Questioner: I am a commerce student. I was having an undisturbed life inside my education shell. I began to wonder what I am doing here. What is purpose of my life? Why did big bang happen amongst many others things. What is expected from me by the universe? I am helping other people but I don’t think that is the ultimate for me. What are some bigger things that I am expected to do? I am here for a reason, how can I find this reason of my being? Is there any supreme energy called God? How is he looking after me? I have lots of questions which I don’t know I should be having or not. I am 23 years old. I have read the scriptures of all religions. I have also read general theory of relativity and big bang theory. I still don’t have any answer. I try to look into religious texts, Jyotish science everywhere. I still don’t have any answer. Please help me.
Are you referring to increasing consciousness in the context of being aware? Because, there is no right way, or, for that matter, wrong way, to increase or decrease your consciousness by way of meditation. Consciousness is its content. By meditating on a mantra, a picture, silence, etc, how can that content go up or down? It remains as it is, is it not? One can store any number of information by way of opinions, ideas, knowledge, beliefs, conditionings, prejudices, preferences, priorities, values, fears, insecurities, anger, and so on. All these are part of the content of one’s consciousness, is it not? One can be conscious of it, that is, be aware of it, through contemplation. But merely by shutting out the content of one’s consciousness, if one hopes to forcibly remain silent, one merely strengthens one’s ego or will, because in that very effort, there is a conscious force used to shut out other thoughts. That very force is violence. And, that violence is part of the content of one’s consciousness already, is it not? It merely asserts itself further.
So, the question ought to be what can one do to increase awareness of one’s consciousness? That is, what you are really asking is, how can you become consciously aware of what goes on within you all the time? Is this not your question? When one is consciously aware of the contents of oneself, a great many things become a moot point. It is so. It is not an assumption, nor is it a deduced argument. It is so. One is angry endlessly over something or the other, always believing an injustice rendered to them by such and such person. It could be one’s parents, one’s sibling, one’s children, one’s husband, one’s wife, one’s colleagues, one’s friends, and so on. That is, one feels one’s life has not been fair to oneself for whatever reason. One realizes then one’s life is endlessly in chaos, conflict, pain, agony, suffering, misery, etc. One then looks for ways to get out of this misery, one wants to find out, why one’s life is in perpetual conflict and pain.
One then, either takes individual instances and analyses them to decide if their anger is justified. If so, the anger continues, if not, it appeases, though, for the moment. It is only a momentary relief, it has to be, because one is yet to understand anger itself, is it not? That anger is a part of me, it exists in my consciousness waiting to merely be provoked by an external stimuli again. Or, a person takes to meditation thinking that will resolve all of one’s problems without actually understanding the problem. Not that I am angry, I know it already, I don’t need to be told I am angry. But rather, anger itself. That is, without understanding anger, I am looking to heal it not knowing what it is. If one tries to heal something without knowing what it is, one is merely suppressing it from the surface, and thinking therefore it is cured, is it not? Can one be certain that it has been rooted out completely by suppressing symptoms? By merely putting a balm on it, one has neither understood it, nor eliminated it.
On the other hand, if one stayed with anger completely without escaping it, what happens? What does anger do? It scalds you from within first and foremost, before it affects another, before it affects the society, before it affects the world, is it not? A burning rage burns you first before it breaks out. But one is more concerned with the fire spreading not least realizing it must be put out within first. Where does one start? One can endlessly find ways of treating anger, but it keeps on surfacing. If the cause of this inward fire exists, it will continue to keep breaking out, is it not?
So then, what is the role of meditation in all of this? To exert any effort requires a certain force and will, is it not? They both are one and the same, will and force. It is the same as rubbing a balm to escape a momentary anger or undesired situation. Every time there is the threat of anger erupting, you shut yourself in a corner and forcibly bring your attention onto something else, and then, think, you have risen above it. If you have risen above it, you have merely sidestepped it, not got rid of it. So what is one to do? One is burning within, and one doesn’t like what is taking place within, one is worried that one’s world is falling apart as a result of this seething anger within oneself.
So, having understood the futility of treating anger, one wants to come face to face with it. Therefore, one wonders, how can I stay with something so overwhelming, so strong, so forceful, so potent in me, and not let it erupt at the same time? That is, I want to understand it, I want to stay with it, to see how far deep it goes, and see where its roots are, so that it can be pulled out, but when my circumstances are so overwhelming, how can I not let it show towards another? How can I let my anger not express itself towards another while I stay with it and not try to escape it? Isn’t this the dilemma one is faced with? Because if anger is let loose to express itself, then it kills all that it touches, relationships, opportunities, career, people, society, everything. And, if I keep suppressing it from others, while seething within, it is going to kill my body through diseases. Such is its potent nature.
