Earlier, Sri Adi Sankaracharya pointed out in the Vivekachoodamani that even a drop of “I am the body” feeling is like a poison that has disastrous consequences for those who are working their way towards freedom. Now he gives a word of caution once the ego is conquered.
In about nine verses he gives a clarion call to give up actions, thoughts and gathering experiential impressions as they succeed in maintaining the illusion we call the world.
Once the enemy, called I, is controlled, go ahead and completely discard the identification with the body, which is nothing but a mental projection. Do not give even a little bit of space by ruminating on the objects of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling by going after them.
Focusing on this thought, the master says this repeated contemplation gives life to those thoughts. Why so? One can continue to desire for something only as long as there is identification with the body. Only in reference to the body do we have desires such as, “I want to taste that,” “I want to see this,” “I want to experience this feeling.” Devoid of this identification, how is it possible to wish and desire?
Showing the path to practice this, the teacher says a mind that is focused on seeking people, objects and situations all the time to get the feeling of completeness is the one that creates the distinction of what is mine and what is not mine. This harsh line of duality is the cause that keeps us bound to this wheel of change from birth to death and back to birth endlessly.
How does this seed of transmigration grow? It is by completing our thoughts and desires with actions. When the energy of thoughts and feelings is employed in action, it is fulfilled and does not simply go away. It lays the foundation for more thoughts, more intense desires and stronger actions. This expenditure of energy goes on relentlessly unto death. There is no time for contemplation and knowing so that we may stop the progress and reverse the flow of thought and action.
What is the way out then? Give up involvement with action to achieve all that we desire. Stop actions that are prompted by personal desires. Continue to do what we have committed ourselves to do, offering the action to the Supreme and not to serve our own ends.
The example the Acharya points out is the dry lime tree. You just have to pour water and the tree emerges fresh and green. In the same way, the dried tree of our desires is very much present. When we pour the waters of attention, they come back fresh and alive, blocking the path to freedom.Stop paying attention to thoughts, words and feelings and the withdrawal happens with ease.
The writer is Sevika, Chinmaya Mission, Coimbatore (www.chinmayamission.com); email: firstname.lastname@example.org