by Swami Chidananda

“Unsteady, verily, are these boats,” declares the Mundaka Upanishad [plavā hi ete adridhā yajna-rupāh – mantra 1.2.7] referring to the whole field of “actions and their results”. Empires came and went; celebrities dazzled their fans at one time on the stage of this world but faded away into distant darkness at another time. Objects and relationships that gave us happiness at one time become a burden at another!

Action has its glory and the Vedanta does not, per se, put it down. Idleness is in no way recommended! Go further, says the perennial wisdom, and find something that is timeless! In simpler language, we may call it the ‘permanent reality’ but actually it is untouched by time. We are therefore not to imagine ‘space and time’ to be the unquestionable coordinates of the platform of our existence, and then conceive of some reality which will never go away from us. It is rather a leap into a different dimension of existential experience where we meet eternity in a special zone of no

time and no space! “Death is like a sauce for someone who gains this vision,” says a sacred text, describing the uniqueness of Self-knowledge. [mrityur-yasya upasechanam – Katha Upanishad 1.2.25]

Egoism is a long, vain dream. Where this dream ends, Self-knowledge shines forth. We will not wake up from this dream if we cling to its pleasures. Appearing in gross and subtle forms, the attractions of this realm hold us as hostages for seemingly an endless duration. Ruthless examination of its nature can give rise to ‘true

detachment’ (vairāgya) in our bosom. Then the leap can happen.

We must know impermanent things to be impermanent, that is all. Therefore it is all about right seeing. Let us not mistake the mirage for water or the rope for the (illusory) snake. Either of these fancies can only give to us false hope and baseless fear. In the world of the ego, all laughter and all weeping are without any true reason.

“Is this real? Will this last?” is the question that acts as the foundation of discrimination (viveka). Viveka, which is an operation of intelligence, leads to vairāgya.

Habits die in the light of this intelligence and we change. We reach a new state of consciousness where even ‘fear of death’ vanishes. This heralds new life for us.


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