Krishna said, "If you are a slave of your desires you will be a slave of the entire world. But when you make desires your slave the whole world will be yours."
Have faith in the indwelling divinity, the atma, which is the basis of every happiness and joy that you will ever experience in the world. People are suffering immensely because of their erroneous belief that the joys of the senses and the delights of worldly objects are real and will last; but these are only temporary and cannot last. People have not inquired to find out what is the basis for the joys associated with the sense objects and all the luxuries of the world.
In the Gita, the human body has been compared with a container having ten holes, within which is an inextinguishable light. If you were to cover this container with a thick cloth, then you would not be able to see any light shining through it. If, however, you gradually lift this thick cloth covering the container, then you would be able to see the light shining from each of the holes. At that point, it looks as though there are ten lights. But when you take the container away and leave the light, you realize that there was always only the one light. That one light shining within the container, which is the body, is the self-effulgent atma.
The splendorous light of the atma has been covered by the body and its sense organs. There are five gross and five subtle sense organs associated with the human body, which can be thought of as the ten holes in the container through which the light of the atma shines. This container of the body, in turn, has been covered by the thick cloth of my-ness and attachment, which obscures the pure light of the atma. First of all, you must remove this cloth of selfishness and my-ness. This my-ness stems from ignorance. It is a form of delusion which makes you feel separate and keeps you bound up in duality. It arises from the cosmic illusion, or maya. Maya can be thought of as the outer vesture or garment of God. God has been described as having illusion as his outer form. This illusion veils and hides him from view. Once you take away this cloth of illusion, then the inner light becomes revealed, shining radiantly through the sense organs.
The light which you see through your eyes is but a reflection of the one self-effulgent divine light that is inside you. Every sensation you feel through your skin or hear through your ears is but a reaction to that same inner light. And every sound which you make through your mouth is but the resound of that one divine inner light. All that you have been able to do and experience through the senses is only a reflection, a reaction or a resound of that one splendorous radiance which is your immortal self, the atma. But as long as you still identify yourself with this container of the body, you will not be able to see the one atmic light. Only when you identify yourself completely with the atma will you be able to experience this one atmic light instead of a multiplicity of many different lights.
Up to this time, you have been seeing diversity and separation in what is actually unity. But now you have to correct this wrong vision. The ancient wisdom teachings have emphasized that you will not be whole until you can see only unity in the illusion of diversity, that appears to be around you. When can you see and directly experience this unity? Only when you destroy your sense of identity with the body. Then you will be able to experience all as one. It is maya which causes this delusory experience of seeing diversity when there is only unity. But it is the universal experience of the great sages and mystics that there is only the one unity to be found within all the multiplicity of the world.
This unity is the basis of everything everywhere. It is the atma. It has to be experienced in every object and in every being. This is the sum and substance of the Gita, which itself is the essence of all the ancient wisdom teachings. The Gita has described the experience of unity as yoga, the process of becoming united with and immersed in the one divinity. You must make an inquiry, taking instances from your own daily life, to see how you can experience this oneness within all the diversity, and, thereby discover the divinity which is inherent in everything.
Take the example of some food preparations. For instance, you can consider some different types of sweets, such as cookies, cakes, candies, desserts, or other sweets which you might enjoy. The forms and names of all these items are different but the inner substance which gives them all their characteristic sweet taste is the same. That underlying sweetness comes from sugar. It is because sugar is present in these items that there is sweetness in all of them. Flour by itself has no sweetness; its taste is insipid. But, when flour is associated with sugar, then you enjoy it as a sweet. It does not matter what flour you use, whether it comes from rice or wheat or other grains. When it is associated with sugar, it becomes sweet. Similarly, the objects of the world are tasteless and insipid, but because the sugar of divinity has been mixed in with them, you can enjoy so many things in the world, considering them desirable and sweet.
