Appo Dipo Bhava: Finding the Path to Enlightenment


When Lord Buddha was leaving his sentient body his disciple Ananda was upset. He asked the Buddha how could he leave for Mahaparinirvana when Ananda was yet to achieve enlightenment. How could he possibly fulfill the task now without Him by his side? In reply, Lord Buddha told him, "Appo dipo bhava."

"Be a light unto yourself."

Meaning? Find the light within yourself and follow it to Enlightenment.

However, finding the light within one's own self is not as easy task to begin with, let alone follow it around for the rest of our lives. Because finding the light is definitely not a one time task. You gotta also make sure that it stays lit. More often than not our light extinguishes before we can even find it. We spend the rest of our mortal life like a person with fully functioning eyes stuck in a never ending dark tunnel -- the maze of samsara. We have eyes, yet we can't see anything.

Since the past three months I have been on a spiritual quest. I am reading, writing, worshiping, meditating. I am questioning myself a lot. I am thinking a lot. I am thinking before answering. I am pausing before reacting. I am trying to hold on to my floating log of compassion amidst the violent sea of darkness and apathy. It's so easy to drown in it, believe me. Sometimes I am coming even this close to losing my shit. Like for past few days I am trying to battle the crippling waves of anxiety followed by bouts of depression. I read an article the other day why we should not take anything personally because everyone around us is trying to cope by projecting. I too do it, a lot. Like right now I was projecting my frustration on a friend while internally dying of guilt. He didn't mind but that doesn't lighten the burden of my own guilt. Then I realised I too had been on the receiving end of very similar kind of treatment, only more severe in nature, in the recent past. That person too was trying to navigate through his own grief and loss and I just came in the middle of it. And somehow I became the punching bag. Even though the demons in me want his head on a platter the crazy fighting, trying to stay afloat flickering light in me forgives him. It's easier said than done. Sometimes I just sit there and cry for hours. The gut wrenching pain suffocates me. Time stands still, yet pain doesn't stop. Anger comes to the rescue. It wants to demolish everything on its path in order to stop me from writhing. I weep miserably and hope for it to go away. As I said, enlightenment is a daily process. No wonder those monks renounces every chaotic shit in life to attain that inner peace.

Lord Krishna told Arjuna in the Gita that no matter  how difficult or impossible it might look one must never stop until one fulfills one's destiny. One only becomes a part of the Divine when one serves their true purpose in life. Until then it's a never ending story in repetition.

If you think about it, the Buddha and Lord Krishna said the same thing basically. The way to enlightenment lies within the task of serving a person's true purpose. Right now I have no clue what my true purpose is in this life. Honestly, even after living for a little more than three decades I still don't know who I am. The existential crisis is the everyday struggle for me. The awareness in me never lets me enjoy the bliss of oblivion. Maybe it will take me a few more births to finally master the art of swimming but as long as the floating log is there I am not going to stop looking for that light.

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