True happiness occurs and lasts when it is nurtured by spiritual exploration. In other words, true happiness is only achievable through self-realization, that is, when we are in tune with who we really are, with our soul. Conversely, suffering seems to be proportional to how far we find ourselves from this quest.
I am not a religious person per se. Despite the utmost respect for the life and works of those who established major philosophies and religions, I believe that nowadays, most of the organized religions only retain vestiges of their true meaning. The latter has been lost, or grossly distorted at best. That said, I am not an atheist either. Even though I do not have any proof, I believe that there is a divine intelligence which governs our universe, controlling each stage of our evolution. As can be seen by the innumerable works on this topic that fill our bookstores and libraries, I am not the only one to hold such convictions.
To assert that evolution happens exclusively via natural selection, as per the British naturalist Charles Darwin, or that it is simply the result of sheer coincidence seems absurd to me. The British astrophysicist, Fred Hoyle, declared that “The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable to the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein”. Anyone who has even briefly studied the human anatomy cannot help but be filled with awe by its countless mysteries. Two questions naturally arise: what is the intelligence responsible for this extraordinary creation? and, where did it come from? Even without delving into realms such as human thought and the human soul but confining my questioning strictly to the existence of the physical body, I find myself in a dilemma. Logically, if we are not the source of its creation, an intelligence superior to our own must therefore be. If we are the creator, as Darwin’s theory indirectly asserts, shouldn’t we possess total and complete control over our each muscle, organ and cell as well as our evolution? As we are incapable of this to a very large extent, is it not logical to come to the same conclusion that there is a superior intelligence behind our creation which steers our evolution? The answer seems obvious to me.
If we look at the human race throughout history, it is indisputable that it is constantly evolving. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, a modern-day Indian sage, declared that one of the intrinsic characteristics of our species is its fundamental need to expand. “Man constantly wants to become more than he is,” says the Indian guru. When Man expresses this essential need by frantically pursuing material possessions or by satisfying his physical senses, however, he quietly slips into a deep sleep whereby he forgets who he really is, which is above all a being endowed with a vast consciousness and capable of exploits that we today call ‘myths’. Should he stubbornly hold on to his egotistical goals, the relentless machinery that orchestrates his evolution reminds him that it has other plans in store for him. If he continues to be obstinate, the light coming from his eyes loses its intensity, he become embittered, faces chronic depression, frequently falls ill and deteriorates until death frees him from his agony and gives him the freedom that his soul clamors for with repressed sobs. This phenomenon is described far more captivatingly by Bernard Enginger in Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness and his subsequent works.
True happiness seems to occur and last when it is nurtured by spiritual exploration. In other words, true happiness is only achievable through self-realization, that is, when we are in tune with who we really are, with our soul. Conversely, as mentioned above, suffering seems to be proportional to how far we find ourselves from this quest.
Looking at the countless creations and accomplishments that humans have left behind them over the centuries, it is clear that the path to creativity, realization, or self-realization, is not the same for everyone. It seems that there is no one formula, and everyone must find their own way. Some people only need a few years of yoga practice, meditation, recital of mantras, praying or regularly attending a temple to change their conscience for self-realization to occur. For many though, the task is more challenging, even laborious in some cases.
The late great Swami Vivekananda believed that there are four different temperaments, and that each one has its own path to self-realization. According to the swami, someone who is eager to take action should follow the path of action, that is, Karma Yoga. The person who is filled with unconditional love for everyone and everything should follow the path of devotion, Bhakti Yoga. An intellectual person should follow the path of knowledge, Jnana Yoga. And finally, a meditative or contemplative person should follow the path of conquering one’s inner self—or inner energies, Raja Yoga. Here, the word ‘yoga’ is used in the sense of union—the union between the individual consciousness and the universal consciousness—and not in the manner that we incorrectly use it today in the West, thereby limiting it exclusively to the physical exercises of this age-old practice.
Personally, not having obtained satisfying enough results from disciplines such as physical yoga exercises, meditation, martial arts, praying or selfless actions—which are more and more difficult to achieve in our materialistic societies, it seems that my path is that of knowledge. In fact, I have always been passionate about anything to do with history, nature and the evolution of humankind and his place in the universe. I have spent countless hours understanding and contemplating the connections between certain aspects of plants, animals, humans and the stars. However, even if it is a very valuable too, intellectual analysis has its limit in unravelling the innumerable mysteries of life. I have many questions but few answers. What is consciousness? What is life? What is their real purpose? Who created us? As a collective soul, have we unconsciously created this seemingly merciless world or have we been coerced into it by unscrupulous demons? Why does the spiritual path often only reveal itself in times of suffering? Why is surrendering to pleasures so natural when the spiritual path is often lined with thorns? Why do we, for the most part, feel abandoned and disconnected? Why is there such a stubborn silence from our Creator?
I admire great people such as Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Paramahansa Yogananda and many other sages who, through love, willpower and self-denial, were able to reach the heights of intuition. These beautiful souls were not ravaged by the gangrene that is all-powerful reason, which is today widespread in our schools and universities, as well as in our most sacred institutions. How can we escape the paralyzing, ruthless and cold grip that the intellect has on us and let the soul express itself? How can we, only for a moment, reach out to the part of us that is charitable, noble and immortal? Does the practice of shamanism with ayahuasca not deserve its place in this process?
Adriano Lucca is the author of several novels and spiritual works. He currently lives in South America and Asia.