How far are we from realisation?

Avidyaya mrityum tirtha vidyaya amritam snute. “By ignorance we cross through death, by knowledge we achieve Immortality.” This is indeed a major realisation.

Realisation means the revelation of God in a human body. Realisation means that man himself is God.

Unfortunately, man is not alone. He has desire, and desire has tremendous power. Nevertheless, it fails to give him lasting joy and peace. Desire is finite. Desire is blind. It tries to bind man, who is boundless by birthright. God’s Grace, which acts through man for God’s full manifestation, is infinite.

Realisation springs from self-conquest. It grows in its oneness with God. It fulfils itself in embracing the finite and the Infinite.

We are seekers of the Supreme. What we need is absolute realisation. With a little realisation we can at most act like a cat. With absolute realisation we shall be able to threaten ignorance like a roaring lion.

The moment I say “my body”, I separate myself from the body. This body undergoes infancy, childhood, adolescence, maturity and old age. It is not really me. The real “I” remains changeless always. When I say that I have grown fat or thin, I am speaking of the body that has grown fat or thin, and not the inner “I”, which is eternal and immortal.

Realisation says that there are no such things as the bondage and freedom which we so often refer to in our day-to-day lives. What actually exists is consciousness — consciousness on various levels, consciousness enjoying itself in its varied manifestations. So long as we think that we are living in the bondage of ignorance, we are at liberty to feel that we can dwell in freedom as well, if we want to. If bondage makes us feel that the world is a field of suffering, then freedom can undoubtedly make us feel that the world is nothing but the blissful consciousness of the Brahman. But realisation makes us feel Sarvam khalvidam Brahma. “All that is extended is Brahman.”

In order to realise what realisation is, we first have to love our inner Self. The second step is to love realisation itself. This is the love that awakens the soul. This is the love that illumines our consciousness. Love and you will be loved. Realise and you will be fulfilled.

Realisation is our inner lamp. If we keep the lamp burning, it will transmit to the world at large its radiant glow. We all, with no exceptions, have the power of self-realisation or, in other words, God-realisation. To deny this truth is to deceive ourselves mercilessly.

We realise the Truth not only when joy fills our mind, but also when sorrow clouds our heart, when death welcomes us into its tenebrous breast, when Immortality places our existence in transformation’s lap.

How far are we from Realisation? We can know the answer by the degree to which we have surrendered to God’s Will. There is no other way to know it. Also we must know that every single day dawns with a new realisation. Life is a constant realisation to him whose inner eye is open.

Why do we want to realise God? We want to realise God because we consciously have made ourselves avenues through which the fruits of God-realisation can flow. Our very body is a divine machine; hence it needs oiling. Realisation is a divine lubricant, which does its work most effectively.

Realisation can be achieved by God’s Grace, the Guru’s grace and the seeker’s aspiration. God’s Grace is the rain. The Guru’s grace is the seed. The seeker’s aspiration is the act of cultivation. Lo, the bumper crop is Realisation!

- Sri Chinmoy, Yoga And The Spiritual Life. The Journey of India’s Soul.

What Is Religion?

What is religion? Religion is God. Religion is Truth. God and Truth are one. But when I say that my religion is God, there is every possibility that you may misunderstand me. But if I say that my religion is Truth, immediately you see eye to eye with me. Let me be a little clearer. If I say that my religion is Lord Krishna and you must accept him, your eyes emit fire. But if I say that my religion is Truth, you will jump up and say, “So is mine.” Now, instead of saying, “You must accept my religion”, if I say, “Let us accept the universal Truth”, you will cry out, “Already accepted, thank you, my friend!”

Religion is an act of vision that guides and leads us to the Beyond. Religion is intuition. Intuition is so near and dear to each of us, so familiar to our soul and so intimate to our heart, that it requires no definition. Even so, we may as well proclaim the truth that intuition is the consciousness of the all-pervading existence. Ask a man how he is sure of his existence. Silence captures his mouth. He knows what his existence is. He feels it. But the explanation evades him. Religion is that very intuition which defies explanation but which is a self-embodying and self-explanatory truth.

