|Vedanta Spiritual Library|
Module - L
Unit - L01
Lesson L0102: Teaching the Self
By Raja Subramaniyan
Normally, a teacher should teach only those who seek to understand the Scriptures. However, if a teacher wants to teach non-seekers, following steps are prescribed.
Step 1: Teach that self is more important than others
In reality there is nothing but SELF. However, this is too difficult to understand. Therefore, the teacher should start from the known self and only after the student understands this he can proceed to teach about SELF.
Every one understands that there is a difference between self and others.
The first lesson to be taught is self is more important than others. Generally, selfless service is considered as a virtue and selfishness is considered to be an evil quality. The teacher should teach that truth is just the opposite.
A husband loves his wife for selfish reason and never for the sake of his wife.
A wife loves her husband for selfish reason and never for the sake of her husband.
No one loves anyone for the sake of the other and everyone is always selfish.
This truth should be taught using the following examples:
1. A father with a beard kissing a crying baby for his own satisfaction and not for the baby's satisfaction.
2. Money, gold and other riches are inert objects. They do not need any protection. The rich person loves and protects these riches and it is obvious that the beneficiary is self and not the riches.
3. A farmer loves his cows because they work for him in agriculture.
4. Liking or loving one's profession is not for the sake of the profession but due to the benefit that brings to oneself.
5. Praying to God is for selfish reasons and not for the Gods. Even if one prays for the welfare of others, the ultimate reason for such prayer is always selfish.
This is a simple and obvious truth. Those who cannot understand this initial lesson are not yet ready to progress to the next lesson.
Unless a person considers that self is the most important entity, he will not have inclination to understand more about self. As long as one is focused on what others will think and the roles played by others in life, it is difficult to concentrate on the lessons of SELF.
Step 2: Teach the difference in love
Once the student understands the truth that all his actions are selfish in nature, he is ready to understand the differences between love for self and love for others. The truth, SELF is the subject and not the object of love, is too difficult to understand. Therefore, the teacher should proceed to teach about the love for self as if self is an object of love. In the process of such teaching shrewd students will start seeing the unique nature of self/SELF.
Following differences between the love for self and love for others is to be taught.
1. There will be an emotional content in love for others. There is no role for emotions with respect to love for self.
2. Love for others will involve desires. For example, love for the son will give raise to many desires for his welfare. Love for the self does not result in any desire because self never undergoes any change and it is constantly present.
3. Attachment to the object of love is common in case of love for others. Love for self does not involve any sense of attachment.
4. If the loved object is another human being, then there will be faith and trust in that person. (If there is a betrayal of such trust, then the love is lost) In case of love for the self there is no role for faith or trust.
5. If one loves God, there will be devotion and willingness to perform sacrifices for God. These are not present in the love for self.
6. Love for self is expressed through the dominance of Aura component of AEM. When one is serene, peaceful and full of happiness, the love for self is obvious. Love for others will involve fear, insecurity and sorrow. For example, the love for a son will bring misery and suffering from the day of the marriage in the form of expectations and desires of pregnancy, delivery, well being of the baby, proper education for the child, good job/ wife for the son etc. The possibilities of unhappiness are virtually unlimited.
7. Love for the others keep varying depending on how they respond to our love but love for self is unchanging and always constant.
8. Love for others may turn into hatred but there is no such chance in love for self. Even if one wants to commit suicide it is the hatred towards the body or mind, which are mere objects of love and there will never be hatred towards self.
9. The object of love keeps changing from the time we are born until we die. But the love for self does not change.
10. Love as a means to happiness is partial love. Love for others is partial love since it is always for the happiness of the self. Love for self is infinite and always complete.
Step 3: Suggest inquiry into self
If the student comprehends the teaching thus far, he becomes eligible for this step. In this step, the teacher starts the inquiry process of finding out the most important object of love for the student, namely his self.
Thus, the process of self inquiry, 'who am I', starts in a subdued manner in the following lines.
'May I never perish, May I ever exist' is the common desire that is seen in all living beings. Therefore, the love for self is very evident. This desire for eternity is possible only if our nature is eternal.
Example: While visiting a foreign country, any object (food or a person) from the home country appears to be very attractive. This attractiveness is due to the fact that we are used to such object in our home country.
Similarly, since our nature is eternal, we seek eternity.
We are also aware that the feeling of I does not undergo any change at all. We observe the changes in our body, mind and intelligence. We have never noticed an iota of change in 'I'. There is no young 'I' or old 'I' because the words young and old refer to the body.
Therefore, self is different from my body/ mind complex.
Self is present at all times and at all stages. During waking, dreaming and deep sleep stages the self persists.
Step 4: Suggest introspection into self
The student may take a long time to complete systematic study of the Scriptures under the guidance of a competent teacher and understand the central message that SELF is the only source of infinite joy.
Then many questions may come up in his mind. A teacher should teach students at this level in the following lines.
Question: Since the consciousness aspect of SELF is fully reflected in the mind, why the joy aspect is not constantly reflected?
The composition of Aura, Energy and Matter determine the reflecting capability of the mind. While the basic composition of AEM in the mind of all the living beings has the ability to reflect the consciousness aspect, the joy aspect requires dominance of Aura.
Example: A lamp may spread light and heat. While light from the lamp fills up the room, heat from the lamp is not widely spread. A person sitting at far end of the room may not feel any heat from the lamp. However a person sitting close to the fire will feel the heat.
Similarly, only people with the refined mind will have the ability to reflect the natural joy of the SELF and lead a life of joy.
Question: Does it mean consciousness and joy are two different attributes of SELF? It said in the scriptures that SELF has no attributes.
SELF has no attributes. We talk about consciousness and joy as two natures of SELF just we talk about the softness and smell of a flower. The flower is only one and it is not possible to separate the softness or smell from the flower. Just because we have distinct sense organs to perceive the flower, we attribute two different qualities to the flower. Similarly, the consciousness and joy are inseparable. When our mind is Aura dominated we will be able to perceive the joy aspect in addition to the consciousness aspect else it is not possible to perceive the joy.
Example: If my nose is blocked, I cannot claim that the flower does not have any smell.
Similarly, only when our mind is Aura dominant, we will be able to reflect the natural joy of SELF. When our mind is Energy dominant, our natural joy is obscured.
Example: The intensity of the sour taste of tamarind is lessened when more salt is added.
Similarly, more Energy component, we experience less joy.
Once the teacher guides the student through the above steps, he will be able to identify the true happiness is his own nature and see that the objects of the world are part of the illusion. SELF is only one and it is common to all the living beings. All the living beings and non-living beings are mere projection of the SELF. Only those whose minds are dominant with Aura can reflect the natural joy of SELF and reach the destination of Joyful Living.
Only such people with Aura dominance will seek the teaching for Joyful Living. Those who are dominated by Energy may want to learn the content of the Scriptures, for improving their performance in material pursuit. Such people should be taken through the above four steps by the teacher.