Do not waste your life running after worldly enjoyments. Realize the truth that you did not get this human birth for the sake of enjoying food or sleep or wasting your time on meaningless activities or entertainment. When you look around you can see any number of animals, birds and worms which live only for the sake of food. Why have a human life if you use it only to enjoy the pleasures that animals, birds and worms enjoy? What is the use of acquiring a higher education, and then spending your time reveling in lowly pleasures that even without benefit of higher education, the animals, birds and worms also indulge in? What is the special ideal which has been held out for humanity? What is the inner significance of the statement that it is extremely difficult to obtain a human life?
Human life has not been given so that you can act like an animal. Human life has not been given so that you can act like a demon either. Man has taken human birth in order to realize his divine essence. Human life has been given to you so that you can reach the highest plane of God-consciousness. The same thing was taught by Jesus when he said, "Man does not live by bread alone."
You have to attain an achievement which is of extraordinary significance. You have been given life so that you may realize the divinity which is inherent within you. Your primary duty as a human being is to give up the things which are impermanent and attain those things which are permanent. But today you are not aspiring for such extraordinary qualities. Instead, you are living a wasted life, filled with attachments. This was also Krishna's admonishment to Arjuna. He said, "Arjuna! This body consciousness and attachment to the body is binding you. You are wasting your life. Give up your attachment to the body now!"
You have to inquire why you develop attachment to the body. Consider this small example. Everyone knows that it is not right to utter a lie. Many people, at some time, take an oath resolving that they will not lie from that moment onwards. But, the very next time they get into a conversation, they tell a lie. Or take a businessman who knows that he should not deceive. He makes a resolution that he will limit himself to earning only a fair and modest profit. But the very next day, he resorts to unfair means. Or a person decides he should not gossip or hurt others with his talk, yet within minutes he has totally forgotten his vow and begins to criticize someone.
Man seems not to have a steady mind at all, and without a firm and steady mind he is unable to control his actions. On a holy day he may feel that he should be thinking of nothing but the Lord and abstaining from taking any food. But after some time he excuses himself and says, "Let me at least have a few biscuits with tea." When man is constantly deviating in this way from his own firm resolutions, there must be some very powerful entity which is working inside him, constantly defeating him. If there weren't such a powerful instinct or urge working within him, he surely would not have changed his resolve and he would have been able to use his will to hold to his announced discipline.
So, there is some power, some force that is hidden within man, that he is not able to control or understand. If he thinks deeply and tries to discover just what exactly this power is, he will find that it is related to the three worldly qualities which are inherent in the human condition. These three attributes which comprise worldly life characterize the mind and its thinking process. They are tthe slothful or dull, the active or passionate, and the serene or calm tendencies. These three attributes, in various combinations, will dominate a person's life. They will be fostered or diminished by the quality of the food taken in and by one's tendency towards indulging in or depriving oneself of sleep.
Of these three attributes, the first two qualities mentioned, that of slothfulness and furious activity, are likely to encourage you to take the wrong path. Slothfulness gives rise to dislike, repulsion and anger. An excessively active nature gives rise to attraction, desire, or attachment to worldly things. Desire is the most powerful urge making man give up all his resolutions. It acts as the leader or captain of all the bad qualities.
You can plan certain programs to defeat your external enemies, but all your plans and strategies will be of no use until you have conquered your inner enemies. Once you have yielded to your inner enemies, how can you hope to conquer your external enemies? When these inner enemies have subverted your will power and defeated all your good intentions, how will you be able to challenge and conquer your external enemies? This captain of the bad qualities, desire, has made a hole and entered the house. The others like hatred, anger, greed and jealousy then follow him into the house. The moment these enemies have entered into you, you lose all your discrimination and wisdom. The moment you lose your wisdom you also give up your resolution. Therefore, the most important reason for not fulfilling your own firm resolve is the welling up of desire. Let us try to understand this further.
When palaces are constructed as residences for great emperors and kings, there is usually a fortified wall surrounding the palace, protecting it from intrusion from outside. There will be a number of guarded gates within this wall. Similarly, a temple is usually situated within a compound having a protecting wall around it in which there will be a number of gates or doors. The body can be thought of as the compound wall enclosing God, who resides inside in the temple of the heart as the atma. An external fortress or a temple will be constructed with the help of bricks, cement, sand and mortar, but this temple of the body is constructed out of flesh and blood. In this body of flesh there will be a number of gates in the form of the sense organs. It is through these gates of the senses that desire and the other bad qualities break in, and invade the inner sanctuary.
