WHO AM I--I AM NOT THE BODY, THE BODY IS NOT FOR ME
(Compilation for a discourse by N.R. SRINIVASAN, Nashville.TN, USA, January 2017)
In spite of knowing that no worldly thing is ours, when we face a thing it has effect on us. We have to weigh two considerations in this: 1. If there is effect then we should not pay heed to it. We should consider it neither good nor bad. We should neither have a desire that it should persist, nor have a desire that it should perish. We should be unconcerned with it. 2. The thing has its effect on your mind and intellect and not on your Consciousness (Self). Therefore, don’t accept it in you (in the Self).
We get connected to a thing when we are attached to it also if we have aversion to it. When Rama went to exile the sages and saints as well as demons got connected with him. The sages and saints who loved him attained salvation. The demons that had aversion to him also attained salvation. Those who had neither attachment nor aversion did not attain salvation because they were not connected with him. We should be fortunate to get the right contact. So it is important to stay connected.
If the world has effect on us, we should not get connected with it by having either attachment or aversion to it. We should remain engaged with the Self. The mind has its connection with Nature. We have accepted our connection with the mind in preference to Self and therefore we shall have to suffer. Now whatever we do with our mind and body we will reap virtuous or sinful reward. The Lord in Geeta says: “mamaivaamsoe jeevaloke jeevaabhootaaha sanaatanaha”—the soul having become an embodied soul is an eternal fragment of mine only. This awakening will come to us only if we have no connection with the senses, mind and intellect.
In the expression known to us “I AM”, ‘I’ is insentient, while ‘am’ is sentient. ‘am’ is there because of ‘I’. If there is no ‘I’ (ego), ‘am’ will not persist but only divinity will remain. Lord says in Geeta, “Vihaaya kaamaan yaha sarvaan pumamscharati nihsprihaha nirmamoe nirahankaaraha sa saantim adhigacchati; Eshaa braahmee sthtihi”(2/71-72)—when the seeker becomes free from the sense of ‘mine’ and ‘egoism’ he attains peace and the state of realized soul.
Egoism is not our inherent nature. Egoism is of the lower nature while the Self is of higher nature. Self is different from egoism. In wakeful state egoism remains awakened, in deep sleep it does not remain awakened, but merges in ignorance. In sound sleep egoism does not persist but the Self exists. The Self is un-manifest. “Mayaa tatam idam sarvam jagat avyaktamoortinaa” (9/4)—all universe is pervaded by my un-manifest form; this entire universe is an expansion of me, says the Lord in Geeta. So, we are but a fragment of the Self, un-manifest (formless).
A seeker should realize the fact that he is un-manifest. We are the same to-day as were in our childhood. From childhood till today our body has changed so much that it can’t be recognized. Yet, the Self is the same. The body is not the same, it does not remain the same even for a moment; it continuously changes. He who does not change is a seeker. He who changes is not a seeker.
Those enlightened seekers who have taken refuge in the transcendental knowledge are born in the next birth in the house of pious and prosperous or born in the family of enlightened yogis. Those that have taken refuge will attain unity with the Supreme.
The body changes every moment but Self does not change even when there is new creation or final dissolution but remains the same says Gita: “Idam jnaanam upaasritya mama saadharmyam aagataaha; sarge api noepajaayante pralaye na vythanti cha”(14/2). They, who have taken refuge in this Transcendental Knowledge, attain unity with Me; they are neither born at the time of creation, nor afflicted at the time of dissolution.
