Who am I
When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you ever wonder who that person in the mirror is? Do you ever wonder who you are?
If you do, you will begin to contemplate and eventually realize that you have a body, a material structure that sees, hears, tastes, smells, and feels the touch; you will realize that you have a mind that feels the body, perceives the world, thinks, etc; and if you are lucky, you may also realize that you are actually experiencing the body and the mind. This experiential aspect is the “consciousness” which we will discuss later at length.
So, now you know that you are basically made of three things: the Body, the Mind, and the Consciousness. The next question is, “what exactly are these three things?” When you observe and experience them closely, you begin to understand that they are not fixed solid things, but constantly changing processes that are interdependent and interconnected with each other. You see that the body is changing and growing, you see that the mind is fluctuating from being happy sometimes to being sad sometimes, from being attentive sometimes to being lost other times, and so on. You also see that whatever you are experiencing through body and mind doesn’t last forever. All your experiences seem to be constantly changing and never remaining the same no matter what you do. You also begin to understand that your body can not function without the mind, your mind can not function without the body, and you cannot have an experience without having the body-mind, which means, there is no consciousness without the body and mind. Then, if you are wise enough, two realities dawn upon you:
1. The reality of body, mind, and consciousness as not being separate but as a single bundle of “body-mind-consciousness,” and
2. The reality of its constantly changing nature.
If you continue your observation and contemplation, then you see that the bundle of “body-mind-consciousness” is something that is not only constantly changing but also constantly observable and experiential to us. Therefore, you then call it a “phenomenon” or a bundle of phenomena because, whatever is changing, observable, and experiential is technically defined as a phenomenon, and not as a fixed entity.
Now comes the tricky part: Because the experience of body and mind is so intimate and personal and because you are deluded, you get tricked by the phenomena of body-mind-consciousness, and end up mistaking it as “You.” Instead of understanding it simply as a bundle of phenomena, you understand it as your “Self.” You find enjoyment in it; you savor it, so you get attached to it and end up owning it as your-body, your-mind, and your-consciousness.
One might wonder, "if body-mind-consciousness is not me, then, who am I?"
There is no real “You” or real “I.” There is only this bundle of body-mind-consciousness, and that is what the SOUL is. There is only SOUL: a bunch of phenomena of body, mind, consciousness, and that is only real. Besides that, nothing else really exists in the world.
So, the SOUL is simply a bundle of the phenomena of Body-Mind-Consciousness. Consciousness and Mind are the non-material (mental) phenomena and Body is a material phenomenon. These three different phenomena, when arise interdependently and interact with each other, a SOUL is formed. This SOUL is not a person or some entity but just a word to denote the reality of three phenomena which continuously arise and cease with extreme rapidity.
I. Consciousness is the first element of the SOUL. It can be simply defined as a phenomenon of knowing, cognizing, or experiencing. There are a total of 121 types of consciousness that partake in the phenomenon of knowing, cognizing and experiencing.
II. Mind is the second element of the SOUL. It can be simply defined as a mental phenomenon of feeling, perceiving, thinking, etc. There are a total of 52 mental elements that constitute the phenomena of Mind.
III. Body (or matter) is the third element of the SOUL. It can be defined as a non-mental or a material phenomenon. There are a total of 28 material elements that constitute the phenomenon of the Matter.
Figuratively speaking, just as the elements of hydrogen and oxygen interact with each other and generate water, the 121 types of consciousness, 52 mental elements, and 28 material elements interact with each other and generate the phenomena of SOUL (See Slide). The SOUL is obviously not a substance like water, but strictly a phenomenon which arises in dependence of the body (the matter), the mind, and the consciousness. SOUL is neither a permanent entity nor something that belongs to you or me. It is strictly an impermanent and impersonal phenomenon of Body-Mind-Consciousness.
The phenomena of body-mind-consciousness create an illusion of an entity because of the extreme rapidity of their arising and ceasing. This illusion of an entity is the “I am” that we think of. This illusion is the thought that “I am some person,” “I am an individual,” I am somebody who has this body, mind, and consciousness,” “I am a self who possesses this body, mind, and consciousness,” and so on so forth. These are all simply thoughts of illusion created by the extreme rapidity with which the three phenomena arise and cease together – or, we can say - the SOUL arises and ceases so rapidly that it creates an illusion of the Self or I or You, and this illusion is what separates us, keeps us away from the SOUL and its incredible powers. This illusion is the root cause of all of our pain, suffering, imperfections and unsatisfactoriness.
