by Swami Krishnananda
There is also samskara-dukha, mentioned by Patanjali in one of the sutras. The impressions created by the fulfilment of a desire will be enough to cast us, hurl into rebirth, because the samskaras, vasanas, or the grooves formed in the mind by the erroneous notion that joy is in the object. These grooves will become conditioning factors of the future destiny of the individual, and they will go on playing the same tune like a gramophone record, so that we will never forget an earlier enjoyment. They will be harassing us even in our dream, and they can persist even after the shedding of this body. Rebirth is caused by unfulfilled desires. The frailty of this body and the fickleness of our social relationships are such that all desires cannot be fulfilled in the short span of life. Hence something always remains as a residue unfulfilled, which rockets forth our subtle body to that particular condition in space-time, where these unfulfilled longings can materialise; this process is called rebirth. Thus, the agony continues even in the future life – samskara-dukha.
Fourthly, there is a philosophical or a metaphysical reason behind the impossibility to come in contact with real happiness in this world, that is, the perpetual rotation of the very constituents of prakriti: sattva, rajas, and tamas. What we call happiness is the preponderance of sattva, the equilibrating power of nature – which we rarely pass through in experience in life on account of our being mostly under the pressure of a desire which is unfulfilled, which is nothing but rajas acting, distracting our attention. There is a perpetual other-consciousness, an awareness that things are outside, which keeps us in a rajasic mode. Rajas is a condition of consciousness where it is forced to be aware of things other than its own self – duality-consciousness, separation-consciousness, object-consciousness – and all these things attending upon this consciousness come under the activity of rajas which separates, dissects, cuts off one thing from the other, especially the subject from the object.
The movement of prakriti, the rotation of the wheel of this natural process consisting of sattva, rajas, and tamas, never allows us to be in a permanent condition. Like the movement of a wheel which is in motion, conditions of prakriti are perpetually moving for the fulfilment of their own purpose, which is not necessarily our individual purpose. When there is a momentary cessation of rajasic activity – a flash of a second as it were, when we come in contact with an object – there is a preponderating feeling that the need for the movement of our mind towards the object ceases. When we are in possession of an object of desire, the need for the mind to be conscious of the object as an external something ceases, rajas does not operate for the flash of a moment, and the cessation of rajas is also a cessation of this other-consciousness, object-consciousness, which is tantamount to self-consciousness. We turn to our own Self for the split fraction of a second, as it were, and consciousness which is the essence of our Atman or the Self, tastes its own Source, licks the bliss of its own essentiality and finds itself in a state of ecstasy, because the more we are in union with our own Self, the more intense is the satisfaction we feel, the rapture that we are in, the delight that we experience. All ananda, all joy, is a union of the subject with its own Self.
Now, I turn your attention to a definition of this Self, which is a crucial point in our study of the sixth chapter of the Bhagavadgita, which describes the art of meditation, the science of self-integration by means of an inward communion of the lower self with the higher Self – this was the subject of our study yesterday. We have, first of all, to de-condition our minds from assuming any notion already about the characteristic of the higher Self, the lower self, etc. All of our learning about this has to be foregone for the time being because many of us may not have a correct notion of what this Self means. We are mostly under a misapprehension concerning the nature of the Self. If you can recollect what I told you yesterday, it is a name that we give to pure subjectivity of awareness. We are never in this condition at any time in this world. We do not enjoy an experience of pure subjectivity at any time, except in a perforce way in the state of deep-sleep when we may be said to be purely subjective; but that does us no good because of an absence of what is happening to us there. Incidentally, the intensity of the joy that we feel in the state of deep-sleep is due to our union with our own Self – unconsciously though. However, the point is that this union with the pure Subject has to be effected in a conscious way; and a conscious endeavour on the part of one's self to commune with this true Self in the various levels or degrees of its ascent may be said to be the function of yoga practise. All yoga is the art of communing one's self with one's Self. Again we are here in a difficulty in the matter of understanding what this 'one's Self' means. Everyone knows what this one self is. "I am here myself, you are there yourself." We speak in this train, but this is a physical, social and psychical way of defining the self. But the Self, to reiterate, is pure subjectivity; and the psychological, physical or social self is an objectified form of Self.
In the language of the Vedanta, the Self is supposed to be understood by us in three ways – namely, the apparent self, which we seem to recognise in all objects of our longing or desire; a self which seems to be present in everything with which we are vitally connected, especially through our emotions, known as the gaunatman or the secondary self. The son loves his father, the father loves his son. We cannot say that the son is the father, or the father is the son. There is no intelligible explanation as to why the father should cling to his son as if he is his own self. However, the father loves his son as if the son is his own self, and the joy of the son is the joy of the father, the sorrow of the son is the sorrow of the father. Anything that happens to the son happens to the father. The birth and death of the son is the birth and death of the father, as it were, as we see in social parlance. How come the father sees himself in the son, the rich man sees himself in his wealth, and anyone fired up with an intense passion of any kind sees himself or herself in that object which is the target of this feeling?
