So it has been a while since I have been having a good time — I gave up a nasty, silly job this summer and then went about reading, writing, editing, setting up websites, sleeping, eating, spending time with the family, not worrying about money, making enough money… in short, living my idea of a great life.
But then I became too comfortable. I gave up on my spiritual practice — in fact, all of them. I took up a great new job. I slunk into the cocoon of material life and began to thrive in all the pleasures it had to offer, all the colourful distractions the gurus called ‘maya’.
Last week then, God sent me a wakeup call.
My husband had been reporting a story from the heart of Naxalite country, Bastar, in the state of Chhatisgarh. I knew of course that he was going into dangerous territory but his confidence rubbed off on me and I assumed nothing could go wrong.
Two days into his trip, his phone was unreachable. I didn’t panic. It was a rural area without signals or much development, after all.
Then, about 22 hours after our last conversation, I happened to see his inbox on my computer; what struck me immediately was that he had not checked email for almost 20 hours. It was very unlike him and, suddenly, alarm bells went off in my head. I called up his senior colleague, who assured me that all was fine. They were in a no-coverage area for the night. It was okay, it was expected.
But something had snapped inside me by then. I was wracked with fear and paranoia. I broke down crying, until that voice in my head spoke to me after a long time. It said, “Where’s your faith, then? Is this how fragile you are?”
It also reminded me: “Isn’t this what life is about? One minute, everything is hunky-dory, and the next minute, everything has fallen apart. Don’t you know this already? That life is all about change? Aniccha — it is all impermanent?”
My sobs took on a jerky rhythm of abject guilt and remorse. Fear for my husband’s wellbeing was overwritten by an enormous sense of loss of religion. Where was my faith, indeed? At one point in my life, when everything around me had shattered to pieces, it was my faith that had kept burning unbeatable like an Olympic flame. And now, when everything around me was rosy and perfect, the slightest bit of bad news had sent me weeping and wailing to the gods. What had I done to myself?
I spent close to an hour crying and chanting simultaneously in front of my Gohonzon, dusty for lack of use, but as welcoming as ever. A few days later I met and hugged two important people in my life who have faced great personal loss and unimaginable grief but who did not give up on their spiritual practice. If anything, their loss had fed their faith. They inspired me.
I have now resolved to return to all things God, including this blog. (She has a dramatic way of reminding you of Her presence, doesn’t She?) And so the seeker returns.
PS: The husband was fine. We spoke the next morning and promptly had a marital argument. All’s well that end’s well. Hari Om.