After I completed the last post on how does one know Atman, I was truly overwhelmed and read it numerous times to savour its content. There is always a sense of mild jubilation and accomplishment as I am able to add one more post to the existing ones. This is because I too read them many times to get to the core of the content thoroughly. And in addition, to grasp the substance of the theme, to understand the underlying subtle connections between the present and preceding articles.
On a pleasant morning after I published the last post, I was lying down, relaxing and reflecting on the sub topic of the previous article- daarun prayatna or special efforts that are expected from the seeker when he seeks his true self called Atman. My thought was connected with the question and answer that was put up by a devotee which you shall find in the last post. I took a deep breath and then I wondered what more can I write now? What more is left there to write after I have touched upon the topic Atman and could this be the grand finale? I could think of nothing in the foresight that coud be written by me anymore. When I was completely lost in these thoughts closing my eyes, in me appeared the benevolent face of Swami Nityananda of Ganeshpuri with his two hands in the air as usual, as though he is invariably blessing us. He asked me upfront, “Tell me why is Atman difficult to know?” I was stumped and speechless. I was in no condition to reply because of these two reasons. Firstly, his emergence was unexpected and secondly gazing at his tall stature, literally and figuratively, I was wonderstruck and in no position to think. He is my Divine Father. He has taught me how to walk by holding my finger on the spiritual path, has initiated me, he has comforted me in times of acute distress and has shown me light in times of darkness. Imagine how could I tell him something about Atman and why is it difficult to know it?
I simply prostrated humbly at his divine feet inwardly like a child and became attentive to receive sacred benediction from him. I was only too eager and waiting in anticipation to hear his celestial words in simple expressions. He explained the lofty ideas through a metaphor.
He began to communicate in a continuous flow,
“The body and Atman appear to look one and akin. Even if we do get a few glimpses of it sometimes, we cannot recognize it although it is in front of us. So the seeker must separate the two like butter in the buttermilk.
When we travel on the spiritual path, the consequences of past karmas of many, many lives manifest and show results. At that time we have to bear the consequences on our body and mind and we suffer in many ways. This clouds and covers the Atman and we lose our peace and become morose. Even those who have just been initiated in Atman recently are unable to stay in tune with the Atman because the negative effects of karmas are making a deep impact on the mind and body. Separate the mind, the thought of body from the unchangeable and joyous element called Atman in you. You should recognize this fact, know that the present life situation is due to past actions and be quiet and stable in mind. It takes a long time and a lot of pratice to achieve a state where the mind is completely conquered and is invulnerable. The search of God is not for the weak souls.
In times of misfortune, sickness, adversity and loss, humans have a tendency to rely on unreliable sources. They still take help of relatives, friends and other people, but they never take refuge and shelter in God. They still do not become dispassionate and detached with worldly attachments and ties which are infested in their minds. God is the only source of right advice and guidance, peace and calmness and is the solution to all our problems. During adverse, inharmonius and difficult conditions our mind is receptive, one must avail this opportunity and he must purify his soul by prayers and meditations.
The people who surround us with whom we live, work, our neighbours and others; they do many wrong and sinful deeds. The vibrations of their defiled mind cover our subtle Atman. The appalling vibrations that fall on us make us suffer in the form of mental disturbances and physical imbalance. The atmosphere that we live in is far from being pure. Meditation will clear the fog in the mind and clean the energy centres.
Now think of this- When our beloved, our lover is separated from us in some life because of some circumstantial reasons, we are unable to bear the pangs of separation. We remember him or her very fondly, we cry and long to meet him/ her and we keep thinking every moment when will I ever see my beloved’s face. When we eventually meet our beloved, we are so relieved although the union may have taken many lives. The pangs of separation take many lives to heal as we wait and wait to meet and see our sweetheart’s face! The pain and heartache of separation from ‘Purushottam’, the Supreme is much greater than the pain and gloom of our lover lost many lives before. We have been separated not by a few but many, many lives from our beloved Supreme Master, our sweetheart. The Supreme Master is as much eager to unite with us as we are desperate to mingle and unite with Him. And when we ultimately unite with the Supreme Light, the joy and ecstasy is unique and cannot be compared with anything similar that is of this ephemeral world.
We unknowingly roam and wander everywhere in the world in search of happiness, comfort, contentment and peace. We search for it in objects, material gain, success, relationships, sensual pleasures, temptations, vices and so many other deceiving aims. But sadly we are never ever satisfied with anything for long as everything in this sansara or world is short lived and has ‘anshik sukh’ partial happiness.
