New Year Resolution ~ Being Who We Really Are
For this New Year, we all need to come out of our comfort zone. We are just like a marble when dropped in a bowl, it whirls around unstably, but eventually after some time, it settles down. Once it settles down, it is very difficult to move it again. One is required to come out of that ‘comfort zone’. That would be ‘to live, to perform and to excel, in one’s life ~ attain whatever we wish?’. Vedanta tells us, we need to develop three basic skills to do well in life and attain ~ ‘Human Excellence’ ~ become an outstanding personality.
January 1st is called ‘Kalpataru day’, the day of Sri Ramakrishna’s becoming the “Wish Tree” and granting boons to whomsoever, came along, praying for his blessings ~ towards ‘~ “Self-realization”. Each and every one were blessed. But we need to comprehend that, ‘Kalpataru Day’, is not just a day, but it should be every day, starting from, 1st of January.
In 1886, while being unwell, Paramahansa Ramakrishna chose to leave his body, but before that he stepped out of his spiritual place for a walk. He met his disciplines, became overwhelmed with spiritual benediction and each of them received appropriate blessings. Each one of them experienced an ineffable bliss. One of them in the crowd asked Thakur (a popular short name for (Bhagawan Paramahansa Ramakrishna), “Bless me so that I may see, experience God everywhere”. Thakur did bless him, “May the consciousness dawn upon you ~ Tumhara Chaitanya Ho”. He started seeing God in everything, everywhere, in everything, in the tree, in all living beings, even in the animals, chariots, etc.
After two days, he came back to Thakur stating I can’t tolerate it, it has become so difficult for me to live, please take it back, I don’t want to see God everywhere. The supreme consciousness is always there to grant us, our boons. We need to be ready spiritually to receive it. Ask yourself, am I ready to receive, what I am asking? We all try to get everything quickly, but then we can’t handle it. That is not the way towards attainment of supreme knowledge, or any knowledge.
Removing ignorance is Education. From not knowing to knowing is the journey. But what about becoming the ‘knower’? There are things you cannot express, you can only try to express, for example the taste of mango, as tangy, juicy, sweet, and pulpy. But so are peaches, nectarines, plums, strawberries, blue berries, gooseberries, raspberries, oranges? What is the difference then? But if you become the knower, when you realize, you become aware of the taste. You may not even be able to express it in words? You become the ‘knower’, when you taste the mango.
Whatever you want to be, you can choose and then the power of your prayers, your thought, guide you to ‘become it ~ be what you want to be’.
Once upon a time, there was a farmer. This tale of ‘the farmer and the monkey’, tells us, as to why do we suffer, in life and what could we do remove all sufferings? This farmer was bothered by a monkey, on daily basis. The monkey, from the trees, would come down, through the window, come in to the little house of the farmer and steal the bananas kept in a jar, when the farmer was not at home and away with his farming job.
As was the practice those days, whenever, people were in distress, they would go and seek guidance from a monk. The troubled farmer also, approached a monk, residing on top of a mountain, near the village. He was blessed to receive a brilliant advice. He took the advice of the Monk, and made the jar with a very small neck. Here, he could put one banana at a time inside the jar and keep it sealed. When the farmer was away, the monkey again came down from the tree and trying to take out bananas, put his hand inside the jar.
The monkey’s hand could go in but when it was holding banana in his fist, neither the banana, nor the hand could be taken out of the jar. All the monkey had to do, was to let go of the banana, but he wouldn’t!
The Monkey was trapped and even with all his efforts, he could not take his hand out as he was reluctant to open his fist holding the banana. The farmer came back and caught the monkey in the act with its hand inside the jar holding the banana. The farmer started beating up the monkey. Despite all the pain, the monkey did not let go of the banana.
The only thing the monkey had to do, was to let go of the banana, take his hand out and run. But monkey would not let go. The farmer beat him up good and the monkey ran away empty handed.
When you do not let go of the banana, you have the beatings and sufferings of this world.
Much like the monkey with the banana, we tend to hold on to things, and get trapped. We all need to let go of things, which we are holding on to – so preciously. When you do let go, you rise from being a monkey and becoming a Monk. You travel from Ignorance, Darkness and Sufferings to being knowledgeable, being a Buddha, being a Paramahansa.
Let go of the Banana.
Sometimes, in dealing with daily chores, or in making decisions, we work with some kind of presumptions that “let us be practical”. We feel and think and are aware of that whatever we can feel, touch, see, hear, smell etc. are real. The famous story from Vedanta, tells us about, ‘The rope and the snake’. A man was walking down a darkened street. He found suddenly, with his inadequate vision, in fading light, that there was a snake coiled up, lying right in front of him! He jumped back. Another person, walking behind him, saw the confusion and asked the traveler the reason for his fright? The traveler shouted, “Snake, snake, snake”. But the person behind gently assured him and said, “I have just been through this lane, that is not a snake!” And threw some light from his torch. And there it was; only a coiled-up rope, someone had left behind negligently? Everything is therefore, only an appearance. These can be seen, but are these always real?
