The aim of all spiritual practices is to know your real Self, to know the Knower, to observe the Observer.
At some point in your life you have probably heard a well-known sentence from the Bible “Love your neighbor as you love yourself. But without knowing what your Self is, how can you love your Self in him?
Know your Self and then see your own Self in your neighbor’s Self. Then you can love him as your Self.
What if someone asked you to love all fruits just the same as you love an apple – to see and taste the apple in all other fruits? If you don’t know what an apple is, you just won’t be able to see other fruits as an apple. In the same way, to love everybody or everything as the spirit, you should realize your nature, you should realize the Spirit in you.
Have you ever seen yourself, even your physical self? Have you ever seen your face? Only in a mirror. Or perhaps in a photograph. But suppose I break the mirror, or destroy the photo, could you still see your face? NO! But would you have lost it then? No. What you see in the mirror is the image, not the original, because it is the face that sees. The face is the subject. The subject can never become an object. The subject only sees an image of itself as the object, but never sees itself.
If the mirror is distorted and broken, the image you’ll see will be distorted too.
But would you then run to your doctor? “Doctor, there is something wrong with my face.”
And the doctor will say, “There is nothing wrong. You are beautiful.”
“But I saw a terrible reflection,” you’ll say. So the doctor brings another mirror that is clean and undistorted, and shows you: “Look at your face! Nothing is wrong.”
You wouldn’t do that. You would realize there is something wrong with your mirror and not your face. If you correct the mirror you can see your true nature. If you look for your true nature in a distorted mirror, you will see a crooked face.
So what is the mirror in our case? Our minds!
To see our true Self we must have clean, clear, calm minds.
Some people keep the mirror clean and realize that they are beautiful! Others don’t dust it well. Some break it; some damage it.
We are not different from one another in transcendental awareness. This is what we call the Spirit or the true Self. When we say “soul,” normally we mean the reflection of the Self over the mind-stuff. When you make the mind calm and serene, you realize that the soul and the universal force of energy that makes up everything, by many referred to as God, are one and the same, without any distortions, without any color. Of course the body should also acquire that serenity which is called the relaxed or pure state. A very healthy and relaxed body with a calm and serene mind will allow the true light or the true nature of the Self within to express itself without any distortions. Therefore, one should make the body and mind as clean as possible.
One should primarily take care of the mind, because the body is only an instrument of the mind. The body expresses itself accordingly to the desires or the impressions of the mind. Normally, we identify ourselves as a mind and a body. That why we call ourselves different names and seem to differ from each other. We want to define ourselves. “I am American, I am teacher, I am rich or poor.” These are our definitions, but in Spirit we can not differ. We are one and the same. The variations and definitions come only when we identify with the body and mind.
By nature we are at ease and in peace. However, due to negligence or efforts aimed at satisfying selfish desires of the senses, we disturb that ease and peace. And when we disturb that peace we feel “dis-eased.” We were fine originally and lost that fine-ness. That’s when we become defined. Unfortunately, the moment we define ourselves – or limit the Self – we are no longer fine.
All the scriptures, all the sages, saints, and prophets say to stop defining. This is the process of re-fine-ment. This is the essence of all Yoga and all scriptures. They all say: Refine yourself. Get out of these definitions. It’s the definitions that divide us. If you say “I am a woman!” or “I am a man” you identify with the body. “I am spiritual” or “I am intelligent”; you identify with the mind. each and every definition divides man and man, woman and woman, being and being.
Am I saying that all refined people will have no definitions? Suppose we lose all definitions and all become one – then we couldn’t recognize our friends. We would all look the same, talk the same and live the same. No father, no mother, no daughter or son. That’s not the meaning of real refinement. If that were refinement, we would lose all the fun in life. Yoga does not forget that variety is the spice of life.
Variety is necessary for enjoyment. But if the same variety is going to disturb and divide us, we don’t want it. But even here, can we get rid of it? No! It’s impossible. It’s a puzzle.
We can’t get rid of variety, yet variety divides us and creates more problems.
What shall we do then? We have to keep the variety and rise above it to see the unity. “Unity in diversity” We need the variety, but we can enjoy the variety only if we always keep in mind the unity behind it. What allows me to see the harmony and balance in variety, is believing that our world is a living library where beings get to share and experience their stories. ~ Hanni Love
From the essential teachings of Swami Satchidananda.