Question 57: How does one obtain freedom from these bonds and achieve liberation?

walking LebanonWhat passes for observance of the real things in life might change as we move through the ages of life: childhood to young adulthood, to parent, on to retirement and finally, seclusion from the world-at-large. We might watch it all go past, and conclude as some do, “sic transit gloria mundi”, thus passes the glory of the world. And “so-called” glory it is; if we become attached, we return again and again until we learn that everything is Brahman.

akash: San. m., n. (ambara) sky, space, an expanse; the element of ether, the subtlest form of matter. Space gives things form and keeps them discrete. Its quality is sound. ‘It is through space that sounds are transmitted and heard. Love and play are products of ākāsha and seeds sprout on account of ākāsha.’ ‘Ākāsha pervades the cosmos but remains unstained.’ (Bhg. XIII.32)

atmaswaroop: cf. atmaswarupa; Consciousness, the Self, original nature, our true essential nature. (embodiment, form of the Atma)

Eswara: cf: Easwara, Ishwara: The Supreme Lord, the Cosmic Lord. Divinity

mithya:Hin. adj. wrong; deceptive; useless; of false appearance Hin. m., f., pl., San. ind. a mixture of truth and falsehood – that which is apparently real for practical purposes, but is found to be fundamentally unreal when the true Reality is known. The nature of the world is mithyā.

Yama:(Dharmaraja) God of Death, record-keeper of dharma, dharmic action undertaken by individuals.

Question 56: Sir, how does the creation and dissolution of the vast experiential universe take place ?

Answer: Ramji, anything that is created is subject to variations of expansion-contraction, high-low and bondage-liberation. But how can we conceive such variations in the case of that which has not been created. All objects – mobile and immobile – are a form of
(akash) or are unreal (mithya); they are experienced but do not exist. He who is attached to this illusory universe is in bondage, but he who is unattached is liberated.

The Adwaitha Sastras proclaim ‘Brahma sathyam; jagat Mithya; Jeevo Brahmaiva naaparam’. Brahmam alone is true. Creation is a myth. The Jivi or the individual is Brahmam Itself. All that happens in the world to man is as unreal as the dream-experience. They disappear, and appear again. The pleasures and joys experienced in life are as mirages appearing on the desert sands of hatred, envy and selfish greed.

The prompting to save oneself and the power to pull oneself up into liberation cannot be derived from books. This strength has to come from the individual himself. One can spend an entire lifetime scanning profoundly written books; one might earn the highest rank among intellectuals. But at the end of it all, one might not have attained even some little progress in the spiritual field. To conclude that a scholar who has reached the topmost height can therefore be considered ripe in spiritual wisdom will prove to be a great mistake. The scholar himself might imagine, as he learns more and more from books, that he is progressing more and more on the spiritual path. But when he examines the fruit of his studies, he will recognise that though his intellect has become sharper and heavier, he has not been acquiring the awareness of the Atma to the slightest degree. Most people have the skill to deliver wonderful discourses on spiritual subjects; really speaking, everyone has failed in living the life of the spirit, the Paramarthika (aspiration for the eternal) life.

Question 57: Sir, how does one obtain freedom from these bonds and achieve liberation?

Answer: Ramji, a jiva (an individual) must practise vigorously with firm faith that this experiential universe of names and forms is entirely an aspect of Atma (Atmaswaroop) and nothing else has been created.

The Jiva (the individual) is by its very nature ‘eternal and immortal’. It has no end or beginning that can be calculated. It has neither birth nor death. It is self-illuminating. It is the knower and the knowledge, the doer and the enjoyer. Whether bound or liberated, the Jivi has all these characteristics intact. But whatever it is, it has not got the freedom that God has. In every act, the Jivi has to involve the body, the senses like the ear, etc., the vital airs that operate in the body. All these coexist with the Divine in the individual. Whatever it is, the Jivi is not a machine that has no will of its own. Just as the activities in this life are determined by the nature of the activities in previous lives, the activities of this life do determine the activities of the next life. Easwara (God)(Divinity) decides the place and time, the circumstance and the consequence in accordance with the nature of the activities presently undertaken. God has the power to shape the Nature of man, but He does not exercise that power and mould it differently. He leaves it to the free will of the individual, which has to learn the lesson by experience.

And the goal of life?

Those who have the inner urge to achieve the higher wisdom which confers liberation have, therefore, to reflect upon and investigate the phenomenon of death. Death should arouse no fear. It should not be regarded as inauspicious. You should not run away from the problem, imagining that death happens only to others, and that it will not happen to you. Neither should you postpone reflections on death, judging that they are inappropriate now, and profitless. For, inquiry into death is really inquiry into one’s own Reality. This truth has to be recognised

In the Mahabharatha, Dharmaraja (Yama) is asked to answer the question, “Name the greatest marvel in the world”. And, Dharmaraja (Yama) replied, “Though we see every day people dying, we do not think we would ourselves die. What can be a greater marvel than this?”


sic transit
sic transit gloria mundi – thus passes the glory of the world. Tate Gallery, George Frederic Watts, 1891-1892