The body gains its luster from the indweller, who is God. As long as the indweller resides in the body, it will be full of fragrance and full of life. The moment this indweller leaves the body, the body becomes foul and offensive. Without the indweller the body is a reprehensible thing. Far from being fragrant with perfume, it just emits a bad smell, moment to moment. The process of transforming a body with such repugnant qualities into an instrument for serving mankind and realizing the divinity can provide great joy and inner satisfaction. But man thinks of his body only as a means for giving him physical pleasure, and so he uses his body primarily in self-defeating ways. Krishna admonished Arjuna that this was not the mark of a real human being. He told Arjuna, "The body has been given in order to understand the indweller. Arjuna, use your body only for that sacred purpose. Animals and birds have not been given this discriminating power."
You have the capacity to experience great things through your unique ability to inquire and engage in self-examination. You have to use all your powers to understand the principles which constitute human nature. First, you must understand the power of worldly desire which makes you give up all your resolutions. Of course, there must be some desire. Without desire you cannot live for even a moment. But you must use all your desires for good. Your desires should be to help others. That constitutes living as a true human being. If you do not have the welfare of the whole society as your goal you cannot be called a human being.
Since you are born in society, since you live in society and get so many benefits from society you have to serve society. In serving society, you will be serving the Lord. Be it a small job or a big job, whatever you do must be done for the sake of the Lord. Whatever work you do must be converted into divine work. It must be transformed into worship. You must question every action you undertake and ask yourself, "Will it lead me towards the goal?" When you see the Lord everywhere in everyone, then you will be doing everything with God-consciousness.
All the lights or energies in the body originate from the one divine light coming from God. They are all the reflections of the inner light of the atma, which is the effulgence of the supreme Lord. Similarly, all the lights shining in individual beings come from that one light of the divinity, the one atmic light pervading everywhere. You should always have this in your consciousness. You are able to see the external body with its features, but since you cannot directly see the atma, you have not developed the right understanding of the infinite splendor of the Lord, who abides as the indweller in all beings. Consider a small example for this.
There may be a great downpour. Huge torrents of water will be flowing from the trees, water will be coming from the roof and the rain-gutters, it will be coming from the overhangs, it will be spilling over from the roof of the adjoining house, and running off from there onto your house, it will be flooding the ground all around causing rushing rivulets and streams. The water will be everywhere and will seem to be coming from so many different sources, but every drop of all this water can only have originated from the sky above.
Similarly, all this speech, all this strength, all this beauty, all these skills, in whomsoever they appear, are all coming from only the one source, the one divinity pervading everywhere. You have to recognize the unity which underlies all these different traits. Once you have a firm grasp of this unity, all diversity will disappear. And once the diversity disappears, the desires will also disappear. Then, when desire goes and the attraction to worldly objects goes with it, there will be no more room for repulsion and dislike leading to anger. Therefore, when you gain divine wisdom you conquer desire and anger.
It is through spiritual practice, particularly through inner inquiry, that you will be able to realize the unity and enjoy the divinity which is always within you. This yearning to gain the light of divine wisdom, to see the one in the many, is expressed in the great prayer:
From the unreal lead me to the real,
From darkness lead me to the light,
From death lead me to immortality.
Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.
Tamasoma jyothir gamaya,
Mrityorma amritam gamaya,
Om shanti, shanti, shantihi.
Whatever work you do, if you do it for the sake of the Lord and offer it to the Lord, then the work takes on a sacred value. Anything that becomes associated with the Lord, thereby becomes sacred and highly potent. Consider, for example, an ordinary rat, which is a despicable thing. If you see a rat inside your house, you take a stick and try to kill it, or set a trap to destroy it. When you see it you feel revulsion. But, traditionally in India, the rat has been associated with a particular form of the divinity, Lord Ganesha, who is the embodiment of divine wisdom;. The rat is Ganesha's vehicle which carries Ganesha around. Now, if you are a devotee of Ganesha and you see images of the rat associated with Ganesha, you revere it as the sacred instrument of the Lord. What is the reason for this? The high value that the rat carrying Ganesha has been able to obtain is due to its association with this representation of the divinity.
