"That man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material. " ~ Swami Vivekananda

Sacred Space: Reflections

The Way

Rajiv Butalia ponders on some of the teachings he has received on The Way.

No amount of discussion, reading, meditation or prayers will enlighten us. The traveller on the journey needs only to walk with one-pointedness, mindfulness and ceaseless determination. The rest is Grace.

There are as many paths as there are travellers. A master points the way. Ultimately we travel alone. Alone, on the razors edge, between insanity and fear, beyond the five senses and the intellect. And when innermost wisdom is fully awakened, we are as the Buddha, the all enlightened one. He, who did not describe the state of enlightenment.

Call of the Mountains

Masters & Sages

Pilgrim Trails
Legends of Kailash


The masters say that there is nowhere to go. If so, why are we travelling? Maya is the primal substance of which nature is formed. One of its qualities is that it is form producing. Yet, while it creates form it also veils the truth. When the mind starts to identify with the form instead of the underlying reality, it experiences a diminishing of intuitive and intellectual capacities. The truth hides behind this veil. Maya is illusory but not an illusion. We have to go beyond the veil.


The sages saw 3 qualities in the manifest Godhead and in Prakriti, nature. Sattva the force of truth, harmony and purity. Rajas, the tendency towards power, desire and energy. Tamas, the inclination towards inertia and stagnation. When the Gunas were in disequilibria the Godhead manifested the known universe. For those who seek to tread the Path, it is time for disequilibrium. Time to manifest in a different form and break out of the inertia.

Clarity of Perception

If we seek to experience life joyfully without the sorrows that attachments bring, we need not disassociate ourselves from the world. We need only to practice to live in perfection. This implies living in the here and now so that each moment is experienced as unique. The only condition is to empty our mind of all that we have learnt. All that we know is false.

Sometimes we meet like-minded people on the way. Often they can teach us something. The idea is to associate with those who enhance ones sense of harmony and do not detract from it. One type of company energises, another detracts. As we walk along the path we notice that we cling to some people out of habit even though they no longer energise. Drop them.

Observation and thinking makes all unnecessary appendages and attachments fall off, be they people or thought processes. One only has to practice being detached and being a witness. Constant awareness practice brings clarity of perception and a sense of harmony and balance.

Visualise the Goal

To detach oneself from the desires of the senses, one must distance oneself from illusory objects and fancy. Withdrawal by itself is not enough and will lead to frustration and anger. Even as the sense objects lose their power over the man who practices restraint, yet desire remains in his heart and dies only when something higher than sense-life can be envisioned. Ultimately, nothing but the vision of the atman causes the burning out of desire. That is why one has to look at the yet unseen, centre one's gaze upon the atman within, unseen though it may yet be.

The interactions remain, only the attachments fall away. We need to perfect ourselves and alter how we interact with the world. We must walk softly and create no ripples. Walk without leaving footprints, create no fresh karma. Discipline is all. The time before "awareness" will be preceded by intense effort.

To use the symbol of the chariot from the Bhagavat Gita, the horses of the senses are held back by the reins of the mind, but it is not intended that they should be unyoked from the chariot or that their movement be stopped altogether. The aim is to have the senses cease to assert their unique viewpoint at every moment.


The first lesson that the Buddha gave after his awakening was simplicity itself. Not to the learned, not to a group of monks, but to a small gathering of children. The children of Uruvela who had looked after him while he meditated in the forest and had become his friends. He did not describe the Great Awakening. He only spoke of the Path. He had shown them how to eat a tangerine in awareness. "The path I have found is the path of living each hour of the day in awareness, mind and body each dwelling on the present moment. Practice awareness and you will deepen your understanding. With understanding, you will have hearts of love."

Beyond Death

A finger points to the moon. The finger is not the moon. The sages and the masters point, as does the guru within. On the Way there will be immense suffering as the old self struggles to stop itself from dying. We kill a familiar friend, the only self we have known. As we traverse the path, we watch his suffering, but slay him we must. The body shudders as we watch it die. Sometimes friends and relations we have known surface to say hello. We must kill them as Ramakrishna killed Kali. We may have slain whole armies but there are those special one or two that we still cannot raise our swords to.

What of this ego self? How will it die? What is this self anyway? The "self" is but a programmed and conditioned consciousness. Programmed by others. By teachers, parents, peers, society. Is there but one thought or realization that we call truly our own? This is not the original mind. We have to seek and find our original face. You have taken the first step when you acknowledge "I do not know". The last step before awareness too is "I do not know".

Meanwhile we walk. Awakened and otherwise. Can you see the beauty in the journey?

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.