Radiant Divinities! Blessed and beloved children of the Divine! When I was preparing myself to come to participate this morning there came this thought: “Are the declarations of Vedanta useful and applicable only upon the high plane of philosophy, metaphysics or higher inner spiritual realisations and experiences, or are these declarations capable of being interpreted and applied for our own immediate enrichment, upliftment, help and benefit, making a significant contribution to our life here, now, at once, in a practical, concrete, tangible and immediately fruitful manner?”
The answer was immediate: It was not a question of whether these great declarations and truths are capable of being interpreted and applied for immediate benefit spiritually and otherwise, but rather they are actually meant to start inspiring us, uplifting us, helping and benefiting us right from the very moment when our eyes alight upon them for the first time in some sacred scripture or book or even when our ears hear them for the very first time from the lips of some speaker expounding the truths of the scriptures. Right from the first moment a person comes to know about a certain truth, immediately it is expected, it is meant to bring about a powerful transformation in the reader or hearer or thinker.
The highest ultimate declaration, the quintessential truth, declared by people of the supreme absolute experience is brahma satyam jagan-mithya jivo-brahmaiva naparah (Brahman alone is real, the world is unreal. Jiva is not other than Brahman). The full verse is slokardhena pravakshyami yaduktam granthakotibhih, brahma satyam jagan-mithya jivo-brahmaiva naparah—I shall tell you within the compass of half a verse the quintessence, the heart, the very essence of the teachings expounded in innumerable scriptures and that is: Brahman alone is real. This phenomenal appearance before us is only a relative reality, ever-changing, unstable, unreliable, never dependable, limited, subject to time and space, subject to decay and dissolution, having a beginning and an end. Characterised by these defects and shortcomings, everything here seen, perceived by the human individual consciousness, is but a mere temporary relative reality. And the individual soul that thinks of itself as the knower of this, or the seer of this, or the experiencer of this ever-changing phenomenal flux, which is called samsara or the universe, is a non-entity, for Brahman alone is real and the jivatman, the individual, is Brahman plus upadhis (limiting adjuncts or additions).
If you take a pot to the Ganga and fill it full of water, the water in the pot no longer resembles the Ganga. It isn’t flowing. Boats can’t ply on it. You cannot take a bath in it. But a philosopher will dare anyone to challenge the truth that the water confined in the pot is in any way different in essence from the water that is flowing as the river Ganga. They are identical in every respect, and modern science will prove it. It is Ganga alone flowing and it is Ganga alone in the pot, but Ganga with some limiting adjuncts, some confining factors. It is a conditioned Ganga, but Ganga nevertheless. Therefore, this half verse ended up with the declaration: jivo-brahmaiva naparah (The individual soul is not different from Brahman).
I then asked myself: “In what way can this great transcendental truth uttered as the very heart of the highest Vedantic experience, as the very quintessential central truth and fact of kevala advaita, absolute monism and the monistic experience, in what way can it be of immediate fruit, immense benefit and enrichment to the aspirant?” I said, “It reveals a whole series of truths.”
There was no current at the time and so, except for a candle, I was in darkness. Immediately the truth flashed to me: “This darkness is not the reality. What exists is only brilliant sunshine scattering in all ten directions, pervading everywhere, prevailing always without change, without anything to bar or hamper it, filling everything with light, radiance, effulgence, brightness. That is the reality where everything is seen clearly; this darkness is only a temporary condition. As the earth rotates, the sun will rise and the whole place will be flooded with light. Even when I am lighting a candle and thinking I am in darkness, there is only light and light only. This darkness is a temporary superimposed condition due to certain limiting adjuncts. The light is the reality; this darkness is a passing unreality, a relative reality. The positive factor is the reality; the negative factor is a temporary mode or condition.”
I said: “The full moon is the reality, not the eclipse. Silence is the reality, not the little sound that comes over it.” That is the truth. And when the Vedantic experience is stated as brahma satyam (Brahman alone is real), it means that Truth prevails in all three periods of time without hindrance, without change; always it is full. And what is that Truth? Anando brahmeti vyajanat (He knew bliss as Brahman). Those who have drunk this honey, this bliss, declared: “Sweetness, sweetness, sweetness, everything is sweetness, sweetness beyond description; all is beauty, auspiciousness, bliss.” And that is the Reality that is everywhere present in all its fullness, always, always unchanging, without contradiction, successively borne out by the experience of all mystics, of all times, of all climes—ancient, medieval, modern, oriental, occidental, everywhere.
What a tremendous realisation! What a tremendous realisation that at this moment the bliss of Brahman pervades everywhere within and without! Bliss is the great Reality. Peace supreme, immeasurable, profound peace is the great Reality. To ponder this is itself an instant energiser, instant awakener, instant inspirer.
One thought led to another. “Now,” I said, “gloriously the sun will rise from beyond the mountain on the opposite bank of the Ganga. That is the reality, and in this reality we must live. In this truth we must act, we must pursue our spiritual path. With what great strength, elation, positiveness, with what wonderful sublime feelings of zeal, fervour, we can pursue our spiritual path if we keep ourselves in the awareness of this truth—brahma satyam jagan-mithya jivo-brahmaiva naparah. That peace, that bliss, that fullness, that Light of lights alone exists, and I am That. In essence I am no other than That.”
