By Anand Krishna
For The Bali Times
Moksha – The Ultimate Freedom, Salvation or Liberation – is the fourth and the last purushartha, the four pillars holding our life structure. The first three has been discussed before, Dharma or Righteousness, Artha or Wealth and Kama or Passion.
Generally, moksha is defined as “freedom from the cycle of life and birth.” There has been much talk, discussion and scientific investigation on the subject of life after death, life after life, near death experience, reincarnation and so on. However, moksha remains a mystery, for it pertains to a state beyond life and beyond death. It is the state of statelessness. Most importantly, who can guarantee you that you will not be reborn after you die “this time”?
Moksha after or upon death is a comforting thought. Buddha called it Nirvana, one and the same thing. The Buddhist theologians, however, take offence, “No, they are not the same.” Well, if you want to establish a new religion, then you must have a new set of doctrines and dogmas. So I can understand their objection on the equation of nirvana with moksha.
A pitcher filled with water is emptied in the sea. The Buddha focuses on the empty pitcher, and says, “Behold, the water is gone. Nirvana, it is over, finished, done.”
Others who focus on the sea exclaim, “Water in the pitcher is united with sea. Great Union. It’s time to celebrate the Ultimate Meeting – wow, moksha!”
The phenomenon is the same; our descriptions differ. But, once again, these are just descriptions, thoughts, hypothesises, rhetoric. As one of the purusharthas, moksha, nirvana, liberation, salvation, heaven, or whatever you may call it, must mean something in this life. It must be connected with living, and not with afterlife only.
In our day-to-day life, in the so-called “real time,” moksha can be translated as freedom. I am reminded of a beautiful poem, written by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941):
WHERE the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
There can be no better understanding of moksha in our daily life than the above by the great poet.
Moksha in life is the freedom to think, to express, to create, to move and to follow the dictates of your heart.
“WHERE the mind is without fear and the head is held high” – moksha is first and foremost freedom from fear. Fear weakens our soul. Fear kills our spirit. Fear is a hindrance to the blossoming of human excellence. Fear is anti-soul.
“Head held high” in this verse refers to the state of fearlessness. It is not out of arrogance or egotism. It is the expression of soul through our body – soul that is ever-soaring high, trying to attain to the highest possible state of consciousness.
“Where knowledge is free,” not manipulated by government, by society, by religious or any other manmade institution. As soon as a child is born, we thrust an identity upon it, in fact a set of identities, social as well as religious.
Prince Charles was born human, just like you and me. However, we differ in our locations of birth. He was born in a palace; we were born outside the palace. For that reason, he is called “prince” right from his birth. Baby Charles has no understanding of the title given him, or its implication. The title is forced upon him without his consent.
Then begins his training as a prince. Knowledge, sciences and arts are custom-packaged especially for him. The royals decide what is suitable and what is not for a prince.
But don’t you think our situation is any better? Charles is a victim of royals and royal society. We are victims of our paupers and pauper society. We all are victims of manmade systems.
“Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls” – all manmade systems, dogmas, doctrines and creeds pose limitations. Tagore refers to these as “narrow domestic walls.” These are not concrete, but mental and emotional walls.
“Where words come out from the depth of truth” – our words and deeds are governed by our thoughts, our mind. If our mind is not free, our words cannot be truthful. For it takes a brave and free soul to be truthful. Being truthful is taking risks. Also, if our mind is not free, we cannot act freely. We cannot move freely.
“Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection” – free people are people striving to reach perfection. It is for this reason that the sultans, emirs, kings and authoritarian rulers are not interested in our perfection. They would rather let us remain mediocre. For it is very difficult to rule over people free in their soul and striving to reach perfection.
“Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit” – reason defies slavery. Reason is anti-mind-manipulation. To reason is to expand, to open up, to learn more and know more. Reason does not favour status quo. Reason is very, very dynamic, ever-changing, transforming and perfecting.
This is why the establishments, institutions, politicians without principles and corporations without conscience are always trying to hunt down the faculty of reasoning within us. This is why dogmas and doctrines are created. This is why rituals are enforced. We are forced to form habits to benefit the system.
More or less, each one of us has been a victim of the system and the establishment. The faster we realize this, the better.
“Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action” – Tagore was born a British subject, but his country was not independent; it was ruled by the British. Yet in his soul he was a free man. In spirit, he was soaring high, flying beyond the highest layers of skies.
“Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake” – nations become independent and once again enslaved by greedy corporations and corrupt politicians. Therefore, it is important, urgent and imperative that people become free first – free in mind, in heart, in soul, in spirit.
Individuals must first become free. They must learn to appreciate freedom. It is then, and only then, that they can value, cherish and nurture their nations’ independence.
There is a beautiful term in Sanskrit, Jeevan Mukta – One Who is Free in Life. This, then, is the seed for moksha, or freedom after life.
Thus, the purusharthas – the four pillars holding our life structure.
The writer is a spiritual activist and author of more than 120 books. To know more about his activities in Bali, call Aryana or Debbie on 0361 7801595 or 8477490; or visit www.aumkar.org and www.anandkrishna.org.