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Chapter XXIV

The awareness of one being only the witness of everything, is the secret of self-realisation. Self-realisation is either the knowledge that "I am the truth of Me" or "I have known Myself" or "All are one Atma," or "I have experienced that the individual and the universal are not distinct". This is what every person has to discover for himself; mere asceticism without this is sheer waste of time and energy. Man is not a mere animal. He has in him the spark of the divine and he should not allow it to be extinguished.

Why, even when the senses operate, they are prompted by the presence of Atma. When the sun rises, birds take to wing, flowers bloom, the human community starts its varied activities. The sun does not directly engage in any of these; it is the prompter, that is all. The sun is not the cause; He is just the activator, the witness, the onlooker. He is above and beyond all this. He is not bound or based on man or beast or bird or flower.

Birds fly in the sky but they do not leave any trace behind of their path of flight. So too, however many sensory impressions fly through the inner sky of the heart, no impression should be left thereon. The heart is not affected by their flying through.

But man sees only the superstructure, not the basis. In the garland, no one observes the string that keeps the flowers together, the existence of the string can be known only by investigation and inquiry. The basis is the string; the flowers depend upon it and hang together on account of it, as a garland.

To understand this better, take another instance. Pots, pans, plates and pails are all made of clay; but though there is clay in all these, clay is only clay. It is not pot, pan, plate or pail. So too in the Atma, which is the basis, there are no Gunas (or characteristics) like pot, pan, plate, or pail; but the Atma exists in the Gunas as Gunaswarupa. It is the Atma which is mistaken for the Gunas, because it is conceived as limited and as with name and form. The Atma is the only reality that persists through all names and forms, like the clay which is the only substance in all the pots and pans. By this kind of inquiry, the conviction that the basis and the substance of everything is Atma or Kshethrajna or Parabrahmam gets strengthened.