Neither matter nor energy has the power to think, reason or formulate ideas. Ideation can come only from an intelligent source. This source is the true spiritual content in us, whether you recognize it so or not. Mind, will and the other factors belong to this spiritual realm. In fact, they are the only experiential factors of the spirit. Naturally, the attainment, which we seek in the spiritual life, which is truly of a spiritual nature, must be one that bears upon the mind and intellect. It should be based upon, should be proceeding from, things like the mind and buddhi.
Harmony is a word quite familiar with us. We make use of it in many respects, in several spheres of our life and activities. Generally the question of harmony arises only in relation to two things, factors or persons. For instance, the harmony between a couple, married people, between two or more partners of a trade or enterprise. Similarly between two neighbouring countries and peoples.
But when we make use of the word in the context of the spiritual life and efforts of man, it should not be meaning anything such. What does it denote then?
The harmony which marks the true spiritual attainment of a seeker is the one, which inheres in and abides in his mind forever. Thus the seeker’s mind is one factor involved in the process. What is the other?
You know that the mind dwells in the body. Life will continue for us only as long as the body is associated with and activated by the mind. Apart from the mind, what is the factor that comes in while considering our life and activities? The world outside, including all that it contains, is the second factor. On this basis, the harmony that we propose to deal with here is between the mind in the body on the one hand and the world outside on the other. Whatever takes place in the world during the course of one’s life, his mind must be in full harmony with. Once this is accomplished, there is no further attainment that is to be sought. There is no scope for anything greater or different. That will be the ‘ultimate’ in the spiritual life of man.
Is this harmony, the harmony of the mind with all that takes place in the course of our life in the world, already there for us? If it is there, will the question of attaining it or accomplishing it ever arise?
We think of an attainment when it is something for the gaining of which you have to make deliberate efforts. For instance, take the riches that one has. Suppose you have inherited the riches which your father, or mother, or say even the grandparents had with them, then they are not attained or gained by you. Because for obtaining them you have not made any specific efforts. On the other hand, suppose you have not inherited anything from your parents, but you acquired prosperity by virtue of your own hard efforts, then certainly the wealth that one finds with you must be viewed as ‘attained’ by you, earned by you.
This latter is the case with our spiritual attainment. The attainment, namely ‘mental harmony’, is never a thing, which anyone inherits or begets at the time of birth. Nor can anyone gain it and pass on to you for your use. Every individual has to work himself deliberately for preserving the harmony of his mind. Only then will it prevail.
Again, I should say that what we inherit at the time of birth, if at all, is the opposite of harmony. Say it is disharmony that possesses us, every one, irresistibly, just when we are born. Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita:
Sarge, at the time of birth, sarvabhootani, all beings (not merely the humans, but all the other creatures as well. So this is a universal law or rule.) sammoham yānti, perforce are put under a powerful delusion. What is the nature of this delusion? Ichchadwesha-samuththena dvandwa-mohena, it is of the nature of pairs of opposites, which arise from the mental reactions called ichchā (liking) and dvesha (hatred).
This is the basic truth. You must think very seriously and thoroughly in order to understand the significance of this statement. There are a number of sādhakas who strive for spiritual perfection. Hours and months and even years they spend in hard and exacting austerities. Yet the truth remains far away from them. What is the reason? Nobody takes any trouble or care to enquire into what he does, into what exactly he wants to achieve in the spiritual field and how is it to be worked for and achieved. So first of all what is necessary is clear thinking. Clear thinking is a very rare commodity in this world.
Know it for certain that to foster ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ and then to hold on to them steadfastly at the cost of anything whatever is the chronic ill of the human mind. But alas, this is the inherent strong habit of one and all.
Everybody believes in the philosophy of preserving likes and dislikes. They always try to increase their number, variety and strength. Suppose you are born with a limited set of theses likes and dislikes, by the time you reach the age of forty, you find them much increased in number and strength. And God knows what will be their quantity and quality by the time you die.
