A fundamental need of human nature is Freedom, he seeks freedom in every mood of his mind. It is freedom he seeks when sluggish or sleep, similarly it is freedom he seeks in the highest of activity – in the den of his subjective or objective discoveries. Freedom exists in every realm of his personality namely the body, mind and intellect. We may be shackled and jailed when fighting for freedom for our country, at the same time intellectually feeling very satisfied and free thinking about our heroic and selfless actions. So it is evident that we are able and happy to give up grosser realms of our freedom for subtle ones.
What is the subtlest of all realms in the human personality? When thus we analyze our day to day life we can say that it is the intellectual level that is the most subtle compared to that of all other realms. We know that all these (Body, Mind, and Intellect) are subject to constant change and thus conditioned by time. Logically, for a changing variable, there must be a changing substratum to support it – This changeless or immutable aspect of our personality is the theme of this article.
When analyzing our daily life, the reason for our unhappiness is simply that there cannot be a condition made such that all the personality aspects can be brought into a state where they all are satisfied. If we take an unhappy situation, we may be physically comfortable, emotionally stable – but intellectually doubtful. Similarly, permutations and combinations of these three aspects make all our situations of life, which sometimes gives us happiness and sometimes sorrow – since they are conditioned by time. This is a law that cannot be broken but can be transcended. This transcendental flight is nothing fancy or an empty promise. It may be the simplest thing, but it is certainly not trivial. The difference between simple and trivial is that – “simple” are always powerful.
I. Preparing the equipment
In any sophisticated operation, one of the most important aspects of it is the preparatory process, where the equipment required is tuned and prepared thoroughly in order to make sure a smooth transit between the start and the end. Similarly, here in the subjective experiment called meditation, the equipment used (Body, mind and intellect) must be tuned properly in order to promise a smooth and successful transition from one Plane of consciousness to another. Any amount of explanation or trying to intellectually appreciate the state of freedom is in my honest opinion – a waste of one's time since it is beyond the scope of intellect. Therefore, simply put – the seeker cleanse himself of the unwanted “stuff” that was a hindrance causing him to think that he was away from freedom, this is all that is meant by spiritual practice.
II Negating the unreal
When we approach spirituality, we have all kinds of fancy ideas, and all of us hunt for all kinds of “mystical experiences”. Let me humbly warn you at the very beginning, It is because of the fact that we were so utterly disappointed or dissatisfied with all that we have achieved with our very determined and inspired efforts in the objective world is the reason why we have approached spirituality in the first place, if we were so happy with the materialistic life, we would not have searched for a spiritual truth. So, Please do not make the same mistake here. Freedom is not something that you have to work 10 hours a day for 20 years and then one day you will be awarded an enlightenment tag. Though, Practice is necessary.
First, let us analyze ourselves. What do we refer to as the “I”?. Is it the body? The body disappears with the world during sleep and dream. But we still say “I Dreamt”, So “I” is not the body. Similarly, “I” is not the mind-intellect, since it is not functioning in the state of deep sleep, but we say “I Slept”, after we wake up – we were conscious of deep sleep or else there would not have been a memory of nothingness and a peaceful sleep. So what is this “I”? The body, mind, and intellect all appear and play about in time and space. There must be a changeless substratum for these changes to take place. This changeless substratum must be infinite and all-pervading and therefore it cannot say “I”, Therefore, “I” is termed as the phantom-ego which appears when we identify with the body-mind-intellect. It has no independent existence, other than a relative existence which is derived from the mind.
When thus the mind identify with a particular form, the ego appears as “I” and it takes up a particular name for itself. This “I” or the ego-self then makes for itself different roles, for eg: we say – “I am a Doctor”, “I am an Engineer” “I am a Sannyasin” etc (at the intellectual level), “I am sick”, “I am healthy” (at the physical level), “I am Happy”, “ I am miserable” (at the psychological level).. These concepts project and superimpose the world upon the real, and thus we only see the world that is conditioned by our mind’s thoughts and emotions- like the famous quote - As the Vision, So the World.
Negating these concepts of the “I” or the Ego-self is the first step towards freedom.
III - Affirming the Real.
We have all kinds of notions about the ultimate reality. Some say it exists, some say nothing is – reality being not an object of the intellect, cannot be explained using words or thought about directly as an object. Analyzing our states of consciousness we have three planes of existence (namely the waking, dream and deep sleep), for something to be real – it should exist in all periods of time or it should exist in all planes of consciousness. When thus we look at the three planes of existence the only aspect which exists in every experience of existence is the Self. The body, mind, and intellect play about but does not appear to be consistent in every plane of consciousness.Logically, since the three states of existence are in a state of flux – there must a “Fourth” that should be changeless to support it (as said earlier). This “Fourth” plane transcends the three plane. This can be illustrated by the example of Gold and Ornament’s cause and effect relationship.The ornaments are not separate from gold, ornaments are gold itself having a different name and form, if from the ornament – the gold is removed (nothing remains). Similarly, The fourth plane of consciousness pervades the three planes of waking, dream and deep sleep and yet, is in itself independent from them all since it is never conditioned by the manifested three states. In fact, from the highest standpoint, there is only the non-dual state of freedom – the Advaita state.
At this moment, due to our strongly rooted impressions – we are identified with our body-mind complex and have the strong idea of individuality or the “I-thought”, which is called the ego. This has to be overcome with the constant affirmation that we are the non-dual self. This can be achieved by the constant awareness that we are not the body-mind-intellect, but the witnessing conscious principle (the self). The realization is not instantaneous, similar to that of a man who just changed his name and when he is addressed by his new name – he finds it difficult to register it. We find it difficult to accept our new found identity as the all-pervading self of the universe. In fact, even while reading it will seem as if I am exaggerating. It is not so, When we listen to the indicative definitions of the scriptures like (all pervading self you are), we take it from the standpoint of the ego – which is a mistake and gives absurd results. The individual can never imagine being in such an exalted state, It is not that the Individual becomes a God. But only that, the individual realizes God principle in the individual himself. He becomes ever in contact and absorbed in an inexplicable state.
With constant affirmation that “I am the Self”, which once we start doing with effort will go on without effort subconsciously - ere long will find results - As you think, So you Become
IV The Last Door
Having thus trained ourselves to negate the unreal, and affirm what is real. We find that the mind gets into a more calmer and serene atmosphere which it itself creates, our attitude to life changes, the desire eruptions are greatly under check, and the mind becomes very peaceful. It is such a mind that can be easily transcended.When a river is very tumultuous we are unable to see the river bed, similarly, when the mind is very unstable and agitated, we are unable to see the substratum. When the mind is made calm by constant contemplation upon the self, we begin to sense a more serene and calm state and slowly, slowly get absorbed into it. Until at last there is no thought that we are contemplating or even the “I-thought”. This is the final stage of spiritual practice- The Last door. The Individual has transcended all limitations of the body, mind, and intellect and has reached a state that is ever perfect and also which was ever there.
He finds no difference between attainment and non-attainment, he has no notion of victory or defeat. He has no fear or fearlessness, desire or desirelessness, he is free from dual series viz likes and dislikes. He has no such notions as guru or disciple, high or low, knowledge or ignorance, auspiciousness or inauspiciousness he revels in equanimity everywhere.He does not care for the dissolution of the universe or does not behold it. He may spend time alone in a cave plunged and lost in contemplation or spent his time amongst men of action – his inner experience is never tainted. He alone is the blessed one. He alone is the blessed one.