The stars are only visible in the night sky. Yet, in the daytime, we know the stars are there and will appear again once night descends. What then of our mind – which creates this world – unreal and real at the same time? To what effort do we put the mind to know the atma? Once it was said, bend the body, end the senses, mend the mind. Let us explore along with Sage Vasishtha and the enquiring Rama.
jiva: individual soul embodied as a person. Soul with a body.
purushartha: the repository of spiritual knowledge acquired by endeavour in pursuance of the precepts obtained from sages and scriptures
satsang: association with the truth or the holy beings
doles: monies or gifts from others who are not your parent, grandparent or preceptor.
vasana: tendencies or desires
atma-gyan: direct knowledge of the Atma; self-realisation; knowledge of the Atmic state.
gyan (jnana): atma-jnana: true learning.
jñān Hin. m. jñāna San. n. (from jñā – to know) true intuited understanding; spiritual wisdom; higher knowledge. ‘What use is information which does not bring about transformation?’ (SSS) ‘Jñāna is that which is beyond mind and speech. What the guru says through his mouth is not jñāna but ajñāna. Just as one thorn removes another, the guru’s verbal teaching (ajñāna) removes the veil of the disciple and the result is jñāna – pure knowledge.’ ‘Jñāna is not something to be attained; it is eternal and self-existent. Remove [ignorance] and what remains is jñāna.’ (SSB) (pronounced gyān in Hindī)
Atma: the Self, the soul, the life principle, the divine core of personality, man’s individual indwelling reality (jivatma), the wave in the ocean of the universal Self (paramatma or brahman), the inner controller which rules and regulates the senses, the mind and the intellect, and animates the body by means of prana: ‘I am the life-force in every heart’, ‘in the body but not of it’. ‘The atma is the unseen basis, the substance of all the objective world, the reality behind the appearance, universal and immanent in every being.
Brahma: The Creator in the Hindu Trinity. The God engaged in the emergence, creation and evolution of the universe.
Vishnu: The One who pervades everything. Often called ‘Preserver’, ‘Sustainer’ of all that is. The principle responsible for sustenance and protection of the cosmos.
Mahesh:: the receiver of all things created. There is dissolution of the Cosmos; Mahesh is the one who generates layam, the destruction of all that is.
jagath: that which is coming and going, perpetually in change; cosmos, universe
samsara: the world which is perpetually in change;
Question 73: Sir, what is the form of the mind and wherefrom is it created?
Answer: Ramji, how can I explain to you its form when the mind has not been created; nothing exists except Atma. Atma is without origin and is indestructible and indescribable. So many names have been ascribed to it. It is self-effulgent, and all names and forms are just experienced like a reﬂection within it. Just as a lamp illumines itself and other objects too, even so is Atma self-illumined and grants existence to all others. Nothing exists without the support of Atma. Since Atma is the prime cause of everything, how can I describe the form or creation of the mind? When one realises Atma truly, one’s karma and delusions become extinct, the bond of the gross and the subtle are loosened, and one becomes just pure consciousness. Dissolution of the mind results from atmagyan only. Therefore, undertake the purushartha that leads to atmagyan.
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Jayadeva, Gouranga, Tukaram, Tulsidas, Ramdas, Kabirdas, Saradadevi, Meera, Sakkubai, Mallamma – these had not mastered the objective commentaries and elucidations of the many sciences and scriptural texts; yet, this day they are adored by followers of all faiths, adherents of all creeds and natives of all lands. The reason obviously lies in their unshaken faith in the Atma, won through the purification of the mind. Vidya alone conferred on them the purity and the clarity.
The magnet can draw iron towards itself but it cannot attract pieces of iron covered with dust and rust. Of course, speeches from platforms are good; only, practice is paralysed. Unless this illness is cured, education and real scholarship cannot manifest its worth. The dust and rust on the piece of iron have to be washed away in order that the magnet can attract. When the mind is thus polished clean, the effect will be, as the poet says, “A Mahatma has as his sign, one thought, one word, one deed.” These three being in harmony is the best proof of the worth of man. This unique worth is now being disclaimed by man through his own volition. For, he is unaware of Atma Vidya, the genuine Vidya that ought to be learned.
