Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is from the book Lectures on Yoga and Vedanta.
The Being who is described in the Upanishads is Brahman or Atman or the Self or Absolute. He is the fountain-head of all scriptural knowledge. He is the source or womb for everything. He is existence absolute, knowledge absolute and bliss absolute. He is indivisible, all-pervading, self-contained, eternal and immortal. He is beyond time, space and causation. He is beginningless and endless. He is the indweller in all beings. He is the witness of the activities of all minds.
The Atman or the Self is all-pervading. He is beyond birth and death. He is undecaying, self-luminous, eternal, pure and self-existent. He is all-full, imperishable and infinite. He is the silent witness of the three states, viz., waking, dreaming and deep sleep. He is beyond caste, creed or colour. Sin cannot touch Him because He is ever pure. Pain, sorrow and delusion cannot affect Him, because He is all-joy. Hunger, worries and tribulations cannot torment Him, because He is all-bliss. Lust cannot reach Him, because He is sexless. Wrath cannot approach Him, because He is mindless. Restlessness cannot agitate Him, because He is all-peace. Time cannot devour Him, because He is eternity.
What on earth can cause fear in you when you have realised your identity with such an Atman? What on earth can generate hatred, delusion, difference and sorrow in you when you behold the one in all and all in one? What on earth can cause agitation in you when you have transcended the mind and when you rest peacefully in your own Sat-Chit-Ananda Svarupa–that magnanimous ocean of bliss and stupendous silence?
The question: “Who am I? What is this Samsara? Whence have I come? Whither will I go? What is the goal of life? What is Brahman or Atman? What is the relation between the individual soul and the supreme soul? How to attain the goal? Can I become immortal? Can I enjoy eternal bliss?” Will surely arise in the mind of every human being at one stage of his life or another.
He who seriously thinks over these questions and attempts in right earnest to reach the goal is a wise man but he who does not care to ponder over these vital questions, who leads a sensual life and who does not endeavour to attain the final beatitude of life, is a fool or a thoughtless person. He lives in vain. He is a burden on this earth. He is a slayer of his own Self. His life is indeed very pitiable.
He alone who is devoted to his parents, who has a calm mind, who has controlled all his senses, who has a one-pointed mind, who is equipped with four means, who is endowed with Sattvic qualities, who has purified his mind by constant selfless service, who has removed the tossing of the mind by Upasana or worship, Japa and Kirtan and, last but not least, who sits at the feet of a preceptor, who is enlightened and well-versed in scriptural knowledge, is able to grasp the Truth or the one Eternal Principle.
Worldly enjoyments are fleeting like the flashes of lightning. Human life is ephemeral like the bubble. The vigour of youth is short-lived. All these are illusory in this world. All worldly things are generative of pain only. There is not even an iota of bliss in this world. The wealth which you covet is only ephemeral. The longing for wife and wealth does but enchain you. One thing which is sweet and pleasant to you at one moment produces the very reverse of that sensation in another moment. Who has not experienced this in this world? Hence it behoves a wise man to concentrate his mind on the Atman or the Self and attain the supreme seat of Eternal Bliss and Supreme Quiescence.
Do not be afraid of difficulties and failures in the spiritual path. Failures are stepping stones to success. Difficulties will make you stronger and powerful. Difficulties will develop your will-power. Overcome the difficulties one by one. Use your intelligence, sagacity, discrimination and common-sense. Be bold. Stand adamant. Be cheerful. Dismiss fear and anxiety. March boldly in the spiritual path. Do not look backwards. Draw courage, strength and power from within. Tap the source. Go direct. Refresh yourself. Renovate yourself. Then march cautiously. Thou art invincible. Nothing in the three worlds can hurt you. Rest assured. Remain serene always. Smile and rejoice in the Atman.
Do not confine yourself to names and forms. Rise above them and realise the Truth. Just as bubbles, foam and waves come from the ocean, exist in the ocean and dissolve in the ocean itself eventually so also these illusory names and forms have come out of Brahman or the Absolute or the Ocean of Bliss and Knowledge, exist in Brahman and ultimately dissolve in Brahman. This world is nothing but Brahman. Behold the one Self in all forms. See the One in all and all in one.
You can dispel pain, sorrow, ignorance, fear, worry and anxiety only when you realise Brahman or the Self. This is the emphatic declaration of Vedanta. There is no other way to attain complete freedom from ignorance, fear, sorrow and pain. Verily it is true indeed! For how can you be subject to fear when you have realised the Self, when you have come to know that you are in essence identical with the non-dual Brahman and that there is no other seer but you, no other hearer but you, no other knower but you, no other thinker but you? Who is to be afraid of whom, when one feels oneness everywhere? Who is to hurt whom, when all dualities have totally vanished?
The music of the soul is within you. The kingdom of God is within you. The domain of peace is within you. The Light of lights is within you. Knowledge is within you. The three worlds are within you. The source of power, joy, bliss and life is within you. Heaven and hell are within you. The magazine of wisdom is within you. The fountain-head of beauty is within you. The ocean of bliss and peace is within you. Turn the gaze from sensual objects and look within. Collect the dissipated rays of the mind and meditate on the Self seriously. Hold communion with that supreme principle devoid of mental fancies and modifications. Merge yourself in the Light of lights within. Plunge yourself in the ocean of bliss. The great bondage of the mind will cease now. All doubts will vanish and all Karmas will perish. You are a Jivanmukta or liberated sage now. Move about fearlessly now. Roam about happily, my child, wherever you like.
You experience disharmony and discord when Rajas and Tamas prevail in the mind. Annihilate Tamas by increasing Rajas and destroy Rajas by increasing Sattva. There will be harmony and concord when Sattva prevails in the mind. Go beyond Sattva and hear the celestial music of the soul–music that you never heard of before. It is the music of the meeting of soul with soul. It is the wonderful music that transcends all Ragas and Raginis. It is the unstuck music of the Infinite–that celestial melody which thrills the hearts of the meditator, that celestial melody which helps the aspirants to merge himself in Brahman. It is the music of OM or Pranava Dhvani. It is transcendental Anahata sound. It is the divine music of Krishna’s flute. It is silence itself. Drown yourself in the bliss of the inner music of the soul. Its melody and sweetness are beyond description. You should experience it yourself.
You are the real master or governor of the whole world. You are bound to none. Feel the majesty of your Self. Whatever your circumstances and environment may be, keep peaceful and happy. Abandon all anxiety, fear and worry. Rest in your centre. Be self-poised, self-pleased and self-contained. Sing OM, chant OM and meditate on OM. Realise the Self. Know the Self and be free. Now the whole world will be a heaven or a paradise to you. You are the Lord of lords, the God of all gods, the Emperor of emperors. You are in possession of inexhaustible spiritual wealth. Sum-total of the pleasures of the whole world is a mere drop when compared to the bliss you enjoy now. You are the ocean of bliss now. What a magnanimous sate! Even the thousand-tongued Adisesha cannot describe it.