....Continued from above paragraph...
This illusion is there because of our ignorance about the true nature of the phenomena of Body-Mind-Consciousness. Illusory thoughts of personality or “self” are created because of not- knowing the reality of the phenomenal nature of Body, Mind, and Consciousness. Note that I am emphasizing the words ‘phenomenal nature’ and ‘ignorance.’
This illusion, which is the manifestation of ignorance, is none other than the ‘ego.’ It is this ego which hides the reality of the SOUL. It is this ego because of which majority of us do not experience the reality of SOUL.
Why We Need to
Experience & Understand
....Continue from above paragraph...
When we experience and understand the reality of SOUL, the ego is automatically destroyed, and when ego is destroyed, all of our pain, suffering, imperfections, and unsatisfactoriness end and the real peace and happiness begin. That is why it is so important to understand and experience the SOUL.
If we were to evaluate the root cause of any human crisis, we will ultimately reach the domain of ego. You may not agree with me at this very moment, but trust me when I say, “ego is the ultimate creator of all human suffering and experiencing the SOUL is the ultimate cure.” Why SOUL is the ultimate cure? Because, it not only reveals the ultimate root of the problem- the ego, but also eradicates it, and thereby removes all the imperfections so perfectly that nothing remains to be done.
An intelligent person knows that, if he wants to solve a problem thoroughly and perfectly then he has to find out the ultimate root of the problem and eradicate that ultimate root. What I am basically saying is, “ego is human being’s ultimate problem and SOUL is the ultimate solution. So, give priority to understanding and experiencing the SOUL; make a genuine effort for that.”
Many say that ego is really not such a bad thing. It really doesn’t bother them. To these people, I would say..
Because ego is extremely subtle, its destructive and evil powers are not obvious to most of us. Ego is not only extremely subtle but also most intimate and most personal. That is what makes it unidentifiable as evil. That is why ego does not bother most of us. In fact, if you were to study and practice the teachings given in this website, you will eventually realize that, it is the ego itself which says things like, “Ego is not bad,” “Ego doesn’t bother me,” etc.
Unless we understand the SOUL (the phenomena of Body-Mind-Consciousness) we cannot comprehend and exterminate the ego. Unless we catch the ego, comprehend its workings, and then exterminate it, we can not attain real peace or real happiness.
* * * * *
What is Beyond SOUL
What is Not SOUL
There are basically four ultimate realities in the universe: Consciousness, Mind, Matter, and Enlightenment. Consciousness-Mind-Matter constitute the SOUL, and Enlightenment is beyond SOUL. Everything else is unreal, which means everything else is not SOUL.
In order to understand the above statement thoroughly, we need to first discuss various aspects of the nature of reality and non-reality and the meaning of Conditional Reality and Unconditional Reality. So, lets begin.
The Nature of Reality & Non-Reality
Reality is that which actually exists as a distinct phenomenon possessing its own intrinsic nature. Reality is not something that is conceived but it is that which can be experienced. It is the object of real experience. Reality consists of real phenomena which underlie all things and all concepts. Reality is thus, experiential and universal.
Non-Reality is that which does not actually exist as a distinct phenomenon possessing its own intrinsic nature. Non-Reality is that which is conceived but it is not that which can be experienced. It is not the object of real experience. Non-Reality excludes real phenomena which underlie all things and all concepts. Non-Reality is thus, non-experiential and non-universal.
“Table” for example, is just a concept because we do not actually experience the table. What we experience is a piece of wood. Also, “Table” does not have universal existence because it really does not mean anything to an ant or to a woodpecker. But, wood is same for all beings, whether it is a human, an ant, or a woodpecker. Thus, wood is a reality (and not table) because it can be universally experienced as wood.