Religion is not fanaticism. Religion, in its purest form, is a feeling of the universal oneness of Truth. A fanatic never sees the truth in its totality, even in his wildest imagination. A fanatic has nothing to offer to the world precisely because he has not kept his heart’s door wide open, and because he lacks the capacity to commune with his soul.

What we need is direct illumination. Lo, differences are buried in oblivion. Through our feeling of universal oneness, we run closer and closer to the Supreme. Our life has a freedom of its own. Our narrowness in thought kills this freedom. This freedom finds no joy in lofty and grandiose pronouncements. This freedom wants to be the living expression of our inner thoughts and feelings. Freedom is union. Union is the all-energising and all-fulfilling Truth.

Religion speaks. It speaks more significantly than words. Unfortunately, its message is often subject to our ruthless distortion. Nevertheless, in the long run, it triumphantly voices forth the truth.

When we think of religion, our attitude should be sympathetic and appreciative rather than critical and competitive. Criticism and competition create disharmony, which is a destructive force. Sympathy and appreciation create harmony, which is a creative force. Harmony, moreover, is the life of existence.

All religions are indispensable to their adherents. All religions, too, are surcharged with inspiration. This inspiration is the conviction of the adherents’ collective soul. Peace must be their watchword, just as Truth is their sole aim.

Momentous are the words of Tagore, who said of religion: “Religion, like poetry, is not a mere idea; it is expression. The self-expression of God is in the endless variedness of creation; and our attitude towards the infinite Being must also in its expression have a variedness of individuality, ceaseless and unending.”

Religion is a living challenge to the highest in human beings to face the stormy problems of life. True, there are countless problems. But there is also an Omnipotent Power. Strangely enough, this power utilises the problems as true instruments for the future blessing of humanity.

Religion expands. It expands our feelings. Religion lives. It lives in the inmost recesses of our heart. Religion conquers. It conquers in our self-giving.

The divine aim of religion is to release the pent-up reservoir of human energy. Life itself is religion — intimate, continuous and fulfilling. Let us live openly and freely. Let us have that religion which includes all human beings who have ever lived on earth, those who are now on the world stage and those who shall dwell here during untold ages to come. Ours is the religion, that will perfect the order of the world. Ours is the religion that will ply between the shores of Eternity and Infinity.

- Sri Chinmoy, Yoga And The Spiritual Life. The Journey of India’s Soul

Our peace is within…

No price is too great to pay for inner peace. Peace is the harmonious control of life. It is vibrant with life-energy. It is a power that easily transcends all our worldly knowledge. Yet it is not separate from our earthly existence. If we open the right avenues within, this peace can be felt here and now.

Peace is eternal. It is never too late to have peace. Time is always ripe for that. We can make our life truly fruitful if we are not cut off from our Source, which is the Peace of Eternity. The greatest misfortune that can come to a human being is to lose his inner peace. No outer force can rob him of it. It is his own thoughts, his own actions, that rob him of it.

Our greatest protection lies not in our material achievements and resources. All the treasure of the world is emptiness to our divine soul. Our greatest protection lies in our soul’s communion with the all-nourishing and all-fulfilling Peace. Our soul lives in Peace and lives for Peace. If we live a life of peace, we are ever enriched and never impoverished. Unhorizoned is our inner peace; like the boundless sky, it encompasses all.

Long have we struggled, much have we suffered, far have we travelled. But the face of peace is still hidden from us. We can discover it if ever the train of our desires loses itself in the Will of the Lord Supreme.

