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SIDDHARAMESHWAR  MAHARAJ

MASTER  KEY



Let there be peace and love among all beings of the universe. OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

the importance of self knowledge | in search of "i" | the four bodies | the attainment of one's own nature


IDDHARAMESHWAR  Maharaj wished that people all over the world be happy. His teaching is available to those who are fully dedicated to realising Final Reality [Brahman] so that they may enjoy Eternal happiness.


The following exposition describes only one of the ways to attain Final Reality – the knowledge that you are apart from the four bodies. Once this knowledge penetrates the heart, the ego of knowledge dissolves in Reality.


THE  IMPORTANCE  OF  SELF  KNOWLEDGE


At the beginning of this exposition, reverential adoration has to be offered to Sri Ganesh first, then to Sri Saraswati and finally to Sri Satguru. What is the reason for offering salutations in this order? If someone were to ask, "If the sequence of this adoration is changed will there be confusion?" The answer has to be, "Yes, there will be confusion." This is because Sri Ganesh is the deity for meditation and contemplation, and Sri Saraswati is the deity for the exposition of the teaching through words. With the help of these two deities, a third deity in the form of "Light of the Self" will rise in the heart of an aspirant. This deity is none other than the Satguru, which necessarily has to be adored after Sri Ganesh and Sri Saraswati. The study of this textual exposition reveals the subject before the eyes. When the understanding of the subject becomes firm, only then does the Grace of the Satguru, the Self, descend. Neither the exposition of this text, nor the contemplation of its content, will by themselves lead the aspirant to the goal. Hence, one should reverentially adore both Sri Ganesh and Sri Saraswati simultaneously.

There is an ancient method of expounding the teaching of Vedanta that is commonly followed in this tradition [Sampradaya] when presenting the subject matter of this text to the aspirant. According to this method, first the manifest form of the Satguru is seen by the eyes. Then the knowledge about the teachings of the Vedanta, and value and significance of these precious teachings is extolled through the words of the Guru. Then a mantra [subtle name of God] is given and the aspirant is instructed to practice meditation on the repetition of the mantra for a short period of time to imprint its significance within. This provides a means for the aspirant to make the mind more subtle so that the teachings that follow can be more easily grasped and realised. This is the seekers' initiation to the teaching an invitation to become an aspirant on the path to realisation.

In accordance with the method of the saints that have been outlined above, the Satguru first explains about the subject that is to follow, then indicates its characteristics, and finally follows by imparting a detailed knowledge of the subject. In most schools of education, when teaching small children about any subject, the teachers first verbally informs the child about the subject matter that will be taught. This is called the "kindergarten method of education". Similarly, initially the Satguru verbally gives you a concept or idea of Reality, such as "You are Reality" or "Only Reality exists", or some other similar form of mantra, that is to be contemplated upon. Through repetition or churning, this idea will be indelibly imprinted on the mind. This is the tradition of the Satguru, the direct learning method, and through this preliminary method the aspirant achieves results sooner. So be it!

Afterwards, the Guru expounds the Truth [the subject matter] to an ordinarily intelligent aspirant, and he intellectually understands what the Satguru conveys through the teaching. However, the main difficulty is in experientially realising the Truth about what has been intellectually understood. Through the exposition of the subject by the Satguru, one understands what the Self is. However, the ghost of doubts pops up in the mind of the aspirant in the form of the question, "How can I be the Self?", and the aspirant's mental attitude does not become free of doubt. There is an intellectual understanding, but no realisation! The remedy for this is to study with determination, and learn the teaching. Unless there is sustained and repeated study, it will not be fully understood and realised.



For example, in the instructional handwriting book, the letters presented are very beautiful. We understand this, but initially we cannot write the letters in the same way. If however the same letters are written repeatedly, then by virtue of that practice or study, the letters are beautifully formed as soon as the pen touches the paper. Here someone might ask, "How much study or practice is required to learn the subject well?" The answer is, "The study, and the practice, or effort, must continue relentlessly according to each one's capacity until it is understood or realised."

A general rule can be enunciated here – "An ordinarily intelligent man can understand it if it is explained to him two or three times. If he repeats it ten or twenty times it becomes a habit. If he repeats it a hundred times it becomes an addiction. Once he becomes familiar with it a thousand times, it becomes inherent nature of the one who practises it."

Wisps of jute are so delicate and fine that they are scattered in all the ten directions when blown by the wind. However, when the same wisps are entwined together they form a rope, so strong that it can bind even a strong and violent elephant to a small peg. So great is the power of study of this type of practice or repetition!

It is indeed true that ultimate Reality [Parabrahman] is all-pervading and ever-free. Yet, the mind in the form of air has become so strong in us, due to the misdirected practice and study through birth after birth that it has imprisoned the ever-free Reality in the thought of identification with the body. This is the tremendous result of repeated practice – "Whatever is unachievable becomes achievable only by virtue of study, repetition and practice." Recognising the importance of this study, the aspirant should adore Ganesh and Saraswati. This means that he should fulfil himself by continuous meditation and learn through the hearing of the exposition of Truth.

Now, before he begins this study, it will be desirable for the aspirant to know about other things relevant to the subject of study. Why has the illusion "I am the body" arisen in a human being? What was the condition of the human being when an "I" was born? How did he develop the idea of "me" and "mine"? Was the condition in the world free from fear? If not, by whom and how can he be helped to get rid of that fear? All this must be deliberated upon.

At first, the human being was lying all twisted up in a small space inside his mother's womb. When he was born, he came out into this boundless world, and slightly opened his eyes and looked around. On seeing the immense space and tremendous light, his eyes dipped and he was aghast. "Where have I come alone? Who is going to give me support? What is going to be my fate?" This type of fear arose in his mind. Immediately after birth, with the first shock, he started to cry. After a little while, he was given a drop of honey to lick. With this he felt relieved, thinking all was well and that he had someone's support: thus he pacified himself. But that first shock of fear was so ingrained in his psyche that he got startled at the slightest sound, and yet again he becomes quiet when he gets honey or his mother's breast. In this way, taking external support at every step, this human being keeps on sustaining his life depending on the support of his parents.

As he grows older, his teachers along with his parents start giving him knowledge about the world. After that the school teachers prepare him in the physical sciences such as geography, geometry, geology, which are valueless like dust. Now this being enters the stage of "youth" and again looks out for further props for his life. Then, as it is predetermined in this world, that support for life comes from money, wife, family, etc., this human being gathers wealth and takes on a wife. He takes it for certain that he can be sustained on this support alone and squanders away time. With fame, learning, power an authority, wealth and wife, he gets added prosperity and becomes more and more entangled.

The principal possessions and his entire life are his wife, wealth, status, youth, beauty and authority. Thus, he takes special pride in these things and under that intoxication, the human being misses knowing his real nature. Pride about money, pride about authority, pride about beauty – all such types of pride get absorbed in the man and he forgets his real nature. When his possessions start dwindling one by one according to the law of nature, the memory of the primary shock he had received shakes him to the very roots and he gets frustrated.

He panics, "What shall I do now? I am losing support from all sides. What will happen to me?" But this ignorant man does not understand that all these possessions had only one solid support – his "I am"-ness. With that support alone money had its value, his wife appeared charming, the honour received seemed worthwhile, his learning brought him wisdom, his form acquired beauty and his authority wielded power. Oh man, you yourself are the support of all the above described wealth! Can there be a greater paradox than to feel that wealth gave you support? Added to this wealth, power, wife, youth and beauty of form, and honour, if he further received ill-gotten fortune, how strange would his actions become?

A poet once described the pranks of the mind as: "Primarily a drunk monkey that gets bitten by a scorpion." Even such a poet would put his pen down seeing the ludicrous absurdities of this human being and would bid goodbye to his poetic talents.

The sort of man who considers his body as God and is absorbed in its worship day and night should be considered as a shoemaker who carries hide on his back. An apt proverb is that a shoemaker's God should be worshipped only with shoes. This tells us the way in which this "God" [body] of the said man has to be adored. The devotion of an atheist is to feed his body, and his liberation is the death of the body. For such a man whose ultimate goal in life is feeding his body and his liberation is death, there is no rising above the gross body level. This is not surprising in his case! If due to some misfortune he were to lose all his wealth, he would still borrow money to indulge in his habits of eating, drinking and enjoying. And if his creditors were to hound him, he would declare insolvency and thus get rid of the whole issue. And when death strikes him ultimately, he just lies dead. He passes away just as he came. Could there be anything more tragically wretched than this sort of life?

The woman who showers praise on her husband for getting her a lovely nose ring, why should she think of the Lord who provided her with a nose to put the nose ring in?! In the same way, these animalistic human beings who only look to the body as the "be all and end all", how can they see God, their own Self ? The One whose power gives the sun its existence as the sun, the moon its existence as the moon, the gods their existence as gods – who is the support of all and present in the hearts of all beings – this One has become invisible to man! So be it!

The man whose eyes are trained outwards sees only that which is external. The eyes will bring him information of only the external objects. Gross objects will be visualised by the gross eye and the subtle will be sensed by the senses, which are also gross, but knowledge cannot be seen either by the gross external eye or the subtle eye of the intellect. Like the physical eye, the other sense organs are all pointing outwards and continue to exist on the strength of external objects. The king of knowledge, the "I am", persuades all the senses and seems to grant them Lordship. It is because of this externalisation, that the fact that he is present prior to the senses does not attract anyone's attention. The mind and the intellect over many births have acquired the habit of only looking outwards therefore to "turn within" has become a very difficult task. This is called "the reverse path" which the saints follow when they turn towards the opposite direction and behold mind, completely giving up seeing what is external. Where an ordinary man is asleep, snoring away, there these saints are awake and where a man is awake, the saints dose off. All beings find themselves awakened to the external objects and have become extremely skilful in this sort of awakening. The saints, however, have closed their eyes to the external things. The subject of Self, to which the other beings are asleep, keeps the saints wide awake.

One who gets a hundred thousand rupees is worried about how to double it the next day. He goads himself to acquire more and more. But the saints warn him, "Turn back, turn back, Oh man, or you will get caught in a whirlpool. As this illusion [world appearance] has fully come during high tide, you will certainly get carried away by it."

The modern advances that come to this world with newer and newer additions, and those that are yet to come, make up a cyclone of illusions. Be certain that you will be held captive by it. Who knows to where this man who is caught by this cyclone is carried away? When the saints see this person whose attention is taken up by these modern advances, running here and there, and struggling with them, they try their utmost to bring about an awakening of Self-knowledge in him. Indeed, that will be an auspicious day when the world in the form of Kumbhakarna [a demon character in the Ramayana epic who eventually attains salvation] awakens from his present deep slumber!

Samartha Ramdas and Saint Tukaram [two great Maharashtrian saints from the 17th century] met each other while standing on the opposite banks of a river. Ramdas asked Tukaram with a gesture of his hand, "How much awakening have you brought about amongst people?" Tukaram also replied with a gesture. He formed his right hand in to a fist and put the back of it to his lips, indicating that nowhere had he found anybody who cared for awakening to the Self. Tukaram put the same question to Ramdas and Ramdas suggested that there was no awakening wheresoever. Then they went their own way. Even when this was the case, these merciful saints have consistently continued to do their work. "How can I describe the obligations of these saints? They are continuously awakening me from sleep."

It is true that from the bodily point of view Saint Tukaram and Samartha Ramdas have left us today, yet Abhangagatha and Dasbodh remain with us and contain all that they wanted to tell us. Whatever wealth they wanted to hand over to us, they have left the legacy in their will in the form of these books. Whoever makes a claim that he is their legatee will get the whole of that wealth. But the man who wants this wealth must give up the pride he has accumulated in his mundane, worldly, demoniac wealth. Not only this, whatever acts he has considered as achieving merit, and therefore dear to his heart, must also be renounced. He must be prepared to take a step on the path that turns inward. This is the only condition for becoming a beneficiary to this will. Man is fully immersed in the pride of his body, his caste, his family, his country, his nation, and whatever good or bad is in his nature. All these types of pride have possessed him. Until such time as he becomes completely free from pride, how can he claim to benefit from the legacy of this treasure that saints have left behind for him? But one whose heart sincerely repents can become the beneficiary of this wealth that the saints have left. The man who sincerely repents, yet worries whether he can rid himself of all these types of pride which he has acquired birth after birth, and which have thus become his second nature, need not worry nor be frustrated. For if a slave is awakened to the knowledge that he is a slave, he instantly starts looking for a way to freedom. A slave who finds joy in his slavery and makes every effort to continue in that condition cannot even think that a highway to freedom exists. Only when he repents will the consciousness of slavery dawn on him. Similarly, a lucky man may get the feeling that the ambition of going ahead of the other is actually taking him on a downward path. From that day on he gets a glimpse of the reverse direction shown by the saints. He may be slow, but automatically he starts making the effort to step onto a new path.

All those types of pride, bad or good, may not leave a man all at once, but if he starts with a determination to become completely bereft of pride and leaves them one by one, the infinite merciful Lord will not fail to give him a helping hand. If a man takes pride in his vicious acts, this should be broken by increasing pride in his good acts. Thus, through practice all bad qualities will be eradicated. Good qualities should be nourished and imbibed, however one should not be attached to them at all and not even allow them to leave any impression. Here a doubt might arise, that though vices deserve to be rejected, why should good qualities also be rejected? After all, good qualities are always good. But dear aspirants, though the possession of good qualities in comparison with vices seems to be better, in the pursuance of attaining the wealth of Self-knowledge, these good qualities are a hundred times worse and also deserve to be thrown away. Just see that a man with several bad qualities will try to be good only because he possesses a sense of shame in his mind. This shame has come from the society in which he lives. But a man that possesses good qualities is always receiving praise in the world, and thus when he is full of pride about his good qualities, it becomes very difficult for him to move away from that pride.

Whereas the pride regarding bad qualities can be left fairly easy, it is not the case with pride about good qualities. Nobody admits that he has committed a sin, but the pride that enters a man when he has given meals to thousands, has visited the four holy places, has opened up holy lodges for people or has worshipped the deity ten million times, this pride has become so firm in him that it becomes almost impossible to give up. By repentance, a sinner soon finds a Satguru. However, the one who has done meritorious deeds gets so deeply buried in flattery showered on him by the world that even his way to the Satguru gets buried and lost.

When one realises this, one must conclude that pride about bad qualities is tolerable but the pride about good qualities is best avoided completely. Both types of pride are thorns on the way to knowing the Self. When one thorn is pulled out by another, the second thorn is placed in your shirt pocket. This is the pride of good qualities. Will this thorn not eventually prick you? If a thief is shackled in iron handcuffs and a king in golden handcuffs, does it mean that the king is not bound at all?

But even as the man thanks someone who unlocks the iron handcuffs, the man with golden handcuffs will pounce on the throat of him who tries to free him. He will try his best to keep the golden handcuffs permanently on his wrists. Due to what force is this so? Who is this friendly enemy of man who makes him feel happy in bondage? It is the pride of good, meritorious deeds that has caught man by the neck and is the real arch enemy of man. This is the enemy that blocks the way to absolute Truth [Paramartha] more persistently, and therefore it is necessary to renounce it. This may require tremendous labour because without renouncing it, we can never claim our legacy to the wealth of true knowledge [jnana].

It is believed that man's wealth, such as money, beautiful wife, status, etc., is a result of meritorious deeds done in previous births. But on the way to finding ultimate Truth, these very things act as boulders obstructing the way. Therefore it may be said that these are the result of sin. When a person is infused with pride about these things, he becomes possessed. Therefore he becomes incapacitated of treading the path of absolute Truth.

Contrary to this there might be a man who has not a penny, who is quite ugly, has no wife, no status and is so poverty stricken that in order to fill his belly he eats whatever the food he get sfrom whomsoever he gets it. He lost his caste, family, friends and all dear ones. This type of a fakir, naked on all fronts even if believed to be sinful by the world, might be more worthy of receiving Self-knowledge because he is naturally free of pride. The ears of this naked man turn towards the Satguru sooner than the one whose ears are filled with flattery and have no room for containing the advice of the Satguru. They have no time to turn to the Satguru's advice even for a minute.

The whole of humanity has got entangled, right from birth, in bondage. Besides this, man has created several artificial bondages around himself in the form of comforts resulting from newer inventions. If man has to live in present society, he has to respect and conform to the bondages of tradition, social conventions and governmental rules. For example, wearing a neck tie is supposed to be the proper etiquette nowadays. To be up-to-date in such a society makes him believe that he is getting more and more freedom. One who does not drink poisonous tea, or one who does not shave everyday is supposed to be a rustic. Diving into the bondage of such a society and building such silly ideas dear to the heart, this man goes on binding himself further and increases his pride about worthless things. Unless such bonds and pride are thrown away completely, and unless he is called a "mad man" by these "up-to-date" people, there is no hope at all for him to attain a mental state without any pride or become free from bondage at anytime!

