January 5, 2021
An excerpt from Chapter II of ‘Satya Sai Vahini’, by Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Swami explains here, the journey of an individual soul (Atma) towards the Divine Being (Paramatma). He outlines the journey of the particularised, differentiated self (jivi), as it progresses from a feeling of ‘Separateness’ towards ‘Fullness’ and ‘Total Bliss’ (Ananda).
Questions may be asked and doubts expressed by many about the state of a person after attaining fulfilment, the fullness of awareness. The person’s life will be saturated with unexcelled divine bliss (ananda). The person will experience oneness of thought, emotion, and knowledge with all. The person will be in ecstasy, immersed in the One and Only, the eternal divine Principle, for that alone can confer joy during the process of living. Genuine joy is this and no other. God is the embodiment of eternal ever-full joy. Those loyal to Indian (Bharathiya) culture, whatever sect or faith they claim as their special mould, accept this axiom: God is the highest source of joy. This conclusion (matha) they accept as dearest and most pleasurable (abhimatha).
Fullness means wholeness. Wholeness implies One and not two or three. There cannot then be any place for the individual. When an individualized Atma or soul (jivi), the particularized differentiated self, has become whole and full, there is no possibility of its return to the consciousness of the objective world -such doubts may arise in the minds of many- but these doubts are not correct. When the individualised soul becomes fixed in the totality (samashti), it loses all ideas of distinction and is ever in the consciousness of the totality, the One that subsumes the many. The person will then be aware that the Reality of each is the Reality of all and that Reality is the One Indivisible Atma. The person will not exhibit any consciousness of distinction between individuals.
The Divine that it knows as the core of each “thing and being”, is now recognized by it as the Divine that it itself is, so it will be deeper than ever in the fullness of bliss (ananda). How then, can it experience separateness? No, it cannot. The rays of that bliss illumine all religions. The sages and great wise people (rishis) became aware of the bliss. They communicated that experience to the world in an easily understandable language. The unreachable moon is made known by pointing a finger in the direction where it can be seen! So too, they brought within the purview of people, the truth that lies beyond the reach of the mind and speech, according to the state of consciousness that each of them had attained. Their teachings were not only simple but varied, so as to educate and elevate all levels of understanding.
One feels happy when one has the knowledge that this one little body is one’s own, right? Then, when one knows that two bodies belong to one, shouldn’t one be twice as happy? In the same way, with the knowledge that one has an increasing number of bodies, the experience of happiness goes on increasing. When the whole world is known to be one body and world consciousness becomes part of the awareness, then the bliss will be full. To get this multi-consciousness, the limited egocentric prison walls must be destroyed.
When the ego-self (or jivi) identifies itself with the divine Atma, death will cease. When the ego-self identifies itself and merges with the bliss of the One, sorrow will cease. When it merges with spiritual wisdom (jnana), error will cease. “Material individuality is born out of delusion; this body, which creates that impression, is only an ever-evolving atom of a boundless ocean; the second entity in ‘me’ is the other form, namely, the embodied Self; when the ego of the mine merges with the divine Self in me, then the delusion disappears through the upsurge of its opposite, supreme knowledge.” When one’s thought matures in the process of time, undoubtedly all schools of thought have to reach this conclusion.
A tree’s value is estimated with reference to its fruits. Take idol worship, for example. Moralists, metaphysicians, philosophers, adherents of the path of devotion, and the foremost among the virtuous in all parts of the world have all agreed that idol worship is highly beneficial. As long as attachment to the material body and possessions persist, worship of a material symbol is necessary. It is but a means, but many decry it as a superstition. This is not correct. It is not the right approach. Such an attitude is just an outburst of foolishness.
Isn’t it a fact that the belief in one’s being the body is a superstition? Can the body last forever? Is it not a skin doll with nine apertures, in which life is so perilously existent that a sneeze may cause collapse? Again, should we not characterize the life people lead, believing in the reality of this world, as another superstition? Isn’t all the self-importance assumed by people who have positions of power and a great quantity of riches another foolish pose?
But acts done on the basis of faith in the Atma, the Reality within, can’t be dubbed as superstitious or foolish. For every opinion one expresses, if proper reasons are given, all will rejoice. But to declare as superstitious all that one doesn’t like is a sign of frenzy, foolishness, or egotism.
We will find it impossible to love God or adore Him unless we meditate on some form; this is as essential as breathing is for sheer living. This is a necessary stage in the process of living. One has to accept it as such. Childhood is the father of old age. Can old age condemn childhood or teenage as evil? To experience the divine Principle, idol worship is and has been a great help to many. How then can the aspirant and the practitioner of spiritual disciplines condemn idol worship after passing through that stage and deriving benefits from it? That would indeed be very wrong and inappropriate.
The Indian (Bharathiya) march towards the supreme Reality is not from untruth to truth. It is from truth to truth, from incomplete truth to complete truth, from a partial truth to full truth. For what are spiritual exercises? Every effort made by people, from remote forest dwellers and unsophisticated tribals who adore the gross forms of Divinity to highly evolved seekers who adore the Full and the Absolute, is a spiritual exercise. Each such effort will take one a step forward in progress.
Each individual soul (jivi) is comparable to a bird; by longer and higher flights, it can rise up into the sky. And a stage may finally be gained when it can fly right up to the full splendoured orb of the sun.
BABA (From ‘Sathya Sai Vahini’, Chapter 2)