Once we get entangled in this sansara, the place of birth and death due to our karmic cycle, we get trapped in the chakravyuhu, the webmire and unconquerable maze like Abhimanyu in Mahabharat. It is almost impossible to come out of this maze and puzzle of this sansara. We too, like Abhimanyu know how to enter the maze but do not know the secret of escaping because of our slumber and lack of right knowledge. To be able to wake up from the sleep of ignorance, we may take a few eras and millenniums!! Now this is a sad situation. Hence it is advised by the sages and the learned that we must make special efforts or darun prayatna to liberate ourselves. The sadguru will surely help us but we must also make tremendous efforts from our side to liberate ourselves or else we shall again get lost in the maze and we shall again lose the opportunity of liberating ourselves by shutting the door of salvation with our own hands. To avoid this fragile situation, there are created so many types of spiritual practices for us to use as anchors and tools to thwart drifting.
Gradually, the ordinary intellect must be made sharper and refined by discrimination and spiritual wisdom as Atman is extremely subtle.
The further vast volume of spiritual knowledge of liberation was given to me by Swami Nityananda with the help of an allegory the following day. He reminded me about my trip to Kailash Mansarovar yatra which I undertook in July-Aug this year. And he explained to me that on a pilgrimage, there are many people at starting point, but gradually the number of people decreases and just a few can reach the top or the highest altitude. Similarly, if we imagine and visualize that only one person out of one lakh people attempts to pursue the path of God. We separate that person from the crowd and ask him to come on one side. Then we take another such aspirant and ask him to join the first person. We have selected two aspirants out of two lakh people, three from three lakh people and so on. And from one lakh such selected spiritual contestants just one single seeker is successful and able to know Atman. This means that the possibility of success is very difficult and rare. But why is it so? There are many reasons for this, he illustrated.
Those people who misuse Tantra, do black magic or witchcraft in the spiritual endeavours are disqualified and eliminated first of all amongst all the aspirants who chose to pursue God and enlightenment.
Then there are people amongst the group of aspirants who do not have the virtues of compassion, gratitude and generosity. They too start with others, walk a little but are disqualified from the path of God.
In the count of so many aspirants, there are some who call themselves devotees but they harbour negative emotions like competitive spirit, hatred, vengeance, weakness for money and honour, stealing, pride and other such unwanted tendencies They too are eliminated by God from the path. These people cannot reach the door of the Heavenly Father.
Now out of all the people who began, only some aspirants are left. These are the ones who make advancement and move ahead. But in this category are those people who do not obey the spiritual teacher because of their demerits of stubbornness, attachment to one’s ego or simply because of not letting go. Even though they do make considerable accomplishment on the path of God, they are unable to gain access to subtle knowledge. The gurus may be in physical form or in the astral world that does not matter in any way. It is expected of the seeker to obey the Master, obey the Universal and Spiritual Laws in every way till the last leg and phase of the spiritual journey. It is only when the disciple obeys the advice and counsel of the Spiritual Master in every sense that the door of the last and highest realms of the Atman is opened.
The stage of this kind of disciple can be compared to someone who is looking at the garden through a glass door. Although he can view everything clearly, he cannot go in the garden. The deep sunken corrosive ego in the disciple is difficult to identify by him and still harder to get rid of. It is only when one has the will and desire to erase one’s false self, that it becomes possible for the teacher to do his job of cleansing the inner core and layers of the subconscious mind polluted over so many previous lives. To unite with the Atman, the disciple must submit the subtlest ego with his own consent and agreement. He must surrender completely with faith in his heart for his own welfare.
Remember that particular disciple of Shri Mahavatar Babaji mentioned in the Autobiography of a Yogi (chapter 33) who came to him imploring to accept him as his disciple in the Himalayan craggy mountains? When Babaji made no response, he said if he was refused life would have no meaning and that he would jump from the mountain. Babaji replied unemotionally, “Jump then” That man immediately jumped from the ledge at the shock and dismay of other disciples. At the instruction of Babaji, his mangled body was brought back immediately. Babaji placed his hand on the dead man and he was resurrected to life. The disciple could not have been accepted by Babaji in his current life because of karmic compulsions. That disciple surely showed remarkable faith and obedience towards his omnipresent Guru.
Dear friends, as I wrap up this post, I recollected a very beautiful prayer song composed by Sri Rabindra Nath Tagore. I have heard it as chants in some meditation group. I too sing this chant, besides repeating the essence in my mind on some night when I want to completely immerse and dissolve myself in God remembrance.
Light the lamp of Thy Love
In my house, with Thine own hands,
Light the lamp of thy love!
Thy transmuting, lamp entrancing,
Wondrous are its rays,
Change my darkness to Thy light Lord!
Change my darkness to Thy light,
And my evil into good,
Touch me but once and I will change,
All my clay into Thy gold.
All the sense lamps that I did light
Sooted into worries.
Sitting at the door of my soul,
Light Thy resurrecting lamp,
Light Thy resurrecting lamp!