Who Am I ?

Chapter 2

“Naimatma Pravachanen Labhyohah Na Medhaya Na Bahu Shruten” Say the Upanishads: “The Soul cannot be perceived by sermons, or through intellectuality, or by too much listening to discourses on spirituality.” The preceding chapter would have evoked a curiosity in the reader to learn about that entity called Soul, after knowing which nothing else remains to be known. It is but natural to have such an aspiration. The natures of the body and the Soul are so distinctive that a closer examination reveals the difference between the two. Whereas the body is composed of gross physical elements of matter, the soul is infinitesimally subtle (Sookchma) – beyond all imagination. According to the well-known laws of science, in a compound, the substance having lesser density tends to dissociate from the associated matter. For example, having lesser density than that of water, oil and wood float on the surface of water. Similarly, because of lighter gases in it, hot air and flames in fire rise upwards in spite of downward pull of gravitational force and atmospheric pressure. The same principle holds well in case of body and Soul of the embodied beings. The soul is infinitesimally subtler (Sookchma) than the matter that constitutes the body. Hence, in spite of being encaged in the body, instead of remaining as its inseparable permanent constituent, it strives to dissociate itself from the latter to rise to a higher level of consciousness. It is generally believed that downward pull of sensory indulgence acts as a counterforce against this evolution. However, it is not true. Pure Bliss is inherent in the very nature of the Soul. Man instinctively endeavors to interact with this internal source of happiness. That is why everyone desires to be happy. In the absence of the correct means and wisdom required for attaining lasting happiness, man resorts to quench this natural intrinsic thirst for happiness in the outer objective world by indulging in mundane, perverted sensory pleasures of the flesh. If he, somehow, has even a fleeting taste of the bliss inherent in the true Self, would he run here and there chasing the mirage of happiness? Dear reader! You must be reading these lines with the same expectations and excitement, which a traveler feels on receiving a letter from his dear ones after a long period of absence from home. Such reaction itself is sufficient to indicate that man is ever eager to know the reality of his true self. As mentioned earlier, in spite of being within the body, the Soul cannot exist as its integral constituent. The source of happiness lies within the Soul, which is an individualized manifestation of the omnipresent Supreme Being, having attributes of Truth-Consciousness-Bliss (Sat-Chit-Anand). Man wanders, in vain, in the world of objects in search of that something, which could provide him lasting happiness, which ever eludes him due to his misplaced search. Once it dawns upon him that the source of ever- lasting unalloyed bliss lies within his own real Self – the Soul – a contact is established with the inexhaustible fount of peace and happiness and real sadhana begins, which ultimately culminates in full Self-Awareness. Everyone complains about the fickleness of mind, but none is able to explain the reason thereof. As a matter of fact, mind always remains in a state of flux because it is ever in search of happiness (Desire for comforts, satisfaction, elation, jubilation, acquisition of wealth, status, honor, etc. are varied phantom forms of happiness). Man keeps on running helter- skelter without any rest in search of source of happiness, like the musk deer running in search of aroma of the musk lying in its own naval. Man continues to seek the basic source of happiness in the material world whereas it exists in his own Inner- Self. Self realization provides an access to this source of unending bliss, thus resulting in mental calm and cessation of the chain of desires.

WHAT IS SELF-REALIZATION?

Self-realization means having a clear and irrefutable experience of the real natures of one’s self identity (immortal Soul) and of the transient body. The experience of Self-realization, however, is not a routine process of daily life. It does not take much effort to cram a piece of literature and endlessly talk about theoretical aspects of any field of knowledge. One may claim to know ten times more about the subject elucidated in this chapter and put forward forceful arguments in support of one’s own point of view. One may also point out scriptural discrepancies in its descriptions. Such things would, at most, take the seeker to the threshold of the temple of Self. Sheer cramming does not make one a scholar. The scriptures clearly state that one cannot interact with the Soul by indulging in debates, intellectual cogitations or listening to sermons on the subject. Whatever the reader has been reading about this subject so far is likely to confuse him, unless Divine Grace makes him worthy of understanding. If the reader finds the subject interesting and is desirous of knowing the real nature of his Inner-Self, he is welcome to follow the spiritual practices recommended herein.

