Question 210-215: How does non-dual awareness engage in action?

Question 210-215: How does non-dual awareness engage in action? Swami Rama once asked a sishya (disciple), “Tell me one thing you have learned by yourself, that you have not gleaned from anything else, nor any other person!” The sishya was struck dumb, for he had not had any such experience, insight or realisation. Most people are blind to their desires and attachments, fruit of ideations, driven by vasana and samksara, thoughts, impressions and karma brought across from the previous life. It is very hard to stand outside the senses and have self-awareness, like the guru of Arunachala – Ramana Maharshi. We are slaves to the senses, not realising that the Divine is avinasambandhana, divinity that has cloaked itself with maya, illusion.


atmaroop: the form of Atma; that which is seen is only the glamour of Atma; it is atma in and of itself.

vasana: tendencies or desires

jivanmukta: permanently self-realised (or God-realised) person who no longer has any indentification whatsoever with his or her body.

videhamukta: liberated; having no body feelings or body consciousness.

prana-apana: breath that is inhaled and exhaled; vital force, life-breath;

Atma-tattva reality of the Spirit; the primordial element; the consciousness that is the primeval element of existence;

nirvikalpa: freedom from illusions or modifications or errors


Question 210: ‘Sir, how to realise that the manifestations of time, space, mind, etc are capricious and evanescent?’

Answer: Ramji, ‘the chitta is an aspect of the universal Atma and the experiences are determined by the nature of modifications or ideations arising in that. As is the ideation of time and space in the universal forms of the atma that are seen by chitta, consciousness, so are the space and time created in cognition, In reality, the entire complex of a universe that you are seeing is nothing; it is only the ideational modification of the chitta that is being perceived. Space, time and matter that are perceived due to the volatile character of ideation, are all of the nature of ideation (sankalpa). When a person has another idea, leaving a particular idea, then according to the law of nature he cognises forms created accordingly before him. So, an ignorant person being shackled with his or her own tendencies or desires (vasanas) cognises a variegated universe, but a wise one who is without desires and ideations, cognises Atma universally. The reason for this is that in the case of a wise person, his ideations and vasanas are stilled. One’s experiences are determined by the nature and strength of one’s ideation.

Question 211: Sir, if everything is an ideation in chitta (consciousness), then there must be the idea of bondage and liberation in the mind of a permanently self-realised person (jivanmukta). So how can such a person be said to be liberated (jivanmukta) ?

Answer: Ramji, a jivanmukta cognises only Brahman in everything, and when this attitude becomes firm, there is no idea of bondage or liberation; he does not have the ideas of bondage and liberation even in a slight manner. Such a person does not cognise anything except the Self or Atma and, therefore, the ideas of bondage or liberation do not arise in him. He is always in a state of oneness or the non-dual, without ever a trace of duality in his mind.

Question 212: Sir, you said that when as a result of contemplation, the chitta of Muni Vitahavya became quiescent, qualities like fellowship and compassion arose within him. But when his chitta was quiescent, how did these qualities arise in him?

Answer: Ramji, there are two ways for the extinction of the chitta — one is that of a jivanmukta and the other is of a videhamukta. In the case of a jivanmukta, the chitta becomes achitta (non-ideational) and qualities like fellowship and compassion automatically arise within him and that is the attribute of the chitta being achitta; whereas in the case of a videhamukta, the chitta becomes totally extinct and it becomes free from all attributes.

Question 213: Sir, what is the seed of (the tree of) the universe ?

Answer: Ramji, this body, from which actions (karma) arise, is the seed of the tree of the universe. The chitta is the seed of karma. The universe is cognised due to the ideation of chitta and it merges with the quiescence of chitta.

Question 214: Sir, what is the seed of the chitta ?

Answer: Ramji, there are two seeds of chitta, one is the movement of prana (vital life-force) and the other is the arousal of vasana. When one of them is destroyed, the other is also destroyed. Both the seeds are mutually causal; the movement of prana leads to vasana, and vasana causes the movement of prana. It shows that both prana and vasana are the seeds of chitta. When prana is controlled, the chitta becomes quiescent, and when vasana is absent, the chitta, too, becomes quiescent.

O Ramji, ideation or modification is, in turn, the seed of the both – prana and vasana – and that too is unreal. When, with spiritual discipline, you abandon this unreal ideation, then the arousal of vasana and also the movement of prana stop. Also, when, with this discipline, a person attains stability, he cognises the entire universe as Atma only; wise ones call this the state of even-cognition or non-dual understanding (samyak jnana).

Question 215: Sir, how can a jiva be non-ideational while being engaged in actions and how can he perform actions while being in the state of non-ideation?

Answer: Ramji, he who does not allow the wandering of his chitta, and fixes it in Atma-tattva (the consciousness that is the primeval element of existence) constantly, and who is not attracted by any object, and all objects are non-existent in his conviction, is non- ideational and he is always free from actions even when he is in action. This is called the state of nirvikalpa samadhi. Such a person is always stabilised in the Self even while he is performing all actions.


Cultivate Samyak Drishti (right vision), Samyak Vak (right speech), Samyak Sravanam (right listening), Samyak Bhavam (right thinking) and Samyak Karma (right action). This will make your life perfect. Then you become deserving of Divine grace. Only then can you attain Sayujyam (liberation). Salokyam (perception of the Divine) is the first step, Sameepyam (proximity to the Divine) is the second, Sarupyam (identity with the Divine) is the third and Sayujyam (merger with the Divine) is the fourth. Just as rivers ultimately merge with the ocean, man should become one with God. Nadinam Sagaro Gathi (the ocean is the goal of the rivers).

What is the goal of human life? Is it to enjoy worldly pleasures? No. You may have all the comforts you like, but ultimately you should strive to become one with the Divine. The very purpose of life is to have the vision of God, experience Him and ultimately merge with Him. But today man is doing just the opposite. He has forgotten God and is wasting his life in the pursuit of worldly pleasures. Human life is highly sacred, noble and divine. It should not be wasted in such unworthy pursuits.

Sathya Sai Baba, 24 Feb 2002


Umbrella and rain


Hamsa Gayatri
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Paramahamsaya Dheemahi
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat

“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”


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