Similarly, when you come across a snake you may feel some fear and go to get a stick to drive it away. Or you may get a snake charmer to catch hold of it. But when the same snake adorns the neck of Lord Shiva, you worship it and offer it your prayerful salutations. What is the reason for this? The reason is that it has offered itself to the Lord and serves him alone. Therefore, it has also become divine like the Lord. Even if it is a poisonous snake, once it has offered itself to God, it acquires fame and nobility.
Once upon a time, Lord Vishnu sent a message to Lord Shiva. He sent the message through Garuda, the eagle which is Vishnu's vehicle. Garuda came to Shiva, flapping its wings. When the snake, which was adorning Shiva, caught a little feel of the wind which was being produced by the flapping of Garuda's wings, it started hissing. Although an eagle is the deadly enemy of snakes and a snake would normally slink away when an eagle comes near, now, this snake began hissing at Garuda. It had the courage to do this because of the great strength it got by virtue of the position it occupied around the neck of the Lord. When this snake fearlessly continued hissing, Garuda said, "O snake, you are there around the neck of Lord Shiva; therefore I must excuse you. But just come aside a little, come away from there for a moment." The instant the snake leaves its position, it becomes a meal for the eagle. As long as it remains in its position it gains great strength because of its nearness to divinity.
Truly, the only I-ness that is acceptable is when you link your I with the Lord, and when you say, 'I am one with the Lord.' If instead you give up your nearness and dearness to the Lord and ego takes hold of you, then you become very mean and weak and vulnerable. Even if it is just a small thing, a valueless thing, once it takes shelter in the Lord its value will be greatly increased. An ordinary stone may be lying in the street, but when a sculptor comes and shapes it into a sacred form, it is revered and worshipped in the temple. You can reflect on the extraordinary value you will gain once you associate yourself with the divinity and become one with it.
There is no possibility whatsoever of any kind of smallness finding a place in divinity. In the Rama story we have the occasion when Sita, Rama's wife, had been kidnapped by the demon king, Ravana, and kept captive in his palace. At that time, Ravana was suffering great mental anguish. Even though ten months had elapsed since she had been abducted, Sita would not yield to him. She would not even utter a word to Ravana. Whatever threats he made against her, she remained totally indifferent to him. This fact was noted by Ravana's wife, who went to her husband and tried to correct him. She said, "Ravana, you have infinite powers. You have done a great deal of penance. You are an extraordinary devotee of Lord Shiva. You have acquired extraordinary powers to disguise yourself. You went disguised as a mendicant to abduct Sita. You have the power to go in any disguise whatsoever and appear in any form. Since you can take on whatever form you want, why haven't you gone to her in the form of Rama? Then Sita would have immediately accepted you? Why haven't you done this?" Ravana told his wife, "If I were to disguise myself as Rama and take on his sacred form, I would not have been able to retain such lustful desires!"
When you become one with divinity, all your little mean thoughts and ideas will vanish. They can no longer come and disturb your tranquillity. "Therefore," Krishna told Arjuna, "When you are fighting the battle, fight; but while fighting think of me. That is the proper way of discharging your duty. In that way you will be upholding the high ideals of protecting righteousness and you will be setting a good example for others. You will also gain a great deal of renown. If you offer everything to the divinity, you will be successful in every endeavor. To do this you must gain control of the senses. Slowly but surely you must exercise control over your sense organs until they come under your complete control. Then you will be able to realize your full potential as a human being. Then, also, you will have developed equal-mindedness, and you will be called a truly wise man.
"Now you are still living with so many attachments; when you are so bound up, how can you develop equanimity? You are keeping inner peace far away from you. All these relationships and associations that you are cultivating are constantly changing. They are impermanent and cannot possibly help you in the end. Recognize the truth which is permanent. Attach yourself to the divinity. It is ever with you. It will never leave you."
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