There are people who are the analytical type. They might not use their heart or even their body very much, but they want to sit and practice intellectual questioning. If you are the type who likes to question, try asking, “Who am I? Where am I? Why am I?” Perhaps you want to know everything outside, on the physical plane. “I want to know what a particle is, what an atom is. I want to know what’s happening on Mars.” Fine, you are free to know everything; but do you know who it is who wants to know all these things? First find out who is the knower who wants to know. Question yourself. Turn within. Find out who you are.
Even when you have all kinds of different feelings—happiness or unhappiness, joy, sorrow or fear—ask yourself, “Who is having the fear? Since when? Who is happy? Who is unhappy?” Sit and question yourself that way. Ultimately, you will find that you are somebody who is not really involved in all these things but who seems to be constantly witnessing them all. You are not the person who is disturbed, but you know that something or somebody is disturbed in you. Understanding that Knower is what we call self-realization. This is a very direct approach. You don’t need to do anything else. You don’t need to pray or practice japa yoga or mantra yoga if you can just sit and question yourself well. Then you will become a wonderful instrument, and you will be more useful to people.
Qualify for Service
I know some of you might wonder right away, “What is the use of sitting and questioning without doing anything? Then in what way can I be useful to people?” Before you can be useful to people, you must be qualified. By this practice of questioning, you are qualifying yourself to become useful. Once you know who you are, you become the best instrument to bring peace and serenity to one and all.
It’s something like a razor. If it wants to give a clean shave, it should take time to sharpen itself. If a blunt razor starts playing on the cheek, certainly you will end up in a doctor’s hands. A razor must be sharp enough. Likewise, when you want to go and serve people, you must be sharp enough; you must be clean. Those who want to go out and serve should first see whether they are free from any kind of poison such as egoism, greed, lust, or hatred. The way to get rid of these poisons is to question yourself. Find out the real you, and then all those things simply drop off. That is what is called Liberation. You liberate yourself from all these clutches. You cannot be bound by anyone else. Your own wrong identification is all that binds you. So this analytical approach is what is called Jnana Yoga.
One Appears as Many
We can also understand Jnana Yoga through modern science. The scientist says that all you see and do not see is nothing but a mass of atoms. You can break everything into atoms. You, me, the magazine you are reading, the machines it was printed on, and the space in between. It’s all nothing but a big mass of atoms. If the scientists say so, it must be correct; but we don’t actually see it that way. If I see a man sitting right in front of me, can I say that he is nothing but a bundle of atoms? You will think that I’m a little “loose.” So on one level he’s a human being sitting right in front of me. Even though the scientific truth is that he and I are nothing but bundles of atoms. In that respect, know that we are all nothing but one cosmic essence.
There’s only one. But the one appears as many just as the sea appears as waves. The seeing, the appearance is what is called maya. You see it, but it’s not permanent. Someone I saw two minutes ago is not the same now. A part of himself has gone out of him, and a few more parts came in. A few cells died, and a few cells were rebuilt. That means constantly things are changing. A portion is dying, a portion is being born. Nobody can stop that change.
Everything that changes is what we call illusion. It’s not that we should negate it; we should understand it. On the other hand, Sat Chid Ananda (Existence, Knowledge, Bliss) is common in everything seen and unseen. It is never changing. What changes is the name and form. A log of wood is made into a small stool. It’s nothing but wood, but because of the change of form you call it a stool. If you just break it, the stool is gone. Then you say it’s a piece of firewood. You have not created the firewood. You only changed the name and form of the stool.
We don’t have to deny everything and say, “Oh it’s all maya!” Even if it is all maya, just be quiet about it. Why do you run to the dining room when the dinner bell rings? After all, it’s all maya. The bell is maya. The food is maya. Your hunger is maya. We cannot live with that kind of philosophy! As long as we are in the dualistic world, we should deal with it accordingly, but we should always retain that knowledge of the essential Truth. Know that this food, the bell, the hunger are all just nothing but illusion on one level. But since you are operating on that level also, satisfy the hunger.
Dealing with Duality
Very often people ask the question, “How am I to keep the knowledge of oneness in mind and then again deal with the duality?” For this, I’ll give you an example of a chess game. The chess pieces are made out of the same block of wood. The carpenter chips the wood into small pieces. He carves it into a king, queen, bishop, castle, knight, pawn. Then from the same block of wood, he makes a plank and draws lines. That becomes the board. The minute the pieces are put on the board, they seem to come to life. The queen says, “Well I can travel wherever I want.” The king has certain limitations. The bishop has his own limitations. So they all move around. Until when? Until the game is played. As long as the game continues, they have their different movements. Certain rules are there, and they should follow them. Once the game is over, what happens? You simply collect all the pieces and put them the box. The queen might even be rubbing against the bishop there. Nobody worries. On the chess board, the queen has her priorities and superiorities. Once in the box, however, they’re all the same piece of wood.
Play the Game
The same way, we are all chips of the same block. We’re chipped out, made into different pawns. We have been placed on the board, and everything moves because of the Hand. The chess pieces can’t move themselves. Likewise there is also an unseen hand moving us here and there. When we forget the unseen hand, we think, “Oh, I am the queen. See, I can move around wherever I want.” Forgetting the Truth. So, remember that we are all pawns in the hand of the Unseen Force, just simply playing our part, moving according to our position, moved by the same hand.
Let us just play our game, following the rules of the game. Then the whole world will be a beautiful play, and everything will go smoothly. The minute we forget our situation and the Absolute Truth, then there is constant fighting, competition, rivalry, superiority, inferiority. Let us know the great secret behind the maya and enjoy the world very well.
(from the February, 2010 IYTA Newsletter)