A baklava is a multi-layered sweet filled with nuts and sweetened with honey. It was one of the most famous and popular desserts of the Ottoman era.
I discovered baklava when I came to New York, and I loved it. I ordered it every time I saw it on a menu and sometimes hunted for restaurants where it was offered.
Then I went to Istanbul a few years ago.
I picked up some baklava from a street corner shop, a completely non-descript entity. It was freshly prepared and warm. Almost hot. It melted in my mouth and the taste was indescribable, ineffable. This is baklava I remember thinking.
And then a funny thing happened.
I ordered baklava at a restaurant I frequented and the gelatinous brown cube that appeared seemed inedible. Almost revolting. I took a small bite and then discarded it. This happened repeatedly. Baklava that I once consumed happily now seemed hard, sticky and odious.
I still order baklava occasionally when I eat out but am prepared to be disappointed. I hope to find real baklava again when I visit Israel.
Think about your life. Think about how you are ceaselessly trying to find pleasure somewhere, anywhere. You hang out with friends. You drink beer and smoke pot. You watch mindless serials on Netflix. You buy clothes you don’t need and stuff you don’t use. You get worked up about the antics of politicians and follow inane happenings in the lives of inconsequential celebrities. You climb ladders that, you think, will bring you wealth and success and fame and adulation. And this, in turn, will bring you joy. Or so you think.
These are the baklavas of New York that, at one time, seemed so appealing.
When Ramana Maharshi had his enlightenment experience he ran away from home and came to Tiruvannamalai. And for the first few years he simply remained immersed in the bliss of the self. It is a joy so transcendent, a sense of well-being so deep-rooted that there are no words for it. Ramana Maharshi was so oblivious to his surroundings including his own body that he may well have passed away had it not been for a simple woman devotee who combed his hair, cleaned his body and fed him some gruel every day.
In The Art of Meditation Joel Goldsmith describes his own journey and the months of meditation he practiced before he felt the ‘click’ of the presence of the spirit.
When you feel that presence in your life, you know that this is what you are really seeking. And the frenetic activity and pleasure-seeking you indulge in begins to drop away.
When you taste the real baklava, the desire for the ersatz stuff disappears.
P.S.: Kristina Mand-Lakhiani, Vishen’s partner, has written a new book – Becoming Flawesome.
It recounts many of the principles that I teach in my course and writings so do check it out. Good idea to pre-order it so it gets a push to help it surge out of the gate. A super part of the book is the “Reflection Points” section at the end of each chapter. Many of these are powerful exercise that can beneficially impact your life.