So, what is anger? If it mustn’t be expressed, and mustn’t be controlled, what is one to do with it? Can anything be done about it? It is so deeply rooted in oneself, that it is seems impossible for one to trace where it derives its energy from to keep surfacing endlessly, whenever provoked. So the only other way to trace it from, would be to see, what is it that gets provoked. When one says something harsh to another, one has hurt that other. Not physically, but emotionally. When you have insulted me, I feel humiliated, angry, hurt and so on. There is a myriad forms of emotions that I can feel all at once surfacing within me. Yet, I am unable to see or feel this emotional ‘me’. It seems there are a myriad attributes with no being or personality. Or, are the attributes the very being or personality? What makes up a psyche or a personality are the qualities that constitute it, is it not? Based on x, y, z, qualities, one is said to have such and such personality. It is this personality that is the emotional being that I am, the ‘ego’. Not my ego, rather, the ego is, the ‘me’. It is this ‘me’, that is happy, sad, miserable, conflicted, angry, confident, insecure, proud, etc.
The ego, which is, the ‘me’, is made up of the qualities that constitute my personality. Therefore, the personality is the ‘person’, the ‘me’, is it not? The person behind the personality only comes alive, when one or the other attributes or quality is expressed. Without these attributes, where is this emotional ‘person’? One’s physical body is put together by all its various anatomical parts. In the absence of these, there is no physical body. Like so, all the emotional, psychological parts within me, make up my ego, as the ‘me’. Without these parts, there is no ‘me’, is it not? The physical body exists physically, it is tangible, and actual whereas, the emotional being, the ego, the ‘me’, exists only in thought, is it not? If there is no thought there is no me surfacing, as happy, sad, angry, miserable, hurting, humiliated, and so on. Therefore, my thoughts which expresses the ‘me’, is essentially made to suppress, in meditations, so that one remains silent. And in that forced silence, one hopes to trace the ‘me’ and come to the understanding that it doesn’t actually exist, except in one’s thoughts, least realizing, that it is this very ‘me’ that exerts its will, by, forcibly shutting out all other thoughts in meditation, while it continues to stay, as silence. If silence is forced, can it actually be silence, or is it a self-hypnotized belief that one is silent? Any belief merely adds to one’s emotional and psychological attribute thereby keeping it alive. On the other hand, when one contemplates deeply on this emotional being, the ego, the ‘me’, that gets angry when provoked, that one wishes to understand, one sees that it only exists in the mind. When one comes upon the Truth that there is no ‘you’, no ‘me’, what meaning do my conflicts have with you, justified or not? Whose conflicts are they? When one remains in this meditative contemplation in every moment, in every activity, in every experience, in one’s life, one sees for oneself, all the many psychological qualities and emotions, that surfaces in oneself, dissolving on its own, without any effort at controlling one’s thoughts.
Please bear with my lengthy answer.
In your question you imply that you believe or have assumed that there is a soul, is it not? Basically they are the same, belief and assumption; that is, they both pre-suppose something to be so. But it is never the same as one’s direct experience, that, such and such, is a fact. One believes in one too many things without ever questioning if it is infact so. One has heard, read, been told, from a very early age about so many things, that one loses track. One simply hasn’t the time or the energy to analyse and explore for oneself whether all of what one has come to believe in so fiercely, so passionately, are factual or not. The belief one holds onto so vehemently from so young an age, becomes so deep rooted, that in time, one takes it for granted to be so, it has to be. And then one goes on to defend and declare war in the name of beliefs, that one has never had any direct experience of. Is this not the case, in the world? History tells us of many a, bloody battles fought between the good and the evil, only, the one fighting always believes he is on the good side, whether it is the self or one’s opponent. And history continues to dictate our values and all our actions, and it will continue to be, until, we, as a society, that is, each and every one of us being this society, stops and questions everything that we have come to believe to be so, without actually knowing it to be so.
So, when one asks what the size of a soul is, there is implied in that question, that soul exists. If it does, whose soul is this question being directed to? Yours, or, another’s? Or does one relate to the notion of soul with something cosmic that exists, and which must continue to exist, that death cannot touch? If it is your soul, then one ought to know for oneself, the size, proportion, and measurement for oneself, surely. But if one has asked the question, surely, it is out of not knowing for oneself. One doesn’t know whether the soul is personal, impersonal, cosmic or whatever, to begin with. One has no idea whatsoever about soul, yet one assumes that it is there, is it not? Why? It may be there or it may not even exist, to begin with. But must one not begin with this enquiry for oneself, first and foremost?
