Spiritual perfection is not to be created – it is in us already. We have only to remove what obstructs its manifestation. – Chinmaya
Q: Why perfection need not be created?
A: Perfection is our nature. Hence it need not be created. Just like fire need not create heat.
Q: If we are perfect, why don’t we experience this perfection?
A: We don’t experience it because we don’t know who we are. Our ignorance about ourselves prevents us from experiencing this perfection.
Q: Why do you say we are ignorant about ourselves?
A: All of us experience the ‘I’ in us. But when asked to define what this ‘I’ is, we say that this ‘I’ is nothing but the body-mind-intellect (BMI) complex. This is called ignorance about oneself.
Q: Then what is self-knowledge?
A: True knowledge about oneself is called self-knowledge.
Scriptures say that this ‘I’ which we experience all the time has nothing to do with the BMI complex. Rather, this ‘I’ is Consciousness in us which by nature is real, infinite, immortal and blissful.
Q: How can I say I am not the BMI?
A: What belongs to me should necessarily be different from me. BMI belongs to me. Therefore I cannot be the BMI. But ‘I’- the Consciousness, doesn’t belong to me; it is me.
Again, the observer should be different from the observed. Therefore I, the observer-Consciousness, am different from the observed-BMI.
Q: If I am not the BMI, why is that I feel I am the BMI?
A: It is because of identification. When I identify with something, I consider that thing as a part of me. For example, a mother identified with her child considers the child’s joys and sorrows as her own. When I identify with the movie character in the movie, his/her moods become my moods. So too with identification with BMI.
Q: What is wrong with considering oneself as BMI?
A: BMI is finite and mortal, impermanent and perishable by nature. When we identify with the imperfect BMI, we experience imperfection. But when we identify with perfect Consciousness, we experience perfection.
The strict law of the game called life is – we experience what we identify with.
Q: How to gain Self-knowledge?
A: The problem started with our identification with the BMI. So the solution lies in dis-identifying from the BMI and identifying with Consciousness. Any other way to get rid of our imperfection will only be futile.
One day Buddha came into his assembly of the monks. His sannyasins were sitting and waiting for him. Buddha had come with something in his hand – a handkerchief. They all looked at the handkerchief. What was the matter? There must be something special in it. And Buddha sat on the platform and rather than speaking to the assembly he looked at the handkerchief, started tying a few knots in it – five knots in all.
Buddha said, “Right. Now you see these five knots. Suppose I want to open these knots.” And he started stretching both ends of the handkerchief farther away from each other. He asked Sariputta,” What do you think? By stretching farther will I be able to open the knots?”
The confused disciple said,” You will be making knots even more difficult to open because they will become smaller, more tighter.”
Buddha said, ”Right. What should I do so that I can open the knots? How I can untie them again?”
Sariputta said, ”Bhagwan! I would like first to come close and see how in the first place the knots have been tied. Unless I know how they have been tied it is difficult for me to suggest any solution.”
Buddha said, ”Sariputta! You are blessed, because that is the most fundamental question to ask. If you are in a certain fix, the first thing to know is how you got into it rather than trying to get out of it. Without asking the most fundamental and the primary question, you will make things worse.”
“And that’s what people are doing. They ask, ‘How we can get out of greed, anger, attachment, jealousy, possessiveness, this and that?’ without asking, ‘How in the first place we get into them?’ If you can see the entrance, the same door is the exit; no other door is needed. But without knowing the entrance if you try to find out the exit you are not going to find. “
The way to spiritual perfection is five-fold:
Observe oneself, Detect where we go wrong, Eliminate the erroneous ways of thinking, Substitute it with the right knowledge, and Master this knowledge by practice.
How clearly can we experience this perfection? The Bhagavad Geeta says:
ज्ञानेन तु तदज्ञानं येषां नाशितमात्मन: | तेषामादित्यवज्ज्ञानं प्रकाशयति तत्परम् ||
(In those whose ignorance has been destroyed by Self-knowledge, in them, the ultimate Truth shines as clearly as the sun.)
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, one of the greatest seers of our age, was once asked by a journalist coming from the West, “Do you believe in God?” Bhagavan said, “No.”
The man was shocked. He had heard that this man has realized God, and he says he does not believe in God! He repeated the question. He said, “Sir, hope you have heard me rightly. I am asking, ‘Do you believe in God?’”
Bhagavan said, “I have heard you perfectly. I don’t believe in God, because I know. We believe in something only when we don’t know. For me, there is no need for belief. I know the whole existence is divine. Every part of this universe is divine. Every being is divine. Since I know it, there is no question of believing.”
Perfection is already ours. The choice given to us is – to own it or to ignore it.
The masterpiece of Michelangelo (the world-famous sculptor), the statue in the Vatican, is of Jesus Christ lying in his mother’s lap after he was taken down from the cross. This statue was thought to be one of the best statues in the whole world. There is an interesting incident behind this statue.
Michelangelo went to a market where there were shops selling marble. Just in front of a shop on the open ground, there was a big rock – a huge marble rock that had been lying there for years. And he asked, “How much is the price?”
The owner said, “There is no price; it has been lying there for almost ten years, and you are the first person ever to ask about it. If you can take it away, it is yours. It will be enough payment that our grounds are cleared and we can put out other rocks for show. That rock is taking so much space. And every artist comes here; no artist has ever seen any possibility for that rock.”
And Michelangelo cut from that same rock this statue.
When the statue was ready, he invited the shop owner. The man could not believe it. He said, “Where did you get such a beautiful piece of marble?”
Michelangelo said, “This is the same rock that you gave me at no charge.”
The man said, “My God! But you have created the most beautiful statue I have ever seen. How could you manage to think, looking at that ugly rock, that you would be able to do it?”
He said, “I have not done anything. It was just that Jesus cried out to me, ‘Michelangelo! I am encaged in this rock. Make me free!!’”
The sculptor doesn’t add anything new. He only chisels out what is unnecessary. So too, the hidden divine perfection in us becomes manifest when we use the chisel of self-knowledge to chisel away the wrong understanding about ourselves.
O M T A T S A T