Chapter 9: He Exults in His Creation
If a man swims against the current, trying to go towards its source, he is not far from the river, but against it. And the irony is, the more you fight the river, the more you realize that it is not your enemy. It is not hostile to you. It follows its course, hurrying along to meet the sea, and has nothing to do with you. Whether you sink or swim is none of its concern. It is you who have made an enemy of the river. It is because of you alone that you find enemies everywhere in this world. When do you find the time to live? All your time is spent trying to save yourself from your supposed enemies.
Life away from God is bound to be meaningless - if not full of misery. It becomes like a nightmare, and you want to awaken but you cannot. You feel somebody sitting on your chest, and your arms are powerless to push him away; or someone is trying to shove you down a mountain and you have no way to save yourself. You try to move your hands but you cannot. You want to open your eyes, but you cannot. You want to shout, but you cannot. This is a nightmare.
Everyone removed from God is in a dream state. Those who are opposed to the flow of existence are in a nightmare. Examine your own life and you will find that such is the condition. The eyes do not open, the hands do not move, the load on the chest does not lessen - and yet you live! Then your life can be nothing but one long tale of woe.
Kierkegaard, Sartre, Marcel, Heidegger, and other great thinkers of the West describe life as anguish and anxiety with no way to be freed from it. They are right to a very great extent. Life as it is generally led is a torment.
But we also know of another kind of life - that of Nanak, Kabir, Buddha, Krishna, Christ. Their lives are just the opposite of ours: where we are weighed down with harassment, their lives are a veritable dance. Where nothing echoes within us except strains of pain and sorrow, their inner self reverberates with music. Whereas we walk as if we have heavy chains around our feet, their step is light; they walk with a spring. While a look at us conveys the fruits of great sin, their appearance glows with the blessings of the divine.
There is another way of living, and the key is to live not away from, but near to God, to live not against his order but in conformity with it. He whose life flows with the law undergoes a change. You may not necessarily struggle against God, but your ego pushes you - it says the more you fight and struggle, the greater you become.
But the joke of the whole thing is, just the opposite happens: the more you win, the less you become. You may find a big heart in a poor man, but not in a rich man; his heart gets smaller with every gain. A poor man may give in charity, the rich man loses his courage to give. A poor man is capable of love, but there is no music of love and cheer within a rich man; and of course, prayer and God are unheard of where he is concerned. He is barely capable of ordinary animal love. The more wealth you amass the narrower your heart gets. It is a contradiction. The internal space gets more and more constricted and you find yourself always anxious and worried about your possessions.