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This is the final video of a 3-part series called “Finding Myself” – The fundamentals of enlightenment.
In the attempt to come to know who I really am (self-realization), it is necessary to answer three questions: 1) What is my essence? 2) What is my position? – meaning where do I fit in the big picture, and 3) What is my natural function?
Everyone wonders if they have some higher purpose. The answer is yes and the quest to discover it takes us on an amazing journey. A significant part of our seeking self-realization, is to find an answer to the question “what is the natural and eternal function of the soul itself?”
The answer is tied to the need we all have to both love and to be loved. This need arises from our deeper self and is a spiritual need. It cannot be completely and unlimitedly fulfilled through the material world or material relationships. It is after all completely spiritual.
The awakening of spiritual love is our higher purpose and is the ultimate spiritual experience.
Namaste, and welcome back to the third part in the series, Finding Myself.
So just as a recap, in order to discover the truth of or the complete truth to who I am, it was necessary for me to discover my actual essence, meaning my true substance or constitution.
Second is my position. Where do I fit in the big picture in relation to this world in which I live, to all of the living beings?
And the third is to come to know my natural function, which of course also reveals my actual purpose. So that’s what we’ll be dealing with today.
So what we’ve come to understand—and I’ll just refer a little bit to my notes here—in terms of my essence, the briefest description is I am spirit; aham bramsmi, that I am not this body nor do I die when the body dies. I am an eternal spiritual being, an eternal spiritual spark of God. I am not an impersonal force or energy. I am in fact a spiritual person. The idea that I am an impersonal energy is an incomplete understanding. The Sanskrit term for this is purusa; the living being, the atma, the self, is a purusa, or person. Therefore my personhood is not defined or determined by my body. It doesn’t arise from my body. It is part of my essence as a purusha or a person.
So then we learned in the—or discovered, in the second part of the series, in relation to my position, that I am dominated, and a part and parcel of the Supreme Soul. And this is actually a really important thing to learn. So in the embodied state I tend to be dominated by my material body and my mind. That’s—they are my master, they are—the desires, the thoughts, everything that’s going on there, tends to pull me around everywhere. But in reality, they should not be my masters. I should be the master of the body and of the mind.
In relation to the world, I should not try to lay claim to, or claim ownership or proprietorship over this world. It was here before I showed up in this particular life, and it will be here long after I have left. Although I, as a spiritual being, I am a superior energy to the material energy, yet there is this extraordinary reality that when I am in contact with the material energy I become dominated by it. I become forced to follow the laws of nature. I am likewise forced to obey social laws and norms. In relation to all other living beings, known as jiva atma, they are my brothers and sisters. I should not seek to control, to own, to exploit or to dominate them.
Then we discovered that amongst all living beings, there is one living being that is unique and different or supreme to all the others. I will always be subservient and dependent upon that Supreme Being or the Supreme Soul.
In the yoga systems there are different schools of yoga and different types of yoga philosophies and practices, and amongst them there was the system of sankhya yoga, and sankhya yoga was a thoughtful examination of the difference between matter and spirit. By engaging in quite profound analysis, they would try to discover what actually is spirit and what is its nature. And so, in that school of practice and thought, there were things that they would come to discover, and we also, without putting much effort into it, really, can come to discover some of these fundamental principles.
The first is that I really seek to be free from death. I fight for life. I fight for survival. All living beings manifest this, and it’s because the nature of the soul itself is that I am eternal. But when I become embodied, I tend to look at the body as the self, and the body will undergo death. The living being does not; and the idea that I die runs counter to my deeper spiritual nature.
Another thing is that all living beings, we desire happiness. That is because my eternal nature is to exist in a state of perpetual blissfulness. Another characteristic that we can see with all living beings is this powerful desire to both love and to be loved. This is part—actually it arises not from the body or the mind, because it is part of my eternal spiritual nature.
And then the last thing that I wanted to bring up (although there are others), I actually derive joy from voluntarily rendering service or showing kindness or mercy to others. And that is because it is inherently part of my natural and eternal function as a spiritual being. So, if we look amongst all the powerful forces, that sort of direct our life, love is perhaps the strongest of these forces, the desire, as I said, to both love and to be loved.