The word 'Colorado River' is not a reality, but, the 'water' is. Colorado River is just a name, a geopolitical concept denoting a body of flowing water. We cannot actually experience the Colorado River but we can actually experience the flowing water. So, the “name-” Colorado River is just a mental construction, a mental concept, a linguistic tool or a term. The reality is the flowing water. Similarly, a table is not a reality. It does not exist. What really exists is wood. Table is just a name given to a particular form or shape or an assembly of wood.
A tree, man, woman, nation, etc are examples of non-realities. They are mere words with meanings. They are made of only thoughts and concepts. A man or a woman actually does not exist. What really exists is a bundle of consciousness, mind, and matter, which is conventionally called a man or a woman. This may sound a bit dim-witted right now, but, just bare with me for some time so I can prove to you the profound implications of what we are discussing.
(See Slide for other examples)
Please understand that conventions or concepts are not universal because they do not exist by the virtue of their own nature. Therefore, there is no experiential evidence for them. In other words, because they are not universal and because they cannot be experienced, they are called conventions or concepts or non-realities.
Basically, there are two qualifying tests that should be used to identify and understand realities about ourselves and the world around us, so that, non-reality is not mistaken as reality. These are:
1. The Test of Experience, and
2. The Test of Universality.
Let us now talk about the significance of understanding all this.
Maya or Matrix: A Network of Non-Realities
Maya or Matrix is a vast and layered network of conventions or concepts - the Non-realities as we have discussed earlier. This Maya or Matrix (See Slide) is primarily responsible for the imprisonment of our intellect and the consequent human suffering of unimaginable scale.
Let us try to understand this with a few examples:
A nation, for example, does not actually exist. What actually exists is a piece of land. However, when we are plugged into the matrix, we think that a nation actually exists. We identify with it and develop a layer of delusion (matrix) called “Nationality.” Similarly, we develop various layers of delusion such as religious affiliation, social affiliation, occupational identity, family relations, personal image, etc. These are all concepts having no real existence. Identification with such concepts has only lead to conflicts between various nations, between sexes, between communities, between businesses, between family members, and so on.
When a person says I am a Hindu or a Christian, an Indian or an American, a Gujarati or a Caucasian, a Trader or a Doctor, a Father or a Mother, a Son or a Daughter, a Brother or a Sister, a Man or a woman, etc, and actually mean it, then that person is basically living in Maya. That person is basically plugged into the Matrix. There is huge significance to such realization, because, ultimately, such realization only removes the Maya and the ultimate illusion of the self, the ego which is hidden behind these names, conventions, and concepts.
Many of us think that Maya or Matrix means the material world, the world of senses. In a way, this is not correct. Let me explain.
The material world which is ultimately made of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air elements, actually exists. Inanimate matter such as soil and rocks actually exists. Animate matter such as human body and bodies of other creatures actually exist. Our senses also actually exist as part of the material world. What do not exist are various conventions and concepts that we derive from these real things. These conventions and concepts are like the shadows of real things.
River Ganga in India does not exist. Especially, a pious river Ganga, a goddess Ganga definitely does not exist. What exists is the flowing water. That is the only reality here. We conceptualize flowing water as a river and then add more layers of concepts such as the name, the mythological figure, a religious image, etc, which become the object of our consciousness in the form of a shadow of the real thing- the flowing water. Because of this, in our minds, a body of flowing water becomes a pious river, a goddess that can cleans our sins. We then perform all kinds of bathing and cleansing rituals in the river without realizing that we actually pollute the real thing (the water) while trying to purify our “self” which actually does not exist! In other words, while trying to purify something that does not exist (the self); we pollute the real thing (the water)!
Let us look at some more examples to understand how Maya works adversely at all levels and how its realization can help us.
TransWorld, Inc, a multinational company does not actually exist. TransWorld, Inc is just a name given to a group of people working together in an organized manner to attain certain common goals. So, what really exists is a group of people. That is the actual reality of TransWorld, Inc. But what happens in today’s corporate world? People are forgotten or rated second and the company name or the image becomes the real thing. The name for an organization is necessary for the convenience of doing business, however, when the name or the company itself becomes an entity, the employees who actually make up that company suffer. If the owners and managers of the company realize this, the employees will not be treated simply as a “resource” (human resource) that is to be utilized for generating profits and establishing a brand. Employees will be given top priority and treated as the real company because that’s what the reality is, and not the name or image or brand of the company.
