When the time comes to love
How is the end for the one who has realised the Self? It is like the destruction of a leaf, a flower, or a fruit after it has lived its course through a plant or a tree. Sri Adi Sankaracharya says in the Vivekachoodamani that it is the same end for the body, the senses, the life force, and the intellect. The Atman, or I, is not touched by this death. Just as how the tree stands tall even if the leaves, flowers, and fruits fall off, the Atman stands forever even after the body drops off with all the sense organs, mind, and intellect.
The Upanishads say that the Self is a mass of consciousness. It is only the accoutrements of the body, mind, and the intellect that wither away in the instance of death. The scriptures that talk about the Self say that the Atman is indestructible. It stands immortal forever amid things that appear to be born and destroyed from time to time. When the knowledge of the Self engulfs the thought process of the individual, then just as stones, trees, straws, grains, and husk are burnt in the fire, the body and all its components burn in the fire of that awareness.
The Acharya gives the example of sunlight which dispels darkness once it rises in the morning. When the awareness of the Self dawns, the presence of the limiting understanding of the Self as body, mind, and intellect disappears. All thoughts and identities merge in the Brahman. When the pot breaks, nothing happens to the space within the pot. It appears as one space that alone is. In the same way, when the limiting adjuncts like the body disappear on death, the Brahman that was always there remains.
The contemplative one who has realised the Self exists in the oneness of a glass of milk that has been poured back into a vessel like oil poured back into a bigger container of oil and water from a bottle poured back into a big pot of water. The Self-realised one is completely united with his own Self.
This is the state of Kaivalya or the experience of oneness that transcends the body. The individual lives as pure existence alone and in an unbroken and expansive understanding of the Self. Having reached that state of Brahman, the seeker of liberation does not come back into the ocean of transmigration between birth, death, and rebirth.
The writer is Sevika, Chinmaya Surya, Puducherry (www.chinmayamission.com); email: [email protected]
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