Continued from Part 1
As Ramakrishna also tells us, the ‘I’ we’re familiar with isn’t intended to be our physical selves, but Source him/herself.
“By discriminating you will realize that what you call ‘I’ is really nothing but Atman. Reason it out. Are you the body or the flesh or something else?
“At the end you will know that you are none of these. You are free from attributes. Then you will realize that you have never been the doer of any action, that you have been free from virtue and faults alike, that you are beyond righteousness and unrighteousness.” (1)
As long as we empower the ego, he tells us, we’ll continue to live in the illusion of polarity.
“[Virtue and vice] both exist and do not exist.
“If God keeps the ego in a man, then He keeps in him the sense of differentiation and also the sense of virtue and sin. But in a rare few He completely effaces the ego, and these go beyond virtue and sin, good and bad. As long as a man has not realized God, he retains the sense of differentiation and the knowledge of good and bad.” (2)
The idea that only a select few people can find enlightenment seems a bit outdated, and I can only say this because of the opinions of the readers who commented on one of my recent articles about the concept of enlightenment only being attainable to the few seekers who are diligent enough to completely transcend the ego.
Even though inner work is still an absolute requirement, I think the portal has widened since Ramakrishna’s days and more seekers can now find enlightenment.
I suppose this perspective is partially influenced by modern day ascension beliefs; by the idea that all of humanity’s experiencing a gradual yet direct physical/spiritual evolution. The feeling I (and plenty of others) get is that enlightenment’s now widely available as long as we can do the inner work that’s always been (and always will be) necessary.
The ego, Ramakrishna tells us, “is like a stick that seems to divide the water in two. It makes you feel that you are one and I am another.” (3)
Spiritual ignorance, he advises, “lasts as long as one has ego. There can be no liberation as long as the ego remains. ‘O God, Thou art the Doer and not I’ — that is knowledge.” (4)
He expands on one of his quotes from earlier.
“’My house,’ ‘my wealth’, ‘my learning’, ‘my possessions’ — the attitude which prompts one to say such things comes of ignorance. On the contrary, the attitude born of Knowledge is: ‘O God, Thou art the Master, and all these things belong to Thee. House, family, children, attendants, friends are Thine.” (5)
Becoming a conduit for Source’s energy and inspiration is worth our time and effort. When we can recognize that our finite physical selves are only capable of achieving things that resonate with our surface perception, we can open up, break the barrier and do things we never expected to do.
Source works through us to the extent that we’re willing and able to open up, and our creativity will flow (along with our general spirituality) when we allow Source to express his/her omnipotent love and intelligence through us. We’ll no longer stress or worry about how other seekers see our work, because we’ll know we didn’t create it by ourselves – we received divine assistance.
According to Krishnamurti, “It is the mind with its demands and fears, its attachments and denials, its determinations and urges, that destroys love.” (6)
He tells us how religious and political ‘propaganda’ have shaped the way we think.
“The experience of pleasure and pain is direct, individual; but the understanding of the experience is after the pattern of others, of the religious and social authorities. We are the result of the thoughts and influences of others; we are conditioned by religious as well as political propaganda.” (7)
Hazrat Inayat Khan affirms that seeing ourselves through an ego-driven lens causes a lot of unnecessary misery.
“A person who likes to say twenty times in the day, ‘I’, does not like to say, ‘I am not, Thou art’. But he does not know that this claim of ‘I’ is the root of all his trouble. It is this claim that makes him feel hurt by every little insult, by every little disturbance.
“The amount of pain that this illusion gives him is so great that it is just as well he got rid of it. But that is the last thing he would do. He would give up his last penny, but not the thought of ‘I’. … That is the whole difficulty and the only hindrance on the spiritual path.” (8)
According to Sri Krishna, ‘cutting free from desire’ will liberate us and show us the way to the heart.
“Self-controlled, Cut free from desire, Curbing the heart And knowing the Atman, Man finds Nirvana That is in Brahman, Here and hereafter.” (9)
The Buddha tells us that “The world does not know that we must all come to an end here; but those who know it, their quarrels cease at once.” (10)
Everything in existence has a purpose, the Buddha shares, and living in love is the best thing we can do with this existence.
“All things that exist are not without cause. However, neither Ishvara, nor the absolute, nor the self, nor causeless chance, is the maker, but our deeds produce results both good and evil.
“The whole world is under the law of causation, and the causes that act are not un-mental, for the gold of which the cup is made is gold throughout. … Let us surrender self and all selfishness, and as all things are fixed by causation, let us practice good so that good may result from our actions.” (11)
When we can live purely and unflinchingly in the heart, the karma we manifest will uplift us and those around us who’d benefit from our love and positivity. The afterlife we create for ourselves will be much more blissful, because we’ll have made a real and solid effort to make it pleasant for ourselves with our continuously loving actions on earth.
Sometimes, I want to shout from a mountaintop that love is the most important and powerful force in existence, second only to Source him/herself.
Love will help us see our way through the confusing earthly maze we have to try our best to navigate, and with love in our hearts and the willingness in our minds to consistently transcend the ego, we’ll align our thoughts, feelings and actions with a higher power.
- Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 208.
- Ibid., 328.
- Ibid., 387.
- Ibid., 204.
- Ibid., 105.
- J. Krishnamurti,Commentaries on Living. Second Series. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1967; c1958, 223.
- J. Krishnamurti, Commentaries on Living. First Series. Bombay, etc.: B.I. Publications, 1972; c1974, 61-2.
- Hazrat Inayat Khan, Way of Illumination. Delhi, etc.: Motilal Banarsidass, 1988, 197.
- Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trans., Bhagavad-Gita. The Song of God. New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1972; c1944, 61.
- Edwin A. Burtt, ed., The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha. New York and Toronto: New American Library, 1955, 53.
- Paul Carus, The Gospel of Buddha According to Old Records. Tucson: Omen Press, 1972, 61.
Concluded in Part 3 tomorrow. Head here to read the full article.