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The Yoga of Wisdom

by Swami Sivananda


The body is composed of the five elements and is unintelligent. It is made up of skin, flesh, blood and bones. It is produced by time, action and the attributes of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.

The Atman is neither born, nor does it die, nor does it stop or go anywhere. It is neither male nor female nor neuter. It is all-pervading and everlasting. It is one without a second, unblemished like ether, eternal, pure and perfect Knowledge itself.

Sorrow has the body as its cause. The body has Karma for its cause. Action of Karma proceeds from man having the notion of 'I' in the body. The notion of 'I' which is unintelligent is beginningless, having Avidya for its root cause. Egoism is always associating with the reflection of Chit like a piece of iron heated in fire. Thus the body becomes independent with the Ahamkara and becomes possessed of intelligence.

I am the body this notion arises by force of the connection between the Self and Ahamkara. Worldly life which is the giver of pleasure and pain has for its root this notion of 'I' in the body. On account of this identification of the Atman, which is without modification, with the Ahamkara, with the notion of I am the body, I am the doer of action, the individual soul always acts and is forcibly bound by the results. Possessed of virtue and vice he wanders up and down. I have surely done much good work through sacrifices, gifts and the rest, and shall therefore go to heaven and enjoy happiness there, thus he thinks. This is a false notion. He enjoys in heaven the celestial happiness for some time, and falls down as soon as the results of his meritorious deeds are exhausted.

So long as there is connection of the Ahamkara or the principle of egoism and the rest with the body and the sense-organs, there are pleasure and pain and transmigratory existence for the self or the knower. Ahamkara is the notion of 'I' and 'mine' in the gross and subtle bodies. The ignorant are attached to the body. They cannot rise above the sense of 'I' and 'mine' in the gross body. The discriminating few rise above it through Knowledge.

The Samsara or cause of worldly life exists so long as there is any thought of object of sense. When one awakens from the sleep of ignorance taking the unreal for the real, then it ceases to assert itself. The Samsara which has been erroneously imposed on the Self does not go of itself for one, who like a person in a dream cherishes objects of sense.

Non-existence appears to exist through the force of beginningless Avidya or ignorance. Man is agitated through attachment and aversion. The sense of 'I' is the effect of ignorance.

The mind is verily the world. The mind is bondage. The superimposition or identification of the mind with the Atman is the cause of bondage.

Just as a piece of crystal which is in fact colourless takes the red or other colour from the object with which it is brought into contact, so also is the world-process or Samsara due to the contact of the Self with the intellect or the organs of sense. The mind cannot of itself cognise without a cognising Self behind it. The Self on the other hand, making the objects created by the mind as its own, takes the form of the latter like the piece of crystal when it is brought into contact with coloured objects, and thus becomes bound by the attributes of those objects and wanders about in Samsara as if helpless and powerless.

Having first created the attributes of attachment and aversion to actions of diverse kinds, the mind takes in various forms, such as white, red and black (the good, the active and the passive). In this way, the Jiva or the individual soul wanders through the influence of Karma till the period of universal dissolution. At the time of universal dissolution, the Self survives with Vasanas taking impressions of past Karmas attracted under the influence of beginningless Avidya.

When there is universal dissolution, there is no destruction of the individual soul. He remains in a latent form in the Mula Prakriti or Avyakta, which is the condition of the equilibrium of all the three Gunas. At the time of creation, he is born again together with the Vasanas born of the mind. In this way he is forced to go round and round like the wheel for drawing water.

When, through special merit acquired by good Karmas in the past, he gets the company of pious devotees, his mind becomes directed towards the Lord. Then is produced in him faith, which is so difficult of attainment, in hearing stories relating to the Lord. Then comes to him without any trouble Knowledge of the Self. Then through the grace of the preceptor, as well as Knowledge of the meaning of the great sentences, Tat Tvam Asi Thou art That, and the like, and his own experience, he forthwith realises the distinction between the body, the organs of sense, egoism and the pure Atman and knows himself to be the intelligent and the blissful Self who is one without a second and becomes thenceforth released.

Know yourself, therefore, to be separate from the three bodies and beyond Prakriti. Relinquish all sense of 'I' in the body and become a Sage of Wisdom. Realise your own Self to be free from the conditions of waking, dream and deep sleep, as Truth, Knowledge and Bliss Absolute.


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