Lesson 41: Enquiry on the result of our enquiry
Can we experience the illusory nature of the universe OR is it just a logical conclusion based on the truth revealed by the Holy Scriptures?
Since our body/ mind are the part of illusion, can we ever experience it? We might be spending a considerable length of time on understanding that the universe is an illusion. We might get convinced on the logic and start believing that the world is an illusion. Nevertheless, may be it is not the truth. We can be absolutely sure only if we experience it ourselves. Is it possible to get such experience?
Example: In a magic show, the magician shows a big ball, which in front of our own eyes becomes smaller and vanishes without a trace in ten seconds. We have no clue how this trick is done. In addition, when we describe the event to our friend later if he asks ‘how?’ we are speechless. We realize that the illusion is inexplicable. However since we have experienced it directly, we have the conviction that it has happened.
Similarly, we have already seen that the illusory nature of the world is inexplicable. Can we experience it in the way we experience the disappearance of the ball in the magic show?
Yes, it is quite possible. We are experiencing the illusory nature of the world directly.
In the example, if the ball takes 20 seconds to disappear instead of 10 seconds, will it be an illusion? The answer is yes. If it takes 20 years to disappear, it is still an illusion.
We see that nothing is permanent in this world. What is today does not exist tomorrow. People keep changing and vanish from the face of the earth. Everything around us is in a constant state of flux.
Even our own body and mind keep changing every moment. While we notice the changes in the body occasionally, we do notice that the mind changes every moment. The nail we have now on our fingers was not existing couple of weeks before. The mind was calm and quite in the morning but by evening it is fully agitated.
We can see the time is flowing steadily converting the future to the past. The future is becoming past as we observe, may be at a slower rate compared to the magician’s ball.
Statement 80: We are experiencing the illusory nature of the universe.
Among all these changes, we experience the observer to be constant, changeless and ever-present. That is the only reality, self. Everything else is an illusion.
Statement 81:I am the changeless experiencer who is aware of all the changes.
Lesson 42: Enquiry on length of the enquiry
How long one has to study the Holy Scripture and enquire on the truth? The obvious answer is ‘Until one gains enlightenment’. But there is an important difference between this question and a student asking how long I have to study.
Student asks this question since it is painful to study. This is true for achieving most of the worldly goals. Therefore, everyone will be naturally concerned with the time it takes to put in the effort. Thus, the question is asked ‘how long should I study?’
However, in case of gaining the ultimate knowledge this common phenomenon is not applicable. The time spent on putting the effort will be as enjoyable as getting the desired result.
Example: I am feeling hungry, give me food to eat.
The question how long should I eat will not arise. Although eating is a means to an end, it is not difficult but it is an enjoyable process. And it gives benefit corresponding to the effort.
Similarly, in our quest for the knowledge the means is very enjoyable. During the study of Holy Scriptures, one has to study that he is immortal, pure awareness whose nature is to be joyful. These are very pleasant thoughts. Therefore, there is no need to crib or worry about how long one needs to go through this step.
Example: Someone shouts: ‘You are a fool’
There are many ways to respond to such an event which will entirely depends on the personal preferences and personality of a person. However, if a person is ignorant, he will be hurt. An enlightened person will not get hurt because, he knows:
The other person is also the very same self
The body/mind complex of the speaker and self are parts of illusion
The world does not really exist
The words ‘You are a fool’ is a dream dialogue spoken out of ignorance.
I am complete as I am. I do not have to do anything to become complete
I do not have to gain any more knowledge
I am immortal (and he does not know he is also immortal)
It will be a pleasure to sustain such thoughts arising from the study of Holy Scriptures and therefore there is no point in asking the question ‘how long’. Since the effort itself devoid of all the negative emotions and invocation of all good values, the effort is as joyful as the ultimate goal of joyful living.
Statement 82: If we understand the joyful nature of the enquiry process, we will not enquire on the required length of time.
Lesson 43: Enquiry – Summary (Practical)
Notes to the teacher:
Since the Unit 4 on enquiry is a long one, allow the students to assimilate the ideas by asking them to summarize the conclusions from the enquiry.
For example, ask the students to discuss the difference between
GOD and One GOD and Self ONE and Self
Self and Ego ONE and EGO Gods Will and Free Will
Omniprevalent and Omnipresent Omniprevalent and Omniscient
Omniprevalent and Omnipotent Omnipotent and Omniscient
Omnipotent and Omnipresent Omnipresent and Omniscient
At the end of the enquiry, it should be realized that it is not possible to answer any question completely. The enquiry will become endless debate, if the students are aiming to gain intellectual superiority through their capacity to argue. The truth is all the above concepts are part of the illusion. There is no question to be asked about anything since nothing exists.
Therefore, the purpose of the enquiry is not to find answers to any question regarding creation, role of god, role of human beings, purpose of life etc. The purpose of the enquiry is to realize that there is nothing to enquire.
At the end of the debate among the students, the teacher can identify three types of people.
Type 1: Who are debating from the beginning to end (no end)
Type 2: Who are not debating at all since they do not have clarity
Type 3: Who stop debating after gaining the understanding that there is no point in debating.
Only Type 3 students are enlightened. They know that they exist and nothing else exists. They do not argue because both sides of the debate are meaningless and part of the illusion.
Game: Play the blind folded – obstacle-avoiding game where the obstacles are removed after blindfolding. The progress of the player is affected and he suffers due to the non-existing obstacles.
The world is non-existing and it gives all the problems to those who are blindfolded with ignorance. Clarity in vision that there are no obstacles should be the result of enquiry.
Building blocks of Joyful Living
Number of Sessions 23
(81 to 103)
Number of Lessons 9
(44 to 52)
On completion of this Unit, the student will be able to
(a) Understand the impact of the three building blocks on Joyful Living
(b) Assess his own stage of development with respect to each of the building block and set the course for improvement
Notes to the teacher: (Ref 6.257 to 6.288 of the original text)
Three factors (Dispassion, Equanimity and Right Knowledge) are referred as building blocks of Joyful Living from the point of view of enjoying the fruits of the knowledge. They are not strictly required in full measure for attaining enlightenment. After enlightenment, we realize that we are not the mind and the body and mind belongs to God in the relative plane of reality. We are supposed to maintain our body and mind complex in a fit condition till our death. These three factors provide the means and method to maintain our mind in the fit condition as trustees of the mind and not as an owner or possessor.
Secondly, to explain ANY CONCEPT fully, the students have to make an enquiry on three aspects namely, Cause or Origin, Nature and Effect or Consequence of it. Thus 3 X 3 = 9 components are discussed in this unit and the student should be exposed to the cause, nature and effect in general without reference to the three building blocks so that they can apply their knowledge to other fields of knowledge as well.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is referred as Eight Enablers of Equanimity. Arrange for an external faculty who is an expert on Yoga Sutra to take Sessions F89-98.
1. Define the three building blocks of Joyful Living.
2. What is the recommended order in which the three building blocks are to be gained?
3. What are the stages of growth described for the three building blocks?
4. Is there any contradiction between Dispassion and Desire?
5. What are the Eight Enablers of Equanimity and describe each of them.
6. What are the impact if any one of the three components are gained less than 100%.
Lesson 44: Three building blocks
The transition from ignorance to enlightenment seems to be a difficult if not an impossible task. It should be understood that it is not by luck/ god’s grace/ chance one gets enlightenment. One has to put in hard work to reach the goal. The path is very systematic.
Attaining enlightenment is very similar to any other task like swimming or cooking a meal. For those who do not know how to cook, cooking a meal might look like an impossible task.
Example: Building a house is not an impossible task if one has enough money and desire to build the house.
Those who do not have enough commitment cannot attempt to gain enlightenment in this birth. Merely possessing money will not materialize the house. Similarly, the intelligence alone will not bring about enlightenment. One must have deep desire.