The only aim is that one should completely shed off all pride and eradicate the identification with the body. If the aspirant finds all this work difficult to do or is unwilling to take it upon himself to formally renounce his wife, his money and his estate, then he can begin with inward renunciation. When that becomes successful, the formal renunciation slowly becomes possible.

Inward renunciation means renunciation undertaken through the mind. Suppose someone has the habit of hurting others through words, it does not cost anything to leave that habit by repeating only sweet words to others. Some people have the habit of telling lies unnecessarily. They should first stop telling lies at least until such time that an occasion arises where unless they tell lies a great calamity may occur. This too will not require any expenditure. While looking at a neighbour's prosperity one should not envy him. Will taking such a decision bring him any harm? In this way, when one renounces bad qualities, one also gets the strength to renounce external things.

This world is like a dream and hence in this dream-world, whatever is considered as good or bad, true or false, merit or sin, moral or immoral – are of no consequence for the awakening of Self. And therefore renunciation of both auspicious and inauspicious, good and bad, is necessary to attain the knowledge of Self. Even if the above is true, men still find it problematic to eradicate pride. No matter how often someone repeats the precept "renounce, renounce", time and again, it will not make even the slightest dent on pride. Only when one discovers the reason why pride enters and is able to eradicate that reason – renunciation automatically follows. The main reason why pride about an object enters a man is that he takes the object to be true. But if he gets convinced intellectually about the utter uselessness of the object or understands that it is only an appearance, then the apparent reality of the thing fades away automatically. For him it becomes possible to develop a detachment from that object which is held close to his heart as true.

A toy tamarind pod from Gokak [in the state of Karnataka] is not a real tamarind pod, but only one made of wood! Yet until such discriminative knowledge dawns on one, the sight of the wooden tamarind is bound to set one's mouth watering. The reason for this is the man's conviction of the thing being true. But once he definitely knows that the tamarind is made of wood, he may appreciate the artistic or aesthetic features of it, but it will not affect his salivary glands! This very happening is detachment and brings us to the conclusion that detachment from a thing follows after understanding its true nature. Unless the futility of this "world" is impressed irrevocably upon man's mind, the knowledge of the Self is difficult to attain. Unless one understands the false nature of an object, one will never aspire for the Real. There can be no renunciation of the false so long as the intellect believes it to be absolutely true.

The day the perverse knowledge of the world is set at naught by virtue of the Satguru's advice, then one gets convinced that all this is only an appearance. After this happens, we will be able to look at the world and appreciate it as if it was a cinema or a source of entertainment, but the detachment achieved will remain unaffected. Detachment without Self-knowledge is akin to that experienced at the cremation grounds. Without Self-knowledge there can be no real renunciation and without renouncing there can be no Self-knowledge. This is the paradox. Saints have shown various methods of getting out of this vortex, by way of devotion to the Guru, singing devotional songs, worship, singing God's glories, visiting holy places, charity, meritorious deeds, etc... In this way they have enjoined an infinite number of obligations for humanity. Human nature is such that if a man is forcibly robbed of a thing, he suffers immensely. He will make persistent effort to regain it. But if he were to part with the same thing out of his free will, that sacrifice would bring him immense joy. A man who is unwilling to spend a dime under compulsion, would out of his free choice spend thousands in order to feed the people of Pandharpur [a religious site in Maharashtra].

One whose pride does not allow him to bend to other people's will bow in total submission to a much lesser being, after mixing with saints chanting devotional songs. Thus he completely forgets his pride of his caste or status. That Rao Saheb [Honorary Government Member] who felt ashamed to apply sandalwood paste to his forehead in his house now allows black powder [buka] to be smeared on his face, "Thus blackening the face of pride." The same one who considered singing and dancing as obscene forgets himself and his body and starts whirling in joy with a partner, loudly chanting the name of God along with the rest. Understanding how man sacrifices his pride in this way, the saints have spread the cult of singing devotional songs and ceremonial worship for everyday practice. Thus they have pointed out a progressive step on the way to knowledge of Self. In this way they have impressed upon man how easy it is to renounce and how the aspirant's mental attitude gets cleared from pride.

Self-knowledge means knowledge about one's Self. Once we recognise who we are, then quite automatically the decision is made about what is permanent and what is transient. Then very naturally the renunciation of the impermanent and acceptance of the permanent follows. Because of the transient nature of all things, the fear of disillusionment is inevitable. Man overpowered by this fear of death or disillusion, continually strives to see that things do not get separated from him. He takes every precaution to preserve his money and relationships, tries hard to keep his wife's youth and beauty from deteriorating, struggles to keep his status and authority, but nothing happens according to his wish and desire.

Death is all-consuming. No one can escape his destiny, and everyone will eventually get crushed under death's teeth. Even gods, like Brahma, were not free from the fear of death. Even if a poor man is given everything, does he still not remain afraid of death? The only gift he needs is the gift of fearlessness. He needs something that will free him permanently from this fear. Man is like a beggar – having lost his own treasure of Self, he continually chants "I am the body, I am the body." He is forever unhappy and unsatisfied, saying "I want this and I want that" and wanders around begging for something or the other. He can be pacified only with the gift of the Self.

The fearful man who chants, "What will happen to me, my wife and children, and my money which I consider mine?" is always disturbed and upset. This sort of man should get the gift of fearlessness and thus be made fearless. Only the Satguru is capable and generous enough to bestow such a gift of fearlessness, which is the noblest of all gifts. Kings and emperors, and even gods, are incapable of granting this gift of fearlessness. Although all earthly wealth is at the feet of an emperor, he is still restless with fear at the very thought of an enemy's attack. Lord Indra too is anxious, day and night, with the thought that his status as Indra might be shaken by the penance and austerities performed by some sage.

Think of this deeply – those who have not freed themselves from fear, can they give others a gift of fearlessness? Only those Mahatmas who have uprooted fear from its very depths, by establishing themselves in the centre of the Self and destroying the identification with the body, are capable of granting the gift of fearlessness. All the gods, demons and men are penniless beggars in comparison with these Mahatmas. They can never receive the gift of fearlessness, only unless they take shelter from a Satguru. Even if they are gods, they still entertain pride of godly wealth, and demons still carry the pride of their own vicious wealth on their heads. Human beings get crushed under their own burden. Gods are no better than baggage men who carry other people's burdens on their heads! What the of the human beggar? It is only the Satguru who extends his hand to help them unload their burden and blesses them at the same time with the gift of fearlessness.

Of all knowledge, Self-knowledge is the most noble, and of all dharmas [paths], Swadharma [one's duty or path to one's own true nature of Self] is the most noble. These very Mahatmas spread this knowledge of the Self amongst men and teach the meaning of Swadharma. In this world, the knowledge of astrology, black magic, public relations, 14 types of sciences and 64 arts are taught, but the saints refuse to recognise all this false knowledge and only spread the art and knowledge of the Self.

Many missionaries competing with one another assert their opinions by giving advice. They say, "My religion is the noblest and all others will lead man to ruin." Not only do they give advice, but they also fulfil their sacred duty of conversion by bribing, threatening and even killing people. This is going on even today. This piracy of religion, full of compulsion and tyranny, is not useful for accomplishing the well-being of anyone. If there is any one religion in the world which is the noblest of all, it is Swadharma – aligning with one's own true nature. To live in one's innate nature is Swadharma, even while belonging to a certain caste, religion or nation. To understand Swadharma, one should realise that It is existent in all forms of life, be it an ant or an insect. This alone is Swadharma and all other cults, parading as religions, are pardharma [a path that is alien to the Self and devoted to non-Self]. These religions impose absurd rules and methods that are alien to our real nature of Self. That is the definition of pardharma.

Supposing there is a prostitute. She also has a relevant dharma which she follows assiduously, believing that it is her Swadharma. She teaches the same to her daughter in the cradle itself and in the end she also dies following her own religion. Who knows if some lover of women comes forward to include that woman's life story in the book of religious saints? The Lord has already cautioned us in the Bhagavad Gita by saying, "It is best to die in Swadharma." Dharma which is alien to Self is full of danger. While trying to achieve this, if death comes, it is to be preferred than following that dharma which is alien to Self. The translation of the Lord's verse of caution should carry the above mentioned import. Eradicating the idea of identification with the body is the sign of knowledge of the Self. Mahatmas experience this sort of death while still living. This sort of death is to be preferred.

"I have seen my own death. How shall I describe that process which is unique?" How can the cowards living in pardharma, and who die a corps's death, understand this process of death while still living? The unfortunate one only thinks of death in terms of a cremation ground – bamboo, jute rope, dung cakes, wood and fire – and the rites of his religion. Those dharmas, built on the strong basis of body-identification, contain the temptation and fear of heaven and hell, merit and sin, bondage and liberation. Every human being has the right to follow the path of Swadharma – leading to his own Self – where there is no temptation of heavenly enjoyments, no fear of pain in purgatory, and where both bondage and liberation have no meaning. There is a cruel maxim: "Whatever comes has to go." These pseudo-religions are shining and spreading because of their "newness", and in some cases, with government patronisation. They will definitely sink to the bottom, and there will be nothing but glory and victory to Swadharma alone!

In the Bhagavad Gita, the Lord advises Arjuna to do one thing: "Leave aside all religions and come seek refuge within Me!" Come to Me by rejecting all religions which create hindrances. Seek refuge in Paramatman, the true Self, which has the nature of true knowledge. You will then have fulfilled yourself when you attain Me and there will be nothing more for you to do. All karma gets exhausted in Self-knowledge.

On the pretext of advising Arjuna, the Lord has given this advice to all human beings and they should fulfil themselves by accepting the same. There is nothing in the whole universe as sacred as the Self-knowledge. All other "work" or "action" is meaningless. In this context, one should not think that all other types of knowledge apart from Self-knowledge are useless and have no value. However, they are of no help in achieving Swadharma. It is not that getting results such as a son, or heaven, by means of performing sacrifices is not possible. By studying scriptures, one does become proficient, and it is possible for one to appease various deities by worshipping them. Even if this is so, and even if all these actions are supposed to be meritorious in this mundane practical world, they still come as hindrances so long as the Self is not pleased and does not shower His Grace. The qualities valued as best in the practical world count as disqualifications, and all remedies only turn into obstacles. The sages know this well and do not care a whit even if they are able to conquer all the three worlds of existence [physical, subtle and causal]. They consider Indra's status, ridden as it is with jealousy, as useless as a crow's droppings. All the saints harbour only one desire within their hearts – to achieve oneness with Reality. Otherwise, desirelessness is their stance. These men of good fortune became one with Reality when their consciousness separated from the body. In ordinary cases, the body is taken only as a corpse while, in the case of the Mahatmas, they become worthy of obeisance and they receive adoration from people. Not only this, several temples are built on their shrines. Thus, they become immortal by becoming the object of worship and adoration from the whole world.

Ram, Krishna, Siddhartha, Hanuman, Malhari and Jagadamba – all these were Mahatmas in the form of Gurus. While they were alive they did the work of spreading true knowledge and became gods when they left the body. All the temples on earth belong to these very gods who grant the wishes of devotees according to their vows and desires. They lift the spirant to their own level and make them achieve fulfilment. Many people think that the God he worships meets him, through visions, and gets the work done, but God is not limited to one point or place as the devotee imagines. He resides in the devotee's heart as in every heart and inspires to get one's work done. Nobody should entertain the wrong idea that even after the Mahatma leaves his body, he assumes the same body, comes out of his tomb [samadhi] and then gets his devotee's work done!

When you wish to send ten rupees to someone in Pune, you give a ten rupee note to the Post Office at Sholapur for them to transfer the money to that particular person. On the second or third day you get the receipt that the amount was delivered to the recipient. Have you ever made enquiries to find out whether the same ten rupee note, with the same number, was given to the recipient? This type of question never arises in your mind. Your attention is centred not on the number of the note, but on the value of the note, and when the amount has reached the person you do not have any complaints or queries. In the same way, these saints and Mahatmas, who have turned into gods, get the devotees work accomplished through the living Mahatmas that are available and who are of the same calibre. This is the way they get their devotees' vows fulfilled.

What magical skill did these persons possess who were honoured during their lifetime and became immortal, retaining their fame even after their bodily death? What special learning did they have that they should be receiving adoration from people even after death?

In this world, there are many arts and sciences. Many discoverers, many adventurous heroes who are praised during their lifetime. These heroes are felicitated and covered with garlands and flowers. People even express their admiration for them by deyoking the horses of their carriages and by carrying them on their shoulders! But at the same time, a hero who has been an object of people's adoration also becomes subject to their censure. Soon, people who are pampered as heroes for a few days are condemned in an assembly. Even resolutions condemning them are carried out! From this it is clear that the greatness of these heroes is artificial and not everlasting, because their greatness is based on their transient learning. Their greatness is not based on the sacred, everlasting peace, but on some practical motive or some physical sciences, like politics. Who was once judged as "great" is found to be of no importance, and in some other corner of the world another "hero" starts shining on the horizon.

The greatness which is achieved through any learning other than the knowledge of the Self, takes an opposite direction, due to which these great ones have to suffer sweet and sour experiences of honour and insult. It is no wonder that no one takes the trouble of thinking about the great men after they are dead. Out of all knowledge, Self-knowledge is the only learning which grants everlasting peace. What is the use of such learning which does not grant peace of mind?

Nowadays, many types of courses of learning are available in the world. Why is there such a proliferation of courses? The reason is because no one has yet found peace of mind. The struggle has not yet stopped, not even for a little while, and the mind remains ever restless. Why? Because all these sciences and arts have got their entire centre in ignorance and are only useful for increasing the agitation and restlessness of the human mind. The one who values the sciences and arts has lost the happiness that comes from peace of mind. He is unable to examine himself. The man who does not know who he is, he is never free from restlessness. It is futile to know many addresses if one does not even know his own address! One who has not searched his own house, why should he search another man's house for a thing he lost in his own house?


IN  SEARCH  OF  " I "


WHO  IS  THIS  "I"?

Once upon a time there lived a person [a non grata] in a village called Andheri [Darkness]. He, however, could establish a custom in courts of Law, that no order or document be accepted as legal unless it bore the stamp, "Gomaji Ganesh" ["The Brass Door"]. Afterwards, all the officers of that city accepted a document as legal only if it bore this stamp on it. This procedure continued for a long time and thus the stamp became firmly rooted in the city of Andheri. No one ever enquired as to who this "Gomaji Ganesh" was.

But as time passed, it so happened that an important document which bore no stamp of the "Gomaji Ganesh" was cited as evidence in a case filed in a court of law and even though, as ordinary procedure goes it was thoroughly legal, it was still not accepted as evidence. At that point, a courageous man, who was a party to the suit, put before the judge the argument that the document was perfectly valid as it bore all the signatures of all the relevant government officers. He argued, "Why should this document not be admissible if it is otherwise perfectly legal? Why should it have in addition this stamp of "Gomaji Ganesh"?" Thus, he questioned the legality of the stamp itself, and in consequence, the legality of the stamp was made an issue of contention. Till that day, no one had ventured to bring this issue before a court of law. Since it had risen for the first time, it was decided that this point should be brought to a decision as to what this fuss was all about.

So the judge, out of curiosity about the procedure of the "Gomaji Ganesh" stamp, took the matter in hand first for enquiry. When the enquiry was complete, it showed that some person of no status, taking advantage of the badly administered government, had pushed in his own stamp and the government officers went on following this tradition blindly. As a matter of fact, this Gomaji Ganesh was a man of no importance and had no authority of any kind. It is not necessary to describe how this stamp was looked upon with ridicule, since that day when the decision was taken by the court.

In the same way, we should also enquire about who this "I" is, and how it dominates everything as "I" and "mine", just like in the story concerning the "Gomaji Ganesh" stamp. It is a general rule that if two people quarrel, it usually results in advantage to the third party, or if two things get mixed up, some third thing is produced. For example, by the contact of a piece of thread and flowers, a garland is produced which was not there in the first place. Even the names of the parents [thread and flowers] whose contact was responsible in producing a garland get eclipsed as soon as the garland comes into existence. The garland itself is brought into prominence and is known by its own label. The names "flowers" and "thread" become extinct because a new name, "garland", is now evoked, and with this new name further actions take place. With the contact of earth and water, both the earth and water become extinct and mud arises as "I". So also, stones, bricks, mud and mason come together and a third thing called a "wall" stands before the eyes. The stones, bricks, mud and mason simply vanish from our sight.

Through the conveyance of knowledge and ignorance, this is how a peculiar thing called an "intellect" comes into existence, and with this contact, emerges the "world". Gold and a goldsmith produce a certain object with a certain form, and that thing starts tempting our eyes as an "ornament". The gold and the goldsmith are forgotten. As a matter of fact, if anyone is curious to find out if there is anything like an ornament inside the gold, one would see nothing but gold! If we told a goldsmith to make an ornament without touching any gold, what would he make? Actually, the thing called an "ornament" would simply vanish into thin air.

