No one is born wise. You gain wisdom through seeking self knowledge like all our great teachers have done. Gautama Buddha would ask two very simple questions, “Why do we feel sorrow?” and “What is the cause of sorrow and how can it be ended?” and it would take him years to find an answer.
Sorrow makes us angry but it is our companion through the many walks of life. No one, rich or poor, young or old can escape sorrow. We can only learn to face it with the wisdom of our great teachers.
If you open the sacred books by our rishis like the Upanishads or read the teachings of the Buddha, Guru Nanak or Sai Baba of Shirdi, you’ll realize they did know a thing or two about coping with the ups and downs of life.
The Buddha would meditate for forty nine days under the Bodhi tree until he had clarified his thoughts on the way we should live our life. Guru Nanak would travel all across the land listening to people and guiding them with his simple preaching. Sai Baba’s words were the essence of goodness that offered peace of mind.
When life becomes difficult and you wake up every morning dreading the day; then go on a pilgrimage into your mind and listen to the great teachers.
The places that are touched by the presence of great teachers become pilgrimages for their followers. Christians travel to the Holy Land visiting Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The Haj takes the Muslims to Mecca and Medina. The gurudwaras of Nankana Sahib and Harmandir Sahib welcome pilgrims with melodies of the shabad kirtans that were composed by Guru Nanak.
For the Buddhist the most sacred places are connected to important points in the life of the Buddha. Lumbini where the Buddha was born, Bodh Gaya where he gained enlightenment, Sarnath where he gave his first sermon and Kushinagar where the Tathagata gained nirvana.
The spiritual presence of a great teacher never leaves a sacred space. Take the tiny town of Shirdi where the Sai Baba spent most of his life. This was a quiet man who never revealed his name or his religion. Sai was a name the people gave him. His vow of poverty was absolute and he lived in a broken down mosque that he called Dwarkamai and wore tattered clothes covered with patches. He gained nirvana in 1918, nearly a century ago and people are still drawn to his presence.
To find peace and joy you have to look within you and one of the best ways is to go on a pilgrimage where you meditate on your life.
As the Buddha says,
“Though you might conquer in battle a thousand times a thousand men
You are the greatest battle winner if you conquer just one – yourself.”
It is a teacher who can guide you through the storms of life. Also the true teachers are those whose lives reflect their philosophy. They live simply like the Buddha who was born in royal luxury but would beg for his food. They speak with simplicity and wisdom like Guru Nanak who said ‘Ek Omkar’ – there is one god and that all religions are the same. Both the Buddha and Guru Nanak would journey by foot across the land helping people with their wisdom.
So seek the true teacher. A guru clad in silks, stepping out of a luxury car is not a true teacher because he has no real empathy for our sorrows. A true teacher walks beside us through our journey of life.