BEGIN ON A CLEAN SLATE

For climbing up the peak of a mountain, first one has to reach the foot of the hill and decide upon the route to be undertaken. The same process is applicable to the uphill task of Self-realization. Each field of expertise has its own specific curriculum. Whatever be one’s experience and knowledge in other fields, for a new unknown discipline, a beginning has to be made at the primary, kindergarten level. The spiritual seeker, irrespective of his attainments in other fields of knowledge, should not feel embarrassed in learning the alphabets of Self-realization.Overlooking all personal qualifications and experience, through these lessons, the aspirant is being encouraged to proceed like a beginner on a clean slate. It would make assimilation easier and progress faster. Put this question to yourself. What do I mean when I say “I”? Animals, birds and other less evolved species of biological kingdom do not have this pronounced concept of “I”. Although like human beings, they too feel pleasure, pain, and comforts, nevertheless their mental processes do not transcend physical requirements of the body. For instance, a donkey does not know why it is bearing a burden or what is its relationship to the person who is using it as a beast of burden. Though it does feel the discomfort of the burden and feels satiated on being fed fresh fodder, it does not react to sense stimulations like a human being. For such lower orders of living species, the body alone is the reality of self. Though in course of progressive evolution, we human beings have acquired a superior intellect, how many of us are aware of the reality of Self? We come across quite a few persons who claim to be familiar with the Self, but there is a world of difference between awareness of the reality and talking about it. People mechanically record in their memory, whatever little they come to know from others about reality of Self (Atma-Gyan) and replay this programmed information in course of discussions from time to time. Then there are many others, who have never heard of existence of an entity called Soul. Such individuals are still infants as far as growth of intelligence is concerned. Their little world remains confined to instinctive, automated reactions to animal urges like hunger, sleep, fear, sex, anger, greed, infatuation, etc. Intellectual engagements of such persons do not go beyond matters related to physical requirements. Amongst such persons, the dull headed become satisfied with crude means of enjoyment, whereas the so-called intelligent ones endeavor to refine and beautify the means and methods of sense indulgence. An individual belonging to an underdeveloped country derives the same pleasure in riding an animal-driven cart, which a rich person of the developed world has while driving his expensive car. Basically, both derive the same sense of pleasure. In today’s world, whatever progress human intelligence has made has been predominantly utilized for improvement in quality and quantity of means of physical comforts and pleasure. Today, for most of the civilized persons of the society, the body itself is the reality of self (Deh-Atma-Buddhi). Though, for the sake of religiosity, such individuals perfunctorily follow the traditional rituals, these are meant for superficial satisfaction only and have no relevance whatsoever to realization of Supreme Truth about the Self (Atma-Gyan). For instance, such acts as philanthropy are regarded as virtuous activities; but these do not necessarily lead to spiritual search unless performed as part of Sadhana, without expectation of name fame or other rewards. Though such rituals as yajna and tap, endeavors for acquiring spiritual wisdom and work for welfare of society are considered by scriptures as essential duties of all human beings, to whatever faith they subscribe, these do not, by themselves, take one closer to the discovery of indwelling Soul. Soul (Atma) is so infinitesimally rarefied (Sookchma), that it cannot directly interact with any material object. It is beyond the reach of any physical endeavor involving money, rituals, altruism and glorification of persons or places of worship.

ACCESS TO ATMA IS THROUGH THE MIND

The means available to us for approaching Atma are the four faculties of the mind, namely- Mun -rhyming with “pun”: interacting with the sensory organs; Buddhi: the realm of thoughts, contemplation and intellect; Chitta: the storehouse of inherent traits and habits formed as a consequence of repeated actions in the present and previous births; and Ahamkar: Ego – the predominant impression of one’s own personality like “I am rich”, “I am poor”, “I am strong”, etc. These four faculties of the mind can be trained as tools for experiencing the reality of the Soul (Atma Darshan). The Soul is subtly pervasive all over the body. It has not been assigned any fixed location by nature, where one could access it through some means or methodology. As only the faculties of mind are capable of revealing the stages of growth of the soul in evolution, its modes of manifestation in forms, exploration of secrets of the inner world of the mind is an essential part of spiritual search.

