Self- knowledge

Song of self – Verse IV…

Song of self – Verse IV…

Dear readers,

First accept my sincere apologies for the long delay. Totally my fault and I am sure most of you have given up on me:(. I will be regular and win you all once again:)

Here is the 4 th verse and will soon be followed by the 5th and the last one…


 

 

Atma Shatagam—Adi Shankaracharya  788-820 BC

Na punyam na papam, na saukhyam na dukham

Na mantro na Teertham, na vedo na yagnaha |

Aham bhojanam naiva bhojyam na bhokta

Chidananda roopah, shivoham shivoham |4|

न् पुण्यम न् पापं न् सौख्यं न् दु:खम

न् मंत्रों न् तीर्थं न् वेदा न् याग्ना:

आहम भोजनम न् भोज्यं न् भोक्ता

चिदानन्द रूपह शिवोहम शिवोहम ||४||

Meaning:

I have neither merit (virtue), nor demerit (vice). I am not attached to any righteousness or sinful deeds. I do not commit sins or good deeds, nor have I happiness or sorrow, pain or pleasure.  I have no need for pilgrimages; or any of the sacred scriptures, nor do I have to perform any special rituals or sacrifices.  The Vedas and Yagnas are of no concern to me, even the holy places. I am neither the meal nor the one who consumes or what is consumed.  I am none of the triad of the observer or the one who experiences, the process of observing or experiencing, or any object being observed or experienced.   I am the fortunate, joyful, Supreme Being who is the very emblem of truth, knowledge and eternal bliss. I myself am the spiritual joy of pure consciousness; Shiva- Shivoham Shivoham. I am indeed, that eternal knowing and bliss, love and pure consciousness.

Further Elaboration:

This beautiful verse is taking us a step closer to knowing oneself. The Self remains unaffected by neither external senses nor the inner turmoil of emotions we create within for ourselves.  This verse tries to explore and nullify a few other entanglements which affect the self, distancing us or differentiating the self from the pervasive Self.  We are like the spider entangled in its own web. The spider spins the web from its own self and foolishly , or perhaps unwittingly (like us humans) keeps spreading the web and it remains in the center of the web the core of the web is the spider and the day it destroys itself, the web disappears.  The spider borrows no material from outside, it is all in the spider, the spider, the web around it , the world the spider has created for itself, all from within the spider, the web to the onlooker appears to be on the outside which is a mere illusion. Verily like this world, its sequential events that we are so entangled in; but if we pause and see, observe, be the observer, we realise the myth that all this apparent reality is.

A small narrative is reproduced here for further clarification: An ageing master grew tired of casino his apprentice’s complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.

“How does it taste?” the master asked.

“Bitter,” said the apprentice.

The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”

As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”

“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.

“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.

“No,” said the young man. At this the master sat beside this serious young man, and explained softly,

“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

This again elucidates the extent to which we are governed by our mind and perception. Either we are like the spider caught in its own web spun out of its own self. Or we are like the apprentice who is unable to look at the larger perspective and dwell in our small world; the limited glass of water. For a realised person none of this matter, yet everything matters. He /she are neither bound by event nor does this realised person crave for freedom from such event.

Another perspective to fathom this better; the food we eat goes through the whole cycle, does it not? It is in the seed form, grows into a sapling, plant and tree and bears fruit again. We eat the fruit in the raw form and some digests; gives us the requisite energy, the faeces we pass is also the same fruit we consumed. This goes back to the nature, consumed by some other life forms and converted to energy yet again. This faeces returned to nature in a different form provides manure or life energy to the soil and in turn to the tree too. What or who is getting affected here and how? Everything finally seems to convert to energy, a life force depending on the need of the life form. This person, enjoying the food, is a part of the external universe and identifies with the gross universe, which is but a manifestation or the Maya in play. This Maya or mula prakiti is the cause of this universe. Whereas, the Atman or the prajna exists as the Hiranyagarbha and enjoys the subtle universe; and as Virat, enjoys the Gross universe. He is neither the experiencer nor the experienced. How can one know about the self without experiencing the self? Does a dead person know he/she is dead? It is the near and dear ones who mourn. Similarly, how aware is a new born? The family rejoices; the little one is in a state of bliss, in communion with the inner self!

Thus, a person who is permanently rooted in the Atman is neither bound by the subject nor by the object. He/she is beyond all dualities. He /she is the spiritual joy of pure consciousness; Shiva- Shivoham Shivoham.  He /she indeed becomes, that eternal knowing and bliss, love and pure consciousness.

Realisation Through Meditation

The final goal or desire of every spiritual aspirant is Liberation. Intense longing to be free from the bondage of delusion and ignorance by seeking self – knowledge is the ardent desire of every true seeker.

