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Saturday, April 23, 2022

Starting point for inward journey - atma vicara

  When reading and thinking about atma gnana – realization of our inner self – the following ideas emerged.

The basic premise behind the Vedic Hindu and the Buddhist philosophies is a simple one. All of us want to be happy and avoid suffering. That is just impossible because life is a mixture of happiness and suffering. That is the reality.

If we want to experience never-ending or eternal happiness, there are only two ways.

 One is to imagine another world where conditions for happiness are always present. This is what we call svarga or heaven. We can do the right things (punyam) and be a virtuous human being so we can get there. There are two problems though. One is that conditions for happiness such as milk, honey, wish-fulfilling trees (kalpaka vriksham) and wealth-yielding cows (kamadhenu) are said to be there. But our stay in heaven/svarga as the experiencer is short-lived. It will end as soon as we draw down from our account of good deeds in this world. We have to return to the earth according to this concept of heaven.

The other problem is that no one knows for sure there is a place called heaven. As my mother once remarked: “No one who got there has come down to tell us about it”.

We can take this course only on faith. Faith is a good thing.

The other method for continuous happiness, or at least freedom from suffering is through inward journey. That is the path of atma gnana, realization of our inner self. This is available here and in the now – during this life. This is what Buddha, Adi Sankara and Ramana Maharishi kept saying.

When Adi Sankara says: “tat brahma nishkala aham, na bootha sanghaha” (I am that eternal blemishless Self, not this aggregate of elements) and when Ramana Maharishi asks “naan yar?” (Who am I?), they are not saying “I am not this body” but saying that “I am not JUST this body”.

That is meant to become a starting point for meditation on the atman/brahman or the Inner Spiritual Self. 


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