In the same way, due to the meeting of Brahma [the creator] and maya [the illusion], this thief "I" has appeared, and proudly hums "I" while raising his head. This "I" has uprooted both Brahma and maya. This barren women's [maya's] son ["I"] actually never existed and yet tries to establish his unlimited sovereignty permanently in the world. If we observe the parents of this "I", it would be clear that it is impossible for them to get such an issue. The mother of the child is maya and does not exist. From the womb of this maya, "I" has appeared and pretends to be born from pure existence. But existence has no gender and does not even claim to possess the art of "doership". So readers can imagine what kind of an "I" this is.

As described above, the existence of "I" is only in name and yet like Gomaji Ganesh, he announces his own name while moving around everywhere and saying, "I am wise and great!". This man has forgotten from where he came. Instead, he starts glorifying himself as "I" and even if this glory is deserving, he is like a cat who laps up milk with closed eyes, unaware of the stick that is ready to strike it on the back. As soon as he accepts a right or privilege, he must also accept the responsibility which goes along with it. As soon as I say that "I am the doer of a certain act" I must enjoy the fruit of such an action. Enjoyment or sufferance of a fruit, or result of an action is yoked to the action itself.

Actually there exists no one like "I" and the entire doership is contained in Reality. Final Reality is so smart that the moment He finds that some pride of doership appears as "I did it", He leaves all the responsibility of the action on the head of that "I" and remains unattached. He leaves this poor "I" to it's destiny of revolving on the wheel of birth and death.

Like in the above mentioned example of a "garland" being produced by the contact of a piece of thread and flowers, when the garland dries up, nobody says that the flowers dry up. Everyone says that it is the "garland" which dries up. And when the thread snaps, everyone says that it is the "garland" which has snapped. It means the doership of the original objects is imposed upon the third object due to the pride of the object. In the same way, a series of miseries strike this non-existent "I". If one wants to get free from this misery, one must leave that "I", but before it is left, we will find out where exactly this "I" resides. And once we find him, then we will talk about leaving him.

Everyone should begin the search for this "I" at his own centre if he is keen to find it. This "I" will never be found outside of us. In every human being this "I", or ego-sense of "mine" and possession, is filled up to the brim. All the actions in the world are carried on the strength of this ego-sense of "mine". This theorem of "my action" is taken for granted by all human beings, but in fact the totality of all actions can easily be carried out without this ego-sense. We shall see how this can be done later on, but at present we shall enquire into this sense of "I" and "mine". In order to make the search for "I" successful, we shall first look into our gross physical body which has become very dear to us. After analysing it, let us see if any such "I" is found to reside in this body.

GROSS  BODY

What is a physical gross body? It is a collective assembly of parts or members such as hands, feet, mouth, nose, ears, eyes, etc... We call the assembly of all these members a "body". Out of these members let us find out which one is the "I". If one says, "The hand is "I"", and then if the hand is cut off, nobody says "I have been cut off or discarded." Suppose the eyes go blind, no one says, "I am gone or have disappeared." If the stomach is distended, no one says, "I am inflated." Instead, one says, "My hand has been cut off", or "My eyes have gone blind", or "My stomach is distended." All these parts are spoken of as being "mine", and not only that, the body itself which is the assembly of all these members is also spoken of as being "mine". Thus, this "I" is not any part or limb of the gross body. But the maxim goes, "Where "I" does not exist, there does not exist anything which can be called "mine"." You cannot be in the neighbours' house.

Lets say that you go to the house of Rao Bahadur, your neighbour, and say "I am Rao Bahadur and his wife is mine", you will see what experience you will get! If you start making advances to his wife, saying that she is "yours", Rao Bahadur's hand will immediately turn your cheek pink and red with a slap, and you will get a sharp and sudden realisation that "I am not Rao Bahadur and his wife is not mine." In the same way, when "I" cannot be traced anywhere in the body, then how can it be said that the limbs of the body and its tendencies belong to me? If you still insist on calling it your own, first think of the result [a slap], and ask yourself whether it is really necessary to possess anything at all? See the result of such thinking.

Everyday we see the condition of all the human beings who look upon their bodies as their own and who act accordingly. The human being has forgotten his true Self and does not even try to understand who he really is. Therefore, he must take birth in every species. Sometimes he takes birth as a worm and is passed out in a stool. Sometimes he takes birth as a bullock, he gets yoked to an oil extracting mechanism and spends the day turning around in circles. Sometimes he takes birth as a donkey and works hard while wallowing in a heap of garbage! It is almost impossible to describe how many such miseries he has to suffer. After suffering births in all the other species, at last one takes birth as a human being. In this birth he attains an intellect, so that he should know God – the ultimate Self.

Even if we look at the body of the human species, it merely looks like a dressed up character in a vulgar play performed during the Shimga Festival. The character has his face smeared with black paint and his body is dressed in rags. A garland of shoes is placed around his neck and an umbrella made of shoes is held over his head. He is placed on a donkey and is taken in a procession through the streets, accompanied by weird noises. But this deity character takes pride in being the centre of such a demeaning show and salutes the crowd as he passes.

In the same way, man's body is also a peculiar part of this passing show of life. All the beauty of the face is supposed to be concentrated in the nose and eyes. We say a man is handsome or a woman is beautiful if their nose and eyes are well-proportioned. But in fact, the nose is only a tube for nasal discharge. The mouth is a spittoon containing saliva and phlegm and the stomach is like the sewage depot of the municipality. The body, which is a mixture of bone, flesh and blood, is given some respectable name like "Shiral Seth". The Paramatman's intention is to awaken a human being by demeaning him through this body. He makes the human being cry aloud for happiness and wander about in all directions in search for it.

In spite of this, the human being considers the body as a great gift and accepts it with joy. He eulogises the body with flowery language – the nose, which is a tube of mucus, is compared to the bud of a champaka flower; the eyes, which are the repositories of discharge, are called "lotus eyes"; the face, with a spittoon of saliva for a mouth, is called a "moon face"; the arms and legs, which are crooked branches of a tree, are claimed to possess lotus hands and feet! The human being looks upon this demeanour as a great victory and exhibits his shamelessness! The Great Lord, however, has granted a wonderful thing called an "intellect", even to this Shimga character of a human being, which He has not given to any other species. The purpose of this gift is to use it to understand the ultimate Truth – the Self – and to put and end to this demeaning show. Yet the human being misuses his intellect. He looks upon the gutter as the Ganges and the body as God and he is spoiling it further. This person spends a lot of his time engrossed in adorning his physical body, taking this body as "I", and then when he comes in contact with a female body, he even calls her body his own! He deposits all his sense of "mineness" or possession in that female body. By virtue of the contact of this "I" and "mine", many children are born, and a whole household is brought into existence. The household is shattered at last, and the poor man suffers ridicule – his story has been described in the book Dasbodh by Samartha Ramdas. It cannot but be recommended that this book should be read thoroughly.

The "I" cannot be traced anywhere in the body. It is also a fact, therefore, that the body is not "mine". Then to whom does the body belong? Who is the "owner" of the body?

The five elements [prapancha] – the earth, water, heat, light and air or space – have the rightful ownership of this body. After this body falls, each of these elements reclaims their own share from it, and finally the body is destroyed. The body is a bundle of these five elements and each of these element returns back to its rightful owner. The clothes that were tied in the bundle have been taken away by the respective owners, and the cloth in which the bundle was tied up is also taken away by it's owner. How then can a thing called a "bundle" remain? There is nothing left to be seen. In the same way, once the body which is composed of the five elements gets absorbed back into in the five principles of these elements, there remains no object such as the "body" at all.

Thus, "I" am not in the body, nor does the body belong to me. This type of body cannot sustain the pride of "I" or ego nor can it sustain all the relationships which exist due to the contact of the body, such as birth and death, or the six passions that affect the body. All these cannot thus be related to me as "mine"! The body may be in a state of childhood or youth or old-age, or the body may be dark, fair, beautiful or ugly, it may have been infested with a disease, it may be just wandering aimlessly, or going to holy places for a pilgrimage, or it may be motionless in samadhi – all these attitudes, conditions, properties or modifications belong only to the body – but the "I" is quite separate from all these. This at least we have learnt from the analysis of the physical body. Someone else's beautiful, cute, bonnie baby is of no value to us compared to our own dark, stocky boy, who has pock marks and a dirty, running nose. We do not suffer if someone else's sweet child dies, as much as we suffer if our old slipper is lost.

The reason for this is that we do not have the same sense of "possession" or "mine" for the other person. Once however, one understands that this particular thing is not "mine", and that it belongs to someone else, one becomes indifferent and gradually even starts despising that "someone else" or "another". And then it is renounced. Body belongs to "another", to the five elements. Once we understand that it is not "mine" and is the property of "someone else", then whatever kind of body it may be, how can it affect us? So come on – leave this body and let it proceed ahead. Yet, to leave this body does not mean that it should be pushed into a well or be hung with a noose around it's neck. The body, if destroyed on purpose, definitely gets born again and again. This is a reason for rebirth. "Leaving it" means gaining factual knowledge about the body. When it is known as it really is – belonging to the five elements – then the abiding interest in it wanes and the body automatically gets renounced. Complete renunciation of the body is achieved only through discriminative thinking, and renunciation liberates a human being from the body altogether.

There are five kinds of dissolution that take place everyday. They are:

1. dissolution through death,

2. constant dissolution,

3. dissolution of the creator [Brahma pralaya],

4. dissolution of the world at the end of a kalpa [kalpa pralaya] or a thousand yugas, and

5. dissolution through discriminative thinking.

Out of these, everyone knows the constant daily dissolution. This dissolution refers to sleep. In deep sleep, the whole world including our body gets dissolved. After awakening, however, the body and world are present as before and all the actions start as they did before. The dissolution after death is the same as this. After death, in the absence of Self-knowledge, the being has to take another body in accordance with his karma. In the new body, the actions – like eating, sleeping, getting afraid and mating – happen according to the impressions gained in previous lives. Brahma pralaya is the dissolution of the creator of the whole universe. Kalpa pralaya is the dissolution that takes place at a certain point in time, in which many creators have come and gone [and has a cycle of 4,32 billion years]. Again, a new kalpa starts and the creation, which was latent for sometime, rises with renewed vigour and activity and starts all over again. In this way, this wheel drawing forth each life, continues to revolve by rising and setting at fixed periods. Bodies therefore cannot be dissolved in these four types of dissolution. But the result of the dissolution by discriminative thinking is very powerful and unique. In this type of dissolution the body not only dissolves itself while living, but after death, when it completely dissolves, it will not allow itself to rise again.

Suppose there is a toy snake made of rubber lying about. Till such a time that one does not understand that it is made of rubber, the fear of the snake will remain. As long as the snake is taken for real, one will be shaken with fear. In deep sleep the snake is not there, but upon awakening, it reappears. Getting drunk to forget about the snake will not do because the effect of the drink wears off, and again the snake reappears. Even if the snake is hidden from sight, still the image remains within the mind, and the fear is sustained. This shows that the eradication of the fear of the snake by the above described means is not everlasting. The only remedy to destroy the fear so that it never returns is to know for certain that the snake is only made of rubber. Once this knowledge dawns, even if the eyes see the snake again, there is no cause for fear. In the same way, when one correctly knows what this body is, even if the body is alive, the pride of the body being "mine" vanishes and automatically the body is renounced. This is what is called the "dissolution by thought". One who dies with certainty of thought is free from the cycle of birth and death. However, one who dies thoughtlessly, it should be taken for granted that he died in order to take birth all over again!

Thus, by virtue of dissolution through thought, the thing is seen as if it is immaterial. With the other four types of dissolution, whether the thing is there in front of you or is hidden out of sight, it is still seen as if it is existing there! Samartha Ramdas therefore asserts that it is only thought that fulfils a human being by making him complete. The "I" could not be gleaned even when the physical body was passed through the sieve of the procedure of dissolution by thought.

SUBTLE  BODY

Now we will use the same sieve of dissolution by thought to try and trace the "I" in the subtle body and see if this thief called "I" is found anywhere. Let us first find out what the subtle body is. This body is comprised of a higher committee of seventeen members – the five senses used for action, the five used for gaining knowledge, the five pranas, and the mind and intellect. Whatever orders this committee promulgates are carried out by the working members of the working committee, which is the gross body. The subtle body's field of authority is very vast, so it might be possible to spot that "I" here, for he has a strong passion for authority. But the moment we start our search here, that "I" has already put his stamp of "mine" here. Whatever is found here is also called "my" senses, "my" pranas, "my" mind, and "my" intellect. But no sound like "I am the intellect" is ever heard here. That "I" parades about as the "owner" of all these members. But the "I" himself is not seen or found here at all. Thus, according to the axiom, "There can be nothing which I can call "mine" where "I" am not present", it is clear that the seventeen members of the subtle body cannot be "me" or "mine" at all.

One could object to this axiom by asking, "King George the Vth is not present in Sholapur [city in Maharashtra], but does it mean that Sholapur is not under his ownership?" The answer is, "At least there is an individual called George the Vth, and even if he is living somewhere else, his ownership can exist in some other place even if he is not present there." This "I", however, is a nonentity and yet, like Gomaji Ganesh of the city of Andheri – the empire of ignorance – he claims that he is the authority here. Thus the "I" is evidently non-existent here, as it cannot be traced, so then how can the sense of "mineness" sustain itself in the subtle body as well?

The subtle body is like a subtle silken bundle of five principles, even if it more difficult to untie the silken knot by thought, still it becomes incumbent upon us to untie it with effort. Once the bundle is untied and left open, this body gets automatically renounced.

The seed of birth and death is this subtle body, which is of the nature of desire. If that seed is roasted in the fire of Self-knowledge just once, it may appear unchanged, but there is no hope of it sprouting if it is ever sown.

A doubt may arise here that if both these gross and subtle bodies are renounced, and the attitude of pride – such as "I" and and "mine" – has also disappeared, then the actions of that body may either come to a halt, or they might not be executed efficiently. The doubt may be removed by the following example. Suppose a man keeps a thing in a locker, as he is of the impression that it is made of gold. But if he discovers later on that it is only made of brass, he may either leave it in the locker or remove it and keep it outside. His attachment towards that thing may either vanish or become much less. This is a fact. In the same way, if the pride of possession of the body as "my own" gradually gets ignored, nothing much will be lost. If an aspirant reaches this level of conviction, then the attitude – "Having experienced the ecstasy of Brahmananda, one's own being, who cares for the body?" – arises in him. This is really praiseworthy.

A dog once bit off a piece of flesh from Kabir's calf muscle, and Kabir, who was a great devotee, simply said, "Either the dog knows or the flesh knows that anything is possible!" On hearing these words from Kabir, what could have been the feeling of the people standing nearby? To what degree of renunciation Kabir must have reached – the aspirant could well imagine! But even if this happened to Kabir or to Tukaram when he lost his whole household, you might not get the ecstasy within yourselves, yet if with God's Grace such an ecstasy overwhelms you, you might say, "What is this worth after all?", and you will never ask such pointless questions as, "Will my house run properly?" You will have developed such an indifferent attitude as to say, "Let whatever that has to happen, happen and let whatever has to go, go."

However, if the aspirant understands intellectually, which is easier than experiencing the Self, he may raise the question, "After the knowledge of the Self is attained and the possessive pride of the body and mind has vanished, could worldly duties still be performed?" The Satguru, to console him answers, "Dear one, even after realising the utter uselessness of the body and mind, one can still establish a household and have children without bringing in the pride of the body and the mind. These both can be looked after very well. All the relevant duties one did earlier can still be diligently performed." How? Just see! Look at the behaviour of a hired nurse of an infant. She nurses the child, takes him around, consoles him if he cries, nurses him back to health if he gets sick, just exactly as if she were his mother. If she likes the child, she even kisses it lovingly. But while doing all this work, she does not even have the feeling that the child is not her own. In spite of all she does for the child, if the father of the child dismisses her, she at once packs up her things and leaves the house. At the moment she leaves, she is neither happy if the child has put on weight nor is she sad if the child were to die of some disease. The reason for this type of behaviour is that she has no sense of "mineness" for the child, but it cannot be said that due to the absence of this "mineness", she had not discharged her duty properly.

Let us take another example. Take the case of a trustee who manages a minor's estate worth several hundred thousand rupees. His sense of "I" or "mine" does not obstruct his duty, yet the trustee has been managing the estate of the ward very efficiently. If the duty is not discharged properly, the trustee becomes liable for punishment. The trustee does not get affected if the estate increases in value, or if it is decided in a legal suit that the estate does not belong to the minor, but to someone else. His duty is only to manage the estate carefully, so long as it is under his management.

