Why should one get initiated into path of self realization when one has no faith in life after death?
One may argue that all efforts of a common man are focused on the pleasures of this world only; that most of the time of man in his daily routine is taken up by such things as business, job, education, entertainment, etc; and he has little or no faith and inclination or have time to think of and provide for life beyond death.
It is natural to have such doubts since in today's world, the confused mindset of man treats well-being of self in this world and in the worlds beyond death as two different pursuits, whereas factually these cannot be compartmentalized. What pertains to this world is also covertly related to the other. These are inseparable like two sides of the same coin. The cultivation of Self-Awareness is the most efficacious method of success in practical life of this world as well. All progress in this world goes hand in hand with the progressive evolution of human consciousness. One, who is endowed with the inner-strength of Soul, has the capacity to succeed in all avenues of life.
What will I gain, if I devote myself on the path of Self-realization?
The person, who has consciously discovered his inner Self as the nucleus of energies controlling the varied activities of his world, becomes a detached observer and witness of the ever-changing phenomena of names and forms around him. In spite of being a part of this scenario, such a person remains perpetually aware of the ever-liberated real Self (Atma or Soul). Like the petal of a lotus flower, which, in spite of being surrounded by water, keeps afloat a little over the surface of water, an enlightened person does not get emotionally involved in the happenings of the world.
How can I initiate the process of self-enquiry ??
Put this question to yourself - what do I mean when I say 'I'? Animals, birds and other less evolved species of biological kingdom do not have this pronounced concept of 'I'. Although like human beings, they too feel pleasure, pain, and comforts, nevertheless their mental processes do not transcend physical requirements of the body. For instance, a donkey does not know why it is bearing aburden or what is its relationship to the person who is using it as a beast of burden. Though it does feel the discomfort of the burden and feels satiated on being fed fresh fodder, it does not react to sense stimulation like a human being. For such lower orders of living species, the body alone is the reality of self.
How can I distinguished between genuine and sham on the path of self-realization??
Although in course of progressive evolution, we human beings have acquired a superior intellect, how many of us are aware of the reality of Self? We come across quite a few persons who claim to be familiar with the Self, but there is a world of difference between awareness of the reality and talking about it. People mechanically record in their memory, whatever little they come to know from others about reality of Self (Atma-Gyan) and replay this programmed information in course of discussions from time to time.
Then there are many others, who have never heard of existence of an entity called Soul. Such individuals are still infants as far as growth of intelligence is concerned. Their little world remains confined to instinctive, automated reactions to animal urges like hunger, sleep, fear, sex, anger, greed, infatuation, etc. Intellectual engagements of such persons do not go beyond matters related to physical requirements.
Amongst such persons, the dull headed become satisfied with crude means of enjoyment, whereas the so-called intelligent ones endeavor to refine and beautify the means and methods of sense indulgence. An individual belonging to an underdeveloped country derives the same pleasure in riding an animal-driven cart, which a rich person of the developed world has while driving his expensive car. Basically, both derive the same sense of pleasure.
Are ritualistic religious practices, in any way helpful in Self-realization??
In today's world, whatever progress human intelligence has made has been predominantly utilized for improvement in quality and quantity of means of physical comforts and pleasure. Today, for most of the civilized persons of the society, the body itself is the reality of self (Deh-Atma-Buddhi). Though, for the sake of religiosity, such individuals perfunctorily follow the traditional rituals, these are meant for superficial satisfaction only and have no relevance whatsoever to realization of Supreme Truth about the Self (Atma-Gyan). For instance, such acts as philanthropy are regarded as virtuous activities; but these do not necessarily lead to spiritual search unless performed as part of Sadhana, without expectation of name fame or other rewards. Though such rituals as Yajna and Tap, endeavors for acquiring spiritual wisdom and work for welfare of society are considered by scriptures as essential duties of all human beings, to whatever faith they subscribe, these do not, by themselves, take one closer to the discovery of indwelling Soul. Soul (Atma) is so infinitesimally rarefied (Sookshma), that it cannot directly interact with any material object. It is beyond the reach of any physical endeavor involving money, rituals, altruism and glorification of persons or places of worship.
What changes one may expect in one's life, if he is partially successful in progressing on the so-called path of Self-realization??
