The daily activities of man, from morning to evening, are nothing but his attempts to achieve freedom. He is restless for one reason or the other, and the struggle to obviate the causes of restlessness takes the form of activity. No person is what he appears outside, and nothing in the world is what it appears externally. Everything is different on the outside to the perception and the vision. If anyone is happy, he has a tremendous energy; and even if he has not eaten for four days he will say, "I shall lift bricks!" Man can lift a stone and carry a tree, even if he has not eaten for days, because he is happy for some reason. What power thoughts have! The word "body" is used because there is no better word for it in the language. Actually, it is not a solid substance. It is an energy-complex, an electromagnetic field, an energy centre, a pressure point that pulsates with such a force that it never allows man any rest. We come to the astonishing conclusion that our happiness does not lie in acquiring anything at all. It is finally in the acquisition of our own selves.
All the thoughts of the mind are concerned with things outside it, and the whole engagement of life, or, rather, the business of life, may be said to be man's concern with everything other than his own self. Man is busy with external things, whether these are human or non-human. The greatest difficulty is psychological. Man lives or dies only by his mind. The whole activity of life, right from morning till evening, is a pushing out of oneself the whole energy that is within, and pushing it on something else, as if the entire world is made up of everything except one's own self! Individuality is not man's true existence. The so-called individuality is a false form that existence has taken, and it wishes to rectify this error into which it has crept by the attempt to expand spatially, together with a desire to also perpetuate itself temporally. Therefore, man lives a life of desire, endlessly asking for more and more things in the world. If the feeling of "I exist" can be emphatically said to be true for all states of experience, how does the "I" exist in these states? What is the true nature of the self that affirms, "I am," and passes through these states?
Though it is true that in the waking condition an association with the physical body is absolutely essential, in other conditions, like dream, one exists without the body. This is strange! Man can exist in a dream without association with a body. One does not know anything in deep sleep, because there is no external object there. Whenever one speaks of knowledge, one always refers to a relationship between the subject and the object. But it is not true that there was no knowledge of any kind in deep sleep. There was some kind of knowledge, otherwise how could one know that one had slept? In deep sleep, man is in a state of pure existence wholly, and knows nothing outside it. One is not even a human being, not rich, not poor, not healthy, not unhealthy, not thirsty, and not hungry. Nothing could apply to that state of being, but still, one existed. Man has a double characteristic in himself. He cannot isolate himself wholly from the universe. He, indeed, belongs to it. Yet, he maintains some sort of individuality, and he cannot always feel that he is the same as the world.
Perhaps man lives according to his feelings rather than his understanding or any psychic function. Man decides upon a thing on account of a certain feeling in himself-logic or no logic. He confirms logically what he feels basically. Desires are to be channelised, sublimated, and turned back to their original source, from the reflected, contorted shape that they have taken in their ill-calculated relationship with an external world. A desire, while it is apparently directed towards the fulfilment of an objective satisfaction, actually arises from a need for universal experience. The goal of life is the attainment of God, the realisation of the Absolute, the unity of the individual with the cosmos. This is moksha. This is the final aim of all life. Man is not what he appears to be at the conscious level. He is far hidden deep beneath his own self. A shell of his personality is working as his waking awareness.
Man attracts what he deserves. The law of Nature does not mete out injustice arbitrarily. There is some mystery in things, which we are not able to understand. We may have to endure some hardships with fortitude. Our complaints are part of our ignorance.
The most important things to remember are the purpose set before oneself and the ideal of the goal ahead, which then condition one's general attitude to life. Whether something is right or wrong, good or bad-how could one find out? The nature of the goal that one has chosen for oneself will indicate what is right and what is wrong in any particular context. The good man is one who does good always, under every condition, and is not conditionally good. Beyond the good man is the saintly man, and still above, the God-man. Our life is a beautiful pattern of various thread works, woven dexterously by an expert Maker of all things, such that one cannot easily or intelligibly comprehend how it is made or why it is made.
The world, our life, is subtler and more involved in various ways than our intelligence can permit us to understand. We seem to be in possession of something, a little different from all these things, which are the ultimate values of earthly existence. That something seems to speak to us from within and makes us restless. If at all we are restless in our day-to-day existence, it is because we are made up of something that is different from what we are constituted of in our physical existence. Our loves and affections, our relationships with others in the form of like and dislike, all are misconceptions, root and branch. All our activities, it follows from this analysis, are also a thorough outcome of a complete misconception of life. There are two directions along which the mind of man moves, viz., the outward and the inward. The outward path is the way of pleasure and enjoyment. The inward way is that of the search for Reality. Satisfactions are of various kinds. Whenever we come under the compulsion of an urge and get under its thumb, a release from its clutches appears to be a satisfaction. So, satisfactions are numberless, all amounting to a release of the nervous and psychological tension caused by an urge that has arisen from within. The human mind is foolish, finally. It understands nothing, but yet it assumes an arrogance of all-knowingness and omniscience. Nothing can be worse than this attitude of the mind-knowing nothing and imagining that it knows everything. This attitude is called ignorance. The man of wisdom chooses the blessed and the good rather than the pleasant and the satisfying to the senses.