The thoughts went on: “When that is so, then this is the time, this is the moment, that we must take fullest advantage of this awareness that is being granted to us due to our entry into the life spiritual and our great good fortune to be living in an atmosphere where this truth is always being affirmed, an atmosphere filled with this truth. If light is the great reality and not darkness and we are privileged and fortunate to live in a place of light, then we must make hay while the sun shines and live in this great truth. We must rejoicingly pursue our spiritual path and sadhana with great zest and not allow this period of sunshine to pass away.”
Then came another parallel idea: “Strike while the iron is hot.” The wise blacksmith heats his metal white hot. Then only can he hammer it into shape. If he let that moment go, the metal will become hard and no longer malleable. Then came a third idea: “Take time by the forelock.” In the Western concept, time has been conceived of as an old, bald-headed person with a long beard and only a tuft of hair or forelock above his forehead. You have to catch him by the forelock as he approaches; otherwise, as the rest of his head is bald, once he gets past he will slip away.
Therefore, we must be up and doing knowing the importance of the now and how to live in the now wisely, alertly and with vigilance. The Yogi is daksha (expert). The Yogi is ever vigilant and never misses an opportunity. Therefore, we must always be on the alert and put these truths together: Light alone is real, not darkness; make hay while the sun shines; strike while the iron is hot; take time by the forelock.
These truths are brought to our attention not to fill us with a sense of urgency, or then we will spoil the situation. There is a saying: “Haste makes waste.” It is not to build up tension, pressure, a state of anxiety—then everything will be lost. You have to be calm and cool, but at the same time, instantaneous should be your action. Never allow an opportunity to pass by.
It is not so much to create in you an undesirable state of urgency or haste, but to focus your attention upon the importance of the now, the reality of the now, the great significance, the vital value of the now. Life is lived only in the now, not in yesterday or tomorrow. Now is a state of light, a state of bliss. Each now is filled, is a cornucopia filled with an abundance of everything that is necessary and desirable for your gaining supreme, divine perfection. Now holds the key to liberation, to joy, to spiritual blessedness, to perfection, to everything that is regarded as the supreme goal of life. It is in order to focus our attention on the importance, the significance, the value of the now, that these great teachings are given.
So rejoice now, and engage yourself in sublime spiritual life, in divine life. Then you will always have reason ever to be rejoicing. If you rejoice in the now and put yourself heart and soul into utilising the precious now by striking while the iron is hot, by making hay while the sun shines, then you will know that brahma satyam jagan-mithya is not only meant for some lofty state of inner realisation. It has a value and a significance, an immediate message, an immediate power to energise us and enrich us in our spiritual life, in our sadhana, in our yoga abhyasa, in everything which we call the higher life.
Purity alone, Truth alone prevails everywhere. Peace alone pervades everywhere. Joy alone, bliss alone, is the reality because Brahman alone prevails, and it is a declared experience: brahma satyam jagan-mithya jivo-brahmaiva naparah. That means that all problems are self-created due to this one truth not being kept before us always. “In me there is no problem, in me there is only bliss, peace, shining divinity”—this truth must always be made the basis of your life, established in your consciousness, ever remembered, ever pondered, ever kept before you as you live your day-to-day life.
The moment you emerge into wakefulness you must emerge into awareness of your divinity. You must emerge into this consciousness of your wonderful privilege of being one with the Divine. “Essentially I am one with the Divine, I am Divine. Divinity is my eternal, unalienable, real nature, nitya nija svarupa.” We have to live in the truth, and the truth shall make us free. To live in the truth is the greatest blessedness.
And to live in the truth all facilities have been brought together in a concentrated form in this holy Ashram of Gurudev due to his infinite compassion, love and grace. And due to God’s special divine grace upon us, we have had these unique facilities placed in our hands to be utilised now. Do not allow this opportunity to pass away and later on regret. Now is the important life, now is the reality, now is Brahman.
God bless you to ponder your life in the light of this lofty truth: brahma satyam jagan-mithya jivo-brahmaiva naparah. If jagat is mithya (the world is unreal), why unnecessarily endow it with so much power to disturb you, distract you, agitate you, upset you, worry you, to change you from your course? How can it? We are terrorising ourselves with shadows upon the wall, thinking that they have a semblance of reality. And the more importance we give these false temporary appearances by forgetting this truth, the more powerful they become.
By forgetting that Brahman alone is the reality and endowing these things with a reality they do not possess, we create our own problems, we create our own obstacles, we create our own temptations. We are afraid of darkness thinking it is reality, not seeing that light alone is the reality.
Therefore, this is a discipline, this is an exercise you must be engaged in: “This is nothing, it cannot come in my way, it has no power. It is mithya, it is only a false appearance. I am living in the Reality. Who can assail me? What can affect me?” In this way brahma satyam jagan-mithya has to be invoked to help you at every step, each moment, every day in your spiritual life.
Then each day will be a victory. Each day will be an ever progressive liberation. That is the value of these great truths brought into our own context, our own frame of reference. Then immediately they will transform us. They are not meant only for books or scholars or pundits or ultimate realisation; they are meant for now also. Let us ponder how valuable this one little great truth, one central truth of Vedantic realisation, can be to us, to every sadhak, to every Yogi, to every bhakta. Ponder this, realise its importance. Be wise, apply it, live in its light and become blessed. God bless you all!
Yoga, A Way of Life - Sri Swami Adhyatmananda
"Yoga and Health" - a complete book with Question & Answer section by Sri Swami Adhyatmananda
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