[Part – 5]
One may think that the household and other responsibilities are impediments standing in the way of Non-dual practice. If one has followed this talk carefully, it can be seen that those are not obstructions at all. The seeker has to dissolve them all into his/her ‘Knowingness.’ People who are unable to do so call it as their ‘prArabdha’ – the inescapable effect of past actions. Concepts like the effects of past actions is invalid in Advaita. In fact, Advaita holds that the world itself does not exist because there is no creation and nothing was ever born. How then can prArabdha exist? There is no scope for rebirth or prArabdha when birth itself has not taken place.
Because of our decades old habit of looking at the ‘particulars,’ we find it difficult to be aware of the sat-cit on which the particulars are superimposed. As an excuse, we invent the terms like vAsanA-s, prArabdha etc. Whenever the thoughts and objects seem to be solid-like, we should practice pratyabhijna and pravilApana. We should go on practicing a new way of seeing things until we are able to melt away the density of the perceived objects effortlessly. Until then, we have to persevere in our practice of cultivating a new vision. Shankara tells us in his well-revered monograph:
दृष्टिं ज्ञानमयीं कृत्वा पश्येद्ब्रह्ममयं जगत् । — 116, aparokShAnubhUti.
[Converting the ordinary vision into one of Knowledge, one should view the world as brahman Itself.]
Shankara instructs us that our perception should be from the position of Knowledge. Then we will see the world to be pervaded by brahman. In other words, we have to change our habit of looking – from the overly rehearsed way of seeing the snake to the new vision of seeing the rope.
What really “IS” is the rope. The snake is manufactured by our mind, but the rope is not. The nAma and rUpa (ideas and objects) are the snakes made by us. The sat-cit are not. The sat-cit is the substratum, the real substance, the Reality. Because the nAma and rUpa are only made by us, it is up to us to eradicate them. We have to eliminate them by taking the stance of sat–cit in our vision. The sat-cit is brahman. The word brahman is derived as barhaNatvAt – meaning pounding down, pulverizing down.
विजातीयभाव अन्तरीत सजातीयभाव प्रवाह … | — Anon
[Meaning: Whatever comes in the way of the flow, sink it down.]
It is said that anything that obstructs the flow should be submerged in a deluge. That is the pravilApana. We should cultivate the Advaitic vision right in the “now.” We might feel that our worldly duties prevent us from practicing and cultivating a Non-dual vision. We should try to practice the new way of looking at least when we have some leisure time. For instance, when we go for a walk, we should see all objects, plants, flowers, rocks, the various sights as nothing but the Beingness and Knowingness. We should resist our habit of looking at them as forms. The real impediment to practicing a non-dual outlook is nothing but our own insolence and lethargy, in addition to our inability to give up our attachment to the body.
Leisure is a gift. It is totally meaningless to go on pilgrimages or to inaccessible holy places bearing all difficulties and hardships during our leisure times. We should practice the Non-dual way of looking at things instead of wasting time on travels. Bhagavad-Gita exhorts us:
युक्ताहारविहारस्य युक्तचेष्टस्य कर्मसु ।
युक्तस्वप्नावबोधस्य योगो भवति दुःखहा ॥ — 6.17, Bhagavad-Gita.
[Meaning: To him whose food and recreation are moderate, whose exertion in actions is moderate, whose sleep and waking are moderate, to him accrues Yoga which is destructive of pain.]
We have to moderate our activities. We need to eat, rest, sleep and act for the minimum maintenance of the body. We should not overindulge in any of the activities.
निराशीर्यतचित्तात्मा त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः ।
शारीरं केवलं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम् ॥ — 4.21, Bhagavad-Gita.
[Meaning: Free from desire, with the mind and the self under control, having relinquished all possessions, doing mere bodily action one incurs no demerit.]
Gita warns us not to complicate our lives with unnecessary actions. It asks us to take up as much activity as needed for living and not be lured by temptations of the senses. The kaThopanishad tells us:
उत्तिष्ठत जाग्रत प्राप्य वरान्निबोधत ।
क्षुरस्य धारा निशिता दुरत्यया दुर्गं पथस्तत्कवयो वदन्ति ॥ — mantra 1.3.14, kaTha.
[Meaning: Arise, awake, and learn by approaching the exalted ones, for that path is sharp as a razor’s edge, impassable, and hard to go by, say the wise.]
The God of Death, Yama, is unequivocal in his advice. He forewarns us that the path to the truth is like a razor’s edge – sharp and subtle and not easy to negotiate. One needs to be focused, vigilant and attentive. We have to follow these guidelines and achieve the Advaitic vision of looking at things from the stance of the Substratum. We must be able to melt away all things into our Self and be able to perceive that “I am present in all things and everywhere.” We should have that attitude all the time and our thoughts should be immersed in such a contemplation.
When great saintly people talk about seeing the Supreme God all the time, it leaves us completely fazed. Bhagavad-Gita mentions:
आश्चर्यवत्पश्यति कश्चिदेनमाश्चर्यवद्वदति तथैव चान्यः ।
आश्चर्यवच्चैनमन्यः शृणोति श्रुत्वाप्येनं वेद न चैव कश्चित् ॥ — 2.29, Bhagavad-Gita.
[Meaning: One sees Him as a wonder; and so also another speaks of him as a wonder; and as a wonder another hears of Him; and though hearing, none understands Him at all.]
In fact, we need not be lost in astonishment. The Advaitic vision should become the new norm. We are very familiar with maintaining transactional dealings with forms and functions. We ignore to notice the sat-cit in spite of the fact that It exists right there where our vision falls. We have to uplift ourselves as Gita says:
उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् । — 6.5, Bhagavad-Gita.
[Meaning: Let a man raise himself by himself, let him not lower himself.]
The uplifting of the mind implies the fading out of the objective world. That is the life an individual liberated right in this life (Jivanmukta) lives.
The brihadAraNyaka Upanishad says:
न तस्य प्राणा उत्क्रामन्ति ब्रह्मैव सन्ब्रह्माप्येति ॥ — 4.4.6, brihadAraNyaka Upanishad.
[Meaning: The organs do not depart. Being but brahman, he is merged in brahman.]
Death is for the body. Knowingness is eternal. Formlessness cannot have death. The Knower who was a seeker previously is now formless. Hence death cannot touch him. When the body dies, his life-force dissolves in the Self. It does not travel to any other place. The powers of his organs will join the corresponding fundamental five elements. He becomes one with the supreme Self. So says the Upanishad.
When it is said that ‘he becomes one with the supreme Self,’ it does not mean that the Supreme Self exists separately somewhere waiting for merger. As long as one feels that he is separate, it appears that the Self is different. But once the Self is understood, he will know that he himself is the Self. Say you have slept in New York and have been roaming around in your dream thinking that you were elsewhere. But as soon as you wake up from the dream, you realize that you have been all the time in New York only. Being or becoming the Self is similar to it.
After the Self-knowledge is obtained, we realize that we are the Self. The creation will then be a manifestation of our own power. We will be the Knower, jnAni and will not anymore be under the sway of the creation. We may even take birth as an Avatar, if needed.
सर्वत्रगमचिन्त्यं च कूटस्थमचलं ध्रुवम् ॥ — 12.3, Bhagavad-Gita.
[Meaning: The Omnipresent and the Unthinkable, the Unchangeable, the Immutable …]
Our resolve should be: “Let the contribution of the changeable nature be faded. Let me abide in the unchangeable and immutable substratum as Me.”