Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Purpose of Life - Awakening of Consciousness - by Nityananda Atman

The purpose of life - Awakening of Consciousness
To have a heart as pure as crystal, 
a mind as luminous as the sun, 
a soul as vast as the universe,  
a spirit as powerful as God  
and one with God

       ~Omraam Aivanhov

What is the purpose of life?
It is to find out who we really are; the realization of our True Self or Atman.

That is the main purpose of every human being. All other purposes have a secondary place in our life. Self-realization, self-knowledge, God-realization, liberation, enlightenment, are synonymous terms. They point to the same goal. The realization of our real Self whose nature is pure awareness.

'The highest goal of man is to enquire, "Who am I?" and realize the Self. If a human being does not try to realize this, he lives in vain.'
~ Ramana Maharshi
What is illusion?
Illusion is the imagination that you are a body-mind entity, an illusory image, separate from God and the universe. Because of ignorance (maya), and the impurities of mind (the qualities of rajas  and tamas), you cannot discriminate the eternal Self or awareness that you really are from the impermanent vehicles (body-mind) that are objects in awareness.
‘Ignorance supervenes and draws a veil over the pure bliss. This ignorance consists in wrong knowledge. The wrong knowledge consists in the false identification of the Self with the body, the mind, etc. This false identity must go and there remains the Self.’ 
~ Ramana Maharshi
Nobody can really explain when this illusion started or why. This is the game of life. This illusion can be destroyed, if you are sincere and do rigorous sadhana (spiritual disciplne or practices). In the course of time, it will flash through you that you are awareness itself and not the body-mind entity.

‘There must be untiring effort to go inward all the time until the Self is realized.’ 
~ Ramana Maharshi
What is the Self?
The Self or consciousness is the eternal, timeless, formless, causeless, essence of life. It is the one without a second (nondual) reality beyond this perceptual universe. It is a homogenous mass of consciousness, without parts, without attributes, without birth and death.

It is the substratum of all gross and subtle experiences. It is the centerless center in every creature. It is within and without, above and below, it permeates and fulfils everything.
The Self in you is the Self of all. Bodies are many, minds are many but the Self is only One. The One Self appears as many owing to the illusory appearance of bodies and minds. As the one sun in the sky appears as many owing to its reflection in the water of many different vessels, the one without a second (nondual) Self appears as many owing to its reflection in different minds.
This immortal Self shines in the chambers of your heart as your own Self. It is your real identity, your origin and your final destination.

How can the desire to find my true nature 
arise within me?
Consciousness (the Soul from within) impels you to find out the truth because awareness itself wants to be awakened in you. But you, the person, have to do the sadhana. We are all instruments of the divine will but we become conscious of it only after awakening.

How is possible to get liberation or enlightenment?

Even to win a lottery you have to do something, at least to buy the ticket! Similarly, Self-realization is not going to happen accidentally, except in some very rare cases in which it seems to happen so.
The scriptures and the sages declare that instant realization and liberation can only happen to those who did intense sadhana  in their previous births. This is the case of Sri Ramana Maharshi, but this is unknown to the majority. So you have to do sadhana or spiritual practices to prepare yourself for the dawn of jnana (knowledge).

'Without spiritual practice (upasana), there cannot be attainment. This is certain.‘ 
~ Ramana Maharshi
How will I know who is the appropriate spiritual teacher or which is the right teaching? 
You will feel it; there will be a certainty like ‘I am at home’. You will feel attraction to the teacher or the teaching and you will be elevated. If there is any doubt in your mind, you can pray and the answer will be given to you.
What is the right spiritual practice or the right way for me?
Any practice given from the scriptures and great spiritual masters are appropriate for sadhana.  
For you, good is the practice that is suited more to your temperament, maturity and the present conditions of your life. There is no such thing as good or bad practice. What suits you is a good practice for you. That does not mean it is good for all. Furthermore, what is appropriate for you this time maybe is not so at a more advanced stage.
‘To each person that way is the best which appears easiest or appeals most. All the ways are equally good, as they lead to the same goal, which is merging of the ego in the Self.’  
~ Ramana Maharshi
Man is a composition of body, mind and spirit. Therefore, it is necessary to include in your sadhana practices for all these aspects of existence. You need a healthy body, abundant energy, mental and emotional balance and harmony. The spirit can be revealed where there is predominance of sattva quality, which brings harmony at all levels of human existence.
It is absolutely necessary to increase the sattva quality, through spiritual practices and a sattvic lifestyle. Sattva is the foundation of physical and mental well-being and Self-realization.

