Unity in Diversity
SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA
You can imagine that there is nothing but protoplasm in this universe. Then all the forms will vanish. All the forms are constructed out of one kind of matter only. A tree or a man or a dog or a bug or a mosquito is made up of the same kind of matter or protoplasm. A protoplasm is a mould of matter in which life is placed. It is a homogeneous, structureless substance, forming the physical basis of life, endowed with contractibility with a chemical composition allied to that of albumen. The thread of matter that connects all forms is one and the same. You can also imagine that there is nothing but energy or mind in this universe. The student in the path of Jnana Yoga thinks that there is only one thread of pure consciousness. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: “All this is threaded on Me, as rows of pearls on a string.” Chap. VII-7.
Behind the names and forms, there is the universal life or hidden Brahman or immanent God. Try to feel the reality underneath the forms. Scorn not at the tiny creatures or the undeveloped beings. The same life that throbs or pulsates in you is throbbing in ants, dogs, elephants and all creatures. Realise your identity and intimate relationship with all creatures. There is only a degree in manifestation or expression. All forms belong to God or Saguna Brahman. Look at a tree or a shrub, a dog or a cat and endeavour to behold behind the veil of form into the real hidden life or consciousness behind and underneath the form. If you practise like this for some time, you wall derive inexpressible joy. All hatred will cease. You will develop cosmic love and unity of consciousness. This will be the rare magnanimous experience. This will eventually result in the Vedantic realisation of oneness.
Life is common in trees, ants, birds, animals and human beings. What is common in sun, moon, stars, chairs, walls, stones, animals, birds and human beings? Existence. A table exists. A tree exists. Existence is the Sat aspect of the Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman.
There is only an apparent, fictitious difference in bodies and minds. There are differences in colours and opinions. Atman is the same in all. A thief, a prostitute, a scavenger, a king, a rogue, a saint, a dog, a cat and a rat–all have the same common Atman. Ignore the false appearance and difference. Take out the essence or reality.
Root out the conception of duality by the conception of the absolute unity. Destroy the Bheda Buddhi or the intellect that creates differences, distinctions and separateness. You can now enjoy the eternal bliss of the non-dual Self. You are a Jivanmukta now.
One Atman appears to be many, as one sun appears to be many in various pots of water. Many suns are false. They are mere reflections only. So also the many Jivas are illusory. The one sun alone is real. Even so One Brahman alone is real.
The divine life that throbs in every atom of the universe dwells also in the hearts of human beings. The soul of an ant is the soul of a man. The soul of a sinner is the soul of a saint. The soul of a beggar is the soul of a mighty king. The ultimate Truth in nature is the ultimate Reality in man. To realise the soul through direct intuitive perception is the goal of human life.
Realise that the whole human race is one. Break up ruthlessly all illusory barriers that separate man from man. Understand that the fundamental principles underlying all religions are the same.
Feel your oneness with all. Feel your oneness with the sun, the sky, the wind, flower, tree, buds, animals, stones, rivers and ocean. Realise the oneness of life, unity of consciousness. Behold the one homogeneous Self, everywhere in all beings, in all animals, in all plants.
Realise your unity with all human beings, animals, plants and rocks. Mix with all. The Americans, the Italians, the Japanese, the Russians–all belong to you. You belong to them. Unite with them.
Realise first your unity with all the members of your family, then with all the members of your district, then with all the members of your Province, then the whole nation, then with all the people of the whole world. If you have succeeded in this attempt, then only you can realise your unity or oneness with God.
Sages look with an equal eye in a Brahmin endowed with learning and humility, in a cow, in an elephant, and even in a dog and in an outcaste. What is the nature of this equal vision? Does the elephant appear to them as a dog? Can there be homogeneity in the Gunas or appearances? Gunas are always different and heterogeneous. The sage, harmonised in Yoga, beholds the Self or Atman in the Brahmin, elephant, dog and an outcaste. Everywhere he beholds the same and experiences equal vision. The sage or Yogi beholds equality in everything through the likeness of the Self. Understand this point clearly.
Whatever you see is God. Whatever you hear is God. Whatever you taste is God. Whatever you smell is God. Whatever you feel is God. This is the manifested aspect. The physical body belongs to Virat. The astral body belongs to Hiranyagarbha. The causal body belongs to Isvara. Where is the little ‘I’ now?