Peace is life. Peace is Bliss eternal. Worries — mental, vital and physical — do exist. But it is up to us whether to accept them or reject them. To be sure, they are not inevitable facts of life. Since our Almighty Father is All-Peace, our common heritage is Peace. It is a Himalayan blunder to widen the broad way of future repentance by misusing and neglecting the golden opportunities that are presented to us. We must resolve here and now, amidst all our daily activities, to throw ourselves, heart and soul, into the Sea of Peace. He is mistaken who thinks that peace will, on its own, enter into him near the end of his life’s journey. To hope to achieve peace without spirituality or meditation is to expect water in the desert.

For peace of mind, prayer is essential. To pray to God for peace with full concentration and singleness of devotion even for five minutes is more important than to spend long hours in carefree and easy-going meditation. Now, how to pray? With tears in our hearts. Where to pray? In a lonely place. When to pray? The moment our inner being wants us to pray. Why to pray? This is the question of questions. We have to pray if we want our aspirations to be fulfilled by God. What can we expect from God beyond this? We can expect Him to make us understand everything: everything in nothing and nothing in everything, the Full in the Void and the Void in the Full.

We must always discriminate. We have to feel that the outer world which attracts our attention is ephemeral. To have something everlasting, to attain to a rocklike foundation in life, we have to turn toward God. There is no alternative. And there is no better moment to take that turn than when we feel most helpless. To feel oneself helpless is good. Better to cultivate the spirit of self-surrender.Best to be the conscious instrument of God.

Everything depends on the mind, consciously or unconsciously, including the search for peace. The function of the mind is to remove the cloud of doubt. The function of purity in the mind is to destroy the teeming clouds of worldliness and the ties of ignorance. If there is no purity of the mind, there can be no sustained success in the spiritual life.

We own peace only after we have totally stopped finding fault with others. We have to feel the whole world as our very own. When we observe others’ mistakes, we enter into their imperfections. This does not help us in the least. Strangely enough, the deeper we plunge, the clearer it becomes to us that the imperfections of others are our own imperfections, but in different bodies and minds. Whereas if we think of God, His Compassion and His Divinity enlarge our inner vision of Truth. We must come in the fulness of our spiritual realisation to accept humanity as one family.

We must not allow our past to torment and destroy the peace of our heart. Our present good and divine actions can easily counteract our bad and undivine actions of the past. If sin has the power to make us weep, meditation has undoubtedly the power to give us joy, to endow us with the divine Wisdom.

Our peace is within, and this peace is the basis of our life. So from today let us resolve to fill our minds and hearts with the tears of devotion, the foundation of peace. If our foundation is solid, then no matter how high we raise the superstructure, danger can never threaten us. For peace is below, peace is above, peace is within, peace is without.

- Sri Chinmoy, Yoga And The Spiritual Life

Great Secret of Heart – Part 2

Quote

The teacher tells that inside the heart is all the mystery of things. Every object of one’s desire is inside one’s heart. It is not outside. Whatever one longs for is contained within oneself. This heart that the Upanishad is speaking of does not get old when the body gets old. It is not destroyed when the body is destroyed. It is the eternal abode of the eternal objective of eternal aspiration. The objects of one’s desire or aspiration are contained here and they shall be available for experience, the moment they are invoked in the proper manner. This little thing that we call the heart is nothing that is mortal or physical. It is the Atman (Soul or Self). What we call the Atman is the same as what we refer to here as the heart. It is free from every kind of affliction or sorrow or limitation. It is unaging, for it has no age. It is the timeless Being and, therefore, it has no destruction. It sees no death. It sees no sorrow. It is self-existent by its own pristine magnificence. It has no hunger and It has no thirst. It asks for nothing, for It is self-sufficient in Its own Self. Whatever It wills is capable of being materialised at one stroke. This is the will that is pure in character, uncontaminated by any kind of falsehood which is of the nature of externality. The nearer we go to this ‘heart’, the more is the strength of our will and the more is our capacity to manifest it and materialise it in our practical life.