This particular object which forces the subject, directs its attention towards itself, this power in the object which necessitates the subject to pour itself upon itself on the object, is the bondage of the individual. The power by which we are compelled to be intensely conscious of that which is other than ourselves is the samsara, so-called – the involvement of every individual in a terrible, unintelligible network of suffering. The gaunatman, or the secondary self, is the object of our desire, to put it precisely; it may be son, it may be daughter, it may be wife, it may be husband, it may be any blessed thing. Now, why do we call these objects as our self? In what sense do we regard them as an Atman, though it may be a secondary self or a gaunatman? It is impossible to love anything which is not a self; the Atman or the Self alone is the object of desire – no one can love anything except the Self. And even when we love anything apparently other than our self, we convert it into our self in some artificial manner; otherwise, love for a thing or for a person is unthinkable in this world. So even when we love our father, or son, or husband, or wife, or wealth, we are loving our own self in a terribly mistaken manner. A person is totally out of gear psychologically, in a terrible misconception, when one's affections are poured over those things which cannot, in any way, identify with one's self, for reasons already mentioned in the context of that sutra of Patanjali – Parinama papa, etc. We can never come in contact with them – yet, we have no more regard in this world except the desire to come in contact. Life is a contradiction, it appears. It pulls us powerfully from two different directions in contrary ways.
The gaunatman, therefore, is the secondary self – a self which is imagined, foisted upon that which can never become the self. The object can never become the subject, and our object of love or affection cannot become us. It cannot satisfy us, it is not us, we have no connection with it – yet we seem to be concerned only with that. This is the wisdom to which we are initiated by the social atmosphere in which we are born, and the education that we receive in this world. This is a travesty indeed, in which we find ourselves.
You know very well why there should be withdrawal of consciousness from such contacts in the process of self-control, in the execution of the art of yoga. There is also the other false self, called the mithya-atman, which is the psychophysical individuality – this so-called 'I', this physical 'I', this body 'I', this psychic 'I', this sensory 'I', etc. "I am coming, I am seated here, I shall go there, I shall do this, I am hungry, I am thirsty, I am happy, I am unhappy." When you make statements of this kind you are referring to a false self in which you are involved. This false self is called the mithya-atman, consisting of the five sheaths to which we have already made reference – the koshas, so-called. They are the physical, vital, mental, intellectual, and the causal – annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vijnanamaya, anandamayakoshas, which are accretions grown over the central consciousness which is the true Atman, the mukhya-atman, the primary self. These accretions are not vitally connected with the self – as much unconnected as clouds are in relation to the space in which they exist. You know how thick clouds can hang over our heads and appear to contaminate space and cloud even the sun itself. But the clouds do not cover the sun, and they do not contaminate space, though it appears that they do this. Like thick layers of clouds, this mithya-atman consists of unfulfilled longings. They include what you call the subconscious layer, unconscious layer, etc. They are the psychic personality of ours – the emotional, the vital, the volitional, etc., and even the physical bodily self. Other than this gaunatman, or the secondary self, the object of our love and hatred, other than this false self, the five koshas, there is a true subjectivity in us, in the direction of which we move gradually along the lines of the cosmological scheme laid before us by the Samkhya, which the Vedanta also accepts in many of its features.
"The self has to be raised by the Self," says the Bhagavadgita: Uddhareatmanatmanam. "The Self is the friend of the self": Bandhuratmatmanastasya. Your own Self is your friend, and your Self has to guide your self. You may become your friend, and you may also become your enemy, under certain given conditions. Atmaiva hyatmano bandhuratmaiva ripuratmanah: "You have no friends outside you, you have no enemies outside you – you are your friend, you are your enemy." When you see friends outside and enemies outside, again you are committing this mistake of identifying yourself with the gaunatman. The secondary self takes possession of the true Self, as it were, with such a power and intensity of grasp that we seem to be seeing ourselves in our so-called externalised forms of friends and enemies, while really we have gone against the larger dimension of our own higher Self when we confront enemies in this world, and we are in harmony with the dimension of our own higher Self when we see friends around us. Thus, the objects of the world do not concern us, unless our self is connected with them in some way or the other, positively in love, or negatively in hatred.
Thus, we are living in a world of 'Self', and not in a world of objects. The so-called objects are not our concern. They become our concern, they become even the objects of our awareness of their being there on account of the consciousness moving towards them and enveloping them, entering them, possessing them, and getting identified with them in some manner, which is the epistemological process in the perception of an object. We cannot even know that the world exists unless we move outwardly in space and time in the direction of another location where we place ourselves, for the time being, either in love or hatred, so that even there we are coming in contact with our own selves – only in a larger manner. Thus, Ahamsarvamyadayamatma: All this universe is Self laid out before the experiencing consciousness, with which the self is identified, and vice versa. The whole universe is Self and the objects, so-called, are misconceived locations and spatially-concealed positions of this universally pervasive Self, which is the Atman. This is a philosophical background of the necessity for the practise of self-control and meditation. When you understand this background you will also know automatically the techniques that you have to adopt in the control of the senses, in the practise of self-restraint, in meditation on Reality, which will be the subject of the sixth chapter.