Does soul exist? To understand if something exists, one must first understand what it is, it’s very structure, its foundation, etc. When one questions what something is, in that very questioning one unravels for oneself many a truths about that very thing that one investigates, is it not? So, what is soul? Does it belong to the self? Or is it something that exists outside of it, and therefore cannot be touched by the self? If it cannot be touched by the perishable self, then is it imperishable? What distinguishes the self from the soul? Is there a difference? Or, are they both one and the same, only with different terms, such as, self and soul, jivathma and paramatma, individual soul and cosmic soul, etc? If they are one and the same, what makes one perishable and the other imperishable? Is it possible for one thing to be both living and dead? That is, can something be both mortal and immortal? It cannot because then by mutual exclusion, they will cancel out each other, is it not? That is, a thing can be either living or dead, it cannot be both, can it? It is one thing, whether it is living or dead, not two things, isn’t it? So, if the soul and the self are one and the same, is it eternal or is it perishable? Does one’s soul perish upon the death of one’s physical body? If it does, then soul is quantifiable as a physical measure. And if so, then it must be a physically tangible thing just as one’s physical body is, is it not? It must be actual physically, just as one’s physical body is. Therefore, one must be able to touch it and see it, just as one would one’s physical body or the world of physical objects.
If one asserts that soul is not tangible physically, then it is implied that, therefore, it has nothing to do with the physical body, is it not? If so, upon the death of one’s physical body, which is made of matter, who is it that dies? If soul has a life of its own, which is untouched by physical death, and therefore, eternal, does it merely occupy a physical body to experience life? Why? Why does it need to occupy anything at all if it has a life of its own? Is it that being intangible, it needs a tangible form to have tangible experiences? Is it the experiencer then, the enjoyer, the feeler, etc., in every physical experience that one has in one’s life? That is, while the physical experiences themselves are tangible in one’s life, the corresponding feelings that it triggers in oneself are intangible, is it not? When there is physical injury, one is physically in pain, which are both tangible, but when there is an emotional injury, there is suffering at an emotional level which is intangible. Likewise, when one has accomplished something, there is an inward sense of achievement, of joy, of success etc., all of which are intangible. Can it be said therefore, that these intangible inward feelings, and sensations are attributes of the soul or what one thinks of as the self? Without these attributes, what is a soul? And what purpose might it serve? Conversely, can the physical body come to life merely as matter, without a soul residing in it? Does it need a soul to reside in it?
Is physical matter capable of experiencing, feeling, emoting, enjoying the various experiences in one’s life, purely as a life form made of matter alone? The human brain triggers physical and chemical reactions to the external world of stimuli, but one has never been able to pinpoint exactly where in the brain, do, intangible inward psychological feelings arise from. Hence, one has instead created a soul, a super sacred entity, and has further created a myriad, classes and divisions in it, such as an individual soul, cosmic soul and then there is the supreme soul, and made it so tremendously important, that it has never been questioned ever. The human mind has been so rooted deeply in this sacrosanct entity that they never question it.
In any organism, matter is needed to both build and sustain the organism. We are made of matter in solid, liquid and gaseous forms, afterall. Life is composed of and interacts with matter in these three states. If one asserts that soul is energy and life forms need energy, then matter is conserved just as energy is. Atoms and molecules represent stored energy. Does this mean matter and soul are one and the same? Can it be one and the same? If it can, then soul is perishable and therefore, measureable. What makes one assert that soul is energy? It may or may not be but one must begin by questioning the very structure of it, is it not? Only then can one discover for oneself.