An Indian cricket team or an Australian cricket team does not exist. These are just names. What really exist are two groups of people who play the same game. But what happens when people are watching the game? People who identify themselves as Indians tend to cheer up, scream, yell, and swear by Indian team players. People who identify themselves as Australians do the same except that they swear by Australian team players. These people, instead of actually watching the game, simply watch to see if their team will win. If all the sports fans of all sports were to realize this, they could learn a great deal about human skill and power by simply watching a game, which is a real thing rather than focusing on the unreal- the names, nationality, image, affiliation or identity of the players.
Mr. Anderson, a brave American man does not exist. Mr. Anderson is just a name, a convention, and not an ultimate reality. The name really does not exist as a real thing or it does not actually exist. It is just a concept, a word. Similarly, neither a man nor a person exists within Mr. Anderson. Also, there is no such thing as an American or an Indian man. They are also concepts. What really exists is the body (matter), the mind, and consciousness, the three distinct but interrelated and interdependent ultimate realities. The matter is the human body of Mr. Anderson, the mind is the “bravery” as a predominant factor, and consciousness is the fact that Mr. Anderson is able to experience and cognize. If Mr. Anderson was to realize this, his pride and prejudices (that arise out of identifying himself as an American) would soon vanish and, thus, he would be able to deal with others more appropriately.
It is important to understand that, whenever we are under the spell of Maya, or, whenever we are plugged into the Matrix, we are blinded by various identifications which lead to craving (greed) and aversion (hatred) – the two great evils that support, strengthen, and protect the ego by protecting various layers of Maya that cover up our true nature. That is why we suffer and cause suffering for others. These layers (See Slide) have to be peeled off so we can expose and eradicate the ego – the root of all imperfection and suffering.
Time: A Non-Reality
(Please read paragraphs above the heading for better understanding)
Time is also just a concept. It does not actually exist because it is neither universal nor it can be experienced. We cannot experience time like we can experience heat or cold or a feeling of joy or sorrow. Time is also not the experience of past and future. Past and future exist only as memories, conceptions, imagination, or thoughts. We can only think about the past and future. We cannot experience it by going there or being there. We are in the past or future only by our thought. But, our thoughts always occur only in the present, because, we can only think in the present moment. Thus, past and future are primarily memories or thoughts that are happening in the present. Therefore, only present moment is real and only present moment can be experienced. Past and future are mere conventions. Similarly, beginning and end are also mere concepts that arise out of the illusion of Time.
Time is an illusion just as “self” is an illusion. Time, even as an illusion (the clock time), is not same for all, meaning, it is not universal. Time is different for different people depending upon their location within various time zones.
Time is just a word or a name given to the phenomenon of movement, cycle, change, continuity, decay, or impermanence. These phenomena are real because we can experience them and they are universal, i.e. they are same for everything that exists in nature. However, time is not real. It is just a name or a conceptual means to quantify these phenomena.
Self (Ego): An Illusion - A Non-Reality
Psychologically, we can say that ego is the manifestation of various unwholesome mental elements such as delusion, greed, and hatred. In this sense, ego is an attribute of the ultimate reality of mind. So, ego really does not exist itself as an ultimate reality having its own intrinsic nature. It is simply an attribute of deluded mind.
Philosophically, we can say that ego is an expression of ignorance, the mental blindness. Ignorance means not knowing or not understanding the real nature of body-mind-consciousness. It means ignoring the truth about conventional, conditional, and unconditional realities. Because of ignorance, the interaction between the realities of body-mind-consciousness and their seemingly continuous coexistence creates an illusion of the self. So, philosophically, ego is primarily an “illusion of the self.” It does not actually exist as a reality.
You might be wondering about how can we eradicate the ego if it does not exist?
Because ego is not a reality (like matter, mind, or consciousness), that is precisely why it can be eradicated or destroyed! What actually exists in nature cannot be eradicated or destroyed. Matter cannot be eradicated or destroyed by our effort. Similarly, mind and consciousness cannot be eradicated or destroyed by our effort, but, ego can be.
