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Prashnottara: Cosmos

Excerpts from the Q&A Ses­sion dur­ing Rishikesh Retreat Pro­gram (Dec 2015)

Q: How did the uni­verse orig­i­nate? From where did the atoms and fun­da­men­tal par­ti­cles that are the very con­stituents of all mat­ter in this uni­verse come from?

A: I will not present a sci­en­tif­ic view with respect to this ques­tion. Rather, I shall present an intu­itive view. What I am going to explain,you can intu­it your­selves. I will present such a view that will be true in each of your expe­ri­ences. Mod­ern sci­ence does not have a clear-cut view­point yet,and hence has not been able to answer this ques­tion. That much is sure. Now,let us come to the ques­tion. All of this,everything we see around us,is an effect. All this is not the cause. So what is the cause? What is the ori­gin? That is what we are inter­est­ed in find­ing out.

Many of us want to cre­ate a house for our­selves. So where do we begin? We grow up in an envi­ron­ment in which peo­ple- parents,teachers, and oth­ers sup­port us in our growth, and we study to get edu­cat­ed. With the edu­ca­tion, we become eli­gi­ble for a job. We work at our job, and earn mon­ey. And with that mon­ey earned, with­in a lot of con­straints, we some­how pur­chase land. And in that land, we put in many resources togeth­er- con­struc­tion engi­neers, men, machines and so on. And what do we have? We have our desire man­i­fest before our very eyes! What start­ed out as a desire, at the end of it, we have it man­i­fest in front of us. Is this not true in each of our expe­ri­ences? Even if you want to buy a car or a bungalow,you can apply this same intu­itive log­ic. It is very straight­for­ward. You bring forth some­thing from the unman­i­fest to the man­i­fest- from the men­tal real­i­ty to the phys­i­cal real­i­ty. The desire in our men­tal plane gets fruc­ti­fied in the phys­i­cal plane. However,you must know that not all desires get fructified,because there are con­straints.

So this is how you pro­ceed from the unman­i­fest to the man­i­fest real­i­ty. You have an intel­li­gent game plan, a cre­ative visu­al­iza­tion, an idea, or a desire and you put in dif­fer­ent kinds of resources to help man­i­fest that desire or idea. Isn’t this true in every­thing that you do? But,this process still has the lim­i­ta­tion of your intel­li­gence. With­in your intelligence,and with­in cer­tain oth­er con­straints, you are capa­ble of bring­ing into phys­i­cal manifestation,your idea or desire.

Now let us go one step fur­ther. Let us say you want to craft your life,and your des­tiny. Let us say you want to be placed in your dream com­pa­ny. This is also a man­i­fes­ta­tion. Maybe not so material,and “con­crete” as a house, but still,it is also a manifestation,which hap­pens through a sim­i­lar process-desire to manifestation.This is a life man­i­fes­ta­tion. With­in cer­tain bound­ary con­straints, cer­tain para­me­ters, you can man­i­fest your desire.

Let us go anoth­er step fur­ther. As you build up capa­bil­i­ties, you will see that you can access sub­tler and sub­tler dimen­sions of exis­tence. You can man­i­fest in sub­tler and sub­tler dimen­sions, as you build up your capabilities,so much so that there are tech­ni­cal man­u­als to explain how to man­i­fest a body! At the present, this might not be in your capa­bil­i­ty. But you can actu­al­ly work on design­ing and man­i­fest­ing a body. You can acquire that sort of a capa­bil­i­ty-it is a capa­bil­i­ty on a sub­tler dimen­sion. Like this, you can pro­ceed to man­i­fest­ing a world, a mini-uni­verse! You can be some­thing like a mini-god! This is actu­al­ly true. It is the same process- desire to manifestation,avyakta to vyak­ta. ‘Avyak­ta’ means ‘unman­i­fest-not vis­i­bly man­i­fest­ed’ and ‘vyak­ta’ means ‘man­i­fest­ed’. Even thought is con­sid­ered a manifestation,at the sub­tler lev­els. But for our prac­ti­cal pur­pos­es, we may con­sid­er thought to be avyak­ta, unmanifest,and hence all actions in our present expe­ri­ence pro­ceed from subtle(thought) to vis­i­ble man­i­fes­ta­tion. This is how the process of cre­ation hap­pens, depend­ing on our capabilities,and our intel­li­gence. To what­ev­er extent we can project and see, to that extent, we can and we have the pow­er of man­i­fest­ing.

