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The Realized State of Being

by Dr. Sushil Fotedar

Long time back, when we had not yet been forced to leave our dear Kashmir, I used to visit the ashram of the beloved Swami Laxman Joo, situated at the foothills of the majestic Zabarwan mountain,  in Ishber, on a very regular basis. I was young and brash then, full of worldly desires and a bubbling, nameless kind of hope characteristic of youth, but all the same, there was also this incipient spiritual curiosity which used to pull me forcefully towards this great saint. He invariably used to be surrounded by various scholars of Shaivism, both Indian and foreign, who with great humility would sit at his feet to learn about Trika Shastra. There were also present, usually in the background, these two great lady saints, the late Sharika ji, a veritable human form of the Mother Goddess and Prabha ji who fortunately is still with us.

I was in awe of this saint. We would be waiting in his beautiful garden on those lazy Sunday afternoons and then at the time of his choosing he would come walking down to meet all of us, wearing his long trademark phiran. What a majestic gait he had and what a glowing face ! He would be overflowing with a kind of grace that perhaps, was the result of not years, but janmas and janmas of tapasya, of intense austerities ! Even in the foolishness of my youth, I could feel the aura, the profundity of his being and try to imbibe whatever little I could understand. Unfortunately, there was also a certain number of people, who, I believe, due to an underlying sense of insecurity often tried to ‘possess’ him and many a times pushed inferior persons like me away from him. I could see the seeds of cultism taking root in their hearts and souls. Well, he himself was obviously beyond all this, for who can possess a realized being, who can ever own the insubstantiality of Space ?! Anyway, I would watch him for long periods wondering as to what lay inside that body of his, what his inner being was like and what the state of his mind was! Invariably getting utterly confused, I would discover that it was time for me to come out of my reverie, pay my respects and leave after receiving his blessings. Those were the days… .

The question still haunts me though I have grown much older; I still feel very intensely about it and age has not dimmed any of my desire to find answers to this query. Sadly for me the great saint is no more; there are no more guiding lights around (except Nirmal Babas with their ‘third eyes’!!!) and groping in the dark, I am trying to find my own answers.

Well then, what is the realized state of Being like? When an individual gets spiritually illumined how does he feel like ? What does he think and how does he interact with the rest of us lesser mortals?

Let me begin by trying to understand myself, the person I am apparently most intimate with. Here is the envelope of my body, of solid flesh and bones with warm, red blood flowing through the vessels and a heart beating ceaselessly till the day I die. There are various other important organs which are nourished by this blood with the topmost evolutionary prize, the brain, lying within the safe confines of my cranium. But then a dead body, which I encounter rather frequently in my profession, possesses all these and yet is found wanting in something apparently insubstantial yet making all the difference—the life force. What is this life force which so long as it permeates the body, electrifies it with its presence and apparently makes use of its various components in accordance with its own whims and desires ? Well, if we are to believe the biologists, life is nothing other than a collateral excrescence of the various complex chemical reactions going on within the body, and consciousness, which has reached its pinnacle in the human being, is also just the manifestation of the functioning of the brain, nothing more, nothing less. When these complex reactions cease for whatever reasons-- they would like us to accept-- life ceases to be and the concerned being can safely be pronounced dead. Of course, that is how we doctors declare a patient clinically lifeless—‘no pulse, no BP, heart not beating, pupils fixed and dilated, and that ultimate test of brain function, the EEG, showing a flat line; yes, the patient is safely dead and gone forever!!’ This is the boring, mediocre conclusion of Objective Science based on its smug assumptions and analytical reasoning.

There is a dramatically opposite line of thinking, experienced and expressed by the great saints and mentioned in the scriptures. The life force comes first and creates, so to speak, a body according to its needs and tendencies, the vasanas. So, here I am
, a product of innumerable janmas, having a set of vasanas, creating a body suited to the expression of my karma and going on and on till in one particular janma, I decide to break ranks with the rest of my ilk and merge with the source. This ‘inner’ bundle of vasanas with its memories, emotions, feelings etc., is grossly perceived as the ‘I’, doing its daily business with the ‘outside’ world. And it is this ‘I’ which when the fruit ripens, feels the angst of individuality . Whatever way you look at it --the objective scientific way, or the subjective spiritual way-- it is this ‘I’ which at some stage tries to, so to speak, leap outside itself and go beyond. It is this ‘I’ which cries out, ”Enough is enough ! I want Peace. I want to experience Silence. I want God.” And then we call this person a sadhaka who eventually through various austerities realizes the ultimate in this or some future janma and thereby experiences ineffable bliss, some kind of permanent and complete happiness—the saint’s experience so I believe-- or dies wondering whatever happened to him while the rest of the world continues—the scientific theory.I find the so-called scientific notion which equates the brain and the EEG pattern with the mind, and emotions with hormones, infantile to say the least. But then going with the scriptures too, is this journey of the ‘I’ that simple ? Does in the course of sadhana it realize the Ultimate and then ‘live’ happily ever after in perfect peace and unalloyed happiness.

