Being born in the physical plane of the Earth and being attracted to the diverse attractions thereof, human beings get so engrossed in the routine and the mundane that they forget their true nature or the real purpose behind human incarnation. We keep chasing and running after the false and phony without ever pausing to discover our pure ‘Self ’ as remaining hidden behind the multiple layers of ignorance and nescience. However, we shall ever remain mired in the morass of spurious allurements unless we awaken ourself to know our genuine ‘Self’.
As an inalienable part of the Divine and Universal Spirit, our ‘Self’ remains intact and unadulterated behind the multiple layers of ignorance of the ego. Awareness of this unsullied ‘Self’ is said to be the highest wisdom we must realise for better and faster spiritual evolution. By knowing our true ‘Self’, we can discern the true nature of the vast universe and the omnipotent Almighty while also recognising the rationale behind all facets of the Creation. The ‘Self’ (read soul) being like the self-effulgent sun, each individual is nothing but a reflection of the sun (read the Supreme Being) on the mirror of the intellect.
Holding a mirror in the sun, we do see its reflection but the same would be impossible if there were no sun or if the sun was covered by dark and dense clouds. As we can’t imagine the reflection without relating the same to the object of reflection, likewise the individual ‘Self’ can’t exist without being related to the Supreme Spirit to whom its reflection is traced. A conflict keeps raging between our true and false Selves. Despite the constant directions from our true ‘Self’, we often end up doing the dictates of the false ‘Self ’. Though the ‘True Self’, like a neutral observer, always keeps nudging us to keep us on the straight and narrow, the false ‘Self’ usually has the upper hand as it easily yields to the sensory enticements.
Hence, by training and controlling our mind, we can gradually know our immortal ‘Self’ which remains ever unsullied and effulgent as an inalienable part of the Supreme Self. When we learn to recognise and identify this real immortal ‘Self’ behind the false and phony Self, the ensuing awareness makes us immortalised. After all, being part of the Supreme Self, our very nature is as immortal as the Supreme Self Himself. However, our ‘Self’ is so screened and hidden by the false pretences and conceits of the ‘ego’ that our sense and sensory powers can’t reach it. Since our physical senses are all pierced and oriented outwards by the Almighty, we generally don’t look inward.
Our sense powers are, thus, so fashioned and circumscribed that the experience of the external objects because of their being amenable to these outward-oriented senses, are more facile. As such, charmed with the external objects, the senses keep chasing them, thereby forgetting their true ‘Self ’. They being the result of the material forces of nature, our sense powers have no intelligence of their own. However, there is definitely something within all of us which is not the product of a creative mix of only atoms and molecules. It is this immortal something called ‘soul’, ‘self’ or ‘eternal consciousness’ which is the source of all knowledge and intelligence.
Our otherwise obtuse senses appear intelligent only after they come into contact with our enlightened and eternal ‘Self’. As we cross and outgrow the limits of our finite sense powers, our infinite ‘Self’ becomes contented and fulfilled. We may attain what we have always desired by being a very successful person in the physical world by becoming a celebrity, or holding a very high position in society, but we may still feel unfulfilled. The real happiness, tranquillity of mind and satisfaction may continue eluding us notwithstanding all our attainments and achievements. So, we may not actually be blissful despite having all the frills of material success and may remain ever dissatisfied.
This is because of the fact that our eternal and infinite consciousness gets tired at ever aspiring for the ever-changing and ever-multiplying temporary and transient allurements of life. This timeless and infinite consciousness, as an inalienable part of the Supreme Self, always wants to stretch and extend itself to a newer height or horizon. Tired of aspiring for the everchanging and ever-increasing objects of pleasure, it starts looking for the permanent happiness and bliss. It is here that we all must attempt to discover a balance between various facets of human life to enjoy the real happiness by reduction of our endless desires. With regular exercise and selfrestraint, the wise men are able to restrain their desires enough to withdraw their senses from external objects represented by the numerous material temptations.
They are the Yogis, proficient in the methods of Raja Yoga and can effortlessly direct their sensory powers towards the inbuilt higher ‘Self’. The Raja Yogis, through rigorous practices of controlling their minds and emotions, learn to realise their real ‘Self’ without caring for the sensory temptations and attractions. The Raja Yogis, through their spiritual practices, are able to glimpse the unchangeable in the midst of the changeable realities. These Yogis rise above all their sensory desires for material pleasures which are ever-changing and ever-expanding. The sense objects are continually changing. The same thing, living or non-living, never appears twice or in the same form or fashion.
As a human being, we are always changing without ever realising the same. Are not we changing constantly with the death and birth of billions of our cells every day? Not only physical bodies, even our subtle or astral bodies are subject to growth and evolution as they too keep changing relentlessly. It is only by understanding the deathless and unchanging true ‘Self ’ of ours that we become immortal. Heavenly pleasures are said to subsist beyond the realm of changing the phenomenal world. Freed from the restrictions of sense organs, the heavenly experience is different and much more uplifting. But still, human desires and their gratification in the spiritual world are meaningless. They may be finer and higher, but they are also ephemeral and subject to change.
That is why, the wise wish to go beyond heaven to be in a state of perpetual bliss without any change and without losing ‘self-consciousness’. In the ‘Bhagwad Gita’, our body has been compared to a chariot. The soul is supposed to be the rider of this chariot while our sense organs are said to be the horses. The intellect is the driver, the mind is the reins and the objects of sense are the roads whereon these horses are always galloping. If the rider is our ‘Soul’ which is also the eternal and immortal part of our ‘Self’ as well as the prime mover of our thoughts and actions, then the rider itself is beyond all imperfections. It is not affected by pleasure or pain but the ego is.
Ordinary persons living on the sense plane are under the influence of sense powers and as such, can’t control the horses because the ego or intellect as driver is not strong. Since the driver is without understanding or self-control, the horses dominate and drag the drivers, taking it in any direction. If the horses find that the driver is not strong and the rein is not held tight, they generally go berserk. Hence, with self-control, we can avoid many troubles and pitfalls of human life. With control over our mind, we can control our senses just as intractable and recalcitrant horses are better controlled by a seasoned charioteer.
(The writer is an IAS officer, presently working as the Commissioner of School Education, West Bengal. Views are personal and don’t reflect those of the Government)