Modern day life is hectic and programmed, where people keep running from one task to the next. Most of the people spend their life chasing two goals – money and fame. People who have jobs work for the next promotion, people running their own company toil to increase their revenues, people in other fields like sports and acting hire coaches who can design a program to make them better leading to, guess what, more money and fame. Yet the happiness on achieving the goal gets clouded by the shadow of the tension to meet the next goal. This is a perennial cycle in which people keep on moving. And even when they reach at the top, real joy eludes them. In fact, people at the top are among the most depressed people in the world. There has been an increase in the number of suicides among the rich and the famous. This leads some people to believe that chasing goals is not the key to happiness and they go to the other end and become hippies or world travelers or join an NGO. If you are from the former group, you might think these people are happy. They are away from the hustle-bustle of competitive life. But if you get into conversation with them, you can sense the longing for the respect gained from corporate jobs, the wish to afford the same luxury as their working friends or the sense of a feeling of something missing. This begets the question then how to live life? Many thinkers and philosophers from times immemorial have attempted to answer this question. However, the world is changing at a rapid pace and what would have worked 50 years back might be useless today. And even the recent thinkers belong to multiple schools of thought, with no one correct answer for the same. In such a case, how do we decide who should we follow. I think the best answer to it is the following - the truth is already inside you, so when you hear it you will know. It is similar to the situation, where an answer is almost at the tip of your tongue yet you can’t seem to remember it. A very common event, that happens almost every day. And suddenly when someone says it, you recognize that was what you were looking for. If the philosophy is too much for you, just apply the trial and error method. Out of all the recent philosophers, I think Osho Rajneesh, Eckhart Tolle and Esther Hicks have conveyed the truth in its most original form.
Osho (1931 - 1990)
Osho, also known as Rajneesh, has been voted as the 10 most influential persons of the 20th century by TIME magazine. He was a spiritual guru and mystic, but more popularly known for controversies ranging from possessing most Rolls Royce cars (a staggering 93 which was still not enough as he wanted to buy 365, one for each day of the year), to the use of drugs and finally advocating openness of sex which gave him the title, ‘Sex Guru’. Osho or Chandra Mohan Jain, his family name, was born in a small village in Madhya Pradesh, India to parents who were textile merchants and grew up to become a teacher of philosophy at a university in Madhya Pradesh. In his autobiography, he mentioned that he achieved enlightenment at the age of 33 and started giving discourses afterwards on philosophy, religion and life and continued to speak till he passed away in 1990. In fact, there are more than 600 books recording his discourses, though he hasn’t written a single book. Osho was a very gifted student during his school days with exceptional debating skills. The firebrand logic in his arguments, the clarity of thought and his spellbinding oratory skills helped him amass a huge number of followers. People who have heard him live, claim there was a circle of influence or a magnetic field around him, known as the Buddha field, where people experienced bliss by just being near to him.
Osho was one of the first thinkers of the world, who brought a culmination of Eastern and Western philosophies. He advocated a life lived by the combination of spiritual learning from the East, consisting of understanding of the inner world through meditation, and the celebration of life of the West, which comprises of creation in the outer world through logic and action. He aimed to create a new man, “Zorba the Buddha” – a culmination of the spirituality of Gautama Buddha and the zest for life of Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. In his words about the “new man”, “He should be as accurate and objective as a scientist, as sensitive and full of heart as a poet and yet rooted deep down in his being as a mystic.” In his opinion, every living being is capable of enlightenment which is the true state of every human being. But people are clouded by ego, which creates a false sense of identity. And the only way ego can be annihilated is by transcending the mind through meditation.
Eckhart Tolle (1948 - Present)
Eckhart Tolle has been rated as the most spiritually influential person in the world by the Watkins review in 2011, in a list that comprises the likes of the Dalai Lama, Rhonda Byrne, Paulo Coelho, Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey, Robin Sharma and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He has to his credit, 2 New York Times best-sellers - The Power of Now and A New Earth, each of which sold a staggering 3 million and 5 million copies respectively. Eckhart Tolle or Ulrich Leonard Tolle was born in Germany in 1948, at the peak of the Second World War. He had a troubled childhood and spent most of his teenage years, “searching for answers” in his life. He completed a degree in philosophy from the University of London in 1977 and got into Cambridge University with scholarship for postgraduate research. However, the depression and anxiety followed him there as well and it became almost unbearable. One night in 1977 at the age of 29, when he was sitting on a bench frustrated with life, the ‘Aha’ moment happened. In an instant all his troubles evaporated and the world became blissful, almost miraculous. After this awakening, he spent 2 years of his life just sitting on benches in a blissful state - drunk in the joy that is life. He dropped university and continued work as a spiritual teacher and finally came onto the world scene with a blockbuster book, ‘The Power of Now’, in 1997, which went on to sell 3 million copies. He has since been featured on Oprah Winfrey’s show, founded the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment (GATE) with Jim Carrey and came up with another best-selling book, ‘A New Earth’.