The cosmos and the universe, which is made up of the fourth state called the Plasma, is a living organism too. There is the birth and death of stars, and the universe continues to expand. But there is a certain good order in which it operates, is it not? Suppose it weren’t to function in its orderly rhythm for a day, because it felt bored of its monotony, what would happen? Like so, is it possible for a human life, to function in an orderly rhythm, purely as a life form made of matter, without convoluting itself to be something more than what it actually is? To find out, the human mind must be capable of facing the fact of what it is, is it not? Can one actually accept the possibility of being nothing more than a physical and chemical reaction in the brain? Can one actually come face to face with it, without any pre-conceived notions of Soul, Atma, Parabrahman etc, that one might become once the ego is removed? The Soul is the ego. They are one and the same, afterall. It is for the soul or the self to feel alive, to feel important, to feel pride, to feel pain, to suffer, to believe, etc. And it is in all of these, that the self comes alive, is it not? Without these, what is left of any inward psyche to attribute to the self or the soul? And without any inward intangible psychological entity, surely, there cannot be any psychological discords in oneself, that is, the conflicting opposites of likes and dislikes, love and hate, violence and harmony, peace and conflict etc. Once there is the distortion of reality, surely there is bound to be, a myriad further distortions too. But when there is none, and one can face the fact of oneself, as a life form, that exists just as any other living organism, what would be the state of such a mind? A mind that has no notions, concepts, beliefs, is a mind that is free, is it not? Free from fears, anxieties, insecurities, greed, violence, pride, hatred, anger, it thereby has no notions, or concepts, of courage, security, non-violence, harmony, humility, love and so on. Such a mind is always in the present, it meets the new as new, and therefore, alive. Only such a mind lives in the knowing, in the Truth in every moment, in every experience, in every activity, and therefore, only such a mind can come upon that which always is, the eternal.
There, surely, is an intelligence behind, and in everything, it is not a belief, it is not an assumption, it is so. It is that which is eternal. When a pendulum oscillates, it not just swings in one direction alone, it goes in the opposite direction too. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, is it not? That is the law in which the universe operates, as do all life forms. If there is such a thing that perishes, there must be something that doesn’t. Surely. If the universe, the cosmos, and, all its life forms, are fleeting and transient, then there must be something which is eternal. It is that which always is.
Sir, what is meditation to you? Is it repeating a mantra or some positive affirmation? Is it focusing or concentrating on an object, a photo, a feeling, a sensation, on silence, etc? If your meditation falls within the ambit of these, then am afraid, you have not been meditating at all, to begin with. Instead of some random chatter of the mind, of which, for the most part, one is not even conscious of, you have merely been consciously directing your mental chatter by way of repeating like an automated machine, a particular mantra, on a particular thing, on silence, etc, that’s all. One has one too many thoughts running in one’s mind it’s difficult to keep track of, therefore, one says, alright, let me clear my mind a bit by focusing on any one thought at a time, for let’s say, 20 mins or so, and then, I shall have crystal clarity. But is that so? Does one actually have crystal clarity when one wakes up from meditation, or does one merely find oneself back in the rhythm of one’s chaotic life?
To understand whether the chaos in one’s life is due to meditation or the lack of it, must not one understand the very chaos itself instead of escaping it through meditation, through entertainment, through isolation etc? Without understanding something, merely avoiding it, through various escape plans, one is merely postponing one’s misery, that’s all, is it not? Why does one want to meditate at all? Has one asked oneself, why? Is it to make one’s life better, is to realize Truth or God, is it to make abundance or prosperity manifest in one’s life? What is it for? Is it possible to realize Truth or God, by hypnotizing oneself into thinking there is something at the other end of the meditation, that one can grasp? For me to grasp or gain something, I have to know what I am first, not, what I think I am, based on one too many things I have heard, or, read from others, be it my family, my culture, my conditioning, a book, a scripture etc. To understand something or someone else, such as Truth or God, I must first have self-understanding, is it not?
To be Enlightened, to know Truth, one must first know the Truth of oneself completely and totally. One must come face to face with what is, and that includes one’s life, with all its chaos, the miseries, the cravings, the desires, the anger, the anxiety, the fears, the insecurities, the endless dilemmas, the struggles, and the constant strife, all of it. Merely acknowledging one’s life to be chaotic, and, therefore, looking for a way out of one’s misery, through various escapes, can one find any Truth or God or Enlightenment, at the other end of one’s effort?, be it meditation on a mantra, on silence, on a picture or whatever? Can Truth ever be so limited that it is to be found in a particular word, in a particular picture, or in some form of concentration or the other? How can one ever be enlightened as to anything through avoidance and escape from one’s present reality?
To be truly enlightened about anything, is to know for oneself. For one to know, one must see the Truth in everything, including the Truth of the chaos that exists in one’s life, is it not? And to see the Truth of the chaos, one must first understand the chaos that exists in one’s life, the very structure of it, the very foundation of it, the very source of it from which chaos endlessly continues in one’s life. When one sees the Truth in every moment, in every activity in one’s life, in every suffering, one has much clarity and understanding of one’s self, is it not? And in understanding and knowing oneself, one is set free. To know the self, is freedom from the self. It is when one knows the self that one is self-realized, is it not?