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Excerpt from chapter one – Finding the self

This is an excerpt from a novella that will be published in the near future. More information about this chapter’s topic and its inspiration will come at the end of this post.

“The story goes such: There once was a young woman who sought a husband. She had a list of requirements for her future spouse: he had to be handsome and pleasant to look at, had to have a deep and manly voice, have an enticing musky scent, have lips that tasted as sweet as honey and have hair thick and soft to the touch. The daughter of rich parents, she travelled in her search to every country and in every city she passed through she sought after the one who could quench her longing. In many places she found men who fulfilled her criteria. Still, she could find no peace.

‘Yes, this man is lovely and everything I asked for,’ she’d tell herself, ‘but what if he isn’t the one? What if another could rapture my heart with even more passion and give me more pleasure still?’

And so, every place she visited she left feeling unsatisfied and unsettled.

Years passed. Her youth and beauty faded and so did her hopes. Before she knew, she was an old woman and she travelled disillusioned back to her homeland and the city of her birth.

‘Oh, Lord!” She called out to God. ‘Why did you deny me the deepest desire of my heart? Why did you show me such cruelty in this life?’

Her parents has since long passed away and the house of her youth had been left abandoned and decrepit. So, she decided to refurbish it and turn it into an orphanage.

‘You broke my dream in a thousand pieces, Lord,’ she told God. ‘I will use the few years I have left to ease others’ pain, that there at least be less of it in this world.’

She let all the orphaned children of the city move into her house and there she took care of them; feeding, clothing and watching over them. Her heart filled up with love for them and her own suffering lessened for each day that passed.

One morning, she went out into her yard to watch the sunrise and she happened to look over at the neighbour’s garden when she saw an old man standing in it. At that sight, she burst into tears. For he was the plain looking but good-hearted neighbour boy she had grown up with and she remembered then that they once had been in love.

Seeing her sorrow, he came over and put his arms around her.

‘My dear, why do you cry?’ He asked.

‘Everywhere I have sought,’ she said, ‘but here you were all along. What years I have wasted looking everywhere but here!’

‘What of the past, then?’ He answered. ‘That which has gone away, has gone away. Let us not live in regret, but rejoice in our reunion and part no more.’

And so they embraced and the seeking woman finally knew peace.”

The sage paused and the young man seemed perplexed.

“Well, that’s a beautiful story. But what does it have to do with the self?”

“You see,” the sage explained, “the mind is like that woman who, distracted, sought all over for what was already in front of her. It follows the senses here and there, always thinking the end of its longing is yet to be discovered and never is it satisfied. It believes the self is to be found, that in this or that aspect of the body or the mind resides its true identity. The thirsting mind does not yet know that the self is not lost and in no need to be found. That it is that consciousness which observes both body and mind. How proud is the mind, who thinks himself the master while the self precedes it! So, to answer your query: to find yourself, stop looking. Quiet your mind, that haughty one, and in the silence your self with shine. Then, Glory be, you will also know there is a Greater One there with you.”

The first chapter of Last Words of The Sage deals with a question many ask themselves: who am I and how do I find myself? The assumption being that one’s self if something which needs finding and not something that simply is. According to many spiritual traditions, the self does not reside in your body or any aspect of your mind but is simply the consciousness, the silent witness behind both. This knowledge liberates as it helps one transcend the troubles of both body and mind.

The teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi were one of the great inspirations for this chapter:

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