Verse #82 of Vivekachudami states thus:

Sanskrit verse:

मोक्षस्य कान्क्षा यदि वै तवास्ति

त्यजात्तिदूराद्विषयान्विषं यथा

पीयूषवत्तोषदयाक्षमार्जव-

प्रशान्तिदान्तीर्भज नित्यमादरात् ॥

 

English conversion:

mokShasya kaankShaa yadi vai tavaasti

tyajaattidUraadviShayaanviShaM yathaa

pIyUShavattoShadayaakShamArjava-

prashaanthidaantIrbhaja nityamaadaraat ||

 

Word meaning:

मोक्षस्य of liberation कान्क्षा desire यदि if वै indeed तव yours अस्ति exists/is

त्यज give upअत्तिदूरात् from a god distance विषयान् sense objects विषं poison यथा like

पीयूषवत् like nectar तोष contentment दया compassionक्षमा forgiveness आर्जवं straight forwardness

प्रशान्तिः calmness/serenity दान्तिः Self- control भज cultivate नित्यम् daily आदरात् religiously

The meaning is:

If indeed you have a craving for liberation, avoid sense-objects from a distance as if they were poison; and with respectful reverence, daily cultivate the nectarine virtues of contentment, compassion, forgiveness, straightforwardness, calmness, and self-control.

The first word or the beginning of the verse itself is with an ‘if’ questioning the true intent of the aspirant.  This makes it amply clear that the goal is very person dependent and the intensity to achieve the goal also varies accordingly. If one is content with life and the material possessions one is surrounded by then this short lived happiness linked with the wealth amassed will be good enough and the aspiration for anything further, deeper and long lasting happiness will never arise. For such a person self– realization or liberation will be a mere whim or a myth; unattainable in this life time. Thus, they will never venture on such a futile struggle nor believe in aiming for this so called goal of liberation. They will continue to pray, perform rituals and be content living the day to day life amidst the roller coaster ride of emotions, relations and ephemeral pains, pleasures of life. Hence, the operative word for self-realisation is ‘if’ the seeker so desires.  As a corollary we can also say the absence of the desire for self- realisation keeps the aspirant in the vicious circle of rituals and at the kinder garden level of spiritual path. God is a mere means to an end and incessant prayers are made and boons are sought unto death. In such a phase God becomes a means to achieving the worldly pleasures and possessions; this is not wrong at all, yet the true seeker needs to out-grow this phase and move above the kinder garden level.

The present state of the universe verily proves that most of us go through this phase only and are content living and leaving this worldly life desiring nothing more.  At times a seeker grows restless; fathoms that everything worldly either phases out or inevitably leads to pain. The inquisitive mind of such a person grows further longing to seek the permanent happiness or a state of constancy.  The true nature of everything external is that whatever comes has to depart; becomes clear to such inquisitive aspirant and the search for a permanent object leading to lasting happiness begins. The leaning towards God is now treating God as the End and He becomes the object of permanent happiness. It also becomes evident that at His feet alone can happiness be attained and that too if He so wills, by His grace alone can this happen.  This can be treated as the second phase or the under graduate school level on the spiritual path.

Gradually with time and better understanding the student learns to look beyond all this or look within for everything. The realisation that God is one, and God is in everyone begins to dawn. The Hindu philosophy says: ‘There is only God’. Look in any direction or look within, one sees God and God alone. Thus, the student now is eager to become one with Him or understanding the simple truth that God alone is, the aspirant has finally enrolled for the doctorate course on the spiritual adventure.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was once asked which stage were the best and what a seeker should aspire for to which he lucidly explained thus:  “The levels are accepted by the human mind according to the stages of development and its progress….. Finally, when the man reaches the ultimate limit of spiritual progress with the help of sadhana, he experiences the Nirguna nature of the Divine Mother and remains in oneness with Her. All the ideas, such as you and I, subject and object, bondage and liberation, vice and virtue, merit and demerit are then all merged in the One” (Tattvabodh: Insights into Vedanta)

Swami Vivekananda concludes the experiences of Sri Ramakrishna in this manner: “We have seen that it began with the Personal, the extra – cosmic god. It went from the external to the internal cosmic body, God immanent in the universe, and ended in identifying the soul itself with that God, and making one Soul, a unit of all these various manifestations in the universe. This is the last word of the Vedas. It begins with dualism, goes through a qualified monism and ends in perfect monism.”

Thus, self -realization remains the most cherished yet the most elusive real goal of human life. Look within and see Him who is inside; waiting with bated breath for the aspirant to open the doors of the heart and listen to the meek voice of the soul.   Meditation is one simple way which enables the seeker to silence the clamour on the outside and listen to oneself.  Meditation silences the outside noise, stills the mind; closes the physical eyes and opens the heart to merge with the One Divine who has been waiting patiently in the innermost recess of our heart.

Meditation is usually sought only by a seeker who has crossed the kinder garden phase explained above and so the glitter of the outside world holds little or no charm for such an aspirant who wishes to seriously practice meditation.  Having crossed the first stage the keenness to reach for the ultimate truth and realise oneself is strong and sadhana is taken up earnestly and zestfully.

