जितात्मनः प्रशान्तस्य परमात्मा समाहितः।
शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु तथा मानापमानयोः।।6.7।।
The supreme Self is concentrated for one who has subdued the self and is quiescent, in cold and heat, in pleasure and pain, and in honor and disgrace.
Continuing his teaching of the Gita Swami Paramarthananda said, in chapter six Sri Krishna is talking about general preparations to be followed by a meditator. He prescribes four disciplines called Samanya sadhanani and they are:
- First Bahirange Sadhana: Is maintaining a balanced mind while conducting day-to-day transactions. Violent agitations of mind will register and later come up during meditation. One should avoid such violent agitations of mind. This state is called Samatvam. To achieve this Samatvam one has to follow Karma Yoga as described in Chapter # 3.
- The Second Bahiranga Sadhana is having Self Confidence. One without self-confidence cannot be helped by anybody including God, Guru or the Shastras. Self-Grace is paramount. This Self Grace is Self-confidence and it is also called Atma Kripa.
- The Third Bahiranga Sadhana is Self Effort. Fate or destiny oriented person will always fall back upon fate. He will say, “ If God wants me to get liberated, this effort is not required. If God has decided I should not get liberated, then my efforts are in vain.” This is fatalistic thinking. Sri Krishna does not accept this approach. He says individual effort is required. In fact, individual effort alone will help in tapping the grace of the Lord, therefore, the third value is self-effort.
- The Fourth Bahiranga Sadhana is Self-mastery or Self Management.
Every organ that is given to me is an instrument gifted by the Lord to me. The physical body is an instrument; the sense organs of knowledge and action are instruments; my mind is a wonderful instrument, and above all my intellect is the most powerful instrument. By using these instruments I can accomplish anything in life. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, all the four purusharthas are accessible to me, if only I am willing to put these organs to proper use. This requires above all that the organs remain healthy. An unhealthy body, an unhealthy mind and intellect cannot accomplish anything. Therefore, every organ should be healthy. They also must function in coordination as well. Citing an example, if intellect says, “attend Gita class” and you attend. But in the class, if the mind wanders off then the mind and intellect are not integrated. All organs should function in harmony. The healthy and harmonious function of the organs is self-mastery.
Sri Krishna says if these four attributes, that is, Equanimity, Self effort, Self confidence and Self mastery are in place one can attain spiritual success. His mind is relaxed and free from turmoil and extroverted-ness. For such a person recognizing the Self is very easy. He can make use of scriptures to know his own Atma. By following scriptures one can get Atma easily. Why is it so? Because, scriptures say the Atma is available to us all the time. It is not as if it is only available at certain times. Some objects such as higher Lokas, Devatas etc. can be accessed only by meditation. However, the Atma is always available to me, in all the different states of waking, sleep, dream and turiya. In what form is it available to us? It is available to us in the form of Consciousness. Every word I utter is creating thoughts in the person hearing me. Through out them all, there is one non-variable principle called Consciousness. It is the one aware of each thought rising in mind.
It is like the light that is pervading the hall. The people are coming and going; but in and through the arrival and departure of the people the one common factor is the light because of which I am aware of the arrival of people, as well as their departure. In fact, if there is one principle, which is ever available, that is consciousness.
Consciousness is ever available in the most ordinary state. We just need to turn our mind to it.
If we look at the hand, we will see lines in the palm, the nails etc. but we never say there is a light on the hand. In doing this we are turning our attention to this light, which is always there. We are looking at the ever-present light principle.
Similarly, Vedanta is not revealing a new Atma rather Vedanta is turning my attention to the already and ever- evident consciousness. And why should I turn my attention? At present moment my attention is in the thoughts that are occurring in the mind. Either I am worried about kama, krodhah, greed and so on. So instead of turning my attention to a particular thought in the mind I am turning my attention to the consciousness because of which I am aware of every thought.
This turning of attention can be done only if the mind is calm and without turbulence. Therefore, a lot of effort is required to enjoy a calm mind. An extrovert cannot listen. Self is Consciousness. Kenopanishad beautifully says that Atma is evident all the time. You do not have to go to a special meditation to experience the Atma. Just as I do not have to perform a special meditation to recognize the light, because the light is experienced in and through every experience, similarly, the Consciousness does not require any special state of mind, or any special meditation; it is available to us all the time.
If you ask a man with a relaxed mind, when is Consciousness evident, he will ask you back when is it not evident? This recognition has to occur in two stages.
First stage is turn attention from thought to Consciousness. It is like turning the attention from hand to the light. Thus, we turn from changing thought to the changeless witness.
Second stage occurs when I recognize Consciousness, then my tendency will be to say, “I am the body, mind complex and I have consciousness that illumines my thought.” Now Vedanta says that you have to train your mind and reverse the approach. Vedanta wants us to say:
“ I am the Consciousness principle and the body mind complex is an incidental instrument used by me”. This is the biggest shift and most important shift. Meditation is meant to make this shift.
Please remember the five points I have said regarding consciousness in the past:
- Consciousness is not a part, product or property of the body.
