Having reached a point where the experience of Brahman is happening, it is very important to stay alert. Sri Adi Sankaracharya explains in the Vivekachoodamani how, when the experienced world of objects, emotions and thoughts begin to vanish even as one is meditating on the mass of blissful consciousness, it is important to pass one’s time with alertness as some lurking desire can topple the whole game.
Why does the master give this warning? One who is seeking to be established in the Brahman should never give way to laxity in the practices that lead to that. Pramada or a lack of interest in the means to reach the goal means death, says Sanat Kumara in the Mahabharata—“Lack of interest is verily death, I declare.”
Illustrating further, the Acharya says, for a seeker of liberation in the path of discovering the self, there is nothing more purposeless than forgetting the goal of self-realisation. From that forgetfulness comes delusory thinking. From delusion comes the idea that the body is the self. From that thought springs bondage to the world of movement and change. From this bondage sorrow alone follows.
The main idea is reiterated in another verse. Even a very learned person tends to forget his goal in life when he comes in contact with sense objects of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching. The negativities in the objects of perception in the world have the power to disturb the mind.
Disturb the mind like what? The Acharya gives an unlikely example of a paramour who is thinking of his beloved. Since it is a secret love, he is not overtly able to express himself and hence suffers as a result. Our secret love is with that divine self in all. Yet we are constantly going behind small sense pleasures which do not give us a complete experience of happiness and always play truant in our lives.
In one more example the master says the moss covering pure drinking water in a lake which has been removed by the hand does not stay that way for even a moment. It immediately covers it. In the same way, the erroneous perception of reality completely covers the truth instantaneously.
The path of downfall is instant for the one whose eyes are taken away from the goal even a bit. Out of a lackadaisical attitude if one relaxes, then just as a ball that falls on the step hits every step fast and rolls down in no time, the seeker falls a victim to sense objects in no time. So to be aware, beware!