The entire world seeks to answer two questions. The first one is, “What do we all want?” and the second, “How will we attain it?” All the knowledge in the world, right from the worldly to the Vedic, attempt to answer these two questions. “What do we want and how do we attain it?” How surprising it is that in countless lives, we have not been able to answer them. The day we find the answer, our relationship with this material world will come to an end. With that, our wandering in the 8.4 million life-forms, the five sorrows – joy and suffering, love and hatred, fear of death, ignorance, ego (pride) and the five sheaths of maya will also come to an end.
Let us take up the first question. What is it that we want? It is a very simple question and can only be answered when we understand who we are. We use the pronouns I, we, you. What is this ‘I’ that we refer to? Once we understand the true ‘I’, we will automatically understand what ‘I’ want.
What is this ‘I’? You have two things in your possession – one of them is conscious and the other is not. The body, the sense organs, the mind and the intellect are insentient – devoid of consciousness. You may disagree and say that they are conscious. After all, your hands and feet do move, the eyes see and the ears listen. Every sense organ is working. The mind thinks and the intellect takes decisions. All of these appear to be conscious.
You can say that a chair or a table is not conscious. This statement is true. But, how can you say that the body, mind and intellect are not? Furthermore, if you stick a pin at your body, you experience pain, don’t you? Yes! Well then, how can that which is not conscious, experience pain? So, understand that the sense organs, the mind and the intellect, are all included within the body. We are two – the body and the soul. We sometimes say, “My body is old; my body is ill; my body is fat; my body is thin.” We say ‘My’. ‘My’ means, ‘that which belongs to me’. This means that the body is ‘mine’, and that ‘I’ am not the body. Moreover, we observe our body daily, and we feel that it is conscious. After the entity referred to as ‘I’ has left the body, do you call the body-conscious or non-conscious? That body starts decomposing in 24 hours.
आदौ श्रद्धा ततः साधु-सङ्गो’थ भजन-क्रिया
ghar ke kahahiṁ vegi hī kāṛho, bhut bhae kou khaihaiṁ
jā din man pachhi uṛi jaihaiṁ
What does this mean? It means that there is an ‘I’ within the body. When this ‘I’ leaves, the body loses its consciousness. In other words, it is the ‘I’ that keeps the body conscious. The body itself is not conscious. The entity called ‘I’ is responsible for keeping the body alive. When the ‘I’ leaves, the body returns to its original form. The original form of the body is that it is a puppet made of five gross elements.
The Vedas, Shastras and Saints have given a name to the entity referred to as ‘I’. They call it ‘Soul’. Soul means that which is alive and which keeps others alive as well. The soul has two functions – It remains alive by itself, and keeps others alive. It is conscious, and as long as it remains within the body, it keeps the entire body conscious.
To be continued…