Consciousness is an entity distinctive from the body, which pervades the body.
The dimensions of the body do not bind consciousness.
Consciousness survives even after the body goes; and the surviving consciousness cannot transact, not because it is absent but because the medium of transaction is not there, anymore.
This is the description of consciousness and that consciousness is my nature. We also know this from our day-to-day experiences. The end of transactions is not the end of my existence. If end of transaction is the end of existence; what will happen? During sleep, I am dead; but I know during sleep I am not dead; I am very much alive; even though I do not do any transaction. Extend this to death also. After death also, I do not transact but non-transaction is not non-existence. And therefore I exist all the time. I exist with and without transaction. End of transaction is not end of existence. Transacting instruments come and go, but I exist. This is discovering the real “ I”. So this is called Atma gyanam. This is called discovering the real I. This is called owning up to the real “I”. And when I own up to this real “I”, what is the benefit I get? Sri Krishna says such a wise person is unaffected by all the pairs of opposites happening in his life; like heat and cold; favorable condition and unfavorable condition; none of them shake him. Manam and apamanam is a very big issue for human beings; we are very worried about our social status and respect. Even Manam and Apamanam do not shake the wise person. Gyanam gives us immunity from all this.
Shloka # 8:
ज्ञानविज्ञानतृप्तात्मा कूटस्थो विजितेन्द्रियः।
युक्त इत्युच्यते योगी समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चनः।।6.8।।
That yogin is said to be integrated whose self is content with knowledge and experience, who is immutable, and who has subdued his senses and to whom clod, stone and gold are all alike.
This disciplined person goes through stages of knowledge. First he goes to Gyanam also called Paroksha Gyanam and then he goes to Vigyanam. Both Gyanam and Vigyanam have different meanings. When I say, “ I am the body” it is Gyanam. Consciousness is considered a part of the body. At least I know there is consciousness, hence it is called Gyanam. Vigyanam is when I say, “ I am the consciousness principle and I have the instrument called body mind complex”. When I have body mind complex I can transact. When I don’t have body mind complex I cannot transact. The body mind complex is like a spectacle.
Spectacles have got two glasses; when I put them on I am able to see and transact with the world. When I remove the spectacle, I do not transact, but remember, I continue to exist. In the same way, our body and mind are like the two glasses of this spectacle and when I use the body and mind, I have the waking state experience, or dream state experience; when the body and mind are relaxed and resolved, I do not have waking and dream state. Therefore I do not have any transaction; but even without transaction; I continue to exist; and therefore body and mind are more an instrument than myself. And this attitudinal change, the change of identification, is called Vigyanam.
Only when this shift takes place, only when I shift my “I” identification from the body to atma, then alone my sense of limitation will go.
People may ask why should I know the Atma? Why develop a new identification with Atma? If you are comfortable with the body identity, Vedanta says good luck. Reality is, with body identity, I have fear of mortality, disease etc. It becomes a constant companion. We are also afraid of the death of our near and dear ones. Samsara is fear of death or old age or of disease. If I am OK with these fears then it is OK to identify with the body.
If not, change. There is no medicine to cure all these (death, disease and old age). Even gerontologists are old and many are dead. There is no medicine to provide immortality. Otherwise, go to Vedanta and find out that you are a higher being, ever free, ever beautiful etc. You have to discover the Atma. With that life becomes relaxed. There is no more fear of death, disease etc. They don’t belong to “Me”.
Who can get this knowledge? Only one who has mastered himself. He is unshaken by anything that happens in life. We can’t predict our future. Some things are predictable but uncontrollable. Future is either unpredictable or uncontrollable. So any event can come as a shock. Sri Krishna says Gyanam is our Kavacham. The wise man is not affected by such incidents.
Marriage ceremony has a ritual that says, “ May your mind be strong enough to face all types of situations”. The Girl is leaving her house and going to an unknown house. Unless one is strong it can be traumatic. Wiseman is able to withstand such traumas and is called a Yogi (man of wisdom). He enjoys an equanimous mind towards: Mud (of no value); b) Stone, of some value; c) gold, of great value. He has samatvam towards all the three. Does he see them all the same way? He sees them the same way because he is free from Raga and Dvesha (attachment and aversion). Why does he not have Raga or Dvesha? When does one get attached? When one gets happiness, fullness or it improves your situation it causes Raga. And when does hatred come in? When object reduces my security and happiness. For a Gyani, his fulfillment is not from objects, money, status etc. He is full by nature. If he is full, nothing can increase or decrease his fullness. It is just like the ocean. If things come it is good, if things go, that too is OK. We are happy when our children are dependent on us. When they are independent, we are unhappy that they are not dependent on us. So make your self psychologically independent.
Teaching us a practical technique to reach the divine within us, Swamiji tells us the following:
My normal tendency is to say, “I am the body, mind complex and I have consciousness that illumines my thought.”
Vedanta wants us to say:
“ I am the Consciousness principle and the body mind complex is an incidental instrument used by me”.
This shift in perspective has to be practiced by all of us.
With Best Wishes