Does the ‘I’ live AT ALL in Realization?

Who am ‘I’, I ask once again ? What is the nature of this ‘life force’ ? And Why do ‘I’ want to realize the Ultimate?

Coursing through various lives, this bundle of vasanas goes on and on in new bodies, in new worlds trying unsuccessfully to fulfill itself. With each new life it creates an identity for itself, the ‘I’, and then
seeing itself painfully lacking in substance, always thirsting for something or the other, tends to appropriate things around in order to quench this thirst. So at the sexual level, I run after the ultimate, total orgasmic experience wherein I feel I will get what I want, the sense of completeness. I run from woman to woman, but each new experience unfortunately leaves me poorer. I then want to pursue power, I desire to appropriate the other being the country, the world and then perhaps, the universe itself. I become an Alexander, a Jenghiz Khan, a Hitler,a Hiranyakashyapu but again,I fail miserably. Then, after stumbling through janmas, I start a new apparently ‘noble’ pursuit—I want Peace. The world cannot give me anything, I have understood; my mind is restless with innumerable thoughts proliferating like a malignant tumour within-- that is why I want Silence .I want nothing short of God. How elevating ! How pure !But that is the trick the mind plays. This ‘I’ of mine is a magician; it conjures up new goals in order to perpetuate itself. However noble a pursuit, howsoever pure a goal, it is based on the premise of a want a desire, and that strengthens the ‘I’ by giving it one more toy to play with. Hungrily it consumes everything that is thrown into it and still remains unsatisfied and empty like a bottomless pit.

So then is there no way out ? Am I eternally condemned ?

Therein starts the true sadhana. The focus has to be shifted from this ‘I, Me and Myself’, to the spark within, barely visible to my untrained eyes— the ethereal, pulsating bit of Being, the ‘ghat-aakasha’
the part of that infinite 'Maha-aakasha' permeating every atom of me and my world. And when the shift is complete, the older ‘I’ not being able to sustain its phantasmagoric existence, vanishes into thin air—that beloved moment of realization. This moment is perceived as akin to death, nay, it is actually death of the ‘I’ and many a sadhaka with some remnant vasanas have returned back, shaking with fear, not able to accept this loss of the long loved ‘self’. One of the Vaishnava saints whom I used to visit some time back called this divine moment 'Maha-mrityu' and he used to say that only ‘Mahaveeras’, the great heroes, can venture there. It actually is 'Maha-mrityu'—a total death of the ‘I’, a total annihilation of the bundle of vasanas forever and ever.

Where do we stand now ? What is the state of a realized being then ? What lies inside the body of a saint ? What is his inner being like ? What is the state of his mind ?

Well
the apparently funny answer is—NOTHING ! It is not the way we understand ourselves. There is no ‘I’ there the way we know it. No vasanas exist there. Though he talks, walks and behaves like us make no mistake, he is not one of us. He is just a chink of empty space in the opacity of our hapless existence through which we can have a glimpse of the unknowable, a window through which the infinite Being pours in the form of streams of divine Grace. He is that one bridge that can take us across. He is the one who through His Nothingness beckons us to die to ourselves and in that very ‘death’, be a part of Eternity. No search for Peace, no pursuit of Silence, no ‘vision’ of God is going to help us out. These are the games our minds play. Nothing short of ‘Maha-mrityu’ is going to be of any value. So, let us be ‘Maha-veeras’ and boldly cross- over. There and there only lies our redemption. There and there alone can fulfillment be.

… And never ever take your saint lightly. Do not build cults around him—that will only strengthen your ego and take you farther away from the Truth—but hold his hand in all humility and enter the abode of Blissful Eternity !!!

 

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