Once these two basic requirements are, fulfilled one is ready to embark on the path to enlightenment.
Three distinct but related building blocks (dispassion, equanimity and the right knowledge) are required to attain Joyful Living. Enlightenment is being rooted in the right knowledge that world (including the body/mind complex) is unreal. Such right knowledge cannot be gained without minimum measure of dispassion or equanimity. However if all the three building blocks are available in full measure then, only then, the quality of Joyful Living will be of the highest order.
Statement 83: Dispassion (Non-attachment to any object, event or person)
Statement 84: Equanimity (A calm and composed mind that does not get elated nor get depressed)
Statement 85: Right Knowledge [I am the only reality and GOD/ Universe (including my body/ mind complex) are an illusion sustained by me.]
It is like a three-ply rope. These three components are intertwined. One supports the other. It is not possible to start spinning a rope with just one strand without using the other two. To spin a rope all the strands are to be used in equal measure.
The strength and the length of the rope entirely depend on the strength and length of the strands. Similarly, the quality and the steadiness of Joyful Living depend on these three components. If anyone of the three components is weak then it will affect the effectiveness of the whole.
Lesson 45: Defining dispassion
The cause or origin of dispassion is to see the inability of the worldly objects to provide lasting happiness.
Example: If food mixed with poison is given to a hungry person, he will have dispassion (and not eat) if he knows the limitation of such food.
Similarly, if a person knows the limitation of the worldly objects in leading one to sorrow, non-fulfillment and binding, he will have dispassion.
The nature of dispassion is to deciding to drop the dependence on the worldly objects for happiness, peace and security.
The consequence of dispassion is never again to become a slave to the worldly objects.
Dispassion is defined as non-attachment to any object, event or person. Attachment is a quality that binds us to the unreal universe. In order to live joyfully one needs to get freedom from attachments. Dispassion means not having any attachment that binds us to any object, event or person.
Statement 86: Dispassion is an internal mental understanding and does not warrant any changes in the behavior in the external world.
Example: You love your child. If you do not have dispassion, you are also attached to the child. Dispassion means to understand that the attachment is just an idea in the mind and not real. If you have complete dispassion, you will still love your child in the very same way. You will continue to do all your duties to the child (in a better way).
It should be noted that dispassion is not running away from the worldly possessions but it is a mental attitude towards worldly possessions. One who has complete dispassion may still be working and gaining worldly possessions. One can enjoy the pleasures of the world without any limit and still maintain the attitude of complete dispassion.
Example: A cashier in bank is handling lots of money. He does not feel sad when he gives out cash nor feels happy when he receives money because he has no attachment to the money.
One should be handle one’s own money in this manner. The bank cashier is not careless with money but he does not have any ownership feeling. Similarly, one should not have any ownership feeling on the personal wealth. A person with dispassion will be able to handle wealth in a more efficient manner than one who is deeply attached to it.
Dispassion towards worldly objects, events and persons can be developed by seeing their inadequacy. People are generally caught in chasing the worldly possessions (including relationships/ friendships) thinking that they will get them the fulfillment. Unless one is weaned away from this wrong notion, he will not have the inclination to work towards enlightenment. To develop dispassion one should:
See that the material gains are impermanent
They do not give lasting happiness
One does not get complete fulfillment on gaining any object
It is not enough if the limitation or inadequacy of the worldly possessions is seen or understood once. One has to keep reminding himself as often as possible to change the ways of life.
Example: Cigarette smoking is bad for health. One should keep on meditating on this thought until it sinks into the sub-conscious mind. Only after repeated autosuggestions given over a period, it is possible for someone to take necessary steps to stop smoking.
If the knowledge that cigarette smoking can be compared to the raw stage of a fruit, stopping the smoking habit is the ripe stage.
Similarly, one should get into a right company which points out the defects of the worldly possessions repeatedly and consistently. When this happens, one will have a deep desire to stop desiring worldly possessions.
It is not possible to develop dispassion in a short period. It requires many life times to acquire complete dispassion. Everyone has some degree of dispassion and one should continuously try to increase it.
Lesson 46: Developing dispassion
Session: F83 – F85
Dispassion is the result of the knowledge that the worldly objects/ events/ persons do not give lasting happiness. Dispassion can come in two different ways.
Experience based dispassion. People think that they will gain the happiness on fulfillment of a particular desire. On fulfillment, some other desire will crop up. Thus, most people are on an ever-lasting wild goose chase. Those who are intelligent will see a pattern in this search for happiness and realize the truth that there is no lasting happiness in the worldly objects/ events/ persons. This experience will result in dispassion.
Knowledge based dispassion. If one systematically study the Holy Scripture with a view to understand the answers to the questions ‘Who am I’ or ‘Who is god’ they will end up in finding out that there is no lasting happiness in the worldly objects/ events/ persons. This knowledge will result in dispassion.
However, the quality of such dispassion varies person to person and time to time.
The various stages of dispassion are discussed below:
This is also called seed dispassion because without this minimum dispassion one cannot progress to next degrees of dispassion. In general, most people are busy chasing material objects and may not get a chance to stand back and reflect on what they are doing. Therefore, it is difficult to gain this first degree of dispassion.
The possibility of the world being a mirage is suggested in various books on philosophy. Nevertheless, one should have enough interest to read such books. With right company of friends, few stray into acquiring the seed dispassion, which motivates them to look deeper.
This may not happen to all. However, most of them after reaching old age develop a dispassion due to their inability to function in the world as before.
This is partial dispassion. Such dispassion comes naturally when one becomes a parent. One starts sacrificing many things in life for the sake of their children. Without being consciously aware of they develop a sense of satisfaction by denying the sense pleasures to themselves.
With the seed dispassion and this experience of getting happiness without seeking sense pleasures make them progress faster. They soon will have a list of things which they were very fond of earlier (some such items were thought to be so dear that without them they cannot live) but no longer required.
Slowly people realize that there is no lasting happiness in the worldly pleasures.
Third degree dispassion:
This is also called blind dispassion since as long as the objects/ persons are not visible people do not crave for it. When there is an opportunity to enjoy sense pleasure they do not abstain from it but they do not seek them consciously.
This is the minimum level one has to reach to be eligible to gain the ultimate knowledge that lead one to get enlightenment.
Fourth degree dispassion:
This is the penultimate level of dispassion, wherein even when the objects of pleasure are available for enjoyment one does not get tempted. One is firm on the conviction that there is no happiness in the worldly possessions and stay away from them.
It will be much easier to gain the knowledge if one achieves this degree of dispassion. However, it is not a prerequisite that one should reach this level before gaining knowledge. This level can be reached easily reached during the Inner Transformation stage of gaining the knowledge.
Statement 87: Developing complete dispassion is possible only if complete Right Knowledge is gained.
It will be very difficult to reach this level without gaining the Complete Right Knowledge. Therefore, normally whoever reaches this level would have gained the knowledge also. Complete dispassion is a mixture of apparent opposites. At this level, one will not expect pleasure from any objects/ events/ persons in the world and at the same time, one will enjoy the possession of all of them.
Until one reaches this level, enjoyment of worldly pleasures may affect the progress towards Joyful Living.
Example: If one starts to enjoy the profits of a business, the tendency is to work for more profit and get more pleasure from the worldly possessions. Doing a business is like riding on a lion. The moment you get down the lion will eat you. Therefore, one is caught in the loop of earning and spending which will result in slavery to the possessions.
This does not mean that one should not earn money while working for Joyful Living. Definitely, there is a link between material pursuit and the effort to reach Joyful Living. If one desires happiness from worldly possessions, then the desire for Joyful Living gets a low priority. However, if one has achieved certain degree of equanimity, it is possible to work for worldly possessions and Joyful Living at the same time.
After reaching, this level there is no restriction on possession and enjoyment of worldly pleasures. One can own the entire world and enjoy all the worldly possessions without any limit since one has a doubtless knowledge that the world is an illusion and it cannot give any happiness.