When we look at examples of this, either in our own life, although sometimes we can be a little bit more honest perhaps by observing others. And you have endless examples on the internet of videos, for example of, you see parents, a father perhaps, and who’s been away for an extended period and returns to home again to see his children. And there’s all kinds of videos like this on the net. And it’s, you see this incredible—when the father suddenly shows up unannounced, the reaction from the children, and how they feel, and the expressions as they rush to tightly embrace him, and the expression of the father as well.
Another example is, and you’ve got all of these videos around, of somebody proposing marriage to another person. And when you see the reaction of the person who is invited to become a life partner of the person proposing, you see that overwhelming, not just delight, but there is a profound experience of, and hope, that this is what I’ve been waiting for. This is what I’ve been wanting. This is what I’ve been longing for.
I think in terms of friendship, numerous examples, but I can remember one of two little kids, just toddlers, they were out, both of them were out on the street with their parents, and they see each other. One was a white boy, and one was a black boy, and they see each other, and they let out a shriek and run towards each other with this overwhelming joyfulness on their face, and rush up to a really intense embrace and delight.
So these examples abound. Even with pets, with animals, people can manifest profound sense of affection for a pet. And you see it even in situations of somebody that may be homeless, and they have a pet, and they’re manifesting so much affection and love for this other living entity.
So there are different varieties and flavours of love, and this is spoken about in the Vedas but they fit under this one umbrella.
If we ask the question, “So what is love? How do we define love?” Well, in turning to standard dictionary definitions, one of them is that love is, “an intense feeling of deep affection.” Another is, “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person.” And the final one that I’ll use, “the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship.”
So okay, we can embrace all of these definitions as a way to sort of make it so that we’re speaking clearly about the same thing. But before we go any further I just want to point out that in all these examples and all these definitions, they always involve relationship. Unfortunately, people throw the word of love around like loving an object. “I really love my car,” or something, and that means something different. When we talk about love we’re talking about relationship. The word is also used in relation to this idea of self-love. And we strongly push back on this idea that you can actually love yourself. That’s not what we define or understand from the Vedas as love. Love always involves relationship.
So why do we have this desire? Well, we fundamentally have this desire because it is part of our spiritual nature to exist and to experience this condition where one soul is bound to another, heart to heart, if we can put it that way. And that desire is very strong, and it’s really motivating people in so many different ways.
But if we are to be completely honest, when we look at our own experience and people that we may intimately know, we look at our experience of love, generally the experience will be less than what we actually desire within our heart of hearts. And we see this in people’s attraction to novels or movies that have a really heavy love plot to it, or story, how people really are drawn to this higher ideal of a perfect love.
And the reason that we are drawn to this idea or this ideal is because it really is part of our eternal spiritual nature, this ideal of love that poets have written poems about. Rockers—I mean you might remember the rock anthem, “I want to know what love is, I want you to show me.” There are so many, so many songs and things written about this condition of love, this ideal that we actually seek.
When I was speaking about this once, somebody brought my attention to a movie that was came out about 2015, I think it was. The son of Clint Eastwood was starring in it. I think it was called The Longest Ride. It was basically a love story, and I’m not going to go into any of the detail of it now, apart from the fact that it involved an older man that was in a car accident, and a young couple found the wreck and arranged for him to be brought to hospital. The woman discovered in the car a box with all of these love letters in them and decided to—they were too valuable to leave in the car—and brought them later to the hospital to return to the guy. And in the process of their becoming connected and everything she went through this process of reading these letters to him, and of course it was—dealt with his earlier life returning from the war with a serious injury, that left him so he could not have children. And when he revealed this to the woman that he loved, and she loved him very dearly, she agreed to marry him in spite of that fact.
But during the course of the relationship her desire to experience what it is to have her own family, children, and to experience the nature of that love of mother with child was so strong that she felt she could not really remain in the marriage. And after some discussion and things the guy declared that his love for her was so great that he could not tolerate to see her in such unhappiness, and agreed to allow her to leave the marriage if that would make her happy. And of course, she went through the process of beginning to leave, and then had this realization that, “Oh my God, he—the love that he has for me is so pure and it is so wonderful, I’m not going to find it anywhere else,” and of course returned to him.