As contemporaries of Ramakrishna Pramahamsa, there flourished many scholars, pundits and experts. But the awareness of the Atma failed to illumine them to any extent. As a result, the names of the scholars, pundits and experts are not heard of today. The name of Ramakrishna, who could not claim scholarship in any material or objective field of knowledge, has alone spread all over the world. What is the reason? Water with which sugar is mixed and plain water, both are similar when looked at. Drink! Then you distinguish the one as sherbet and the other as just water.
The words of Paramahamsa are full of supreme wisdom, the words of scholars are soaked in textual scholarship. Pretentious pundits who have only perused the pages go after monetary gains; they do not rush towards the Divine. Matchsticks that have fallen into water cannot yield fire when struck, however vigorously you try. Besides, they spoil even the box which holds them. So too, hearts soaked in worldly desires and designs may pour our parrot-exhortations but they can have at best only listeners, not practitioners. They may receive the advice but they would not accept it or act accordingly.
Question 74: Sir, where does Atma exist and how is it realised?
Answer: Ramji, Atma cannot be realised by mortification, austerities or other means, except through a devoted and whole-hearted endeavour. Actions that are performed with ego and desire are ineffective for the realisation of Atma. Atma is realised through holy company (satsang) and contemplation on scriptures. A jiva must, in the beginning, conform to his social codes and the discipline of scriptures, avoid pitfalls of pleasures, exercise forbearance, i.e. accept what is providentially provided and be desireless, and should not seek sympathy or doles. By living in this manner, he attains Atma easily. He should seek such holy company and study such scriptures where nothing but Atma is discussed. If he does this continuously, he attains Atma. When with the practice of contemplation in this manner he gets established in Atma, the three demi-gods — Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh — also seek his grace. Only holy company (satsang) and contemplation on scriptures make a man pure; all else is mere affectation. Only contemplation in this order brings relief from the delusion and desires (vasana), and leads to Self-realisation. The three demi-gods — Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh — too are always established in Atma. This Atma is pure existence, and is perennially all-pervasive.
The Kaivalyopanishad declares:
“Na Karmena na prajayaa dhanena
thyaagena ekena amruthathwamaanasuh”
Not by means of works, not by means of man-power or by means of wealth, by renunciation alone immortality can be attained. The works referred to are rituals like sacrifices, sacred fire rites, vows, charities, donations to holy projects, pilgrimages, ceremonial baths in rivers and the sea. Through such activities, one cannot achieve moksha or liberation – that is to say, getting rid of the veil of ignorance. Na prajayaa, (not by means of man-power) means: the acquisition of positions of authority and power, of skill and intelligence, which can manipulate men and things, of fame and supremacy, of personal charm, of full health and happiness, of a large family with many children cannot confer on man moksha or liberation.
“Na dhanena” (not by means of wealth) means: The works and activities mentioned above and the acquisition referred to can succeed only when man has wealth at his disposal. If one is not rich, he cannot venture into karmas or acquire authority, power, etc. But the Upanishad announces that jnana is not related to riches or wealth. And jnana alone can lead to liberation. So, liberation cannot be earned by means of wealth. Wealth is not a means to attain moksha.
Then, what exactly is the means? The answer is, Thyagena ekena amrthathwam aanasuh. Renunciation alone can confer moksha or Immortality. The jagath (the objective world) is unreal, non-existent; the misunderstanding that it is real has to be renounced. The understanding that the idea of jagath is a superimposition by our mind on the reality is the jnana. Though the jagath appears real, one must be aware that it is deluding us so. And as a result, one has to give up the yearning for deriving pleasure from the objects that appear and attract, both here and hereafter. That is to say, one is liberated as soon as one renounces all attachment and all desires. Sarvam Thyaagam, give it all up . The ajnana or false knowledge can be destroyed only when one knows the Atma principle. When the false knowledge disappears, the sorrow produced by one’s involvement in the ups and downs of samsara or the world of change, also gets destroyed.
From the Unreal, lead us to the real;
from darkness lead us to light
from death, lead us to immortality,
Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti