All space, time, activity, things, persons, events, situations may cease to exist someday but even then final substance remains – that substance is referred as Essence. This Essence is ever continuum – it exists now, existed in the past and will continue to exist in the future. We are stabilized in this Essence and inseparable from it. We are in it and not away from it; it’s in us and not a far-off thing. We can never abandon it nor can it abandon us. The same essence is referred by many names and ways such as Supreme-Consciousness, Base and Shelter for All, Protector, Creator, Beloved of All, Core Essence, Inner Conscience, God, Ultimate Truth, and Supreme Being. Nobody is undeserving, incapable or bound in experiencing this Essence in life. This realization can occur to anyone who badly wants it.
There are many doctrines and isms like dualism, non-dualism, beyond-dual and non-dual etc. etc. and insistence on these views only keeps seekers stuck and away from experiencing truth. Sages recommend that we should avoid believing in people who get biased to their views and dogmas. Essence doesn’t have any boundaries, inclusions or exclusions and all such conflicts in dogmas rise out of ego. Ego means fight of some kind; some sort of difference, specialty over others – without all this it cannot survive long. It feeds on some sort of difference from others. When ego dissolves then all differences cease to exist and the Essence shines forth alone.
Let’s reflect on nature of ego and how scriptures see and define it.
“Ahamkaara iteeyam me bhinnaa prakritirashtadhaa” (Gita 7 | 4)
Meaning – In above context, it simply means ego is separate from Essence/Self, at a distance like any other object.
“Mahaabhootaanyahankaaro buddhiravyaktameva cha ” (Gita 13 | 5)
Meaning – Here also ego element is referred to the bundle of nature, which is separate from Consciousness or Self or Essence.
“Aitadyovetti” (Gita 13 | 1)
Meaning – It is referred not as the Self but like an object – this ego – something away from us, and the Self is primarily which knows ego, mind, senses, and five world-elements (Earth, water, fire, air, space )
So, the conclusion is, ego is referred as one part of the bundle of Nature’s functional creations and away from consciousness, the observer. Simply put, ego is just like an object away and separate entity from our real Self. Ego is observed entity and our Self is observing presence. Knowable and Knower, Observed and Observer cannot be fundamentally one and same. They may have some dependency on each other for functioning in this world but cannot be essentially one. So, assuming oneness with ego or identifying with it as “me” is our core error.
Consciousness existing in human form in identified state experiences “I-AM-ness” or else only “IS-ness” will be experienced if detached from a false sense of self. The identification with ego or “I” element creates many divisions and boundaries, broadly four; “I”, “You”, “this” and “that”. The experience of “I-am-ness” is the virtual fusion of “I” element from Nature side & substantial feeling of “is-ness” comes from the Essence. “I” thought is part of changing nature and “is-ness” is inseparable from Supreme Consciousness or Essence. This “IS-ness” gets the color of individuality because of false identification with “I” element of Nature, from which it actually exists separately.If we just drop this false relation with “I”, then the sense of individuality is lost i.e. “AM-ness” precipitates to “IS-ness”. This “IS-ness” is essential nature of the Essence.
When we mistakenly identify with “I” element, then we host many differences, complications, wants, increased clutter, doer-ship, and enjoyer-ship. The secret to being free from ego is denying this “I” element in self, and consider it part of nature and fundamentally separate from us. No need to try to eliminate it by any effort or discipline or weaken it by hardships but just consider it fundamentally separate based on the fact that we experience “I” thought – the individuality, and this “I” thought is missing during deep sleep but we do exist during sleep too, hence it proves Self ever exists and “I” thought is momentary and separate from Self. One may doubt how can we say that we do exist during deep sleep as we don’t know or remember at all what happens during sleep?But do we ever feel that we didn’t exist during sleep? No, we do not. Rather many times we wake up and say “I slept sound and feeling much better now”. So this memory of quality sleep is formed because of experiencing only and someone is always there enabling this memory and through Instrument to express became active once we enter the wakeful state. Ego, when dissolved by knowing it separate then all the ego-driven issues get automatically solved.
There are two approaches to dissolve ego; either we establish in Self and consider ego as separate within the bundle of Nature. Secondly, we may surrender to all-pervading Existence leaving everything on to HIM to dissolve and depending on HIM thereon. Either way, our boundaries of me and mine are lost leaving Essence as remainder.
