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Maturity & Knowledge

The individual and the total

We have seen so far that Isvara is all intelligence and all capacity which manifests in form of universal order. The more I understand that this order, governs the events that I come across in my life and also my ability to deal with them, the more I am in touch Isvara. Further, if I have capacity to change my attitude and deal with situations better, that potential is also part of the same order. Let us examine in more detail the nature of my relationship with Isvara and how I can understand and assimilate this relationship so that my appreciation of Isvara gains more depth.

The fundamental relationship between the individual and Isvara
As an individual I am related to other individuals. With reference to my parents, I become a son or a daughter, with my children, I become a father or mother, with my friends, a friend, with my employer, an employee, with my customers, a business person, etc. These relations change according to the situations I am placed in. Therefore, these roles are relative and variable. But through all of them, one thing is constant: the basic individual that takes up the different roles with different individuals.

Now let us examine the relation between me as an individual and Isvara. Is it also variable? No, as a conscious being, I am always related to the total. I may not be aware of it but like a wave in the ocean, I am born because of the order, sustained by the order and also cease to exist according to the same order.The body-mind-senses complex and particular parentage is given to me. The people I come across, with reference to whom I play different roles, and all the situations that come to me as I live my life are also given to me. I am endowed with the capacity to think, desire, decide and act by the order that is Isvara. Not only me but all human beings are given a unique body with different qualities and powers, individuals they relate to, situations they face. The whole universe around me, the infrastructure necessary for me to interact with it, is because of the same order of Isvara. In fact, Isvara is the efficient cause, in the form of laws pervading the entire creation. Isvara as the material cause, is the entire universe, consisting of various forms that are governed by the order. Hence, nothing is separate from Isvara.

That means, my relation to Isvara is the most fundamental relation. I am related to Isvara at all the times. I am always connected to the total. I am included in a vast order of things that makes everything what it is. My thoughts and emotions, my actions, my free will, the results of my actions are all governed by the order that is Isvara 86. In religious terms, the understanding of this order which is infallible and impartial, can be expressed as an individual taking ones actions as an offering to Isvara 87, the results as taken care of by Isvara88.

Relating with the total
A true understanding begins to take place when I begin to see that Isvara is not an entity resting at a given location away from me, but is manifest as laws and all forms in the universe that are governed by these laws. The more I assimilate this fact, the more I see that all aspects of my life, situations that I go through, obstacles that come my way, my capacity or inability to deal with them etc. are part of laws of Isvara. I begin to see a grand order in what may otherwise appear to be a chaotic universe.

The more I am alive to the fact that everything is in order, the more I am able to accept myself, the people and situations around me. I can validate my sense of sorrow, isolation, anger, anxieties and also my capacity to change them as part of the order. This is a super therapy for every human being as it relieves one from carrying false psychological burden, helps one to live dynamically through appreciating the cosmic order that connects desires, actions and results. This person sees the presence of Isvara penetrating every aspect of ones life.

The diverse religious practices help me to see this connection with Isvara and express it in a specific way. Some of these practices involve doing prayers, performing rituals, observing certain disciplines such as fasting etc. Every such practice that enables me to relate to total is validated in Vedanta.

It is true that the religious forms if taken literally and not understood properly, can lead to dogmatic attitudes. However, if one understands that every form is a manifestation of Isvara, the total, then one can choose any form to invoke a particular aspect of the total. The more I understand this vision of Isvara, I no longer confine my awareness of Isvara while performing religious practices but carry it throughout the day.

Meditation: the relaxed basic person
One of the techniques of meditation is doing japa, which entails mentally repeating the names of Isvara. Japa even though mental, is an action and therefore produces a result. First, japa produces invisible result in form of grace as one is mentally repeating Isvara's name. It is a mental prayer where the basic individual, the core person in you invokes the grace of the total 89 .

Second, japa has also visible results. It develops one's capacity to have an insight in the ways of the mind. By nature, mind is moving and keeps on going naturally from one subject to another by association.

During meditation, if one is distracted and starts to think about something else, one gently brings the mind back to chanting. In fact, meditation is not state of thoughtlessness, but the practice of bringing the mind back to its assigned task. Once one understands the fact that mind by its nature is subject to change, and the role of meditation is to bring it back to its predetermined task, one would not have a sense of failure in doing meditation. Often we hear people saying that 'I am not able to meditate because I can not stop thinking'; this conclusion is based on wrong understanding of meditation as being the state of thoughtlessness.

By following the practice of japa meditation repeatedly, I am able to abide in the chant without being distracted. The fact that I gain command over certain ways of thinking, makes me a deliberate person. This mastery in my ways of thinking through practice of meditation, I can carry forward throughout the day in all my transactions.

Moreover, during the repetition of chant, I also begin to notice the space between two chants. By observing the space, I appreciate that I am the basic conscious person that exists with and without any thoughts. This basic person experienced in between two chants is connected to the total and is naturally quiet and relaxed. That means, being tranquil and relaxed is natural to me, and not a result of any effort. The more I can assimilate this understanding, the better I am able to perform my actions, effectively play varied roles as father, mother, brother, sister etc. and meet the challenges connected to each role objectively.

Ultimately, the inner maturity developed through all these means we have presented culminates in the discovery of non duality that is the knowledge of one's identity with Isvara. For the one who is related to Isvara and sees Isvara in everything, the knowledge of the non dual is only a small leap forward 90. He or she will shortly understand that both him or her and Isvara are non separate, they are indeed one limitless existence-consciousness, like the wave and the ocean have their being in water alone.

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