Reaching this level of dispassion means one has already reached the goal of Joyful Living. It means one will/ may enjoy all the worldly pleasures without any limit. An outsider cannot see any difference in the behavior of a person with complete dispassion and another with no dispassion. Both will be entertaining themselves thoroughly.
The only difference is the person with complete dispassion will never feel bad or suffer. He will always be happy because he is aware of the limitations of the worldly possessions. The environment dictates the happiness of the person without dispassion.
Example: One falls in love and enjoys as long as the love lasts. Once the love breaks one gets depressed. The one with complete dispassion can fall in love instantly with another person if the earlier love breaks. Ofcourse it is not necessary that one should fall in love in order to be happy.
A person with complete dispassion derives pleasure from any object and does not depend on any one object.
Example: A two-year-old child wants a specific toy in order to be happy. However, a two-month-old baby is happy with any object. It smiles and enjoys a newly acquired toy. It can easily be taken away from the baby without causing any disappointment. Even snapping the finger or whistling will make the baby happy and it will not insist that it wants the old toy back. At the same time, if the same toy is offered again, it will enjoy it as before.
The two-month-old baby does not have any attachment towards any object.
Such is the ability of a person with complete dispassion. He can switch his object of enjoyment instantly because he is not attached to any object. In addition, he is aware that he does not need any specific object for enjoyment. It should be noted that some object is required to enjoy life since the mind is also a matter. Since the knowledge ‘I am happiness’ is present in an enlightened person all he requires is some object to enjoy his own happiness. We need a mirror to see our own face. Similarly, some object is required to enjoy our own happiness.
Lesson 47: Dispassion Vs Desire for worldly pleasures
Session: F86 – F87
There is a misconception, that once we become dispassionate about the world that we will not enjoy worldly pleasures.
The sole purpose of the existence is to enjoy the worldly pleasures. We have come here to enjoy life but we are caught and as a result, we suffer.
Example: A bee comes to a flower to enjoy the honey. If it is caught, it suffers.
One should learn to enjoy life without being attached. A person with complete dispassion alone is fully eligible to enjoy the worldly pleasures.
Example: In a theme park, only healthy people are allowed to go on a roller coaster ride. Persons with heart disease are not allowed.
Since there is no such restriction in the real world, people who are not eligible to enjoy the sense pleasures are indulging in various pleasure seeking activities. As a result, they suffer.
A person with complete dispassion is aware that there is no lasting happiness in the worldly possessions. Therefore, he does not depend on them for his happiness. At the same time, he can enjoy the sense pleasures as long as it is available with complete awareness that the worldly possessions give only reflected happiness.
Example: Everyone is aware that they are praying to a stone. However, they superimpose god on the stone and worship.
We salute national flag knowing that it is just a piece of cloth.
Similarly, the person with complete dispassion can superimpose the true happiness on the worldly possessions and enjoy them. It is not possible to neither perceive god without a stone nor see a nation without an artificial symbol like flag. Similarly, it is not possible to experience happiness without the worldly possessions.
Example: One cannot look at one’s own face except as a reflection.
Similarly, one can see his own happiness only in the reflection on any external object. Therefore, the external objects are necessary for experiencing the happiness, which is our own nature. Any external objects will serve the purpose.
However, whether a person seeks worldly possession or not entirely depends on his personal preferences. One may choose not to interact with people and go to a forest to live a life of a sage or may indulge in dining and dancing everyday. This is true for anyone with or without dispassion. Everyone seeks worldly pleasures according to their personal preferences and the person with complete dispassion is no exception.
Whether a person gets an opportunity to enjoy various sense pleasures offered by this world or not depends on the accumulated results of the past actions of the concerned person. This is also applicable to everyone without discriminating whether one has dispassion or not.
Thus, both the opportunity and willingness to enjoy worldly possessions do not depend on the degree of dispassion. When people enjoy worldly possessions, those with complete dispassion remains detached from them, others are being caught without their knowledge.
Another advantage that is enjoyed by those with complete dispassion is that they can choose to enjoy what they get or what they have. Whereas others have to work hard to get what they want in order to enjoy.
Those who are working towards increasing their degree of dispassion, intentionally self impose certain restriction on enjoying the worldly possessions because they may affect the spiritual progress. The progress is made as follows:
Intelligence tells the mind that there is no happiness in the worldly possessions. Mind restrains the action organs from seeking pleasure from the external world. However, if the sense organs are allowed to enjoy sense pleasures indiscriminately then they will influence the mind to disobey the intelligence. Therefore using will power, people who strive for Joyful Living, restrict the enjoyment.
Thus those who have complete dispassion and others enjoy worldly possessions, those who are working for Joyful Living may abstain from doing so.
Statement 88: Desire for enjoying the worldly pleasure is an obstacle to develop dispassion.
Statement 89: After developing complete dispassion, one can possess and enjoy all the worldly pleasures without any limit, since the desire will be absent.
Lesson 48: Explaining Equanimity
Equanimity comes through the practice of Eight Enablers discussed in the next lesson. The nature of equanimity is to have a calm and tranquil mind. The effect of equanimity in general is reduction of worldly transactions. There is nothing in the world one will need to work to gain after gaining enlightenment.
Equanimity results when the mind is well rooted in the knowledge. The mind will not sway depending on the external objects/ events and persons because of the knowledge that the world is unreal. Having a calm, cool, composed mind is a necessity for Joyful Living.
Mind is like the rein, which is being pulled by horses in one direction and by the charioteer in the opposite direction. The rein is expected to follow the direction given by the charioteer and steer the horses in the right direction.
Mind receives inputs from the external world through the five sense organs.
Mind also receives inputs from the intelligence on what is right.
A weak mind acts on the inputs received from the sense organs only.
A strong mind acts on the inputs received from the intelligence only.
A mind that has complete equanimity complies with the direction given by the intelligence but acts appropriate to the inputs received from the sense organs.
Example: A sweet is offered to a diabetic who likes sweets.
If he is week minded, he eats indiscriminately
If he is strong minded he does not eat at all
If he has equanimity, he eats within limits
In order to develop high degree of equanimity, one should discipline both the body and mind systematically.
This is achieved through doing our daily chores (including personal, family and professional work) in a systematic and preplanned manner. The whole attention should be on the quality of work done and not on the result.
A set of process goals (listing the tasks to be completed for the day) should be drawn for everyday and it should be verified for completion at the end of the day.
It is also important to have a fixed timetable for the daily routine like getting up from bed, eating etc. If the mind is allowed to do things when it feels like, then it is not possible to develop equanimity.
Statement 90: Following a daily routine and not allowing the mind to function the way it wants is an essential requirement to progress on equanimity.
Lesson 49: Eight Enablers of Equanimity
Session: F89 – F98
Equanimity is the result of the perfection of the practice of the following eight steps. The first three steps are the foundation for the final two steps. The next two steps (4th and 5th) facilitate the 6th and 7th step. The 8th step is the cumulative result of the completion of the first seven steps. It is essential that the foundation be completed to some degree before proceeding to 6th step.
After analyzing all the steps, the foundation (the earlier steps) is to be made stronger before proceeding to the succeeding steps.
Statement 91: Abstain from five evils that are prohibited by Holy Scriptures
Step 1: Abstention
One should consciously abstain from:
being violent [One should not hurt any living being. Physical violence towards fellow human beings, animals and plants are to be totally avoided. It is also important not to use bad words that might hurt others. Even thinking ill of others should be avoided completely. One should be compassionate, affectionate, respect everything around]
Lying [To the extent possible one must speak only the truth. It is alright not to speak truth, but one must not lie at all. It is essential for one to be genuine and authentic, having integrity and honesty and to be honourable. One should align the thought, words and deeds based on a single truth. Even when one speaks the truth it should be told in a way that does not hurt the other. It should be talked in a polite, soft manner using nice words. It is essential to add lots of love if one sees the possibility of the other person getting affected by the words.]
