We have a question from Devika Damle
Can a householder become liberated because i always thought rather had a doubt that to get moksha, do i necessarily become a nun(monk)…also what are the rules that a commoner/married person can follow to get moksha?
Anyone can attain Moksha (Liberation).
It doesn’t matter what are his/her attributes, situation, commitments and wordly obligations. If someone wants to liberate himself or herself, he can do so. His attributes and parameters are secondary and not important.
It doesn’t matter who he is or what he does or what his life goals are, these are all worldly things while the objective of “Moksha” is to liberate oneself from his own self.
To let go.
It’s like using the eye to see the eye itself.
The hardest part of any life is to understand oneself, to understand who you are. That can never come unless you free yourself from your own bondage. This is the whole goal of Moksha.
What is Moksha?
Many believe that “Moksha” is equal to freedom. That’s wrong. Freedom and liberation are different things.
When you say “I am free”, it usually means you are free from an external bondage. Free from a job, free from a business, free from family, free from debt or other worldly obligations. But you are not free from yourself. You are not free from your beliefs. You are not free from your thoughts. You are not free from your desires. You are not free from your instincts. You are not free to think and act like a new born baby
Moksha comes from the Sanskrit word “Muych” which means, to release oneself from his own bondage. You think you will become someone someday and that your life is very important and there are lots of things you need to do to achieve success, happiness, satisfaction, meaning, excellence or whatever you want from life.
You think achieving wealth, relationships and other objectives will give you what you want.
These are illusions. It is this “Maya” which is trapping you all the time. You will never understand the real thing unless you come out of the bondage you have created for yourself.
All of that you see around you is simply a drama. The world is mad. You are living inside an illusion and you think that this illusion is true and hence, you act according to it.
- Everyone is going to school and college. So I should go to one too. – Wrong. This is the illusion, the “Maya”. People think that by going to school and college, they will learn something which will help them live a “better life”. But the reality is that what they learn in school and college is simply hogwash. The system robs you of your money, time, creativity, curiosity, natural instincts and makes you a slave of the system.
- Everyone is getting a job or starting a business. I must do it too – Wrong. This is the illusion, the “Maya”. People think that by getting a job or starting a business, they will become wealthy and attain happiness, contentment, perfection and purity. But in this process, they simply become a money earning machine. They slave away decades of their life because they think that this is what they are supposed to do to understand who they are.
- Everyone is buying a home or a car. I must do it too – Wrong. This is the illusion, the “Maya”. People think that once they have a home or a car, they will achieve peace and will have comfort in life. But in this process, they sacrifice years of their life earning money, to buy a home in a place they can afford to live and their best years are gone sweating away in hope of a better future which doesn’t even exist. By the time they are able to beget those things, they are old and miserable and can no longer enjoy them.
These are all “internal bondages” we live in. There is no obligation that you have to do all of these things. But you think that you have do all these things and hence create the trap for yourself which you can’t break free.
Attaining Moksha is simply the abnegation of these internal bondages. Just get rid of the baggage from your head and move on.
Let me tell you a small story before I answer your original question.
Few years back I was travelling to Himalayas and I visited a place in Uttar Pradesh called Munsiyari. There I went to an Ashram and met a Hindu monk. I have this innate curiosity to find monks in various places and ask them simple questions to get perspectives on life. Here is what I asked him
Tell me O great monk, how can I achieve liberation? I just don’t understand what’s the point of living at all. Why live? What are we doing here? And how do we break free from this life which we live we don’t know why we are living.
O my boy, you are too young to even understand what life is. Look at me, I am old and I don’t think I have understood life yet. Nobody understand what life is. You don’t have to understand it. It is not meant to be understood. It is meant to be lived. So live it, why are you even trying to understand it?