THE REALM OF MIND IS NOT AN ILLUSION

The domain of mind functions as per its own underlying principles like the external material world. Within moments, thoughts travel from New York to Switzerland. Though New York and Switzerland in the mental imagery do not have a physical presence in the mind, nevertheless these are reflections of an actuality, which does exist elsewhere. A shadow is as much a reality as the object of which it is a reflection. Nothing can be conceptualized unless it factually exists in substance somewhere. Hence the realm of mind should not be taken as an illusory world. An infinitesimally rarefied energy (Sookchma Chetna) operating in the mind is controlling all activities of the universe. An industrialist, who desires to extend his business to a foreign country, first gathers relevant information about that country, analyses the data and takes then decisions about actual investment there. Divinity sends its probing messages to a soul capable of illumination as intuitions in mind. By entering the domain of mind (by reading body language, facial expressions, psychoanalysis, polygraphy, etc.) we can find almost everything about the emotional state and reflex response of a person. Such things, however, pertain to a very small part of the conscious superficial layers of the mind. In the deeper layers of the mind – sub-conscious subliminal and super-conscious – paranormal, extra-sensory domains are hidden. From these domains, predictions can be made about future events. All inspirations, guidance and light for spiritual quest come through a quiet, receptive and purified mind. The latter receives divine directives as intuitions; the tongue expresses them in words, which are then recorded in the holy books. In absence of these faculties of the mind, man would have functioned like a mechanical robot. It is the domain of mind, which serves as a channel between ultimate causal realm of the Spirit and the Soul of man, encased in Maya.

YOGIC PRACTICES FOR CONTROL OF BODY AND MIND ARE DIFFERENT

Now let us endeavor to enter the domain of mind, examine the reality of Soul and experience its existence with the help of paranormal powers inherent in the depths of the mind. All seekers throughout the world have been adopting the same methodology. For understanding elementary facts about any subject, there is no alternative to application of penetrating intelligence inherent in the inner world of the mind. Subjective investigation for discovery of the reality of Self would also require the aid of illumined intelligence. The science of spirituality calls this process as Yoga. There are many disciplines of Yoga. Some amongst these are meant for health and physical fitness. Others are for spiritual Sadhana. However, good health is an essential prerequisite for entering the path of this Sadhana. The higher disciplines of yoga comprise Pratyahar (Inward withdrawal of mind and senses from their objects), Dharana (Concentration), Dhyan (Meditation), and Samadhi (State of Trance) successively. Spiritual seekers also follow many other disciplines like Yam, Niyam, Asan, Pranayama. The Hatha Yogis carry out procedures of Neti, Dheti, Vasti, Vajroli and other exercises for physical fitness and control. Others have their own specific methods for physical fitness. All of these are basically meant to keep the body healthy so that problems of the body do not create obstacles in course of mind control exercises. The seekers are advised to maintain good health with simple exercises. In today’s environment, it is neither advisable nor necessary to follow the traditional ancient physical exercises of yoga, involving intricate postures. It would be unfair to ask a person living in a polluted environment of a city to carry out intense Pranayama practices. Such difficult exercises were prescribed for those seekers of yore who lived in the unpolluted environment of the hills, took only fresh fruits for meals, used unpolluted water from the mountain springs or streams and observed continence. There is no logic in asking a frog to wear a horseshoe. It would kill the frog. Today there is general awareness about the norms for healthy living and these should be strictly adhered to. If there is some disease, an expert medical practitioner of the discipline may be consulted. For our present objective, however, no such physical standards of health are necessary for which one may require prolonged treatment or prior training. Normal health and a relaxed, happy attitude are the only two prerequisites.