Let us elucidate the advantages of constant practice of meditation and see how it inches the seeker closer to the real goal of self-realisation.  The most practical and common advantage seen with continued practice of meditation is better focus and increased concentration.  This is one key reason why meditation is being advocated in schools and colleges too nowadays. The end result of meditation for students is more focus, fewer distractions thus work less but work smart and come out with flying colours.  Continuous abhyaas or practice of meditation increases the alertness or awareness of the person.

Amongst the five sense organs, eyes play the maximum mischief and make the mind wander. The other senses seek the help of eyes and augment the sensation or the essence of the emotion attached to the sensory objects on the outside world. The fundamental change that happens with practising mediation is we close our eyes! So the outside world plays havoc only to the extent the imaginations runs riot, after that the mind is forced to look deep inside and seek what is within. With practice even the mind stills itself and begins to seek answers from the heart. The thoughts soon are like a wedding procession and the mind watches them go by, not following them or reacting to them. So they are forced to leave and fail to disturb the mind over a period of time.

Meditation done at the same time and same place daily attunes the mind and prepares it to still itself even before the online casino australia person actually sits for meditation. It is like preparing for prayer and ritualistic Puja, where the person gears up and prepares for puja. We bathe, pluck flowers, prepare the Prasad to offer to the Lord, pour oil, and place the wick to light the lamp and finally chant our daily prayers with a heart full of love and devotion. Similarly, same place and same time help the mind to prepare itself to connect with the heart, treat thoughts as uninvited guests and listen to what the heart or the Divine one within is trying to say.

Meditation practiced religiously clear the cobwebs of the mind and enables clearer thinking and discrimination. Mind is like the spider caught in its own web and the more it tries to escape the web of thoughts and confusions the more tightly it seems to get gripped in these malicious, detrimental thoughts and wishes. Meditation clears these cobwebs every day, the spidery mind is not given a chance to give strength to its web of thoughts and thinking becomes clear, practical and dispassionate over a period of time.

Meditation helps rein the cantering mind and forces it to still, observe and in a way learn to be the observer. This third party attitude imbibed over a period of time helps in becoming the seer of one self too.  The mind dispassionately sees and discriminates the right conduct and thinking of the very individual.  This develops ‘viveka’ or wisdom and the right path, action and words all begin to come naturally. Meditation begins like walking uphill through a dense fog and persistent abhyaas results in clearing the fog with the sun piercing through, spreading light enabling clear vision.

This whirlpool like mind twirls ceaselessly and drags it through unwanted mires and tendencies; glossing the heart with layers of grime and weeds entangled mercilessly. Meditation helps cut through these weeds, and still the raging ocean of thoughts and tendencies and the inner core of the heart become visible to the aspirant. The true nature can be seen and work towards change and betterment begins. Thus self- awareness starts and self-realization becomes the true goal of the seeker.

To become true individuals we practice meditation and the first step in this direction is approaching a Guru. Without mentioning the role and need for Guru the whole understanding of this spiritual quest will be incomplete. Self-Realization is impossible without the Blessings of a realized Guru. Swami Vivekananda sought umbrage under Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and never had to look elsewhere.  His guru steered him through the path that leads to enlightenment and merger with God. For self -Realisation one has to approach a Guru, because a Guru is the gateway to God. Saint Kabir himself was a realized soul at the tender age of 12, yet he needed the guidance and blessings of Guru Ramdas to finally merge with God. Self- realisation is like a Himalayan climb full of avalanches and pitfalls a slippery, sinuous and tedious uphill adventure.

Guru is the guide or Sherpa who leads you up to the summit and then let goes of your hand so that you can follow your heart and make your own road through the last leg of the journey. A Sherpa takes the mountaineer through lesser dangerous terrain, leading the way and also removing the hurdles and road blocks. When the summit comes within sight the Sherpa hands over the torch to the mountaineer and he/she has to reach the top alone. Similar is the role of a Guru in the life of a spiritual aspirant.  Every spiritual aspirant is like an unlit candle with the potential to exude light. The guru lights the candle of wisdom, dispels the darkness in the life of the aspirant, encouraging ‘viveka’ or discrimination.

During the initial stages or the formative years the guru holds the hand and leads the aspirant; spoon feeding the student. With time the seed is nurtured and as strong roots develop the tree is soon ready to stand strong on its own and also become a fruit bearing tree. Until such a time comes the presence of the Guru is imperative in the aspirant’s life.

To conclude, the willingness has to be the aspirant’s; the ardent desire to seek the inner truth and connect with oneself has to come from the aspirant. When the desire is true and strong the Guru appears automatically, lights the lamp of wisdom and leads the aspirant towards ‘viveka’ through meditation and inner search. Thus with time, diligent practice and Guru’s blessings Self – realisation becomes a verity within reach and attainable by the aspirant.