It is about the throw. To what­ev­er extent we can throw,to that extent lies our pow­er to cre­ate. Now when we say throw,let us con­sid­er thoughts. Which direc­tion can we throw them? Do thoughts have direc­tions? No,directions are irrel­e­vant with respect to thoughts.It is actu­al­ly 360 degrees. Fun­da­men­tal­ly con­scious­ness pro­ceeds in this way. You can actu­al­ly throw the con­scious­ness that you pos­sess to what­ev­er extent you can see. Once you throw and pro­ceed there, you will see,you will have built the capa­bil­i­ty to throw even fur­ther. Gen­er­al­ly we are restrict­ed only by our inner qualities,or rather,lack of inner qual­i­ties. And hence,once you build the nec­es­sary inner qual­i­ties, you will see that you can throw fur­ther. You can throw much fur­ther. You will not be bound by the cur­rent con­di­tions. And that, is the pow­er of med­i­ta­tion. Med­i­ta­tion will give you a long throw, a real­ly long throw. And that is great!

Q: So,if the uni­verse is a man­i­fes­ta­tion of a desire,who had that desire?

A: The one who had that desire is the divin­i­ty we refer to as Brah­ma. It goes like this. Brah­ma med­i­tat­ed for 100 years-100 of his years (equal to 3.1104 x 10^14 human years!) Brah­ma sim­ply kept on med­i­tat­ing, because he could not under­stand the Source from which he came. There was no end in sight, and hence he med­i­tat­ed, as he had noth­ing else to do. Vish­nu answered his call.Now don’t get Vish­nu and Shi­va in the forms that you can imag­ine. These are inner real­i­ties. You can actu­al­ly be in that plane. So Vish­nu answered his call. Do you under­stand what this means? This means that we are actu­al­ly going all the way back before the start of the uni­verse. And that is the begin­ning. We all might have read about the Big Bang the­o­ry and thought, “I thought this was the begin­ning.” No, it did not begin there. And hence, nobody can fig­ure out when it began. Even Brah­ma can­not fig­ure out when it began. Because there exists no ques­tion of ‘When?’.

Now,when we look at the prin­ci­ple of Advai­ta, mean­ing ‘non-dualism’,or ‘The One,without a sec­ond’, you actu­al­ly go beyond cre­ation itself. What is cre­at­ed is bound to destroyed. What is born has to die. But there is the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple, that we refer to when we say,‘Aham Brah­mas­mi.’ This fun­da­men­tal principle,referred to in the above mahavakya, is the One under­ly­ing sub­stra­tum of the whole of creation,without which, none of this, and none of us can exist. And it is called ‘Brah­man’ , derived from the root word ‘Brh’ mean­ing ‘vast,all-encompassing’. Brah­man is dif­fer­ent from cre­ation, but That is the Source of all. And That has no iden­ti­ty. That is beyond atoms, beyond ener­gy, beyond the indi­vid­ual soul. Matter,atoms and ener­gy are sub­ject to change,but Brah­man is change­less. The soul, as long as it is bound to the body and mind,is indi­vid­u­at­ed and hence,has a clear identity,whereas Brah­man is bound­less, infi­nite and with­out iden­ti­ty.

Actu­al­ly you can­not talk about That. You can talk about Brahma,the divin­i­ty with an iden­ti­ty, you can talk about the uni­verse, but you can­not talk about Brah­man. Even if you talk,it is going to be lim­it­ed, because it sur­pass­es all under­stand­ing. But you can be That.In fact, you are That.’Aham Brah­mas­mi ’ means ‘I am That’. Know­ing this, is real­iza­tion of one’s true Self.

Q: What is Self-real­iza­tion?

A: That means you know who you are. One might think,”What is the big deal in know­ing who I am?”No, that in itself is a big deal! Who needs to tell you who you are? The new age term is ‘enlight­en­ment’. However,rather than using the word,’enlightenment’, I would use the word, ‘Atma dar­shana’, or ‘Atma anub­huti’ .’Atma anub­huti’ means expe­ri­ence of your­self.’ Atma dar­shana’ means vision of your­self. I would rather use those terms because ‘enlight­en­ment’ is used in so many dif­fer­ent con­texts that it has become like the word God. Peo­ple don’t under­stand what that refers to.When peo­ple say ‘deva’, they know they are refer­ring to a celes­tial being, like Surya(the sun). But when they talk of God, peo­ple are not clear what they are refer­ring to. Atma dar­shana or Atma anub­huti are plain­er terms and are tech­ni­cal­ly pre­cise. You get an expe­ri­ence of your­self which is not bound by change. You real­ize that you are change­less. So you need to ask, is this body bound by change? Yes, very much. Are men­tal states, thoughts and emo­tions bound by change? Yes, very much. Is the knowl­edge that you have accu­mu­lat­ed bound by change? Yes, very much. So you must ask your­self, what is that, which is not bound by change? And this gives you dar­shana of your­self. When you know your true self, you will be able to per­ceive clear­ly what is. In Tamil,one can say, ullathu ulla­pa­di theriyum. Oth­er­wise, you will see your­self as a hodge­podge of the hap­pen­ings in the mind and body. And every­thing is so mixed up, that life, which is in real­i­ty very sim­ple, will seem extreme­ly com­plex!

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