There is one more subtle point to understand in above two approaches to dissolve the ego. When we come to know the truth we are separate from ego and can exist without it then it is really liberating but at the same time, we have been suffering from the company of ego since long. And it might have some residual conditioning in our Self. But if we surrender to all-pervading Existence and accept that HE alone exists in and through everything then ego melts away in love and surrender totally. In other words, pure love and surrender seem more effective in the dissolution of ego than Self-knowledge. Same is hinted in Gita –
“Daivee hyeshaa gunamayee mama maayaa duratyayaa;
Maameva ye prapadyante maayaametaam taranti te. ||” (Gita 7 | 14)
Meaning – Lord Krishna says to Arjuna –“It is greatly difficult to go beyond virtual reality and its transitory attractions and loops but people who surrender to only me, do come out of cobweb of attractions and vicious loops of suffering.”
The underlying reason is that by surrendering one’s ego is dissolved easily and without any remains, leading to end of all complications, differences, and boundaries of selfishness and arrogance. When ego dissolves then
- Time, space and situations lose significance and pure is-ness remains
- Knower dissolves but knowingness/consciousness
- Sorrows and Joys disappear and bliss
So to say, Sat-Chit-Anand remains which is also referred as “Vaasudevah sarvamiti” (Gita 7 | 19), explanation of terms below –
- Sat – IS-ness ( something that gives us a feeling of Existing and that we remain same )
- Chit – Consciousness ( base that enables all learning in human dimension)
- Anand – Bliss (All joyous experiences we have in daily life have their opposites, settle soon, and are dependent on person, thing or situations but Self bliss exists naturally, freely and not dependent on anything whatsoever)
- Vaasudevah sarvamiti: Meaning – Supreme Consciousness exists in and out of everything and is pervading everywhere.
Surrendered devotees are also of two categories, one who is discerning and separate from ego and then surrender to Lord, while another who find it difficult to grasp separateness from ego and world and just surrender to Lord as they are along with their ego. Post-surrender, Lord takes care to dissolve the ego, it’s structures and any layers of conditioning.
Teshaam satatayuktaanaam bhajataam preetipoorvakam;
Dadaami buddhiyogam tam yena maamupayaanti te. ||(Gita 10 | 10)
Meaning – Lord Krishna says to Arjuna–“Those who are connected to me ever-consistently and lovingly adore and worship, to such devotees I bestow them the higher intelligence to attain my Essence.”
Teshaam evaanukampaartham aham ajnaanajam tamah;
Naashayaamyaatmabhaavastho jnaanadeepena bhaaswataa. || (Gita 10 | 11)
Meaning –Lord Krishna says to Arjuna– “I am already present in everyone in the form of their Core Self, and to bless my devotees, I, from that level of core essence, ignite the self-knowledge and enlighten their inner conscience clearing away the confusions and darkness created in ignorance.”
Up to here, we understood how knowledge and surrender help us lose our “I” element and gain realization of Essence. Next point is to explore the connection of effortlessness to ego dissolution and realization of Essence.
The Essence is everywhere; in every space, time, activity and can also exist independently without these. Trying to experience the Essence, which is already here and now, is a mistake. Our attempts and actions become hurdle and put us on a journey while the truth is a pathless land. When we do something then that is not possible without getting a doer created, and doer (individuality) remains an obstacle to experiencing the Essence. Similarly, self-contemplation, thinking about truth keeps the thinker (“I” thought) alive and holds virtual reality in existence. A core belief in all our attempts remains that Essence is somewhere else and I got to do something, go somewhere and make some efforts to attain it. We mistakenly assume that Essence is not available now and some sort of efforts will enable us to achieve it. And this belief keeps us in effort-making mindset. But we miss a point that for substance already available to us efforts can only build confusion of being far from it.
Similarly if we try to know it then also we miss the point because it means that we begin with a belief that it is an object of knowledge but it is subjective – we can know it by losing our self into it and not by any objective analysis because that creates distance and it is hidden in our core Self as Self. Essence knows everything and how can an element that knows everything be known objectively. Just like we see everything through eyes but how can we see eyes through eyes. Only Self can know the Self – same is indicated in Gita.
“Swayamevaatmanaatmaanam vettha twam purushottama; ” (Gita 10 | 15)
Meaning – Arjuna Says – “O Supreme! Only you know yourself by yourself”
विषय करन सुर जीव समेता । सकल एक तें एक सचेता।।
सब कर परम प्रकासक जोई। राम अनादि अवधपति सोई।।(Manas 1 | 117 | 3)
Meaning – Sage Tulsidas in Ramayana says – “Senses are known by Mind, and mind is known by Intellect that is further known and supported by Ego. And finally, mind-intellect and ego are known by Observing Presence (endearingly also referred “Avadhpati Ram”). This Essence or observing presence is not further known by any other element, and so has no beginning no end and is Ultimate Knowingness and base of every happening anywhere.