Look at that tree. This tree is here for the last 30 years. We can cut it down any day, burn it to get some heat in the winters. What is that tree doing there? Nobody knows and nobody cares. The existence of that tree is not meant to be understood, you don’t have to understand why that tree exists. That tree is meant to provide shade and fruit. So let it be like that, don’t try to understand why that tree exists, the meaning of that thing and what’s the greater purpose behind it’s existence over there.
Great. I still don’t have the answer of the question I asked you. Why don’t you tell me the real thing, instead of just giving me a vague explanation.
My boy, I told you in the beginning that you are too young. My words are appearing vague to you. It means, your brain wants to hear a specific thing from my lips and once those things are heard, you will get the answer which you want to hear. You don’t want the real answer. You want the answer which you want to hear. This is why I told you, you are just naive. Go, have fun, play, drink, dance, get married – don’t get into all this. Just enjoy your life.
How do I liberate myself? How do I attain Moksha?
Again and again you are asking difficult questions. And if I answer you, you will again ask another question whose answer you will not be able to digest. And then you will ask another question and this will go on. There is little or no point of this discussion because you don’t like my answers. You want to hear your version of the answer from my mouth, which won’t happen, my boy.
People who are wise don’t ask so many questions. They ask one question and they find all the answers in that one answer. You are asking one question after another which means you don’t know what you are talking about.
So you want Moksha? You want to liberate yourself? How old are you?
I am 27.
Do you have a wife? A job? A family? Kids? Work? Parents? Responsibilities? What have you achieved in life? What have you lost? How many times you have failed? What do you have which you think you can call your own?
Well I am unmarried at this time. I have a job and some work. I have parents at home. No big responsibilities as such. I have had some failures with respect to education, jobs, business ventures and other areas. No major success yet, only a big list of failures. But that’s all right. I am just learning the ropes. No hurries. No tensions and other big problems yet, thanks to almighty. But I have this thirst to know the answers to these questions.
So that’s your problem my friend. The biggest problem in life is having no problem at all. And since you don’t have problems and responsibilities, you are thinking about purpose of life, moksha, liberation and other things.
What do you have with you that you can lose? Have you built a career, work and other things which you want to do? Do you have your own family, wife, kids and home? Do you have wealth? Do you have recognition, fame and social acceptance of you as a responsible human being?
You don’t have any of these things, right. So how can you lose? You have nothing to lose in the first place.
A beggar can say that he wants to attain Moksha. But my boy, that beggar has nothing to lose in the first place. He has to first attain all those things and then he can “renunciate” all of that and be eligible for “Moksha”.
You must have a job first and then after doing that job for some time, you can say that I don’t want to do that job anymore. Someone who has never done a job and understands nothing about working in an organization, can say the same thing too. That he doesn’t want to work in an organization.
But in the former case, the individual is making a choice of not working for some reason. The latter one is imply escaping from the trouble of doing a job.
The former can say he left a job. The latter can’t.
The former can say he “renunciated” a job. The latter can’t, shouldn’t.
A husband can say that he is ready to “renunciate” his wife. A bachelor can’t.
A mother of two can say she wants to renunciate her children. A young unmarried maiden can’t say that. It’s because she doesn’t have a child yet and she has no idea what having a child means.
A wealthy man has the privilege to say that he is ready to “renunciate” his wealth. But you can’t say that. Because you don’t have wealth in the first place, how can you say you want to give up wealth and attain liberation?
Go, work hard for 40 years, become a millionaire or billionaire first, get married to a woman, produce 4 kids, play football with them, fight with your wife a million times, build a home, build businesses, change things, work for the man, create your identity and then come to me and say I want to renunciate all of this and attain moksha.
You are just a 27 year old kid who understands nothing in life, has done nothing, has achieved nothing that he can lose and looking for Moksha.
You are a big fool my boy. Now go away and don’t disturb me, let me enjoy the nature.
Why are you getting upset on me, I am like your grandchild. I was just telling you that I don’t want all of these things in the first place. I don’t see the point in all these things, why go after so much effort when I don’t want them in the first place?
