by Swami Krishnananda
Though the Yogins who are engaged in meditation and are endowed with an acute discriminative faculty do recognise the Bliss of Brahman in actual experience, as also during occasions of the cessation of Rajas in the mind, and at the time when there is an impression left by the Bliss of Brahman after its experience in the state of sleep; yet, the more ignorant ones cannot discover this Bliss so easily due to their minds being affected with greater amounts of Rajas and Tamas. On account of the performance of Dharma and Adharma, or meritorious deeds and sinful deeds, the cycle of births and deaths is kept on revolving, and the Jiva, thus, takes countless births. It may, therefore, appear that, perhaps, there is no way at all for dull-witted persons to get out of the wheel of Samsara. But, really, the way of Sadhana being vast and all-comprehending, there is to be found a way for everyone placed in any circumstance in life. The moment there is a commencement of the sacrifice of one’s selfishness even in the least degree one is on the right path, though living at a lower level. For those who are of superior understanding the method has already been explained in the eleventh chapter, but to those who are mostly extrovert in nature, unselfish activity and Upasana, or devout contemplation, should be prescribed. By those who are really aspiring and yet are not endowed with a higher understanding, the procedure mentioned below may be adopted.
This procedure has actually been followed by Sage Yajnavalkya in his instructions to his consort, Maitreyi. He holds that everything in this world is desirable and lovable for the sake of the Atman, the True Self. The mind is moved gradually inward in this teaching, by taking into consideration the outward aspects of objects and the external nature of the world. The love between husband and wife, for instance, is a conditioned, personal desire made manifest. If there is an absence of desire either by the call of duty or by diminishing of desire, the love, too, gets diminished. The love is indicated to bring satisfaction to one’s own self in the end, whether in the case of the husband or the wife. Even in mutual love, the incentive is a desire for one’s own happiness. The parent’s love for children is of a similar nature. The parents expect the release of an emotional tension within, in many ways, by which they acquire some pleasure, having no real objective love for children, a fact well known. One does not love wealth for the sake of wealth, because wealth has no consciousness of its own, and it is absolutely desireless. One wishes to make use of it as an instrument for one’s own pleasure. People tend cattle because they expect services from them. A bull, for example, is yoked and made to carry weights, not for its pleasure but for the pleasure of the person concerned. The feeling of satisfaction due to one’s being a Brahmana or Kshatriya, on account of the respectability, power, and so on, which one finds invested on oneself thereby, does not belong to those circumstances of caste, etc., because they are unconscious, and are only attributes, but they bring joy to the mind only of that human being who has a desire of that nature. This is the case with persons in any status of life, or social position, that they may be enjoying. People love to rule in heaven, in Brahmaloka, etc., not with the intention of bringing any good to those regions but for their own enjoyment. This, again, is very clear. Worships offered to deities are meant for achieving some personal ends, overcoming difficulties, and getting rid of troubles, etc. It is never done for the pleasure of the gods so worshipped, because the gods want nothing from men, and it is futile to think that they can be pleased by human actions. Here, again, it is a question of one’s own satisfaction. People study the scriptures, like the Vedas to overcome the stigma of a false status in life. The study is really not concerned with the Vedas, themselves, but with the mind of man alone. Our regard for earth and the other elements is because they give us place and facility to live, and we cannot live without them. The earth is the abode, water quenches thirst, fire gives warmth and enables us to cook our food, air helps us in drying and makes our life-breath function, and space makes our existence itself possible. They are all held by us in great esteem, not for their own sake, but because they are instruments in bringing happiness to us in some way or other. Psychologically, this is the position, but spiritually it is an indication of an inward calling of the Infinite, without which no individual can exist, and whose love is the real meaning behind all empirical loves. It is, as it were, the Infinite summoning the Infinite, when there is an attraction of one thing towards another, because the Infinite Atman is the Source of all Bliss, and it is this Bliss that is the real explanation and the central aim of all thoughts, feelings and actions in this world. The aim of life is the realisation of Brahman, and it is the love for the Bliss of Brahman that appears in this world distortedly and in a broken form as affections for things. The Atman, or Brahman, is the Goal. It is the existence of that Bliss that makes individuals restless here.