In fact, generally speaking, every one of us has been born of parents who constantly bred ichchā-dveshās and gave birth to us in this process. They, our parents, too in their turn had their birth from a set of parents whose fate was exactly identical. Like this ad infinitum. That is why Krishna chose to disclose the naked truth that all humans, by virtue of their creature-nature, have to begin their life not from a blessed foundation, but an extremely unfortunate and unfavourable one. If you want to achieve the destined fulfillment of your life and thereby gain for you an ample measure of peace, happiness and freedom, then you have to wisely struggle for avoiding the basic delusion under which you totter.
I have something very unpleasant to pronounce on this occasion. Most of you will feel proud about the happy and successful lives that you have led. I have heard many people say “By the grace of God I had a very good life. My children are good. I have educated them all. Two of them are well settled. Two more are there. I shall settle them properly soon.”
Well, looking at this statement from the angle in which we are now, I feel very odd. It is too uncomfortable a position. What have these people done? What is the nature of their achievement and success?
May be that you studied well and obtained suitable employment. Or may be that you entered into business and made a big fortune. You may own cars and send your children daily to their schools in them. You may be able to provide them all comforts or even luxuries of human life. But what of this all?
Did not your life begin from the delusion that Krishna has described here? Again were you not breeding and increasing your likes and dislikes throughout, consistently? Your children you like immensely. Even among them, your love is not uniform. The more successful of them, you like more. And to the lesser blessed, your love is much less. Or may be the other way round. Yet it is not the uniformness of mind that you find there. However, the children of others do not occupy your mind as much as your do. Is this not an un-uniform attitude?
So whatever may be your credit or achievements, the fact remains that you were born with a ‘delusion’, which has only grown and got reinforced ever since. The children you have progenited are also fired with this basic delusion. So in short, you bred mind’s delusion, which you also bequeathed to your children. Suffering under this delusion you die yourselves, leaving your children too to the same fate.
That is why when some apparently unfortunate developments take place in your life, you are unable to bear them. So too your children. You are not able to face life in all its aspects and implications. The problems quite common to your life, you have no knowledge or power to meet, bear and resolve. The rich man’s mind is more tense than that of the poor one. The so-called educated section of ours has much less peace and equipoise than its counterpart. What a tragic situation! How ignoble and inhuman!
So my dear souls, claim nothing. Boast on no ground whatever. If at all, disclaim everything. Be as humble as a blade of grass.
If you are to be blessed, if your life is really to be reckoned with as a fortunate one, then the path is different. The line of approach, the ideal, everything should be different. As Krishna has said, work your way out of the congenital delusion of your mind.
Realize your mistake. Recognize what is the abiding virtue of human life. Then try to overcome the mind’s delusion. Only when the mind’s delusion, as a result of which you get attracted to the ‘pleasants’ and repelled from the ‘unpleasants’, is overcome, you will be able to love God and cultivate steady devotion to Him.
Why are devotees unable to be exclusive in their love and devotion to God? It is because their mind is still deluded. In success they safely forget Him, although in failure they remember frantically.
So the first accomplishment to be had even in the matter of devotion and its fulfillment is the overcoming of the mind’s delusion.
Understand, as Krishna has said in the second chapter of Gita, that life is a play and inter-play between our senses and the objects of the world. This play is bound to produce in our mind the mutually opposite reactions called sukha and duhkha. Sukha and duhkha by their vary nature, by the nature of our life, cannot be dispensed with. What is possible, what is necessary, is a cultured indifference towards both of them. That is what you call equanimity, the equipoise of the mind. So avoid the preference to happiness and the happy events. Similarly avoid the prejudice towards unhappiness and the unhappy events and situations. Love instead both equally. Say ‘I am quite happy with unhappiness too. I realize both are inevitable. Both together alone constitute and breed our life. Why then wrestle, why grumble and complain? I am at home with any and all in my life. I am content, I am blissful, whatever comes or goes.’
It is from such attitude that abiding courage, true determination, sustaining will and above all the unaffectedness and equipoise of the mind, which in truth is the characteristic of a liberated soul, arise. Be sure.