We have acquired several bodies till now, but they have all been left. The present body will also be left here; the self will go to hell or heaven or get liberated. It means that our existence does not depend on the body. Therefore it does not make any difference in the Self whether the body lives or dies. There are infinite universes and infinite creations but all of them have not even an iota of effect on the Self. They have no access to the Self at all. They have access only to the mind and intellect. The evolutes of nature can’t have an access beyond mind and intellect. Therefore in the infinite universe nothing belongs to us at all. By spiritual discipline we attain the Self. While protecting spiritual discipline we should hold to the view that we are un-manifest. We are not manifest or body. Self sits in the house; it does not become the house. The house is different, the Self is different. Self departs leaving the house. The house will remain lying here and the Self will go away. The Self will reap the fruits of the virtuous or sinful actions, the body will not reap. Self attains salvation, the body will not. The Self has been described in Geeta thus: “ácchedyoyam adaahyoham akledyo soeshya eva cha; nityaha sarvagataha sthaanur achaloyam sanaatanaha”(*2/24). “Avyaktoeyam achintyoeyam avikaaryoeyam uchyate; tasmaad evam viditvainam naanu soechitum arhasi”(2/25)—The spirit (Self) is said to be unexplainable, incomprehensible and unchanging. Knowing this Self as such you should not grieve. Weapons do not cut this spirit, fire does not burn it, water does not wet it, and the wind does not make it dry. It is eternal, all-pervading, unchanging, immovable, and primeval.
It is the human desire that he should never die, he should know everything and he should ever be happy. At the root of these three desires are Truth, Consciousness and Bliss.- (Sat-Chit-Ananda). But he wants to fulfill these desires with the help of the body because in spite of being a fragment of Self, he accepts the body, senses, mind and intellect as his. In Geeta the Lord says in 15/7: “Maamaivaamso jeevaloke jeevabhootaaha sanaatanaha; maamaha shashthaaneedriyaani prakritisthaani karshati”—The eternal individual soul (jeevaatma) in the body of living being is indeed, my integral part. It is associated with the six sensory faculties (including the mind) of perception and activates them. In essence Aatman is the Eternal Being (Brahman). Brahman is the true nature of the Supreme Being (Parabrahman), and therefore it is called the integral part of Parabrahman. The difference between Aaatman and Jeevaatma is due to the limiting adjuncts—the body and the mind: similar to the illusion that the enclosed pot space is different from the unlimited space.
As a son belongs to his father, so do we more singularly belong to Self. But we, instead of accepting Self as ours, assumed the body, senses, mind and intellect, which abide in Nature (Prakriti) as ours—this is bondage. Beside this, there is no other bondage. The body consists of the fragments of both-- father and mother but the Self does not contain the fragments of Nature. We (the Self) are the fragments of Paramatma—mama eva amsaha. Being the fragments of Paramatma we abide in it; but we have assumed the body, which abides in Prakriti, ours—this is our error. The fragment of Prakriti has abode in Prakriti, but (we the self) have developed disinclination for Paramatma. The inert Prakriti remained a worthy (dutiful) son but we (the self) became unworthy (undutiful) sons.
But man can’t satisfy his real demand with the help of body or mind or the world. Body is perishable; therefore no one can escape death by it. The body is inert (non-sentient) so knowledge can’t be gained by it. World is kaleidoscopic, so no one can be happy about it. Therefore the desire which a man has for Truth, Consciousness and Bliss can be satisfied only by being detached to the body.
The body is neither helpful nor obstructive in the least, in the fulfillment of this desire but affinity with the body is only obstacle to it. Actions and objects are evolutes of Nature. When a seeker totally renounces his affinity with the body, then he gets detached from actions and objects. When a seeker gets detached from actions and objects, his real desire is fulfilled. When his real desire is fulfilled, the seeker gets established in Self, which is Truth, Consciousness and Bliss. When he gets established in the Self, the worldly spiritual disciplines, Karmayoga, and Jnaanayoga attain perfection. Then he accepts Paramaatman as his and takes refuge in Him, whose fragment he is, thus his non-worldly spiritual discipline Bhaktiyoga attains perfection and he attains supreme love. In the attainment of love there is full perfection of human life.
