'Be' with Swami Venkatesananda

Self Discovery

In this self-development towards perfection, no-one can help you, and no-one can hinder you either. There are two reasons: this perfection is already there, waiting to be discovered; and secondly, you are unique. No-one else has the exact replica of your personality.

A sculptor looking at a marble slab ‘sees’ the figure of Krishna or Christ in that slab. He does not add anything, it is there already. But there is a lot more marble, in addition to that figure. He merely removes the extraneous chips, and what remains is what he saw in the slab in the first instant.

First, you have to see this unique spirit that is built into you. When you do, you also see a lot of rubbish sticking to this central being. As you keep eliminating these – this rubbish, the latent perfection is discovered, and there is total development. In order to discover yourself, you must not assume there is only goodness in you. You must also be aware of what is diabolical and devilish in you too. When you thus become aware of the divine and the diabolical in you simultaneously, you know what to do!

To ascribe the cause of an inner evil to something outside oneself is immature. If you cut your foot on the coral, you immediately fix it. There is no time to blame anyone. You become one with the problem – the pain; and the pain demands immediate relief.

When you thus observe yourself inwardly, there is utter stillness of mind. It is transparent, and in that transparent mind, you can see the play of thoughts, you can be aware of the ‘evil’ in your personality.

You learn actively to watch the thoughts, without thinking those thoughts. When this watchfulness or awareness becomes constant and efficient, keen and sensitive, it detects an ‘evil’ thought even as it enters the field of consciousness, and keeps it away, because the evil thought hurts the inner being.

While cultivating this watchfulness or awareness, the question one asks concerning the thought is, ‘What is this thought made of, and who thinks it?’, and not, ‘Why is it there?’ If you ask the question in the right manner, you will known the answer, immediately and experientially, not verbally. The asking itself is the answer. The questioning is important; for, it directs the attention to the very source of thought. When an undesired or evil thought arises from this source, this attention itself neutralizes such thought.

In this self-inquiry, there are two delicate factors to be carefully and vigilantly borne in mind: (1) there is unrelenting vigilance which burns steadily within you, reducing to ashes every ‘evil’ or undesired thought even as it rises, because such a thought hurts you; and (2) when your mind becomes aware of similar evil outside, in others, you are extremely sympathetic, for you do not judge or condemn.

What is that state of perfection that this self-inquiry reveals, and what are its characteristics? The Bhagavad Gita provides an inspiring answer: perfection is that state in which all cravings end. It is there all the time. But you have turned away from it. When you turn away from the sun, you see the shadow; and the shadow has all the appearance of yourself. But when you wheel around and face the light, you see only the sun, the light, and not yourself. That is god-realization, self-realization. That is perfection.

The whole process of yoga, of spiritual development, is the removal of obstacles to this realization. In order to see these obstacles, one needs a tremendously calm mind.

Quietness of the mind does not mean that there are no thoughts. There may be millions of waves on the surface of the ocean, but underneath it is absolutely calm. Can you go down to the depth of the ‘ocean’ within you, the depth of your own consciousness, so that even while the thoughts keep rising and falling on the surface, there is this deep calm and peace? This is the most important thing.

Disturbance in the mind goes on as long as you cling to false values, to any values at all. When you directly realize that nothing that the mind and the ego have cherished so far is of any value, there is instant, complete, and permanent cessation of disturbance; there is enlightenment.