‘I’ and ‘Mine’
There are two words. 'I' and 'Mine'. 'I' is associated with the concept of Ekatvam (oneness). 'Mine' is a social concept. 'I' represents the individual. Who is this individual? It is not connected with the body. 'Mine' is a collective concept. You describe many things as 'mine'. But 'I' stands alone. Being associated with the One, it stands for the Atma. Ekatma - the Atma is one. 'Mine' is associated with the things of the world. Where does the 'I' (Nenu in Telugu and Aham in Sanskrit) exist? Where from did the Aham originate? Vedic scholars and spiritually realised persons declared that the source of Aham is Hridaya. What is the meaning of Hridaya? In the worldly sense it refers to the physical heart in the body. But this is not what the term Hridaya signifies. Hridaya and 'I' are one and the same. The Shrutis gave the name Hridaya to 'I'. Where is this Hridaya? It is assumed that it is in the body. Where is the 'I' presumed to exist in the body? 'I' is not part of the body. You say, “This is my body”. ‘My’ is separate from the body. ‘My’ therefore, is not a part of the body. It follows that ‘I’ is not part of the body. If you understand the nature of 'I', you will understand the whole world. 'I' is in all beings. Everyone uses the 'I' to identify himself or herself. The 'I' is the omnipresent indwelling entity. When the Hridaya is identified with the 'I', it is equally all- pervading.
Mind merely follows Hridaya like a Shadow
Man today has a arrow conception of the 'I' and Hridaya because he misconceives the relationship between the Upaadhi (container) and what is contained (the indwelling Atma). How is this misconception to be removed? At the outset, there should be an enquiry into the nature of Hridaya. All you students are here (in this hall). If Hridaya referred to the physical heart, your Hridaya should be here. But when you think about your parents, in one moment your thoughts turn to Hyderabad. Another moment, you think about Madras. What is it that goes to Hyderabad or Madras? What is it that experiences these feelings? You may think it is the mind. The mind is Jada (inert). When you understand the mind properly, you will realise it is not the mind that is involved, it is the Hridaya that is at work, and the mind merely follows it like a shadow. There can be a shadow only when there is a real object. The mind is only the shadow of 'I'. Wherever the 'I' goes, the mind follows. When the 'I' is still, the mind will not move. Understanding this truth is real education for students. This is what is involved in ‘Satya Anveshana’ (quest for truth). The quest for truth should embrace all things. For instance, when you see a flower, you should try to know its name, how it came into existence, etc.
‘I’ is the same in All the Three States of Existence
You hear some good news which delights you. You also hear some sad news, as well as some harsh abusive words. You hear words of praise and blame. All the words were heard by the ears. But when happy news was heard the heart felt elated. When sad news was heard, the heart shrunk in sorrow. The heart got enraged when the ears heard harsh words about you. You were filled with joy when you heard words of praise. What is responsible for these varied responses, though all the words were heard by the same ears? The ears are inconscient by themselves and incapable of any reactions. The responses of joy or sorrow are related to the contents of the messages conveyed by the ears. Thus, the senses are by themselves Jada (inconscient). How can the operations of these senses be deemed as Satya (Truth or Reality)? How can the experiences resulting from these negative senses be considered as Truth? When the senses are unreliable, the reactions produced by them are equally unreliable. It is enquiring along these lines that man can overcome sorrow.
The basic cause for the occurrence of feelings like hatred, jealousy and anger is the body constituted by the five elements. As long as the body remains, it will be subject to these types of feelings. For instance, all experiences derived through the senses and the mind, occur during the waking state. How long do they last? When you go to sleep none of these experiences are present. Even the mind is absent, as it were. There is no consciousness even of breathing. In the dream state you are not aware of the life process. However, there is a kind of perception in that state. Is that perception by the physical eyes? You are lying in bed with closed eyes. Which are the eyes that perceive in that state? What is the body that moves about in that state? What is it that receives impressions from outside or experiences grief? It is clear that the experiences in that state are different from the experiences in the waking state. The experiences in the dream state are real as long as the dream lasts. The experiences in the waking state are real in that state. There are no dreams in the waking state and there are no perceptions of the waking state in the dream state. But you are present in both the states.
In both the states the ‘I’ is one. The experiences in both the waking and dream states are of the same ‘I’, only the states are different. Hence, the Reality or truth is that which remains in all the states. The ‘I’ was present in the dream state. It is now present in the waking state. This continuity in the past and the present characterizes the Atma. It is wrong to identify the ‘I’ with the body.
Follow the Shreyo Marg
Over the ages, by identifying the ‘I’ with the body, its true nature has been grossly underrated because of ignorance, perversion and false attachments. The truth is this ‘I’ is subtle and incomparable. It is beyond change. This is the characteristic of Divinity. Men have to recognise their inherent Divinity. In the conflict between the Preyo Marg (materialistic path) and the Shreyo Marg (spiritual path), people are deluded into following the former. They are ready to sacrifice their lives for sensory pleasures. Should they not dedicate their lives for higher Truth?
Be exemplars of Shreyo Marg. The power of Shreyas (spirituality) can confer boundless bliss. Hence, you should pursue Shreyas rather than Preyas. Those who are after sensuous pleasures do not readily listen to the words of those who advise them to give up their evil ways. On the contrary, they try to drag others down to their level. The one who pursues the spiritual path not only benefits himself, but also promotes the well-being of others. He is like the incense-stick which consumes itself in the process of spreading its fragrance while burning.
Hence, our students should be exemplars of the Shreyo Marg. Learning for Shreyas or spiritual upliftment, is true education. Students should avoid imitating the silly practices of persons who sport a long hair or go about in ‘bell bottoms’ and ‘drainage pipes’ type pants. Students should use their discriminating power in deciding how they should act. They should try to spiritualise their will power. They should realise the infinite powers latent in man. It is these powers which have enabled men to invent the most wonderful kinds of machinery. Men are, therefore, more valuable than the most precious things in the world. It is man who imparts value to things by the changes he makes in them, as in the case of diamonds or a work of art. In the spiritual field, man is enjoined at the very outset to know himself. He should not be a slave of the senses. Nor should he follow others like sheep. ‘Be a ship and not sheep’. A ship serves to carry others and cross the Ocean.
Consider the miraculous manner in which various organs in the body, the heart, the lungs, the stomach, the eyes and the tongue, function. Can this marvellous human machine be made by any human being? Students should realise how the Divine functions in the body, making the organs carry out their different functions. What the scientists have discovered is an infinitesimally small part of what exists in God's creation.
Source: Shreyas and Preyas, Discourse 11, My Dear Students Volume 2, Divine Discourse on March 5, 1995 in the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus Auditorium