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The Supreme Self

Saumitra Mohan |

As we can’t feel a touch without the skin, can’t taste without the tongue, can’t think without our mind or can’t communicate without the written or spoken word, similarly there can’t be any expression of Divine Creation without the existence of a Supreme Self. The Supreme Self created the cosmos in the beginning of time and is said to have entered and permeated everything therein. There is, thus, nothing that does not come from Him.

The individual Self itself is Brahman or Supreme Consciousness dwelling in every expression of God’s Creation. Anything and everything in this world emanates from this Supreme Self. All physical expressions confuse us when we regard them as something separate from the Supreme Self which is bright, wise, immanent in every dimension of Creation, transcendent and untouched by sin. Often we see only the milk, but fail to see the curd, butter, cream, yoghurt, cheese and many other items that are hidden therein. Similarly, the Almighty pervades each and every aspect of Creation whether or not we see the same.

The bees suck the nectar from flowers and make their honey whose origin cannot be traced to any particular flower. Each drop of nectar, sucked from different flowers, gets so assimilated in honey that they lose their distinctiveness. The same is the case with us. As long as different expressions of the Divine Creation don’t identify themselves with the Supreme Self and remain tied to their individual identities, they shall remain mired in pain and problems as seen all around us.

The different parts of a tree keep growing or withering when the Self enters or departs. As we feel the salinity in every drop of water after dissolving a lump of salt in it, similarly we can feel the presence of the Supreme Self everywhere. The salt is present in the saline water but we don’t see it. Likewise, the Supreme Self pervades all aspects of Creation, thereby attesting to a unified existence of all expressions including living and non-living beings. It is really surprising to notice that despite there being infinite expressions of Divine Creativity, many of us continue to dispute the same.

In fact, most of our problems come from the misplaced identification of the Self with the body because of which we don’t see the truth behind God’s Creation. The subtle Self (read supreme consciousness or spirit), being abstract and non-existent, may be imperceptible, but its creative genius is actually much larger than the entire cosmos. Despite the fact that every individual Self also comes from one Supreme Self, we keep identifying ourselves with the physical body, something separate and alienated from other expressions of His Creation. Most of the Hindu scriptures have very beautifully delineated the same.

According to these scriptures, most of the physical realities are composed of five basic elements as is the human body. The basic building blocks behind every expression of the Creation are the same. When we know one lump of clay, we get to know all the other materials made of clay. They may differ in name and form, but the basic nature behind them remains the same.

Similarly, by fathoming and imbibing the spiritual wisdom, we get to realise the basic oneness behind the entire creation. We all come from the same source and eventually merge into the same. This is akin to all the rivers losing their individual identities after merging into one all-subsuming Ocean. Thus, all the expressions of objective reality spring from the same source.

After death, our mortal remains are either cremated or buried. Either way, both the methods convert our mortal remains into a lump of earth which further sustains other forms of life including plants and animals. These plants and animals are, thus, made of the “building blocks” constituted by the biodegraded remains of other living or non-living dimensions of Creation.

So, we provide life-sustaining materials for plants and animals by becoming raw materials for their food in the same fashion that they provide life sustaining provisions for us. When we eat animals or plants, they become humans as our remains are utilized for confection of their food. The phenomenon of food cycle is something we have long known, but still refuse to believe to accept the basic oneness of nature immanent behind the same. At the end of its life, the individual Self of each creature without a physical body loses its separateness and unites with the all-encompassing Supreme Self.

Those who see all creatures in themselves know no fear or grief. This is the core of the teachings and inherent messages of most of the Hindu scriptures. It also means that a person born into a particular religion, caste, community or nationality shall not necessarily be born into the same during his/her rebirth. This means that a Hindu can become a Muslim or a Muslim can become a Hindu or an Indian can be reborn as a Pakistani and vice versa. This being the spiritual reality, one fails to see the reason behind all the communal discord or ethnic conflicts. We as a race would never make upward progress if we fail to see and understand this basic truth behind the Divine Drama.

At another remove, we as social animals subsist because of support and sustenance from others. As Aristotle said, “He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a God”. As humans, we have to depend on other members of society for all our needs including economic and psychological. We exist only as long as others notice and acknowledge us as we do to others. Without our notice and attention, they don’t exist. Howsoever may we fret and fume at the inconveniences, we are nothing without others’ acceptance which we continue craving throughout our life.

Our physical body is nothing but a tool to facilitate mutual sentient experiences of the world to know the Supreme Self. It is our attachment and identification with the physical body which causes us pain and anguish. All our pain comes because we identify ourselves with the body which is wrong.

As the wind or thunder rise from space without a physical shape and reach the transcendent light, similarly those who rise above body-consciousness ascend to the transcendent in their true form. They know that the Self is not the body, but only tied to it for the time being as an ox is tied to its cart.

The enlightened individual ‘Selves’ live in freedom and are at home wherever they go. But those who pursue the finite world of material pleasures remain blind. The Self can be known through continuous meditation which means that we ought not to forget the Almighty in all our thoughts and actions.

The meditational practices afford us the opportunity to identify ourselves with the Supreme Self while also gradually getting over our varied attachments with carnal pleasures. Through meditation, we remain connected with other living and non-living beings. One who meditates upon the Self and realises it, sees it everywhere in everything and rejoices in eternal bliss.

The writer is an IAS officer, presently posted as Commissioner of School Education, Govt of West Bengal. The views are personal and don’t reflect those of the Government.