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14-The Pauper and the Prince

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Kathopanishad-Page 14
p 172-180-183

The Pauper and the Prince

[172] People often ask - "If this is my Real-Self, why am I not aware of this?" This question can be answered in the light of "how the mind works?" The mind is a process - always changing. Therefore it cannot be aware of anything that doesn't move or change. The senses cannot perceive the thing which does not change, so the mind gets bored by it and falls asleep and the intellect does not believe it. [Author gives here an example of a frog that sees only the moving objects. As long as the water moves, it can see it, but as it stops moving, it cannot see it.] This is how the mind functions. Although the self is right under our nose, but the mind cannot see it. There is no point in arguing.

All we can do is to put our senses, mind and intellect quietly to sleep and merge ourselves completely in the Self - fully awake. 

On the other hand, as long as we are looking at the world through our mind, we see only our mind. We may think that we are seeing the outside world, but in reality we are not; what we taste, see, smell, even touch, is all the mind-process itself. We never really see the world around us, all we encounter is our own nervous system - we do not see life as it is, rather we see it only as we are.

In the same way we see other people too. We do not see them as they are, we see their little model we have made in our Chitta, and on those observation we pronounce our judgment. The mind may take some exaggerated impressions, passions, memories, hopes and insecurities and the other person may object - "I am not this. This is not me, it is your mind only which is projecting me like this. If you don't like me, it means you don't like your own mind."

It means when I am talking to you, I am talking to my idea of you. You hear the words and you reply to your own idea of me. Therefore when we quarrel in such talking, the worst thing I can do is avoid you, because then I am trying to avoid the image in my mind which is not possible. To heal our relationship, we have to take the help of conditioning - move closer to people we do not like and learn to work with them without friction. By doing this, we are remaking the image in our mind, which means we are literally remaking the whole world in which we are living.

And the deeper one goes with those thoughts the less he is present here and now. At this point we can conclude that our personality is only a summation of ideas about others. And just as we remake our world, we can remake ourselves too.

This is the central principle of meditation - we become what we meditate on, or say we become obsessed of what we think of. As we think, so we become. In meditation we take a spiritual idea and drive it deep into our hearts, until it begins to shape our deepest thoughts and desires. Thus by meditation we become a different kind of person. By this compulsive thinking, we change our behavior and our personality follows it.

Here the author gives an example of an actor who is given quite a contrary role to his normal living habits. Unwillingly, he accepts it and performs it daily for three hours. The play becomes a hit and he, a hero. Since the play is a hit, he is asked to do it twice a day, and he agrees to it. Gradually the job expands, and he plays it so often that he can do it in his sleep also. He doesn't even have to think. In practical terms, now he is a different person. He has an image of that kind of person (he didn't want to be), so he cannot disfigure it out and it becomes his personality.

In the same way, it may take time, but one day will come, when after a long meditation you will be able to expel your negative thoughts and get up with your mind free. To erase everything negative from your personality, think about what you choose, be free from this stress, anxiety, and resentment.

Does it mean that we should learn acting? No. Our real nature should be patient, kind, secure, not otherwise, so in learning to be identified as Purush, we are taking off the mask (Maayaa, or ignorance) from our face.

Death and Dreaming

[180] When we say that Self is real and the personality is only a shadow, we mean it is real - means never to change. Aadi Shankaraachaarya says - "Only that is real which never changes." By this definition nothing is real in this world. The Sanskrit name for this ever-changing phenomenal world is just accurate - Sansaar (world) that which is in ceaseless motion.

You will be surprised to know that even our body is not only "unreal" but also not solid. On the atomic level, it is mostly space. At the center of each atom is a tiny nucleus, made up of particles so elusive that physicists cannot even be sure as what is there. Around that nucleus there is a comparatively vast region of space; then far off bursts of energy we call electrons, halfway between particles and waves. Thus less than one billionth of the human body is material, and the rest is space.

Is all that we sense and feel unreal? Not at all. It is real, but it belongs to only reality in relation to the waking state, as dream experience is not unreal. The difference is that when we dream, consciousness is withdrawn from the physical level, the senses, to the mind. Time, space and casualty - the limiting factors of the sense-world all are gone. All kinds of absurd things can happen in dreams. But otherwise, both in dreaming as well as in waking, the thoughts and tears and desires all are the same.

With this idea, life is not much different than a long dream. There is little difference between dreaming in sleep situation and dreaming in awake situation. People walk, talk, laugh, sleep, even write poetry and solve crossword puzzles or mathematics problems in their sleep. Similarly taking three meals a day and a walk with a friend does not mean that we are awake. All too often, these are a sort of automatic thoughtless activities on a relative level of reality. 

The criterion is choice. In a dream we have very little choice over what happens, everything just happens to us, while we have lots of choices in waking state, unless we deface consciousness freely from the senses, all sense-experience has a magnetic attraction which we cannot resist. To be able to call ourselves awake, we should have freedom of choices at every moment.

When people experience the same pleasure of senses in dream also, as in waking state, it means that we live not in the body so much as in the mind. The Hindu and Buddhist mystics would go to extent of saying that we do not experience pleasure because we have a body, rather we have a body in order to experience pleasure. First comes the desire, then the means to satisfy it.




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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 06/09/11