In short, in order that the duties be discharged properly, it is not necessary that one has the sense of ego, of "I" or "mine", while performing the duties. Exactly in the same way, the gross and subtle bodies form a bundle that belong to the five elements and are given as a "keepsake" and a "trust" to a human being. As a trustee, you must look after the bundle in the best possible way. If you shirk the responsibility, you will suffer the punishment in the form of loss of health of both the mind and the body. If the trustee manages the minor's estate efficiently and the nurse looks after the child very well, they both get their salaries in return. If you look after your body and mind well and keep them in a healthy condition, you also receive joy in return. To attain absolute Reality [Paramartha], a healthy body is useful. All this however, has to be achieved without the sense of "mine". With this attitude, even if the body becomes nourished and fat, thin, or it lives or dies, there is no elation or lament.

If the trustee of a minor's estate establishes "mineness" or ownership of the estate and embezzles it, this will come to light and he will either have to commit suicide or go to jail. In this case, identification with the body means forgetting the Self or killing the Self. Getting bound to the idea of body being the Self, the hope of liberation will recede.

From the above discussion, you might have understood that the usual obligations and actions of the body and mind should be fulfilled in a proper way and it is not necessary to establish "ownership" or "mineness" over both. The obligations of the trustee and the nurse, while acting such, have no sense of possession, and are carried out quite normally. In the same manner, the duties of a human being can be performed without entertaining the sense of "possession" or "mineness".

CAUSAL  BODY

Suppose we lose the sense of possession in both the gross and subtle bodies, and we admit the fact that the bundle belongs to a stranger, but we still have to find out the answer to the question, "Who am I?", or "Where am I?" Now then, let us go to the causal body. But what is this? As soon as we step in here, there is just pitch darkness everywhere! Is it possible that this ignorance is the city of residence of this "I"? It seems this is his main headquarters. This seems to be the main capital that belongs to him. There is certainly a hope of finding that "I" here. Let us at least try and see. But if we move about like the blindfolded, sensing for it, that "I" is not found anywhere here either. Here "I" seems to have given up his sense of "mine". There seems to be nothing which can be called "mine" in this place. Everything seems to be absolutely quiet. That "I" who harshly cries aloud "I", "I", in both the gross and subtle bodies, seems to be totally silent here. He seems to be playing hide and seek, so that he may not be caught by one who is in search of "I". The "I" seems to have dug a trench here, so that the one seeking him may fall into it and abandon his search.

Dear aspirants, do not be afraid. The Satguru is standing behind you as well as in front of you and he will take you safely across the trenches of darkness. Many scholars and learned persons have turned their backs in fear at this very point and have abandoned their quest for Truth. For you however, there is no reason to be afraid like them. You have a guide here who is Samartha Satguru, a very capable master.

After getting stabilised in this darkness, and planting the feet firmly there for a long time, a voice is heard softly saying, "I am the witness of this ignorance." All of a sudden there springs some courage uttering the hope of catching the thief. It becomes stronger with the thought, "Oh! This thief is somewhere nearby witnessing the ignorance." Here, one must watch persistently, and how it is done will be discussed in the next lesson. That witnessing he is doing from beyond the trench of the causal body, taking a position in the supra-causal body [Mahakarana or Turiya]. This is understood quickly, and then "I" is so overjoyed at having found himself! Who can describe that joy? In that joy, "I" cries out "Prajnanam Brahma" ["Knowing absolute Reality is the Supreme knowledge"] as well as, "Aham Brahmasmi" ["I am absolute Reality"].

BRAHMAN

This one who says "I" "I", is really the all-witnessing Brahman, the unique Reality with the nature of the pure knowledge "I am". When the certitude is established, there arises wave after wave of bliss. When the bliss ebbs away, look at the miracle that happened! After deep thought, I started feeling that I am not even of the nature of knowledge, as I am covered with ignorance, in the same way I am covered with knowledge – not that I was born with ignorance or knowledge. Ignorance and knowledge came after "I" became "I" and this sequence seems to point towards me as their creator. Therefore, this knowledge is my child and "I" am his father, and "I" as father am someone different from that knowledge.

When this series of thought dawned within me, the "Aham Brahmasmi" in the Supra-causal body, a body also started ebbing out and even that got fully eradicated. Then I was suddenly naked, of course. Now it cannot be described who that "I" is and how that "I" is! If you want the description of the "I" who is found here, then you may utter any word found in any dictionary. I will have to express it as, "It is not this, not this", but the One who throws light on this. Again you utter words and sentences, and whatever meaning comes forth, take it as the description of "I". And if you do not understand, leave the words aside and just merge in deep silence and see who "I am".

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THE  FOUR  BODIES


During the search of "I", we turned all the four bodies inside out, but we could not trace it here. It is true that "I" went away without words beyond all the four bodies, where there is not even an idea of "I" or "you". However, it will not do to just keep the mouth shut and go into deep silence.

In this exposition which is done so far, the gross, subtle, causal and Supra-causal bodies have been described superficially, and it is necessary to examine all the aspects of these four in detail. More so, unless these are understood very properly, and unless that understanding is made a part of one's nature, an aspirant will not be able to achieve deep silence. We will therefore examine in detail the aspects of these four bodies.

Here it is necessary to remember that these four bodies are the four steps leading to the fifth and final rung of still silence, where words become silent. If one goes step by step, one can surely reach the end of the journey, but if one step is skipped by putting one's foot on the following step, there is a greater possibility of losing balance and falling back. Thus when one body is fully understood, only then should the aspirant see what is in the next body. Without doing this, if one starts stepping on the steps hastily, there will be a lot of chaos. In all this chaos, then, as the state of conditioning is the same in ignorance as it is in samadhi, the actual difference will be lost, and the aspirant might mistake sleep for samadhi and ignorance for knowledge.

A toy top, when it is steady and when it appears to be steady due to intense speed, is similar to total darkness and the blackout caused by intense light. Thus, although these appear similar from outside, there is a vast difference between the two states. Their unity is also different. If therefore one goes, step by step, there will be no chaos.
Herein it will also be prudent to bring up one more subject to the notion of the aspirant. That subject is to convince the aspirant about the fact that there is no basis for any doubts that arise in the aspirant regarding the contradictions in the method adopted for the exposition of a point in the scriptures – we will therefore first examine the method adopted in the scriptures.



When a subject is to be explained to an aspirant, first a description of it is given to show its great importance, and then it is said that a great reward will ensue if it is understood. Once the aspirant understands the subject completely, before explaining the next subject, the method is first to bring home to the aspirant the futility of the subject that is already understood. Only after that, the great importance of the subject to be taught next is brought home to him. The reason for this method is that there is no tendency at all to turn to a subject unless its importance is brought out first, and also unless a reward is held out as a temptation. In the same way, the futility of a subject is brought home, and then the subject gets automatically renounced and the aspirant becomes eager to know the next subject.

The Vedas, taking into consideration the psychological background of an aspirant, first inspire him to work for food, telling him that food is Reality. Then they give him some time to fondle the gross body, telling him that the gross body itself is Reality. Whatever experience of joy may come to the gross body is actually enjoyed by the subtle body. The gross body is merely a corpse, and a corpse can in no way enjoy anything if it does not contain the subtle body. Thus, the futility of the gross body is shown.

Next, they tell him that the mind, intellect, senses, and the sheath that is made up of pranas [vital breath] are Reality. Thus, it is bigger. The Vedas thus give importance to the subtle body. After that comes the causal body, which is steady and even bigger. It swallows the subtle body. So the causal body is now eulogised as Reality and advice is given to the aspirant – "You yourself have become the causal body." However, since this body is considered to be in ignorance and total darkness, this claim could not be made here. The aspirant is therefore compelled to search further in the Supra-causal body, from where the voice saying "I am the witness" emanated. After this, the Supra-causal body of Self-knowledge is studied thoroughly. The Vedas, after having rejected each body, assert that That which remains is Reality. When they were confronted with the problem of explaining the steady Reality, they started professing ignorance and repeated the sentence, "Not this, not this!" That which is neither touched by ignorance nor knowledge is Reality. In such a negative way, the Vedas describe Reality as "That which is beyond all the four bodies."

Its principle is as follows – when it said that one is bigger than the other, it does not mean that the one is more superior than the other. In comparison with the needle, the needle used for stitching jute bags is big, but it cannot be bigger than the iron rod used for digging. Therefore, the qualities like "big" and "small" are not inherent in a thing, but are imposed upon a thing by relating it or comparing it with another thing. The same rule applies here. After enunciating in sequence – food as Reality, gross body as Reality, subtle body as Reality, causal body as Reality, and finally the Supra-causal body as Reality [the latter being greater than the others] – the intention is to give this instruction and enunciate the principle that out of all these, there is none which can be said to be Reality. Though the latter state is relatively higher than the previous one, yet it is still not Reality, which is absolutely unique.

When remembering the above mentioned method of exposition, it is necessary to clearly understand what Reality could be described as being. Why should Reality be described at all? How far can one go to describe It as such? And why first describe It and then negate that description in the same breath? It is very necessary to understand all this correctly. To a person who is not a proper cook, the instruction is given to him as to how to cook rice – "Light fire below the cooking pot." After some time, an instruction is given again to the same person – "Now put out the fire." The person may wonder about the contradictory instructions, but his Guru explains to him, "Dear one, it is necessary to keep the fire under the cooking pot until the rice is cooked, and after it is cooked, the fire must be put out otherwise you will have to eat burned rice."

This is the reason why any method that is practised, must be practised only until you reach the goal, otherwise if you don't stop at the end, it will only bring exhaustion and may even bring you nothing at all! Thus, when the subtle body is called "Reality", once it is understood wherein lies the merit of the subtle body, it loses its value as Reality and it becomes necessary for the aspirant to search for the next thing. It means therefore, that when we offer a price to something to achieve results, it may be that the price may not reflect the exact value of the thing. "If an occasion arises, you will have to address even a donkey as "uncle"." In this example, honour is given to the donkey due to some calamity that has befallen you. In the same way, a human being is facing a great calamity due to the fact that he has forgotten his real nature. It is therefore necessary to liberate oneself from the calamity or obstruction in which he is caught. If you are caught by a crocodile, and if you could get out of its grip by flattering it, telling the crocodile that her back is very smooth and soft, does it really mean that her back is as soft as a feather mattress? This question should be asked to the man who thus gets released from the crocodile. Similarly, to get out of the grip of the four bodies, they are called "Reality" for some time until the true understanding of Reality dawns on the aspirant. Remembering this method of exposition, we will now turn our attention to the description of all the four bodies.

The nature of the gross body is quite well known. It is a mass of flesh and blood and can be touched by the hand, so all are quite familiar with it. Not only this, everyone uses it fully. The gross body is "I", and therefore, all the passions and desires that arise in the body are "mine". The dark or fair complexion of the body and the stages of childhood, youth or old age belong to "me". The relationships that are created through the body, caste, religion, cult, house, the land and wealth are all "mine". Every human being has learned this lesson so very well by taking many births. In fact, it is so well-learned that while dreaming he would tell you that he is such-and-such a "Gomaji". It is therefore unnecessary to teach the lesson again and again because it is already firmly implanted in his psyche. The feet of all the human beings are resting steadily on the step of this gross body. The stage of this gross body is of "awakeness" and in this body there is partial forgetfulness and partial remembrance. This body is therefore predominated by activity and passion, and this explanation is enough to understand the gross body. Now we will turn to the next step of the subtle body.

The subtle body is a committee of the senses, the mind, the intellect, the vital breath [pranas] and the instruments of inner perception [antahkarana] which creates a pseudo-mental world when the seen world becomes visible after closing the eyes. After some thought, it comes to our attention that the subtle body is really a different and peculiar thing. All the movements of the gross body are in accordance to the dictates of this subtle body. Volition [sankalpa] means something is like this and doubt [vikalpa] means something is not like this. This subtle body is such that it projects a perverse type of knowledge of contradictory thoughts; and its state is the stage of dreaming. Continuous memory is the indicative quality of this body and preservation [sattvaguna] predominates here.

After the aspirant is introduced to the subtle body in this way, he would himself become that body. When one foot is implanted firmly on the next step, the other foot can be lifted up and placed next to it, completely leaving the previous step. When one crosses the boundaries of a village and puts his foot in the limits of the neighbouring village, the first village is left behind and one becomes a traveller and explorer of the neighbouring village. In the same way, to properly understand the above described step of the subtle body, once he plants his foot firmly on this step, the aspirant has to lift his foot from the gross body in order to bring it into practice. The gross body is left behind and he has to sever all the connections with it.

This work is not as easy as it seems, for crossing over all these steps every human being only has two legs. One leg is the leg of "learning" and the other leg is that of "bringing into practice what which has been learned". Removing both feet from the step of the gross body and planting them on the subtle body means transgressing the physical body. When one leaves aside all sense of pride and possession of the small gross body and takes pride of possession in the subtle body by saying "I am only the subtle body", it means that the gross body is renounced and the subtle body is accepted as "I". When the aspirant arrives on this second step, then the lower self, made up of the gross body, is seen and perceived as "not "I"". Now "I" has no relationship with this gross body. The changes that happen to this gross body or its qualities – as it's dark or fair complexion is not "mine" – means that the chief string pullers are now of the subtle body, which are mind, intellect, vital breath, senses and "I am". But are they endowed with such qualities as fat, dark, old, etc...? "I am only the mind and the intellect." If the aspirant studies this assiduously, then both his feet get firmly planted on the second step, and he loses pride and the sense of possession of the gross body. He then becomes indifferent to all conditioning of the gross body.

The third step, beyond the gross and subtle bodies, is the causal body of ignorance or "not-knowing". It is only a state of pure forgetfulness, of the quality of darkness, where there is no thought of well-being nor of the gross and subtle bodies! The state in which there is no knowledge of anything is the causal body. It is like sleep, but it is not sleep. It is very important to understand this state. Those who enunciate the principle of zero – where there is nothing, only a void – came to this state and turned back, as they say there is nothing ahead. This point is the state of the "unknowable", from the point of view of Western philosophy. This state being bereft of all thoughts, fancies and doubts is taken as transcendental awareness [samadhi] in the form of Self-absorption [nirvikalpa Brahman], and as soon as this void is reached, one is apt to get false satisfaction by saying, "Today I saw Brahman."

When one modification of the mind is stabilised, and another fresh one has not yet risen, the interval or pause between these two – the intervening pause period before sleep sets in and the waking state disappears – is a state of pure forgetfulness. This state of forgetfulness is described in the scriptures as the "borderline of the Self" or the "sheath of bliss" [anandamaya kosha]. All the chaos, struggle, infinite number of waves of thought have ceased in this causal body, and therefore there is peace in this third body in comparison with the other two bodies. It is true that the aspirant experiences joy here, but this is neither ultimate peace nor real bliss. One must remember this well! The natural state of all the gods, demons and every human being is in this state, which is the causal body in the form of forgetfulness.

The chief indication of this body is to forget everything. Unless one forgets, one cannot have deep sleep. To say, "I was asleep, but I remembered something", is to say "I never slept." Having deep sleep therefore means not remembering a single thing. In the same way, to sleep while being in the waking state means one enters the causal body, which is the natural state of all human beings. Not knowing anything means you have entered this state. Even big scholars do not understand the true nature of a human being, let alone the true nature of Shiva. In order to explain that state of human forgetfulness, the way of studying the pause is shown. If anything is difficult, it is to completely stabilise in this state of forgetfulness and to know it thoroughly. With great effort, an aspirant should try to achieve this. They [the scriptures] have particularly laid stress upon this.

The fact is that during the pause between two states, there is nothing but pure consciousness. The state of muni [the silent man] is such that he does not allow a single word to rise, or even if it does rise, he does not allow its meaning to rise. He just lets it slip by. When the word rises and is allowed to impress its meaning on the mind, the world is born. Rejecting the word by not allowing it to carry any meaning to the mind is the eradication of the world. When the word does not energise the mind, then whatever is left is the pure energy of consciousness. To experience this state continuously is what is called the "state of still silence".

The aspirant who is about to put his foot on the third step after climbing the first and second, although he is told that this is the state of pure consciousness, still gets the impression that this state is pure void. By taking the void to be Final Reality, he is unable to witness the void. However, if he goes to the fourth step from the third, and he looks back at the third step, he will not be able to see anything at all, and he will wonder, "How is it that my Guru instructed me to put my foot on a step which does not exist at all!?" The reason is that once pure consciousness is known, there can be no trace of what is called "ignorance". One does not understand what the state of forgetfulness is, and there does not arise any modification in the aspirant's mind except that of pure consciousness.

Consciousness or knowledge presents itself to the aspirant in two ways – the first is when there is an object in consciousness, then it becomes "objective knowledge" and he will experience it as objective knowledge. The second is when there is no object and this will be experienced as pure consciousness. When there is an object, it will be objective knowledge and when there is no object, it is simply pure knowledge, or consciousness. Except for these two, there arises no other modification in the aspirant's mind. The word "ignorance" is meaningless from the point of view of the aspirant. It is not possible for forgetfulness to exist in this case. Whatever is, will be either knowledge or consciousness. It may be objective or it may be non-objective, but it is all still pure consciousness.

