What is Enlightenment?

The following is an excerpt of the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Radhikaji from her forthcoming book to be published in 2017. Chapter 5 Verses 6-13 are covered in this article.

Verses 6: All paths lead to the Highest

In this verse the Bhagavad Gita uses the term sannyasa in the sense of renunciation of physical objects (tyaga). A householder may also practice tyaga to a certain extent, as tapas (sacrifice).

There are those who renounce external objects (tyaga) but do not have a yoga sadhana. This approach may be more at an intellectual or based on a Vedic lifestyle without meditation. What is however of paramount important is sadhana. A meditator whether a householder or renunciate will attain without delay. Thus it is sadhana or method of meditation practice that is the criterion for attainment. 

Verses 7: Connecting to the Universal Self

One having conquered his senses and completely purified becomes the Self of all beings. When you identify with the Universe Self, you are one with all beings.

Some say, “I want to find the path that leads beyond suffering,” another says, “I want that which makes me feel fulfilled and connected.” We describe it in different ways. Some of you have described it as, “I feel incomplete, I want to feel complete.” These are different ways of saying the same. What we are looking for, without even knowing it, is to become One with the with Paramatman, the Universal Self.

We all feel lonely or separate from our fellow humans. This is our human existence and we are all striving to go beyond this feeling of limitation and feel connected with all of life. What you really want is an experience that higher Self.  Some people say, “Only a few great people can attain this. I cannot.” May be, but contemplate on this idea: All these great people were once just normal people. Valmiki, author of the Ramayana was even a thief, murderer and bandit and he still became a great sage. There are many such stories from different traditions of the world.

Verses 8-9: What is Enlightenment?

Who is aware of the reality even while sleeping? This verse is describing the state of a Witness. It is called Sakshi Bhava or Sakshatkara. One who has attained Sakshi Bhava is Self-realized. His identification is with the Self of all beings, the Universal Self. He is not defiled by anything, because he is not really a part of this world any more; he is a Witness. Can you honestly say that you know the reality even in sleep? Perhaps you had a spontaneous mystical experience. A spontaneous mystical  experience means having a direct experience of non-duality. This experience is such, that even a few minutes of it will transform your life so completely, that you will be a different person altogether. You will start looking at the world in a completely completely different manner and most people will generally not understand what happened to you. The mind is made up of the same components and if you analyze it, there is manas, ahamkara, buddhi and chitta. You could be Indian, Chinese or American. You could be from anywhere, but there is manas, buddhi, chitta, ahamkara. What is in your chitta could be different, because you are a different person. How your identities are set up might be completely different from your own family members. The Antahkarana or inner instrument of manas, buddhi, ahamkara and chitta manifest in different forms, but the essence remains the same, therefore deep spiritual experiences have some common grounds. For instance, you would experience a deep inner connection with everyone. It is not an intellectual idea, it is an experience. You feel you have somehow expanded and become the universe. It is not a delusion or an inflated ego, it is a direct experience. The most profound spiritual experiences are universal in nature, across all religions, genders, nationalities.

Everyone else is trying to hypnotize themselves into believing that they are not the body, that they are Pure Consciousness or Atman. A person who keeps saying, “I am Pure Consciousness, I am Atman, I'm not the doer, I am not the body”  deludes himself that he has somehow attained something. He starts neglecting the body because the body is “just matter”. Such a person does whatever he wants to do and then says, “I didn’t do it, that was the mind,”  taking no responsibilities for his own actions or her actions. There is a subtle difference between pretending that you are a Witness and observing all and actually experiencing it as a Witness. 

The Bhagavad-Gita calls these pretenders Mithyacharis. They are pretending that they have attained and they say: “I do not get angry, I have no desires”. What they are doing is merely suppressing their anger and desires. Parroting, “I am not the doer, I am Pure Consciousness” can be completely counter-productive, even dangerous, because you are going backwards, further away from the reality.

It is important to understand that these two verses are not instructions, telling you how to behave. These verses are a description of a state that we can aspire to attain. Unfortunately these verses, have been misinterpreted very often.

Verses 10-12: The Lotus Leaf

The lotus leaf has very special qualities, it is ultra hydrophobic. Ultra means high, hydro is water and phobic is aversion to. This means the Lotus leaf has qualities that repel water. The leaves are almost circular and if water splashes on them, the water breaks up in to little droplets and drips off the leaves. This is called the Lotus effect. Some of you may know this effect from car washes, it is called Lotus carwash. When you take your car through lotus-carwash then the water and dirt that comes on your car just drips off. 

The lotus leaf is a symbol. It is in the water and yet it is not besmirched by the water. The muddy waters of the world do not besmirch the one who witnesses, he still remains pure within. With his body or with his mind and senses he can perform actions, but without attachment. 

Some of us have a hobby and we just do it because we love it. Some people love gardening. Others love walking, they can long walks because they enjoy it. The person who is enjoying the actions without expecting is living in the present, he is not bound by the actions. Imagine doing everything in life like it were your hobby! That's the kind of spirit we are talking about. That would be meditation in action. Try to cultivate this Bhava or this spirit into your life, while at the same time purifying yourself through systematic and daily meditation.

Verse 13: City of 9 Gates

The body is considered to be the city with nine gates. What are these nine gates or Nava dvara?  The nine gates have been mentioned in older texts as well, like in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (3.18) and in tantric texts such as the Tripura Rahasya. The nine gates are the two ears, the two eyes, the two nostrils, the mouth, the anus and the genitals. It is the body that is the city of nine gates. 

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