You can never understand the value of something unless you create it with your own hands and then leave it. Unless you do it and then leave it, you will not know what you left behind. Unless you have scars in your face which heals over a period of time, you will not know the meaning of life.
There used to be a mechanic shop in the town where I worked when I was of your age. I used to repair motorcycles and had to work extremely hard every single day to put food on the table. At that time, I hated my life and work. I was doing it out of desperation.
But now when I look back, I feel what I have lost. I have lost that fun and thrill of repairing a bike and seeing it roar the streets like a new one. That charm, that small piece of success has far, far more greater significance than our stupid conversation. Unless you are a mechanic and have repaired thousands of bikes, you will never know what it feels to quit repairing bikes.
Go and repair 5000 bikes for 10 years, quit it and then come to me telling that I had repaired 5000 bikes for 10 years. In that process of learning, learning again, learning again and again, achieving mastery, perfection and then leaving it all behind – you will attain moksha.
There is no fixed process of achieving liberation. Everyone finds his own way in a unique style. But one thing I can tell you – you can never liberate yourself unless you have achieved something which you can let go. If you have achieved nothing in life, there is nothing to let go and hence there is no question of Moksha in the first place.
A beggar can come to me and say he wants to achieve moksha. I will tell him to go work for 40 years, build a home, family and wealth and then come to me and ask the same question. This question holds true when you have something to lose.
Okay, I think I have understood what you are trying to say. I must attain pointless things in this world and then let them go to achieve that meaning of Moksha.
Again you proved that you haven’t understood anything at all.
Some things can never be understood from someone else at a given stage in life. Walk your life, you will get the answers to your questions as you walk the walk. After 10 years, I will be dead. After 40 years, come to this place and you will find someone else sitting here. Ask him that question then. If that sage of the future exists, he will answer you the question of Moksha because at that point in time, you will be a different human being with a different perspective on life. You will have achieved things, preserved a family, built wealth and will have something to lose. That sage of the future has the answer to your question, not me. Because what I am seeing is a demented fool who can’t be taught something he is asking about. You are simply trying to escape life, escaping cannot be Moksha.
If you really want to know the answer, go work hard, achieve everything you want to achieve and then give it up all. If you do that, you will not need to come here and seek answers from someone else. You will give answers to other people. You will be sitting here and discussing these things with a young boy, like I am doing.
The long conversation ended and I made my return journey to the hotel I was staying. The important lesson I learnt that day is – I will never understand the meaning and significance of giving up unless I have something to lose. I must acquire, preserve and then lose to know the significance of losing – that is the first step towards liberation.
The same is true for you Devika.
It doesn’t matter if you are married and whatever you are doing. And there are no rules as such. You do what you want to do. Wealth, family, travelling, kids, education, hobbies – whatever. Just do whatever you want and one day you might feel –
I have had enough. I no longer need any more things in life. I have achieved enough in life and now the time has come to give up everything. Even relationships. I must go on my own and become a “Parivrajaka”
This is the ultimate stage in life wherein the subject lets go of all his possessions and begins the process of attaining liberation. Whether he achieves liberation or not is not important. This is that time when he/she is ready to explore the stage of liberation. This can come at 30 years of age too. Age is not an indicator of when that stage will come.
But whether you will achieve moksha or not, I don’t have an answer to that question. I simply don’t know how to get it and I haven’t read it anywhere. I believe this is something which nobody can teach anyone. It has to be self taught. And I haven’t achieved it myself.
I know at what stage I will become eligible for “Moksha”. That stage is far, far away and a distant reality. But whether I will get Moksha or not, I don’t know. Nobody knows.
Even Gautam Budhha didn’t knew when he started his Maha Niskraman journey.
So whether you will attain Moksha or not, nobody knows. You can never know that. Whether it makes sense to achieve moksha and are you even eligible to achieve Moksha or not, is answered by the question of that sage whose story I told you.
That is all I know about this and I know that what I know is very little.