The duality and dichotomy that we usually see in every aspect of Creation results in an artificial split in our consciousness. And it is this split which mechanically implants a binary vision to the way we visualise things around us.
We start noticing a self-induced separateness in everything around us. For us, it is always ‘Me’ versus the world. Anyone or anything which is not ‘Me’ is often deemed to be against the Self, thereby generating a conflict. Such a compartmentalised approach to life leads to a tendency to exploit and manipulate others and to use them as a springboard to wangle what we want.
The deeply-grafted division in our consciousness opens a wound that seldom heals and starts a chain-reaction which is not only pernicious, but also impedes our spiritual growth. The resultant negativity engulfs our personal and social life, thereby insidiously reflecting on the overall quality of life. It is this negativity which is evident in all the problems facing humanity today.
The ‘cut’ in our consciousness breeds a sense of insecurity which makes us feel alienated and isolated from the rest of Creation and ourselves. This spawns an internecine conflict further inflamed by opposing emotions and behaviour which proceed from the feeling of alienation and estrangement from other animate and inanimate expressions of life.
The ensuing disharmony and friction between the ‘selfish and the selfless’ may, however, be resolved through a carefully nurtured synthesis between a ‘thesis’ and ‘antithesis’ or what has been referred to as historical materialism. This tension between our higher and lower Self is actually a reflection of a struggle between our wise and real nature.
The strain in our consciousness, though, is also indicative of an insatiable urge for full realisation of our immanent human potential. According to the Gita, a war always rages between our higher and baser ‘Self’ where the former drives us upwards to grow, while the latter pulls us downwards to remain stuck in a relentless conflict. This happens because of the perceived division of life between ‘ourselves’ as creatures separated from the rest of Creation.
We don’t see other creatures or people as an extension of the same indivisible whole as is the reality that has been proved scientifically and spiritually. Our selfish desires and actions always boomerang on us to threaten us in this or next life.
The internecine violence, climatic destruction, societal aggression and civilisational annihilation unleashed by humans because of a warped understanding have created the chaos in our midst, one that is hurting us no end. Just as a fire is screened by smoke or the sun by the rainclouds, similarly our inveterate egotistic desires screen our innate urge for knowledge and spiritual growth.
It is sensible not to continue clinging to a parochial self-image when our real nature is so loftier. We need to learn to restrain our animal desires and selfish senses. The Gita advises that we ought to slowly bestow more value to our higher nature, away from a synthetic dichotomy and conditioned behaviour. Each of us shall remain incomplete as long as we consider ourselves separate from our fellow human beings and other creatures.
Anything and everything being nothing, but different permutations and combinations of energy, we are all somehow related at a very basic level. And if we are all inter-related, where is the need for the discord and divisions amongst us that we see all around. However, it is also true that there is no incentive to grow without conflict.
It is the perennially raging conflict and human urges to excel vis-a-vis others which have seen the human civilisation grow to the level we see today. But human urges and drives for growth by itself is not as bad as the desire to grow at the expense and to the exclusion of others. The fact that we can all grow together without compromising anyone’s ‘just deserts’ is beyond dispute.
As we are all born with varied capacities and destinies, there is enough space and scope for everyone’s growth. Peaceful coexistence without dominance of our beastly instincts for one-upmanship can take human civilisation farther than we visualise. When we master the capacity to see through the unity and uniformity in the divine Creation, we stop feeling alienated and separated from each other.
And the moment that happens, we mature to be a more advanced society than we are. And what’s the need to spar over something which is so transient and mythical. After all, our life is nothing but a mirage. This is borne out by the fact that everything around us is changeable. And anything that keeps on changing can never be the same and hence, can’t be real as is the case with the world around us. Indeed, the world around us keeps changing thick and fast without most of us even noticing it.
The living beings keep disappearing at regular intervals, the physical structures keep transforming, the landscapes keep changing as do our attitudes and thoughts. According to Quantum Physics, the reality is relative to the observer. The observation and the observed get influenced by the presence of the observer.
So, everything which keeps changing can’t be true. To be real, it should be constant and unchanging. Only that could be said to be real which never changes. And it is our eternal consciousness, as inalienable part of the Supreme Self, which is said to be constant and real.
If we realise that we are all part of the same whole and spiritually related, we shall cease to have a reason for conflicting with one another. Universal love ensues when we see ‘all in ourselves and ourselves in all’ around us. The problem arises when we get detached from the rest and attached to the evanescent experiences stemming from the senses and sensory objects.
It is this disarray and disorder which keeps us mired in ‘Maya’ and keeps our selfish desires in command of our senses thereby creating all the trouble and conflicts around us.
One sure way to keep our selfish desires and urges in check is to indulge in regular meditative practices as also in ‘selfless action’. The ‘Meditation’ is defined as the withdrawal of oneself from the sensory world by focussing within one’s consciousness.
Forgetting the outside world, one should get completely engrossed in a world within. One easy way of attaining the state is to watch and concentrate on one’s breathing, thereby peeling oneself away from the sensory world. This inner world is as real and infinite as the world of senses appear to us. In these dark depths, flaming anger can be easily transformed into soothing compassion, ill-will into sublime goodwill and hatred into all-pervasive love.
Our eyes don’t see, the ears don’t hear, the mind doesn’t think and the sensory world is left behind when all consciousness, desires and thoughts are evacuated from the senses during meditation. With corporal and sensory awareness lost, the consciousness is no longer confined in space. For all practical purposes, one becomes aware that one is not a creature separate from others. An understanding, thus, dawns upon one that the world is one, indivisible and infinite.
The observer and observed become one in pure consciousness and energy. The same energy flows through the entire life. One just hopes that as we realise the fundamental unity and harmony in all aspects of Creation, we shall become more capable of realising our true human potential, thereby bringing more sanity and sense in our world which is presently marred by constant conflicts and chaos.
(The writer is an IAS officer, presently posted as the Commissioner of School Education, West Bengal. Views are personal and don’t reflect those of the Government.)