20 April 2012
Dear Nutan Swamiji,
Thank you for your mail. And thank you for the time and effort that you have spent in answering my questions.
- You said that our saints came to the conclusion that the Subject, the “I”, is the unchanging substratum of the entire changing universe. I would like to know how they arrived at this conclusion. Isn't it just a theory, being passed off as the truth because there is no way of proving it?
- And hasn't this theory been propounded only to console us human beings because we want to believe in it, since it makes us happy to believe in our own continuity?
- It is difficult to make sense of life anyway. Isn't it more difficult to make sense of life, if there's no continuity? Indeed, how could we make sense of our sufferings and our joys, of our immense love for our loved ones, when we know that it all comes to nothing in the end? Therefore, isn't it just a happy idea, meant to lull us into thinking that our lives are meaningful?
- Isn't it really the physical self that will continue, in a different form, to be immortal as matter, because matter cannot be destroyed?
- It doesn't really bother me not to be immortal; for me, the quest is to find the meaning of reality and existence. That I think, for me, would be equivalent to finding God.
Nutan Swamiji Responds
29 April 2012
Dear and blessed T,
Harih OM Tat Sat. Jai Guru.
I don’t know whether my writing will serve any purpose. Because, you seem to be more eager to ask your pet questions, than to grasp what is communicated. Before making sweeping statements, why don’t you, with a little more of patience and humility, read and ruminate over what I am writing? How can you just discard all that the greatest thinkers of the world have thought, written, and honoured over many thousands of years? That too, without even trying to understand them!
1. The discovery of the real “Subject” or “I” was not a “conclusion”, but a “discovery” – an experimental discovery. Anybody is free to repeat the experiment and verify for himself/herself. In fact, innumerable seekers did perform the experiment as guided by the able Teachers and ratified the record of the predecessors.
Not that all will succeed. Like in laboratories, many of the students are not able to get the correct results. They cannot blame Nature or the laws for that. They must understand that their sincerity or competence was lacking. Rarely one, who is confident about his knowledge and method, may experiment more thoroughly, enquire deeper, and sometimes discover newer laws too.
In spiritual field, the 3 steps to conviction are: “shruti-yukti-anubhavah”. First, one has to learn (by hearing or reading) about the Truth from the Knowers and scriptures (shruti). Then he has to introspect and analyze with all the subtle reasonings (yukti) till his intelligence becomes doubtless. Finally, the Truth has to become his first hand experience (anubhavah).
The pursuit needs extremely subtle introspection and analysis. One has to get rid of all preconceived notions and imaginations. Any desire or ambition will not allow the seeker to have the impersonal vision necessary to overcome delusions. Finally, reasoning itself will take us beyond reasoning, to get merged in the transcendental Truth. All thoughts, all reasonings, all doubts, all attainments, all happiness-sorrow-consolation, all beliefs, are within the ken of duality. They all get dissolved in the Consciousness that transcends all dualities.
This pursuit finally takes one to an understanding where all differential notions dissolve. Even the common concepts of bondage & liberation, existence & non-existence, knowledge & ignorance, death & immortality, happiness & unhappiness – all dissolve in the transcendental uniformity. That is why the Truth is called “indescribable”. Anything that can be described becomes an objective concept before the knowing “I”, the Subject. The Truth is beyond the Subject-object duality or division.
The concepts of five elements, five sheaths, three gunas, and finally that of Soul and Brahman – all are ‘concepts’, ‘theories’, and ‘models’ built around this Realization. All your questions, and many more, deeper and intricate too, have been asked and replied and recorded in the scriptures in the form of immortal dialogues between the humble disciple and the knower Guru. Volumes of arguments are there in the Sanskrit literature for the learned ones to delight in.
The path is compared with walking on a Razor’s edge, extremely sharp and subtle. But, a sincere seeker guided by a competent Teacher will soon get confidence by identifying the milestones on the path. In fact, the goal being one of becoming, every step forward on the path is towards becoming the goal. The small, constricted “self” has to become the universal “Self”. So, the path is one of inner expansion every step, and inner expansion always generates enough inspiration to go further ahead.
2. Yes, there are many concepts and models for strengthening the moral fabric of the society, for consoling the aggrieved mind looking for continuity or justice, for making the desire-ful mind peaceful, inattentive mind attentive, or the desultory mind one-pointed; but they are all part of religious life and beliefs. Spirituality starts where religion ends.
So, the religious concepts like rebirth or transmigration of the soul, karma theory, heaven-hell, Yaaga-Yajna, etc. do not have any role in true Spiritual pursuit. However popular they might be, however useful and efficient they might be for keeping the individual mind as well as the social psychology under check and balance, a seeker of ultimate Truth will have to outlive them. That is what the Upanishads say.
3. All these conflicting thoughts arise because we refuse to see the world as it is; we refuse to accept life as it is. We miss ‘continuity’ and ‘meaning’ because we are too selfish and fragmented in our vision. When we see Nature as a continuous whole moving in its own beautiful rhythm and harmony, and our life as a tiny, insignificant, yet indispensable speck in it playing its own destined role, then no more special meaning or continuity we look for.
Whatever meaning is there in the galaxies getting born or vanishing into the blackholes, the earth speeding around the sun, the big red rose and the tiny white grass-flower blossoming with equal beauty, the same meaning our life also assumes in the infinite web of Nature. The earth never asks for the meaning in its spinning, the flower never asks for the meaning in its blossoming. And that is why the earth never stops, being tired of running, the flower blossoms its best without getting depressed by the thought of whether anybody will appreciate its beauty.
True spirituality enables a person to blossom naturally like a flower with whatever qualities he/she has. It makes us see and accept life and the world as they are.
4. Innumerable waves are rising and subsiding in the ocean. The forces and molecules making a wave now, will get distributed amongst many waves next moment, and amongst innumerable waves in future. If you identify your ‘self’ with a particular wave, you have birth and death; but if you identify your ‘Self’ with the Ocean, then you are immortal – “In me, the Ocean, all the waves rise and subside over the infinite span of time, without causing any increase or decrease in me.”
5. It hardly matters whether you are bothered about immortality or not. It is a fact that our real identity transcends time-space-causality, and hence transcends mortality too. But this identity is one, uniform, and universal – undivided by the usual notion of individuality marked by I, you, and others. Knowledge of this identity is called ‘Self’ or ‘Brahman’ in spirituality, ‘Reality’ in philosophy, and ‘God’ in religion.
More than a week has passed since I started the reply. Before I could complete, I had to be bed-ridden for a week because of disc-prolapse, as it occasionally happens. Now I am better.
With love and blessings,
* * *
30 April 2012
Dear Nutan Swamiji,
I had a big smile on my face when I read your gentle reproach of my lack of humility and patience in assimilating what you've written till now. I admit guilt on both counts, as also on my brash dismissal of the knowledge of the Truth acquired by learned people over thousands of years. I agree with you, I'm in no position to do so, since I have no knowledge of the scriptures at all.
Since you did not reply for over a week, I thought you might have given up on me, a seeker so lacking in what is essential to acquiring knowledge. Well, if you can be so patient with such an unworthy seeker (having replied so soon and with so much understanding, after being bed-ridden on account of your back), I can certainly relinquish my impatience, brashness and lack of humility. And the main reason why I want to do so, is that, finally, through you, I see a glimmer of light at the end of my dark, dark tunnel.
I'm glad your back is better. I shall write to you again, soon.