Stealing [One should not take others possession without express and willing permission of the owner. It is also essential that one should not wish to take away others property. One should not rob others of their own experiences and freedom to meet a selfish end. ]
Immoral sex [It is totally prohibited to have sex with any unwilling partner. It is also prohibited to have sex with anyone who is less than 18 years old whether willing or otherwise. One should avoid all lustful activities]
Amassing wealth [It is prohibited to accumulate more wealth than required. The money earned should be spent to fulfill the basic needs of the self and the family. The remaining money should be spent on entertainment and hobby of the self and the family. If any more money is remaining it should be spent on charitable purposes. It is perfectly alright to build a big business empire as long as the money earned is spent appropriately. Non-productive accumulation of personal wealth is prohibited.]
Statement 92: Observe the five noble deeds suggested in Holy Scriptures
Step 2: Observances
One should consciously observe the following:
Purity [One should maintain purity both internally and externally. One should maintain personal hygiene and keep the place of living clean. It is also required things in the house are arranged in order. To the extent possible, one should maintain cleanliness at all times and at all places. In addition, one should entertain only pure thoughts. One should have reverence to orderliness, timeliness, precision and clarity.
Water purifies the body. Truthfulness purifies the mind. True knowledge purifies the intellect. ]
Contentment [One should be contended with whatever one have in terms of possessions, people and health. There should not be any trace of greed or jealousy]
Austerity [One should practice some sort of self-denial. It could be by way of keeping quiet for a specified period or fasting. The idea is to train the mind to become stronger by giving it an opportunity to act against the interest of the sense organs or actions organs. Every religion has some practices/ rituals that enforce certain level of austerity. Examples are observance of Ramadan or pilgrimage to Sabrimala during which people follow such practices like not shaving, not using pillow etc for a sabarimala trip.
One should develop the power to withstand thirst, hunger, tolerate extreme temperatures and bear the inconvenience of place or postures]
Scriptural study [One should study the Holy Scriptures with a view to understand the inner meaning. It can start with mechanical reading and reciting. Nevertheless, it should culminate in the attempt to grasp the Right Knowledge]
Surrender to God [One should recognize the existence of a higher power than the ego and perform some action – by words, thoughts and deeds – to acknowledge the grace of such higher power. Such action can be in the form of service to the poor and needy. The object of this practice is to give back something to the society in gratitude. Whatever one is, is the result of absorbing the services of parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, government and the society in general]
Statement 93: Do regular physical exercise to keep fit.
Step 3: Physical exercises
One should keep the body in a fit condition. It is essential to do regular exercises and maintain proper health. The intake of energy through food should be adequately compensated by the output through physical workouts.
Statement 94: Do regular breathing exercises as prescribed.
Step 4: Breathing exercises
The physical layer and the psychological layer are connected with each other through the physiological layer. In other words, the body and mind are connected through breath. After ensuring that the body is in a proper healthy condition one should attempt breathing exercises to influence the mind to become healthy.
Breathing exercises are to be done under expert guidance. It involves inhaling, retaining and exhaling for a predetermined duration.
Statement 95: Turn inwards by withdrawing from the external world.
Step 5: Self-restraint
One should ensure that the sense objects are not brought within the reach of sense organs during specific period. For example, not reading the newspaper will prepare the mind to concentrate and meditate.
Example: A turtle pulls all the four legs and the head inside the shell in order to escape from the dangers in the environment.
Similarly, we are supposed to withdraw the five senses and the mind inside us in order to avoid the distraction of the external environment. However, this process is done in a systematic way in six stages.
Stage 1: Sense organs are turned towards the external sense objects and the experience is collected.
Stage 2: Observe our reactions to the experience
Stage 3: Redirect our awareness from the external experience to the internal responses.
Stage 4: Recognizing the five step conversion process which converts the external experience into internal responses
Step 1: Receipt of external experience
Step 2: Conversion in to thoughts
Step 3: Classification of the thought as ‘likes’ or ‘dislikes’ or ‘indifferent’
Step 4: Based on the classification create another thought ‘I like this’ or ‘I do not like this’ etc
Step 5: Creation of the Action thought ‘Go get more of this’ or ‘I want more of this’ or ‘Run away from this’
Stage 5: Gaining control over the conversion process, by NOT performing the Steps 4 and 5. Ego is the first thought that jump involuntarily and performs these two steps. By careful observation, it is possible to restraint the ego from not performing these steps. As result, the external experiences received from the five sense organs will not affect us in any way.
Ability to attain this stage of delinking the external world with the internal experience is the purpose of self-restraint.
Statement 96: Develop the ability to concentrate or mindfulness.
Step 6: Concentration
Single point concentration or mindfulness of what one is saying, doing or thinking is the next step.
In general, the mind is of wavering type. It jumps from one stream of thought to another without any rhyme or logic. Concentration is not to attempt to modify this completely. Instead, the mind is allowed to function freely within the constraints.
Example: A calf wants to run all over the village without any constraints. It cannot be made to stand still in one place. As a compromise between these two extremes, the owner ties it to a pole with a long rope. Now the calf can freely run around anywhere within the circle circumscribed by the rope.
Similarly, in this step the mind is given a specific topic. It is allowed to think freely within the chosen topic and it is prohibited to stray into other topics. The moment it is observed that the mind is straying outside the permitted topic, it should be brought back.
After sufficient practice mind will learn to function within the chosen topic.
This step disciplines the mind to focus on an object of meditation.
Statement 97: Maintain the focus of the mind on the chosen theme
Step 7: Meditation
Maintaining the focus of the mind on the chosen theme is called meditation. Entertaining the chosen thoughts with a conscious effort will make the mind fully disciplined.
Because of practice of these seven steps, one will attain equanimity of mind. The quality of the result will depend on how well each step is completed. It is not possible to complete all the seven steps perfectly unless one has complete dispassion and the right knowledge.
Statement 98: being steady on the knowledge that I am ONE.
Step 8: Tranquility
This is not a step. If one follows the first seven steps properly, the result will be tranquility in the mind. Mind will be steady on the knowledge that the only reality is ONE and even the mind is part of the illusion. Mind will be totally devoid of any thoughts.
During the previous step, meditation, we train our mind to stay on a single thought. With effort it is possible to maintain the mind without any thoughts. After some time it is possible to stay in this state without any effort. This is tranquility.
Example: After pedaling hard for a while, if we stop pedaling, the cycle will run without any effort.
Similarly, this final step, tranquility is achieved.
This step is not one of the essential components of Joyful Living. It is quite possible to reach the destination without ever experiencing this tranquility.
In addition, mere experiencing of this tranquility does not mean that one has reached the goal of Joyful Living. The tranquility may last for hours but that is not our aim. We need to interact with the world and it is not possible to do so by keeping the mind blank.
Lesson 50: Enhancing Equanimity
Session: F99 – F100
One will gradually attain higher degree of equanimity as the other two strands (dispassion and right knowledge) culminate towards perfection. Following are the various degrees of equanimity one has to cross through before reaching perfection.
The mind is swayed heavily in this lowest level. If somebody says something with a stern face, the mind gets upset. The mind does not even have the patience to understand the spoken words. Simple words will mean a lot to those people in this level. For example, the word ‘lottery’ will make their mind fly high with the imagination that they have won big prize money.
Mind is very fickle at this level.
The information received through the sense organs are processed centrally and compared with the past knowledge in order to decide the true meaning of the information. For example if a friend says a harsh word, the mind takes some time to understand the true impact of the words before getting affected.
Mind is still influenced largely by the external factors. However, unlike in the first level it is more stable.
Third degree equanimity
At this level, the mind is influenced more by the inputs from the intelligence than by the inputs from the sense organs. For example if an enemy says a harsh word, the intelligence discounts the same as a biased view and the mind is not unduly perturbed.
At this level the external objects, events and persons are filtered by the intelligence before they could have any impact on the mind.
Fourth degree equanimity
This is the penultimate level of equanimity where the intelligence is in total control over mind. It can decide which factors can affect the mind and which factors cannot or should not. There is selective memory. Intelligence can train the mind to recollect pleasant thoughts and forget unpleasant thoughts.
Even at this stage, the mind does get affected frequently because the intelligence is functioning without the right knowledge. As a result, an event, which need not affect the mind, is allowed by the intelligence as an event of importance.
At this level, the mind does not brood over the past and feel guilty of past actions. This is so because the intelligence is superior enough to control the mind saying that crying over split milk does not help.
Nevertheless, the same is not true with respect to the future. The intelligence without the right knowledge assumes that the future is very important. As a result, the mind frequently worries about the future or have anxiety.
It is not possible to reach this level of equanimity unless one has complete dispassion and right knowledge.
The mind does not oscillate between the past and future and stays in the present all the time. Every moment of the life is well lived by a person with complete equanimity. He also plans the future by thinking but he does it with consciousness that he is thinking about the future. Those without the right knowledge will start living in the imaginary future. They will be affected because of their attachment to the plans.
This level is also called complete mindfulness level. The mind is fully aware of all the words, all the deeds and all the thoughts all the time. Nothing happens unconsciously.
During deep sleep, the mind is not functioning at all. No worries and anxieties haunt the mind during deep sleep. Similarly, for a person who has reached this level, mind is blank. It has full freedom to deal with all sorts of inputs from the external world. It responds appropriately since it is not clouded by unwarranted emotions. Freedom from the known, results in Joyful Living.
Both dispassion and equanimity are highly complementary. Development of one quality will automatically facilitate the development of the other. However, the Right Knowledge is an unrelated component. It is possible to develop high degree of dispassion and equanimity without developing the Right Knowledge.
When one acquires complete dispassion and complete equanimity without gaining the Right Knowledge, following will be the result.
Joyful Living is not possible
Illusory nature of the world is known. The knowledge of the reality that sustains the illusion is not known.
As a result, one may be frustrated with life without enjoying sense pleasures
One may shun the world but still not be happy.
There will be peace of mind but there will also be a void ness.
There will not be any sense of fulfillment/ completeness/ happiness.
Thus, right knowledge is an essential ingredient to dispassion and equanimity to culminate into Joyful Living.
Statement 99: Achieving complete equanimity is the most difficult task and will take comparatively very long time.
Statement 100: The level of Joyful Living is determined by the level of equanimity achieved.
Lesson 51: Gaining the Right Knowledge
The third and final strand to Joyful Living is to gain right the knowledge. This is the final strand because it is not possible to take the required steps towards Right Knowledge unless one has the second degree of dispassion and second degree of equanimity.
Knowledge comes from Inquiry, Introspection and Inner Transformation. Its nature is to know that the world (along with our body/mind complex) is an illusion. The effect of the knowledge is freedom from the eternal cycle of misery.
There is only one Right Knowledge.
Everyone in the world is holding on to different versions of the same Right Knowledge.
Example: Six blind men describe the one elephant in six different ways depending on their experience.
Similarly, everyone has a version of the truth depending on his vision. If a blind man spends enough effort to explore all the parts of the elephant he will have complete truth. If he holds on to just one part, he can have only part of the truth. His description of the elephant is a lower version of the truth.
In order to gain the Right Knowledge there is only one path consisting of three steps. It is preferable to have third or fourth degree of dispassion/ equanimity to progress faster on the path to the Right Knowledge.
Step 1: Inquiry
One has to do consistent and systematic study of Holy Scriptures for a considerable length of time under the guidance of a competent teacher.
Step 2: Introspection
One has to reflect on the knowledge gained and get all the doubts removed by taking the help of the teacher.
Step 3: Inner Transformation
The final step is to live according to the newly gained knowledge.
The Right Knowledge is to know that the whole universe is an illusion and the real meaning of the word ‘I’ is the only reality. Without following the prescribed steps as above people hold different levels of the Right Knowledge.
Statement 101: Right knowledge is gained by Inquiring and Introspecting the knowledge provided by the Holy Scriptures.
Lesson 52: Role of Right Knowledge
One can explore the Right Knowledge from different perspectives by asking any of the following three questions.
Who am I?
Who is God?
What is this Universe?
Any of these questions will lead one to the Right Knowledge. It is not possible to get a complete answer for any of these questions unless the other two are also completely understood.
People in general do not ask these questions.
Everyone thinks that they know the answer to the question ‘Who am I’ without any doubt. They invariably hold on to the wrong answer.
They believe in god or do not believe in god as guided by the group they belong to.
They will expect the scientists to give the answers to all the questions on the universe eventually.
As a result, they hold on to a lower level of the right knowledge.
Only when they progress on the path of Inquiry, Introspection and Inner Transformation, the Right Knowledge is gained.
There are two different stages one will have to cross before gaining the Right Knowledge.
They are called Direct and Indirect Knowledge
Complete Right Knowledge:
It is possible to reach this level without gaining the Complete Dispassion and Complete Equanimity. Although one cannot start to acquire the Right Knowledge without adequate dispassion and equanimity, one can gain complete Right Knowledge without having completed the other two components.
At this level one will know the true meaning of the word ‘I’ as surely as an ignorant person knows it to mean the body/mind complex.
Everyone who has reached this level will have the very same identical truth. However, their behavior may not be identical. It depends on their personal preferences.
Once the Right Knowledge is gained, it is permanent. There is no chance that one will slip from the knowledge and start thinking that the world is real etc. However, in case of Dispassion and Equanimity, unless continuous practice is done till one achieves Complete Dispassion and Equanimity, one might slip back. Especially if one attempts these two without the Right Knowledge, the risk of falling back is very high.
Thus, it is recommended that one starts with gaining atleast second or third degree of Dispassion and Equanimity and then proceed on getting the Right Knowledge. After completing or while progressing on the Right Knowledge one should work on the other two to complete them.
If one gains the complete Right Knowledge without gaining the complete Dispassion and Equanimity, the result will be as follows:
Joyful Living is limited to the level of Equanimity achieved. (Since the mind will be keep oscillating between the truth and illusion and not steady on the Right Knowledge)
Although the knowledge that the world is an illusion is very clear, the objects, events and persons may affect the mind for a brief moment. Soon afterwards, the intelligence will remind the mind that the world is an illusion and there is no cause to worry. Then the mind will return to peacefulness. How soon this happens depends on the ability to maintain the Equanimity.
Due to years of practice, the mind will run after the worldly pleasures. It will take a while to realize that there is no original happiness in the worldly pleasures. How soon such realization comes depends on the degree of dispassion achieved.
Thus, one should work for dispassion, Equanimity and the knowledge simultaneously since the completeness of all the three determines the quality of Joyful Living.
Statement 102: Right knowledge is the easiest of the three blocks and it supports the development of other two.
Benefits of the enquiry
Number of Sessions 5
(104 to 108)
Number of Lessons 2
(53 to 54)
On completion of this Unit, the student will be able to
(a) Progress towards Joyful Living
Notes to the teacher: (Ref 6.1 to 6.288 of the original text)
This entire Unit is to be administered as practical sessions. The doubts of the students should be clarified and each student should be given different answers depending on his level of achievement. Intellectual understanding should lead to knowledge. Logical arguments should lead to mental conviction.
The level of conviction on the truth will vary person to person and therefore the guidance should be provided accordingly. The possible questions that may come up from students are answered in the respective lessons. These are only guidelines and the teacher has to modify the same according to the level of conviction of the student.
Assignment on the personal progress of each student: Each student should describe his current stage with respect to Joyful Living and the possibility and the required steps to be followed to reach the destination.
Lesson 53: Freedom from miseries
Session: F104 – F105
Question: How can one get freedom from miseries just by gaining knowledge?
Answer: Desire is the cause of misery. (Desire is ‘I want this’ thought).
In this statement ‘I want this’, the ‘I’ refers to the combination of EGO and Self due to the Delusion. (If a person knows Self and ONE are same, then the ego would have got annihilated instantly). This bondage of imaginary ego and real self is referred as ‘I’ in the statement ‘I want this’.
This ‘want’ arises out of the inadequacy of the ego, which can never be fulfilled. Self is fully contended all the time and does not need anything from the illusory universe for its fulfillment.
Due to our Delusion we bind the ego with self, and start entertaining the thought ‘I want this’, which is the need of the ego. This desire causes misery to us,
Question: How does the desire cause the misery?
Answer: Firstly, it should be understood that it is impossible to live without having desires. Desire is the thought ‘I want this’. Every living being wants to breath, wants to eat etc. In addition to these basic wants, human beings desire to act (talk, think and/ or do some physical action). This desire to act is also a basic necessity for the human beings.
Secondly, to fulfill this basic necessity of being involved in some activities, people need to have some purpose or goal in life. It is not possible to do any action without a specified purpose. Therefore, they may have desire to earn more money, name, fame or to pray god, study Holy Scriptures or serve the poor etc.
Desire will cause misery when this goal in life becomes more important than fulfilling the basic necessity of being in action.
Example: Even after meeting the basic need of food, shelter and clothing for the self and family, people continue to work and earn more money. If questioned why they may answer ‘I want to build my own house’.
If this person is aware that he is having the goal of building a house for fulfilling his basic need of keeping himself occupied, he will not have any misery. However, people are ignorant. They assume that the house has the potential to give happiness. Besides, they think, they are working harder only for building a house and when this dream is fulfilled they will relax.
Thus, house becomes more important than work. This will cause anxiety, fear, worry, stress and all such negative emotions.
If it is recognized that the desire for the house is actually the modified version of desire to work then such desire will not lead to misery.
Since people have the constant feeling of inadequacy, they seek various objects for fulfillment.
The house is an inert object. It has no power to make anyone happy or unhappy.
The fact is the desire for the house is to satisfy the basic need of to be in action.
However, it is difficult to understand that there is no happiness in the house and by nature we want to be doing some work.
Desire brings misery only to those who are ignorant about these two facts.
Enlightened people understand these two facts and therefore, desire do not cause any misery to them.
Example: People pray to stones knowing fully well that they are just stones and not Gods. They superimpose their personal god on the stone and worship it.
Similarly, after gaining the knowledge one is aware that the happiness is his real nature and it is reflected in the objects of the world. Although the house is intended for personal use, it is not a selfish desire since it is not for making the self happy. Such unselfish desires will not bring any misery.
Question: I understood the oneness of myself and ONE. But still I suffer?
Answer: This is not possible. One cannot ask a question, ‘I know this is poison. But tell me how should I avoid consuming it?’ If one really understands the meaning of poison, there is no way he is going to ask such question.
Similarly, if one understands the oneness of Self and ONE, there is no way he can be caught in the misery of the world. The issue is apparent in the question itself. The word ‘myself’ refers to the Self and the word ‘I’ refers ego. It shows that there is confusion in the mind of the questioner.
Question: Even after gaining the knowledge, nothing seems to have changed?
Answer: Nothing is expected to change except the acquisition of the knowledge. There will be no mystical experience or capability to perform miracle associated with the acquisition of knowledge. The status that we are ever free from misery is not known earlier and now it is known.
Mind is composed of the Aura, Energy and Matter and the proportion in which they are composed will vary person to person and time to time. People at the lowest rungs of the spiritual ladder identify themselves with the mind and as a result, they suffer or enjoy depending on the status of the mind. People at the next level are aware that they are different from their mind. However, these people wrongly expect that once they gain the knowledge their mind will become steady and will always remain calm and cool. When they get anger or irritation, they will attribute it to their inadequacy of the wisdom. The wise people on the other hand, do not bother about the status of the mind. They are aware that by nature the mind is prone to mood swings and they are aware it is a part of the illusion.
The goal is to know that the mind is a part of the illusion by gaining the knowledge that our real self is not affected by the status of the mind.
Question: Can an enlightened person have desires?
Answer: Since it is said that the desire is the cause of all miseries in the world, the enlightened person is wrongly presumed not to have any desires. Every human being will have desires and enlightened people are not exempted from this rule. However, there is a marked difference between the desire of an ignorant person and an enlightened person.
While the desires of an ignorant person arise from the need for fulfillment, the desires of an enlightened person arise out of fulfillment. Ignorant person desires various objects in life because he wants to be happy. Enlightened person desires various objects in life because he is already happy.
For an ignorant person, the cause of desire is the need for fulfillment. It is a selfish desire originated from the ego. If the desire is not fulfilled, he will get disappointed. Even if it is fulfilled, he will not be completely satisfied. New desires will replace the old ones and he will continue to seek fulfillment.
For an enlightened person, the desire is selfless and it does not matter to him whether his desires are fulfilled or not. His sense of completeness will not get disturbed. The desire arises in him due to two fold reasons.
Primary Reason: He is born into this world with a set of accumulated results of his past actions. These are to be exhausted through experience and such experience can come only through his actions. Actions are always lead by desires.
Secondary Reason: He is born into this world with a set of accumulated preferences which determines his likes and dislikes. He knows that the world is an illusion. However, he also knows that his body/mind complex is part of that illusion. Therefore, he enjoys the functioning of the illusion through his own body/mind in the form of various likes and dislikes.
He generally works for social cause, helping others to progress in life towards enlightenment. He may also continue his material pursuit since nothing really matters to him. (Social service is not any better than doing business!)
The ego is not bound to the self in case of the enlightened person. Therefore, the actions originated from towards the fulfillment of the desires do not bind the self.
However, in case of the ignorant the binding between the ego and self causes all the misery. He is always in search of the ever-elusive goal of joyful living without knowing that his essential nature is to be joyful.
The essential nature of the ego is desire since it seeks fulfillment. The essential nature of the self is to be complete by itself without any need to do any action.
Binding these two opposite entities together causes negative effect on both. Self is powering ego to pull itself down!
In general, people are bound to their desires in two ways. One, they are affected by the fulfillment or otherwise of the desires. Two, the result of their action will bind them to more action.
Enlightened people will also have desires but they are not attached to the desires. Their desires do not bind them in either way.
Statement 103: Enlightened persons will have non-binding desires.
Lesson 54: Practical – Joyful Living
Session: F106 – F107
Question: Even those who gained the knowledge seem to suffer. Few enlightened people are affected by disease, poverty and other misfortunes of life. How can this be explained?
It is essential to understand the type of benefit one will get on gaining the ultimate knowledge. It is not that the events in life will be any different. Nor it is expected that the people will behave any differently to the enlightened.
With respect to physical suffering
The body will age and oscillate between health and ill health. There will be absolutely no difference between those who have gained the knowledge and those who are ignorant in this respect.
Example: If there is an accident, the body will get hurt and bleed.
The pain and discomfort suffered will be same for all. However, the ignorant will be unhappy because he thinks that this unfortunate event has happened to him. However, the enlightened knows that this has happened only to his body and not to him.
The ignorant will try to find the cause of the accident and try to fix the responsibility for the accident on others. The enlightened is aware that he suffered the accident solely due to his past actions. He will not blame anyone. (However, he may also claim the insurance money, if any!)
The attitude of an enlightened person will be very positive. Even an ignorant person may react equally positively. Therefore, to an outsider it is almost impossible to distinguish the ignorant from the enlightened based on the reactions.
Statement 104: The pain belongs ONLY to the body. The body of the enlightened may undergo pain and suffering but the enlightened observes it as a third person, since he is not the body.
With respect to mental suffering
There will be significant difference between the ignorant and wise with respect to mental suffering. The ignorant will have anxiety, fear, hatred, anger, jealousy, greed, shame, lust, vengeance, animosity, worry and such negative emotions. The enlightened will have none of these emotions.
Example: Someone is insulted.
The ignorant will be hurt. The enlightened will not feel any hurt.
The ignorant will hate the person who insulted him. The enlightened will not. He is aware that everyone is the reflection of the same ONE.
Whether ignorant or enlightened, one may or may not show the disapproval of the act.
The ignorant may not show the disapproval fearing further insult. The enlightened may not show the disapproval since he is not bothered.
The ignorant may react instantly prompted by his emotions and do varied actions to express his disapproval. The enlightened may also do the same thing so that such things do not recur but it will not be involuntary.
The enlightened does not feel any negative emotion. Many of the ignorant might be capable of suppressing such negative emotions – suffer silently – and not express the same.
The enlightened will opt to feel all the emotions when he lives as a part of the society. It is just as acting in the appropriate role. The actor may or may not feel the emotion that is being expressed. In either case he is aware that he is acting.
Statement 105: Emotions belong to ONLY to the mind. An enlightened does not have one mind. He is the basis of the whole universe, which includes his mind.
Therefore, it may not be possible to identify the enlightened based on the presence/ absence of reaction.
With respect to attitude in life
The ignorant will feel inadequate all the time. Most people in the world will be working to achieve something. Name, fame, power, position, property, awards, and rewards, the list is endless.
The enlightened will have a sense of complete fulfillment because he is immortal, joyful and pure awareness. He will not feel the need to do anything. He will have the feeling of having done everything that needs to be done.
While the ignorant will act for happiness, the enlightened will act out of happiness.
It will be still difficult to identify the enlightened based on this behavior because there may be many ignorant and lazy people who might be fully satisfied with life. They may also not get involved in any action for happiness and therefore resemble the enlightened.
While some enlightened will lead an active life, others may shun the lime light. This behavior is due to the accumulated preferences of each individual and has no bearing on their wisdom.
Thus, it is not possible to differentiate the ignorant from the enlightened based on the outward expression. It is totally an internal transformation not detectable through external observation. However, one enlightened person will be able to identify other easily not based on the actions but based on the assessment of the knowledge.
Question: It is said that the desires are born out of incompleteness. After studying the scripture one gains the knowledge that he is complete. However, it appears that the desires in the mind continue to be present.
Answer: Desires belong to the realm of mind. Mind is not self. Therefore, I do not have any desires after gaining knowledge but by mind continues to have desires!
Example: Can we remove the red color from the crystal that is placed next to a red flower? It is not possible because the crystal is always colorless. The red color that is seen on the crystal is the reflection of the red flower. It is not possible to remove the red color from the flower also because it is its nature.
Similarly, we cannot remove the desires from the mind since it is its nature. We cannot remove the desires from our self because it is not there in the self.
We can separate the crystal and flower thereby the color is removed in the Crystal!
However, in case of the mind this is not possible until death. All we have to do is to understand the nature of mind is to have desires. Such desires are non binding and they arise from the sense of fulfillment. Whereas the desires in the mind of an ignorant person arise out of incompleteness and he seeks fulfillment by satisfying the desire.
The preferences in the mind will continue to dominate in both the wise and ignorant. While the ignorant thinks that he needs to get what he likes, the wise prefers to get what he likes.
Studying the Holy Scriptures is to gain the knowledge that I am not the mind and not for removing the desires from the mind.
It is impossible to remove the desires from the mind since no action can be done without desires. Even for survival, one should have desire for eating food. Therefore, desires will continue without any ill effect after gaining the ultimate knowledge.
Question: Even after understanding the oneness, why we are affected by the duality?
The intellectual understanding of the oneness of the universe does not prevent the external objects, events and persons to cause disturbance to us. Then what is the use of this understanding?
If this is the status, it means that the oneness of the universe remain as a piece of information and not internalized as knowledge.
Example: I understand that the world is in the shape of a ball. I will not fall down because I am on top of the ball! – This is incorrect understanding.
Similarly, if one asks the above question, it means he has not understood the oneness.
The only solution to this problem is to study the Holy Scriptures again and understand the nature of the composition of the universe.
Example: If something is not clear to the eye, we can wipe our eyes to see clearly. If it is still not clear, we can throw more light on it and then see. If still not clearly visible, we can use a magnifying glass.
However, whatever we do we need to use our eye to see the object. Just because we are not able to see clearly, we cannot use our ears to see.
Similarly, as long as we are not able to understand clearly, we will be affected by the duality. There are three levels in this understanding
Level 1: Those who know that this world is real will continue to get affected by the objects, events and persons in the world. They have no exit route as long as they are not willing to let go their assumption that the world is real.
Level 2: Those who know (after serious enquiry) that the world is not real but not very clear how this world is created will see a way out of the miseries of the world. However, they cannot yet get there. They will continue to get affected by the miseries of the world although the degree to which they are affected may be considerably less than those who are in level 1.
Science has taught us that systematic study will bring us closer to complete understanding of any chosen subject. Since we are exposed to such clarity, we expect to understand very clearly the construction and composition of the universe after studying the Holy Scriptures. This is where the problem lies.
It is not possible to explain the universe in any precise and scientific manner because it is an illusion. If we could explain it the way explain the construction of a building, then the universe will become a reality. Since it is an illusion, no one will ever be able to define it and explain everything in a scientific manner.
Level 3: Those who know the world is an illusion will not be affected by the external object, event and persons because they are aware that everything is part of the illusion. They have an absolutely clear understanding that the universe cannot be understood. They see the falseness in everything and reduce them to the only reality, Self/ ONE.
Until one reaches the Level 3, one has to continue the process of inquiry and introspection of the Holy Scriptures.
Even after crossing the level three, we are affected by the world?
Using the intelligence, we infer that the world is an illusion but the sense organs keep reporting the reality of the world. Therefore, it becomes stronger evidence and make our inferred knowledge less effective. As a result, we start quarrelling on a traffic dispute, forgetting that it is all an illusion. How do we resolve this issue?
The inferred knowledge that the sun is not moving across the sky should become stronger than the perceptual knowledge that the sun is moving around earth. People who do not have sufficient intellectual capability cannot comprehend the truth.
Those who have enough intelligence will have clear knowledge that the world is an illusion. However, they may slip and start fighting after a traffic dispute due to the past Imprints created through habit. Even after clear knowledge that world is an illusion, we will continue to have the same body and mind. Our face will not become more beautiful/ handsome after gaining the knowledge. Similarly, the mind will continue to be the same as it was prior to gaining the knowledge.
However, after gaining the knowledge, we will start behaving in a more matured way. These matured actions have to make stronger Imprints in the mind to correct the past Imprints. Imprints in the mind are due to our habits. We need to change our habits consciously after gaining the knowledge and that is the only way to change our mind for better.
The influence of the past Imprints will start decreasing after gaining the knowledge since we will not give undue realities to the day-to-day issues like traffic dispute. Even if we pick up a quarrel due to force of habit, we will start coming out of such habit due to our knowledge. Through conscious effort, we can make this process faster and start enjoying the life without any negative emotions.
Question: The problems affect us even after knowing that the world is an illusion
For a considerably long period, we have lived in this world with the false knowledge that it is real. It will be difficult to get aligned with the opposite knowledge instantly. The mind is trained to react to the problems thinking that they affect our real self. It will take a while to retrain it to the true knowledge that the problems come to our body/ mind complex and will not affect our real self.
Any expertise comes only after being trained for a considerable length of time. It becomes even more difficult if someone needs to switch over from one type of system to the other.
