Most people do not bother about spiritual awakening because they feel content with life. But deep down they acknowledge conflict and confusion lurking in their personal shadows. When one is in youth experiencing full vitality, they do not care about existential questions and meaning of life.
However, as people age and face the monotony of mundane and repetitive work, they start experiencing physical decay and loss of strength and vitality, they begin to question life and its purpose. That’s when existential crisis hits them and a frantic search for permanent happiness begins.
Some find refuge in philosophy; some cling to religion; some revel in their own idea of spirituality; and a few ponder on life and how it relates to this entity that they call “me.” Believe it or not, all of our actions are geared towards finding happiness, but unfortunately, the definition of happiness is subjective.
We casually throw around words like bliss, happiness, and peace, but we don’t have a clue of what those words mean. The problem is that in duality happiness comes bundled with unhappiness, pleasure comes with pain, and peace comes with chaos.
You know happiness only because you’ve known pain. You know peace only because you’ve known chaos. You know love only because you’ve known hate. And vice-versa. Therefore, there cannot be any state of mind that provides abiding happiness to an individual.
An unconscious chase for an idea of happiness in the mind is futile. Mind cannot find happiness because, by nature, it creates divisions. So, if it creates an idea of happiness, it simultaneously creates a lack of it as an alternate state. Therefore, true happiness cannot be limited to a thought.
The whole foundation of life and living is based around relationships and actions. Life is never-end loop of action and reaction. When we become self-conscious, we find ourselves in phenomenality that is ever changing. That’s why life is referred to as a flow.
In this flow, people claim to be happy and peaceful, but deep within they are marred by guilt, shame, hatred, resentment, and malice towards others. My relationship with the “other” cannot be harmonious if my relationship with myself is not peaceful.
If I am uncomfortable with myself, how can I be at ease with others. If I remain anchored in peace even when the conditions are not according to my preferences, I don’t need any spiritual teachings. But if my heart burns with restlessness; If stress and anxiety have become regular occurrences in my life; If I cannot withstand my own company, I may need to investigate what’s ailing me.
If my perception of “others” is based on prejudices through myopic filters of caste, creed, color, gender, and race, how can I ever be at ease with myself. Living with a fragmented mind, how can I achieve wholeness. It’s impossible to be at peace or to experience true happiness until I see these fragmentations and divisions for what they are; until I see how the fearful ego-mind creates divisions to expand itself in separation.
My suffering is belief in the separation which comes about from the “I-thought” or “me,” which is an illusion. Imagining myself to be name and form as a separate entity, I limit myself to this time-bound mind-body complex. I feel anxious about the aging body. I feel frustrated with the incessantly thinking mind which has become a bane of my existence.
I want to rise above them, but I’m scared to go within and explore. I fear that I might see something that I don’t like; something that I can’t stand even for a moment. This fear compels me to seek truth in the outside world. I go from one guru to another; from one ashram to another. I do social work. I take part in activism. I do charity. I practice yoga. I meditate for long hours. I pray sincerely. But I cannot find peace anywhere. I cannot find freedom from the tyranny of my thinking mind.
I cannot share my predicament with my family for they won’t understand. I cannot share with my friends for they’ll think I’m crazy. I will be judged and ostracized from my community. Yet, the pain is there and very real. What do I do?
The problem is that most people look for Gurus and teachers who can give them ready made solution to fix their predicament. They want instant relief from years of conditioning. Some Guru’s give tips, tricks, techniques, methods, and mantras, but they all work temporarily. You feel ecstatic while reciting mantra in meditation, but when you come out of it and go back to routine life, all troubles come back to haunt you. Despite everything you feel frustrated and depressed.
In your relentless struggle to find a solution to your problems, you are avoiding the most fundamental question, “who is this ME that suffers?” However, note that this investigation into the sense of personal identification or “me” has to come naturally and intuitively. If it is forced upon oneself by the ego, the self-investigation will never be sincere.
You cannot force awakening on yourself or on others. The self-investigation has to happen organically. If you are here and reading (or listening to) this, your mind has already turned inwards. The self-investigation has started and the source or pure intelligence is in the process of waking you up from the divine hypnosis.
The “me” or ego-mind is a part of the divine hypnosis. You may question, if “me” is the problem, why does it arise in the first place? And the answer is simple. It is created by the source so that life as we know can happen. If there was no “me” speaking and no “you” listening, no communication would be possible. The source created egos to facilitate interhuman interactions.