So that ideal of love, that perfect love, is something that is idealized and is longed for by everyone, and it’s because it is intimately connected with our eternal spiritual nature.
So the other thing that we would like to just raise, is this characteristic that we all have and it’s connected with offering service to others, that being able to serve others, particularly when we feel affection or pity, or out of a sense of mercy, in rendering service to others, it’s both powerful and life transforming experience, that can actually give a person a very deep experience of happiness. And this can come even from very simple acts of kindness, when somebody does something kind for others. And of course we can give unlimited examples of that. But I’ll leave that to you to consider in your life.
I have met before people who as parents, bring their children out, maybe once a month or so, or less, to go out onto what I would call mercy missions, where they bring their kids into situations where they extend help to others who are more in need; and sometimes it’s going to homeless shelters, or kitchens where they feed people, and they—their kids come in and have that experience of what it is to show kindness, to show some service and help for others.
So this broad experience of humanitarianism is actually very profound, and anybody that does it they will find that their life becomes more deeply enriched, that they experience a type of powerful, it’s not a bubbling over of happiness, but this very deep sense of happiness and fulfillment in being able to do something like that.
I think in the last century, one of the most well-known examples of this humanitarianism, where one is driven to try and relieve the suffering of others, is probably Mother Theresa of Calcutta, and how she went there as a young nun, a Catholic nun and engaged in service to the poorest of the poor, people that were very diseased in the slum areas, living in the streets. And she would go out with her companions, and they would find people and bring them back to this shelter, and personally bathe them, even when they were covered with leprosy, or in a very diseased condition, and feed them and clothe them and take care of them.
So there is something very noble and when you actually see it, or if you are part of it, you find it is extremely moving, and very fulfilling. And again it’s because it’s tied to part of who we actually are, part of our eternal spiritual nature.
And I think even within our own experiences helping someone across the street, seeing somebody fall off a bicycle, a kid and rushing over to help them,“Are you okay? Can I help you with that?” just opening a door for somebody, these are all examples.
The internet, of course, you have all of these examples. If you do a little search on it you pull up some really amazing things. One that I remember was a guy that was homeless, sleeping on the street. He had a little backpack that he was using as a pillow. He was stretched out on a public bench and sleeping there and some guy that he does these Youtube videos on kindness, he comes up and he slips a hundred dollars into the backpack, and so it’s a little bit visible, and then sneaks off. And when the guy wakes up and sees the money. He’s shocked, and he’s overwhelmed and very happy; and he goes off to a department store and buys a couple of bags of things and brings it back to sit down.
Then the guy that was making the video, he walks nearby and stands near the bench. And he’s talking on his cell phone, and it’s like he’s going through this act of begging someone to help him with money for his daughter, he needs to buy some medicine and he doesn’t have any money right now, and the person on the other end of the phone apparently turns him down, they didn’t have money at that time. And the guy thanked them very much, and he sat down.
And so this older guy was—the homeless man was watching, and then he asked, “What’s wrong?” and the guy reveals to him what the story was. Then he asked—the older man asked, “Well you’re going to be here for a little while?” and the guy goes, “Yeah.” He said, “Can you just watch my backpack for me. I’ll be back in just a few minutes.” And he picks up these two bags that he had brought from the department store, walks off down the road. He goes in, returns the items, gets the money back, and comes and gives the hundred dollars to this guy.
And the guy was just kind of mind-blown. And he’s got quite a few videos of doing this kind of thing. But the idea that someone that was in grave need would give up their momentary good fortune of this money in order to help somebody out that was in need is, it’s very moving when you see this.
And the guy explains, the guy making the video explains that, “Actually I was, we’re doing a video on this, and I’m just overwhelmed by the fact that you would be so selfless and do something like this.” And he asked what he had bought, and he had bought a sleeping bag and a pillow and some food items but had gone and returned it. And the guy, in his great thankfulness to this man for showing such kindness, he gave him five hundred dollars. And that guy’s now all overwhelmed and weeping a little bit at the kindness that he’s received.
