My Story

I do not remember much about my early childhood. But I am told that I was extremely shy. I was diligent about my studies and very inquisitive. I loved to read a lot and my father never refused to buy books for me. As a teenager, I started to go beyond what was prescribed in the school syllabus and began to read a wide variety of subjects from science to occult, philosophy to psychology, and history to mystery. What I realized was that the school syllabus was extremely limited. There was much to learn about the world which was not taught in the school.

My thirst for knowledge began to grow and all my free time used to be spent in reading. While I did what was necessary to complete the formalities throughout high school and college, my primary motivation was always to understand the world better.

I had already come to the tacit understanding that while there is a minimum requirement for one to pass a subject in school or college, there is no such requirement in life. There is limitless opportunity to explore a subject and learn more. Most students only focus on the minimum requirement and put in efforts to excel in that. Similarly in life, there is a minimum requirement for survival – food, clothing, shelter. Most people are happy to limit themselves to that and put in efforts to get more of those basic needs. Very few people step out and explore other dimensions of life.

I was reading innumerable books on popular science. The whole progress in scientific thought from early days till the modern day, including the discoveries of Newton, Einstein and all the later Quantum physicists was a fascinating subject for me. I was especially drawn towards material that presented an alternative view or a new perspective of looking and understanding the world we live in. It was amazing to know how one theory of the world was overthrown by another as philosophers and scientists grappled with the challenge of explaining the new evidence which came up in scientific observations and experiments. Most importantly, I learnt that the same subject can be viewed from different perspectives and no one view is more right than the others.

Meanwhile I completed my graduation in engineering and masters in management and started working. All my knowledge, accomplishments, creativity and perceived intelligence had gone to my head and I began to think I knew better about everything. I probably went around during that period of my life like a ‘know-it-all’ insensitive jackass.

About that time, a workshop on personal growth created a very deep impression on me. For the first time, I experienced something that could not have come from mere reading. A certain relationship caused great emotional hurt and  psychological turbulence within my being. All my intelligence and knowledge, which was a source of pride, failed and collapsed in a heap of shame. Life did not make sense at all. I knew a lot about the world, but I was unable to understand myself. My inner life was so much in shambles that I quit my job.

While attempting to study morality, I bumped into the teachings of the Buddha. That was a turning point in my life. The Buddha’s teachings opened up a subject for me which hitherto I had consciously ignored. I had till then considered it all as religious mumbo-jumbo best suited for people who cannot think. I was rather proud of having a scientific mindset. But the science of the mind expounded by the Buddha was not only an eye-opener but I realized that I could certainly find all answers about my own mind in this teaching. I was literally shocked beyond words to discover the wealth and the treasure of the teachings. Where science was struggling, this was already way ahead.

My inquiry from that time went into a totally different dimension. Instead of accumulating knowledge and facts, I turned to insight and understanding. With relentless energy and unwavering focus I plunged into the wisdom teachings of the Buddha, the Bhagwat Gita, Sufi teachings, Zen and everything I could find esoteric. I was stupefied by my ignorance of such wisdom, which was right before my eyes yet invisible. I embarked on various meditation practices to discover the whole truth.

I spent several months doing this. However, I started to feel that this search was like an endless mission, a never ending quest, with so much to read, experience, practice and with levels to cross, bodies to build, and faculties to attain. I paused to reflect.

I saw that this was becoming another exercise in accumulation of knowledge albeit of a different nature. Instead of learning worldly concepts, I was busy learning spiritual concepts. But concepts were not giving me any satisfaction. I wanted the real thing. I truly deeply wanted that experience which all literature was pointing to. I wanted to hit the eye of the fish, I did not want the fish.

With that aim strengthened, I waited, allowed for the accumulated views to settle and tried to observe and experience life from the lens of these wisdom teachings. Gradually, pieces started to fall in place and a certain joy started arising in me. One morning, while walking alone, for no reason at all, it happened all of a sudden. The eye of the fish was hit. There was no fish, no eye, no one to hit, no aim, yet it all happened. I was the one who was creating the whole stupid drama of my life all this while. How utterly insane and yet, cannot be otherwise. I couldn’t control my laughter for a long time that day.

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Life does not applaud when self-realization happens. It does not shower flowers on you. It goes on unconcerned. But one is not the same anymore. Life continued – I went back to working, got married, had children. A lot of my reading thereafter helped me reconfirm my understanding and insight.

After a glimpse of awakening, life takes on a completely new quality. As those awakened poets say – all the wealth and pleasures of the world are dirt compared to this. Awakening feels like returning home after a journey of a million years or waking up from a dream lasting a hundred thousand years. It is difficult to put that experience into words. It is the truth and it is self-evident. There is no need to validate it or prove it. It cannot be otherwise. I am That.

For some time everything went back to normal but the more I saw of other people, the more I saw the need for them to get this experience and understanding. Without this realization, the purpose of human life remains unfulfilled. Many times, I think that people actually know who they are but are simply pretending to not know. But then I realize that they have simply forgotten who they are and need to be reminded.

For a person with a clear mind, a simple reminder or even a hint can be sufficient but in today’s highly opinionated, polarized and judgmental world, overflowing with spiritual advice of all kinds, there are many blind alleys, dead ends, misinformation and over the counter meditations available to seekers today which makes it very easy to remain lost for a long time.

That has prompted me to create BigPictureZen.com to share my understanding with others in a simple language, free of any jargon, which might help someone who has the same intense desire to know himself. To me, this is the most important work of my life now.