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Chapter 6: Why Wander Away?

You always ask the way. You think it will be helpful to know it now so that you will be able to follow it when some future time comes. But do you really want to reach the goal? Have you ever really desired him, have you ever yearned for him with that sincere and powerful longing Shree Aurobindo calls abhipsa. He calls it abhipsa and not aakaanksha even thought both words mean desire to show that it is not ordinary desire, to show that it is a special desire, the desire for God. Aakaanksha is of the mind; abhipsa is the inner call of life, the call that comes from every cell, from every fiber of the body.

You are like a man who keeps food and drink safely in the refrigerator and eats and drinks whenever he feels hungry or thirsty. But you do not even know what real thirst or real hunger is. Think of a man lost in a desert far away from civilization. The sun is tremendously hot, like fire, and the man is so thirsty he cannot even walk a single step. He is in great distress, like a fish out of water. Every particle of his body is clamoring for water. At such a moment thirst is not a fancy, as it is when someone feels thirsty at the sight of a Coca-Cola bottle; it is not like it is when someone feels hungry at the smell of some tasty morsel. This man’s thirst is not like this; it is not an ordinary thirst he can postpone for a time. This man’s thirst is a question of life and death; if the fire in his throat is not quenched within a few moments he is certain to die.

The desire one has at such a critical moment is called abhipsa by Shree Aurobindo. Have you ever longed for God with the intensity of desire that a thirsty man lying in the desert feels? Have you ever yearned for God like that? Have you ever risked your life in search of truth? No? That is why Kabir asks:

Sadhu, who’s kidding who?

You do not really long for God.

Now let us look at this question from the other side. If I say to you that I am opening the door to liberation for you right now, are you ready to enter? Will you not say to me, “Please wait a moment; I have to go home for a moment?” If you are ready you will enter immediately, without a second’s delay. But you will hesitate. You will say, “Many things are still to be done. Many desires are still to be fulfilled.” Your mind will argue; it will say, “Liberation is eternal. It is not going to disappear. Let me complete these few things first. They are here this moment; they will not be available again, but liberation will always be there. What is the harm if it waits a little? If I go there tomorrow or the day after, it is all the same. Let me enjoy this sansara, this world of dreams, a little while longer.”

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