‘If the aspirants have not one-pointed mind - which is possible for him who has pure mind full of sattva - dispassion, discrimination etc., Self-inquiry is impossible.’ 
~ Ramana Maharshi
What is the aim of sadhana or spiritual practices?
Sadhana has two aims.

First: The purification of mind from rajas  and tamas qualities and the increase of sattva. The destruction of the lower or impure mind (desires, lust, greed, anger, fear, jealousy, attachments, etc.) and the ego itself (the sense ‘I am the body’ and its consequences: ‘I-ness’, ‘mineness’, I am the doer, and I am the enjoyer).

‘Since purity of mind is indispensable for any kind of spiritual practice, it possesses an eminence of the highest order.’  
‘The greatness of 
chitta shuddhi (purity of mind) is that it is the mother of all virtuous conduct. Realizing this, examine your mind every day.’  
~ Ramana Maharshi
Second: The inquiry into the nature of your real Self (awareness) and the permanent abidance as ‘That’ after the realization.
‘Letting go of the external objects, turn your back on them, and realize through keen inquiry the effulgent truth that shines in the heart.’ 
~ Ramana Maharshi
These two aspects of sadhana go together but the first one has precedence, because it makes the mind pure, one-pointed, steady, introverted, discriminative, a capable instrument to do Self-inquiry and meditation effectively. Then through meditation or Self-inquiry the mind becomes finer and finer and finally dissolves in the Self.
‘Only to such a mind which has gained the inner strength of one-pointedness, Self-inquiry will be successful.’ 
~ Ramana Maharshi

Two important notes:

1. Realization is not something you can attain by effort. This does not mean that sadhana is not necessary. You have to prepare yourself for realization. You must eliminate all those things that prevent realization. Realization will happen by itself when the right time will come. Purification, intense longing to find the truth, sincerity, faith, steady determination, vigilance are very important to succeed in this endeavour.

‘You are the Self. You are already That. The fact is that you are ignorant of your blissful state. Ignorance supervenes and draws a veil over pure bliss. Attempts are directed only to remove this ignorance.’  
~ Ramana Maharshi

2. Be careful because spirituality also can be a nice field for the egoic mind to play its roles. Beware always! Be alert, because ego always tries its best to delude you. But if you are sincere and unceasingly vigilant, you will find out the fancies of ego and you will dissolve them.
‘The spiritual practice adopted by the jiva becomes complete upon the destruction of the ego at its source.’ 
 ~ Ramana Maharshi
Satsang (meetings with realized souls) is one of the most potent means to dispel ignorance. The magnetic aura of a realized sage can elevate you and give you a great help in your way to Self-realization. That does not mean that sadhana is not necessary. Sadhana becomes very effective when is practiced at the feet of a great master.
‘Sankara has said that in all the three worlds there is no boat likesatsang to carry one safely across the ocean of births and deaths.’  
~ Ramana Maharshi

It is very important also to do sadhana at sacred places where the energies are very pure and powerful. Reading also books of realized sages or sacred scriptures, like the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, can give you light, strength and inspiration.

Who is going to get liberation or Self-realization?
Liberation is not an achievement of the ego, but the dissolution of the ego. Self-knowledge is the realization that you are pure consciousness and not the mind-made entity or ego.
That means that consciousness itself will realize in you, (through the medium of pure crystal like buddhi) its own nature, as the eternal, immutable, blissful essence of life.
The very death of the ego in all its aspects (I-ness, mineness, doership, enjoyership, desires, lust, greed, guilt, anger, etc.) will result in liberation. This is the very death of your egoic self, but your birth to the eternal life.