It is a mistake to suppose that the soul is in the body. It is truer to say that the body is in the soul. The body is enveloped and pervaded by the soul which is infinite, all pervading and eternal. The body is like a pot and the soul is like the space within and without it. When the pot is moved from place to place, the space within is not moved. When the contents of the pot are boiled, the space or ether in it is not boiled. Similarly, there is in us, something uncreated, and something untouched by sin or suffering. The Geeta quotes from Kathoepanishad: “It is said that the senses are great, but greater than the senses is the mind, and greater than the mind is the understanding (intellect), but what is greater than the understanding is Self”. “Indriyaani paraanyaahur indriyebhyaha param manaha; manasas tu paraa buddhir yoe buddheheh paratas tu saha”(Geeta 3-46). “Indriyebhyaha paraa hyaarthaa arthebhyascha param manaha; manasas tu paraa buddhihi buddheraatmaa mahaan paraha” (Katha: 3-10)—Sense objects are more important than the sense organs; the mind is more important than sense objects; the intellect is more important than mind; and the great soul (Jeevaatma) is more important than that intellect. Journey to the abode of Paramaatman is possible only with intellect as the charioteer and well controlled mind as reins. In 12-204-10 Mahabharata also says: “The mind is superior to the senses; the intellect is superior to the mind; Self-knowledge (Jnnana) is superior to the intellect and Aatman is superior to Jnaana.
Therefore the seeker from the very beginning should accept the fact that “I am not the body, the body is not for me”. The reason is that individual Self is of higher nature (sentient) which is a fragment of the Paramaatman while the body and the world are of lower nature (Non-sentient). The lower nature in spite of our best efforts can’t satisfy our real desire; it can’t make us immortal, can’t wipe out our ignorance and can’t make us happy for ever.
Bhagavadgeeta teachings focus to make everyone a matter of circumstances and happenings, around and within him. We are riddled with lowest values because we identify ourselves with the matter envelopments and view life through these distorting media. How we can withdraw our identification with the outer envelopments and turn inward, as it were, in a spirit of self-discovery—this is accomplished through Upaasana.
Agnirdevoe dwijaateenaam muneenaam hridi daivatam |
Prathima svlpabuddheenaam sarvatrea viditaatmanaam ||
The ritualists have their God in the fire (Agni); but the wise folk find him in their own heart. It is the dull-witted one that seeks God in the icon. Those who have higher understanding see God in Everything. So seek the Self within you.
(Excerpts, from the speeches of Swami Ramsukhdas of Geeta Bhavan, Haridwar; Primer of Hinduism, D.S.Sharma, Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Mumbai; and The Bhagavad Gita, Ramananda Prasad, American Gita Society, CA--suitably abridged and edited for the Vedanta Class at Sri Ganesha Temple, Nashville TN, by N.R.Srinivasan)
[A Western Thought on self within us--You are eternally and inseparably One with God; wake from the nightmare to the awareness of your Oneness with the Source]
There is no reason to be in fear. Fear is of the illusion, unreal, a reaction to uncertainty which just drains your energy, because it focuses on the future, distracting you from living in this now moment which is the only time that exists. Now is where you need to focus your attention and your feelings, and through doing that be fully aware of your state of presence right now. Intend to maintain this constant state of present awareness so that you are fully alive and alert, and then you are open to the intuitive nudges, the wise guidance from those watching over you from the spiritual realms.
You are constantly being watched over by those who would assist you immediately if you call on them. You are never alone or unsupported, but you do need to pay attention in order to access what is offered. Frequently you have strong expectations of what your guidance should offer you, and so you often miss what is actually being offered. Relax, allow, receive, and enjoy the guidance that then arises, miraculously!
Knowing, as in truth you do in every moment, that you are divinely supported and never alone, then relax into Life, into Love, and allow the Reality of that to guide you in every moment. Always engage lovingly with others, all others! There are no exceptions to this if you wish to heal yourselves. Love expands, embraces, supports, and encourages, increasing your energy and your vitality; whereas fear discourages, disempowers, drains, and weakens. Love responds with Love. Fear responds with fear. Remind yourselves frequently that you are Love, open yourselves to allow It to enter within you. Love is like a vast flowing river that envelops and embraces you in every moment if you will permit. If you shut It out it is as though you were in the river but covered completely by a dry suit, completely protected or shut off from Its warm embrace.
