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Recognising Impermanence

Deccan Herald - Friday, August 1, 2008 (page 6 Oasis)

Recognizing Impermanence in our lives can help us to be less attached and sow actions of service and kindness without expecting material rewards.

In an ever expanding universe where time has no beginning or an end, which we can possibly see or even perceive, the words: ‘millennium’, ‘century’ or even a ‘single year’ is a miniscule and very insignificant in a larger perspective. The ticking of the clock takes us into passage of time, reminding us (unpleasantly?) of death and our impermanence in this world.

Yet, man is deceived into believing that he is here forever; even while people around him are dying. This, an effect of ‘Maya’, a fact that Yudishitra in Mahabharatha thought it to be most astonishing delusion found in man. Shri Sathya Sai Baba in his discourses has stressed on disciplining ourselves by putting a ‘ceiling on desires’ and reduce self indulgence. If not, desires will engulf us into greed. Misdeeds will be performed to maintain that greediness in the hope of keeping ourselves ‘happy’. Happiness derived out of this is not permanent.

Everything in the world is comparative and spread over a period of time changes. Cultures, environment, people, ideas, concepts, morals ethics are all subject to change in the changing world. There is really nothing ‘permanent’, all events are spread on a mosaic of Impermanence.
The doctrine of Impermanence points out that in life, which is entangled in process of birth, aging, and death; people don’t recognize the impermanence because of attachment. While attachment is necessary to carry one in mundane matters of life, a stronger detachment must reside inside knowing that attachment only brings grief or ‘dukkha.’ Though attachment without expecting benefits is desirable, it may seldom be found. A person who possesses material wealth is presumed to be happy; but happiness derived on this account is superficial and impermanent.

Shri Sathya Sai Baba says, “Happiness is not the property of any particular individual; all are entitled to it, and everyone has the right to enjoy it. To receive your share, you must sanctify your life by serving society, using the gifts God has endowed you with.” Thereby, being less selfish and He continues, “Only when people shed their selfishness can they turn their mind towards God. The love of God will dispel the ignorance and conceit of man as the sun dispels the morning mist. The heart is the seat of love. That love must express itself, to begin with, in the home. From there, it must extend to one’s village or town, to one’s state, nation and ultimately to the whole world.”

Recognizing Impermanence in our lives can help us to be less attached and sow actions of service and kindness without expecting material rewards. 

Self-Actualization and Self-Realization

Deccan Herald, Oasis - 29th May, 2013

While both are ‘Self’ oriented, there is a big difference in approach to Self-Actualization and Self-Realization.  One could erroneously mistake one for the other and they may have diametrically opposite conclusions. Self-Actualization is a result orienting process.  One can try to achieve a higher known potential, to an expected goal. Motivation, self- development, ambition and ‘desire to be’ play a vital role. It is like planting a seed that can grow to its expectations and beyond.

Self-Actualization is derived from a Western philosophical concept, starting from organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein (1939), and later by Carl Rogers.  The full and final essence was given by Abraham Maslow (1950).   He brought out more fully the need of hierarchy to a level where a person is actualized to his full potential.  In his article, ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’ Maslow explicitly defines self-actualization to be "the desire for self-fulfillment’.  Motivational and self-development methods help the individual.

The levels go through basic physiological needs, safety factors, social and esteem needs, before becoming self-actualized. One may be wedged at any point, but the desire to go to the next level is always there.  Individuals want more security, esteem needs, personal identification, need for prestige etc. There is a constant need to grow bigger, better and bolder which seem to be quite endless.  Where ever the goal is set, one must actualize it. “Sankalpa Siddi’, ambition and hard work are necessary.  Actualization stops where your mind stops.  You will be able to achieve your end where the goal of your mind is set. The highest dimensions of your dreams of what you perceive stops at that point.

 Self-Realization is an Indian concept, and comes out from Vedic times (1500 BC), and the gist of it are important, relevant and precise matters mentioned are in the Upanishads.

The plethora of Rishi’s; men and women, who could separate the physical self, looked deeply at their soul as Atman; then unifying it with the ultimate reality; –Brahman- IS referred to Atma Jnana. This expression goes BEYOND the ‘MIND’ and thoughts. It is to understand the mind itself.  Self-realized people are not dream oriented; they are humble, unconditional and looking at beyond ‘life and death’.  Getting to the answer of ‘Who am I?’, and are fully self-aware.

Essentially the duality is supposed to go and one sees the truth in the reality of Mahavakyas
'Aham Brahma Asmi' (I am Brahman) - Yajur Veda- Brahadarankya Upanishad. ‘Tat tvam asi’ - Sama Veda Chandogya Upanishad and similar ones.

It is very important to note that there is a great difference between the terms Self-Actualization and Self-Realization, with the former having to do with higher levels of fulfilment at the personality level, while still in relation to worldliness.

Self-Realization has to do with that knowing of pure consciousness. Atma Jnana is a door for Liberation. Jnana is very closely related to knowledge of Brahman.




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