My greetings and best wishes to all of you on this Diwali. Diwali or Deepavali is the “festival of lights.” One reason why light is so significant in human life is the way our visual apparatus is made. For other creatures, light simply means survival. But for a human being, light is not just about seeing or not seeing. The rising of light in our life signifies a new beginning and, above all, clarity. Most creatures exist by instinct, so they have no issues of confusion as to what to do or not to do. A young tiger never sits around and asks itself, “Will I become a good tiger, or will I end up as a housecat?” If it just eats well, it will become a good tiger.
You may be born as a human being, but to become a good human being, you have to do so many things. And even then, you still won’t know where you stand. In comparison, you may think you are better than someone else. But by yourself, you don’t know where you stand. Human intelligence is such that if you do not organize it properly, it causes more confusion and misery than those creatures that have a millionth of your brain will ever experience – they seem to be crystal clear. An earthworm or insect simply knows what to do and what not to do – a human being doesn’t. It takes a certain intelligence to be confused. Human struggle is due to our own cerebral capability.
Instead of being a tremendous possibility, intelligence has become a problem for a whole lot of people. They may give their suffering different names, calling it stress, anxiety, depression, madness, or misery. But essentially, it means their intelligence has turned against them. If you are suffering by yourself, without anyone poking you, it means your intelligence is working against you. This being the nature of human existence, clarity is of supreme importance. That is why light is important. Light means clarity. Diwali is important because it is a festival dedicated to clarity, to bringing down the murkiness in you. Historically, it marks the day when Krishna was supposed to have slain Narakasura.
Narakarsura was not his original name, but he gave everyone hell, so they called him Narakasura. Narak means hell – one who is causing hell to everyone is a Narakasura. When this causing of hell was brought to an end by Krishna, people celebrated by lighting lamps in every house. The Narakasura event supposedly happened much later, but the culture and tradition of lighting lamps around this time goes back twelve to fifteen thousand years. People realized that life hits a point of inertia at this time of the year. The idea is that if you yourself are not living like a cracker, fully alive and on, at least crackers around you could wake you up a little bit. That is why on Naraka Chaturdashi, from around four o’clock in the morning, all over the country, crackers are burst, so everyone wakes up, comes alive.
This is about the nature of the festival, but the important aspect is to beat the inertia. Life is a play of time and energy. You have a certain amount of time and a certain amount of energy. Time passes whether you are busy or lazy, whether you are healthy or sick. For all of us, time is rolling at the same pace. No one can slow it down; no one can hasten it. But your experience of time differs depending on whether you are joyful or miserable. If you are ecstatic, twenty-four hours will seem to pass like a moment. If you are depressed, twenty-four hours will seem like an eon for you.
If you are joyful, it is a very brief life. For the potential that a human being carries, even if you live a hundred years, they will pass in no time. But if inertia has set into you and you are miserable, it feels like time is not rolling. When people are miserable, the need for entertainment increases tremendously. When people are joyful, they don’t have time for entertainment. Joy will take up all your time. You wake up in the morning, and before you even notice, it’s already night. When you are joyful, you will do everything you can. When you are miserable, you will always see how to avoid everything.
The culture of “Thank God it’s Friday” is catching up. That means five days of misery – two days not of joy but generally of intoxication. If you want to make people laugh, sing, dance, or do something joyful, you have to drug them, or at least give them a glass of wine – otherwise it’s not possible. This has happened because in a variety of ways, people are creating inertia within themselves. When inertia sets in, life will seem too long. Diwali is a symbol of beating inertia, because inertia is the source of narak, or hell. Once inertia sets in, you will not go to hell – you will be hell. Even when you are all by yourself, this will go on endlessly – without anyone else’s doing. If something happens, people suffer. If nothing happens, they suffer even more. One of the biggest sufferings for a human being is that nothing happens. So, Diwali is very significant.
Many have not bothered to outsource their narak or hell – they are on self-help. In Anger, Jealousy, Hate, and Fear, you create narak and become a Narakasura. If these are taken away, a new light shines. Let there be light on this Diwali.