An extract from Thought, Emotions and Realizations
By Matsyavatara Dasa
Life is about exchanging love: giving and receiving.
Those who lack love lead unhappy lives, dominated by their shadow personality. If we do not clarify the misunderstanding of what identity is, we can never develop love: this feeling made of divine knowledge runs the risk of falling into sentimentalism and our means to know life are reduced to sensory mechanisms.
Throughout time it feels as if two people exist within us. One is the historic self, the so-called āfalse egoā: suspicious, arrogant, proud, irritable, egocentric, substantially fearful and vile. The other one is the spiritual Self, often unseen, the atman, whose clear voice of wisdom is seldom heard and even more rarely listened to. The self (term introduced by Jung), the soul (Christian term), the atman, (Vedantic term), is the only existing identity. The ego is but a shadow of the self; it is mistaken for real due to a distorted mental image, known as identification.
Identification with something other than the real self is the origin of a conditioning entanglement: the cause of all attachments to a number of unreal objects that are by nature subject to transformation, degradation and dissolution. The strongest of all attachments, the most widely spread and considered as an absolutely normal condition, is the identification with the body. Although we may come to the conclusion that we are not the physical body, very few people do not identify with it.
It is also true that the human body is a gift from God, a very precious instrument, but it is not our Self. The nervous system is a powerful machine created for our success, to take us to our original dimension; it is the most fascinating biological structure we could ever imagine, but it is not life itself. When life leaves the body, for instance after a heart attack, although the whole nervous system is undamaged from a physiological point of view, you can certify that a person is dead. Therefore what makes this machine work wonderfully is the atman, the subject of our research.
Modern civilization achieved great results in countless fields, nevertheless it produced a shadow culture inclined to obsessive identification with the body, and the need to acquire richness in order to satisfy ambitions of power and exorcise fear, even knowing that, by definition, richness is like the sea water: the more you drink it the more thirsty you are. The fake myth of an easy life based on sense pleasures is the heaviest of calamities, the most painful and dreadful of all. Richness, aging, youth, beauty do not guarantee happiness, otherwise addictions to drugs, violence, alcohol or tobacco would not be wide spread problems.
In the absence of enlightenment because of the identification with the mind, pleasure is often seen as the pleasant and fleeting time in the continuous swinging from pain to pleasure. Pleasure comes from something which is outside of us, whereas joy comes from within us. What gives us joy one day, is the cause of pain the day after, for as long as it may last, sooner or later we will have to separate from it, and its absence will be the cause of pain. If we think about it, we may well find that each pleasure carries with it the seed of pain, the other side of the coin, to be met with in time.
When passions stir the heart and the mind we feel a lot of pain because of material entanglements. Such energies will not be good for us if they are not well organized, harmonized and directed.
Many disruptive tendencies are considered harmless because the difference between the Self and the false ego is not well acknowledged or discerned, neither clear is the discrimination between what is ephemeral and what is real (avidya).
We need Knowledge in order to direct and transform tendencies, the same process applied to the waters of a rushing stream when their disruptive force is converted into electrical energy to run a mill.
We are endowed with a wonderful system for our psychological structure to succeed in self realization and upgrade our evolutionary process. The ability to reflect on our thinking process and to detach ourselves from emotions is an exclusive privilege of mankind, which makes us different from animals, whose psychological structure is not as evolved as the human one. Human beings own the prerogative to control tendencies, which instead rule on animals as instincts. This is the great difference in the animal kingdom between humans and the so called animals. We can analyse our paradigms to see whether they are either real or depend from our conditionings, or impermanent situations of any kind. Animals cannot change their tendencies, whereas humans can. Perhaps it may require sacrifice but it is worth it. The endeavour to elevate our consciousness (indeed a real enterprise) and expand our vision of reality is the greatest decision a human being can make.
You would never spend your time, health and energy any better. Those who consume energy, health, time and money on ephemeral enterprises can only but grow in poverty and dissatisfaction.
As a matter of fact, all your wishes will reveal their intrinsic inconsistency and transitoriness, once they come true. Every dream vanishes by facing its reality, except for God and the Self. For this reason the wise men of all religious traditions say that this world is meant for suffering and the experience of life is an experience of pain. Although this may be true in general, it is always possible for a person to use the power of will to transform his destiny and experience success by feeding on the feeling of love, which is our very reason of life.
The ecstatic emotion of love, satisfaction and intense happiness can be experienced even in the dimension of life we live at present, by gaining freedom from all attachments .
Vedic literature describes the identity of the jivanmukta, a term combined by two Sanskrit words: jivan meaning life and mukta which is the past participle of moksha, freedom, and can be translated as a liberated being. Therefore jivanmukta means āfreed in lifeā. In the Vedas this word is used very often and it shows that it is possible to gain freedom even here, although the jiva is temporarily embodied. Ecstatic emotion pertain to the inner nature of the soul, to its proper attitude or atman svabhava. When this dimension is simply touched it is called bhava while when we enter it, it is called prema. Even a simple contact with it produces emotions which become unforgettable for our entire life.
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