PREPARATION FOR MEDITATION

Choose a quiet place. It is advisable to find a place free of things which may provoke fear or distraction. Since it is not always possible to find an ideal, totally noiseless place, as far as possible, a place having least noise may be chosen. It is preferable to have a fixed place for daily meditation. If it is not possible to find an ideal place, that is, in a forest, on a hill or bank of a river, select a small chamber, where mind is not likely to be distracted. Be seated comfortably, keeping the back straight. It is not necessary to stiffen the neck and chest or to cross the legs, since it might induce discomfort in parts of the body, which will repeatedly send signals to the mind, disturbing its equanimity. Let the body be totally loosened, so that all muscles become relaxed. Let each part of the body feel tension-free, peaceful and at complete rest. A comfortable chair is best suited for this posture. Lying flat on the bed, face upwards, would also serve the purpose, but the head has to be raised a little. Alternatively, one may sit with the back resting against a wall, with a cushion behind the back. Whatever be the sitting posture, the body should be loosened like a ball of cotton, so that there does not arise any need for changing positions or adjusting the support for comfort. However, care should be taken to adopt a posture in which, on reaching the state of deep meditation, there is no likelihood of toppling. Keep sitting in this way for some time. Let the body feel restful and mind at peace. In the initial stages, it would require somewhat greater effort but later, with practice, the seeker finds it easy to relax irrespective of the place and it would be unfair to ask a person living in a polluted environment of a city to carry out intense Pranayama practices. Such difficult exercises were prescribed for those seekers of yore who lived in the unpolluted environment of the hills, took only fresh fruits for meals, used unpolluted water from the mountain springs or streams and observed continence. There is no logic in asking a frog to wear a horseshoe. It would kill the frog. Today there is general awareness about the norms for healthy living and these should be strictly adhered to. If there is some disease, an expert medical practitioner of the discipline may be consulted. For our present objective, however, no such physical standards of health are necessary for which one may require prolonged treatment or prior training. Normal health and a relaxed, happy attitude are the only two prerequisites.

PREPARATION FOR MEDITATION

Choose a quiet place. It is advisable to find a place free of things which may provoke fear or distraction. Since it is not always possible to find an ideal, totally noiseless place, as far as possible, a place having least noise may be chosen. It is preferable to have a fixed place for daily meditation. If it is not possible to find an ideal place, that is, in a forest, on a hill or bank of a river, select a small chamber, where mind is not likely to be distracted. Be seated comfortably, keeping the back straight. It is not necessary to stiffen the neck and chest or to cross the legs, since it might induce discomfort in parts of the body, which will repeatedly send signals to the mind, disturbing its equanimity. Let the body be totally loosened, so that all muscles become relaxed. Let each part of the body feel tension-free, peaceful and at complete rest. A comfortable chair is best suited for this posture. Lying flat on the bed, face upwards, would also serve the purpose, but the head has to be raised a little. Alternatively, one may sit with the back resting against a wall, with a cushion behind the back. Whatever be the sitting posture, the body should be loosened like a ball of cotton, so that there does not arise any need for changing positions or adjusting the support for comfort. However, care should be taken to adopt a posture in which, on reaching the state of deep meditation, there is no likelihood of toppling. Keep sitting in this way for some time. Let the body feel restful and mind at peace. In the initial stages, it would require somewhat greater effort but later, with practice, the seeker finds it easy to relax irrespective of the place and environment. A word of caution! This exercise is not meant for simply creating a state of relaxation, in which one generally reaches a state of drowsiness, begins to daydream or flies high on the wings of imagination. Remember! This preparation for meditation has a specific purpose. It is required to be practiced as directed, since it has been created deliberately for a specific objective. Later, with practice, this state of mind in meditation would become a state of natural awareness (consciousness) and would not require any conscious effort to attain. In difficult situations of life giving rise to fear, misery, pain, apprehension or stress, such as equanimity of mind would become activated without any conscious effort and the seeker would pass through the crisis in an attitude of calm confidence and peace.