To experience Essence as-it-is without any nature-functions and instruments is the goal of spiritual practices, as it will give us a true and nascent experience of the Self that eliminates all doubts and gives confidence and conviction of truth. Just like water mixed up with some taste and color will never let us know the distinct taste of water and its original color. So it is the inner purpose of any spiritual device, knack or meditation to give you the nascent experience of just you and nothing else mixed. But devices also become a hurdle if not put to rest for a while and when to put these to rest comes with maturity or grace, same understanding is attempted to build in below paragraphs.
The problem is that we (the consciousness) cannot perform any activity whatsoever without identifying with worldly unit i.e. body-mind-intellect. Which means; if we contemplate then mind remains with us, if we want to conclude or decide something then intellect remains with us, if we want to perceive something then perception faculty will remain with us, if we listen or speak then we will remain in contact with senses, or if just believe in “is-ness” then the belief and the believer will still remain, if we negate the ego or relinquish it then the subtle ego of the one who negated or relinquished remains. So what does it conclude? Don’t hold any belief, don’t negate, don’t welcome nor relinquish anything but just be as you are now and remain still. Become naturally silent inside out. Don’t think from your side, nor forcibly try to stop any thoughts. Just be with is-ness without doing or thinking anything. Just don’t force “not think anything” too because that will also add effort to your natural being. Just be effortless and totally relaxed and don’t support or cooperate with anything that pops up in your space automatically by inertia or past conditioning.
Drop all key divisions of ego – “I”, “you”, “this”, “that” and that leaves behind the pure “is-ness” – the foundation of everything and just be with that remainder “is-ness” and take care not to initiate any thinking from your side. It is like letting the mud settle and precipitate at the bottom which leaves the clear water above, similarly, our role is to just NOT do anything to settle it, and not interfere when precipitation is in progress.
“Aatmasamstham manah kritwaa na kinchidapi chintayet.” (Gita 6 | 25)
Meaning – After knowing yourself to be already present and established in your Essence, don’t trigger any thinking at all.
Just be and if any thoughts arise in your mental space automatically then know jolly well your role in this nature-driven precipitation process – which is – being aware of not-to-do-list given below and stick to it.
- Don’t attach to the thought – neither like nor dislike any thought.
- Don’t react positively or negatively to any thought – don’t be happy for so-called goody one nor be offended with undesirable ones.
- Don’t judge any thought as good or bad – it is just a thought – a temporary mental formation.
- Don’t identify with it as “my” thought nor consider it to be happening in the zone of consciousness. It is actually away from us that’s why we are able to observe – its access is limited to mental space.
- Be neutral. Be indifferent to thoughts and ignore totally as if we have to do nothing with it. Don’t take any notice of it whether it’s rising or slowing down or not there anymore.
Actually liking or disliking creates inner conflicts and that becomes the key hurdle in experiencing truth. It gives them importance and life. When we give importance to thoughts and then try to control static thinking, it becomes overly difficult. If we intend to settle anything in mental space then we should be indifferent to it because our attention (negative or positive) is the food it lives on.
“tau hyasya paripanthinau” (Gita 3 | 34)
Meaning –Lord Krishna says to Arjuna – “Impressions of likes and dislikes in our heart are two key blockers in our spiritual growth”.
In this way, if we maintain silence in stillness for even couple of seconds then we get sacred strength which helps in waning our attachment to the world and worldly pleasures. This is real support at the right junction where all problems take shape. Because of our Essence though totally activity-free, has inconceivable power, all powers actually rise from it, sustained during execution and dissolve back in it. If we observe in this world then we notice that every action is followed by brief breaks or silence and from that rest, silence or break we get fresh power to begin the activity cycle. If we get tired of speaking and take silence pause then we get the fresh strength to resume. Similarly, after day’s activities, we get tired and night’s sleep recharges our bodies and brains for next day. In this way, every activity is actually having that gap in beginning and end without which no activity execution is feasible. In this gap between two activities or thoughts, the all-powerful and ever restful Existence shows up –
सब वृत्ति हैं गोपिका, साक्षी कृष्ण स्वरूप।
संधिमें झलकत रहे, यह है रास अनूप।।
Meaning – All thoughts are devotees and witnessing presence is Lord himself, the beloved. HE un-hides himself in silent gaps so is the unparalleled meeting of the devotee with their Beloved. When devotee loses its identity then union happens, and when devotee comes to life, then the Beloved hides – such is the eternal and unparalleled never-ending love and dance of form and formless.
If we become still then we gain experience and recognition of self-proven Essence. Stillness is natural and easy. We don’t have to make any efforts to imbibe it, rather, just non-cooperate with temporary formations.