Love is all about allowing. You need do nothing else because Its purpose and intent is to totally suffuse and renew your energy field in every moment if you will allow It to do so. When you do peace and contentment will fill and uplift you. Do not focus anxiously on the conflicts and suffering you see in the world around you while wondering what you could or should be doing to help relieve them, by all means intend to send your love to those who are suffering, but focus instead on the Love that you are as a divine creation. By doing this the world is changed, and that is what you incarnated to do. Where you focus your attention, whatever thoughts you hold – positive or negative – bring into your life those points of focus.
It is very difficult for you not to become distracted by the chaos and confusion with which the illusion constantly bombards you, however, you knew that this would happen before you made the choice to incarnate for this particular lifetime. So, go within at least once daily to make contact with the divine flame burning constantly within you, It is the flame of divine Love from which you were created and from which you can NEVER be separated.
You are already saved, there is nothing you need or can do to make yourselves more acceptable to God. God created you already perfect, from Love, from the energy field that is All That Is, and to which you are eternally connected. You are all God’s beloved children, and there is nothing that you can ever do that can or will change that. Sin, however grave and unforgivable it may appear to you to be, is of the illusion, it is unreal even though it brings intense pain and suffering to many who are incarnate as humans. However, your true and eternal existence at One with each other and with your divine Source is unchanging.
Initially you constructed or built the illusion to play games and experience separation because in Reality separation is impossible, and it was only by imagining and building the illusion that you could in any way sense what separation would be like. Now you have had enough of the intense pain and suffering that it brings you and you desire only to awaken from the nightmare that you built. All around you are signs that people, humanity, are waking up. When the conditions of life in the illusion become intolerable you choose to awaken, and that time has come. The power of your awakening energy fields, your unbreakable connection to Source, is intensifying simply because that is what it does, and purely in order to assist in your awakening process. Being divine your real wills are completely in alignment with God’s, and so your awakening is divinely assured and inevitable. You can continue to delay it, but it makes absolutely no sense to do so, after all why would you continue to experience intense pain and suffering when there is no requirement to do so?
It seems that many are addicted to pain and suffering, it has, in fact, become so normal that without it they feel incomplete, that something important in their lives is missing. God’s Power and God’s Love resides in each of you. You need seek no gurus, no priests, no pastors, no intermediaries of any kind because each one of you has her or his own unbreakable connection to God which, if you will allow it or listen to it, will lead you home. Others may be able to help you find your path, but only you can identify it through your own inner knowing, and then choose to follow it home.
That you are eternally and inseparably One with God is reason to celebrate. To celebrate is healthy, uplifting, inspiring, and fun. It intensifies your energy fields so that they expand out into the world, melding with others who are also celebrating, and raising the whole planetary frequency so that humanity’s awareness of its true nature arises to the surface of its consciousness thus making it impossible to deny it any longer.
Denial of your divine nature has been an enormous obstruction on your path to awakening. You have, over the eons since the separation game commenced, been very confused about life and its purpose because of the amnesia that is a powerful aspect of it. Consequently you have been seeking but unable to find a convincing answer to the question: “What, if there is one, is the purpose of life?” Many myths arose with stories of gods and goddesses, demons and witches, magicians and sorcerers, but none of them offered any meaningful help or consolation because they all demanded your allegiance to someone or something outside yourself.
God is within you, period. It is within yourselves, and only there, that you can and will find your unbreakable connection to God, Source, the Creator who so lovingly brought you into existence to enjoy the infinitely abundant fullness of life forever in His Presence. When you chose to experience separation from your divine Source it was essential that you also chose to remove all memory of It from your conscious awareness otherwise you would have been unable to experience the sense of separation that you wanted.
Always the choice to go within and find God has been available to you, but the distractions of the world outside yourselves, the unreal world, have seduced you for eons with their siren songs that lead only to unmitigated disappointment. Now, finally, you have made the collective to choice to dissociate yourselves from the distractions of the illusion and return to awareness of your true nature at One with God. Your eternal Home the Home you have never left, is within you and always has been, It waits patiently and lovingly for you to remember and awaken, and that is what humanity is collectively in the process of doing right now.