The human mind is foolish, finally. It understands nothing, but yet it assumes an arrogance of all-knowingness and omniscience. Nothing can be worse than this attitude of the mind-knowing nothing and imagining that it knows everything. This attitude is called ignorance. We sometimes appear to be pursuing the goal of God-realisation while we are actually pursuing what is pleasant to the deeper needs of this bodily and ego-ridden personality. No one, ordinarily speaking, can aspire for God, wholly. Eons must have passed since we have entered this state of ignorance we are in. But it is like people who are ill for years together and become accustomed to that sort of existence. In the beginning, the illness comes like an inconvenience. Later on, it passes for a normal life. Our consciousness gets accustomed to conditions of experience to which we are habituated. Rarely do we realise that life can be a bondage. We are so much accustomed to this strenuous life of adjustment with the outside atmosphere that we have mistaken this effort itself for a kind of joy and satisfaction. The condition of perpetual disease is mistaken for a normal state of health.
The experiences of our life are not really pleasurable. The conditions through which we pass in mind and intellect from morning to evening are not ones of happiness, but we try to make the best of this suffering itself, and we try to create a heaven out of hell. Your strength is in you. It is not outside you. The weakness of the personality, or the weakness of the body, is not due so much to physical contact with objects as to an erroneous adjustment that we make with the conditions of the world outside. All our sufferings can ultimately be boiled down to an error of understanding. Whatever be the degree of reality in which we are, we should be masters of that. Death and life are not fundamentally isolated experiences. When memory persists, we call it sleep. When memory vanishes, we call it death.
We die because of desires, and we are reborn on account of desires. Desires are propulsions of our individual nature towards certain types of experience. When these desires are exhausted by experience through this particular given bodily individuality, the body is shed. Ignorance has been a sort of bliss, because it has been bringing a wrong type of satisfaction in which one is ruled by the conviction that everything is fine and nothing is wrong anywhere. If we have enough time and patience to go deep into our daily experiences, we will realise that there is something beneath the surface movements of life that we call experience. Generally, we are dashed hither and thither by the waves of our daily activities, due to which we are left with neither the time nor the capacity to read between the lines of our daily life. We cannot generally be happy in this world. This is certain, because happiness is nothing but an automatic consequence of the attainment of perfection. However, the more we move towards perfection, the more we are happy.
The worst misfortune is that we are thinking what is not there. It is like a person who has gone mad, and is possessed by a devil. There is a total forgetfulness of our relationship to the Whole. We cannot know anything by moving outwardly, because outwardness is not the true nature of things. The finitude of individual existence is totally sorrowful. The encasement of consciousness within the walls of the body is so very intolerable that the finite being, in his intense restlessness caused by this imprisonment in the body, struggles to get out of this finitude. Loss of self is the greatest of losses. We have lost ourselves in imagining that we are not what we actually are in relation to the nature of the universe. We have lost ourselves in imagining that we are isolated persons. Self-love is the greatest of loves, and here "self" stands for bodily individuality. Because I take myself to be an individual, I am that and nothing else. I feel that I need to preserve that individuality, and I love it intensely.
If one is a little philosophical and dispassionate in his analysis, he will realise that it is not the persons and things outside, but rather his own relationship with those persons and things that constitute his problem. We may be devoted people, but even then, our devotion to God is mostly half-hearted, reluctant and lukewarm. Such lukewarm devotion cannot bring success, and certainly not quick success.
Even the worst of things will pass away, and no one will always be in the same condition. One may be downtrodden, and may feel about to be crushed under the weight of this grinding mill of the world. Yet, no one can be ground completely. There is something in everyone that is imperishable.
The avoidable things in life follow us wherever we go, and it should not be very difficult for any seeker to free himself from involvement in things which are not essential. The first and foremost thing that we have to do is to find out what are the essentials and the non-essentials in life.
We are not just citizens of New York, Delhi or even this Earth. We have a passport with us for entering into the various planes of existence. We therefore have an obligation transcending the limits and the boundaries of the nation and the society in which we are born.
We are at every moment of time centrifugal and also centripetal; that is, we have an externalising impulse towards activity, social relationship and contacts of various kinds, and at the same time we have a powerful impulse to maintain our integrality and status. Our reason is not strong, our understanding is feeble, but the senses are vigorous and impetuous. Our activities need not bring us happiness. We stoop down to the state of utter hopelessness and wretchedness, because we have not found time to walk with the light of reason and the justice of the universe. We cannot see this law with our eyes, just as we cannot see, for instance, a government. In the duty that you are called upon to perform, there is on such thing as a superior or inferior duty. Everything has its role to play. There are fears of various types that keep us secretly unhappy, and many of the attempts of life in the conscious level are attempts to brush aside these fears. We occupy ourselves so busily with works of various types as a kind of outlet or counteracting power against our fears, and this is usually known in the language of psychology as "defence mechanisms."
You owe a duty to the various sides of human life-to human beings, to your ancestors, to the gods in heaven, to the sages of wisdom, and even to the beasts and animals. You have duties, not rights, in this world. Rights will automatically follow without your asking for them. When you perform your duties, you need not demand your rights--they come spontaneously. When we do not any more regard ourselves as helpless victims at the hands of isolated-ness in space and time, we then become a universal being participating in the purpose of the Cosmos. Then it is that we receive the Grace of God, for God is non-spatial and non-temporal. This little self of ours is like an ass carrying a treasure on its back, not knowing its worth! Imagine for a moment: who are the happy and completely satisfied people in this world? Sorrow gnaws into the vitals of human nature, and it is whitewashed by a smear of egoistic assertion of adequacy of oneself. That you cannot find a single totally satisfied individual in the world is a matter for deep consideration.
When I am seeing a person in front of me, what do I think of that person? Many ideas arise: this person has come from New York, he is the son of so-and-so, working in that office, with so much education. This person's name and form are like this. What other many things can I think about the person? But none of these descriptions really are that person. The involvement of the human personalities is so intricate and almost beyond imagination that, ordinarily, success may not show its head even after years of practice. But persistent effort will have its own results.