The sanctuary

The more the limited will of the individual human being is drawn out from this centre of the heart, the more does it get diluted by contamination with the evil of externality. The more it gets contaminated by association with the externals, the more is the impossibility of achieving success in this world, and the greater is the difficulty of contacting the objects of one’s desires. But the more we go deeper and inward into our own Self, the greater is strength of our will and the greater the possibility of achieving success in obtaining anything that we want. This is the meaning of satyakama, satya samkalpa. When our consciousness, will and thought-functions are rooted in Truth, they should materialise themselves at once in the forms they are expected.

The case of such persons whose will is not so rooted in truth is like the case of those who are subject to domination by other rulers. They are like subjects in this world who are ruled by kings and administrative chiefs. The subjects are completely under the control of the chiefs or rulers, because the country or kingdom belongs to them. Whatever people wish to have, they have to obtain from these rulers, not otherwise. This means that the sustenance of these people who are subject to domination by others is dependent on factors external to themselves. The actions such people perform in this world for the purpose of living a happy life are conditioned by the existence of external factors. They are not unconditioned. Therefore, there is a limit for the achievements of these people. Whenever a need is felt for being subjected to others’ rule, the actions one performs naturally will be subjected to the conditions laid down by those external rulers. So, they are not really independent. Their will also cannot exceed the limit of the ordinances of these rulers. This is the case with every person in this world in every respect. This analogy given here is only to explain the predicament of people in general. The rulers or the administrators or the chiefs mentioned here are factors other than one’s own Self. They may be natural forces, or they may be gods in the heavens, or they may be any blessed thing in the whole creation compelling you to act according to a particular law or rule. This fate befalls one on account of one’s will and action being restricted by the operation of laws which are outside.

This sort of action brings about a reaction. And this we call the law of karma which is binding in its nature, causing reincarnation and the resultant suffering. All this is due to the impact of laws operating outside oneself and compelling one to obey their dictates. So, the more is one’s dependence on external factors, the greater is the nemesis of action. And the greater the independence one has, the less is this nemesis or reaction produced by actions. Hence, every action performed by every individual is capable of producing only transient results. Our actions in this world cannot give us immortal happiness. We cannot have absolute freedom by anything that we perform in this world, because this world is conditioned and it works on conditioned laws. It conditions the individual who is a content of itself, causing everything to be limited from inside as well as from outside. It is something like the freedom that we give to cows or cattle in general when we tether them to a peg by a rope. They have some freedom but it is limited to the extent of the length of the rope. Likewise, there seems to be some kind of freedom, given to us on account of the adjustment that we perform between ourselves and the external atmosphere. But to that extent of the adjustment alone are we free. Beyond that we are not. Thus, we are introduced to the fact of the limitation of human nature in those who are divested of this knowledge of the Atman and who consider themselves merely biological units and not spiritual centres.

We cannot have freedom absolute, because of the absence of the knowledge of the Atman. The real nature of oneself is the nature of one’s own Atman. The point made out here is that if we cannot understand our own Self, how can we understand anybody else? We have not known the Reality that is inside us. Then how can we know what is really outside in the world? Those people who are ignorant enough not to know even their own internal nature go to worlds which produce limited results, and they have absolutely no freedom. Just as we have no freedom in this world, because there is a ruling law operating external to us, so is the case with people who go to the other worlds. There, too, they have no freedom. If some law operates here, in this world, some other law operates in the other worlds also. Just as we are subjected to rules here, we will be subjected to rules in the other worlds also. Everywhere we will be subjects and not kings or masters. Merely because we have a little bit of freedom to enjoy the objects of senses, it does not mean that we are completely free. It is like the freedom of cattle to eat grass and chew cud. It is not real freedom. This is the fate of those who do not know the truth. The reason is simple. They cannot exercise their will to the furthermost limit on account of these limitations.