SOUL IS THE NUCLEUS OF YOUR WORLD

Now in the above state of meditation collect all your thoughts on the nature of “I”. Think absolutely nothing about any external person, place, thing or event. Conceptualize, that factually your Soul (the real Self, “I”) is an independent entity; that it is infinitely powerful, indestructible and indivisible. That it is the central star around which your personal world, i.e. everything related to you, is continuously revolving (is in perpetual cyclic motion) like the planets of the solar system orbiting around the Sun. Conceptualize the Inner-Self as the nucleus of your world, brightly illuminated like The Sun. Resolutely create such an imagery in your mind with the help of the creative nature of your mind. In your mental horizon, establish your Soul as a centrally located stationary central star, around which everything related to you is perpetually revolving. Assure yourself that these things around you are dependent on you but that you are not dependent on them and that, though you are providing them energy for their movement, nevertheless they have their separate existence and in no way belong to you. After persistently practicing in this way, in a few days, such an awareness will become deep-rooted. Do not think the picture you are conceptualizing is fallacious or fanciful. It is an exercise to let you appreciate that laws of motion in nature are universally applicable, as much to the living beings as to inert matter. As a matter of fact,each cell / particle, living as well non-living, is perpetually in a state of rotation around some nucleus. In the solar system, there are planets revolving around the Sun, and the latter too is circumambulating some other invisible nucleus of energy in the universe. The nucleus of energy in our heart makes the blood circulate around the body. It is the natural property of everything tangible or intangible to follow its particular law of cyclic motion. Sound, natural forces, ideologies and atoms of various elements are always moving forward following their particular rotational trajectories. The natural law of motion governing periodical cyclic changes is working everywhere – all around us. (Life and activities of followers of particular ideologies revolve around the protagonists of these ideologies.) As mentioned above, the Soul of an individual being is a nucleus of energy and elements of all natural systems living or non-living, which are related to the individual, move around this central force. In other words, their actions and reactions are indirectly influenced by this nucleus (Soul) within a time-space paradigm. On becoming thoroughly convinced about the reality and universality of these natural phenomena, you will notice an unusual transformation in your outlook. You will clearly perceive yourself existing as a nucleus of energy acting on everything related to you. You will find that your world and all material objects related to you such as your house, your car, garments, ornaments, money and property are not an integral part of you; that these have separate existence of their own; that though you are living amongst these, these are alien to you.

(Note: This concept may be further understood in this way. Whatever be the dynamism of interactions between the various animate and inanimate systems related to a person, the driving force behind it is his mind. It is the mind of the individual, which creates and shapes his world. Further, the mind, as we have discussed earlier is only a tool of the inner Self i.e. Soul. Hence the Soul has been referred to as the central star of the personal world. Besides, as, in spite of being the source of energy to the entire solar system, the Sun itself remains unaffected by the dynamics in its system, the soul of a person (not his body) remains an independent entity, uninfluenced by the activities in one’s personal world. In this way, the real Self and the associated world, though related, exist independently. An oft-quoted classic analogy is the lotus leaf floating on water being in water yet not submerged in it.)

THE REWARDS OF DISCOVERING THE SOUL

The person, who has consciously discovered his inner Self as the nucleus of energies controlling the varied activities of his world, becomes a detached observer and witness of the ever-changing phenomena of names and forms around him. In spite of being a part of this scenario, such a person remains perpetually aware of the ever-liberated real Self (Atma or Soul). Like the petal of a lotus flower, which, in spite of being surrounded by water, keeps afloat a little over the surface of water, an enlightened person does not get emotionally involved in the happenings of the world. On the other hand, an unenlightened individual is like an unintelligent small child. So long as a man considers himself as a petty, helpless, tied-up being of the creation, nature treats him accordingly and provides him with means of subsistence befitting his self-image. If you regard yourself as a good-for-nothing, ordinary being, who takes pleasure only in gross physical cravings of flesh, your psyche will be the cesspool of evil tendencies like greed, desires for sensory pleasures, sex, flattery, etc. But once you become consciously aware of the immense potential of your Soul by virtue of its eternal relationship to the Supreme Being, you will instantly start manifesting the attributes of your Divine Parentage. Your behavior and temperament will undergo a sea change. A small child does not mind dirtying his clothes, but an intelligent adult hates to do so, and even if, in a contingency he is forced to do so, he feels very much embarrassed and ashamed. Likewise, when man becomes spiritually more evolved and aware, all the lowly animal tendencies like selfishness, greed, hatred, divisiveness, anger, violence, etc effortlessly fall away from his nature like dry leaves and he is bestowed with virtuous attributes of divine nature e.g. altruism, loving kindness, inter-connectedness, compassion, selfless service, etc – and these virtues continue growing with the progression of his spiritual evolution – just as a tadpole grows into a frog, it automatically sheds its tail.

