Previous Parts: Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10
I was at NGO at appointed time. I reached there after finishing my work at hospital. It was 5 O’ clock and Arvind had just been up from his afternoon nap. He looked good, his face shining with unknown determination and courage. As usual he smiled a smile which conveyed million words...words of hope for me! “How you have been Arvind?” “I am good. I feel as if I have conquered HIV for the time being, this round goes to me.....just joking Doctor!” He replied. I was surprised with his ability to laugh on himself..... in such situation! “How are you Doctor?” “I am okay Arvind but you have really helped me in unraveling the meaning of life. Since our last meeting, I have started feeling much calmer, much relaxed. If you don’t mind, can we continue our discussion further, from where we left?” I asked him, my sincere effort to untangle the knots of my life. I continued, “I wanted to know the difference between ‘real self’ and ‘illusionary self’ and our identification with that ‘illusionary self’.”
“Our ‘real self’ is our soul, our eternal existence, the one which is the witness of it all. You can feel it when all other noises are quietened, when there is complete silence...that silence when not even internal talk is going on....the internal dialogue which we keep having with ourselves. We are so busy with external world that we hardly notice that inner space, aliveness, consciousness, bodhi. ...by whatever name we may like to call it. And the external world constitutes, besides other people and other situation, our own world of thoughts, feelings and emotions. We are so lost in the noise of our thoughts and our inner dialogue, that we never notice that eternal soul, that presence, that awareness which is ever present in the background. We have forgotten the very basis of our existence and that’s the reason of our misery, our suffering.
The inherent nature of the soul is detachment, undesired-ness and loneliness, contrary to the mind which is always attached and full of desires. And according to Hindu teaching, the soul can never be destroyed; it never dies when body dies. It just passes from one body to another. And our soul is always in sync with universe. When we lose touch with our soul we lose touch with universe and we suffer. Our forgetfulness of the soul is the only reason of our anxiety, our distress and our fears.” Arvind described the existence of eternal entity, our soul. I was forced to think that how we are never aware of it. We are so lost in our thoughts that we hardly seem to know this third entity which simply remains silent and watches our thoughts and action. I realized that we are so much involved with our everyday life that we are never concerned about this third entity. We are bombarded with so huge information and we keep processing these information’s according to our own nature which we acquired through our birth, our upbringing, our surrounding. The processing, the interpretation of information is exactly the way we want it to be, the way we perceive.
The situation is always neutral but it is our interpretation of the situation which makes all the difference. And the interesting thing is that our interpretation can change with time though the situation remains the same. It was for the first time in my life that I was trying to understand the tactics used by mind and the way we get carried away by it. But somehow I was enjoying being the observer of my thoughts....activities of my mind. “Yes Arvind, I have started appreciating an invisible entity which is beyond our thoughts and our mind. But I am not sure whether it’s my illusion or it’s for real or it’s just because you have pointed out to me and I am believing you. It simply doesn’t stay with me. I might feel it for a moment but then it’s gone. I have already read about it many times but I want to know about it.” I was honest with Arvind because as a teacher he had to know the limitations of his student in order to correct them. “I agree with you Doctor and I can understand your reservations. And I would not ask you to believe me without experiencing it yourself.
Actually we are so identified with our thoughts, our feelings and our emotions that we take them as ‘I’. This ‘I’ is our EGO. We assume that illusionary ‘I’ to be the real ‘Me’. This illusionary ‘I’ is false because the very foundation of its existence....our thoughts are never real. As we have discussed, thoughts are simply the activity of brain....the neurons...the axons and synapses and the neurotransmitters. When the foundation itself is all false, all illusion, how can it be possible that house, ‘I’..the ego can be real? And because it’s a false entity, it’s insecure and fragile. It is scared of wisdom of our soul, as darkness is scared of light. Have you ever observed how we try to nurture, protect and crystallize our imaginary ‘self’..that fearful ‘I’ which can be demolished by the light of our soul.
However, in reality, unfortunately, we presume it to be real ’I’ because we don’t know about our true ‘I’ ..our soul. We give so much importance to this self created illusion; we can go to any length to protect its identity. When we are praised anything or denigrated for anything and by anyone, our soul..our spirit..our consciousness...our awareness remains untouched and unmoved. It’s our ego, the illusionary self which gets affected, which gets bloated by praise or insulted by criticism or disapproval. And we are so busy in protecting this false entity that we forget all about true one. We are always concerned about our external appearance, our impression on others, our position in the society, our social standing that most of the things are done just for others rather than for own happiness..for own sake. Sometimes even our worldly achievements are more to satisfy our inflated ego than to have enjoyment in real sense...when something is done for the joy of it and which invigorates our soul.”