Friday, September 4, 2015


by Smt. Susmita Devi

The word ‘awareness’ has multiple hues. It may be called consciousness, realization, notice or perception, alertness, wakefulness, knowledge or understanding - just to name some.  Marcus Aurelius once upon a time assumed: “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the Truth”. Theories may be based on many, nay innumerable, presumptions, perceptions, impressions and suppositions, but the Truth is and can be only One.
The first of the mundane interpretations is bodily awareness. A toddler has already developed the first characteristics of a unique mind and soon finds out that howling can be a mean to an end. As the child grows, bodily awareness also grows along with the development of the brain and thus the more refined mind-work awareness sets in.  In that phase, various wants or perceived needs occur related to either self-preservation (which is not to be confused with the word 'selfishness', although it pertains to the individual self).  Physical or mental self-gratification may also prevail in conjunction with negative sentiments like jealousy and envy.
The above mentioned awareness can be categorized as self-awareness - with small ‘s’ - as one is aware only of one’s basic bodily and mental needs  - like a baby/child crying of hunger, or the need to be consoled or cuddled.  Amongst older children (and even adults), the wants and desires to be fulfilled are grow proportionally with age, and individual awareness and are not always based on physical needs.  Desires, actually, may become more and more fanciful and assume proportions that hamper wholesome development of an individual mind -thereby affecting behaviour patterns in a negative way.
The next small ‘s’ in the series of observations happens when a personality trait is developing relating to something that a child uses or wants - e.g. ‘it is my toy’. The self-perception grows along with the sense of ego and may, unfortunately, develop into selfishness/self-centeredness and often become the ruling trait of an individual. The background reason for that kind of development is usually the result of societal behaviour - or of intensely felt distressful upbringing.

Awareness of the third kind of Self (which, in fact, is the first, as it is the original), starts with a capital ‘S’ as a way to distinguish it from the developmental self in a body). That Self is the Divine flicker within all living things and individuals in the common known world. That Self is, definitely, the most interesting part of life to ponder upon.  The deeper aim of having got a human life is to seek and develop Knowledge of the Divine Self, and identify with It. It is a fundamental part of spiritual Awareness (with capital A). Various religions can equally be used as possible gateways to Self-realization if pursued with unreserved sincerity.
Mind and intellect are, no doubt, useful faculties and are therefore often used as possible starting points, although they might function as temporary blocks for higher Knowledge. Mind must however, sooner or later, be sufficiently controlled through crystal-clear mental practices like meditation, contemplation, japa (repetition of a name or verse from a scripture), physical/mental Yoga or other suitable means so that it can be moulded it into a willing tool before one can recognize the difference between the ordinary awareness of one’s being spiritual Awareness.  I have used both Japa and Pranayam and listened to religious songs and last, but not least, noted many of the talks of Sadguru Sri Sri Babathakur over a number of years.
The subsequent step is to intellectually discriminate between original injunctions from a Self-realized Soul, scripture interpretations and reading.  One must also be willing to change one’s lifestyle or mental conditioning accordingly.  There are essentially two ways to proceed – (i) devotion and (ii) Knowledge.  The formal worship/devotion way is long and arduous and may rely on time-honoured worship of a vast variety of deities - from animal to human forms (and even a combination of both) in all kinds of material.  Worship of various images functions basically as projections of one’s state of mind imbibed through scriptures and/or cultural patterns. Few are so lucky as to experience spontaneous revelations. The mind, a commonly distorted reflection of the Self, can however be cultivated and disciplined to look at the physical existence and the ensuing mind and intellect’s work as a Divine Game. Such transformation rarely happens overnight; it is rather a result of regular practice over time before Self-realization eventually happens. Sri Sri Babathakur expressed the concept as: “It (Self) is for, by, with, from, to.... Itself.”  The resulting Awareness on the other hand is no projection, and therefore, not illusory. Yet, to reach that level, rigorous and serious spiritual practices over an extended period of time is required - in combination with Guru’s Blessings.
Referring to the above, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev often said in interviews and wrote in a newspaper column: “Awareness can either create or obliterate this [physical] existence. That is the magic of Awareness... the whole existence is just Awareness!” Linguistic forms and terminology are helpful in purifying and elevating mind and intellect to a higher level of awareness, but are often worded as metaphoric expressions of the inexpressible Self.
The question popping up in the mind of a seeker of Knowledge may be that, if all is a game, why then do we have a body, mind and intellect?  In my ruminations and piecing together many expressions from Sri Sri Babathakur’s talks over the years, I have come to the conclusion that a dictum of Sri Sri Babathakur: “Sportful Dramatic Sameside Game of Self-consciousness” is meant to elevate human insight to recognize the Supreme Unity between the creation and the Creator.

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