THE PROOF OF SELF-REALIZATION LIES IN DIRECT PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

No amount of education or reasoning can lead one to the direct experience of the inner Self as the immortal nucleus of individual manifestation in the form of multifarious energy waves. In the realm of mysticism and spirituality, logic finds itself totally helpless, since it can confidently deal with only tangible experiences of the material world. Extrasensory and para-psychological experiences are beyond the range of logic. By reasoning one cannot prove that the person who is being respectfully addressed as ‘father’ is actually father of the concerned person. Hence, for experiencing the transcendental Supreme source of ourselves as well as the universe we will have to discard the logical approach and take recourse to the traditionally established and tested practices of Dharana (Concentration), Dhyan (Meditation) and Samadhi (Trance), successively. Therefore, in order that uncertainties of pros and cons of the disciplines being proposed here do not unnecessarily engage the mind and interfere with the objective of experiencing the Soul (Atma), let us silence the logical reasoning in these discussions. Rest assured, it is not the purpose of the author to confuse the reader with some rigmarole abstractions or suggest some process of inner growth, which could prove harmful in any way. On the basis of his own personal experience, the author is fully convinced about the efficacy of the path elaborated here. I assure all those who have faith in my words that the path being shown is right and self experienced. Come forward! Follow in my footsteps. You will not be hastened but slowly led to the destination. Practice the exercises given in this chapter and through meditation and contemplation explore the hidden domain of your mind. Conceptualize yourself being a central star shining like Sun, around which your world is revolving. Repeat this exercise again and again till the impression becomes so deep that whenever you pronounce “I”, there is a flash in your mind of a comprehensive image comprising your consciousness, personal thoughts (Vichar), strengths and talents, along with your body. With this identification of self, whenever you look around towards your personal world, everything in it should appear revolving around this central star of your Soul.

(Note: In this chapter the relationship of an individual and the beings in his personal world are compared to the Sun and its planets, the former acting as the source of energy to the planets in its system, which are, themselves also rotating around their own axes. All dynamics inherent in the personal world (cf. the planetary system of Sun) of an individual (the Sun) depend on consciousness, thoughts, strengths and talents (cf. the solar energy) of that individual. The beings in the personal world follow their independent repetitive daily routines of activities. (cf. rotation of planets around their independent axes.) To hasten the process of Awakened Awareness of the Soul (Atma -Swaroop Darshan), here is another method. In the state of meditation, repeat your own name, slowly, solemnly and respectfully, as though you were calling someone of eminence. With this practice you will find your mind getting concentrated on the real form of Self. This was the method used by Lord Tennyson for activating the potentiality of his Soul. He writes that through this method, he had become vaguely aware of the reality of the Soul and, in due course, also became conscious about the irrefutable existence and indestructibility of the Soul and found the basic source of consciousness in it. While trying to conceive the reality of the Soul, some seekers tend to confuse the higher Inner-Self (“I”) with the false narrow self (I, as commonly related to body) and thus become distracted from the reality of the Soul. It is necessary to overcome this obstacle. Otherwise such false identification of self with the material body would, at the most, provide petty material benefits of a very low order by developing confidence in the narrow self (body). Identification with the real Inner-Self requires total freedom from body-consciousness.)

HOW TO DISSOCIATE FROM BODY- CONSCIOUSNESS?

In order to overcome the confusion between the narrow lower self and the Real Self, in the state of meditation visualize that you and your body are two separate entities and you are using your body as your garment or a tool. Try to understand your body as you consider your garments. Visualize that your “I” would continue to exist even after the body has been discarded. Conceptually leaving the body, look at it from a higher level. Look at the body as though it were a hollow nest, in which you live and could easily come out of it. Consider yourself as the caretaker of this house, who is responsible for its sanitation (keeping it pure in thoughts and deeds), strength (keeping it strong) and functionality (physical activity). You are the master of the body and are using it as per your own free will. In this way, conceive: “I” am not this body. It is only My tool. “I” am using it only as a rest house. This body is built up with five basic elements of nature collected by “ME”(my real Self) for giving it a desired appearance. (Scriptures tell that soul acquires a body and environment conforming to the traits brought forward from previous births i.e. the inherent traits from previous births are the building blocks of the mind and body of the newborn). During meditation, totally forget about your body and concentrate your thoughts and emotions on “I” as an independent conscious entity. Then you will become aware that the Soul has an immortal existence independent of the body. Having had this awareness, whenever you will say “I”, this expression will have an altogether a new meaning for you. However, it does not mean that you are required to ignore your body. Doing so will be disastrous. Considering body as the temple of Soul it is your solemn duty to protect it in every way and keep it healthy and strong.