Have a synthetic cosmic vision. Behold the unity in diversity. Break the barriers or dividing walls through discrimination, enquiry and wisdom. Acquire the spiritual vision of oneness or unity. Soar high in the realm of eternal bliss. Happy is he who has realised the oneness of the Self and who is endowed with the sublime vision of the marvellous Atman.
Feel the divine presence in all creations. Be friendly with all. Love all. Be kind to all. Cultivate universal love. Destroy all barriers that separate man from man. Expand. Mix with all. Give up superiority complex. Put a stop to wrong and injustice. Develop a pure conscience. Disseminate knowledge, happiness and peace among men. Practise truthfulness and righteousness.
The child also has equal vision like a sage or a Jivanmukta. He has no idea of friend or enemy. You beat him now and then call him with a piece of sugar-candy in your hand. He will run to you at once with intense joy. In this equal vision there is ignorance. But the equal vision of a sage is due to knowledge of the unity or oneness of the Self.
O nectar’s son, behold the one homogeneous Self in all. Mentally repeat the formula of Mantra: ‘OM Eka Sat-Chit-Ananda Atma’ whenever you perceive any form. Negate the illusory name and form and try to be one with the underlying immortal essence. Serve all with Atma Bhava. Melt all illusory differences. Annihilate separateness. Destroy all unreasonable dislikes or prejudices. Mix with all. Include all. Embrace all. Share what you have with all. Never remain idle even for a moment. Lead a life of intense activity but keep always calm in mind and thus become a practical Vedantin. Glory to such practical Vedantins. May they radiate joy, peace and love everywhere. May they move about as torch-bearers of Truth, divine light and divine splendour. May they demonstrate a life of practical Vedanta by their very exemplary life.
There is neither delusion nor sorrow for that sage who has realised that all beings are the Self, for there is no second for him. Such a sage is verily Brahman Himself. When everything is cognised as Brahman, then there is not even a particle other than Brahman. That is the reason why Srutis emphatically declare ‘All indeed is Brahman. There is no such thing as diversity.’
Jiva can become Brahman. But he cannot become Isvara. As soon as Avidya, the Upadhi of Jiva, vanishes, Jiva becomes one with Brahman. (One school of thought).
Water of the Ganges is the same whether it runs in the river’s bed or be shut up in a bottle. Even so the Jivatma and Paramatma are one and the same.
He who sees unity in diversity is a real man of religion. The things that make us like are finer and deeper than the things that make us different.
Where there is duality, there one sees another. But when the Atman only is all this, how can one see another? There is fear in duality. There are quarrels and wars in duality. Duality is ignorance; duality brings grief, sorrow, diseases and death. Transcend duality. Break the veils. Tear the sheaths. Rest in Advaita now, my dear Mohan. Do not entertain unkind thoughts. Do not speak unkind words. Pull out all walls that separate you from others. If you see Bheda or difference there is absence of love. Feel your presence in the tree, stone, sun, moon, stars, animals, etc. All is Self. All is One. The whole world is your body. Feel this. Feel your oneness with all life.
I will reiterate again to produce in your mind a deep impression. There is no world. You are not the body, you are the all-pervading Atman. You are Akarta. You are the silent Sakshi. Indriyas do their Dharmas. There is Atman everywhere. Feel the indwelling Intelligence. When you see a fruit say: ‘This is Ek Atma’. See the essence in all forms. Reject the outer sheaths and illusory appearances. This will lead to Bahir Nirvikalpa Samadhi. There is no necessity for closing the eyes. For this kind of Sadhana, no Asana, no room is needed. This Sadhana is suitable for men of the world who are intelligent. This is the work combined with Jnana. The Self light of Para Bhahman is appearing as mind and universe. World is nothing but mind. World is a long dream. I have given you the essence of Vedanta or Jnana Yoga in a nut-shell. Digest it. Absorb it. Assimilate it. Proclaim it everywhere boldly. Become fearless. Shine as Brahman. Move about boldly, my dear Jyoti. Rejoice always in Sat-Chit-Ananda Atman within.