And these feel good, and they are feel-good videos. They touch something in us; and it’s very deeply connected with these—both of these things we’re talking about; about love or affection and also the selfless service. This selflessness, it can be manifest or service—I mean it’s, we more regularly do it just within families, where you get parents who are delighted and filled with joy just to help a little child, their child to have an experience at the beach, walking them out into the water with waves lapping around them and watching the child’s reaction. But just that, going through that, making that effort to assist and to show them this kindness—and it’s natural within families, and it’s considered more unusual when it extends, particularly, to those that we don’t know. People often refer to the relationship that they have with their pets, that my pet loves me selflessly. This is actually a wonderful observation.
The serving—serving others and loving others, they are, it’s a deep and essential part of our real spiritual nature, and one thing that it does is run counter to the tendency towards selfishness. It is an expression of something that is just the opposite. In our life, and in the world, much of what is wrong is driven by selfishness, and much of what is right is driven by the tendency to do something that is more selfless.
This selflessness sometimes can be manifest even in very extreme ways where you have somebody willing to sacrifice their own life for a family member or for a friend. And of course I always think of these stories of people in the military, in a war situation where you’ve got people like brothers together in a foxhole or a house, and somebody lobs a hand grenade into their the room where they are, or the foxhole, and somebody makes an instant decision, a split-second decision, to dive on that, and they will give up their own life in order to save the lives of their friends, and so that their families don’t suffer this great sadness.
And the idea that somebody would do this is so extraordinary, because our own desire for self-preservation is so powerful. We will fight, we will do whatever we need to do to preserve the body, with this thought of that being the self and of self-preservation. So the willingness of someone to be so selfless that they can even offer up that which is most dear to them, their own life, is very quite extraordinary, and it deeply moves everybody that has ever been exposed to something like that.
These extreme manifestations, I guess, of great love and courage are really captured in a very famous, but probably hardly known now, biblical verse, where it says, “A greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” So it’s described there as no greater form of love.
So in relation to this tendency, this deep spiritual characteristic to seek love and to express, to love others, and to be loved, and to offer service, it being part of our eternal spiritual nature. It has been wonderfully captured in some ancient Vedic verses that were spoken by the great Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and I will just read them out for you:
“One who has taken his birth as a human being… should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all people.”
So there are these two instructions that He is giving, one is to make your own life successful, and the second is to work for the benefit of all other people. And of course, the definition that he gives for making one’s life successful means to walk on the path of self-realization and God realization, which he describes as being the actual purpose of human life, to engage in those activities and make that the underpinning, or the core thing that you are doing. It doesn’t mean that one does not then engage in working in society and all these things. No. One needs to live a life; but this needs to be the driving force, the actual purpose in one’s life, to seek this.
So continuing: “It is the duty…” (and now this is an explaining working for the benefit of others)
“It is the duty of every living being to perform welfare activities for the benefit of others, with his life, wealth, intelligence and words.
By his work, thoughts and words an intelligent person must perform actions which will be beneficial for all living entities in this life and in the next.”
So these beautiful and amazing instructions that are meant to be the compass for our life, that which directs our life, and it speaks to—in relation to doing good and offering service to others, that not only should we be seeking to help people in this life, but we should be deeply concerned about their eternal spiritual benefit, and so one engages in service both to help a person in this particular life, but for their for their long-term spiritual benefit as well.
This rendering of service to others, and loving others, can be fulfilling and can be satisfying, but I think everybody would agree, if you think of it, that it is not unlimitedly satisfying, that there will be more that we could desire, or more that we could seek—and there is a reason for this. If you remember, when we did the second part in the series we talked about the Supreme Soul, referenced in the Vedas as Isvara or Bhagavan, and He was described in the ancient texts as being the chief eternal amongst all eternals, the chief conscious being amongst all conscious beings.
So in—and I mentioned that in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, while all living beings are described as—with this term purusha, a person, he said there is one Purusa amongst all purusas, one person amongst all persons, who is uniquely different, and this—he gave the term Isvara to this entity. So the reason that we will not be unlimitedly satisfied or fulfilled in our love and relationship and service with others is because we have this deep and eternal connection with this Isvara, or Bhagavan, with the Supreme Soul.
