— By Shreya Suresh

When I applied to study in USA, I was full of answers. I knew, or thought I knew the exact reason for leaving my sheltered life in India and setting up a new life in a strange land.

Two weeks into living here, I realized I was in emotional turmoil. I was confronted with everything I had suppressed about myself and I would wake up almost every morning shaking or crying from strange dreams. All I wanted to do was make my life as hectic as possible so that I didn’t have to think about all this. However, as my classes hadn’t started yet, I knew I had to use this time to understand what was happening to me. I realized all this boiled down to just one question – “WHY am I here?”

Had I decided to put this question aside and carry on with my life, I would have been hit by it many years later, and fallen into depression. I decided to dedicate all my time to answering this question. Swamiji’s teachings have always found me at the right time. I happened to receive what Swamiji has said about this topic through His morning satsang.

There are three states of mind associated with this question – the great WHY of life. One is panic, when there are too many answers to the question. Another is boredom, when the answer is too hard to find, and the third is laziness when a person doesn’t even want to know the answer.

No one else can answer this question except the person who is in enquiry. The answer comes only when the person is spiritually mature enough to receive it. It is very similar to a three year old asking his mother where he came from. At three, the only answer his mother can give him is “The stork brought you home”. It is only when he reaches physical maturity that he can receive the actual answer.

Another answer to another “Why?” of my life kept coming to my mind. Whenever I’m faced with the question of WHY I am still a devotee of Swamiji despite what the media says about him, I have my answer. It was one that I received when I was fourteen. During my NSP (a four day meditation program by Swamiji) darshan, I realized that I was in the presence of the purest form of love around Swamiji and nothing anybody said could take away that space. I know that I was mature enough to receive this answer and that it would keep me as a devotee for the rest of my life.

This gave me a space of absolute freedom with my spiritual growth. I have never felt like I was “forced” to stay away from non-vegetarian food or alcohol. I have always had a number of choices available and was given the clear message from my peers that I will be “healthier” and “happier” if I eat meat. But I knew that the lightness I feel has everything to do with my vegetarian diet. I was clear that I wanted to continue feeling this way; hence my choice of vegetarianism. It was the same for my life decisions. I know that at any point in time, I alone am responsible for my choices, and I never feel like I’m tied down to anyone or anything.

After I decided that Swamiji is my Guru, even sufferings have been nothing but a message from him telling me to look at my life. I know that the answer to why I am here is not going to be the answer I gave myself a few months ago, and it will be one which I will keep rediscovering again and again. I know I have reached a level of maturity which prevents me from running away from my upset state of mind. I haven’t found my answer yet, but I am willing to be in this state of enquiry and contemplation so that whenever the answer does arise, I will be mature enough to receive it.