Love is the essential nature of everyone. But ego prevents people from expressing it. God didn’t create ego. It is our own creation. Only through ‘neti neti’ enquiry can we eliminate ego. Vedantins discriminate between the ‘self’ and the ‘non-self’ by contemplating ‘neti, neti’ not this, not this.
‘I’ and ‘mine’ are the attitudes of the ego. Is there any reality in saying ‘I’ and ‘mine’? What do we mean by saying ‘I’? If we are referring to the body, is the body really our own? The body was created from our father and mother, and is sustained by the foods of Nature. How, then, can it be our own? The body is indebted to Nature for all the water, air and light it provides. The body owes everything to others, so how can we call it our own?
And if this ‘I’ consists of our name, where was it before we were named by our parents? What would happen to the ‘I’ if we changed our name? What is the difference between our own body and the bodies of others? The sizes and shapes of our bodies may differ, but they are all made of the same five elements. We always refer to the body as ‘mine’, but when we die, the body doesn’t stay with us. If it were really our own, it would remain with us always.
If we consider the mind as ‘I’, it should always be under our control, shouldn’t it? But that is not how it is. Sometimes we are sad, sometimes happy. Sometimes we are angry, and at other times lazy. Our moods change from moment to moment. Which of these moods is the real ‘I’?
How do we introduce ourselves to others? We say, “I am so-and-so’s son or daughter. I’m working at such and such a job. I am so-and-so’s husband or wife. I am from this or that place.” Thus we are able to explain the ‘I’ only by adding something to ourselves. But are any of these adjuncts everlasting? None of them are. Our job may change and we may move to another house. And today or tomorrow we will lose our loved ones; so we do have an existence without them, don’t we? Who are we really? If we enquire in this way, we will realise that we are not what we usually refer to as ‘I’.
Our real self is the ‘I’ that exists in all beings. People say “I am Madhava”, “I am Keshava”, “I am Krishna”, and so on—this ‘I’ is found in everyone. Refrigerators, fans and light bulbs function in different ways, but the electricity that flows through them is the same. Similarly, the Supreme Self exists in everyone, and that is the real ‘self’, our true nature.
It is our attachment to the limited ‘I’ that prevents us from experiencing selfless love. When we realise our true nature, we will be able to see everything as our own self, and we will love everyone selflessly. A person who attains this knowledge no longer remains an individual. The individual mind expands and becomes the universal mind. It may not be easy for everyone to attain this state. For some people this state may come naturally. For such souls ‘I’ and ‘mine’ are not a hindrance to selfless love.
When a flower blossoms, its sweet fragrance spreads all around; it doesn’t come back to the flower. Likewise, when selfless love awakens within us, it flows to the world like a river.
The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader and humanitarian
The sizes and shapes of our bodies may differ, but they are all made of the same five elements. We always refer to the body as ‘mine’, but when we die, the body doesn’t stay with us. If it were really our own, it would remain with us always.