Eradicating ego is like eradicating darkness in a room by turning on lights. We cannot actually eradicate darkness by itself, I mean, we cannot shovel it out or rub it out or erase or wipe it out. Darkness is essentially the “absence of light.” So, it is an attribute of light and not a reality of its own. Similarly, ego is basically the “absence of wisdom.” So, in order to remove ego, we have to develop wisdom. As wisdom is developed, the ego is automatically eradicated; the illusion of self is automatically destroyed. The point is: We do not try to eradicate ego directly. Instead, we develop wisdom which automatically removes ego. It is just like turning on lights to remove darkness in a room instead of trying to actually shovel out the darkness.
The Reality of Enlightenment
If one studies the nature of Consciousness, Mind, and Matter, one realizes that they are all conditional ultimate realities because they can be experienced and they are universal (as we discussed earlier).
Besides the three conditional realities of Consciousness, Mind, and Matter, there is the fourth reality- the reality of Enlightenment.
Enlightenment is a reality but it is beyond experience. This may sound a bit confusing right now, because, just a few moments ago, I defined “reality” as that which can be experienced. Generally speaking, this is a paradox, but, spiritually speaking, it is not.
When I say enlightenment is beyond experience, what I mean is that it is a reality which is independent of all the realities of our experience. It is a reality which transcends all experiential and conditional realities of body, mind, and consciousness. In other words, we can say that Enlightenment is an unconditional reality.
Consciousness is a conditional reality because it is conditioned by Mind and Matter. Similarly, Mind and Matter are conditional realities because they are conditioned by each other and by Consciousness. Thus, “conditional” means each reality is arisen, or conditioned, or modified, or evolved by the other two realities.
I must remind you that consciousness, mind, and matter are not only conditional realities but also ultimate realities in the sense that any experience cannot be evaluated or analyzed further than consciousness, mind, and matter. In this way, one should understand consciousness, mind, and matter as “conditional and ultimate” realities.
These three realities exist like a vortex- an endless loop of activity in which each one is being conditioned or arisen or modified or evolved by the other two in a beginning-less and endless cycle. Any experience always arises due to the arising of these three conditioned-ultimate realities. Therefore, any experience or phenomenon can be investigated in totality by investigating these three conditioned ultimate realities in relationship with each other. Consciousness can be investigated in relationship with mind and matter. Matter can be investigated in relationship with consciousness and mind, and so on.
Thus, everything can be known only relatively except the reality of enlightenment. It is so, because, the reality of enlightenment is ultimate and unconditional. In other words, what I am saying is, “all realities exist only relative to one another except the reality of enlightenment which is ultimate and unconditional.”
Let me further explain the meaning of the word 'unconditional.'
Unconditional basically means that which transcends the world of phenomena or things. The reality of enlightenment is unconditional because it cannot be conditioned by consciousness, mind, or matter – the three primary elements of SOUL that make up the world of phenomena or things. Unconditional reality (such as enlightenment) is a reality which cannot be properly explained in words or even in terms of experience since words and experience are the phenomena of mind-consciousness. Nevertheless, let us try to understand it with an analogy of “Space.”
As we know, Space is not conditioned by anything that exists within it and yet it appears to exist and encompasse everything within itself. I cannot say I am experiencing space and yet it is the most fundamental aspect of any experience, because, all events and things happen within space. We cannot imagine or conceive anything beyond space. It is always there without a beginning and without an end. Everything arises and ceases within space without affecting it. Space is like a neutral witness which is not conditioned by anything. We cannot prove the existence of space without the existence of what lies within space. It has no substance because it is nothing, a void, and yet, without it nothing seems to exist. Space does not have a sign or a mark because it is free from all that is conditioned making it identity-less and changeless. It cannot be desired because it is always there, omnipresent. The “unconditional” has these qualities of space. However, we should not think that the actual space that we see is an unconditional reality. I gave the example of space just to help you understand analogically the meaning of the word “unconditional.”
“Silence” is another analogy for understanding the “unconditional.” Nothing can change or condition the silence, and yet all sounds arise out of silence and ultimately cease into silence. There is no beginning to silence neither it will ever cease to exist.