Putting before him the state of the causal body and telling him it is just ignorance, a void, a state of forgetfulness where nothing can exist, helps the aspirant to realise that it is all just pure consciousness. In order to help a student understand that a tiny dot has no width nor length, the school teacher draws a large dot of great length and breadth on the blackboard. That is how it is here too. If it is not done in this manner, the next step cannot be explained, so who can help it? The aspirant should therefore keep full faith in the Satguru without further argument, taking for granted that there is a state of forgetfulness, and should go on practising it to learn to forget each and everything. He will understand that the causal body is the cause of the previous two bodies.

There is a side curtain on a theatre stage called the "wing" from which actors emerge and into which they again disappear. The natural state of a human being is like this wing on the stage – the state of forgetfulness. From behind the curtain emerge all memories, and they disappear again behind the same curtain. When we say we have forgotten a thing before remembering it, it means that the thing was abiding in that state of forgetfulness, and it proves that it emerged from that state alone. As opposed to this, when we say that we forgot a certain thing, then it means that the thing that was in the memory has disappeared behind the curtain of forgetfulness. A memory before it is forgotten returns to forgetfulness after it is remembered. The rising and setting of all ideas are in the womb of the one "forgetfulness" and therefore this state is the common ground for all human beings. By reason of forgetfulness, each human being says he is ignorant and struggles to get at least some kind of knowledge. During this struggle, a majority of those unfortunate ones gain worldly knowledge and completely miss out on gaining true knowledge of their own nature.

That is why, while introducing the causal body described above, the Satguru tells the disciple, "Dear one, you are not the gross physical body and you are not the subtle body, so you better identify yourself with the causal body." The aspirant must attain this state of forgetfulness, and he will come to realise that, "I am definitely not the gross body and not even the subtle body, therefore all the dreams and doubts that arise from both these bodies, do not abide in me. I am complete forgetfulness, bereft of all ideas. The birth and death of the body, the misery, temptations, pain, pleasure, hunger and thirst – none of these can ever touch me. Honour and dishonour exist only in the mind, and a fair or dark complexion belongs only to the body – I am totally detached from these qualities associated with the gross and subtle bodies. Nothing can attach itself to me. I am mere forgetfulness." Revising this lesson again and again and thus making it firmly established in the heart, the state of forgetfulness without any idea or attachment, thus becomes one's own nature. When this kind of mental practice is firmly established, then the aspirant definitely rises to the third step and becomes steady. Only then can it be said that he has now become worthy of putting his foot on the next and final step of the Supra-causal body.

Before going to the next step, it is necessary to mention the fact that the causal body, although like sleep, is a state distinct from sleep. Furthermore, it is explained that in deep sleep all the senses are in complete repose, therefore no objects exist there. In such a state, each being enjoys the bliss which radiates from his own true nature, but he does not still know who he really is. On waking up from deep sleep, each being describes his own experience in the following manner – "I slept happily and I did not know anything." In this way, he conveys the bliss of his own nature as well as his own ignorance about it. He unknowingly conveys his knowingness of his own ignorance, and thus proves his knowingness, but he does not know his own Self. An heir to a treasure of buried gold coins – in the absence of the knowledge of such treasure – goes about his day begging to make his livelihood. For him, that treasure is as good as not being there at all.

Thus, each human being, going back and coming out of his own nature, dives deep within it and experiences profound bliss, but his deep ignorance about his own Self abides there permanently. It is for this reason that deep sleep cannot be the means of attaining knowledge of the Self, one's own true nature. In deep sleep, the aspirant has no scope at all to study the state, but this is not the case in the matter of forgetfulness. To study forgetfulness means to enjoy the deep sleep state while being fully awake. How to enjoy this wakeful deep sleep is taught by the Satguru.

How does a fish go to sleep while living in water? This you will only understand when you take birth in that species. How can the sleep of a fish not get disturbed by the water entering it's eyes? This secret cannot be known unless one is born as a fish. Thus, how can one enjoy deep sleep while remaining fully awake? One will understand this only by becoming a true son of the Satguru.

Fogetfulness is nothing but deep sleep, yet what is described above is the silence within, which is created knowingly during the stage of wakefulness. It is not deep sleep which comes knowingly, because in deep sleep nothing is known. But in forgetfulness, which is knowingly brought about, the nature of the Self is known. This is the difference between deep sleep and samadhi.

Though it is known that forgetfulness is nothing other than forgetfulness, and nothing is known in that state, the fact is that after everything is forgotten, some knowledge still remains. This can be understood only through the study of forgetfulness. This state is absolutely true. Deep sleep and forgetfulness are both the results of tamoguna, a form of ignorance that lulls the spiritual being away from his true nature. For example, if an analysis of a piece of coal and a diamond is made, it is found that there is nothing but carbon in both – which means that both are only two forms of carbon. But even if it is true, it is not necessary to say that there is a vast difference in their respective value. When the ingredient of carbon is the same in both, how is it that the diamond shines whereas the coal is black and lustreless? The reason is that the proportion of carbon is different in both. Likewise, deep sleep and forgetfulness share different proportions of ignorance and that is why in deep sleep the immense density of ignorance is felt, whereas, in forgetfulness the rarity of ignorance is realised. As the depth of sleep decreases, the onset of wakefulness rises. The man who has woken up from deep sleep is first slightly under the fuzzy influence of sleep, and then he awakens slowly. This state is the result of the decrease in the depth of sleep until the stark state of full awakeness emerges. Deep sleep is like a pitch black curtain covering the lamp of Self, and the causal body, which is the state of forgetfulness under study, is like a thin transparent velvet curtain. This means that in both these states the enjoyment of bliss is the same. Yet from the point of view of achieving the knowledge of one's own Self, deep sleep is useless. It is like having sexual intercourse with a barren woman while hoping for a child. The study of the anandamaya kosha in the form of the state of forgetfulness affords joy, and is a precursor of reaching the goal of knowing one's own Self.

After having said all this, we will now observe the Supra-causal body which is endowed with the knowledge that comes after the study of forgetfulness. Let us digress a little here. Those aspirants who have taken the traditional mantra according to Bhausaheb Maharaj's [the Guru of Siddharameshwar Maharaj] cult, may have a doubt in their mind at this point. It is here that the study of the causal body helps you to forget everything. If this is so, does it mean that the repeating of the incantation given by the Guru and the colour or forms that stand before the half closed eyes should also be forgotten? The answer is "Yes, you have to even forget this." Before doing it, while only reciting the mantra and the colour or whichever form would be present, the aspirant must decide for himself that the rest of the noise and the mental prattle have ceased and died out completely. After concentrating on the tip of the nose with half closed eyes, no other words or forms should arise apart from the incantation and the present colour forms. Once this is done, it is true that even that has to be forgotten. The broom taken in the hand to sweep up all the rubbish in the house should not be kept in the hand after the rubbish has been removed from each corner of the house. That also has to be thrown out. The Satguru imparts the mantra to the aspirant as a discipline. He has thus given the tool in the form of the mantra – to sweep up and clean up all rubbish in the form of doubts, worries and dreams accumulated in our bodies and minds over an infinite number of births. How far that tool should be preserved in the heart and when should it be left alone has been clearly explained above. Now we will see that this Supra-causal body is like the father of all the other bodies.

In Indian mythology, King Janaka was a videhi, one without a body [which means living in the world, but not being of the world]. He had a daughter named Janaki [which also means "knowingness"]. In this story, King Janaka is the same as the Supra-causal body. There is a state of consciousness which is "bodilessness" in spite of the fact that the body still exists, and that is the state of knowledge in the Supra-causal body. In comparison with the last three bodies, though it is called the "Supra-causal body", it is still a state of "bodilessness" only because it has no conditions. The Supra-causal body is in the form of knowledge. This does not mean there is an absence of knowledge in the former three bodies.

Knowledge is the same, whether it is in a disturbed condition or in equanimity. Knowledge is as clean and pure in the state of equanimity as it is in a disturbed case, or even when immersed in the slush of objective knowledge. In all the states, knowledge is one and of the same kind. But the knowledge in the three bodies other than the Supra-causal body is taken as adulterated knowledge or conditional objective knowledge. The state in the Supra-causal body is balanced or equanimous [with regard to the gunas] and it can be experienced as pure knowledge.

Whether knowledge is in a equanimous or unbalanced state, knowledge is always pure knowledge. However, it is different with regard to the conditioning, or because of its identity with conditioning, a human being who is inexperienced finds difference and separateness even in pure knowledge itself. Sweetness in a laddoo, jalebi or basundi [Indian sweets] comes only from sugar, but because it is in the form of that object, we say that "the laddoo, jilebi or basundi is sweet." If we do not mix sugar with any other ingredient, we will still have to say that, "sugar is sweet." If a man has to be given an idea of what sugar is like, and if he is given just laddoos to eat and has been told that the sweetness in a laddoo is sugar, he will never get the knowledge of the true nature of sugar. However, if he is shown pure sugar, without mixing it with any other ingredient, then of course he will know exactly what sugar is like.

That is why knowledge cannot be experienced in it's primal state, because in all other states it is always conditioned, what is more it will be explicit only as objective knowledge. But in the Supra-causal body, knowledge which is unapparent or impure in the other three bodies rises to shine in it's pure nature. That is exactly the reason why the aspirant has to be taken to the Supra-causal body. Once the pure knowledge is known, which is knowledge of the Self, then even if it is mixed up with any other type of objective knowledge or is in any other state, it will still be correctly known, and never again will there appear to be a separate identity called the "world".

Even when each state comes and goes, the witness of each state has not gone anywhere or come from anywhere. The one who has seen dark and fair complexions, childhood, youth and old age of the physical body, has himself kept an account of all dreams and doubts in the subtly body. The same witness has also seen the causal body, where there is complete absence of dreams and doubts. This One who has witnessed these bodies is forever awake.

One woman had a peculiar characteristic – when she gave birth to a child, the child died before it knew it's mother, and it never saw the faces of it's brothers and sisters because they were already all dead. This woman, in this way, gave birth to a number of children and they all died shortly after birth. However, after burying all the children in the ground, this woman remained where she was. Not one child had seen the face of another child, still the woman had seen the faces of all the children. Exactly like this, the four bodies were born of the Supra-causal body in the form of the great illusion [mahamaya]. Yet these bodies never had the chance of seeing the faces of other bodies, or even of their mother.

Even when one state does penetrate into the other, still the pure knowledge travelling within all these states is never adulterated. The thread supports all the beads equally, even through one bead does not penetrate into the other. The Supra-causal body is exactly like this and it pervades all the three states of sleeping, dreaming and awakeness. The pure state of "knowingness" in the Supra-causal body is the Self, the lit flame which makes itself bare after making ignorance forget itself. Once the nature of the witnessing knowledge is known, the state of ignorance vanishes completely. Though this is true, it is not true that the appearance of the seen manifest "world" also vanishes. It is only the attitude of the aspirant that changes. By virtue of intense study, he will experience all that is seen and appears as only knowledge.

When one sees only the gold in a piece of jewellery, the piece is not destroyed. In the same way, even though the Lord of the universe [Janardana] is known, the universe is not destroyed. When the light from a lamp destroys the darkness, the objects which have come to light do not vanish. First there was no light, so nothing was known beyond the fact that there were some forms of objects. The nature of the same objects is clearly known in the light. In the same way, while we are looking at and feeling the world with blind eyes in the darkness of ignorance, the Satguru's advice brings vision to our sight. When the flame of knowledge is lit up in the heart, it spreads light all around and the darkness is destroyed, yet the world stays on as it is while it's true nature is laid bare. Thus, the point of view through which one was looking at the world does of course change after one acquires true knowledge.

The sight of a mirage is different in each case that follows – from the point of view of the sun, that of a man, and that of a deer. The object is the same, but the point of view or the act of seeing is different in each case. When rocks get heated by the sun's rays, the waves of steam that rise upon the rocks appear to someone who is standing at a distance as a stream of water. This appearance is termed as a "mirage". The reason why a mirage is called "mrugjala" [deer's water] in Marathi is because the deer gets deceived at it's sight and runs to get it's thirst quenched, thinking it to be real water, but gets disillusioned. To consider the appearance of water as true is the deer's attitude, but even if it appears as water to a man, he does not run to it to quench his thirst even if he is thirsty. The reason for this is that mirage is not as it appears and the man understands that there is not a drop of water in that place. He is not deceived. This then is the human attitude. Now from the point of view of the sun, there is nothing like a mirage at all! Why even consider it?

It is in this manner that the attitude of the aspirant who is ignorant and bound, and the attitude of a seer of Truth [siddha] who is liberated, are at a variance. The one who is bound is driving the cart of practical duties, taking it for granted that the world is true. When the aspirant attains knowledge of the Self, he looks at the world with the attitude that it is just an appearance. But a siddha, the one who has become Self or All, does not see the world at all!

So far, everything regarding the physical gross body up to the Supra-causal body has been discussed. The part after the Supra-causal body is the affirmation of this Principle. Even if the aspirant attains Self-knowledge by entering the Supra-causal body, he cannot yet be called a "siddha". He still has to be looked upon as only a sadhaka, or aspirant. The field where the siddhas rest is the field of thoughtless Reality. Let it rest! Why should we discuss that at this stage?

Just now, it is the step of the Supra-causal body which is temporarily under our feet. We will discuss it here in more detail. We have said that the Supra-causal body is the state of annihilated ignorance. But ignorance, or the state of forgetfulness, is a state which comes into consideration only in relation to the gross and subtle bodies. Actually it has no real existence, and yet this ignorant state has to be annihilated by acquiring knowledge.

It is ridiculous to say "that which is not" has to be annihilated! For example, Ram has a ring, but Govind does not have a ring. Does the absence of a ring actually denote the state of existence of a certain thing called a "ring"? No, it does not. Exactly in the same way, the state of forgetfulness – which is really non-existent – arises only in relationship with the gross and subtle bodies, and it is an imagined state. It surely does not exist. Samartha Ramdas has proved in his monumental book Dasbodh, that "this state of ignorance" in the form of forgetfulness is the state in which "that which is not" becomes non-existent. Does the state of Self-knowledge really exist? One who has seen the absence of all dreams and doubts, and knows the absence of everything – as in the state of forgetfulness – he knows that he too does not exist. The God of Knowledge [Jnanadeva] witnesses the dissolution of the modification of knowledge. He is the President in the Supra-causal body. This witnessing knowledge is also actually a parasite, an unwanted growth, which imposes itself on the pure nature of the Self. It is ignorance in the causal body and should be renounced. As soon as this witnessing knowledge leaves the body by forgetting the state of forgetfulness, then true knowledge of the Self starts looking at itself. Observation of one's own Self cannot be called "witnessing". When one forgets one's own Self and sees something else which is different from one's Self, only then the "seer" can be called a "witness". But when one starts seeing oneself as the unique Reality, one abides in this true knowledge. That knowledge is of the nature of the Absolute.

Here also in that "aloneness", one likes humming to oneself, "Aham Brahmasmi" ["I am Brahman"]. With that sound, which rises from within, even this knowledge gets bound and caught in the Supra-causal body. This "hum" is the "grand illusion", the mahamaya, and is of the nature of the three gunas. If one wants to get rid of this beating, the humming sound also has to stop, so that the rumbling mahamaya is permanently abandoned. "I am Brahman" is a type of "I"-ness imposed on the nature of Self, and is really speaking of the absence of ego or a separate self. However, this subtle type of "I"-ness is like a particle of salt in milk, and therefore has to be eradicated as well. To take the false as true is a pretty and wicked idea, but to take the true as true is the absence of such an idea. By virtue of this statement, the gross body is "I", the subtle body is "I", and the causal body is also "I". So long as man continues to uphold his ego as these three bodies, it certainly is a type of wicked pride. Yet, the "knowingness" which sustains the "I" as "I am Brahman" can be called "no-pride" or "egolessness", because this "I"-ness is upholding the Truth. Where is the falsehood in it? Actually, there is nothing untrue or false, but if the true one goes on announcing that "I am true! I am true!", then there arises a doubt about that which he calls the Truth. For example, if a brahmin goes on telling everybody he meets "I am a brahmin! I am a brahmin!", then the hearer will think to himself, "If this man is a brahmin, then what is the reason for him to repeat this to everybody? Actually, he must be of some lower caste."

In the same way, by repeating this incantation "I am Brahman! I am Brahman!", it has to be stated that this "knowingness" – or knowledge in the Supra-causal body – seems as if it has not yet become free from doubt about it's own true nature. From this point of view, even the memory of "I am Brahman" which reminds one of the Self, has to be erased and "knowingness" should be allowed to stabilise in a state which is neither memory nor forgetfulness. Then alone the aspirant becomes of the nature of pure knowledge and bliss. Even when he takes his usual daily gross experience into consideration, he is in a natural state which is without any remembrance or forgetfulness. Does anyone have the following kind of experience – "I have forgotten myself" or "I was remembering myself"? By making such efforts, has anyone succeeded in proving their existence? We need not forget nor remember ourselves. It is unnecessary. We are in a natural state which is beyond the state of remembrance or forgetfulness. That is really our true nature. Remembrance or forgetfulness is always of some other thing which is not our own Self. From this Truth, one should make a firm mental decision that whatever is remembered or forgotten is not "I". This should be your firm conviction. Then whatever you can remember and whatever you can forget is definitely not you. While there is no memory of Self or forgetfulness of Self, just being one's Self is to be recognised as Self-illumination. Thus, the gross body is not you, the subtle body is not you and the causal body is not you. You are the Self whose nature is of the knowledge, "I am in the Supra-causal body." You must constantly be the same.

