The Case for Self Knowledge

Oct 21, 2013


We live in a world of unprecedented scientific and technological advancement. The desire for growth and development and fulfillment of our human potential is inherent in everyone. Throughout our life we are constantly striving to know more and to expand our field of perception. We strive to overcome the limitations that restrict physical, mental and intellectual progress. This is a natural and special feature only found in humans. We are endowed with paramount power. Our potential is the greatest natural untapped resource on earth. Leibniz, the German philosopher, says that life on earth has three manifestations: Life sleeps in plants, dreams in animals and wakes in man. The universally accepted view of the classification of the world into mineral, plant, animal and human kingdom is also faithfully reproduced in humans and it can be assessed from our “inner” development which plays out in the form of our understanding (knowledge), beliefs, actions and desires. These are the drivers that make us assert our selfhood or individuality, knowingly or unknowingly, in everything we perceive and do. Our struggle begins when we are confronted with the inconsistencies of life, its sorrows and its failure to satisfy our desires. It is then that we begin to search for avenues to escape from our own private world. We turn to religion, philosophy and spirituality for solutions. The reverberating words of the scriptures and the great thinkers - Seek within, Know Thyself, the Kingdom of God lies within you, leave the quarantine of your physical body, rise above the superstitious enclave of your mind and release yourself from the prison house of the intellect - all these begin to make sense. We want to know our Real self.

Human personality attains full development only when we are convinced of our true identity and our purpose in life. Peace and harmony are said to be the byproducts of self-realization. It has been said by an enlightened person that the search for your Real identity is the most dangerous of all undertakings in the world for it destroys the world in which you live. But if your motive is love of truth and life, you need not be afraid. Self-realization, simply put, is solving the puzzle of “mistaken” identity. Our natural tendency is to identify everything to our Body; form and association are the two modes by which we live our entire life. We are conditioned to look at everything as it appears. We essentially react to the stimuli we receive through our sensory and mental faculties. There is another component of our human personality - that source of our very existence - the Consciousness. Our bodies are like the wires and bulbs that run on this consciousness. It is like electricity. Neither the bulb nor the wires that carry electricity by themselves can give light. It is only when they come together with the electricity that we see light. Using the analogy of a circle, our Real identity is this “center” of consciousness through which all the functions in our body is sustained. It is referred to as the Soul, Atman, Self, Consciousness, or Awareness. Everything else including our mind-body-speech and the external world is enclosed in the circumference. Nothing ever happens to the center, everything is happening outside. The center is only a “knower” of what is happening. By implication, the knower and the known are separate. When we accept this clear line of demarcation between the Knower and the Known, our vision and perception begin to change. Our sense of duality fades away over time and we no longer suffer from isolation from the rest of the world. We see the common link that sustains everything in this universe and see everything as a natural occurrence. It is our memory and the footprint it leaves in our conscious mind that causes pain. Our firm belief that we are not the mind will help us overcome our mental state. We transcend the mind by not identifying with it but dealing with it in a detached way. Our own experience of physical, mental and psychic pain tells us that they diminish when our attention is no longer on them but on something pleasant. We also know by experience that physical pain vanishes from our consciousness once we find relief but it is not so with mental and psychic pains - guilt, anxiety, fear, spiritual emptiness, etc., which can continue for a lifetime. One can easily say, “I have a toothache” than “My heart is broken”. Our constant association of our identity with the body and our firmly held belief of our individuality create these pernicious suffering. With the increasing assertion of individuality, suffering comes in subtler guises as fear, pride, envy and most other all-too-human weaknesses. Interestingly, every negative emotion has its origin in a positive, pleasurable experience and the negative reaction is only an acknowledgement of the termination of the pleasurable experience. Therefore, advises the English poet, “fly the pleasure that bites tomorrow”. Nothing in today’s world will meet tomorrow’s dawn. Science teaches us that our physical body undergoes cellular transformation in periodic intervals. We become ‘new”! Physical matter refuses to remain static and it stands to reason that we cannot expect consistent pleasure or ultimate happiness from any sense object. It is an unalterable act of existence. Because of this we have to cease identifying ourselves with the body, mind, and senses and remain aware of our true unchanging nature. Through this supremely creative act, the limiting delusion of selfhood vanishes, suffering ceases, and we begin to see the Oneness that sustains everything. This is the universal spiritual truth that is found in the heart of all religions. Our ineluctable duty then is to seek Self-Knowledge or Self-Realization, that supreme wisdom which the scripture says “breaks the contact with pain”.

Spiritual personalities have reminded us from time to time of this truth. Ultimately it is our own experience that will convince us and for this all that is required of us is sincerity of purpose, devotion, humility, aspiration and surrender to the Divine Will. Discussions and theoretical interpretations are helpful to an extent to keep us focused on our purpose but experience alone will lead to self-realization. Here, I borrow a quotation from the Mother, the foremost disciple of Sri Aurobindo, “To Know is good, To Live is better and To Be is Perfect.” Self-knowledge by itself is not enough. We have to integrate it in our daily living and that is the goal of HSCRF. Dada Bhagwan after his own enlightenment declared that the world is the puzzle itself, nobody created it and one can solve it from two viewpoints - the REAL (The unchanging) and the RELATIVE (The Changing). He drew this clear line of demarcation between the two and explained all the functions of the mind-body and speech and the universal laws on this basis. The world, according to him is correct as it is and it exists “in its principle” and is self-regulating. It is our sincere desire to share the revelations and teachings of Dada Bhagwan and Kannu Dada, our spiritual mentors, through the articles that will be posted on our website. We strongly encourage our readers to share their experiences on holistic understanding of human life and living. Spiritual truth like any scientific truth does not depend on authorities or apostles to establish itself. A scientific truth gains no more weight if all the eminent scientists in the world bear testimony to it. What is needed is not hair-splitting interpretations and commentaries on scriptures but a mere enunciation of the truth in a proper form. We need only to exercise our intellect to reflect upon it independently, discriminate carefully, understand it thoroughly and verify its authenticity in our day to day living.

The great genius of modern science Albert Einstein takes us by the implication of his discovery to a realm where our ordinary space and time are not, and objects lose their significance and meaning in a vision integrating our experiences in an incredible manner. He was forced in his later years to accept, by feeling, the presence of a pervading intelligence which staggers human thinking and makes human speech dumb. We are in such a world, a world of mysterious truths which we cannot comprehend. We have no recourse but to move from the external physical science to the inner science which can widen our level of consciousness. The term science has altogether a different meaning when it is used in the context of understanding the universal consciousness. The emphasis is on the Subject, the I, the Reality or the unchanging and not on the relatives that we perceive. The objects do not come and tell you that they are, it is you who says so. We see with the eyes but we need a mirror to see our eyes. Everything we see, perceive, imagine happens only by the medium of the reflected consciousness which simply provides the light but has nothing to do with the outcome. Our goal in life should be to discover this precious gift within us.

- Dr. Radha Krishnan