Infinite is our nature. We have to realise this, and we will find ourselves at our journey’s end. – Chinmaya
Infinite is our nature. What is the proof?
The very fact that we crave for everything infinite only proves that Infinite alone is our nature.
We crave for infinite happiness, infinite love, infinite power, infinite fame, infinite knowledge, infinite freedom, infinite existence etc. We crave for it because it is our nature; which implies that as long as we don’t get it we will never be satisfied.
Hence in Chandogya Upanishad, the Guru Sanatkumara tells his disciple Narada:
यो वै भूमा तत्सुखं नाल्पे सुखमस्ति भूमैव सुखम् |
(That which is Infinite alone is happiness. There is no happiness in anything finite. The Infinite alone is happiness.)
The search for this Infinite is life. This search continues life after life, endlessly. The moment we get it, the beginningless journey is over.
But if Infinite is our nature, why don’t we experience it?
What we experience depends on where our identification is. We experience the properties of the objects we identify with. For example, when we identify with a winning team, we are elated. When we identify with our unhealthy body, we are dejected. When we identify with our brilliant intellect, we are elated. When we identify with our wealthy influential famous relative, we are elated. When we identify with our poor economic status, we are dejected.
In short, our experience doesn’t depend upon what we are, but with what we are identified with.
Now this answers the above question. We don’t experience the Infinite not because we are not the Infinite, but because our identification is with the finite, namely the body-mind-intellect. End the identification, end the sorrow – so say the scriptures.
Why do a majority of us fail in this search for the Infinite?
The Bhagavad Gita says:
यतन्तो योगिनश्चैनं पश्यन्त्यात्मन्यवस्थितम् । यतन्तोऽप्यकृतात्मान: नैनं पश्यन्त्यचेतस: ||
(The wise ones putting forth the right effort sees the Truth as their own Self, while the impure and the unintelligent ones never see, despite all their efforts.)
The reasons for failures can be many:
1. Searching in the wrong direction; 2. Searching with wrong understanding; 3. Searching with wrong purpose; 4. Searching with the wrong attitude; 5. Searching with insufficient effort.
1. Searching in the wrong direction:
The right direction is given by the scriptures like the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita. They unanimously declare that the Truth has to be found within in one’s own heart, as one’s own Self. The attention has to be drawn inward. The truth is none other than the ‘I’ in us. Hence enquiry must be conducted into our true nature.
Modern scientists are also the seekers of Truth, no doubt. They also have these questions, “Where the Universe has come from, what is life” etc. But alas! They don’t have the faith, reverence or regard for the scriptures. Not being guided by the scriptures, they have taken a totally opposite wrong direction – the way outwards.
The end result? Only utter confusion. The Uncertainty Principle of Heisenberg which was formulated and stated in 1927 holds good even today. Whether ‘telescoping’ outside the vast space or ‘microscoping’ into the minutest of atoms, the results remain the same – more questions and even more confusions! – that too at the expense of millions and billions of dollars!!
The Kathopanishad says:
अविद्यायामन्तरे वर्तमाना: स्वयं धीरा: पण्डितं मन्यमाना:| दंद्रम्यमाणा: परियन्ति मूढा: अन्धेनैव नीयमाना यथान्धा: ||
(Though ignorant, but considering themselves to be wise, such fools grope in the darkness of ignorance. Themselves blind, they lead and guide the other blind ones!)
On the other hand, when Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, an illiterate, half-clad, poor man in some remote village was approached by Narendra (Swami Vivekananda) asking whether he had seen God, the answer was in no uncertain terms, “I see God clearer than I see you!!”
Where have these scientists and the modern rationalist-atheists gone wrong? Vedanta says, the biggest mistake they have committed is that they deal with only the observed phenomena, totally disregarding the Observer of the phenomena. Without taking the Observer into account, none can reach the Truth because, say the Vedas, Observer alone exists. The observed world has no existence other than the existence of the observer, just like the dream world has no existence other than the observer of the dream.
2. Searching with wrong understanding:
Majority of us have no clarity in life as to what we are searching for.
For example, a superficial analysis of our life’s experiences indicates that whenever our desires are fulfilled, we become happy. Therefore, according to this logic, if we want more happiness, then we must try to fulfil more of our desires.
The Upanishad says this conclusion is wrong. Finite efforts can give only finite results, and therefore finite happiness.
Finite + finite + finite +….. = Finite alone.
Any amount of wealth, pleasures, fame, possessions and positions are going to be finite. Hence our dissatisfaction will continue, for, what we crave is for the Infinite.
The Upanishad says:
न कर्मणा न प्रजया धनेन त्यागेनैके अमृतत्त्वमानशु: |
(Neither by action, nor by progeny nor by wealth is Immortality gained; instead, it is gained only by the renunciation of the wrong notion about oneself.)
3. Searching with the wrong purpose:
Some people study the scriptures, but with the wrong purpose. They have chosen the scriptural study, not for liberation but to gain some PhD degree from some University.
According to them, “Shankara says this, and Madhava says that. Vedas say this, and Puranas say that. Jainas say this and Buddhists say that. Hence Vedantic philosophy is also one among many schools of thought, an opinion of some great philosophers!”
Let us make it clear to ourselves. Just like “Fire is hot” is not an opinion but a reality, in the same way, Vedanta is Reality – not a philosophy, an opinion, or a school of thought.
When the study is taken up in this way passively with a purely academic interest, without any importance given to living the life mentioned in the scriptures, then such a study will never benefit us. It can at the most give us a profession with a greater pay scale. There are very many professors in famous universities who have mastered the scriptures, who can quote the Vedas and the Upanishads, but are without even an iota of the experience of the immortal blissful infinite Self. Like the donkeys, they carry the burden of the scriptures but are nowhere benefitted by it!
4. Searching with the wrong attitude:
Many a time our sadhana itself becomes an obstacle. We become so proud of our spiritual disciplines that we tend to develop a “holier than thou” attitude.
Our sadhana should, on the other hand, make us more humble and down-to-earth. The Scriptures insist that the spiritual practice must be undertaken with the attitude of surrender, humility, gratitude and devotion unto the Lord.
5. Searching with insufficient effort:
Greater the goal, greater is the effort demanded from us. We must allocate sufficient time for prayer and meditation, study and contemplation if we desire to reap the rich rewards of peace and happiness, joy and contentment.
When we study the scriptures, we gain clarity in thinking. When clarity comes, we value the goal. When we value the goal, we have time for it and we work hard for it. Only then do we get it.
O M T A T S A T