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What Is My Destiny?
Charles: Hello, Mr. Swartz, my name is Charles Martin. I was born and raised in the Charleston, South Carolina. At the age of 10 or 11, I can’t remember exactly when, I was in a bookstore with my parents and happened to walk by the Eastern religions section. There was a picture, not recognizable to a little Catholic boy, of Ramana Maharshi sitting on a rock with his staff, clad in only his loincloth. At that very moment, the hair on the back of my neck stood up and a feeling of electricity, amazement and wonder pervaded me… I asked my mom who that man was and she responded with, “I don’t know, some weird Indian guy.” That was the end of it for a few years until around the age of 15 when I got a strong desire to actually find out who the “Indian guy” in his underwear was.
To make a long story short, I am 37 years old now and have been studying Eastern ideas all this time with what I can only describe as a biting, gnawing, sometimes annoying hunger to get at the root, if you will. This feeling NEVER has left me and I have practiced atma vichara for many, many years.
My question would be: Is this my destiny? That may sound childish, but Ramana always spoke of prarabdha and I was wondering about your view. My feeling deep inside ALL these years has been that if I accomplished nothing else in this earthly existence, somehow I would realize myself fully before death… Is this a wrong way to continue on this journey, in your viewpoint?
I have been lucky in life to have things pretty good: education, food, clothing… not stinking rich, but never poor. I have been lucky and I appreciate it. At the same time there always was a part of me that could not care less. I grew up in a funeral home family, was always around death and have worked in the ER for many years. I guess God, or whatever one wants to call it, put me in all the right circumstances for learning… I just wanted to hear your opinion on some of my questions and look forward to your response.
~ Thanks, Charles
James: Dear Charles, human beings have a “higher” and a “lower” nature, although in reality nothing is high or low. The feeling that was awakened by the picture of Ramana invoked your higher nature as awareness. It will stay with you – even beyond the grave – until it is realized. This self is your true nature, your “higher” nature, and it is your dharma, duty, to pursue it. The pursuit of this self is called Svadharma with a capital “S.”
Your relative or “lower” nature is Charles and his life, the ER guy. It is your svadharma, your “lower” nature, with a lower-case “s.” It is your duty to take care of that person’s needs in such a way that the deeper longing for the self has the opportunity to realize and actualize itself. A life without an active pursuit of the self is a life postponed.
It is through the pursuit of your true nature that you attain radiant happiness and unconditional love. That is your destiny.