The ego is not evil or undesirable. And our goal is not to destroy our sense of personal identification. We need it to operate in the world. The mind-body complex cannot sustain without the ego. Killing the ego would result in disintegration of the body. The problem is when this ego expands by binding itself to thoughts, ideologies, dogmas, and beliefs.
That is when it propagates in horizontal time as the thinking mind causing suffering. The problem is when I get attached to “my” views and reject everything else. Then we become ego-sensitive. We get offended by minor things and events. We feel we are being singled-out and targeted even when others don’t intend to do that. We feel we need to protect something that can be lost. This is how the ego-mind creates separation. And separation is suffering.
A Sage or a person of spiritual understanding knows that multiplicity is only an appearance in ONE indivisible consciousness. They do not deny the world, but they also do not get involved. For them, the seriousness of world events is as illusory as the world itself.
What you call the reality is an illusion created by the thinking mind. Your world was different when you were a child. Now that you are grownup and immersed in the current reality, your mind makes it real. Things like career, relationships, money, recognition, fame, spirituality, enlightenment, etc., were not a problem in your childhood. You never bothered about them.
Now, when you’re all grownup, these things have taken center stage. And as you grow old and become frail, these things will lose meaning and other concerns will take their place. What is your reality?
Reality is not the change. Reality is the eternal constant that witnesses the change. Whatever suffering you perceive in this moment is a personal perception or a story created by your mind based on present conditioning, and not the actuality of What-Is.
What you give attention to becomes your reality in the moment. If you think the world is mean and people are evil, that becomes your reality. If you think about love and compassion, you start exuding them unconditionally. But if you deeply investigate the “me”-mind, you’ll realize that the true reality is beyond anything that the mind projects; that the mind is only an appearance in consciousness. And that is truly WHAT YOU ARE.
The Sage knowns that nothing exists separate from the pure consciousness. The entire universe is a thought in consciousness. In deep sleep, the senses and mind are inactive, and therefore, there is no world or universe; there is no “you” or “me.” Consciousness is the substratum of waking, dream, and deep sleep.
So how do we wake up from this divine hypnosis to the eternal truth? Sage Ashtavakra says, “know yourself as the pure consciousness, the unaffected witness of the phenomenal world, and you’ll know the truth.”
Sincere self-investigation begins when the mind turns inwards. It is not a matter of forcing the mind to turn inward to attain the truth as a goal. That would be like employing a thief pretending to be a cop to protect your valuables. As the mind watches its own movements, it gets to realize its own illusory existence.
There is no practice or method other than self-investigation to know the mind. Self-investigation is not a practice that you can use to attain enlightenment. It is simply a tool to investigate the mind using the mind.
When all external efforts fail, the mind has no option but to turn inwards. You don’t have to do anything. The awareness will guide you as you go through different life experiences. Don’t try to grab awareness vigilantly, let it come to you naturally.
When the awareness comes, ask yourself this question, “Am I the doer of my actions?” When the answer to this inquiry is sincere, you realize that the “me”-mind is not the doer of actions, and things happen according to cosmic will over which the individual making the investigation has no control. So the next question would be, as Ramesh Balsekar put it, “If I am not the doer of my actions, then who is this ME?”
As this realization sinks deep, the “me”-mind dissolves into the pure awareness. And what remains is the mind-body organism in a state of harmony with existence. You may wonder, how do I know if my ego-mind or “me”-mind has really dissolved in awareness. The simple answer is peace of mind in daily living.
This peace is a neutral state that is not affected by external things. It is your pure and natural state. You start living in contentment and conflict-free as your sense of separation falls apart. You begin to feel comfortable in your own company as shame, blame, guilt, malice, jealousy, and envy, wither away. There is a feeling of union with everything in nature.
One of the most profound changes that takes place is that my relationships undergo a harmonious transformation. Realizing that “I am not the doer,” I also realize that even the others are not the doers of their actions.
This drops the story and the baggage of hate, malice, and resentment that we carried for such a long time. The mind after dissolution cannot sustain the story. Therefore, we feel light and relieved. We remain anchor in the peace of now rather than dwelling in the dead past or an imaginary future. By letting go of the baggage, we make space for new and better things in life.
It does not mean that we will never experience pain. Pain and pleasure are alternating currents of life. But with the dissolution of sense of personal identification, the pain experienced in the moment does not lead to suffering in horizontal time. And similarly, the pleasure experienced in the moment does not lead to pride or arrogance.
It marks the end of personal suffering as you wake up from divine hypnosis to your true nature which is the none other than the pure consciousness or the non-dual awareness. It is freedom from the tranny of the thinking mind.