There is a beautiful Vedic verse that states,
“The spirit-soul or jiva is eternal and is, for eternity and without a beginning, joined to the Supreme Soul by the tie of an eternal kinship.”
So the origin of our desire for love, the origin of our tendency to find joy in serving others, arises from this original spiritual connection, this original profound state that the living being is meant to eternally exist in.
So I’ll read another verse about this nature of this eternal love,
“Pure love for the lord is eternally established in the hearts of the living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by the hearing and chanting of transcendental sounds, this love naturally awakens.”
So this is a revelation of a very—the most elevated form of spiritual experience and realization, self-realization and God realization. The highest and most ecstatic spiritual experience is when one again reconnects and experiences this state of transcendental, or spiritual, love. It is this condition that we are all desiring, and this is why we find our experiences not unlimitedly fulfilling. We are always seeking something higher, something more perfect, and it is this that we are actually craving.
This message is consistent with almost all the teachings of the great spiritual teachers since the most ancient of times; and I will just make one reference of many that I could draw from, but it is in relation to what was taught by Lord Jesus Christ. He states:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.”
So it is, as I’ve mentioned in other places, unfortunate that many people that say they are followers of Jesus Christ are unfamiliar with what this actually means, and why it was put forward as the greatest and most important commandment—because it is part—this is the deepest part of our eternal spiritual nature; and to experience this condition of perfect love where one’s entire heart, mind, being, everything is given in this union of divine love. There is no greater spiritual experience or realization than this. The actual purpose of human life is to regain this lost position and to be eternally immersed once again in this great and limitless ocean of love.
There’s a very beautiful short statement made by a Christian saint and philosopher. His name was Augustine over a thousand eight hundred years ago—which for me is beautiful and amazing, and actually encapsulates the essence of what the Vedas are teaching, and he says,
“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance;
To seek him is the greatest adventure;
To find him the greatest human achievement.”
So in concluding this series on finding myself, the Vedas, and countless great spiritual teachers, sages and saints, since time immemorial have answered the question of, “Who am I? Who am I and what is my purpose?” in the following points, and then to summarize:
My essence—I am spirit or brahman. “I” am not this body. “I” do not die when the body dies. “I” the person living temporarily within this body am an eternal spiritual being, an eternal spark of God.
Then in relation to my position I am a dominated part and parcel of the Supreme Soul. My material body and mind are not me and should not be my masters. I should be the lord and master of my body and mind. I should not lay claim to this world as a proprietor, as being an owner. And, although superior to the material energy, I am forced to obey the laws of nature.
All living beings, the jiva atmas, are my brothers and sisters. I am not their lord or master and should not seek to dominate or to exploit them. Amongst all living beings there is one who is Supreme. I am not, nor can I ever become, the Supreme Soul or Supreme Being. I am always—or—I will always be subservient to Him.
And then in relation to my natural function: it is to love and to serve the Supreme Soul and all of his children. The need for love is a spiritual need. To serve those whom I love is natural and fulfilling. The highest experience of love is to love the Supreme Soul.
So this, in summary, answers the question of, “Who am I?” If I want to seek my real spiritual being and who I am, this answers those questions.
Some of the ideas that I’ve presented in the series kind of, go against the grain I guess is the best way to put it, if we have adopted the philosophies of materialism and atheism. But that is only because—it seems to go against the grain only because of a form of material conditioning that we have taken on.
So I really ask you to consider the truths—these are truths that I’ve presented here in the series—and to do it with an inquiring and unbiased mind; and then to actually embark upon an experiment, to put to the test these truths through serious inquiry and the development of a meditation habit that will be transformative and actually utterly enlightening.
So the foundation of this meditation habit, or this meditation practice, is to become deeply immersed in the all-purifying and all-powerful transcendental sounds that have been—or spiritual sounds, that have been handed down to us since time a memorial by an unbroken lineage of great transcendentalists.
In closing what I would like to invite you to do is to listen attentively and then to chant along with one of my spiritual teachers, Srila Siddhaswarupananda, to this great spiritual chant, also called the maha mantra or the Hare Krishna mantra. Thank you very much.