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Destiny of the Individual



Life is of several shades. It is absolute and relative. There is embodied life, and life also exists in creatures that have no bodies. Life can be inert and lifeless, or it may be full of energy and life. It exists with high intelligence and low intelligence. All these types of life have a truth in them. That truth is omnipresent reality. Life varies infinitely. Many types are opposed to many others. Life can contradict our close experience. Life can move on to the Brahman. Brahman cannot be described in words. Again all life has one reality. It is not the sum of all these parts but more. All variations arise from Brahman. All variations are Brahman. All variations end in Brahman. There are many beliefs. They are denied and greater beliefs rise in their place. Real unity cannot show itself in our world. It splits itself into opposing aspects to us. They clash, not to destroy each other, but to discover the unity hiding behind the opposite aspect. Brahman is all, from beginning to end. There is nothing except Brahman.

As we cannot describe the taste of sugar to one who has not tasted it, this unity cannot be explained. Even if you say sugar is sweet, only you can understand it, not the hearer. The only instrument we have is the mind. Mind can conceive or experience. Our conceptions can be made better and better. We may arrive at our greatest idea. But of what use is this? Reality cannot be described by any idea. So we have to give up even our largest conceptions. That is true of our experiences, too. Even the highest experience cannot know the reality. The Indian sages arrived at a formula: ‘neti, neti', 'It is not this, It is not this.' No conception can conceive of It. No experience can know this reality.

What are we?  What is our existence? What do we think? What do we sense? Ask our minds to answer these questions. Mind says we see many activities; we see many forms. They are forms of consciousness. Mind feels many states. They are attributes of being. Mind says there is an unknowable that appears in all these ways. There is no other way of knowing the unknowable. Those states and those forms and those activities are the only medium for us. We are in a haste to arrive at a unity. Our minds wish to seize that unity and hold on to it. This makes us see the unknowable in only one aspect. We insist on limiting ourselves to that one aspect. This aspect is often pure and eternal, but it is not the whole unknowable. We take one attribute or aspect because it is vastly general and comprehensive. Or we choose a fixed formulation because it is vast in its scope. We choose an energy of an activity because it is boundless. Once we make a choice, we exclude all the rest. This way we do not do justice to the unknowable. It is a sin against its infinity. We do not arrive at unity. We divide the indivisible. It becomes a fruitless labour.

The Vedantic seers knew this truth. They arrived at Satchidananda. It is a crowning idea. It is a convincing experience. The highest that man's consciousness can see is that. They were not satisfied with that. They continued their search. It led them further to non-being. They called it asat. It is not Satchidananda: consciousness, existence, bliss.  Truly all our daily experiences are deformations of that Satchidananda. Whether it is existence, consciousness and bliss or not, it is beyond the highest we know of. Pandits call Buddhism unvedic. This is arbitrary, not true. Because Buddha did not accept the Vedas, they called it so. But Buddhism relies on this Vedantic idea. The Upanishads are more positive. Their teachings are synthetic. They experienced sat as well as asat. They did not find them opposite. Opposites destroy each other. They understood sat and asat as gates to the unknowable. Though they are opposites, they said, they are parts of the unknowable. Their ideas are so positive that their unity explains even multiplicity. This must be so because the many are also Brahman. Vidya means knowledge of the one. We know God through vidya. Avidya is knowledge of the world. The world has multiple consciousness. Without vidya, avidya is darkness. It will be a disorder created by ignorance. We cannot exclude ignorance. We cannot treat avidya as unreal. If we do, knowledge becomes useless. It becomes dark, imperfect. As light blinds men, we will not be able to see without avidya.

Such is the teaching, calm, wise and clear, of our most ancient sages. They wanted to find the ultimate truth. They did. They had the required patience and strength. They had the clarity not to confuse the part with the whole. They had the humility to admit their limitation. They saw the borders. They knew that the ultimate was beyond the borders.

In later days, it was different. They became impatient. They were powerfully attracted to an ultimate bliss. A pure experience, they knew, would give them high masterfulness. They were very highly intelligent, but it was an impatient intelligence. So they settled on the one; denied the many. The breath of the heights of the one charmed them. They forgot that the many had secret depths. They scoured the many and moved away from it. The ancient wisdom was steady. It knew that God needs to be known everywhere equally. No distinction could be made between the high and the low. They knew they must consider the value of the opposites. They could not allow the opposites to master them. To them God shone through the two ends of the opposites.

This is a partial logic. Let us put it aside. The many are an illusion to them because the one is the reality. They say asat is unreal, not because they find it unreal, but because sat is real. But we should pursue the one in the many. Then the one will reveal itself in the many.

Mind expands. In its powerful expansion mind comes to the point of transition to higher levels. These are important landmarks for the mind. This is excessive. Let us guard ourselves against these attitudes. The material mind finds it proper and easy to deny God. The spiritualised mind does so with the universe. It readily calls it an unreal dream. To us both are equal. One is not more valuable than the other. In one case, mind relies on senses only. To the mind, reality is inert matter. It has no habit of using other means of knowledge. It is unable to extend its sense of reality to the supra-physical. As matter is real to the senses, the supra-physical also has a reality. It is beyond mind's conception. The same mind goes above. It meets with the spiritual reality. The Spirit has no body, it is incorporeal. This is an overwhelming experience. As it was unable to appreciate the supraphysical, now it is unable to understand its earlier life of the senses. Suddenly the life so far lived looks like a dream or hallucination. Mind exhibits its inability in both the low and high points. There is a truth. The above two attitudes disfigure that truth. We see the truth that mind is not able to perceive. This is a world of form. Our self-realisation is set here. Here in forms anything to be valid must reach the top as well as the bottom. At the base its feet must be planted firmly in the physical; at the top it is the spirit. Without both ends, nothing is valid here, a world of forms. Matter asserts. It says it is self-existent; it is real. Form also does so. It is an illusion of ignorance. Against matter, there is the immaterial. Against the body, there is the bodiless, the incorporeal. Form and matter give them shape and substance. It is an act of divine consciousness. They represent a status of Spirit.

Brahman wants to enjoy itself. For this purpose it enters creation. Creation is not original existence, it is an existence in forms, a phenomenal existence. Brahman represents its being in material substance. Brahman is here in this world. It represents itself in the values of life. Life wants to discover Brahman hidden in itself. So it exists in Brahman. Therefore man is important. He was not to discover himself. To do so he develops the consciousness of the world. This development leads to transfiguration and self-discovery. Man wants to fulfil God in life. It is his manhood. His beginning is animal vitality and its activities. His aim is divine life.

Increasing understanding leads to increasing self-realisation. This is true of life as well as of thought. Each form is better than the previous form. Brahman expresses itself in such successive forms. They are forms of consciousness. Their relation with each other is also successive. These forms coexist in being. They exist simultaneously in the plane of time. Life is self-unfolding. It rises to ever-new heights. These co-existent forms appear in life successively. We pass from one level to another level as from mental to spirit or body to vital. We are eager for the new level attained. We refuse the old. Reaching the mind, we refuse the physical. But this is not God's intention. This way we do not fulfil God. His condition for self-manifestation will not be met by this act of ours. Our aim is perfection. Now we are imperfect.

Instead of aiming at perfection, we carry our lower imperfection to higher levels. At best we reach a smaller height. We may climb high but to keep our feet on the base is good. Losing the base will hurt our climb. We may go beyond Satchidananda to Non-Being. Still if the base is not there, it is useless. We cannot give up the lower. The lower must be raised to the higher even as the higher is. That is true divinity of Nature. Brahman is universal. At a single time Brahman combines many different states. We also must do so. We must become integral and all-inclusive.

Giving up life is one major way of the sannyasi. There is another impulse like this. Our integral ideal corrects those smaller impulses. There are three general forms of consciousness. They are the individual, the universe and the transcendent. They meet in life. Life is the nodus, the meeting point of these three. The transcendent is above the cosmos, hence it is called supracosmic. Our ordinary understanding is that the individual is separate. He is part of the universe. Both are dependent on that which is above, the transcendent. We call the transcendent, God. We see Him as all these. To us God is not above or outside cosmos. We think low of the individual and the universe and high of God. So when man reaches God, to him, the universe and the individual are non-existent. Perhaps it is logical.

Our view of the Brahman is integral, all-inclusive. It avoids the above conclusions. We live a mental life but do not give up body because we have risen to the mind. Going to the spiritual life also, we do not give up the body. So also we can arrive at a better conclusion than giving up the individual and the cosmos. We can attain to God. He is transcendent and supracosmic. We can reach the cosmic consciousness. For this we need not dissolve the individual. God embraces the universe and includes it. Universe embraces the individual and embraces him. So, why should he give up anything? The individual is a centre of the whole universal consciousness. Then what is the universe? How is it related to God? God is formless and cannot be explained. Universe is a form of God, the formless. The question of dissolving the individual or forgetting the cosmos need not arise.

The universe, man and god are one. It is always the true relation. Our consciousness is wrong or covered by a curtain of ignorance. Therefore we do not see the truth. When we reach the right attitude, the truth reveals itself. But we see nothing has changed. Our inner view has changed. The outer view has also changed. But we discover nothing essential has changed anywhere else. Because of that our spirit changes. Its effect of activity too therefore changes. Man is essential for God for His action in the world. If man is illumined and receives light, how can that make man not necessary for God? The truth is the opposite. The aim is to make the world, the collective, conscious. The world becomes conscious through the individual who is now conscious. Man remaining in the world is necessary for God's play in the world. On man attaining light, if the law wants to remove him, what would happen to the world? It would remain in darkness forever. It means death and suffering is the order of the day. That would be a merciless world or a mechanical world.

The sannyasi thinks that the individual must be given up. If so, what does that mean? What is the sense of individual moksha? If you feel life is an illusion, moksha cannot have any meaning. The monist is known as the adwaitin. For him the Supreme and the individual are one. That is true. Only the ignorant people think they are separate. So, to escape from the sense of separation is salvation, moksha. This is what the adwaitin believes. Let us examine this idea. Someone must benefit by this moksha. Now there is the individual, the supreme, and the world. The question is, who benefits by moksha? Consider the supreme. It is supreme, self, silent, pure, free. It does not need anything. So, the benefit is not for the supreme. What about the world? By one soul attaining moksha, what does the world get? It remains as before in bondage, darkness and illusion. Surely there is no benefit for the world. Does the individual soul benefit? We may think the individual will be some reality, apart from God and the world, even after moksha. If the individual is real, there is a possibility of his receiving the benefit. But the Adwaitin says the individual is an illusion. He is non-existent. He exists only in maya. No one can explain what maya is. So, neither the supreme, nor the world nor the individual benefits by this moksha. Therefore, we arrive at a ridiculous position. A non-existent soul, from a non-existent bondage in a non-existing world escapes. Is it the supreme good for one to pursue? We have the last word of knowledge: "There is none bound, none freed, none seeking to be free." Avidya is of the world, phenomenal. But vidya is eternal. Now vidya turns out to be as unreal as avidya. Logic is victorious. Maya meets us even in our escape. Maya laughs at our ideas. Logic cuts our mystery, the knot of mystery.

They say these things cannot be explained and were there from the beginning. It was thought to be a miracle which no one can explain. Let us accept them, they say, as a practical fact we find here. What method is this? This is a confusion. They want to explain a confusion through another confusion. When the individual soul seeks moksha, what does it do? It asserts its own separate existence. It seeks the benefit of moksha only for itself. This is an act of supreme egoism. It shows its attachment to itself. It means the ego can dissolve itself only by a supreme egoistic act! Our own soul is real, its moksha is important, other souls are unreal, they are creations of our imagination. Again my escape is real. Other souls can remain in fetters. They are equal to my soul!

This logic is a paradox. We assume that the self and the world are opposites. Let us put aside this argument. Then things will fall into place, settle down and explain themselves. We assert the unity of the world. We must accept the many-sidedness of the world. Whichever way we turn, we see this truth. Unless we close our eyes and refuse to see, it is there for us to see everywhere. The self, the conscious being is beyond unity and multiplicity. It is bound by neither. That is the simple, natural truth. It is 'absolute'. It is entirely free. It arranges all terms of self-expression in its own way. There is none bound, none freed, none seeking freedom. It is so because That is always free. It is perfect freedom. It is so free that it is not even bound by anything. Even its freedom does not bind it. It is under no obligation to be free. It can be free or bound as it chooses. It can pretend to be bound. It is not real bondage. Its bondage is a convention, an appearance alone. It is limited in the ego. Ego is a passing device. That wants to repeat its universality in the individual. It also wants to repeat its transcendence in the individual. Thus ego is created.

God is the transcendent, the supracosmic. It is absolute. It is free. It is beyond time and space. It is beyond our ideas of finite and infinite. God is free in the cosmos. He uses his freedom to create there. His scheme is in complementary terms. They are superconscient, conscient and subconscient. The many are many objects in form. In the material universe, it starts with a subconscious unity. It expresses itself openly in cosmic action. Because it is subconscious, the objects are not aware of themselves on the surface. In the conscient, the ego is the centre. It is superficial and is on the surface. At this point the unity can be felt. Its idea of unity is limited to form and surface action. Much takes place behind. Ego is not aware of it. Ego understands itself. It fails to see others too are itself. This is a limitation of the universal ‘I'. Our ego has a sense that it is separate. Therefore our personality is imperfect. The ego can rise above its personality. It can reach the superconscious. It is overpowered by the superconscious. It includes the superconscious. Thus it sees the cosmic unity. It enters into the transcendent self. Cosmos expresses the transcendent as multiple oneness.

The liberation of the individual is the key. For the definite divine action it is important. It is a primary divine necessity. The individual is the pivot for all else. The individual is the point of light. The self-manifestation in the many is planned to emerge in the individual. When the soul is liberated, its perception is extended both ways. It is a horizontal and vertical expansion. Only when it unites with the many, its unity with the one is complete. Horizontally the soul multiplies in other souls. It reproduces itself in other souls. The other souls are points in the multiplicity. The animal brings out the offspring at maturity. So, the divine soul reproduces itself in the liberated souls. Therefore whenever a soul is liberated, there is an outburst of souls on earth, maybe in other planets too. Is there a limit for that extension? Buddha stood at the entrance of nirvana. He refused it. He vowed not to accept it till everyone is free. His soul turned back. Nirvana is non-being. Once he crosses it, he can never come back. He wanted every soul to be liberated from ego. Is there any truth here? Surely this is better than the individual seeking moksha only for himself.

Now to reach the highest we have to die to the world. Unless we give up the world, we cannot reach the highest. But that is not true. We can. We can reach the highest without losing our individuality. Brahman has two terms. They are freedom inside and formation without: the capacity to express and the capacity not to express. It holds both terms simultaneously together. We are truly That. As the divine possesses these two terms, we too can possess them. The two terms are two tendencies. The harmony of these two terms is the condition of all life. To be divine, this is the important condition. We exceed the lower, and attain freedom. We can go beyond giving up the lower. God has accepted the lower. How can we abandon that? To follow our freedom by giving up our earlier condition is negation. We can lose ourselves in the activity. Or lose ourselves in the energy of the act. That way we will deny God, the highest. It is an inferior affirmation. God combines the lower and the higher.  He synthesises both. He brings them together. Why should we give up something God has accepted? We too must accept it. He is perfect. We must aspire for his image. We too must become perfect. It is an integral attainment.

Ego is temporary. Death and suffering are there in the ego. Our path out of the ego is through avidya, ignorance. Avidya is multiplicity. Vidya can consent to avidya. It gives the perfect sense of oneness. Even in multiplicity that oneness can be felt. That gives us immortality and beatitude. It is integral enjoyment. We are in lower birth that is death. We can attain to God beyond. That way we will be liberated, attain moksha. That is the tradition. Instead, we can accept God in life. For that we must accept becoming as the divine. It means we must accept life as divine. Life is now mortal. We give mortal life immortal bliss that way. Then we become a bright centre of humanity. It would be a conscious self-expression.

story | by Dr. Radut