There was a Swami Maharaj, living in the extremely remote part of Himalayas. The place is named as Tapovan, located in up north, deeper in the Himalayas, in the frozen land that remain buried under snow throughout the year, southeast of Gangotri, north of Jamunotri. This saintly monk, a Maharaj, had an ashram, where many monks of even other order, would come and learn ‘Advaita Vedanta’, under his wisdom filled training and guidance. The living conditions, there are extreme. The place is totally frozen through the year and yet the monks, would live there, without any shoes, bare clothing, some of them without even a blanket.
Coming to be aware of the remoteness, of the secret place, a Television Crew, got interested to come down and do a coverage, to apprise the TV viewing citizen of the world, how Indian Monks remotely practice their search for God. Once witnessed a television crew, who came to Gangotri to shoot a film, and they set up generators, a TV screen in front of him, cranked up the generator and started an earlier shot movie of Ganga, flowing down the ravines.
Then the swami, who had no clue what a television was, saw the flowing river on the screen and was told that the river on the screen was Ganga at Gangotri. The Maharaj was amazed and asked the Director of the TV crew ~ to give him a pot of water from that river. The crew laughed and told him that he can only see the river on the screen but it is not real, it is just a film.
The monk turned to his pupils, pointed at the river, trees, monks, in that television and said, “I saw Mother Ganges, I saw everything, but when I asked them to give me a pot of Ganges water from the river, to drink, they refused”. The crew has smilingly informed me now, that though I could see the water of mother Ganga, on the screen, but I cannot get the water, for me to drink! The river Ganga’a picture is there, you can see it, but even though you can see the river, in reality, it is actually not there?”
He, then turned to the group of brahmacharees and monks with fierce intensity, pointing at the giant mountains with glacier towering their tops, and the forest and the Ganga river below them, and said, “Yeh sab sirf dikhta hai, lekin asliyat me nahi hai!”. Which would translate to, “Oh Monks! All of these appearances, are ‘panorama scenes’ to you, but in reality, they are not there. You are the witness and these are only some scenes? Vedanta says, “Brahma Satyam, Jagat mithya” ~ This world is only an appearance, but the truth is, ‘even though you can see, it is not there, there is no substance to it.” What he meant was, there is no reality to what you feel through your five senses and we all are chasing this mirage. There is no satisfaction in it. Like a gold bracelet ~ if you take away the gold, bracelet shall not exist either. Gold will remain, but the bracelet, shall be only, a name ~ a form. Take freshly cooked vegetable curry. The heat in the curry, is not from the vegetables, it is borrowed from the fire. If you take the curry away from the fire, the vegetable curry shall get cold? Just as the intrinsic property of the gold bracelet is gold and without the gold, bracelet does not remain. What remains, is only the gold. What appears to you, these mountains, rivers, flowers, plants, trees, you, me are only names and form. It appears to be real actually not there, if ‘Brahman ~ the consciousness, is not present and is missing. We perceive this world, we learn and understand this world ~with our consciousness alone. If we are unconscious or in coma, we cannot perceive this world.
According to Vedanta (Mandukya Upanishad), there are two entities, one is the ‘Seen’, which is always changing and other is the ‘Seer’ that is constant. The ‘Seer’ is one and the ‘Seen’ are many. There is, but one operating principle which must be considered – the ‘Seer’ and the ‘Seen’ are always different in all cases.
There are four stages of this philosophy ~ First: The forms, colors and anything that moves is ‘Seen’ and the eyes are the ‘Seer’. The eyes can see everything, expect themselves. You cannot see your own eyes, the seer.
Second: Eyes themselves become the ‘Seen’ and the mind becomes the ‘Seer’,
You know about your eyes even if you can’t see them, whether they get sleepy or blurry, you are always aware of them through your mind. The entire body, in fact, is known to us due to our mind. Hence, our eyes along with the rest of the body are ‘Seen’, and the mind is the ‘Seer’.
Considering the lessons from the previous statement, we can say that: The eyes and the mind are different entities. The conditions of the eyes are changing and the mind remains constant. The Seer remaining relatively unchanged, the Seen keeps changing.
Third stage is where things get interesting; The conditions of mind i.e. thoughts, feelings, emotions, perceptions, memory, intellect, become the ‘Seen’, the Saakshi (the witness) becomes the ‘Seer’. Now, these conditions of the mind and this witness are supposed to be two different entities.
Also, the contents of the mind, the thoughts, feelings, memory changes significantly every single day but all of it is witnessed by this one unchanged Witness. So one unchanging Witness is the ‘Seer’ and the ever-changing contents of the mind become the ‘Seen’.
Vedanta will say this witness is the consciousness, which illumines these experiences inside our mind.
In every case, you have to be the ‘Experiencer’ and your mind is what is being ‘Experienced’, clearly they both are two different entities.
The witness is one that gives you this experience. And that is what we really are. Vedanta states that you being the ‘Seer’ witness and your experiences being the ‘Seen’ is as much a fact as the forms being the ‘Seen’ and eyes the ‘Seer’. The real struggle is to accept this fact as a fact.
This leads to the Stage Four that is:
The Seer (witness) never becomes the object of experience. Everything you think of, wish for, will happen, if you become ‘The Seer’, and not take the journey! Journey, experiences, thoughts will go, change, they are not constant. But the taste of Alphonso is constant, the consciousness is constant.
Vedanta says, Divinity is within us, but we have forgotten about it.