If you regard yourself as a good-for-nothing, ordinary being, who takes pleasure only in gross physical cravings of flesh, your psyche will be the cesspool of evil tendencies like greed, desires for sensory pleasures, sex, flattery, etc. But once you become consciously aware of the immense potential of your Soul by virtue of its eternal relationship to the Supreme Being, you will instantly start manifesting the attributes of your Divine Parentage. Your behavior and temperament will undergo a sea change. A small child does not mind dirtying his clothes, but an intelligent adult hates to do so, and even if, in a contingency he is forced to do so, he feels very much embarrassed and ashamed. Likewise, when man becomes spiritually more evolved and aware, all the lowly animal tendencies like selfishness, greed, hatred, divisiveness, anger, violence, etc effortlessly fall away from his nature like dry leaves and he is bestowed with virtuous attributes of divine nature e.g. altruism, loving kindness, inter-connectedness, compassion, selfless service, etc - and these virtues continue growing with the progression of his spiritual evolution - just as a tadpole grows into a frog, it automatically sheds its tail.
How is mind different than brain. Are there any higher dimension to the faculty known as mind??
The three faculties of mind The Pravritta Manas In spiritual parlance, one faculty of mind is called 'Pravritta Manas'. This faculty of mind is undifferentiated between human beings and the less evolved species of the biological kingdom like birds and animals. It is also known as the secret mind - (Gupta Mun ) or sleeping mind (Supta Mun) - the Limbic brain or animal brain i.e. the autonomic nervous system in parlance of medical science. It controls the normal biological functions of the body and keeps it functioning. Though we are not conscious of it, the biological functions of our body keep going on involuntarily. Functions like digestion of food, blood circulation, extraction of juices at successive stages, formation of blood platelets, flesh, bones and bone - marrow, hormones; defecation-urination; inhalation exhalation; movements of eyelids, etc. take place without any conscious effort. The Pravritta Manas is also responsible for formation of habits. It takes some time in learning something, but once it is learnt, the Pravitta Manas does not discard it easily. The experiences of our ancestors and those which we had had in course of our evolution in our earlier births upto the present human birth, are all stored in this subconscious layer of the mind. Before assuming the human form, the Soul has been inhabiting in innumerable life forms of lower order, lacking developed Who am 'I' 57 intellectual capacity. It had acquired in this process of slow evolution, many animal traits like jealousy, animosity, aggressiveness, selfishness and anxiety. All such crude animal-like traits, which have not been consciously eliminated by strong self-efforts in earlier births, are accumulated in this faculty of mind. It is a unique museum having an assortment of antiques. A few amongst these instinctive urges are good, worthwhile and invaluable (such as faithfulness of the dog), whereas many others are perverse and frightening. Seeds of all impulses such as greed, violence, cruelty, rage, impatience, etc, which are common amongst savages and animals, are stored in this part of mind. The basic impulses of the two lower modes of nature - Tamas (inertia) and Rajas (kinesis) - such as ignorance, dullness, passivity -Tamasic - and self-seeking, inflated sense of egoism, sensual indulgence, greed, anger, etc - Rajasic - are all stored in seed form in Pravritta Manas - the unconscious / sub-conscious layers of mind. The Prabuddha Manas Besides the Pravritta Manas, there is yet another more evolved faculty, which could be appropriately called as 'Prabuddha Manas',the cortical brain or the intelligent mind. While attentively going through this booklet the reader is using this faculty of the mind. The attributes of this layer of mind are deliberating, analyzing, comparing, conceptualizing, logical thinking and decision-making. Quick-wittedness, sharp intellect, alertness, analysis of a Who am 'I' 58 situation, are all functions of this faculty of mind. However, it is to be remembered that neither the Pravritta Manas nor the Prabuddha Manas are Aham of man. With a little more consideration, it would be easy to differentiate these two from Aham. In this small tract, it is not possible to elucidate, in detail, the properties of the intellectual faculty of human mind. Those interested in this subject are advised to study the latest masterpieces on psychology.
For the time being it is sufficient to know that the Prabuddha Manas too is only a covering and not the Soul (Aham) proper.
The Adhyatm Manas
The third, most evolved faculty of mind, is called Adhyatm Manas - a distinctive faculty of a spiritually awakened person.
In a majority of people it remains dormant and inactive. It is assumed that this faculty has started awakening in the reader; otherwise he would not have taken interest in the subject of this treatise. This faculty of mind (Adhyatm Manas ) is regarded as the most evolved attribute of the mind. It is reflected as spiritual seeking, inspirations, receptivity to inner divine guidance, exceptional talents, etc. Noble urges and emotions originate in this very faculty of mind. Love, compassion, mercy, empathy, sense of justice, sensitivity to sufferings of others, adherence to basic values, benevolence, commitment, integrity, etc. are some of the attributes of this faculty of mind. In this faculty also germinate the seeds of unconditional Divine Love. The mysteries of nature, too, are revealed in this illumined layer of the mind. However, Remember! This faculty of mind, too, is only a resplendent garment of Aham. It is not Aham. Nevertheless, the experience of Aham, which we are endeavoring to point towards, can be had only through Adhyatm Manas.