By the theory of elimination, according to the instruction given above, once the conviction of one's true nature as pure knowledge is inculcated in the aspirant, then the Vedas have collectively considered the four bodies by the method of deduction. Until now, it has been explained that you are not the three bodies, but the Vedas, again turning back, have enunciated that all this visible appearance is you – the world sprouts from your "knowingness". The theorem is like this – a thing produced is like the thing from which it is produced. Suppose water is turned into ice, it still is only water. One may superficially see that water has a flowing tendency while ice is solid and that water has no shape while ice has a shape. Yet they are still one and the same.

Accordingly, the world and its Lord are one and the same. This is the enunciation in the Vedas – earth, water, heat, light, air, sky and Self, though from a gross point of view appear different due to the difference in quality, are one and the same. As ice becomes water after melting, so also the earth dissolves in water, water gets dried up by heat and light, heat is contained in the air and the air spreads in the sky and just disappears; and because the sky is the womb or all these five elements, they all disappear in the Self. If these principles were absolutely different from each other, they would never be able to dissolve into each other as one without any remnant of difference. So these five elements and this gross and subtle world are the Self only, despite appearing as different characters and species. When a artist paints a tree, a stone, cows, buffaloes, a river, the sky, gods and demons and human beings – it is all painted with one single thing called "paint". So also, this spectre in the infinite number of forms is nothing but pure knowledge. This has been the bold and convincing deduction. One thing has to be mentioned here – whether by method of deduction or elimination, or by adopting different contradictory methods, the method itself is of secondary importance, while the main purpose is to impart the knowledge of the Self. When an example in arithmetic is solved by different boys in different ways and the answer is the same, then it becomes compulsory to accept the answer as right. The importance is given to the answer, and the method of arriving at the answer is only subsidiary. That is how the Vedas have accepted and expanded such a method in order to explain to the aspirant the nature of his true Self.

There is a kind of snag in proving the identity of water and ice, of the world and God, or gold and jewellery. Through a method of deduction, even if the gold and the ornaments are the same until the goldsmith has tried his skill on the gold, the ornament could not be manufactured without the goldsmith. So too, water could only turn into ice by virtue of intense cold. Thus, though the world and God are the same, still the rationale presents itself like this – that there was a transformation in God, that He solidified as earth, or melted and became water and then dried up and became heat, etc... In this way, first, the Lord became the five elements and then the world was formed out of these five elements. This is a fault of the method of deduction and an objection can be raised in this way. However, Samartha Ramdas has eradicated even this objection by the sentence, "Oh man, what are you asking of a thing that does not exist at all? The world has not come at all into existence while the absolute Reality alone is."

To forget one's Self is the birth of maya, "that which is not", "that which does not exist". How can one describe this nonentity? Does the son of a barren woman have a fair or dark complexion? What is his height? What is his breadth? What is his caste? How can we answer all these questions? Absolute Reality alone is.

To keep the child quiet from crying, he is told, "The scarecrow has come." He is quietened by the creation of a scarecrow which is not there. He is kept quiet. After the child becomes quiet he asks his father, "Daddy, what does the scarecrow look like? How long is it's beard and moustache? Does it have a big nose, big eyes and big teeth?" When the child shoots these questions at his father, what answer can the father give? But unless he responds, the child is not going to keep quiet. At such a time, the father has to stretch the scarecrow's nose as far as Rameshwaran [town in Tamil Nadu], his feet up to the Netherlands and his head has to reach the sky. Thus saying whatever he likes, he just draws a frightening picture of this imaginary scarecrow and says, "He is like this, so don't cry again." This sort of description alone will match the description of maya, the unreal world appearance.

The non-existent maya exists and she has created this world. The Vedas try to explain to the aspirant how this world was created and what is the nature of maya. According to his capacity to understand, the aspirant can then discover the Source of this maya and this world. "This way it just happened." The reasoning for deduction of a thing contradicts another theory. Yet instead of accusing the Vedas of cheating because they describe one way to A, and another way to B, it must be said that the Vedas have explained the knowledge of the Self to all. They eradicated the illusion, which was the result of the aspirant using their particular spectacles in the form of their personal intellects, and thus were cheating themselves as to the real nature of this world.

A mother gives porridge to one child, but gives a roti [bread] made of different grains to another child as he is suffering from indigestion. Can you call this mother partial? This mother knows which food would be beneficial to which child. The same thing can be said of the Vedas regarding the methods they have used – different methods for different types of aspirants. They are different according to their different intellects, and they all are suffering from the disease of this objective world [samsara], which means that the idea of a "world" has been created. To treat the disease of this idea, the Vedas explain the path to Self-knowledge in different ways according to the learner's understanding capacity.

Even if fever is one symptom, a clever doctor will give different medicines according to the physical condition of the patient. The ideal before his eyes is just one – the restoration of good health. There would be difference in medicines administered, but not in the ideology. If one medicine suits one patient, it may not suit another one having a different physical condition. Thus instructions given to one may not appeal to another. The knowledge or advice given to an aspirant who has a certain background may be useless for the one who has either a higher or a lower background. So there is no fault regarding the methods of exposition which the Vedas have accepted. The faults are present in the mental background of the aspirant at the time when the exposition is made. Whatever the Vedas have told anyone, their Final goal is to make all the children understand what is Self-knowledge, and therefore, the aspirant should reject the fault finding attitude and fulfil himself by achieving his own life's goal of acquiring the knowledge of the Self.


THE  ATTAINMENT  OF  ONE' S  OWN  NATURE


Up to this point, an explanation of what the four bodies are has been given. Now we will see how the "knowledge" actually dawns on all these four bodies. To attain the knowledge of objects through the gross body with the physical eyes, it is necessary and expected that all the four bodies are there to help. For example, when you look at a mango, or have the knowledge that this is a "mango", see what happens if you see just what the physical eyes alone sees. Does the physical eye also see that object as a "mango"? No, it does not happen like this, therefore behind this physical eye is a subtle eye of intellect whose help has to be sought to know the mango. Even this is not sufficient. If these two bodies have no support of the causal body, then the intellect is dead. The gross causal body is ignorance, which is the idea "I am". This body acts in all these ways, like space, sky, void, distance, and because it acts in all these ways in order that the intellect should work, it needs space in which to act. There is the eye, the intellect, the sky in the form of the casual body [which is ignorance], but if there is no witness in the form of the Supra-causal body to connect all these three together, then there would be no knowledge of anything at all.

Thus, to attain knowledge of objects, it is obviously necessary that all these four bodies be present. In order to know the changes [vikaras] in the subtle body, there is no necessity of a physical body – changes like attraction, repulsion, thirst, hunger, stomach pains – all these can be known, but this knowledge requires the help of the causal and Supra-causal bodies. Now in order that knowledge should dawn on the causal body, the help of the gross and subtle bodies is not required at all. It must have the Supra-causal body's help. For gaining knowledge in the causal body, the subtle body – which includes the mind, intellect, conscience, pranas and senses – has absolutely no use. All these only have their sway over the gross and subtle bodies. The field of the causal body is entirely different and no one can ever step into it. Then how can one even enter the Supra-causal body ? The scope of the mind and intellect is only limited to the subtle body, thus they cannot enter the causal and Supra-causal bodies.

Now, the knowledge of the Supra-causal body is absolutely self-sufficient. It expects no help from the other three bodies. This body is self-luminous. Even though the eye sees the objects, no object can see the eye. To see the sun, none feels the need for a lamp. Like this, nobody is capable of seeing the King of knowledge, which is the Eye of the eye. It proves its own existence by its own light or illumination. Even though the eye cannot see itself, anyone who has eyes never doubts whether he has eyes or not. This type of certitude abides in him. Similarly, knowledge gains more knowledge while one witnesses something or someone other than oneself. If we have to see our eye somehow, we have to stand before a mirror and then we can see the eye by witnessing the reflection of the eye. But that knowledge of the eye is only knowledge of the reflection. This knowledge is proving its own existence by witnessing everything other than itself. For the proof of this, no other evidence is required.

This knowledge is all-pervading, and yet it becomes invisible from the point of view of an ignorant being, who takes the gross body as true and everlasting. He is like a poppy seed in the ocean, reducing the Highest to the smallest thing. The ways of the world are indeed perverse! It has become our habit that when we are looking at a small thing, we forget the bigger thing. We ignore a self-proving and self-sufficient thing and we praise an artificial thing. Whatever words of praise we give to a beautiful electric light while looking at it, we never give to the sun. When we look at the pictures painted on the wall we forget the wall itself, and when we look at the wall, we forget the house itself. When we discover objects in the light, we forget the light, and while we are reading letters written on a piece of paper, we are not conscious of the paper at all!

THE  PROCESS

In spite of the fact that the pervader is infinitely bigger, when we pay attention to the pervaded object, we forget the pervader. The gross is pervaded by the subtle, the subtle is pervaded by the causal, and even the causal is pervaded by the Supra-causal body. Though this is the case, the Supra-causal body cannot be seen because one's sight is concentrated on the gross. When the narrow outlook of beings widens and becomes like the pervading One, then they will gain the vision of the Truth, that infinite knowledge which can cover the whole sky and even encase it!

The knowledge that abides in the Supra-causal body, though a destroyer of ignorance [causal body], cannot destroy the gross and subtle bodies. Ordinary superficial knowledge gained through the gross and subtle bodies is not the destroyer of ignorance. Only that extraordinary unique knowledge is the opponent to ignorance. For example, the wood contains fir, but the fir does not destroy the wood. So, ignorance is sustained by ordinary knowledge. It is only after achieving the original knowledge that ignorance vanishes, but the function of the gross and subtle bodies does not stop, since the impulses of the gross and subtle bodies continue to impel the Self-realised being [jnani]. Those objects which are not visible in the darkness can be seen when the darkness is destroyed by the light of a lamp. Though the light destroys darkness, it does not destroy the object. Only when the light and the objects remain can you know the objects. Here it is darkness alone that meets with destruction. In the same way, when one attains Self-knowledge, the ignorance is completely eradicated. Only the gross and subtle bodies go on receiving impulses, but does the causal body stop getting impelled? Let us give this point a little thought.

Ignorance has many forms. Ignorance, sky, space, point of contact, distance – all these various forms belong to ignorance. After gaining Self-knowledge [of "I"], all ignorance is destroyed. But in this type of Self-knowledge all these impulses are in the form of gross or subtle desires, so they will not rise at all unless the sky or space is created first. So, when we look back at the sequence in which body after body gets eradicated at each step while trying to attain Self-knowledge – first there is Self-knowledge ["I am"], then the causal body in the form of sky, then the subtle body, and after that the gross body – all these readily appear and take form. Even before the impulses of the gross and subtle come, the ignorance in the causal body is destroyed, yet it perforce establishes a step of space between the subtle and Supra-causal bodies.

APPEARANCE  OF  THE  WORLD

When knowledge gets released from itself and allows another impulse to come within itself which is not its own, the causal body in the form of pure consciousness [chidakash] simultaneously gets created. Then in sequence, the subtle body appears and then the gross body starts to appear. The four steps which we previously climbed in sequence were: 1. gross, 2. subtle, 3. causal, 4. Supra-causal

Now, the same sequence has to be reversed: 1. Supra-causal, 2. causal, 3. subtle, 4. gross. Knowledge, instead of abiding peacefully within itself, starts stirring. When it starts sliding back down, the latter two steps cannot be stepped upon unless the causal state, in the form of pure consciousness, is stepped upon first. Then the last two steps of the subtle and the gross bodies dawn, and on these steps alone, the appearance of the world is felt.

WHAT  HAS  HAPPENED ?

The knowledge of the world's appearance has not been able to destroy ignorance completely. When light destroys darkness, it also gives us knowledge of objects which were not previously known due to the darkness. Similarly, the world appears only because the causal body sustains it in the form of space. At this stage, there will be no knowledge of the gross and subtle bodies as long as the appearance of the world is felt, whether by a wise one or an ignorant one. It must be understood that ignorance is always lurking in some form or other. The difference being that ignorance will not appear in that particular form [of objective knowledge] within the Self-realised being.

Unless knowledge dies, ignorance cannot die. Knowledge and ignorance are twins born to this illusion [maya]. Like Siamese twins, they both take birth at the same time and also die at the same time. If one is there, the other also lives on. If one dies, the other also is no more. Since this is the Truth, we will now see how knowledge itself will die. Before the knowledge in the Supra-causal body dies, the bodies that are underneath it must first die in sequence. We will observe this now. When we are looking at a dying man, do we do anything else but keep looking at him? We do not die with him! In the same way, we will calmly see within ourselves how these four bodies die. One principle about death is that when growth stops, dissolution begins. The meaning of this is that whenever a thing stops growing, it starts disintegrating on the path to death until it is fully destroyed. It is not necessary to do any extra work for death. Destruction is inherent in growth. In birth there is death, while in death there is birth. This is the tradition of birth and death. A thing which is born dies its own death. Even though there may be some other factor attributed to death, like a car accident or disease, the root cause of death is nothing other than birth. These four bodies have appeared within pure nature, so they have to die. How do they die? We shall see that now.

The death of the physical gross body, according to the principle "Where there is growth, there is destruction", can never be avoided. If not today, at least after a hundred years it must die. The gross body grows until the age of twenty-five and after that the body starts getting disintegrated and slowly starts walking the highway of death and one day, it becomes a victim of death. As the gross body is only the physical form of the subtle body, it can be said it has no separate independent existence. A tree in the gross form is nothing but the result of its seed, which is the subtle body. The subtle body is the seed of birth and death. This seed does not get destroyed as easily as a tree. Its growth itself is enormous, so that if it is not sought out and destroyed by man's effort, it will keep on growing eternally. Its growth is the cause of the infinite number of gross bodies, and it puts a being through eighty-four million births. When the physical body stops growing, this subtle body does not stop growing and it is here that one feels the need for a Satguru in order to understand how to stop the growth of the subtle body.

To stop the growth of the subtle body of dreams and desires, all desires must be given up. Desires, dreams and worries are the product of the mind. The task of breaking them can be done only through one's own mind. Whatever is created by mind cannot be destroyed by the hand, and whatever is created by hand cannot be destroyed by the mind. When we try to break these dreams and desires by force, their crowd only seems to grow. The mind is flippant when you try to curb it and only gets more agitated. Therefore to stop the growth of this mind, Satguru gives you the remedy by telling you, "If you try to keep quiet, gradually the dreams and desires dissolve." When a small infant is sleeping, you observe its eyes for some time. You will easily learn to stay quiet from watching him. When going to sleep, you will realise how easily the infants slips into sleep, forgetting himself. While you are looking at it, you also slip into the stage of forgetfulness which is without any dreams, desires, worries or doubts. A thorn can be removed from a finger by the trick of using another thorn. The mind can only be broken by the mind. Birth and death, rising and setting are two opposites sides of the same state of consciousness. When one comes the other goes, and when one goes the other comes. Death dies its own death, like Bhasamasura who put his own hand on the own head and destroyed himself.

Thus, when the mind is broken, the stage in the form of the causal body or forgetfulness gets completely exposed and the aspirants attains the knowledge of that forgetfulness. Here a doubt might arise again, even if the mind gets broken up after attaining the state of forgetfulness. The mind does not die completely, so what is the remedy for this? The remedy is to go on persistently practising repetition of the mantra given by the Guru. Once the effort of practising to stop the growth of the mind starts, the mind slowly goes along the path of death and is completely annihilated. But the study and the practice has to be equally persistent. Once a tree starts drying up, even if one tries to keep it ever green, after some days a time will come when it gets uprooted, broken up and eventually falls down dead. Even if it is plastered on the top, painted and is repaired again and again, a time comes when it will crumble into pieces. In the same way, if the mind is constantly stopped from growing, it will one day naturally get tired and break up. But the aspirant should not get tired of practising. Thus, the next body lies exposed after death of the subtle body. The curtain or covering of the subtle body gets destroyed and automatically the causal body gets exposed.

Now let us see how this causal body also comes to die off. The causal body is the producer or father of the subtle body. Whenever any state comes uninvited, it is experienced for a short while, but once the flush of it recedes, it is not even remembered. This state, while coming, is forceful and growing, but once the flood ebbs away it is not even remembered. While getting submerged after a short while, it starts breaking up and at last becomes as if it were not there at all, finally getting absolutely destroyed.