Figuratively speaking, space and silence are like two sides of the same coin- the coin of the “unconditional ultimate reality.” We know and understand what is space and silence. However, because space and silence are always present, we cannot say we are experiencing them. For any experience to occur there has to be a beginning and ultimately an end. If there is no beginning and there is no end, then, technically it does not qualify as an experience. Thus, even though we experience space and silence, we cannot say we are experiencing them because they are always there without a beginning or an end. At this juncture, this is how far we can go in discussing the unconditional nature of enlightenment.
Some people wonder whether it is possible that there is some deeper unconditional reality which underlies all the four ultimate realities of matter, mind, consciousness, and enlightenment? They say, why it is not possible to have one single ultimate reality like some ultimate Being or Principle (such as GOD) that underlies everything else?
Here is what I have to say-
There is no other ultimate reality than the realities of consciousness, mind, matter and enlightenment. You may use one single word such as ‘GOD’ or ‘FATHER’ or ‘ALLAHA’ or RUHA’ to denote all the four ultimate realities. You may also use these words to denote just the unconditional reality of enlightenment, which means “perfect wisdom,” “pure awareness”, etc, but, you cannot say that there is something beyond the four realities. You cannot say that there is something underlying the four realities.
In any case, we must understand that there is absolutely nothing that is a one-single- ultimate reality. There are four ultimate realities, and, collectively, they may be called or referred to as GOD. What I mean is, GOD (if that word is used to denote four ultimate realities), is not separate from or beyond the four ultimate realities of matter, mind, consciousness, and enlightenment.
Some people wonder whether there was something- one single thing- at the very beginning before everything else came into existence. They also wonder what would be the reality at the end of the world.
People have such doubts in their mind, because, like most of us, they cannot get over the habit of trying to make “something” out of that which we do not understand. This habit is rooted in our linear way of thinking in a two-dimensional or three-dimensional world. That is why I said, in the very beginning of this segment of our discussion, that “the wisdom of the egoless aspect of our existence is the primary condition for fully grasping the meaning of enlightenment and such subtle matters.”
The Reality of
Ultimate Beginning & Ultimate End
(Please read paragraphs above the heading for better understanding)
The word “ultimate” does not relate to the beginning of this world. It does not relate to any single or primordial reality at some kind of a beginning (as majority of us would think because of our linear way of reflecting or sensing).
“Ultimate” simply means the subtlest mode of experience. For example, mental elements are ultimate realities because they cannot be penetrated or investigated further. Consciousness is an ultimate reality because it cannot be penetrated or investigated further. Consciousness and mind are both ultimate realities on their own accord. Consciousness is not more ultimate or subtler than the other. If you are thinking that consciousness is subtler than mind, then, you are basically thinking linearly.
In this ultimate sense, there is no such thing as the ultimate beginning and ultimate end of this world. Ultimate beginning and ultimate end are simply mental concepts that arise due to our habit of linear thinking. These mental concepts arise due to the illusion of time and space or space-time as linear entities. Ultimate beginning and ultimate end actually do not occur in nature. Trying to find the beginning or an end always results in an infinite regression, which really means that there is no such thing as an ultimate beginning or an ultimate end. They are only mental concepts.
What is the beginning and end of the physical extent of your country? Where your country begins, another country ends, and where your country ends, another country begins. If you continue like this from country to country, you will eventually reach back to your country. Thus, ultimately, beginning ends in itself. So, then, the question arises, “what is the beginning if end is also same as the beginning?” The best answer seems to be: the beginning is where “you” begin and the end is where you “begin again.” There is no absolute or first beginning or an absolute or last ultimate end.
Can we point out the beginning of the surface of earth and the end of it? Can we locate the beginning and end of space? Can we point out the beginning and end of time? We cannot, because, beginning and end are only mental concepts. They are just conventions. They do not exist. They are not intrinsically real, meaning, they do not have essential nature which can be realized. They are not intrinsically real like body, mind, consciousness, and enlightenment, which are ultimate realities that actually exist in nature. So, whenever we talk about ultimate beginning or ultimate end of the world, we have to realize that we are only talking about mental concepts or about something that actually does not exist.
