Edited by Marco Ferrini
From the Book: Freedom from Loneliness and Suffering
One of the most serious and urgent lingering problems in our society is isolation, neglect, loneliness. We will examine this subject in the light of the wisdom of the Vedas, a knowledge that is thousands of years old and is not exclusive heritage of India but rather belongs to the entire human kind, just like the sun is not Eastern or Western: it is the sun.
While Western thought has investigated the external world, Eastern philosophers focused their investigation especially on man and made great discoveries; it is evident that, in order to attain a global vision of reality, Western knowledge and Eastern knowledge should be integrated with each other. Many of you will remember Jung’s studies on the introverted and extroverted functions of the individual and the consequent division of the psychological types in two great categories: introverts and extroverts. The Upanishads state that only the balance between introverted and extroverted functions can satisfy man. So Western people should carefully study this great Vedic culture, a knowledge that is thousands of years old and can offer a wider horizon of understanding and integrate the Western vision.
In the Vedic perspective the sense of loneliness and isolation is explained as a lack of contextualization of the individual in the universe and is therefore considered as a pathology that needs to be treated. The materialistic society of so-called prosperity, with its tendency to accumulate and waste, has not solved the deep problem of human dissatisfaction, rather we may say that it actually aggravated it. The tendency of the average Western man is to focus attention outside himself and identify with objects, trying to get his personal value from material things, but in this external projection he loses himself, facing great difficulties and sufferings. He wonders, “Who am I? What is my nature? What is the purpose of life? Where am I coming from? Is this my first birth? What will happen to me after death?”. The philosophy of the Upanishads, on which I gave a seminar at the University of Siena, answers such questions.
In my book "Life, Death and Immortality", I have explained all the dynamics that precede and follow physical death, by quoting various passages of Vedic literature. In the Rigveda, in some Upanishads, for example the Brihadaranyaka, in Bhagavad-gita and in the ancient stories known as Puranas, we find detailed information that explains what dynamics govern and lead the living entity in the dramatic moment when he leaves the body. The great cosmologic and cosmogonic scenario pictured in the Puranas offers to all sincere researchers the opportunity to enrich their experience and knowledge to find their own place, according to specific coordinates of guna and karma, to know where they are coming from, where they are and where they are going. The acquisition of this information neutralizes much of the tension to which man is subject (if not all of it), and the innate and natural quality of serenity becomes manifested again. From serenity joy comes, and from joy bliss, which constitutes the ontological nature of the living entity.
Exactly the opposite happens when the living entity identifies with the various labels that he gets birth after birth, for example: “I am a woman. I am young and beautiful. I am an old and diseased man”. In this case suffering is perceived as the experience of a loss of functions, a diminishing feeling compared to the previous style of life; depression ensues, with a deep psychic suffering. Generally people end their present earthly existence in anxiety, fear, suffering and pain, a situation that certainly does not give a good perspective for the future! I do not want to scare anyone, but any person who is open to considering this issue has already realized by himself the existence of such problems and the importance of finding a solution. The crucial point is that society does not want to think about all this and removes the idea, remaining in denial. People prefer to get drunk, stoned, distracted, dulled in some way or other in the attempt of escaping this unpleasant reality because they do not know how to face it.
Man is not free from defects, but in spite of his imperfection he has a great potential: he is of the same nature of the Supremely Perfect, therefore we can consider him at least potentially perfect. Once seen the path, the human being is capable of changing and from his position full of conflicts he can become a serene person, gradually reducing the layers that dulls his consciousness and finally come to see Reality. This Reality has been presented by many sages even in the West. Many of such sages belonged to mystic or religious traditions, other elevated themselves through personal experience even on a secular level, but the common basis for all of them is that they have spoken of a dimension made of immortality, awareness and bliss. The real need of life is learning who we are. This truth was stated not only by Indians, but by Plato, Lao-Tze, and Socrates as well. Socrates used to say that one who knows himself knows the world. The enlightened sages of all times and all traditions have stated the same truth...