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4-Road to Wisdom

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Kathopanishad-Page 4
p 39-62

The Road to Wisdom

When there is nobody holding the reins, or when we let our senses (see Indriyaan) go wild, because that is their nature, people run on the path of sensory pleasure. Pleasure is everything for them and that is their style of living. But Death says - "You can choose between Preya and Shreya. [Remember he told you that you have the ability to choose.] The problem with Preya is that it runs away from Shreya - that is, away from health and peace of mind. People do want to learn to live, but they do not know how to steer their cars. After 60, 70 or 80 years, they run out of gas and that is THE END of their life."

Nachiketaa says - "I understand that. Now tell me how to choose? How do I take the road that leads to wisdom?" Yam smiles and says - "It is very simple - just don't take the other road." This is true, when we are not choosing Preya, we are choosing Shreya. But it is simple to say, difficult to do. Yam says - "You have to be really tough because for it you will have to hold the reins tightly and carefully, you will have to train your horses so well, so that they can take you wherever you want to go. It can't be done in a few days, not even in a few weeks. The greatest of men and women have taken years together to train their senses and passions. Because when one sees Preya, he takes them many in number. It is difficult for him to ignore them all. When we lack toughness, we are not able to choose what we should choose. But if we keep choosing Shreya, we shall certainly reach our goal."

Everybody is not born with this quality - very few are born with it, one has to learn it systematically; so Yam teaches that to Nachiketaa, who comes back to world with the desire to pass that knowledge to others. As long as people will seek to overcome death, this story will be told to show us how it is done.

The Journey Into Consciousness - City of Eleven Gates

Yam says - "The journey into consciousness begins at the physical level, the first layer of consciousness - our body. Most people think that "I am my body, when my body dies, I die." This is not true, this is the greatest mistake. Many Indian cities' names end in 'Pur' which means just city; such as, Jayapur (city of victory), Udayapur (city of dawn), Naagpur (city of snakes); even Singapore name has been adopted from Sanskrit word 'Sinh+pur', the city of lions. With the same analogy you call this body Ekaadash (11) Dwaar (gates) Pur (city), or the City of Eleven Gates.

Most of the ancient cities had a wall around the city to protect it and the most vital places in these walls were its gates. Inside the wall and gates the city was full of intense activities. On a high place there used to be a palace where its king lived. With the same analogy, the skin of this body is the wall; the eleven gates of the city are its eleven openings - seven are in the head - two side doors (ears), two in front (eyes), two small holes for smelling (nose) and one mouth. Then there are organs of reproduction and excretion. That make up nine gates. The last two gates are navel and the tiny fissure that divides the bones of the skull at the crown of the head.

The significance of the last two gates is - through the first one we take life - the sustenance from mother until we are born. At the time of birth this tenth gate is closed never to open again. And the eleventh gate is opened only when man, who has achieved Self-realization, sheds the body. Who have gained complete control over their consciousness are able to gather all their Praan (see Vaayu) together when the time of their death comes. The Praan slips out the eleventh gate allowing the body to die as it were by an act of will. Although everybody has this secret door, but one in millions knows what it is for and how to find it.

Thus our body is a city and we are its ruler. We have a palace in the center - mind where we live. But all have forgotten this and lead the life of a pauper out of the palace by the city walls and have forgotten for ever that we were rulers anytime. Whenever we see anything attractive we let it in and that comes to stay in our city and then gradually settles down in our palace, which is our residence. We begin to identify ourselves with the city and its gates.

The consequences are much more than physical. We first lose our choice. The gates of the senses open only one way - outward. Praan can only go out through the senses, it cannot come in. And who opens the gate? The desire. The mind gets excited about that desire and the craving of that particular sense opens the gate related to it, for example mouth opens its gate for tasty food. Praan gushes out for temporary enjoyment until the supply of Praan is drained out.

When the Praan  is going out, it is very difficult to shut the gate. When everything subsides, a sense of vacuum is created inside. The doors are shut and we are locked in. This is depression. The greater the degree of excitement, the deeper the depression sets in. In this situation the man will not respond even if you try hard. Time seems to stop. In one way this depression works as a safety mechanism too, as it does not allow any other thing to enter through senses, because they are shut to allow Praan to fill the tank again.

Wherever there is an excitement, depression has to follow, whether we are doing anything or not. We can burn our whole tank full of Praan simply in the mind. Dwelling on ourselves, magnifying our personal problems, replaying the past, worrying about our future, inflating desires, daydreaming about never to happen fantasies - all these waste an incredible amount of our Praan.

A Colossal Fallacy

After some time has passed we start believing that there is nothing else in the city except the walls and the gates. Even if we talk about the palace inside, we talk about its physical aspect. This is colossal fallacy which has snatched away from the modern world its health and peace. For example, when we talk about health, we talk only about our physical health - its walls and its gates. Only by meditating we can actually get inside our mind and begin to clear things up. Then only we start enjoying our good health - spiritual, mental and physical.

On the other hand, when we live in a world of outer appearance we believe that outer beauty is the whole living. To take care of appearance (outer beauty) is ungrateful at best. The body is an owner-built home, shaped by what we think, say and do. If we want to change it, we should change our way of thinking; but normally we behave with the outer appearance of a person and scarcely notice the person living inside the appearance. We are only houses, we don't know how to communicate.

The surprising thing is that sensory pleasure is a mirage. It may be exciting to pursue it, but every time we taste it, we come out thirstier than ever before. This is the illusion, the Hindu mystics call it Maayaa.. We have water in our palace and we are wandering thirsty outside. We are happy to enjoy short pleasures or grieve in small sorrows, because we are not connected to our wisdom. We have forgotten about our palace. If we can restore our palace, we should be much happier."




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