PARANORMAL VISIONS AND EXPERIENCES

In the initial stages of sadhana, the foregoing practice of dissociation from body consciousness remains an entertaining and relaxing exercise, but as this imagery begins to take roots, the practitioner may feel as though he had actually died and may have such visions which one has at the time of death. There may be flashes of paranormal visions of those things, which are not physically visible at the place of meditation through normal sight. Hazy images of the extra-sensory world (Sookchma Jagat) may be seen. Many other-worldly forms and heavenly scenes may appear. It may frighten the beginners, though there is nothing to be afraid of. Sometimes acceleration in the process of Sadhana, because of virtuous traits brought forward from the previous births and latent memories stored in the deeper levels of consciousness (also from previous births) become suddenly activated. This acceleration uplifts the mind to higher dimensions of awareness. With the passage of time, the Sadhak gradually becomes accustomed to paranormal experiences and such occurrences no more surprise or frighten him. With steady progress, the seeker acquires the capability to dissociate the Soul from the body at will, which, rising beyond the body, becomes aware of phenomena beyond physical sense perception. In this state, however, the Soul of the practitioner does not actually leave the body but, like a person sticking out his neck out of a window to look outside and then withdrawing it at will, is able to transcend the limits of the body, without severing connection with it. The beginners are advised not to be in a hurry to have occult and paranormal visions and experiences. It would tantamount to violating the natural process of gradual spiritual advancement. In due course, worthy seekers will be initiated into the technique of accessing the domains of paranormal visions (Parokcha Darshan). Here a passing reference to such experiences is considered necessary, so that when such visions do appear the sadhak does not get frightened or nervous.

IMMORTALITY OF SOUL

Generally people accept the concept of immortality of the Soul on the basis of inherited faith or tradition, but there lurks a doubt about its authenticity. Let us not accept this concept blindly without reasoning. It could be hearsay? If you are told to sit for meditation and are asked to conceive: “I have died”, it may appear a simple proposition; but when you actually begin to do so, it would be impossible to think that you as an individuality have ceased to exist. It would not be difficult to have such a simple imager  for those who have been practicing the elaborate exercises of visualization given in the previous pages. The moment one thinks about one’s death, although an image of one’s dead body is formed in the mind, at the same time there is an awareness: “I am standing aside looking at it.” This “I” is ever vigilant, ever present. Try as one may, one cannot conceive the death of this “I”- the seer. The analytical faculty of one’s intellect (Vichar Buddhi) thus insists that the soul (“I”) is immortal. In this way deep within human consciousness is entrenched an unwavering faith in the immortality of the Soul .By no endeavor whatsoever can this intuitive faith be rooted out. It is based on numerous past experiences of death (of the body) in earlier births, beyond which the Soul has continued to exist. When a person becomes unconscious because of a shock or under the influence of drugs, this “I” remains wide awake and alert. Otherwise, on regaining normalcy, how could a concerned person know that he had been unconscious? Firm faith in one’s real Self as indivisible, immortal and beyond the reach of physical, sensory perceptions, is an essential pre-requisite for starting on the path of Selfrealization. Until the seeker develops such a faith, one cannot have unqualified, absolute belief in immortal and eternal existence of one’s Real- Self and keeps on relapsing to the old accustomed narrow outlook, in which one considers the body as the self, thus rendering all efforts for Self-realization meaningless. Hence the seekers are advised to concentrate on developing a deep conviction of immortality of the Inner Self – the real “I”. First become fully convinced of the immortality of the Soul, only then take up spiritual sadhana. Even in the course of progress of sadhana it is advisable to periodically remind oneself about this reality of the Inner-Self. Later such perception will prove to be of great help in experiencing Awakened Awareness of one’s Soul (Atma-Swaroop Sakchatkar).