‘The glory of self-realization is not experienced except in the hearts of those who are very zealous about sinking into the Self.’ 
~ Ramana Maharshi
What is the difference between awakening and liberation?
Awakening is the realization that we are not the body-mind complex or the ego but the witnessing consciousness behind them. When awakening happens there is a spontaneous disidentification from the mind and body and the realization that we are the space-consciousness in which the body and mind appear.
However, awakening is not necessarily accompanied by the total destruction of the egoic mind. In some cases, awakening can destroy all the egoic mind structures. In other cases, after awakening a great amount of latent impressions (samskaras andvasanas) continue to exist in the subconscious mind, interrupting the experience of the Self. Sadhana must be continued until all vasanas are totally fried and the abidance in the Self will be permanent and effortless.

‘…intense effort is necessary until the I-thought will disappear completely in the heart (Self) and all the vasanas and samskaras will be fried and do not revive again.’ 
‘Knowledge (
jnana) can only remain unshaken after all vasanas are rooted out.’  
~ Ramana Maharshi

People who have some kind of awakening may confuse it with liberation or the final state of realization. Keep in mind that there is no liberation if identification with ‘ego’, body, emotions, thoughts and sense objects continues after awakening. There is no liberation if the vasanas and samskaras drive out the mind to entertain sense objects.

‘All the age-long vasanas carry the mind outward and turn it to external objects. All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inward. For that, effort is necessary for most people.’ 
~ Ramana Maharshi

The Self shines in the heart, so effort is necessary to keep the mind inward. Until all vasanassamskaras, desires and the ‘I’ thought are destroyed, effort is necessary to keep the mind still in the heart.

‘If the six illusory enemies (desire, anger, greed, delusion, intoxication and envy), beginning with desire, that mingle in your heart are totally destroyed, the extremely clear light of 
jnana will shine.’  
‘An unruffled mind established in the heart is the fence that protects the field of liberation.’ 
~ Ramana Maharshi

But do we really want to abandon sense pleasures? Do we really want to lose our egoic identity? The enjoyment of sense pleasures and the abidance in the Self are opposites. We cannot serve two masters; we have to make a choice.

‘Why give up the marvelous experience of peace by desiring imaginary and degraded sense enjoyments?’ 
‘Do not allow yourself to be buffeted by the sense perceptions in this world, but become firmly established in the discipline of spiritual practice (
tapas), and be totally free of misery.’
 ~ Ramana Maharshi

‘No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You aren’t able to serve God and mammon.’
~ Jesus Christ

What is the main prerequisite for Self-realization?
If you really want the truth heartfully; if you have zeal, earnestness, sincerity, intense longing and if you give all your energy, mind, body, everything you have, the truth will be revealed to you when the time is right. There is no doubt about this. Nothing can stop you reaching your destination; the abode of eternal Peace and happiness.
‘One must be ready to sacrifice everything for the truth.’  
'Firm resolve to discover the truth for oneself is important.'
~ Ramana Maharshi

At every time on your journey towards Self-realization, you will find everything you need, the right book, the right spiritual teacher, the right teaching for you. Do not worry. Be flexible, be open, be patient, do your best every moment and the next step will come by itself.

'There is a steady determination that gets you on your feet again after a fail or break.' 
~ Ramana Maharshi

O man! What do you really want? To be a small egocentric entity full of miseries and sufferings, a slave of illusory sense pleasures or to realize that you are the formless, timeless and ever free consciousness, always content, happy and peaceful?

Self-realization is your birthright
You can realize it in this very birth
Time is flitting
Death can come at any time
Don't waste your time in trifling things
Roam like a lion, fear nothing
Do rigorous sadhana
Be alert, be vigilant
You are bound to succeed
Realize the Self here and now
And be an embodiment of peace and harmony.
Om Tat Sat
~Nityananda Atman
Padamalia: Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, recorded by Muruganar, edited by David Godman;
Daily Quotes from Talks With Sri Ramana Maharshi, compiled by Sanjay Lohia;
Jnana Magra In Bhagavan’s Own Words, compiled by Sanjay Lohia;
Ramana Maharshi Answers 100 Questions, edited and compiled by A.R. Natarajan;
Quotable Quotes from Day to Day, compiled by Sanjay Lohia;
Day by Day with Bhagavan, from the diary of A. Devaraja Mudaliar;
Maharshi's Gospel Books I & II;
Gems from Bhagavan, strung together by A. Devaraja Mudaliar;
The New Testament from the World English Bible.

Peace  love  harmony