Example: After driving on the left side of the road for a number of years if we are to drive in a foreign country on the right side of the road, we will find it extremely difficult to switch over. Although we are very clear that the system is different, it will take a while to unlearn our old habit. Even if we start driving on the right side, when we get off the main road, we might get confused and start driving on the wrong side of the road. This is because years of training under a different system. On the other hand, some one who learns driving for the first time will perform better.
Similarly, if we did not have any knowledge about us, the correct knowledge will be easy to practice. Since we were under the wrong impression that we are our body/ mind complex for a length of time, we have to unlearn it and then are retrained to function with the new knowledge.
This will obviously take some time.
In addition, the practice should be without interruptions and with deep interest in the practice and the ultimate goal. Unless we do consistent and continuous practice for a length of time with deep conviction, we will not become an expert.
Example: The mother enrolls her daughter in a music class. The daughter may not be keen on learning. It does not matter how regularly she attends the class or how long she attends the class. Unless she puts her heart and soul in the lessons, she will not make any progress.
We need to get the right knowledge, verify the validity of the knowledge beyond any doubt (half way through the practice if we doubt the credibility of the knowledge, the practice will be less effective) and then practice the knowledge without interruption for a considerable length of time.
It is also necessary to push this knowledge from the conscious level to the subconscious level through meditation. Once the subconscious gets the message then we can reach our destination of joyful living soon.
Statement 106: The process of gaining steady knowledge is Joyful.
Question: How one can live joyfully when there is a loss?
Answer: Such questions arise since it is assumed that happiness is a state of mind. Happiness is our true nature and not a state of mind. Mind is an inert object, which appears live because it reflects my true self.
My true nature is happiness. My mind reflects my natural happiness only when it perceives/ possesses / enjoys some worldly object/ person/ event. In case of loss, the mind is clouded with negative thoughts and as a result, it does not reflect my natural happiness.
Joyful Living means realizing that our true nature is happiness and not get disturbed by the status of the mind.
Example: If the dirty mirror shows a mark on my face, I ignore it.
Similarly, if my mind is not reflecting my natural happiness due to unfavorable object/ person/ event, I am not affected.
The status of the mind can be analyzed as follows:
We are not affected by the loss of others. We seem to be affected only when the loss happens to us.
Example: My valet with lots of cash is lost.
Every day we hear stories of loss of cash. People lose millions in stock market. We do not seem to be affected by such events unless it happens to us.
When such loss happens to us, we are not affected until we get the news.
Therefore, it should be understood that no object/ event/ person in the universe has any power to hurt me directly. This has to be converted into thoughts by me. If they are converted as thoughts under my conscious awareness, it will not give me any problem. Only when I do not know how to handle my thoughts they will hurt me. If anyone can hurt me, it is only me no one else.
When others lose money, I am not affected because I do not have any attachment with the event. Whether the money is lost by someone else or not is no consequence to me. Therefore, I remain unaffected.
When person very close to me loses something, I feel pity. If possible, I help that person to recover from the loss. In this case I am little concerned because I have some attachment with that person. How deeply I am affected depends proportionately on how much I am attached.
When I lose something I am affected more because I am attached to the object. It is quite possible that I do not get affected if I am aware that object has no role to play in determining my happiness.
Example: In a car accident, the car was badly damaged but the driver escaped unhurt. On the next day, he distributed sweets because he was not affected and only his car was damaged.
Similarly, if I am not attached to my possessions, the loss of any/ all of them will not affect my joyful living.
If my hand is paralyzed, I am deeply hurt because I have lots of attachment on my body. However, a soldier is willing to lose his whole body because his attachment to his country is more than his attachment to his body. Even in case of discomfort / physical pain, doctors observe that the patients react very differently. Some will accept the events and endure the pain, while others create lot of fuss. The degree one gets affected depends on the degree of attachment.
Physical hurt/pain cannot be avoided. Since the enlightened people are aware of the reason for such suffering, they will undergo the same without a murmur. Life will continue to be joyful to them because they will get used to the suffering as a part of their life. (If you have stomach pain every day before sleeping, it will stop bothering you after a while!)
Whenever we talk about ‘getting affected’, we mean the status of the mind. It is the mind, which is affected due to apparent external causes. It is the nature of the mind to fluctuate. However our knowledge about the illusory nature of anyone, any object or any event will give our mind a realistic picture. The mind can be affected only through our own thoughts and not by any external object.
In other words the only my thoughts are responsible for affecting my mind. It is quite possible to learn about the nature of external objects and internal thoughts so that we can handle them appropriately.
Even if we are successful in this attempt there will be mood swings that affect our mind. Suddenly for no reason we might feel depressed and dull. Such mood swings cannot be avoided even if we gain expertise in handling our thoughts.
It is possible to live joyfully even if the mind is affected, if we are not attached to our mind. It should be understood that our mind is just a tool (like any of our body parts) which is meant for our use. It cannot have any impact on my natural happiness.
Only when I am ignorant of my true nature, I assume that my ego is myself and get affected. My true self is independent of my ego. I need my body and mind for transacting in this world. The nature of my mind is to engage in thoughts. There is no point in having a mind without having thoughts in it. The contents of the mind will depend on the environment and it does not have any influence on my true nature.
Statement 107: In life, there are no more problems and crisis. All of them are just situations that are to be dealt with appropriately.
Therefore, I can live joyfully all the time even if there is a loss.
Question: What is the difference between the enlightened and the ignorant?
Answer: There is only one difference: Knowledge.
There is absolutely no other difference between them. Both of them behave normally in this world. Both will have desires and both will work towards fulfillment of the desires.
While the desires will invariably bring misery to the ignorant, the enlightened will have a joyful living whether the desires are fulfilled or not.
The ignorant person will be working for his happiness.
Those who want to understand the truth will be working for Joyful Living.
The enlightened will be working out of happiness.
However, for the casual observers such differences are not noticeable and therefore it is difficult to convince the ignorant person that there is a way out of misery. Only those who want to get out of the eternal cycle of swaying between happiness and misery will be able to see the difference.
Question: How an enlightened person will be able to function in the society?
Answer: Such question arises out of misinformation regarding enlightenment.
Enlightenment does not bestow any special powers like walking on the water or converting a jar of water into wine.
Enlightenment will not have any impact on the nature of the person. He will continue to be like any other normal person and therefore he will function in the society like anyone else. Infact they will be more efficient and productive in life since he is not attached to any object/ person in the world.
The enlightened person knows how to handle the reason for sorrow without getting unhappy. For an ignorant person the reason for sorrow will invariably give sorrow and therefore he will be under the wrong assumption that the external object/ event/ person is the source of sorrow.
A baby or a mad person is not bound by their actions. Similarly, the enlightened is also not bound by his actions since such actions are done without any selfish desire. For an ignorant person, the actions are binding since the ego is unintelligently bound to the self.
An ignorant person who is lazy and who does not bother about progress in life will not get involved in active work. He will be very lethargic to the events in life and may not respond like the normal person. The behavior of the enlightened will resemble this. However, such behavior comes out of total knowledge and not out of total Delusion.
Example: A pot with half-filled water will be shaky
A pot with full water will be steady
An empty pot will also be steady
Thus, the filled pot may resemble an empty pot.
Similarly, the behavior of an enlightened person may resemble that of a lazy person but he is far superior. If there is a heavy wind, the empty pot will fall down but not a filled up pot. Similarly, when the events of life have power to shake the lazy person but the enlightened will never get affected.
Some people who are on the path to enlightenment may maintain a distance from the worldly objects/ persons for the fear of getting attachment. Such practice may be required for them to get enlightenment. Until they become completely steady on the knowledge, their behavior may not be in line with the behavior of the society.
Statement 108: On attaining enlightenment, people will appear to be normal for external perception, but internally they will have non-diminishing happiness, everlasting security and undisturbed peace.