Step 24

The Self.. Infinite love

The sense objects are pleasure-giving only because of the Self which manifests through them, and not independently, for the self is, by its very nature, the most beloved of all. The self, therefore, is ever-blissful and can never suffer any grief or misery.

The sense-objects of the world are pleasurable, no doubt, but only when they are illumined by the Atman—the Life. Things are pleasurable only when I am alive. If I am dead, nothing is pleasurable. A thing in itself has no joy, the happiness that we seem to gain from the objects outside, is, in fact due to the nature of the Atman, which is happiness itself. The most enjoyable thing in every one of us is our own Atman.

A man learning that his house is on fire runs to the house. When he comes to know that his only child is sleeping inside the house, he announces a large cash award for whoever will go and bring the child out to safety. When there is no response, he increases the sum of his award, and at last he offers all his, wealth for his child. But he himself does not risk the blazing fire and the burning rafters to bring the child out. This is because he loves himself more than anything else—his wealth and even his only child.

The wife is dear to a man not for the sake of the wife, but for the sake of the Self. Man loves himself only. His attitude universally is, ‘So long as you contribute to my happiness, I love you’. When a father chides his son and asks him to get out of his house, he only means to say, ‘you are bringing more sorrow to me. Therefore I do not want you in the house’.

The Atman, at all times, is indeed blissful (sada ananda). Never is there any sorrow in the Self. When I have a VASANA for smoking, the agitations created in my mind due to that vasana are temporarily quietened by smoking and therefore, I say, “I feel happy when I smoke”. I foolishly consider that the happiness is in the cigarettee, and I run after such objects of pleasure in order to repeat the experience of happiness. A dog gnawing at a bone enjoys it more and more, not because there is any meat on it. It is because the sharp ends of the bone scratching its lips, tongue and inner mouth, draw out its own blood. The dog sucks it and feels that the enjoyment is in the bone. Thereafter, its mouth gets lacerated and it cannot eat for days together. Again, a camel often runs after a kind of thorny grass. The sharp grass cuts the mouth of the camel and it enjoys its own blood. The result is that its mouth gets scratched and it cannot eat for months afterwards. That is why the drivers prevent their camels from running after this particular kind of desert grass.

Similarly, the human mind runs after sense-objects like the dog after the dry bone. In fact, the joy content is not in the object. It is the Consciousness, the Atman, the pure Bliss of the Self, arising in us when the object is acquired and the mental agitation for that object ceases. You may consider a thing to be pleasant but if it does not bring me an expansion of myself, I would not consider it so.

The great joy of the Self is not readily available because of mental agitations at all times. These become, as it were, a wall between the happiness which is inherent in the Self, and the world outside. The acquisition of a desired object ends the disturbances created by desire, and the Light of Consciousness beams out from behind the mind. In our lack of discrimination we understand that the joy is in the object secured. In fact the joy is not in the object at all. But it makes me joyful if it brings me a contact with MYSELF. It is only because of the Atman, the Self that each one of us ekes out for himself the maximum joy.

Universally, everybody wants joy, but nobody seems to know where exactly the source of happiness is. Hence, everyone runs after sense-objects. Here the Guru is asking us to pause for a moment, and to reflect upon the location of the fountainhead of joy. Indeed the Atman is of the nature of Bliss and Beatitude, and there is not even a trace of sorrow ever to veil the face of the Atman.

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