Being a River — Vedanta Society

The destination? It had never struck me before that I had a destination to reach. Until then I had only looked forward to immediate goals before me: a mountain to be crossed, a distant valley to be reached, and the like. I had looked forward to graduating from my school and from the university. I had dreamt of a successful career and a happy family. But now I learnt that I had a destination, and unless and until I reached the destination my journey couldn’t be complete. An incomplete journey is an incomplete life.

At once I remembered how I had seen some other rivers ending up nowhere: they had dried up, burnt and consumed by their own follies and carelessness. The sun-god had lifted them up and taken them away, to begin all over again. Failure meant repetition. They had failed in life, so they had to die and repeat life. I had seen some others merging themselves completely in larger rivers. They had surrendered themselves to the collective. The strain and anxiety of the journey was too much for them. They could bear them no longer. Individual courage had failed, confidence to face the world had been shattered. They had surrendered their freedom to chart their own route, they had surrendered their own selves and sought security in the collective. They were a defeated lot. Even they would have to begin all over again. I had to reach the destination myself, not riding on the shoulder of somebody else. The teachers had told me that my destination was the ocean. I think I heard them say “God” whenever they told me about the ocean. The two were probably the same.

As I encountered life in all its varied colors, this thought of God bothered me now and then. I asked myself, when shall I reach the ocean, my destination? How far is it from here? How shall I reach there? The questions became more persistent and I longed to know the answers. I had heard somewhere: “It is a mysterious law of nature that as soon as the field is ready, the seed must come, as soon as the soul wants religion, the transmitter of religious force must come.” I did not know then much about religion, certainly nothing about what true religion was. But the questions related to my “destination” became stronger and stronger. Perhaps the field was ready, for soon a momentous event occurred in my life. I saw for the first time in my life a huge, luminous river, flowing with a divine rhythm, calm, composed and compassionate.

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