THE INNER-SELF IS IMMUNE TO PHYSICAL FORCES

During meditation visualize that your Real Self is getting separated from the body; that it has the potentiality to overcome the constraints imposed on it by the five basic elements of which the body is constituted, namely-sky(akash), air(vayu), fire(agni), water(jala) and earth(prithvi). Scriptures tell that these five are the everlasting primordial constituents of all forms. Conceptualize that your Inner Self is no longer confined by the body. Henceforth, in the following discussions wherever the words “I”, “My” or “Me” are mentioned in the text, these refer to the Soul speaking on behalf of the individual being. Conceptualize: Now “I” have acquired independence. Therefore, “I” can now fly all over the space (Akash) like birds, whenever “I” so will. Now the force of air can no more obstruct MY movement or speed in any way; nor can it dehydrate ME. (Soul being a supernatural entity –without water as its constituent). Further visualize going through a huge column of fire. “I” am passing through it comfortably without feeling any heat or pain. How can the Soul, which is supernatural, be burnt? The access of heat is limited to heat-sensing, inflammable organs of the material body. Similarly, the Soul (Atma) is free from the effects of earth (Prithvi). In other words, no element of the physical world can touch “ME”, nor can it create least the obstruction in “MY” freedom.

FREEDOM FROM FEAR

Not only does the above exercise of visualization elevate the status of the Soul above the body, it further creates an awareness that the former is beyond the reach even of those five primary elements (Panch Mahabhoot), which constrain its (body’s) activities and existence. The embodied Being thus becomes aware that, besides having far greater potentialities than the body, the Soul also transcends all five primary elements, which constitute the physiology of all animate forms. On entering into this state of transcendental consciousness, one feels as though one has had a rebirth. There is a perception of revitalization with a supernormal inrush of energy. At this stage the sadhak feels freed from the fears of disease, decay and even death. Nothing, not even the most tragic of events, can frighten him any more. (According to psychology, fear is only a distress signal of an impending danger to the “body”. Thus, fear is exclusively a phenomenon concerning the body. In the supernatural Soul, there is nothing subject to harm. Hence the question of fear does not arise.)

IDENTIFICATION OF “I” AS SOUL IS THE KEY TO UNALLOYED AND ETERNAL BLISS

Remind yourself repeatedly that the key mantra of sadhana towards Self realization is identification of “I” as The Soul and not as the body, as the first person ‘I’ is generally referred to. Only after developing full conviction of this Truth, can the seeker progress on the path of Self- realization. The seeker will have to develop a perception that the Inner-Self has an immortal existence of its own, independent of the mortal body and that the Soul is an effulgent Star around which life and events related to the seeker’s world are revolving like planets around the Sun. Such a perception will fill the seeker with a higher order of vitality and vibrancy, which will also be reflected in reactions and activities of the people around him. In addition, the sadhak will develop an inner unshakable poise and peace which cannot be disturbed by the trials, tribulations, tests and storms of the world. With progress in self-evolution (Atma Vikas) (i.e. with enlargement of concept ‘I’ to include all beings), the seeker will acquire such a capability, An enlightened person (Atma Gyani) continues to be steadfastly calm in moments of great calamities in life. Waiving his hand he bids farewell to worldly problems saying, “Good Bye! Go away! Go and get lost in that darkness of illusion which had created you.” Blessed is one who has mastered the key mantra of immortality of his “I-ness” – one with the Supreme Source. Seekers! Now start putting into practice with faith and enthusiasm the primary lessons towards self-realization. If your progress is slow, be not over-anxious for quick results. While moving forward, if sometimes you slip backwards, do not be disappointed. Later you will make up for the loss. If you are serious, sincere, single-pointed and steadfast, you are sure to be crowned with ultimate success – Self-Realization. Remember: A journey of hundred miles begins with a step.

AFFIRMATIONS OF THIS LESSON

* “I” am the powerhouse of talents and energy. * “I” am the inexhaustible source of divine thoughts and visions. * My world (people, events and things related to my person) are revolving around (working under the influence of) “ME”- i.e. my Inner-Self, a spark of the Divine Effulgence.) * “I” have an immortal self-identity of my own – independent of this mortal body. * “I” am indestructible. * “I” am indivisible. None can harm “ME”.

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