When a human being is getting roasted in the hot sun, and comes under the cool shade of a tree, at that very moment the flood of cool peace comes to that being with such force that he utters "Ha! Ha! Ha!" with joy and shows that flood of peace overflowing from inside and outside of him. However, after some time, that "Ha! Ha! Ha!" passes automatically and he lies quietly unaware of his surroundings. Thus, when the hustle and struggle of the subtle body comparatively becomes less, the forgetfulness in the form of peaceful void of the causal body is indeed instantly forgotten. When this negative state is negated, it results only in negation. To kill it, it does not require a sword of a positive state of "I am". Samartha Ramdas has made this clear by saying, "The negative is negated by its own negation." Thus, when the state of forgetfulness is dissolved, the highest state of consciousness and knowledge [Turiyavastha} immediately becomes exposed. This state of knowledge comes to a being who is still related to ignorance. But even this Supra-causal state, though it grows to be powerful, starts dissolving later on. When one attains knowledge, it is necessary that the knowledge itself dissolves. One which comes has to go. As ignorance comes, knowledge comes. Thus, when the Supra-causal body dies, the ultimate Reality [Parabrahman], who is immanent in all four bodies, gets exposed, and this being is never born and never ever dies. After each and every body dies, the one who sees the death of all these bodies, He remains – That is your real nature.

THE  FOUR  CASTES

Lord Krishna has said in the Bhagavad Gita, "I have created four types of castes [varnas]." This can be a subject of experience for any human being in his own Self. "My creation is divided into four parts – Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra – and these parts are divided according to their quality and karma." These four bodies or castes are divided on the same basis. The Supra-causal body is of the Brahmana caste, the causal body is of the Kshatriya caste, the subtle body is of the Vaishya caste, and the gross body is of the Shudra caste. In the same way, the Paramatman contains these four separate parts within itself.

The gross body is heavy and an instrument of service and labour, therefore its caste is Shudra. Sitting on a mattress at a place in the gross body, taking a balance in hand and managing the business of the whole world, this intellect comparing things as good and bad, big and small, employing the gross body as a servant, gets things done as he likes because he is the master. For this reason, this trader received the epithet Vaishya.

Now look at at the brave action of the causal body! This causal body establishes his kingdom by swallowing up the whole wealth in the form of the world. This world was accumulated on the strength of the capital desires, dreams and doubts. The causal body swallows up the servants in the form of the gross and subtle bodies!! This causality which is one of total destruction is the attitude of Kshatriya, and therefore the causal body is that state of Kshatriya.

Now what still remains is the Supra-causal body. In this body there is complete neglect for each of the three other bodies – "I have nothing to do with the gross body, which puts in hard labour and dies. Neither have I anything to do with the Vaishya in the form of of the intellect, which trades in ideas and dreams and spreads a big panorama of the world. I also have nothing to do with the Kshatriya in the form of the causal body, who sits quietly as if nothing has happened after killing both the subtle and gross bodies. They may all do anything – may the gross body groan under hard labour, may the subtle body do business with the world, and may the causal body wage a war against these two – but what have I to do with all of this?"

Just think of Ram and let the world fight. Knowing this very well, the Supra-causal body goes on announcing the Vedic words, "Aham Brahmasmi" and sits quietly on his own ground. That Supra-causal body has reached the high stage of Brahmanhood [Brahmana] and is very orthodox about the touch of another caste. It cannot tolerate the touch of any other body. The other bodies hold the Supra-causal body in high esteem and smear their heads with the dust of his feet. From the point of perfect knowledge [vijnana], even if this Supra-causal body becomes polluted, it is still the most sacred and highest in all the three worlds.

SWARGA , MRITYU  AND  PATALA  WORLDS

The gross body is the Swarga world, the subtle body is the Mrityu world, the causal body is the Patala world, and the Supra-causal body is the Brahmana world. All these bodies are divided according to their qualities and these worlds are known by these qualities. The gross body is the Swarga world [heavenly world] and it is on top of all the worlds. It is in this world that all sorts of external enjoyments are experienced. The wonderful gardens and beautiful forests are created for this world only. The presiding deity is Brahma Deva [the creator], whose main quality is activity.

The world below the Swarga world is the Mrityu world. This is a big factory of birth and death, where the qualities of appearing and disappearing are continuously being processed. This continuous process of birth and death is nothing else but the rising and setting of mental modifications. The rise of one mental modification is birth, and when it sets it is death. In this way, we are born so many times and die so many times during the same day. Everyone is conscious of their innumerable births and rebirths. Every idea produces a visible appearance and when that sets, the appearance also sets. In this way, it is the end of an era [kalpanta] when an idea stops. This is experienced continuously in the subtle body. The writers of the scriptures have accepted the principle of creation and appearance. They have stated that as soon as an idea rises, the world rises, and when the idea sets, the worlds sets. Unless this subtle body in the form of the Mrityu world is permanently destroyed and buried, hundreds of eras are sure to rise and set. Therefore, one should die such a death that eliminates the further necessity of being born at all, and live in one's own true nature in such a way that there is no fear of any further dying experience. Let this be so. Whatever has to happen will happen, but until then, it is certain that this Mrityu world keeps its mouth wide open for entry! The abode of the subtle body is the inner sense, which is known as the antahkarana or the "seat of consciousness". The presiding deity is known as Vishnu, who nourishes the world.

Now the world below this is the Patala world, which is the causal body in the form of forgetfulness. In the Patala world there is pitch darkness of ignorance and therefore Mahesh the destroyer, who has the quality of darkness, is the presiding deity.

Above all these three worlds is the Supra-causal body, which is the highest and is therefore higher than the three worlds. Here, the presiding deity that rules is pure and true knowledge, which is the God of all gods. All the worlds are produced from this very God, which is called "Trailokyanatha" [the Lord of of the three worlds]. Brahmana – the basic knowledge "I am" – is the Guru of all the other castes and is therefore most highly placed amongst them. This gives him the status of a master. He does not allow even the shadow of ignorance to fall on him, and what is more, he even refuses to get polluted by the mind and intellect. So, give up even the idea that he will ever embrace the corpse of the gross body. This orthodox, clean Brahmana in the form of pure universal consciousness does not allow a single entrant into his Supra-causal body – Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra cannot enter his house. The gross and subtle bodies can never enter the Supra-causal body. But the other castes cannot do anything without the help of Brahmana. All their good and bad actions or works are sustained by the strength and support of Brahmana. At this time, Brahmana leaves his dwelling and accomplishes the work of these three other castes, and as soon as the work has been completed, he cleans himself up right in front of their doorstep, and only then re-enters his own dwelling.

PURE  KNOWLEDGE  AND  SELF

This Brahmana is rich with knowledge and that is why he is called "Vedo Narayana". He knows all three tenses – the beginning, middle and end – and he has the characteristic of sandhya, the junction point of any two ideas. He is worshipped by everyone and therefore he is also called "Bhudeva" – "Lord of the earth". Everyone from every caste and creed worship this God [the Reality], whether they are aware of it or not. The worshipper may be a hindu, a muslim, a christian, a jain, a parsi or a buddhist, or he may be from Iran, Turkey, etc., yet he worships this God, whoever he may be. He cannot help it. When this God is hungry, all types of food and drink are offered to him as an oblation. There are mattresses with cushions ready for him to sleep upon. If God feels like travelling, there are cars, aeroplanes and carriages ready for him. To supply him with fragrant garlands, many trees and creepers blossom forth with bunches of flowers. All the servants and attendants are ready to obey him with folded hands. Wife, children, palaces are all for his entertainment and they are all his dwellings. God, as Self, dwells in the innermost heart of one and all beings and all kinds of services are rendered to him. In spite of this, beings consider their body as God and offer all their services to it. Ignorant people have accepted the wrong idea and have misunderstood the whole thing. So, what is there to be amazed about?

All those who are doing any action, are doing it for nothing else but the Reality. The Mahadeva is constantly enjoying the shower of all the objects of the senses, through the five instruments of action and knowledge – sound, sight, touch, taste and smell. That devotee is indeed glorious who has understood the secret of this Mahadeva. All natural acts of such a devotee are dedicated to God-Reality. The bees, birds, insects, and even the ants are performing worship to Reality, but they do not understand this because they have no intellect, so they cannot be blamed. But how unfortunate it is that even an intelligent human being should not understand that all his daily and occasional actions are for the sake of this God alone! Really how unfortunately it is!

This God-Reality is the same as a "king of knowledge" who, while swallowing a mouthful of food, tastes and enjoys it. It is he who discriminates between fragrance and stench, who understands which sound is pleasant or harsh to the ear, who observes the difference between a beautiful, a fierce or an ugly form, and who understands the hard of soft touch of a thing. He is always present, reigning Supreme in every being's Heart. How utterly misguided is this idea that we worship any other God than Reality!

Just think which God they worship when christians worship their Christ, hindus worship their Vishnu, parsis worship their Zoraster, or buddhist worship their Buddha? Are they not worshipping merely the corpse of the above gods? But what is the feeling of the devotee who is worshipping? Ask anyone from any religion to describe their God. They will never say, "My God is all conscious, all light, solid, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, he activates all, owns all and is without birth or death." Will anyone say that his God is a stone, a rock, mud, metal, heavy, dull, vacant without consciousness, weak, blind or deaf?

From this it is clear that whether it is Christ, Vishnu, Zoraster or Buddha, whichever God it may be, his nature is full of consciousness and his qualities are Godly. If anyone really possesses all these qualities then this indicates that he is the Absolute [Paramatman]. Universal Reality [Vasudeva] is of the form of knowledge which is present in everybody's heart. He alone dwells in all things. The hearts of Mohammed and Christ are pervaded by him. It is through this Reality and nothing else that the quality of Vishnu as the protector is sustained. Any devotee whosoever he may be who worships any God, that worship is the worship of this innermost one Self. The obedience made to all the other gods go to this God-Reality alone. This is the absolute Truth. The forms of all the above mentioned gods are only temples of this one Reality. All the names belong to his temples. He is present in the innermost regions of all the forms. He sits in all the forms of beings and accepts worship from all of them.

Whichever actions are being done by your gross body, whatever dreams, desires or doubts have crossed your mind, all these happen for the sake of Reality, in order to please him. If you recognise this much, then your work is done. Everyone is doing something through their body and mind. If you say, "I do not want to do it anymore", still you cannot stop yourself from doing it. But whatever you do, the doer and the enjoyer of all your deeds is only Reality. This fact alone must be recognised in every movement.

All the auspicious and inauspicious acts thus become dedicated to Self-Reality and the aspirant remains absolutely free. This is what is called "jnana yajna", or sacrifice through knowledge. "When you come and go, speak with your mouth or swallow a mouthful, when you give and take, stand or sit, do any action at home or outside, or enjoy sex in bed, reject all shame and think only of God." It is explained in this verse how one knowledge alone is playing at each point. To contemplate this means to contemplate Reality. The body consciousness has to be turned into Self-consciousness. The decision taken that Self is doing all alone is the state of liberation. This is the advice given by Samartha Ramdas. Even Tukaram asked for this gift from God, so that "I may never forget you." Likewise, we too must never forget the Self. Then surely salvation is at your feet! As this rope in the form of mind is twisted in the direction of body consciousness, it must be guided by the intellect and directed towards the Self, in which it gets absorbed. When this rope is twisted in the opposite direction of Self-consciousness, it unwinds completely, leaving the strings which form it to blow away in the wind. In the end, there will be no remaining rope worth its name at all! As a screw is screwed in, only when it is turned in the opposite direction will it come out. In this manner, if the mind is guided by the intellect in the opposite direction towards the Self, it gets absorbed in Self. Similarly, a mind directed towards Rama gets absorbed in Rama. Afterwards, there is nothing left in the form of mind, inside or outside, because it becomes one with Self, one with Rama. An aspirant will see this for himself.

To understand better how the one pure knowledge is playing, go out of the house and at once look at the moon. With what speed the pure consciousness rushes out to the moon out of the window and how it pervades the whole sky in a fraction of a second. Experience this! Has the mind this much speed? How could it be? The mind has received this much speed only through the help of knowledge. Wherever the mind goes, consciousness is already present there. What wonder then that the movement of the mind gets stuck in this consciousness? You only have to open your eyelids and instantly the pure knowledge of consciousness pervades the whole sky, the spectre of stars and the moon disc! Instead of saying that it pervades, it is better to say it has already pervaded the whole, but comes to be experienced as new. When consciousness travels from the eye to the moon and knows it to be the moon, that is objective knowledge. In this example, the moon is the object and consciousness takes its shape the moment the moon is known. If there is a cloud in front of the moon, then consciousness takes the shape of the cloud and views it as an object. Thus, it pervades the cloud and knows the cloud as an object.

ILLUSION  AND  REALITY

Now try to notice the crust of consciousness without an object – pure knowledge without a mixture of any object at all. That vacuum or void which is lying between the eye and the moon did not at all come to your attention, but still it is pervading in its own nature. That is the pure form of knowledge. That void or empty space, though not noticed before, if purposefully made an object of attention, can separately become noticed as space. Whatever can be noticed is illusion, and whatever cannot be seen is Reality.

While looking at the moon, the void did not come to your attention, because it is consciousness without any object. If this space or void is separated and is made an object of sight, then this pure knowledge is transformed into zero – if space is seen separately, then the modification of the mind becomes only a void. If there is any difference between the sky and pure knowledge, it is this: to separately look at one's own nature is sky, and when the "looking" is abandoned, it is pure knowledge. Once pure knowledge is recognised properly in this way, then even if it is mixed with any other object, it can be selected and recognised. Once pure water is known, even if it is mixed with anything else, its part can be recognised with that mixture of water.

Water is a fluid, but if it gets condensed and becomes ice, and even if it gives up its fluidity and assumes density, it can still be recognised as water even in that dense form. It is not difficult to recognise the wetness in the mud as water. Just like this, once pure knowledge is known to be existence-knowledge-bliss [satchitananda], that which is immobile in the moving world, then it can also be recognised.

Pure water has no colour, no form, no taste and no smell. Once this is properly understood, then even if it is condensed and assumes a dense form, or even enters a hot chilli and tastes hot, or enters a sugarcane and tastes sweet, or becomes fragrant and coloured as rose water or water paint, it is quite recognisable as pure water without a mistake by simply subtracting the form, the taste, the smell and the colour. Thus, by the same method of elimination, even when this pure knowledge is conditioned, by subtraction of that conditioning and by dividing the form into its elements, it will be recognised absolutely correctly as to how pure knowledge alone is filled up to the brim everywhere and in every form. But before one attains this pure knowledge through the method of elimination, if someone accepts the method of elimination and starts prattling about how God alone pervades in all beings, in all the forms, there is none else than Rama, world and the Lord of the world are but One, etc., then his bla bla can never be useful. In contrast with the above, if one just talks such empty words such as "I am Brahman", "The senses do their job", "I am not the doer", "There is no sin or virtue on my doorstep", then instead of gaining the Self, he will only deceive his Self. In this way, all Self-discovery loses its joy for this world as well as for the other world. Kabir says, "He went away as he came." These people die in the same state of consciousness in which they were born. They receive no benefit other than this.

These worldly scholars hold the noises of words as true Self-knowledge, but has the merciless Truth ever dawned on an ignorant man? "The senses do their work, yet I am not the senses. The qualities of the mind remain with the mind, the qualities of the body remain with the body, and what have I to do with them? I am different from these." What is untrue about this statement? Who is it that understands the Truth? Who has the experience of the Truth? Only the man who knows who he is. Of what use is it to others? Each one enjoys his own pleasures and bliss. Tukaram accordingly says, "Each one for himself." You can teach a parrot to say the words "Reality is Truth and the world is only an appearance", and it will repeat this without understanding the underlying meaning. Where there is no understanding, there cannot be bliss of Self-knowledge.

Let that be as it is. However, the aspirant should not be after the one who is a expert in words, who is a hypocrite. With persistent study using the method of elimination, he must first come to know what pure knowledge is. Knowledge is of different types – general knowledge, particular knowledge, objective knowledge, dream knowledge, doubting knowledge, and thoughtless knowledge. Unlike thoughtless knowledge, the others types of knowledge are contradictory to pure knowledge. When the pure consciousness leaves the eyes and takes the external objects within itself, then that pure consciousness takes the shape of those objects and one gets objective knowledge. If the object is gross then one gets objective knowledge, and if it is only a subtle idea, then one gets distinctive [savikalpa] knowledge. Thus, when pure knowledge takes the shape of any object, thought or idea, it can be categorised as particular knowledge. Particular knowledge is artificial and only remains for a very short time, so it inevitably has to be of unsteady nature. However, the rule is that particular knowledge has to turn back to general knowledge, the knowledge "I am".

