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Volume VIII - The Art of Being

The Privilege of Being Human

Chapter IX
Indifference - Vairagya

The word vairagya comes from the Sanskrit and means indifference. By Sufis it is called fana, and it is shown in the cross, the symbol of the Christian religion.

This indifference comes to every being and is the first step to his annihilation, because not one atom can have its evolution without annihilation. The lower beings, the mineral, vegetable and animal, evolve towards the higher beings, and as man is the highest creation, there is nothing for him to evolve to but this indifference, when it comes, opens a way for him to God from whom he came.

This indifference comes to the child when she realizes that her doll is not so interesting as she had thought and that it would be more interesting to play with other children who at least are alive. So first the child takes the doll and loves it. She carries it about and if the dolly's hand is hurt the child wants some remedy; a bed is needed to put the dolly in and a carriage is needed to take the dolly out. But when the nature of the doll is understood it is thrown away, and the child realizes that to play with children of her own age is better than to play with dolls which never speak.

So it is with us, the children of the world. Our likes and infatuations have a certain limit; when their time has expired the period of indifference commences. When the water of indifference is drunk, then there is no more wish for anything in the world. The nature of the water one drinks in this world is that one's thirst is quenched for a certain time, and then comes again. When the water of divine knowledge is drunk, then thirst never comes again.

This indifference comes when the nature of the world is understood; it is the higher knowledge. Then it is understood that all those objects to which one attached so much importance, which one strove to attain, to achieve, are not important. Before reaching that stage a person attaches too much importance to his joys, to his sorrows. If he is sad the whole world is full of sadness. If he is a little joyful the whole world is full of joy – as if the sun would rise and set according to his joy and sadness.

Indifference, however, must be reached after interest has taken its course; before that moment it is a fault. A person without an interest in life becomes exclusive, he becomes disagreeable. Indifference must come after all experience – interest must end in indifference. Man must not take the endless path of interest: the taste of everything in the world becomes flat. Man must realize that all he seeks in the objects he runs after, that all beauty and strength, are in himself, and he must be content to feel them all in himself. This may be called the kiss of the cross: then man's only principle is love.

Vairagya means satisfaction, the feeling that no desire is to be satisfied any more, that nothing on earth is desired. This is a great moment, and then comes that which is the kingdom of God.

Why is God satisfied with the world whereas even man, when he reaches a certain grade of intelligence, is not satisfied? Or is God not satisfied? There are two sorts of dissatisfaction. The first is felt when a man has so much given in to the external self that the world can give him no more satisfaction. The other comes when the desire for more experience, for more enjoyment ceases. This is called Vairagya, this is indifference. Such a person is not unhappy. He is happier than others. He has only lost his intense interest in the world.

There is a story of a comedian who every day disguised himself in order to fool the king, the Badshah, at whose court he lived. But the king recognized him in all his disguises. The comedian then thought that he would disguise himself as an ascetic. He went to a cave in the mountains and lived there with two disciples, also comedians. He fasted for long periods thinking that in this way he disguised himself well. After forty days people, seeing his disciples, began to speak of the sage living in the mountain. They brought him presents: one hundred, two hundred dirhams. But he refused all saying, 'Take it away. 'The sage does not want money or presents.'

His fame spread more and more. The king heard of him and became anxious to see him. So he went to the cave, but for a long time the disciples would not let him enter. At last he was allowed to come into the presence of the 'sate.' The king said, 'I have been kept waiting very long before I could see you.' The sage replied, 'The dogs of this world are not allowed to enter the house.' The king was very much insulted. He thought, 'This must be a very great person.' He gave him a paper saying, 'This is a parwana for the support of your disciples.' A parwana means a grant of land, but the word has two meanings, it also means moth. The 'sage' said, 'if it is a parwana its place is in the fire.' And he put the paper in the fire which was burning before him.

The king went away and the comedian got up thinking, 'Now I must tell the king how well I have fooled him.' Then a voice came saying, 'Your feigned indifference has brought the king before you. If it had been real indifference, We Ourselves would have come before you.


checked 24-nov-2015