The main thing is to properly understand the meaning of the word “ultimate.” It should be understood simply as a state where all boundaries, all separations, all beginnings, and all ends disappear. It is a state of, thing-lessness, time-lessness, space-lessness, quantity-lessness, identity-lessness, egolessness, etc.
I hope that you, the reader, is beginning to understand that there is nothing beyond or besides consciousness, mind, matter, and enlightenment- the four ultimate realities. Basically, that’s all there is in the whole of creation and beyond.
This is basically the sine-qua-non of reality. Everything else is a non-reality, a convention, a concept, or a mental construction - The Maya / The Matrix.
In other words, we can say that there are basically four ultimate realities in the universe: Consciousness, Mind, Matter - which constitute the SOUL, and Enlightenment - which is beyond SOUL. Everything else is unreal, which means everything else is not SOUL.
Why we need to understand
Realities & Non-Realities
...Continued from previous discussions above....
Understanding Reality and Non-reality matters significantly because the aim of real spiritual endeavor is to thoroughly understand all realities as well as non-realities so that they can be transcended for abiding into the ultimate unconditional reality – the enlightenment. In other words, enlightenment is not possible unless we thoroughly understand and transcend all realities as well as non-realities. Understand the significance of the phrase “as well as.”
Once we understand realities and non-realities, we begin to realize that the first and foremost step in any spiritual endeavor has to do with purifying one’s intellect or perspective or view. For example, if your religious view is that you can go to heaven by killing another human being in God’s name, or, if your religious perspective says that your sins are cleansed just by accepting someone as your savior, or, if you think that only your guru can purify your mind and give you salvation, then, you can never reach the depth of the SOUL, because, your intellect is impure and therefore it simply cannot comprehend anything beyond what you already believe in.
Unless we remove these layers of Maya: our religious views, perspective, affiliation, doctrines, dogmas, conventions, concepts, mental constructs, etc that have entangled and imprisoned the human intellect, it is not possible to awaken and then enlighten the SOUL. Why it is not possible? Because, the intellect has to be freed from the clutches of non-reality before it can cognize the reality as it is.
There is no choice but to awaken and enlighten the SOUL. Without that, we simply cannot eradicate the ego; and unless we eradicate the ego, we cannot attain real peace and happiness.
Our discussions so far have been related to setting up a stage, a platform for accomplishing this objective of awakening and enlightening the SOUL. Our subsequent discussions will now be focusing on how to actually awaken and enlighten the SOUL by first purifying the intellect and then purifying the body, mind, and consciousness.
Many spiritual traditions do not recommend using our intellect. In fact, these traditions do not believe in any intellectual discussions. They do not believe in studying, thinking, and contemplating. They simply follow traditional doctrines with faith. They avoid mind-games and only believe in their faith and action.
To people who follow such traditions, I would humbly request to simply stay open to all possibilities by neither believing in something nor not-believing in other things. To such people, I would respectfully throw down a challenge to simply cross-examine their beliefs so that they can develop 'faith' and eradicate 'beliefs.'
Unless we study, think, and contemplate, we cannot remove preconceived notions or wrong views or beliefs about the nature of reality. For example, some people believe that there is no such thing as a phenomenon of body-mind-consciousness. Some believe that there is only matter and there is no such thing as consciousness. Some believe that God has created them and there is nothing one can do about it. Some believe that they should not try to do anything about the way they are because they are the children of God. Some believe that there is no such thing as ego. Some believe that there is no imperfection. Some believe that everything is already perfect. Such preconceived notions or views or beliefs have to be removed (or at least set aside for time being) without which we cannot open up the intellect to make it a guiding and clearing force in our spiritual journey. Otherwise, the intellect itself misleads and becomes a roadblock. When that happens, it becomes very difficult to even embark upon the SOUL journey or to continue the SOUL journey without losing the track and without getting lost in the jungle of delusion.
Wrong views and beliefs are like weeds which generally grow wild. Just as the farmer has to first remove weeds from the field prior to cultivating a profitable crop, a spiritual aspirant has to first remove wrong views and beliefs from the intellect prior to awakening and enlightening the SOUL, which ultimately leads to real peace and happiness.