Eckhart Tolle on left with The Dalai Lama
Although born and brought up in Germany, Eckhart’s philosophy has been influenced by both Western as well as Eastern schools of thought. He imbibes the ideas from the Bible, Zen Buddhism and Hinduism. Tolle himself has mentioned that his work is a coming together of teachings of J. Krishnamurthy and Ramana Maharishi. In his best-selling book, The Power of Now, he has emphasized the importance of living in the current moment. Drawing from his own experience, during the days of his acute depression, he mentioned that any situation or moment is not bad; it’s just the thought about it that makes a person unhappy. In other words, it’s the obsession of people with the past and the future that makes them miserable. In the words of Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda, “The past is history. The future is a mystery. But the present is a gift.” Tolle says that people keeping missing the present moment, thinking about what was and what will be and thus they fail to experience the aliveness of it. And they keep wishing for better experiences where they can feel alive, which is the cause of all depression and misery in the world. The increasing craze for adventure sports is due to the same reason – when the body is subjected to life-threatening situations, the mind is forced to focus the entire attention on the current moment and people feel the thrill of the Now. Like Osho, he has also advised for meditation as the way to get rid of thoughts and get to a peaceful state of mind. In fact, through his channel Eckhart Tolle TV on his website live meditations are conducted throughout the world, at a fixed time, in his presence, through a web conference.
Esther Hicks (1948 - Present)
Esther Hicks is an American philosopher best known for the ‘The Law of Attraction’, an international best-seller selling over 1.5 million copies. Amazingly, she was born in the same year as Eckhart Tolle. In fact, most people would know her as the narrator of the film ‘The Secret’, original version. She was also the inspiration for the movie. However, later due to disputes between the author, Rhonda Byrne and Esther the footage was actually removed. Esther is different from all the gurus of philosophy in the sense that she herself is not a philosopher, but conveys the teachings of a non-physical being called Abraham. According to her, Abraham is the collective consciousness of the non-physical or in simple terms, the Source energy, which some may call as God. Esther Hicks was born in Utah, United States in 1948 and married Jerry Hicks in 1980, who had been an acrobat, a musician, a comedian as well as a network marketer with Amway. Jerry was a profound influence in Esther’s life and used to keep asking spiritual questions about life, whereas Esther was more relaxed and never indulged in too much worry. However, Jerry had so much to ask that the couple started asking around and finally took to channeling spirits, as suggested by some of their friends. As they often say, “A master appears when the disciple is ready”. Esther through the practice of meditation for some years began tapping to the Infinite Intelligence, and gave it the name Abraham. Since then the couple has written 9 books through the Hicks Publication and spoken at numerous conferences, where Esther taps into the Source and provides answers to the problems that people are facing.
Esther Hicks on left with Jerry Hicks
Although the name Abraham sounds Christian but Abraham’s philosophy doesn’t belong to any religion. Abraham claims that it is the source of all religions, the underlying current that flows through them all. For the first time, has someone emphasized the vibrational nature of the world and addressed it in such a logical manner as Abraham. Though philosophers like Gurdjeff, Osho, Krishnamurthy and thinkers like Neil Bohr, who discovered the atom, have proved that the world is vibrational in nature but they never went into the details. According to Abraham, the physical world is an extension of the non-physical world where non-physical beings venture to experience the richness of life. Though the non-physical beings stay in contact with the source, but as soon as they enter the human body, they forget the connection, which is the root cause of all misery. The greatest contribution of Abraham is the Law of Attraction, according to which, people attract into their life whatever they think about. As the world is vibrational, with human beings made of pure energy their thought vibrations are responsible for the vibrations to create whatever they are asking for. Since people spend most of their time complaining about things that are wrong in their life, they keep attracting misery to their life and it doesn’t change. To change your life, you have to begin with changing the way you think. So if you want more money in your life, or a loving partner or better health you have to think good about it. You have to believe you already have those things and your life would start coming in-line with the vibrations required for that state and it will manifest. Perhaps it is time now to give yourself a pat on the back for all the wonderful things in your life and the ones that are going to come, because there is a Santa listening to your thoughts and making a list of the presents for you. But the best part is you don’t have to wait for Christmas, the stronger your belief, faster the Santa comes.
So we read about three great philosophers of our time and their teachings on how to conduct life. But research shows that on an average a person can keep only three ideas from any presentation or conversation. So what would be the top 3 commandments to take away? Firstly, all the great philosophers above have emphasized the power of meditation, which should be made a part of your daily routine. Meditation will help with getting rid of your false personality, staying in the present moment and would enable positive vibrations to shape your life. Secondly, all have emphasized about the importance of dreaming and action to fulfill your dreams. In fact, the purpose of your non-physical form in entering the physical body was to experience the richness and variety of life in physical form. Whether it is getting that house you always wanted, or the exotic place you wanted to visit, life should be celebrated. However, how to know what you really wish for? There comes the third commandment – use your emotions as the compass to decide what you actually wish for. As you start listening to it, the more in tune you would get with your real self and the closer you can get to find your real purpose in life. To remember it as one mantra in life, the best can be – Meditate, Listen, and Dream. Meditate to still your mind. After it has become still, listen to the real you. Once you know what to wish for, then dream. Once the vibrations come in tune with the dream, it will automatically lead to the actions that manifest the dream. So when anyone gets frustrated with life, when you are feeling depressed in life, when things are not going the way you want to, when you feel there is something missing in life, when the peace of mind is not there, just remember – Meditate, Listen, Dream.