The choice to awaken was made eons ago, at the moment when the apparent separation occurred, but the decision to follow through on that choice was made only in the last few decades. All around you signs of this inevitable decision abound, so take heart and know that you are waking up from the nightmare into full awareness of your Oneness with Source, and that your joy and delight will be unbounded.
[This is what Vishishtadvaita of Ramanuja preaches—The liberated Self does not get dissolved in Paramaatman but remains integrated . ]
Diwali - Let the Divine Lamps Dispel the Darkness of Our Ignorance
Diwali is a glorious holiday. It is a holiday filled with continuous festivity, revelry and celebration. Even sworn enemies embrace, and hostilities melt as we share box after box of fresh sweets.
At this sacred time, I reflect upon the words of my Guru, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji: "Don't only light the lamps in your temples, homes and offices. Also remember to light the lamp in your own heart. That divine lamp will dispel the darkness of ignorance; that is the true way of welcoming Bhagawan Rama into your life."
The lamp in our hearts? What divine light is he referring to? What darkness of ignorance is there within us which should be dispelled on this holy day?
Ignorance of the Nature of the True Self
We are all ignorant about so many things. One cannot possibly be an expert or even properly informed about the majority of subjects in the world. The information available in the world today is too vast, its depth and breadth boundless and unfathomable. Yet ignorance of math, science, history or technology may make life slightly inconvenient but it does not shroud us in darkness. It does not keep the presence of the Divine an arm's length from our hearts.
What is the ignorance which is so dark it must be dispelled in order for us to live peaceful, fulfilling, meaningful and divinely-connected lives? It is the ignorance of the true nature of the Self.
To me, one of the most beautiful aspects of Hinduism is the belief that at the core of our being we are divine. In contrast to other major world religions, Hinduism teaches that at the essence of our being there is pure divinity, there is light, there is perfection. It is merely ignorance, the false identification with the body and its urges, which leads us to "sin". Of course the karmic consequences for our actions must be paid, even when we realize that they were committed due to the darkness of ignorance rather than the darkness of evil.
That Divine Light Within
When the saints and spiritual masters of India exhort us to remove the darkness, to light the lamp within, they are referring not to a transformation of inherent darkness into newly created light, but rather to a shedding of that ignorance, that false identification, that illusion, which shrouds our innate light from our view. As Pujya Swamiji explains, "The sun is always shining outside, but if your windows are covered with two inches of mud it will be dark in your home. The answer is not to go out in search of the sun, to sign up for courses or workshops on invoking the power of the sun, or even to bemoan the darkness. The answer is simply to clean the windows so that the naturally occurring presence of light may flow into your home."
In the same way as the sun in Pujya Swamiji's example, the inner divine light is always there, always shining, always available. It is the core of our being. However, the "windows" of our consciousness have become muddied by our false-identifications, our expectations, our grudges, our jealousies. Hence, that light is obscured from our view.
Who AM I?
From the time of the war of Kurukshetra, when Bhagawan Krishna urged Arjuna to realize his true Self, to realize not only the universal dharma but his personal dharma as a Kshatriya, as the son of Pandu, as one whose task was to restore dharma to adharma, saints and rishis and sages have enjoined us to recognize our true nature.
When we are not aware of who we really are, we inevitably try -- consciously or unconsciously -- to become something else. We then live our lives falsely identified with roles, masks and personalities that are not truly us. However, unlike the actor in a drama who remembers to remove his costume and make-up at the end of the day, we have become so internally united with our false self, that we have begun to think it is who we are. We have come to believe the mask is our true face, the script is our true life and the costume is our true Self.
We get a degree and we say, "I AM a PhD, or I AM a doctor." We put on make-up and expensive clothes or we get cosmetic surgery and we say "I AM beautiful." We earn a lot of money and we say, "I AM rich. I AM successful." We get married and have children and we say, "I AM a wife and mother" or "I AM a husband and father." We make many friends and we say "I AM popular. I AM well-liked and respected."