All the objects of the world are subsidiary to the love of the Atman, and it is certain that the affection that one has for objects is not entirely for their own sake, but for the satisfaction of one’s own Self, which pulls everything to itself in the different degrees and levels of its expression. Even the good that is done to others is intended to bring the satisfaction to oneself of having done the good act. Even help of various kinds given to others brings about a release of inner tension caused by the feeling of the pain of not being able to see the suffering of others. We can generally say that whatever be the object towards which one cherishes an affection, the object is subsidiary, instrumental, and secondary to the Atman.
No doubt, there are differences in the manifestation of love. For example, when it is in relation to an object not yet possessed, it is called Ichha, or longing. If it is towards God, or Guru, it is called Bhakti, or devotion. If it is towards performance of a Yajna, or sacrifice, etc., it is called Sraddha, or faith. If it is in regard to such objects as wife etc., it is called Raga, or attachment. Nevertheless, it can be said that all these are just ramifications of a primary Sattvika Vritti, whose object is mere pleasure, and which persists whether the object in question is obtained or not obtained, or is removed from oneself. Such things, as food and drink are only external instruments in bringing about happiness to ourselves, and hence lovable on that account; but it cannot be said that the Atman is also merely an agent or instrument in bringing happiness, as food and drink are, because, here, in the case of the Atman, the concept of instrumentality is inapplicable. It cannot be said that the Atman can be both the experiencer and the instrument, at one and the same time, because enjoyership and the object enjoyed cannot be identified with each other and the two cannot be one thing. One never knows enjoying the Atman as an objective pleasure, because the Atman is second to none, and is supreme. In the case of sense-pleasures, our affection is fickle, and is subject to conditions, on account of which it changes from time to time, from person to person, or from one thing to another, as the occasion may demand, but the Atman is unconditionally loved, and this love for the Atman can never be restricted to conditions and circumstances or to anything that is in this world. There is no change whatsoever in the love that one has for one’s own Self, though one may take in one object and abandon another at different times, because of the variety in the pleasures that these objects are supposed to be bringing to oneself. The Atman cannot be abandoned or possessed like the objects of the world. Hence, it is impossible to have attitudes of like and dislike in regard to the Atman. Nor is the Atman an object of our indifference, as, for example, a piece of grass or straw, the Atman being the very essence and nature of the person who tries to develop such an attitude of indifference. The essential Atman is not an object of mental attitude and is not conditioned by personal behaviours. No doubt, it is seen, sometimes, that people who are affected with agonising diseases and overcome by great emotions evince a desire to die. and it may appear that they have a real hatred for the Self, but this is not at all the fact. They never hate their own Self really, but are fed up with some particular unpleasant conditions in their lives, due to which they would prefer to put an end to those conditions which are the causes of the sorrow, but not end the Self itself. Suicide is a love to be free from pain, and not a hatred for oneself. The Atman is the essence of even him who tries to commit suicide. The hatred is not towards the Atman. For all these reasons it should be clear that the Atman is the object of one’s deepest and most genuine love.
This is also seen from such an instance as the father having some affection for his son’s friend, because of his love for his own son. That, again, is ultimately connected with his affection towards himself, and this love is certainly much more that the one he has for his son. Everyone feels: “Let me not cease to be; let me remain always”. This inner prayerful feeling is always present in everyone, from which it is ostensibly clear that there is immense love for one’s own Self. Yet, there are people in this world who, many a time, regard son, wife, etc., as representatives of one’s own Atman and hold that the love which one has for them is real. From the scriptural allusion that one is reborn as one’s son, it is made out that the son is the real Atman of the father and that the son is the true representative of the father on earth, acquired by his past meritorious deeds. But, there is no end to the series of fathers and sons, and so we have to imagine also a series of those transferred Atmans, whereby it may look that the Atman can really be outside one’s Self and loved as an object. It is seen in this world that people have intense love for their children and regard a son as not only a means of their happiness in the other world, but even of their pleasure in this world. It is seen that people are usually unhappy without children and it is a common feeling of the generality of mankind that children are of great importance, as it is seen especially when people are very eager, even when they are about to die, that their family and children are well fixed in society and their properties well safeguarded. They struggle hard to assure the safety and permanency of their family and children even after their own death, all which may make it appear that one’s Atman is transferred to them and they are themselves one’s Atman. This, however, is not the truth.