(Understandings from Swami Mitrananda’s talk to Yuva Veers of Youth Empowerment Program 6thbatch)
Satsangatve nissangatvam, nissangatve nirmohattvam
Nirmohattve nischalatattvam, nischalatattve jeevanmuktih || 9 ||
Meaning: From Satsang (company of good people) comes detachment. From detachment comes freedom from delusion. From freedom from delusion comes abidance in the Truth. From abidance in the Truth comes liberation in life.
In one line Shankara has prescribed the path to perfection.
Try reading something by keeping it very close to the eyes. We can’t read, isn’t it? We need to keep certain distance to be able to read. To get clarity over things, we need to keep certain distance. In life, we get proper clarity when we view things from a distance.
A husband and wife, a very loving couple, started having fights. When it became regular, to put an end to it, they went to a psychologist. After a few sittings, they realized their mistakes and started living a happy life once again. What happened? How could the psychologist understand both of them better than they themselves who were very close to each other? The psychologist viewed them from a distance. He was not being affected by their problem because he was not attached to those people. The couple was so attached to each other that they couldn’t get clarity over their issues.
Detachment is not ‘not loving a person or a thing’. Detachment is viewing something without being affected by it. What happens when there is attachment? Delusion. We start getting deluded. The wife might feel that the husband loves his work more than her. The husband might think that the wife is expecting too much. This one deluded thought is enough for a Mahabharata war.
What is Delusion? How bad is it? Delusion is a wrong belief. The common example given in Vedanta is that of a rope and a snake. When it was dark, the rope looked like a snake. The thought of a snake caused fear. But when a torch was lit, the snake disappeared and truth dawned. When we are in the darkness of ignorance, we don’t realize how deluded we are, and we continue believing what we see is true. Only the light of knowledge can dispel the darkness of ignorance.
What is Ignorance? A woman sees beauty in an ornament. But a goldsmith sees only gold. The former sees the Form and the latter sees the Substance. It is the Substance that gives value to the Form. Will the ornament have value if it was made in the same form but of wood? Think! The ornament is superimposed on gold. Why? Because of Ignorance. What happened because of ignorance? Delusion.
Ignorance of the object causes desire in us. We get tempted by the object. When the temptation is not fulfilled, anger arises. What happens with anger? Bhagavad Geeta, Chapter 2, Verse 63
krodhad bhavati sammohah
Meaning: From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion confusion of memory. When memory is confused, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, there occurs the fall of man.
Suppose the desire is fulfilled, what happens? We are satisfied, we are at peace. Let’s analyse this a bit more. When the object was seen, a thought occurred in the mind. This thought led to desire. When the desire was fulfilled, the thought disappeared. What happened in reality was…disappearance of thought gave us happiness. And we were under the impression that fulfillment of desire gave us happiness. This wrong understanding is Delusion.
Mathematically put, number of thoughts is inversely proportional to the amount of happiness. In lay man’s terms, more the number of thoughts, lesser the happiness level and lesser the number of thoughts, more is happiness experienced.
To have a desire is human. But human birth itself is an opportunity to become Divine. An intelligent one will try to transcend being human to becoming divine.
A desire can result in fulfillment or non-fulfillment, i.e. there is a possibility of happiness or sorrow. But if we intelligently overcome the desire by detaching ourselves from the object of desire, the result will be 100% happiness. We do have a Choice!
Once one is free from delusion, he starts seeing the Substance in everything – the Truth! What is this Truth? When we look at an object, what comes to our mind is its name, its form, its quality and our past experience with the object. Try thinking of an object without these four (name, form, quality and past experience). Very difficult, isn’t it? The moment when one is able to see things like this, he starts seeing God in everything. That is what is called – the Truth. It’s difficult for us to understand this because we are not yet matured enough to grasp it. But if we keep contemplating over this concept, one day even we can realize the Truth. That’s a promise of the Upanishads.
Abiding in this Truth is Jeevanmukti (liberation from all bondages / liberation from life). All the Eastern philosophies, be it Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, they promise this state of Liberation while one is alive. It is not posthumous that one can attain after death. It can be attained HERE & NOW. This Liberation is true freedom, when nothing can disturb us. Our peace, our happiness lies in our control. No object, no person, no happening can shake a Jeevanmukta.
This beautiful process of attaining freedom starts with Satsang (company of the good). When we are in good company, we discuss about good things, positive things. We do not just pass time, rather kill time, instead we make use of our valuable time. Satsang can be in midst of good people, discussions on the scriptures, reading good books written by realized Masters or even listening to an audio or video talk by these Masters. Satsang is the first step to attain Liberation.
No doubt it is a difficult task. But it’s worth following this path, for there is nothing as pathetic and punishing as Slavery to various things & beings in this world and nothing as sweet as Freedom from anything & everything in this world. This has been the cry of all the great Seers who walked this Path of Perfection and attained Liberation.