However, these are merely things we DO, ways we spend our time, choices we make, personalities we don because it suits the culture in which we live. They are not who we ARE. We are not our degrees, our beauty, our bank accounts, our popularity or our relations. The problem with this false identification is that these roles are all fleeting. They are based merely on what we have done and achieved today. So, when they get shattered, as falsehood is inevitably shattered and as anything of the flesh is inevitably limited, we lose not merely a title or a job or money or beauty, but we lose the very connection to our Self. We have wrapped our sense of Self so tightly around these roles that when the curtain falls and the drama ends, we feel that our life is being torn out from within us. If I AM beautiful, what happens when I age or my skin breaks out or I have an accident that scars my face? Then who AM I? If I AM a mother or wife then when my children grow up and don't need me or my husband divorces me or dies, who AM I? If I AM rich and successful, if I lose my money or retire from my profession, who AM I?
We also say, "I AM angry. I AM sad. I AM frustrated. I AM depressed." Yet, our scriptures, philosophy and gurus tell us we are none of these things. Our brain may be experiencing emotional patterns of chemical and electric energy that correlate to what psychologist’s term anger or depression. However, I, the true Self is pure, perfect, untouched and un-afflicted by patterns of energy corresponding to emotional states. I am the one who is aware, who is watching, who is witnessing, who is able to name the states of sadness and depression, but not the one who is afflicted by them.
Ignorance of the Self Leads to Misery
The lack of awareness of who we truly are, the lack of ability to distinguish between what I DO and who I AM, this ignorance is the darkness which leads to suffering and misery in life. It is also this ignorance of the Self's true nature that leads us to act in ways for which we have to reap the fruits of negative karma. Greed, lust, dishonesty, jealousy, anger and arrogance are products of our blindness toward the true light within and toward the true nature of the Self. If I am already full and complete then there is nothing to covet.
The True Self's Cup is Always Overflowing
These days in the new-age "spiritual" circles there is talk about "enlightened abundance," which typically refers to the concept of becoming so enlightened that one can manifest piles of money! There are books, films, courses and workshops on manifesting abundance as though if one is simply in touch enough with the Source, that Source will provide whatever one asks. However, what the lives and teachings of the true saints and rishis teach us is that the moment one has even a taste of awakening, a taste of Divine Connection, a taste of being One with the Source, one immediately experiences not a genie who will grant three wishes, but rather an immediate and overwhelming sense of completeness. Those who are truly enlightened live with the experience that their cup is overflowing. They are One with all of creation; thus there is no need to possess the wealth of the universe. It is already theirs. This is why in the stories of our scriptures, whether it's Kunti (mother of the Pandavas) or Dhruv or Prahlad, when God Himself stands in front of them instructing them to ask for any boon, there is nothing they want. They are complete merely due to His presence.
When I first came to Rishikesh, during one of my early satsangs with Pujya Swamiji He held up a pen in front of me and He said to me, "You are not this pen." I laughed. Of course I am not a pen, I thought. How obvious. He then said, "There will come a time when I will tell you that you are not that body and you will laugh in the same way you just laughed when I said you're not a pen. A time will come when it will be as ridiculous to assume you are the body as it is ridiculous to assume you are a pen."
At this sacred time of Diwali, when we line our homes and offices and streets with brightly burning lamps, let us pray for that light within our own hearts that illumines the nature of our Self, showing us who we really are. When that light is there, then we know that Bhagawan Rama has truly returned, not merely to Ayodhya but also into our hearts and our lives.
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati
Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh
Spiritual life is not possible with an empty stomach, so real ‘religion’ in a country of chronic hunger is feeding the poor; then comes education and medical service.
Constant remembrance of God and unlimited reliance upon Him under all circumstances is Sadhana.
Is it easy to realize the Self? Incarnations (Avatars) of God are God Himself, yet they themselves have to struggle so much, not to speak of others.
The divine soul is sleeping in everyone. It is to be roused. Everyone is always trying to express that Self.
When the Self is realized, you will feel its presence everywhere. This is Siddhi. The goal is to reach this state. Everybody must get back to this realization, because it is our real nature.