Guruji on Atman and the Universal Self
We are raised in an environment where there is a sense of belonging towards our family, caste, community, religion, state, country, etc. Unconsciously, this sense of belonging soon transforms into a sense of possession and attachment. Any sense of possession and attachment towards objects or persons that are other than one’s own self, is a potential source of trouble. It is a veritable fact that no person loves another for the sake of the other. Each one loves the other for one’s own sake. The husband does not love his wife for her sake, nor does the wife love her husband for his sake. Both love each other for the sake of the Self present in the other person. So is the case with all other people and objects.
People do not love wealth for the sake of wealth itself, but for the capacity of the wealth to satisfy the Self, in one form or another. So basically, it is for one’s own Self that all love happens. We find that whatever be the context or location, it is the Self that is present exclusively. When one says, “I love my wife, son, father, mother, brother, sister, etc.”, one identifies them as possessions and segregate them from the Self – the Atman. Anything that is segregated from the Self cannot be eternal, and therefore will end in grief. Only the Self – the Atman is permanent. If you see the others as your own Self, then that love becomes perfect, and enduring. When one considers the entire world as One Infinite Being – the Self, when there are no divisions, then love is ever-present, ever-shining and infinite.
Everything in this world is a display of the Atman. Therefore, it is important to remember that if we enjoy everything as a part of the Self, then there will be no misery, and the outcome will be perfect bliss. You will observe that the love you feel towards an object or a person is in fact the love that you feel towards ‘perfection and completeness’. Even when you are attached to a particular object or person, the object or person is nothing but a source of ‘satisfaction’ or ‘completeness’ for you. No one is dear to you, in this world. It is only because of the desire for attaining completeness with the Infinite – the Self, that everything appears desirable.
As explained by the great sage Yajnavalkya to his wife Maitreyi – nothing external can give you happiness.
“na va are sarvasya kamaya sarvam priyam bhavatyatmanastu kamaya sarvam priyam bhavati|
atma va are drastavyah srotavyo mantavyo nididhyasitavyo maitreyyatmano va are darsanena sravanena matya vijnaneneda sarvam viditam|”
(Meaning: “Verily, not for the sake of the All, my dear, is the All loved, but it is loved for the sake of the Self. Verily, my dear Maitreyi, it is the Self that should be realized – should be heard of, reflected on and meditated upon. By the realization of the Self, my dear – through hearing, reflection and meditation – all this is known.”)
Therefore, it is foolish to desire for the things of the world. When we run after the objects of this world, from birth to death, it is like the tiger running after its tail, completely futile. Only the fortunate ones have been given this beautiful human life. Even then, what do most of us do? We come crying into this world, run foolishly after the objects of this world, and then depart from this world having missed the very purpose for which we took birth in this human form. Having taken human form, it is only the Self – the Atman that we must seek to understand and meditate upon, for there is nothing else worthwhile in existence.
Day after day, you must have seen that you cannot place your trust upon anything or any person. You have seen that things come and go. You do know what will happen tomorrow, or what will be the state of things at any given moment. Why cry for what goes away, whether it is some object of value or it is the death of a loved one? Anything that is outside of your Self cannot belong to you, cannot satisfy you, and will definitely leave you. According to the Upanishads:
“sarvam tam paradad yo nyatratmano sarvam veda”
(Meaning: “Everything shall leave you if you regard anything as other than you.”)
This is the Eternal Truth. Even those things or persons that you regard as dearest and nearest, shall leave you, creating sorrow for you, as they do not belong to you. It is the only the Atman that appears in its various forms as those persons or things that are most dear to you. Do not look upon them as independent entities. As quoted in the Upanishads,
“Idam brahma, idam kshatram, ime lokah, ime devah, imani bhutani, idam sarvam yad ayam atma.”
(Meaning: “This Source of knowledge; this source of power; all these worlds; all these gods; all these beings – All this is just the Self.”)
Everything other than the Self are only mirages. These mirages shall leave you one by one, and only the Atman shall remain. It is the Atman that is seen in all the finite forms so dear to you.
Only when this fact is understood, will the Truth be realised.