But the blessedness of people who know what this Atman is, is grand indeed. Those who depart from this world having realised what the Atman is, their jurisdiction is infinite. They are not limited by laws outside. They are themselves lawmakers. Their will is the universal law. There is a unity between their will and the law that works outside. In the case of ordinary individuals, the difficulty arises on account of the conflict between external law and internal law. Why are we limited in this world? Because our will does not coincide with the will of the universe. We have got a way of thinking which is not necessarily in consonance with the law of the whole universe. The will of the individual is not the will of the Creator. That is the reason why there is bondage. But the more one goes into the depths of one’s Being, the more does one approximate the identity of one’s self with the law that is operating outside. The question of outside and inside will not appear when there is harmony of the two. We talk of inside and outside as long as we think independently through a physical body, as long as we are individual subjects thinking of external objects. But when we are knowers of the Atman, as the Upanishad puts it, we also know what the Ultimate Reality is. Then the law of the outside world becomes the law of the inside world. The law of the Atman is the law of the universe. Therefore, there is absolute freedom for those who are knowers of this great secret. Whatever they will, it expresses itself in experience at once. There is no gap of time between the manifestation of their will and its materialisation. It is not that they think something today and it materialises tomorrow. It instantaneously manifests itself. This is the case of the blessed souls who have known the Atman.

- The Chhandogya Upanishad by Swami Krishnananda 

Great Secret of Heart – Part 1

In our own self, in the deepest recess of our own heart, there is a great secret. This is the subject of this chapter. We carry within our own self a great mystery. No one can be a greater mystery than our own Self. Everything else is capable of definition and understanding, but one’s own Self is the greatest enigma in the whole world. Everything can be investigated into, but not one’s own Self, because it is a great secret by itself. It is not an open box where we can pick out whatever we like merely by sense perception. It is a tremendous mystery which hides, within its own bosom, the miracles of the whole creation. Such is the heart of man which is the pivot of every kind of activity, whether internal or external.

Buddha-within-Lotus

The great teacher this Upanishad tells us that there is the city of Brahman, the Absolute, in our own Self. A very small lotus-like abode exists in our own heart, and in this little abode, there is a little space which shines by its own light. What is there in that space? To know this is our duty. It is our duty to understand what is inside this little space in our own heart, which is inside the city of Brahman, which is very small and looks like a lotus. This is the city of God. Some people may ask, “What is inside this? What is this great secret you are speaking about?” The answer is being given below…

“You ask me what is inside this little space. I tell you that everything is inside here,” says the teacher. It is like a speck of sunlight. Though it may look like a speck, it contains constitutionally everything that is in the orb of the sun. Similarly, that which is in this little space can magnify itself to any extent. It is an emblem of the cosmic secret. Whatever is the extent of this vast space that is outside, that is the extent of this little space in our own heart also. So, one should not be under the impression that it is little in an arithmetical sense. It is little in a different sense altogether. It is not physically small. It is not a little handful of space. It is really as expansive and as extensive as this universal ether that we see outside. The whole of the heaven and the whole earth can be found inside this little space. The principles of the five elements—earth, water, fire, air and ether—and whatever you see outside, is all present here in this little ether. The sun and the moon and also the stars can be seen inside this very heart of ours. They have a corresponding emissary planted in our own heart. We need not look up to the sun outside. He is inside our heart and he shines in the same way as he is seen outside in outer space. Even the lightning and the thunder that are seen outside are taking place inside our heart. Everything that happens in any manner, even the littlest thing, takes place here inside. Whatever we see in the outside world and whatever we cannot see in the outside world—all those things are inside our heart.

