5.Self-Restraint and the Nature of the Self-5.
The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita :
Fourthly, there is a philosophical or a metaphysical reason behind the impossibility to come in contact with real happiness in this world, that is, the perpetual rotation of the very constituents of prakriti: sattva, rajas, and tamas. What we call happiness is the preponderance of sattva, the equilibrating power of nature – which we rarely pass through in experience in life on account of our being mostly under the pressure of a desire which is unfulfilled, which is nothing but rajas acting, distracting our attention. There is a perpetual other-consciousness, an awareness that things are outside, which keeps us in a rajasic mode. Rajas is a condition of consciousness where it is forced to be aware of things other than its own self – duality-consciousness, separation-consciousness, object-consciousness – and all these things attending upon this consciousness come under the activity of rajas which separates, dissects, cuts off one thing from the other, especially the subject from the object.
The movement of prakriti, the rotation of the wheel of this natural process consisting of sattva, rajas, and tamas, never allows us to be in a permanent condition. Like the movement of a wheel which is in motion, conditions of prakriti are perpetually moving for the fulfilment of their own purpose, which is not necessarily our individual purpose. When there is a momentary cessation of rajasic activity – a flash of a second as it were, when we come in contact with an object – there is a preponderating feeling that the need for the movement of our mind towards the object ceases. When we are in possession of an object of desire, the need for the mind to be conscious of the object as an external something ceases, rajas does not operate for the flash of a moment, and the cessation of rajas is also a cessation of this other-consciousness, object-consciousness, which is tantamount to self-consciousness. We turn to our own Self for the split fraction of a second, as it were, and consciousness which is the essence of our Atman or the Self, tastes its own Source, licks the bliss of its own essentiality and finds itself in a state of ecstasy, because the more we are in union with our own Self, the more intense is the satisfaction we feel, the rapture that we are in, the delight that we experience. All ananda, all joy, is a union of the subject with its own Self.
Now, I turn your attention to a definition of this Self, which is a crucial point in our study of the sixth chapter of the Bhagavadgita, which describes the art of meditation, the science of self-integration by means of an inward communion of the lower self with the higher Self – this was the subject of our study yesterday. We have, first of all, to de-condition our minds from assuming any notion already about the characteristic of the higher Self, the lower self, etc. All of our learning about this has to be foregone for the time being because many of us may not have a correct notion of what this Self means. We are mostly under a misapprehension concerning the nature of the Self. If you can recollect what I told you yesterday, it is a name that we give to pure subjectivity of awareness. We are never in this condition at any time in this world. We do not enjoy an experience of pure subjectivity at any time, except in a perforce way in the state of deep-sleep when we may be said to be purely subjective; but that does us no good because of an absence of what is happening to us there. Incidentally, the intensity of the joy that we feel in the state of deep-sleep is due to our union with our own Self – unconsciously though. However, the point is that this union with the pure Subject has to be effected in a conscious way; and a conscious endeavour on the part of one's self to commune with this true Self in the various levels or degrees of its ascent may be said to be the function of yoga practise. All yoga is the art of communing one's self with one's Self. Again we are here in a difficulty in the matter of understanding what this 'one's Self' means. Everyone knows what this one self is. "I am here myself, you are there yourself." We speak in this train, but this is a physical, social and psychical way of defining the self. But the Self, to reiterate, is pure subjectivity; and the psychological, physical or social self is an objectified form of Self.
To be continued ....
Guruvayur Srikrishna Temple Kerala India