending on the world for his own needs. At the same time, he is not paying the debt that he is supposed to pay to his parents who spent so much for his upbringing. He is not paying the debt that he is supposed to pay to his institution who spent so much for his education and upliftment. He is not paying the debt to his friends and relatives who had helped him through.
A cow has to graze its own grass. Will you go and fetch grass for the cow? The cow knows that you certainly won’t. Similarly, why should anyone fetch grass for you? Go, fetch on your own, for that is your Dharma.
Money is not the cause of misery, attachment to money is
Money is just a tool, how you use the tool is completely up to you.
What is money? Money is a technology which is used to store value. Money is not value, you cannot eat money and satisfy your hunger. Just like a hammer is a tool, a chair is a tool, a phone is a tool, a bicycle is a tool, money is also a tool.
How can a tool become the major cause of anyone’s misery? Will you say that a hammer is the reason of my misery? Certainly not. Then how can you say that money is the reason of all misery. It is a misapprehension.
People who do not have enough money for themselves and do not want to work hard say that money is the cause of misery. In some ways, these are the people who want to portray an excuse to themselves that
Money is the cause of misery. I don’t want to enter this rat race and make myself miserable. In short, I don’t want to work hard and observe by Dharma of being a son and providing for my parents.
Your Dharma at this point is to improve the condition of your Family. So after finishing college, you should take up a job and earn money to fulfill your Dharma. That is the cause you are tied to.
Just like Arjuna was tied to a cause and had to kill his own relatives for upliftment of his Dharma, you are also tied to this cause and must fight with yourself and this world so fulfill it.
It is only after you have improved the situation of your family, you can say that
I have studied and fulfilled my dharma as a student. I have earned enough money for my family and have fulfilled my Dharma as a son. Now I do not owe anything to anybody, let me choose whatever I want to do in life.
Now here is the thing.
After fulfilling your Dharma, if you remain attached to money, you will invite misery. You will stick to a job you hate because that job “Pays well”. A Fat paycheque will make you miserable. However, the same Fat paycheque won’t make you miserable so long you haven’t fulfilled your Dharma.
So let’s say you have just graduated and enter a decent job with a good pay. You don’t like the job but since the job pays well and you are tied to your Dharma, you keep doing it. You are doing it for Dharma’s sake, not for your sake. Just like Arjuna killed Bheesma for Dharma’s sake and not for his own sake, you are doing the job for Dharma’s sake and not for your personal wish.
Hence, there is no room for misery. You are attached to the money but misery won’t come since you are observing a Dharma – the upliftment of your Family.
The moment you have provided enough money for the family (Dharma is upheld) and you become attached to the fat paycheck, misery will come. So long your Dharma is not met, there is no room for misery. Attachment of any form without the purview of Dharma invites misery.
So when you have worked for 3-4 years and fulfilled your Dharma, you might feel miserable doing a job just because it pays well. Then you will have a new Dharma to follow. That new Dharma will come in time, you are not seeing it yet because you are tied to other Dharma’s.
One should not be attached to anything but Dharma. Your Dharma at this point is to study and make yourself intellectually alert, so you can earn enough and provide for your family 3-4 years later. If you follow this Dharma, you can never be miserable.
Self realization comes only after one has paid all the debts, followed his Dharma and liberated himself from this vicious cycle of give and take.
- Kaam / Sanyasa
- Moksha – Self realization, liberation.
You are just in the first stage – following the Dharma of a student. Then you will enter the second stage of “Artha” and acquire to provide for your family. Then you will enter the third stage and choose whether to get married or become a sanyasin. Only after you have passed these three stages, self realization or liberation shall come.
Self realization cannot come when you are tied to a cause (Dharma). One must fulfill his cause first and only after that, self realization shall come.
Arjuna attained self realization only after he defeated his enemies and preserved his Dharma to his wife, brothers and kingdom. If Arjuna became an ascetic, he would have been deemed as “Adharmik”. He must fight for the humiliation his wife has received. The fact that he was unable to protect her is not Draupadi’s fault. It is his fault and he only has to achieve vengeance for her. He must fight for the kingdom and eliminate all the evil, provide a righteous king to the kingdom. Only after he fulfilled his Dharma, he was allowed to go to heaven and attain self realization.
“Zindagi apne aap se bhagne ka naam nahi hai. Agar Moksha hi chahiye, to Grihastha jivan ke Sanyasi bano – yahi mukti ka marg hai”