When You Have Eliminated the Impossible
March 20, 2009
Recently I was doing some routine maintenance on my bicycle. It may be my mechanic karma or something, but more than often after I am done with the maintenance, my bicycle is rendered with more problems than before I started working on it. Looking at the bright side however, each time is a learning experience for me.
This time wasn’t an exception. Something with the shifting wasn’t quite working right. I reviewed every step, every part involved, cleaned everything thoroughly, it was still not working right. Then as I was riding and starting to get annoyed by this problem (and at the same time offering it all to God), I went through all the pieces again in my mind and there was one last thing I hadn’t tried, because I didn’t think that would fix it. The famous saying of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came to my mind:
“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Ah, how many times those words helped me in my profession. Working as a software engineer, I am often faced with software bugs that are so elusive, but more than often, applying Doyle’s wisdom directs me to the right solution. This time too, I decided to follow my hunch and to apply the improbable solution. I pulled to the side of the road and made a quick adjustment to my bicycle, hopped back on my bicycle and heard the sweet sound of smooth shifting. Voila! That was it.
As I was inwardly laughing and reflecting on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s quote, I realized how it also applied to spiritual life and to one’s search for happiness. A spiritual seeker, by carefully eliminating those things that are impossible to give him lasting happiness, finally concentrates on those practices that bring him closer to God-realization, however daunting that task may seem.
People look for happiness in so many wrong places: money, fame, relationships, alcohol, drugs to name a few. In fact, Swami Kriyananda often quotes a study about income levels and happiness, the details of which I was able to find online. People from many different income brackets were asked two questions:
“Do you make enough money to give you financial happiness?”
Out of 1500 people who were polled, not a single one of them answered positively. The second question was:
“How much money would you need in order to make you financially happy?”
The most common response (about 40% of the people) was:
“Well, I’d be happy if I made 50% more than I am making now.”
That 50% my friends, represents the ferret wheel of delusion that money will provide them the happiness they are looking for.
When you eliminate the impossibles, what remains, and what you start realizing is that lasting happiness lies in our love for God and our realization of our Oneness with Him. When we align our thoughts and actions with that realization and serve others in a spirit of self-offering, everything else falls into place (including the chain and all the sprockets).
For the vast majority of people, looking for happiness in God-realization may seem like the “improbable”, if not downright the “impossible”. Yet, happiness is not a final destination, it is the journey itself. It’s not a static state. In Hindu scriptures, it is called “Satchidanandam” and Paramhansa Yogananda translated it as “ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss”. You can see this state of existence in the lives of great Saints and Yoga Masters. Closer to home, I see it everyday in the lives of people around me, who are determinedly headed in that direction (and indeed have come a long way), because they continue to eliminate those diversions from their lives.
We are so fortunate, as disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda, that we are given a precise recipe, a blueprint for Satchidanandam. Not only the impossibles are clearly stated in this recipe, but also a time-honored and proven (not just probable) technique has also been given to us. That technique is called Kriya Yoga. I have seen the positive effects of this technique in the lives of many people who have been practicing it faithfully and regularly, some even for just a few months and some for decades. Their faces are filled with joy, their eyes are filled with light, their hearts are filled with love, their words are filled with kindness.
If you don’t know this technique, it’s never too late to learn and practice it. If you already have the technique, don’t let a day go by without practicing it. If you are already practicing it regularly, then my hat is off to you. You are truly blessed.
May God continue to bless you so that you may find ever deeper expressions of His Love in your life.
Joy to you.