Well, the heart inside seems to be a greater mystery than the outer world. Whatever we cannot see in the whole world also is here, says the Upanishad. Why is it that we cannot see everything in the outer world, and why should everything be inside our own heart? Because our heart, which we call the selfhood of our being, is the true representative of the ultimate Reality. The outer world cannot be regarded as such a representative. The externality that is characteristic of the outer world prevents it from revealing everything that is in the Supreme Being, whereas one of the aspects of the Supreme Being, which is subjectivity, is present in us. Externality is not a characteristic of God. Ultimately, He is subjectivity, and that aspect is present in us, although the outer aspects are not. Hence, while the incapacity of probing into the subjectivity of the external universe prevents us from knowing everything in the universe, there is a possibility of diving into our own Self and knowing all things at one stroke.

As a matter of fact, all investigation in the field spiritual is internal and not external, because when a thing is externalised it is divested of the divine content. It thereby gets partially abstracted. What we call the outer world is only that aspect of Reality which can be comprehended by the senses. Whatever the senses are incapable of grasping cannot be contained in the external world. Only a little bit of the total value of the ultimate truth can be taken out by the vessels of the senses, more than that they cannot contain. What is sensed by the senses in the form of sensation is not the whole reality. They can take up only what they can contain and what they are able to cognise. It is the five elemental features of the external manifestation that the senses can present to us in experience. But, there are other aspects which they cannot contain within themselves and about which they cannot, therefore, give any kind of information.

This is the secret, as the Upanishad puts it. This heart is a great secret, and by an introversion of Consciousness into its depths, it would be possible to plumb the mysteries of the whole cosmos. The reason is that the tentacles of all planes of being are centred in one’s heart. It is as though this heart is the centre of a universal circle. The radii of this circle converge into this little centre of Consciousness which we vaguely call the subject of perception.

Absolute is universal in its nature, it is not merely an individual subject. But, this is a very hard thing for the mind to comprehend. One’s mind can never know what universality is and, therefore, any amount of instruction given to it from this point of view would naturally go over one’s But when this confines itself to the heart of the individual, it does not limit itself to the body of the individual. For, the heart which we are speaking of is not the physical heart. It is not your heart or my heart, not that which is in this bodily encasement. It is a symbol used for the centre of pure subjectivity in us and, therefore, the heart means the consciousness which is apparently located within the walls of the body, but which can never be restrained or limited on account of its super-physical nature. Physical encasements cannot limit it in any manner whatsoever. We will gradually be taken to the point where the ‘little thing’ that we speak of at present as being in our own heart is found to the same as the ‘universal thing’. The two are one. Whatever is there is also here.

The Chhandogya Upanishad by Swami Krishnananda 

Transcendence and perfection

Transcendence-Perfection. Perfection is transcendence. Transcendence is perfection. How do we transcend and perfect ourselves? There are a few ways: we learn and unlearn, we accept and reject, we command and surrender.

We learn and unlearn. We learn devotedly anything that our aspiring heart teaches us. We unlearn consciously everything that our doubting mind has taught us over the years.

We accept and reject. We accept soulfully, devotedly and gratefully the things that we have received from our Inner Pilot, our Beloved Supreme. We ruthlessly reject the things that ignorance-sea has already given us and the things that ignorance-sea wants to give us.

We command and surrender. We command our ignorance-life to abide by our soulful will; for we feel that since we have practised spirituality over the years, we have at least a partial access to our inner guide, our soul. We command ignorance to leave us alone because we are of the soul and for the soul, which is all wisdom. We surrender to the Highest in us, and this Highest we gradually realise as we go on unveiling our hidden realities. We surrender what we have and what we are to the Supreme Pilot. What we have is our eagerness to become His perfect instruments, Him to fulfil in His own Way. What we are at this moment is nothing short of a veritable beggar, a helpless child in the dense forest. Our utter helplessness we surrender to our Beloved Pilot, and also our most sincere eagerness to become totally His — to be guided, moulded, shaped, transformed, illumined, perfected and immortalised by Him.

We learn and unlearn, we accept and reject, we command and surrender. If we can do all these things, then we can easily transcend ourselves, and our self-transcendence is another name for our faultless perfection.

- Sri Chinmoy, The eternal journey