You may find several sanyasins, who you think are honourable and great by the mere fact of their having renounced ‘the worldly way of life’. Or may be that they get themselves immersed in pooja and meditation for long long hours. But will this all bring true greatness or liberation? To this question, my answer will be the words of the ancient and adorable Sage Vasiśṭhadev, the words which he told Sri Rama of old, when the latter sought tuition from him:
Now, is the points is clear to you? Has your insight improved? When I say mental harmony is the spiritual attainment, I really mean the ultimate truth. I have also told you as to how this truth finds expression in Gita as well as in the Gospel, which Sage Vasiśṭhadev preached to Sri Rama of old. So with my own testimony I tell you here the truth. Further, you have all the needed authority and scriptural support too.
Now a question arises: how can the harmony of the mind be considered the ultimate spiritual attainment? Does not spiritual attainment imply the attainment of something spiritual in nature? Again does it not imply a realization of the Spirit, call it God, the Self or what not? So in just gaining the mind’s harmony, how can all these factors come in?
Very good. It is true that spiritual attainment must be the attainment of something ‘Spiritual’. I am happy if you can be firm in this conviction. Well, I ask you, what is the spiritual factor? What can possibly be the attainment for man, which will be of the nature of spirituality?
Right thinking and enquiry must be able to reveal the truth about this too. So let us think.
Suppose I claim enough of spiritual power and attainment. In order to prove the truth of my claim, suppose I produce from out of nothing an article like a mango, a coconut or something else, what will you think of the performance? You may feel that the Swami has done a wonderful feat. A number of people may flock round him, praise him and do what not.
But put the matter to the test of refined reason. What is such an attainment? Is it spiritual?
A mango is a thing material. So too the coconut. I am producing it from air, which again is matter, making use of my hands and fingers, which too are material. As the modern science says, the world’s components are matter and energy. The body consists of flesh, blood, air, born and the like, all of which are forms or matter. The temperature on which it survives belongs to the energy realm. Thus, it is constituted of both matter and energy. But are these all? Is there not anything more?
As I told you earlier, neither matter nor energy has the power to think, reason or formulate ideas. Ideation can come only from an intelligent source. This source is the true spiritual content in us, whether you recognize it so or not. Mind, will and the other factors belong to this spiritual realm. In fact, they are the only experiential factors of the spirit. Naturally, the attainment, which we seek in the spiritual life, which is truly of a spiritual nature, must be one that bears upon the mind and intellect. It should be based upon, should be proceeding from, things like the mind and buddhi.
Look at the harmony, which we spoke about here. Generally it is not found in any one at all. Further, few are the genuine seekers who understand its value and greatness and who strive to achieve it in their lifetime. A very keen sense of discrimination, backed by the best of tuition from the most competent spiritual Teacher, is necessary for anyone to work for and realize ‘mental harmony’. It is the last thing to be attained in human life. It alone has the capacity to complete and fulfill the seeker’s life.
Now in striving for and achieving ‘mental harmony’ is any spiritual realization also involved? This is the next point to be discussed. I shall quote a verse from the Gita in answer to this:
While living in this world, by them has worldliness been conquered, whose mind is established in sama (equalness, harmony). Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, is taintless and equal; therefore they are established in Brahman indeed.
So, dear souls, it is in truth about the mind that we say ‘liberated’ and ‘bound’. When the mind suffers from disharmony in respect of anything whatever, it is in bondage. When it is established in ‘harmony’, then it is that it becomes liberated. If the thought of the soul and the sādhanā and culture pursued on the basis of that thought help you towards achieving harmony of the mind, well and good. Rather the entire talk of the soul, God, etc. is really with a view to bring about the mind’s culture. It is to make the mind work for salvation in the manner of ‘abiding harmony’.
Have you known this truth? If you have, then your path is safe. If you have not, then your ideal will be eluding you always.
Sri Krishna, right when he made the first reference to Yoga in the second chapter of Gita has revealed this truth. He has defined Yoga as ‘samatva’ itself - samatvam yoga uchya te. What else than the mind can samatva be thought about?
[Reproduced from the May 1981 issue of the monthly journal - Vicharasethu]
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