While the objective of Vedas is to lead you to self knowledge, Humans have their own goals and are in constant pursuit of the same.
Human objectives can be broadly categorized as:
- Artha – Security in the form of Material, Relationship etc., All acts to protect your life in this world can be classified under this head.
- Kama – Satifaction of Sensual Pleasures. All acts feeding to the five senses can be classified under this head.
- Dharma – Desire to protect the life beyond this world. All acts to improve life in the other world can be classified under this head.
In order to meet their objective they take either of the routes:
- Privirthi Marga – To attain something. Ex: Going to work, earning money, watching a movie etc.,
- Nivirthi Marga – To get rid of something. Ex: Going to a doctor, consuming medicines etc to get rid of a disease.
By all these deeds, human hope to get the desired happiness. They would continue their pursuit till they get:
- Sukam – The happiness they desired.
- Nithya Sukam – Make the happiness Permanent. One feeling that watching TV is happiness would like to own a TV so that they can watch it always.
- Nirathisaya Sukam – Attain that level of happiness, which cannot be further improved. With the same example, one with a ordinary TV would like to improve it to a LCD TV, then to a 3D TV etc.,
In the process they encounter new challenges and set new objectives, thereby getting into a vicious cycle of human pursuit. We aim to attain happiness from the external world. Change being the nature of the worldly things, cannot give you a permanent or constant happiness. They bring sorrow as they get destroyed.
A constant happiness can only come from a source that is permanent, which is the consciousness. One who has realized this and is self dependent is called a Jeevan Muktha.
Science is working constantly to improve the quality of life and feed the human desires. Self knowledge is to work on the source of the desires thereby freeing one from the dependence of external factors for gaining the happiness.
Science and Self Knowledge
Both science and philosophy have developed to satisfy the quest of the human race for the knowledge. However they both deal with different aspects of the human quest. We need to compare the two and understand their respective domains.
Science explores the external world to answer the human quest, whereas philosophy implores oneself. One of the definitions of the Science is “Systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation”. Self knowledge is not about the world around you but the world inside you. May be a comparable definition of Self Knowledge could be “Experience of consciousness by observation and imploration of oneself”.
Every invention creates new avenues and attempts to provide new solutions to the problems experienced. Self knowledge is about resolving the experiencer. Non existence of an experiencer will lead to non experiencing of the problem. Science provides symptomatic relief to the problems while self knowledge reaches to the source of the problem, the experiencer.
Every theory or invention is true and valid till it is disproved by another theory or invention. Whereas self knowledge is about that changeless principle which is a matter of constant experience (at present).
Science is driven by the explorers, Self knowledge explores who the explorer is? Scientific inventions are with reference to the seeker/ inventor, whereas self knowledge is about resolving the identity of the seeker. The ‘Athma’ (Consciousness) glows by itself when the ‘Ahamkara’ (Ego) is resolved.
Science attempts to prove its theories with the five senses. Science doesn’t deal with aspects that are not perceptible to the senses either directly or indirectly. Self knowledge is about that consciousness which is beyond the five senses. Science deals with the realm of perception, while Self knowledge is in the realm of experience.
Science is understood with the intellect whereas self knowledge is an experience. Self knowledge cannot be attained by understanding intellectually. It is attained only by experiencing one’s own existence. No one needs the help of sense organs to be aware of their existence. We need our eyes to see and understand the existence of others around us, but we are aware of our own existence even in the dark. Self knowledge is about bringing this awareness to experience.
Science deals with gross universe. Self knowledge is about the consciousness which is subtler than the subtlest element. The grossest element, Solids dissolve in subtler liquids, liquids evaporate and mix in air, air disperses in wind, and wind resolves in the space. Science deals with all these elements. The entire space and time resolve in mind. The mind has the capacity to create and resolve everything in the universe including space and time. This is experienced in the dream state. A dreamer with his mind creates whole universe including themselves, which resolves back into their mind when they get out of the dream. The space in which the entire creation exists and the time period over which the events happen are all created by the mind.
However, Consciousness is beyond the mind and intellect, which always exist even in the absence of the mind and intellect – say deep sleep state. It is that consciousness that emerges through the senses and mind to manifest itself as the universe we experience. From this stand point, Consciousness is the source of entire creation.
When the experiencer resolves in the consciousness, the experience and the experienced also resolve leaving only the pure consciousness behind.
In the next Article let us discuss the need for Self Knowledge and the path to Realisation.