For example, we walk with common general speed, but when we increase the speed and run, then that running speed becomes a particular speed. Yet, for how long can we continue to run? After sometime the running has to end and soon one has to assume the natural speed. Just like this, we are naturally very loving and blissful within, therefore the love for oneself is the general and common type of love. But when love is for the son or a friend or a house, it is an unnatural uninvited state of love, and thus this love which comes also goes! This love that "comes" is of a particular kind, and is transient and destructible. The happiness one gains from objects is also of the category of a particular kind, and therefore it is short-lived and only sustains itself for a short time. A small thing brings in an experience of a "particular", but the One that pervades everthing cannot be experienced. The reason is that the "all-pervading" is big and infinite, and actually we are the same "pervading" Reality. The "particular" is illusion and the general or common is Reality. You are That, and therefore you can not experience love for your own Self, nor can you enjoy the happiness or bliss of your Self.

Now we have to observe what is called "general knowledge", which is without any object or idea. Between the outside gross object and the eye of the inside mind is some distance. This void or vacuum, though we see it, is as if not seen, and therefore we gain no knowledge of this vacuum. This intervening knowledge, being knowledge itself, cannot become the object of its own knowledge! Knowledge cannot be the object of its own knowledge. How can jaggery [a coarse dark brown sugar produced by evaporating the sap of palm trees] taste its own sweetness? In the same way, knowledge cannot experience or know itself as an object of its own knowledge. This knowledge has spread itself naturally between the eye and the object, and also between the intellect and thought. One should again and again notice how this general pure knowledge naturally pervades us before it takes up an object. But this noticing or seeing of pure knowledge is not the same as seeing an object or thought. It can only be seen when one gives up the idea of "seeing" and the thought, "I am the seer."

The instrument of seeing is the eye and the instrument of knowing a thought is the intellect. Keeping aside both these instruments, pure knowledge alone can be seen. These instruments of the eye and intellect are too blunt. To try to know pure knowledge by means of an eye or intellect is to forget the pure knowledge "I am" and allow the eye and intellect to step in. Knowing that knowledge cannot know itself, you become pure knowledge itself. This is the way of seeing it. One gets separated from it when one tries to meet it. But without trying to meet it, you are always in union with it. This puzzle is very difficult. Wise men and yogis make a mistake here by misinterpreting the seen for the seer. They say, "Supreme Self has four hands, he is like the light of ten million suns, he is lustrous, he has a dark complexion, he is like a point, he is like this and he is like that..." In other words, they say whatever they like. But by whose knowledge was it stated that "He is like this and he is like that"? That one is completely forgotten while they say great things of Self-realisation. The seer is forgotten and the seen is taken to be Reality! One does not know what to say of them. The brave set out to find Reality, but the obstacles in the form of what is seen come in the way. This is the case for the majority of seekers.

In a crowd at a pilgrimage, I lost myself and could not find myself even when I tried to search within. Then I went to the police station and gave them the information report that I was lost. At that time, a constable came and started slapping me hard on the cheek until it was red, and then he asked me, "Who is this fellow?" Only then did I become conscious of myself and I was very happy that I was found. This is the very condition of the one who is Reality, yet is in search of the Reality. Where, when and how can he find it? The one who knows everybody is not known by anybody. This is the exact position. Yet the one who tries to know him does not know his nature as pure consciousness and starts wandering about in forests and jungles. How amazing this is! The one who remains after the consciousness capacity of knowing has been transcended, how can he be known? Unless one becomes steady within oneself, one cannot attain any knowledge of Reality, and the desire to know will continue.

One foolish fellow wanted to know what sleep is. Whenever he would start to dose off, he would immediately remember, "Ah, now I will catch sleep." With this thought he would clap his hands and suddenly he became completely awake. By repeatedly doing this, the poor fellow became so tired that he entirely gave up the effort of trying to catch sleep. To catch Reality the procedure is the same. When one gives up trying to know it, one becomes the very nature of Reality itself. When the gross and subtle bodies get negated, the instruments of mind and intellect get broken up. The aspirants then enters the state of causal body, which is the state of forgetfulness. This itself is the ignorance of the human being. To eradicate this ignorance it is necessary to acquire the knowledge of Reality. Therefore the aspirant, with the help of the subtle intellect, and that part of consciousness which is pure knowledge, tries to get the knowledge of Reality. Shankaracharya has called such a man a "great fool". It is like a woman in menses who tries to clean the ground with cow dung. However, wherever she goes, the floor will become impure instead of pure. So in this manner, if one tries to know the Reality with the subtle intellect, the subtle body's scope will go on increasing. When the subtle body gets destroyed and one enters the causal body, the person who tries to know Reality with the intellect does not get stabilised in the causal body and returns to the subtle body with a bang from the causal body. Once again, he gets caught under the sway of dreams, ideas and doubts.

If it can be said that pure knowledge can be gained even if it is polluted by the mind and intellect, then the purity of Reality should remain unsullied, even if he eats in the company of a cobbler sitting next to him. Where speech and mind cannot enter, if the aspirants dreams of using words or mind, he will never progress and instead he will return to a lower plane. The aspirant cannot remain as an aspirant, but has to become a perfected liberated being, and for this purpose one has to cross the posts of all these four bodies. By constant study, one has to enter this platform of the four bodies, clean and purify them, and only then can one invoke the Supreme Truth. Once the aspirant gets established in Reality, it is certain that he becomes a perfected liberated being. Until stabilisation is complete, the exposition regarding the four bodies and the syllabus of its study must continue. Aspirants must have also understood its underlying meaning. Even if a wooden stool with four legs [in the form of the bodies] is built, it is still very crude. In order to make it shine, more effort is required to polish it properly. By polishing a thing, it starts to shine and reflect its own light. The procedure of making a thing is different from the procedure of scrubbing and making it absolutely smooth. Unless it is manufactured in that way, it is not said to be completely ready, nor does it fetch any price. Therefore before becoming a fully liberated being, we have to be aspirants for some time, persistently polishing the pure knowledge in the Supra-causal body. We must make it completely clean.

We may only intellectually know that pure knowledge in the form of absolute Self pervades every form, but in order to study and accept it as Truth, one should try to make everyone happy. With this remedy alone, the Self pervades everything and the whole world is seen to be pure knowledge. When this thesis of the Vedas is proved and experienced, then Self-knowledge gets firmly established. The quality [saguna] of worship of the Supreme Self is only this. Bliss of being is in so many forms, right from an insect, an ant, a dog and a pig. Self alone pervades them all. The Supreme Self, who is formless, qualityless and unmanifest, manifests itself with qualities in the form of the universe. He is of course present in all that is immovable, but he is experienced clearly in the movable beings. Therefore, instead of worshipping the lifeless gross things such as stone and metal idols, it is better to worship the moving, talking, walking God, where the quality of knowledge is clearly experienced. This is saguna worship. Where are the qualities in a stone idol? Out of the three qualities – rajas, sattva and tamas – which quality is to be found in the idols of stone or metal? But in those who are moving, there is at least one or more qualities found. Therefore, all the beings are forms of God.

If one prays sincerely to the saints or to a good man who are full of knowledge [sattvaguna], he becomes pleased and grants out wishes. But, if we censure his action [tamoguna], he slaps our face and gives us an experience! Therefore, "Please worship the God who is walking and talking. Worshipping a stone idol is of no use." Kabir has given this warning in clear words. He has advised to worship a walking, talking God alone.

As soon as the word "worship" is uttered, sandalwood paste, rice, flowers, haldi kumkum [tumeric powder] come to mind, but to really worship means to please and make happy every human being. Shankara gets pleased with bel leaves, Maruti with simdur powder, Vishnu requires tulsi leaves and Ambabai requires haldi kumkum. If a particular deity gets things other than what are required for his worship, it will only mean mischief and not worship. Though the Supreme Self is One everywhere, the way the devotees worship him differs according to the form of the deity. A donkey has God within it, yet if you fold your hands before it in obeisance, it would be a joke or mischief played on the Supreme Self. Does the donkey get pleased if you fold your hands before him? If the donkey is given green grass to eat and clear water to drink, it would be true worship to God who has taken the form of a donkey. But to God who has taken a human form, feeding him with food to please him is the worship of Supreme Self. And in order to worship this deity, donkey's food should not be offered to him. By giving whatever the form of God wants, the devotees heart is pleased and blessed.

A snake and a scorpion are also forms of God, but one should worship them from a distance. It means that they should be left alone to live their own lives. Instead of this, if you start embracing them with devotion, that serpent God will bite you and prove that embracing him is not worshipping him. Here someone may raise a doubt by asking, "How could allowing the snake and scorpion to escape alive be a form of worship? Those beings are wicked and they must be killed." I would ask them in return, "Unless a snake or scorpion is touched or hurt, do they ever bite unnecessarily?" But a man is ever ready to kill them, even if he is at a considerable distance. Is not the nature of man more wicked and cruel than the nature of a snake or scorpion? Yes, because you have a desire to kill them. Let the feeling, "A snake and scorpion are of my nature", become firm in you and then see the miracle that happens! The Self of the snake or scorpion is not a stone. When your Selfhood becomes firm in the snake or scorpion, the Self of the snake or scorpion also becomes one with your Selfhood and there will no longer be a desire in the snake to bite you. As you see a snake as a snake, he also sees an embodied man as an enemy.

You will see the same kind of facial expression in the mirror as you have on your face. If you see a bad expression in the reflection, is it the fault of the mirror? If you make a smiling face and look into the mirror, you need not order the reflection in the mirror to make a smiling face. Why does the thief rob our house? Because we also have a continuous desire to rob people in many ways to fill our own house. As we develop the feeling of complete renunciation, then our feeling will reflect in whatever comes before us, and even if you refuse to ask for anything, people are prepared to give up heaps and heaps of whatever they have for you. But whosoever begs for it does not get it.

From this discussion, a reader may get confused and say, "Maharaj, your way of thinking does seem right, but as soon as I see a snake, to leave him alone seems impossible, or when someone puts his hand in my pocket to steal money, to take him as God and do nothing is something I can never do." "Agreed", I would say. "Agreed a hundred times!" Oh aspirant, this cannot be possible because of the habits of many, many births. It cannot be achieved all at once. Even if this is true, a beginning can be made from say, the house bugs instead of scorpions or snakes. From a petty action like not killing the house bugs, keeping in mind the Oneness of all, the Oneness of Self in everything and every being, you will eventually attain the feeling of Oneness in all beings, even with those which are more troublesome than the bugs. This experience gradually increases one's confidence. One should not have the feeling, "Bugs are not to be killed, so they should be left alone", but rather have the thought, "They are of my own nature and are my form. Their happiness is my happiness." A mother experiences the feeling of joy by pleasing the child and allowing it to suck at her breast. One should experience the same feeling of satisfaction by allowing the bugs to suck blood out of one's body. This is the beginning, or the first lesson concerning the feeling of Oneness for all beings. Gradually and persistently studying this, the earth will be without an enemy and fearlessness will come your way. You shall be free from all fear.

When an aspirant has no doubt of any kind left in him and he achieves knowledge of the Self, he becomes free. Though true, as yet he cannot experience the glory of real liberation. Richness is one thing, but the joy of the status after becoming rich is another thing. In the same way, unless a feeling of Oneness of all comes to the Self-realised being, his knowledge does not develop or spread out, like a stingy rich man's wealth, and he cannot attain the bliss of liberation while alive. Even if one achieves the knowledge of Self, unless one experiences a feeling of Oneness with all, fearlessness does not come his way. Fearlessness means "full bliss". In quality, fear is a concomitant of duality. Fear is a very great impediment which blocks the bliss arising out of liberation. So after attaining Self-knowledge, the aspirant should worship the Supreme Self in the way explained above. Thus, dry knowledge gets moistened with devotion. A jalebi [Indian sweet] which has been fried in ghee becomes juicy and sweet when put in sugar syrup. In the same way, after attaining Self-knowledge, the Self-realised being achieves fullness of life through devotion.

In the game called "Surfati" a player slides first from the lower to the higher house, bringing back with him all that he gets from the other houses. Only then is the game over. By gaining the knowledge all the way from the gross to the Supra-causal body, one has to bring this gift of knowledge back to the lower gross body in the same way. The factual experience that "The world is nothing but knowledge", is itself perfect knowledge becoming thoughtless Reality. It is because of the feeling that there is someone else in the world who is not "I", that we go around night and day with the feeling of anxiety that we should protect our wife, our wealth and our belongings from the clutches of someone else. In this way, we turn into a "gasti" or watchman due to the feeling of possessiveness and ownership! However, when one realises a feeling of "Oneness with everyone" and the feeling that "I am present everywhere, I am pervading everything", on that day the "gasti" becomes an "Agasti", the sage who drank the ocean in one sip. Then this ocean of the five elements may not be enough for even one sip! This is the way in which the devotee who knows his Self becomes fearless while in the body, and enjoys the full celebration of what is called "liberation".

Now, at this point, we have given the exposition about Self-knowledge and the devotion after Self-knowledge. We have reached a stage where an aspirant has become a Self-knowing being!! The end of all knowledge of the Supra-causal body bears fruit in seeing the whole world as one's Self. This being true, Samartha Ramdas still has called this knowledge of the Supra-causal body as being "unsteady Brahman [Reality]" when compared with that of the Supreme Self [Paramatman]. Supreme Self is steady and is different from the manifest Reality [saguna Brahman] and unmanifest Reality [nirguna Brahman] associated with the four bodies, and therefore it is "no-knowledge". So finally, the Vedas have said "neti-neti" ["not this, not this"], meaning it is neither knowledge nor ignorance. Unmoving Supreme Self is the only Truth and only essence. It is without substance and is the root of all that is transient. Samartha Ramdas has expounded upon this conclusion very nicely in Dasbodh.

So, why is this knowledge unsteady? It is because Final Reality has been given so many names and attributes of masculine, feminine and neuter gender. It is called Satchitananda, Ishwara, Ahamkara, Shesha, Narayana, the Primordial Being, and Shiva, etc. These are some of the masculine names. It is called Shakti, Prakriti, Shruti, Shambavi, Chitkakla, Narayani, etc., and these are some of the feminine names. It is called Nija Rupan [one's own nature], Mahakarana [supra-causal body], Jnana, Brahman, Anandayatnam [Empire of Bliss], etc., and these names are of the neuter gender. These neuter gender names have come to be known as Self-knowledge. One who is not one of these is the steady, immovable essence, the true Reality.

Though the great quality of the knowledge in the Supra-causal body is much greater in comparison with the knowledge in the gross body, it sill remains "knowledge". One can eliminate certain knowledge through deduction, but as long as there is still a "knower", it means that the aspirant has not yet achieved the Final Reality stage. Final Reality is that stage of knowledge from where no one can return.

Knowledge has been labelled as "knowledge", but Reality has really no name. In the pure knowledge "I am", there is a modification or movement in the form of the world. As the mind changes, that knowledge also changes. Modification is a state or a stage, whereas Reality is beyond all modifications. Thus, there is as much a difference between the pure knowledge "I am" and the Final Reality as there is between darkness and light. Samartha Ramdas says, "Where there is a contact between the steady and unsteady, the intellect is confused." According to this statement, the last misunderstanding or delusion lies here.

Before the knowledge "I am" dawns, forgetfulness is mistaken for knowledge. In the same way, when true knowledge is underdeveloped, it is mistaken for perfect knowledge ["I am"], which is the last stage of "absence of modification" or Final Reality. And when the aspirant embraces that ["I am"], his progress is arrested here. Samartha Ramdas has compared this type of an undeveloped Self-realised being to a man who is awakened in a dream and thinks he is awake. Yet he is snoring! "You think that this is wakefulness, but your illusion has not yet gone!", is the warning given by Samartha Ramdas to this type of being. That Supra-causal body, in which the gross and subtle bodies are like a dream, is itself like a dream in the pure knowledge "I am". There is bondage in ignorance and liberation in knowledge, but when both ignorance and knowledge are not there, how could the idea of bondage or liberation exist?

The Vedas and scriptures talk up to the point of the Supra-causal body. Until then, it is the primary premise or the theory. In the field of knowledge beyond the Supra-causal body is the proven final conclusion [siddhanta], and the cancelling of all that has been laid down is right here. When all phenomena is destroyed or annihilated, whatever remains is your real nature. It is impossible to describe it in words. Where the knowledge of words is proven to be ignorance, where consciousness becomes non-consciousness, and where all remedies recommended by the scriptures are only hindrances, you will see for yourself how you reach that highest point. The Satguru brought you to the threshold and pushed you inside, but the Satguru cannot show you the beauty or the panorama within. You have to seize the treasure, the trophy, yourself. Now, after all this has been said, there remains nothing that can be conveyed through words. Words were used for whatever had to be told. That which cannot be conveyed by words has now been entrusted to you. We can only inspire you to be an aspirant, but you have to become a siddha [liberated being] by yourself. We have reached the end of the exposition. Words are redundant. One thing is clearly enunciated here, and that is "All praises to the Satguru" ["Satguru Bhajana"].

Hari OM Tat Sat

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